Elizabeth Laird is a Shining Example of Compassion #AtoZChallenge - GODYEARS

Elizabeth Laird is a Shining Example of Compassion #AtoZChallenge

April 06, 2017

Elizabeth Laird knew the value of a good hug.
The 83 year old Air Force veteran would stand at the airport in Fort Hood and give every soldier - deploying or returning - a warm hug, a wonderful smile and kind words. It was her way of not just saying thank you but also of letting them know that people remembered them. Over the period of 12 years, starting from 2003, she gave around 500,000 hugs to soldiers. She was always there to greet them at the airport.

And then, one day in 2015, she wasn't.

For 12 years, Elizabeth Laird would stand at the airport in Fort Hood and give every soldier - deploying or returning - a warm hug, a wonderful smile and kind words.

Worried, soldiers took it upon themselves to seek out the 'hug lady' as she had come to be known. They eventually found her at the Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, fighting the last stages of her 11 year long battle against breast cancer.

A few days later, the 'invasion' began.

Army men from all across the country drove down to Texas, storming Elizabeth's room to hug her back and let her know they remembered her.

'Ms Elizabeth, you may not know it but you made my deployment not so scary. I had no one 
there to send me off  but you were there to comfort me in my time of need. I was alone and 
lost at that point in time but you were there to pick me up and let me know that someone cared 
and that I would be OK. I am forever grateful to you and I hope you have a speedy recovery.'
- Brittany Huft


For 12 years, Elizabeth Laird would stand at the airport in Fort Hood and give every soldier - deploying or returning - a warm hug, a wonderful smile and kind words.

'Deployment is never easy, but you helped us all smile when we met you there at the airport. 
'That final goodbye hug from the sweetest woman has stuck with me over the years and 
I hope more than anything you'll be better soon.'
- Adam McCormick

As they battled with each other to be the first to hug her, the soldiers also rallied and set up a GoFundMe campaign, getting over $95,000 (Rs 62 lakhs) to pay all her hospital bills.

 'I love her. I deployed teary eyed and scared (secretly) worried my almost two-year-old daughter would forget me. Hug Lady whispered in my ear that everything would be OK. 
It meant the world to me. I wish I had millions to give her.'
 - Claudia Mohead

Elizabeth Laird died of her illness a few months later. But, as her son confirmed, she died happy and joyful, grateful for the love and hugs she received during her last few months.  And the knowledge that her small gesture left such a huge impact in the hearts of so many soldiers.


Why I want you to remember Elizabeth Laird

Elizabeth Laird's gesture of hugging may seem simple but to anyone who is departing to or arriving after a life-altering ,harrowing journey, the warmth of a reassuring hug and the power of a kind word is the steel that strengthens your soul. She touched the lives of half a million soldiers, waiting for them everyday at the airport even though she did not know them, just to make them feel special.
And when the time came, the soldiers showed how much her gesture meant to them too.

For 12 years, Elizabeth Laird would stand at the airport in Fort Hood and give every soldier - deploying or returning - a warm hug, a wonderful smile and kind words.


This is part of my #AtoZChallenge where I will be focusing on Real Life Heroes: Shining Examples of Kindness and Compassion. You can find other real-life heroes here.







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78 comments

  1. A hug is a wonderful thing, a way to let one know without words, that they matter, and that they are remembered. And she was. The support of the soldiers shows that. :-) I didn't know of her, but am glad to have known her through your post, doc.

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  2. when you are selfless everyone comes around to help. ANd that is a staggering amount of hugs by the veteran.

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    1. True. Imagine doing this for a dozen years at that age and battling cancer.

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  3. At the time of despair a hug can do wonders.

    Ever since started reading your series, I have been wondering how did you come across these heroes?

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    1. Been hunting high and low for the last month :)

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  4. You made me cry Doc. This is so beautiful... A simple act of love could mean so much. Thanks again for sharing such heartwarming stories.

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    1. It is the simple acts that we have forgotten, isn't it? Just a mere hug.

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  5. Elizabeth is so cute, I love these stories Roshan

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  6. an act of kindness never goes unrewarded!! great!! keep spreading love Roshan

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    1. Thanks man... and thanks for dropping by :)

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  7. it brings tears !!! Thanks for sharing it :

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    1. I wanted to feature this because of her wonderful act as well as the karma that the soldiers brought into the tale at the end.

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  8. Kindness will always be remembered and this is one of the best examples of that. How kind of Elizabeth to give hugs to them and calming their worries. The words of soldiers say it all. And what they did for her in return, it made me so happy reading about it :)

    Exams

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    1. I know exactly what you mean... I did tear up myself when I came across the story for both halves of it.

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  9. As simple as a hug can do wonders! Thanks for sharing this heartwarming tale.
    Thailand Travel Stories at Kohl Eyed Me
    26 Indian Dishes at Something's Cooking

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    1. Value of a hug... that is something that needs to be remembered too.

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  10. This is such a sweet gesture. Hugs are free but the feeling is priceless. It is so nice to know about these people.

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    1. I know. It's been heartening to see people feel this way too.

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  11. I sobbed as I read this, Doc. That is what kindness does to you, it overwhelms you before it embraces you in it's warm hug! Thank you for sharing these absolutely wonderful stories! God Bless You!

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    1. I know what you mean. I got teary eyes while going through this story too initially while searching.

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  12. As a lady married to a man in the armed forces I can so well relate to this post ..a hug can do wonders... and a little hug has a magical power to it

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    1. I can imagine. Come back tomorrow. There's another army based post coming up

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  13. So touching, seldom do we find people who are truly compassionate from within. lovely read.
    Launching SIM Organics This April

    *Menaka Bharathi *

    *SimpleIndianMom*

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    1. Exactly. This comes from the heart.

