WILMINGTON, NC WAFB: Mary Claire Caine is a veteran of the United States Air Force and served on the flight line of the F-117 Nighthawk in Kuwait.
Cain was recently out grocery shopping and says she felt proud to park in the space reserved for veterans. When she finished unloading her groceries into her vehicle, she noticed a note taped to her passenger window that 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.”
“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,” she said.
Caine theorized whomever left the note assumed that she wasn’t a veteran because she was a woman, and because she has real estate agent information on the back of her car instead of an armed services bumper sticker. She explained that she waited by her car for a few minutes in case the person who left the note appeared, but no one did.
“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. 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.”
She admitted she was tempted to crumple the note and throw it in the trash. “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.”
Caine understands she will probably never know who left the note but she hopes her experience will serve as a lesson to others who may have jumped to the wrong conclusions about her or anyone else who doesn’t fit a stereotypical, preconceived image.
“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.”