My wife and I were already in high spirits on a recent Friday morning in Augusta. Our oldest son would be graduating from dental school in a morning ceremony, and we had driven to a local McDonald's for breakfast before meeting the rest of our family at our son's condo.
When we went inside, my wife walked on to the restroom and I waited in line to order. I looked over to my right and there was this young soldier, wearing his camouflage uniform, standing in another line. Every time I see a soldier out in public, I have the urge to walk up to him or her and say, "Thanks for your service."
When my wife came to our table and sat down, she smiled and said "I'm going to pay for that soldier's breakfast." She had some money in her hand, I gave her some more, and off she went. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I could see him smile while shaking his head. My wife told me later that he said, "You don't have to do that." My wife talked him into taking the money, then came back to our table and sat down.
Minutes later, as the young soldier was leaving the restaurant, he looked back at her and mouthed, "Thank you."
We both sat there, not saying a word. My wife had tears in her eyes, and she could tell I was choked up. I could picture either one of our two sons in that uniform, hundreds or thousands of miles from home and far away from his family and friends. The young soldier had told my wife he was from Newport News, Va.
Later that morning we moved on to our scheduled event, our oldest son's graduation from the dental school at the Medical College of Georgia. At the graduation ceremony, as our son moved closer to the front of the line, I was thinking, this is part of our family history, and I thought of the nights that he would study for an exam until four in the morning, sleep for an hour, and then study some more, before going to class. There was our son, Dr. Simpson, right before our eyes!
In a period of three hours we saw a young soldier far from home, who appreciated a random act of kindness from two strangers, and a young dentist, who has always made us proud, starting the next phase of his life. One event was scheduled, the other was a bonus. I always will cherish both.
Stone Mountain, Ga.