A Ten-Year old's Quest to Thank Veterans
By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published December 12, 2016
Barnes Air National Guard Base -- Ten-year old Jeffrey from Agawam, Mass., is on a quest to thank as many Veterans as he can before Veteran's Day. His quest started when he first shook a Veteran's hand in the grocery store and felt good being able to say "Thank you" to those wearing the Veteran hats.
"We saw a Veteran in the grocery store and Jeffrey came up to me and asked to go thank him for his service," said Genevieve Szulc, Jeffrey's Mom. "I was standing back watching and it took the gentlemen a few times to hear my little guy saying excuse me. When he did hear Jeffrey, he shook his hand and the older gentleman started crying. After we got in the car, Jeffrey shared with me that it felt good to talk to the Veteran. I asked him, maybe you should see how many Veteran's hands you can shake by Veteran's Day, and this project grew from there."
Airmen at Barnes Air National Guard Base were honored to meet Jeffrey when he visited Barnes Air National Guard Base to thank members of the military.
"It is very impressive to see a young man taking time to say thank you and to remember the Veterans," said Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Puccio, 104th Security Forces.
Before visiting Barnes Air National Guard Base he was able to meet Veterans at the traveling Vietnam Wall Memorial, Soldier's Home in Holyoke, amongst many other locations around Western Massachusetts.
"I feel a lot of joy and emotions when I approach a Veteran because I think about what they have done for us and what they are doing for us," said Jeffrey.
Jeffrey said he is thankful for Veterans because of his grandfather who served in the Navy.
"Some along the way said it is simple but they do not hear it," shared Jeffrey's Mom. "I believe the little bit of kindness being shared by Jeffrey made the whole thing take off. I am proud of my son. He learned a lot from speaking to everyone."
Jeffrey's Mom shared, "I am glad he was able to thank so many Veteran's. We go along in our daily lives and never experience the inconveniences or never go through what Veterans have experienced. I don't believe we are all appreciative enough and I try to teach this to my kids to be respectful and honor."
Jeffrey now has over 450 signatures in a book, he asks the Veterans he meets to sign after shaking their hands. He is planning to be at a Veteran's 5K in Boston where Veterans will be honored, as well as an upcoming Veteran's breakfast near Veteran's Day. When he grows up he is interested in being a C-130 pilot and a professional football player.
Jeffrey has since been honored at school for doing his work and also for starting a Veteran's Campaign.