Thank You Thursday salutes: Michael Kacer, for his quiet ability to yank me from being guest of honor at a pity party. I had a lousy day at work recently…what we refer to at home as a, “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” Yet Michael, a decorated wounded vet, (which he won’t tell you) has described his injuries as “a bad day at work.” Okay self…reality check. Maybe you feel unappreciated by your employer, but the job hasn’t caused you to sacrifice a limb.
A friend first brought Michael to my attention when we were discussing the Warrior Games; think Olympics for wounded soldiers. How can a photo like this not grab your attention?
And no, it wasn’t the missing limb. It was the eyes. What the heck was up with those eyes? I would later find out that since high school, Michael has been a big fan of wearing wild contact lenses during sporting events. I imagine he freaked out more than one competitor…especially the ones which sport the colors of his beloved American football team, the Pittsburg Steelers. Just harmless fun. And yet not everyone gets it. Which is why there’s a video on YouTube of an Australian man ranting that those eyes mean Michael is an alien from outer space. Michael laughed harder than the rest of us about the man’s ravings.
After that first photo, curiosity made me read more and soon I discovered Michael’s the kind of guy who takes life’s challenges and turns them into goals to conquer. Literally.
Michael is approaching one of those anniversaries that most of us will never know personally: his “Alive Day”. The day he ducked the Grim Reaper and kept on living, in spite of what the enemy threw his way. I’ve been learning a lot about him this week as he shares his back story leading up to that event. As a civilian, the closest I ever came to that kind of comradery was working with my State Troopers: the law enforcement community has that same, “we’re in this together, hold on tight” mentality. And yes, I miss it. Michael is sharing some of that with us: from the silly pranks on each other to saluting those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It has to be hard, revisiting that time. I hope he knows those of us reading are a quiet shoulder he can lean on if need be.
I recently told him the next time I had a bad day at work, I’d kick my own butt and think of his better attitude. What I admire most is the honesty of his reply, which included the fact that the reality is not being labeled a “hero”. “It’s not about the fame or the fortune. (It’s) About the story being told”. He has a helluva story and he tells it well. I’m looking forward to the next chapter. How could I not admire a guy who portrays such joy in something as simple as a high five?