Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lyrics to new song, "Las Cruces" by folk band Mike Marcellino with Ensor

Las Cruces:  a new poetry song

New York City folk band Mike Marcellino with Ensor released their second song today, "Las Cruces." Mike wrote the song and handles the vocal, Texino did the production. The song follows the band's recording, "Amelia Earhart, soft silver wings."

You can listen on ReverbNation. Recorded in St. Augustine, FL. If you like, sign up and be a fan, it's all free.

Las Cruces
by Mike Marcellino

been down ta Las Cruces
one time, 
down ta  
sundown wine
color slide pictures 
of mists rising from 
the dusty brown 
tumbleweed town.

been down ta Las Cruces 
down ta the circle 
of six can't stand up inside 
beside the coral 
sleeping in the afternoon.

been down ta Las Cruces 
down ta walking  
desert brush hills 
with mountain lions 
and pretty fast rabbits.

been down ta Las Cruces 
waiting for spring 
down ta 
Sunland Park 
quarter horses 
getting lost in 
lost in Juarez.

been down ta Las Cruces 
down ta 
my worn, 
second field forces 
sittin' in 
the backyard 
sun beatin' down 
makin' me feel 
warm again.
been down ta Las Cruces 
one time.

Copyright Mike Marcellino, 2007

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Amelia Earhart

Clip of Hilary Swank, starring in "Amelia" opening tomorrow

Amelia Earhart, soft silver wings
By Mike Marcellino

Amelia Earhart,
Love your picture
in flight.
love your goggles,
love your lips. 

Love how you circled the world,
single handed.

Like that leather
air cap.
You’re a goddess, a woman
soft white,
ahead of your time,
such afterglow
in shinning armor.

Meet me on a northern coast,
not far from the equator,
above the island
where they made King Kong.

You’re Atlantis, risen
in my South China Sea.

Oh, your last flight
Oh, your last flight,
what a night

Looking at your picture
in my book,
soft silver
soft silver

Your lips, painted colors
light, pretty pink.
Those eyes,
Your nails, natural,
taking you with me.

soft silver
soft silver

Your words,


Courage is the price that Life extracts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release.
From little things.
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear.
Not mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

How can life grant us boon of living, compensate
For dull grey ugliness and pregnant hate
Unless we dare
The soul’s dominion? Each time we make a choice, we pay
With courage to behold the restless day,
And count it fair. - Amelia Earhart, 1927

You made the crossing
not alone.
Meet you over the Atlantic.
Soft silver,
soft silver wings.

Copyright 2009 by Mike Marcellino, “Amelia Earhart, soft silver wings”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Post Surf Report

Rainbow, St. Augustine Beach, Florida  
photo by mike marcellino copyright 2009

Post Surf Report: St. Augustine Beach

By Mike Marcellino

Digging into the Internet to find data on shark attacks in the waters off the coast of St. Augustine, Florida probably wasn’t the writer’s best idea.

Sharks attacks are six times more likely off the northeast coast of Florida than in Hawaiian waters.  About an hour south of St. Augustine, lies New Smyrna Beach, known as “the shark attack capital of the world.”  “Great tourist line,” he thought.

It had been a dozen years since the writer had surfed northern Florida. At least he body surfed a few weeks before starting to research shark attack data for his new surfing blog -The Post-Surf Report. The writer chose the title of his new surfing series appearing in his Networked Blog, “The Point of the Whole Thing,” because it reminds him of cereal and The Washington Post

After his absence for his first love, surfing, the writer body surfed nearly every day since he arrived in St. Augustine Beach in mid September.  No hurricanes, a real draught.  Too bad, hurricanes bring bigger waves to northern Florida, but not this year. 

On his first day out, the writer was relaxing, treading, floating on his back in waters over his head when he heard,

“A shark hit by board.” the surfer said, passing by.  The waters were dark blue to black and murky.  The young surfer’s comment was dumb but unsettling.  “Why bother to tell me that?” the writer thought.  The waves were ragged, breaking fast, but he caught them whenever he wanted, some three feet high.

“He was as big as me,” he added.

The writer looked at the guy, without expression or a word. 

In the water, he thought about sharks, sometimes, not often. Once, a shadow freaked him out, but he realized it was his own, visible when the sun flickered.  Near record heat in Florida into the middle of October until a cold front finally came through.  He didn’t think much about sharks onshore. 

