On a recent early morning Friday drive to work, I couldn’t help but question why the streets of Dallas were so empty. I turned on the radio, only to find that the city of Dallas was rocked by a night of terror when a lone gunman killed five police officers. When I got to work I sat in stillness, gathering my thoughts, trying to figure out how best I could support the city’s officers in their time of sadness and despair.
Casey Johnson, my colleague at Live Happy, told me that on her drive to work, she passed the Dallas Police Department’s North Central Division and noticed an outpouring of support from the community. Together, we decided to grab Live Happy bracelets and sticky notes with positive sayings and head to the station. As we approached the parking lot, we saw individuals and families of all races and backgrounds coming together to support, honor and acknowledge the officers who were injured or killed the previous night, as well as the officers standing before them. Parents walked up with their children to give the officers hugs, handmade drawings and colorful signs.
These small, simple acts of love and kindness brought feelings of joy and gratitude to the officers, as well as the community as a whole. At that moment, I felt grateful to witness first-hand the power of what small acts of kindness can do for other people. Steve Ledbetter, a Dallas Police Department reserve officer with 30 years of experience says, “It’s overwhelming how good it [the support] makes us feel and how much we want to do for this community.”
He appreciates the heartfelt, face-to-face messages and gratitude from citizens who smile and say “thank you for your service” or pay for officers’ coffees or meals. He and his wife stopped by a Chili’s after a funeral for one of the five Dallas officers. Steve was in uniform, and when he was ready to pay, their waiter told them their bill was taken care of by the couple sitting behind them.
“I stood up and walked to their booth to thank them,” Steve said. “And as soon as I said ‘thank you,’ I felt a tear running down my cheek. I tried to compose myself and told them how grateful Iwas.” The couple responded that it was the least they could do for a member of the Dallas Police. “We created such a bond in our short conversation,” he said, that they plan to meet for lunch again soon.
Steve said the department has been overwhelmed with kind, generous acts such as people coming by to say “thank you” and to share food and gifts. A memorial of balloons, stuffed animals, flowers and signs enveloped a DPD squad car outside the downtown police headquarters.
“The kindness from everyone’s hearts is really pulling us through this tragic situation,” he says.
Alix Schwartz is a graduate student at the University of Southern California School of Social Work. She is an intern for Live Happy.