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It was the fall of 2019 when I met Michael Secli. It was a time in my life when I wasn’t looking for or expecting to find a new friend. My tendency is to be somewhat reserved socially. I had some good old and dear friends, but at seventy-five years old I had lost some of those and others had moved away. I had plenty of acquaintances, but a real friend was not something I expected. Life has a way of moving things in unexpected directions.

I was being treated for a prostate condition that required eight weeks of radiation treatments, five days a week for eight weeks. What a drag! First, I would check in with the receptionist for my appointment and then I was sent to a waiting area where I would be called in to the next room for my treatment. There were two chairs in the treatment area, one for the next patient and the other chair for the following patient. For whatever series of coincidences, it was usually Michael or me in one of those chairs. Crazy way to meet a friend, but here was a man that seemed to fill up a room with his personality. Every receptionist, nurse, doctor or technician lit up like a Christmas tree when he came into the room. I had to know more about him.

As the weeks passed, I did learn more about this man, his family and his service to our country as a Marine. From my experience with people who served in armed conflicts, most were not willing to talk about it. There are deep reasons for this that as a layman I cannot fully understand and to speculate never seemed to do justice to such suffering. But Michael was different, and it just seemed that there was a smooth flow from one event to another. That’s when I mentioned to Michael that other people needed to hear what he had to say.

The mid 1960’s to the mid 1970’s were troubling times for our country; from assassinations to a war and the trying of a President. The War in Viet Nam was not popular (as if any war is popular) for a long time. It seemed those who served were not welcomed home as heroes and worse were reviled by many whom these men and women believed they were defending. It is difficult to understand how Michael Secli was able to light up a room in 2019.

Understanding is a tricky thing. The most simplistic form of understanding is when a series of facts are presented, and a conclusion can be drawn from those facts. Science is like that. We understand that one plus one equals two. Understanding human behavior goes outside the bounds of simple cause and effect. In Michael’s case, if one plus one equaled two he should have been a bitter resentful man crippled by his experience, but not Michael. Why?

I am sure there is an explanation somewhere. Understanding how Michael got to be where he is today, takes more than science. It takes compassion, a willingness to see what is good and how often good can come from what is seemingly awful and evil.

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