Last Saturday, I enjoyed spending Valentine's Day with my family. Chocolate. Roses. More chocolate. My husband wrangled me into seeing the SpongeBob movie with our daughter. I did my best to sneak off, but no one was buying my excuses to leave. (I do wish the inside of my brain looked like SpongeBob's. Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows should come to mind for those who've seen the movie.) When we got home, I took control of the remote and we ended the day watching our favorite flick, "Sweet Home Alabama", on cable.
That evening, I briefly checked the new community Facebook group page I started up with a neighbor a few days prior. Sounds silly. But, we had more than 500 people join in the first week and we are determined to have a positive page free of rumors and all that junk can come along with social media.
"Gobsmacked" doesn't even begin to explain what I felt when I saw this post...
Within minutes, dozens of posts of support and gratitude piled up one after another. It's just in my nature to need to know more about the man behind the mission.
Sunday night, I received Q&A responses from Mario about his time in Desert Storm, his background, and what motivated him to reach out. I never once felt like Mario was trying to get attention. He simply wanted to make sure the flag wasn't managed by anyone else. He didn't want to step on toes. He wanted to do what was right.
My first thought was, "How many other people walked by that flag and did nothing?" Mario did something.
My Monday started with two emails from a local tv station wanting Mario's information for a story. My reporter/producer/competitive side kicked in. Between contacting Mario and communicating with the news desk and reporter, I stirred up a life I once lived day-to-day in broadcast news. And I didn't like it. That really surprised me as I frequently reminisce about my time and the friends I made in news.
I had a rare opportunity to learn a lot about Mario in a very short amount of time. All I can say is he inspires me. Confident. Loyal. Considerate.
As it turns out, I took a photo of a pair of boots and medals at The Moving Wall, a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, when it was in town last fall. When I saw the boots under a panel of names on the wall, it brought tears to my eyes. It wasn't until this week that I learned they belonged to Mario.
Learn more about Mario here.
Our world needs more people like Mario - willing to do what's right without needing something in return. And the world needs more neighbors like those in my community - patriotic and grateful for the sacrifices members of the military make for our country, families, and loved ones.
Words of support. A lending hand. A small donation. It doesn't take much to show a vet your appreciation. It doesn't take much to show another human being their efforts haven't gone unnoticed.
A lot has transpired in one week. Our community's Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are working together to raise funds and maintain the flags. Mario has a donation of 6 solar lights ordered and on their way to Estrella so they can keep our three flags lit all night long. And neighbors are still showing an interest to help and donate as they can.
I can't say it's all been positive, sadly. I've learned a lot about society, fear, deceit, greed, and ego this week, too. I'm doing my best to channel my inner Eckhart Tolle. But I do know I've had an incredible opportunity - on countless occasions in my short lifetime - to see what can happen when good people come together to make great things happen.
I do hope my daughter can see the good in the people the way I do.
Thank you, Mario. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, to everyone who's fought for the freedoms we so enjoy in America today.