Today is Veteran's Day, and I just got off the phone with my dad who served in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in the Army. He helped to change the world before I was ever a twinkle in his eye, and I'm forever grateful to him for his patriotism and sacrifices he made as an American willing to do the unthinkable for the next generation.
But, my dad is only one amazing example of the selfless acts that happen every day among military families around the world, fighting for our freedom and paving the way for liberties that we take for granted on a daily basis.
Veteran's Day is our chance as "regular folk" to not just stop and recognize how blessed we are to live in a free country, but for us to stop and recognize the individuals that make that possible. In a way, it's just as vital as the Fourth of July: it's not only acknowledging the history of what our country's been through, but the very present of how we are affected by it.
Thank you to all service men and women past and present and future...we are indebted to you, and may God be with you.
Yesterday, I got to witness an incredible act of kindness in the most unlikely of circumstances. I've recently taken on a seasonal position at Pottery Barn Kids at a local mall. If you've never been to PBK, it's a jolly shop full of overpriced, exquisite children's merchandise. It's lovely, and while it attracts the most pretentious of clientele, it makes for a spectactularly-Christmassy place to work. Merry and bright, indeed.
I had just started my shift, when a pregnant, well-to-do woman approached me and my co-worker at the cash register. She had been shopping for a few minutes with her young child and husband, and she had a peculiar look on her face as she walked up to us.
"Do you see that family over there?" she quietly spoke and glanced behind her as my co-worker and I leaned in to hear what she was saying. We both nodded, curious what she was about to say. The family she pointed to was a young family as well: a very pregnant woman, her husband, their little boy, and grandmother.
The woman turned her back to the family and continued to speak quietly. "Well," she said, "I overheard them speaking, and they are a military family. I have a strange request, but I'd like to do a sort of random act of kindness. Could I buy them a gift card and have you give it to them for me? I don't know them at all and I'd like it to be anonymous. But, hurry if you can, because I think it might change what they decide to purchase today."
My co-worker and I were stunned. Yes, of course we were happy to help.
"Great," she smiled and got out her wallet. "Go ahead and make the gift card for five hundred dollars."
Five hundred dollars?!?!
My co-worker and I both audibly gasped. I told her outright how inspiring I found her act, and she kind of shrugged and smiled. She bought the card and left immediately.
I watched as my co-worker walked it over to the family and changed the course of their day (not to mention, their nursery) in a single moment. They were shocked. We were all shocked. Never before had I seen such a spontaneous act of generosity in that magnitude. I thought about the woman who bought the gift card and thought to myself, Wow, those are the kind of people you want to be wealthy! And I was instantly convicted of my tendency to judge the rich.
Maybe we don't all have $500 to gift to a veteran today...but, chances are good that we all know someone who has sacrificed for our country, and we can take time out to thank them in our own way. It's no coincidence that I was there to witness that yesterday. I instantly thought I've got to blog about this! and I couldn't wait to tell you all such a wonderful story. We can all pay it forward in some way, and not just today. Inspiration can come from the most unlikely of places, and you never know when the opportunity might fall in your lap for you to thank a stranger.
Thank you, Veterans. Your lives are filled with random acts of kindness that inspire generations of spontaneous generosity. I pray we can all be humbled by your courage and have a chance to pay it forward. Happy Veteran's Day.