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  14. A beautiful, wonderful gesture! The warmth that hug lady sent across was most memorable for the men in uniform. Loved the post

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  15. A hug really goes a long way.... hard to keep the tears back while reading this....

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    1. As I said above, I felt the same way.

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  16. The feeling of having some one for us,gives us lot of strength in tough times.and I personally feel such a warmth is what every one looks for.and iam soo glad there are at least few good people still

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    1. We feel they don't exist because Noone showcases them in the news for a long time. This is one way I hope to undo that.

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  17. Another heartwarming story from you. Absolutely wonderful.

    Exhaustion #Lexicon of Leaving

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  18. Jadu ki jhappi... right?
    Hugs sure seem to have mysterious magical powers.
    Loved reading about Elizabeth, and I'm so glad the soldiers searched for her and went to visit her at the hospital.
    Happy AtoZing!
    Chicky @ www.mysteriouskaddu.com

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    Replies
    1. Yes. We have had that concept for a decade now thanks to the movie... Never did it in real life.

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  19. I had a lump in my throat as I read this post. She gained so much by such a simple act of love. Really heartwarming. :)

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  20. what an awesome lady. The love we give and share is the only thing we take with us when our journey on Earth is over. Once again, what a beautiful and awesome lady.

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    1. The fact that she got to see it repaid is what makes it such a blessed story.

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  21. This heartwarming story goes on to prove that What goes around, comes around!! A simple hug made such a BIG difference in lives of so many soldiers!

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    1. Yes. True point. I always worry that good guys never get to see the fruits of their love. This was a wonderful case proving me wrong.

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  22. Heart-warming to the core, this series is Doc. Can I be more grateful to you, for bringing forth such tales. Hats off :)

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    1. Thanks a lot, Roma :)
      Hopefully will keep it going throughout the month.

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  23. Doc, this made me cry. I really don't have much else to say other than that. Thanks for sharing these stories.

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    1. I know what you mean.. Felt the same way.

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  24. Elizabeth Laird is a happy soul who will be remembered forever... Thanks for sharing :)

    My take on E is in form of a story. On the trail of silver mist

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  25. How wonderful to read abt all the goodness that exists in the world. A hug is all encompassing and holds so much love.

    Expectations are too tricky to handle for me as I am a very emotional person. I wear my heart on the sleeve n end up being hurt all the time. But I wonder how I survive in my relationships if I don't have any 😊


    Emu & the Entrepreneur

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    1. I think people all over underestimate the value of a good hug. That human touch above all else can really uplift people.

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  26. How wonderful to read abt all the goodness that exists in the world. A hug is all encompassing and holds so much love.

    Expectations are too tricky to handle for me as I am a very emotional person. I wear my heart on the sleeve n end up being hurt all the time. But I wonder how I survive in my relationships if I don't have any 😊


    Emu & the Entrepreneur

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  27. 500,000 hugs? She is God sent :)

    I'm so happy how life came full circle for her. People like her reinstate your faith in the human race.

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    1. I agree. The way the soldiers reacted really touched my heart too :)

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  28. This story made me cry - it's so beautiful and touching. Both her gesture of being there to hug the soldiers, and them missing her and going from all over the country to hug her and raise funds to help treat her. Oh! Stories like this one restore my faith in humanity.

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    1. I know what you mean. It's a 'faith in humanity' story for sure.

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  29. This is the best post I've read since morning, Roshan! And for me, this is the best story in this series! What an impeccable woman she must be!

    After all, the world isn't that bad place to live!

    Cheers
    BoisterousBee

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    1. These people need to be showcased more. That's important. Then people will stop feeling so bad about the world.

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  30. I don't know why, but this kind of made me teary eyed..in a happy way though...What goes around surely comes around, and its so overwhelming to read about this selfless and wonderful soul.

    Shubhangi @ The Little Princess

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    1. Yes. It did make me teary too when I came across it :)

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  31. What a wonderful, heartwarming story! Thanks for sharing it. Really made my day. ☻
    Debbie @ THE DOGLADY'S DEN

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  32. This story made me cry, Roshan. Thank you for sharing this tale of such a large hearted, wonderful and warm person. She's brightened so many lives with such a simple gesture!

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  33. A hug can create wonders. This almost made me cry. I may sound like I'm repeating the same thing over and over again, but yes wish there were more people like this!

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    1. Yes... there is gonna be lot of that this month :)

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  34. What Elizabeth did for the soldiers was indeed beautiful, but I'm particularly happy about the fact that the soldiers came back and searched for her, instead of just forgetting about her wonderful deed. That's what makes this real-life story more heart-warming!

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    1. Yes, I know what you mean. That is what it awesome for me too :)

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  35. Such a heartwarming story.I have read this twice before on the net and everytime I read this,it reassures me that humanity still exists!

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    1. Finally! Someone else who has read it before :)

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  36. A warm hug can do wonders and win hearts of starger people
    Inspiring story
    Thanks for sharing Enjoy to the core -The Second Trimester of Pregnancy

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  37. Hugs are the best:) Loving my everyday dose of inspiration here. See you tomorrow.
    Celebrating 'Women & their work' all April: E for An Education for all

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  38. What a wonderful heartwarming story. It brought tears to my eyes, and darn it, it's too early in the day for tears!

    ~Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle
    #AtoZChallenge 1970's Billboard Hits

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  42. Ah the power of a hug! It's such a selfless act and the result was so beautiful! I'm glad she brought so much joy to people :)

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