Although fictional, one story about a Marine and an elderly man is going viral, acting as a poignant reminder of the real-life sacrifices veterans and their families make.
The story, originally published in 1965 in Reader's Digest, begins when a hospital nurses sees a tired and anxious Marine walk up to her, Little Things reports.
Her heart leaps.
Finally, the son her dying elderly patient had been yearning to see had miraculously returned from Iraq just in time for his father's last words.
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Excitedly, she escorts the man to her patient's room, where the elderly man's sickly face breaks into a smile.
It was his son, at last.
Reaching out his hands, both hold each other as the Marine spends the rest of the night uttering words of love and encouragement.
As dawn approaches, the old man dies peacefully, still holding onto his son.
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When the Marine tells the nurse the man has died, she begins offering her sympathy. He then shocks her with a revelation: The man was not his father.
What's more, the Marine did not even know the elderly man, even though he held his hand all night.
"Then why didn’t you say something when I took you to him?'" she asked.
“‘I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn’t here," he responded.
But that's not all.
When she asked who he had come to see and why, it turned he'd come to visit and inform a Mr. William Grey that his son, a soldier, had died in Iraq.
Before asking to see the man, the Marine asked the name of the old man who had just died.
"Mr. William Grey," the nurse tearfully responded.
The retelling of the original short story "Night Watch" by Roy Popkin, has captured the hearts of many.
"Even if this is fiction its a wonderful story," wrote one woman on the Facebook page of Little Things. "We do have real life heroes that are servicing our country and allot of their stories of how they go above and beyond are never told. My granddaughter is serving our country and I want to say Thank You to all servicemen and women for your service."