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— Original message —
The next chapter in the story!!
From: Tom Sauerbrun
Sent: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 10:08 AM
To: Grace Alley
Chaz and Jacklyn,
Good morning to you both from the snowy mountains of eastern Idaho.
As an update I offer the following. I did receive the box with three flags; WOW, this is wonderful. Thank you so very much, you will never know how much your generosity is impacting the lives of others.
And now, the next chapter of the story.
As you recall the first Grace Alley flag I purchased from Amazon and sent to Jason, a 31 year old American Hero and his family. He should be receiving it today, just in time for Thanksgiving. My response to your customer service e-mail is how we met provides a starting point for the rest of the story.
In your e-mail was an encouragement to share with “another American Hero or two”. When I opened the box and saw the three flags I took the opportunity to think seriously about who do I consider true American hero’s. Not the kind of hero’s described in the press or the one’s people write books about. Although these folks are true hero’s I thought about some of the un-sung heroes of our nation; we know they are everywhere around us living down the street, owning a small business, leading regular lives. Each has a story to tell, but few of them ever share. With this in mind I have presented, or am going to present later today, Grace Alley flags to the following American Hero’s. Here are their stories.
Flag #1 – let me introduce Meg. Meg is an elderly retired school teacher, widow, living on a fixed income. Meg is a meticulous home-owner and is known in the neighborhood for her flowers. Her oldest son is currently serving as a Chaplin in the US Navy and will be soon retiring. I wouldn’t say she is fearful of her son’s service responsibilities, but is seriously concerned about what Chaplin’s are restricted from saying and doing in our current political environment. Does she feel the decay of our nation’s founding principles? You bet, and it shows.
For the past several months the flag flying proudly displayed on the front of her modest house has become faded from the sun and tattered from the continuous winds of eastern Idaho. Meg has known since summertime of the need to replace “Old Glory” and has been saving up for a replacement. When I knocked on her door she let me in and I said “Meg, you need to replace your flag!” She looked down and quietly said “I know, I should have done it a long time ago.” Without hesitation I removed one of your flags from the pouch on my sweatshirt and handed it to her. She immediately knew what is was and as her hands reached out to take it her eyes came to mine. Her eyes were filled with tears and she was, for a moment, speechless. (Please understand, Meg being speechless is rare!!). After several moments of silence she asked “where did this come from”, and other questions. Without a word from me she soon answered her own questions by saying “It doesn’t matter where it came from, I have a new flag!”. I shared briefly the Grace Alley story, gave her a hug, and walked home thinking she was one of the American Hero’s that would appreciate a new flag, especially one made in the USA.
Flag #2 – Let me take a moment to introduce our local Parcel Express. When sending the first flag and a special card to Jason it was all boxed up and ready to go; all that was needed was take it to Parcel Express, have it weighed, and pay the appropriate postage. As I walked into the store there were several other customers and I took my place in line and noted there was no one behind me in line. When it was my turn I put the parcel on the scale and started talking with the lady behind the counter. One of the questions they always ask is “What are the contents, do you want it insured, etc.” Well, to me this was an opportunity to briefly share the story of Jason’s service and the question regarding forgiveness asked of me over dinner.
The lady behind the counter is a widow and grand mother of three boys. As I shared Jason’s story she began to tear up; later sharing that she lost her husband in war and that what was being done for Jason was rare and special. You could see that the hurt of her decades old loss was still real and she understood on a personal level what sacrifices are necessary to maintain this nations freedom and liberty.
Later this afternoon she, being a true American Hero, will be receiving the second Grace Alley flag. It will be appreciated from the heart.
Final note about the Parcel Express story – do you think it’s coincidence that there was no one in line behind me, nor other new customers coming in, and we were able to talk for a good ten minutes without interruption!!!
Flag #3 – Please let me introduce Cody. Cody is a 27 year old young man from Heyburn, Idaho I met several months ago in my business travels. Over dinner we shared some of our service related experiences; mine from Viet Nam, his from Iraq. As I later found out during his tours of duty, he came face to face with the enemy and came home with 3rd degree burns over 48% of his body. What is special about Cody? This young man is amazing; rather than carry this horrible experience as a chip on his shoulder he stands tall and is eager to share with others who have experienced combat in defending our nations freedom.
As our dinner conversation continued Cody shared his involvement with “Idaho N Hero’s Outdoors” – a 501c3 organization dedicated to taking combat wounded veteran’s on hunting or fishing trips in Idaho. Cody shared “Do you realize what it is like to take one of our guys or gals fishing; fishing from a wheel chair?”. He continued to share other experiences of the organizations including fund raising functions. If you have a moment, please check out their site – http://idahonheroesoutdoors.com/
I have shared Cody’s story with several of my friends and 100% have agreed to help; offering drift boat trips on the South Fork, Henry’s Fork, and Salmon Rivers (all are world class fly fishing rivers close to my home). When I shared this with Cody he got real excited; especially when I told him we had figured out a way to remove a couple seats from the boat and make room for a wheelchair!!!
Cody is one of our nation’s future leaders and a true American Hero. Cody will be receiving the third Grace Alley flag.
Thanks so much for allowing me the opportunity to nominate and share with three American Hero’s; it has been quite an experience made possible by your patriotism, commitment to quality, and generosity.
God bless y’all and have a great Thanksgiving holiday.
————- Begin message ————-
From: Grace Alley – Amazon Marketplace
Sent: Friday, November 28, 2014 9:39 AM
To: Tom Sauerbrun
Subject: RE: The next chapter in the story!!
Once again you have just blown us away with your generosity, kindness and belief in America.
It’s amazing how one person could touch so many as you have done. We are so proud to share these moments with you.
I was thinking back to the earlier email where you mentioned “Unsung Heroes”. The unsung “Hero’s” is what this country was originally built on. But the truth is that’s called “Integrity”, something you and your new friends have a lot of.
I have to admit we spent most of the week waiting to hear back from you. Telling your stories, about your kindness and adventures to friends and family who are just as amazed as we are.
We have decided to post your adventures on GraceAlley.com What should we call it? “The adventures of an American Hero paying it forward”. This story needs to be shared, people deserve to hear what you have done. America needs this. Whenever I talk about you, it’s hard to get it all out. Last Saturday I had a friend over and I shared your emails with her, I had her read from the bottom up so she could understand the email thread. When she was done, she was full of happy tears. A couple of times I have even copied and pasted the emails just so others could read it. For Thanksgiving Jacklyn printed it out so she could share your stories with her family.
You have touch a lot more people than you think you have. What you are doing is amazing.
Well your American Flags are on their way… And we look forward to hearing from you again…
Chaz and Jacklyn,
Grace Alley – An American Tradition
PS: Your response to our customer service email did something special and was an amazing starting point.
PPS: Please tell Mark Yearsly we would love to hear from him, he can reach out to me (Chaz) at 818-424-9673. I am pretty sure there is something we can do for the month of December. How could we not follow your lead?