Rays Memorial Day Gratitude……Union Rescue Mission had several hundred Thousand donor’s. Before the May donor mailing one year Butch came up with a brilliant idea. Since Memorial Day was coming up shortly he suggested we include a return mailer included with our next mailed request for donations. The return mailer could be filled out and mailed back with the donor’s next donation which we would see before Memorial Day
The return mailer acknowledged that many Vietnam veterans living on the street felt offended by the way they had been received upon their return to the USA. They became a focus for the anger many citizens felt about the war. Their reception was far from welcoming and often vicious. They felt their should have been some admiration and gratitude for their painful and dangerous job they had done over there.
The mail back slip had a few lines that the donor could use if the donor wanted to correct the situation and give the men an expression of how they wished they had responded to their home coming way back then. We promised the donors we would post them on a wall in the chapel and to tell the vets the responses were theirs and they should feel free to take as many of the slips as they wished off the wall. That wall was a huge wall more or less running from the street to the alley.
The response was staggering I am going to say it was more than 10,000 but it could have many times that. The wall soon filled with the slips. ever morning we put up thee new messages and again reminded the responses belonged to them. Ray did the job of posting new responses. It was good that the homeless men took down many responses for themselves to keep because that opened up space for new ones. Ray was obviously very moved.
In those days I came in to work early to escape the LA traffic. That also gave me a chance to meditate and relax before the day started.
My office was right next door to Ray’s office. I kept noticing Ray was in his office early everyday. I was curious but it did not seem all that unusual for him to be there early.
Finally I asked him what he was doing. He told me that he had made up his mind to send back a little personal note to every one that had sent us an apology response. I thought to myself I am going to watch him so that if he needed to quit he would not feel bad. You may wonder at Rays ability to take on a task that big but it was no surprise to me I had seen his drive before.
But he never quit. He was there every morning. One day a new thing happened. I was in my office early as usual. Ray came in my office with his tears brimming in his eyes. He said “George, you Just have to see this slip.” I looked at it mainly to support Ray but when I actually read it I got teary too. From then on I looked forward to sharing a few notes with Ray every morning for months.