Friday, May 01, 2009

Soldier Ride

I had to get up early today (4:30 am) to pick up my husband at the airport as he returned from a short visit to Kuwait.

Then, I had the wonderful opportunity today to do a 34 mile bicycle ride with about 21 wounded warriors from Washington D.C. to Annapolis, Maryland sponsored by the Wounded Warrior Project, Soldier Ride. I love being around Soldiers; I wouldn't still be in the Army after 28 years if I didn't But, for anyone that has ever had the chance, the ability to spend time with Soldier/Marines that are wounded is even more special.

Here are a group of folks that just want to be normal but have been forced suddenly into being different. None of these individuals think of themselves as heroes; even though we can't help but think that when you meet them. Their attitude is refreshing and makes me realize that my problems are minor.

Some of their injuries are invisible to the eye and are only discovered upon talking to them. Others have injuries that cannot be hid, no matter how hard they try. I was amazed at all of those that were riding hand cycles, some for the first time. These bikes are really fast downhill, but uphill is definitely a challenge. Imagine pulling yourself up a hill with just your arms. Unlike on a regular bicycle, you can’t stand up and put your weight into helping one up a hill. Some of the hills we did today were quite steep.

The local support was huge. Although I am sure there were those that were late to work and were stressed, the traffic was made to stop in both directions as we passed. They even closed off a four-lane highway so we could ride for a few miles. The kids in buses were the loudest in their cheers. I am so happy to see such a response from the public. When I was participating in ROTC in the beginning of the ‘80s, the reaction to Soldiers was not all supportive. It probably didn’t help that I attended Kent State University. But, even during my first ten years in the Army, you were expected not to wear your uniform anywhere off-post after duty hours. And, I remember the horrible way we treated the Vietnam-veterans. I can assure you though, that today, the public response to the war may not be encouraging but to the military, the public is highly compassionate and accommodating.

(Added 6 May 2009: Check out this video about the Soldier Ride and how it got started.)

I want to thank everyone that that allowed me to participate in such an event. I definitely want to take part next year. I must thank my boss for allowing me the time off to participate.

Then I came home to find that my Passionate for Parrots and Purls Ravelry Bird Swap toys and yarn was at the door. Look at what I got from Chaimama:

Look at those stitch markers. They are little cockatoos! Beautiful. She added the Starbucks cup toy because Gwen loves Starbucks coffee. How sweet.

I am exhausted - I think it will be an early night.

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