Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm BACK!

I know...I have not posted anything in a long time...LIFE often has a way of crowding in...AND IF I were to list ALL the things that have been going on it would take a while so I will just say we have had 3 friends go home to Heaven, some "not needed" excitement with the grandchildren (ex...car wreck...no one hurt thankfully) among several other "things" these past several weeks.

In the midst of all of this we were blessed to be able to still get to Branson, MO for Veterans week. This is something we look forward to every year and would hate to miss. We said we would NOT be as busy this year...BUT that was actually not to be. I mean HOW could we not try to do as much as possible when there is so much to see and do all of this week!

This year my brother Mike returned and brought his wife Vicki this time. He enjoyed last year so much he had to come back....AND this year Vicki also decided that this is a great place to be for Veterans week...so I think we shall see them there again next year!

We were blessed to be able to spend a lot of our time at the Day Room which is run by our dear friends Chip and Sandy Milner. They are there from opening to closing...greeting and chatting with all the veterans who come there to spend some time visiting with others. This year Eddie took his guitar and was able to spend some time playing and singing with the other veterans who also came prepared to "jam". On one of our visits Penny Gilly was there and sang along with the group. She came several times before her show and spent time with all of us. The Day Room has really become a great gathering place for veterans while in Branson for this week.

It is always such a joy to see all of the friends we have made on past trips here...
Veterans week has become a sort of reunion for us! Diane and Bill "Doc" Storm come all the way from Michigan each year and we enjoy our time with them as well as all the others we've come to know.

Eddie was asked to wear his uniform to the Oak Ridge Boys show...not told any more than that! When we got there he was taken back stage! BUT I had to stay out in the audience! Then after a few songs Pat Avery was introduced and she presented Eddie and Joe Bonsall each with their own Spirit Award ...for outstanding contributions to the preservation of America's history. NOW who would have ever thought that one day Eddie would be on stage with the Oak Ridge Boys one day AND get a standing ovation! Life is often so amazing and we are having some wonderful times!

This year Branson had a Marine Corps Ball and Eddie was asked to participate in the cake cutting ceremony. He carried in the sword to cut the cake. Lt Col Oliver North was the guest speaker so this was truly an honor to be a part of this event. We enjoyed hearing Lt Col North speak and were so glad to be able to meet him. Like I said...life is amazing! We have been blessed to be able to do many wonderful things and meet so many wonderful people! The Ball was great fun and I hope that it will become an annual event...since we often have to miss the Ball in Oklahoma when it is scheduled during Veterans week.

We are already looking forward to Veterans week in Branson next year. Its a great place to be and the place we want to be!

I'll do my best to stay on top of things and not stay away too long...that is unless I need for some of you to call me again! YES...I got phone calls wondering why I had not posted anything AND actually that was rather nice...cuz that means someone is actually reading this! Thanks!

Connie Beesley

Friday, October 31, 2008

PAY ATTENTION!

We have found that it is a very good idea to "pay attention". As I said Eddie wasn't feeling "really well" in September. He did not want to see the doctor but gave in as I kept at him! His doctor had him take a stress test and when we heard nothing for two weeks we thought all was well....BUT then the phone call came that they did see something abnormal and wanted to do another test.

This time they scheduled the arterial gram and told him that if they found anything wrong they would fix it at that time. We called everyone we knew to have them praying and by the day of the test I was well fortified. I felt very much at peace and felt the outcome would be fine though I knew it was still very stressful for Eddie to have to go through the test. When the doctor came to talk to me he let me know that a they had put in a stent and would keep him overnight. We are very blessed to have such a good doctor and wonderful heart hospital...I can tell you that even the food there is great!

I guess that all of this actually put more stress on Eddie than we thought...AND then add to that the fact that he thinks he is superman....he overdid it...doing too much too soon and on Thursday he began having some chest pains. He didn't want me to take him to the ER but I did anyway! AND they kept him overnight to keep a watch on him. It wasn't his heart...probably just stress. I brought him home today and have been "ordering" him to rest!

I promise that I will keep him under control next week when we leave for Branson, MO for veterans week. We won't be on any schedule this time and can be much more relaxed than we were last year. During the week we have 3 dinners to attend and just a few other events...WE WILL DO A LOT OF RESTING! Eddie plans on taking his guitar and spending some time just visiting...picking and grinning at the Day Room where veterans gather to just visit and hang out.

AND for all you gentlemen (and ladies too) PAY ATTENTION to your bodies and your health. It is so much better to take precautions than to be sorry that you missed something. In all this...the triple by-pass last year and the stent this year we caught things BEFORE Eddie had a heart attack or any damage to his heart. For that we are VERY THANKFUL.

Connie Beesley

Monday, October 20, 2008

Louisville, KY VA hospital October 6th, 2008

We were asked to speak at the Louisville, Kentucky Veterans hospital on October 6th. I was a bit nervous when they asked that we both speak AND gave us nearly two hours on their program! Almost a year ago a friend of ours in Branson, MO took us into her office and told us she thought we should both be speaking and share our story from both points of view! We had thought about it, but had not been able to work anything up until we were given this challenge!
I told Eddie that I would feel much better if we practiced a LOT! Even though it is our story...I was not sure about how this would work out!

On Monday the 6th we arrived early. We had time for a cup of coffee and to visit with others before the meeting started. As we started our part, Eddie missed a line in his first section...wouldn't you know it! But that actually put me more at ease as I reminded him he'd not mentioned being stationed in Hawaii which was my cue for my part! From that point on it seemed to flow very well as we talked about meeting and then some of the adjustments to his injuries and PTSD.

We allowed time for questions and comments. One veteran said "You spoke right to me." It is at times like this that we know why we do this...and how important it is to others. Eddie and I have been very blessed to have "made it".
We've weathered many trials and adjustments over the years and in sharing our story we hope that it will help others to know and realize that they can make it as well. War changes a person in so many ways and that not only affects the veteran but their entire family. There were times when I felt so confused, not knowing what to do or how I could help Eddie...but somehow, over the years we learned how to talk and deal with so much...and now telling about that does seem to help others.

That is not to say we no longer have issues to deal with...we do...we are just better equipped to deal with them. We are still working things out even after all these years. There are still some dates and days when things are harder, but knowing that helps us get through those times even when they "sneak" up on us. We had one of those times this past September. We both began to "feel" down as September approached and for a few weeks we didn't realize what was going on or even why....then it dawned on us...it was a year ago that Eddie had his bypass surgery! That was a hard thing for both of us...and the anniversary did actually cause us some stress that we weren't even aware of at first. Eddie even had some "symptoms" and this time it was easier to get him to see his doctor to be sure all was well.

In a follow up note to us we have been told that the veterans at that meeting are still talking and sharing Eddie's book and what was said with other veterans. AND we were told that they would like for us to come again next year!

Connie Beesley

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Welcome Home Brother

On July 11th of 2006 we were in Branson, MO for their Welcome Home celebration for Viet Nam Veterans. This welcome home was a long time coming for these veterans; many had NEVER heard these words from others. At that time our nation did not welcome home those who served with parades and celebrations. Most of those who came home would even "hide" the fact that they had even been in that war...that place.

All through the long week end...this band of brothers greeted each other with "Welcome Home", as well as tears and hugs. It was an emotional time for all who were there. AND a healing time as well.

One of the moving Wall memorials had been set up and it was one of the gathering places for those who were attending this event. Some had never been able to get to Washington DC to see the Wall. Some because they just couldn't face it...face the ghosts and memories of those lost. Ed always wants to take time to visit those he knew whenever we are anywhere close to one of these moving tributes. He has a nephew and many friends etched into those black panels and always takes the time to stop and let them know he will never forget them. We met a Gold Star mother who had come to this event to honor her son.
She had brought a large picture of her son and placed it lovingly each morning at the bottom of the panel with his name; then picked it up each evening. We listened as she told us about her son and how he had been killed. She gave us her email address and we still keep in touch with her from time to time.

