‘Grown men began to weep’: Wounded soldier awakens in hospital to make ‘salute seen around the world’

Courtesy Taylor Hargis
ranger salutesJoshua Hargis, who was seriously wounded, salutes as he is awarded the Purple Heart.

By Jeff Black, Staff Writer, NBC News

A salute by an Army Ranger — hospitalized with serious wounds after a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan — is warming the hearts of many people after being posted online.

Cpl. Josh Hargis’ commander was at a military hospital awarding the seemingly unconscious soldier a Purple Heart for his injuries, pinning the medal to the blanket covering him.

And that’s when Hargis surprisingly raised his arm to salute — struggling with his doctors and medical tubes to do so.

The commander sent a picture along with a letter about the incident to Hargis’ wife, Taylor, writing that “grown men began to weep” at the sight of the salute.

The commander added that it was “the single greatest event I have witnessed in my ten years in the Army.”

Hargis was wounded Oct. 6 when an Afghan woman detonated a suicide bomb vest, killing four members of his 3rd Army Ranger Battalion and wounding 12 other American soldiers, according to a report on the website of the soldier’s hometown newspaper in Ohio, the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Taylor Hargis posted the picture along with the note on Facebook Oct. 12, where it has been shared more than 4,000 times. The story and picture were also distributed on the Guardian of Valor website, which called the picture the “the salute seen around the world.”

The letter from the commander, according to Taylor Hargis’ Facebook post, read in part:

“Josh, whom everybody in the room (over 50 people) assumed to be unconscious, began to move his right arm under the blanket in a diligent effort to salute the Commander as is customary during these ceremonies. Despite his wounds, wrappings, tubes, and pain, Josh fought the doctor who was trying to restrain his right arm and rendered the most beautiful salute any person in that room had ever seen. I cannot impart on you the level of emotion that poured through the intensive care unit that day.

It was assumed that Army Ranger Josh Hargis was unconscious during his Purple Heart ceremony in the hospital, but then he raised his arm in salute. NBC’s Brian Williams reports.

“Grown men began to weep and we were speechless at a gesture that speak volumes about Josh’s courage and character. The picture, which we believe belongs on every news channel and every newspaper, is attached. I have it hanging above my desk now and will remember it as the single greatest event I have witnessed in my ten years in the Army.”

Hargis, 24, is a 2007 graduate of of Dater High School on the city’s west side and attended the University of Cincinnati, NBC affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati reported. He has since been moved from Afghanistan to Germany and onto San Antonio, Texas, the station said.

A reporter for another local station, WCPO, spoke to Hargis’ mother Laura Heitman, who said that Taylor and Josh Hargis are expecting their first child. Heitman also said she had recently talked to her son.

Her son, she said, “sounded amazing when I talked to him. He was in good spirits.”

Terri Wessel, who said she had taught Hargis in high school, told WCPO that the picture brought tears to her eyes.

“Seeing the picture of him saluting was the first I knew of him being injured,” Wessel told the station.”I teared up when I saw the picture but smiled at the same time as that picture summed up the type of man that Josh is. True American hero in my mind.”

NBC’s Elizabeth Chuck contributed to this report.

This story was originally published on Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:25 PM EDT

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Beliefnet Review – Review: Hallmark Channel’s “Signed, Sealed” delivers witty, heartfelt tale of eccentric, endearing Post Office heroes

Beliefnet

Faith Media & Culture - John Kennedy

Nothing quite compares to a well-written letter. Or script for that matter. And Martha Williamson (Touched by an Angel) certainly has written a charmer with Saturday night’s Signed, Sealed Delivered, her Hallmark Channel backdoor pilot about a pleasantly quirky team of postal investigators assigned the somewhat dated task of connecting lost — or so-called “dead” — letters to their intended recipients.

It’s that word “pleasant” that makes the show seem ironically subversive in this era of dark and cynical television. Oliver, the leader of the team winningly played by Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty) belies the idea (too often taken as a truism in Hollywood) that only snarky, cynical heroes can be interesting. The dignified and quietly compassionate Oliver is the polar opposite of both adjectives yet he’s as interesting as hell heaven. Somehow simultaneously suave and what some would consider nerdy, he is a man of deep integrity who carries within himself a deep wound from his past. But where recent TV protagonists (i.e. House) have channeled their inner hurt through sharp-edged putdowns and general amoral unpleasantness, Oliver deals with his pain by throwing himself into his work and struggling to do the right thing. He’s all about following rules — like never reading more of a letter than is absolutely necessary to ascertain its proper destination — but it’s clear as an envelope window that he cares about the people involved. The bottom line is you can’t help but like the guy.

