Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Seasons of Love (HD)

This is a good thought people should think about.

The Key Factor in Addiction Recovery

Positive Lifestyle Change
The Key Factor in Addiction Recovery

By David H. Kerr                  January 22, 2015

What is addiction? 
Is it a disease?  Is it a sickness?  Is it a mental health problem? Is it a moral failing?  Is it a crime? Is it a harmful lifestyle?  Is it something else?  The debate roars on but today I would rather call addiction a harmful lifestyle. Addiction is a lifestyle choice that harms self and others, no debate about that. 

How can people recover from addiction?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse classifies addiction as a medical disorder: Considering that, here’s what they say about how to recover from addiction:

How Can People Recover Once They’re Addicted? – NIDA’s points

1)     As with any other medical disorder that impairs the function of vital organs, repair and recovery of the addicted brain depends on targeted and effective treatments that must address the complexity of the disease. We continue to gain new insights into ways to optimize treatments to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects on brain and behavior because we now know that with prolonged abstinence, our brains can recover at least some of their former functioning, enabling people to regain control of their lives.
2)     That said, the chronic nature of the disease means that relapsing to drug abuse is not only possible but likely, with relapse rates similar to those for other well-characterized chronic medical illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. For all these diseases, including drug abuse, treatment involves changing deeply embedded behaviors, so lapses should not be considered failure but rather indicate that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted, or that alternate treatment is needed. But addicted individuals also need to do their part. Even though they are dealing with a compromised brain that affects decision-making and judgment, people with drug abuse or addiction must also take responsibility to get treatment and actively participate in it.”

To help an addict, I have found it more practical to see addiction as an acquired harmful lifestyle with possible genetic origins rather than or as well as a sickness or disease.  Changing the addiction lifestyle is a major factor leading to lasting recovery!  It usually involves finding new friends who are positive and changing our interests and where we work and “play.”  As they say in AA, changing “people, places and things” is required for recovery[1].

Mankind has always been curious, always seeking quick ways to feel happier and/or ways to be quickly removed from intolerable physical or mental stress and pain.  Many substances now legal or illegal, fill that need.  This is where the trouble can begin and for some, at an early age and then lasting a lifetime.  Media advertisements for opioid pain killers plus word of mouth descriptions of the good feelings associated with taking these legal medications and illegal drugs, especially heroin, fuel the curiosity and soon comes the statement, “I want to try this just once!”  Often this “once” leads to years of addiction to the pain killers and then for some, to heroin!  Situations like war can cause rampant drug abuse and addiction so that many of our veterans are returning physically addicted or detoxifying on the plane ride home.

The same positive lifestyle changing goals we use for addicts in long term recovery often work for returning war veterans.  Those returning soldiers who want to stay clean and sober here in the states, often have to break ties with veteran friends who choose to continue to use drugs upon returning to the states.  They must avoid the places that are known hangouts for addicts and substance abusers as well.  They must avoid the kind of idleness that often is the open door for the addiction lifestyle to enter.  They must move forward and/or relearn a new positive healthy lifestylethat will promote their feeling of self-worth, a critical ingredient to staying clean and sober for any length of time.

Finally, you’ll be interested and perhaps surprised to know that the vast majority of addicts whom I have met, know this!  While this knowledge is essential, it is only the first step towards building that new and durable drug free lifestyle.  Doing what they know they should have been doing for years, is the key to building the bridge to lasting recovery.  How do you get an addict to start doing and stay doing what he/she already knows is right?  Now there’s the key question.  The technical answer to this is “you don’t.” 

Remember, the addict doesn’t need a “counselor” he[2] needs a coach since the addict is his own counselor!  The addict must go through the process of healing himself.  He must do it but he can’t do it alone.  He needs someone by his side to remind him of his “good” and his strengths so that he can begin the process of restoring his faith in himself.  He may need to enter a drug free residential program that is long-term focusing on lifestyle change rather than on medically oriented treatment.