He told another surfer as he swam further south about the shark comment.  “He probably wanted to get you out of the water,” the surfer said, casually.  He added, “There are sharks out here all the time, especially when the mullets are running.”  The mullets come into the Atlantic from the Matanzas River south of Crescent Beach, just below St. Augustine. “Matanzas” is a Spanish word meaning “massacre.”

“How comforting,” the writer muttered to himself.

“Less talk about sharks, the better,” thought. 

Surfers, or swimmers, are more likely to die from a bee sting, or get struck by lightening, than get bit by a shark. 

That’s true in St. Augustine Beach, or any beach in Florida.  Surfers are the object of 57% of shark attacks.  Da, surfers are in the water much longer than swimmers and in deeper water there’s more room for the bigger sharks.

According International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History, these species of sharks most often attacked people in Florida waters from 1944 to 2008: Bull, Spinner, Blacktip, Hammerhead, Nurse, Tiger, Lemon, Sandbar, Blue and Mako

The writer started getting rather fascinated by sharks while writing his first surfing Internet column.  Searching, he discovered The ReefQuest Center for Shark Research maintained by Alex Buttigieg of Malta

Here’s the opening message on Alex’s website, Sharkman’s World Organization to Save and Protect Sharks:

For hundreds of years, Mankind has feared this creature. We have been brainwashed with visions of Shark Attacks, from stories and legends passed down from one generation to the next, from paintings, books, news papers, cinemas, etc... But what are the real facts? Are Sharks truly monsters of the deep? Are they all Man-eaters? What makes them so misunderstood?  Should sharks be protected?

These questions and many others will be solved in these pages. Together we shall take a look and find out the facts. So if you are interested, and want to learn more............. Keep an Eye on this page, I guarantee you will not regret it.

You enter his site by clicking on the skeleton of a shark with his mouth wide open (reminiscent of “Jaws,” which the writer never tires of watching.)  Alex’s site won an award for the best personal website in Malta.  The writer wonders just how many people live in Malta (403,532) and how many Maltese have websites (a few are written in the Maltese language).

In the world, Sharkman’s World Website is the No. 530,810 most popular Website in the world, while is No. 81,834.  Putting this in some perspective the Website of the New York Times is No. 202. 

The writer found that MySpace is nearly three times more popular than Facebook, according to his unidentified website source.

The writer couldn’t resist by adding that the Vatican (Holy Sea, sorry, a surfer’s slip, make that See) only has 11 most popular sites, all the sites are inside the Vatican. Faith really reaches out.  Here’s No. 1 in the Holy See -

The most popular site in Vietnam reveals times really are changing.  The most popular Internet site today in Vietnam, site of America’s longest war, is all about hotels - .    

Back to surfing.

In the water, surfers talk little, about sharks or anything, except a bit with their friends, but not much them either.  Surfers are doers, not talkers.  Surfers live in a world of their own, one that’s as hard to describe as feeling a surfer gets shooting in the curl of a big, well formed wave in glassy water.

The writer did meet one surfer, Cameron, and the two talked while waiting for a wave worth riding.  Cameron’s from Louisiana.  The writer found out he works as a deep sea diver repairing oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.  A good photo feature story some day, the writer thought.

A few girls surf St. Augustine Beach and they’re pretty good too.  They are even more laid back than the guys.  Their bodies seem to melt on their boards.  So far the writer’s spotted a few good surfers – one wearing a light blue suit, another in a dark blue suit and another with long bleach blonde hair. 

Surfers do acknowledge either other on St. Augustine Beach.  Walking the quarter mile back to where he got into the water, the writer passes surfers, boards under arm.  Usually, they give a knowing glance, a nod, maybe a word or two, like “hey.” Nothing profound.  Sometimes surfer boys, or skateboarders, about the same age as the writer when he started body surfing in California, say hi to the writer as he peddles his borrowed three speed girls’ bike along A1A, the highway hugging the shoreline along St. Augustine Beach.

Before the cold front dropped temperatures from near 90 to the 60s, the writer caught his best wave.

His timing was just right. The surfer’s arms stretched, cut through the wall of the wave, body straight.  He was in the right place at the right time, inside the wave, already covering him.  He felt himself shoot, fast, right out of the front of the wave.  He sailed outside the wave.  He flew in air, inside the mouth of the wave. 

