Shortarmguy's Emails That Made Me Think
On this page, I will post the most inspirational material I receive on any given day. So email firstname.lastname@example.org the best stuff you get. Life can be darn tough sometimes and every now and then you might need a little happiness booster. I’m hoping this page may accomplish that. After you read a few of these, you can push back from your keyboard, throw your arms in the air, wave them back and forth and scream “I’m glad to be alive!” If this happens to you, please send pictures and I’ll post them here!
January 28, 2007
This is a wonderful piece by Michael Gartner, editor of newspapers large and small and president of NBC News. In 1997, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Well worth reading. And a few good laughs are guaranteed.
My father never drove a car. Well, that’s not quite right. I should say I never saw him drive a car. He quit driving in 1927, when he was 25 years old, and the last car he drove was a 1926 Whippet.
“In those days,” he told me when he was in his 90s, “to drive a car you had to do things with your hands, and do things with your feet, and look every which way, and I decided you could walk through life and enjoy it or drive through life and miss it.”
At which point my mother, a sometimes salty Irishwoman, chimed in: “Oh, bull—-!” she said. “He hit a horse.”
“Well,” my father said, “there was that, too.”
So my brother and I grew up in a household without a car. The neighbors all had cars — the Kollingses next door had a green 1941 Dodge, the VanLaninghams across the street a gray 1936 Plymouth, the Hopsons two doors down a black 1941 Ford — but we had none.
My father, a newspaperman in Des Moines, would take the streetcar to work and, often as not, walk the 3 miles home. If he took the streetcar home, my mother and brother and I would walk the three blocks to the streetcar stop, meet him and walk home together.
My brother, David, was born in 1935, and I was born in 1938, and sometimes, at dinner, we’d ask how come all the neighbors had cars but we had none. “No one in the family drives,” my mother would explain, and that was that. But, sometimes, my father would say, “But as soon as one of you boys turns 16, we’ll get one.”
It was as if he wasn’t sure which one of us would turn 16 first.
But, sure enough, my brother turned 16 before I did, so in 1951 my parents bought a used 1950 Chevrolet from a friend who ran the parts department at a Chevy dealership downtown. It was a four-door, white model, stick shift, fender skirts, loaded with everything, and, since my parents didn’t drive, it more or less became my brother’s car.
Having a car but not being able to drive didn’t bother my father, but it didn’t make sense to my mother. So in 1952, when she was 43 years old, she asked a friend to teach her to drive. She learned in a nearby cemetery, the place where I learned to drive the following year and where, and a generation later, I took my two sons to practice driving.
The cemetery probably was my father’s idea.
“Who can your mother hurt in the cemetery?” I remember him saying once.
For the next 45 years or so, until she was 90, my mother was the driver in the family. Neither she nor my father had any sense of direction, but he loaded up on maps — though they seldom left the city limits — and appointed himself navigator. It seemed to work.
Still, they both continued to walk a lot. My mother was a devout Catholic, and my father an equally devout agnostic, an arrangement that didn’t seem to bother either of them through their 75 years of marriage. (Yes, 75 years, and they were deeply in love the entire time.)
He retired when he was 70, and nearly every morning for the next 20 years or so, he would walk with her the mile to St. Augustin’s Church. She would walk down and sit in the front pew, and he would wait in the back until he saw which of the parish’s two priests was on duty that morning.
If it was the pastor, my father then would go out and take a 2-mile walk, meeting my mother at the end of the service and walking her home. If it was the assistant pastor, he’d take just a 1-mile walk and then head back to the church. He called the priests “Father Fast” and “Father Slow.”
After he retired, my father almost always accompanied my mother whenever she drove anywhere, even if he had no reason to go along. If she were going to the beauty parlor, he’d sit in the car and read, or go take a stroll or, if it was summer, have her keep the engine running so he could listen to the Cubs game on the radio.
In the evening, then, when I’d stop by, he’d explain: “The Cubs lost again. The millionaire on second base made a bad throw to the millionaire on first base, so the multimillionaire on third base scored.”
If she were going to the grocery store, he would go along to carry the bags out — and to make sure she loaded up on ice cream.
As I said, he was always the navigator, and once, when he was 95 and she was 88 and still driving, he said to me, “Do you want to know the secret of a long life?”
“I guess so,” I said, knowing it probably would be something bizarre.
“No left turns,” he said.
“What?” I asked.
“No left turns,” he repeated. “Several years ago, your mother and I read an article that said most accidents that old people are in happen when they turn left in front of oncoming traffic. As you get older, your eyesight worsens, and you can lose your depth perception, it said. So your mother and I decided never again to make a left turn.”
“What?” I said again.
