By Pfc. Stephanie Cassinos
Minnesota National Guard
ST. PAUL, Minn. - "What a way to get a house," joked Sgt. Marcus Kuboy. "Go over to Iraq, get blown up, come back and have a lot of great people build you a house. But seriously, what a way to get a house."
Seeing Kuboy up at the podium, moments after watching him take slow, steady steps to get there, the crowd that gathered to welcome Kuboy to his new home knew exactly what he meant. It wasn't an act of justice - an evening of the scores between him and Iraq and his disability. For Kuboy, it was a journey.
"When I joined the Army I didn't want to be a hero, I wanted to help the guys that were going overseas," said Kuboy.
Kuboy deployed to Iraq as a Minnesota Army National Guard medic to serve his country, and he was severely injured by an improvised explosive device during a patrol. After being bed-ridden for three months far from his Minnesota home and spending another year in a wheelchair, individuals who appreciated his sacrifice decided that it was their turn to support him. They wanted to welcome him home, in the most literal sense.
Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit organization that assists service members who return from deployment with serious disabilities, took the initiative to build Kuboy a house on the occasion of the Republican National Convention. The organization built another home for a wounded service member in Colorado on the occasion of the Democratic convention. But on Sept. 1, 2008, President and Founder of Homes for Our Troops John Gonsalves got to officially welcome Kuboy to his brand new home.
"This is really on behalf of everybody that we'd like to present you with the keys to your home," said Gonsalves.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty thanked Kuboy for his service, and expressed gratitude and pride for those who donated time, effort, and money to take care of Kuboy.
"I'm so proud and pleased of this effort to help this American hero, Sgt. Marcus Kuboy," said Pawlenty. "He has given us so much. Our community, our stakeholders that are represented here today have said, 'We're prepared to stand with you and give back.'"
Kuboy reflected on being called a hero, and gave tribute the heroes in his life.
"People would come up to me and there was a common thread. They would say thank you. They would call me a hero," Kuboy said. But to Kuboy, what's in a hero lives a little closer to home.
"When things were hard for me I looked around for people who lifted me up, inspired me and gave me the strength to move forward and continue the fight...My family, my friends and the people who have come together after I've gotten home to put this all together...Thank you."
This work, RNC Marks Housewarming for Wounded Warrior, by SGT Stephanie Cassinos Way, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.