Our lives portend a journey that begins at birth and carries on through a tangled web of experiences from which we learn and grow as human beings. It is these experiences that create the map of our lives. The map on which we build the legacy we leave to those we love and care about the most.
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of participating in the 2011, Space and Missile Defense Conference; which was held at the Von Braun Complex in Huntsville Alabama. You can imagine my surprise to be included in a line up of authors that in my opinion was headlined by Colonel (Retired) Leo Thorsness; Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, President of the CMH Association and now fellow Author!
At first I was a little intimidated, but the Colonel quickly put me at ease with the way he treated not only me but everybody else that came across our paths. He had a knack for making the incredible honor of meeting him all about the person who he was talking to. He would ask profound questions and demonstrate an interest in the other person in a way that was absolutely genuine and humbling.
I watched as person after person told the Colonel about their lives and where they were from and who they were and how many kids they had and about their marriages, their grandchildren and then… He would sign a copy of his book to them in a personal way that showed how much he had enjoyed meeting each and every one of his readers. Every time I wanted to look over his shoulder to see what he had written and then suddenly, he showed me!
“In each book, I always find a way to write the letters GBU, sometimes I use the POW Tap Code to do it…the Tap Code is in the book you know!” So I asked. “What does GBU stand for?” He just laughed, and said, “God Bless You, that is how we would sign off at night before going to sleep when I was a prisoner in Vietnam.” By tapping the letters, GBU? I asked. He nodded and turned to help another reader! He asked that person, “So who signs your paychecks? That is, where do you work?” and then he was selling another three copies of his book, one for each adult member of that person’s family!
Suddenly I found a gentlemen standing in front of my side of the table, he was using a cane to walk and I could see the age in his eyes. My first thought was that he must be about 90 years old. So I asked him a few questions and listened as he talked about how he was the Sr. Vice President of the Marine Corps League Detachment there in Huntsville. The thought crossed my mind, “Once again surrounded by Giants,” as he told me about all the different aspects of his charge. Long story short, he purchased a copy of “The Night Eagles Soared” and went about the business of the day.
Yesterday, I received a package in the mail. It was plainly wrapped and didn’t draw any special attention. I set it down on the table and then my wife asked, “What is that?” I replied, "I’m not sure what it is” and she said, “Open it” so I did and to my surprise guess what was inside?
Inside the envelope there was a red box with the Marine Corp emblem on it. I opened the box and what did it have inside? My friend from the Marine Corp League Detachment had included a copy of his business card but there was a gift inside as well. The gift is a corked vile filled with “Sands of Iwo Jima” March, 2010.
I almost fell over and so now, I am sitting here telling you all about my humbling experiences as a writer that day and everyday. The honor for me to have had that opportunity in my life is indescribable. I guess the journey I am on is unique and I think that perhaps, just maybe the experiences over those few days have helped me to learn and grow as a human being. In the end, I may not be able to leave a monetary legacy for those I love and care about the most, but through my writing, perhaps I can build a legacy of hope in the future for them. And that my friend is what keeps me moving forward. GBU!