I have always had a very special place in my heart for Veterans.
I grew up with an ex-marine father who I would always see walk up to people, extend his hand and say "thank you for your service." As I grew older, I began to realize the importance of that simple gesture, especially in the society that we all live in today.
The people risked their lives for our country and for our freedom. If you think about it, there are very few people in this world that would genuinely give their own life for you. Jesus, your parents, maybe a sibling or a best friend, but did you ever stop to think about your neighbor down the street who risked it all for you?
I really got involved with Veteran affairs support during my sophomore year in high school. They had a Veterans Day committee — we hosted a HUGE brunch and assembly to simply say thank you. Then the next year I moved schools... and I was devastated to learn that my new school had nothing of the sorts going on to thank or honor veterans.
So me, being the go-getter that I am decided to create my own committee through student government.
Thankfully, my fellow student government members, PTO, and friends were willing to help me pull off a small scale brunch. It was nothing compared to what my old school was able to accomplish, but it was a start. We also decided to extend the invitation to first responders (firefighters, cops, EMTs) in our community.
While it was a small turn out, I had to remind myself that it was the first year and the people who were able to come, now feel appreciated and thanked for their amazing dedication.
The summer between junior and senior year of high school, I spent my mornings writing thank you cards for a small organization called Nothing But Love Notes. I saw a woman named Natalie on the television one morning and my mom said to me, "this is perfect, you should find out how you can help" as I am a stationery hoarder and pen enthusiast. Mix it with a little thank you to Veterans and First Responders and BAM. Basically what Natalie does is simply write a thank you card and if she sees a Veteran out and about, she hands them a card. She leaves notes on cop cars, even gets yelled at by people who think she is leaving some junk mail on their windshield. It is something so beyond simple that makes such a large impact on somebodies day or even life. I was thankful to be able to have Natalie come speak at our brunch the following year. I also still do my best to send her cards when I have time to sit down and write. Shoutout to my sorority sisters who have also helped me in the past to write thank you cards.
Natalie has inspired me to keep cars with me in my purse or in my car. Most of the time I get a weird look when I am staring at someone trying to read their hat and see if it says "WW II Vet" and then chase them down the aisle at the grocery store, but the smile I get from them makes it all worth it. I have made an old man cry once... yes, it does sound awful but, they were happy tears. His wife grabbed my hands and just couldn't say thank you enough.
I encourage everyone that happens to stumble across this article to write some cards and send them to Natalie, or even just keep them with you. You don't have to say much — just a simple:
"I wanted to say thank you for your service" with a handshake and a card could really impact society for the better.
Don't know what to write on the card? Here is a simple example:
I wanted to personally thank you for all you've done for our country.
I know that we don't know each other, but your bravery is so much more appreciated than you may ever know.
It's the gesture that matters, not the length of the card or specific wording.
If you are a veteran or first responder and reading this at the moment, THANK YOU for all that you have or are doing for both this country and for me.