On June 23, a crowd consisting of volunteers, civic groups, local politicians, veterans, and other well-wishers waited expectantly for the arrival of Lance Corporal Daniel Peterson who was to be presented with the keys to his new home. The home was built by volunteers coordinated by Homes for our Troops, a national organization that coordinates donations and volunteers to build homes for veterans with serious disabilities and injuries. LCpl Peterson lost both of his legs in Afghanistan after a bomb explosion interrupted his Special Forces Team’s return to base, hurling Peterson more than ten feet in the air.
The day began with a parade down the small residential street lined with the parked vehicles of the large crowd. Cub Scouts from Den 12 of Magnolia, Texas led the procession with a giant “Welcome Home” banner and a bugle accompaniment. Emergency vehicles from the local fire department, the flag-flying “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle club, and the Patriot Guard on horseback followed before the vehicle bringing Corporal Peterson pulled into the driveway of his new home. Accompanied by a few of his fellow veterans, he made his way to the head of a temporary pavilion set up in his driveway for the beginning of the key presentation ceremony.
United States Congressman Kevin Brady spoke about the men and women who serve in the nation’s military:
“They serve without conditions. They serve for the love of their country and those they fight with. And all they ever ask of you and me is that we never forget – never forget their sacrifice. In this organization, Homes for Our Troops, and in all the volunteers and supporters who make homes like this happen in America, we will never forget their sacrifice.”
Texas State Representative Allen Fletcher presented Peterson with a Texas flag which flew over the state capitol on the day that the walls for Peterson’s home were raised. About Peterson’s sacrifice to our country, Fletcher stated:
“So many have given so much and it is for all of us to be able to live like this and to be in a neighborhood like this, a community like this.”
The President of Homes for Our Troops, Ken Preston, who is a retired Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army spoke about the mission of Homes for Out Troops:
“For Daniel and all of our severely wounded veterans out there, they would never ever ask for a handout. As I see it, this isn’t a handout, it’s a gift. Today is very special. Today is our day to give back the freedom and independence that Daniel deserves – the freedom and independence that he enjoyed prior to his injuries.”
Other speakers included Councilman Preston Dodson of the City of Tomball, Jay Guerrero representing United States Senator John Cornyn, and Lance Corporal Daniel Peterson himself.
At the end of the ceremony, Corporal Patterson was presented the keys to his new home, the yellow ribbon was cut, and everyone was invited inside to tour the new home.
In the following video you can hear some of what Congressman Brady, Representative Fletcher, and Sergeant Major Preston had to say. Look for more video excerpts and photographs from that morning in upcoming posts.