As we were wandering around we met a Navy Corpsman, Doc Storm and his wife. There was an immediate connection between Ed and Doc and we spent a great deal of time with them throughout the week end. AND we still see them each year in November in Branson for Veterans week. In our travels we have gotten to know several corpsmen...AND many have become close friends...
wanting to keep in touch with Ed. (He and I were discussing this and a thought came to me...perhaps they see in you one survived...one of the boys they had to throw on a helicopter not knowing if he would live or die...never knowing. AND here you are...one who made it...who did survive!)

Near the Wall there were many tents set up for the vendors and much to browse through. At one booth we met two ladies who would change our lives forever!
Joyce Faulkner and Pat Avery from Red Engine Press were there to encourage veterans to tell their stories so they would not be lost. Ed had been working on writing his story for about 10 years and had for some reason even brought a copy of his work with us. He decided to give it to Joyce.

One of the highlights was the outdoor concert that had been arranged for us just outside of Branson. What a day we had! We were entertained by several of the bands from those years...back when we were young and lived through those troubled times. Doc and I proved that even at our age we could still do the twist! The music and entertainers took us back. Some memories were good...I had good memories of being a USO (United Service Organization) hostess at the Oakland, California club and visiting the Oakland Naval hospital where I met Ed! Some memories were hard...for those who had been in Vietnam and had their lives changed forever. But all those we talked with were glad they had come...glad to be with those who understood them and finally feel that they were actually "Welcomed Home!"

Tony Orlando was there along with the many groups and bands from that time. When Ann Margaret came on stage she got a very unexpected surprise. There was a man in the crowd who had brought a newspaper article with her picture from the time she had made an appearance in country where he was! She couldn't believe he'd kept it all these years! Many of us have kept our "reminders"; I still have some of the letters that I received from those servicemen that I wrote to during that time.

When Mr "Good Morning Vietnam" came on it also brought memories back to those who had listened to him on the radio long ago. He admitted that he did not do all of the things his character in the movie did, telling us "I would never have gotten away with all of those things!"

At the end of the day we were treated to a beautiful display of fireworks. What a way to end this eventful day! We were almost sad that the week end had come to an end. Thank you Branson for a much needed Welcome Home! One we will never forget.

For those of you who have never been to Branson in November for their Veterans Week...GO! I cannot begin to put into words how good it feels to be in a place...AN ENTIRE TOWN...that welcomes ALL veterans and treats them royally. We attend every year...in fact, last September when Ed was told he needed to have by-pass surgery his first question to his doctor was "Will I be able to go to Branson in November?" (We did get there) If you go, look for us there and be sure to say hello. You can visit their web site and see what will be going on this year. http://www.bransonveterans.com/

AND now THE REST OF THE STORY!

About a week after returning home Ed got a phone call from Joyce telling him that she felt his was a story that truly needed to be published...by November, just in time for Veterans Week Ed had his book Lucky Enough. And our lives have not been the same since then!


Connie Beesley

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Roll Call

One usually thinks of Roll Call in light of taking attendance...seeing who is present and who is absent. But after attending the funeral of one of our Marines and hearing Roll Call with that one absent, I will never think of Roll Call in the same way. It began well enough, with each person present answering to their name...then, "Major J'' again, louder "Major J" and a third time yelling "Major J"...who would never answer another Roll Call here. It was a hard thing to experience. And something I would be reminded of at other times.

July 18th, 2006 we visited Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. I had made contact with Lt Col O and he set up for us to visit with the Marines there.
At 07:30 we met the Marines at their barracks for formation. Ed was given the opportunity to speak to the group and give each one a book and visit with them infividually. After that we went over to the hospital. Lt Col O wanted us to meet the family of a young Marine who was in ICU. The family was not in the waiting room or the ICU. When Lt Col O went into the ICU Cpl B was awake and said he'd like to have us come in to visit so we were allowed to see him.

We visited a short while. Ed gave him one of his books and a card that some of our local Marine Mom's had signed and sent with us to pass out. An aide read the card to Cpl B. and that brought a smile to his handsome young face. His injuries were very serious: he had lost his left arm and leg and had serious injuries to his entire left side.

When we returned in September and met with our Marines for formation we learned that Cpl B had just passed away. I wanted to cry...my eyes met Ed's and I turned away quickly to wipe away the tears. I felt I must be strong but it was not easy. Now his is one of the names I say to myself when listening to our National Anthem...he paid the highest price along with so many others to keep our nation free. I will never forget him.

Connie Beesley

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of School

Its been hectic getting used to new schedules and getting the children off to school each morning....but we are beginning to settle into the routine. All of this made me think of and remember an article that I had written for Salute an online newsletter. I thought I would reprint it here for you to read.

First Day of School Salute August 2006

A few days ago, we were up early to see our daughter's four children off to their first day of school. As they came by, I took pictures and reminded them to stop by after school so that we could follow our "tradition" of tracing their hand in
their school albums. Dillon, the oldest seemed nervous as he left for his first day of high school! Brittnee is still at the middle school and seemed excited as she left...and also a little disappointed because only about half of her friends will share the same lunch period. An hour latter the two younger boys came by on their way to the bus stop...which is at the end of our drive way. Keith, the 4th grader seemed upset and when I asked him why he said it was because he had the "meanest" teacher for math. I found out it is someone I know well...she also taught his mother. I told him to tell her I said "hello" and that it would help that she knows his grandparents. And the youngest, Jace, who is starting 1st grade was so eager to be spending the entire day and school AND FINALLY getting to eat in the lunch room!

When they were gone, I reflected on ALL of my first days of school AND there were very many as we moved often. From kindergarten to graduation I attended 13 different schools. Many times it was more than one school in a school year! In the 8th grade I had three first days. That year started with the actual first day of school in a familiar school with all of the friends I had known for a few years in Alameda, California. Going from the 4th grade to the beginning of the 8th in one school was something I would soon learn to miss. Then we got the news that Dad was being transferred. This time instead of moving from one town to another, we were going out of state. We were off to Ohio where I had my second "first" day of school as an 8th grader. This would be the sort of "first" days I would have often...being the "new kid" in school. It wasn't long before we learned that plans were changing. I would not have the time to make many friends in Ohio as the Navy decided they needed to send Dad to Louisiana. Soon, I was once more the "new kid". I began to see how different our country is from state to state...each area has its own identity. After a short time in school, we were out for the summer and we learned a lot about "humidity"...the weather is also different in each area of our country. Oh, and don't forget about the "bugs"...trust me, they grow much bigger in Louisiana than in California! It was in Louisiana that I had my first day of high school and my first "crush" on a boy. I still remember his name. But there was not time to see if I'd have my first date there because before the year was over we moved yet again.

I was able to only have two "first days" for my sophomore and junior years, though each of those were in a different city in California. At least I started and finished at the same school. It is a good thing that I am the oldest of a large family. Even if I was not able to make many friends there was always someone to play with!

And then I was a SENIOR. I wasn't all that happy with the school I was attending in San Francisco so when Dad came home and told us we would be moving back to Alameda and that the last of my "first" days would be at Encinal High School, I was excited. As I had hoped when I went into the office I saw a face that looked familiar. It turned out to be a friend I'd had in elementary school. And there would be others that I would re-connect with, so it wasn't bad at all to be coming in this late even if it was my senior year. I made some new friends and still keep in touch with many.

Though there were many moves and many changes growing up, I was always so proud of my Dad's service to our nation. I felt a part of his job and made the moves with very little complaining and only a few tears as we said our "goodbyes".

