Sergeant Sean Luketina

Some days are indelibly burned into your memory. For me, one of those days is June 30th. Today is the day that Sergeant Sean Luketina died. I did not know Sean before Operation Urgent Fury; but, there has not been a day that has passed that I have not thought of him.

I live near the ocean. I find that the massive expanse of the sea helps me to put everything in perspective. Today Hurricane Alex is bearing down on the Gulf Coast south of where me and my family have made our home. In a strange way I find the immense power of a hurricane calmly reassuring. It helps me to feel small. I know too well what it is like to get caught up in the whirlwinds of life and the storms that churn in the Gulf of Mexico offer an affirmation of proportion in all things.

James Taylor sings the song “Walking Man” that I have never been able to get out of my head for many, many years. It is only now that I am beginning just now to add meaning to the last part of the opening refrain:

 Moving in silent desperation

Keeping an eye on the holy land

A hypothetical destination

Say, Who is this walking man?

 Who is this walking man? I am: a husband; the father who dotes on his daughter; always the paratrooper; eyes on the sky wishing to fly…again; a college graduate; a font of trivial knowledge; a teacher, sometimes the muse; always the seeker of truth; and I am the survivor of tragedy unspeakable.

Sean and I were wounded side by side in the misdirected air strike that took my legs. Sean was evacuated immediately as it was determined that he had the best chance of surviving. Me? If you ask Jean-luc Nash he will tell you that they really didn’t know where to start. I was a perfect mess.

It was a month later that Sean went into the coma. He was suffering from uremic poisoning and it was during the operation that the doctors at Walter Reed removed his legs that he went into the coma from which he would never awake. It was shortly after that that I got a letter from his mother. She told me about her son who had also lost his legs. She was looking for answers. She did not know that Sean and I had been shot in the same incident. I am not sure she found comfort in the truth that I wrote her. I can only hope that she did.

I visited Sean’s grave in Arlington in 1994 on the tenth anniversary of his death. I did not know that his mother had chosen to be buried with her son. It was a touching display of motherly devotion and this sight on the green fields of Arlington haunts me to this day:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He died one day shy of his 24th birthday.

Who is this walking man?

I am the keeper of memories of fallen heroes.

Rest in peace my brother.

Hardcore Harry

Notes To My Daughter

I wrote the following piece when my daughter Lucie was three years old. My wife and I had been out that night attending a minor league baseball game. The game had gone into extra innings and we had arrived home late that night. I was particularly taken with the sight of my daughter asleep on our bed. It was obvious that she had tried to wait up for us.

I have been particularly blessed by being retired from the military that I have been able to be the “stay-at-home-dad” and number one playmate for our youngest. As a parent, I have also been our daughter’s first teacher—a role I do not take lightly in the least as Lucie, on top of being incredibly imaginative and creative, is also insanely smart! It can be tough sometimes keeping up with a child genius. I try always to be honest in my answers and offer on the spot comments on her insights and observations. I figure by the time she is twelve or so she will reverse our roles and be teaching me!

I wrote this four years ago. I have kept the hand written notes safe for inclusion in an anthology I had planned. I like referring to it now and then as a sort of “time capsule” of how things were in that time in our lives. I figure this is as good a place as any to put this down officially as today is Father’s Day! Enjoy!

 

 

NOTES TO MY DAUGHTER

You were asleep when I came home.

A brown plastic cow, a story book, and a hairbrush were there hidden under my pillow to remind me of your intentions. I was not there tonight to brush your wispy blond hair before bed and read you your bed time story.

The muse visits me in the echo of your infectious laughter. It speaks to me in you tiny voice and invites me to write down these simple truths.

I remember the giant mulberry tree where I used to sit and count the clouds in the sky and the multi-colored cattle in the fields and wonder what my life would be like when I was older.

While sometimes it seems you have always been in the world, your three year old wondrous playful visions remind me that your dreams are being made by you with your cracktoothed games that never cease to amaze me.

Today I’ll be the lion and you will be the lion catcher daddy.”

A brief chase, a blanket net, a defiant roar, muffled giggles and the ever-fearsome lion has been captured!

