Musical High Note
While I was in the VA Hospital in Augusta, GA, I was visited by Mr. Bill Lawson, a columnist with the PN Magazine, a publication of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). I recently learned that in the February, 2012, issue he retold my story in his article. I would like to share it with you.
Musical High Note
Reprinted from PN February 2012
By PVA National President Bill Lawson
Musician Alex Beaton’s story makes me super proud to be an American
In October, I traveled to Augusta, Ga., for a check presentation ceremony. Our good friends at Agility Defense and Government Services Company (Agility) who have been involved with us for several years are now raising funds to keep our Voc Rehab Program growing. Agility’s vice president, Rich Brooks, made the presentation and reaffirmed our partnership to secure employment for every disabled veteran. Our mutual goal is to provide these disabled veterans with a “fair shot” at the American Dream: a good job at a good company.
As it turned out, this trip became a win/win situation. It has been my practice to conclude my PN articles with an appeal to readers to visit a hospitalized veteran. Often the stories you hear will be inspiring and uplifting.
So, while in Augusta, it seemed only natural to visit with some of the patients at the VA SCI Center. One veteran I had the honor to speak with did inspire me…so much so, I felt compelled to share his story with you.
Immediately following this man’s injury, he was sent to Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Shortly after that, he was admitted to the SCI Center in Augusta. Regardless of his initial rehab at the Shepherd Center, he was considered a new injury as far as VA was concerned. He was assessed, and his rehab program was put into action.
At first, I didn’t realize I was talking to a celebrity. His name is Alex Beaton. Perhaps some of you have heard of him. Beaton is a Scottish, guitar-playing folksinger, internationally known with more than 20 albums to his credit. But you would have to put to one side his stature in the field of entertainment to discover the most impressive and inspiring “twist of fate” that led him along the road to this SCI Center in Augusta.
His story begins in Scotland many years ago. Beaton told me that as a small boy, he dreamed of becoming an American citizen. When he was old enough and financially able (in 1965), he immigrated to the United States, the land of his dreams. His mother voiced strong concerns about his living in the United States and potentially being drafted into the U.S. military.
For those of you who are not aware, during the days when the draft was in effect, if non-citizens lived in the United States for a certain amount of time, they became eligible for the draft. With the Vietnam War escalating, Beaton’s mother became alarmed and expressed her desire for him to leave the United States to take up temporary residency in Canada. Since his hope was to become a U.S. citizen, he elected to remain in the U.S. and “do his part” perhaps expediting his citizenship…the one thing he always treasured. He did indeed serve in the U.S. Army, entertaining troops in the Third Army Soldiers’ Show and the Seventh U.S. Army Chorus in Germany.
So, “flash forward” and as sometimes occurs in life, that “twist of fate” materialized. Beaton recently sustained a serious high-level spinal-cord injury resulting in severe respiratory complications. He is undergoing treatment in the VA Medical Center where I came across him on my visit. Although currently unable to perform, he is determined to make a full recovery, indicative of his spirited attitude.
In an age where it is fashionable to “trash” the United States and cite everything that is wrong with our country, I met this wonderful man, determined to overcome his medical problem and still immensely proud to be an American, still extolling the virtues of “his” adopted country.
How is it that this man, by his story, makes me super proud to be an American? Like most of you, I served to preserve the freedoms we enjoy here today. These freedoms are still attracting to our shores thousands who appreciate what our country has to offer.
So, once again, I invite you to visit a hospitalized veteran today. Who knows, you may discover another Alex Beaton ready to enrich your life and inspire you to greater patriotism!