Sunday, September 28, 2008

Commemoration of 70 Years From the Signing of the Munich Agreement

This afternoon my husband and I attended a program sponsored by the marking the 70th anniversary of the Munich Agreement that is generally blamed for leading to World War II.

For those of you who aren’t immersed in the history of World War II, here’s the basic rundown:

Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January of 1933. (The concentration camp Dachau was opened in March of 1933 as a political prison camp.) In contradiction of the peace treaty ending World War I, Germany annexed the Rhineland (the area between Germany and France) in 1936 without the European powers of France and Britain saying anything. (The United States was busy pursuing an isolationist policy at the time.)

Then, in March of 1938, Hitler annexed Austria, which ceased to exist as an independent country. Soon Hitler wanted the Sudentenland, the western part of Czechoslovakia that was predominately populated by ethnic Germans. The Czechs wanted to resist this plan, but were told they had to go along with the policy of Britain and France, which was appeasement.

And at the end of September 1938, based on the Munich Agreement, the Sudentenland of Czechoslovakia was handed over to the Germans, to be followed in 1939 by Nazi Germany’s takeover of the rest of Czechoslovakia.

The British prime minister at that time, Neville Chamberlain, is infamous for the statement “peace in our time” that sealed the fate of millions of Jews, Gypsies, clergy, homosexuals, mentally handicapped and anyone else the Third Reich declared should be exterminated.

At the program that we attended, the German and French consul generals tried to put appeasement in the context of the time – only 20 years after what was then known as the Great War, no one wanted war. (Nobody, that is, except the Germans, who apparently drank so much beer that they forgot the horrors of the World War I trenches.)

But there was also a video from a former Czech prime minister who presented the Czechoslovak side of the story: desertion by the West even though the Czech military were willing to sacrifice their lives to fight the Germans at the Czech border.

The reason for the importance of remembering the Munich agreement was mentioned – to ensure that the free world does not again bow under to appeasement rather than facing head on the horror of tyranny.

I understand the tendency of humans to wish for the best – burying their heads in the sand in hopes that the worst will not overcome them. But I fear that politicians, wishing to remain popular to achieve or stay in office, will repeat the mistakes that the British and French politicians made in appeasing Hitler rather than choosing to emulate Winston Churchill, who refused (though vastly unpopular) to knuckle under to appeasement.

And if our leaders choose to knuckle under, will democracy survive?

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New Year Greetings to U.S. Jewish Servicemen and Servicewomen Wherever You Are Serving

The Jewish New Year holiday of Rosh Hashanah starts at sundown this year on Monday evening, September 29. It’s a two-day holiday that ends at sundown this year on Wednesday evening, October 1. For those of you who don’t know, this is a solemn religious holiday, although we do have festive meals with family and friends besides attending synagogue services.

(For an explanation of this Jewish holiday and other Jewish holidays, see the book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION by me and Rabbi Karen L. Fox on Amazon at

On Rosh Hashanah Jews all over the world will ponder “who shall live and who shall die … who shall come to a timely end and who shall come to an untimely end.”

Yesterday morning at synagogue services I gave a short drash (talk) about the Jewish servicemen and servicewomen who this year will ponder these questions in Iraq or Afghanistan. I said in part:

And while we will chant this prayer in the comfort of our air conditioned sanctuary in the midst of a country that allows Jews to openly and freely celebrate their religion – there are Jewish servicemen and servicewomen who will chant this same prayer amidst the violence of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some of these deployed Jewish military personnel have traveled from their bases in Iraq to other bases where the too-few Jewish chaplains in Iraq or the Jewish lay leaders will lead Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. Some Jewish personnel will be on missions that prevent their getting time off for the High Holidays.

In Afghanistan, some Jewish personnel will choose to stay at their own bases, totally unable to attend any Jewish service, because the risk of traveling to the bases where Jewish services are held is too great. The trip could cost their lives and the lives of their escorts.

