Guest post by Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz
Last year on 9/11, I was walking with my brother Yirmi Berkowitz
near ground zero where tens of thousands of people came to the site to
honor the victims on the tenth anniversary. As we walked thru the
massive crowds, I was drawn to a group of wounded vets and in particular
Antonio Solorio a US army vet who served in Afghanistan. This was the
first seriously wounded US vet I had met. His good cheer and spirit drew
me to him as I watched him engage others who came to pay their
respects. We began to speak and he shared with me his remarkable story.
After 9/11 Antonio bravely answered the call of duty to serve our country and protect our security and quality of life in the US. While serving in Afghanistan, Antonio was responsible for defusing IED bombs that would target locals and American soldiers alike. A roadside bomb blew off his leg and nearly killed him, as he was laying in the triage dying, they presented him with a purple heart that he shouldn't die without the honor and recognition of our country.
Antonio fought back hard and made a long and strong recovery to return to his wife and two daughters in Rancho Cucamonga,California. He told me he was back in school pursuing a degree in computer science.
For a man who had every reason to complain and be angry at life and the world, Antonio was remarkably happy and filled with purpose.
As we spoke about his handicap he removed his prosthetic leg, and asked me to hold it, to make his reality a little more real to me. He then put it back on and we raced each other for a hundred feet and he beat me wearing his prosthetic leg.
As we come to the end of another 9/11, I want to salute and thank every vet and soldier who served and serve to protect us from those who want to destroy our life.
Thank you for your selflessness and bravery, thank you Antonio for making a soldiers sacrifice real to me.
You positive outlook on life helped me understand what I learned from my teacher and Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson of righteous memory. When he met a group of wounded Israeli soldiers, he objected the use of the word "disability" He comforted and encouraged those soldiers who had lost limbs, and told them 'If a person has been deprived of a limb or a faculty, 'this itself indicates that G-d has given them special powers to overcome the limitations this entails, and to surpass the achievements of ordinary people. You are not "disabled" or "handicapped," but special and unique, as you possess potentials that the rest of us do not.
Antonio, you don't need or want our sympathy, but you need our true empathy.
I encourage others to seek out wounded vets, or a vet who is going thru a difficult time to help at least one. They took bullets and bombs to shield us, we need to add at least one to our circle of support.
I hate war, death and evil, and wish every sword was turned into ploughshares... but as long as human conflict needs brave men like Antonio to protect the rest of us from those who venerate death. I stand with and support the vets and those who serve.
Tonight we have an opportunity with the click of a button on Facebook to help the organization that stood with Antonio and his family thru the thick and thin.
Go to Chase community giving and type in 9-11 help America Foundation if they get even 1,000 votes you can help them receive $10,000.
In honor of Antonio I hope to help http://www.facebook.com/911HAF be in the top 100 charities leader-board by Sep 19.
Thank you for sharing with a friend!