JOSHUA – A Man of Destiny

The Joshua Tree

Here’s a question: What can give you instant gratification, a sense of purpose, and a good feeling that last and last? The answer: Helping someone.

That’s a truth you just can’t deny. I’ve found through the years that when I help someone, I’m the one that gets the most benefit out of it. Think about it. The last time you went out of your way to lend a helping hand, give a word of encouragement or do something as small as giving a few bucks; didn’t it make you feel good? And when a thank you or acknowledgement wasn’t expected in return, it was even better. Right? The tears of gratitude came from your eyes. Have you felt that contentment lately?

Well gentle readers here is a chance to have that feeling again. Recently my friend, Eden Baylee told me about another friend, Maxwell Cynn’s heart wrenching struggle. He just happens to be a great writer and someone I admire. Max’s son, Joshua had been diagnosed with Acute T-cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Then I read in Max’s own words how it was affecting his family and most of all Joshua. This was not a tale of woe but a straight forward note of love. It’s worth a read.

Eden decided to help. If any of you know Eden then you know she is one of the most supportive writers and people you could ever want to know—but this isn’t the story of Eden. What she did was set up a fundraiser to help Joshua with medical expenses and help pay off a large educational loan. You see Joshua is a 3 ½ years into a getting his degree in psychology and he’s been maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

Now Joshua is with his family and going through a fight for survival. Don’t we all know what the struggle to win against cancer can do to an individual? It’s a lonely time even with family and friends close by touching and encouraging. It’s a time when inner will rises up to show the strength of the one affected. Joshua is a man among men! He’s a fighter!

One thing family, friends and those who hear about this battle can do is let Joshua concentrate on this mighty struggle and ease the burdens he shouldn’t have to worry about. That’s what Eden and a group of writers, editors and advertisers are doing. Many have donated books and services to help.

This is your chance to get back that good feeling of helping. And receive something physical in return. Help Joshua and his family and get a great book to read. You can even get a book signed by the author. That was always a dream of mine—and still is.

Not only will you help Joshua but you’ll be doing something every writer strives for: having someone read what they write. That’s what the people offering these services gets out of this—along with the same good feelings you’re after.

100% of all donations go to Joshua and his family for medical expenses and college loans—100%!

I’m asking all of my wonderful readers to think about it. And pass this post on to your other friends. This is not an effort to increase my readership. I’m still amazed that people read my little post. I want to help the family. Click on the ‘like’ button and it goes to FaceBook, Tweet about it—heck, send it out in an email. Spread the word and give. I have put Joshua on my list of “People I want to meet”.

One other thing I would ask of you. Pray for Joshua’s speedy recovery. I believe that prayers can move mountains, change the world and heal the sick. It’s not an add-on; it is the very foundation of medicine and the rock on which we all stand.

Open your hearts to Joshua and his family and give. Here’s the link to Joshua (That little sentence has so much meaning) 

With love and blessings to you,

A Soldier’s Return

Don't Blame the Men and Women

My good  friend and author Al Boudreau has called me a romantic, which he meant and I take as a compliment. Life does different things to people as they grow. Some turn dark from the light and others turn light from the dark. I guess my soul chose light.

Another good friend and author Zee Gorman, whom I met on a book site started me thinking about my life. One day I mentioned that I had fought in Vietnam. Zee was a child living in a small village in China near the border of Vietnam during that period. Slowly I opened wounds of my past and she talked about something I knew nothing about. As a child she stood by the roadside and cheer returning soldiers who had also fought in Vietnam. I received a much different reception.

I’m writing this introduction to my next little story in hopes that anyone who has ever protested war might think differently of the people in uniform when they pass by. Protesting against whatever a government is doing should be a right for those who disagree. I am not a proponent of war. The soldiers are not to blame.

This little story has sat for over a year waiting. It took me years to finally write it. Even though it is a simple thing it allowed me to give thought and relief from the past. I don’t look for anything from this story except possibly to give you a view of the past. Please enjoy:

A Soldier’s Return

Years have flown—not nearly as fast as they might—since the war many people don’t remember came to a sputtering conclusion. It still seems to be a dirty word for most today, but it was real and touched so many lives… for good and bad.

I played my part- although only a tiny cog in a giant wheel of governments—and my pride in serving grows stronger with the passing years. I served in Vietnam in the U.S. Army.

