An Open Letter to the Boston Bombing Amputees
Your life changed in a split second. A beautiful April day was ravaged by two bombers intent on doing harm to no one in particular. You got caught in the crossfire. While your life will never be the same, it’s not the end.
My father, Anthony J. DeMar, went into the Army in March 1940 and was with the 25th Infantry Division when it relieved the Marines on Guadalcanal. He was wounded by shrapnel. After a time of recovery, he fought through the Pacific campaigns. He survived
He also survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In 1945, he left the army and married my mother. Job prospects were limited, so in January 1948, he reenlisted. He guarded prisoners at the Army’s disciplinary barracks at New Cumberland, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when the Communists swept into South Korea on June 25, 1950.
The army needed infantrymen, so he was shipped off to Korea. Expecting to go home by Christmas, unforeseen events changed his life forever.
On February 28, 1951, “he was in charge of a truck carrying some aid men and other personnel,” and then the unexpected took place:
“I don’t know that happened except what they told me. We hit two land mines and I was out for two days. When I woke up I found I had a short leg.”1
I never knew my father any other way. He had one leg. His prosthetic leg was heavy and irritating. Because he lost his leg at mid thigh, it was difficult for him to maneuver it.
Even so, it did not stop him from enjoying golf. (He walked the course.) He was a faithful member of a Monday evening bowling league.
He danced at my brother’s wedding. That was more than what I would do and I have two good legs. My father coached our Little League baseball team. My father was a former semi-pro football and baseball player. His sports enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I learned the basics of baseball and football from him. While I did not compete in football beyond the tenth grade, I did go on to get an athletic scholarship in track and field.
With advancements in prosthetic technology, your life will be a lot easier than it was for my father.
What I remember best about my father was his attitude. I never heard him complain or make excuses for his condition. I never saw him feel sorry for himself. He led a full life. My mother stayed by his side until his death at the age of 82.
Don’t give up hope. Your life is not in your limbs. My father would be the first one to tell you that.
- As reported by Chester Potter in “They Know Fear . . . and Hope” (1951), 16. [↩]