Do­herty may plan hol­i­day visit to New­found­land

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Us­ing the re­turn ad­dress on the let­ter, Do­herty searched for “Duane Mor­gan” and “ Port de Grave” at the Canada411 web­site. His first phone con­tact was Duane’s grand­fa­ther, Al­bert Mor­gan, fol­lowed by his Aunt Joyce Mor­gan, then his fa­ther, Wayne Mor­gan. In no time, Do­herty and Duane Mor­gan were talk­ing on the phone.

Do­herty soon re­al­ized there was much more to this story. Duane, he learned, is legally blind. He has a ge­netic eye con­di­tion called RodCone Dys­tro­phy, and has been legally blind his en­tire life. He has very lim­ited vi­sion.

Do­herty was over­whelmed. Be­cause of t h e pen­man­ship, Do­herty had thought the let­ter had c ome from s ome on e m u c h younger.

“Can you be­lieve that? As a blind teenager, he made that in­cred­i­ble ef­fort to hand­write a let­ter of sup­port to the troops over­seas. Never judge a book by its cover.” he noted.

‘ Real he­roes’

Here’s what Duane wrote, er­rors and all:

“ Dear Friend, I would like to ex­press how I feel about what your do­ing. I think that you have to be the bravest men and women I have ever saw.

“ There’s been many heros such as Su­per­man, Spi­der­man, Bat­man etc. But not one of them com­pares to you brave men and women in the Mid­dle East, you are the real heros.

“I would like to say Merry Christ­mas, and I hope that you will be home Next Christ­mas, salf and sound. “ Your friend, Duane Mor­gan.” None of the stu­dents knew who would re­ceive their let­ters. Duane Mor­gan likely never gave it much thought at the time, at least un­til just re­cently, when he was con­tacted by Do­herty.

To­day, Duane is very mod­est about his lit­er­ary ef­fort, say­ing his let­ter “ just hap­pened to go to James.”

He is also philo­sophic about liv­ing as a legally blind per­son. “ Deal­ing with this can be frus­trat­ing from time to time,” he ad­mit­ted, “ but I man­age to do pretty much ev­ery­thing that some­one else would, though I may do it a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. The only thing I don’t do re­ally is drive. I feel that de­spite this con­di­tion, I do pretty well in all as­pects of my life.”

He works as man­ager of pro­grams and ser­vices with the St. John’s branch of the Cana­dian Na­tional In­sti­tute for the Blind.

Troops de­serve our sup­port

Duane was sur­prised to hear that his let­ter had made such as im­pres­sion with Do­herty.

“ It’s been such a long time and I didn’t think that some­one would have kept it or even re­mem­bered it,” he said.

Duane’s Aunt, Joyce Mor­gan, said it’s a les­son in how im­por­tant it is to sup­port Cana­dian mil­i­tary per­son­nel when they are de­ployed in harm’s way.

“ Ev­ery stu­dent in Grade 7, 8 or 9 should write a let­ter to a Cana­dian sol­dier and let them know that they are their he­roes,” she said.

Added Duane: “ It’s re­ally only now that I re­al­ize the im­pact that do­ing some­thing as sim­ple as writ­ing a let­ter can have. These men and women are do­ing their best and putting their lives at risk to serve and pro­tect us and, re­gard­less of how we feel about our gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sions to take mil­i­tary ac­tion, it’s im­por­tant for the peo­ple who are ac­tu­ally phys­i­cally in­volved in these op­er­a­tions to know that they have sup­port from the peo­ple they are fight­ing for.”

It also turns out that James Do­herty and Duane Mor­gan have some­thing else in com­mon. Both are mu­si­cians.

Duane picked up a gui­tar at age 11 and, shortly af­ter, started to write songs. He also plays do­bro, man­dolin and har­mon­ica. In 2006, he re­leased his first self-ti­tled al­bum, made up of 10 of his own songs. His mu­si­cal in­flu­ences range from Hank Wil­liams to Led Zep­pelin.

Do­herty is an am­a­teur mu­si­cian, play­ing both pi­ano and key­boards.

The two may just get a chance to play to­gether. Do­herty said he may plan a fam­ily hol­i­day to New­found­land in the near fu­ture.

“ I look for­ward to meet­ing Duane in per­son,” he said.

— 34 • • — Port de Grave • St. John’s • par­ents are Wayne and Char­lotte Mor­gan; also has a sis­ter and two brothers • — man­ager, pro­grams and ser­vices, Cana­dian Na­tional In­sti­tute for the Blind

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