Comforting Slivers of Light Amidst the Dark Clouds & Damaging Winds

As we all await further news on the seeming damage done to our meant-to-be sacred election process, and to our incredible nation, by apparent wide-spread and pre-planned ballot corruption, we’ll hit the frustration pause button and turn our attention, for now, to a bit of refreshing good news, including the special deed of a caring young civilian, and the stories of just a sampling of America’s great military veterans.

An 18-year-old young man, working at a Kroger store in Covington, KY, while bagging groceries there, noticed that an elderly gentleman at check-out didn’t have enough money to pay for all of his groceries.  When the cashier suggested that the man should simply put back the items for which he couldn’t pay, this young man stepped up, and as he recalled: “I just thought in my head I would gave him the $35.00 needed, so that he could have all the food that he (clearly) wants.”  This Kroger employee, fairly new to the job, is a high school senior working to help with his family’s expenses and hoping, eventually, to buy a car. “Just treat people how you want to be treated, you know, always help out if somebody needs it,” he said. What a wonderful, meaningful gesture by this compassionate young man, clearly needing to work himself, and very definitely raised right by him Mom.  Given his own circumstances, perhaps that is why his compassion for others rose to the surface in this compelling instance (and likely others in his life).  Hopefully his employer recognized his kind gesture, and rewarded him accordingly.

World War II veteran, Marine Corps Major Bill White, welcomed Stockton, California well-wishers as they walked by, or drove by, waving as he sat comfortably, in his uniform (!), out in front of his assisted living facility there.  The occasion for this neighborhood tribute?  Major White was celebrating his 105th birthday!  Replied he to a reporter: “Feels just as good as it did at 104.”  Said the communications director at White’s retirement home: “He was in Shanghai before WW II, then came the Japanese invasion and all that. Blown up by a grenade on Iwo Jima. Recovered from that. Spent a total of 30-years in the Marine Corps. Just an amazing guy.”  White’s closing comment to that reporter: “Right now, I’m just trying for 106!”  He credits reading for keeping his mind active. 105-years-old!

Not quite that old yet, but World War II veteran Fred Woodland of Blackfoot, Idaho, welcomed over 100 local folks to his 96th birthday tribute, held at a local athletic field.  Mr. Woodland joined the Army at age 19. Smaller in stature, the Army knew the perfect position for him: B-17 tail gunner.  From the local news report on this tribute: “On his seventh mission, Germans shot down his plane. Woodland was ejected from the aircraft and landed in enemy territory.  He survived a few days on his own before being captured.”  Accordingly, he spent time in a German POW camp.  General Patton and his 14th Armored Division eventually liberated that that camp.  To celebrate their long-hoped-for freedom, each POW, including Mr. Woodland, symbolically signed a Nazi flag.

And here cones the unexpected Savannah, Georgia tie-in.  That very flag is held within the extensive artifact collection of the outstanding National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force here in Savannah (the suburb of Pooler, to be exact).  And here’s the best part of this story.  The good people of Blackfoot, Idaho raised the funds necessary to send Mr. Woodward and his family on a trip to Savannah, and to the Museum, so that he could see, once again, his signature on that Nazi flag, from 75-years ago, something representing real significance to him (i.e., his freedom!).  What a great gesture from his friends and townspeople, permitting this fine, courageous veteran to re-live that profoundly memorable, literally-liberating, moment, and to share it with loved ones, from that time so long ago, at such a young age, so far away, in devoted service to, and sacrifice for, America.

U.S. Marine veteran Andy Garabedian, age 41, has, to-date, provided more than 1,500 meals to the homeless in the Long Island, NY area, through the work of his charity, ‘Aggregate Hearts.’  Great effort, but there’s more to the story.  A few years back, Mr. Garabedian was, himself, homeless. “I’d walk on the street telling myself, there’s got to be more than this.  It got overwhelming.  I didn’t want to be homeless,” he recalled.  One New Year’s Eve, at wits end, even thinking about ending his life, he stopped by a local Catholic Church.  A welcoming nun gave him a sandwich, a glass of milk and a place to bed down for that cold December night.  And that experience proved to be the turn-around event.  He went on to study, and graduate in, nursing at a local community college.  Employed as a nurse during this current still-ravaging epidemic, he witnessed first-hand the impact illness was having on people, along with the personal economic impacts of job loss. This time of prolonged hardship and suffering was the incentive for this once-homeless veteran to first, gather donations from his colleagues, then to expand his work into an actual charitable organization.  He works at the hospital through the week, then devotes every weekend to preparing meals, and then delivering them.  A true bright light for many of the area’s homeless, many of whom are also likely to be veterans.  This fine, dedicated Marine Corps veteran, who has gone from defending our nation, to landing on our streets, and now, with schooling and a profession, choosing to remember and give back in a very meaningful, compassionate way.

So, from a great young man using his own hard-earned money to help a senior citizen pay for his food; to two courageous WW II veterans who served and suffered in combat for our nation, now being celebrated on their birthdays; to a once-homeless Marine whose life was, mercifully (spiritually) turned around, and who now humbly serves others, as he once so proudly served our nation.  Hopefully a bit of a pick-up for you, as we enter a worrisome, perhaps decisive (for now) weekend.  Continuing good wishes to our nation’s true standard-bearers, America’s genuine, loyal, and unyielding great patriots.


(Young man’s kindness quotes via, Ann W. Schmidt, 10-27-20;  Marine Corps vet at 105 quotes via, Katherine Rodriguez, 8-1-20; Veteran’s visit to Savannah’s 8th AF Museum data via, Amy Furr, 10-27-20; Marine helping the homeless quote & data via, Tamar Lapin, 8-23-20).