Retired from the U.S. Postal Service after 35 years, Michael Macias now works on the maintenance crew at his place of worship, Lee's Summit Community Church in Lee's Summit, Missouri, where he also volunteers a couple of days a week. He talks with satisfaction of mowing the grass, painting and making repairs to the building. As he speaks of this second career and of the life he has lived, his voice carries a quiet pride.
It's not a pride based on the work he does now or in the past, although that work has sustained him and his family. It has more to do with his relationship with his family and his community.
Michael's dad was a U.S. Marine who instilled in his son a sense of being fortunate to live in America and a deep patriotism. When the Vietnam War came along, two of his buddies joined the Marines right out of high school. One was wounded, the other killed. Michael joined the Army in 1966 but was not deployed to Vietnam. When he didn't go overseas, he decided the least he could do to help the soldiers who did go was to donate blood. Thus began a lifelong commitment. “It's an opportunity to help someone in need who can't ask you face to face,” he says. “I know every time I leave the blood center I feel like I have temporarily done my part. It's a small way not only to serve your community but to give back a little bit.”
The Post Office had regular blood drives, and Michael gave. He earned a four-gallon pin from the Community Blood Center.
Michael started giving blood out of sense of duty to those who fought in Vietnam. That same sense of duty--and of love--was a further motivation to donate when his son, Mike, Jr., joined the Navy. Mike saw a lot of action during the first Persian Gulf War and again during Desert Storm, out for eight to 12 months at a time. Donating blood took on an even more personal meaning for Michael during those years.
Just as Michael's Marine father has been a source of great pride to Michael, so too is Mike, Jr. Mike served 12 years on active duty in the Navy. He has worked in technical capacities for Sprint and Applebee's International. Today, he's a regional director for the League of United Latin American Communities, an advocacy group.
Pride takes many forms, but perhaps it's the quiet kind that comes from the deepest place. Through the years, Michael Macias has given of himself because he cares. And that ought to be a source of pride in its finest sense.