Traditionally, this is the time of year when acts of kindness make a major impact on our society. People open their hearts and wallets and reach out to those who are struggling either financially or health wise. Stories abound about providing gifts to underprivileged children so that “no kid goes without a Christmas.”
And there will be heartwarming stories concerning local communities bringing joy to a disadvantaged family that has suffered a major disaster, such as a fire or death. In that regard, we are a nation of caring, compassionate people when it comes to assisting our fellow man.
Tragedies such as hurricanes, floods and fires that play havoc on towns and neighborhoods always brings out the best of our society as we marshal our resources to lend assistance.
Having said that, I witnessed something the other day that was extraordinary and confirmed that, despite some troubling times, we remain a society of thoughtful, caring people.
It was early morning and I had just entered a local Panera Bread Company for my daily latte fix. There were several people in line, including a tall Marine resplendent in his dress uniform. Accompanying him in line was a young lady who might have been his girlfriend.
The soldier and his companion ordered some bagels and coffee and the clerk tallied up the items. It was at this moment that people, including yours truly, rushed toward the cashier and offered to pay for the young Marine’s tab. As it turned out, a crusty old veteran beat everyone to the clerk and paid the bill.
It was an event that could have really been a scene from “It’s A Wonderful Life” with people coming forward to assist their fellow man, aka George Bailey, as played by James Stewart.
The Marine and his companion were effusive in their gratitude as all of us expressed our own gratitude and thanks for his dedication to our nation.
In speaking with the young solider, we learned that he was leaving for his next assignment in Japan where he would be stationed for the next seven months. Upon completing that stint, he would be reassigned to South Korea.
As I left Panera that morning, I thought about all the family events this young soldier would be missing, including Christmas.
On the other hand, I left knowing that our nation and country continues to be in good hands as evidenced by the dedication of this young man.
Somewhere, just like in the James Stewart movie, a bell is ringing as this soldier is earning his stripes! And his presence that morning made us all realize how fortunate we are to be represented and protected by the young men and women of our armed forces.
I’m sure George Bailey would agree!