Courage

Courage is all about being daring, brave, fearless and bold.  It is about facing trepidation and standing up to whatever it is that makes our knees buckle and our legs tremble. “Fortitude is the marshal of thought, the armor of the will and the fort of reason” (Bacon). “The courage we desire and prize is not the courage to die decently, but to live manfully.” (Carlyle)

Additional Thoughts on the Subject

Practical Ways to Develop Courage

http://www.southasianconnection.com/articles/125/1/Six-Practical-Ways-To-Develop-Courage/Page1.html

Movie Trailer “Courageous”

http://www.fandango.com/movie-trailer/courageous-trailer/v506769/

Movie “Courage, The Sweet Hereafter”  Trailer

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=You+Tube+film+clips+movies+on+courage&view=detail&mid=59E99AEEE6958DBB118A59E99AEEE6958DBB118A&first=0

Mother’s Story of Her Burned Child

http://www.burnsurvivorsttw.org/stories/justin.html

Hero Husband saves wife who falls 70 feet down a canyon

http://insideedition.com/news/7539/heroic-husband-rescues-wife.aspx

Videos

Fiery Race Car Rescue

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vaRZz-uhLs

Mystery Man Saves Drowning Driver

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGRHXCo0PH0&feature=related

The Wall Song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y64zTRlrmo&feature=related

The Homecoming for Vietnam Vets – finally the Thanks so Deserved

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e19LvmbHBQ&feature=related

Our POW’s Return

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irMa2eO41Z4&feature=related

Courage Center

http://www.couragecenter.org/

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SUMMER SITES THAT BECKON OUR SPIRITS – and change our state of mind!!!

Feeling stifled and restricted, looking for a mental vacation, travel by listening to some very visual songs that were written to take us on a journey to some of the best vacation spots imaginable. 

Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0To14qoc7TQ

http://www.capecodmeetings.com/explore-cape-cod-by-video

 Clickety Clack hotels such as the Victorian Train Car, Chattanooga, Tennessee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XQybKMXL-k

http://choochoo.com/dinnerinthediner.php?dest=43

 Miami, Florida  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=860XBqj0suI&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYR2r9itp8c  

 San Jose, California  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsHwVRL06R8

http://www.sjdowntown.com/LiveHere.html

 Columbus, Georgia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v78-ftcqpNw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiCsJjEPDKQ

 Chicago, Illinois

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HhDAKuROEA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0xXJz8aN_o&feature=related

 California

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0UcQDUR-fU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTu8jiuQE5w&feature=related

 Woodstock, New York

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x350cj_festival-de-woodstock-1969-part-1-1_music

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCGm5-8_0_I

 Macarthur Park, Los Angeles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcC3VT67HfI&feature=related  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGUU3e7XoSI

 Scarborough, Westchester County

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYQaD2CAi9A

http://www.panoramio.com/map/#lt=41.1359291077&ln=-73.8584671021&z=4&k=2&a=1&tab=1

 

New York, NY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XO2l7qtyyBw&feature=related  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrWIQLLP1ms

 More on this Musical Travel Theme

 Places that Belong to You

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVWnTX8WSoU

 Discovery Travel and Living

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPE6Mbl6HQA

 Getting Lost in the Beauty of Life

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzXX3h8NaT8&NR=1

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ABOUT FATHERS AND SONS

IF
Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you when others
are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look to good,
Nor talk to wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think –
and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can met with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you have spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up
With worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Accept the Will which says to them; “hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-
Nor lose the common touch,
If neither fools nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds, worth of distance run,
Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Father and Son                                                          Sung by Rod Stewart http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpZD80bfDyo&feature=related

Father’s and Son’s and Sports

http://books.google.com/books?id=gGV7hWLTDUgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Stories+of+exceptional+fathers+and+sons&source=bl&ots=4FqNZoBkPa&sig=kBbs5EA7wbRLugxNRHiV6Iqltrg&hl=en&ei=9HzBTNeYOsX7lwfx6I2DCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Episode 1022 of Frasier – Fathers and Sons

