Operation Finally Home – Part 1

We want to tell you a little story about a hero that we know.

Say what you want about fate. Or luck. But there’s a single thing we can all agree upon. Courage. It’s that quality that gives certain people the ability to confront fear, pain, danger and uncertainty. Sometimes it shows-up as physical courage. Other times it wraps itself around us as moral courage. Army Spc. Augustine “Augie” Pena has almost magically combined the two.

Operation Finally Home
Image Source: photoblog.statesman.com

That moral courage is sorely missing occasionally with some of us. Not for Augie. He has the stuff to do the right thing no matter the odds.

He served us in Iraq. Returning home, he took a breather to check-in, as part of his duty in the reserves in St. Louis. But Augie had the Windy City in his sights and enrolled at a college in Chicago. After defending our freedom, Augie was driving back from Chicago to St. Louis.

The Blues

It was right around Thanksgiving in 2010. He had the responsibility to report to his post in St. Louis as part of his monthly duty. It was in the early morning hours when he noticed a car by the side of the road. Slowing down, he observed a young woman inside the vehicle.

He also saw that she had a flat.

Here is what the journalist and cartoonist Allen Saunders once said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Augie had other plans but once you have a heroes blood running through your veins, he did the right thing. Odds? What are odds? Augie was simply going to help 20-year old Mary Elbring fix a flat.

Then life happened.

He popped her trunk. Pulled out the spare, a jack and a tire wrench. It should be a snap. But out-of-nowhere, a drunk behind the wheel of another car rammed into Ms. Elbring’s auto. A chain reaction occurred and the ending was not kind to Augie. He was crushed and left in critical condition.

Needless to say, after surviving a brutal street war in the Middle East, the accident left Augie a paraplegic. To make matters worse, his dreams of transferring to the home of the Cubbies and the White Sox were over. And because he was not “technically” on duty, no benefits.

Fate, Be Kind

Augie lives every day as a paraplegic. He stays in a small, shoebox-sized apartment with his mother and his much younger brother. No help from the government for a hero at home and abroad. But Augie keeps his chin up.

In part two, we’re going to tell you who Timbertown Austin have joined with to do a service for Augie as he did for us. We’re linking forces with Operation FINALLY HOME. Their mission is to provide custom made mortgage-free homes to wounded and disabled veterans and the widows of the fallen in an effort to get their lives back on track and become productive members of their communities. As we said, we’ll get to the details in Part 2, which we will share on the best day to honor Augie, Memorial Day.

 Image Source: photoblog.statesman.com

But before we go, we wanted to share with you a poem by the great American poet, Theodore Roethke. It’s called “The Waking”

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

Original Source: http://timbertownaustin.com/timbertown-austin-news-and-events/operation-finally-home-part-1

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