A hug and gallons of tickles, followed by breathless laughter as we both stare up at the ceiling and pick out imaginary shapes in the applied textures.

Here dad, hold my bear. He will keep you company while I set the table for our very special tea party.”

The tea is served and now we must be: Two spotted frogs, sitting on a log, catching tasty flies. YUM! YUM!”

I laugh at the crazy tyranny as I am forced to eat a raisin which really is a “tasty fly.” My play director has insisted this is so!

Giant soapy bubbles borne on a south wind, and a vision of you as you shriek and chase them across the front yard.

Next, we have a bucket of chalk and a, “Let’s see how many shapes we can make!”

A game of hopscotch.

The sun is really hot in the afternoon sky. Red-faced and dripping with sweat you inform me how good a glass of chocolate milk tastes—especially after a game of hopscotch!

But wait!

First we must play cowboys on the lowest hanging branch of the biggest mesquite tree in the neighborhood that just so happens to live in our front yard!

Afterwards we count the clouds in the sky. A jet takes off from the nearby naval air station and we watch it dreamily.

I cannot remember ever being so free as I am right here, right now.

A dog-eared cloud reminds you of your big black Briard sheepdog who waits patiently inside the house. We know she waits ready to lick the sweet-salty joyous perspiration from our faces with a wet-nosed doggie exuberance!

It is no accident why children and puppies are among the most special of God’s gifts. With both, everything happens as if for the first time you do a thing!!

A cow, a cloud, a tea party, jumping, laughing, playing: You are here to remind us that some things remain and that it is only when we get older do we tire of a thing.

You sleep.

I count your breaths. Yes, there seems to be a little bit of a cold coming on for you wee one.

I fall asleep and I dream again.

I dream of a field of the greenest grasses. It is covered by a heard of brown plastic cows.

The cows are chasing giant soapy bubbles.

I remember these! They were borne on that South wind.

We chase the bubbles again.

Your golden hair shines in the sun as we run. We laugh.

When I wake, there you are!

Good morning honey.”

Good morning Daddy”

Are you hungry?”

She nods.

I carry my daughter to the kitchen to make waffles.

What adventures will we have today my little munchkin?”

She giggles and buries her head into my shoulder.

Slowly…

Slowly, she peeks out from under her blanket where she is hiding and smiles tenderly. It is then that you know that you could never tire of this!

Published in: on June 20, 2010 at 5:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sometimes I feel Like an Old Mother Hen

I imagine being a teacher is quite a lot like being an old mother hen raising a clutch of chicks and seeing them mature and finally leave the nest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I teach GED classes in the community where I reside. Anyone who teaches GED and has the least bit of heart, understands the profound implications of getting a “second chance.” I have found that the reasons that my students did not finish high school completely varied and rightfully at times bordering on tragic. I am surprised at the instances where the parents of my students pulled their kids out of class so that they could work–talk about an American tragedy!! For one, it goes completely against the American Dream of wanting more for your children than you were given. Most certainly it bespeaks an inherent strain of anti-intellectualism that would hold education is such low regard that one would not care enough to see one’s children given a “proper” start in the world.

Regardless of the reasons my students did not get their high school diplomas, the facts are that my students are there in my class, twice a week attempting to make things right in their lives! I am immensely proud of them and want to see them succeed. I try at every opportunity to stress that the GED is only the first step and that education is and ought to be a life-long endeavor. I tell them that being “educated” is the best gift that one can give to oneself!

I remember when I began teaching for the GED last November. It was the week after Veteran’s Day that I began. It would have been sooner but I had been picked to be the Master of Ceremonies for the event and had to devote all my efforts to task at hand. I remember feeling a sense of ominous dread after seeing the initial test results. Truth be known, I was not sure right then that I was the man for the job. Then again, I had volunteered so I had to see it through. Regardless, I owed them my best effort!

They say that 80% of success in any endeavor is simply showing up. I believe quite firmly in my military mind that this axiom holds equally true for both learning and TEACHING! This brings to the forefront another aspect almost uniquely American, that being the innate tenacity of the American spirit that sees an enterprise through when times are most grim and the prospects of success are far from certain. The winter at Valley Forge, the tragedy of the American Civil War, the treachery of Pearl Harbor and the fiery inferno of 9/11—there is a near tribal memory that churns in the heart of many of my countrymen and women. “Don’t Give Up the Ship!” Don’t give up the fight!

