Support American Soldiers

Support American Soldiers is a new initiative designed to encourage Americans to pick up the cost of a meal or snack for service members traveling in uniform as a means of showing our gratitude for their service. It was inspired by a letter to "Dear Abby" in which a grateful father thanked a stranger for showing such kindness to his son, who was eating in an airport en route to a combat tour in Iraq. After reading that letter, Vietnam vet Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu (U.S. Army, retired), started the web site to encourage others to perpetuate such acts of gratitude.

To learn more about Colonel Cucullu's program, and read the letter that inspired it, go to Support American Soldiers.

We'd like to encourage you to expand such acts of gratitude and kindness even further. Rather than limiting such gestures to service members traveling in uniform (or in civvies), we encourage you, if your resources permit, to pay for their meal or snacks, or even movie tickets, when you happen to notice a military family dining out, or standing in line for movie tickets.

As Col. Cucullu says, we know they don't join the military for the money. A night out for the family can stretch the family budget farther than you might imagine. So if you can do so comfortably, consider paying for their meal or movie tickets or snacks, as a way of thanking them for all of us. As we say frequently in these pages, the families endure many hardships while the member serves. They deserve our gratitude too.

You can express your thanks to them at the same time, or if you're a bit more shy or reserved, you can just ask the waiter to bring you their check and tell them it was paid by a grateful American. Especially since all members of our military are volunteers, they need to know that we appreciate what they do to keep the rest of us safe.

To those of us who are involved in troop-appreciation activities, it is always a source of wonderment that when we thank our service members for what they do for us, they almost inevitably respond with "No, thank YOU for what you're doing for us."

Let's make sure they know how much we appreciate them.

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