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DAR members present Braille U.S. flags to blind veterans

East Bernard Express of East Bernard, Texas

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When is the last time you shook hands with and thanked a veteran? Members of the Comfort Wood Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution did this Veek and it was a humbling experience. They spent a morning with blind/low vision veterans on the grounds of the DeBakey Veterans Hospital.

It was during the group's monthly meeting to present each veteran with a Braille U.S. flag.

The group ranged in age from 58 to 88 and most had seen battle in World War II, Korea or Vietnam. The oldest veteran there had seen battle in all three wars. One had seen duty during Desert "storm. Some had lost their sight due to accidents on the battlefield while others had developed glaucoma or some other visual impairment either during or after their service to our nation.

The leader of the group, Ronnie Anderson, was not only the Blind Veteran Association president, but had just been named to be the head of the American Blind Conference, which represents all blind Americans.

Their national convention in Galveston personally invited the DAR members to attend as his guests.

Anderson is also the head of a blind gumbo cooking team. They compete against other sighted cooking teams and have placed or won all they have participated in.

Anderson refers to himself as Blind Man Cooking. He entertained the group by telling about taking cooking classes.

Each of the veterans shared both chilling and comical stories with the group. The ladies from Comfort Wood were brought to tears by many of the stories which were shared with them and then just as quickly laughed at the humorous stories. Not one veteran was bitter about their disability and accepted it as a way of life.

The wife of one of the veteran's hugged several of the DAR group. With tears in her eyes she said she just had to let us know how much our coming and the flag meant to her husband.

Braille flags began with the story of Jesus Sanchez Ca-bral, his loosing his sight and how it altered the life course of one of his sons. The result would write a new chapter in the history of America's flag.

Cabral came to America as a boy when his family fled Mexico during the Mexican Civil War in 1916. When WW II broke out in 1941 he joined the Army Air Corps. He was deployed to Eastern Africa, the South Pacific and Northern Europe. During his service he was awarded several medals. He had grown up as an American and believed it was his duty to fight for his country.

When Jesus lost his sight to glaucoma, nothing saddened him more than no longer being able to post the American flag on his front porch. This was something he regarded as a duty of all Americans.

His son, Randolph, became interested in Braille and created the tactile/Braille flag in honor of his father. Written in Braille across the stripes is the Pledge of Allegiance. The flags are 8 X 10 inches.

Randolph began putting his flags in the hands of politicians. These flags were recognized by the U.S. Congress and Senate in 2008 and a ceremony was held in his honor. One made of bronze has been placed at the Arlington National Cemetery.

America has more than 30 million blind/low vision citizens. Randolph's goal is to make one available to all these individuals. The proceeds from these flags go to benefit the blind/low vision population.

Comfort Wood DAR plans to be a part of making this happen.

Following the meeting the DAR was taken on a tour of the Fisher House. This is a home/hotel where veterans' family members can stay while the vets are being treated in the hospital. There is no charge for staying there.

The DAR group took a large bag of toiletry items for their use and will returing in January with paper goods collected by the four high schools in Wharton County, as well as DAR members.

Copyright 2011 The Malakoff News, Malakoff, Texas. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: October 13, 2011

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