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I was privileged recently to meet an outstanding citizen of our community. I would like to recognize him and thank him publicly for his kindness and generosity.
While there are many among us who would do us harm and whose troubled lives are constantly in the headlines, this gentleman, through word and deed, demonstrated all that is noble and good about himself and so many others like him in our community.
One morning a few days ago, I stopped at a local ATM to make a cash withdrawal. While finalizing this transaction, I was distracted by a news story on the radio that drew my complete attention. It was not until I met my son at Bojangles a short time later that I realized that although I had retrieved my card, I had left the cash in the machine.
While it was not a large sum, if I was going to give it away, I would have liked for it to have gone to a charity of my choosing. As it was, I was reasonably certain it was now in the hands of the person who was fortunate enough to use the machine after me. Nevertheless, I felt that I owed it to myself to go back to the ATM to confirm my logical assessment.
As I was getting back in my vehicle, I heard a voice behind me say, “Excuse me. Did you just leave the bank?” For an instant, I thought I was experiencing a cruel episode of wishful thinking.
Reflexively, I turned in the direction of the voice to see a man walking toward me. I remember uttering the words, “Yes, I did.” At that time, the man handed me my cash from the ATM and said, “I think you left this.”
Needless to say, I was momentarily speechless. My son and I looked at each other in disbelief. I finally found my voice and began to thank the man over and over again. He smiled, said, “You’re welcome,” and walked away. I caught up with him and in a final attempt to convey how sincerely I appreciated his honesty, I offered him a small reward. He stopped me, pushed my hand back and simply said, “No, sir. This is America. This is what Americans do. This is what makes America such a great place to live.”
As he turned to walk away, I said, “Well, would you at least tell me your name?” He smiled, and reluctantly said. “Curtis Stradford.”
Curtis Stradford, a man of character and integrity, a citizen motivated to perform an act of kindness toward someone he had never met and did not know, for no other reason than to help him along on the highway of life.
I am certain that Curtis has done similar things for others in the past and I have no doubt he will do the same for others in the future.
To those of you who are related to Curtis or who know him personally, you are blessed.
Thanks again, Curtis. You’re a good man. It is people like you who make us all proud to be Americans.