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25 May 2020


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And the Lord love you, too, Mr. Farrell. And thank you for your service, then and most especially now.

Patrick Lang


We should all love Alan. He is one of the best of us. pl

frank durkee

In whatever field, we must cherish our 'truth tellers'.

John Minnerath

I sometimes have difficulty with prose, my mind will wander, I'll lose track.
This was different, I was pulled along and thrown back at the same time.
Most excellent!

Greg Burnell

Pat, Thank you for this site, and the compendium of insights it offers. Contibutors, like yourself, Richard Sale, and Alan Fallel here, are priceless. I know you get discouraged from the criticism on this site, but it is a valuable place for us vets. Thanks again.


Mr. Farrell -- found it deeply moving, raw and honest. Thanks.

May I ask who the audience was and when this was delivered? I only know Farrell from this website, so i went and did a little digging. Here's a brief entry on Vietlit with a great picture that as they say is worth a few thousands words.

Mark Logan

Thanks again.

@ DanM

Under the catagory "Farrell" on this site, and under "Cortez at Darien", there is a copy of his CV. I found many other examples of his writing there that didn't show up in a general "Farrell" web search. Happy hunting.


Mr. Farrell's honesty breeds a beautiful prose. He says in one sentence what a country should do to honor those who serve--"Nobody can help... except by trying to build a society Back Here that deserves such a sacrifice."

Eric Dobbs

I am one of them - a civilian. I try to express gratitude by leaving notes on windshields of cars with license plates that reveal service. Sometimes, I thank veterans in person. After reading this, I am not sure what to say. Thank you seems so inadequate. But what sticks with me from this piece is the line about building a society that deserves such a sacrifice.


COL Lang, thanks for reposting Mr. Farrell's essay. Societal progress on behalf of our returning veterans since its original publication is open to debate (to say the least), but the need of a reminder to continue the quest is not.


THank you Mr. Farrell. Build the society - yes.

FB Ali

I can quite believe that!

ex-PFC Chuck

Thank you, Mr. Farrell.

Charles I

Thanks Alan. Respect. You had me a while back with something about shitting in a baggie in Germany.

No merit or honour in it as with Service and Duty, please forgive me I claim none yet I can attest that the solitude you describe, mayhap in lesser degree or consequence, may be experienced by recovering addicts or those with mental illness. For some fortunate few, affliction and loneliness are a path to such Grace as to be had.

"Because nobody else will" that's as Graceful as it gets. As a former inmate and a former attorney(in that order) please may your God bless you and yours, and all the rest of youse.

You crusty old soldiers are beautiful and loveable, thanks for opening my mind and heart.


My Dad’s best friend spent WWII in the Army in the Philippines. He never talked about it to me before or after my tour in Vietnam.

At least, Vietnam Vets try to talk about it; not that anyone listens to me. BG Alan Farrell is in this tradition of truth tellers. Also, among the best on the war I’ve read are “The Things They Carried” and “Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet”.

Iraq and Afghanistan Vets cannot even document that they were shipped overseas.


Apparently the privatized Army doesn’t even have the manpower for Company Clerks to type out orders awarding you a Bronze Star or specifying your DEROS Date.


Alan Farrell reminds me I am not alone with my memories.

The Twisted Genius

So much wisdom and insight, so well expressed. Sorry I missed it the first time around. Thanks. I can barely see the rear sight, even with my glasses. I just have to stick with pistols or invest in a scope.


very, very good. But strictly, Alan, even non soldiers and thus non veterans can understand it. Some things obviously trigger chains of associations even personal ones in this non-soldier. I liked among many things the question mark you raise behind normal. Doesn't this ultimately mean to function like a cog in a wheel?

Pat Lang wrote a couple of things too that stroke me in their simplicity for the same reasons, ultimately the are profoundly human.



The point of any work of literature is effective communication of ideas. That civilians can share the emotions of soldiers is irrelevant. All that means is that civilians have a claim to humanity.