We first meet Oliver when he first meets Shane (Kristin Booth), the newest member of his team (though he doesn’t know that in their first encounter). Besides being cute as hell heaven, she is his polar opposite in terms of impulsiveness and a willingness to bend rules when she sees them as being in the way of a greater good. Their yin-yang teamwork is at the (big) heart of the drama.

Backing them up are Rita (Crystal Lowe) and Norman (Geoff Gustafson) who provide sweet comic relief as loyal and awkwardly shy team members who clearly yearn for each other — but lack the social confidence to tell one another. Then there’s Daphne Zuniga (Melrose Place) as Andrea, the officious postal official who — for no particular reason — has it in for the Dead Letter Office.

The pilot opener concerns a young woman (Laci J. Mailey of Falling Skies) whose farewell lover letter that unexpectedly connects to a murder case that has ensnared the poor sap (Benjamin Hollingsworth) to whom she wrote it. We get to know the couple through flashbacks as the team’s investigation slowly requires more paragraphs of the wayward correspondence to be revealed. It’s a clever device that really works. I could reveal more but it would be like reading too far ahead in a dead letter.

What I can tell you is that you’ll find yourself rooting for both the sender and recipient — and for the Dead Letter crew. I can also tell you that I found myself laughing out loud at dialogue that managed to be genuinely witty without being cutting or crass. Yes, TV writers, it can be done.

Finally, I can tell you that there’s a happy ending. As a result of exceptionally-strong audience testing, Signed, Sealed, Delivered has already been picked up as a series.

Here’s hoping both the pilot of the ongoing show finds the kind of ratings that will send a clear and unmistakable message to others networks. Better late than never.

To sum us, Signed, Sealed, Delivered gets my stamp of approval. Highly recommended.

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Ostrow: Denver’s Martha Williamson (“Touched by an Angel”) returns to TV

By Joanne Ostrow
Denver Post Television Critic

Oliver & Shane

Martha Williamson has always worked outside the Hollywood mainstream.

The Denver native is part of network television history while standing proudly apart from it. Her spiritually uplifting “Touched by an Angel” was a hit on CBS for nine seasons but was always out of step with the shooting, maiming, exploding, killing trends in prime time.

Now, after an absence of 10 years, Williamson returns to TV with a new series in a different venue: cable.

The values remain the same.

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” premieres on the Hallmark Channel as a movie

Williamson
Oct. 12 at 7 p.m., and is expected to become a series (the network has requested three more scripts). This marks Hallmark’s third scripted series.

The story concerns a crew of four postal detectives in the dead-letter office. Their mission is to deliver letters and packages from the past, letters and packages that save lives, solve crimes, reunite old loves, and change futures, arriving late but, “miraculously on time, when they are needed most.”

Imagine an old-fashioned guy whose workplace is suddenly invaded by a thoroughly modern young woman. He is all about letter-writing and the written word; she lives on the Internet.

There’s a possibility of romance between the leading characters, Oliver and Shane, played by Eric Mabius (“Ugly Betty”) and Kristin Booth (“The Kennedys”).

Williamson insists the thrust is not a knock on technophiles, but she does worry about people losing themselves in the digital world.

“They may kill me for saying this,” Williamson said, “but it’s an old-fashioned romance that celebrates the written word and the thoughtfully composed letter we don’t send anymore.”

The story is set in Denver, but shot in Vancouver. Williamson wrote much of the script in a cabin near Nederland that’s been in the family since 1942.

“I wanted to go back and write it around my family. Denver’s still my family. I grew up a block away from Washington Park on South Gilpin Street. (She’s a South High grad). A great deal of the story takes place in Wash Park.”

Williamson included a few “winks” to hometown viewers, notably in newscasts within the drama, when a heat wave forces Nederland to cancel their planned festivities. (Puzzled out-of-towners are directed to the Nederland Chamber of Commerce explanation of Frozen Dead Guy Day.)

And when a dead-letter detective’s job is in jeopardy, Williamson sneaks in another favorite local reference: “I could end up selling stamps in Pueblo, Meeker or East Tincup.” (Williamson’s father was acquainted with radio legend Pete Smythe, who created the fictional Old West town in his imagination.)