 

“Don’t Give Up the Ship” Flag from War of 1812

The original quote that became the popular naval battle cry was “Tell the men to fire faster and not to give up the ship.” This was shouted by Captain James Lawrence, Commander of the Chesapeake, after he was mortally wounded near Boston Harbor.

http://www.picturehistory.com/product/id/17105

 

I love teaching students who have set their mind to the task and who want to be there more than anything else! Sure the slacker seamy underbelly of under achievement rears its ugly head—usually in the guise of the young who feel that they know all they need to know and who are only in my class because they have been ordered to attend GED classes by the county judge. Age and experience is the certain cure for this and sadly by the time that many have figured “it” out they have wasted the best years of their lives in substandard jobs and substandard wages. BUT, the students who completely “get it” and want to be there, it is these students who make the mission of teaching GED a labor of love!

So, I am sending my first brood of chicks out of the nest to see if they have learned their lessons. The many hours that sped on to months of instruction are being put to the test. I want them to do well. If they do, it validates my time teaching. Most importantly, it validates their lives. They have all sacrificed to get to this point. They all have families and I know that in many respects their families have had to sacrifice as well in this effort. One of my students is quite a successful businessman who owns a very successful restaurant here locally and I cannot imagine the herculean effort it must have taken to run his business and carry on his studies. I deeply respect and appreciate the effort that they have all put toward their goals of getting their GED and pray that they pass their tests.

If they pass the reading, social studies, science, and writing portions next Monday and Tuesday they only have the math portion to complete their GED goal. I have intentionally saved this for last as I believe it is best to tackle this with one hundred percent effort and focus. Besides, having a firm grasp on reading comprehension cannot hurt at all when it comes to math I tell them. A surprising number of mistakes in math can be attributed to simply not understanding the question.

Good luck guys!

Hardcore Harry

Your GED Old Mother Hen!

Published in: on June 18, 2010 at 6:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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How’s Your Ischial Tuberosity?

My darling wife has brought it to my attention on numerous occasions these last couple weeks that I have not been writing as much as I should in my blog. Incidentally, I was not aware that the word nag was of Scandinavian origin. Think about it. It was the persistent action of the womenfolk back in Scandinavia that led to one of the greatest invasions in all of history!! What probably started out with a blond, vivacious, buxom, Scandinavian goddess, we’ll call her Helga, complaining that her man, Thor, had left his chain mail and sword on the kitchen table again and why is it he could never pick the lid up on the slit trench??? So it was with the shrill echo of the lovely Helga still ringing in his ears reminding poor Thor that the thatch roof needed repairing, and that they were about to run out of moose burgers, that the Vikings set off to engage in an all out war of conquest. (The Viking’s must have looked to the sanctuary of the longship much like Homer Simpson eyes a box of glazed donuts!) Helga was to eventually be bought off with a few shiny trinkets of booty from far away lands and Thor was able to get a group of monks in a monastery write a revisionist history—in exchange for their lives–that covered up Thor’s shortcomings as a husband!

This last week marked my first full week of physical therapy. Slowly along the way I am being re-introduced to the peculiar language of the physical therapist. One of my favorite questions is: “How is your is your ischial tuberosity?” Or, “Is your prosthesis bearing weight on your tuberosity?” No doubt some of my more curious readers were sent scampering away toward yonder bookshelf upon reading that—we’ll call this category reader the more distinguished scholars amongst us: that being the reader who has books that they actually read; books that do more than prop up the shorter leg of the kitchen table that the darling wife with her persistent ministrations caused the reader to “fix” himself rather than call a skilled tradesman. Never underestimate the value of a feeling of self-sufficiency however sad or misplaced!!

Now, that the rest of you lazy bastages have finished looking up the words on Google we can continue!

