Bill was shy, almost painfully so, seldom speaking to a cadet unless they addressed him first, always burying himself in his work. The Academy, one of our nation217;s premier leadership laboratories, kept us busy from dawn till dusk. And Mr. Crawford230;well, he was just a janitor.
That changed one fall Saturday afternoon. I was reading a book about World War II and the tough Allied ground campaign in Italy, when I stumbled across an incredible story.
William Crawford 220;in the face of intense and overwhelming hostile fire230;with no regard for personal safety230;on his own initiative230;single-handedly attacked fortified enemy positions. 230;for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, the President of the United States230;221;
220;Holy cow,221; I said to my roommate, 220;I think our janitor is a Medal of Honor recipient.221;
We couldn217;t wait to ask Bill about the story.
We met Mr. Crawford bright and early Monday and showed him the page from the book. He stared at it for a few silent moments and then quietly uttered something like, 220;Yep, that217;s me.221; Mouths agape, my roommate and I both stuttered, 220;Why didn217;t you ever tell us about it?221;
He slowly replied after some thought, 220;That was one day in my life and it happened a long time ago.221;
Things were never again the same around our squadron. Word spread like wildfire among the cadets that we had a hero in our midst—Mr. Crawford, our janitor, had been bestowed the Medal! Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, 220;Good morning, Mr. Crawford.221;
Cadets who had once passed by Bill with hardly a glance, now greeted him with a smile and a respectful, 220;Good morning, Mr. Crawford.221;
Those who had before left a mess for the 220;janitor221; to clean up, started taking it upon themselves to put things in order. Almost overnight, Bill went from being a simple fixture in our squadron to one of our teammates.
Mr. Crawford changed too, seeming to move with more purpose, his shoulders not as stooped, meeting our greetings with a direct gaze and a stronger 220;good morning221; in return, and flashing his crooked smile more often. While no one ever formally acknowledged the change, I think we became Bill217;s cadets and his squadron.
A wise person once said, 220;It217;s not life that217;s important, but those you meet along the way that make the difference.221;