While Williamson champions upbeat content, her other goal is to bring strong production values, quality, “and the challenging issues we addressed on ‘Touched by an Angel’ and ‘Promised Land’ to a Hallmark audience.”

For a writer-producer working outside the typical network wheelhouse, the boom in streaming services like Netflix and Hulu now offering original programming is “very tempting,” she allowed. “I would love to be part of that. Being able to choose your entertainment without having to fight through stuff you don’t want to see is particularly important to parents.” Case in point: her daughter accidentally stumbled onto a Quentin Tarantino film while trying to find a movie about horses.

“I had to talk her down.”

Since “Touched,” Williamson has written and performed a one-woman show and contributed a blog to beliefnet.com, which included her in a list of “The 12 Most Powerful Christians in Hollywood,” right up there with Kristin Chenoweth, Mel Gibson and Phil Anschutz.

With cutting-edge adult dramas winning awards on cable networks, and low-cost reality shows proliferating on the broadcast networks, Williamson said, “I realized I needed to go to Hallmark. My brand and their brand seemed destined for each other.”

After all, she observes, nobody is more invested in sending letters through the mail than the company rooted in greeting cards.

Joanne Ostrow: 303-954-1830, jostrow@denverpost.com or twitter.com/ostrowdp

Patricia Sheridan’s Breakfast With … Martha Williamson

Patricia Sheridan’s Breakfast With … Martha Williamson

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette    October 7, 2013 12:09 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/breakfast/patricia-sheridans-breakfast-with-martha-williamson-706516/#ixzz2h4chCFJE

 

By Patricia Sheridan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After a 10-year hiatus from television, Martha Williamson, the executive producer and head writer of “Touched by an Angel,” has returned. She is the creator and executive producer of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” a Hallmark Channel original movie about the power of the written word and a group of civil servants who work to get dead letters to the people they were intended for. The Williams College graduate worked on several television shows, including “The Facts of Life,” before she explored more heavenly topics on “Touched By an Angel,” which aired from 1994 to 2003. When the show was canceled, she and her husband made the decision for her to stay home. She wanted to spend time decompressing and raising their adopted daughters. “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” premieres Saturday on the Hallmark Channel at 9 p.m.

Did you write “Signed Sealed Delivered” ?

Yes, I wrote the pilot, and it has gone through a number of adjustments since the very first time I wrote it. Basically it still has the same message. I wanted to remind people of the importance of the written word.

What inspired it?

I got literally thousands of letters from folks while I was doing “Touched By an Angel.” The work that was required to write those scripts and produce them every week for nine years made it almost impossible for me to read all the letters. So when the show was over, I sat down and started reading.

What was amazing was people would tell me how they had been moved by the show and moved by the message and tell me stories from their own lives. They would talk about something they were going through with their family or some choice that they had made. A woman might have said, “I decided to get my homeless brother and bring him into our house,” or a man said, “I decided not to kill myself because your show gave me hope.” I was so moved. Some of these letters were written a year ago, three years ago, four years ago, and I wondered how they are doing now. I had stopped working. I wanted to raise my children, and my husband [who had been a producer on the show] and I just needed a great big deep breath after working so hard on that series. These letters reminded me we did make a lasting and enduring difference in people’s lives.

 

 

Are you hoping “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” makes a difference in people’s lives as well?

Yes. We have a couple of messages going simultaneously in this show. We don’t have angels. We have regular people and as a result they are not perfect. What I have really enjoyed doing is challenging people to remember we need a balance.

It seems there is so much hopelessness in the world. Every time you look at the newspaper or get online now — even “Breaking Bad” has been embraced, I think, because people are trying to make some sense of the darkness in the world. We need something that encourages people to feel good.

You are known as a woman of faith. When did your life become so faith-based?

Oh, great question. I was born and raised in Denver, and my parents and I went to church every Sunday, but I didn’t make a personal commitment to be what I call a real Christian, you know, somebody who says, “I am going to follow Jesus the best I can.”

I do not expect to be perfect, but I am going to try to follow the one that I consider to be perfect. I realized that is what I needed to do with my life: to try to translate that joy that I found into the work that I did. I was able to do that for so long undercover.

It wasn’t until “Touched By an Angel” came along, and somebody like you said to me, “Well, what do you believe?” I do remember saying, “I am a person of faith. I am a Christian.”

