I challenge anyone who wants to understand what an American hero looks like to take 30 minutes to watch a video.
I promise it will be more rewarding than anything you’ll watch on TV.
The documentary by Ivan Kinder (http://vimeo.com/26802254) profiles Marine Rob Jones, who is cycling across the country to help other veterans.
The video, “Survive, Recover, Live,” captured the William Genaust Marine Corps Award sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
It tells the humble story of Jones, from Lovettsville, Va., population 1,737.
Jones attended Virginia Tech and joined the Marine Corps Reserve as a combat engineer. His primary role was detection of buried improvised explosive devices and weapons caches in Afghanistan.
When one of the IEDs exploded, doctors amputated Jones’ legs above the knees, according to robjonesjourney.com. Jones was awarded a Purple Heart.
He spent time recovering at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. and Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He was fitted with prosthetics, and learned to walk with two prosthetic knees.
He picked up rowing. Jones and Oksana Masters combined to win a bronze medal in the mixed double sculls at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Jones was named the 2012 U.S. Rowing Man of the Year and Masters won the women’s honor.
A prosthetist, Brian Bartlett from Left Side Industries, and Ray Clark from Ride to Recovery helped Jones learn how to cycle. When he was recovering, he thought about cycling across America in order to benefit some of the charities that had helped him.
Jones is traveling 5,400 miles across the country to raise awareness and $1 million to help other veterans with similar challenges.
Jones wanted to pay his good fortune forward by helping others because he’s been helped. All donations will help veterans with similar life challenges.
Anyone who would like to help can visit Jones’ website at robjonesjourney.com.
Jones’ donations are earmarked to three charities — Ride2Recovery, The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.
Jones’ bike trip started in Maine, will travel through Utah and eventually finish in San Francisco. Jones bikes 35 miles a day no matter the weather.
He traveled through Stafford and Pawnee counties Friday.
When I think of an American hero, I see Jones’ face.
It was a privilege meeting the toughest, most determined man I’ve ever seen.
“Once I decide I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it,” Jones said.
Jones has inspired others to follow his lead.
“If you want to learn a lesson or get inspired that’s a great bonus,” he said.
My favorite Jones’ quote was, “I’m not that different from a lot of people.”
If that’s the case, then maybe we can all pray that we can all be more like Jones.