I love your writing, Matt. Such a moving story. Thank you

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Finally got around to reading this. Lovely work.

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Matt, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of journalism I've ever read. You made me laugh and cry and be proud and thankful. Thank you!

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Matt- thank you for sharing. It was the first time I read this piece. I will read it again. The essay is humbling reminder of, and a sublime ode to, the profound sacrifices made by a small number of Americans time and again to protect and defend the noble ideas that make America GREAT. I hope many more Americans get a chance to read it in the years ahead.

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Hope you enjoyed your quiet time with Mother Nature ………

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Thanks for sharing 🇺🇸

I think I am inspired 🗡🎣🇺🇸

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I'm a civilian and fishing-averse as they come, but that was a fascinating read. Keep doing what you do, Matt. It inspires.

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Jun 14, 2022·edited Jun 14, 2022Liked by Matt Labash

This was pretty awesome, Matt. Very evocative and respectful.

Immense respect, and at times sheer awe, is what I have for those who've served, to be more exact. The phrase "Thank you for your service" to me at some point became too much of a mindless cliche, frankly.

I take it from comments you didn't get to host Josh around your MD haunts, which is too bad.

Other writings that yours put me in mind of are Sebastian Junger's narratives on warriors, and Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods," in particular. And I think you do a great job of honoring your subjects. If only we focused more collectively on such stories that inspire admiration rather than following the professional political grievance mongers... *sigh*

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they let you in

entrusted you

with their souls

they knew

as we do

that they were in

the best of hands

your writing

then and now

honors all

they gave

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You may be away

but you are here in spirit

Don't worry

A vacation in body

works just fine too

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Jun 14, 2022Liked by Matt Labash

We’re told that “hard facts make bad law.” They also make difficult writing; but you have mastered the art of of giving your readers some purchase on that unyielding hardness so that we can vicariously sense what you’ve sensed. Thank you, Matt.

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Jun 14, 2022Liked by Matt Labash


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Jun 14, 2022Liked by Matt Labash

Matt, I realize that Norman Maclean has already penned a Montana novella about fishing as a metaphor for (fill in the blank), but it appears you might have one in ya from another angle.

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Honestly as much as I loved the movie - I still tear up at the ending monologue - the book was a tad hard to follow, not the most linear of narratives. I prefer Young Men & Fire.

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This movie followed its "predecessor" book better than any movie I've ever seen. There were whole conversations that were verbatim. Having attended a Protestant seminary a lifetime ago, the theological meandering was relatively easy for me to grasp. Though Presbyterian theology can get a little tedious.

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As a Reformed Baptist pastor I resemble that remark 😁

I'll concede your point. I do stand by the opinion that the casting for Norman in the movie was not the best imho.

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I have no idea what Reformed Baptist is. Ha! There seem to me as many flavors of Baptist as Baskin Robbins has ice cream. Regretfully, I must plead ignorance. Keep in mind the only Presby pastor I've ever known was a Princeton seminary grad. Yes, THAT Princeton. Nonetheless you'll have to take up the directorship of the film with Robert Redford.

Isn't it common experience that we read a book and we create a fully 3D human in our imagination. Then we see the movie and that character is remarkably different than the one we conjured?

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Indeed. There are more kinds of Baptists than you can shake a stick at.

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Why do you think that is?

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Thanks, B. But I would never try to top the master.

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Jun 14, 2022Liked by Matt Labash

Wonderful stuff here. Thank you so much for writing about these amazing men. I am so humbled by them and grateful to them. The best thing I’ve been privileged to read in ages. I’m forever changed in the best way possible. God bless them all.

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Jun 14, 2022Liked by Matt Labash

I'm not crying. You're crying.

It is hard to imagine these young men as anything but Marines. And they may never do anything that gives them that same sense of purpose. That's why as Zach said 'I don't want to forget,' even if its the most shattering memory of your young life. Healing may require them to let go and that may seem like a betrayal on some level.

This ain't easy but they never promised you a rose garden.

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I have not treated patients with PTSD

but here are my thoughts.

Their memories must be honored.

Their healing will not require forgetting.

It will require rebuilding their ego strength.

Fishing is helping them do that.

They will also need therapy

to rebuild their ego

to the point they can bear to recognize

that they are allowing their memories

to be misused

as material for self torture.

The sadistic part of their own mind

(we all have one)

is inflicting this pain upon them.

It is relentlessly replaying

their worst memories

in an attempt to destroy them.

Some will succumb and commit suicide.

Others, once they can see through

these vicious torture techniques,

will begin to be able to turn the tide.

"Go to hell!' they will declare

to their inner tormentor

when it dangles another grisly memory

in their mind like a poison worm on a hook.

"I suppose I am supposed to bite???

I am supposed to fall for this crap again

and let it ruin my life??? "

they will inquire, laughing with derision.

Why in hell would I do that?????

I have better things to do, '

they will declare

as they build new purpose

for their lives.

It is not the trauma itself

that is destroying these men.

It is the relentless self torture.


ALL forms of self torture

(let us count the ways :)

are absurd.

When challenged by a strong ego,

they die of their own absurdity.

I am speaking from my own experience

of many years in psychoanalysis,

from my experience

conducting psychotherapy with patients

afflicted with various forms of self torture,

and from my personal discussions

with close friends who are Veterans suffering from PTSD.

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Deborah, how profound and wise. Thank you for the gift of your insight and experience.

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I remember when this was first published. It's still powerful especially with what's happened in the years since you tagged along with the group. Would there be a way for you to write a piece with updates about the program and/or the people who fished? Thank you to those who have served and to people who help them when they return.

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Have thought about that, Victoria. And I'm not in touch with any of them, sadly. But maybe we'll do it down the line.......

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