As Americans, we are encouraged to support and thank our military men and women whenever we can for all they do to keep us a safe and free nation.
Some of us do it by flying our flag. Some of us donate items for care packages to be sent to our troops overseas. Some of us acknowledge our fighting men and women when we see them in airports and parades.
A Palmerton patriot, who wishes to remain anonymous, thought of another way to express his thanks.
One day he dropped in to Jan's Barber Shop at 434 Delaware Ave. in Palmerton. It was a busy day and he was waiting for his turn. A young man in a United States Army uniform came in and sat down to await his turn. When Jan Kresge, proprietor and barber stylist, was ready for the Palmerton man, he asked her to take the soldier first.
When the soldier went to pay, the Palmerton patriot told him he would like to pay for his haircut. He said, "Thank you for all you do."
The soldier graciously accepted the "free" haircut.
A couple of days later, the Palmerton patriot returned to Jan's with a request and an envelope of money. He asked that if any active military man came in for a haircut, to please tell him it was free as a "thank you" from someone who appreciates all he does.
The money is for Kresge, for every "free" haircut she gives. He asked only that she get the person's name and the branch of the military the serviceman is serving in.
Jan thought it was a lovely gesture on his part and agreed.
"I think it's a great thing to do. We take our service people for granted and it's just nice that someone thought of a way to say 'thank you' in a different kind of way," says Kresge.
The next time the Palmerton patriot came in for a haircut, he asked Jan how many military haircuts she had given.
"I had only two and one young man's mother made him come back and pay for the haircut," says Kresge. "Sometimes it's even hard to give something away."
Recently, Keith Costenbader, 41, of Palmerton was a recipient of the anonymous donor. He is a staff sergeant in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Charlie Company 1/111 Infantry out of Kutztown. He came back from Iraq in September 2009 after serving nine months and he had served nine months in Kosovo in 2003.
He says the first thing he thinks of when he reflects on his time overseas is, "It was hot. And exciting at times. We saw a lot of progress in 2009. We worked with the Iraqi army and it was a very positive experience. My unit was responsible for cache finds. We had a lot of call outs with IEDs. I felt we helped the Iraqi populace a lot," says this father of three.
Costenbader is employed at East Penn Manufacturing/Deka Batteries in Lyons Station. He had served three years in the regular Army and currently has 14 yeas in the National Guard.
He was very pleased to receive a free haircut.
"It made me feel good. It's not every day you get recognized for what you do, and to walk into a place and be offered something like this was very nice," says Costenbader.
And if he could speak to his benefactor, what would he say?
"Thank you very much. It's money well spent."
Kresge and the Palmerton patriot would like to extend an invitation to local active military service men to come in and take advantage of the Palmerton patriot's "Thank You" generosity sometime in these next two weeks.
Jan's Barber Shop is open Tuesdays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon, Tuesdays from 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon, and it is Walk-ins Only.