Monday, September 7, 2009

125 Years Ago At Harvard...

Warning: the validity of this story has not been confirmed. Here goes...125 years ago...a woman, wearing a faded gingham dress, and her husband, dressed in a threadbare suit, stepped off the train in Boston and walked timidly into the outer office of the Harvard University president. The secretary instantly decided that these backwoods country hicks had no business at Harvard. She frowned.

"We want to see the president," the man said politely.
"He'll be busy all day," the secretary snapped crudely.
"We'll wait," the woman replied.

For hours the secretary ignored them, hoping they'd become discourage and go away. But both of them didn't. The secretary gradually grew frustrated, and finally she decided to disturb the president: "Maybe if you just see them for a few minutes, they'll leave," she told him. The president sighed in exasperation and agreed.


The president, stern-faced and haughty, strutted toward the couple. The woman began to speak: "We had a son that attended Harvard for one year. He loved Harvard and was happy here. About a year ago, he was accidentally killed. My husband and I would like to erect a memorial to him somewhere on campus." The president wasn't touched. "Madam,: he said condescendingly, "We can't put up a statue for every person who attended Harvard and then died. If we did, this place would like a cemetery."

The Harvard President?

"Oh, no" she explained quickly. "We don't want to erect a statue. We thought we would like to give a building to Harvard." The president rolled his eyes. He glanced at the gingham dress and threadbare suit, then exclaimed: "A building! Do you have an earthly idea how much a building costs? We have over seven and a half million dollars in the buildings at Harvard."

Mr. & Mrs. Leland Stanford (1850)

For a moment she was silent. The president was pleased-he could get rid of them now. But she turned to her husband and said, "Is that all it costs to start a university? Why don't we start our own?" Her husband nodded, and they left.

The president's face clouded in confusion and bewilderment; Mr. and Mrs. Leland Stanford walked away and eventually traveled to Palo Alto, California, where they established the Stanford University that bears their name-a memorial to a son that Harvard no longer cared about. What Harvard has really missed out huh?

Missed opportunity...

The president of Harvard and his secretary judged the Stanfords by their "covering" and missed the opportunity for an enormous endowment. This story (though we cannot verify its validity) shows how important it is to see people as God sees them and not judge them by what they wear, where they live, what they drive or how they speak. Remember this: it really is God's idea to care for people regardless of what they can give or how they appear. Bear in mind, that everyone deserves respect and kindness. You will never ever regret being kind. :)

~First Commenter~