Veterans Day Tribute from Conshohocken!

I have been honored this Veterans Day through a recorded interview about my book on the Vietnam War for a program called “Good Morning Conshy” where I share the broadcast with two companion pet managers for what is known as PACT. Many of the animals had assisted veterans who could no longer care for their pets and needed help for animals they viewed as their children.

We all had contacts with Conshohocken, a small borough just outside of Philadelphia, and learned that the interview would be recorded and made available on U-Tube. Watching it, I noticed how white-faced I look after recovering from a stomach illness. I am glad I wore my “boonie hat” that I had saved from the Vietnam War. It shows one silver bar that was subdued to prevent the enemy from spotting an officer. I wore it only once before and that was at Omega Institute at a five-day meditation retreat for veterans with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.)

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Highlights of a Philly public defender intern

One of my favorite jobs was serving as an intern for the Defender Association of Philadelphia. I went to the jails, the courtrooms, and the training rooms to learn how to properly defend persons charged with various crimes.
The prison was tough. You never knew if the defendant was telling the truth or not. You simply interviewed him for the basic information and wrote up his story for a trial lawyer to review before speaking to the suspect and going to trial. You never saw the person again and you had no idea how he may have faired.

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Vietnam War Book Review a 4-Stars Rate!

Review of Vietnam War Recall authored by Michael J Contos at Contoveros.wordpress.com

Post by Kansas City Teacher 

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Vietnam War Recall”

Like many other young men of the time, author Michael Contos found himself in the military, headed to a turbulent region of the world to protect democracy. After completing Officer Candidate School, Michael was deployed to Vietnam to lead a platoon of infantrymen on missions while evading the formidable Viet Cong forces. Here, he describes the worst day of his life that led to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a debilitating condition that would threaten to consume his life and linger for decades; a day so jarring that he would not talk about, even with his family.

Upon returning home, his experiences in combat haunt him, so he seeks the help of spiritual leaders to help relieve the symptoms of PTSD. The story is told in the first person through flashbacks, introspect, and excerpts from the author’s blog. Through the narration, readers get a glimpse into the personal turmoil that many of our veterans face after combat.

The best part of this book is the intimate and emotional description of PTSD; a young leader, not afforded time to grieve or debrief from his experiences, lives with the nightmares, flashbacks, and anxiety that seem to permeate every facet of his life. These intense feelings are captured clearly by the author. I also love the way the daily humdrum of military life is portrayed, and the descriptions sure bring back memories for this veteran. The cadences, the euphoric feeling when you realize your parachute is perfect, and the anticipation of the return to the United States (DEROS) is very real indeed! A little humor, typical of military camaraderie, is also peppered into the pages of the story; I had to chuckle when I read about some familiar but important advice: never crap alone in the field!

Although the messages are powerful, the book does seem a bit repetitive at times. Other than this, there is nothing negative to say about the story, its purpose and voice are truly a gift to an audience who does not truly understand the realities of war and its crippling effects on our young servicemen, not only the ones who gave their lives but also those who returned bearing unseen scars. I happily give Vietnam Recall: The Best and Worst Days of My Life 4 out of 4 stars for these reasons. The book appears professionally edited and is divided into chapters of appropriate length.

I particularly recommend this book to readers who love historical accounts of war and those who seek insight from a primary source about mental illness. Those with family members in the military will appreciate the insightful glimpse into the psyche of those who have chosen to defend our way of life. There is some moderate profanity, along with explicit descriptions of trauma and wartime peril; those sensitive to these topics may not want to read the book. For all others, the book is a penetrating account of one man’s journey towards healing and peace. All who read this story will undoubtedly be moved by the author’s gipping words as he relives the most difficult moments of his life. He speaks for the countless others, who remain silent.

******
Vietnam War Recall
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon

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Conshohocken site may hold remains of a saint

I knelt at the gravesite while bowing my head and closing my eyes to pray yesterday morning. I was visiting Calvary Cemetery of West Conshohocken, the burial site for Father William E Atkinson, an Augustinian priest who passed away in 2006 and is now being considered for canonization by the Catholic Church to be named a saint.

