I have not shared what I'm about to share with you with anyone except one very dear friend and then of course my mom and dad. But here it is. Me and my whole family are big fans of the mini series Band of Brothers but most in particular me and my mother. But it's not just the mini series, there's more to it. It's the true stories behind it, the brave men of Easy Company who fought in WWII and in most particular, Major Dick Winters. After I watched that series I became obsessed with the men of Easy Company and Major Winters and read many books on them and watched the mini series over and over again. Major Winters has become a hero to me. He was an amazing leader, an amazing man and I completely admired him. And unfortunately he died just last year.
But I wasn't the only one Major Winters was a hero to. There was a little boy named Jordan who looked up to him as well. So much so that the little boy took on a fundraising project to raise money to get a statue built of Winters. He raised money by selling those rubber bracelets like you can get and wear for cancer and all kinds of illness. But his said the words, "Hang Tough" on them. Those are words that Major Winters would often say to his men and to people to get them through tough situations. It was his mantra. So Jordan got those words printed on these olive colored bracelets (Olive color for the OD's - olive drab color of the soldiers' uniforms) and sold them for whatever you wanted to donate to raise money for this statue. And he did it. The statue of Major Winters was just recently raised and dedicated in his honor in Normandy, where they dropped behind enemy lines on June 6th, 1944 - D-Day.
So I just recently caught wind of Jordan's efforts and these bracelets he was selling. I knew Major Winters had passed but I wasn't aware that this boy was doing this. So as soon as I found out, I immediately found his website to try and order a couple bracelets to not only support his efforts but also in honor of my hero, Major Winters. I also thought the bracelets was perfect for my recovery - Hang Tough. But when I found his website it said that they had raised enough money for the statue to be built and were all sold out of bracelets. I was devastated! There was an email address to write to if you had questions so I immediately wrote to the address asking if they were going to be getting any more bracelets. It immediately kicked back an automated response that they were no longer selling the bracelets but they left another email address so I wrote again to this address, writing my story and how much Major Winters has meant to me and how much I really wanted to have one of those bracelets as it fit so well to my recovery.
Well, that night I got an email back from Jordan's mother herself saying how much she appreciated me sharing my story with her and how much she cared for what I was going through but unfortunately since they had raised enough money for the statue they had to draw the line somewhere and stop selling the bracelets. My heart sank/ But, then she said that they had kept a few and set them aside and would love to send me two, one for me and one for my mother. AAAAHHH!! I was ecstatic when I read that!! It brought tears to my eyes the wonderful things she wrote. So I wrote her back thanking her to no end for being willing to send me and my mother those bracelets and how much it would mean in my recovery. We emailed a couple times and then while I was in the hospital the bracelets came so I had my mother bring mind down so I could start wearing it right away. And I wear it along with the one that my brother gave me. I never take either off.
So to the last part of my story. I must have made an impact on Yasmin (Jordan's mother) and her son Jordan who raised the money for Winters' statue because I received an unexpected package in the mail today. I thought maybe it might be something from my wishlist but my name and address were handwritten on the package so I checked the return address and it read, "Dick Winters Monument Fun." I'm still at a loss. The package was kinda thick so it was any kind of thank you note for taking interest or anything. So I open it up and inside are four little round vials wrapped in bubble wrap with a sticky note stuck to the top that read:
We couldn't help but think of you while in Normandy.
Enjoy the enclosed.
Yasmin and Jordan
I carefully unwrapped the bubble wrap and gasped and tears came to my eyes. What they had given me were pieces of the places they visited while in Normandy for the raising and dedication of the statue, places that were significant to Major Winters' experiences over there fighting the way. For example, there was a vial of dirt from Brecourt Manor where Major Winters led a team in to destroy the guns that were firing down on the US Soldiers on Utah Beach. Major Winters earned a Distinguished Service Cross for his leadership and accomplishment in taking out those guns at Brecourt Manor. Another vial held sand a small seashell from Utah Beach. Another held sand from Omaha Beach and a fourth vial held dirt from Pointe du Hoc. Of all the people they dealt with with this fundraiser, they thought of me and thought of me to bring back something that I would find precious because of our mutual hero, Major Winters and the fight that I am fighting.
(Dirt from Brecourt Manor in Normandy)
(Sand and a small seashell from Utah Beach)
(Sand from Omaha Beach)
(Dirt from Pointe Du Hoc)
Helps put a warm feeling in my heart and soul that I touched their lives so that they thought of me while they were there in Normandy. They thought of ME. And wanted to send me something that they knew I would appreciate. I can tell you that they have certainly touched my life and come into my life in a way I never expected. Makes me wonder how many other people's lives I may have touched or inspired that I wouldn't expect. It's an amazing feeling and I cherish it with my whole heart. I hope I can continue touching people's lives and inspiring people.
"To do something, however small, to make others happier and better, is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being." ~John Lubbock