“No, sir, I didn’t lose my arm in the war. I’m only 13.”
When I was younger I’d always get confused when older men asked me if I lost my arm in the war. What war would I even have lost it in? Looking back on it, though, it makes sense. That was their experience. And that makes me kind of sad.
It makes more sense when they ask me these days, being that I’m older. Usually it’s a grizzled veteran and I always feel like I’m disappointing them if I tell them I was just born this way. Sometimes they’ll just give me the standard military greeting (marines, army, navy, air force…) and I’ll nod and smile. I hope that’s ok. I’m not trying to take credit for something I didn’t do, I just know how important it is to them to connect in that way; to honor their brethren. It’s important to me, too.
Today is Memorial Day in America. A day we set aside to remember those that have served, and especially those that gave their lives, fighting for and protecting us.
My grandpa was a war hero. It’s no surprise to me that he’s still around at 92. The stories my dad tells me about him are unbelievable. He was shot in the leg in New Guinea and still led his men into battle successfully. That gives you an idea of how awesome my grandpa is. I love the connection I have with him and the war, too. See, he named my dad Calvin Douglas. My grandpa served alongside Calvin Douglas and their bond was so strong that he vowed to name his next son after him when they got home. My dad then named me Ryan Douglas and I was proud to name my firstborn Samuel Douglas. And someday…no pressure, Sam.
I’ve yet to have the opportunity to meet a soldier who has had a limb amputation due to combat. That’s kind of my fault, too, because I live fifteen minutes away from a VA hospital. The truth is, though, it makes me a little nervous. Congenital amputation is so much different than traumatic amputation. I never had an arm to lose. These brave men and women have lost a part of themselves; literally and figuratively. The magnitude of the situation is not lost on me.
That said, I know they’ll face challenges, both mental and physical, that I believe I can help with. Whether that’s devising new ways of completing simple tasks or just getting them to laugh, I’d be honored to be a part of their recovery. It’s definitely something I’m going to look more into.
In the meantime, let me just say how thankful I am for those who have chosen to protect me. And to the families that have lost loved ones in conflict…we grieve with you and thank you for your sacrifice.