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KacVBO0yIDo

Father’s and Sons by Heinz Insu Fenkl

http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/forfathr.html

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SUSTAINABLE FAITH- resources for nourishing an unsinkable spirit


1. How does one best handle the ongoing uncertainties of life?

  • We cannot allow ourselves to become stagnant – we must keep moving forward
  • We need to work with what is workable and recognize what is not
  • We need to create an open-ended plan for ourselves
  • And, follow our plan but be flexible if changes need to be made and directions changed
  • We must be open to self-discovery if required and not let ourselves become enraptured in our own victimhood
  • We must address the stress that accompanies uncertainty in context of our misfortunes and recognize that it is experienced by everyone close to us so that we perceive our problems as less personal
  • We must look for the silver lining and always remain optimistic so that we are always aware of options that rise up from the ashes of adversity
  • We should not hesitate to reach out to others if we need to do so, if we are rejected, we should give ourselves permission to keep connecting with other people until we can find empathizers (not sympathizers) that will relate to our circumstances and that can share our lives lessons with
  • We  need to look into as many resources as we can (they are a great form of capital to work with)

More on this topic: http://www.lmars.com/strategies_for_success.htm

2. What is prayer? And, what can it provide for us in horrific times of crisis?

“Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But it doesn’t pull God down to us: it pulls us up to him.”

Billy Graham, Evangelist


Rev. Graham’s Sermons –

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crWAkXtiMJc http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7i95RXDyY70&NR=1

“Prayer should be the key to the day and the lock of the night.”

Lyell Rader, Christian Author

But if it were I, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before Him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” [Job 5:8-9]
Bible

A look at the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Prayer – by Mark Galli and James S. Bell Junior

http://books.google.com/books?id=l5haVzDHUIsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+complete+idiots+guide+to+prayer&source=bl&ots=

3. Why must we not allow ourselves to become resentful or bitter with others even if they are partially responsible for our stormy situations in our lives?


It is very difficult to drive out resentment and bitterness once we allow them to be implanted into our hearts.  The best way to counteract these negative emotions is to pray for those who we are angry with or for those who discriminate against us.

4.       What resources can we instantly turn to when people we know and trust or strangers we encounter try, or actually do succeed at hurting us?

Some of the best sermons related to bitterness I have ever found are on a site I am posting here: http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/b/bitterness.htm these short stories describe how God intervenes and erases all traces of harbored animosity no matter how hideous the heartless crimes committed, or, the pitilessness of the perpetrators who cause the hurt.

5. What overall, should we always be aware of if we want to sustain our faith on a day-to-day basis?

It is important that we work at controlling our thoughts. We literally are what we think.  We know far more about temptations than the devil wants us to know – the moral dilemma we need to know today. As writer C.S. Lewis states: “We have to sneak past the watchful dragons of consciousness”

Video – taking us from behind the scenes production of conversations theoretically from hell.

http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/topics/spiritual-warfare

Theme from Screwtape Letters: Behind the Scenes of the Production –


A series of letters from an elderly uncle and very experienced senior demon who is sending his young nephew out to start addressing human beings (patients) and dragging them out to the lower regions of hell. The author, C.S. Lewis is able to explain how we are dubbed into falling into patterns that come between us and our spirituality and to sin.

