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In giving thanks, don’t forget to reflect on sacrifices of servicemen

Posted 23 November 2016 at 10:56 pm
Provided photos: Carol Culhane, the Gaine town supervisor, decorates ornaments that are given to soldiers and their families at the Walter Reed Medical Center.

Provided photos: Carol Culhane, the Gaine town supervisor, decorates ornaments that are given to soldiers and their families at the Walter Reed Medical Center.

Editor:

I returned from a trip to Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland on Saturday evening after spending a few days with members of the New York Warrior Alliance located at 507 Thornell Road Pittsford, NY 14534, nywarrioralliance@gmail.com.

Founded in 2007 at Northfields Church, this organization began as a Military Ministry that involved praying for deployed military personnel each week, during the church service which continues to this day. The ministry has evolved to sending care packages to deployed military and collecting supplies for wounded warriors at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda.

I play a very small part in the effort to honor our servicemen and servicewoman along with their families and caregivers.  This was my 3rd trip to the Bethesda Hospital and my fourth trip in all.  My first trip I spent 4 days with a Mr. Bob Kunkle who was a Vietnam veteran with a fused leg.  He was devoted in teaching the wheelchair bound self-defense.  As a black belt in jujitsu, ironically he claimed he was the only “handicapped black belt.” I thought that comment was a complete oxymoron as he obviously could defend himself. It was an eye opener for me in so many ways. So many injuries, so many limbs missing, so much suffering but yet no regrets. True heroes to say the least.

Going to the Bethesda Walter Reed was again a very humbling experience and an honor to be with the New York Warrior Alliance.

I give away Christmas ornaments with a variety of designs, Military Emblems, Purple Hearts, American Flags, Gold Star and this year a pretty Christmas tree with all the glitter for the children.

I paint messages on the back. Sometime it designates the troops “alive day” the day they were injured, some with their name and rank, places served and some just a year. I painted the glittery Christmas tree for the children. There are so many young families who make the hospital their home, the lobby the playground and a small room near by their home while their loved one recovers from their injuries.

I have to tell these stories because we ALL need to remember their sacrifice for our freedom. One beautiful little girl stood in front of the table admiring the Christmas tree ornament.

I asked would you like one. She turned to her young mother while her little brother fussed in his stroller and asked “can I Mommy”? The mother looked at me and I said can I put your name on it sweetheart?  Her mother said we won’t have a Christmas tree this year so we will use this for our tree.

Another young troop came to the table to get a Purple Heart ornament as she was injured in combat in Iraq. She noticed the Gold Star ornament so we explained. She said her battle buddy had been killed and his Mom was coming near Christmas to lay a wreath at his grave in Arlington National Cemetery. She would love to give her it.  I asked would she like me to place a message on the back for her. She thought for a moment and on a piece of paper she wrote “Mom I really miss you. Love Ben.”

What reignited over and over  again was they feel forgotten. I gave away 126 ornaments and with each was some conversation and some very personal messages.

I know this is wordy and I am not a writer but the message is simple. Remember the sacrifices of these soldiers and Marines and their families. Take an example from the New York Warrior Alliance and remember.

Send a card, say a prayer, talk about it your friends and family,  keep their sacrifices in the conversation. They fought for our freedom be thankful and remember, don’t let them ever think we don’t care.

Carol Culhane

Gaines

Culhane and a group from the New York Warrior Alliance visited injured soldiers at Walter Reed.

Culhane and a group from the New York Warrior Alliance visited injured soldiers at Walter Reed.