On Dec. 16, I was sitting in McDonald’s in Falmouth when a stranger walked up and said, “Are you a veteran?” At the time I was wearing a hat that said U.S. Navy VP Association.

When I replied, “yes,” the stranger, Glen Maners, said, “Merry Christmas” and handed me a Walmart gift certificate for $20. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Every Christmas my credit card bill gets higher and I struggle just to get through Christmas.

Glen told me that he was from the Fleet Reserve Association, Casco Bay Branch, in South Portland and that they were giving out Walmart gift certificates to veterans to thank them for their service.

I want to thank the Fleet Reserve Association. I still have terrible memories of coming home to a place that did not feel like home when I was discharged. Veterans were in danger of being fired from jobs or assaulted if the wrong people found out they were veterans. It was a very hostile world to have to return to.

But people like Glen Maners and the Fleet Reserve Association are turning this country back into the kind of place I remember from my childhood, a much gentler, kinder place that respects veterans – the way it should be. There is more than one anonymous Santa, and I thank God for that.

Thomas O’Connor



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