The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength.
Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile; however he refused.
Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients. Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words to the dying man who said nothing, only held on tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding all night and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he patiently waited.
Finally, she turned to the Marine and started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her. "Who was that man?" he asked.
The nurse was startled, "Why he was your father," she answered.
"No, he wasn't," the Marine replied. "I never saw him before in my life; my dad is doing fine I just saw him yesterday."
"Then why didn't you say something when I took you into his room?" asked the nurse.
The Marine replied "I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew that man needed his son, and his son just wasn't here.
When I realized he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son and knowing how much he needed someone, I just stayed."
“I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey; his son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him. What was this gentleman's name?
The nurse, with tears in her eyes, answered, "Son, that was Mr. Grey."