It is still this way for our military families. We owe them and those who serve our deepest thanks. They give up a lot to keep this nation of ours safe.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another Fantastic Trip! August 2008

Things get hectic as school approaches...then add having company, time can get away from you! I'll be taking pictures tomorrow as school starts for our four grandchildren and we will keep the "tradition" of tracing their hand prints when they get home for their school albums. We have done this since each one started school and I think they enjoy seeing how their hand prints get larger each year. The oldest, Dillon, will be a Junior this year. Brittnee is starting at the high school and Keith moves up to the Middle school (sixth grade) this year leaving Jace, the youngest at the elementary school. Hopefully we will get back into a routine again soon and I will post on a more regular basis.

I want to encourage everyone to Aim high....Dream Large...Because goals can be achieved....and Dreams can come true. We had wanted to meet Mr. Ross Perot for some time AND we were finally able to do just that on August 6th.

In the hall just before we reached his office we encountered two rows of sculptures of children. Several young girls in playful poses...one on her knees reaching out in front of her, two boys fishing (something our grandchildren enjoy doing frequently), one boy with a soccer ball and one with a football. What a tribute to his grandchildren! Later as we were getting out of the elevator we would meet his oldest grandson...I recognized him as the football player. He told us they weren't too crazy about posing for those statues but appreciated them now that they were older. Mr. Perot was waiting for us at the end of the hallway.

We so appreciated that he took time from his busy schedule to spend some time with us as we had wanted to thank him in person for letting us know what he thought of Eddie's book. It means a lot when someone like him takes the time to read your book and personally tell you he enjoyed reading it. We were glad to have that opportunity.

Mr. Perot showed us around his office which is so full of history. We also learned that he has a wonderful sense of humor! He had one of his staff show us around the rest of the building. What a collection of events and history from his life. This was a day we will always remember.

After our visit we continued on our way to San Antonio. We had not been able to make reservations at the hotel on base but decided to check to see if they had a room. When Eddie asked at the desk the gentleman said "we have no rooms".
But Eddie said..."are you sure you don't have just one room?" The lady behind the desk said to give us a room AND we got in! We always prefer staying on base as then we are able to visit with the injured troops and their family members that are staying there. We spend as much time as we can in the family room or outside where many gather. We are so blessed to be able to visit and spend time with those who have served our nation. Eddie gave each one a book and left many in the family room for those we missed.

In the morning we went to the Center for the Intrepid to meet with our Marines and the Marine Corps League members who come every Thursday bringing breakfast! We had time to visit with each of them.

From there we went to the hospital to visit and leave more books. We gave out about 100 on this trip and hope to be able to order more books soon as our supply is getting low. It is amazing how we always seem to have "just enough" to travel and do this for those who have been injured. We feel blessed having the opportunity to visit our military hospitals.

Connie Beesley

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wounded Warrior Barracks May 2006

After our visit in Washington DC in May of 2006 we drove to Camp LeJeune, NC...but first stopped at Quantico, VA. (Our vehicle just has a way of ALWAYS heading directly towards ANY and ALL Marine bases). As we entered the base book store we were surprised to hear "Hi Eddie". It was Wendy, one of the ladies we had met in March who works in the Semper Fi Injured Marine Fund office. She introduced us to General Mattis who was with retired General Zinnie (He was there signing his book.) As we travel, we are blessed to meet many wonderful and interesting people.

From Quantico, we continued on our way to Camp LeJeune to visit the Wounded Warrior Barracks. The barracks are such a blessing to our injured troops. Eddie would have loved to have had this as a choice when he was injured. Back then, he was not given a chance to stay in the Marine Corps...he tried but was turned down. Today our warriors may stay in to finish their tour and some are even able to re-up and continue their Marine careers. This is especially good for someone like Gunny B....who had 18 months left on a 20 year career. If he had been forced to get out when injured he would not have been entitled to his full 20 year retirement benefits. BUT through this program...he is. The program was the idea of Lt Col Maxwell (you can read about it at http://sempermax.com/ ) We were blessed to meet his wife Shannon Maxwell but would not meet her husband until another visit.

At the Wounded Warrior barracks, the Marines were gathered into one room and Eddie told them a bit about himself. He then began talking with them, answering questions and hearing their stories. We were there for over 4 hours!
They did not want to let him go! They wanted to tell them their stories and had a lot of questions for him about sports, transportation and all of the things that he'd learned about after his injuries.

This was also a good visit for me as I was able to meet with a Marine wife I had met online at Classmates. She and her husband came by the barracks and we had time for a short visit while Eddie was with wounded Marines.

Once we were able to leave the barracks we headed toward the home of someone we had met at one of Eddie's Marine reunions. Captain Dan McMahon had served with Delta 1/4 after Eddie had been injured and left Vietnam. We had a great visit with him and his wife. After spending the night we left the next morning for home. Another wonderful trip! We feel very blessed to be able to visit our injured troops.

Connie Beesley

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Amazing Phone Call ~May 18, 2006

We were back in DC visiting at Bethesda Naval hospital. Eddie's publisher, Joyce Faulkner was with us. She was very moved by what she saw as we visited with our injured troops. Joyce was able to meet Travis Greene before he left for home for a visit (his story was told in an earlier blog).

While we were in a patients room, Eddie's cell phone rang. He saw that the call was coming from a 972 area code. The patient we were visiting said "That's my area code, I'm from Dallas, TX." I told Eddie it was my brother Richard's area code so perhaps he should answer the call. He answered and soon we all heard him say, "Sir"....so I KNEW it wasn't my brother! Joyce and I were VERY surprised to learn he was talking to Mr Ross Perot! I had sent him a book just a few days ago as we were leaving for our trip. He had received it, read it AND was calling us! He told Eddie that if he were injured this was the book he would want to read. Mr Perot wanted to know how he could get some books to send to the Pentagon. Eddie told him that we were in DC and could take them there ourselves if that would work. Mr Perot made a call to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs office and then had Eddie call to set up a meeting time! Since we had a picnic to attend with our troops that afternoon we set the meeting for the next day.

We set out early to be sure to be on time. As we arrived at the Pentagon, we had no idea where to park or where to enter the building. Eddie pulled into a parking lot and up to an officers shack to ask where we should park. Immediately the officer said "You can't park here". Eddie was getting his handicap parking sign up to ask where there was handicap parking and the guard said, "You can't park here with that either". The man began to give rather lengthy directions to a lot where we could park, but then said "Who are you going to see?" I handed him the telephone number of the Joint Chiefs office. He dialed the number then looked over to his partner and said, "They are going to the Chairman's office".

He then told Eddie to "follow me". We were led to a parking space up close to the building....in the lot that we "could not" park in! He then made a call and had an officer come to escort us into the building. We were led into the building, given ID badges and taken to a waiting area. A Marine was sent to take us to General Peter Pace's office. The Chairman had been called out to another meeting but we were able to meet with his staff for some time and leave 10 books to be passed out. We were each given one of General Pace's challenge coins which is in the shape of the Pentagon! (A great coin to add to Eddie's collection.)

After our visit, when we were back in the car, we just sat there for awhile telling ourselves to "remember to breathe" What an honor it had been to be inside that building! We are very blessed to have had this privilege. It has also been a privilege to have been in touch with Mr Perot. I am not sure that he even realizes how much his call and setting up this visit meant to us. He is a man who cares for our troops and we appreciate that. Some day perhaps we can tell him how much this has meant to us in person.

Connie Beesley

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Balboa Navy Hospital April 2006

In April of 2006 we went out to Southern California to visit Balboa Navy Hospital.

