Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Long Way Home Multimedia stage play

Anyone can be a veteran, but there are only so many that are.

A friend send this to me: A veteran is someone who, at one point in one’s life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America”, for an amount “up to and including my life.” That is honor, and there are way too many people in this Country who no longer understand it.

I want to thank Commander Crouch and VFW Post 755 for Posting Colors on opening night. It was a sight to see the audience standing saying the pledge of Allegiance.

Bob Foster and the VFW Post 755 color guard leading the audience in the pledge of allegiance.

A special thanks for Commander Jim Peters and American Legion Post 32 for posting colors and the 911 Remembrance Ceremony on Saturday. The audience appreciated the meaning and message of the Ceremony, that we had not forgot those who lost their lives on that terrible day.

Special recognition for American Legion Post 32, VFW Post 755, Northenders VFW Post, and Beardtown’s VFW Post for their financial support to provide tickets to veterans and the Illinois National Guard.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I'm retiring

May 31st I will be retiring from Illinois state government to pursue my passion of writing and self expression.  I wrote a stage adaption of my book 'Lost Survivor' that will be presented at the Hoogland Art Center September 10, 11, and 12 in Springfield Illinois. Writing the play ' A Long Way Home' has been very demanding, it is my first time writing a stage play and doing it while working eight hours a day as Chief Deputy Director of Budget for the Illinois Secretary of State during tough budget times. My nights were becoming very short. I was asked if I would stay around for another 4 year term. My answer, I'm 65 years old doing my dream, which part of that I should defer? I would be 70 years old if I stuck around for another term. I prefer to be 70, follow my passion and fail rather than wonder what could have been. So, you will be hearing much more from me as I continue to follow my path.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm Back

After a year I finally finished the multimedia play. September 10, 11, and 12 it was presented on stage at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois. Writing the play was one of the most difficult tasks I faced. The writing is so structured and based on showing not telling. The words are not for the eye but to be spoken by actors who have to impart emotions from the stage. I consider myself a storyteller that uses various venues to expression the story.

Friday, August 06, 2010

I'm Back

June 1st 2010, I retired from state government. It only took me 40 years to get to that day. But, it finally came. So, now I'm retired what do I do? Work as hard, may more, than I did when employed. Some friends have teased me about it. I tell them I didn't retire from something, I retired to something, my writing.

I have been writing but not in my blogs. My time has been focused on writing a stage adaptation of my book Lost Survivor. One of the most difficult tasks I have done. It is such a different voice, with a very specific framework it must be in. But, I did it. The multimedia stage play A Long Way Home will be presented on stage at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Illinois September 10, 11, 12. It is dedicated to Veterans of all wars.

Now I'm back I will be sharing what is happening as we go the process of putting the play on. Also, I be addressing issues that affect veterans. So, this post is short. Just Hi, I'm back.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

18th Annual James Jones Symposium

"Memories of War" was the focus of the 18th Annual James Jones Symposium held at Eastern Illinois University, November 6-7, 2009 in conjunction with National Book Award recipient Tim O'Brien presenting the third annual James Jones Lecture in the Black Box Theater of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. Kaylie Jones (James Jones daughter) did a reading from her recently published memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told, and talked about "War in the Home", growing up in the shadow of her father, his experiences in combat and his knowledge of war. I discussed my memories of a year in the bush during the Vietnam War when I was a corpsman serving with the Third Marine Recon, being wounded and coming home. Which was the basis for my Novel Lost Survivor.

The symposium concluded with a student panel entitled "World War II Memories in Japan and Beyond" organized by Eastern Illinois University history professor Jinhee Lee which provided an opportunity for students to participate in the activities.

The speaker's presentations evoked emotions from many of those who attended as they remembered their loved ones struggles with memories of war. There were some Vietnam Veterans that attended, one came up to me, shook my hand and told me, "welcome home." A simple moment of touching and quiet recognition of shared experiences. Another Vietnam veteran told me of the anxiety in his mind and body he experienced, while I was speaking, as his war memories flashed in his head. He had received a copy of lost survivor from a family member and had driven over three hours to hear me speak. He said it was worth the drive.

Though I have been a member of the James Jones Literary Society's board for a year this was the first time I met with the full Board of Directors. They are intense, dedicated individuals to giving generations of students insight into the work of James Jones and knowledge of the effects of war. I am proud to be joining them in this quest and the collaborative effort with the College of Arts and Humanities, and the Departments of English and History at Eastern Illinois University in the establishment of a James Jones Chair in World War II Studies in English and History.

The 2011 symposium will be a major one as it will mark the 90th year since the birth of James Jones, the 70th year since the bombing of Pear Harbor and the 20th year since the founding of the James Jones Literary Society. The board will be working to hold the 2011 symposium in cooperation with the Norman Mailer Literary Society in Austin Texas, at the Harry Ransom Center which is home to both James Jones and Norman Mailer archives.

The experience of sharing time with the folks at the event and the Board produced a boost of energy for my writing soul.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Fierce Combat Makes You Crazy!

I was reading the newspaper and came across article Army: Soldiers in slayings exposed to fierce combat. It described a report from an Army task force of medical expert who looked at members of Fort Carson's 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, known as the Iron Eagles. Soldiers in the unit were accused in five killings in separate attacks around Colorado Springs and involved in six more slayings in Colorado. The report compared the unit with a similarly sized unit and found it suffered more combat deaths in Iraq and was deployed there longer. "This investigation suggests a possible association between increasing levels of combat exposure and risk for negative behavioral outcome." The study said. It added that the soldiers faced "significant disruptions in family-social support." The soldiers accused of the killings had committed crimes before and abused drugs and alcohol.

Men returning in previous wars have shown us that combat makes you crazy. It is a premise of my book "Lost Survivor" ( What you lose to survive, is what you need to live. Combat creates dark places in a man's soul that he runs from and hides in. To be in combat means to be crazy or dead. Men are discouraged from seeking mental help and belittled if they do. Which is why so many families lose love ones even though they survived the horrible experiences of combat.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Congressional Black Caucus Veteran BrainTrust Award

I am back to writing the blog. Between the demands of a 8 - 5 job and writing an adaption of "Lost Survivor" for the stage, the other daily grinds of living, and life sharing with my wife I felt like I was leaf on choppy seas. Nothing bad, mostly good happenings. My mind stretched in many different directions until the connections seems more important than the core. So, the process of rediscovery starts again, usually because of memories. And that is what happen to me.

I was presented the 2008 Illinois Veterans Braintrust Award. It was a small ceremony held in Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White's Chicago office, my boss, added a special texture to the event, because he is the only statewide elected official that is a veteran. The award, established by General Colin Powell in 1990, pays tribute to mine efforts on behalf of WWII, Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, their families and supporters, and for my novel "Lost Survivor". The social paradoxes encountered on the journey from man to soldier and soldier back to man. It was a honor to receive the award

It brought a flood of memories filled with faces and names of the veterans I had contact with since I returned from Vietnam. Listening to their stories of survival and what it did to them. Experiencing with them the pain of reliving the nightmares of combat. Which drove me to write "Lost Survivor" so people could understand the screams we hear in our minds.