"Sharing can be a way of healing. Grief and loss can isolate,
anger even alienate. Shared with others, emotions unite
as we see we aren't alone. We realize others weep with us."
~Susan Wittig Albert

Through our writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light
together, one small step at a time, recording history, educating
America, and we are healing.
~CJ/Todd Dierdorff

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Social Security: An Entitlement?

I hope you're all enjoying your weekend! The following article was sent to me in an email yesterday by Frank Calderone, who is a very good friend. It has nothing to do with Vietnam or veterans or memories, however, it is something that does affect all Americans, which makes it extremely important to write about here. The article is as follows:

"Some politicians are calling Social Security an Entitlement. What is wrong here?

Remember, not only did you contribute to Social Security, but your employer did too. It totaled 15% of your income, before taxes. If you averaged only $30K over your working life, that's close to $220,500. If you calculate the future value of $4,500 per year (yours & your employers contribution) at a simple 5% (less than what the govt. pays on the money that it borrows), after 49 years of working (me) you'd have $892,919.98. If you took out only 3% per year, you receive $26,787.60 per year and it would last better than thirty years, and that's with no interest paid on that final amount on deposit.

If you bought an annuity and it paid 4% per year, you'd have a lifetime income of $2,976.40 per month. The folks in Washington have pulled off a bigger Ponzi scheme than Bernie Madhoff ever did.

Foot Note: in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson put Social Security into the General Fund and took it out of the "Lock Box." In 1993, President Bill Clinton made Social Security taxable. You pay tax on 85% of Social Security.

Some politicians are calling Social Security an Entitlement. I beg to differ -- I paid cash for my social security insurance. Just because they borrowed the money doesn't make my benefits some kind of charity or handout, does it? Congressional benefits: their free healthcare, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, three weeks of paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days -- now that's what I call welfare ... and they have the nerve to call my retirement an "entitlement"! What the HELL's wrong with this? Tuesday's Daily Bulletin paper, ran two articles on the front page, side by side :

1. California 's 20 Billion Dollar Budget Deficit
2. The California Supreme Court ruling that ILLEGALS can attend college and get benefits.

Why don't they just deport them when they arrive to register?

3. Last year, they ran an article on the yearly costs to California Taxpayers from illegals using hospital emergency rooms for their general health care. At just one hospital, the cost to taxpayers totaled over $25 million a year!  Will someone please tell me what the HELL is wrong with all the people who run this country!

We're "broke" and we can't even help our own seniors, veterans, orphans, homeless, etc. In the last couple of years, we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile, Turkey, and Pakistan (the home of Bin Laden). We've literally given away billions of dollars ...

Our retired seniors who are living on a 'fixed income' receive no aid, nor do they get any breaks at all, while our government and religious organizations pour hundreds of billions of dollars plus tons of food to foreign countries. 

 They call Social Security and Medicare entitlements, even though most of us have been paying for both all of our working lives. Now when it's time for us to collect, the government is running out of money. My question is, why did the government borrow from it in the first place?

We have hundreds, maybe thousands, of adoptable children here in the U.S, who are shoved aside to make room for the adoption of foreign orphans.

Our own AMERICA has become a country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed hungry, elderly going without 'needed' meds, and the mentally ill who have no proper treatment, and yet they
had a 'benefit' for the people of Haiti on twelve TV stations, ships and planes lined up with food, water, tents clothes, bedding, doctors as well as medical supplies. Imagine if the government gave us the same support it gives to other countries ...

It's sad, yeah, okay. So when do we get pissed enough and then actually do something about it by voting the right people into office who really DO give a damn and who will make change happen? Hell, 99% of the people won't even have the guts to talk about any of this.  I'm one of the 1% who WILL ... join me, please?"

