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.
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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: