You never know the difference you can make.
I think sometimes we look for heroic acts to make a positive impact. More and more I’ve come to realize it’s the little things that make the difference. Small gestures, kind words, gentle smiles… that’s where the magic is.
The thing is… sometimes you can make a difference in someone’s life and never know.
Recently, I’ve become involved in a bit of mystery that rather nicely proves my point.
(I’m going to keep some details vague to protect the privacy of those involved.)
A few months ago, a Vietnam veteran asked for my help. He told me back in 1970, on Christmas morning, he received a form letter written by a school girl. You know, one of those letters kids write as a class project and they get randomly delivered to the military as a way of showing support.
He said he was sitting there eating “beanie weanies” with a spoon, a spoon he shared with his dog.
The letter thanked him for his service and offered hope he’d come safely.
There was something about the letter than stayed with him. He pictured the little girl who wrote the letter standing by her family Christmas tree, in a pretty blue dress. In his mind she was from the Midwest, blonde and blue eyed. He folded up the letter and kept it with him. Always.
In fact, he still keeps it nearby, nearly 50 years later.
As a sniper in the US Army, he saw the worst of the war.
“We were an assault helicopter company and were supposed to back up the Southern Vietnamese going into Laos. We were not supposed to be on the ground there. Out of 2500 South Vietnamese soldiers, 250 came out.”
The letter from the little girl gave him something to think about…to hope for.
“I want you to find her so I can tell her thank you. They tell me if anyone can find her, it would be you.”
My heart sank when he said that. What if I couldn’t find her? How would I explain to this man that I couldn’t do what he needed me to do?
My first try at an internet search failed. Something told me to keep trying, but I needed more information.
I asked my veteran if he’d let me see the letter in hopes of scavenging enough information to figure out where this person might be. A few weeks later, we met again and he handed me a neatly folded piece of blue paper.
It smelled of tobacco and sweat and the passage of time.
The hand writing was neat and the words were kind.
“We hope that one day all the wars will stop and everyone will be in peace.”
The letter, thankfully, had her name and the school she attended. I hoped it would give me enough information to track her down. If she was in sixth grade in 1970, I figured she would have been about 12 and born in about 1958. So that gave me some details I could include in a search.
I suspected that little girl had written the letter as a class assignment. Maybe she didn’t even want to write the letter and did so begrudgingly. What would I say or do if I did find her? Would she think I was a scam artist? Would she want nothing to do with my veteran?
These were the things going through my head as I clicked the keys on my laptop trying to find the name of a little girl who would now be a 60-ish woman and probably married with a different last name.
I found her!
As for what happens next? You’ll just have to tune in next time for an update! I’ll keep you posted as this project develops.
So for today, I challenge you, my Queendom, to be kind. To do the little things – like holding open a door, or give a smile to a person on the street. You could even write a good ol’ fashioned letter. Because you just never know when something so simple, could mean so much.