One of the benefits I enjoy in this job is meeting people who add to the human story in their own ways. They rarely make headlines, because they do what they do out of love – of country, of family, of history, of those who serve.
Today I heard from two of them. One I will mention; the other chooses to remain anonymous.
Terry Krautwurst and I began corresponding in 2008. Our grandfathers had both served in the 117th Ammunition Train in World War I, as part of the famous Rainbow Division led by COL Douglas MacArthur. Since then, Terry has sent me updates on old articles or letters that mention my grandfather (or his three brothers who also served).
Uncle Bill Smith was the brother of my grandfather James
People like Terry who share a passion for history are the ones who preserve it for the rest of us. Without those dedicated souls who pore over old correspondence, research the library shelves and ask descendents for tidbits of information, the service and memory of those who went to war for their country would be lost. Like a veteran told Kevin Bacon in the poignant movie Taking Chance, “You are his witness now. Without a witness, they just disappear.” Without Terry, my grandfather and his brothers would one day disappear.
Another email friend of mine will remain anonymous because she requested it. For the last several years she and I have sent emails back and forth, talking about ways to support the troops. Her way is by sending gift packages to the troops overseas – some to those recuperating at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center; others to those who are serving on the front line. To encourage me to do the same, we struck a deal. When she caught a typo on one of my articles, she would point it out and I would “owe” her one package that I would send out.
Today she told me that she sent out 233 boxes last year, and that this year she was (her words), “…only up to 55 so far in 2012.” That is one box every 1.5 days last year, and one box every 1.1 days this year. Imagine how many people’s lives she has brightened over the years.
How insignificant I feel next to these two. They have woven so much beauty into the fabric of our lives, and neither asks for accolades or even mention for the wonderful things they do. I am humbled by their dedication, and grateful for their contribution to the human story.
They are my heroes of the week.