2013-11-22 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

Your Neighborhood Wounded Warriors
By Daniel Creighton-Kirk

A lot of credit has to go out to the local not-for-profit, “The Graybeards” for all the work they have done to bring wounded troops from hospitals outside of this community into our backyards so they too can enjoy the wonderfulness of the Rockaways!

But there are way too many local veterans right here in Rockaway that have been wounded and will never get even one percent of the attention that these fine troops have received from this community. I have always believed that charity begins at home, and therefore I would like to see groups like the Graybeards go out into our fine community and do some good for those veterans who have given so much of themselves for this country and suffer with illnesses and disabilities that go unnoticed or unseen.

I remember a few years back there was a man who I knew by the name of Arthur. Arthur appeared to be a simple sort always hanging around Beach 116th Street. He wanted to help the merchants by sweeping up or cleaning or just running errands. Sadly, I learned that Arthur had allegedly jumped in front of a subway train up in Harlem. What he was doing there was unknown and remains that way today. But what I did discover was that Arthur was an orphan who was placed in the St. John’s Home for Boys back in the 60’s and remained there until he turned 18, when he was either drafted or enlisted in the United States Marines. Arthur went off to Vietnam and after his tour there he returned to the Rockaways, the only home he ever knew. It appears that either he was “shell-shocked” (today they call it PTSD) or became victim as most did to the availability of drugs over in Nam. Whatever the case may be, he was a gentle man always willing to do anything for anyone.

After I heard the news and well after he had been laid to rest in Potters Field, I read his biography where I learned he was a Marine! The same group, which never leaves another Marine behind, left Arthur to go to Potters Field without even a decent military funeral. Where were all those “Brothers in Arms” who stand around chanting “Semper Fi” (always faithful)? Was it because Arthur was a simple soul or was it because he was an Afro-American that no one stepped up to be there for him at the end? Not even one of our local Marines stepped up or knew that he was already gone.

Well that is water under the bridge, now and I am writing this story to make you, the reader, and the dedicated Americans that you all are, become conscious of the other remaining living Wounded Warriors that still live in our community and continue to get the same lack of respect and attention that poor old Arthur had received.

Many of the young men back in the ‘50s through the ‘90s that were in the St. John’s Home had nowhere to go when they left the home after they turned 18, they joined the various branches of the military.

All they would really like is your respect for what they have done for this country when they were just teenagers fighting a fight that turns out there was really no purpose for. They didn’t start the fight but they would have died trying to end it. So the next time you see a Neighbor Wounded Warrior or any veteran, stop, take a few seconds of your time and thank them, that’s all they really want.

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