It happens almost daily. A stranger reaches out to comfort Roy Velez, unintended symbol of unspeakable loss and grief.
Today it's a woman who approaches as he's halfway through breakfast at Montelongo's Mexican restaurant.
"My brother told me about you and your sons," she says, extending her hand.
He takes her small hand between his - this sturdy man who has buried two boys who went off to war - and listens gently as her own story of sorrow spills forth. Her 8-year-old daughter, a traffic accident, her son at the wheel.
As waiters bustle about with trays of huevos rancheros and barbacoa plates, Mr. Velez does what he does best: offers up a soft prayer to help this mother endure her emptiness.
Strangers learn about Mr. Velez from newspapers and TV. They come to him to share their gratitude or their grief. They come to thank him and console him, tearfully, for his family's sacrifice.
This is how Mr. Velez chooses to live after losing two sons in two years, not riven with anger or paralyzed with sadness. But as someone ready for those who might slip into the darkness of despair.
For his strength for others, compassion and grace - and for serving as inspiration for anyone who knows his story - Mr. Velez is the 2006 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.
Because this story is so long, I've linked to the article which you can read in it's entirety.
These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don't Know Where To Look
This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. If you would like to participate in honoring the brave men and women who serve this great country, you can find out how by clicking here.
Not a lot I can say that wasn't said above. But the golden globes were on, and the Velez brothers weren't mentioned. We saw in the news last night that a red digital reader board counting the lives lost overseas was taken down somewhere in the bay area, I think, because city officials deemed it offensive. How? Again, I think something like that is neither pro OR anti war, it's just a reminder that lives are being lost and that we should honor the fallen. HOW could that possibly be offensive? (Unless it also showed Bush as a monkey, or sucking oil through a drinking straw at an oil well, but the news didn't say that.) I think remembrance is the very least that we owe these families.