Dec 13th) My grandson was traveling in his dress blue uniform to his next duty station with some other young sailors from his unit. They stopped to get a shoe shine in Chicago’s Midway airport before flying on to Atlanta when a passerby noticed them. A man walked up and handed them $40 to cover the cost of their shoeshines, and insisted they take it, then he just walked away. Later on and about 15 minutes before boarding his flight, my grandson was at the Starbucks register about to pay for his coffee, when the lady behind him insisted on paying for it.
And now for another story that happened just a few weeks ago, also in Chicago. Thirteen Marines returning from Afghanistan were given the full hero treatment when they landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and it all stemmed from a simple pizza request. Stephanie Hare, whose fiancé, Capt. Pravin Rajan, was part of the team, called the USO crew at the airport to alert them that the Marines would be returning that evening after seven months overseas. Ms. Hare asked if the Marines could receive some famous Chicago pizza and champagne upon arrival, or something of that nature. Instead, they were honored with cheers from a crowd of police, a fire truck water salute and first-class plane tickets!
As the Marines still had to travel to San Diego, they received six first-class upgrades from American Airlines, which has a policy to upgrade servicemen if there are available seats. The remaining marines were granted seats by seven first-class passengers, who “jumped out” of their spots as a gesture so the troops could sit together. Even more impressive, the whole thing was put together in an hour.
I’ve had similar experiences while in uniform. I was taking a morning coffee break in the base dinning hall (California Army National Guard Headquarters) on the day before Christmas eve. A pizza van showed up at our back door and it was loaded with all kinds of pizza’s and sodas, paid for by the appreciative citizens of Sacramento. A few of us were soon helping to off load the van. About 80 enlisted and officers were served that afternoon.
Another time I was seated alone in my Army combat uniform at a restaurant when an older couple picked up my lunch tab. I tried to explain I was just a reserve doing my weekend and while I appreciated their offer they didn’t have to do that, but it didn’t matter to them. A soldier is a soldier. A few months prior I was attending NCO training at our National Training Center at Camp Parks. I ventured off base to pick up some supplies at the local mall and I was confronted by a mother and her 8 year old daughter. They walked up to me and said, “I just wanted to say thank you for your service.’ And both her and her daughter shook my hand, my eyes still get a little misty over that one. I won’t forget these acts of kindness and support for our military people. It touched my heart and I relived those moments minutes ago when my grandson called on his cell phone to relate his own stories.
One of our readers, you know who you are, made a very sizable donation recently to the Fisher House foundation. They provide a free home to stay in for the families of severely wounded vets. This helps the rehab and eases the pain and suffering by all concerned. He could have bought something really nice for himself, but instead he chose to support our troops first. That’s the kind of guy he is.
I thought you might enjoy hearing these about stories, and that this time of year isn’t just about frantic shopping.
Needless to say our family is deeply moved by these acts of random kindness by strangers. Maybe the next time it will be your son or daughter serving their country and I’ll be able to pass along the kindness shown to us.