When seriously stupid problems created by seriously stupid politicians lead to seriously concerned citizens, seriously great things can happen.
It certainly happened for Sarah Hoidahl, a New Hampshire waitress to picked up the near-$28 tab of two National Guard soldiers serving without pay as a result of the recent government shutdown. According to a news report published on Tampa's WFLA-TV, when nationally syndicated talk show host and actress Ellen DeGeneres learned of learned of Hoidahl’s generosity through reading a Facebook post by the New Hampshire National Guard, she returned the favor.
To the tune of $10,000.
According to news accounts, Hoidahl was in tears upon learning the gift. DeGeneres, chastised by conservatives for being a champion of gay and lesbian causes, has now become a symbol of generosity among Hollywood celebrities, and good for her.
It’s easy for a celebrity or politico to write a check to a charity or a political cause and forget what is being done, or not done, with that money. It’s when people like DeGeneres, whose entertainment career was nearly destroyed by protests against her long-cancelled self-titled ABC sitcom, Ellen, go off the soapbox and actually do something concrete, that America sits up and takes notice. She understood that these soldiers served their country without pay because of the buffoonery of Washington power brokers and, when she saw how an ordinary citizen who wasn’t making a six-to-seven figure Washington salary showed real kindness, DeGeneres did something almost unheard of in our hyper-partisan political landscape.
She did the decent thing.
We should all take a moment and think about this gesture of kindness. Cynics will argue that DeGeneres essentially gave the waitress “chump change,” but the mere fact that she would give a total stranger, who merely demonstrated human compassion, largess of her own is proof that when good goes out, good comes back. Moreover, it proves that not every member of the entertainment industry has it out for our men and women in uniform, and many others, such as actor and former service-member Gary Sinise, are more than willing to champion causes for our brave warriors whose only desire is to serve their nation and, perhaps, make something better of themselves for their family and communities.
Hoidahl’s reaction is what one would expect from an a working-class individual; surprise, shock and sincere gratitude. She, like so many others in our nation, do her best to make it in a harsh economy and even harsher world, but manage to display an unusual level of generosity with a patriotism almost unheard of in this day and age. America needs more of Ellen and Sarah, and less of the fools who allowed our warriors to go without the pay promised to them, all in order to advance a political agenda.
President Barack Obama and Texas Representative Ted Cruz would do well to learn a lesson from Ms. Hoidahl and Ms. DeGeneres. That lesson is those serving our country, willing to sacrifice their own lives, deserve to treated with dignity, generosity and respect. These fine women did just that, and it was a far sight better than anything our elected representatives in Washington seem to be able to accomplish.
This is beyond political – this is about what it means to be American. Everyone, take note of Hoidahl and DeGeneres – they are providing a clinic in the American spirit. Considering the low esteem our elected representatives are held in, perhaps instead of taking for their campaign coffers, giving back would be a great campaign move. Unfortunately, Americans are smart enough to know better.
Yet, like Hoidahl learned from DeGeneres, hope certainly springs eternal.