Friday, December 31, 2021

Insight: Looking into the 2022 crystal ball

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

I probably don’t follow many traditions about New Year’s Eve, but back in the 1990s I never missed a Dec. 31 episode of ABC’s Nightline television program because that was their annual predictions show. 

Anchor Ted Koppel would host the distinguished prognostication panel every year that featured Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and former presidential speechwriter William Safire; economist Arthur Laffer, the so-called “architect of the 1980s supply side economics” movement; and former Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford, the dean of American sports commentary. Koppel would lead the panel through a discussion of their thoughts about the coming year and then they would each make three bold predictions for the new year after a review of their previous yearly predictions.

This was always a fast-moving hour of television and I’ve always appreciated the keen insight of Koppel, who was able to move with ease from topics ranging from politics to religion to business to sports, all while keeping panelist egos in check and the discussion focused on what would be in the news in the unknown year ahead.

After Koppel retired as Nightline host in 2005, the prediction show came to an end. Safire died of pancreatic cancer in 2009 and Deford passed away at age 78 in 2017.

After an absence of 16 years, I still miss that panel’s wit, humor, and collective intuition in predicting future events. Although I may not be in their league, perhaps I can start a New Year’s Eve tradition here in 2021 by making a few annual predictions of my own.

Let’s see how many of these predictions will come to pass in 2022:

** Former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who also won a Super Bowl last season playing for Tampa Bay, will retire after the end of this season. My best guess right now is that Tampa Bay is not going to reach the Super Bowl again in 2022 and Brady has had enough. He will turn down lucrative offers to host several NFL Sunday pre-game shows and instead will run for Massachusetts governor and win in a landslide in next year’s election.

** As “supply chain” issues are slowly resolved, the price of gasoline for American drivers is going to stabilize at about $3 per gallon. After months of consumers paying through the nose and enduring seemingly unending rising prices with each visit to the pump, oil companies will settle on $3 as the going rate in 2022.

** The Major League Baseball lockout will end in mid-March delaying the start of the 2022 season by a few weeks. A new lottery style draft system will be implemented to eliminate the strategy of teams who “tank” to receive a higher draft pick. Player salaries and owner profits will remain ludicrous though. The New York Mets will reach the 2022 World Series but ultimately lose in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays. 

** Fast-food restaurants will slash menus significantly to speed up drive-through service times and reduce staffing needs. Many of these same restaurants will also cut hours and days that they operate just to survive in the highly competitive fast-food environment. Chicken wings and breakfast pizza could be the hottest selling drive-through items in the coming year and gooseberries will grow in popularity as a healthy alternative offered in the supermarket produce aisle.

** Poland will be the epicenter of international controversy next summer when it declares its intent to withdraw from the European Union like Great Britain’s Brexit. 

** Trucker jackets will be the fashion rage for women in 2022 while anything plaid or crocheted will be best sellers for females too. Leather vests for men, tight trousers, and belted raincoats all will be making a comeback in male fashion trends.

** The Florida Panthers will defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4 games to 1 to win the Stanley Cup. The Purdue University Boilermakers will capture the NCAA men’s basketball title by knocking off the UCLA Bruins in the championship game.

** HBO Max will announce production of a new “Sopranos” television series sequel featuring a new generation of actors hoping to capitalize on the show’s continuing popularity. Edie Falco will reprise her role as Carmella Soprano and Robert Iler will return as A.J. Soprano in this new revival.

** The real estate market will continue to boom in 2022. As more people search for affordable housing and businesses continue to reduce overhead and site expenses by allowing workers to perform their duties remotely, those looking for homes will not slow down at all in the coming year. Real estate demand will remain high.

** Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, will announce they are expecting a third child in the coming year. I’m also predicting that the couple will be at the forefront of a new global effort to eliminate childhood poverty.   

** The Maine Legislature will vote to allow municipalities to create a new revenue source by authorizing towns and cities to set-up a system to license pet cats annually like existing annual dog licensing programs. 

As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” 

Happy New Year to one and all. <

Andy Young: 100* books in a year

By Andy Young

Special to The Windham Eagle

I just finished reading my 100th* book of the year.

