Magazine article America in WWII

Finding a Way to Say Thanks

Magazine article America in WWII

Finding a Way to Say Thanks

Article excerpt

Saying "thank you" can seem so empty. How can a couple of well-meaning words compare with something nice, generous, possibly even heroic someone has done for you?

You can try to thank a person with money. Several summers ago, I was at the Mid- Atlantic Air Museum's World War II Weekend in Reading, Pennsylvania, when a downpour flooded the parking fields. Water was up to my car doors, and the tires were glued in muck. A guy with a four-wheel-drive truck yelled down that he could pull me out. After my car was on firm ground, a few bystanders were talking with us and one mentioned people paying for this sort of help. I was embarrassed that I hadn't thought of that and awkwardly offered the driver a $20 bill. "You keep it," he said. "When a stranger needs your help sometime, you'll do the same."

This Good Samaritan could have taken the money and I still would have been grateful for his aid. He could, after all, have seriously damaged his truck in the effort. But this was a good guy helping someone just for the sake of helping. A "thank you" was the best I could do. I'd like to think the symbolic pats on the back we exchanged that day had a meaning that money would have cheapened.

So what do you do when someone risks his life for you? If there's ever a scene where "thank you" drowns in its own shortcomings, this is it. All this brings me to Honor Flight, an organization that sponsors WWII veterans' visits to Washington, DC, to visit the national World War II Memorial that was dedicated there in 2005 in their honor. …

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