In his autobiography, Breaking Barriers, syndicated columnist Carl Rowan tells about a teacher who greatly influenced his life. Rowan wrote: Miss Thompson reached into her desk drawer and pulled out a piece of paper containing a quote attributed to Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. I listened intently as she read: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work.” More than 30 years later, I gave a speech in which I said that Frances Thompson had given me a desperately needed belief in myself. A newspaper printed the story, and someone mailed the clipping to my beloved teacher. She wrote me: “You have no idea what that newspaper story meant to me. For years, I endured my brother’s arguments that I had wasted my life. That I should have married and had a family. When I read that you gave me credit for helping to launch a marvelous career, I put the clipping in front of my brother. After he’d read it, I said, ‘You see, I didn’t really waste my life, did I?’”
It is important to know that we are appreciated, and that our efforts matter. It is good for the soul to hear words of thanks from someone who lives we touched. How beautiful would it be if we all made a habit of regularly reaching out to those who have made a difference in our lives or who have served us, to express our earnest thanksgiving?
Today is Veteran’s Day and we have such an opportunity. Today we give thanks to all those women and men who have sacrificed for the good of our nation. We also give thanks for their families who also have given a great deal to make this service possible. If you are a veteran, please hear our words of gratitude today.
Let us pray: Thank you, O God, for those people who have touched our lives and for those who have served us sacrificially. Show us how we might be a blessing to them this day. Amen.