A stroll through an old cemetery will reveal very little about the people buried there. Their headstones will whisper of father, wife or lost child----but they don't sing of the lives those men and women led. Even our national heroes are lucky to have one or two of their life's accomplishments inscribed on their markers for future generations to marvel at. Cemeteries are filled with forgotten people. They were people who had lives rich with or empty of the joys that just being alive creates for us. Once we are dead and gone, our lives quickly fade into small morsels of oral history and are slowly forgotten by family and friends as time and generations pass. What would these forgotten souls tell us if they could talk? Conversations With a Dead Man answers some of those questions from a dead man's point of view. John Wesley Elder will share his loves, failures, accomplishments and the simple life he led.
For most of us, we have mental pictures of just what and how our favorite authors live. Their lives must be far richer and more interesting than ours, because they have the ability to engage our minds and thrill our souls with their visions of what life was, is or could be. These word smiths can hold our imaginations in a vise grip with the grace and skill they weave action, love, adventure, and science fiction genres into a whole cloth we can clad ourselves in for an hour or a life time. This magic cloth allows us to escape our own truth and absorb realities that thrill, intrigue or titillate us. We think we know these word smiths who entertain us. We believe that to one degree or another, we are what we read and what we read depends on the author who engages our mind. However, what would happen if a group of people found themselves in a real life web of entanglement and were forced to rely on their favorite author?
Most of us think we understand how police investigations work. We've seen them depicted on television so often we believe it's really only one or two hardnosed, lone wolf detectives who will shoot, punch or intimidate criminals as they investigate crimes and apply justice in their own way. The image fiction has imprinted on minds is one of fast paced, rough and tumble fearless officers who are always at odds with their bosses, politicians and the law. They also manage to solve every crime in the amount of time allotted for the shows time slot, normally in forty-five minutes or less after you remove the commercials. Real life police work is not for the faint of heart, and it is work; mind numbing work that at times makes you feel more like a researcher with a weapon than a law enforcement specialist. Those lone wolf fictional police officers would mostly be unsuccessful in real life for one single reason, lack of teamwork.
Great teachers are a rock jutting from--and sometimes engulfed by-- an ocean filled with the rip tides of passion, ineptitude, arrogance, and ignorance. They are protruding spikes of granite that will not be eroded easily. These are the teachers who make every effort against tremendous odds to polish young minds into the building blocks of society. Great teachers are awe inspiring in their efforts to create excellence; their influence is powerful, extending beyond even their own lifetimes. A fortunate few of us have had exceptional teachers who gifted our lives with knowledge as they challenged us and created a need to meet the potential of what we might achieve. These individuals changed the way we thought, possibly sent us down a career path, or simply gave us a passion for learning, a passion that will move forward with us for all of our lives. All of us have encountered educators. More than a few of these educators started out to become teachers only to be crushed at some point in their career. Those individuals lost all desire to teach when they found themselves in the cesspools of gang violence, drugs, apathetic parents, and office politics. Once this desire was destroyed, they ceased to care about anything but themselves and their retirement. There are more than a few teachers who began with a burning passion to make a difference, the kind of teacher parents beg, cajole, and, if all other avenues fail, intimidate administrators to have their child placed in. However, too often these very teachers are overworked and micromanaged by an institution that grinds them,--insistent on amalgamating them-- into the word many think is synonymous: they become educators. A number of these educators can and should be faulted for their total lack of effort to instruct their students. These educators become just one more cog in a machine which produces illiterate students who are passed up to the next level as they fall into the cracks of scholarship. Most of those teachers who've been destroyed by our education system toiled under the constraints of weak administrators, administrators who cared more about the system and the political realities of their own success than education. For this type of administrator the people on the front lines of education and the children they strive to entice, excite, or simply drag kicking and screaming into an academic environment are of little or no consequence. This type of administrator creates educators out of gifted teachers. In the process, they destroy the gifts and fervor for knowledge that could have been passed to future generations. I invite you to wander through the very foundations of our education system and spend a few hours with a few truly great teachers. When you finish I'd ask you to answer one very simple question:"Would I be a great teacher or end up an educator?"
Historical fiction has a foundation of truth but that truth is often shrouded in fiction. Some claim that only time and distance can separate the two. We have all lived through events that have shocked or changed our nation. The assassination of Martin Luther King, or John and Robert Kennedy, men traveling into space, and landing on the moon, and of course the bombing of the World Trade Center; these are just a few examples that have occurred in my life time. These are the pivotal events that surround us I and others think we know all of the important facts. But do we remember? Ask yourself or a friend what date any of these events happened on, see if you or they can give the exact date or even some of the facts surrounding any of these or other major past events of your lifetime. Americans are noted for their short memories, we invented the term "Attention Deficit Disorder" to describe it. We immerse ourselves in an event for a short time span, then quickly lay the event aside and move to the next. If those events didn't or don't affect us directly----they are quickly forgotten. 23 October 1983 is one of those forgotten events. One of those events where we felt we knew all the facts and then it was quickly forgotten. I ask one simple question---"Do you really know all of the facts?" There are hundreds of these events, forgotten by all but those who lived them. I invite you to read "Forgotten", separate the history from the fiction. Another term to remember would be "Plausible Deniability", facts that did happen are handled in a manner that allows them to be denied by those who caused them to happen. Separating plausible deniability from fiction can be almost impossible. At times this is by design of those who use the term. When you've finished reading this "Historical Fiction", ask yourself if you have forgotten. You must decide, what is fact, what is fiction, and what could be plausible deniability shrouding truth.