A story of crushed up cans, a homeless military vet and integrity.


A few days ago i had someone ask me what  I stood for? It got me thinking. 

The majority of my adult life, my dad would make us crush the soda (beer) can by stomping on it and throw it in the back of his truck bed. It didn’t matter where we were, at home, at the ranch, didn’t matter. I remember somedays looking in the back of that truck bed and thinking, wow, what a mess! Cans everywhere! Thousands of them. I remember times, inviting buddies to our ranch and almost being embarrased cause of how many cans where in the back of my dads truck. They would make comments, ‘why does your dad have so many cans back here?’, they would ask. Or ‘brian, why do we always have to crush our cans and throw them in his truck?’ I mean, my dad was adement. To the point where he would repeat himself many times over, just to make sure you didn’t throw any in the trash! 

I lost my dad 5 years ago, very tragically. Many of you know our story. But it was during that time after his death, that I met a lot of people that I never knew, but they knew my dad. I heard stories about my dad I had never heard before. Some made me laugh till I cried, some made me sad that I didn’t know these stories while he was alive. 

But luckily, one conversation changed my life. It was with an old country boy that knew my dad from ranching. We were chatting about how he knew my dad and the relationship these two had built over the years. Somehow those old crushed-up cans came up in our conversation and we both had a laugh about how relentless he was about those darn cans! 

That’s when i said something like, ‘man, all those years crushing up cans...and for what, i guess I’ll never know.’

Don’t miss this. This old country looked at me as if he just realized that this son, a son who had just lost his father, was going to learn something about his dad that he needed to really know. He stopped, looked at me for a second, got a very serious look in his eye and said, ‘you don’t know what he did with those cans all those years?’

I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I believe strongly in the value of family and friends and would do anything for those in my life. I believe in the idea of servanthood, the choice to offer help to someone without the expectation of anything in return and wish more people did that. I believe in personal growth and the challenge to have an open mind to everything and the willingness to research. I don’t know everything and learned a long time ago that there are some really incredible smart, successful and compassionate people in this world, that surprisingly and willing to offer their help for free too! I believe in integrity and character. Nothing can influence those things in your life more than bad company and bad decisions, but nothing can shift you from those things like forgiveness, appreciation for life and an experience with the Holy Spirit.

I was so grateful for that question. It got me thinking about what I stood for. 

So what do you stand for?

If you were fired from your job tomorrow, would you find a job in the same field and do it for less money? If it took too much of your time, if it made you too little money, would u stand for it then? What matters to you more than the results you get from doing it? What do you do for free just because it’s the right thing to do? What do you stand for? What do you do that no body knows about it and you do it anyways?

As for my dad and those cans. That day, just days after losing my hero and the strongest man I know in my life, meeting that farmer changed my life. He explained to me what my dad did with those cans. About once every six months or so, as his truck would almost become too full of crushed up cans, he would take them down to a aluminum exchange machine and spend an hour or so trading them in for cash. Then he would go visit a homeless military vet that he had met years ago under a bridge in downtown San Antonio and give him the money. The story included unbelievable details, like how the military vet never would take money from my dad, so he saved cans for him instead and somehow that was okay for him to receive money that way. Or even to think for how many years my dad did this, i was crushing cans and throwing them in his truck for over 10 years! 

Friends, I was fortunate to have a father that set an incredible example for me. I know many people never have that opportunity. So let me just say this, having something that you stand for is so important in life, but standing firm on those beliefs and having your actions reflect those beliefs is what really matters. What you stand for and how adamant you are in your actions matters to people. Maybe it won’t change your life, but I can promise it will change someone else’s. 

So stand for something. Do right by others and don’t waiver on your beliefs. Integrity an character are so needed today...and the best part is, they are both free and you can have as much as you want of either of them!

Hope this blesses someone today. 

Brian