“No left turns,” he said. “Think about it. Three rights are the same as a left, and that’s a lot safer. So we
“You’re kidding!” I said, and I turned to my mother for support.
“No,” she said, “your father is right. We make three rights. It works.” But then she added: “Except when your father loses count.”
I was driving at the time, and I almost drove off the road as I started laughing. “Loses count?” I asked. “Yes,” my father admitted, “that sometimes happens. But it’s not a problem. You just make seven rights, and you’re okay again.”
I couldn’t resist. “Do you ever go for 11?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “If we miss it at seven, we just come home and call it a bad day. Besides, nothing in life is so important it can’t be put off another day or another week.”
My mother was never in an accident, but one evening she handed me her car keys and said she had decided to quit driving. That was in 1999, when she was 90. She lived four more years, until 2003. My father died the next year, at 102. They both died in the bungalow they had moved into in 1937 and bought a few years later for $3,000. (Sixty years later, my brother and I paid $8,000 to have a shower put in the tiny bathroom — the house had never had one. My father would have died then and there if he knew the shower cost nearly three times what he paid for the house.)
He continued to walk daily — he had me get him a treadmill when he was 101 because he was afraid he’d fall on the icy sidewalks but wanted to keep exercising — and he was of sound mind and sound body until the moment he died.
One September afternoon in 2004, he and my son went with me when I had to give a talk in a neighboring town, and it was clear to all three of us that he was wearing out, though we had the usual wide-ranging conversation about politics and newspapers and things in the news. A few weeks earlier, he had told my son, “You know, Mike, the first hundred years are a lot easier than the second hundred.” At one point in our drive that Saturday, he said, “You know, I’m probably not going to live much longer.”
“You’re probably right,” I said.
“Why would you say that?” He countered, somewhat irritated.
“Because you’re 102 years old,” I said.
“Yes,” he said, “you’re right.” He stayed in bed all the next day.
That night, I suggested to my son and daughter that we sit up with him through the night. He appreciated it, he said, though at one point, apparently seeing us look gloomy, he said: “I would like to make an announcement. No one in this room is dead yet.”
An hour or so later, he spoke his last words:
“I want you to know,” he said, clearly and lucidly, “that I am in no pain. I am very comfortable. And I have had as happy a life as anyone on this earth could ever have.” A short time later, he died.
I miss him a lot, and I think about him a lot. I’ve wondered now and then how it was that my family and I were so lucky that he lived so long.
I can’t figure out if it was because he walked through life
Or because he quit taking left turns.
January 21, 2007
This is an interesting concept…
The “ICE” Idea
A recent article from the Toronto Star, “the ICE idea”, is catching on and it is a very simple, yet important method of contact for you or a loved one in case of an emergency. As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is program the number of a contact person or persons and store the name as “ICE”. The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when they went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn’t know which numbers to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name to file “next of kin” under.
Following a disaster in London The East Anglican Ambulance Service has launched a national “In case of Emergency (ICE)” campaign. The idea is that you store the word “ICE ” in your mobile phone address book, and with it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted “In Case of Emergency”. In an emergency situation, Emergency Services personnel and hospital staff would then be able to quickly contact your next of kin, by simply dialing the number programmed under “ICE”.
Please forward this. It won’t take too many “forwards” before everybody will know about this. It really could save your life, or put a loved one’s mind at rest.
For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc.
A great idea that will make a difference !
January 14, 2007
Up here, in the “Mile-Hi City”, we just recovered from a Historic event–may I even say a “Weather Event” of “Biblical Proportions”–with a historic blizzard of up to 44″ inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10’s of thousands.
George Bush did not come.
FEMA did nothing.
No one howled for the government.
No one blamed the government.
No one even uttered an expletive on TV.
Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit.
Our Mayor did not blame Bush or anyone else.
Our Governor did not blame Bush or anyone else, either.
CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX or NBC did not visit — or report on this category 5 snowstorm. Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.
No one looted.
Nobody–I mean Nobody–demanded the government do something.
Nobody expected the government to do anything, either.
No, Larry King, No Bill O’Reilly, No Oprah, No Chris Matthew’s and No Geraldo Rivera.
No, Shaun Penn, No Barbara Streisand, No Hollywood types to be found.
Nope, we just melted the snow for water.
Sent out caravans of SUV’s to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars.
The truck drivers pulled people out of snow banks and didn’t ask for a penny.
Local restaurants made food and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snowbound families.
Families took in the stranded people–total strangers.
We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Coleman lanterns.
We put on extra layers of clothes because up here it is “Work or Die.”
We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for ‘sittin at home’ checks.
Even though a Category “5” blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early, we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves.
“In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of the world’s social problems evaporate.”
It does seem that way, at least to me.
I hope this gets passed on.
