RUSH: I had the most amazing day and a half in Washington. I want to tell you about as much of it as possible. Last night I had the Rush to Excellence Tour at the Warner Theatre in Washington. It was packed — it’s a beautiful place — with 2,000 people. The proceeds for the affair did not go to me. I, contrary to all others in this business, take no honorarium when I make any speech. When I make a speech I pay my own expenses to go there and get back, and I don’t accept any honorarium. All the proceeds went to the Fisher Houses.
Now, the Fisher Houses are sort of like the Ronald McDonald houses for injured military personal. They were started by a great man named Zack Fisher who I got to know during my time at the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation. Zack Fisher and his brother were prominent in New York and devoted almost all of their charitable giving to the United States Military. The Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation is heavily involved in the USS Intrepid Air and Space Museum in New York, and they’ve built something like 32 of these houses — and they are to accommodate family members of soldiers and military personnel who are wounded in action anywhere, predominantly now Iraq and Afghanistan. So yesterday morning, I got up and had a visit to the Fisher home on the grounds of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and went to the house to see it, and they’re just gorgeous houses. They’re stunningly gorgeous, and they have lots of bedrooms, and sometimes people are in these houses for three, four, six months at a time. They may go back home for a weekend or something, take care of local affairs, but they stay there while their family members are recuperating in the hospital, and some of the recuperating soldiers also stay in these houses.
After a quick tour of the house, it was up to the Walter Reed Army Hospital itself for a visit to the wing where amputees are undergoing rehabilitation, both occupational, rehab and therapeutic rehab. Folks, I’ll tell you, it was my first time, and these men and women that are in the United States Armed Forces — and I’ve always known this but — they’re just a different breed. They are such a cut above. I walked in there, and my first glance around I got a lump in my throat, and I am not exaggerating. I walked in that room, and we had about five or six in our group, and here are people who have lost both legs above the knee, one leg and one arm, shrapnel wounds all over their bodies. Every darn one of them was smiling. They were working hard to try to get back to duty. In fact, most of them — I’d go and talk to them, and — I said, “When do you get out? Where do you live? What do you want to do?” Most of them want to reenlist, not for combat, but they want to reenlist for communications or something.
They want to stay in the US Military. These people are anywhere from late teens to mid-twenties, and they were all just smiling, and I asked every one of them I talked to, “Have you got what you need?” and they looked at me kind of surprised, “Oh, yes. Yes, sir. We have everything that we need.” Many of them are listeners of this program as are their family members. I walked in there and I almost felt unworthy to go in this room, and I feel that more and more when I’m around people: veterans of combat in the US Armed Forces. I felt like I’m not good enough to be in this room. These people have lost significant parts of their bodies defending the country and protecting the country and performing their orders and missions. To watch ’em all smiling and laughing and going about their work was just beyond touching.
Now, we drove over there from the Fisher House, and we got to the Medical Center itself, and it was a pretty long hike from the front door to this wing. It was in one of the far quadrants of the building. We got right up to where we’re supposed to be and they put a stop on us, our little entourage, and said, “Hold on. Hang on just a second,” and they told us that they had to go into the amputation therapy room, rehab room, to make sure everything was okay in there, and that they’re ready for visitors, “Just be five minutes or so.” So we hung around there. We loitered and talked to people outside in the halls, and then finally received the go-ahead to go in. So I went in and I experienced all that I just shared with you. When we got near the end of the tour of the people that I spoke to — and I probably spoke to ten or 12. There were maybe 20 people in there undergoing rehab, and they’re in there all day running in shifts.
This one woman whose husband was sitting on a bed, he had lost both his legs just below his waist, and he’s sitting on the bed and he’s working on upper body exercises, and he’s got a big smile on his face, too. His wife comes up to me and says, “Mr. Limbaugh, my husband would like to meet you and tell you something.”
So I walked over, and he said, “I wish you could have been here five minutes earlier.”
I said, “Why?”
He said, “Because John Kerry was here.”
