I remember Navy boot camp like it was yesterday. It was clearly my second day from what I was wearing. I was walking single file with my unit down a hall and a sailor, who was about to graduate, passed us.
He must have noticed my expression. It without a doubt said, 'I am tired, intimidated, scared and hungry.' You can't talk when walking in formation, therefore he whispered out of the side of his mouth as we passed...'Hang in there...you can do it.'
I turned to look at his face, but all I saw was the back of his head. Every night before I drifted off to sleep I replayed those words. I will never know that sailor's name. He will never know how it turned my attitude around 180 degrees. He will never know that years later I still remember the electricity of encouragement that shot through my body.
I knew that the only reason he knew what I was feeling is that because he had been where I was and felt how I felt. He had made it and wanted me to know that I could as well. I was eternally grateful.
Then it was my turn. On my graduation day I walked into a storage facility and saw three sailors leaning up against the wall. They were new and scared, intimidated, tired and hungry. I walked over to them and whispered, 'Hang in there...you can do it.' Within a second tears filled the eyes of the female sailor and one of the males clenched his first and gave me a million thanks with his eyes.
As I walked away I had goose bumps. I knew that my words would be motivation for the rest of the day and fuel every night to keep them focused on their goal of graduation when they wanted to quit. I hope they passed on the encouragement to another sailor before they graduated... and I know they did.
~ Ron White
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Bonnie Jean Wasmund