Mary Claire Caine is an Air Force Veteran currently living in Wilmington, North Carolina. However, she also served in Kuwait – and that is an experience she is very proud of.
When Caine went grocery shopping at Harris Teeter on Friday, she was proud to park in the veteran reserved parking spot. After finishing her shopping, Caine was stunned to notice a note on her windshield. It read, "Maybe [you] can't read the sign you parked in front of. This space is reserved for those who fought for America....not you. Thanks, Wounded Vet.”
Caine told WECT that she was upset over the note. "The first thing I felt was confusion that there was a mistake, and that I had to talk to this person and ask them why they were so quick to assume I wasn't a veteran and that I was taking privileges that didn't belong to me," she said.
"For a split second I thought, 'Am I a worthy enough veteran to park in this spot?' And, then I got very angry at myself for even considering that.”
Caine waited in the parking lot to see if the person who wrote the note would approach her, but no one did. She believes the note might have been motivated, in part, by her gender. "I think they took one look at me when I got out of my car and saw that I was a woman and assumed I wasn't a veteran and assumed I hadn't served my country,” she said.
"They have this image of what today's American veteran is and honestly if you've served in the United States military, you know that veterans come in all shapes and sizes. I question whether the person who left the note was fully aware of that.”
Caine knows it’s unlikely that she’ll ever meet the person who left the disheartening note, but she was deeply upset over the stranger’s assumptions.
"I want them to know they owe me and every other female service member who's fighting now and who's fought in the past, an apology for jumping to conclusions," Caine said.
"It's true what the soldiers missing in action slogan is: 'All gave some and some gave all.' And, I think that's very important that sacrifice is sacrifice and I earned the title as a veteran and I'm proud of that.”