We were given directions to the section of the hospital where the Marines and their Corpsmen stay. As we arrived we met a young Marine in the hallway. He seemed to want to talk about some things that were troubling him so we visited with him for a while then went on to the room where the Marines were gathering for our visit.

In addition to getting to speak with the Marines, Eddie was in for another treat; a reunion with two of the people he knew from the time he was in the Navy hospital in Oakland in 1965! He was glad to see Sandy Kirkpatrick Holmes, one of his nurses and also James Greenough, a Corpsman who worked on Eddies' ward. I teased Eddie about hugging on Sandy a lot....making up for not being able to back then when he was in the hospital! It was also good to see James.
We had learned he lived in southern California when we had met him at one of Eddie's Marine reunions. You see after leaving Oaknoll hospital, James had gone to Vietnam and was assigned to the same unit that Eddie had been in...
Delta Co, 1st Bn, 4th Marines. A reporter from the local paper was there to record the reunion of these three and their visit with the Marines.

Eddie spoke to the group and then gave them all copies of his book and visited with them individually. In this group there was one female. Seeing injured females is still hard for us...but in this war they are out there in harms way as well as the men and they are being injured too.

During all of this the first young man we had met had come in and stayed close by me. We talked some more. I was glad to listen and just be there for him to let him know that we care and hopefully it helped him some.

It was a good day, a good visit. We feel so thankful that we are able to visit with our injured troops. In us, I hope they see that being injured doesn't mean you can't have a full and wonderful life. Eddie has accomplished so much and hopefully that inspires them to look eagerly to their own futures.

Connie Beesley

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

UMASS March of 2006

Time often has a way of getting away from us with very busy schedules and I just realized I haven't posted anything a while.

In March of 2006 after we visited the hospitals in the DC area we headed up to visit a friend in Chickopee, Massachusetts. We had met "Doc" Downey at one of Eddie's Marine Corps reunions. He served with the first battalion, 4th Marines after Eddie had been injured and returned state side. Doc wanted us to visit and arranged some speaking engagements for us. One of those was to be at the University of Massachusetts.

Doc was so excited when we arrived. There is such a family feeling between all Marines and also with their Corpsmen. During our visit we talked about how hard it was for those "Docs" doing all they could to save lives in the field and then loading that young Marine on a chopper sometimes never knowing if he lived or died. Eddie is one who lived and seems to represent that to all the Corpsmen we meet.

Eddie proved that he still lives by the motto: Semper Gumby (Always flexible).
All the bedrooms were upstairs...not a problem, though Doc had been a bit worried. Eddie got out of his chair and climbed the stairs!

Doc was very excited about Eddie speaking at UMASS. He had everything well planned! We followed him to the campus early so we would know where we were going even though he had classes and the meeting was later in the afternoon. Doc went to class and we wandered around the student center. We checked out the book store and of course the cafeteria. In our "wanderings" we met a young man who was a former Marine. Eddie and I told him we would be meeting downstairs later that afternoon and he should come if he could.

After lunch we met Doc at the room prepared for us. The chairs were all in order and the snacks were arranged...we were ready! It was time and no one was there. We hadn't thought much about the date we'd chosen to be there...and as it turned out it was the Friday afternoon before Spring Break! Yes, you guessed it.....most of the students were no longer on campus! After a while the young man we had met earlier arrived. He came in and we introduced him to Doc. We all sat down and Doc asked him how he was. The young man said "I'm OK". Doc said, "No, how are you really?" Somehow Doc sensed something and the young man began to cry as he said: "I've been thinking about eating my gun". As we talked with him we learned that he had been in the Marines and was injured while in training. The injury caused him to be discharged and he felt badly about no longer being in the Corps. We talked for quite a while before the ROTC instructors arrived. Since we were still just a small group we sat and talked informally for a long while.

Now some would have the same reaction that Doc felt. As we were preparing to leave he apologized that there had not been a good turn out. I looked at him and said: "Doc, don't you feel bad because this was exactly the way it was meant to be. IF there had been a crowd, Eddie would have given his talk and we may not have had the opportunity to REALLY talk to this young man....in which case he may have not talked to anyone and then carried out his thoughts of suicide.
This meeting was EXACTLY the way God intended it to be!" Another day when we felt we were in just the right place at the right time.

If we can make a difference in even one life on each trip...then the trip has been a success and we feel very thankful.

Connie Beesley

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flag Day June 14, 2008

Flag Day...June 14th. As I sit here I am not sure how to put into words all that I would like to say. We were invited to Pennsylvania to attend a Flag Retirement Ceremony. I truly had no idea exactly what to expect. I've grown up knowing that there are certain protocol and rules pertaining to our Flag; knowing that when it is worn and no longer able to be flown there are proper ways to "retire" it. BUT I had never been to a retirement ceremony until this year.

As we arrived we wondered how it would go as it was raining and the ceremony was outdoors. We grabbed our umbrellas and went toward the site where everyone was gathering and tried to keep as dry as we could! Eddie was in his dress blues, he had thought earlier he might not wear them if the weather was bad...BUT he knew that there would be others there in uniform and so he wore his.

As the time for the ceremony neared the rain let up some and then stopped. A large crowd had gathered at the site for the retirement.

Eddie had been asked to give the opening prayer. Each part of the ceremony was packed with emotion! So much talent...and wonderful patriotic songs! I could not keep the "sweat" from my eyes. We are so blessed to live in this wonderful nation of ours! The land of the FREE, the home of the BRAVE.

There were children from an elementary school that performed and Boy Scouts as well as many talented singers and musicians. Each part of the program was full of emotion. I am so proud to be an American...I was so glad we had been invited to be here.

Later in the ceremony Eddie was asked to speak again and mentioned where we had been earlier in the week, at Walter Reed and Bethesda, giving honor to those who have served and are serving...keeping us safe.

When it was time to "retire" these grand flags the Boy Scouts reverently carried in the flags to be retired. There was one from each of 48 states. The Scouts presented the flags to the military personnel standing around the pit. Each branch of our military except the Coast Guard was represented. These men and one woman carefully unfolded the flags and laid them in the pit. It was something to see. When all the flags had been brought in several dignitaries came forward with flames and set them on the flags. The flags began to burn and my eyes continued to "sweat".

As the ceremony ended most of those in attendance stuck around. Several made their way to the pit to watch the flames lick at and burn the flags piled there. Many were taking pictures...no one seemed to be in a hurry to leave. Eddie was able to visit with Brigadier General Papak and give him a book. The General apologized to Eddie for not having a challenge coin to give him, but gave him a small bottle with sand from Iwo Jima! WOW...what an honor! AND what a treasure. It will be proudly displayed with all of Eddies other precious Marine "stuff." (Our living room just off the kitchen is the room where we display all of Eddies wonderful things. We recently painted it a Marine Corps red to better show off everything.)

I wish that every American could participate in such a ceremony. It will be something to always remember and treasure. Our flag should always be treated with great respect and honor.

Several of us stopped for a late evening meal and visited some more before saying our good byes. Eddie and I started on our trip home early the next morning.

Our friend and editor Joyce Faulkner has posted a slide show of pictures from the ceremony.

Connie Beesley

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flag Day Ceremony at Flag Retirement Plaza in South Park, Pittsburgh, PA

Pictures

These are some of the pictures we took while in Kansas City.

Here we are with our friend Ed Slater who is a Korean veteran. He was a POW and a survivor of the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre. (He and several other survivors have a book detailing their ordeal.) Ed set up the visit for us at the Kansas City VA. The sweet lady who was our "tour" guide at the VA is Shari....and of course the other two in the picture are "The Beesley's....Eddie and Connie".

We spent the morning of June 3rd at the VA hospital...
visiting and giving out books. These are two of our Iraqi veterans; Michael and Josh.