For those of you who would like to know more about Jews who serve in the military, go to and read the last few compelling posts. And for those of you who would like to support all U.S. military personnel who are serving now – and their families – go to my website for information on several organizations that help military families.

May this coming year be one that brings us closer to peace for all people.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dog Tags for Kids: A Volunteer Effort for Kids of Deployed Military Personnel Needs Your Help

Below is a guest from from Steve Thompson of Dog Tags for Kids about this very worthwhile project:

The events that transpired on September 11, 2001, confirmed our patriotism as well as our will to pursue justice and stand together in a fight against terrorism. No one knows this better than the men and women serving in our Armed Forces who were poised and ready to perform their duties despite being put in harm’s way.

Amid the rallying that supported our military efforts emerged small victims that were innocently overlooked. The children of deployed parents, unable to grasp the full meaning behind these long separations, tried desperately to cope with the situation.

Military parents tried to keep a connection with their children while serving overseas and often in conditions that left much to be desired. Letters home would contain soothing words of comfort. But something more was needed to really show the young ones that, despite any absence, mom or dad still cared for and loved them.

Unfortunately, items or tokens of affection were not readily available. So an idea was born out of this need:

Rose Sliepka, an engraver in California, had some first-hand knowledge of the shortage of items for deployed soldiers to purchase as her brother had proudly served in Operation Desert Storm. After hearing one such story of a father in Iraq trying to send items home to his children, it was decided that something small and easy to mail which could be sent from mom or dad was just what was needed.

Thus a new grassroots project was born called Dog Tags for Kids. The concept was simple: a military-style dog tag in the appropriate service color that read “With Love From Dad (or Mom)” along with the country (Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan) and the year. After all, what child wouldn’t be thrilled to wear a tag like mom or dad, especially when it was sent with love from abroad during the parent’s tour of duty?

The program grew like wildfire and became a tremendous hit with the troops and kids alike. In fact, along with the public’s help, a small group of volunteers has so far been able to produce and ship over 360,000 tags overseas to be returned home. It might be a small gesture, but to the children on the receiving end, there could have been nothing better to get and proudly display.

Dog tags from moms and dads soon started appearing on backpacks, book bags and around the neck, keeping the tags close to the children’s hearts. More importantly, the tags generated smiles! Friends and family at home could see the difference the tags made, and in fact reported that this brought many kids out of their shell for the first time since mom or dad went away. Now, no matter where the children were, they could carry with them a reminder of a loving parent.

Despite efforts to raise awareness and keep such a program afloat, the economic times have presented a major stumbling block. While the public’s generosity has been monumental in getting the project this far, it has appeared at times that the organization would fail in its goal to provide a tag for every member in harm’s way that requested one.

Now funds are desperately needed in order for the program to continue in its drive to support our military. And it’s important to note that, unlike other non-profit groups, there are absolutely no administrative fees taken. Thanks to a small but dedicated all-volunteer staff, all proceeds are used exclusively for tags and mailing.

At present we have a backlog of requests from the troops that we are trying to fill as quickly as possible. In order to do that though, we need help. While we certainly hope for contributions, we understand the difficulty for many. In those cases, we hope that, in lieu of donations, some time can be spent in helping us spread the word to others.

Please tell friends and relatives, employers and associates and those commercial entities you support that may be able to help. It only takes 50 cents to send a tag, and the result it produces can’t be had at any cost much less one so low.

For more information and to donate, visit to see letters of thanks and appreciation from the troops as well as pictures of the kids wearing their tags and smiles! It’s a great way to thank our military men and women for the service to their country and help them stay connected to the important ones in their lives.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Heritage Foundation's Report on Who Serves in the Military Reveals Surprising Information

I strongly urge you to read Stephen J. Dubner's Freakonomics column in the September 22nd New York Times at The Heritage Foundation's report that Dubner discusses in his column includes these surprising facts:

So 50 percent of the enlisted recruits (i.e., not including the officers’ corps) come from families in the top 40 percent of the income distribution, while only 10 percent come from the bottom 20 percent...

