Professor to publish book following lives of veterans

first_imgProfessor Michael Messner was inspired by his grandfather and father’s services in World War I and World War II, respectively. (Photo from YouTube)Michael Messner, a USC professor of sociology and gender studies, will be publishing a nonfiction book titled “Guys Like Me: Five Wars, Five Veterans for Peace” on Nov. 9. His book will be released in time for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day and aims to shed light on the life-changing experiences of American veterans.The book focuses on five multigenerational men who fought in five different wars, including World War II, the Gulf War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Iraq War. Messner’s inspiration for this book stemmed from his grandfather’s service in World War I and his father’s efforts in World War II. “The way I grew up was being really fascinated by World War I but like a lot of veterans, [my grandfather] didn’t really want to talk about it,” Messner said.  “It’s very common for veterans of wars to feel that they really would rather not talk about it and to me that’s kind of part of a pattern [of] what I call ‘manly silence.’ It’s men learning … to hold things in and not show your vulnerability. So a lot of veterans … feel a sense of guilt or shame [for] things that they’ve experienced and [for] things that they’ve done.” Messner remembers wishing his grandfather a happy Veteran’s Day more than 30 years ago. He was surprised to hear his grandfather respond, noting that the holiday used to be called Armistice Day. Politicians had changed the name so they could keep having more wars, his grandfather said. Armistice Day, however, symbolized the end of all wars and the promise of lasting peace. To some veterans, like Messner’s grandfather, the holiday’s 1954 name change was an insult and indicates that the U.S. was founded on war, according to Messner. “He was very saddened by that and angry about it, and that’s one of the roots of my interest,” Messner said. “I mean obviously that was 30 or 40 years ago when that happened, but I’ve always kind of held on to that story.”Due to the misconception, Messner wanted to write a book to uncover the truths behind war, including the personal experiences of veterans and the trauma of war on their bodies, through mental illnesses like PTSD.  Messner said he interviewed veterans from Veterans for Peace, a nonprofit organization for U.S. veterans, to collect a variety of anecdotes for his book. “There [are] a couple [of] other people that I interviewed who aren’t among the five that I really profiled in the first chapter,” Messner said. Messner spoke to a female veteran and said that the woman’s anecdote was an important addition to the story since the female military experience is portrayed far less than men’s. Another anecdote in Messner’s book is from Ernie Sanchez, a World War II veteran. Messner said that Sanchez left the war because he was suffering from PTSD after he killed around 50 to 100 Germans in the line of duty. “[Sanchez] carries that with him for his whole life, and this sort of shame of having killed what he called ‘brothers, sons and people who were loved by others,’” Messner said. Messner also said that people’s active participation in war affects the way they view peace. “In the United States, most of us are so separated from the experiences of the military and war that we sort of think of ourselves as being at peace and we’re not,” he said. “We’re actually in permanent warfare right now in the world.” Messner hopes this book will share the stories of different veterans who were wounded physically and mentally by war. He said that many of these men are on a path to find peace and to separate themselves from the idea of endless war. “I want people to understand the experience of these veterans and hear their voices…” Messner said.  “We have these people who we’re sending over in our name… and they’re paying the price for our sense of complacency. These are guys who have come out of that place of silence and trauma and are speaking out for what they see as peace and justice.”last_img read more

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Luke Walton ready to change Lakers’ losing culture