After lunch we went out to the Truman Library. What a surprise to see the nice poster they had put up announcing that Eddie would be speaking there today!







Our friend Ed Slater introduced Eddie to the audience. AND while doing so he mentioned when we had met in Branson, MO. Ed was seated next to me in the front row so he would be handy for his time on program for the opening ceremonies of Veterans Week. He was nervous...wondering what he would say. I told him to speak from "here" pointing to his heart. I never knew until this day what that had meant to him! He did a great job and didn't seem nervous at all!


Eddie spoke and then opened it up for questions. It was a very good question and answer session. We enjoyed our time in Kansas City.







Connie Beesley


The Wall

It is so wonderful how things happen for us...it is a good feeling to be in the right places at the right time. We always give thanks for this "wonderful timing".

We had originally planned on going to the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Tuesday after visiting our injured troops at Walter Reed hospital....but as we got in our car to head that way...we changed our minds and went back to our hotel in Rockville to just spend the remainder of the day "resting". Good decision!

By Thursday we were ready to head to the Wall...having no idea what was just ahead for us. In our travels we have often been in just the "right place at the right time". And this day was to be exceptional for us!

This time it was much easier to find wheelchair parking. (We have a nickname and call it "cherry parking".....because that is what our youngest grandson Jace called it when he was learning to talk) We parked and put about 10 books into Eddie's bag that he carries on his wheelchair...."just in case" we needed them.

As we neared the Wall there was a gentleman in a wheel chair sitting by himself....obviously a veteran. Eddie stopped to talk with him. He was waiting there for his wife who had returned to their car to get something. He told Eddie that they had been out the day before but he had not been able to get to the Wall so they had returned today. Eddie gave him a book and spoke with him till his wife returned. We met her and still continued to chat for a while. He asked for another book for a friend. We both remember how hard it was for Eddie that first time we came to this place of honor and remembrance. A few other veterans passed by and Eddie spoke to some of them, giving out two more books. Eventually we left to go on to the Wall...and soon noticed that they had come as well.
Coming to see those on the Wall is always emotional. For Eddie it is remembering them as they were...so alive...so young. For me it seeing them through his eyes...and I have come to feel as though I "know" them. As we approached the second panel....there he was without even looking for him...Daniel Duffy. He was in Eddie's fire team. From there we looked at James Mitchell Jr. Eddie's Lt. Both of them were killed when Eddie was injured. He had carried such guilt for so long because he had been point man that day on patrol. Then we searched out all the others...so many...too many. We then moved down to panel 11 to search for Eddie's nephew William Beasley. (not a typo....part of his family spells their name Beasley and part Beesley...still the same family).
As we started back to the center of the Wall we noticed a large group of veterans, a diverse group....Vietnam veterans as well as many from our current War . Some he had talked to earlier were in this group and they asked Eddie if he wanted to get in their group picture. I asked if I could take a picture...and they said "yes." It was so good to see this group of men together...their wars were in different places and times...but together they can help each other deal with the memories of war...not an easy thing to do...I have lived with Eddie's memories for almost 42 years now.

After the picture we gave out the remainder of our books....but did not have enough for everyone. I felt so bad...but the car was too far away to run for more books so I told them to email us with an address and we would send more books to them. (Today, I got an email so we will be sending books off to them soon!)

We left the Wall and stopped for a snack...and got to talk to these veterans for a while longer before their bus came for them. What a wonderful day! We felt so glad that we had come today and not on Tuesday!

Connie Beesley

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another Warrior Pays the Ultimate Price for our Freedom

Just a short note...we were at Bethesda Naval hospital today. The local Marine Corps league does a cook out for our warriors every week and we were privileged to be with them today. It was good to sit and chat with them...to hear how they are progressing and to let them know how much we care. AND to let them know that they have so much to look forward ahead of them when they leave the hospital.

But in the midst of this good time was a monumental sadness because one of our young Warriors went to his final home early this morning. LCpl W. We had heard yesterday that he would be taken off life support. I talked with a female Captain who was shaken at losing this precious young man. He had never regained consciousness that she knew ...but I told her that even so...
it gave his family a time to say their good byes before he was actually gone. I know how meaningful this can be first hand as we had that time with Eddie's mother before we gave permission to take her off life support and also with our 7 year old grand daughter Ariel. The loss is still just as hard...but somehow softened since we had some time to grasp what was happening.

Those who care for our wounded troops need our prayers...as do those they are caring for AND their families. And now I will have another warrior to remember...another name on my list...
I WILL NOT FORGET!

Connie Beesley

Monday, June 9, 2008

Life in The Fast Lane

What a hectic past few weeks we have had! I've heard it said that if a couple can withstand a remodeling project they have a solid marriage! Guess Eddie and I have accomplished that! We will celebrate our 42nd anniversary at the end of this month! AND we are in the 6th week of living in chaos at home! Poor Eddie has only narrow pathways between the furniture and "stuff" stacked everywhere to empty the rooms being worked on! Our bedroom and bathroom were finished before we left for our trip...BUT we had to stack "stuff" from the other rooms in there so they can finish laying carpet while we are gone. Once he commits to going somewhere in the house...he cannot turn around!! I'm glad he has a lot of patience. At least by the time we get home we can finally begin to put ALL things back where they belong AND enjoy being home instead of feeling "closed in" with things in such a mess!

Before we left Eddie and our grandson Dillon had a lot of furniture to move from the rooms that will be carpeted while we are gone. Picture this....a 16 year old and a 62 year old amputee moving LARGE pieces of furniture! You know it is so true...where there is a will there is a way!
Nothing stops Eddie from doing what he needs to do! He can improvise and overcome and just plain get the job done! It still amazes me. But he believes in the motto Semper Gumby....
always flexible...and will always find a way to do what ever needs to be done. I am also thankful that we have such a wonderful grandson who lives close and is willing to help his grandfather.

In the midst of all of this we had one night where our daughter and children needed to spend the night....oops...we'd just taken down the guest bed and emptied that room! Semper Gumby again
...move a few things...put the mattress on the living room floor...make pallets for some of the children and know that if it gets real stormy she'll already be here and wont have to wake the children to get them here! Soon we will have a storm shelter for us all to go to when it storms!
Our daughter asked why we were building one now when we wouldn't do it for her and her brother. I told her that since our grandchildren are our reward for not killing her and her brother...IF they want a shelter, THEY get a shelter. AND they do want one!

We've also been busy with travel...

On the 3rd of June we were in Kansas City at the Veterans Hospital in the morning. We visited patient rooms and then veterans in the waiting areas. We gave out over 67 books as we visited with the veterans there...veterans from WW2, Korea, Viet Nam and our current war. What a privilege it is to be able to talk with these wonderful men and women. In the afternoon we went to the Truman library where Eddie spoke to VA health care workers. At a later time I will post pictures.

This past Friday we were asked to attend the reception for athletes attending the Endeavor games at the University of Central Oklahoma. We met many of our wounded warriors who are participating in the games! Some we had met already in our travels to the hospitals. After the reception we went to the opening ceremonies. Eddie attended some of the events on Saturday and in the evening we were at a party in their honor.

And tonight we are in Rockville, MD. It was a hard 2 day drive to get here tonight and we are exhausted...BUT will be 'bright eyed" in the morning as we meet with with our Marines at Walter Reed at formation at 0800! On Wednesday we will be going to Bethesda. From there we go to PA for a Flag retirement ceremony... We plan to be home by next Monday so we can actually start putting our home back in order! Would be nice to have that done by our anniversary on the 29th!

Life is hectic for us at times but we feel so blessed to be able to be doing what we do! Being around our veterans is a privilege and a blessing.

