Memorial Day commemorates those who sacrificed their lives for us. Today I wrote to a 14 year old boy who lives in Kansas City, MO., telling him how much I was thinking of his Dad. You see, Braydon Nichols’ father, Brian, lost his life when the Chinook helicopter he was flying in Afghanistan was shot down in August of 2011. ( http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/08/09/chinook.son.ireport/ ) I happened to be watching NBC National News that evening when they showed pictures of the 28 Navy SEALs who were killed in that plane crash – such a tremendous loss of life and the single deadliest day of the war since it started in Afghanistan in 2001.
Braydon Nichols, then 10 years old, didn’t like that only Navy SEALs’ pictures were on the TV screen, and not one of his Dad who was the pilot of the Chinook. With the help of his Mom, Braydon contacted NBC news with a picture of himself posing with his Dad so the world would know his father, too, was lost serving our country. NBC put this segment on the news and I watched with tears streaming down my face. I silently promised this little boy I would never forget his Dad and would always be thankful for what he sacrificed for our country.
Today is the third Memorial Day since losing Brian Nichols. It is also almost three years since Braydon Nichols and his mother came to Hershey. To make a long story short (and some roll-up-your-sleeves kind of planning) many generous friends, coworkers and colleagues of SGC ( www.susangconsulting.com )donated enough money to fly Braydon and his Mom to visit Chocolatetown and treat them to a fun filled weekend as a way of showing this little boy we will be forever grateful to his Dad.
Braydon and I emailed back and forth today – he even sent a picture of his new baby sister. His is now a handsome 14 year old young man who plans to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Chinook pilot. And he has an entire adopted family in Central Pennsylvania who will always remember the look of joy on his face as he described his day at HersheyPark, or laughed when telling us about seeing horse buggies tied to hitching posts at a Lancaster WalMart.
There is so much more to this story and what friends of SGC made possible for this wonderful kid. What I’d like you to take away from this story is:
• How little it takes to make such an impact in this world.
• That finding jobs for people is just one of the things that makes us proud.
• How Braydon Nichols, one of the bravest 10 year olds I know, changed our lives forever.
Thank you, Brian Nichols, for giving your life to our country. You would be very, very proud of your son. Happy Memorial Day.