One Veteran, One Note, One Community

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Natalie, Tom, and Haji

Humble determination.

Giving spirit.

Strong desire for everybody to “just get along”.  

This is who Thomas Keane seemed to be the very first time I talked with him after learning of the shameful, anti-veteran note that was left on his car. After meeting him today, one thing is for sure: that is EXACTLY who he is.

Tom has served 5 tours with our U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and recently retired from the Army and moved to the St. Cloud area. He recalls being blown up twice by IEDs, leaving him with a Traumatic Brain Injury, having a heart attack after he returned from war, and continuing to suffer from PTSD and other service-related injuries. He also told us that, as an engineer in the army, his job had a lot to do with rebuilding infrastructure – mostly schools for young girls and boys. He told us stories of coming into a town, getting out of his armored vehicle, getting to know the people and purchasing items from them such as amazing homemade breads and hand-crafted items.

Imagine Tom’s surprise when he got in his van to run an errand, only to find this note left on his windshield:12670499_10153600191043041_7356092900723047901_n

Tom’s shock over this note and what it said pushed his PTSD into overdrive, making him extremely alert, looking behind his back and around corners, just like he did when he first came back from the Middle East.  Tom and his wife, Kara, reported the note to the St. Cloud PD and they are looking into who might have done this.

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Tom and his wife, Kara

Many people have asked Tom and Kara who they think wrote this note. Their consistent answer to all media has been simple: “We are not going to point fingers, because we have no idea.” To those who assume that the note was written by a Somali and/or Muslim person in town, he has strong words for them: “You don’t have the right to point fingers at a certain group of people.”

Those answers aren’t good enough for some of the almost 11,000 people that shared the note on Facebook:

“Minnesotistan is getting scary.”

“Fucking ragheads! Hunt them down!”

“Send this to the governor…he invited these things into our state.”

“I’d spray paint the garage in pigs blood.”

“I say bring it on. Kill them all!”

“Now you see why I hate all of them – no matter how nice they seem. They all secretly hate us.”

“That right there is we should either deport or shoot all Muslims in this country.”

“Let’s go down to St. Cloud and search for the Somali bastard that put this on there and whack them.”

“Shit like this could start a war here. Hope he is ready. I am.”

There are no words that could describe how upset these comments make Haji and I, and also Tom and Kara – as well as many of you that have messaged us and told us how you have had words with your friends and family members on Facebook that shared this post along with hateful words. Thank you, #unitecloud for joining us in the fight against the hatred ripping our community apart at the seams.

Please take some time to show Tom and Kara your support by commenting on this article or on the #unitecloud Facebook page,  sharing this article on your Facebook along with some encouraging words, or by donating to the Wounded Warrior Project (see below for more information)!

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40856_140975942600994_3169195_nThank you, Tom, for your service to our country, and to our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. We are forever grateful to you and to all veterans that have given so much so that we can be free.

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Tom’s Purple Heart Certificate

#unitecloud asked Tom and Kara how we could best help his family and our veteran neighbors and they pointed us in the direction of the Wounded Warrior Project. They explained that they have received dinners, movies, and waterpark tickets from this organization and that they are getting to spend a weekend at a cabin with their family through this organization as well! Well deserved R and R after all he has given for us! Please consider supporting this group today. If you would like more one on one information, you can e-mail Kara at klangfels24@gmail.com and she can point you in the right direction.

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About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as Executive Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN and is a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University). She is a member of multiple boards, including the St Cloud School District 742 board, the United Way Community Impact Team, and the United Way's education initiative, Partner for Student Success. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children, making music and playing games.