I was a young man looking for more… or perhaps it was only a bit of excitement. There was no fear, only a need to get away to some foreign land. I didn’t serve with the feverous intent of going to war but with a foreknowledge of how my family had done their duty in the past.

I was young and trained and naïve. I grew up in the South and from my first day of boot-camp I began to learn of how others thought of southerners. I heard words I had never heard before, but at the same time I found friends that seemed to want to protect me.

One man whose nickname was Soul was a young black man from the gangs of Philadelphia. What an odd combination we were, but no one dared say the wrong thing to Soul. I still have no idea what he saw in me but he did give me a completely different outlook on northerners, black people and what friendship was all about. We lost contact soon after training but he stays in my thoughts.

This is not a ‘war story’ and there will be no feats of valor or atrocities to convey a sense of indignation or pride. I did what I was asked to do and that, for me, was enough.

I landed in Vietnam in darkness and three men from the large group that arrived were hustled off and separated from the rest. We rode through the darkened countryside with a grunt manning an M-60 machinegun mounted to the jeep.

I spent my first two day in country at Davis Station in Saigon and I had my first encounter with the people of Vietnam. A young girl walked into the room where I sat and she captured me with her eyes and smile. I wondered if these were the people I was sent to fight– I hoped not.

The war like so many others was filled with work and sweat, massive boredom and intense actions. I don’t use the word fear because I was young and there just wasn’t any fear in me that would last. Our unit destroyed and saved lives and my part was so minor it’s not worth mentioning. I did not slug through the jungles— there actually wasn’t that much jungle and Viet Nam was a beautiful country. I worked on aircraft—the likes few people got to see. We were in contact with the real warriors: Special Forces, Navy SEALs, LRRPs and the rest.

I recently met, through the internet, a great woman writer that grew up in China not far from the border of North Vietnam and we have become friends—sharing stories of our childhood and growing up. I’m a writer now and it is so nice to be able to discuss the trials of writing with a peer. I’ll call this woman Red Child, from the translation of her name. I immediately liked her name—being a little Cherokee myself, although her name was an honorific of the struggles of China at the time. We exchanged many stories and one time I brought up the fact that I was in Vietnam during the war. I was hoping not to offend her but that part of my life had such an effect of me I wanted to share it as I never had before.

The funny part was that she too shared about her life at the time I was in the area. She told me about the many times, as a child, everyone from the village would rush out to road when soldiers were returning from doing their part in fighting. It was a happy time for the children and they were so proud of the men who did what they must to help their neighbor.

I found it to be poignant but also intriguing to hear a voice from the other side of what was going on. She spoke with no thought of the conflict or that I may have been in some small way responsible for the injured that return—I don’t think it entered her mind and to tell the truth it only niggled at mine. It was a great story of childhood and I did enjoy reading about life in a strange and wondrous place.

After that one correspondence I opened up feelings I have long held back—from myself—and told her of my return to my country—the land that I served with pride and duty.

I flew into San Francisco and was taken to a nearby base to receive my Army Greens because of the season. I was then sent off to the airport with ticket in hand, filled with the joy of returning to my family. From the time I stepped in to the civilian world of this modern airport I felt animosity coming from many of the people I passed. I wore my uniform with ribbons and strips on both sleeves showing my time of service and my time of being in a combat zone. I didn’t understand. Of course I had seen reports and TV of the protest going on at the time but why would someone be angry at me?

At one point I stopped to get a drink of water from a fountain and heard the click of heels behind me. I turned to look upon a long-haired kid giving me a hitler salute and then he spat on me. I was dumbfounded at first but then told him in no uncertain terms to get away from me—He complied but he called me names that made no sense. And what really confused me was the other people standing around seemed to agree with him. I felt completely alone.

I kept a low-profile until I was safely on the plane to take me home. On the flight, which again was at night, I was seated beside a high ranking Army officer and he bought me a drink to welcome me home. We talked little, after all I was only an E-5, an enlisted man, but at one point during the flight I looked across him out the window and saw flashes in the night sky. It looked exactly like an artillery barrage in the distances and I leaned over the officer trying to figure out what was happening. The officer chuckled, grabbed my shoulder and ease me back to my seat and said, “It’s just heat-lightening, son. Nothing to worry about.” I smiled at him and began to relax. I was home!

When I finally arrive at the Charlotte airport my family was waiting with signs and love and no one held me in judgment. Even the neighbors had put out signs and helped in my joy of returning to the place of my childhood. A child no longer.