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Wallet found & returned synchronistically

I felt like a boy scout as I found a young woman’s lost wallet and marched it to the police station while another person walking outdoors helped to notify the owner.

By the time I got to the borough hall building and spoke to a police spokesperson, the woman had called the station and was on the phone the moment I walked into the headquarter’s dispatch center.

Wow! Talk about synchronicity!

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My Vietnam War book is finally published

It took me more than 50 years, but I finally published my Vietnam War story and the toll it took on me after leading a combat infantry platoon as a 21-year-old first lieutenant.

I self-published with the help of editors who wrote the back cover description. They used a mug shot I had taken some ten years ago while attending a PTSD meditation clinic at Omega Institute for veterans and their families. The clinic introduced me to different forms of meditation that allowed me to eventually deal with the trauma and view the war experience in a more benign and compassionate light.

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Sychronicity hits my home and my heart!

Synchronicity is a term I have come to cherish since being introduced to it by my favorite psychologist, Carl Jung. It refers to deeply meaningful coincidences that mysteriously occur in one’s life. Jung proved by the law of probability that they were not mere coincidences but insights into our rich and worthwhile lives.

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Condemn veterans who attacked Capitol

Any veteran that took part in the January 6th insurrection at the US capitol should be stripped of his or her VA benefits and labeled a “traitor.” 

There is a disturbing number of current and former military persons identified among those who broke into the capitol to overturn the election. About 20 percent of the nearly 300 arrested, according to NPR. They should no longer receive treatment at VA hospitals, get the GI Bill for attending school or obtain a mortgage loan.

 

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Justice demands a guilty verdict for Trump

I look forward every day to reading the news of an indictment against the former president and/or an update on all of the civil lawsuits against him.

You know they’re coming. All the highly experienced lawyers need do is to simply confirm their concrete and rock-solid facts before going to court and contacting the news media for reporters to share the information on the law with the entire world.

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Protesting – a really great democratic right

I have protested more in the past several months than I had ever exercised that American Constitutional-right in my entire life and feel really good about my actions!

I protested the attempted curtailment of postal services at the Conshohocken Post Office and knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds at the Montgomery County Courthouse in protest of the police killing of George Floyd.

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Highlights of Declaration of Independence

The Fourth of July is upon us and I wanted to share some independent facts that many Americans may not have learned in history books or in their classrooms.*

The Declaration of Independence was first printed in a German-speaking newspaper and not an English one. The Colony of Pennsylvania had a large German population and when people of what became the Keystone State voted on which language to use, German lost by only one vote. Continue reading

D-Day Paratrooper falls prey to Covid-19

An American hero has fallen to the Coronavirus and the world may never see the likes of him ever again.
Ninety-eight-year-old George Shenkle, a card-carrying member of the “Greatest Generation” took part in the invasion of Normandy more than 75 years ago, freeing our universe from the evil of the Nazis. He served as a paratrooper with three combat jumps – including both D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge — and got a purple heart in return for the wounds he received after hitting the ground and running into enemy fire and explosions. Continue reading

An Officer and a Gentleman Recalled

I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant 50 years ago and looking back I see it as one of the greatest achievements of my life. Also, one of the luckiest ones and I’m so glad to still be around to tell about it.
Yes, by an Act of Congress I was made “An Officer & a Gentleman.” I don’t know where that title came from  —  Great Britain I guess —  but I tried to live up to it’s “ideal” while in the army and when discharged and choosing different career paths in my life. Continue reading

Seeing a Divine Hand in the Worst of Times

God works in mysterious ways.
Put another way, the Universe will conspire to bring about what you really want and need in life, even though you may not know it when the Divine Intervention takes place.
Or even like it. The intervention that is. And on first blush, it may even seem bad but you realize on reflection it had to have happened for you to progress in life. Continue reading

Karma enlightens Groundhog Day movie

Groundhog Day” is the movie starring Bill Murray who visits Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he is destined to live each day over and over for what seems like eternity. It’s message is one of Karma and reincarnation, particularly when one realizes that the director and co-screen-writer was a practicing Buddhist named Harold Remis. Continue reading

GI Bill to celebrate its 75th anniversary!

