- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I am writing to thank you for turning my life around and I hope you will print my letter so your readers will know how much you have made a difference in the life of this disabled veteran.

Several other fellow Marines were trying to help with my case and a few months ago they heard about “Sgt. Shaft” and brought my case to your attention.

As a fellow Marine who was honorably discharged in 1972, I have been battling with the VA for over 30 years for disability benefits. During the course of my battle, I on more than one occasion came to a wall and considered giving up.

At the point where I almost lost all hope, your beacon of hope was cast upon my gloomy world. Due to your personal intervention at such a crucial time, I have already been notified that I am now rated at 100 percent service connected [disability]. Because of this, I have a chance to get into a new house.

I cannot express my absolute gratitude to you. I hope you understand how much your personal efforts will stay with me forever. Thank you again for your support and assistance; I will continue to be a faithful follower of your articles.

Semper fi,

James L

Norwood, Pa.

Dear James:

I could not have helped had you not been entitled to the benefits that you now receive in recognition of your faithful service.

Shaft notes

The achievements and ideals of the men and women who served in the armed forces of the United States during World War II will be the focus of attention Saturday in the District when the U.S. Postal Service issues a postage stamp depicting the National World War II Memorial. The issuance will take place at the memorial site just prior to the official dedication ceremony, sponsored by the American Battle Monuments Commission. The stamp will be available at post offices nationwide.

Many other events and ceremonies also will be taking place honoring the service of our nation’s veterans, especially those from World War II.

The following poignant words by Lawrence Vaincourt in his poem “Just a Common Soldier” will reverberate throughout the nation as cherished memories are recalled and these ceremonies take place.

“He was getting old and paunchy and his hair falling fast,

And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past

Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,

In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,

All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,

And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,

For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.

Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,

And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,

While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,

But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land

A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,

Goes to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives

Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.

While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,

Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago

That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know

It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,

Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,

Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?

Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend

His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,

For when the countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part

Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,

Then at least let’s give him his homage at the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,

Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.”

The American Legion Post 20, at the National Press Club, with the generous support of Pitney Bowes, plans to celebrate the pre-dedication of the National World War II Memorial on Saturday morning in the NPC Ballroom, 529 14th St. NW.

Film star Tony Curtis, World War II Navy veteran, will participate in the program scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and continuing until noon with musical entertainment by the Aloha Boys and singer Jean Loach. Light refreshments will be served.

The John J. Pershing Post 20 consists of Press Club members, and was founded on Nov. 11, 1919. For more information, call 202/662-7500.

cSend letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, PO Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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