4th of July is around the corner and I can hardly wait. To put everyone in the mood I would share a story from Tales of a Disneyland Cast Member.
Honoring of a Hero
The that I met Ashley stands out in my mind. She was no more than thirty, with chopped brown hair that met her shoulders, warm green eyes, and a smile that could make the darkest day bright. She approached me at the desk and asked if I could help her. She introduced herself and told me the story of her high school sweetheart, Tyler. Tyler was an All-American football star, smart, a huge Disney fan, and overall a great guy. Tyler and Ashley had met sophomore year in biology class; they were lab partners.After graduation, they got married. A few short months later, Tyler joined the army and was sent overseas. While over there, he stepped ona landmine while trying to rescue a child. This caused him to lose his eyesight and parts of his legs. He was honorably discharged and came home to a new life and new reality – living without sight and being wheelchair bound. Ashley told me that his favorite place to go was Disneyland because he could “see” so much there. He remembered their many dates, his favorite attractions, and felt a sense of normalcy when there. It reminded me of how much Disney impacts people’s lives. It ingrains itself into one’s mind.
I knew for this trip, this family needed special attention. I made a call to City Hall and arranged for them to have a tour guide. I wanted them to feel like they were the only people in the park. While they were off enjoying the park, I made arrangements for Tyler to be honored during that day’s flag retreat ceremony. That ceremony is one of my favorite things in Disneyland. It salutes all branches of the military and plays the “Star Spangled Banner.” It’s truly an emotional moment to see all veterans honored. This particular day, Tyler would have a special moment where he could be properly thanked for his service. The next day, I came into work and found a small American flag pin in my mailbox. Ashley had left it for me, with a note describing her time in the park:
“Seldom these days do people understand the true meaning of the word ‘thanks.’ In fact, a thank you does not seem enough. I owe you my gratitude because you have made this day truly memorable. Tyler was honored today in front of many people who kept thanking him and applauding him. Fellow veterans put their arms around him and let him know he was not alone. It was a moment that I will forever treasure in my heart. I realized today, that my hero isn’t just my hero, but America’s hero. I will be forever grateful for this day”.
I closed the letter and put the pin on my lapel, wearing it in honor of my new hero – someone who truly makes America great. Even though the fall decor had taken the place of the banners, the red, white and blue shone just as bright on that day.
“If you could see close in my eyes, the American flag is waving in both of them, and up my spine is growing this red, white and blue stripe.”