Friday, August 27, 2010

"They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait"

John Milton, a seventeenth-century English poet, observed that “They also serve who only stand and wait.” Milton closed the sonnet, “On His Blindness,” with these words because he realized that those who accept the “mild yoke” placed upon them are among the most content and fulfilled. Calpurnia was such person. So is RyAnne Noss.

I began this Blog, “In Atticus’ Shoes,” with the story of an unknown soldier in Japan after the U. S. firebombed, then atomic-bombed Japan into surrender. That G.I. gave a desperate mother some powdered milk, and his gift saved a life. Years later, that infant, saved by one G.I., thanked Americans for her life. With this blog on August 27, 2010, I return again to the soldier who has never been far from the spirit of the posts.

RyAnne Noss, with a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, married a soldier who served eight tours of duty before sustaining a TBI—traumatic brain injury. Scott, her husband, fit and brave and active, no longer exists except somewhere inside a body that requires constant care. Many women would have walked away. RyAnne has not. She put her career, ambitions, and desires on hold to care for her Scott.

She is not alone. Eric Edmundson’s parents, Ed and Beth, and Eric’s wife, Stephanie, have sacrificed their financial security and ransomed their futures to restore Eric to the best possible state he can attain. Ivonne Thompson is another like RyAnne. Each of these individuals, so eloquently and movingly portrayed on “NOW,” a PBS program November 20, 2009, has put aside personal agendas. Each has elected to serve by standing for a loved one and waiting for miracles in the form of a single laugh, a step taken, a glance of recognition. Each care-giver bears the yoke—although I could never conceive of it as mild, as Milton did his blindness—because each is in the service of something greater: a life. And each proves his courage and conviction every day.

To learn more about RyAnne Noss, Ed and Beth Edmundson, Stephanie Edmundson, and Ivonne Thompson, as well as the soldiers who inspire them, visit where you can read the transcript of “Who’s Helping Our Wounded Vets?” a program featuring Senior Correspondent Maria Hinojoso and produced by Abigail Leonard. I believe that you may even want to buy a DVD of this program because the story will inspire you. You will feel proud that there are such selfless, loving Americans living among us and caring for the most severely wounded soldiers who used their courage for us.