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Heroic Block Party…

September 13, 2008

 

My life changed a little bit on Thursday night.

The street my office is on was blocked off for a fundraiser sponsored by a bar located on this same street. This particular bar is actually my version of Cheers where I walk in and everyone hollers out “Mr. Noodle!” (they don’t actually say Mr. Noodle but you get the picture).

Thursday night though, over 2000 people made their way to this street to raise money for the Wounded Heroes Foundation.

The bar kinda promoted it as a big party and that was what I expected as I walked out of my office onto this out-of-the-ordinary city street, devoid of parked cars, honking taxi-cabs, and double-decked tour buses. Instead, I found a street full of grills, tents, eating tables and a big stage.

Very shortly thereafter, I realized this night was completely different than what I thought it was going to be. I think it started when I saw a mom leading her 20-something year old son through the massive crowd. He had the type of cane that a blind person uses in his hand. His eyes were scarred and had that blank look of someone who can’t see. It dawned on me that he was probably one of the wounded veterans.

Then I notice another kid in a wheelchair. He had no legs.

Another young man holding a beer in one hand. His other hand is a prosthetic hand and he is standing on two prosthetic legs as well.

All the sudden, I realized that I was virtually surrounded by people with very serious life-changing injuries. But what I noticed most of all was how young they all were. The oldest man I saw was in a wheel chair and dressed in a suit. His injury wasn’t obvious in terms of a missing limb or anything but even still he was maybe late 20’s.

About this time was when the Chicago Police Department’s Bagipipe & Drum Corps started playing Amazing Grace. I do not know how I didn’t start bawling like a baby because the lump in my throat was bigger than I had ever experienced before.

By the end of the night, over $200,000 had been raised and at least 4 specially equipped vehicles had been given to some of these young men and their families.

I wish I could tell you that one politician took the stage and vowed to get our troops out of Iraq immediately. I wish I could tell you that a promise was made that not one single American would again be horribly maimed by another roadside bomb. I wish I could tell you that the evening and the response by these people taught Washington a lesson about how crazy it is that the young people of our country are returning to their families needing long-term care and prosthetic limbs.

None of that happened.

But what did happen was some of these young heroes lives were changed for the better due to the generous nature of the Americans they fought for. They weren’t drafted and sent over there. They volunteered to be there to serve which is a decision they have to justify to themselves every time they strap on that artificial leg or lower the ramp to get their wheelchair into their van.

Even writing this, I get a little choked up to think of how their lives were changed at such a young age. And, of course, the fact that these are the heroes who made it home. How many others didn’t?

Call me over-dramatic or melodramatic if you like. But if you had been there and saw these kids, some of who do not even need to shave every day yet, smile and laugh with each other while precariously balancing on fake legs and not felt as I do about it then you are a cold, cold person.

My prayer is that, whoever wins this election makes it a priority to get our troops safely out of harms way the day they take office.

Yeah… my life changed a little because I saw how drastically their lives have changed…

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8 comments

  1. What a beautiful post.
    Thank You


  2. Wow! You couldn’t have kept the tears from falling from these eyes if I had walked out on that curb! I could feel your emotions as I read them. Makes us realize just how thankful we can be, huh? Those kids make me proud to be an american! Great story~


  3. That is absolutely heartbreaking. What an amazing event. I’m sure they raised so much awareness that night and I hope they continue to raise all the money they need. It is amazing what some people are able to survive. It’s so horrible. I can’t wait till our troops (so many of them 18-25 years old!) are home safe with their families.

    Very well written. I’m nominating this for Five Star Friday.


  4. It is amazing what one little spark can do! It is called paying it back to those that gave so much and ask for so little.
    Great blog. Found you via Five Star Friday.


  5. My older son is on his second tour of Afghanistan. I always thank each military person I encounter.


  6. You are being featured on Five Star Friday!
    http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2009/01/five-star-friday-edition-39.html


  7. Beautiful post !


  8. You made me cry. I agree with you and I’m so glad that those so desperately in need, even if it’s only a few, have been cared for by the community. Sad that the government that sent them didn’t do it.

    Thank you for sharing their story.

    Connie



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