DeDe and my sister Colleen leave today for Kenya. Pray for their teaching time among the women in Kakuma Refugee Camp.
I leave a week later for Uganda.
Please hold the rope for us by praying daily. (We will be eight hours ahead of CDT).
Scroll down to enroll in our “Write Your Book in 2018” Course.
In Praise of Hugh Thompson
You probably aren’t familiar with Hugh Thompson.
He was the lone bright spot on one of America’s saddest days of the Vietnam War.
On March 16, 1969, Thompson was circling in his Army helicopter over the village of My Lai, providing cover for the American troops on patrol. From his vantage point above the palm trees and rice paddies, he watched a terrible sight: American soldiers were shooting unarmed civilians.
Observing a group of women being chased by soldiers, Hugh Thompson made a decision. He landed his helicopter between the fleeing villagers and fellow American soldiers. Climbing out of his helicopter, Thompson instructed his machine gunner to train his weapon on the soldiers and shoot if they continued firing.
Hugh Thompson angrily confronted the soldiers.
They threatened to shoot him but he didn’t budge.
Finally, the troops dispersed and Thompson gave aid to several wounded young women.
His brave action saved dozens of lives that day.
Here’s a story on that day:
But that’s not the end of the story. His actions that day at what came to be called the My Lai Massacre didn’t earn Thompson a medal or accolades. He was persecuted for the remainder of his military career. All for doing what he knew was the right thing.
Thirty years later, Hugh Thompson returned to My Lai with a crew from CBS’ 60 Minutes. He was reunited with several of the villagers he’d saved. When asked on camera why he’d made his heroic decision that day, he shrugged, “I knew it was the right thing to do, and I’d been taught to always do the right thing.”
That describes integrity. It’s doing the right thing. Whether it’s unpopular or not.
Whether it is recognized as right or not. Whether it’s rewarded or scorned. That’s integrity.
It’s a willingness to stand for what’s right in the middle of chaos.
It’s a moral inner compass that ignores the winds of exterior pressure and performs rightly.
It’s a word we all can learn more about. Let’s call it the “I” word. It’s a word it would do us all well to study.
Integrity. Hugh Thompson had it.
There’s even a neat song about Hugh Thompson by the Oaks: Listen/View here on You Tube
It features these moving words:
the helicopter blades spun behind you
and all the eyes of the village
were fixed on you
as you stabbed your foot down
into the jungle grass
what authority you had
In the line of fire
you raised your hands
as the silence slowly descended
between infamy and fame
your name was on the lips
of both angels and demons
did justice plant herself as an anchor in your mind?
did the words speak themselves like they were spoken before time?
did the blood pound in your chest as you face the sergeant down?
did you feel the power of God surging all around you?
* * *
A Georgia native, Thompson spent his post-war years in Louisiana.
After the war, Hugh Thompson flew helicopters for the oil companies ferrying workers to and from platforms in the Gulf.
When he contracted cancer, he came to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital here in Alexandria/Pineville. He served there as a counselor.
A pariah during the war, he was recognized as a hero as the years rolled on. He visited West Point on numerous occasions lecturing on military ethics.
He died at the Alexandria VA Hospital in 1992.
Last week, I visited his simple grave in Lafayette, Louisiana There is no mention of his heroics or valor. Just a simple military plaque. Flags fly nearby and his plot is surrounded by the graves of other soldiers.
As I stood at this spot, I wondered why he didn’t choose Arlington National Cemetery or some other place of prominence. I believe Hugh Thompson was a man of integrity who simply did the right thing and didn’t expect to be noticed or pointed out.
John McCain will be buried with pomp and honor this weekend.
That is fitting.
However, for every John McCain, there were hundreds, no thousands, who also served faithfully among the most trying war of our nation.
John McCain or Hugh Thompson or my brother-in-law, Malcolm Terry (Agent Orange) will never have their names on the long black wall on the National Mall. They would not wish it so.
But Vietnam took a toll on them that no one but other veterans can understand.
May we honor these men and women.
When you see one with the Vietnam service cap, go shake his hand and thank them for their service.
It’s the right thing to do.
Write Your Book in 2018
“Most men and women go to their grave with their stories still in them.”
That doesn’t have to be you.
November is National Write Your Novel Month, lovingly known as NaNoWriMo. The goal is for would-be writers, especially novelists, to get their long-held story on paper.
The goal is to write 2000 words per day. Writers are encouraged to write the first draft, not worrying about grammar, style, or substance. Simply get it on paper (on your computer).
If a writer sticks to this, he or she will produce 14,000 words per week and have 60,000 words of first draft quality by November 30.
Now, first draft is exactly what it implies. It’s only the start, but it’s way more than most people do. I’ve written and completed thirteen books and have learned a great deal about this process of moving words from the heart and head to the paper.
I’ll use NaNoWriMo to write the first draft of my latest novel, An Owl Called My Name: 1918 No Man’s Land.
The Creekbank Connection Writing Group is primarily for those writing a novel. However, we will accept those who are writing non-fiction also. Your story may be a family history, memoir, or wisdom you wish to pass on to your children or grandchildren.
The key is that this is your time to write that story that has been burning in your heart.
I’d like to invite seven (7) of you to join me on this journey. We’re calling it the Creekbank Connection Writing Group.
Here’s what you’ll receive:
- Complete access to how I set up the characters, scenes, places, and plot in my novels.
- A complete crash course in late October on how to use Scrivener, the best book writing tool available. The cost of this app is $50 and every participant will purchase their own version. I’ll spend time showing how to use this tool to set up your story and save time.
- During November, I’ll serve as your coach and encourager to keep you writing and focused.
- Each Saturday morning, we’ll have a group video session going over a facet of writing. I’ll also read and comment privately on two (2) pages of your work for the week.
- As you wish, you can share your work with other writers in the group. This is an invaluable tool in encouragement and learning. I’ll coordinate that for those who wish.
- At the end of November, I’ll share a final session on what to do next with your first draft including re-writing, copy editing, and possible publication.
All of this will be for a total of $250 for the first seven persons to sign up through our PayPal account name firstname.lastname@example.org or credit card payment (email me at email@example.com for credit card details) with a deposit of $100.
An additional three persons will be eligible to receive more in-depth feedback with personal video sessions weekly for an additional $150. Don’t delay. We are only taking this small number to ensure a quality experience for each writer.
It’s time for you to write that book you’ve always wanted.
Don’t put it off. Sign up for the Creekbank Connection NaNoWriMo Writers Group.
Need more info?
318.623.3778 (text only)