These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) program,” reads the report, “in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods ...

Read the column yourself to learn more, including this information:

There’s a further important point that can’t be found in this report but can be found in another one, which compiles race-specific U.S. military fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan. As of March 1, 2008, there were 2,964 white fatalities in Iraq, representing 74.8 percent of the total; in the general population, meanwhile, whites in that age cohort make up about 62 percent of the population, so whites are overrepresented among Iraqi fatalities. Blacks and Hispanics, meanwhile, are both underrepresented; the same is true in Afghanistan.

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Helping Big Tobacco Come Clean

Today Big Tobacco put a new post on his blog with the title "Coming Clean." But because there is a paragraph near the top of the post that is R-rated, I'm going to put most of his post here rather than send you to his blog.

Below is the excerpt from the September 24th post by Big Tobacco, written from an undisclosed FOB (forward operating base) somewhere in or near Iraq:

I’ve been asked my multiple people to “please write a book” so they can still enjoy my writing when I’ve redeployed and the blog is done. Well, you are going to get your wish.

It’s too late for me to take masters classes at school, so I’ve decided to start writing ... a novel.

Wow! That sounds incredibly pretentious. Can you imagine me signing books at a Borders?

"Hi, I'm Bee Tee, famous Iraq War vet and novelist. I'll sign your book, but only if you let me sign your chest first."

Now this novel presents a problem, because with the exception of a few short stories from college and one or two as mental exercises, I really haven’t written any fiction. But I’ve never let ignorance stop me from doing anything.

Phyllis Miller from is the key to all of this. She is helping me out with story structure and editing. So do me a favor, go to her website and buy her book. She deserves the extra scratch while she helps straighten out the kinks in this thing.

In the meantime, maybe I'll take up smoking a pipe.

What I want to know is: Where is his disclaimer that all mistakes are his own?

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Married to the Military – Part II

The following is the second and concluding part of Summer Watson’s guest post about being a military spouse today.

I felt like I was back in the 1950s, where I should have been wearing the dress, pearls (oh yea, I did wear pearls), and the high heels with dinner ready for my husband each evening. Many of the women on the island felt the same way.

Very few of us worked but were involved with the Marine Officers’ Spouses Club. We volunteered for various functions, we played a lot of Bunco, and tried to fill our time with various other things like tennis and lunch. This was nice but it was not overly fulfilling for me.

The second year of our tour in Okinawa the orders came and my husband was going to be sent to Iraq. This was almost too much for me to handle. I thought, “How could this be? I am in a foreign country; I can’t just pick-up and move home.”

My husband was gone for two-three months of training and was in Iraq for seven. I did not want to be in Okinawa without my spouse. I was angry, afraid (not only for myself but more so for my husband). I had to be strong for him but I felt so alone.

He left and I found my way. I pulled from that semi-forgotten independence that was stripped from me when I married a Marine. I say “stripped from me” because I had to somewhat conform and understand the military culture to continue to have a loving relationship with my spouse.

The military culture still idealizes the values of the ‘50s, meaning relationships are more traditional with such expectations like dinner on the table every night, being the supportive stay-home “wife,” and putting your life and many of your own goals aside for the success of your husband’s military career. Remember, “if the military wanted your spouse to have a wife, it would have issued him one.” I was not standard issue but I was willing to give up a lot of what I considered my natural self for the love of a terrific human being!

I pulled myself together, stayed in Okinawa with my dog, got involved, and tried to support my friends. Many of my friends, who were also married to a Marine, were left on the island while their spouse was either in Iraq or Afghanistan. One example of this crazy situation was during my birthday lunch. I was out with 11 girlfriends and eight out of the bunch were without their husbands due to their husbands being deployed. It was a challenging time, a time of growth and reflection, and a time to regain some of my forgotten-self.

I felt a little less camouflaged by the military than I had in years. I may have been one of several wives with a husband at war, but I finally felt somewhat actualized by the experience. It gave me back strength that I had but had forgotten was there. I, again, had balance. I was there for my husband, and the experience helped me develop into a person who was healthier and wiser.

