I just wanted to share a little something extra today, since it’s Memorial Day.

A couple of years ago, Dannion Brinkley was in town and wanted to visit our local V.A. hospital. He is a Vet himself and very committed to making sure our troops – past and current – know how much their sacrifices are appreciated. He started the Twilight Brigade for that reason, an organization that coordinates volunteer visits at V.A. hospitals around the nation with a simple but powerful mission: to provide comfort, reassurance, and compassionate support to the dying and their loved ones.” Dannion doesn’t want a single Vet to die without knowing he or she is loved and appreciated, whether they served last year or 70 years ago.

So, I drove Dannion to our local V.A. hospital along with my my mom and friend Suzanne. The building was very old and a bit eerie, with stark walls, empty hallways and outdated decor. The air felt…heavy. We finally found a floor where the beds were filled with older Vets – many in their last weeks or days of life, suffering from terminal diseases or life-threatening conditions. Dannion led the way, walking into each room and introducing himself and us. He hugged each patient, asked them when and where they served, listened to their stories, reassured them that they would be ok – both here and on the Other Side.

There was one patient I will never forget. I don’t remember his name or condition or even when he served. But I will always remember how his eyes welled up with tears when we walked in that room to say thanks for his service to our country. After Dannion hugged him, the man choked back his tears and said, “In all my life, no one has ever actually said thank you to me for that.” I was dumbfounded. He said people knew he had served and sometimes asked questions about it, but no one had looked him in the eyes and said THANK YOU.

There will be lots of concerts and services today to honor our troops, with officials offering a blanket thank you to the Vets in the crowd. Lovely and important events, but I realize now that nothing takes the place of a personal expression of gratitude. So, reach out today to the people you know who have served our country in the armed forces – a spouse, a relative, a neighbor. It’ll make the day even more beautiful for you and for them.