Chapter1 Scene from the Motion Picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3o-u-0L_sU4&feature=related

Interesting Commentary – on the film clip

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGgdW-gN3G4&feature=related

From Theism to Christianity – a YouTube clip about C.S Lewis’s Conversion

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZS3thuSHUYg&feature=related

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Resources For Keeping Our Spirit Alive…

Hello There,

ANATOMY OF AN ILLNESS – Norman Cousins

How One Man Proved Your Mind Can Cure Your Body…

This is one of my favorite books; it is about the reflections of healing and regeneration as perceived by a patient. The brilliance of the author of this publication is that he had the insight to pick a doctor who would support him in using his own powers to stimulate his body’s natural healing capacity. After getting a terminal diagnosis he went to war with his disease and he used laughter, courage and tenacity as weapons to fight the greatest threat of his life. He also had the foresight to partner with his physician and together with their determination and positive natures they united Cousin’s body and mind. It was a strategy that was so successful it saved his life and has been shared with medical and lay journals all over the world. Read this book to learn more about health and healing – ISBN 0-553-34365-3 http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/cousins.html

ONE CHANCE IN LIFE

Whenever I question if there is a God I just watch this video and hands down, in my mind – there is no doubt about it!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43L1IR5qHIU

BEING RESILIENT – Betty Hardwick Center
Change and resilience go hand-in-hand. There is no doubt that we can overcome anything if we have the right coping mechanisms in place. When I feel a need to fortify myself, I turn to this website http://www.bhcmhmr.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=5780&cn=298 to refortify myself.

RECOVERY FROM GRIEF

Grief theory and CREATIVE interventions by someone who has seen her share of personal tragedies. Whether I am trying to reconcile a minor or a major loss, this is the place I go to in order to put my sorrow in perspective. It provides me with immediate relief, helps me to endure my pain, understand the stages of my grief and cope with the stress that accompanies loss, but most importantly, it remind me that no matter what, my situation does not have to isolate me – I am not alone. http://www.recover-from-grief.com/index.html

COPING PSYCHOLOGY – ANTIDOTES FOR STRESS REDUCTION

Nothing is better for dealing with stress than having one’s coping mechanisms in place ahead of time. I have my own ways of counteracting stress. I like to turn to informational outlets for the knowledge I am lacking to learn what I need to know to confront my circumstances right away to pressures in the bud before they get the best of me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coping_%28psychology%29

DEALING WITH CANCER – and other problematic physical conditions from a teens perspective. Recently, I learned that a very special friend had been diagnosed with cancer. Years ago I had a bout of it myself. It was frightening. I found this site for teens that made revisiting the issue more tolerable the second time around especially since it involved a person in my life that I was so fond of. http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases_conditions/cancer/deal_with_cancer.html?tracking=T_RelatedArticle I enjoy looking at health issues and other serious problems related to physical conditions from the perspective of a younger person. The information is always simplified and streamlined.

LIVING A FEARLESS LIFE

Difficult circumstances cause us to feel afraid. Living in fear can breakdown our mental well-being and compromise our body’s physical resistance and leave us vulnerable to depression, disease of both of these maladies. This article written by Susan Piver for Beliefnet really resonated with me. http://www.responsibilityproject.com/resources/10-tips-for-a-fearless-life#fbid=Cy70VkoFv0d

EXPRESSING AND BETTER YET, > MANAGING OUR CREATIVITY

I have always speculated why we are always afraid to do the work that we are put on this earth to do, apparently, I am not alone in my curiosity. People seem to associate their genius with anguish. It is a ridiculous notion. Elizabeth Gilbert author of “Eat, Pray and Love” offers a 18 minute on “Ted Talk” humorous and moving commentary on this particular point of view and on the creative, irrational process of bringing one’s most incredible aspects of their being into the physical world. A “Do Your Dance” viewpoint that encumbers the promise of our potentiality and also gives us a good excuse for not showing up and being all we are capable of being. She nails it! Check it out for yourself. http://www.responsibilityproject.com/films/ted-talk-elizabeth-gilbert#fbid=Cy70VkoFv0d

RELAXING AND UNWINDING –

When I feel a need to stretch – I take a deep breath and… I tune into – YOGA CLASS LIVE > and take a cue from a cat – I read: “Five Things My Cat Taught Me About Yoga” by Erica Rodefer is a writer and yoga practitioner in Charleston, SC. Visit her blog, Spoiledyogi.com, follow her on Twitter, or like her on Facebook.
http://yogaclasslive.com/2010/10/13/5-things-my-cat-taught-me-about-yoga/

TRAUMATIC STRESS – A place to share so we can bear crisis situations that befall us. The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress http://www.aaets.org is my favorite resource for crisis response and acute traumatic stress management. CrisisTalk gives me the opportunity to share my experience about a particularly challenging life experience… that culminated in a crisis. The great thing is I do not have to register or give any personal information to CrisisTalk.com to read the postings of others or, to start a new topic or reply to others. CrisisTalk.com is offered as a public service by the National Center for Crisis Management (www.NC-CM.org).