Connie Beesley

Monday, June 2, 2008

Our first hospital visit March 2006

From the very first moment our brave young men and women became involved in the war, Eddie wanted to "do something" to help. But what? Even if he weren't injured he is past the age of re-enlisting...though some warriors I was writing to in 1st Battalion, 4th Marines told me to "send him over....and we will weld a machine gun to his chair and take him with us". If he could have gotten away with it, I think he would have gone! But that was not to be...

THEN...what else could be done? I had managed to to find a contact with the Marine Corps League in the Washington DC area. I sent them a book AND then doors began to open leading us toward a visit to Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals. When I was a young girl it was no problem for me to visit at the Navy hospital in California where I would meet Eddie; but today that is not so. It is difficult to get in. But Eddie's book Lucky Enough helped open those doors and in March of 2006 we were headed to DC.

We met with the Chaplain of the local Marine Corps League, Lou Stavely. He took us to both Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals where we were able to visit our injured troops and give them a copy of Eddie's book.

At Walter Reed we went to the Occupational therapy room for a Pizza Party! Eddie was able to speak to a room full of young men and women...he told his story...our story. I was sitting across from one young man who had lost an arm and a leg. When Eddie told the group that he had met me while in the Naval hospital...AFTER he was injured AND we'd been married going on 40 years! His young face lit up like a Christmas tree! I could just imagine him thinking "I can still get a girl friend!" After speaking Eddie gave each one a book and talked with them individually....of course by then we had eaten all the pizza and none was left for him!

As we were leaving the occupational therapy room Lou said there was a young Marine he wanted Eddie to meet. He hadn't made it to the pizza party. As we neared his room we met his mother sitting in the hallway. We talked with her a while...when one of our warriors is injured it also affects everyone they know. How does a mother deal with seeing her son injured? I remember Eddie telling me that when his mother came to visit him in the hospital when she was purchasing some things for him she picked up some socks...then cried...he didn't have any feet for socks!

Then we went into Travis' room. Traumatic injury takes such a toll. When I saw him, I thought of the first time I had seen Eddie...so thin... He was a polite young man and Eddie began to visit with him. As they talked they learned they had much in common; both just 19 when they lost both legs, both liked running, both were VERY independent young men...and Travis seemed to want to know more about driving as Eddie told him how a car could be fixed like ours. (Later I would see even more similarities between the two...and Travis has become very dear to us. I am not sure he quite understands just how glad we are to be able to follow his progress as he starts the journey Eddie has been traveling since 1965.)

When we left his room we eventually ended up at Physical Therapy. I couldn't help but smile when I saw Travis there exercising!

Keep "tuning in", his name will come up again! His story continues. I am so very thankful that we have been able to keep in touch with him. He reminds me of a young Eddie and I see so much in his future!

Connie Beesley

Friday, May 23, 2008

I Will NOT Forget!

Earlier while on the Classmates web site I posted on a thread about Memorial Day. I titled my post "Just another day" knowing that would get the attention of many! Eddie was somewhat shocked when I told him what I had done until I told him what I wrote...while it is a very special day set aside to honor those who have served...for me it is just another day to remember because I REMEMBER THEM EVERYDAY! Freedom is not free, it has come with a very hefty price tag in the lives of so many of our brightest and best!

I wrote in my post that I think of so many by name when ever I hear our National Anthem play...I remember their names and the tears fall.

Today I want to copy an article I wrote for the Salute newsletter in September 2006.

I WILL NOT FORGET

It is with a heavy heart that I write this...and whisper once again, I will remember ALWAYS...I WILL NOT FORGET.

I will not forget.

We were at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) today to visit our Marines there...Marines because those are the contacts that we have. We are trying to find contacts to reach our other wounded men and women. At 0730 we were there as the Marines gathered for formation. We had not had a chance to talk to anyone yet so the news we heard hit us hard. I am thankful for my parents and the lessons they taught me, "Bad things happen but we must be strong, we must handle every situation as it comes with strength." In other words no "cry babies". I remember at Dad's funeral how each one of us, his seven children stood tall and proud and no crying there! That lesson helped as the Gunny told the Marines that they had to carry on though they had recently lost two of their own here at BAMC...the only name I heard was Cpl B (I am only using names where I have received permission or know it is fine with the person or family) and it stabbed at my heart. We had met him on our last visit and had been praying for him every day. (his story is in my journal and I will one day tell it here on our blog.) I looked at my husband and took a deep breath. I wanted to turn around and cry but I did not. While I did feel the "sweat" in my eyes I willed myself not to cry, not here, not now. I could do that later, would do that later. and forever I will remember him.

I will also forever remember LCpl S, a young Marine I never met but wrote to while he served in Iraq. I will never forget the day that I sat at my computer and opened an email from a Marine Mom I know. She had given me his address and that of her son, they were serving together. She told me that LCpl S had been killed on November 9th (2005). As I read her note I said "OH NO!" And it must have been louder than I thought because Eddie came quickly to the computer room to see what was wrong. We were alone so I could cry as he comforted me and we prayed for his family. I will keep the letter he wrote to me...I will always remember him.

The number of those lost to us grows and each death hurts. I wish there were no people out there who desired to hurt us, no terrorists who attacked us viciously on 9/11 and still want to kill Americans. There have been and may be more wars we will have to fight. The price of freedom is high. It has been purchased with the blood of those who have fought to protect us. Let us always remember those who fight to protect that freedom for us. Each time I hear our National Anthem or any patriotic song, I think of many of those we have lost; My father, Charles Gaudette who died in Okinawa while serving our country; Lt Mitchell and Cpl Duffy who were killed when my husband was wounded; and many others whose names are on the Vietnam Memorial; LCpl S and Cpl B from our current war...(and others who have been killed since this was originally written...
Cpl T from our Fox battery Marine Reserve unit and Cpl Steven Szwydek
whose parents we met in Washington DC.)

I will always remember them and their families, I promise I WILL!


Connie Beesley

More pictues

We were thrilled when we went to our mail box earlier this week! Rep. Jason Murphy had sent us several pictures that were taken at the capital. It is for sure.....their photographer is better than I am.

This is Jason presenting Eddie with a flag that had flown over our state capital!





Here, Eddie is leading the House members in our flag salute. This is the first time Eddie has saluted the flag in civilian clothes....a hard thing for him to get used to because it was DRILLED into him that you only salute when in uniform AND wearing your cover (hat to you civilain folks). I am very glad that has been changed...a man or women who has worn a uniform in service to our nation deserves to be able to salute our flag!





This picture was taken in the same place as the one I posted earlier....only with a much better camera!
We were so glad to get these pictures...they will all go into Eddie's scrap book of ALL his exploits and adventures!!!!!







Connie Beesley
























Monday, May 19, 2008

Carver Center

We are blessed with many wonderful friends. It was our friends Tiffany and Don Smith who set up our first speaking engagement at the Carver Center in Oklahoma City, OK in January of 2006 where we would be meeting with many veterans in the substance abuse program.

Tiffany even "googled" book signings to check on some pointers! What a lady! She had posters made for us! We arrived to a room decked out with lovely table decorations and the smell of good food!

As the veterans entered we were able to meet and greet them and chat a while before dinner. There were also a lot of others invited...some of them from the Veterans Administration...everyone was glad when the "chow" line was open and we could fill our plates with food! Our daughter Teresa was able to make it to hear her Dad speak and also visit with Tiffany and Don...(It was through Teresa and her daughter Brittnee that we met these wonderful people).

After we had all eaten, Eddie was introduced and did his "thing". He told his story, our story. He let them know that even though he'd been seriously injured...
many good things came after and we've had a good life. Losing his legs closed some doors to him, but opened others. After speaking he opened it up for questions...
then he signed books for all those that were there.