That achievement* isn’t quite as impressive as it seems. Almost 40 of the books I absorbed in 2021 were read to me. I began listening to books on tape during my daily commute after my longtime carpool got torpedoed by the pandemic. 

Being told stories while motoring has been a godsend. Not only has it allowed me to explore different genres of literature, it’s made me into a far less aggressive driver. In the past snarled traffic on I-295 would enrage me, but now such situations just give me more time to immerse myself in whatever I’m listening to.

A skilled voice actor can make a story come alive far better than I can when I read the traditional way, by sitting silently inputting the words into my brain. For me, listening to Billie Jean King share her fascinating recollections in her own voice is far more engaging than reading the very same words on the pages of her recently published autobiography, All In. The same can go for certain fiction. Garrison Keillor reciting Pontoon in the same understated tone that related the News of Lake Wobegon to untold numbers of listeners for more than four decades on NPR’s “A Prairie Home Companion” is still capable of eliciting out-loud laughter and genuine sorrow within the same tale.

But not all audio books are as good as their printed counterparts. An example: the person who did the spoken-word version of Yogi: A Life Behind the Mask, Jon Pessah’s impeccably researched biography of Yogi Berra, was probably chosen because he could speak with a cadence similar to the one Yogi himself did. But knowledgeable baseball fans know how to correctly pronounce the last names of Vic Raschi (RASH-shee, not RAH-shee), Pete Reiser (REESE-er, not RISE-er), and Red Schoendienst (SHANE-deenst, not SHONE-deenst), and the person hired to voice this particular audio book quite apparently did not.

In the past I’ve gone entire years without reading anything. Delayed maturation and a touch of willful ignorance played a part in that, but there was also a more understandable reason for my aversion to books. Staying inert has never been one of my strong points, and when I was taught to read, sitting still was one of the prerequisites for doing so.

All this reading has reaffirmed my preference for non-fiction. A week after finishing a novel I rarely remember the title, or anything about the plot. One exception: The Nickel Boys. If Colson Whitehead wrote it, I recommend it. The same goes for anything authored by Carl Hiaasen or Leonard Pitts, Jr.

This year’s best non-fiction was How the Word is Passed. Clint Smith’s “reckoning with the history of slavery across America,” features exhaustive research and eloquent prose that describes the author’s travels make the book an instant classic. It ought to be required reading in high school and college classrooms around the country, and with luck soon will be.

Years ago, if someone told me they had read 100 books in a calendar year I’d have nodded politely, hopefully resisting the urge to ask condescendingly, “Did you write them all down?” I’d have known for certain that such a person was a hopeless nerd who would never, ever have anything even remotely resembling a social life.

I guess it really does take one to know one. When I finished my 100th* book of 2021 last week (John Grisham’s The Guardians) I documented it on a master list I’ve been keeping all year, just like I did with the previous 99*.

One ticket to Nerdville, please. <

Friday, December 17, 2021

Insight: A lucky flip of the coin

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

A lucky coin flip significantly changed my outlook on life way back in 1983 and it’s a story worth relating more than 38 years later.

That summer I was one of two staff sergeants working in the Public Affairs Office at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona and we were both summoned one morning for a meeting with the major, who led the office. In the meeting, he said that a request had been made for a staff sergeant to be sent on temporary duty to a training camp near Teguicigalpa, Honduras for six weeks.

Because conditions at the camp were primitive and it was situated directly in the jungle, the major wanted to see if one of us would volunteer instead of him having to assign it to one of us. Neither of us wanted to go, but ultimately the other staff sergeant agreed to a coin flip to settle the issue with the provision that the next temporary duty assignment would go to the winner. I won the flip and wished him the best of luck in Honduras.

Six weeks later, he returned to the office and was not at all happy. He had to sleep on a wooden cot in a tent for the entire trip, and those assigned to the camp were subjected to having to boil their laundry in a fire-heated vat to get it clean. Abundant mosquitos ate them alive but worst of all, my colleague said that he felt awful on the return trip and was having to take malaria pills for fear he might have contracted that illness.

A few weeks later in October, I was summoned to the major’s office and informed that I would be leaving the very next day for my temporary duty assignment, but he had no details of where I would be going. As I was packing for the trip that night, I was reminded of something my father had once told me years prior.