We are back in California. I, again, am ready to conquer some of my goals. However, I have a marriage with a phenomenal bond; I have more of an understanding of how to graciously pick my battles with this military culture; and through it all have regained a fair amount of my independence.

Additionally, I have gained some very valuable knowledge from the Okinawan people, and that is to “live in the present.” I no longer feel so camouflaged by a system I viewed as restrictive and overbearing.

Thanks, Summer, for sharing your military spouse story.

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Married to the Military – Part I

Those of you who have read MRS. LIEUTENANT know it is from the point of view of military spouses in 1970. I am often asked how the experiences of the women in the novel relate to the experiences of military spouses today. Marine spouse Summer Watson graciously provides her take on her current military spouse experience in the following two-part guest post.

I am a military spouse. I am a partner, who supports her husband in his daily life. I do not live my life based on what my husband does since I have a life that is independent of his career. I am not enmeshed with my husband nor do I try and live vicariously through him to define myself or my status. I have always been a person with an independent nature.

I met my husband during our senior year of high school. I went to UC Berkeley for my B.A. degree. I went off to Connecticut to study law and a year later returned and married my high school sweetheart. He joined the Marine Corps and my life changed.

I had dated military men while in high school, but it was nothing like being married to the military. The military is not just a job but a lifestyle; a unique sub-culture that turned my world in many different directions. I was not only married but I had a new parent – the Marine Corps.

The Corps had my husband under its spell, and I was trying my best to individuate him from this unhealthy paradigm but he wasn’t having any of it!

My growth within this culture was difficult. My husband joined the military at 24 years old, where young men and women join at an early age. So I was living, shopping… amongst a crowd of babes. I felt like I had more experience in life and was in a situation where several of the people I was around never went to college or lived away from their family-homes – this was their college experience but with a very strict parent!

As time went on, I found my escape in school. I went on to get a master’s in human services with a specialization in community counseling and then onto a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. I yearned for educational stimulation. I felt restricted and confined in the military culture that I lived.

Eventually I had a chat with my husband and explained that he should research some of the officer programs. He did and is now a Chief Warrant Officer 2. He got his B.A. while in the Marine Corps and he has always done very well within this system.

About three years ago we got transferred to Okinawa, Japan. This was a significant transition for me. I had just graduated with my doctoral degree and was ready to move on professionally and then we got our orders. We had to move and it would be a three-year tour in Okinawa.

We got to Okinawa and I was unable to get a job on any of the bases and I was struggling. I had worked, since 15 years old. I did not know what to do with myself. Furthermore, whenever I went for a job, I always nailed the interview and got the job I wanted. Well, this was not the case in Okinawa. You actually had to know someone to even get noticed. I was not given the chance. A qualified, willing individual with experience and several degrees was out of a job for three years. I volunteered, helped friends, shopped, and hosted a lot of parties.

Stay tuned for the second part of this guest post to find out what Summer Watson learned from this experience in Okinawa.

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Free Text-Messaging for Deployed Military Personnel Thanks to New Partnership of eMailOurMilitary and Tatango

Here's today's news of free text messaging for deployed troops thanks to eMailOurMilitary and Tatango:

Tatango, the Seattle-based SMS service firm, has partnered with Miami-based eMail Our Military (eMOM) to connect deployed military service members with their loved ones back home through text messaging.

Tatango has created an interface exclusively for military personnel, which easily allows any service member to instantly update all their loved ones on events of the day, advancements and most importantly, their safety.

Read the rest of this article at

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Booking Matters Magazine: African American Literary Magazine and Me (See Photo on Magazine Cover)

Many of you have heard my story of the 38-year-old saga from the spring of 1970 until the spring of 2008 when MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL was published. And if you know the saga, you also know that a main goal of my persistence in getting this story published was because I wanted to preserve a very specific slice of women’s social history.

