A young man surprised an older man, and everyone else in line at the Walmart in Ankeny, Iowa, with a simple but potent gesture.
A woman standing in line waiting to check out heard the exchange and snapped a few pictures, which she posted on Facebook.
The anonymous perpetrator got away, but the sensation he created has gone viral.
Alana Ruthann was standing behind an older man wearing a “veteran” ball cap, while another customer, a younger man, paid for his merchandise.
She wasn’t paying much attention until she heard the older man start to protest.
As Alana Ruthann posted on her Facebook page, “I heard an older man’s voice in confusion declare, ‘Wait, what is happening? What are you doing?!’”
“I looked up from my phone to see a younger man in front of the older gentleman respond, ‘Sir, I’m paying for your items because you paid by serving my country and I’m grateful for you.’”
The older man was dumbstruck and didn’t know how to react.
The young man said a final “Thank you” and left. The veteran asked the clerk, “What do I do now?”
According to Alana Ruthann, the cashier responded, “You have a good day!”
“It was that moment I realized I had TWO heroes in line in front of me,” Alana Ruthann posted.
“My heart welled as I watched our veteran readjust his Veteran ball cap, straighten up, and hold his head with pride as he walked out, knowing someone was grateful for him.”
Alana Ruthann summed up the incident perfectly.
“What a feeling—in this life where we rush through with our eyes down at a screen full of negativity and disagreements – to have someone simply say ‘I’m grateful for you.’
“That 20 second interaction didn’t just change the veteran’s day- it changed my day, as well as that cashier’s—because that 20 seconds showed us by looking up and slowing down—life is pretty beautiful and surely we can find something to be grateful for.”