This is my grandfather, John Young.
My grandfather was a veteran of two wars. He very rarely spoke of his service, at least to me. He said those weren’t stories for little girls. However, once, he told me about taking a church in Germany.
He said that as he and his men were taking the building, he realized there was an attic, and the only way into it was through a trapdoor in the ceiling. In order to secure the church, someone had to go up through that little door, and whoever it was would be going in headfirst, without the ability to defend himself as he went. If enemy soldiers were waiting, then the man going through the door was as good as dead.
So, he went because he said, “You never ask your men to do something you’re afraid to do.” And he said he had never been more afraid in his life, but he went through the little hole in the ceiling, and was fortunate to find the attic space empty. He was safe, and he had kept his men safe.
For the whole of my growing up, wherever we went in my mother’s hometown, if we said we belonged to John Young, people would drop whatever they were doing and try to drag down the moon for us. Everywhere we went, someone knew my grandfather, either through the Army, or through the civilian job he held after leaving the military, or because he’d seen a need in them, and he’d filled it. Everyone who knew him, knew his honesty, his compassion, and they loved him for how he changed the little piece of the world around him through his genuine acts of service.
My grandfather was not a perfect man, but he was truly a good man. He helped everyone he could, and he helped anyone–no qualifiers.
When bad things happen, I think about him. I think about the example he set, the kindness he showed, how courageous, and good he was. He was meek. He didn’t raise his voice, or his fists (unless he had to), and he put others before himself, but he was the strongest person I’ve ever known, and made of more character than anyone I probably ever will know.
We’ve had a lot of bad things happening lately. I believe there are more John Youngs out there than there are Bad Guys. I believe that because I come from a family full of men and women like him. I married into a family of men and women like him. My friends and my tribe are made up of women and men who are like him. I’m raising a child who is already like him. My cousins are raising children like him.
The good outweighs the bad. We notice the bad more because it hurts so deeply, and because good people–compassionate people–empathize with those who have lost, and who grieve. But the good is there. The good is there.
The good is in you.