And I said, “Well, no wonder they held us outside in a holding pattern for five minutes, because Kerry was wandering around in there. I wish they hadn’t have held us up. That would have been cool.” So I asked the guy, “Well, did Kerry say anything to you?”
He said, “No. I think he just walked around. He might have said a couple words to a couple people. He just walked around and looked and left,” and the guy, the soldier, said to me, “I wish he would have said something to me because I wanted to say to him, ‘Senator, I’m sorry. I’m too stupid to understand what you just said,'” and everybody just laughed.
It’s the last thing you’d expect to happen in a place like this.
But you talk about inspirational and motivation — and I mentioned this last night on stage at the Warner Theatre. Any time I start getting down in the dumps, and it happens to all of us, you just think about what I saw in Afghanistan, think about what I saw yesterday, it tends to put it in perspective. I know everything is relative and when people get depressed there are reasons for it and you can’t live everybody else’s life in comparison to your own or live your life in compares to theirs, but still, it helps put it in perspective. But it was just — I think we were there for 45 minutes or an hour, and it was one of the most meaningful periods of time that I have ever spent.
I asked them, “Does it bother you when people come in here? Do you feel like you’re sort of in a circus and people wander around?”
“No, no. We love people coming here. We love to have people come in here.”
Because some of them are there for six months. Some of them are in hospital beds before they can get out and go to places like the Fisher House and be discharged back to their homes. They were from all over the country, from San Antonio, from Los Angeles, Chicago, and Buffalo. Just all over the place. I guess I’m overdoing this in saying it so often but I couldn’t get over their attitudes and their happiness and their optimism. It was truly a learning exercise for me. I’m just sorry that we missed Senator Kerry. That would have been great. I guess the people at Walter Reed think that this is not the place for that to happen. So, another day and another time.
As to the performance last night, I think it went close to two hours, and it was just a hoot. I had such a great time, and I have to tell you, I received one of the most lump-in-my-throat introductions from Chris Core of WMAL that I can remember receiving from anybody. Now, a lot of people have introduced me places, and they’ve done great jobs, and I don’t mean to slight anybody here, but it had me open mouthed. Well, we’ve got the audio. We’re going through it now. I think they said they want to play some excerpts of the thing.
We will have the audio of the whole show when we update the website later this afternoon for members. We also videotaped it, and I’ll take a look at that before I decide to release it. Also, their morning team was out there, Fred Grandy and his partner were out there as part of a troika, but Chris did the actual introduction of me. There was a fourth WMAL host backstage who was not part of the introduction of me, Jerry Klein, he’s the pet liberal at WMAL, calls himself that, so I thought, well, hell, his side won the election, he’s been slighted here. So I figured it was time to — you know, when I got out there, did a couple things, I brought him out to be introduced, too, because in this new spirit of bipartisanship and getting along, I wanted Jerry to participate, too. He works there. He’s pet liberal. It’s got a be tough for him even though his side won. But everybody at WMAL did a bang-up job. It was just fabulous.
I had dinner at the vice president’s home on Wednesday night when I arrived, dinner for about 50 there. I went over to the White House yesterday morning before going to the Fisher House and had a little session with a friend there who used to work at a think tank and Karl Rove, in Karl Rove’s office. That was interesting to say the least. (interruption) What? Yeah, it was Karl Rove’s office — well, it’s in the West Wing of the White House. I was in there for an hour and a half and then had to go over to the Fisher House. I stayed at the Four Seasons under an assumed name. I always do that. I had lunch yesterday with Laura Ingraham and we were sitting there, and I’m looking over the — not too many people in there, it was one o’clock, and I’m looking, I said, “Is that Mack McLarty over there?” And she said, “Yeah, that’s Mack McLarty.” Mack McLarty is the former chief of staff for Clinton. Mack the knife, Mack the fixer.