The writer didn’t think about sharks that day.  In the late afternoon, unexpectedly the ocean had flattened, the waves took better form, rising and falling more gradually without much white water.  The wave could have been four feet or more.  He can’t categorize or define the feeling he got on that wave.  Other than looking out not to get run over by a surfboard, the writer find himself along body surfing in the ocean. 

How does surfing make the writer feel?

If everything goes right, it’s like shooting down a small mountain of water.  You’re part of the wave, you’re faster than the wave, then you free of the wave,” he says.

Nature gives signals on the beach, like reflections of distant thunder clouds – all shades of blue, white grey - illuminated by setting suns in flat sand pools onshore. (That signal led him to write a poem song, “Spirits of St. Augustine.”)

Nature sent another signal the day before the writer shot out of the curl in a four foot wave.  After light, warm showers on and off most of the day, in late afternoon the clouds broke, scattered and the writer biked to the A Street inlet. 

On the beach, the writer was startled.  He looked north and saw distant giant rainbow circling the horizon from Jacksonville to some unknown spot in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

As a 7-year-old, Mike Marcellino lived two blocks from the ocean in Long Beach, California.  For four years, he body surfed every day except in winter. He never wore a wet suit. 

In 1968, Mike board surfed off Bondi Beach, Australia. He was on R & R (rest and recuperation) from the Vietnam War, where he served in the U.S. Army as a combat correspondent and photojournalist.  He wrote a poetry song about surviving those eight days near Sidney and recorded the piece, “Bondi beach.”  You may listen to the song at  In his research, Mike discovered Bondi Beach is the third most shark infested waters in the world. 

Mike board surfed off St. Augustine Beach in the 1980s and 1990s.  Away from the ocean for 12 years, he returned in the later summer of 2009 and began body surfing off Florida’s northeast coast.  He loves surfing and looks forward to getting a used board, a long board.  Contact Mike by email at

The photo above is a Blacktip Reef Shark, Pacific cousin to the Blacktip Shark found in waters off the Florida coast.  The Blacktip can be six feet long and is responsible for 28 unprovoked shark attacks against humans.  They are responsible for 16% of the attacks that occur in Florida water, often striking surfers.

The Post Surf Report, copyright by Mike Marcellino 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Orwell's truth: 'a revolutionary act'

After the fall
By Mike Marcellino

In a time of universal deceit –
telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
- George Orwell
Stolen quotes
stolen hours.
day and night
frozen by time
after the fall.

A knight cold
in amour,
Irish whiskey
riding after
a girl of twenty
in a vegan powered bus to Omaha.

Stolen quotes
stolen hours
day and night
frozen by time
after the fall.

Anarchists hidden
in castles of fog,
on grey naked fields
of Midi-Pyrénées
and the Counts of Toulouse
after the fall.

After the fall, Copyright 2008 by Mike Marcellino

A soldier's song

The walls of fire
By Mike Marcellino

The walls of fire
grow higher
pools of blood
bodies of brothers
touching -
rock cliffs and open fields,
Hornet’s Nest at Shiloh,
Devil’s Den, Gettysburg.

The walls of fire
grow higher
pools of blood
bodies of brothers
touching -
sea to shining sea
lost in the Argonne forest
face down on beaches at Normandy,
frozen by the waters
of Chosin Reservoir.

The walls of fire
grow higher
pools of blood
bodies of brothers
touching -
paddies, highlands
Nui Ba Dinh, the Black Virgin Mountain
Ashau Valley,
along the perimeter of Khe Sanh.

The walls of fire
grow higher,
pools of blood,
bodies of brothers
touching -
empty deserts
filled with giant rising suns,
Fallujah rooftops,
unknown streets of Sadr City
barren mountains,
caves of Tora Bora.

The walls of fire
grow higher
pools of blood,
bodies of brothers

The walls of fire copyright by Mike Marcellino 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

Encore for President Obama

"Search and destroy
photo by Mike Marcellino
South Vietnam, 1968
copyright 1995

Time for Department of Peace
By Mike Marcellino

Challenges Facing Americans
La partie trois

Tell me, why is it that President Obama, winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace, sounds more like a hawk than a dove.

Here is a quote from an AP story about the President’s reaction to winning the prize:

”…Obama acknowledged that, while accepting an award for peace, he was commander in chief of a country engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  "We have to confront the world as we know it," he said.  He said he was working to end the war in Iraq and "to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our allies" in Afghanistan.

