Of the many ways I've been blessed in life, none compares with the opportunity to get to know some of our nation's veterans, and to count many of them as part of the Marriott International family.
One of these is David Norman Brown, who was an engineer with our company for just shy of 25 years before succumbing to cancer this July.
I had the chance to visit with David last year at the Manhattan Beach Marriott in California, just before he was diagnosed. He was a great man who served our company, and our country, with honor and distinction.
David's wife, Joana, was kind enough to write me a letter recently, so she could share with me some touching stories about David's life, and explain how much he loved working for Marriott. She told me about how David used a Marriott employee loan to help finance a family vacation home in Maine, that he built himself. How he climbed on the roof of our Houston property during Hurricane Ike to secure an area that could have severely damaged the elevators. And how he would interrupt vacations to deal with a problem at one of our hotels that needed his help.
But her most touching story was about when David was called to active duty by the Army Reserves during the Gulf War and was stationed in Kuwait for a year.
She said that David painted the Marriott "M" logo on the door to his barracks to "help the troops who were homesick remember 'The Marriott Hospitality' and how it could reach them all the way out in Kuwait." I don't think I've ever been more delighted to see our logo anywhere than on that door.
Joana wrote that David's way of looking at his work here was to treat our hotels like his own home. "How to protect it, how to prevent damage from escalating, how to maintain and preserve what was already there to the best of his ability."
It's our privilege to count many proud and honorable veterans like David as part of the Marriott family. Please take a moment on this Veterans Day -- for heaven's sake on any day -- to thank them for their service to this great country.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.