I once interviewed a World War II veteran when I was working for a radio station in the Midwest. His brick house was tucked away on a cul de sac in a neighborhood of older homes. He showed me inside, and we stood in the front room. It was neat and plain with white walls and decades-old furniture that wasn’t worn. He introduced me to his wife and then invited me to sit on his front porch where we did the interview.
I held the mic and listened as he recalled with laughter and a few tears the days he spent as an American soldier in the Pacific Theater of the war. He recalled the pranks he and his buddies used to pull. Then, he told me how a can of meat saved his life. He and his unit came under particularly intense attack, and some guys didn’t make it. When he was clear and the fighting stopped, he dug into his backpack for food. He found the can of potted meat, misshapen from being pierced by a bullet, which was still lodged in the metal can. He laughed through tears as he marveled at how a can of food had saved his life.
At the end of our interview, I asked if he had any wisdom he’d learned from his war experience that he wanted to share. This is what he said: “You only pass this way once. Make it count.” On this Thanksgiving Day, let us all remember that it’s not about passively counting our blessings or the things for which we’re thankful. It’s about being the blessing for someone else. You won’t have this exact same day or experience or gathering of friends and family ever again. There are no do overs, and life is finite. Now go, and make it count.