And while the novel’s characters are a mash-up of people I met as an army officer’s wife, many of the mash-up pieces are true. In fact, MRS. LIEUTENANT was written in part to solve a puzzle that haunted me.

I was indeed the chair of the entertainment committee for the graduation luncheon of the wives of the Armor Officers Basic course that my husband attended. And on my committee was a black (that term had only recently become the accepted proper term) officer’s wife who quit the skit that I wrote for the graduation luncheon. And she quit without ever saying why.

When I wrote MRS. LIEUTENANT I wanted to provide an answer for this puzzle. And I believe the answer I came up with in the novel is probably the correct one (you’ll have to read the novel to find out the answer).

In addition, there was the story told to my husband and me by a black officer attending military intelligence training with my husband at Ft. Holabird, Maryland (after Ft. Knox, Kentucky, where the novel takes place). The officer came to dinner alone as his wife was home having a baby.
And he told us that his wife had grown up in the South totally sheltered from the realities of racism in the U.S.

This was a different puzzle about a second black woman that I wanted to unravel. How could this be? And then an article in The Wall Street Journal helped me formulate a reasonable answer to this second puzzle. (Again, I’m not giving away any of the book’s surprises.)

My internet marketing efforts led me to Booking Matters Magazine and editor-in-chief Shunda Leigh. As described on the website, this is “a company dedicated to celebrating the wonderful literary accomplishments of African American authors.”

Thus I am especially pleased to be able to share the story of MRS. LIEUTENANT with the Booking Matters community in the September issue. I truly believe that the imaginary officer’s wife Wendy Johnson portrays an accurate piece of women’s social history in 1970 during the Vietnam War and only six years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Milblog Conference Report Thanks to Email Our Military Blog

Thanks to the Twitter presence of Trish Forant of (on Twitter as @mailourmilitary), I have a front-row seat on updates of military news.

Trish also blogs at, and today her blog features a guest post from Lauren Vargas about the Milblog Conference track of Blog World Expo 2008 just held in Las Vegas. Lauren is a community relations manager at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) as well as a blogger.

The overall topic of milblogs is an interesting one. To learn what the conference discussed on this topic, use the following link to Lauren’s guest post:

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Vietnam War: An Unexpected Email Brings Back Memories

I received the following email today from my junior high and high school friend Karen Clemens (now Karen Kernan). She wrote so beautifully about what we experienced at the time of the Vietnam War that I asked her permission to post this. She's now a marketing communications writer and her website is She’s on Facebook as Karen Kernan.

After reading the entire book, which I did very quickly, I had trouble sleeping. It brought back so many memories and gut reactions to those days. We did not keep in touch, and it was fascinating to me to see the journey you took.

I noted the mention of the diary in the book and wondered if you did indeed keep one, because the point of view seemed not to be influenced by the future that followed. What I mean is that the author did not seem to be one looking back to a distant past, with insights and wisdom of time. So it was a very fresh, undiluted return to those days when we did not know what would happen next.

It reminded me of when I was doing original research for a book I wrote on my husband’s ancestor who was one of the few Democratic senators in the U.S. Congress during the Civil War. The newspaper accounts written at the time were by people who did not know what the outcome of the war would be, and the tension in them was so raw in comparison to the later memoirs and history books.

So I did not sleep easily, going back into the time within my own body when the war was so distressing and uncertain, and my own young husband’s lottery number was low [17] and would be called up once he finished graduate school. But your book brought me back and showed an alternate path that might have been my own, and I think that is what caused the discomfort.

I felt a shift take place in me, and was forced to see the more terrifying and complex reality of what might have been had the war not ended in time. I felt the old helplessness in face of the enormity of history. And it did more to connect me to the families of those who are serving now, and facing the same terror of losing a loved one, than anything I have read or seen of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And I see how, having had this experience, you are forever changed.

You book, your experience, changed me as well.

(Perhaps this addresses the “benefit of reading this book” challenge you posted on your website.)