He said that I should never be afraid of new adventures and to be open to whatever comes my way in life.

“Every day is an opportunity,” my father had told me. “Embrace it because you never know what may happen that day.”

At the time I thought his advice was something a father would typically say to his son and gave it little credence, forgetting about it until that situation came up.

But when I received my temporary duty orders the next morning, I finally understood what my father had meant in that conversation.

I learned that I was being sent to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada for six weeks to edit the daily newsletter for the U.S. Air Force’s annual air-to-ground weapons competition. I was going to stay in the barracks at Nellis free of charge and was given a base car to drive around to the flightline to interview pilots and ground crews about their work preparing for the events and the competition.

I spent each morning gathering information to write three or four stories for that day’s edition and taking photographs of aircrews, munitions, and aircraft participating in the competition. Each afternoon I would design and edit the newsletter and was usually done by 3 p.m.

The remainder of the day was mine and I determined quickly that the numerous buffets and inexpensive food offered by the casinos in Las Vegas were vastly better than what was served in the dining hall on base. I wasn’t much of a gambler, but I did play some casino slot machines and sat in for a few hands of blackjack at Caesar’s Palace.

While I was in Las Vegas, the World Series was being played at the same time, and I found it interesting how the sports books and gamblers at the casinos would bet on almost every detail of the games, right down to which team would commit the first error to how many total wild pitches would be thrown that day.

A few years later, I was working for a newspaper in New Mexico as a reporter when the editor asked another reporter and myself who wanted to do a phone interview that afternoon with an actor promoting a movie. She wouldn’t disclose who the actor was, which made us both somewhat apprehensive about volunteering for the job.

The other reporter was in the middle of a writing project for an upcoming Sunday edition but agreed to a coin flip for this assignment. I won the flip and told myself that no matter who the actor was, I would embrace the job and thought about how lucky my previous coin flip was.

It happened that the actor was Lou Diamond Phillips, and he was promoting the film “Young Guns” which was filmed in and around New Mexico. Despite suffering a broken leg during filming, Phillips was enthusiastic about the movie and I was able to obtain a great interview and write an article about the upcoming production.

To this day I’m never intimidated by the outcome of coin flips and try to embrace each day because I truly don’t know what may happen. <

Bill Diamond: Making concrete changes to Maine’s child welfare system

By Senator Bill Diamond

In the 20 years I’ve been working on child welfare issues, never have I heard from so many people with their own stories of how the system let them down as I have these past few months. After a summer marked by tragedy, we continue to see stories in the news about children dying with sad regularity – most recently, 14-month-old Karson Malloy of Oakland died after suffering a medical emergency at home. Inside the home, police found evidence indicating drug trafficking, including a shocking 5.85 pounds of deadly fentanyl.

The cause of Karson’s death is still being investigated, and no one has been charged in connection with his death at this time. Nor do we know what involvement Maine’s child welfare system had with this family leading up to Karson’s death, if any. What we do know is that we’re still waiting for change in Maine’s child welfare system to keep our children safe.

In October, Casey Family Programs released their assessment of Maine’s child welfare system, as the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) had contracted them to do. In response, DHHS laid out plans for changes including reviews of staffing plans and better coordination with hospitals and law enforcement.

While I’m always hopeful that we’re getting closer to the systemic change we need, I expect that the review currently being conducted by the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability (OPEGA) will give a more thorough account of the problems. OPEGA will deliver their full report in September 2022, with interim reports to the Legislature due in January and March of 2022. In the meantime, the Legislature is preparing to go back into session in January, and I’ve sponsored several bills to make more immediate changes.

I’ve written in The Windham Eagle several times about the deaths of Logan Marr, Kendall Chick and Marissa Kennedy, three little girls who were let down by the system in the most devastating way. Many of the details of their abuse and the systemic failures that led to their deaths were unknown until those ultimately responsible for their deaths went to trial – Sally Schofield in Logan’s case, Shawna Gatto in Kendall’s case, and Julio and Sharon Carrillo in Marissa’s case.

