After talking for a couple and learning they had served in Iraq, and were heading back soon. I thanked them for their service, saying that I had no way of knowing if my thanks were important, but that we appreciate their sacrifice on our behalf.
One of the Marines looked at me with a tear in his eye and said, 'you have no idea how much that means to us to hear.' It turns out that many of them had come to New York expecting to be villified. One of the guys I was talking to had recently been back home to Boston and had been asked to leave two bars.
I explained that my friends and I had been discussing that (despite being liberals who were againt them being sent to war) we hoped they were treated with the respect they deserved in our city. What's more, I feel like my duty to those serving in a war that I disagree with is to try and protect those soldiers.
That's my duty to the young officer from a small town in Kentucky who had a week off from service and was scared to come to New York in a completely different way than he was scared to go to Iraq. Our soldiers deserve better.