By Mr. Philip H Jones (ocpa-plans)April 1, 2011
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. - "Kindness is a language which the blind can see and the deaf can hear. " -- Anon, the Greek
March 9 started as a typical day for Violette Kogut, the spouse of a deceased service member and a member of the Fort Meade community since 1963. She had things to do and people to see. Her day included a stop at the post commissary.
After finding what she thought was a good space in the commissary parking lot, the Laurel resident went off to shop. At about the same time, Walter Taylor, a 24-year federal employee who works in the commissary's meat department, went outside with the intention of taking a quiet, 15-minute break.
Standing in the parking lot, Taylor witnessed another vehicle hitting Kogut's Honda Accord. The impact caused the bumper of Kogut's car to nearly drop to the ground. Instead of stopping and contacting the proper authority to report an accident, said Taylor, the driver moved his vehicle four rows away to another parking spot, leaving the scene as if nothing occurred.
"I just stood there watching what happened," Taylor said. "I said to myself, 'He's not going to stop. He's going to keep moving.' I had to do something. I couldn't just walk away."
Taylor immediately called the military police on his cellphone while a co-worker wrote down Kogut's license plate number, then went inside to page Kogut.
Taylor continued to wait near Kogut's vehicle.
"When she finally came outside and saw what had happened to her car, she became really distraught and just started to cry," Taylor said. "She said her husband, who had passed away a couple of years ago, always handled these kinds of situations. I knew I just couldn't leave her standing there."
Taylor and his co-worker tried to comfort Kogut. When the MPs arrived, Taylor explained what he witnessed and pointed out the vehicle's driver.
His 15-minute break had now turned into a 35-minute ordeal. It was at this point that Taylor thought he should let his supervisor know why he had not returned from his break.
"My supervisor came outside and saw what had happened," Taylor recalled. "He told Mrs. Kogut, 'Walter Taylor will stay with you until the MPs complete their report.' "
Hannelore Mulligan, wife of a deceased service member, also needed to shop at the commissary on March 9. As she drove through the parking lot, Mulligan recognized Kogut as a fellow participant in her Zumba class at Gaffney Fitness Center.
"I saw the look on her face and I knew something was wrong," Mulligan said. "I just felt like she needed a little support. When I got out of my car she just looked at me and said, 'Look what happened to my car.' "
Mulligan's support would extend over the next four hours as she waited with Kogut for the MPs to arrive and a tow truck to remove the vehicle. The Ellicott City resident then shopped with Kogut at the commissary and drove her to Laurel to pick up a rental car.
Prior to March 9, Mulligan and Kogut were not close friends. They simply said "hi" to each other on the days they went to Zumba class. For Mulligan, helping Kogut was not about friendship. It simply was the "right thing to do."
"I would have done it for anybody," Mulligan said. "I think we need to look out for each other. Maybe one day I'll need help too."
Taylor shares similar values.
"I would want somebody to do the same thing I did if they saw what happened," he said. "I would want somebody to do that for me or for somebody in my family."
With time to reflect on what happened to her and really take into account the thoughtfulness of the two people who came to her aid, Kogut contacted Soundoff! to publicly thank Taylor and Mulligan.
"I am profoundly grateful," Kogut said. "This could have been a tragedy, but this is a lesson in life about how people are kind. The gentleman and the lady helped me. They made my life easier."
Reaching out to others in their time of need, that's the way the world should be. Perhaps Mahatma Gandhi said it best:
"Be the change that you want to see in the world."