Touched by a Real-Life Angel

She wasn’t an angel by the weird contemporary standards that artificially define “beauty,” but she embodied the verity that true beauty is far more than skin deep.

She’s a middle-aged woman born overseas. Her husband was born in that same country. They emigrated here decades ago.

She told me that they have a son who served in Iraq. I said, perhaps a bit lamely given a bout of late-afternoon fatigue, “Thank him for his service.” Then she opened up.

Though he is home, her son, following many months at Walter Reed and the local VA hospital, is still going through a fitful recovery from an awful encounter with an IED that severely damaged his brain. She described what had happened, what he’s been through, what she’s been through, and what their family has been through -- and then spoke of her great love of this country and all it stands for.

Her most poignant line with relevance to all was roughly this: “Don’t believe any of what you read about what the rest of the world thinks of this country. No matter where I have been, everyday people literally worship America and all it stands for.”

She fully understands that so many of the people who are currently in charge don’t seem to understand or appreciate any of this, especially the part about American exceptionalism. If what she has suffered hasn’t deterred her, the events of this past weekend surely shouldn’t discourage others among us who also believe in it.

This angel probably has no idea of what she did for me, or of what I suspect she does for others on a daily basis. She thought I was doing her a favor by listening to her story and was almost apologetic about sharing it with me. Doing everything I could to keep from turning into a babbling, blubbering mess, I said, “It was a privilege to hear it.”

That those of us who know what should be done and who try to do our little part in making it happen might get occasionally and briefly down is understandable. To let it go on for too long, or to give in to the easy temptation of apathy, is simply unforgivable. The sacrifices this woman, her son, her family, and thousands of families like hers have made over the centuries to defend and preserve what we have, and who have given us the precious opportunity to improve upon it, demand that we press on unapologetically and forcefully.