Something came over him. He couldn’t continue eating. No, this was like a sign from God. A bunch of soldiers walking in after everything that had happened over the last few days. He put down his food and stopped in front of the men and women in uniform.
Every Chick-fil-A customer had their eyes fixed on him. And that was good, he thought, because it was time for a lesson.
Nothing was more important to Jonathan Full than family. A proud American, Jonathan had close kin. He was happily married to a beautiful woman named Alex, whom he had one son with, little Jaxon, a boy who people regularly said was the spit of his father.
Jonathan had been raised knowing that blood was thicker than water. Blood was very important to Jonathan.
As far as Jonathan was concerned, as soon as you joined his family, you became his ‘blood’. He had a stepbrother named Joshua, whom he treated with as much love and respect as his full brother, Stephen. They would often hang out and talk long into the night.
Sports allowed the brothers to forge a close bond. But there was one other place they would go to catch up.
Jonathan and his brothers were from Durham, North Carolina. Their local fast food joint was Chick-fil-A, where they could be found at least once a week munching their way through delicious chicken sandwiches. The vast majority of these experiences was nice.
However, there were occasions when sitting in that Chick-fil-A restaurant felt uncomfortable. A lot of the clientele were rowdy and they would make being there tense. They rarely showed respect for anyone and certain incidents stuck in Jonathan’s mind.
One thing that stuck out in Jonathan’s mind whenever he sat in Chick-fil-A was how normal social conventions didn’t seem to apply there. It almost didn’t matter if you were homeless or the President, you could afford a meal there. This was a good thing.
But the lack of respect for status and rank was a double-edged sword. He had seen veterans have to stand in line for a sandwich. This wasn’t right to him. They served the country and deserved the respect of its citizens. It made Jonathan begin to question things.
Not every American respected the War on Terror, a campaign deployed by the US military against armed terrorist organisations based in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. Some thought that it wasn’t a just campaign, that it had ulterior motives linked to oil.
This made Jonathan feel conflicted. He wanted the security of his country guaranteed, yet there was more he knew about war.
The horrors of war don’t need much elaboration. Many people die from it, both soldiers and civilians. Those who survive are often never the same. Homes are broken and cities are destroyed. Why would any country willingly engage in such a deadly conflict?
Jonathan was engaging his critical mind. He was asking questions. And it led him to answers he never expected.
Jonathan found that he was in good company to wonder about the War on Terror. He was doing research on his computer, asking Google for information on the war and whether it was really worth it. A fresh search had been typed when he was interrupted.
A buzzing noise was coming from nearby. It was his phone. He was getting a call from a private number.
After taking Stephen’s call, Jonathan went to meet his brother in Chick-fil-A. The pair had been going through a terrible time in their lives, so it was a comfort to have a place where they could still relax. Even so, Jonathan’s mind was working overtime thinking.
Stephen could see Jonathan was distracted. Then, all of a sudden, he perked up. A strange focus took over his face as his eyes fixed on the door and the people walking through it.
Two members of uniform walked through the door. It was enough to make Jonathan decide he was full. He pushed his food aside and stood up. With everything that had been going through his head, it seemed as though the stars had aligned. He knew what to do.
Before they got to the counter, Jonathan stepped in front of them. He wanted to make a point. You’re not going to order, he said.
The military personnel looked confused. They didn’t understand what was happening. Then Jonathan continued: ‘I’m going to order for you.’ Stephen looked on with pride. As Jonathan was at the counter, nine more soldiers walked in. So he paid for their meals too.
Everyone in the establishment looked on with admiration at this act of patriotism. Then one of soldiers asked why he was doing this.
Jonathan and his family had always respected the men and women who serve their country. They also had someone close to home who exemplified the qualities of loyalty, dedication, and bravery: Joshua. He served in the military in the Middle East.
While Joshua was proud to serve his country, it affected him in a terrible way.
Joshua returned from the Middle East as a different person. He wasn’t happy or carefree anymore. Instead, he bore the affects of psychological scars that he picked up during his time in uniform. What Joshua suffered from was severe PTSD.
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a psychiatric disorder that can occur after a person has been through a distressing event. For Joshua, that was his time in the army. Unfortunately, it got so bad that Joshua ended up taking his own life.
Joshua’s death had only happened a week before this incident in Chick-fil-A, so the whole family was in mourning. Jonathan believed that paying for the meals would be an act that honored his brother and showed his respect for the often-polarizing troops.
He wanted them to save their money for ‘something more than feeding yourselves’ and to let him ‘take care of them like they take care of us’. The one thing he asked for in return was for them to call anyone they knew suffering from PTSD. It could save a life.
As well as honoring Joshua, Jonathan’s act was also supposed to set an example for the kids who were present with them. To him, there isn’t enough respect for the military. They risk our lives to keep us safe. He wanted to show that this is how you treat those who serve.
In Jonathan’s words: “A little random act of kindness never hurt nobody.”