All it takes is a simple gesture to let your fellow human being know someone cares about them. Be it a loved one or a complete stranger, we're all united by the human condition and I don't care what you say about physical contact, a hug when you need it most is one of the best things you can receive. Mrs. Elizabeth Laird of Copperas Cove was an enlightened soul who understood the importance of a hug, and for the last 12 years she made it a mission to embrace as many Fort Hood soldiers - either deploying or returning - as she possibly could. Respectfully earning the nickname "Hug Lady", it was estimated that she hugged nearly 500,000 soldiers.

Laird passed away on Christmas Eve at Metroplex Hospital at the age of 83 after battling breast cancer for 10 years. Though she is gone from this physical world, she remains in the hearts of thousands and thousands of men and women. She wanted them to know someone at home cared about them and she would be there whether at 3 p.m. or 4 a.m. to make it known.

There are already over 1,700 comments from the military describing their experiences with the Hug Lady on the reddit thread. A Facebook page has been created in her honor as members of Fort Hood released a petition to posthumously present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Elizabeth. The petition requires 100,000 signatures by January 24 of 2016.

Laird, also an Air Force Veteran, is an inspiration to us all. Public visitation will be held at Crawford Bowers Funeral Home in Copperas Cove from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 2nd.

Her funeral service will take place on January 3rd at 3 p.m. at the Christian House of Prayer in Killeen.