This happened last year but will always be one of my favorite stories…
The kids and I were at California Pizza Kitchen eating lunch. As we were being seated, I noticed an elderly man, proudly wearing his ranks and medals, sitting alone. I asked our waitress if he had ordered yet, she said he had been done for quite a while. I had her put his lunch on our bill but told her not to tell him who paid, just to thank him for his service.
A few minutes later, I noticed them talking and he was crying. Apparently, he always met his friend and fellow veteran for lunch on Veterans Day, but the friend passed away a few months ago.
He stood and thanked the room for whoever paid for his supper. He was headed to the cemetery to say hello to his family and friends who had gone Home before him, including a grandson who died in Afghanistan. He ended with a prayer for our Nation, that kindness and patriotism would always prevail over cynicism and shaming.
That sparked sniffles and tears in a solid 90% of the room. The wait staff was pulled to tables offering to pay for other tables, all of them living the lesson he had given.
I won’t share my political views, but I will say that I agree with this brave man I met today. It is simplistic to say kindness will fix all of our Nation’s problems, but patriotism for our United States is not too much to ask, and is a good start in getting past the hate and hurts we have seen this year.