The ischial tuberosity is quite a common set of protrusions that will be instantly familiar with anyone who has ridden a horse for any length of time. Being “saddle sore” and having a pain in your ischial tuberosity are the same thing! Now there are a great many feelings and sensations that accompany a person such as myself who has not walked in 26+ years that are pretty dang cool: shopping for shoes, standing, and, taking first steps. Trust me when I tell you that remembering that you have an ischial tuberosity IS NOT ONE OF THESE SUPER-DOOPER COOL BEANS (RE)DISCOVERIES!!!

So there I was a saddle sore trooper and nary a horse in sight! It was then that I remembered that I had just turned 48 and thought that this kind of physical endeavor would have been easier 20 some years ago had only the technology been available. It was then that I remind myself that if it were easy then everybody would do it and dang if I can’t help the challenge!!

After all of this, a funny thing happened Thursday afternoon. It was while standing up on my C Legs that I knew right then and there that this was actually going to happen! It was then that balance didn’t seem all that hard a thing to achieve and for the first time I was able to stand without powering through with my upper body. Up until then walking again was something I had imagined in my mind. It was then something I knew with the rest of my body.

My wife Ginny was there too, smiling. For now she didn’t care that my underwear drawer was full of assorted books, half finished journals, and the odd box or ten of ammunition. “Stand up straight! Look straight ahead! Quit looking at your shoes! One more!”

I love her!

 

Hardcore Harry

Gypsies and Paratroopers

The 28th annual Southwest Memorial Airborne Days convention is in Corpus Christi, Texas this weekend.

 

 When you report to the hall at the Holiday Inn, Emerald Beach take care you don’t end up in the convention hall set aside for the psychics and fortune tellers!!!!

 

Be it by accident or design, there the two respective organizations were arrayed side-by-side to receive the aligned convention delegates!! One can only view these two groups side by side and be struck by the immense irony that two such organizations would end up side by side. On second thought, perhaps we were not so different. We paratroopers identify and pride ourselves on floating on rarefied currents of air and the psychics make their living on more ethereal—some might say, super-heated—currents! (Did I just say that?…..I need to find my rabbit’s foot charm to guard against any spiritual reprisals!!)

I sat an pondered this over a bit and it struck me just how incredibly brilliant it would have been had both conventions pooled their respective advertising budgets and made a super-charged, double-billed, weekend extravaganza!!

 

 ONE WEEKEND ONLY!! SEE THE PSYCICS AND PSYCHOTICS TOGETHER!!

 

SEE THE MEN AND WOMEN CRAZY ENOUGH TO JUMP OUT OF PLANES AND SEEK PROFESSIONAL PSYCIC ADVICE THAT CONFIRMS YOU OUGHT NOT TO DO IT!!!

 

BE THERE FOR THE UNVEILING OF THE NEWLY RELEASED PARATROOPER TAROT DECK!!!

WATCH AS THE PALM READERS MARVEL AT HOW SHORT THE LIFELINE IS FOR THE AIRBORNE TROOPER!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BE ASTOUNDED HOW MUCH BEER EVEN THE RETIRED PARATROOPER CAN PUT AWAY!!

SEE AIRBORNE WARRIORS!! HEAR, THEIR LIES, DAMN LIES, TALL TALES, AND WAR STORIES!!!

LEARN WHY THE AIRBORNE TROOPER IS THE MOST AWESOME SOLDIER BOTH ON  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND OFF

 

 

 

THE BATTLEFIELD!!!

 

You gotta love it! God most certainly has a sense of humor!

Hardcore Harry

LOYALTY

Today is my birthday. I have always thought it fortuitous that I was born on June fifth. After all, it was 66 years ago on June 5th that the Allied Airborne forces took to the air to kick off Operation Neptune, the airborne phase of the D-Day landings. As a veteran of the 82nd Airborne and a field artilleryman I have always had a special place in my heart for paratroopers and artillerymen—especially airborne artillerymen! There is an old artillerymens’ saying that: “Artillery lends dignity to what otherwise might be an unruly brawl.” We are considered the “King of Battle.” Sure the Infantry—the Queen of Battle—takes ground. We artillerymen make sure they hold to it!

The first commander of the 82nd Airborne’s Division Artillery was none other than the great Maxwell Taylor. Maxwell Taylor would go on to command the 101st Airborne in D-Day and the remainder of World War II. We troopers of the 82nd Airborne like to point out that before Maxwell Taylor ever donned the uniform of the “Screaming Eagles” he wore the double “A” of the “All Americans!!!”