I attended the trials of Shawna Gatto and the Carrillos, and the details that came to light in the courtroom were heartbreaking. Particularly wrenching is the timeline of Marissa Kennedy’s final months and the many missed opportunities for lifesaving interventions, including the day before she died, when Marissa lost consciousness in front of a child welfare worker. The caseworker believed the Carrillos when they said Marissa was just tired; in fact, Marissa’s body was shutting down due to severe, ongoing abuse.

Making information like this timeline public is a critical step in identifying where things went wrong so that we can make changes and prevent future tragedies. It is in these trials that key information is discovered and made public.

But even in the best of times, cases can take years to go to trial. Several parents have been charged with manslaughter or murder over the deaths of their children this year, and their trials are likely to provide us with important information about where the system failed.

One of my bills will help make sure we get this information as quickly as possible so that we can save lives. The bill directs the Maine Attorney General to prioritize the criminal investigation and prosecution of murder cases in which the victim is a child, and to work with the courts to prioritize these cases when scheduling trials.

This way, the accused get the fair and speedy trail they’re entitled to, and key information that may save other lives is available as soon as possible. I look forward to keeping you updated on this bill, and on my other bills that aim to improve our child welfare system, in the coming months.

If you believe a child is in immediate danger, please call 911. To report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect, call Maine’s Child Protection Intake line at 1-800-452-1999. If you have concerns about how a child protection case is being handled, contact the Maine Child Welfare Ombudsman at 207- 213-4773.

As always, I’m here to talk through your questions and concerns and to help you address any challenges you may be facing. You can email me any time at or call my office at 207- 287-1515. <

Friday, December 10, 2021

Insight: The Annual Christmas Shopping Excursion

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

It seems the older I get, the easier it becomes to find Christmas gifts for my wife.

Of course, it helps to be married to a voracious reader who tells me that she’s just as comfortable receiving used books from Goodwill as she is at reading new novels just released on Amazon.

Before we got married, the only woman I had to shop for in my life was my mother, and I had it down pat what to buy for her every year. She enjoyed chocolate-covered cherries, a bag of fresh navel oranges or grapefruit, and a gift certificate for dinner at Olive Garden.

In the years since I’ve been married to Nancy though, I’ve expanded my holiday shopping repertoire to now include jewelry, clothing, shoes, winter coats, and sweaters. She’s easy to shop for and grateful for each gift she receives.

For me that hasn’t always been the case. Way back in the 1970s when I was married to someone other than Nancy, I found it much more difficult to shop for her as she was very picky about nearly everything.

One year when I was working at a department store assembling items purchased by customers such as bicycles and kitchen stepstools, I happened to see two very good deals nearby on the showroom floor.

The first one was a Hoover Celebrity canister vacuum cleaner on sale for just $39 and the other item was a Symphonic stereo receiver with a built-in cassette tape player and two large speakers for $135. However, making just $2.75 per hour performing assembly work and going to college to study journalism at the same time resulted in a miniscule budget, preventing such lavish purchases, even at Christmas.

When I told the salesman that I was considering buying both the stereo and the vacuum for my wife for Christmas, but that my funds were limited, he suggested that I apply for the store’s easy credit plan.

I went into debt and brought both items home and wrapped them for her for Christmas and placed them under the tree. Her reaction on Christmas morning was priceless and I didn’t realize anyone could get so mad on such a special day.

The first gift she opened was the vacuum cleaner and I quickly learned that a husband should never purchase items meant for housework for his wife. And she also told me that she preferred upright vacuums more than the canister type because they worked better and picked up more, according to her.

She said that the stereo was obviously something that I wanted and showed little regard for her feelings. She said that she wanted a bottle of “Charlie” perfume instead and demanded that I return the stereo and get my money back as soon as the department store reopened the day after Christmas.

But when I informed her that I had opened a revolving charge account at the store to purchase those gifts, she became even more upset than she already was. I was told that the decision to open a charge account should be a mutual decision when you are married and how foolish I was to think a stereo receiver and a vacuum cleaner were something that she would ever want for Christmas.

So thereafter, I always made it a point to set a spending limit and to have her write her clothing sizes and wish list on a scrap of paper before I headed off to the mall for Christmas shopping, usually on Christmas Eve.

