The Line Ends Back There

The Line Ends Back There

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

The Line Ends Back There

Civilization is a method of living and an attitude of equal respect for all people.

Jane Addams

I was recalled to active duty during the Korean War, leaving my wife and son in Philadelphia until I could find suitable quarters in Tampa, Florida. Nancy knew she would be joining me sooner or later, but hadn’t the slightest idea what to expect. Her knowledge of the military was limited to being able to differentiate between soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.

In due course, she arrived in Tampa. I was subleasing an apartment until we could find something more permanent, and her only contact with the military was ironing my uniforms. She went shopping at the PX and commissary, both entirely new and strange experiences for her. So, too, was her concept of rank, with which she had barely a nodding acquaintance.

One day, as she was standing in the checkout line, her cart piled high, a lady attempted to push her own cart in front of the line. The would-be interloper announced that she was Mrs. Colonel Somebody and was in a hurry. Outraged, Nancy retorted that she was Mrs. Sergeant Blankfield and that she was in a hurry, too. The end of the line was back there, Nancy pointed out. The astonished lady sheepishly headed “back there,” and waited her turn.

As years passed and Nancy became “Mrs. Colonel Blankfield,” she never forgot her first experience with rank in the MacDill Air Force Base commissary. She expected no special favors or treatment, and sought none. To one and all, she was simply “Nancy.”

Bill Blankfield, Col., USAF (Ret.)

More stories from our partners