When the chips are down, have you ever wondered what sort of person you really are? I have. Have you ever wondered if you would tuck and run or stand and go the distance? Mr. Beesley was wounded on August 31, 1965, subsequently losing both legs and has since “gone the distance”, went through recovery, rehab, got married, had children and grandchildren and made a real life... some of which those of us without wounds have never accomplished. But those may not have even been his toughest hurdles. He had thought long and hard about visiting the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, perhaps even fearing what he might feel when he actually touched it and felt its presence. It might seem odd to some that a man who was such a strong young Marine and such a proud man that the Wall would be his stumbling block. He had been through so much and not only endured, but prevailed! But it indeed was.
I am not a veteran and I cannot tell you the powerful experience it is to see the sea of names as far as the eye can see. It is not a presence to see as much as it is to feel. I cannot imagine how powerful it probably is for a veteran and particularly for someone who has already sacrificed so much. He faced the stone monument to life and death the same way he faced his wounds - with great honor and spirit that few possess. But that seems to be the remarkable stuff possessed by so many Marines. These are the reasons he has been my hero, even before I read his book. He has risen to face every foe.
It is not a long book, only 100 pages, but you don’t feel as if he has left things out in order to save space or spare his feelings. He has told his story in the powerful way that some epic novels require 5 times the space. There are times when you close your eyes and you see into the past and when you open them a tear will fall. You will probably wonder if you would have been able to do what he has done. Many could not. You will feel sad that so many men and women have suffered so much and feel even more touched when you realize his book is not about what the world owes him, though we clearly do. But it is about his journey, plain and simple, to where he is today. It is a place of envy for most of us. It would be so much easier to be bitter and angry and to spend your life in regret. I don’t know if I would or not. But he is a Marine to the core.
The author is a man of strength and honor and great insight. He lost his legs to a war in a time when few appreciated or respected his sacrifice and yet he still stands taller than almost anyone I know. Read the book. It will be the best read you have had in a long time. It is truly the smallest package with the largest gift inside. Thank you, Mr.Beesley, for having the fortitude to become the man you are today.
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