Sweet Freedom – a right that should never be taken for granted! It has been one month since I was released from prison and I have savored every moment of my freedom from behind those iron bars. Everything about life on the outside is so much more wonderful than I even imagined it would be. For the past four weeks I have taken each day as a gift to be cherished – spending it with my family and friends and doing the things I want to do when I want to do them.
For the first sixty days of my parole I am required to live at my parent’s house. This is a good thing because it allows me to catch up on my mother’s home cooking which I receive in fair trade for working her long neglected flower beds. Every day I go to the stables to ride a horse named Sue who is as stubborn as Shannon is (Sue has bucked me off twice, but I’m convinced I’m growing on her) and have even put in time fishing on the river. I continue to read and to soak up the blessings of my life. At the end of the month I will participate in a 3-day cow calf course in Shawnee where I will get my first taste of life as a rancher.
The only thing that taints my newfound joy is when I think about those I left behind at Fort Leavenworth. In prison this small group of men and I became a band of brothers who had all experienced war in its most real form. These honorable men fought for their country and did not deserve what they were given for their service. I was fortunate to have the support structure that I had or I would still be in prison to this very day. I humbly ask that you give the same support to them that you gave to me. When I was behind bars my favorite time of day was without exception when the mail was delivered to my cell. I remember receiving cards and letters from you and the encouragement I felt knowing that I was not forgotten. It transformed despair into hope. These are good men whom I got to know personally and I vouch for every one of them. If not for the untenable positions put upon them in the heat of battle they would never have seen the inside of a prison. They need your prayers, your cards, your letters, magazines and books, and your donations for their legal fight for freedom against a military justice system that is short on justice and long on political correctness. As a convicted felon I am not allowed to contact any of these men and so I ask that you do so for me. They are each a cause worth fighting for. The stories of John Hatley, Joseph Mayo, Michael Leahy, Derrick Miller, Cory Clagett, Michael Williams, and Clint Lorance can be found on the website www.L10freedomride.com.
I saw a video recently where an elderly man said, “You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.” I am trying to live my life like that – where I see each day as a gift of freedom and where my only response to that gift is gratitude. To each one of you I want to express my deepest gratitude for giving me this incredible gift through your countless acts of kindness and support. Praise God Almighty, I Am Free At Last!