I would not have gone to college had it not been for the GI Bill which is marking its 75th anniversary on June 22, 2019.
My father, who was born on a small Greek Island, never went beyond sixth grade. My mother, daughter of Hungarian refugees, was the first in her family to graduate from a high school in New Jersey.
And I had barely made it through Dobbin’s Tech, a trade school, having transferred from a Catholic high school after I got caught playing hooky and ordered to go to summer school for religion. No one – including myself — saw college in my lifetime.
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‘Welcome Home’ this Veterans Day 2018

One hundred years ago peace-loving people throughout the world commemorated the “War to End All Wars” by institutionalizing a holiday that morphed into Veterans Day in America.

World War I, as historians have named it, did not end all of the wars and in 20 years the nations of the earth faced the worst world war mankind has ever known. Continue reading

August 22 — we’ll never forget Patty Ward

Patty Ward, a Specialist 4 with a helicopter gunship, was shot down 50 years ago while flying to the aid of US Army soldiers during the Vietnam War. He was one of four men who died when their helicopter was hit and crashed.

Patty was awarded the Silver Star for bravery in connection with helping to rescue other grunts wounded in another battle. His family in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia received the medal posthumously. Continue reading

Guidance from Above seen from a distance

Are there moments in our life when we can see God’s fingerprints or the Will of the Universe directing us along our path? I’m talking about seeing such a Divine event as it is occurring or upon hindsight years later.

That’s the question raised by a group of my friends at the Spiritual Sharing Circle that meets once a month at the Center for Contemporary Mysticism in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. Continue reading

The printer’s life for Ben Franklin and me!

“Here lies Ben Franklin — a printer” is the message gracefully displayed at the gravesite of my favorite Founding Father in the City of Philadelphia.  He was ambassador to both England and France as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and contributor to the US Constitution. He was also an inventor, a philosopher and creator of the first library, the first zoo and the first fire company in the New World. Continue reading

Name that Tune; Five of my Favorite Ones

Songs have a way of taking me back to a time of my life that provided milestones for the path leading me to where I am today.

We all have them, those cherished ones that we hold dear. Some of which may cause a tear to flow, a shit-eaten’ grin to form. I recently thought of five of ‘em and simply wanted to share them with “old folks at home” who might also remember them. Continue reading

Father Koenig’s life lessons at St. Ludwig’s

Father Koenig put the gloves on me when I was ten years old and directed me toward the kid who was my same size but some two years older. That kid – Billy McLaughlin –  kicked my butt. But I never cried or gave up as I swung wildly at him in efforts to land my own punches. Continue reading

Big Moose bar helps wayward boys to grow

My mother hit me upside the head when she caught me drinking beer in the Big Moose bar up the street from where we lived.

I was 16 years old at the time and sipping a Ballantine beer with a friend from Dobbins Technical High School. Someone must have ratted me out as my good friend Joe Walsh and I — both young white guys — drank in the African American bar in a section of Philadelphia called Brewerytown. Continue reading

Expressway of a heart leads to equanimity

I wanted the driver who cut me off to crash and burn.

For a brief moment, I thought of praying that he would immediately die for cutting in front of me as I was doing 60-miles-an-hour on the expressway behind a car just five lengths in front of me. I beeped my horn and flashed my high beams at the driver. I relished in the hatred I felt burning inside of me. I loathed him from the bottom of my heart and wanted a bloody accident to befall ‘em. Continue reading

Satsang opens world of ‘loving awareness’

I heard the word “Satsang” yesterday and it reminded me of a journey I started a half a lifetime ago when I had hit rock bottom and sought answers to the meaning of  life.

Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.”  According to sources from India, Truth is what is real, what truly exists. Continue reading

Thích Nhất Hạnh sees the suffering in us

Thích Nhất Hạnh looked at me from the most sorrowful eyes I have ever seen and I understood what it was like for a person to feel all the suffering the world is experiencing.

I had attended a five-day silent retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York with some thousand others who meditated morning, noon and night. Someone would ring a bell as you walked through the monastery grounds and just like clock-work, everyone would stop what they were doing and rest in the present moment. Continue reading

100 nations represented at Contoveros site

flag.pngSomeone from 100 different countries has viewed this site and my flag counter can attest to number of nations represented here.

I started to write a Blog some seven years ago and hooked up with a link that not only counted the number of persons viewing Contoveros, but determined which country that person was from. I placed the flag counter at the top of my Blog so that anyone — including myself — could readily see it on linking into Contoveros.It’s at my home site. (See Flag Counter for the latest count up to this minute. Trinidad is the latest country added to my list!) Continue reading

Meditation starts as you travel through life

I learned to meditate while riding on a train.

I had tried sitting mediation alone and with others, but was successful only once, and I really don’t know what I was doing. I was following a guru – a 15-year-old teacher from India — before I had turned 30 and I mingled with aspirants in an ashram in Philadelphia. I never touched Nirvana or reached the level that others seemed to rise to. Continue reading

Accepting the ‘As Is’ with Gratitude & Joy

There is a message I receive every time I travel to the IKEA store and visit the “As Is” department. I get a feeling that the Universe is telling me to open myself to the message the Swedish furniture store wants to share with the rest of the world.

Accept life “As Is,” it softly calls out to me. Continue reading

Sign language opens my heart to neighbors

My greatest concern when I placed the political signs on my lawn was whether they would offend someone in my neighborhood. I live in a working class section of Pennsylvania, some 15 miles outside of Philadelphia. It was dependent on steel and manufacturing for many years but eventually saw a decline as jobs left the little borough of Conshohocken for elsewhere. Continue reading

Cats & Dogs would come first in a do-over

If I had my druthers, I think I would have made cats and dogs more like people and make people more like the other animals.

Yes, as God, I would have changed the book of Genesis and created the dog first and then taking a rib from the first one, I would have created his loving mate and good friend, the cat. Continue reading

’12 Angry Men’ helps presume innocence

Twelve Angry Men” influenced my decision to practice law more than any movie I can remember while growing up in a working class neighborhood of Philadelphia and being the first in my family to go to college. The movie has done more for understanding the workings of our criminal justice system than any books or school classes could possibly provide. Continue reading

Immigrants unite against Trump out of love

I was unashamed of the tears that fell while watching the father of a young soldier describe the sacrifice his son made for America the other night. Khizr Khan, a Muslim immigrant, spoke with pride at the Democratic Convention and I couldn’t help but see my father in him and the love all parents felt for children called by our nation to defend it. Continue reading

LSD truthfulness speaks to past love lost

“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I just thought you needed to know, that’s all.”

Peaches said nothing as we sat on the floor of her vestibule. I saw her eyes water up a little and I wanted to cry myself.

“I still love her” I continued without looking at the young girl I had shared such an intimate moment with at the young age of  19.

“I guess I never stopped loving her, if you want to know the truth.”

“You were her best friend in high school and you knew her as much as anybody did” I said, asserting a belief that neither one of us could deny. “I would break up with her, but we’d always got back together every time. You knew that when we first dated.”

“I should have been honest with you. But I liked you, I still like you. And wouldn’t hurt you for anything. But I don’t love you. I love Peggy, and I guess I always will.” Continue reading

‘Instigator’ muse helps to open new worlds

Can someone become the “muse” of another?

Could my reckless and often unabashed “agitation” be the instigation for another person to find the voice she needed to speak directly from her soul?