Author Johann Hari in his new book, “Chasing the Scream” offers his point of view about addiction.  Although not agreeing with all of them, I find that his ideas are more consistent with my experiences and understanding of the addicts I have met since 1965.  The title of Hari’s article below is: “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think.”  Hari traveled across the country interviewing addicts and compiling a picture of their lives and addiction itself.  Here are eighteen points from his thinking and understanding that are well worth a look:

1)      “But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong - and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.”
2)     Hari even reviewed the studies of rats, designed to predict the reason for addiction.  In an experiment with rats giving them a choice of good or drugged water, “the rats with good lives didn't like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.”
3)     In a comparison with soldiers who went to war and became addicted: “But in fact, some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers - according to the same study - simply stopped (when they returned to the states). Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage (as per the rat experiment above) back to a pleasant one, so they didn't want the drug any more.”
4)     “Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It's not you. It's your cage.”
5)     “In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much high purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right - it's the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them - then it's obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets, to meet their habit. But here's the strange thing. It virtually never happens. The Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts - and leaves medical patients unaffected.”
6)     “The drug is the same, but the environment is different.”
7)      “But in fact, some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers - according to the same study - simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so they didn't want the drug any more.
8)     Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain.  In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It's not you. It's your cage.”
9)     “He says we should stop talking about 'addiction' altogether, and instead call it 'bonding'. A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn't bond as fully with anything else.
10)  So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”
11)   “You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers' Anonymous meeting in Las Vegas (with the permission of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were as plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I have known in my life. Yet there are no chemical hooks on a craps table.”
12)  “But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That's not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that's still millions of life ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.”
13)  “There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world - and so leave behind their addictions.”
14)  “The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent.”
15)  “The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live - constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.”
16)  “The writer George Monbiot has called this "the age of loneliness."We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander - the creator of Rat Park - told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery - how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.”
17)   “Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention - tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won't stop should be shunned. It's the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction - and you may lose them all together. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever - to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can't.”
18)  “When I returned from my long journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in withdrawal, trembling on my spare bed, and I thought about him differently. For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow - we should have been singing love songs to them all along.”


As we work to help addicts relate to and feel their own self-worth let’s be sure to understand that a critical part of this is for the addict in recovery to choose and practice a new drug free lifestyle!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Impressionism and Mary Cassatt

American Impressionist Mary Cassatt (1844-1926), perhaps one of the original 'Americans in Paris,' was a painter and printmaker. Born in Pennsylvania and a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, she is notable for her unique style and treatment of light and color. She was also among the pre-eminent woman of the Impressionism Movement.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

THE RATIONAL STATE: A Discussion of Government

By Rev. J.J. Purcell

Each independent nation and nation-state, as well as any government organized under every independent nation or nation-state, takes on the character of a human being, as it demonstrates character, thrift, concern for others and lesser traits too – like arrogance, impunity and rashness, among others.
It should be the goal of nations and governments to espouse what is best in people and to operate as the ‘rational state’ that could be equated to a well-balanced human individual, who possesses and demonstrates many good and favorable traits and habits during their daily interactions with others. Inasmuch as a state should be rational, it can be assumed that such a state is truthful, well-meaning, industrious, fair natured and analytical. For example, a rational state could not be one bent upon war, corruption or unsavory motives. The inertial drive for the rational state comes from a place of positive choices, which translate into not only the greater good but the inherent morality that is presumed upon any sane, rational and well-balanced man or woman.

However, even rational states can find themselves in predicaments involving war, corruption and unsavory scandals. It should not be, though, a presentiment of the state to involve itself in base actions.

The rational state understands it has a compact with its citizens: The state shall work in the best interests of the greatest number of individuals that hold allegiance to the state. So, it should be able to be presumed that every decision relative to state finances, security, civil rights, industry and business should be meted out with the understanding that government must be partisan to the interests of the largest number of citizens.
Where does morality come into play with state craft? And, if it does, whose morality should come into play? Is morality even a function of government? I think these are wonderful questions because they are relative to the spoken and unspoken agreements between the citizenry and the government(s) that exercise legal authority over them.
Parts of morality are senses of truth and justice. If a citizen cannot believe the truth asserted by the government, or its ability to fairly mete out justice then there will be a fundamental disconnect between the government and its credibility, which is the ability for it to be believed, and its citizens.

