In his report, NBC News correspondent Mike Taibbi said that Bell, now a widower, at times felt like his life was ebbing away.
That word ebb, meaning to fade away or decline, is a sad word to describe the life of a WWII veteran whose days are nearing the end.
But not on that day.
On that day, a group of young people put the race on hold for a few seconds to shower appreciation and praise on a man who put his life on the line over 60 years ago to make the world a better place in which to live.
On that day, kindness, respect and gratitude trumped competition and who finished the race first.
On that day, Bell, I am almost positive, stood a little taller, and perhaps for a short while, felt like his life was just beginning.
An unknown author once wrote that “gratitude is the music of the heart, when its chords are swept by the breeze of kindness.”
Kindness swept through that sunlit street in San Jose a few weeks ago, and Bell, as it turned out, was the real winner of the race.
Pat Tillman, who put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country after the attacks on 9/11, would have been proud.
I have decided that the next time I see anyone wearing an Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force or Coast Guard uniform, I will take pause, stop what I am doing, and show my gratitude with those five simple and sincere words: “Thank you for your service.”
Care to join me?
Alvia Lewis Frey is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.