Thursday, June 07, 2007

Writing My Thank Yous to Our Wounded Warriors

First some photos from my dinner Wednesday night with a special group of Wounded Warriors in Nashville, Tennessee as they gathered for a weekend of reunion, fellowship and lots country music:

Above, standing on his own two feet in every way, Robert Doughty, former Special Ops Staff Sargeant in Iraq, waits outside the restaurant with his wife, Krissy and their two children. He lost both legs in Iraq when an IED went off at close range. With them is Dick Autrey who organized the first warrior/country music event last year, after his own son, Ryan, returned from Iraq with only one arm.

Organizer Dick Autry, a former Marine, and his son Ryan who now works in the beer distributing business.

Former Staff Sargeant Jason Pepper with seven month old daughter Cheyanne. He sustained massive injuries and lost both eyes, after throwing himself in front of two of his men as an IED exploded at close range in Iraq. He recovered in Walter Reed Hospital for two years. Today Jason has two prosthetic eyes and and other bionic implants that allow him to be a hands on husband and father and work his way towards a college degree in Business Administration using CDs and special computer software for studying and listening. He dreams of opening a restaurant and bar with wife, Heather, and other family members after graduating in two years.

Former Staff Sargeant Robert "Robbie" Doughtry, a true bionic man. with two prosthetic legs that allows him almost complete mobility. After USA Today featured his recovery at Walter Reed in the fall of 2004, he return to his family in Paducah, Kentucky. Four months later Michael Ilitch, founder and president of Little Caesar's Pizzas, called and offered Robbie, and another wounded vet who became his partner, a Little Caesars Pizza franchise for free. Now several years later, Robbie and his partner are planning to open a second franchise in Clarksville, Tennessee near Fort Campbell.
Doughtry has enrolled in a Special Ops program at Walter Reed starting in July, 2007 where he and other recovered vets will offer mentoring and encouragement to their fellow soldiers freshly wounded in the war. Meanwhile, Ilitch of Little Caesar's Pizza has started an official franchise program for injured vets, after making the initial gift to Doughtry.

June 7, 2007

Dear Fellows,

Welcome to Music City USA and the Country Music Festival!
Of course, mine is an unofficial greeting from a regular person who's neither a city dignitary or a country music star. (You'll surely get plenty of that as the weekend here unfolds.) But it doesn't diminish my heart felt appreciation for what you've done for your country and regular people like me. We people don't often take the time to know or thank you as we should.
Great meeting you last night for dinner at Maggionis! Getting to know you a little better over lasagne and Caesar salad, hearing your stories, sharing your dreams for the future were more than I bargained for.
Now you have names and faces, families and jobs, hopes and dreams and your share of challenges. Up until last night, you were only a concept to me." The Wounded Warrior" concept. Warriors injured in Iraq or Afghanistan. Soldiers who fought and survived, were injured and recovered "somewhere out there."
And now I see Wounded Warriors as real people.

I must confess, I was somewhat skeptical that our get-together might be a real downer, what with knowing all of you were banged up pretty bad in the Iraq War. Most of you survived massive IED explosions and were hospitalized for months, if not years at Walter Reed and Brooke Medical Center. So I stuffed some extra Kleenex in my purse when I came to the dinner, expecting that I might cry all the way home afterwards.

But I never used it. A funny thing happened over calamari: you lifted my spirits rather than dashing them. And rather than cry all the way home last night, I gave thanks for brave men like you who serve our country. Your courage in the face of hardships in are truly inspiring.
Thank you so much for all that you've done for all of us. We shall not forget you, so keep on keeping on. And remember, fellows, in the words of Sara Evans, you were born to fly.
God bless you and your families all,


William said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pam said...

So much for that person who praised this blogger for not deleting posts

Bob said...

Thanks for the post. I liked the song, which I had never heard before.

Vienna VA said... must be referring to me I guess. I certainly didn't praise Web for not deleting comments. I did say she's pretty good about allowing people with different people to leave comments. Compared to most right/far right sights, which allow no comments at all, even from the truest of true believers, she at least allows people to say what they want for the most part.

I have no idea why she deleted one of William's comments 2 entries down, and don't know why she deleted one from this entry. It's her blog and she can do what she wants.

Webutante said...

I have been very busy the past few days and away from my computer, as I will be today. I want to address William's first comment before being assaulted with more at this point.

Vienna, it's nice to have you here again.

Vienna, VA said...

Web, don't blow my cover!

Pam said...

Web, the PAM who commented above was is not ME! Just want to make sure you know that! LOL

What a wonderful letter to the wounded warriors. What an amazing experience for you! I had seen a special segment on one of the news programs about the Little Ceasar's Franchise being given to Mr. Doughtry. I remember bawling like a baby! What a great country we live in!

Oh and I just love that song by Sara Evans. I had never heard of her before her appearance on Dancing with the Stars. I fell in love with her personality then. This was a happy find today. Blessings,