A lot has changed in my life since the 1970s. I am now married to a kinder person who has never complained about a Christmas gift given to her. We do try to establish spending limits every year, but those limits always seem to evaporate when I am choosing gifts for her.

By this point approaching two decades of marriage, I do know her sizes by heart and have a good idea of what she likes and what she doesn’t like. I can’t go wrong in purchasing pajamas, books, teaching supplies, creative pursuits, or gift certificates to Staples.

Being a teacher, one year she was thrilled to find a wrapped box of copy paper and a four-pack of computer printer ink under the Christmas tree with her name on it. Another year she found two cashmere sweaters and a pair of Skechers sneakers in her hard-to-find 5 ½ wide size.

The best thing about Nancy is that I could go to a thrift shop and spend $30 for Christmas. and she would be as happy as me buying her an expensive new wardrobe from Macy's.

I suppose that I’ve refined my Christmas shopping skills as I’ve aged, but it sure helps to have someone who understands the meaning and intent of the season to shop for.

In my opinion, Christmas shopping should be fun and not stressful. It should be done to express your sentiment for that person and not an obligation. Whether it be a summer sausage gift basket from Hickory Farms, an oversized mug for hot chocolate, Bohemian aromatherapy candles, or tickets to a hockey game, it’s the thought that counts, right? <

Andy Young: Locking in on baseball’s lockout

By Andy Young

Special to The Windham Eagle

The collective bargaining agreement between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the owners of MLB’s 30 teams expired on Dec. 1, at which point management decided to lock out the players. This strategy, which is allowable under federal labor law and creates the equivalent of a strike, has created the industry’s (reality check: professional baseball is a business, not a sport) first labor impasse in almost 27 years.

I’m struggling with how to react to this. I grew up obsessed with baseball. I played the game as a youth, coached it as a young adult, and still umpire Little League games. I earned a modest living working in professional baseball’s minor leagues for nearly 15 years and enjoyed every minute of it. I have good friends who played in the major leagues, and my baseball career was aided and abetted by more ballclub management people than I can count. It’s fair to say any success I’ve had in my life is at least partially attributable to my involvement with baseball.

But before taking an emotion-driven, knee-jerk position on the current labor situation, I need to consider some relevant data. The minimum salary of a major league baseball player (who is on average 28 years old) is currently $570,500. The average annual (as in “yearly”) salary of a major league baseball player is currently $4.17 million.

In the week before the lockout, 37-year-old pitcher Max Scherzer signed a three-year contract with the New York Mets that will pay him a total of $130 million dollars, or $43,333,333.33 annually. This means Scherzer, who pitches every fifth or sixth day, will make more than $1.2 million every time he takes the mound the next three seasons, and because the deal is guaranteed he’ll get paid every dollar, even if he gets hurt and is unable to perform.

On the day before his 29th birthday, infielder Javier Baez, who played for two teams this past season, inked a comparatively modest six-year, $140 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. The Texas Rangers spent $560 million on four players in one day; the bulk of that money went to 27-year-old shortstop Corey Seager, who’ll net a cool $325,000,000 over the next 10 years. The Chicago Cubs franchise, which was purchased for $846 million in 2009, is now worth more than four times that amount.

Scherzer, Baez, Seager, and their peers deserve to be handsomely compensated. Their services are in high demand, and they should be paid accordingly. In addition, they have a limited window in which to make money in their chosen profession, unlike nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, and members of the military who, if they so choose, can ply their respective trades into their dotage. Nor should anyone resent baseball’s uber-rich club owners for benefitting from their investment; they’re taking the nominal risk, so it’s only fair they reap the rewards.

Besides, if anyone’s to blame for the current state of affairs, it’s the nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, and military members who purchase cable TV packages, licensed team apparel, and tickets to ballgames (not to mention the $5 hot dogs, $10 beers, and those inexplicable foam fingers hawked at most MLB venues) that drive the market which makes the stratospheric player salaries and uber-stratospheric franchise values what they are.

After considering my lifelong love of baseball, the current salary structure, and what professional baseball contributes to society in comparison to what nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters, and members of the military do, I’ve come to my thoughtful conclusion.

