Unsung Heroes

This Veteran’s Day, find your own way to honor our veterans

vietnam war memorial

Yesterday, a donor dropped off over 400 homemade masks for our students. I opened the package, the red, white and blue masks flashing before my eyes. Her own eyes welled with tears as she said “My friend’s husband just died of Agent Orange disease. I made these in his memory.” I paused, my chest tightened, and shared, “My uncle Mike also died of Agent Orange, I am so deeply sorry for your loss.” We hugged -- for a long time.

Many of you reading this understand. Many of us have lost loved ones in service. 

This moment of pure humanity is one that I will hold dear forever. Her kindness, thoughtfulness and constructiveness in her grief is so admirable. Those 10 minutes of connection – the generous sharing something so personal and raw -- is at the heart of what philanthropists and fundraisers do every day.

Thank you for hearing my story. Now please pause for a moment of silence to remember all those we have lost in service to our country.

On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal and is contributed by Ellen Wilkinson for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.  It is dedicated to Mike Wilkinson.