LIFE LONG LEARNERS – STUDENTS RETURNING TO SCHOOL AFTER AGE 60 AND OLDER

Where there are answers there is hope there is many possibilities http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20070904/LIVING/109040011
Linda Bryant Smith writes about life as a senior citizen and the issues that concern, annoy and often irritate the heck out of her now that she lives in a world where nothing is ever truly fixed but her income. For some of us who can relate we can e-mail her at ljbryantsmith@yahoo.com

OVERCOMING BEING ALONE

There is nothing more agonizing than feeling abandoned and alone especially in times of tragedy. There are times when, for whatever the reason, we disconnect from people and it is at these times when we need more than ever to have those human bonds in place. Friendships can come and go, and it is important to find people we can relate to as we go through the various stages of our life. People are usually lonely for a reason.
http://www.royane.com/articles/friendship/271-overcoming-loneliness-5-common-mistakes-lonely-people-make

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MATT – A Fourth Generation Soldier

Hello There,

The idea of swapping identities to go from a civilian to a military serviceman who believed it was his duty as well as an honor and a commitment to serve was not new to Matthew.  Afer all, he was a fourth generation soldier.  His Great-Grandfather enlisted in World War I in England.  His Grandfather fought in World War II in Germany, and, his own father signed up and was sent to Vietnam in the mid-sixties.   As those who had gone before him, Matt believed if he wanted to know himself, he had to be tested; no one finds out what he can do except by the trying, Matt firmly believed.  Matt, like his predecessors who enlisted in wartime, was brave and courageous. 

 Listening to numerous tales of bravado growing up,  Matt wondered, with what spirit he would face his fears supporting combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, if he were to be deployed.  Matt joined up at he age of eighteen, like many military personnel he did it for the incentives that were offered – education, tuition assistance and opportunities that he felt would lead to post-military employment.  What he wanted more than anything was a career as a political journalist. 

As it turned out, the likelihood of him being successful in his chosen endeavor was almost assured.  His time in the Armed services would set the foundation for many of his dreams to come true.  He would become a radio operator calling in combat operations, a communications escort in charge of Iraq civilians, and often an escort to military and civilian dignitaries

 With all the lessons he had already learned from his family’s background, Matt immediately fit right in the military community.  Once he was stationed in the Middle East his main focus was on helping Iraq forces protect residents and to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.  Like the soldiers he lived with daily, his active service duty was very sobering.  So many of the events he participated in and learned of while in Iraq, kept him awake at night.  The time he  spent over there made a difference in his perceptions about life – how could they not?  Matthew left as a boy and returned as a man.  Even though coming back into civilian life had presented him with a wide range of personal hurdles, as it does for so many service members, Matt still had many dreams he wanted to fullfill.  He had solid plans, objectives he had thought about many times and had carefully and meticulously considered, major goals for his future civilian life.  Out of all of the dreams he had envisioned doing, what he looked forward to the most was spending time with his father, David and, reconnecting with his other family members. Nothing spectacular, mind you; just once again, participating in their day-to-day lives. 

