I have never been put in a situation that made me realize the weight that a simple thank you could hold, until two weeks ago. Being that I work in retail I walk between seven and eight miles every day just walking up and down the store aisles. I pass countless customers while walking the aisles. Sometimes I am stopped to help answer a question, other times I stop a customer to ask if they need help or simply to complement their outfit. Usually the conversation ends on a positive note and smile from the customer, however, it was two weeks ago that my conversation ended on a positive note and the customer in tears.
I was walking through the aisle two weeks ago when a gentleman and his son walked through the doors. As they began to walk towards me I noticed that the gentleman was wearing a service uniform. Once they were close enough I stopped the gentleman and thanked him for his service and to my surprise he began to cry.
Taken aback by his response I immediately apologized for upsetting him to which he responded with a wave of his hand. He looked up at me and said, "thank you, not a lot of people thank me for my service and I just appreciate it so much." It was then when I took notice of his son who was holding his father's hand and simply beaming with delight. The gentleman too looked down at his son who then said, "see dad, I told you that you were also a superhero." The gentleman smiled, thanked me again and then continued walking with his son through the store.
Throughout my life I have probably passed hundreds of men and women wearing a service uniform and every time I have thanked them for their service, but I have never had someone respond like this.
It is two weeks later and I am still surprised by his response, but it has made me realize how much a simple thank you can mean to someone, especially a man or woman who serves our country. Thousands of men and women risk their lives every day so we can live freely in the United States of America. They are separated from their families for months so we can feel safe sleeping at night and so we can live our lives to the fullest. When we wake up every day we don't have to live in constant fear of a potential terrorist attack, and when we were kids, we didn't grow up having to carry a knife or a gun to protect ourselves. It is because of them that my freedom of speech is continuously protected, therefore, allowing me to share my thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and allowing me to write this article freely.
It is not uncommon to pass a serviceman or servicewoman and I just have to say, please thank them for their service.