Sunday, June 10, 2012

Caitlin Meets a War Hero

We went to visit my sister Ollie in Julian for a couple of days. She had invited us to a Julian Woman's Club fund raiser, the "Apple Blossom Tea," which they hold every year around this time. We couldn't take Caitlin to tea, so we asked Ollie whether she had any neighbors with dogs who might be willing to puppy-sit. She called back to say that her neighbor John Baca would be happy to do watch her for a couple of hours.

On Thursday, Ollie and I walked Caitlin over to John's house to introduce Caitlin to Jojo, John's standard poodle. He ushered us into his house, where, featured prominently on one wall, are photgraphs of John sitting next to President Obama and chatting with the First Lady. John, it turns out, is a hero, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War.

Last year, John was invited to the Carrier Classic basketball tournament, held on the deck of the Midway. He was seated next to the President and his wife. Although he had not expected to like Mr. Obama, he was deeply impressed and even more impressed with Michelle Obama, who gave every indication of genuine warmth and concern for the veterans (in contrast, he says, to some of the brass in attendance at the affair). He shared some of his concerns about the difficulties facing returning veterans; they asked him for details, and promised to act on what he had told them. That day remains one of the most profoundly moving times of his life.

The next day when John appeared at our door to collect Caitlin, he also brought us two gifts: an apple pie and a Medal of Honor replica that he gave to Rob. We were both quite overwhelmed by his generosity. Ollie says he is always looking for ways to help other people, and does a great deal for the wounded veterans.

We are honored to have made his acquaintance.

And Caitlin really likes his dog.