Maybe SOME people will get the message. The world does Not owe you a living.
January 7, 2007
Let it go for 2007
There are people who can walk away from you.
And hear me when I tell you this! When people can walk away from you: let them walk.
I don’t want you to try to talk another person into staying with you, loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you. I mean hang up the phone.
When people can walk away from you let them walk. Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.
The Bible said that, they came out from us that it might be made manifest that they were not for us.
For had they been of us, no doubt they would have continued with us.
People leave you because they are not joined to you. And if they are not joined to you, you can’t make them stay.
Let them go.
And it doesn’t mean that they are a bad person, it just means that their part in the story is over and you’ve got to know when people’s part in your story is over so that you don’t keep trying to raise the dead. You’ve got to know when it’s dead.
You’ve got to know when it’s over. Let me tell you something. I’ve got the gift of good-bye. It’s the tenth spiritual gift – I believe in good-bye. It’s not that I’m hateful, it’s that I’m faithful, and I know whatever God means for me to have He’ll give it to me. And if it takes too much sweat I don’t need it. Stop begging people to stay.
Let them go!!
If you are holding on to something that doesn’t belong to you and was never intended for your life, then you need to……
LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to past hurts and pains …..
LET IT GO!!!
If someone can’t treat you right, love you back, and see your worth…..
LET IT GO!!!
If someone has angered you ……..
LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge……
LET IT GO!!!
If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction…..
LET IT GO!!!
If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or talents
LET IT GO!!!
If you have a bad attitude…….
LET IT GO!!!
If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better……
LET IT GO!!!
If you’re stuck in the past and God is trying to take you to a new level in Him……
LET IT GO!!!
If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship…….
LET IT GO!!!
If you keep trying to help someone who won’t even try to help themselves…..
LET IT GO!!!
If you’re feeling depressed and stressed ………
LET IT GO!!!
If there is a particular situation that you are so used to handling yourself and God is saying “take your hands off of it,” then you need to……
LET IT GO!!!
Let the past be the past. Forget the former things. GOD is doing a new thing for 2007!!!
LET IT GO!!!
Get Right or Get Left .. think about it, and then.
LET IT GO!!!
December 31, 2006
A cute story that made the email rounds last season.
Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn’t wear boots; he didn’t like them and anyway he didn’t own any. The thin sneakers he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold. Bobby had been in his backyard for about an hour already. And, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother’s Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, “This is useless, even if I do come up with an idea, I don’t have any money to spend.”
Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn’t because his mother didn’t care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.
What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the house hold in their mother’s absence. All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn’t fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing.
Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn’t easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to. Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window.
Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach.
It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun’s rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny dime. Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment.
As he held his newfound treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when the salesperson told him that he couldn’t buy anything with only a dime.
He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the dime and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother’s Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his ten cent offering.
Then he put his hand on Bobby’s shoulder and said to him, “You just wait here and I’ll see what I can do for you.” As Bobby waited he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.
The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid. Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter.
There, before Bobby’s eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby’s heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.
“That will be ten cents young man,” the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the dime. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his dime. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his dime!
Sensing the boy’s reluctance, the shop owner added, “I just happened to have some roses on sale for ten cents a dozen. Would you like them?”
This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, “Merry Christmas son.”
As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. “Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?”
Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, “A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn’t sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway.
Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.
“When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too, was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars. “When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and I put together a dozen of my very best roses.” The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn’t feel cold at all.
May this story instill the spirit of CHRISTmas in you enough to pass this act along.
Have a Joyous and Peace-filled season.
December 24, 2006
Santa’s Secret Wish
On Christmas Eve, a young boy with light in his eyes
Looked deep into Santa’s, to Santa’s surprise
And said as he sat on Santa’s broad knee,
“I want your secret. Tell it to me.”
He leaned up and whispered in Santa’s good ear
“How do you do it year after year?”
“I want to know how, as you travel about,
Giving gifts here and there, you never run out.
How is it Dear Santa, that in your pack of toys
You have plenty for all of the world’s girls and boys?
From rooftop to rooftop, to homes large and small,
From nation to nation, reaching them all?”
And Santa smiled kindly and said to the boy,
“Don’t ask me hard questions. Don’t you want a toy?”
But the child shook his head, and Santa could see
That he needed the answer. “Now listen to me,”
He told that small boy with the light in his eyes,
“My secret will make you sadder and wise.
“The truth is that my sack is magic inside
It holds millions of toys for my Christmas Eve ride.
But although I do visit each girl and each boy
I don’t always leave them a gaily wrapped toy
Some homes are hungry, some homes are sad,
Some homes are desperate, some homes are bad.
Some homes are broken, and the children there grieve.
Those homes I visit, but what should I leave?
