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Memorial Day Reflection

I met Bill many years ago. At the time he was nearing retirement as an engineer for a large energy company.

Bill and I were having coffee in a break room when I asked if he planned to do anything special for Memorial Day. He said it was enough for him to mark his anniversary of coming home from Vietnam–and honor so many who didn’t. He told me this story.

Honoring the Many

In 1970, he was all of 21 years old. He was an Army infantry sergeant in the western part of Vietnam. He and his men were walking through a big wooded area. He had taken the lead when he saw a trip wire across a pathway. He told his men to circle up for an ambush and cut the wire.

The North Vietnamese Army came upon them. During the fire fight that ensued, Bill was on one side of a huge log, and one of his men was on the other. This young man was panicking and having trouble with his M16. Bill was telling him to slow down and breathe, and somehow the young man could hear Bill above the artillery.

Purple Heart

Suddenly a grenade came in and landed right beside Bill. In what seemed like a moment frozen in time, the grenade didn’t go off. It just didn’t go off.

The events of that day would earn him the Purple Heart. He saved many lives including his own.

A Moment of Grace

This time of year we pause to remember the men and women who have died while serving our country. And those who came home, like Bill, pause to mark a moment of grace.

Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review,,, and Fast Company.