Later we were told that the men who had been there that night were "holding their heads higher and complaining less".

We were back at the Carver Center in March of 2007. The evening went much the same as before...ONLY this time all the veterans wanted me to sign the book too! It really was quite a thrill to turn to my chapter and sign the book for them! It is "special" to be able to say that I have a chapter in his book named after me!

While we were signing books a veteran came up to Eddie and quietly said "Your talk was just in time." It makes us realize that what we are doing does mean something and makes a difference to those we meet and speak with.

It is like a song we heard last night about letting your scars show....because then others see them AND SEE HOW YOU HAVE OVERCOME THEM! IF you can do it...SO CAN THEY!
IF telling our story helps others....we will continue for as long as we are able!


Connie

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Veteran of the WEEK!

I know, I know....didn't post yesterday like I should have....You see life AND grandchildren sometime have a way of interfering with our plans! Shortly after we finished at the State Capital we started getting "those" phone calls, you know
the ones that start out "Grandpa can you?" Our grand daughter Brittnee had been saving for what seemed like FOREVER for her...she wanted to buy an I phone. And she really thought she had enough AND couldn't wait another day! Don't have a clue why she even needs an I phone... Anyway we picked her up and headed for the bank. She cashed her birthday checks and took money out of her savings account and then we went to the cingular store. OF COURSE she was still a bit short and owes us about 40.00....BUT she now has her I phone and she's a "happy camper". It was late when we got all of this done and I just didn't get to our blog last evening.....BUT here it is!
After running a few errands and having a nice lunch at Applebee's we were on our way to the Oklahoma State Capital. We were amazed that there was a "cherry parking place" right up close.
Oh, a "cherry" place is a handicap spot. Our youngest grand son Jace called it that when he was learning to talk. Wheelchair was just too big a word for a little boy! We still call it that though!
We were early, so we sat there a while just watching the flags waving in the wind. We both commented on what a pretty state capital we have.
As we went through security, of course Eddie had to be checked because his chair sets off the alarm. The officer asked the usual questions about "do you have any weapons, knives, guns or bazookas". Eddie said "only my hands, I'm a Marine". They both laughed. Eddie's sense of humor puts others at ease.
We knew we needed to be on the 4Th floor but once there we had no clue where our Representatives office was...and of course we started looking in the wrong wing! As we were heading for the other side a very young looking gentleman met us at the door asking who we were looking for. I ALMOST said "you". He sort of looked like I remembered Jason Murphy...but much younger! You know how it is when you aren't exactly sure of something or someone AND don't want to look foolish. So, I said we were looking for room 400 B AND then his smile told me he was Jason! I hope I didn't embarrass him by telling him the job fit him well as it had made him look younger than I remembered him!
After a short visit in his office we headed to the House Chambers. It is pretty awesome to be invited to our capital. We watched as the Representatives began to filter in and recognized several we had met in the past. Soon the session was opened with prayer and then Jason Murphy introduced Eddie as the States Veteran of the WEEK! It was then Eddie's privilege to lead them all in the flag salute. I noticed he saluted as he did! Though it is now approved for those military members in civilian clothes to salute, he rarely does. He was given a Citation naming him Veteran of the Week AND a United States Flag that had flown over the capital on May 5Th! WOW!
We are so blessed with the many things we have been privileged to be a part of and the many gifts we have received. Thank you Representative Jason Murphy AND thank you Oklahoma! It is such things as this that make Eddie realize there are and have been some wonderful blessings...his life took a different turn when he was injured...BUT a lot of it has been better than he ever dreamed!
PS.....see, I even learned how to add a picture!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Grit-together

If you could see me now...you would see that my feet are not touching the ground! Earlier in the week I was one sad lady when I tried calling a very special Marine....and got "sorry this number is no longer in service". I could only hope that our paths would one day cross again as they had several times since that first time we met at Walter Reed.

But life goes on right! AND so Saturday came and we were going to the 5th annual Grit-together at SGT Grits Marine store in Oklahoma City, OK. We always enjoy these parties at SGT Grits. Each year since the book was published we have been invited to sign books...a great way to sit in one spot and be able to talk to most of those attending the party! We enjoy talking to old friends and making new ones! Kind of reminds me of a Girl Scout song we learned "Make new friends and keep the old....one is silver and the other is gold". I can tell you we have lots of "silver" and "gold" and we cherish every friendship. Many came by to tell us how much they enjoyed the book...some tell us how they loaned the book out and never got it back...or "FINALLY got it back. We enjoy hearing thier stories and visiting.

Each year SGt Grit does a challenge coin to commemorate the party. Since Eddie is a collector we made sure we got one for him! We also were so happy to pick up our order of our own challenge coins that are designed to go along with the book. You can see a picture on our book web site. Eddie has so many coins we need to purchase another container for display! You can see pictures of the Grit-together and an online catalogue at www.grunt.com .

There was another author there. Not only did I buy his book but he got a big hug from me. I have this "thing" for Corpsmen! They are special people! You see my father Charles Gaudette was a career Navy Corpsman. He served with the Marines in the Pacific in WW2, during Korea and Vietnam. He did med-evacs from Okinawa to Vietnam until he died of a heart attack in May of 1969.
AND it was a Corpsman who saved Eddie's life on that hot August day in 1965!
SO I give all the Corpsmen I meet a big hug and tell them "thanks" for all they did. John "Doc" Hutchings book is tittled The Names NOT on the Wall. His web site is http://www.thenamesnotonthewall.com/ .

Being with all the Marines and enjoying good food was fun...BUT the best was yet to come! Remember me telling you about my lost Marine?

The miracle! While talking with a young Marine, Tim Horton, we had met before I somehow got to talking about my Marine...and he asked me his name. He'd known Travis Greene from Walter Reed! What a small world! AND to make matters even BETTER, Tim knew how to find a number where Travis could be reached! WELL I was floating! I'm sure I was grinning from ear to ear! This was the best of best days for me! Seeing Tim again...and getting a number for Travis. I am not sure if either one truly knows what seeing them over and over again means to us. We are blessed as we see them adjusting and getting on with their lives. Injuries such as Eddie's and theirs change everything in their lives...BUT life can still be so full and so good.

It was late when we got home on Saturday....BUT I called Travis on Sunday and it was good to talk with him. I'm sure he probably didn't want me to call him "My hero". These young men as with Eddie, don't think they are heros. BUT I think they are! And Travis is so like Eddie at that age! I will tell more of that story later when I tell of our first visit with Travis at Walter Reed in 2006. Along with all of that I learned that Travis is going to school to be a teacher...
Eddie also went to school and earned his teaching certificate! (This should be a bit of a "teaser" like the media uses...tune in later to learn more about Travis).
I hope we will be able to continue our friendship for a very long time.

We hope you are enjoying our blog...and please feel free to leave comments as we love hearing from you!

Connie Beesley

Monday, April 28, 2008

Veterans Week 2005

What started in June of 2005 during the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home became a finished book in time for us to have it for Veterans Week in Branson, MO in November of that same year. From June to November is not a lot of time to put the polish on a manuscript, edit, get the book cover art work done and approved and all the other things that go into a finished book. We were worried that we would not have our books in time for Veterans Week in Branson....BUT our first order arrived JUST IN TIME! What a thrill it was to open that first box and see the finished product! We loaded several boxes in the car and we were off.

For those of you who have never been to Branson for Veterans Week...you should go. The people of Branson love and appreciate veterans and go all out to let them know! The town does this all through the year...BUT even more so during this special week of events. They honor ALL veterans from ALL eras. It is a place for veterans to get together with others who have shared their same experiences.

