Just yesterday I got an email from an old friend whom I barely know. I'll have to explain that sentence, won't I? Michael Patrick Brewer is a Vietnam veteran I met in 2005 after the release of my documentary film Voices in Wartime. I was speaking at a conference of the Veterans for Peace organization about my own history as a protestor against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. I rememered how I had felt full of self-righteous anger against soldiers and veterans, and had blamed them for the terrible mistake of the Vietnam War. It took me many years to appreciate the depth of the damage done to many veterans by their participation in that war. It took even more years for me to acknowledge my own participation in inflicting that damage.
In 2005, I told a room full of veterans that I had failed -- morally and spiritually -- to offer love and compassion to wounded warriors. And I asked their forgiveness. Michael Patrick Brewer was a former Marine in the audience that day, and afterwards he came up to me and we shared an intensely emotional moment. We had never met before, but we both had felt a powerful dislocation during those turbulent years, we both had a sense of rage and betrayal, and we each had a personal story the other needed to hear for our mutual healing.
Michael's email yesterday contained a link to a video he is featured in that was produced for The Merritt Center "Vets Helping Vets Return" program in Payson, Arizona. The video is a powerful reminder of the damage done by war to the human soul, and of the healing role of community.