Doherty may plan holiday visit to Newfoundland
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