Not that it makes me in favor of the war we began so stupidly, but it makes me aware of the longer war that has been waged throughout history and everywhere, in the hearts of wives, lovers, and families behind the front lines.

Many thanks for writing it!

P.S. Also, I did read your “welcome home” blog, and what struck me was that the events of one’s youth send us off in a certain direction. We never return to the juncture and re-direct. Your life will always be connected to the lives and emotions of soldiers and their families. You helped me make a connection where there had been none.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The U.S. Selective Service System Has Draft Boards Ready in Case a Draft Is Reinstated

The September 16th Wall Street Journal article by Michael M. Phillips entitled “Keeping Their Powder Dry: Draft Boards Hang On, Just in Case” surprised me because I probably had unconsciously assumed that there were no more draft boards as there isn’t a draft.

Apparently, though, draft boards have to be ready to go if needed. So citizens are recruited to serve on the boards, and they practice deciding the fate of fictional draftees.

The article also provides an interesting look at the history of the draft – who knew that an 1863 law allowed Civil War draftees to buy their way out of the army?

Of course the article discusses the lottery system introduced in 1969 during the Vietnam War. My husband’s number was 16 based on his birth date – he had already been commissioned an army officer thanks to ROTC at Michigan State University.

According to the WSJ article: “By the time the last man inducted during the Vietnam era got his draft notice on June 30, 1973, 1.9 million had been conscripted. Another 170,000 had been granted conscientious-objector status.”

Read the whole article at

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Remembering the Church Bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963

When the four women whose stories are told in MRS. LIEUTENANT meet at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, in the spring of 1970, this is less than seven years since the church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four girls ages 11 and 14. The novel’s one black and one white protagonist who grew up in the South come with the baggage of the violent racial history of the South.

The September issue of the ABA Journal had this brief article by George Hodak about the September 15, 1963, church bombing:

With more than 45 racially motivated bombings since the end of World War II, Birmingham, Ala., had earned the nickname “Bombingham.”

But none of the attacks was more haunting than the Sunday morning bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, the oldest black congregation in the city.

Four girls—three age 14, one 11—were killed and more than 20 people injured in what was the deadliest act of terror during the civil rights era.

Justice came slowly for the families of the victims, in part because FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover refused to let his agents share the results of their investigation with state or federal prosecutors.

Eventually, three members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted for the murders—the first in 1977. The last, Bobby Frank Cherry, was convicted in May 2002, almost 39 years after the attack.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vietnam War Veteran: He Never Was Quite Right After Returning Home

Serena at sponsored a contest for a free copy of MRS. LIEUTENANT. To be eligible to win the book people had to leave an answer to this question:

If you're old enough to remember the Vietnam War as it was going on, what is your strongest memory of that war? If you're too young to have a personal memory of the war, what is one thing that you learned about the war from someone you know, or in school, or from reading about the war or seeing a movie about the war?

Jill of the blog answered the question with such a compelling response that I want to share it here:

I am too young to remember Vietnam, but my uncle served two tours there. He survived the war, but I use that term loosely. According to my mom, he never was quite right after returning home. He was sprayed with Agent Orange and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. There are some interesting stories that I learned from his experience:

1) Once, a war protester called my grandmother to tell her that she raised a baby killer. Grandma cussed at her in Slavic and no one bothered her again.

2) Grandma made this special cake-bread called "bukta" and sent it to my uncle while he was in Vietnam. When he got the package, he expressed disgust at receiving the bukta and told his buddies that it sucked. Then, when everyone was asleep, he ate the whole thing. He loved bukta so much that he didn't want to share.

3) My uncle was not the best letter writer. When Grandma didn't hear from him after a certain period of time, she called General Westmoreland's office. She got a phone call from my uncle within hours. He was recuperating on a navy ship after being shot between the toes.

4) When my uncle disembarked from his plane at LAX on leave, someone threw feces at him.

