As we approach the holidays I would like to share a heartwarming story from my good friend Jim Crissman. Jim goes out of his way to show members of the military how much he appreciates their service. Sometimes the tables get turned as you are about to read. I would love to hear your comments on this story and feel free to share similar stories.
Yesterday my wife Barb and I were in the Atlanta airport, on the way home from a 7 day cruise, and we stopped in On The Border Mexican restaurant for lunch. I noticed a soldier sitting by himself, so I walked over and introduced myself and asked him if he was shipping out or coming home. I always do this whenever I see a soldier, just to let them know that we appreciate what they do and care about them. Master Sargent Bailey informed me that he was waiting there to take 137 boys back home to Dallas. He said he was in Iraq last year but now is stationed in the US. I offered to buy his lunch, but he was just having some free chips, so I told him how much we appreciate what he and the other boys do and he stood up, shook my hand and said "thank you very much for the support".
I walked back over to my seat and Barb and I began eating our lunch. A few minutes later I noticed that he had left. Then, our waiter came to our table with a napkin with what I thought was a credit card inside, so I assumed it was a mistake, since I had not yet paid. He then unfolded the napkin and we saw a handwritten note from MSG Bailey and a patch (which I have found out is for the National Guard). Then the waiter told us that MSG Bailey had bought OUR lunch and asked that he not tell us who had done it. My wife and I were overwhelmed. I'm attaching a photo of the napkin and the patch, which will get framed and go on our wall at home.
Perhaps you can entice your loyal blog readers to do the same for any soldiers they see, whether it be at the grocery store, a restaurant or the airport. It is heartwarming to see a soldier's face light up when they know that someone cares enough to stop and thank them for putting their lives on the line for the rest of us.
One final thought on this story.... it wasn't until today that I realized the coincidence in MSG Bailey's name - the same as the lead character in It's A Wonderful Life. Let's do our part to help all of the soldiers we see have a better life as well.