The article on heroes, posted earlier today, got me to thinking of a few of the heroes that I’ve encountered. I work as a speech-language pathologist, in nursing homes, and have had the great privilege of coming into contact with a number of men AND women that I consider to be an inspiration to all of us. At the very basest level, they are all excellent examples of the fact that all of these nursing home residents have a story to tell. All of them have a rich history of experiences that we can learn so much from, if we only take the time to listen.
A few years ago, I met a man who saw his buddy killed, just feet from him, as they came ashore as part of the first wave of the invasion of Normandy. Another man, along with his company, had the task of repairing bridges destroyed by the Nazis as they retreated from Italy. Yet another joined the Marines at the tender age of 17, and participated in the evacuation of Americans from Saigon. Then there was the 97-year-old gentleman who spoke so proudly of his experiences on Iwo Jima. And so many more.
One thing stands out, for me, with all of these veterans. So many years after their term of service to their country has ended, they are still displaying the courage and the concern for others that they did back then, sometimes as long as 70 years ago. It shows in the way they deal with so many of the trials that they have faced over the years — the loss of friends and loved ones, strokes, crippling arthritis, dementia, and so many more. There’s also a quality about them that’s hard to describe, that comes out in the way they deal with those around them.
Here’s a news story that I came across last year, and wrote about on my own blog. It does such a wonderful job of illustrating what I’ve been talking about here. Just a word of warning, though — you may want to have a tissue handy. (The link does open in a new window.)