5) My uncle had a friend from Brooklyn of Puerto Rican heritage. His name was Ricardo. While on R&R in Saigon, Ricardo and my uncle were sitting on a bench and a little girl approached them, asking if they wanted to get a shoe shine. My uncle declined and got up to buy some cigarettes, but Ricardo felt sorry for the little girl and agreed. When the little girl opened up the shoe box, it was detonated with a bomb, and both Ricardo and the little girl were killed - right in front of my uncle's eyes. He literally had Rico on him - and I think his spirit always remained with my uncle.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memory of Those Who Died 7 Years Ago Today and Those Who Have Since Died in Iraq and Afghanistan

Seven years ago today the world changed in a few moments when war came to the shores of our country for the first time since the British came to subdue the rebellious American colonies.

In the hopes of deterring another such horrific blow, American troops have been deployed in first Afghanistan and now Iraq since soon after that fateful day. And while the situation in Iraq seems to be improving at the moment, the situation in Afghanistan is taking a worse turn. This means that more American troops are scheduled to be shifted to Afghanistan, where America first struck in retaliation for 9/11.

I do not take political positions in this blog or elsewhere. Yet I do want to say that I hope Americans understand how important it is for the United States to appear strong in the eyes of the world. To appear to be weak is an invitation for destruction.

Our thanks as a nation should go out to all our military personnel – men and women – who serve in harm’s way to protect our country and its freedoms.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Benefits of Reading MRS. LIEUTENANT: Does Anyone Have Suggestions for Me?

I just finished listening to a teleseminar (the first in a series) about book marketing sponsored by One of the guests on the teleseminar was Penny C. Sansevieri, author of the book RED HOT INTERNET PUBLICITY.

Penny said that people don’t buy your book to buy your book (except maybe your mother). People buy your book for the benefits that reading your book will bring to them. And Penny said this benefit need is also true for fiction books.

So I’m sitting at my computer trying to figure out what are the benefits of reading MRS. LIEUTENANT.

And I’m staring for inspiration at the response below that I got from one reader:

The reason for me taking a liking to your book is the sheer differences that brought all of you together. The different backgrounds, nationalities and strengths of each and every woman in this book. …All and all, the book is amazing. The journeys that were taken and the interesting stories of how the life of each woman was beforehand. I loved it and will re-read it again.

Of course I’m thrilled with this response. Yet I still don’t know what to write for the benefits of reading MRS. LIEUTENANT.

Here’s what I have so far:

If you remember the Vietnam War, MRS. LIEUTENANT enables you to revisit those years from a different perspective than what was the prevailing perspective at the time – the viewpoint of women whose husbands are about to go off to fight.

If you are too young to remember the Vietnam War, MRS. LIEUTENANT enables you to better understand the feelings of the wives (and today the husbands) of military personnel being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But Penny Sansevieri said to keep the benefits description simple. Neither of the above is simple.

I’m asking on this post: Can anyone come up with a great one-liner of the benefits of reading MRS. LIEUTENANT that I can use on my website and for other marketing purposes?

You can contact me through my website at And if I use your one-liner on my website, I’ll send you an autographed copy of MRS. LIEUTENANT. (If you already have your own copy, I’ll sign it for you to give as a gift.)

I hope inspiration strikes you!

P.S. And if you haven’t read my post from September 7th, please do so. I’m looking for ideas for a potential fundraising campaign for

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Easy Way to Support Our Troops: Introduce Trish, Nancy and Me to a Company Interested in a Social Media Promotion

I’m taking my own advice and networking through this blog to find a possible connection for a fundraising project that I want to do to help

Here’s the story: Trish Forant of eMailOurMilitary and Nancy Sutherland, sales director of May Kay, and I conducted a successful fundraising campaign for Operation Soldier Care (see using primarily social media such as Twitter and Facebook and our own blogs.

Now eMailOurMilitary is getting ready for its holiday project for deployed troops. How to help raise funds for this project?

Why not have Trish, Nancy and me recreate our successful Operation Soldier Care social media fundraising campaign for a company that wants a promotion to help expand awareness of its products or brand? In fact, I’ve just written a proposal as to how this would work for a cable tv network. But the overall promotion plan could work for any type of company.

