Had the following message the other day from a fellow who insists on confidentiality.
“Larry, I thought you’d enjoy this story because an email you sent some time ago regarding recognizing Viet Nam vets is partially responsible. I tell it to you on the understanding that neither I nor any of those involved have any desire for any publicity or recognition, so if you choose to use it in your journalistic endeavors, you do so without mentioning me or my role in it.
“The backstory is that I have a neighbor, Art Guerrero, who is a disabled Viet Nam vet who got ‘stitched’ with multiple AK47 rounds. Art is generally confined to wheelchair but has some upright mobility if he has something to hang onto and keep his balance. He’s been through a lot—for example, last summer he had to have a complete shoulder replacement. Think about that for a guy in a wheelchair. I can’t say we’re close friends, but I always stop and talk to him when I can, because I come away with a completely different perspective on the tribulations in my existence. He’s remarkable, always upbeat and positive and never, or rarely, ‘down’. Last winter I was tooling around on my ATV plowing snow in the neighborhood and I noticed that Art’s sidewalk wasn’t done, which raised all kinds of flags because his is always the first one done. He has a self-propelled snowblower that he can ‘walk’ behind, and he likes to do it, because it gives him mobility that he doesn’t otherwise have. Being the nosy fellow I am, I went to see what was wrong. He was in his driveway trying to shovel snow in his wheelchair (yes, he’s that kind of guy). I asked him what was going on and he told me his snowblower driveshaft broke. I asked him if he wanted me to do his driveway and sidewalk and he said, ‘Would you? That would be great.’ I then got to thinking—my ATV is totally hand operated—brakes, throttle, plow, all can be operated from the sitting position. So I said, ‘I’m happy to do it, but why don’t you do it, it’s all hand operated.’ After some coaxing, I got him on it and, of course, couldn’t get him off it. He tooled around the whole damn neighborhood moving snow from here to there and back with a grin clear across his face. He was a little kid in a sandbox with a new truck, and it was so cool.
“That got me thinking. I sent out an email to a bunch of buddies and contacted a couple of ATV shops in town. Virtually all of the people I contacted jumped on the wagon and a shop here in town, Colorado Powersports, went hunting after sending me an email to the effect, ‘Of course we want to be a part of this. Your email makes us think there are still some good people out there.’ The result was that last week a truck pulled up to Art’s house and offloaded a good used ATV with a new plow that has been specially modified to be completely controllable from the seat. (We even figured out a way he can change the angle of the plow.) When he was handed the title in his name, he asked who was responsible and, as we had all decreed, he was handed a note that read simply ‘Please accept this from a group of citizens who recognize, and appreciate, your sacrifice for your country.’”
The “Mystery Machine” arrives: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghjf7dncACo
One response to “Thank-You Note to a Wounded Vet”
It’s been said Shakespeare has inspired generations of playwrights. Art Guerrero’s profound story will inspire all Americans reading it for generations. Answering Mr. Guerrero question in the story, he was handed a note that said, “Please accept this from a group of citizens who recognize your sacrifice for your country.” I know I don’t have words to adequately thank our veterans both dead and alive, but speaking from my heart, a million thanks to these heroes. And to Mr. Guerrero, another million thanks.