“My sleigh is filled with the happiest stuff,
But for homes where despair lives toys aren’t enough.
So I tiptoe in, kiss each girl and boy,
And I pray with them that they’ll be given the joy
Of the spirit of Christmas, the spirit that lives
In the heart of the dear child who gets not, but gives.
“If only God hears me and answers my prayer,
When I visit next year, what I will find there
Are homes filled with peace, and with giving, and love
And boys and girls gifted with light from above.
It’s a very hard task, my smart little brother,
to give toys to some, and to give prayers to others.
But the prayers are the best gifts, the best gifts indeed,
For God has a way of meeting each need.
“That’s part of the answer. The rest, my dear youth,
is that my sack is magic. And that is the truth.
In my sack I carry on Christmas Eve Day
More love than a Santa could ever give away.
The sack never empties of love, or of joys
Cause inside it are prayers, and hope. Not just toys
The more that I give, the fuller it seems,
Because giving is my way of fulfilling dreams.
“And do you know something? You’ve got a sack, too.
It’s as magic as mine, and it’s inside of you.
It never gets empty, it’s full from the start.
It’s the center of lights, and love. It’s your heart
And if on this Christmas you want to help me,
Don’t be so concerned with the gifts beneath your tree.
Open that sack called your heart and share
Your joy, your friendship, your wealth, your care.”
The light in the small boy’s eyes was glowing.
“Thanks for your secret. I’ve got to be going.”
“Wait, little boy,” Said Santa, “don’t go.
Will you share? Will you help? Will you use what you know?”
And just for a moment the small boy stood still,
Touched his heart with his small hand and whispered, “I will.”
December 17, 2006
” WINTER “
A poem by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre
“SHIT ….. It’s Cold !”
December 10, 2006
I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb:
“There is no Santa Claus,” she jeered. “Even dummies know that!”
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her “world-famous” cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so.
It had to be true.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything.
She was ready for me. “No Santa Claus?”
She snorted….”Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”
“Go? Go where, Grandma?” I asked. I hadn’t even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun.
“Where” turned out to be Kerby’s General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars.
That was a bundle in those days. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car. “Then she turned and walked out of Kerby’s.
I was only eight years old. I’d often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself.
The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people who went to my church.
I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock’s second grade class.
Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough; he didn’t have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!
I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.
“Is this a Christmas present for someone?” the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as
I laid my ten dollars down.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied shyly. “It’s for Bobby.”
The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat.
I didn’t get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.
That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, “To Bobby, From Santa Claus” on it (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible). Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa’s helpers.
Grandma parked down the street from Bobby’s house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk.
Then Grandma gave me a nudge. “All right, Santa Claus,” she whispered, “get going.”
I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.
Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.
Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes.
That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.
I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.
May you always have LOVE to share. And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus
December 3, 2006
Leading the fight in Ramadi, Iraq is Gunnery Sgt. Michael Burghardt, known as “Iron Mike” or just “Gunny” He is on his third tour in Iraq . He had become a legend in the bomb disposal world after winning the Bronze Star for disabling 64 IEDs and destroying 1,548 pieces of ordnance during his second tour. Then, on September 19, he got blown up. He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four US soldiers. He chose not to wear the bulky bomb protection suit. “You can’t react to any sniper fire and you get tunnel-vision,” he explains. So, protected by just a helmet and standard-issue flak jacket, he began what bomb disposal officers term “the longest walk”, stepping gingerly into a 5ft deep and 8ft wide crater.
The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7in knife to probe the ground. “I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs,” he says. “That’s when I knew I was screwed.”
Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt. Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant’s feet. “A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded,” he recalls. “As I was in the air I remember thinking, ‘I don’t believe they got me.’ I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down.”
His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. “My dad’s a Vietnam vet who’s paralyzed from the waist down,” says Sgt. Burghardt. “I was lying there thinking I didn’t want to be in a wheelchair next to my dad and for him to see me like that. They started to cut away my pants and I felt a real sharp pain and blood trickling down. Then I wiggled my toes and I thought, ‘Good, I’m in business.’ “As a stretcher was brought over, adrenaline and anger kicked in “I decided to walk to the helicopter. I wasn’t going to let my team-mates see me being carried away on a stretcher.” He stood and gave the insurgents who had blown him up a one-fingered salute. “I flipped them one. It was like, ‘OK, I lost that round but I’ll be back next week’.”
Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across America and that of Col. John Gronski, the brigade commander in Ramadi, who has hailed the image as an exemplar of the warrior spirit. Sgt. Burghardt’s injuries – burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks – kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father – who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in Vietnam – he stayed in Ramadi to engage in the battle against insurgents who are forever coming up with more ingenious ways of killing Americans.
Inspiration from the past