To a 7-year-old, the world is still a magical place. Though young, they are keenly aware of and sensitive to loss and tragedy. Perhaps due to their youth, they express this understanding in a simple way, and in some cases their simple acts of kindness are more heartwarming for it.
When 7-year-old Mason Lee stumbled upon the grave of Sergeant TJ Butler, he was so touched that he had to act, and his act of kindness brought him closer to a special someone.
Mason was immediately drawn to Sergeant Butler’s grave.
During the Memorial Day Weekend of May of 2016, Sarah Lee took her son Mason to the Wilmington National Cemetery in North Carolina to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers buried there.
This time, however, she spied Mason sitting by one gravestone in particular—that of Sergeant TJ Butler. Curious, she walked over to her son, and asked what he was doing.
“Mason had a lot of questions,” Lee told KMOV4. “He wanted to know if he had a son and a family, and wanted to know more about him.”
Sergeant Butler was killed by a suicide bomber in 2012, while deployed to Afghanistan. He left behind a mother, a wife and a young son.
Mason was touched by Sergeant Butler’s sacrifice—he resolved to return next year with a special present for the fallen soldier.
The little boy soaked in all the information and was particularly touched by Butler’s sacrifice. Lee was happy her son was interested in Sergeant Butler’s service, however, she could not have imagined the impact it would have on her young boy.
Fast forward one year later, Mason and his mom returned to the cemetery as planned. Except, this time, Mason had a special gift for Sergeant Butler.
He went to the fallen soldier’s grave and placed a drawing alongside it. Mason had drawn a shield with an American flag, like the one Captain America has. He even placed it in a plastic folder so that it would not get ruined by the rain.
Proud of her son, Lee and Mason continued their tribute to other fallen soldiers.
That was when Leslie Butler, Sergeant Butler’s mom, found the picture. Overwhelmed by the small yet pure act of kindness, she tracked down the Lee family and asked them to return to the cemetery the following Tuesday.
Sergeant Butler’s mother was overwhelmed by his simple act of kindness.
When the Lee family arrived, Butler thanked them for their tribute, and presented Mason with a gift—a Captain America action figure.
“For Mason’s age, I thought it was very special that he came down and visited TJ,” Butler told KMOV4.
Mason plans on continuing the tradition started by his mother, but he promised to always stop at Sergeant Butler’s grave first. And though the soldier’s mother still mourns for her son, Butler has a newfound satisfaction that Mason will continue to honor her son’s sacrifice.
“As long as Mason is here, he’ll place his flag here I can be happy that I know that Mason’s going to give TJ his flag,” Butler told KMOV4.