Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hero Worship

I'm not really sure what a hero is anymore. But I know that I've been called one quite a bit since I got wounded. I'm not really sure the title fits. After all I don't exactly leap tall buildings in a single bound anymore. As a matter of fact, I'm lucky to get out of bed in the morning without rubbing lotion on my scars first. And everybody seems to call me a hero. I'm surrounded by people who call me a hero on a daily basis, whether it's Red Cross volunteers, random passersby, people in the Pentagon, and people on the blog (yes I know I haven't posted about a million years.)

For instance, one of the most moving things I've experienced was my recent trip to the Pentagon. It was in a private visit, and I was in random visitor, rather. It was a trip that was set up and scheduled by Walter Reed. There are about 50 of us cripples on the trip. After we got off the bus we were greeted at the door by none other than Donald Rumsfeld. Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usHe shook our hands, and he even remembered me from his previous visit. Both he and his wife remembered it… not just my face, but the different conversations that Carren I had with them. I'm not sure what Carren and Mrs. Rumsfeld had talked about; Secretary Rumsfeld however knew exactly what we discussed in my room almost a week prior-- the decisions that he makes day-to-day and how they can be very unpopular and how brave he must be to make them.

But meeting Secretary Rumsfeld for the second time wasn't the most moving thing I never witnessed. Rather, when the doors opened, the halls were lined as far you could see with people that worked in the Pentagon: Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and even civilians who work in the Pentagon. They began to applaud as the first wheelchair hit the floor in the entryway. The applause continued as we entered the building; as we rounded each corner, and as we went in to each new concourse of the Pentagon. These were the people who sent us to war. And now they were welcoming us home and calling us heroes and saying thank you. They were telling us how proud they were of us and what we were doing. These were the senior leaders in each of the respective branches of military and they were calling us heroes. As we stopped and began the tour and began meeting people, everyone regardless of rank or status treated us like we were royalty. I stopped to ask one man, who is much more senior than I will probably ever be, why we were treated this way. He said to me. "Son, you had given more to this country than any of us had ever asked. Not just by being wounded, but by your actions afterward. Your shrink and determination to get better to heal and get back to your unit is so much more than we could have ever asked for." I think that is what moved me the most: Recognition that we were still trying to get better and to get back. Well, regardless of what moved me, it was a very touching and moving scene. Still, I don't feel like a hero for getting blown up, or for being wounded. I don't feel like a hero for what has happened since I woke up in Walter Reed, or even for the things I did before I got blown up. I suppose heroism is a lot like humility... as soon as you realize you've got it, it's lost.

I must think of a hundred things a day that I want to post on... must be the drugs. Then next couple weeks I will be much more prolific in my writing. The drugs have been really kicking my ass as far as staying awake. I suppose that's a good thing. It's better than lying in bed and screaming from the pain. Anyway and in a few weeks I will be traveling back to Fort Riley, Kansas. The kids will follow on a few days after Carren I arrive, and we will be a complete family for almost a month before come back here for devaluation and probably surgery. Stay tuned for further posts... next up is a description of exactly what happened to me as far as wounds go and then a pod cast over at Holly Aho’s blog.


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