Yesterday Princie and I spent most of the day in D.C., at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Days spent there always make me equal parts humble, grateful, outraged, and saddened. The outraged part starts on the way to Walter Reed. The long, traffic-filled drive gives me a chance to listen to the news. And thankfully, Princie is happy to entertain herself in the car. So, I have time. Time to listen to things on the news that make me angry. Oh, I plan on sharing all of it with you, tomorrow. Today, I wanted you to know about the parts of a Walter Reed day that touch my heart.
Soldiers. Brave and true to their country. The men and women you find at Walter Reed have survived injuries so horrific, there is no doubt they are warriors. Yesterday, I began keeping a mental note. A note of how many soldiers I saw who have lost one or more limbs in war. I had to stop. There were too many. Too much loss. I started feeling overwhelmed. Me? Who cares about me? How embarrassing that I felt the need to get out of there quickly because I couldn't "handle it". I looked down at Princie as she galloped down the hall, smiling at every person she passed. In the cafeteria, she spun in circles, arms outstretched with Spidey fingers. I asked what she was doing, her reply: "covering all these Army guys with my webs". She made every person she came in contact with smile or laugh. I realized I should take my cues from her. Our soldiers don't want our pity. They want our support, our gratitude.
I am thrilled to know that in 2011, our soldiers will have a new facility. They deserve it. I feel it is one way to show our support and gratitude. The current facility is depressing and dark. The buildings are old and their age shows. A new and improved Walter Reed. I am happy to know at least some of our tax dollars will be put to great use. Most injured soldiers make their very first stop, once they are back in the U.S., at Walter Reed. Many call it home for months and months of recovery and rehab. They deserve the best we have to give. After all, that is why they are there in the first place...because they gave the best they had to give.
American soldiers risk everything in fulfilling their commitment to this country. Everything. They are heroes. As I walk the halls of Walter Reed, I want to hug them, tell them how much I love and appreciate them. I can't do that. They are still recovering, still fragile. So instead, I make a promise to myself. I promise that I will let you know, that I will share how full my heart is. I am overcome with gratitude for people I will never personally know. My words are completely inadequate. I just wish you could have a Walter Reed kind of day.