I will admit, Mr. President, that you got that right, in that, our enemy, and I image you are talking about the Taliban, is ruthless, harsh and totally nasty in war (and they way in which they treat Afghans, especially females) who in their belief (no matter how misguided) get out of line. 

But, Mr. President, ask any soldier, friend or foe, what war is.  “War is hell,” the soldier will reply. 

I asked you to recall what soldiers have said about war, soldiers like Union General William Tecumseh Sherman in our Civil War.  To Southerners, Confederates if you will, brothers, soldiers and civilians alike, knew General Sherman for what he was – ruthless in war.  He was know for his “scorched earth” policy in burning Atlanta to the ground and then marching his army using a calculated scorched earth tactic leaving not a blade of grass or stalk of wheat standing, marching from Atlanta to the sea – Savannah, Georgia.  And, President Lincoln didn’t object to the general’s ruthless tactics waged against an already defeated enemy, in this case their fellow countrymen, and many literally brothers.  Here’s what General Sherman said about war:

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”- William Tecumseh Sherman

As a United States Army veteran of the Vietnam War an since, I don’t know of a single combat veteran who does not respect the enemy, at least if the enemy was a good soldier, meaning and effective one, willing to kill or be killed.  In battle, soldiers don’t fight for a cause; they fight for their fellow soldiers, the fight to survive and to get the battle over with. 

I wonder, Mr. President, if you recall the scene in Apocalypse Now, the brilliant, dark, frightening soliloquy of Colonel Kurtz, an American Special Forces soldier, a hero, gone driven insane by the hell of war.  He spoke of the ruthlessness of the enemy, cutting off the arms of children after they had been inoculated by United States Army doctors.  If you haven’t seen Frances Ford Copula’s brilliant film, or don’t recall it, I suggest you watch it and ask your staffers to watch it too.  Many, perhaps most Americans find Apocalypse Now exaggerated.  Even I did for a while, but not after some reflection and talks with many veterans of fighting in Vietnam, as well as World War II, Korea, the Gulf wars, Iraq and Afghanistan.  I wrote about those wars as a newspaper reporter for more than a decade and learned even more working in veteran and military affairs for a congressman and mayor.  But I really learned that war is hell by being in Vietnam and talking with my fellow combat veteran friends over the years.  The men and women I talked with are all over the waterfront in politics, backgrounds and opinions, but they all agree that war is hell.

With that introduction, Mr. President, here is my second column about the war in Afghanistan:

Okie, dokie.  When I opened my soundless HP laptop this morning I was dumbfounded to discover President Obama had won the Nobel Prize for Peace.

Here's my take: The President talked the peace game during the campaign. Now he talks peace one day and war the next and gives serious consideration of escalating the war in Afghanistan. But, hand it to the Nobel Prize guys (hopefully girls too), they decided to give the American president a big nudge - the Nobel Prize for Peace, before he actually did anything in that regard. The reason - Their next chance to give him the prize is three years away, right in the heat of his campaign for reelection (Republicans and conservatives let alone right wing radicals are already tearing into him, i.e. some people putting out color posters with President Obama's picture with a Hitler-like mustache and another with the President hanging out with the Nazi dictator, mass murderer, and his henchmen). Well, all I can say is good luck President Obama, good luck Nobel Prize committee, good luck America, good luck Afghanistan, good luck Iraq, world, etc. Guess we just have to hold onto our tickets (aka, citizenships) and wait and see.

Okie dokie. My suggestion in the meantime to our President is” to ask one of your foreign policy advisors to read my commentary below then read or reread Fire in the Lake by Francis Fitzgerald about the fallacy and futility of the Vietnam War.  Many good books have been written about the Vietnam War but Fire in the Lake is the most insightful and documented in history. 

Fallicy in the Urban Dictionary, oddly, came up with the heading "Evangelical" and reference to the "American religion" tracing its origin to 33 AD. I'll give you the first fallicy listed: 1.the subjectivist fallicy: "I have faith" (translation: it's true because I believe it is).

In her book, Ms. Fitzgerald exposed how little we understood about Vietnam and the Vietnamese.  Yet we made up an excuse, The Gulf of Tonkin incident, and plowed ahead, ignoring history and opportunities to talk with our “enemy.”  We labeled it a war to stop communism, “the domino theory” in which Asian nations and others would one by one fall to communism.  How did we know that would happen?  The notion was just a political invention for an excuse to go to war in Southeast Asia.  In reality it was a war for power and control of resources. 

