After sitting in the sun and listening to him for close to two hours, I asked Kenny Braitman to spend a few minutes elaborating on something he said during our conversation at his permaculture farm in Western Maryland — that having been in the Marine Corps was one of the best things that happened to him, including “losing my legs” in Vietnam.

A partial quote of what Braitman wrote back appears in my Nov. 24 column in The Baltimore Sun. Here’s the rest of it:


“Having artificial legs as a result of wounds from the Vietnam war, I am constantly reminded of that loss. Whether through limited activities, discomfort, pain, or emotion; they all serve as a reminder of what I do have. I spent almost a year in the hospital after being wounded where I witnessed and/or knew many Marines who, through their own injuries, lost eye sight, hearing, use of arms, hands, legs, etc. I know what these losses are like. As a result of this knowledge, I am forever grateful that I have what I do have. It is important to me to voice this gratefulness out loud so I do not take it for granted: not unlike the Cherokee address of gratefulness.  Each step that hurts is a step that others can’t make. Each activity that is limited is an activity that I can perform limited or otherwise. I did not die in Vietnam. I have four children and a wonderful wife.  My life is good. My prostheses keep these thoughts in my mind and help me focus on what I do have, not what I have lost or don’t have.”

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving column: Kenny Braitman and a life of gratefulness

  1. Dan : Your blog was so insightful and a timely Thanksgiving reminder about gratitude.

    I checked my kindle and your Vietnam Vet 929 word story is the leading story (where I think it always is) but again no byline for you at the beginning like it is for other articles nor at the end where contributing authors sometimes are mentioned. Thought you should know. I’m getting PO’ed. Do you want a letter to the paper (not published to the editor) or should I leave it in your capable hands?!


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