Give the foam finger to ownership and the MLBPA.

Let the lockout go on. <

Friday, December 3, 2021

Insight: Courage above and beyond

Ed Pierce, left, and General Jimmy
Doolittle, a recipient of the Medal
of Honor, meet during an awards
ceremony at The Pentagon in 
Washington, D.C. in January 1981.
By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

I've been watching a series on Netflix for the past few weeks about those who have been awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in combat during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Each of the eight episodes contains interviews with the medal recipient or members of their family and it’s some of the most moving television I’ve viewed in quite a while.

This series got me to thinking about how many actual Medal of Honor recipients I have met or interviewed during my career in journalism and in looking back, I found that to be a total of three.

In January 1981, I was attending a luncheon at The Pentagon and got to meet a special guest, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, who had led the first American air strikes to hit Japan in April 1942.

Then Lt. Col. Doolittle commanded a top-secret attack of 16 B-25 bombers launched from the USS Hornet with targets in Tokyo, Kobe, Yokohama, Osaka and Nagoya. Their mission was perilous as a previously unknown Japanese navy flotilla spotted the American planes and reported their approach.

The American’s fuel supply was mostly consumed by the time they had reached their targets in Japan. Some aircrews were forced to ditch into the shark-infested Sea of Japan while other found their planned landing sites in China taken over by Japanese troops and they were captured.

But Doolittle’s mission was a tremendous morale boost for America and shattered the myth that the Japanese homeland could not be attacked. It helped turn the tide of World War II and Doolittle was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Franklin Roosevelt.

His citation reads, "For conspicuous leadership above and beyond the call of duty, involving personal valor and intrepidity at an extreme hazard to life. With the apparent certainty of being forced to land in enemy territory or to perish at sea, Lt. Col. Doolittle personally led a squadron of Army bombers, manned by volunteer crews, in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland."

In October 2014, I interviewed a man billed as “the real-life Forrest Gump” at an event at the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton, New Hampshire.

U.S. Army PFC Sammy Lee Davis of Indiana was serving at Firebase Cudgel in Vietnam on Nov. 18, 1967, when his unit came under machine gun fire and heavy mortar attack by three companies of Viet Cong soldiers. Detecting an enemy position, Davis manned a machine gun to give the U.S. troops cover so they could fire artillery in response to the Viet Cong attack. Davis himself was wounded but took over the unit's burning howitzer and fired several shells at the enemy. He also crossed a river on an air mattress under heavy enemy fire to help rescue three wounded American soldiers. He ultimately found his way back to another howitzer site to continue fighting until the attackers fled.   

For his heroism, Davis was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon Johnson. On his medal citation it partially reads “Sgt. Davis' extraordinary heroism, at the risk of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.”

In November 2014, I had the great privilege of interviewing Ryan Pitts of Nashua, New Hampshire, who was the guest speaker at the Veterans Day observance at the New Hampshire Veterans Home that year.

On July 13, 2008, Pitts, a U.S. Army sergeant, was providing perimeter security at Observation Post Topside in Afghanistan when a wave of rocket-propelled grenade rounds engulfed the post, wounding him and inflicting heavy casualties on U.S. troops. Pitts had been knocked to the ground and was bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds to his arm and legs, but with incredible toughness and resolve, he returned fire on the enemy. As the enemy drew nearer, Sergeant Pitts threw grenades, holding them until after the pin was pulled and the safety lever was released to create a nearly immediate detonation on the hostile forces.

Unable to stand on his own and near death because of the severity of his wounds and blood loss, Pitts continued to fire at the enemy until reinforcements arrived. He crawled to a radio position and whispered into the radio situation reports and helped convey information that the command post used to provide indirect fire support.

His medal citation reads in part, “Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts' extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service.”

I consider myself lucky to have met and spoken with each of these heroes, who each told me that they did what they had to do to help protect the lives of their fellow Americans and the freedom of this nation.

All three of these men said they were humbled by the Medal of Honor and said that they thought of themselves as ordinary Americans who instinctively acted when duty called upon them. Their courage, patriotism and bravery remain a source of inspiration to me and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to tell their stories. <