Monday, 25 November 2013

PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife / Updated Cheat Sheet for Vets and Writers

Blog of a Vet's Wife portrays the detailed journey of publishing my first book, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorderthe CHALLENGES and LESSONS learned, while pinpointing PTSD and how this disorder is ravaging our men and women returning from war in epidemic proportions.  My main MISSION is to EDUCATE mankind on PTSD and its effect on families and our nation as a whole.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.           
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The HOLIDAYS have moved in with all their baggage like unexpected house guests who plan to stay a while. With cluttered days and endless commitments, I barely noticed until they jumped off the calendar and splashed into my coffee. Where did this year go??

Tomorrow I fly to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with my sons and their families. I DREAD flying in the WINTER and I HATE being COLD, but this will be the FIRST time we've been together for Thanksgiving since they were little. One of the hardships of modern-day living in different states and countries. My daughter will be missing, but Australia is too far. She'll be in our hearts and thoughts.

My cup over-flows with BLESSINGS. I have so much to be thankful for. As a writer, I hope to capture each moment to save for a rainy day when I can pull them up at random and savor every smile and the laughter once again.

Please remember to GIVE THANKS for our brave WARRIORS who will not be spending Thanksgiving with their families and loved ones.  Their absence is painful but their dedication and SELFLESSNESS is what makes our country strong. Pray for their safety this holiday and that one day soon these wars will end so they can return home to the loving arms waiting for them. 

With time running short, I wanted to post a BLOG before my flight. I decided to update my CHEAT SHEET. It's been two years since my last revision. I know I have many new readers who might be looking for a specific topic. This BLOG concentrates on my exposure to PTSD through my husbands journey, what happened and what I learned.  It also shows how I came to write this book and each step into publishing ... DETAILED.

The list may seem daunting but the descriptions are brief. The dates coincide with those on the right side of the blog.



Below is a list of my blogs for those who might be looking for a specific topic: 
     1.  In The Beginning                                                                April 13,  2011
          How my book came to be . . .

     2.  This Closet Writer . . . Goes Public                                  April 16
           My first writing class - posting my blog

     3.  I Never Planned to be a Writer!                                       April 23
          Blogging - my writing class - my free-lance editor   

     4.  Publicize Your Book . . .                                                    May 1
          Publicizing - blogging - writing class - book query
     5.  Write Your Heart Out . . .                                                 May 7
          Blogging - why I wrote my book - book proposal excerpt

     6. Q is for Query Letter . . .                                                    May 15
          Posted my original query letter

     7.  B is for Book Proposal . . . Part One                                May 21
          Elements of a book proposal - my proposal table of contents
     8.  B is for Book Proposal . . . Part Two                                June 12
          More elements of a book proposal
     9.  What Next? . . . Time for an Agent                                  June 19
          Some basic agent information
    10.  Marketing in an Electronic World . . .                            June 26
           First steps to marketing my book  
    11.  Will Self-Publishing be My Only Option?                      July 3
           Posted excerpt from Chapter One of my book    

    12.  A Platform . . . Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone    July 11
           Start to develop a platform for my book
    13.  The Marketing Medusa . . .                                              July 28
           JK Rowling's success - more marketing
    14.  2011 Agents . . . What Do They Really Want?              August 7
           Identify agent's most asked for requirements
    15.  What is a Synopsis and Why? . . . Part One                  August 27
           Details to begin synopsis process
    16.  One Writer's Journey into Publishing Cheat Sheet     September 4
           Lists previous blogs and subject matter

    17.  What is a Synopsis and Why? . . . Part Two                 September 11
           What to include in a synopsis

    18.  Ebooks . . . A Contemporary "David and Goliath"     September 19
           Show why authors are choosing to self-publish
    19.  The #1 Question: Who is Your Audience? . . . plus Excerpt
            Importance of locating your specific audience                September 26
    20.  "The Moving Wall" . . . An Experience I Will Never Forget!
             An emotional visit that squeezed my heart                     October 3

    21.  Traditional Publish or Self-Publish . . . My Decision plus Excerpt
            What direction I chose and why                                       October 10
    22.  Public Speaking 101 . . . Fight or Flight?                               
           Terror and my first class . . .                                              October 17

    23.  My First Speech . . . plus Revised Cheat Sheet into Publishing
            First speech panic plus . . .                                               October 24

