Two days ago, I watched a viral commencement address by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven at the University of Texas in 2014. The title of the speech is, “Change the World.” The voice and demeanor of the Admiral in uniform–besides the numerous medals on his chest–are an unmistakable display of leadership.
Nonetheless, what moved the audience that day, and continues to awe people worldwide on the internet, are his words and the essence of his message. This is my favorite part:
“If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person, a Washington, a Lincoln, King, Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala. One person can change the world by giving people hope. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.” (Click here to watch the full video)
The reference to the mud is based on his last week of training to become a Navy SEAL. It is known as Hell Week. Trainees must endure a fifteen-hour night buried up to their neck in a swampy beach, in the frozen Pacific, surrounded by relentless harassment from their superiors telling them to quit.
The Admiral remembered that, when a few mates showed signs of giving up, one voice started singing a song. Then another joined in, and so on, until the entire team was singing their hearts out. At that crucial moment, even though they still had eight more hours until sunrise, the singing warmed up their bodies and lifted their spirits.
His story made me reflect because I have experienced the power of hope this Christmas season more than ever in my life. Very often, I hear that difficult times get out the best in us. Even though I agree with that statement, I also believe that what we do when times are good matters greatly.
So, after a series of incredible events, my husband and I decided to start a foundation to help military vets. I truly believe that God gave us a mission and wants us to put our will, contacts, and resources to the service of our great men and women who have given so much, expecting nothing in return.
The day we met Suzie–one of the vets we are currently helping–she told us, fighting back her tears, that before she knew we wanted to fix her car and finding her a job, she was in a dark place considering the worst. But, when we showed her that we cared, a tiny seed of hope sprouted from the ruins and began to see the light. “Just know that you saved a life,” she said to us, holding her sleeping three-year-old baby boy in her arms.
This is why The Zellner Foundation for Military Vets was born–from a deep and humble desire to inspire hope among those who have lost it and are desperately trying to find it.
If you have the desire, time, and means to share your hope with somebody in need, go to your county’s sheriff’s office, hospital, or charity of your choice, Ask if you can help out in any way. Believe me, you will get the opportunity to change somebody’s life with a simple gesture of kindness.
To all my readers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2020!
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