On the Military

What Makes a Speech Great? An Admiral Tells 3 Stories

6 min read Writer’s Toolbox Public speaking AVAILABLE ON PODCAST HERE Admiral McRaven commemorates the 11th Anniversary of Operation Neptune's Spear What makes a speech great? There are a lot of good speeches and good speakers. But a great speech is one you remember....

What I Learned Walking With a Friend

8 min read True Story Military service Road walking, trail notes AVAILABLE IN PODCAST - CLICK HERE Not 30 miles as the crow flies, that’s how far I was from my childhood home. It was gray and threatening rain, the time in spring that’s cool, tree buds just coming in,...

A Poet Warrior Learns Kindness

4 min read Book Rec, Tokaido Road Poetry for Emergencies AVAILABLE IN PODCAST Spotify iTunes Google Podcast It made me feel flawed as a human, this passage from Lucia St.Clair Robson's book, Tokaido Road. The protagonist Cat is disguised as a young man when she meets...

Spicy Rooster and a Salt Lake City Outpost

4 Min read Veteran owned business AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Google Podcasts Spicy Rooster shirts were sold out of the sizes needed. My cousin Priscilla and I bought the last on the shelf. A red shirt with a Sriracha motif, the tee had the hot sauce's...

Firecracker and a Humble Queen

3 min read True story AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Google Podcasts You know those moments in your life that you will never forget? your first dog, first kiss, when Princess Diana got in a car accident. She died on my husband's birthday and I can remember waking...

Poetry for Emergencies: Ukraine, Howard Nemerov, and the War Dead

6 Min read Howard Nemerov 2 Poems TreeHouseLetter feature:  Poetry for Emergencies   AVAILABLE IN PODCAST iTunes Spotify.com anchor.fm/emelle Poetry is a way of getting something right in language. Nemerov It's a batshit crazy world, especially for our friends of...

A Valentine Canine and the Circle of Life

3 Min read 2 Book Recs AVAILABLE  ON PODCAST Anchor.fm/emelle Spotify iTunes   Herz is a good name for a dog adopted on Valentine's Day, especially for a shepherd mix because Herz is the German word for heart. The dark face and fawn body resembles the Belgian...

Graveside Gratitude, Giving Thanks in November

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm         I learned more from two friends in death than I had learned from them in life. I had not known them well and perhaps that is why, but they were men I met whose lives touched mine, in a fashion,...

A Memorial Day Reflection and Celebration

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes     It’s been an emotional week and Memorial Day reminds me that I am ever grateful for this country. Flawed, even divided, or reeling from the aftermath of a pandemic, it may be the worst from of government, as...

Two Truths and a Lie, a Fools Game

Available on Podcast iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm Happy Spring to you on April Fools’ Day! This popular game Two Truths and a Lie is often used as an icebreaker and has a simple object, to guess which is false. On April First each year, I live to make people laugh....

Just a Common Soldier by Vaincourt

This post is for  "the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife, goes off to serve his country and offers up his life." It is popular on Veterans Day.     Just a Common Soldier by A. Lawrence Vaincourt He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was...

Learning to Run

AVAILABLE on PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm   I can’t say it’s something I like to do. It is something I ought to do and when I’ve done it I feel better, though it wasn’t always that way. I learned how to run a lifetime ago, when I joined the military. Life in...

The Vulgar Parrot

Available on PODCAST ANCHOR.FM SPOTIFY iTUNES   I’ve gotten to know my son better now that he’s left. I’ve been looking after his fish and turtle and I’ve been noticing his absence. Connecticut’s mandate had prevented gathering for his graduation in May, so...

On Becoming Sheepdogs, a Modern Fable

AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes In the wake of recent events regarding the tragic death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, this letter seems more relevant than ever. It has been updated to relate my own experience and the role of the brave men and...

Memorial Day Reflection – Two Poems and a Tribute

POEMS AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes     Two short Memorial Day poems to remember and reflect on the sacrifice of all those who gave their lives for freedom.  The first is a notable World War II poem, graphic and difficult, because war is...

Solzhenitsyn and the Gulag – A Russian Novel About Your Life

What can we learn from the Gulag? About the military, about the body and soul? AVAILABLE IN PODCAST iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm     Walking up Hawks Hill near my home, I discovered a pebble in my shoe. I had taken a couple of them out of my right sneaker before...

A View from Above: an Army Commander in Afghanistan

 Hear Colonel Mintz on PODCAST Anchor.fm Spotify iTunes   *** Please listen to Podcast to hear full unedited and unscripted interview: Colonel Mintz shares the story and reflects on Afghanistan and the broader context of the war today ***     What is...

Murphy’s Law & the Army Ten-Miler

Listen to Podcast iTunes Spotify Anchor.fm Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, an adage that’s been around for decades. But, did you know that Edward A. Murphy, Jr. was a military officer* and 1940 graduate of the United States Military...

The Making of a Myth or Legend – Stephen Siller

LISTEN TO PODCAST iTUNES Spotify   What goes into the making of a myth or a legend? I listened to my daughter’s English teacher explain the importance of myths in contemporary culture, the idea that something new is often created from the weaving of old threads,...

Work Hard & Do the Right Thing – A Tribute to an Old Sailor

“Work hard and do the right thing,” was Ted Varga’s mantra.  His son Stephen Varga shared this in his eulogy at the Hoyt Funeral Home.  I had come to know Ted these past years through Meals on Wheels, when I delivered his Monday food. He was an old sailor with a brass...

