Daily Wisdom

June 14, 2005

Denzel Makes Donation

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- In mid-December 2004, Denzel Washington — reportedly at the suggestion of a veteran known as 'Ranger Jones' whom the actor met while filming the 1988 Civil War epic "Glory" — paid a visit to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. The popular actor took part in a Purple Heart ceremony, presenting medals to three Army soldiers who were recovering in the hospital from wounds received in Iraq.

The city's Express-News newspaper described one of the medal recipients' reaction to her encounter with the screen star:

When Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington entered the auditorium at Brooke Army Medical Center, Spc. Connie Spinks, healing from wounds from Iraq, was content to hold his hand, get a gentle peck on the cheek and hear him whisper a sweet nothing in her ear.

"He just told me he was proud of me, and that was enough," said Spinks, who has a broken femur, fractured fibula, shattered ankle, two broken fingers and second- and third-degree burns on her hands and face.

That brief encounter was enough to lift the Asheboro, N.C., native, a world away from her memories of Oct. 13, when a suicide bomber killed two soldiers and injured Spinks, 22, and four others in a convoy.

"If I wasn't already in a wheelchair, I would have fainted" when the screen star kissed her, she said.

Fort Sam Houston, which houses the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), also includes on its property a Fisher House within walking distance of the medical center. Fisher Houses are a network of "comfort homes," essentially low-cost hotels built on the grounds of military medical centers in the U.S. and abroad that provide all the amenities of home and enable family members of servicemen to stay close to loved ones who are undergoing medical treatment for illness, disease, or injury. The modest fees charged by Fisher Houses (about $10 per night) make them accessible even to familes with tight budgets (a situation common to many military families).

As might be expected with the U.S. military's having been engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for the last few years, the demand for space in Fisher Houses at some military facilities has exceeded their capacities. According to the Fisher House Foundation, when Denzel Washington was at Fort Sam Houston in December 2004, he did visit its Fisher House and learn of their need for additional facilities, and he did later make a substantial donation to the Fisher House Foundation (amount undisclosed, but it was described as "one of the most significant received in our history" by James Weiskopf, the foundation's vice president for communications), but he did not, as described in some versions of the story, "get out his checkbook" on the spot and write a check for the full amount needed to construct a new building.

Due to the generosity of the American public (including Mr. Washington), the Fisher House Foundation has already collected enough money to build another house, although it will not necessarily be constructed at the Brooke Army Medical Center. Other possible sites for a new Fisher House include the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Center in Houston, the Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, the Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Washington, the VA Medical Center in Palo Alto, California, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

It makes me proud to know that there are Great Americans out there like Denzel Washington.


At 6/15/2005 1:55 AM , Blogger Kajun said...

That's me in the back row.

At 6/15/2005 2:24 AM , Blogger camojack said...

He's in the minority amongst the "glitterati"...one of a very few with his head on straight.

At 6/15/2005 7:34 AM , Blogger Pat'sRick© said...

Amen to both of you. Hawkeye, I'm glad you did not perpetuate the urban legend about his donation. Good on you, sir.

At 6/15/2005 10:58 AM , Anonymous Maggie said...

Are you kidding about being in the back?
Do I need another sign?
My oldest son is always teasing me and saying that I am the so gullible.

At 6/15/2005 12:44 PM , Blogger Hawkeye® said...

Kajun is so far back you can't see him.


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