Beaufort students thank veterans

October 18, 2010 

Thanks to Beaufort Academy for sharing letters written by fourth-graders to veterans who visited the school during the Beaufort Shrimp Festival and Lt. Dan Weekend.

The weekend was headlined by a concert from actor Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band, as well as a bike race and walk. All activities aimed at highlighting the Independence Fund, a nonprofit veterans awareness fund that supports some of the most severely-injured troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Lt. Dan was a disabled veteran Sinise portrayed in the 1994 movie "Forrest Gump," which was partially filmed in Beaufort.

"We live in a military community," Beaufort Academy headmaster Randy Wall said. "Our students study American and world history and we learn about battles and wars, but we are looking for ways to connect Beaufort Academy to our community and to the world. The Independence Fund is a wonderful link to a great cause, and we are proud to be a part of it."

Students and student athletes raised more than $2,000 for the Independence Fund by seeking donations outside of the Grayco Paint & Hardware store on weekends.

On Oct. 1, an assembly was held for the middle and upper schools to help students make a personal connection to those who benefit from the Independence Fund.

Speakers included Rosie Rabin, a mother who talked about her son's injuries, surgeries and recovery after he and other paratroopers were attacked in Samawah, Iraq, in March 2003. Her son's primary nurse aboard the USNS Comfort, Lt. Tracie Lattimore, also spoke.

Cpl. Alan Rabin was hit in the abdomen with small-arms fire. Field physicians removed 90 percent of his stomach, spleen, part of his pancreas and large intestine. He sustained injuries to his liver and diaphragm, his mother said.

Unable to survive evacuation to Germany, Rabin was transferred to the USNS Comfort, anchored off the coast of Kuwait. While aboard, his kidneys failed, his liver shut down and he was placed on dialysis and a ventilator. He survived 20 major surgeries before being transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where his parents were finally able to be at his bedside, three weeks after he was wounded. Six weeks after that, Alan contracted meningitis and suffered a stroke.

Her story was one of a mother's compassion, dedication and devotion to a child suffering what's called "polytrauma" -- extensive multiple injuries -- as well as a brain injury.

Following are the letters written by the fourth graders:

Dear veterans:

  • "Thank you for fighting for our country. We appreciate it. Welcome to Beaufort. I think you should go fishing here. I admire that you fought for us. You rock."

  • "Thank you for defending this country. I think that you must be very brave to fight in a war. I am very happy to have you stay in Beaufort. Both my grandfathers were in the military. One was in the Navy. The other was a pilot in the Air Force. Thanks again for fighting in the wars everywhere. I know it must be hard if you have family back home."

  • "Thank you so much for fighting for our country. I hope you will do the bike race. You will do great. Welcome to Beaufort. We are so happy you are coming! Also my friend's uncle was a veteran. I hope you enjoy your visit."

  • "Thank you so much for serving our friends and family. My uncle was in the 82nd Airborne. He now works in the Pentagon. Beaufort is a beautiful town. I hope you have fun."

  • "Thank you for fighting for us. You risk your lives for us. Thank you for what you did for us. If you did not do what you did we would not be safe. My grandfather was a veteran. He was in the Korean War. He died in a plane crash. My dad was 3 years old when he died."

  • "Welcome to Beaufort. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you for protecting families in the world."

  • "Thank you for coming to Beaufort. You will have a great time. When I grow up I want to be in the Army. My grandfather was in the military."

  • "Welcome to our awesome town, Beaufort. We are so glad for you to be here. If it weren't for you we would not be here. We hope you have a good visit. Thank you for your service."
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