The sign we are using is intended to communicate
"thank you from the bottom of my heart. "
To make the sign simply place your hand on your heart
as though you're saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Then
pull your hand down and out, bending at the elbow
(not the wrist), stopping for a moment at about the belly button with your hand flat, palm up, angled toward the person you're thanking.
According to Norman Heimgartner, Ed.D., author of “Behavioral Traits of Deaf Children” and former Professor of Education at the University of Puget Sound, this sign originated in France in the late 1700’s, and was published in “Theorie des Signes”, a dictionary of signs by the Abbe Sicard. The sign was brought to the United States in 1816 by the Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, founder of Gallaudet University, who later modified it to start at the chin rather than at the heart. That sign is now the standard sign for “thank you” in American Sign Language. The original sign, starting at the heart, is less commonly known today and might now be considered “slang”. For more information on American Sign Language, please see www.aslta.org.
For the past several years as I've been traveling around the country, I've been approaching Soldiers in airports and thanking them for serving for us. On several occasions I have noticed that it felt a little awkward for both of us. There are several reasons, some of which I am even just now learning as I produce this film and talk to more Service Men & Women and Veterans. But they have always appreciated being thanked, and I have always felt better having expressed my gratitude.
I started to think that it would be nice if civilians had a gesture or sign that they could use to say "thank you" quickly and easily without even having to approach. I did some research and found the sign that we are now using.
Is this limited to the military? Not at all. If you look around you I'm sure that you'll find lots of people who are serving their communities, from local to global. If you appreciate their service, give them a sign. Say "thank you from the bottom of my heart."
-Scott Truitt, FOUNDER, The Gratitude Campaign