Our publishers had a booth in the vendors area...giving us a great place to meet and talk with many of the veterans attending the week long events. Eddie truly enjoys being out among other veterans. That is his time to "howdy and shake", his way of saying "meeting and greeting ."
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We were amazed at the number of books that we sold in that week. So many of those who attend want to read the stories of other veterans. The booth was also a place where we could encourage other veterans tell their stories. We enjoyed meeting so many including a China Marine from the St Louis area. What a wealth of history was gathered there that week AND continues to gather there every year during this week.

What amazed us most of all were those veterans who purchased the book early in the week and came by to tell us they had finished reading it...couldn't put it down once they had started reading. What author wouldn't love to hear comments like that? But more importantly, many told Eddie that it helped them to read his story...this was the beginning of our journey learning that his story helped others...to heal, to be encouraged, to have hope, to feel better about themselves. We had never even dreamed this would be the result of his publishing his story. AND much more was to come....2006 would be a whirlwind of travel and events!

I will start detailing those events of 2006 next week and I hope it will be easier than it has been tonight. I almost decided to wait a day or two but will try to stick to writing each Monday. It isn't easy to concentrate when you have very sad and uspet grandchildren...you see their pet dachsund of many, many years, Buster, was hit by a car this afternoon and he didn't make it.

Connie

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Names Between the Lines

I wanted to share an article that I wrote for Salute an online newsletter.

The names between the lines.

When my husband, Eddie and I were in Washington DC in 1995 we purchased a cassette tape tittled "Songs of the Wall". At first we listened to it every time we were in the car. The words are emotional, moving and sad and often our eyes would fill with tears but still we listened over and over again. As time went on we listened less but have never forgotten the songs.

One of the songs is titled "The Wall: Between the Lines."

I am not alone, I'm waiting for the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters, lovers and friends.
They're not on the Wall, but read between the lines.
They're not on the Wall, their names are hard to find.
They're not on the Wall, but they have paid the price.
God be with them all tonight."

There are nearly 60,000 names on the Wall and each one had family and friends.

Lt. James M Mitchell Jr. He had a young wife and a daughter he had never seen. We have met Jan and Erin and keep in touch with them. That helps keep his memory alive. Cpl Daniel Duffy. He had parents and a 10 year old sister . Just over a year ago we found his sister Felicia. We have talked with her and keep in touch with her though we have yet to actually meet. She was thankful to be able to talk with Eddie and learn more about her brother. Both of these men were killed from the same land mine that injured my husband. They were his comrades in arms.

LCpl Charles Sides. On that visit to the Wall in 1995 Eddie was drawn to a name on the first panel...Charles Sides. They had gone through boot camp together and been separated afterwards. Charles had gone into Vietnam and been killed just before Eddie had arrived in country. Eddie never knew he had been killed till he saw his name on the Wall. When we returned we tried to find his parents. He had been from Oklahoma City. We never found them.

Each time we go to the Wall we always see items left by those whose names are "between the lines"....the families and friends. They leave pictures, poems, letters and mementos. They continue to "pay the price" of having lost a loved one on a far away battlefield.

On one trip to Branson, MO we met Gold Star mother Dorothy Shaferknocker. She had a large picture of her son that she set at the bottom of the panel that holds her son's name. She lovingly placed it there each morning and gently picked it up each evening during the week that the Wall was on display there. She has kept in touch with men her son served with...this has been a help to her.

And now we are at war again with more of our young men and women becoming names on a list of casualties. ALL of them have people that they have left behind: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, cousins, lovers, and friends. People who will have to carry the emptiness with them of the loved one lost. On our last trip to Washington DC we met Gold Star parents Nancy and Michael Szwydek. Their son LCpl Steven W Szwydek was serving in Iraq as a Marine when he and two of his friends were killed in October of 2005. His mother told me "I never stop missing him". She shared an album of pictures of her son. He was a handsome young man who loved being a Marine. He has left a hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved him...and even those of us who come to know him through his family.

Each time a name is added to the list of those killed in service to our nation...another list, a longer list of "names between the lines" grows.

God be with them all each and every night.

Connie Beesley

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lucky Enough News

We just want to update everyone on what has been happening in the past few months. In June Of 2007 I participated in the Run for the Warriors at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina winning the 10K in the hand bike division. We had a great weekend visiting our Marines at the Wounded Warrior Barracks and spending some quality time with our good friends Col Tim and Shannon Maxwell, Dan and Pat McMahan, Jim Casti, and others.

In August we attended the First Battalion Fourth Marine reunion at Oceanside California. While in California we were able to visit our troops at Balboa Naval Hospital at San Diego and our Marines at the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Pendleton.

Upon returning home, I went to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital for some test. It was determined that I had one artery that was 100% blocked and two that were 90%--95% blocked. September 3, 2007 I underwent triple by-pass surgery. Although the surgery went exceptionally well, rehab was longer than normal because the doctors wanted to be sure that my sternum healed properly. Doctor's words.." if your sternum doesn't heal right the first time, you're toast".

Other Events Since September

October---- Attended Women Veterans Starlight Dance at American Legion--- Midwest City Ok November-Attended Oklahoma Marines Birthday Luncheon ---Oklahoma City, Ok

November- Participated in Branson Veterans Week as celebrity guest of Branson Veterans Task Force --- Branson, MO December-Christmas Day-- Connie and I visited the Oklahoma City VA hospital--Oklahoma City, Ok

January----Participated in The Edmond Historical Society “Oklahoma Authors” Event

February---Reported for Jury Duty it was postponed until the first week in May

March-------Appointed to Council to the Chief of the Northern Cherokee Nation ---Clinton, MO

April----------Had surgery on my right eye to repair damage perpetuated by Viet Nam injury, more laser surgery in May, not serious.
As you can see we have stayed close to home since the September surgery visiting the Oklahoma City and Tulsa VA's several times. We are presently working on our schedule for the remainder of the year and after Jury Duty in May we will be on the road again.


Semper Fi,
Eddie R Beesley

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Beginning

WHEW! Who would have thought that I would one day be starting to blog? It just truly proves that we can continue learning new things even if we are considered to be Senior Citizens!

I think an interesting life is one that is full of "new beginnings"...changes and challenges and my life has been like that. While there are many things I will eventually post let me begin with just a brief tale of what brought me to doing this blog!

It began with a trip to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC in August of 1995. My husband Eddie needed to make this journy for the 30th anniversary
of that fateful day in Vietnam when his life changed forever because of the land mine he stepped on. As we traveled, I asked him to make some notes and write some of the things he was thinking so that our children and grandchildren would know more about him.

Eddie did make some notes, but it took all of 10 years before he would finish what he started on that trip.......THEN some wonderful things happened!

While at the Vietnam Welcome home in Branson in June of 2005 we met two wonderful women; Pat Avery and Joyce Faulkner with Red Engine Press Consulting. (http://www.joycefaulkner.com/ and http://www.patmcgrathavery.com/ ) They had a booth and were there to encourage veterans to tell their stories. We had a copy of what Eddie had written with us and decided to leave it with them! How that changed our lives! A few weeks later Joyce called and told Eddie this needed to be published....and by November of 2005 we had a finished book:
Lucky Enough. We were amazed at the number of copies we sold in Branson, MO during Veterans Week in November.

Eventually this led to us being invited to visit Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals. This is what Eddie had wanted to do from the first moment our injured troops began coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. We have been blessed to be able to go to many of our military and VA hospitals. Eddie is able to encourage these young men and women with his story...they can see that even though he uses a wheelchair to get around he's had a full and exciting life...He did it and they can too.

AND...as we have traveled I have kept a journal...it is from there that future blogs will come ...Hope For the Warriors Race, the Pentagon visit, Branson Veterans Week and much more.

Connie Beesley.....the lady "lucky enough" to be Eddie's wife.