Even President Eisenhower in his farewell address warned us of the growing threat to the American democracy from within by the military industrial complex.  I would add political to his description of this “complex.”

“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” – Dwight David Eisenhower

But, while I am at it, here are two more quotes timely and important comments of President Eisenhower, America’s commanding general in World War II who led our nation and its allies in defeating Hitler and the Nazis, the Axis – the ruthless dictatorships of Germany, Japan and their allies.

“We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security. 

When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.”

Both quotes speak for themselves.  Too bad former President George Bush, the most recent, didn’t read the latter Eisenhower quote before staring the wars in the Middle East.  I wonder if he ever saw another brilliant film, Lawrence of Arabia. Actually, Mr. President that film should also be required viewing.  The first quote is, gee, just profound.  It also reminds me of worrying ourselves to death. 

But, do not get me wrong, Mr. President.  In no way am I suggesting that we just throw down our guns and go home.   Now that we have fueled the flames of war and created a good deal of chaos, we can’t just stop on a dime, not even Mercury. 

Mr. President, I have an idea, a way for you to follow up on winning the Nobel Prize for Peace.  Why don’t you create a Department of Peace?  Give it as much power and status as waging war and military solutions to the world’s problems.  In that new department, make sure you set up an agency for civic action. 

The only good thing I ever witnessed in the Vietnam War, besides the incredible courage and sacrifice of our troops, was the thankless and unheralded civic action work done by soldiers and civilians caring for the wounds of victims, many children, and helping Vietnamese build refugee towns as a place to live after both sides did a great job of destroying their homes and villages.  And today, sadly we’re doing pretty much the same thing more than three decades after the end of America’s longest war in Vietnam.

Finally, Mr. President, once all the hoopla of the Nobel Prize for Peace subsides, ask Congressman Dennis Kucinich about how to go about setting up the Department of Peace.  After all it is his idea.  Maybe Dennis should have won the Nobel Prize for Peace.   He also ran for president, but he didn’t win that either.

Mike Marcellino, a two-time national award winning newspaper reporter is now a freelance journalist, poet and performance artist with the band, Ensor in St. Augustine, Florida and New York City

Encore for President Obama, copyright by Mike Marcellino 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The War in Afghanistan: Another course

"Oriental River" photo by Mike Marcellino, South Vietnam 1968, copyright 1995

Plowshares, not swords
By Mike Marcellino

Vice President Joe Biden has it right. There is another course for America in Afghanistan.

Do I get this right? Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama disagree over the right course in Afghanistan?

Vietnam should show us that we’ll never "defeat" the Taliban unless we are prepared to fight without an end, without victory in sight.

The Taliban is led by Mullah Omar, a peasant fundamentalist Muslim and fierce fighter who lost an eye fighting with the mujahedeen defeating the Soviet forces.

No matter how distasteful we find the strict Muslim laws, and especially harsh treatment of woman and girls, if we send in tens of thousands of more troops we must be prepared for a long winter.

The Taliban traces its origin to the 7th Century. The Taliban with large havens in a bitter, mountainous countryside, in many respects, like the Viet Cong with support from the North Vietnamese regular troops, in remote jungles and highlands of South Vietnam.

The Taliban, a religious fundamentalist movement, will resist modern, Western culture indefinitely. Its leader, Mullah Omar is nearly a prophet. Even if he is killed, as have other fundamentalist leaders, someone will take his place. The war in Afghanistan is a civil war with sharp cultural differences such as the American Civil War.

We look at the conflict and fundamentalism in Afghanistan through a Western view of the way the world should be. Already, elements in America view our actions in the Muslim world as a holy war - good against evil. Somehow I don’t think God created America to wage endless wars.

Omar recently told the Western press that Taliban's oppression against women and girls are misrepresented. We find their practices repulsive. We still have not achieved equality at home and there’s certainly too much abuse against females. The Taliban movement traces its beginnings back to the 7th Century. Forerunners of the Taliban defeated Alexander the Great, Omar points out. Actually, the small nation of Vietnam defeated China in the 14th century.

