• We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately. -Benjamin Franklin, Freedom Fighter

  • We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. -Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Fighter

  • Let us be cautious in making assertions and critical in examining them, but tolerant in permitting linguistic forms. -Rudolf Carnap, Philosopher

  • A clash of doctrines is not a disaster—it is an opportunity. -Alfred North Whitehead, Philosopher

  • If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility. -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Poet

  • Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. -Rumi, Mystic

  • If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. – Rene Descartes, Philosopher

  • A house divided against itself cannot stand. -Abraham Lincoln, President

  • Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. -Albert Einstein, Scientist

  • Be the change you want to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi, Freedom Fighter

Jonathan Stahl

Jonathan Stahl
United States Army
1/15INF, 3ID

June 20, 2013

So, I was at the Dr.’s this morning and this guy walks up to me, staring at me, as if we have history. he says, “Desert Storm, huh?” I said, “Yessir!” He says, “I was in a bit of a tiff a loooong time ago, Vietnam. I said, “I understand. He says,”Thank you! THANK YOU!!!!” I say, “No sir. I should be thanking you.”

I notice his eyes begin to well up. He extends his hand again, for another shake. Only this time he is looking directly into me and he grips my hand VERY firm and says, “No, thank you. You guys did a HELL of a job over there. Glad yer home.” I said nothing.

What do I say? I am starting to realize the real impact of this simple conversation I had with a friends dad, a chat in passing with a stranger in the lobby. More needs to be addressed around this issue. I’m not sure where to go or how to go about it but maybe I should dig deeper and see what NEEDS to be done.

I feel like these soldiers, talking to me, only to thank me offers them closure. If that’s the case there are many more who need to be talking, in both directions. My time was minimal. My duty no different than there’s. But their experience has haunted them, it seems, until they talk to me. Shake the hand of a man who was at the next major event.

June 19, 2013:

Below is a “thing” I wrote this morning. I was influenced … well, you’ll read it. It reminded me of the conversations I had with other Vietnam Vets during my drinking days. I would actually strike up conversations with these gents and they would just talk and talk. I meant to write some kind of collection of these conversations but all those notes are lost. I felt compelled to publicly acknowledge the moment the two of us shared in his small, not traditionally manly vehicle (Toyota Rav4). As far as judging a book by it’s cover you just never know the demons and angels that are just behind the colored complexion of anyone. We all have our moments in life we wish could be forgotten, extended, whatever. We can never fully appreciate the vantage point others see us in. Everyone’s perspective is influenced by their experiences and no two are the same, regardless if we are all there at the same time or not. In a way I guess this could satisfy parallel universes… That’s all. Thinking too much. I know you’ve heard most (if not all) of this before. Just consider it the prelude to my attachment.


Yesterday I was tasked out to help a friend move a shed from our house to her house. While doing so I was reintroduced to her father who is Vietnam Veteran. I had met him before but we didn’t really get any occasion for some 1:1 talking. Yesterday we did.

While in the car, on the very short ride to his house, he thanked me for my service. I thought to myself, “Thank me? for what? You were in some shit. I hardly deserve to sit next to you.” He continued to talk. He told me he had felt bad, uneasy, about the time he served and his mission while over there (he was a Huey crew chief; basically a death sentence).

While he was talking to me I stopped thinking about me and started listening more to him. He was telling me something I had never heard before… better said, had heard but didn’t register.

He thanked me for my service and, because of the job we did there, he felt better, better than he had since he had been home. I was familiar with the sentiment that Desert Storm was a “healing” war for Vietnam Vets but I wasn’t sure what that meant.

For all of you young bucks, Vietnam was a terrible situation that the US was involved in and it went all wrong. It was an unpopular war at home and returning Vets often had to deal with physical and emotional torture from American’s upon their arrival home (Google that if you want more info).

He was pleased that we went to a place where we didn’t necessarily belong, conducted ourselves as US soldiers and came home to heroes welcomes across the country.

I suppose from his perspective it healed a psychological wound many of that eras Vets have. American’s had felt the need to embrace our heroes regardless of what venture they are out and about on. Regardless of location, popularity, consequence of war it is important to recognize those of us who go (whether we had planned on it or not) as Americans doing what Americans do best. We fight. We defend.

Are we perfect? Far from BUT, we are Americans and no matter where we come from or what political affiliation or gender or whatever, we are Americans and when one of us goes, we should all, ALWAYS, recognize that another of us is off keeping our tradition of freedom alive and kicking, globally, every day, all day and when our sons, daughters, friends, dads, uncles, aunts, boy/girlfriends come home they should be given the same respect as any soldier from any era despite what YOU think of our reason for being there.

The “Greatest Generation,” the WWII Vets are dying off at thousands per day. Let’s not ever forget what they have established, why they went, what it means to sing the star Spangled Banner or put your hand over your heart during the pledge … If you are not a God fearing person, omit those lines BUT you can still have a sense of pride in being American and having the option to do so.

Always remember this too, those words may not mean much to you but when I was squatting in the desert 20 Years ago, they kept me alive. So, if I get…sensitive… around you making mockery of it, I will never apologize. Know your surroundings. At this point you can assume a Vet can hear you.

Thank you, Melissa’s Dad. You have reminded/inspired me in ways you may never know.


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