If you’re reading this blog post, I’d appreciate it if you would put on your thinking cap. Let me know if you can make an introduction for us to someone at a company who might be interested in this proposal. For example, it could be a military-related insurance company such as USAA or a new magazine or new website that wants exposure in social media and on blogs.

And if your introduction is the one that succeeds in getting a promotion partner for us, I’ll be happy to send you an autographed copy of MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL.

Helping to find a company interested in this fundraising project is an easy way to support our troops. (And, of course, we’ll thank you in all our blogs.)

You can email me through my website

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

U.S. Army Introduces Interactive DVD to Help Prevent Suicides

Thanks to Trish Forant ( for her tweet on Twitter I learned about the U.S. Army’s new efforts to prevent suicides.

Col. Elspeth C. Ritchie, director of the Army Medical Department’s Strategic Communications and formerly psychiatry consultant to the army’s surgeon general, said that soldiers might be aware of risk signs of suicide in other soldiers but not know how to approach those soldiers.

The army is now rolling out a new interactive DVD that features realistic video vignettes about two soldiers who have problems. And this DVD will allow soldiers to practice how to aid potential suicide victims.

According to the September 3rd article in by Gary Sheftick titled “Interactive DVD among new tools to prevent suicides”:

The video, or “virtual experience immersive learning simulation,” also known as VEILS, follows the problems of the two soldiers and their stories change based on input from the viewer.

If the viewer says the wrong thing and gets bad results, Ritchie said the DVD will allow the trainee to re-do the vignette until the outcome is more favorable.

Thousands of copies of the DVD, developed by Lincoln University in Missouri, will be distributed this fall. And the vignettes can be seen on the web page of the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine at

Read the full article at

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

All This Vietnam Veteran Wanted Was a Welcome Home

Today two movers came to my house to move furniture to my younger daughter’s apartment. One man noticed my husband’s military history books.

“I was in the army for 10 years,” he said. “Four tours in Vietnam.”

I told him that I had just written a novel about that time and I asked if he’d like a copy. He said yes and asked if I’d sign it.

And he wanted the book signed to 1LT (first lieutenant) and his full name. And then he asked if I’d add that this was from the wife of 1LT Mitch Miller (my husband) and the words “Welcome Home.”

“I didn’t get a ‘welcome home,’” he said. “I got called a babykiller by a Hare Krishna. I pulled off his hair tail and got thrown in jail only three hours after I arrived back in the U.S. Only time I was ever in jail.”

After the man moved another piece of furniture, he told me he became a sheriff in LA County after that. But he decided to leave the sheriff’s department after the following incident:

He had his gun out as he passed down the side of a house looking for someone. An eight-year-old boy pointed a .357 Magnum at him. “And the only reason I didn’t shoot and kill that little boy was because I’d been in Vietnam. I’d learned to use my peripheral vision. And I saw that the gun’s bullet chamber wasn’t in alignment.

“That’s why I got out. When I realized I could have killed that boy who didn’t know any better. Just doing what his parents had taught him.”

As the mover departed he said, “Tell you husband ‘welcome home’ from one vet to another.”

Fighting back the tears, I turned to my daughter and said, “Those feelings never die. It’s been so many years and yet all he wanted was someone to say ‘welcome home.’”

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Virtual Book Tour: A Love Affair

Today I have a guest post at – here’s the beginning of the article titled How I Fell in Love With the Book Marketing Potential of a Virtual Book Tour:

Before my book MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL came out in April (2008) I had come across the idea of a virtual book tour – where during a specific period of time an author’s book is featured on various blogs. Sounded terrific, except the price was way out of my budget.

Then when my book went live on Amazon, my print-on-demand publisher BookSurge gave me an hour’s free marketing consultation. Recommendations included Pump Up Your Book Promotion for a virtual book tour. And the price for this tour was in my budget.

And now I’m going to share with you what I learned along the way:

Read what I shared at

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