Volleyball and Veterans at West Point

King School Visits West Point This Veterans Day weekend passed like most others, but I want to share a bit about our visit to West Point.  Army beat Lafayette in football and that made my husband and me feel good, as army veterans.  After the game we hosted our...

July 4th – An Oath Ceremony at West Point

"I, [state your name], do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and bear true allegiance to the National Government; that I will maintain and defend the sovereignty of the United States, paramount to any and all allegiance,...

The Body Bearers of Marine Barracks – a Memorial Day Reflection

This is a somber holiday, to remember those who have made the final sacrifice. Sometime this weekend, amid the shopping, beach-going, and picnics, take time to reflect and say a prayer or read about how this tradition began. Share it with your families, your children....

Battleground State – Shots Fired in Virginia

  Range The shooting range was set up for the use of handguns and rifle using handgun ammunition from 22LR through 45 ACP (long rifle and automatic colt pistol), not most long arms.  My brother brought both handguns and rifles to the range and he had to return...

Hapa Haole in Kauai, Oahu, Pearl Harbor & More

Happy New Year! A PRIME YEAR The number 2017 is prime, which means it is divisible only by itself and the the number 1; factors for this year are 2017 and 1.  It is an inauguration year which means we will have a new president on January 20; inauguration years follow...

Veterans Day Sketches and a West Point Reunion

“It wasn’t a cold war for us,” Billy said. “They caught us in their nets, the Russians. Usually 200, 250 feet below.” The pub smelled of Buffalo wings. Dart boards and arcade games flanked the walls. “What’d you do?” “Sent a guy to cut us out. Had to come up to 75...

Women of the Year – No Glamour, All Guts

They don’t make Glamour’s list. Its 25th Anniversary  Women of the Year Awards include a fashionista, Hollywood hero, transgender champion, and the president of Planned Parenthood. There’s little glamorous about the path these two women took, no time for navel-gazing,...

Running With the Marines – the 40th Marine Corps Marathon

The 40th Marine Corps Marathon may well be my first and last time running around Washington, D.C., but oh what an event it was.  Four days later the race is with me still, the image of double amputees on handcycles, veterans running on prosthetic legs, photo placards...

Don Quixote on Presidential Debates and Military Service

The Republican debates have made history with 23 some million viewers, just north of the average NFL football game at 19 million! Americans are concerned about this upcoming presidential election, or at least as much as their fantasy football league. This is progress...

Battalion Commander’s Meditation on Memorial Day

 by Colonel Kenneth Mintz ... after a year of combat, I saw a group of haggard veterans, lean and sinewy in uniforms bleached by sun and sweat, soldiers who had been through a terrible crucible and who absolutely loved each other... On Memorial Day we take pause to...

Memorial Day Perspective: U.S. War Deaths Through History

On Memorial Day, we remember those who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. For many Americans this means a three day weekend, for some, a parade and visit to the local cemetery to honor these men and women.  For those serving, the experience is something they...

American Sniper – Sold Out – Deservedly

I saw the movie this weekend and as a veteran, I found it a powerful and honest portrayal of one man's experience. Clint Eastwood shoots the scenes from Chris Kyle's life, verb intended; there are parallels.  Kyle shoots for a living too, or shot for a living.  The...

“Who goes? who gets left behind?” – Last Days in Vietnam

Hurry up.  Last Days in Vietnam is playing in Pelham, New York until Thursday, October 16.  Book your tickets online [Link for tickets], because the screening room only has 12 seats. We watched the documentary with seven other people, starved for action on a Saturday...

Women at West Point & Women in Combat

The New York Times Magazine ran a feature on women at West Point this month which touched on historically controversial issues such as female enrollment and women in combat arms. I thought I’d share my insight on these issues as a female graduate of the Class of 1991,...

Last Days in Vietnam, a Documentary in Theaters

Rory Kennedy, film-maker and daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, produced a film which debuted in theaters this week about the fall of Vietnam. I haven’t seen it yet and am debating whether I will. I'm half Vietnamese and have mixed feelings and for many years...

“Repeated Injuries and Usurpations” July 4, 1776

A family friend told me that every year on Independence Day, her family read the Declaration of Independence.  Each took turns until they read the document in its entirety. I thought that was an excellent way to enjoy the day's events and will try it in our family....

On the Beaches of Normandy 70 Years Ago

Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of D Day. Seventy years is a long time, but not for some. An 89-year-old British Royal Navy vet was so determined to get to D-Day commemorations in Normandy Friday that he snuck away from his nursing home without warning and...

Speaker Tells Grads to “Make Your Bed”

Admiral William McRaven spoke to the graduating class at University of Texas at Austin.  If you read my earlier letter about the Yale Commencement ( link )with its Honorary Degrees and awards for everyone, you will be pleased to hear what the Admiral had to say. Every...

“The Boys of Iwo Jima”

A friend sent a story worth sharing.  I did a bit of checking and it's true, mostly.  These things get circulated online and picked up and added on and they remind me of a fish tale.  Even the photo lies.  The fish is like my finger during a Facetime chat, it takes up...

Memorial Day, Remember the 1.3 Million

I awoke one morning with a clarity of mind and knowledge I had not possessed before.  I realized something about my three children:  they will serve in the Army. My ten year old daughter brought home the “newspaper” she published in school and for a fill-in-the-blanks...