Literati, All you need is love.
Tomorrow I will announce the five finalists for our contest, and provide a prompt, giving them three days to be brilliant.
But I must tell you this story first.
Our contest is all about Lost Love, and I asked each entrant to recreate or invent a story about a recent encounter with someone or something that they loved in the past, that somehow disintegrated over time or due to circumstance, or even our own follies. If you have followed the contest, you must agree that the response ran the full gamut: people recalled lovers, of course, but also their first love of nature, the sea, a tree, a pizza, an extra terrestrial, great literature, etc. All very imaginative.
But a remarkable story of love lost, and recovered unfolded in the real world as this contest was gaining steam. I thought I would tell you about it before you see it on 60 Minutes.
As you know, I am not just another(exceptionally) pretty face, but actually an editor and publisher. One of our triumphs, here at the Towers, was achieved with the help of many of you: we got the funding needed to publish a brilliant lightly novelized Vietnam memoir by Fred Rivera called Raw Man, so well written and poignant that it won, among other things, the Isabelle Allende Miraposa Award for Best New Work last June in San Francisco.
Central to the story is the brotherly bond between our author, Fred Rivera, and his comrade-in-arms, Herman Johnson, who died in Fred’s arms in a vicious battle along the Cambodian border in 1969. If you have never seen it, here is the video A Word with You Press created to launch that successful Kickstarter campaign. We had the good fortune to have the talents of our own Billy Holder and Edward James Olmos produce the video. (https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/943033/video-382017-webm.webm)
But now the story gets interesting: In fact, MIRACULOUS!
Herman was air-lifted out in a body bag, as the battle raged on. Herman Johnson woke up on a slab in morgue, with a tag on his toe. Yes. Herman Johnson DID NOT DIE!
The very first copy of Raw Man that Fred signed went to an active-duty US Army Sgt, who was so taken by Fred’s story that, as a show of appreciation, visited the Wall in Washington with the intention of making an etching of Herman’s name to send to Fred. When he couldn’t locate the name, he launched an investigation that only his high security clearance made possible, and discovered a Herman Johnson living in Detroit. Fred asked the sergeant to stand down before contact was made, for Fred feared his own reaction if it was really Herman, and feared for Herman as well. Fred carried a letter in his pocket for two weeks, before finally mailing it to the address in Detroit. Fred’s phone number was in the letter.
The day that Herman Johnson opened the letter he called Fred in California, and they have been on the phone every day since for three or four hours a day.
This is love lost, and miraculously, love recovered.
Many, many enigmas to be addressed, mysteries to be unraveled, and pieces to be stitched into the fabric of this tale, but the process has begun.
NONE OF THIS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED HAD FRED NOT HAD THE COURAGE TO CONFRONT HIS DEMONS AND WRITE RAW MAN, and if so many of you had not donated to see his story made it to print. How perfect that all this took place while we sponsored a contest about lost love, and love recovered.
Our plan is to have a reunion of Fred and Herman at the Wall this July, and we are making inroads to garner national media attention for the event. Get your hankies out.
I am so grateful to be proven right: the value of the written word is diminished if it is only measured in number of copies of books sold. Our stories can change lives.
Even our own.
Love to all, especially to Fred Rivera and Herman Johnson.