    24.  Africa's Beauty Being Strangled / One Person Making a Difference
            Unique story about Africa                                                November 23

    25.  Has PTSD Touched You? / Chapter 26 Excerpt . . .
           What is PTSD?                                                                  December 3

    26.  Our Soldiers are returning / Write Your Heart Out
           Warriors from Iraq and reality                                           December 14

    27.  Ghost of Christmas Past / Chapter 15 Excerpt
            Memories of Christmas                                                     December 24

    28.  The Self-Publishing Jitters of a Perfectionist
           Trials of self-publishing                                                    January 7, 2012

    29.   Wounded Warriors Walk Among Us / Chapter 24
             Reality and PTSD symptoms                                           February 8

    30.  Self-Publishing Nitty-Gritty / Copyright / Excerpt
           Copyrighting and song lyrics                                             February 19

    31.  PTSD / Can One Woman and Her Book Make a Difference?
           How my story helps our warriors with PTSD                    March 12

    32.  Self-Publishing / PTSD - A Passage of Passion
           Print-on-demand - song lyric trials                                      April 6

    33.  PTSD / Vet's Wife Self-Publishing / Chapter 33 Excerpt
           Formatting anguish                                                              June 13

    34.  PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife / Sneak Peek at the Cover
            The dawning of my book cover                                          July 16

    35.  PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife / Where's the Book??
           Reveal my self-publisher and perfect cover                        November 6

    36.  PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife Appeared on My Doorstep!
           Seeing my book for the first time                                      December 6

    37.  Diary of a Vet's Wife Reveals PTSD / Marketing / Reviews
           Suicide increase and my marketing plan                           February 18, 2013

    38.  PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife / The Truth and Vulnerability
           What you should know about PTSD                                  April 13

    39.  PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife and Memorial Day Memories
            My first encounter with the Moving Wall                         May 27

    40.  PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife goes to The White House
           How my book got to the White House                               July 4

    41.  PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife and Michelle Obama
           A surprise from Washington                                              October 6

    42.  PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife / Bittersweet is November
           Veterans Day meaning and memories                             November 10

Did you find something of interest for your own Journey?


Sunday, 10 November 2013

PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife / Bittersweet is November

“Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.”   Robert A. Heinlein
November 11, 1919, was the first anniversary of the signing of the armistice, which ended World War I.  Celebrated as Armistice Day, it was dedicated to the cause of world peace.  The day was commemorated with prayer and thanksgiving, filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who selflessly served our country.  In 1954, the word Armistice was stricken and Veterans Day took its place in history.  Each year, November 11th is a national holiday to ensure that ALL our veterans know how deeply we appreciate the sacrifices they have made in their lives with parades and speeches. Yet we owe them so much more . . .

I have seen it in your face
I am sure you have noticed it in mine;
that thousand-yard stare
that does not look out --
it looks in --
at the unutterable,
unalterable truth of our war
.   ~ The Wall Within

This may not be the best time.  My blog is heading in a direction that I had not planned.  But I'm on a roll and words are flooding my computer screen.  It wants be written . . .  
Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the 4th of July are the holidays that grab me by the ankles. My senses are on high alert, certain images bring flashbacks, and tears simply break loose at the strangest times.  My memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shows my journey with the love of my life as we battle his PTSD.  It wasn't until years later, when I began to research this disorder for my book, that I learned I had PTSD as well . . . through association.  I now know that this is why I react to certain stimuli the way I do. The dreams are less often, but I can't watch a war movie or war news without tears. Nor can I sing patriotic songs without blubbering.  The homeless veterans rip my heart.  And I have yet to be able to thank a veteran for his service at the airport or out in public without stammering over the searing lump in my throat, tears embarrassing us both.
Does anyone else go through this after so many years . . . or is it just me?

