These past few days have been difficult for me as the CEO of a nonprofit that brings Americans from all walks of life together and bridges divides through a common bond of service, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide.
Much like the challenges our nation faced last year as a result of COVID and the divides caused by racial injustice, I have struggled to find the right words to express what Operation Gratitude can and must do to help our country and our communities heal.
This struggle is not only born from the feeling that it may appear tone deaf to talk about service and gratitude as an antidote for divisions in our country right now. My struggle is also very personal and heartfelt; because as an American, as a Veteran, and as someone who was brought up to live by the golden rule and love my neighbor, I, undoubtedly like you, am deeply saddened and outraged by what happened in our nation’s capital this past week.
When I woke up this morning I realized that I have a responsibility to not only say something but to take action, too. The truth is: What we do at Operation Gratitude is the remedy for the divides that exist in our country and in communities.
Just look at the photos that I scrolled through on my phone today, and you, too, will realize there is a simple answer to the question we all have about how our nation can be reunited. And it starts with each of us.
Growing up I was taught to treat others as I would like to be treated and to love my neighbor. I was taught the importance of empathy and to always consider what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes. I was taught the importance of service to my country and to others and the true power of simple acts of kindness and gratitude.
Now I lead an organization with a dedicated team and passionate volunteers who live and breathe these guiding principles. It is our ethos.
I’m asking you to continue to believe these things with us, and continue to take action. Serve your country, those who serve, and your fellow Americans. Express gratitude and be kind. Love your neighbor.
With you, Operation Gratitude will bridge the civilian-service divide through a common bond of service, acts of gratitude and meaningful connections between those who serve and the citizens they protect. In the process we will undoubtedly help solve for other divisions in communities across the country that must be addressed to preserve and strengthen our democracy.
Love and empathy conquer hate. Acts of gratitude and kindness make a difference. Serving our country and one another bridges divides. We will get through this, together.