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Jennifer Offringa

The Power of a Little Girl’s Smile

This is a story of our daughter Lisa and the power of a little girl’s smile. As a young child, our daughter, Lisa, was a typical, active little girl with a radiant smile. Her exploits were many, ranging from the incredible to the hilarious, but at the age of 3, Lisa reached a new height. During that time my husband, Pete. was working in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army. That provided little Lisa an opportunity for a great surprise.

The event was the ceremony for Pete’s promotion to LTC. The setting was the war room of the Pentagon. Attending were numerous Generals and senior representatives of the Department of the Army. The General promoting Pete was a grizzled warrior known for his toughness.  He was feared throughout the Pentagon and known to have never been seen smiling. This was a perfect setting for a “Lisa moment.”

As the General began reading the promotion orders, Lisa erupted from her front row seat.  In her cute Polly Flinders dress she raced across the stage to the podium, wrapped her little arms around the General’s right leg and beamed her Lisa smile up at him.

The audience was stunned. They had all faced this General’s ire at one time or another. How would he react?  How should I react to my daughter clinging to a general’s leg at a ceremony in the Pentagon?

The General solved my concerns. He paused and looked down at Lisa. Lisa smiled up at the General. And for the first time in anyone’s recollection, the General smiled. He reached down and patted her on the head. Appropriately recognized, Lisa ran back to her seat.

Lisa moved on through High School and College, established a lifelong love affair with plants and flowers, and attained a PhD in Botany after 5 years of study in Thailand.  She has never lost her radiant smile and I’m certain that there are many who have been charmed by it over the years. But I still look back at that day and marvel at the power of a little girl’s smile and the greatness of an Army that can be strong, but still have a heart.













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