My birthday present today was a tattoo. Amazing as it sounds, although I did manage to pick up a tattoo or two during my time in the Airborne; I never managed to find an airborne tattoo that I liked. The off the shelf tats in the off base parlors just did not speak to me. I wanted something meaningful and today, nearly 26 years after I got out of the Army I finally found one that I like. My wife and daughter actually designed this one for me. It is a combination of my airborne artillery regiment’s unit crest and the wings from this year’s Airborne Amputee event that was sponsored by TMC Orthopedic in Houston this last May first and second.

 I like it. It is unique, and it certainly has a great deal of meaning for me. I have always been fond of the sentiment expressed in the regiment’s motto: LOYALTY. It is one word yet it carries with it connotations that cut all the way across ever tradition near and dear to the military:Duty, Honor, Country—SAME THING!

The wings, aside from their obvious connection to parachuting, symbolize the hope that organizations like TMC Orthopedic and its charity Limbs of Love offer to amputees like myself. I had never dreamed even a few months ago that I would ever be offered the chance to walk again yet here I am. It is astonishingly humbling. I have decided that even if it were to turn out that is was all for naught, I am better for having tried my best. There are simply some offers in life that you cannot turn your back on. Thank you TMC and The Amputee and Prosthetic Center for giving me this chance again. I vow to give my utmost toward this endevour and prove that your trust in my abilities was not unfounded.

 

Lastly, I will close by admitting that my loving wife, Ginny,  has long conceded that the Airborne will always be my first love. Therefore, the heart is indeed a symbol of the affection that I hold for the 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment.  Thank you for understanding, dear!

Airborne!

Hardcore Harry

You’re In the Army Now!

I imagine that being married to a teacher is a lot like being drafted into the Army. Since I volunteered for every post I ever served at, those of you not married to a teacher are just going to have to take my word for it! My job description reads like a modern day, “Jack of All Trades!” I have served as a guest lecturer on many occasions—my favorite duty is teaching pre-kindergarten kids on board airplane procedures and jump commands of the Airborne. Nothing is quite so entertaining as seeing a bunch of four year olds doing the “Airborne Shuffle” and hearing them count to four while waiting for their chute to open! Teaching them how to properly shout a “Hooah” and stomp their feet in a military fashion is quite a lot of fun too!!

I have other duties as well. I am the class carpenter. I don’t believe there has ever been a summer vacation that has ever passed that I have not been called up from my “Inactive Reserve” status and brought in to make something or other for my wife’s classroom. Since this usually requires the judicious application of power tools and the production of massive piles of sawdust I find this duty to be a great deal of fun. If the project requires the purchase of yet more power tools it is even better!! You would be amazed how often you can misplace something as necessary as a chuck key for a drill. It seems every time I go to a hardware store I have to buy another one. Perhaps they hide with all the socks that everyone in the family loses??!! I don’t know. Even power tools can be “misplaced” from time to time. I know I have at least three routers and three jig saws—just in case! And since summer vacation is fast approaching I am ever hopeful that any new project will require a trip to the hardware store. I have been trying to figure out how I can work in the purchase of a thickness planer, band saw and stationary drill press but alas my fair spouse has resisted my best entreaties for these items. The fact that I could also use these to build the boat I have been wanting to build all these years could have something to do with her un-natural reluctance to green light these items. I remain ever optimistic however!!

Another of my classroom duties is class pumpkin carver for Halloween. Now, this rates high up there as far as a “Guy” chore. Where else can you use sharp knives and stab things,be a hero in the process and not get arrested!!!??? In fact it is darn near the perfect Man-skill! Here I am carving a “Ghost Cat” jack-o-lantern this past Halloween.

There is one activity that is thrust on us poor defenseless spouses of teachers and that is anything involving cutting things out with scissors.

“Oh Lord please help the poor husbands of teachers we humbly pray!”

