Mr. Washington and the Fisher House?
Date Added: May 21, 2005
Hollywood stars are often vilified in e-mail lore for being outspoken with their decidedly liberal views. Denzel Washington is one of the few celebrities who has enjoyed a good deal of positive chain letter publicity for his political views - particularly his support of the U.S. military. While he is undoubtedly a very generous and conscientious citizen, this letter praising him for his support contains many exaggerations and embellishments.
Denzel Washington was visiting BAMC (Brook Army Medical Center), in San Antonio, Texas the other day. This is where soldiers that have been evacuated from Germany come to be hospitalized in the States, especially burn victims.
They have buildings there called Fisher Houses. The Fisher House is a hotel that soldiers' families can stay at, for little or no charge, while their soldier is staying in the hospital. BAMC has quite a few of these houses on base, but as you can imagine, they are almost filled to the brim most of the time.
While Denzel Washington was visiting BAMC, they gave him a tour of one of the Fisher Houses. He asked how much one of them would cost to build. He got his check book out and wrote a check out for the full amount right there on the spot. The soldiers overseas were amazed to hear this story and want to get the word out to the American public, because it warmed their hearts to hear it.
I hope you will spread this story.
Denzel has a son who is a Marine in Iraq.
During the 2004 Presidential election, Denzel Washington became a darling of conservative e-mail forwarding circles for allegedly putting Meryl Streep and Katie Couric in their places and standing behind U.S. Troops and our Commander In Chief. In that case, while we could confirm that Washington and Streep were interviewed by Couric on NBC's Today Show (while promoting their new film, "The Manchurian Candidate"), we also found the chain letter author's recollection of what transpired during that appearance was highly inaccurate.
In the present case, we have an anonymous third person's account of events to which he or she was not a direct witness - events which a review of news reports indicate have been exaggerated.
Washington did visit Brooke Medical Center (alternately cited in versions of the chain as "Brook" or "Brookes") in December, 2004. While there, he helped present Purple Hearts to three soldiers injured in Iraq. Washington, his wife and their four children toured the facility, including a Fisher House (which is pretty accurately described in the chain letter).
This is where the veracity of the chain letter breaks down. According to Fisher House representatives, Washington was indeed moved by what he saw and pledged to make a substantial donation to the charity in the future. While still a very noble gesture, it falls significantly short of the romanticized notion of him pulling out the old checkbook on the scene and ordering a new facility built at his expense.
The chain version above does contain one boldfaced lie. Denzel Washington has two sons, the oldest in college and the youngest just 13 years old. Neither is a "Marine in Iraq."
Newer versions of the chain feature a collection of snapshots of Washington with military and hospital types. We're left to assume these are photos from that December visit, but that connection is not actually made and I have not yet been able to trace the pictures to their sources.
In addition to being an Oscar-winning actor, Washington is indeed a supporter of the U.S. Military and the men and women serving in it. He provides a stark contrast to the liberal Hollywood stereotype typically the subject of e-mail chain letters. And, while it's nice to see a positive chain letter going around for a change, this one proves that even the truth can be made more appealing with a little fiction peppered in. Break this chain.
References: TruthOrFiction.com, About.com, Snopes.com