Last week, M. and I met with Cindy Tumiel from the San Antonio Express News to discuss the book. We had a wonderful time speaking with her and she wrote a beautiful article in last Sunday's newspaper. It gave great perspective on the emotions Meredith and I experienced during deployment and also provided some publicity and awareness for Fisher House. Shortly after the article was published, we were surprised to be contacted by people both local and distant.
Sunday night, a man called our house, and told me that he wanted to talk to me after having read the piece. He fought in the Pacific in World War II and his leg was severely injured. Once back in the ship's hospital, a Navy orthopedic surgeon looked him over and cautioned him that he might not be able to keep his leg. He told the surgeon not to cut it off, that he was prepared for the risks of gangrene and the trials of a long rehabilitation. It could have been one of many conversations I had in Iraq. The surgeon operated on him, cleaned his wounded leg, and got him back to a military hospital in California. This man told me that to this day he wishes he was able to thank his surgeon, and after reading the article he was going to see if the Navy could tell him if the surgeon who treated him sixty-odd years ago was still alive. This man then went on to tell me that he thought that the troops today were facing a tougher war and worse injuries then he and his peers had faced in WWII. In WWII, 62 million were killed, 407,300 of them U.S. troops. And he says he had it easier. The troops will never cease to amaze me with their bravery and optimism in spite of any hardship. We may have only lost 3017 troops in this war and have had 22,834 wounded, but every one of them is treasure beyond measurable value and each misfortune a crushing loss to a family. Before I had a chance to thank this veteran for calling me and to tell him how my family and I appreciated his sacrifice and service, he abruptly said "That is all." and hung up. I don't want to lose even one more of these heroes.
I will sheepishly admit to the guilty pleasure of Googling myself for no other purpose than vanity. I come across numerous mentions and sites of the prolific filmmaker Christopher Coppola. In an odd twist, Mr. Coppola came across Ms. Tumiel's article about the book, and listed it in his blog. In an even more astounding twist, filmmaker Jim Wharton read about the book on Coppola's blog and contacted Meredith and me to talk about all the amazing individuals and experiences I encountered in Balad. He is an amazing guy and you can see his most recent short film "A Debt of 'Atitude", in which he also turns in a sharp acting performance.
Lastly, Ms. Dinah Price, of The Twig book shop in San Antonio called us to give us the chance to have an author signing in her shop. We immediately jumped at the opportunity, and she is going to host us on 10 FEB at 1400 at The Twig, which is at 5005 Broadway near the Witte Museum in the Terrell Hills/Alamo Heights area. Ben and I had lots of fun talking with her: she fenced for her school in Santa Barbara and also knew all of Ben's favorite books.
So if you are in town on 10 FEB, we invite you to join us at The Twig!
Peace and Swedish Fish,