Columns, War Bonds

War not a word to be take lightly… especially today

Today is Veteran’s Day. Tomorrow’s Front Porch column is already available online at the Spokesman Review, so I thought I would share it here as well.

I am heartily sick of the so-called “war on Christmas.”  Read below to find out why.

Words matter to me.

I make my living crafting them. Whether writing a column, a news story or a book, I spend my days weighing and measuring them – searching for the best turn of phrase to communicate a thought, an idea or a fact.

Sometimes I play with them. Juggling them, nudging them to create content that elicits a reaction, a smile or a tear.

Even when handled lightly, I understand their power on a printed page. And while not all words are meant to be taken literally, I think some should be.

War is one of them.

Yesterday was Veterans Day – a day we as country set aside to honor the men and women who have served or continue to serve in our armed forces.

I’ve lost count of the veterans I’ve interviewed over the years, but their faces and their stories are seared into my soul – especially the stories of combat veterans, those who faced loss of life and limb during their time of service.

I’ve lost count of the veterans I’ve interviewed over the years, but their faces and their stories are seared into my soul – especially the stories of combat veterans, those who faced loss of life and limb during their time of service.

So just to be clear, here’s Webster’s definition of war: A state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations or a period of such armed conflict.

Other definitions may have made their way into our reference books and cultural consciousness, but the original meaning of war is armed conflict.

The kind of conflict Wes Hixon faced in 2008 in Iraq when the Stryker vehicle he was riding in hit an IED. “Four people were killed outright,” he said. “The rest were injured. Me and another soldier were paralyzed. Most of them were pretty good friends of mine.”

I interviewed Hixon, then 24, in 2009 as he sat in a wheelchair. He knows what war is.

Read full column here.

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War Bonds

War Bonds and the Mitsons on Spokane Talks Online

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Charlie and Mable Mitson and I were featured on the program Let’s Talk Spokane produced by Spokane Talks Online, today.

The Mitsons’ story is told in chapter 31 of War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation. They celebrated their 73rd anniversary in July.

The video of this adorable couple will be posted on YouTube soon, and I’ll share that link when it’s available. The Mitsons are both 91 and witty, sharp and beautiful.

Such a privilege to share their story.
Here’s a link to the podcast. You can download it or listen online.

Mitson wedding photo low res

War Bonds

Greater Love

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Ken and Carolyn Lewis

War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation tells the stories of WWll heroes both at home and abroad. But those aren’t the only heroes I’ve met.

Last week I met Ken Lewis.  He was wounded during his first tour of duty in Vietnam and scheduled to be flown out. But before that happened the unit of South Vietnamese soldiers he was serving with was ambushed 400 yards from the base. Caught in a crossfire every single soldier died. “Eighty seven men, wiped out,” said Ken.
And he wept.
“He’s never talked about this before,” his wife, Carolyn explained, shocked by his openness.
But that’s not the heroic part.
After Ken got home, their 18 year old son enlisted and called to tell them he’d received orders for Vietnam.
“You aren’t going,” Ken said. “Absolutely not!”
He been there, you see. He didn’t want his son to live through what he’d endured.
His son balked. “Dad! I’ve got orders!”
“No,” said Ken. “No.”
He called a friend in the Pentagon and said, “There’s no way I’m going to let my son go to Vietnam– send me instead. I will go back.”
And he did.
His son was sent to Alaska and Ken did another tour of duty in Vietnam.
And I know I’m supposed to be a hard-boiled professional journalist, but tears filled my eyes and I sat in my car and wept after this interview.
“Greater love has no man than this….”

War Bonds

These are some beautiful chicks

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Saw this gorgeous display at Barnes and Noble, yesterday. Such an incredible feeling to see stacks of my books in stores! But what’s really wonderful is the feedback from readers.

Yesterday, I spent an hour and a half at Auntie’s Bookstore signing pre-ordered copies of War Bonds. Since it was a public signing, I got to interact with folks who stopped by the signing table.

One fellow wearing a Vietnam veteran cap seemed especially enthralled with the photos. “These are some beautiful chicks,” he said.

I told him my mother is of the opinion that women were better looking in the ’40’s and ’50’s.

“Nah,” he said. “They just took better care of themselves.”

Then his eyes grew dim. “Even when my wife was dying of cancer, she’d try to fix herself up for me. She’d put on a little lipstick…. She just wanted to look nice.”

“She must have loved you very much,” I said.

He took off his glasses and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “Yes,” he said.  “She did.”