Matt loved people and was deeply committed to their happiness.  When he returned from his service duty, he pledged himself to a position that allowed him to interface closely with senior. He took a job working as a certified nurses aid at a State Veterans nursing home not to far from his father and step-mother.  He was a wonderful help to everyone in the institution  in a multitude of ways – mainly, just by making himself always available. Everyone knew they could call on him if they needed him to lend them an ear.   He never wanted someone on his watch at work to just languish away from loneliness and neglect.  Matt abhorred the idea of anyone dying alone without family or friends or someone there in their final moments of life.  If there wasn’t any family, he would become that patient’s family and hold their hand as they moved on. 

His heightened sensitivity to the elderly he served, quickly became his signature of care.  His gentleness was an amazing quality when you consider the short and long-term effects from being in close combat situations and how he may have been affected mentally and, to what degree.  The military taught Matt about the importance of paying attention to details and this ethic was reflected in the way he attended to those who were the recipients of his loving and compassionate care.  Matt would sit and chat with his patients for countless hours even after clocking out after his shift amidst the protests of his co-workers who urged him constantly to go on home.  You could just see the smiles beaming on the faces of the residents, especially, those with special-needs that he worked with every day when they knew he was in the building.

 Matt had a brother Charles (Chuck) who was four years older.  David was proud of both of his sons; however, there was a special bond between his youngest son, Matt.  When Matt was four, his parents divorced and for two years, Dave struggled to see his two little boys without any success.  Oddly enough, in a later court decision, Dave was actually awarded  full custody of his sons. 

Dave struggled however, to be a good single parent. He worked days in Summer on highway maintenance projects and nights and weekends plowing snow in the Winter months.  The extra money he needed to earn to make ends meet meant putting in a lot of overtime, juggling babysitters and getting up or staying up after an all night shift to get the kids on a bus, etc.  Grandma and Grandpa tried to fill in where they could but Dave took the blunt of the parental responsibilities.  At age twelve, Chuck decided to go live with his mother and that is when the real bond strengthened between Matthew and his father.  Dave and Matt became inseparable.

During those early single-parent years, David pretty much forfeited his own personal life.  When Matt was seven Dave met and started occasionally dating a woman named, Sylvia.  It was hard to maintain a relationship and there wasn’t time for much of a social life as David continued to work atrocious hours to support and raise his small family.  David and Sylvia dated off-and-on for several years and eventually, marry, but only just before Matt was deployed to Iraq.  During those early years of David and Sylvia’s relationship she and Matt had an opportunity to developed a special closeness. 

Matthew loved women and women (both young and old) dearly adored Matt.   During Matt’s growing up years, Sylvia often commented that she felt that Matt needed more playmates his own age and not just his dad. Dave made it a point to take Matt along with him when he visited the Veterans from the second World War. They would spend hours playing at horseshoes and sitting around reminising.  Sylvia’s concern was that young Matt might be spent a little too much time around the older generation. She feared he wasn’t being allowed sufficent opportunities to just be a “kid.” In retrospect, Sylvia eventually came to  realize that those childhood years spent learning from, observing and being mentored by his senior “playmates,” helped to shape Matthew into the wise young man he was – well beyond his years. Matt was a one-of-a-kind person,  incredibly sensitive, yet, emotionally strong and unbelieveably courageous like his father, his father’s father and his dad. He was a man who made such an extraordinary mark on the world.

 Even as a teenager, Matt was very aware of the many sacrifices that his father made for him and his older brother.  When he became of age he wanted to buy a car but unlike his friends, he wanted to do this completely, on his own – never considering asking his father for financial assistance in purchasing this automobile.  Matthew had a strong work ethic, learned not only from his father, but from his grandparents, too; who influenced Matt’s life.  When he was 15, Matt started working in the kitchen of a local nursing home before being promoted to a nursing assistant.  At age seventeen, Matt took a position for a year in a State Veterans nursing facility.  It was there that he came in contact with World War II heros whose personal histories spoke to him. It was after a year with them  that he elected to join the Armed Services. 

