Five years ago Saddam Hussein was pulled from a hole in the ground, hiding from American troops on the hunt for him. Iraqis told soldiers where to find him. While it is popular for the re-writers of history to now say that we are not wanted in Iraq, the truth is that when Saddam was captured, the Iraqis danced in the street. They celebrated. Troops were welcomed with flowers and candy and much gratitude. Someday the real history will be written.
In the meantime, we celebrate and thank the brave troops who have served us all. We remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and we honor those performing brave acts. Thursday a local man was honored. Retired Staff Sgt. Rene Fernandez was presented with the keys to a new house by former President George H.W. Bush as local business people and his family looked on. The sergeant received brain injuries as his body absorbed a roadside bomb blast when his Humvee detonated it.
Sgt. Fernandez had a top notch military record. He led more than 300 combat missions, trained more than 33,000 troops as he received honor upon honor. His bright future with the military came to an end with that bomb. Today he suffers with little short-term memory, intense pain, weakness and occasional numbness on his right side. He and his wife have four children, ages 15 to 3.
An organization called Helping a Hero has to date awarded nine veterans, all seriously injured, with newly built homes which will suit the needs of the injured. This is a Houston based organization. A van pulled up and delivered furniture to fill the house from a local furniture store owner, himself a noted philanthropist. This furniture store owner has agreed to work with the U.S.O. to furnish rest centers throughout the airports around the world for troops on layovers as they travel. Houston is an incredibly generous city.
One wall of the new house, in the family room, is decorated with framed honors of the soldier's service. Included in the display are the two Purple Hearts he's been awarded.
"He has given distinguished service to his country, just remarkable service," Bush said. Bush apologized that Barbara Bush was unable to attend the ceremony as she was recovering from her recent hospital stay.
Fernandez is enrolled in college now and is pursuing a degree in education. He wants to teach geography and coach soccer, football and baseball. "I try to not think about what I can't do, but what I can do," he said.
A worthy man indeed.
There are seven more recipients slated for new homes. The next one will be presented next week, also an Iraq war veteran. According to the article in the Houston Chronicle, "home recipients sign agreements that they will not sell the home for 10 years; after that time, they are fully vested in the property."