Pagosa Springs veteran rides to recovery

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    Photo courtesy Val Valentine Val Valentine poses next to the Liberty Road “zero kilometre stone” raised at the point of the D-Day landing on the sands of Utah Beach, France. Liberty Road marks the route of the Allied forces on D-Day in June 1944.
    Photo courtesy Val Valentine
    Val Valentine poses next to the Liberty Road “zero kilometre stone” raised at the point of the D-Day landing on the sands of Utah Beach, France. Liberty Road marks the route of the Allied forces on D-Day in June 1944.

    By Val Valentine
    Special to The SUN

    I have a vivid memory of my youth. It’s black and white, musty brown and gray with a single yellow-to-blue spark of the Trackless Trolley. My world, at age 6, was black and white, the urban streets and television.

    My mother, father and I are waiting for our crosstown bus. To our right and behind us, on a blue and gray, wide-striped, wool, Army-like blanket, sits a man. He is only a little younger than my father. In front of him he’s neatly displayed pencils and cheap, thin, black plastic combs and a tin cup.

    At first I think his leg is bent under him, then I see it is gone just above the knee.

    My father reaches into his work-stained, green trousers, retrieves a few quarters and with a quiet word leans over and drops them in the cup. The clank of the coins mutes the sound of the man’s, “Thank you.”

    Other times I saw several men like him. In the downtown public square of my boyhood home, my mother and I shopping in large, pre-mall department stores, we would pass several like men, some in wheel chairs and others on blankets, all with the same combs, pencils and tin cup.

    Today, I realize these men were my father’s World War II comrades-in-arms, wounded warriors, circa 1953.

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