Today marks the 14th anniversary of the saddest day in American history. And while we reflect with heavy hearts, I’d be remiss if I didn’t try to find some good news about this day. You know, being that I’m all about spreading good news.
The entire atmosphere of our country changed the morning of 9/11. Not only were we grieving, we also came together in patriotism and friendship more so than I’d ever witnessed. We were united in our sorrow and pain, and because of that something beautiful happened: We took care of one another. We watched each others backs. We prayed for our country and for our neighbors. The strangers in the super market weren’t just strangers; we were comrades because of what we’d all been through together.
But those Kumbaya days seemed to fade quickly. Our political differences, religious beliefs and stances on war separated us more than ever. The walls came back up. We have lost our manners and our kindness towards each other again. Our sense of community vanished as quickly as it came.
That’s the way it’s seemed to me anyway. It’s become harder and harder to put our differences aside and just get along. We forgot about the brotherhood that we’d felt on September 12, 2001.
But this is the entire point of my website and blog. We watch the news and we see bad, worse and worsest. But if you take the time to pause and look around, you’ll see there are tons of great people surrounding us. I have an ongoing list in my notebook of good news stories to write about so long that I can’t keep up. People are still taking care of each other and we need to start highlighting it every chance we get so that we can get back to the climate that we experienced in the fall of 2001.
So, in that vane, I want to showcase two truly awe-inspiring stories that I’ve read about just this week. It’s my hope that these stories will renew your faith in society and encourage us all to be kinder to one another again, a la 2001. And the first good news story happens to have occurred in my neck of the woods…
North Carolina police officer saves suicidal man with hug
A North Carolina police officer showed the healing power of a hug.
Raleigh Police Offer Dan Hicks was on his way home from work when he spotted a man on the ledge of an overpass on Interstate 440 Wednesday, local media reported. In few words, Hicks managed to persuade the man to get off the ledge and then pulled him into an emotional embrace.
“He got a big old Dan Hicks bear hug whether he wanted it or not,” Hicks told WRAL.
Hicks, who was in uniform, said he made a “compassionate statement” that made the man change his mind and related to him as a person, not as a cop. He then held him because he didn’t want the man to get an opportunity to get back on the ledge.
When I was pulling him in tight, the only thing that I said to him was that ‘you’re okay’ and ‘it’s over,'” Hicks told ABC11.
The interaction was recorded on surveillance footage, and Hicks had no idea he would get recognition for it.
Hicks said he was just doing his job.
“He was in a very dire position, and I think he had some very bad thoughts going through his mind about how he felt about himself, but I also think he wanted help,” Hicks said.
The unnamed man received mental health help afterwards.
“This story is a great reminder that there is help for people in mental distress,” the police department said on Facebook.
DANG Y’ALL! I am beaming with pride about this Raleigh Policeman. High five, Officer Hicks! Kudos for being at the right place at the right time and DOING SOMETHING. One act of kindess literally saved someone’s life. Go RALEIGH!
The second good news story is about a man showing respect and honor for a soldier in an unusual yet compassionate way.
Man visiting wife’s grave cares for grave of fallen soldier
Jake Reissig waters grass around gravesites at Garden Park Cemetery
At the Garden Park Cemetery in Conroe, TX, there are two gravesites where the grass is a little bit greener.
It’s all thanks to Jake Reissig. The 86-year-old visits his wife’s grave every day, bringing her flowers and watering the grass surrounding her headstone.
After 65 years of marriage, she passed away in May 2014 due to heart issues.
“She has been gone a year and three months, and I still miss her,” Reissig said.
One day as he was visiting his wife’s grave, Reissig spotted a woman crying over another grave. Later, he took a look at the headstone and realized it was the grave of a fallen soldier, so he started watering the grass around his grave as well.
“It was the least I could do for him, you know,” Reissig said.
Joseph Villasenor was a member of the United States Air Force. He passed away in August 2010 after his car crashed in South Carolina. He was 35 years old.
“He was a good kid, he loved children, he was really caring with other people,” said his mother, Rachel Villasenor.
Whenever she and her husband visited Joseph Villasenor’s grave, they started to notice the grass was more green.
“We noticed his plot was kind of moist, and we were thinking maybe it’s the dew, but looking around, Joe’s was the only one that had dew on it, and I thought this can’t be right,” Rachel Villasenor said.
She liked to believe there was an angel watching over her son, and recently, she learned that angel was Reissig.
“It was just incredible to know that a stranger would take that much time and care for our son who he didn’t even know,” Rachel Villasenor said.
A simple, thoughtful, kind act, yet so meaningful to this soldier’s family. It’s also a poignant reminder to us all about how we should treat our veterans, both living and deceased.
And so on this day, September 11, 2015, let’s move back in time to a place where we cared about our neighbors and the passersby in the coffee shop. Let’s show our appreciation to our brave men and women in the armed forces, as well as our police officers and fire fighters. Let’s give thanks for the fact that we do indeed live in the best country in the world. Let’s teach our children to love one another and to be kind. Let’s lift each other up in honor of the lives we lost on 9/11.