If my neighbor came over and asked to borrow a lawnmower and said he had to mow his front yard, I would lend it to him. He asked me to borrow the lawnmower and informed me he would mow his front yard. As a neighbor of his, I want him to mow the grass on his front lawn, because then that improves the presentation of the block upon which we both live. So, his work is a reflection of my pride in my community also, and I am using my own possession – the lawnmower – to help in achieving that mutual goal. However, as the weeks passed, if I noticed that my neighbor’s lawn was not mowed, I would be interested in that because he borrowed my possession to achieve the work that was not done. Then, I might go and ask my neighbor for my lawnmower back. Well, he might say he had no idea what I was talking about because he never promised to mow the lawn and neither did he borrow my lawnmower. This would give me the impression that my neighbor was both a thief and a liar. After this situation, it would not be logical or reasonable for me to transact any business with my neighbor because I could not count on his word.
Government is not so removed from the neighbor who borrowed the lawnmower. If government compels the citizenry for money, with a stated purpose, and then does not use the money for the reason it stated -- and refuses to acknowledge responsibility for the funds it has acquired -- then government is a thief and a liar. Consequently, I do not see any further reason, according to logic and common sense, to transact any additional business with government. However, because government has armies, courts and police forces, I am compelled to accept the government’s lies, distorted vision and thievery. This is in direct contrast to logic and good sense, which no longer can be applied to the situation or its future outcome. Government cannot do business on its word, only through its courts, police and armies. And, because of this, government would be considered ‘irrational,’ as it would have expectations that are non-linear or credible in dealing with the citizenry. Only an irrational person must use courts, police and armies transact their business. Where right and logic is not in use, then force must be used. It is the road of least resistance.
Now, back to the character of nations and governments: If a government cannot be trusted to observe the truth or to act in the best interests of its citizens then it will not be believed and lose its place in the minds and hearts of people as a force for good. Yet, once that is lost, all is lost. In such a case, government would be plowing over its citizenry irrationally, insensibly and without the ability to right itself, since the foundation of a lie cannot hold up a structure of truth. When all is lost, as in this case, human beings revert to lies, half-truths and deceptions in many instances, and this can be applied to governments as well.
It is harder to operate government with credibility than it is to operate government without credibility among its citizens. The ability to remain credible holds hands with the idea of the rational state that operates sanely.

Now the question must be asked: Who is this government and whom does it represent? What are the ideals of its people? What is their morality?

A government must decide if it is rooted in the welfare of its citizens, and to a lesser extent the world in general. Through its actions, positive and negative, government will create a face to the world and a face to its citizens. If the morality of the government cannot be aligned with the view of morality common to its citizens then it must make a facade -- a false face -- so that it can transact business with convenience.

Men and women deserve to be protected from the excesses of government. Through taxation and the payment of said taxes by citizens, citizens become the responsibility of the government. Government exists only because of levied taxes.

A nation can be mighty and immoral. A man or woman can be mighty and immoral. However, it is a condition of man that, for every person who believes they are the strongest, there is always someone stronger, somewhere. However, a government that can stand up morally and in solidarity with the true welfare of its citizens, and is mighty, is mightier because of its relationship to its citizenry. For this to take place, though, government must behave rationally, in service to its obligations and expectations by its citizens.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Conservatives focused upon 'Negativity Bias': Hibbing

According to work being done in the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, politicial Liberals and Conservatives do not agree in policy decisions, by and large, because they are essentially different people at the level of personality, psychology, physiologically and genetically.

According to the article, printed in Mother Jones (, "That's a big deal. It challenges everything we thought we knew about politics -- upending the idea that we get our beliefs solely from our upbringing, from our friends and families, from our personal economic interests, and calling into question the notion that in politics, we can really change (well, most of us, anyway)."

The work being done about Liberal-Conservative brain differences is being done by John Hibbing of the University of Nebraska, who is arguing that political Conservatives have what is being termed as a "negativity bias." This means they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, provocative) stimuli in their environments than Liberals.