I stood there one fall
ankle deep in leaves
and looked up at the night sky
through a hole in a ceiling of trees
wondering how much better the world
might look from up there.   ~ The Wall Within
Most of my days hum effortlessly with a plethora of activity tossing me from one hour to the next. My energy level soars as I juggle the shiny balls overhead.  But then comes November swooping down on me like an eagle preparing to snatch me away.
Each November arrives with poignant promptings of the past intertwined with the present, like a finely woven sterling chain around my neck. Veteran's Day is in November, stirring up vivid memories of love and pain from long ago. No matter how long, no one ever forgets!  My husbands birthday is in November.  The 18th.  In 2001, after years scattered with tears, I received an amazing GIFT on Lorne's birthday.  My youngest granddaughter was born!  Was it a coincidence?  No ... I know it was a GIFT to help heal my heart.  
Bittersweet is the taste of November.
Veterans Facts
There are approximately 23.2 million veterans in the United States.
These brave men and women who serve and protect our country come from all walks of life; they are parents, children and grandparents.  They are friends, neighbors and coworkers, and an important part of their communities.  Here are some facts about the current veteran population of the United States.
  • 9.2 million veterans are over the age of 65.
  • 1.9 million veterans are under the age of 35.
  • 1.8 million veterans are women. (For another post)
  • 7.8 million veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975), which represents 33% of all living veterans.
  • 5.2 million veterans served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present).
  • 2.6 veterans served during World War II (1941-1945)
  • 2.8 million veterans served during the Korean War (1950-1953)
  • 6 million veterans served in peacetime.
  • As of 2008, 2.9 million veterans received compensation for service-connected disabilities.
  • 5 states have more than 1 million veterans in among their population: California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas ( 1.7 million), New York (1 million) and Pennsylvania (1 million).
  • The VA health care system had 54 hospitals in 1930, since then it has expanded to include 171 medical centers; more than 350 outpatient, community and outreach clinics; 126 nursing home care units; and 35 live-in care facilities for injured or disabled vets.
U.S. Census Bureau and United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Note: I was unable to locate veteran statistics beyond 2010.  These numbers would increase greatly with that information.  

The SADDEST question of all:  How many of these BRAVE and HONORABLE men and women live on the STREETS?  This must end!  We MUST take care of our own!

God bless America and the honorable men and women at her beacon call.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife and Michelle Obama

My last post, July 4, 2013, showed me waiting for a postal confirmation that Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had reached THE WHITE HOUSE.  After that the bottom fell out . . .

Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.    ~ Anais Nin

The life of a computer is not infinite.  REALITY hit when I could no longer type in my BLOG!  Disbelief turned to despair.  Most know I'm a techno-neophyte, yet NO ONE could fix it!  It was like losing my best friend.  I was heartsick.

Three days later, I flew to OHIO to attend our annual family reunion.  I returned to California the end of August with one mission seared into the gray matter between my pierced ears - I MUST find a new BEST FRIEND!  And FAST. 

But there were way too many CHOICES! 

One final consultation with Geek Squad and I was primed to make a decision ... which still HAUNTS me!  My new HP computer and best friend? arrived with WINDOWS 8 and its cheeky ATTITUDE.  Not to mention the TEMPERAMENT of a multi-tasking ten year old on a sugar high, taking me down gopher holes with no way back.  Navigating a cornfield maze with a box of matches would be simpler. 
I Want You to Care About PTSD
PATIENCE.  I've been told I must remember to breathe . . . 

