Imagine
this.


A
gorgeous April evening in Washington, D.C. 
You are in town to attend Hope For The Warriors® Annual Got Heart, Give
Hope® Gala. Being a part of this event is close to your heart – you know the
Hope For The Warriors® story. You believe in the organization’s mission, its
leadership and vision. You also know its programs and results are unique,
needed and powerful. You already know some of the wounded warriors’ stories.
Their stories always move you.

Union
Station is the venue for the gala and your hotel is only a couple of blocks
away and you decide to soak in the weather and scenery with a walk. As you make
your way to the corner, you not only notice another gala-ready girl, but three!
The woman, now walking beside you, has two adorable little girls. All three are
smiling, have long blonde hair and look fabulous in their formal evening dress.


You
can’t help but assume you are all heading to the Hope For The Warriors’® Got
Heart, Give Hope Gala – so, you say hello and introduce yourself. You have just
met Erica and her two daughters. You see Erica is holding a piece of paper
showing the Got Heart, Give Hope Gala logo.

“I
think we’re heading to the same place. Are you going to the Hope For The
Warriors® Gala?” I ask.


“Yes,
but I’m not exactly sure I know where to go.” Erica replies.  Then she shares,

“We
just drove up from the Virginia Beach area…ran into a lot of traffic and got lost.
My daughters were getting restless…the drive took a lot longer than I expected.
My husband was scheduled to speak at the gala tonight, but he overbooked
himself. Unfortunately, he is not with us, but, we’re here and all is OK.”

While
you can tell that Erica is a bit flustered, and maybe even a bit irritated, there
is also a strong presence of calm, grace and gratefulness. She is still smiling
and delightful. Simply, delightful.

You
don’t know it yet, but you are about to know another story.

“My
husband overbooked” is rolling around in your head. You wonder if he is a
high-ranking military officer who was asked to speak at this year’s event. Or,
possibly he is a celebrity who was scheduled to attend to help raise awareness.

You
only wonder about this for a minute. You have arrived at Union Station. The
event is well attended – the atmosphere and guests are stunning. Erica and her
daughters are whisked off and you wonder if you’ll ever again connect with her.

Along
with all guests, you are anxious to hear more about the award recipients and
their stories. From your table, you can see Erica and her two daughters. You
feel a slight ping in your heart. Your instincts tell you she and her husband
both wish he were sitting beside her.

The
behind-the-warrior stories begin.

As the
military honorees are presented, you find yourself leaning slightly forward as
the evening’s hosts begin to announce an honoree that is not able to attend in
person. You start to learn about LT Jason “Jay” Redman, USN (SEAL) and his
story. You hear…

“…With
only three weeks left of his deployment in Iraq, Jay was hit three times in the
arm and face with a machine gun while on a mission…”

You also
hear about a sign on the door of Jay’s room after he arrived at Walter Reed
National Naval Medical Center. The sign read…

“If you
are coming into my room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go
elsewhere.”

There
is applause and respectful shouts of “hooyah.”

Jay is
accepting this honor via video.

The hosts continue to
describe Jay’s prevailing resolve to move forward. Jay is currently training at
Mt. Rainier – the reason he is not present at the Gala. The video of Jay begins
– Jay shares a very brief description of how he was wounded.

He describes his
arrival at Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center and feeling scared and
unsure.

“My wife walked into
my room…seeing me for the first time. There was zero hesitation in her voice
and actions. She whispered in my ear…”

“Together, we will
get through this.”
 
 

Now, your heart is
not only pinging, you also have a tear rolling down your cheek. Yours is not
the only tear. Again, you see Erica and her two daughters. Jay continues and
describes how grateful he is to be alive. He goes on to say how he is even more
grateful for the love and support of a special person. One, who kept him going
with strength, courage and unwavering faith.
 

“…I am not deserving
of this recognition. I would not be here making this video if it were not for
the most important person in my life. This award goes directly to my wife, Erica…”

This is a surprise.

Tears. Applause. More
tears. And, many “hooyahs.”

Imagine that.

Jay’s and Erica’s
story moves me. I believe God puts people, conversations, music and
circumstances in front of us every day…words and situations intended to move
us. Yes, I was moved by this story…still am. It took place in 2010.
 
An exciting night comes to an end
 

I was fortunate to
see Erica again at the 2011 Hope For The Warriors® Got Heart, Give Hope® Gala.
I am in the same camp with everyone of being ever grateful for the sacrifices
made by Jay, Erica and their family (one son and two daughters). Thank you.

 
The entire Redman family attends the Gala in 2011
 
This was contributed by Shellie, a supporter and volunteer with Hope For The Warriors®.