Cutting stuff out for your espousa is pretty much the equivalent of peeling potatoes for KP in the Army. It is not a place you want to find yourself! Now, since my loving wife took off all of this last week—the week before the end of school mind you—to be there for me in Houston for my first steps I am now paying for my sins. My penance is cutting stuff out with scissors—lots and lots of stuff. Oh my! To think that there could possibly be so many items of interest to cut out and laminate for a Pre-K class!!! Now, I have heard some folks bandy about words like “hero” and “inspirational” but really I am just a lowly “Draftee” with a pair of scissors helping my wife make sure that everything is in order for graduation day! It is times like these that I long for the relative calm of the battlefield. Give me a clear field of fire and an advancing enemy any day over a pile of pictures, artwork, and a pair of scissors!!!!

Hardcore Harry

MAKE IT HAPPEN–MAKE IT REAL

There is a sign that hangs in my house that has a great deal of significance. It reads, “MAKE IT HAPPEN.” My wife and I bought the sign at the Buc-ees just outside of Houston on Highway 59 on May 10th after the initial assessment at the Amputee and Prosthetic Center. It has become the mantra which drives me forward in my goal to walk again. The phrase is also engraved on the back of a Saint Michael’s Medallion I wear, a gift from my wife Ginny. Saint Michael is the patron saint of paratroopers for those of you who are not in the know!

During the events of the last week, the phrase “Make it Happen” has served me well. The attention the event generated in the television media was exiting but it is important to keep everything in perspective and in proportion. Even now, it is hard to comprehend just where everything fits. I had an idea beforehand of the level of commitment that the folks at TMC Orthopedics and the Amputee and Prosthetic Center had to the amputee community. What I had not realized until later in the week was the degree that they had mobilized on my behalf. It was extremely humbling to find out that the turn around on my new legs had never before been achieved. It was only seventy-two hours from first fitting to final product. In order for this to happen it took a great many unnamed dedicated and professional individuals giving their all to see that my legs were ready on time. I am deeply moved by the level of effort that everyone put forward on my behalf. From Joe Sansone the CEO of TMC Orthopedic to the technicians at the Amputee and Prosthetic Center, you all simply rock! It was with a heavy heart that we left Houston this week for our journey home, we have made new friends and acquired a new branch of our family so to speak!

Getting the legs was the easy part, learning to use them is where the real work for me begins. This is where the sense of perspective and proportion will come in handy. It occurred to me that the catchwords, “Make It Happen” that have carried me thus far on this journey need a re-clarification of sorts to bring them up to date. Now it is time for me to make real on my dreams to walk again. Cameras and reporters do not make things like this happen. These happen because of what is in your heart. The path before me is clear and my success or failure is all up to me from here on.

MAKE IT HAPPEN—MAKE IT REAL!

Hardcore Harry

“Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

The great comedy troupe Monty Python is wildly famous for its zany off-beat British humor.  One of the zaniest spoofs was a series  sketches titled “The Spanish Inquisition.”  Who could ever forget the high-pitched shrill phrase, “Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition!”  once they have heard it at least once. If you are a true Monty Python fan you don’t just experience the Monty Python sketches just once! No, you take them and adopt them as part of your daily life.

Case in point: I remember one Christmas holiday some years back while visiting my sister Robin in Southern California. It was during this particular Christmas holiday that my brother-in-law Chris and I took to  (re)watching (and reciting in the process) all of the Monty Python classics. It just so happened that my young niece Nicole who had just turned six was also particularly smitten with many of the comedy skits and movies that we were viewing during this post Christmas Monty Python Marathon. She was so smitten in fact that she began reciting many of her favorite lines. It was all fun and laughs, that is until the angelic Nicole returned to school after the Christmas break and she promptly began reciting one liners from Monty Python and the The Holy Grail. In no time her teacher called my sister horrified and requested a family conference immediately. Apparently repeating such classics like: “I unplug my nose in your general direction!”  and, “I wave my private parts at your aunties!” were not received with universal acclaim that one would expect in a classroom of six year olds!!! Go figure!

