Once while on active duty, I went to a beach that charged $10 per car. I stopped at the toll both, holding a $20 bill out my window, when I remembered to ask, "Do you give any kind of military discount?"
The man in the booth was older. He had white hair and was wearing a security uniform. He reached for my money, but as soon as I asked that question he handed it back.
"Yes. Well, no. We don't officially, but I'm going to," he said.
I sat with my foot on the brake, waiting for him to tell me what the discount might be, maybe $5 instead?
"Just go on through, please."
Surprised and grateful, I thanked him and drove through.
Another time, while in uniform, I drove my sister to the airport on my way into work. We stopped at McDonalds for breakfast, and after we ordered at the register, a man stepped up beside me and said, "I'd like to pay for the Lieutenant's meal please."
More recently, my husband was on his way to drill for the Army Reserves. He was in uniform when he stopped at a toll booth on the New Jersey Turnpike. The man taking the money was from a country Eddie couldn't decipher, but he said in broken English, "You are a hero. Go through. No pay."
Things like this happened so many times, I can't recall each specific one, yet I have not forgotten them either. Strangers approach service members on the street and shake their hands. Soldiers are welcomed home at airports. And random acts of kindness are shown daily to the Armed Forces. It makes me proud that our country is so behind our military, despite what their personal politics may be.
Some argue that it's out of guilt, and we are over-compensating for not being more involved. I say, who cares what the reason is? If buying a $3 value meal for a soldier is an act of easing a conscience, or one of true appreciation, it's something that shows that soldier, 'We see you. We know that what you do, deserves recognition.' And all those little things add up.
What you can do:
-Adopt a Soldier: Soldier's Angels
-Get involved with Troops and their Families: Joining Forces