Earlier this year I joined my local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and I just finished helping judge contest entries for the annual Patriot Pen's essay contest sponsored by the national VFW organization. Local chapters collect and judge entries and then the top ones are sent onto the national level. This particular contest - there are others - was open to middle/junior high school grades and while it was a bit of work, it was very rewarding. This is a great way for schools and veteran organizations to engage the student body in thinking and learning about veterans. The theme this year was: "Why America’s Veterans Should be Honored." For more information here's the link:
I was very touched by how invovled the local schools were in supporting this contest but there are also valuable awards associated with this and the other contests that the VFW makes available. If you know any students who qualify or teachers please pass on the links for these annual contests.
Even with all the work involved with this contest I continued to work on the last rewrite of my manuscript - that is the last before an editor provides feedback, whenever that might be. I'm feeling very euphoric lately about my writing and continue to develop my writing, whether or not I actually get a contract. I now know it's in my blood and I can't give it up. One of my future goals is to setup a mechanism to engage veterans and all military personnel and their family members in writing more about their experiences. There are several projects sponsored by a variety of groups that address this need so I want to take some time structuring something that doesn't interfere or compete with these but rather augments their efforts. Stay tuned.
On another note and another passion of mine is running races such as 5k, 10k and half-marathons. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I ran the Chicago Half-Marathon and did well - I strive to do better next year. I also ran two recent races that raised money for veteran causes - a 5k and 10k. Prior to the 5k I stubbed my toe and didn't realize that I had actually fractured it. I thought I had only strained it. So, I ran the 5k and did okay and my foot hurt but after icing it again it seemed to be healing. Then I ran the 10k! Around mile 4 I started to hurt like hell, but I was determined to finish the race. I started chanting to myself - Troops in Iraq, Troops in Iraq. I figured if the Troops in Iraq could endure what they do everyday then I could run through the pain of a sprained foot. Well, the next day I went to the doctor and that's when the x-rays showed that I had badly fractured my toe and it was now infected. I'm glad I finished the race but I still inspire myself everyday to get through any adversity by remembering what the Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and other parts of the world are going through everyday.
If you know a veteran or a family member that has a story to tell conisder documenting it. So many veterans pass away before their story is told and it is their experience that helps us understand the past and hopefully make better decisions today and in the future. I often hear from people that the veterans in their families don't talk about their military experience, especially in times of war, but it's important for us as a nation, a country, a society and even for the world that this information is captured. I hope more veterans and family members are inspired to do this.