This too shall pass, if I don't heave the darn thing off a bridge first.  My love and concern for our military far outweighs the learning curve I must conquer to be able to ENLIGHTEN the world to my PASSION . . . Public Awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that's why we decide we're done. It's getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.      
                                                           ~ Natalie Goldberg
My last post on July 4, 2013 showed me waiting for a confirmation that my book, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had reached The White House.  This was confirmed July 8th, the same day I left for Ohio.  The small green postcard was stamped "THE WHITE HOUSE."  Floating on a cloud, I headed for the airport. 
During my visit, my friendly mail collector informed me that I had received a large brown envelope from the WHITE HOUSE.  Wow, that was fast!  I asked for it to be held until I returned.  Everyone thought I was deranged for waiting.  But I like SURPRISES.  It was probably a photograph of the First Lady, but I decided to bathe in the mystery and let my imagination run wild with outrageous possibilities.  That's me. 
As soon as my luggage was loaded into the house, I made a dash for my mail. Bags of it!  A plethora of junk mail!  I found the big brown envelope from the WHITE HOUSE, stamped FIRST CLASS, DO NOT BEND.  It felt stiff as my trembling letter opener sliced along the top.  Inside a piece of cardboard protected a typewritten letter on formal 6 x 9 crème-colored stationary embossed with the Presidential Seal addressed to me.  It began, "Dear Nancy:"  Needless to say, I was THRILLED.  And even more special, it was signed by Michelle Obama herself.  The pen she used bled through to the other side at three different points.  
I may not agree with all the battles that are taking place in Washington DC at this time, but I was honored that our First Lady took time to acknowledge my book, and the plight our military has been dealing with for decades.
Definition of a veteran:  A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America" for an amount of "up to and including my life."       ~ Author unknown
Photo by Scott King / gryht on flickr.
MAN'S BEST FRIEND is lending a helping paw to aid military personnel and veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 
The number of veterans being diagnosed with PTSD continues to grow. It wasn't until after the Vietnam War in the '60s and '70s that PTSD was even recognized as an actual psychiatric syndrome by the Veterans Administration. 
Nationwide from 2002 through 2012 more than 256,000 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have been treated for PTSD.  And the numbers continue to climb as time away from the war zone passes.          by Mark Leland - Fox 11
I recently read this interview online describing one veteran's experience with his SERVICE DOG ... 
Steve, a US Army veteran, says his dog, Whiskey, provides him with a sense of much needed comfort and security.  And that Whiskey saved his life.
"I was suicidal every single day.  I couldn't get out of the house.  I was in such deep depression.  The simplest tasks were very difficult for me but two days into the canine program a light came on and changed my life.  Whiskey provides comfort and security whenever I have a panic attack.  I'll call her up on my lap and start petting her.  She brings my blood pressure down and brings me back down to reality.  If I have a flashback and things of that nature, she's right there nudging me.  "Hey, it's okay, dad."  Whiskey's right there."
When you hear and read about what's happening throughout the country with veterans returning from war, our warriors dealing with this disabling disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, do you ever think ... "But what can I do to help?"
Most know I chose PETS FOR VETS to donate a portion of the proceeds from my book.  This national organization helps heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by pairing them with shelter dogs.  Their selfless dedication in this field shows compassion and understanding to this issue that has been minimized far too long.  Their approach gives veterans a way to defuse their PTSD without the use of drugs, and gives a shelter dog a loving home and purpose. 
Know that THERE IS A WAY each one of us can help these warriors who bravely fought for what they were asked to do.  Every donation helps.  Let your heart be your guide.  We owe them more than we could ever REPAY.
Who is eligible for a Pets for Vets companion animal?  Please see information and Pets for Vets Veterans Application located on their website at for more details. 
They carried comrades, they carried guns, and they carried letters from home.  Their dog tags carried their name and rank.  Would they wear them home, or would they be handed to a family member?  None knew the answer, yet they served our country, the United States of America, with their very heart and soul.   
God Bless America and all her brave WARRIORS.
Do you know someone who is dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
(Please read post from April 2013 for more detailed information).

Thursday, 4 July 2013

PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife goes to The White House

The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you lived and you lived well.            Ralph Waldo Emerson 

   Today, July 4, 2013 is the perfect day to be waiting for a USPS confirmation showing Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has arrived at the WHITE HOUSE!

This surprising challenge began May 18th with an email from Pets for Vets. "... Attended a GI Film Festival in Washington DC last month, where a documentary on Pets for Vets by a USC student was one of 50 films shown out of 1000 submitted. Several other films dealt with PTSD. Those directors and actors agreed more must be done to RAISE AWARENESS and find OUT-OF-THE-BOX solutions for this devastating disorder.  Pets for Vets was commended for a solution without relying on drugs."

She noted: "Although we haven't talked with any veterans who have read your book yet, those who know you wrote it are thankful and appreciative. They have all commented that most people have no understanding of PTSD and the wide variety of POTENTIAL TRIGGERS. They want awareness of the issue raised and think books like yours are an important step in that direction."

Attached was a clipping from an Indiana newspaper entitled: "Legion's leader meets with Obama.  She pointed out: "Since our National Commander of the American Legion meets with President Obama, he definitely needs a copy of your book."

The wheels began to turn.  My one chance-in-a-LIFETIME!  I couldn't let it slip through my fingers.

By June 20th, my RESEARCH was complete. My letter introducing Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and MISSION was polished.  With a prayer on my lips, I pressed SEND.

The next morning I received this reply: "I have spoken to the Commander. You may send your book to him at the following address .... He suggested  you also send one to Mrs. Obama ..." giving her address.  Then she went on with words of encouragement and offered other suggestions to further my MISSION!

Delight kindled my HAPPY DANCE that seemed to last for hours!

Next step, compose a letter to Mrs. Obama.  It was intimidating, but I refused let fear control the outcome. By Friday, June 28th, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was in the hands of our United States Postal Service Priority Mail and on its way to Washington DC.