But was there something that happened that had you look at faith? How old were you?

Yes, yes. I was in my 20s. I was in love with a man who I discovered was gay. My heart was absolutely broken. I didn’t know what to do. I was with some friends, and I closed my eyes and my first instinct was to pray. I remember this feeling in my heart saying, “Why does he have to be gay? Why can’t you change him?” [Laughs.] The answer I got back was, “Forget him. Let’s change you.” That is when I started getting my act together. Everything changed. I always had a job from then on, and I always got good jobs that lifted me up as well as hopefully the people I was writing for.

In a way, that man was like an angel in your life. Other than that, did you ever have an actual angel intercession?

Oh, yeah! I was going to shoot in Malibu, and I had never driven from the San Gabriel Valley in California to Malibu. I had certainly never gone over this pass in the dark. There was a major fog, and I did not know where I was. I was terrified.

I remember saying out loud, “OK, Jesus. I just accepted you. Now can you prove to me that I made the right choice? I need your help. They told me if I asked for you, you would come to my aid.”

No sooner had I said that when two lights came up behind me, went around me in front of me, hit the brakes and then sped up. I followed those two lights from that car all the way out through the fog. When I came out of the fog, I could not find the car. That, to me, was an angel.

So has anything ever shaken your faith since?

No, no, and I will tell you I have had plenty of reasons to have my faith shaken. I think it is because faith is faith. Either you have it or you don’t. I always remembered in the book of Job, everything goes wrong for this guy. He has lost his family and everything, and when he gets the worst possible news he still went to his knees and he praised God. I told myself, I am going to practice doing that because someday I am going to get terrible, terrible, terrible news.

The first time I was challenged like that I got a phone call from my sister, and she said, “Mother just died.” I was not expecting that. I said, “Glory be to the name of the Lord and thank you, Lord. Thank you for her life. Thank you for all she gave me [holding back tears], and thank you for your timing, not mine. I was planning to go see her the next week. It was easy for me to say, “Why would you take her now?” I will never know, at least not in this life. But I trust God.

Six weeks ago, my husband had a significant massive stroke. He didn’t know me. He didn’t know my name. He couldn’t remember our children’s names. He has still lost a great deal of his faculties. He was on a mountain top, alone on 280 acres with nobody to help him. I just happened to pick up the phone and was talking to him when he had that stroke. He said, “I think I’m having one of those things.” I said, “What are you talking about?”

I finally realized he was having a stroke and losing consciousness. I was in Canada, unable to dial 911. I stayed on the phone because I couldn’t hang up with him and got on the Internet and pasted in a whole bunch of addresses from people who lived in that area, and I said, “If anybody is online, please call 911. John is having a stroke.”

In five minutes, six people showed up and saved his life. By that time he had gone unconscious and fallen down a flight of stairs. So I don’t say, “God, why did he have a stroke?” I say, “Thank you, God, that I was there when he did.”

So on a lighter note, I read that you lost 120 pounds. Is that true?

I did. Where did you read that? I think I gained 10 pounds for every year I worked on “Touched By an Angel.” That was another one of those things that I knew I had to address and really deal with after the show was over. I am planning to be more forthcoming about all of that and how I did it, but I’m not ready to talk about it now. It took a long time, and God really walked me through it and my friends and my family.

Well, it is a basic everyday struggle for so many people.

I never lost faith in God, but how many times did I lose faith in myself? We realize so often that food represents something, just the way alcohol does for other people.

Hmm.

Anyway, I hope you like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” I am very proud of the fact Oliver, the main character, is a man of faith. But we don’t make a big deal of it. He is just a good guy who happens to go to church. I love that.

Patricia Sheridan: psheridan@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2613. Follow her on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/pasheridan. First Published October 7, 2013 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/breakfast/patricia-sheridans-breakfast-with-martha-williamson-706516/#ixzz2h4d5hawi

Hallmark Orders Martha Williamson’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ to Series

Hallmark Orders Martha Williamson’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ to Series

Two-hour pilot airs Oct. 12; series to debut in 2014

By Tim Baysinger — Broadcasting & Cable, 10/4/2013 9:32:02 AM

Click Here to read the full article

Hallmark Channel has decided to make Martha Williamson’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered its third primetime series.

