Sunday, July 26, 2009

Discussing the Vietnam War

Students and teachers in the high school where I substitute often ask me to speak to their classes about the Vietnam War.

Veterans Day, Memorial Day and when history classes study Vietnam are appropriate times for me to address the subject.

I present a PowerPoint presentation of select photos taken by me in 1966. The visual aid shows the landscape of Vietnam, the Vietnamese people, and American soldiers in battle dress uniform. I talk about infantry weapons, enemy tactics, living conditions, and the duties of a ground soldier. I tell them about search and destroy strategy, reconnaissance patrols, support and rescue missions, and road security. I avoid talking about gory details of particular battles.

I also discuss how war protesters, concerns about China and Russia resulted in a lack of political will to allow the military to defeat the aggressors from North Vietnam. This resulted in the defeat of South Vietnam and the unification of the country under the governance of Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi.

The students usually listen intently and ask questions. Teachers appreciate the first hand account as it complements the textbook and their lectures.

The pictures here were taken three months ago in two history classes. I showed students the Purple Heart Medal which I was awarded due to a combat wound. Most students have heard about the medal but have never seen one in its display case.

If you are a combat veteran of Vietnam, I encourage you to talk with high school students about your service. Go to your local high school to meet the principal and present an overview of what you can discuss with classes. Then meet a few history teachers for the same purpose. You can be a good resource for teachers to enlighten students about the war.

I wear a suit, white shirt, tie and black leather dress shoes when I make presentations.

Click on these pictures to enlarge and see quality students.

Have a good week!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I'd never heard of the place. I knew about Glen Raven from my career job. The company I retired from purchased yarn from Glen Raven Mills. I'd never heard of Ace Speedway, a NASCAR race track located in Ossipee, North Carolina near Burlington.

My son invited my wife and me to watch him participate in a bike race. The hour and a half automobile drive from our home took us through the campus of Elon University and into Ossipee. We passed Glen Raven factories that appeared closed like many other textile plants. The mill town was well maintained with attractive homes and mowed lawns among historic looking buildings. I sensed the town had character as we drove along streets and made numerous turns to arrive at Ace Speedway.

The pictures here show the race event that started at 6:00 PM on 7/14/2009. The cyclists raced for twenty-five minutes around the track. The average speed was probably 25 miles per hour with the bikes too close to each other for my comfort. Leaders among the first five positions kept changing throughout the numerous laps. The bottom photo shows our 34-year-old son approaching the finish line for a second place finish.

Have a good week!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Living and Dying Strategies

Deborah Grassman is an angel.

She is also a Hospice nurse with the Department of Veterans Affairs at Bay Pines, FL VA Medical Center.

Seated beside me in the picture above are Judy Taylor and Jim Schaller. We were among Hospice workers, VA nurses, and Purple Heart veterans who attended an all day seminar by Mrs. Grassman. There were probably 60 people in the classroom at Williams Education and Counseling Center at 101 Hospice Lane in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Grassman conducted the workshop entitled "Caring for Veterans at End of Life". She told of her experiences while caring for veterans in a hospice setting for 25 years. She introduced the concept, strategies for living and dying. She explained that some people delay the dying process by allowing technology and drugs to keep themself alive a few weeks or days more. We saw a video of one wife explaining how her dying husband suffered continued shocks from a heart defibrillator. The device was set to administer 3 shocks to a stopped heart. As her husband passed from life to death, the defibrillator delivered 33 painful shocks. It actually burned through his flesh. There were no instructions on how to stop the device. This painful death is forever etched in the tearful wife's memory.

Grassman put forth 7 tasks of living and dying. Ideally, the end of life process should include these steps during final visits by family, friends, and acquaintances:

Forgive me.

I forgive you.

I love you.

Thank you.

Good bye.

Let go.

Open up.

These ideals apply to all people, not just veterans. Grassman explained in detail each step and cited experiences with dying veterans to support each one.

The audience was brought to tears several times with stories of men and women, young and old, moving through that inevitable journey from life to death.

Toward the end of the day long seminar, Grassman asked the veterans in the audience to stand and be recognized. Then, as a PowerPoint presentation showed patriotic images and played similar music, she pinned onto our shirt a special memento followed by a hug. When she embraced me and whispered words, I felt as though I'd been - touched by an angel.

Have a good week!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Summer Camp

It was a privilege to join our church youth group at Camp Caswell on Oak Island near Wilmington, North Carolina. I was one of two male chaperones to accompany seventeen youths.

One thousand youths, leaders, and chaperones from 44 churches were gathered at this excellent facility for worship, Bible study, devotions, meal preparations, and fun leisure time activities.

Morning and evening services were held each day in Hatch Auditorium. The worship leader was former NFL football player, Derwin L. Gray. This evangelism linebacker from a south Charlotte church exhibited great passion for Jesus. We were inspired by his preaching on the scriptures in The Holy Bible. I estimated a hundred youths committed to follow Christ by stepping forward during the invitation.

The theme of the week was iLove - love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; love oneself; and love your neighbor as yourself.

One day's message was on human sexuality and how God created sex for procreation and pleasure between husband and wife. Mr. Gray left no stone unturned as he preached to teenagers about avoidance of intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, dry humping, and porn. He talked to us about the value and rewards of saving virginity beyond teenage years for a future spouse. His message reminded everyone about temptations we face everyday with the marketing of sexual imagery and the behaviors of men and women in pictures, movies, media, and on TV. Many teenagers at church camp purchased a "purity ring" as a reminder to themselves and friends of their goal to remain pure until marriage.

Further discussion with teenagers about sex education was held when the youths were separated by gender. The teenagers' youth leader and chaperones met with their respective gender group to further discuss the message. This allowed students and their youth leader to talk about appropriate attire, degrees of kissing, behaviors at school, and the use of daily prayer to help stay the course.

Has your teenager received biblical guidance on sexuality?

Click on the pictures to enlarge them. Click here to see more photos of the camp area and the fun time had by all.

Have a good week!