Happy, a Purple Heart recipient, says his service was ‘investment in America’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Salisbury VA Medical Center

SALISBURY — His name is Henzly N. Harrison, but everyone knows him by the nickname that has aptly described his disposition since birth, “Happy.”

Happy’s mother apparently said he never cried and has been happy his entire life. The first thing you notice about Happy is how his smile lights up the entire room.

Happy Harrison is a Vietnam veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. He humbly declines to discuss how he received his Purple Heart, but is quick to say, “I was very proud to have served, because it was an investment in America and an investment in our future well-being.

“I was glad to have shed blood for my country, and I thank my fellow veterans, all those who served. We are brothers and sisters.”

Harrison joined the Army in 1965 and served with the 25th Division as a forward scout in the Pleiku Mountains in Vietnam from 1965 through 1967. Back in the States, following graduation from MTA Trucking School, Harrison began working for Ryder Trucking in Greensboro.

Today, Harrison is a four-year resident of the Community Living Center (CLC) at the Salisbury VA Medical Center. Of his stay at the CLC, Happy says, “Other than Shangri-La, there is no other place I’d rather be. The best part is being around veterans every day.

“Many of the staff are veterans, and everyone treats you with respect, starting with doctors, nurses and support staff.”

The Recreation Therapy Department keeps residents such as Harrison busy with bus trips, movies and even an annual senior prom. Every detail, from the tuxedo down to the shiny polished shoes, is provided for veterans to make the prom extra special.

Harrison compares living at the CLC to life on a college campus, where all the residents belong to the same fraternity and sorority, which is the military.

Harrison enjoys writing poetry. Here is a poem that he recited by memory:

My heart knows all

Old gaze doubt upon that crest

Tattooed upon the robin’s breast

And do you see the willow tree

Swaying so buoyantly

And what about the ants alone

Working on their tiny homes

I stand for hours upon this hill

Listening to the whippoorwill

Rich man, poor man, hurried man, worried man

What would you give if you could quote

A single note

Of birds in raptor’s song

Or hark to nature all life long

Although you say this can’t be

For I have no eyes to see

Look into my bosom deep

For the secret that I keep

My heart knows all

When asked what he likes best about the VA, Harrison says, “Of course, being around veterans and the care that I receive from the Salisbury Medical Center.

“I would like to thank the director, staff and volunteers for all the help that they give us veterans. And we thank the public for their lasting support.”