America should concentrate on rooting out elements actually threatening America's security. Otherwise, we should not send swords but plowshares, builders, not soldiers, tools, supplies and expertise to help Afghanistan rebuild and strengthen their own communities. We might be surprised what reaction we would get from the people. We should also set a good example at home use the money we’ll save from not using military force to rebuild our own communities. The various factions in Afghanistan will have to settle their own differences. They’ve been fighting for quite some time before we came along. Of course the very people we’re fighting now were only a decade or so ago our allies. The support of the people in towns and villages invariably determines the outcome in civil wars. Oppressive regimes fall eventually; decay from within without the support of the people.

I've noticed without relish, an interesting and deadly phenomena (a word used only by poets for 350 years) is going on in Afghanistan and it also goes on in Iraq, and probably a lot of warring states. The Taliban sets off bombs and kills civilians. It works, unfortunately. Then the Afghans don't want American (or NATO) soldiers fighting the Taliban because they think (or know) that if the foreign forces stop fighting to Taliban, the Taliban will stop killing their fellow citizens. Ditto for Iraq, except we sent in an overwhelming number of troops and there are many differences in the nature of things in Afghanistan and Iraq, dah (a word by the way derived from the Russian word for yes, now meaning, "yes, what else," dah.)

Another phenomena going on is what I call the "body count" or "body bag" syndrome (I hate it when certain politicians like former President George Bush junior kept referring to the "Vietnam syndrome" meaning (if he knows) that Vietnam veterans are a bunch of abnormal people, like he's saying to ex-troops, "enough said, you people and our nation just have to get over 'Vietnam syndrome.'" Excuse me George it ain't that simple. Have you ever heard of Agent Orange, George?)

Now, during the last presidential campaign, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and how to get out of them was the hot topic, until US casualties diminished, i. e., fewer dead troops were returning home in body bags (as you recall, the Bush administration didn't want the media to photograph and film these sad events).

So, today, in Afghanistan fewer of our troops are returning in body bags, so the nation has now returned to American Idol and the ageless issue of health care reform, Part X). Noteworthy too is just the other day Americans polled rated Idol host Simon Cowell and an actor as a hero, both rated higher than President Obama. So much for fleeing stardom, Barrack, welcome to fickle America, tick, tick, tick, change, change, change.

You know some people have a theory that wars are necessary to hold down world population growth. I have a theory that dead American troops don't need health care anymore, in fact, dead civilians don't either. So, why isn't ending war our Number 1 Priority? Oh, I got it, if we kill people it will reduce health care costs, right? By the way, to make it “perfectly clear” I do not subscribe to either theory in relations to the benefits of war and killing people.

Now, Vice President Joe Biden, as far as he goes, is right. We need to do constructive, not destructive things in Afghanistan to win the support of the people. Then we can use more military resources to root out the bad guys trying to do in America and the West. The Taliban is a treat to the United States only in any support of terrorism. Use Special Forces and similar units together with precision strikes at real targets. Hey, we might wind up getting help from the Taliban as we did fighting the Soviets and communism in Afghanistan. Our constructive actions, not increased military force gives us a much better chance of winning support of the people, the “hearts and minds.” We should have learned that lesson in the Vietnam War. The will of the people eventually determines the outcome.

We may not like the Taliban and their harsh practices, but we have no choice but to live with them unless we are prepared to spend the lives of thousands of American soldiers and tons of money. If we engage them constructively maybe they change for the better.

In the Vietnam we learned that military power did not bring the outcome we sought. We found an enemy prepared to fight until they achieved their ends.

We could achieve a stalemate in Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, but many Americans will die without changing much of anything.

No one seems to talk about Gandhi and Martin Luther King anymore, but their methods worked. Why not use non-violence as a weapon. Setting a better example at home might also help too.

Mr. President, I ask you to take a good, hard look at what your vice president is saying. No one in our government today has more experience in the world than Joe Biden. And, he is one former senator whose son has served in our country’s armed forces.

President Obama, consider another way to demonstrate the power of our democracy - the American experiment to create a level playing field.

The whole world doesn’t have to be a mirror of America.

At times we must use force, but let’s use it with clear purpose and victory in our sights.

Let’s not again put the lives of American troops on the line with our fingers crossed.

Mike Marcellino served in the U. S. Army in the Vietnam War from 1967-68 as a combat correspondent and photojournalist

The War in Afghanistan, Another course, Copyright mike marcellino 2009