Topic: "Currahee" (5)
The following was inspired by a news item shown this evening by CBS Evening News. Frodo expresses his gratitude for the opportunity to share some of this story.
Lieutenant William Brennan, of New Jersey, lost both his legs and slipped into an apparently irreversible coma while serving his country. For months on end the young man's steel-blue eyes seemed to penetrate nothingness, and only artifical support guaranteed respiration. In all candor, the medical staff at Walter Reed as well as the Lieutenant's Mom & Dad were concluding that his life had truly ended when that bomb exploded beneath him. That did not mean that anybody was ready to give up, but the inevitable decision seemed, truly, inevitable.
Since the Lieutenant served in the 101st Airborne, it was only logical that commanding officers, past and present, came by frequently to express their support. One of these, a certain David Petraeus, arrived in full uniform, with four stars on each of his shoulders. Despite the glitter, and the encouraging words spoken at the bedside, Petraeus prepared to leave that evening feeling that he would not again see his comrade-in-arms.
As Petraeus stepped away, something, perhaps deep in his own memory, made him stop and turn around. He walked back to Brennan's bedside and loudly vocalized an old Cherokee Indian word, "Currahee." Almost immediately, there was movement, as the young soldier began to thrash about. He was responding. It didn't take long for medical personnel and the Lieutenant's family to gather about his bed, as his body awoke from its' long nightmare.
Last week, almost a year later, Lieutenant William Brennan, 101st Airborne Division, US Army, was honored by his installation in the New Jersey State Hall of Fame. General David Petraeus introduced the soldier to the throng, as he made his own way, on his artificial legs, to the podium. At the urging of the General, the entire throng welcomed him with a long, and loud, "Currahee."
For the uninitiated, the 101st Airborne trains in Georgia, and a mountaintop, named Currahee, sits amid the obstacle courses and training facilities. Running to the top of Currahee, and back, perhaps repeatedly, is drill-punishment for all those who serve in the 101st Airborne. It is a word that each of them know, for it is the verbal bind between them, not unlike the "Semper Fi" of their brother Marines.
It was "Currahee" that stirred the unconscious of Lieutenant Brennan, and only one of his "Band of Brothers" would ever sense what it might mean to his comrade.
In the Cherokee language, "Currahee" means "To stand alone."
Frodo suddenly feels the need to step out under a star-filled sky, alone, and to count a few blessings.