Elizabeth Laird, now 83, is known as the “Hug Lady” by thousands of men and women who have fought for their country.
She has spent countless hours standing at the entry gates of Fort Hood in Texas to welcome home millions of soldiers with a special hug.
“I wasn’t hugging in 2003. I used to just shake their hands. But one day, a soldier hugged me, and that’s the way it started.” She wanted each welcome home to be special and to let each soldier know they were loved and she was grateful for their service.
“This is my way of thanking them for what they do for our country,” Laird told Fox News.
Former U.S. Army Capt. Rob Allen told Fox News, “I met her twice, as many soldiers from Fort Hood do…she was there when we left, and she was there when we came back.”
“We all said goodbye to our families and got on buses. Hundreds of us were in line, and one by one, she gave everyone a hug ‘goodbye’—maybe even a kiss on the cheek.”
And then they returned, to his surprise she was standing by her post ready to greet them.
“It was 2 or 3 in the morning, and there she was –hugging everyone as they got off the plane,” Allen said. “It was the middle of the night and without fail, this lady was there. A special lady.”
Most of the soldiers who were impacted by one of her hugs never even knew she was sick, but this month she was told that her cancer has spread and that she can no longer live alone.
Her son, a Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Marine Richard Dewees, set up a GoFundMe account to help with medical expenses with an initial goal of $10,000. The account has already raised nearly $70,000.
Elizabeth Laird is the IIICorps Hug Lady, she has met almost every deployment and redeployment flight from Fort Hood to the Sand Box since the war started in 2003. She feels that her Family in Camo needs to know that some one here at home is interested and waiting for them to come home again. It’s estimated that over the span of 12 years she has hugged close to 500,000 troops. – Laird’s GoFundMe Account
He said that, “Hugging the soldiers is something she says the Lord gave her to do…You don’t really pay much attention to it until you finally step back and see what her hugs have meant to other people.”
“I don’t know if she has regrets of me not being met by someone when I returned home from the Vietnam War, but she’s doing what needed to be done back then,” he said. “She’s changed people’s lives.”
One donor, Michael Singleton, made the following comment when he gave money to help with her hospital bills. “You were there when I left in 2008 for Iraq and then again when I returned in 2009. I was nervous because I had never been outside of the country and just lost my Grandmother that one hug made a huge difference that year, because it reminded me how my grandmother was.”
Now these soldiers are changing her life. Laird was recently was released from intensive care. The moment they were allowed, many soldier’s whose lives she’s touched came to visit her and give back a hug where it was needed.
After giving so many away to the men and women who have served our country, it’s only fitting that she be repaid the kindness in her time of need.
She says she wants to regain her strength and be able to return to Fort Hood and continue her ministry of hugging.
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