first_imgOAKLAND >> A faint but familiar thumping leaked through the closed doors of the Golden State Warriors practice Saturday. Strains of a melody followed. When the door cracked open, Warriors assistant Jarron Collins’ grinning face popped out, a torrent of sound escaped and the hallway was treated to Randy Newman’s 1983 soft rock jam, “I Love L.A.”A day earlier, Walton had accepted the Lakers’ offer to become the Lakers’ next head coach.The day before that, Thursday, Walton exited a hotel at Oakland’s Jack London Square, confident about the six-hour interview he had just given Lakers executives Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak, but with no idea how quickly the organization he played eight-plus seasons with was looking to act.“I left the meeting thinking it went well,” Walton said following the Warriors practice. “Obviously didn’t think it would get done that quickly.” “I think his heart’s in L.A.,” said Warriors guard Klay Thompson, the All-NBA son of Lakers broadcaster Mychal Thompson and former Santa Margarita High School star. “He grew up down there (in San Diego), played eight, nine years for them. I think he’s going to do big things for the Lakers.”With Walton, the Lakers now have a young coach to go with an inexperienced team, and a leader whose recent experience has been with the loosest, coolest and most successful team in the NBA.“He is such a big part of our culture and so much fun to be around,” Kerr said. “He’s going to be fantastic.”Inside the interview processWalton said his interview with Buss and Kupchak was somewhat casual, as a natural function of the relationship the men have shared since Walton was drafted 32nd overall in the 2003 draft.It was also, however, very much a business meeting.“It was a long day,” Walton said.Walton quizzed his soon-to-be bosses about the organization’s vision for the future, touching on their plans for free agency.“They laid it all out,” Walton said. “They showed what they want to do, players they plan on going after, all that type of stuff.”He added: “It’s exciting to me, to get with one of the greatest organizations in the history of sports and they’re ready and willing to go after it, whatever it takes. That’s an exciting time.”Walton said he did not need to be sold on the Lakers’ collection of young talent and that he was embracing the opportunity to build from the ground up.“I love it,” Walton said. “I think they have some good young talented players. Obviously you need to mix in some good vets with that to have players on the court that can help the young players grow.”• RELATED: Walton’s path Lakers began at Memphis during NBA lockoutIt’s a situation entirely different from the one Kerr and his staff inherited in 2014, when they were brought in to replace Mark Jackson. That the Warriors catapulted to the top of the league after one season under Kerr was also a testament to the groundwork that had been laid by the previous staff.Every coaching job, Walton said, has its challenges.“The one here (in Golden State) was trying to take a good team that already had established themselves and trying to make them great,” he said. “The team in L.A., we need to go down there and build a foundation, we’re in the beginning years of that.”No Triangle offenseAfter spending the past two years trying to recreate the success of the 1980s with Byron Scott’s old-school approach, the Lakers are turning to one of the most progressive teams in the league for a model.Walton already knows he will run a system more similar to that of the Warriors than what he played in with the Lakers under Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson.“I don’t think the triangle is the most appropriate offense for the players that they have in place right there,” Walton said, “so I think I’m going to bring more of the style and spacing that we use up here.”Walton looks at D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers’ most prized young asset, as an ideal building block. Marginalized at times in Scott’s offense, Russell, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, averaged 13.2 points and 3.3 assists while starting 48 games.“What he did was really impressive,” Walton said. “He’s got a skill set that could allow him to be a very talented, high-level point guard in this league.”Adopting the Warriors cultureAs much as offensive philosophies and defensive sets, what Walton could eventually install with the Lakers is a culture that, in two quick seasons, has become the envy of the league.Yes, that includes the music.The Warriors pump tunes into the gym for a portion of practice each day to help get players’ blood flowing. Kerr adopted the practice after visiting Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks and seeing they played music. Assistant Nick U’Ren is responsible for the day’s playlist.On Saturday, he included something special for Walton.“I thought that was pretty good,” Kerr said, chuckling.Players get a say under WaltonWalton is a reflection of Jackson, yes, but also Kerr, the laidback surfer with a firebrand desire to succeed. Kerr’s inclusion of his players in the decision-making process runs in stark contrast to Scott’s isolationist approach, in which players often drifted unsure of when or if they would play.“You get some vets like we have here it makes it easier,” Walton said, “but just his approach of we’re going to include the players and when we do we’re going to ask their opinions on things, do everything we can to get them invested.”Both Walton and Kerr have roots at the University of Arizona, whose basketball team operates under the motto, “A Players’ Program,” an ethos that has carried over to the NBA.“Ultimately, he and I agree on it,” Walton said, “this is the players’ team.”That’s how Walton views the Lakers as well. It will be Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson’s team. Larry Nance Jr.’s, too.It’s a philosophy that stirs some hope for the direction of a wayward franchise. It’s also what made the Warriors such a wonderful training ground for the newest face of the organization with 16 championships.“It was obviously tough to leave this place,” Walton said, “but I think it’s one of those opportunities you can’t pass up on.” Even Kerr, the Coach of the Year who hired Walton as an assistant two years ago and watched him grow into one of the business’ hottest commodities, acknowledged being “shocked” by the Lakers’ timeline.Kupchak had vowed not to let the search lag like it did two years ago when the Lakers waited until July to hire Scott. But even the general manager’s most ambitious timeline had the Lakers making a hire in another week.Walton and the Lakers were simply too good of a match to waste any time. Walton guided the Warriors to a 39-4 start while Kerr recovered from offseason back surgery, and the team’s 24 straight wins to open the season shattered an NBA record.Even in those early days of the season, he was popularly discussed as a replacement for Scott.“His heart’s in L.A.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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