Hold Fast

Often times the stories that inspire us detail the events of great heroic deeds and monumental achievements. We remember these as the things that seemed to change the course of history, the big things that changed the world.

Well, it’s not always something monumental that creates change. In fact, often times it’s the small and simple things done by ordinary, every-day people that make the biggest difference.

Today we want to talk about someone like that – someone who gave out many small acts of kindness consistently over 12 years. Her name was Elizabeth Laird, and she is known as the “For Hood Hug Lady.”

Starting in 2003, Elizabeth volunteered with the Salvation Army and found herself serving in the airport terminal in Fort Hood, Texas. Many of the soldiers deploying to the Middle East passed through that very terminal, and as they were leaving, Elizabeth made sure they would get a hug. She did the same for those returning home to thank them for their service.

Now, a single hug may not seem like anything monumental, but many of the soldiers reported how much it meant to see a kind face and receive a warm embrace when leaving their country behind. And for those returning, Elizabeth made sure they were appreciated and welcomed home.

Elizabeth was unaware of the difference she would be making, she simply wanted people to feel loved and to offer her own love as best she could. She did what she could, and it made a difference, as little as she thought that difference was.

Well, little things become bigger. It is estimated that Elizabeth gave out over 500,000 hugs in the twelve years from 2003 to 2015. Half a million individuals enjoyed a moment of warmth and kindness in the middle of their sacrifice to uphold freedom and defend the defenseless. All it took was one woman who decided to be kind – who decided to “Hold Fast” to those that needed it.

One of the soldiers returning home reported that Elizabeth’s hug made him “cry with joy” when he returned from a deployment in Afghanistan.

“I lost a buddy to a roadside bomb less than a month before,” the soldier said. “I didn’t have any family meeting me that day and I was so depressed. I thought I didn’t have anyone there that was happy to see me home that day until I realized there was one person there that was.”

Tragically, Elizabth passed away in 2015 after a battle with breast cancer. After her death, a petition with over 90,000 signatures succeeded in renaming a room in the Fort Hood terminal after her. It was the very room in which she shared her hugs. The memory of many small acts will be forever immortalized and bring inspirations for years to come.

May we all be a little bit more like Elizabeth Laird the “Hug Lady” who held fast.