The Hands of a Hero

Santa Claus came to my door.  They sent me to answer it.  I was four years old.  He was dressed to the nines as Santa.  Great outfit.  Would have fooled me, except that I knew something about him.  I knew what his hands looked like.  I knew the ring on his finger.  And, I identified him.  It was Spec Burnett, my great uncle.

Years earlier those same hands would pull the parachute cord as he courageously served as a paratrooper in WWII.  I never really heard him talk about it, but I imagine bravest men don’t brag.


Many years later those same hands would be used in service to his wife, Flossie. You see, she was in a nursing home because she had Alzheimer’s.   Spec went to see her every day and served her breakfast and lunch.  When asked why he would spend so much time with her when she didn’t recognize him, he responded that he still knew.  He still loved her.  And, his 90 year old hands still served.


In the last years of his life, his hands trembled, and it took him hours to get ready.  But, every Sunday he was at church.  You see, those same hands that pulled the shoot as he jumped over the Pacific were used in courage as he slowly and painstakingly buttoned every button of his Sunday clothes.

William Tittle, the preacher of the Cordova Church of Christ told that story, and it really touched me and got me to thinking about Spec’s hands.  Made me think about the Santa Claus story, and how his hands identified him to me.

Truth is, that same God that gave him courageous hands can give courage to you.

You see, in the last years of his life, Spec lived alone in Burnett Loop Road in Cordova, Alabama.  But, truth be told, he was not alone.  God was there with him.  Spec had faith.

Just as Spec courageously jumped out of the planes in WWII, we must make a choice.  We must make a jump.  But, it’s not a jump into an abyss.  It’s a leap into the greatest hands of all.


I’d like to think that I could be like Spec.  I’d like to think my hands could be courageous and true like that.  And, I believe they can.  I believe yours can, too.  Why?  Because I know the true source.  And, those hands were nail pierced.

And, one more thing.  If you ever dress up like Santa Claus, you might want to take off any distinguishing rings.  Why?  Because people are noticing your hands, too.

3 thoughts on “The Hands of a Hero”

  1. Justin, what a wonderful tribute to Spec. A very special man. Fun to be around and loved by all who knew him.

  2. Oh Justin… Uncle Spec was an amazing man and this message was so something I needed to hear today….

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