The sights and sounds of Lt. Dan Weekend

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comOctober 1, 2012 

Organizer Steve "Luker" Danyluk said Griffin was instrumental in the success of a live auction prior the concert. She and retired North Carolina firefighter John A. "Captain Woody" Woodall, who was impersonating Elvis Presley, sold a painting by artist Scott LoBaido of New York for $20,000.

Griffin is a Harvard University graduate who has covered the Middle East region for Fox News and other media organizations. She and her husband, Greg Myre, former New York Times foreign correspondent and now senior editor at National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" program, recently wrote a book based on their time in Israel: "This Burning Land: Lessons from the Frontlines of the Transformed Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

But Danyluk said something else endeared the wounded veterans to Griffin, and vice versa. She is a survivor of stage 3 breast cancer.

"An Indelible Stamp"

By Jennifer Griffin

About two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of serving as master of ceremonies at the third annual Lt. Dan Weekend in Beaufort.

When I was first invited last spring to act in that capacity by the Independence Fund, I did not hesitate, as I have long been familiar with the good works that this wonderful, all-volunteer nonprofit has been doing for severely injured veterans of the global war on terror. I had done stories on the individuals the Independence Fund had helped.

But when the organizers told me a week or so prior to my arrival that I was in for a memorable treat, it in no way prepared me for the almost surreal experience and abundance of positive energy that flowed throughout Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park at the Lt. Dan Band concert Sept. 15.

We often hear about how the nation as a whole is out of touch with our military and how only 1 percent of the population actually serves. Then there's Beaufort, with a population of 12,000. It seemed that half the town turned out to support the troops.

The birthplace of Lt. Dan, a Hollywood character in the movie "Forrest Gump," welcomed home the Lt. Dan Band and more than 80 wounded warrior families, who needed to be welcomed home and needed to forget for one week the tough road many of them have faced.

To say that it was life changing for many of the veterans who attended was evident, but to be able to say that the evening was also life-changing for me was entirely unexpected.

Two weeks later, I still find myself smiling in the middle of the day for reasons completely unknown to those around me.

The community of Beaufort and its love and support for our veterans charmed me, and, borrowing from your Southern vernacular, "Y'all left an indelible stamp on me that I don't see washing away any time soon."

Thank you, Beaufort, and thank you Independence Fund for letting me be a part of it.

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