(Grin)
So, where was I? Oh yes! “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” One would think that for such a momentous occasion as taking one’s first steps after twenty-seven years that the Spanish Inquisition would take a holiday? Apparently not! No, the Spanish Inquisition is alive and well and its Inquisitor General is none other than Prosthetist Ben Falls of the Amputee and Prosthetic Center in Houston, Texas!!! What proof do I have you ask? Lets compare the photographic evidence. Here is a picture of the most infamous Inquisitor General of all, Tomás de Torquemada, the fifteenth century Dominican friar and original leader of the Spanish Inquisition

Inquisitor General, Tomás de Torquemada (Wikipedia)

Now, here is a Top Secret-For Your Eyes Only photograph of Ben Falls taken by one of our covert operatives at Grand Inquisitor Falls’ top secret hideout. (Note of the latest high technology torture devices in the foreground–the very latest in up-to-date devices used by the New Spanish Inquisition!):

Is it a coincidence that both men–even though these pictures were obtained centuries apart–have receeding hair lines? I think not!!!!

Moreover, what is even more sinsiter is the previosly unknown fact that Ben Falls was in his youth was a Dang Hippie!!! And, what is even worse is that Ben is a Reformed Danged Hippie!!

Here I am attempting to run for my life at the blistering pace of 1 meter per minute upon learning that the Spanish Inquisition has chosen me as its next victim:

Try as I might, I can never get more than an arms reach from the leader of the Spanish Inquisition! Exhausted and dejected I take a seat to rest and come up with a new plan to combat the Inquisitors.

Lastly, here is Inquisitor Ben’s toady, Nick, to adminsiter the last rites of the damned! “Shoulders straight!” they say. “Hips back!” “Stand up!” “Initiate Swing Phase!” Moreover, they have programmed my wife and kids to recite their entreaties and prayerful chants!

“Nobody Expects the Spanish Iquisition!”

Bugger!!!

Hardcore Harry

Book of Firsts

 We humans are prone to celebrate and commemorate a great many firsts in our lives. First off, we define ourselves by the date we entered the world from our mother’s womb. This is only the beginning. After that we have our first teeth;  first words;  first baby steps;  and our first day of school. Add to that any number of firsts: our first kiss;  first car; first true love; and who can ever  forget the birth of his or her first child? As a paratrooper I will always remember my first jump, every one of my “First” Sergeants, and I will always remember my first and only time in combat–it forever changed my life. As a result, the first anniversary of surviving the wounds I sustained in combat was just as important as any birthday I have ever celebrated. The date October 27th, 1983 is forever burned in my memory and not a one passes that I do not give thanks for having lived to see a new one! Now I can add the date May 24th, 2010, to my Book of Firsts.

Today I took the first steps in nearly 26 and 1/2 years! Before that I had the delicious  pleasure of buying my first pair of shoes in 26 and 1/2 years as well. I cannot tell you the giddiness that accompanies setting  a course toward the shoe isle at Academy Sports and ACTUALLY having a bona fide reason to be there other than to wait on one of my family members to pick out their latest pair of shoes!!! Talk about a (RE)defining moment in a life!!! There I was, caught up in the moment actually taking great care again to pick out a pair of shoes that defines me! (Mental checklist: something rugged, practical, lightweight. A manly man shoe if it exists. Thank you very much please!) Here I am sporting a pair of Reebok DMX Voyage Walking Shoes Size 8–this is two and a half to three sizes smaller than I used to wear all those years back but a convincing argument was made that a smaller shoe weighs a lot less and any weight saved when walking with artificial legs is a GOOD thing!!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! A manly man shoe suitable to carry the author aloft on his new mission to once again walk upright!

Shortly after docking the aforementioned manly manifesting, leather clad, mobile transport enhancing footwear to my computer enhanced robotic legs I am ready to get started on this business on being upright, vertical, and in motion! They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I know that whoever made up this maxim knew damn well what he or she was saying. The moment that I first laid eyes on my new Otto Bock C-Legs I saw a beautiful functional work of art!

Here I, Hardcore Harry, begin again learning the art of walking upright. No more will I define myself by my reclined state! I feel just like a pioneer setting out into the vast unknown wilderness, not knowing what future awaits me but I know I will engage that future fearlessly and with the utmost resolve. I am a US Army Airborne Paratrooper. Surrender is not in my creed!

Happiness Defined Airborne Style: Determination in Action!

HOOAHHH!!!

Hardcore Harry