Katie Patton
March 23, 2013 7:59 am

When it comes to politics and war, there is no shortage of opinions. Questions surrounding our government and the military’s actions, more often than not, result in heated debates during which each side stands firm regarding their beliefs. Amidst all the loud, opinionated discussion how often do we stop to remember that, despite our feeling on what is right or wrong, there are men and women who sacrifice a great deal to serve our country? How often can we say we step back from our argument to offer a kind word or sentiment of gratitude to those who protect our nation without questioning the strategy? If I had to guess I would say appreciation is not doled out as often as it is deserved, but recently a military veteran proved that a random act of kindness can certainly spread love and gratitude to those who deserve it the most.

Earlier this week, as I was perusing the various social media outlets for the happenings of the day, I came across a photo that had been posted on Facebook; the girlfriend of a deployed soldier made the decision to share with a support group – and subsequently the entire Facebook community – a random act of kindness that was bestowed upon her that day.

As the story goes, Samantha Ford had a bumper sticker on her car signifying that her significant other was serving in the armed forces; on this particular day, someone took notice. As she headed back to the parking lot from a quick stop at the Dunkin Donuts’, she noticed something had been placed on her windshield. What she found was not what she expected, but so much more. Tucked under the windshield wiper was forty dollars and a note that read,

I noticed the sticker on the back of your car. Take your hero out to dinner when he comes home. Thank you both for serving. Him deployed and you for waiting. -United States Veteran, God Bless.

This wonderful gesture represents random kindness in its truest form. For this veteran, it was not important that anyone knew who he was, only that appreciation be felt by someone he knew deserved to understand that others recognize the sacrifices being made. In a world that can be so focused on right and wrong, it is heartwarming when a stranger displays the ability to focus on and appreciate the commitments of someone they have never met, offering the gift of recognition and a sweet word of praise. The gift was certainly well received, as Ford felt compelled to share the act of kindness with “Our Deployment: 101,” an online support group for the families of military men and women who have been deployed; the gesture nearly brought her to tears, unable to find the words to describe how this stranger had made her feel. When she was able to share the story with her boyfriend, he told her it was “people like this that make him proud to be an American soldier.”

I have been known to tear up when I see a member of our armed forces in the airport, and it is all I can do to hold it together when I witness someone taking a moment to thank them for their service. It is easy to forget how much a simple thank you can mean and this veteran’s note reminds us how a small amount of gratitude can be seen as an incredible kindness. Not only did this veteran thank the man enlisted for his service to our country, he ensured the unsung hero, the significant other waiting for their loved one’s safe return, was recognized and appreciated for their sacrifice as well. Certainly, this fellow service member and stranger could have seen the sticker, smiled or said a silent prayer, and kept walking; it would be easy to believe there were bills to be paid or luxuries that could have been purchased with the forty dollars he left behind. But on that day, in that parking lot, he decided to give both his time and money to a complete stranger to ensure they knew their sacrifice had not gone unnoticed; to ensure at least one person out of the millions just like them felt appreciation and love. There is no greater kindness than that.

When we cultivate the ability to show gratitude toward a stranger, expecting absolutely nothing in return, we offer true kindness to the world. This week we celebrate a simple story, but in fact, it is the simplicity that reminds us it takes very little to offer a great kindness to someone; never underestimate the power of a caring thought, a considerate word or a simple thank you. What each of us deems a small gesture, the recipient may deem a sincerely heartwarming act of kindness.

Sending love and appreciation to all who have served or are serving our country, their loved ones and any person who has committed a random act of kindness anywhere in the world. We are all better off because of each of you.

Feature Image via Shutterstock, Secondary Image via Our Deployment: 101

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