Dallas Morning News columnist Steve Blow recently published an article about an American soldier during World War II who after parachuting to safety from a badly crippled B-26 bomber was almost immediately captured by German soldiers and marched at gunpoint through a nearby small French village. “But in a strange twist,” Blow described in his column, “it became a kind of parade and a show of defiance to the Nazis. Villagers began to follow along on foot and on bicycle, showing their admiration for the man trying to free their nation.” And for all these many years since – almost seventy by now – the villagers have tried to find him, the anonymous American soldier who, though a prisoner held at gunpoint, marched bravely and proudly through their town, a symbol of freedom and hope during their time of despair. Only recently through a series of miraculous discoveries did they succeed. Actually, it was the descendents of the villagers who found the descendents of the hero, as most including the American soldier himself by now had passed on. So grateful are the citizens of that small French village that they are planning a celebration to honor the American soldier and his family.
When Tee and I were married almost forty years ago I gave her as a wedding gift a small diamond-drop necklace, something she has worn every day of her life since. And though it is a rather simple piece of jewelry to her it is priceless, symbolic not only of our love for each other but also the life we have built together. Six months ago while visiting family in Chicago she discovered after a shopping trip with our granddaughter that the necklace had disappeared. She was devastated. Then last weekend while on a return trip to Chicago she requested that I take her back to the same store for one more look, to which I dutifully complied. Dubious about the whole thing, though, I remained in the car while she went inside. You can imagine my astonishment when only minutes later she came bouncing out of the store, the diamond-drop necklace clutched tightly in her fist. Some kind person, you see, had obviously picked it up and turned it in to the store’s management who had held it in safekeeping ever since. A miracle! And not unlike the soldier who marched bravely and proudly through the French village, the person who rescued my wife’s necklace has no idea how much that little action meant to her.
Never should we underestimate the impact our actions might have on someone else.