So he gets up, he’s in there for about 30 minutes more eating his lunch and finishing, and as he gets up to leave, he glances over and waves and keeps walking and then stops dead in his tracks, make a right turn, head over to our table. Comes over, says hello to Ingraham and looks at me and says, “You’re that guy that was in that Harry Thomason show that week.” He was talking about my appearance in Hearts Afire way back in the early nineties, Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, the husband and wife team that created the show. It was with Markie Post and John Ritter. I was in it for a whole week. It took a week to rehearse it and film it. I said, ?Yeah, that’s me, I’m the guy that was in Harry Thomason’s show.? (Laughing.)
I should also mention last night, ladies and gentlemen, there’s always a little reception backstage before these Rush to Excellence performances begin, and there were all kinds of people last night and I’m in the line, people come up and say hello, we posed for pictures. About halfway through, here comes Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele of Maryland, and it was so great to meet him. He was dignified, he’s just such a presence. He ran such a great campaign. It was such a disappointing loss, and he stayed for the show, and I happened to remember ten or 20 minutes in and I said, “By the way, I had the chance to meet Lieutenant Governor Steele, he’s here tonight,” and the place erupted. So he stood up and accepted his accolades. Place just erupted. I mean, it was a tremendous atmosphere, a lot of energy last night.
RUSH: Randy in Savage, Minnesota. You’re first today. It’s great to have you on the program.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush. It’s great to be the inaugural call on this wonderful Friday, by the way, tera dittos from the frozen tundra of flyover country.
RUSH: Thank you, sir, yes.
CALLER: You know, your comment about the Fisher House and so forth reminded me of the fact I’m friends of one of the Band of Brothers who happens to live back here in Minnesota, and in May, he went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky for a reunion. And he came back, he and I spent an hour on the phone with him telling me how incredibly impressed he is with the 101st Airborne that he saw. He said, “Randy, I don’t think I could have gone through and passed the training that these guys go through,” but what impressed him even more was the fact that these guys want to go back for their second and third tour of duties in Iraq. He said, “With injuries and wounds that would have put us out of World War II and we would have been happy to get them.” He was so amazed and in awe of these guys. Here’s a guy, active duty combat, Bastogne, severely wounded in Bastogne, and he’s talking about how much he’s in awe of these men today.
RUSH: Yeah, I tell you, there was a guy I met last night who called me on this program. His last name was Rozelle. He suffered a leg injury and it was determined he would never be able to get back. He did, passed the tests for combat to get back, I think as an amputee. If I’m not confusing him, I hope I’m not confusing somebody, whoever I’m talking about wrote a book about this, and it was inspirational, just the kind of person that you’re talking about. This man Rozelle was there yesterday. My memory wasn’t clicking at the time because there were a barrage of people talking to me about things and I was trying to keep things straight, and it was a difficult hearing environment, and if I’m confusing him with somebody, I apologize, but I do know that he called this program and told a similar story about this. He was talking about how great it was to be able to meet me, and that’s the kind of stuff that — it’s the other way around for me, but your observation is exactly right.
When I saw these guys at Walter Reed yesterday, they know these injuries are severe. I mean, losing both legs or an arm and a leg or an arm, they know they’re not going back to combat. But they want to stay in. One guy was engaged, I said, “What’s the date?” “Don’t know. We’re going to set it this December.” “How often do you get to see your girlfriend?” “Not enough.” She’s working some military job in Guatemala. So doesn’t get to see her as often as he would like, but they’re going to set a date. I mean, they’re looking at their future as robustly as anybody looks at their future. When you see them, you think that if it happened to you, that you’d be consumed with self-pity and you’d be consumed with, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t live a normal life and so forth.”
I’m sure they go for rehabilitation for that to, there’s probably psychological therapy. But the point is the ones I saw, they were just magnificent in the way they — and they did not want to be treated as anything other than perfectly normal human beings — they didn’t want to be treated as disabled or anything else. And they didn’t want sympathy or anything. That’s why I asked if it sometimes bothered them that people came in. “Oh, no, no, no. We love it when people come in here.” Sometimes it gets old just seeing the same old people. Anyway, Randy, thanks for the call.