DEAR ABBY: I am one of your many male readers. I have been up all night and need to put my thoughts down and thank someone for his act of kindness to my son.
My son, a U.S. infantry soldier, left yesterday for a 12-month deployment. After a tearful goodbye to me and to his young wife at the airport, he flew to Atlanta to join the other members of his unit for their flights overseas. He called me the evening he reached Atlanta and related this story:
He was eating a late dinner at a restaurant in the Atlanta airport. A man who appeared to be about 60 years old saw him show his military ID to the waitress when he ordered a drink with his meal. The man took my son's dinner check when he got up to leave, saying, "Let me buy a soldier a meal." When my son tried to politely refuse, the man insisted and said it was his way to thank him for what he was doing. Because Army privates don't make much money, my son was grateful. This act of kindness made a strong impression.
To that kind gentleman, I want you to know that this father is grateful, too. I sent my son into harm's way yesterday, and you, sir, a stranger, took care of him on his journey. You bought him a meal when I could not. Thank you, and God bless you. -- A SOLDIER'S GRATEFUL DAD
DEAR GRATEFUL DAD: I'm pleased to convey your gratitude. Today 190,000 members of our U.S. military are stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq doing tours -- and extended tours -- of active duty. It is completely appropriate for any civilian who sees someone in uniform to approach that person and offer thanks for his or her service. The gentleman who treated your son to dinner did it in a more tangible way than many do -- and for that he is to be commended.