While working with the veterans in this facility, he came to the aid of the nurses on many occassions. They would call upon Matt when they were having a hard time getting the Vietnam vets to comply with regulatory issues.  The nurses soon discovered that Matt had exceptional people skills which they would employ as a secret weapon to get their patients in check. The nurses would talk Matt into having a couple of beers and some cigarettes with them to defuse combative situations.  It worked like a charm because Matt’s easy-going and fun-loving manner always disarmed them.

 Matt had plenty of experience with Veterans.  His father held numerous positions with the Veterans of Foreign Wars for over twenty- three years.  During that time, Dave served several terms as Commander of his local VFW; also as District Commander and held many other State and National appointments.  Matt participated in many VFW projects, volunteering for barbecues, helping out at Christmas parties and for local bingo events.

 Matthew was the first to step forward when someone needed help – either at work, or just friends or family.  Matt worked long hours at the State VA Nursing Home – many hours off the clock, as well as those on.  During the week before his death, Matt helped a friend move during the day, then went to work for his late night shift.  He was looking forward to his weekend off after his grueling week; but  when a co-worker was looking for someone to fill in for them on their early morning shift, Matt was quick to volunteer.  So after just a few hours sleep, Matt kissed his girlfriend good-bye and left to do what he was so good at – to give of himself.

 It had been only months since Matt had been discharged from the military, having served a tour of duty in Iraq.  He was laying the groundwork for a whole new life.  At work, Matt met a woman, four years his senior with a little girl age six, and, her brother two years her senior, age eight.  Matt loved the time he spent with these two children.  He would take them  fishing, bowling or just shooting baskets.  Matt knew he wanted to include Rosemary and her children in his future.   After serving over three years in the military, one of which was in combat duty; Matt was considering rejoining the army so he could support his new family.

 Matt was fascinated with military history and was an avid reader.  He was constantly taking continuing education courses and studying up on all the different aspects of miliary service.  He held the veterans in high regard, especially those who served in Vietnam and World War II.  He would go out of his way to befriend them and always made mention of how much he appreciated their acts of service.

 Matt was extremely proud of his dad, too; and very grateful to him for all the years he devoted to raising him and his brother as a sole parent.  He very quietly and without fanfare, took out a life insurance policy. Matt  made certain that he paid the premiums on despite, his meager salary. And, it was not cheap, it was the highest amount allowed. He wanted to ensure that if anything ever happened to him, his father would have the financial resources necessary to live a comfortable life in his later years.  In fact, Matt would joke with Dave about the money that would be awarded to him in the event of his death.  A memory that continues to haunt Dave to this very day, that is so sad, and, so touching, is that Matt mentioned on more than one occasion, that he did not believe he would live to see his 27th birthday.

 None of these thoughts were probably in Matt’s mind as he left home for an overtime shift at the VA nursing home.  As an Iraq war veteran, almost certainly, the furthest thing that was in his consciousness as he drove to work that last day of his life, was his mortality.  For Matt, who was deeply appreciated by all, and,  loved by so many, home meant safety and comfort and, time with people he cared for as much as life – itself.  At the age of only twenty-two, his car ran off the roadway and, hit a power pole.  Matt was pronounced dead on the scene. 

Only a month earlier, Matthew was asked to fold and present the flag at a funeral service for a relative.  Little did the family know, that within thirty days, a flag would be folded on behalf of Matt, at a similar ceremony, honoring a hero.  Matthew’s flag was folded by six soldiers from his army unit that had served with Matt in Iraq.  Matt’s first Sargent presented the flag to his family.  Each of the strong young men in attendance were soldiers, and they did what soldiers are trained to do….they stood at attention, throughout the service; but no one could help but notice their struggle to hold back their tears.  As they stood over their Brother, Matt, each in their own way remembered the year they all served together in Iraq, with a fourth generation soldier and survived, only to have to say goodbye in this unexplainable way.