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Special Thank You

A Thank You to all Vietnam Vets from a Marine in Iraq

A guy gets time to think over here and I was thinking about all the support we get from home. Sometimes it's overwhelming. We get care packages at times faster than we can use them. There are boxes and boxes of toiletries and snacks lining the center of every tent; the generosity has been amazing. So, I was pondering the question: "Why do we have so much support?"

In my opinion, it all came down to one thing: Vietnam Veterans. I think we learned a lesson, as a nation, that no matter what, you have to support the troops who are on the line, who are risking everything. We treated them so poorly back then. When they returned was even worse. The stories are nightmarish of what our returning warriors were subjected to. It is a national scar, a blemish on our country, an embarrassment to all of us.

After Vietnam , it had time to sink in. The guilt in our collective consciousness grew. It shamed us. However, we learned from our mistake. Somewhere during the late 1970's and on into the 80's, we realized that we can't treat our warriors that way. So ... starting during the Gulf War, when the first real opportunity arose to stand up and support the troops, we did. We did it to support our friends and family going off to war. But we also did it to right the wrongs from the Vietnam era. We treat our troops of today like the heroes they were, and are, acknowledge and celebrate their sacrifice, and rejoice at their homecoming ... instead of spitting on them.

And that support continues today for those of us in Iraq. Our country knows that it must support us and it does. The lesson was learned in Vietnam and we are all better because of it.

Everyone who has gone before is a hero. They are celebrated in my heart. I think admirably of all those who have gone before me. From those who fought to establish this country in the late 1770's to those I serve with here in Iraq . They have all sacrificed to ensure our freedom. But when I get back home, I'm going to make it a personal mission to specifically thank every Vietnam Vet I encounter for THEIR sacrifice. Because if nothing else good came from that terrible war, one thing did. It was the lesson learned on how we treat our warriors. We as a country learned from our mistake and now we treat our warriors as heroes, as we should have all along. I am the beneficiary of their sacrifice. Not only for the freedom they, like veterans from other wars, ensured, but for how well our country now treats my fellow Marines and I. We are the beneficiaries of their sacrifice.

Semper Fidelis,

Major Brian P. Bresnahan
United States Marine Corps

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”
~Everett Hale

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Gary Dennis

What a wonderful surprise I found today in my email. I received this letter ...

Hi Cathy,

Do you remember me?  I'm Gary, Doug's cousin from Fostoria, OH.  My ex mother-in-law sent your email address to me.  So many memories (unfortunately bad, of course), came rushing back to me.  I was the one who took the phone call from Doug's mom, Auntie Ortha, when she called my mom to inform her of Doug's demise.  I will never forget it.  I was just getting ready to start my sophomore year at Bowling Green.  

I remember coming to your wedding. I also remember Doug was only over there a short time when it all happened -- I had forgotten it was only three months. I still have a folder that Dad left me with letters, pictures, newpaper articles, etc.

I've been living in Florida since I graduated from Bowling Green in '72.  Twenty-five years in Sarasota/Venice, ten years in Ocala, and now I'm in Palm Coast, on the Atlantic.  I still see Ron and Beth just about every year, as they make an annual trek down to Sarasota (Siesta Key) for three months.  My daughter (27) was born and raised and still lives in Venice.  

Of course when Ron and I get together, the conversation invariably gets around to all the good times we had as kids -- especially during the time when Uncle Gib was sheriff in Coshocton.  We had some great times in that old jail house.  Doug would lock us up in a cell and leave us there -- we didn't care -- we had a blast! 

I hope this finds it's way to you, and that all is good in your life. 
Gary Dennis
PGA Professional, Life Member
(H) 386-263-7337
(C) 352-857-7870

**As of the posting of this blog, I've written to Gary to catch up.  What a wonderful day!

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Do I Remember You?

There's a true story behind the poem I'm posting in the blog today.  I wrote it in 2000, after I received a letter from someone I hadn't heard from in over thirty years.  

