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A Debt of Gratitude

Rick Whaley, United States Army

I am a proud combat veteran, and although I do not like sharing combat stories, I do enjoy telling stories of good deeds. I have had the honor of meeting some of the most beautiful human beings on this planet, and when I say beautiful, I do not mean on the outside. All of these people were patriots in their own right, not because they fought in war or joined the military, but because they showed love and support to those who did. Some people have the bad misconception that a person has to join the military to do their part, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Showing love and support goes a long way, and anything other than that is going above and beyond, in my book.

I have experienced a complete stranger walk up to me to shake my hand and tell me thank you, and pay for my hotel room. I go to a bar and all of a sudden there are multiple drinks in front of me, given to me by more than one person. I have had my waiter or waitress come to me and let me know someone has paid my bill and they wanted to say, “Thank you for your service.” It hurts my heart, but in a good way. These people owe me nothing, but they feel like their way of supporting the troops is actual emotional support, and it does help.

I hope some of these great supporters know how much they have impacted my life and how they have made me into a more charitable man. I hope they know that I owe them a thanks for boosting my morale when I needed it most. There have been dark times in my life that an everyday average person turned into a great day, by giving me a smile and saying thank you or asking if they could shake my hand. From the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

Rick served in the US Army. He served in Iraq in 2006 through 2007. He is from Trenton, North Carolina. He has been married to Christina since 2008, and they have 8 children.

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