In the opinion of this writer, what is being discussed here is not simply an issue with the way people of a certain political persuasian think. This brings into question the fitness of those identified, albeit loosely, as "Conservative" to actually hold office and lead a government, at any level, in the best interest of society.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015


By Rev. J.J. Purcell

The life of Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890) can be examined on many levels. Yet, in any examination of the man's life, at its heart you will find artistic genius, the extent of which is rarely manifested by people.

Was he just a painter? I think that would be a dramatic understatement. Van Gogh opened the eyes of a world to the power of color, form, texture and impression as no one had before him, in the opinion of art critics and patrons on every content, through the march of time.
The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles at Night (1888)
Technically speaking, van Gogh was a Post Impressionist painter, who was Dutch. He lived an especially troubled life, which he ended at the age of 37 years old. However, before van Gogh's untimely departure, he left mankind in excess of 2,100 works, which include: 860 oil paintings and 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints.

Van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, a village nearby Breda in the province of North Brabant in the Netherlands. He was the eldest surviving child of the Rev. Theodorus van Gogh, of the Dutch Reformed Church. His mother's name was Anna Cornelia Carbentus. He had a younger brother, art dealer Theo van Gogh, who played a prominent role in his life. He had another brother, named Cor, and three sisters: Elisabeth, Anna and Willemina.
The Red Vineyard (1888)

Where did the art of Vincent van Gogh begin? Well, I suppose at birth, but it started to be noticed when he moved to the Hague in 1882, where he called upon his cousin, Anton Mauve (1838-1888), who was a Dutch realist painter.

Throughout his short life, van Gogh suffered terribly from psychological disorders, which proved to be a catalyst, in the opinion of many, where it involved his end. Yet, his life was and remains a bright spot in the story of man.

Historian Simon Schama noted that van Gogh, though leaving no children, instead left the world  Expressionism. Artists from Willem de Kooning, Howard Hodgkin and Jackson Pollock, to name only a few, followed in the enormous footsteps left in the wake of van Gogh's work.
Still Life: Vase with 12 Sunflowers (1888)
Today, van Gogh continues to influence generations of artists, designers and architects through the collection of work he created and his brother, Theo, protected and represented long after van Gogh's demise.

In looking at the work of van Gogh, one sees not only the figure of which he paints, but also the striking color, depth, texture and contours. It is not that these concepts were never examined before, but they were somehow brought together in a manner that evoked, and continues to evoke, something that is not quanitifiable in the human soul.

Though the man lived only briefly in his life, and mostly in obscurity at that, his work, nevertheless, is eternal.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Saturday, January 10, 2015

OUR FLAG: Then, Now and Always

Every man or woman who has ever served our republic, our nation, our America, has a special relationship with our flag. It is a privilege to salute our Stars and Stripes as one of its soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, coast guardsmen or as a veteran of any of its armed services. It is sometimes hard for people who have not served to understand fully what that beautiful old standard means to many of us who are serving or have served. 

I have taken a journey with her, which has lasted a lifetime (or at least half of one as of this writing). I met her in baseball parks and at school when I was a child, before I really saw her for who she was, and still is, when I took my oath of service at 17 years old, in the Federal Building in Newark, New Jersey, in 1983. She was more formal than I had ever seen her until then, without the wind blowing through her blue field, stars and stripes. She stood quietly, solemnly in the back of the room while I gave her my oath. There was something proud about the oath, something exciting, maybe even a little mysterious. At that moment I knew I married that quiet girl standing in the back of the room, and it felt right.

My Dad and Granddad had fought for her, as well as my uncles and cousins, in World War I and II, Korea and in Vietnam. I lost one of my uncles, David, in World War II before I ever met him. But, as sad as that was and is, I always knew he died for something -- for her, for us and who we are and maybe who we want to be as a people and as individuals. It doesn’t make me miss my Uncle David less, even today. But, it makes me proud of how he lived and what he stood for in his life.

