The other day, my dad shared with me the story of a random act of kindness that he was on the receiving end of. I’ve been sitting on it even though I wanted to share because, to be honest, I don’t think my writing skills are up to the task of telling this beautiful story. But this morning in the shower (where I do all my thinking), I was reflecting on the story and I decided it’s one that needs telling even if someone else could write it better than I can.
My dad was a Combat Infantryman with the the 198th Infantry, Americal Division in Vietnam. He was wounded and spent several months in the hospital; first in Japan and then in Denver. After his convalescence was up, he was stationed at Fort Hood. The day he left Kansas City to report to Fort Hood, he had a tank of gas and $10 in his pocket. His mother asked him if he had any money and he told her he had $10. He says that he had planned to get a hotel room and spend the night on the way down there and he just figured the money situation would work itself out. His mother wasn’t quite as optimistic about his plan so she gave him her gas card “just in case.”
That evening, my dad started looking for a hotel. He finally decided on the Sheraton in Downtown Dallas. He limped in (he still walked with a limp at that time) wearing his Class A’s and told the man behind the desk that he would need a room for the night. The man said, “That will be $10, Sir.” At the time, my dad didn’t really think anything of it, he just assumed that a room at the Sheraton in Downtown Dallas in the early ’70′s cost $10, including taxes and parking. In later years, he would reflect that there was no way that was the correct price of the room. But the man behind the counter never let on that he was discounting the room nor did he treat my dad as anything less than a guest who was paying the full rate. How did the man come up with the $10 figure? Call me a hopeless romantic, but I’m sure there was a still small voice guiding him.
It happened nearly 40 years ago and my dad still remembers that act of kindness. I like this story because it has it all: random kindnesses to strangers, respect to veterans, and gratitude. It’s the perfect story to tell today.
I would just like to take this time to thank all of our American veterans and to say I am proud that my dad and so many of the men from whom I am descended fought to create and protect our country. I’m thankful to all our veterans every day.
And I leave you with a poem:
It is the soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer,
who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the soldier
who salutes the flag,
who serves under the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who allows the protester to burn the flag.
By Charles M. Province, US Army