“Thrift shopping is all about going into the shop and having no expectation of what you might find.” Coming from Macklemore, whose song “Thrift Shop” assailed every subwoofer in the country in 2012, this is a compelling claim. And if you ask Xenos Lopez, an army veteran from Bakersfield, CA, truer words have never been spoken. Three years after misplacing his army greens and medals, Lopez was reunited with them at a thrift store in Bakersfield. What was supposed to be a calm day of shopping turned into a day worthy of celebration for Xenos and his wife Angelica. On their last stop of the day, the two decided to go into the Mills Creek Antique Mall to see what kinds, if any, of treasures they could unearth. Turns out they found much more than they ever could have imagined.
The couple moved across town three years ago, and Xenos says his uniform and medals were lost during the process. Considering that he served in the Army from 2004-2010, these essentials meant the world to him and his family. He says he turned his new house upside down, looking in every place imaginable. But, his efforts proved fruitless. So he chalked it up a theft, as the uniform was in a garment bag that a passerby could easily have seen while Xenos was elsewhere, occupied with the move. Intrigued by the endless possibilities of what the bag might contain, the thief quickly escaped with it having absolutely no idea what was inside. Of course, upon opening it, the crook would have realized that the greens and medals had no real value other than a few bucks at the thrift store. That is, no value to anyone but Xenos Lopez.
Lopez was elated when his wife happened upon the hung-up garments, and showed the owner of the shop photos to prove they were his. He and his wife offered to pay, but to no avail. According to Lopez, the owner “was super kind, he said, ‘it’s yours, you earned it. Take it!’ That was super cool of him.” Finally, after three years of mystery, Lopez can rest easily knowing that the garments and medals he worked so hard to earn are safe and sound, returned to their rightful owner.
The people who serve our country in wars overseas deserve boundless respect for sacrificing their lives in order to uphold the core values that our Flag represents, specifically life and liberty. To Xenos Lopez, the Army veteran whose dedication and years of service set the bar extremely high, We Salute You. And to the kind thrift shop owner who selflessly shunned the possibility of profit by letting Xenos retain his uniform free of charge, We Salute You too!
Photo: Pfc. Troy Davis, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter mechanic with 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, showing off some of the gear issued by the U.S. military. No wonder our veterans don’t want to lose their greens and medals.