I like to think so. I believe I might have sparked a keg of memories that were waiting for the right moment and touch to manifest and explode for the world to finally see. Continue reading

Mother recalls son’s last ‘earthly’ words

By TEA

It was Saturday morning, May the 19th of 2012. I awoke that early morning feeling well rested. Since the beginning of the new year I had started working Monday thru Thursday, having Fridays off. In the past, when working a full week my Saturdays were spent sleeping in and catching up on the many hours of sleep lost during the week. Continue reading

Congress protest makes me proud of USA

I’ve never been so proud of being an American as I was the past week when some forty members of the Senate held an unprecedented filibuster and it was followed up by Congressional Democrats who took the House Chamber hostage for a“sit-in” protest against our nation’s inability to halt the sale of high-powered weapons now being used for mass destruction. Continue reading

Anger starts out from my basic personality

Why is anger my “go to” emotion? Why does it crop up whenever I’m confronted with something I don’t understand or something I feel threatened by?

“Crop up” is not the right phrase to use. My anger “erupts.” It goes from zero to sixty within the span of a mini-second. It always seemed to be that way, even as a kid. Now at last I think I know why. Continue reading

Touch at least one heart with Meet-Up now

If you could go back in time to attend a Meet-Up in Jerusalem with the famous rabbi from Nazareth to share some bread, wine and good conversation, would you sign up and go?

How about traveling back some 2,600 years to give a listen to the Four Noble Truths in northern India by a fellow who some claim had reached enlightenment? Would you agree to meet weekly to discuss life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Continue reading

A Course of Love is uniquely one of a kind!

Reading a chapter from the book, “A Course of Love,” is much like my study of the Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah.

I get uplifted and carried to another place, a different state of mind where I feel closer to the Word. The Word of God, if you know what I mean.

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Emergency hits home; order soon restored

My second wife stopped breathing shortly after they placed her in the emergency vehicle en route to a hospital some eight years ago. The day was six-months to date of her first bout with an emergency wagon when she fell in our Conshohocken, PA, home suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

She remained in a coma for more than five days then. This time, however, they were more certain that she would not recover from her latest, unplanned date with Miss Fate. A nurse or a social worker at the Hospital suggested I contact a priest to say the last rites for Wendy. Continue reading

‘Love & Rockets’ explode near this veteran

My son, Nicholas, just didn’t seem to understand how much pain I suffered in Sutcliffe Park when I took him to see fireworks on clear and starry night sky on the Fourth of July some years ago.

At first, I enjoyed the rockets zooming into the air. They were a colorful red, white and blue explosions that took your breath away with gasps of wonder and awe.

Soon however, they took on a menacing demeanor, however, as each blast began to remind me of the Vietnam War and the rounds of mortar fire that fell on me and my platoon some 30 years earlier. Continue reading

Dissolving Pain through seeing differently

I’ve opened my mind to a new way of seeing and I am free as long as I can keep my peripheral vision on anything but the object of my focus.

What I do is distract myself from looking at the car in front of me when I’m cruising on the highway. I set my gaze off in the distance where I take in the beautiful blue skies interrupted now and again by a while cloud. Continue reading

‘Brewerytown Way’ Brought Back to Life

I see my life through the eyes of a kid who grew up in Brewerytown, swashbuckling my way through fights on the streets and later the jungles of Vietnam before finding my true calling as a spiritual clarion who wants all North Philadelphia children to return to their God-given Nature of Love. Continue reading

Trusting the Universe when ‘lost & found’

I lost the damn wallet again.

It was the second time in about a week it turned up missing. The first time was in Korea and I never detected it’s loss. The Reverend Lee, the WON Buddhist minister leading a pilgrimage in Korea last week, had approached me with a black object in her hand. She looked worried and I couldn’t figure out what caused her distress. Continue reading

Some ‘WON’ is in the kitchen with Julie!

Julie traveled all the way from Chicago and came to the Lotus Flower Island with a question about her life’s purpose. By the time she left the privately owned spiritual retreat, there was no doubt whatsoever that she found the answer she was looking for.

She’ll return to this rustic hideaway hidden away off the mainland of South Korea and, remain there, devoting herself to serving others from around the world who are searching for similar answers. Julie’s newfound happiness will be in helping others suffering from too much technology and not enough love. Continue reading