Now I wait ... it's still hard to believe!


The first Independence Day celebration took place in Philadelphia on July 8, 1776.  This was the day that the Declaration of Independence was first read in public after people were summoned by the ringing of the LIBERTY BELL ... 237 years ago.

Our COUNTRY may be young but our history shows dedication to the freedom of all mankind.  America will always be the land of the free because it is the home of the brave.  We're proud of our man and women of the United States Armed Forces, whose diligence and courage make freedom possible today and for the future.

This HOLIDAY is celebrated with family gatherings where children throw Frisbees and men fire up grills for juicy hamburgers and hotdogs.  Women arrange a spread of homemade favorites and the flies die of happiness.

Once the sun melts into darkness, the magic begins.  Fireworks of every shape, size and color sizzle and dance across the night sky in a breathtaking ballet of lights.  And NOISE!

Last night I read an article, PTSD TRIGGERS - FIREWORKS ALERT, that I'm compelled to SHARE.

A veteran's wife, Michele Smith, pleaded with people to refrain from setting off fireworks in neighborhoods where the explosive sounds can cause major difficulties for our veterans.  She explained, "Last year's FOUR days in a row of explosions in their neighborhood started her husband on a PTSD downhill spiral that landed him in an inpatient lockdown facility a few days later."

She shared what her husband was able to tell her on that first night of fireworks last year.  "I can tell myself all night long those explosions out there are not a danger to us and that I'm NOT in Iraq.  INTELLIGENTLY, I understand.  But that doesn't stop the awful FEELING inside me that IF I don't go out there and try to do something about it, people ARE going to die!" 

She felt it would help if the general public was better informed how severely this affects many veterans, so that they may choose different options for celebrating their 4th.

I agree with Michele and hope people will think twice before shooting fireworks within our neighborhoods, knowing they will be helping our heroes live a more peaceful life after war.  And thank you for caring.

Lesson learned . . . my two cents

Last night I watched my latest Netflix, Memorial Day - instead of finishing my blog.  It showed a different viewpoint and I was deeply moved and inspired.  All who care about our veterans will benefit from this heartfelt true story.

Stories live forever but only if you tell them.  ~ Memorial Day (2012)

Monday, 27 May 2013

PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife and Memorial Day Memories

War has gone on since the beginning of man's creation. And will continue until the end of time. This necessary evil brings death and pain not only to its victims, but also to the warriors and their loved ones covering our small planet. It's not the way we'd like it to be - it is the way it is.         ~ Nancy MacMillan, author
Diligently, I queried agents for a twelve-month period before I made the decision to self-publish my memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. To my disappointment most agents failed to reply, yet the rejections I did receive were polite and encouraging. Honestly, it seemed to me - no one was willing to touch the subject matter.
Was it too real?

 Memorial Day began in 1868 to honor all the military personnel who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and freedom. These brave warriors rest in peace not only on American soil, but approximately 125,000 are buried on foreign soil. American Battle Monument Cemeteries are located throughout the world (Belgium, France, Nova Scotia, England, Libya, Russia, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Mexico and Australia). 

The Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. is one of 146 National Cemeteries in the United States. It covers 624 acres where 267,000 flags fly in memory of each of these brave warriors on Memorial day.

Our country is split by war. Each of us longs to live in peace and harmony, but how can this be attained without welcoming terror to our shores with open arms? There is no easy answer.

For me, this holiday unlocks memories and the trauma of war that daunted my warrior and our family for too many years. Skeletons of battle dancing in the hallways with no way to exorcise them. 
Though wars still fester for power, I'm encouraged by the awareness and hope in growing numbers worldwide, and their passion and concern for peoples of all nations. Women and children are the most vulnerable. 

The war I lived through is behind me, but sadly thousands have stepped into my shoes. Where we differ? They're blessed to have what I never had - someone to reach out to who understands. Many dedicated organizations now exist, while new groups are surfacing nationwide, committed people who truly love and care for our warriors who gave so much, and their families. Selfless men and women are waiting for the phone call. 

