Teen columnist : Tae Kwon Do kids honor vets

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October 01, 2007, 5:26 p.m.
STEPHANIE J. ZAWADA
Tucson Citizen

With two holidays each year to honor those who have served the cause of freedom, Memorial Day and Veterans Day, many of us believe we have paid our dues to our men and women in uniform.

We take the federal holiday off and have a family barbecue and gathering with our friends.

We wish each other "Happy Veterans Day" and "Happy Memorial Day," but how many of us ever do something for these men and women who, though different on account of fate, are truly similar to us?

I am proud to tell you I know a group of people who did.

On Sept. 22, about 30 students and family members from the Tucson Tae Kwon Do School carpooled to the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Health Care System to assist some local disabled veterans at a little picnic.

Says school Grandmaster Dong Hoon Kim, a ninth-degree black belt, "Community service is good for everyone. To go to the hospital and help our veterans is good for both our school and each of us as individuals."

So why did so many people take time for the picnic?

"Life is hard anyway, but those poor guys have it really rough," said Michael Coffey, a second-degree black belt. "I hope we do it as a group again in the future, but I am going to do it individually as well."

Said 12-year-old Richard Schaefer, a brown belt, "The veterans helped us in the war, and we need to help them now that they have come back and are injured and sick."

"It was a little difficult to convince the diabetic vets to eat sugar-free pie when most of them would have preferred regular pie," Schaefer said, "but I did not mind! Apple pie is an American pastime, so not many of the vets ask for peach pie!"

Said his father, also named Richard Schaefer, "I looked around me on Saturday and realized how difficult life is for some people, especially for some of our veterans. The amazing part was that each of the veterans was truly grateful for our help. All of them were kind, happy people who kept saying 'thank you' to us. Volunteering is a great lesson in appreciation."

Each of us should give back to our community. Show your love for life and for the dignity of the human being.

Help your parents by offering to wash the dishes. Offer to help a struggling student with homework. Ask your elderly neighbor if he or she needs groceries or yard work.

But most especially, the time has come for us as individuals, as members of various communities and organizations, as a nation and as one people, to reach out to the heroes among us, the veterans who feel abandoned, and inspire them to raise their voices and be counted.

Teen columnist Stephanie J. Zawada is a sophomore at Seton Home Study School. E-mail: stephanie.j.zawada@gmail.com

Read All Comments » 1 TOTAL COMMENT
Oct 2, 2007 @ 12:06pm
After reading the teen columnist piece, do you kinda have to wonder why The Citizen's editors and reporters aren't venturing into the local VA hospital to report on Bush's wounded crusaders? Seems there's a story right under their nose that is less important to them and their careers than a "traffic signal is on the fritz..."
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