The sad thing about growing older is seeing family and friends pass from life. My father went to his peace beneath our flag, as has my uncles and two of my cousins. I think everyone gives some part of themselves in service to the country, whether they will admit it or not. However, some give more and there are those who give everything they are or ever will be for that simple piece of cloth that flutters free outside of buildings and gathering places of all kinds in this country. It was not the flag that made us free. It is an emblem of all those who have fought and strove and given -- and even died -- for us.

I served in the Army or its components for about 10 years. The best friends I ever made in my life I made while serving in our Army. It occurred to me once after a tough day at work while I was a soldier that I could question anything I wanted to about anything, but when I looked up -- there she was again. I aged and worked and lived my life, but she remained as young and vibrant as she had been when she was minted at the beginning of our American Experiment in freedom. Our flag doesn't change and neither does the dream of not just the past or the present, but the future and those men and women not even a thought now who will lead our republic next.

My daughters both serve: one in the U.S. Air Force and one in the U.S. Army, and I am proud of them for what they are doing. In some ways, I do feel the torch passed. My grandfather came to this country from Ireland. I never met him but my father told me that my Granddad loved this country like only an immigrant who was given the gift of citizenship could understand it. He loved this country and his family as hard as a man could. He’d be proud of my girls, as much as we are of him.

When I was a young paratrooper and infantryman, I believed in the things said by my heroes, such as President John F. Kennedy when he said that each of us should not ask what the country can do for us, but what we each can do for this nation: our home. I still do. America is a big place, with big dreams, big hopes and is a ponderous place of such beauty that it defies description.

America is still a place where someone can make their fortune by the sweat of their brow and a strong back, armed with determination and the freedoms God bequeathed to mankind at their first breath.

An older man now, with more than his fair share of aches and pains, I get dressed every morning and it is a rare day when I leave my home without squarely putting on my worn black baseball cap, with my beloved 82nd Airborne Division patch on it. Some time ago, I added to that hat by pinning a set of Airborne Wings and brass sergeant stripes on it above the patch, as reminders of golden days gone by. Maybe it’s that hat that reminds me about the old jokes and gripes, victories and defeats, girls when I still had brown hair and good and bad times with my friends and Army family. I am not ashamed to say I love those old friends still and think of our times and foolishness with some regularity.  

I have lost touch with some of those friends, while others I still speak with now and again. Some of those great guys I served with have passed on from this life since they left the Army, while others died in our nation’s service. Still, I know, somehow, I will see them again when it is my time and it will be a homecoming.

Still, that dear old flag shines down on me like a sun that can blaze in the middle of the night. I still salute her, at the beginning of every morning and the last thing every day, as I pass her going to or coming back from my chores. Sometimes, I’ve even stopped to make sure to say hello to her, so she knows I don’t take her for granted. Maybe for a half-second, I am even a teen-aged infantryman again and she is my best girl.

Oh, now and again, people have a little laugh and think I’ve grown peculiar over time with my little ritual. But, I could care less about what anyone says. I’ve invested good pieces of my life to that flag, and I would do it again if I could. And, that flag is as much a part of me as is my heart or blood, and it is my privilege and even honor to salute her every day as one of our nation’s veterans.

In life, sometimes one runs through friends and even family. Things can change in this world. But, what hasn’t changed is that flag and what it means, and what it means to me still.


I wanted to say 'thank you' to the sites readers for reading "The Greatest Generation." It is a personal story, and one that I treasure. In all, the story has received 326 reads in a little more than a day it has been up. Again, thanks for the support. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