 Who was Matt?  He was a gangly kid who stood five feet, nine inches tall, and who loved to play sports and was really good at doing so.  He was the light of his father’s life – a little boy who Dave watched from the sidelines, bursting with pride as he looked on while his youngest son participated in the games that made him an excellent athlete in T-ball and basketball.  Matt was a man who allowed himself to be influenced by women.  Like the girl whom he grew up with, who was seven years his senior and, later became his step-sister.  Matt allowed her to teach him to be sensitive to the concerns of intelligent and willful females and not to be threatened by their independence as so many men today, are.  He was a hero to those who knew him in a the military or, who had the pleasure of his acquaintance in civilian life and who witnessed their ceremonies or who took the photographs when he accepted trophies and his numerous accolades.  Matt was the young soldier who was chosen as first “Soldier of the Quarter” and later “Soldier of the Year” for his battalion.  He was a curious young man who questioned how someone like Hitler could have become so victorious and inspired the termination of millions of Jewish people.  Matt had read over a hundred books and was considered an expert on the atrocities Hitler committed.  Matt was a handsome man who could have had a successful career as a model in NY City  if he had led a different type of life that was centered on his “All American Boy” good looks.  Matt was a responsible person who thought nothing of the prospect of raising another man’s children and was willing to risk his life with another tour of duty or to put his life on the line as State Patrolman to do it.  Matt was waiting to get the results of his state troopers exam at the time of his death.  Matt was a professional who transformed the role of nurse’s aid to a status that is rarely achieved by even the most dedicated of healthcare workers.  Matthew was someone who freely shared his zest for life with everyone and anyone who needed to have their spirits lifted so they could pick themselves up and move on as he had done so many times for himself.  You see, what no one knew about Matt was that he was suffering, silently, by the torments that all soldiers do, memories of unspeakable horrors, of things that a young man his age should never be exposed to.  Only weeks before his death, Matt had been given a diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and had yet, to receive treatment.  Matt was his own person – a fully capable and considerate human being loved by so many that the procession of funeral cars that lead up to the cemetery stretched over three miles. 

Every year without fail, regardless of the piles of icy snow,  Matt’s friends and family would make it a point to gather at his gravesite to pay him homage.  All this for a youngster who grew up without the support of a mother and who dropped out of school and, who later had to make up time by studying and taking a GED test to graduate. 

 Matt was all these things and, more.  Perhaps, this is the reason why, when you visit the PTS Center for Treatment and, you walk through its lobby, you pass a glass display case with some of the soldier’s items on display.  There on the shelves, gleaming in the soft light, that amplifies the gentleness of the most noblest of service members, are the reminders of a fourth generation soldier – Matt’s combat boots, his eyeglasses, his trusty compass and canteen and his pocket-knife.  And, if you were not fortunate enough to have met this young man, a man of men, and to have been touched by him in life, the soul of Matt remains, in this place,  on exhibit, where he serves to remind us of how anyone can leave this world, at any age, under any set of circumstances, no matter how self-defeating they appear, with a history that speaks for itself and, boldly states….”I Triumphed over Tragedy, and, you can too!”

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COURAGE – The Power Within

What I think as being courageous is really about our having faith in own capabilities to overcome our fears. Without courage it would be extremely difficult to handle a whole host of problems that threaten us. Courage entails being able to go forward when you know a situation is uncertain but you feel it is the right thing and you do not give up. I think it takes courage to stand-alone with our beliefs when those beliefs are not popular or, widely shared. It takes courage to meet with any set of challenges that one knows they are not equal to but feel they are called to forge ahead regardless. It takes courage when we feel our world is careening out of control and you have lost the support of those that no longer respect your abilities. It takes courage to cope with crisis when we can see it’s on its way and it comes around the corner at rocket speed – heading straight for us. It takes courage to see an upsetting experience and not shy out-of-the-way, but instead, walk right into it, asking what we can do to help out. It takes courage to confront failure and admit that you made a mistake and continue to work out the details of a circumstance that is nothing less than chaotic when you know it would be easier to turn in another direction. It takes courage to learn lessons about yourself and try to work through the issues even when you must acknowledge shame. Courage is a state of consciousness.

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