The network was already slated to air the two-hour backdoor pilot from the Touched By an Angel executive producer on Oct. 12. The one-hour series will debut sometime next year. The Crown Media network renewed its first scripted series Cedar Cove for a second season last week.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered (formerly Dead Letters) tells the story of a group of postal detectives whose mission is to deliver letters and packages from the past — which arrive when they’re needed the most.

“We are making history at Hallmark Channel by joining forces with Martha Williamson, one of TV’s great storytellers, as she returns to television making the kind of series we know tens of millions of viewers are yearning for,” said Michelle Vicary, executive VP, programming, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. “This marks a significant milestone in our growth into scripted programming, and we couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to work with the very gifted and talented Martha Williamson, who brings her trusted name in family entertainment to our network.”

Signed, Sealed, Delivered is a Special Delivery TeleProductions in association with MoonWater Productions and Muse Entertainment.

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” is Hallmark Channel’s newest series!

TV By The Numbers - SSDHallmark Channel, the nation’s leading destination for quality family programming, announces today the coming together of two trusted brands of family entertainment with the series pickup of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” from Executive Producer Martha Williamson.  Series debuts in Q2, 2014 with 10 one-hour episodes.  The Original Series is Created, Executive Produced and Written by Martha Williamson, acclaimed as Executive Producer of the long-running hit series, “Touched By An Angel” and marks Williamson’s return to television.  The movie pilot for “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” stars Eric Mabius (“Scandal,” “Ugly Betty”), Kristin Booth (“The Kennedys”) and Daphne Zuniga (“Melrose Place”) and has its World Premiere, Saturday, October 12 (9 p.m. ET/PT, 8C).  “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” follows a quartet of civil servants who transform themselves into an elite team of lost-mail detectives.  Their determination to deliver the undeliverable takes them out of the post office and into an unpredictable world where letters and packages from the past save lives, solve crimes, reunite old loves and change futures by arriving late but always miraculously on time.

“We are making history at Hallmark Channel by joining forces with Martha Williamson, one of TV’s great storytellers, as she returns to television making the kind of series we know tens of millions of viewers are yearning for,” said Michelle Vicary, Executive Vice President, Programming, Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. “This marks a significant milestone in our growth into scripted programming, and we couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to work with the very gifted and talented Martha Williamson, who brings her trusted name in family entertainment to our network,” Vicary concluded.

Martha Williamson made television history when her CBS series “Touched By An Angel” set a new standard for an inspirational family drama when it grew to a weekly audience of 25 million viewers during its initial nine year run. As Executive Producer of the ground-breaking series, she was the visionary who guided the series into previously uncharted territory with her unique brand of storytelling that produced more than strong ratings; it changed lives. She went on to seal her place in history when she became the first woman to solely executive produce two one-hours simultaneously with “Promised Land,” which aired for three years on CBS. Her work has been inducted into the Television and Radio Hall of Fame and honored with numerous awards, including the Edward R. Murray Responsibility in Television Award, the Templeton Prize Epiphany Award and nine Emmy® nominations.

“As much as the television landscape has changed, the audience for positive and inspiring programming hasn’t gone anywhere,” said Martha Williamson.  “It is a privilege to work with Michelle and the great team at Hallmark Channel on a series that I know will bring viewers inspiration and hope,” Williamson concluded.

“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” is a Special Delivery TeleProductions in association with MoonWater Productions and Muse Entertainment. Executive Producers are Martha Williamson, Joel S. Rice, Michael Prupas and Scott Smith. Scott Smith directed from a script written by Martha Williamson. Muse Distribution International is handling worldwide distribution.

ABOUT HALLMARK CHANNEL

Hallmark Channel, owned and operated by Crown Media Holdings, Inc., is a 24-hour basic cable network that provides a diverse slate of high-quality entertainment programming available in high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) to a national audience of 88 million subscribers. Hallmark Channel is the nation’s leading destination for quality family programming with an ambitious slate of original TV movies and specials, as well as some of television’s most beloved sitcoms and series, including The Golden Girls, The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, and Frasier. The channel is also home to a range of lifestyle programming, anchored by Home & Family, a daily two-hour live show shot in a fully functional house located on the Universal Studios lot. Hallmark Channel’s sibling network, Hallmark Movie Channel, available in HD and SD, focuses on family-friendly movies with a mix of original films, classic theatrical releases, and presentations from the acclaimed Hallmark Hall of Fame library.