I am intrigued by your reference to the "simplicity" of my writing. I strive for that and seek to avoid ornate language, believing that simplicty of design, using anglo-saxon based words is much more powerful than the Henry James or Faulkner models. I know nothing of German literature. Perhaps there is no analogous tradition in German literature. BTW, which "things" of mine were you thinking of? pl


good, you don't misunderstand simplicity. I do not only like your work in fiction, but also your blog. In your fiction I like it a lot that your main attention is on the characters and you are not dwelling e.g. Thomas Mann like on the details of the non-living world, beyond necessary to create the atmosphere.

What I have in mind is not simple words only. If I may try again? From my perspective, it is the ability to for me as a non-soldier make something visible that is really easy to understand, but obviously very, very different in the context of a soldier. And with all due respect, to a thus limited extend can be applied in a civilian context too. I understand perfectly what makes the huge difference is that there it rarely is about live or dead.

Concerning the simple words. I saw someone struggle with the word "Argonists" somewhere else, which made me realize I did not for a second stop to reflect more deeply about your usage of "Argonistes", beyond that it triggers John Milton and the fact that it survives in the German language as a loanword too with obviously the same roots and the same usage,though probably similarly rare today.



Thanks for the clarification. People similarly struggle with "Athenaeum," which serendipitously, is the name an actual building here that is a literary society but originally a bank contemporaneous with "Devereux and Wheatley." Alan and I focus on the suffering of soldiers because we are soldiers. We think of the military as a microcosm of humanity. pl

Bill Wade

I guess I was lucky, after Vietnam (was there at the end: still fighting, talks, ceasefire, departure) I was sent to Thailand for 2 1/2 years and then to the Philippines for another 3 years. By the time I got back to the US the war was becoming a distant memory. No one ever thanked me for my service and I was glad for it, the whole idea seems absurd to me. I don't think civilians know what to say to a returning combat vet and there's nothing wrong with that, there really isn't anything much to say. I find the mentality that's developed over the past 20 years or so of "Let's all thank the troops" disturbing. When I go to my local Walgreens and the clerk cheerily asks me if I want to donate a candy bar to the troops, I always decline, it's as if giving a candy bar .........


Ok, I have to revert to my nitwit status on this one. But one can of course always try not to look like one.


Both serendipity and serendipitously seem to have been used in Tinyurl links before, maybe be someone in your circle?

There obviously are ends to web knowledge? "Devereux and Wheatley" are webwise only related to your books. So now I have to wonder if you in fact are trying to make fun of me, or which feels more likely that you found them in books.

In that case it would of course be interesting where exactly. :)



"Serendipity' is a legitimate word. I was unaware of the Walpole connection. In fact the Athenaeum building in Alexandria was built in the 1850s. This is contemporaneous with the fictional bank, "Devereux and Wheatley" in my novels. Since I know you read at least the first volume I thought it would be an amusing reference for you. Sorry. I was not making fun of you. pl


Concerning Walpole, the web is getting better, although it's not quite up to the wonderful 20 volume OED yet, one of my absolute dictionaries of the English language, although it may well be online by now, but for whatever reason, I don't quite trust them. Notoriously suspicious?

But concerning "Athenaeum", on that I would have been slightly better. It's an important literary journal by the German romantics too.

Again, concerning having only read the first volume, for whatever reason, it coincides with the more and more strong feeling I should give up my web communicating habits. Yes, I have only read the first volume, quite possibly related to the last phrase in the above sentence, although not only. But that would be a longer story. Part of it I may have already mentioned. I somehow would love to have a solid background in the history of the US civil war. That's the problem with having studied literature in my time, the only method I ever appreciated was the materialistic/historical approach, which ultimately means you have to know the context, history, philosophy, law, and that context always was highly interesting. Ironically interesting, for someone like me, i would like to add, who had always considered history as focused on numbers, years that is, and obviously the mighty.

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