A TRUE STORY: The Greatest Generation

There are moments in time that can echo forever, telling new generations about the greatness or the lack of it in the abilities of men and women. This is a true story about a generation’s greatness and an army's humanity.
I was a 21-year-old corporal in 1987, when REFORGER ‘87 was taking place. I was an intelligence analyst serving with the S-2, 4th Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, which belonged to the 2nd Armored Division (Forward). My unit was based in Lucius D. Clay Kaserne in Garlstedt, Federal Republic of Germany (when that still existed).
My battalion had been deployed for a few months at this point. I occasionally joked with my friends that we weren’t deployed as much as we were homeless now. The joke even brought out a laugh now and again.
During the deployment, the battalion traveled to unfamiliar ground for us. Normally we were located in Northern Germany, and only came south of Hanover to perform gunnery qualification with the M2 and M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. When the unit traveled south, it usually went to the gunnery range at Grafenwohr, in Eastern Bavaria, and then went on to be evaluated at nearby Hohenfels, which was a training area used by Allies from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. At Hohenfels, the unit would go through an Army Training and Evaluation Program to demonstrate our efficiency. It was hard soldiering, but the “Iron Deuce” was a great old unit and drew some pretty staunch soldiers.
It was training, though, and the reality of what defending another nation on its own soil really meant had not gotten through for a while.
This REFORGER was different for a lot of us younger soldiers. We traveled through towns and saw the faces of ordinary Germans we were protecting. It was the Cold War in those days, and so many of us believed it might become a shooting war while we were there. No one took the threat of the Soviet Union lightly, and soldiers in the United States Army in Europe respected the Soviets and their Warsaw Pact Allies. We all knew they were a professional and strong army. But, then again, so were we.
Still, as we passed through several towns, driving along German highways and byways in our armored personnel carriers, trucks, and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, it changed how I saw my service there. It made it real to me.
What really brought that sentiment home, though, occurred in Drensteinfurt, in the Northern Rhine-Westphalia region of the country. As normal, the unit pulled in and, in my case, soldiers from the S-2 (the Intelligence and Security Section), parked our M577 Command Post Carrier right next to the S-3 (Operations) and we went about the businesses of unrolling canvasses and making our tactical operations center, which a fire support team from the Field Artillery and an air liaison team from the U.S. Air Force hooked into as well.  This is where our commander, at the time Lieutenant-Colonel John Voessler, and his primary staff officers communicated with and controlled the 700-soldier (or so) task force that was 4/41 Infantry.
Well, it was hot and sweaty work in the middle of August, and everyone who took part in making the TOC, as it was called, was dirty, tired and thirsty. However, the one good thing about operating in towns is that soldiers were occasionally allowed to patronize little cafes in the immediate area, if everything was on schedule, as it was this bright and sunny day.
My good friend, Private Bruce Fogle, and I received permission to go grab ‘some local chow’ and return. Fogle and I were wearing camouflage face paint and I was carrying my M-16 and he the bulky M60 machinegun assigned to him. Our helmets were on and chinstraps firmly in place and our uniforms looked like they are supposed to in the field.
This was a natural thing for us. But, as he and I passed German civilians, I became aware these accessories might very well be disturbing. I put myself in their place. So, I tried to do some smiling as we passed people and Fogle tried the same. I couldn’t imagine how it would have felt seeing foreign soldiers strolling down my hometown street in Howell Township, New Jersey.
Well, this older woman, perhaps in her late 70s or older, was accompanied by her granddaughter (as I came to find out later) down the little cobblestone road where the cafe was located. Upon us approaching, she became visibly shaken and muttered something emotionally to her granddaughter. I thought we must have upset her and tried my broken German to explain we were only having a wargame here and that my unit would be leaving soon.
Yet, her granddaughter explained her grandmother’s reaction: “No sir, that patch you and the other man are wearing is the same as the patch of the men that freed my grandmother from the Nazis in 1945. She wants to thank you soldiers still.” Then the old lady reached out and took Fogle’s dirty, gloved hand and placed it up to her face and said, with her heavy German accent, “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
Tears immediately rose to my eyes, which I thought was very ‘un-NCO-like’ of me, but Fogle had the waterworks going too.
My Dad was a soldier back then. He fought in the Rhine like so many others. He could have easily been one of the soldiers that helped her back then. It all came around for me -- why we were there, what we are supposed to be about and the very big shoes we were filling.
I asked her granddaughter to translate, because I didn’t want to screw it up. Then I said that there are always going to be evil people in the world. And, it was a privilege to be associated with the men she knew, if only by our patch, and that both my friend and I, and the rest of us, would try and make sure neither she nor her family ever had to go through anything like the Nazis again. This moved me. Right then, I figured out what it was to be an American soldier.



