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 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 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 ."
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 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 see their pet dachsund of many, many years, Buster, was hit by a car this afternoon and he didn't make it.


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. ( and ) 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. we have traveled I have kept a 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.