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A German woman returned the kindness shown to her husband by helping a stranded teen

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

It's time now for "My Unsung Hero," our series from the team at Hidden Brain. "My Unsung Hero" tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Today's story comes from Brenda Arnold. About 40 years ago, when she was 18, Arnold planned a trip to visit her sister in Germany. The only information she had was her sister's address. After a long journey, Arnold finally arrived at her sister's door, but when she rang the bell, no one answered.

BRENDA ARNOLD: I started to get this sinking feeling, and I thought, oh, no, wait. She's not here. She's at work. She doesn't know that I'm here, and I have no way to reach her. And all of a sudden my world just came crashing down around me, and I thought, I'm just going to sit down on my suitcase until I figure out what to do. People started walking by me, and then they said something to me. And I just looked up at them and shrugged my shoulders and said, I'm sorry. I don't speak any German. And then they just kept on walking until one particular lady came. She switched to English, and I was totally blown away. She said, oh, are you OK? Is there something wrong? So I said, oh, yes, I'm an American. I'm here visiting my sister - gave her my whole sob story. And then she said, oh, well, would you like to come home with me, and I can fix you something to eat? And I thought, oh, are you kidding? So I went home with this lady who lived in the same apartment complex as my sister, and she sat me down at her kitchen table and started to fix me something to eat. And as she did that, then she told me her story. World War II had been over for about 35 years, so there were a lot of people around who had still experienced the war. And it turns out that her husband was one of those people, and he had been a prisoner of war in Louisiana. And he was there for, like, a year or two, and he had been treated very well. They put him to work on the farm, but he got plenty to eat and treated very well. So after the war, he came home. And they were so thankful that they vowed any time they met an American that they would be extremely nice to them and treat them kindly. And, yeah, so that's what happened to me that day. I was the recipient of this kindness that had been extended to this woman's husband 40 years earlier. I just - it was amazing. It was amazing.

(SOUNDBITE OF LINCOLN DAVIS' "AFTERNOON")

ARNOLD: It really left a really deep impression on me because she took me into her home, and she had never seen me before. And it also gave me a very deep sense of how interconnected the world is.

(SOUNDBITE OF LINCOLN DAVIS' "AFTERNOON")

KELLY: Brenda Arnold. A few years after this incident, she moved to Germany herself and now lives in Munich. You can find more stories from "My Unsung Hero" wherever you get your podcasts. And to share the story of your unsung hero, record a voice memo on your phone, and email it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF LINCOLN DAVIS' "AFTERNOON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.