As of today, murderers involved in the Charlie Hedbo Massacre in Paris two days ago are dead, as police located a perpetrator at a Paris kosher grocery store, Amedi Coulibay, and two at an area printing press, Cherif and Said Kouachi, in Dammartin-en-Goele,

There is a female suspect on the loose, Hayat Boumeddiene, whom police are seeking.

My heart goes out to those killed and wounded and for their families.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why the Paris publication 'Charlie Hedbo' was attacked

The Paris magazine Charlie Hedbo was attacked because it was doing its job -- looking at life from a satirical point of view.

The publication was founded in 1970 and is operated as a weekly satirical news magazine. It is considered "left wing" by some.

I honor those men and women who gave their lives in the name of journalism. I was a journalist myself for about 20 years. What I learned in that time was that, when done right, journalism matters. It is intended to be thought-provoking. Sometimes, among the stupid, thought-provoking turns to murder, as happened most recently in Paris against Charlie Hedbo.

It is even more surprising to Americans when something like this happens; by and large American publications (with notable exceptions) and so-called news channels (yes, I am talking about you FOX News) say very little, work very hard at not offending anyone that can hit back and are virtually worthless in communicating the world around them to viewers or readers. Most so-called news channels have become "news entertainment," which is moronic.

Simply put, the folks at Charlie Hedbo were doing their jobs. And, may those who perished rest in peace, and those who were injured recover to full health. I salute them and their work. I grieve for their losses. I will not forget their sacrifices soon.

Interestingly enough, when reporting this tragedy, most American media persists calling Charlie Hedbo a newspaper: It isn't. It's a magazine. Someone should probably cover the differences between the two in college somewhere. Yet, that is nothing compared to the fact that the American media has been locating the wars this nation has had for a decade now in the "Middle East," when Southerwestern Asia is nowhere near it.

Good journalists do come into peril, which is why the vast majority of American "journalists" are completely safe.

As for the murderers who claims the lives of 12 decent people, may they burn in hell.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A HISTORY OF IMPRESSIONISM - Art/Artist/Discovery (documentary)

The early masters of Impressionism created a bright and flowing world we still live within. Their work inspired architects, designers of all kinds, as well as painters from the early 20th century until today.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Irish Step Dancing: A Documentary

Irish Dance comes in two different forms: social dance and performance dances. Irish Dance was popularized in 1994, by the international phenomenon "Riverdance," which featured Irish Dance champions Jean Butler and Michael Flatley.

Historically, Irish Dance has its roots in the 18th and 19th centuries. In its early days, Irish Dance was not performed in contests or exhibitions, but was performed socially. This art form has grown up today to include a large fan base, worldwide.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The World of Artist Satyajit Chandra Chanda

Artist Satyajit Chandra Chanda
By Rev. Jim Purcell

Satyajit Chandra Chanda is an amazing artist from India who channels man’s relationship to his environment, through nature’s imagery, according to the MFA graduate from M.S. Baroda Class of 2000.

As well as holding his Master’s of Fine Arts, Satyajit also holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from B.VA College of Arts & Crafts (Kolkata).

A self-portrait by Chanda
As a child, Satyajit said his first teacher was actually his mother, and though he has moved on from her tutorship, he still credits her for igniting that spark in art. At first, Satyajit said he was attracted to clay modeling, and later on painting. For several years, he was painting wonderful watercolor pieces on handmade paper. Yet, as in all things, art evolves and Satyajit’s oils and his unique blend of poster art and kitsch have created a dynamic voice for him that art devotees have appreciated a great deal.

Of some note is that, in December, 2001, Satyajit won a merit certificate from the Bombay Art Society in the celebrated 110th All India Art Exhibition, for his work titled, "Sane Expressions."

One of many of Chanda's featured works 
Satyajit’s work can frequently be found in quality exhibits, such as in Roots/Routes of Bengal, which was curated by Dr. Archanna Roy. In 2012, Satyajit’s work was also included in an exhibit that featured “The Eclectic Blend of Spiritual and Soulful Expressions,” at the Coomaraswamy Hall in Mumbai.

Though he has taken part in many shows involving the works of others, Satyajit has also had solo shows, which have garnered both praise and notoriety. Among his solo efforts, Satyajit’s work has been featured in “An Exhibition of Drawings and Paintings: Satyajit Chandra Chanda,” at AKS Art Gallery, also in Mumbai.

