11th day, 11th hour

Veteran’s Day, 2008

When we were growing up, my husband recalls, schoolwork stopped at 11 a.m. on November 11, Veteran’s Day. Last month we did a lot of remembering at the Pearl Harbor memorial , and today — invited by Class of ’81 West Point alumnus Matt McCarville — we plan to attend a morning service at Princeton University Chapel, where the speaker will be Uwe Reinhardt, the healthcare economist and father of a Marine. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t have some harsh words regarding healthcare for veterans.

Several days later

Reinhardt did indeed have strong words about the nation’s failure to provide what veterans need: “We bicker over a GI Bill — we more than twice as rich as the World War II generation. . . I was shocked this year (when testifying in Congress) at one senator who sincerely believed (support) for veterans would be unsustainable. If I was rude, I was rude for a cause. There should never be a healthcare facility for veterans that wasn’t the best. …”

What sets military people apart: “their code of honor, the bonds that they form — so that they die for one another, and their determination to complete their mission even if they do not agree with that mission…”

Don’t thank the soldiers with casual words at airports, he said, “but by our resolve to make our country genuinely patriotic by caring for one another.”

A Million Dollar Thank You

What happened next was really amazing. At the end of his speech, someone stepped forward and presented a $1 million check, yes that’s right, $1 million for the Wounded Warrior Project to help severely injured soldiers make a transition to civilian life. It was astonishing. It was heartening.

It seems that the president of the Charles Evans Foundation (honoring the founder of the fashion house Evan-Picone) is Linda J. Munson, and Munson is a client of the MSM Group at Merrill Lynch. She was looking for a way to honor veterans. “As a trustee and president of the foundation, she asked us to find an organization that would benefit from a major gift,” says McCarville. He had served in the Special Operations Command in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and his last assignment, before retirement, was to command the ROTC unit at Princeton. Now he works with the fellow West Pointers in the MSM Group at Merrill Lynch.

McCarville found the Wounded Warrior Project, which honors and empowers wounded soldiers, doing everything from sending backpacks to hospitalized soldiers overseas to getting legislation passed that pays traumatically injured soldiers $100,000 up front, rather than after months of red tape. The Evans Foundation gift will provide scholarships for a 12-month training and rehabilitation program in Jacksonville, Florida. Wounded soldiers can get physical rehabilitation in a state-of-the-art facility plus earn 12 credit hours at Florida Community College, and work in paid internships.

Just 60 people attended this service, and had there been publicity about it, I think there would have been at least 100 more.

3 thoughts on “11th day, 11th hour

  1. This post came from Howard Sims, son of “Sandman” Sims, sent on 4-16-2009Don’t know whether you heard about this but Denzel Washington and his family visited the troops at Brook Army Medical Center, in San Antonio, Texas (BAMC) the other day. This is where soldiers who have been evacuated from Germany come to be hospitalized in the United States , especially burn victims. There are some buildings there called Fisher Houses. The Fisher House is a Hotel where soldiers’ families can stay, for little or no charge, while their soldier is staying in the Hospital. BAMC has quite a few of these houses on base, but as you can imagine, they are almost filled most of the time. While Denzel Washington was visiting BAMC, they gave him a tour of one of the Fisher Houses. He asked how much one of them would cost to build. He took his checkbook out and wrote a check for the full amount … right there on the spot ! The soldiers overseas were amazed to hear this story and want to get the word out to the American public, because it warmed their hearts to hear it. The question is -why do:Brad Pitt Madonna, Tom Cruise and other Hollywood fluff make front page news with their ridiculous antics and Denzel Washington’s Patriotism doesn’t even make page 3 in the Metro section of any newspaper except the Local newspaper in San Antonio ..

  2. U.S. 1 Newspaper published an account of this donation with this extra information. Charles Evans, who died in 2007, founded Evan-Picone, the fashion house, and a commercial real estate firm, the Evans Partnership, but he is also known as the producer of the Oscar-winning movie “Tootsie.”Having lost his former wife, Frances, and their two daughters in a 1975 fire caused by ashes from a fireplace, he funded the Crusade for Fire Detection, lobbying for mandatory fire detectors. In memory of his father, he was a major donor to Alzheimer’s research.The founder of the Wounded Warrior Project was a former lieutenant in the U.S. Army who was determined to reenter the Army to serve in Desert Storm. In 1992 he was training on an aircraft carrier, on a mission in Somalia, when he was severely burned. Like most trauma casualties, he was sent to Landstuhl, Germany, where his only object of clothing was a hospital gown.The signature program of the Wounded Warrior Project,” says McCarville, is providing backpacks for wounded soldiers. “He bought the backpacks and filled them with sweats, CDs, and candy, for the first wounded soldiers from Afghanistan.” Now the program has expanded to nearly a dozen different initiatives.

  3. Commenting on a Veteran’s Day article in the Daily Princetonian,Tom Pyle, Class of ’76 also had strong words, but his criticism was for the lack of commitment at Princeton for the “in the nation’s service.”Something significant occurred this morning in the University Chapel: a solemn Veterans’ Day service. Professor Uwe Reinhardt, father of a Marine injured in combat, spoke movingly through tears about being part of a military family, both his own and the larger family of American soldiers of every generation. His recollections of growing up in post-war Germany made the comments especially poignant.I thought of my father, Class of ’41, who served in the Pacific. I thought of all those names engraved on the marbled walls inside Nassau Hall. I thought of the war-torn American battle flag of the U.S.S. Princeton that hangs on the Chapel’s wall….”Pyle’s text can be found in the comments on this page… or go to the Daily Prince archiveshttp://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2008/11/11/22047/comments/

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