My heartfelt cry to those who are struggling - "Please seek help immediately. Love and understanding are waiting, but you must take the first step."  (Contact information in previous blog)
 A love for tradition has never weakened a nation indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril. ” Winston Churchill

The post below is from October 3, 2011 - I felt it appropriate, if you're inclined to read on . . .
"The Moving Wall" - An Experience I Will Never Forget!
On Thursday, September 29, 2011, I had the priviledge of being in Santa Barbara attending my writing class on the same day "The Moving Wall" arrived at Chase Palm Park. Was this a coincidence?
Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 218 of Santa Barbara, proudly honored the service and sacrifice of the 11 million men and women who served during the Vietnam War by bringing "The Moving Wall" to their fair city.
"When the soldiers came home from Vietnam, there were no parades, no celebrations.  So they built the Vietnam Memorial for themselves."         - General Wm. C. Westmoreland 
"The Moving Wall" is a replica of the original memorial on permanent display in Washington DC, where carved in granite are 58,226 names of brave Americans honored and remembered forever. We honor the courageous service of America's 2.8 million Vietnam Veterans - especially the 58,226 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country for the enduring cause of freedom.
I pulled into the parking lot, took a ticket from the meter and found an empty parking space closest to the Memorial, though I still had a distance to walk. I sat in the car lost in thought. Questions filled my head. This was the closest I've come to "it" since the day I buried my husband's ashes in Houston National Cemetery, after which they folded his flag and presented it to me.  Could I do this with grace and dignity like Jacqueline Kennedy, or would I melt into a blubbering puddle?
I followed a sidewalk to the street and headed toward the monument. A photographer toting a heavy camera passed by. Towering palms scattered the patchy green grass. The sight of The Wall off in the distance, the sky and the ocean it's backdrop, enfolded me like a loving grandparent I'd never met. I felt timid, yet I knew I belonged . . .
They walk as if on hallowed ground. They touch the stone. They speak with the dead. They come to mourn and to remember, memory mixing with grief, making an old ritual new, creating in this time another timeless moment.   - 25th Anniversary Commemorative
In the distance, the long narrow black wall appeared to rise out of the ground where people stood like toy soldiers set in groups of two or three. Flags of many countries rose high against the hazy afternoon sky, furling in unison. A large khaki tent stood guard off to the right. As I drew near, the black panels began to reveal meticulous white lettering. Snapping flags overhead muffled the soft murmurs of family members, some clutching framed  photographs to their chest, as they stood solemnly talking with counselors near The Wall.
It was surreal . . . until it hit me.
The avalanche of names washed over me. Dear God, so many names. Too many names. Each called from the wall. I could hardly breathe. 58,226 names including 8 women. The Vietnam war. They all died in battle. This was all that was left of these warriors who were part of us, never again to feel the sun on their faces, or taste the salty air from an ocean breeze.
A train echoed from afar. A lean-muscled man riding a bicycle pulled up. His fluorescent green jacket and trimmed white beard reflect off the shiny black wall like a mirror. He straddled the bike as his eyes eagerly searched the names. One woman wandered a distance from the wall. Maybe fearful as I was to get too close. Afraid of being swallowed alive by the reality before us.
The Wall elicits a physical response. It has inspired visitors to represent their own grief, loss, rage, and despair. Contributing their private representations to public space they cross a boundary between the private and the public, the nation and the citizen, powerfully claiming the memorial as their own.   - 25th Anniversary Commemorative
The Vietnam war. So many names. So many died in battle. Yet many more returned home wounded to the core still fighting the battle. Their never-ending battle. Day and night the mortars still blaze, the screams, the cries still echo in the din. These returning soldiers who found themselves shunned and abandoned by a great many civilians who were not able to separate the war from the warrior.
As a writer, how can I not say what I feel? How my heart still aches for my husband . . . and all the names on this wall. It aches for all the people who loved and cherished the people who were these names, and feel the pain they still bare. I reached out and touched one name . . . Leon B Smith II in raised white letters. My heart hurt. Then I noticed a sign that read, "Do Not Touch the Wall."
I spent a large part of the afternoon sitting on the grass, a distance from the wall, journaling, taking pictures and thinking. How can these families heal? I wrote a book which allowed me to put my heart on paper. I may have found healing . . . but I can never forget.
Occasionally, I'd wander up to the wall and walk its length looking at the volumes of names which loving parents carefully chose for their precious newborn as they envisioned the bright future their baby would grow into.
And never dreaming the name they chose would one day stand as part of the history of our country.
Lesson Learned . . . or my two cents
The human heart can be shattered in a million pieces . . . yet you still must go on living.