Here, Chanda displays his skill in figure drawing

(All photos used by permission of the Artist)


By Rev. Jim Purcell

A lot of Americans, many of them NASCAR fans, seem enthralled with the idea of the U.S. Government torturing prisoners. Like when they watch some "Monster Truck Show" on television, they want to get excited that something big and stupid is taking place, in my opinion.

However, not everything can be solved with the phrase "Nuke 'em til they glow" or something similar. Some things shouldn't be left to the less educated or sane among the American people.

Most recently, Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain came out publicly faulting the CIA and Bush Administration for the operation of the agency's Detainee and Interrogation Program operated between 2001-2006.

Sen. McCain is a well-known 'hawk' in the Senate, who has been staunch in his belief that America's recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were necessary for the nation's security interests.

However, McCain, a former prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, made it clear he did not abide torturing detainees. During the war, McCain was a U.S. Navy aviator who was shot down behind enemy lines.

He rightly noted that not only would a tortured prisoner tell their interrogators everything they wanted to hear, but would tell them anything they wanted to hear. And, that outcome destroyed whatever purpose real 'interrogation' held.

I want to support the senator in what he said, because it is important. He probably has more access than everyday Americans to the full 6,000-page report on the CIA program, which was reduced to a 525-page executive summary

As a former intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army myself, during the 1980s, I do know a little something about interrogation priorities. And, it doesn't take a wizard to figure out that obtaining real, useable intelligence data is imperative within the interrogation process. Well, that wasn't achieved by the agency, and this "enhanced interrogation methods" was a lot of horse dump that wasted a lot of people's time and did nothing but lower the nation to the level of terrorists and pigs when it indulged in this behavior, which is patently against the Geneva and Hague Conventions.

Yet, when I posted this on Facebook, what I received back was a slew of people, mostly Right Wingers, who said they "disagree" with Sen. McCain and the U.S. should torture terrorists. Well, that problem occurs because America doesn't offer a thorough public education.

The purpose of an interrogation is not to torture someone. Its purpose is to get information people can use to help identify the enemy's mission, enemies, timing for operations, troops used in operations and terrain the bad guys occupy or want. Having someone screaming anything anyone wants to hear does nothing to achieve those goals.

In fact, interrogation is not a sentence. Interrogation is an investigative process. If someone, say some redneck from Appalachia, wanted to torture someone. It would be concurrent to a sentence of some kind and not during an initial investigative process. The redneck wants to torture terrorists because somewhere in his dimly lit thinking processes he thinks this is a great idea. However, lo and behold! There is the Geneva and Hague Conventions, which this nation has been a signatory of since 1907.

The Geneva and Hague Conventions are the benchmark for enlightened nations and the violation of them relegates the perpetrators to the title of "war criminal" and the nation that supports that as "rogue" or "evil." I, for one, would rather live in United States that was intended and crafted by the Founding Fathers, not the weekly viewers of "Duck Dynasty."

Still, after reading this, many people in this nation will say, 'See, he wants to take it easy on terrorists while Americans die! He's nothing but a traitor!' I have no response to that, I only have English to work with here, and that isn't a popular subject of study in our American "Educational" System anymore.

Personally, I believe these advocates of torture are ignorant beyond all imagining. They are the "Tea Party" folks who would destroy our economy, have us depart the U.N. and become a nation of evil. They misunderstand nearly every intention of the Founding Fathers, in my opinion, and in the war between God and the Devil on this world, they are not on the side of the angels. In short, they are an embarrassment beyond all reckoning and thank God those of similar views (e.g. Fox celebrity Sarah Palin) are not in command of this nation.

(Rev. Jim Purcell is a former U.S. Army Intelligence Analyst with the G-2, XVIII Airborne Corps, Counter-Intelligence Analysis Branch, among other assignments. He is a graduate of the New York Theological Seminary and was an award-winning journalist for many years, who, among other publications, wrote for both the Newark Star-Ledger and Jersey Journal.)