We are less, because he’s gone…

That is what was said about a homeless vet who died in a fire, while saving 5 people.  What a tribute.

It got me thinking… what would be the response if I were to die?  Not that I’m looking for fame or accolades, but this man’s life, though it was full of trouble and hardship, impacted an entire community.  And not just in this final act of bravery. 

Here’s the story… a homeless man, Ray, is trying to get his life back together, finds a job and a place to stay at a boarding house.  Arsonists set the house on fire; Ray saves 5 other boarders, but doesn’t manage to get out himself.  For weeks his body was unclaimed until someone from a soup kitchen heard he may have died.  That started the search, the story, and ultimately a burial at Arlington National Cemetary (it’s kinda scary that I typed “Seminary” first!).  It seems everyone from city coucilpersons to soup kitchen volunteers knew Ray and appreciated his good heart. 

He made plenty of mistakes.  He was a recovering alcoholic.  His children had not seen him for 15 years.  His oldest daughter said she was looking at this tragedy as giving her one “good, concrete memory” of her father.  Ouch.  But Ray was trying to get his life back together. 

And he was impacting people along the way.

Makes me wonder in what ways I am impacting those around me… do people see a good heart?  Do they see kindness and compassion?  Or am I too busy to exercise a good heart?  Do people see that I am too preoccupied with my own concerns to be kind and compassionate?  Troubling…

You can read about Ray here… http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100123/ap_on_re_us/us_marine_proper_burial

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