I apologize for the delay in posting this letter, but I felt it is really worth sharing.
Gerry Corrigan is a Marine and always will be. Multiple Sclerosis has bound him to a wheel chair, but even with all his crippling pain, he is strong willed.
He volunteers every month at Graterford State Prison in the Chapel as a counselor and mentor. He has helped many Veterans and this year, he was able to present the MSAWI Stars for our Troops to the incarcerated Veterans at Gratersford at the Veteran’s Day Program he helped put together.Below is an after mission report:A Hero’s Welcome at Graterford Prison 11-11-2014.
9 am to 1 pm.
First off, let me say that I just read the Inquirer Article of 11-11-2014 about “Late But Warm Thanks”.
It was great to see this recognition of our service folks.
Today has been the greatest Veterans Day of my young life.
Beginning at 9:30 sign-in at Graterford Maximum Security Prison, Graterford, Pa and ending with my wife and children wishing me a pleasant Veterans Day I was blessed.
At Graterford there were the re-acquaintances of folks seen from year to year as Veteran’s Day rolled around. The hello agains, the same jackets worn occasionally at special gatherings with Viet Nam places served by the wearers, the Military Units proudly named on the jackets came back to me. The smiling faces of the Prison Guards that I have become accustomed to seeing on my weekly visits there, the presenting of photo ID’s, the hand stamping the wrist banding, the signing in, the electronic scanning, the Gate Memo’s allowing certain goods to enter the facility all have become S.O.P. and an accepted way of life here. The command of “front” signals the OK to gather my goods and to let me pass into an inner wait area to meet the escort, then to the population when the huge steel door slides open. Now the quarter mile trek to the chapel and to the ‘residents’ who await and about whom this gathering is planned.
In the chapel area that seats up to 600 we encountered an inmate handing us 3×5 cards where we wrote our name and branch of service. Take a seat and await the beginning of the ceremony.
Master of ceremonies-Inmate Richard C.
Call to order and posting of Colors. All the services and state and federal colors.
9 or 10 addresses – too boring to mention bur all said something.
Secretary of Prisons John E. Wetzel
Several musical selections.
Lighting of candles, then roll call.
It was at this point that I was introduced and gave an explanation of A Hero’s Welcome and told of Sharon, Maria and friend Lorraine who introduced me to AHW. Then, every veteran in the chapel was called by name and branch of service and each came ‘front and center’, received a star from a ‘surveyed’ flag and took his or her place along the front of the stage in the chapel. Some took a packet, some took one and said thanks, some took one and shook hands and one in five saluted sharply then received a star. Noting this now, it is pretty hard to hold back the emotions that filled me that day. Some dignity has been taken away by unlawful acts, breaking of the law, punishment metered by lawfully appointed justices but personal dignity of having worn the cloth and having raised the hand and saying “take me” will never be taken from these men and women.
Thanks to A Hero’s Welcome for the opportunity to acknowledge our veterans. Thanks to Sharon for giving up everything to gain everything. Thanks to Maria for picking up the torch. Most of all, thanks to our service folks for serving.