I lived in San Francisco back in the early seventies, and I was a flight attendant with the now defunct airline, TWA.  This was what I had decided to do, after my husband, a combat medic, was killed in Vietnam the year before.  What I discovered very quickly, after moving so far away from my family in Ohio, was that grief follows you, no matter how far away you  move.  I couldn't understand why it still hurt so badly and I thought there must be something wrong with me.  

People didn't want to hear that my husband was killed in Vietnam.  Vietnam was wrong!  Vietnam was what people were protesting!  People said he shouldn't have gone and "get over it".  And yet, there I was, having a terrible time even coping with being alive -- I loved him, I missed him, and I wanted to die, too.  We didn't know about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) back then -- so I couldn't have known that I had a form of PTSD.  I've come to see that mine was caused by the trauma of Doug being killed, by the trauma of being informed by army personnel, (strangers), in my living room, by the trauma of having to wait sixteen more days for his body to be flown home, and probably because I was young, only twenty, and the anti-Americanism crap only added further to the problem -- it was as if they were bragging that Doug died for nothing, for no reason at all ...

I met the nicest man in San Francisco, within about six months of living there.  From Oregon originally, he was tall, very handsome, and we enjoyed each other's company very much.  He didn't tell me to "get over it" when I was overcome by my feelings.  As a matter of fact, he encouraged me to talk about Doug, lent me his shoulder and held me when I cried, and this unselfish comforting was all he seemed to expect of me.  He was my friend.

I don't remember now what happened, why we went our separate ways, but we did.  Knowing what a difficult period that was in my life, I was probably the one who broke it off.  But it wasn't until I received his letter in the mail thirty years later, that I found out that he had loved me, and I was stunned.  He had never told me.  When I read that, I remembered having feelings of my own, too, but over the years, I came to see those feelings more as deep gratitude, for being such a wonderful, caring friend when I desperately needed one -- and also for his strength of character, by not taking advantage of a grieving young widow.  

I'm happy to say, we've kept in touch since that letter came in 2000 -- email is a fantastic invention.   Now, I dedicate this poem with love, to my friend, Lee:

Do I Remember You?
by CJ Heck  

Do I remember you,
you ask, 
from so many
years ago?

(Who? The man with
a gentle touch
and loving hands?
The man whose
arms once
saved my life?
The man with
a caring shoulder
that welcomed
a widow's tears? 
Budding passion,
almost lovers,
undermined and
rent by fate?)

Many miles away
the years have passed.
Our mirrors echo 
younger faces, 
all gone now,
lives lived on
tandem shores. 
Silent hands reach 
through the ages 
spanning years 
from then to now, 
while fingers 
ply the keyboard
to fill in the
time between. 

Love and memories
come flooding into
present from the past
and I cry from
just one letter.
Yes, I do 
remember you ...

(c) 2000 CJ Heck

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Remember Me: Lizzy Palmer

This film was sent to me this morning by Denny Kemp, my brother-in-law.  It's really something and I hope you will all watch it.  Here's what the email said:

"This film was made by a 15 year old girl named Lizzie Palmer. It's the hottest thing on the internet and it was also on Fox News. There have been over 3,000,000 hits on it, as of this morning. In case you missed it, here it is. Watch all of it and be sure to tell everyone you know to watch it."

Remember Me - by Lizzie Palmer

Thank you again, Denny!
Love always,

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Goodbye Vietnam

This film clip is very well done.  It was sent to me today by Denny Kempf, my brother-in-law, and I know you will all want to watch it.  Welcome Home.

  "Goodbye Vietnam"

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Further Thoughts: Bob Butcher

Dear CJ,

Happy 4th of July.  I was up early enjoying the quiet time and, of course, my coffee.  I have been having these same thoughts running through my head and I just wanted to share them. 

When I retired a year ago, I wanted something to stimulate my new freedom so, having always liked photography, I went out and bought a new camera and enrolled in photography school.  Well, I can tell you that not only has my appreciation for the world around me changed, but my thoughts run crazy all the time. 

