Whenever my sisters and I find ourselves going through a hard time, we take a trip to our favorite restaurant. The food is nothing to write home about, and it’s not that we’re particularly hungry anyway – it’s just that in a tragedy, no one really knows what to do. It’s a place where we can find just what we need: a quiet booth, some hot coffee, and service that always leaves us feeling well cared for.
After leaving the funeral of SWAT Officer Steve Smith on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, nine police officers in Columbus, Ohio were looking for their own place to decompress. Officer Smith had tragically died a week earlier after being shot in a stand-off on April 10. Thousands had showed up to honor the fallen hero, including a procession of police vehicles from nearly 120 different jurisdictions. These nine officers decided to go to Red Robin afterwards, but little did they know they were in for a lot more than burgers and fries.
As waitress Jessica Dunbar watched the table of nine somberly file into her section, she immediately knew something was off. She asked the group what was wrong, and an officer replied, “It’s always a rough day when you’ve gotta put a brother in the ground.” Jessica couldn’t help but think of her own father, a retired police officer. In his honor, and in the memory of Officer Smith, she made a kind gesture that touched hearts everywhere and immediately went viral.
It was a normal day at Red Robin in Columbus, Ohio, until nine officers entered the building. Somber and dejected, they had just left the funeral of SWAT Officer Steve Smith.
Waitress Jessica Dunbar was deeply shaken by the news. She had grown up watching her mom constantly worry about her dad, an active-duty police officer. Although he was now retired, Jessica knew that a similar tragedy could have just as easily happened to him.
After all, Officer Steve Smith had already survived being shot three years earlier. With gun violence at an all-time high in America, the men and women who fight to keep us safe are in more danger than ever. Officer Smith had proudly returned to his duties after the shooting – a clear testament to his character, courage, strength, and commitment to his community.
When it came time for the officers to receive their $123 bill, Jessica handed them this note instead.
“Officers, your bill is on me today. I can’t imagine the day you all have had, let alone what you go through every day. I hope your days get better. So much respect. #weseeyou #policelivematters #RIPOfficerSmith”
The officers were deeply touched by Jessica’s meaningful gesture, but to hear her tell the story, it meant just as much to her. “To have them shake my hand and say ‘thank you’ to me, that was incredible,” she told NBC.
To see more of the story and Jessica’s full interview, check out the video below.
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