I started telling my wife some of the things I see and feel when I look at something or someone.  So, she says to me, "Why dont you keep a journal?"  She is pretty smart.  She journals all the time and has shared some of it with me.   What a blessing. 

So, as I start this new journey of awareness, I would like to encourage all of my fellow vets and their family members to write down what they feel. We have come a long way since Nam and we can be of so much help to ourselves, and to others, by just being what God has called us to do:  be disciples to others, share yourself with others through pictures and words.  You might just impact someone who needs to hear what we have to say. 

I send you blessings and say thank you for all you do.
Bob Butcher 
aka the Bman
54th ORD Company
Long Bein Vietnam
October '68 - June '70

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Douglas S. Kempf

As everyone knows, July 4 is the birthday of our great country. Well, every year around this same time, I can't help but get melancholy, because Doug's birthday was July 12. This year, he would have been 64. (KIA Vietnam, September 5, 1969).

I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am to have a wonderful man in my life who loves me and who understands ... I love you, Robert.

His Name was Doug
by CJ (Kempf) Heck

and I knew he loved me.
Bigger than life, 
he was a man’s man,
so at home in his skin.
His legs bowed just a little
giving him a sexy swagger 
when he walked. 
He was ornery as cat dirt 
most of the time,
non-filtered Camels 
tucked in a pocket, or
rolled in a T-shirt sleeve, 
tanned arm hanging out 
the side window, 
cruising his titty-pink 
& white‘57 Chevy
with me by his side,
and I knew he loved me. 
He could cuss and fight
with the best of them,
a man’s man,
but gentle with me 
running his fingers
through my hair 
while I sat on the floor
between his bowed legs
watching TV
and I knew he loved me.
Uncle Sam needed 
combat medics 
in Vietnam. 
Doug never thought 
to question.
The town sheriff was Dad
and he taught him
you do what’s right.
His name was Doug,
bigger than life,
a man’s man, 
easy in his skin,
ornery but gentle,
and I knew even my name
was safe in his mouth
because he loved me.
Dear God, 
I loved him, too ... 

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Thoughts for July 4th: Bob Butcher

This letter came today in an email from Bob Butcher (The Bman), who was in Vietnam from October of 1968 to June of 1970 (54th ORD Company).  It's timely and so full of wisdom ...  

Dear CJ,
I hope you are well.  I have a few thoughts to share, if its ok.

As we prepare for the July 4th celebrations, I can't help but think of my friend, Rodney Maunakea.  We went through AIT together. We also went to Nam together.  He had a smile that would light up a room when he was around. 

We shared with each other until on a warm night in May 1969, sitting together and talking.  Suddenly, out of  nowhere, there was a loud bang and my friend was gone.  I remember being so alone at that moment and I'll never forget how I felt.  That is why we need to never forget all those who came back, and to this day, they too still feel alone.  We have an obligation to do all we can to help them and those who are still coming home. 

I have been blessed with a family who cares and wants to know how it was.  That means so much to me.  We need to remember, we gave because we cared and because we loved our country.  We were never the enemy.   We only wanted to protect our loved ones from those who wanted to do them harm.

So, if you see a vet, take the time to smile and say "Hi".   Let them know they are not alone.  Its never too late to say, "I am proud of your serving for us.  It means more than people could ever know."

Bob Butcher
The Bman 
54th ORD Company
Long Bein Vietnam
October '68 - June '70

P.S.  Welcome Home to my nephew, Ty, a medic who was in Afghanistan, 3/9th Marines.  He came home last night,  July 1, 2011.

** Bob, thank you so much for sharing your memories and  your thoughts.  Welcome Home, my friend.

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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Generations of Valor

We take so many things for granted.  Forget the football 'heroes' and the movie stars. What you see in the picture below is valor.  This is the price of freedom ...

This Picture is Worth 1000 Million Words:

Generations of Valor

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.” ~Everett Hale

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