Category Archives: History – lessons

The von Dioszeghy Trilogy + 1

20170527_191805

I’ve just finished reading the von Dioszeghy trilogy; The first being “Bridging Two Worlds”.
Bridging
The second is “Postcards from Pannonia”.

Postcards_book

And I’ve just finished reading book three of the von Dioszeghy trilogy; “The Bridge Re-Crossed

Click on any of the book covers and it will take you to my reviews of these works. Click on any of the web links above,and you will be taken to where you can purchase them. Adam and Aliz would greatly appreciate that.

thebridgerecrossed

Actually it’s a Quadrilogy, with the fourth being the visit Diana and I made to visit the von Dioszeghys last year in Hungary. You can read more of this visit by clicking on “von Dioszeghy” under CATEGORIES just to the right in this blog.

I’ve shared a great deal here about this man and his wife Aliz, and their remarkable story. Let me do a brief recap:

  • Adam’s story in his first book “Bridging …” tells his story beginning at age 7 in Budapest, as he and his mother hunker down during the Red Army siege of Budapest. Adam’s memories bring to life an epic episode that can only be told by veterans of such a time. He then tells of the communist years, and the tyranny that communism brought to his nation.
  • As a first year university student, Adam becomes involved in the nationwide revolution of 1956 against the tyrannical Soviet sponsored governing  regime of Hungary. He is twice wounded, forcing him and his mother to flee to Austria and then to the US as refugees.
  • The story continues as Adam attains a degree from Stanford University and then joins the US Navy as an officer on a destroyer. That’s where I first met him 50+ years ago. Adam deployed to the Vietnam war zone three times, and served his new nation with gratitude.
  • Following a post Navy Stanford law degree and a long career practicing law in Northern California,  Adam and his wife Aliz retire in 2000 and resettle to Hungary. The book concludes with stories of that resettlement.
  • The second book, “Postcards …” tells the compelling story of two immigrants to a new nation – Hungary. He born and raised there, but absent for many years, and her, a California born and raised woman never having lived anywhere else.  This is a very entertaining and dramatic story, with much humor interspersed.
  • And the third book “The Bridge Re-crossed.” This book takes us back to the place where so many Hungarians fled from communist tyranny to freedom in the West – Adam and his mother among them.  Adam recounts that visit in 2017, so many years later. But that’s not all: many vignettes, stories from his past that Adam brings to life in print. A humorous one is his account of him, as a young man in St. Louis, meeting and having pizza with Bill Haley and the Comets. Remember them?
  • A real highlight of this latest book is a section called Christmas Letters. Here is where Adam and Aliz write of their life in Hungary – year by year, both the Cosmopolitan Budapest, and in the country home several hours away from the city. Beginning in 2000 through 2017, Adam and Aliz let their hair down and speak from the heart. Many of these letters touch my heart, and I share just one with you below:

_____________

CHRISTMAS 2015

FROM ALIZ:

A year that is best forgotten, perhaps. Or not. I’ve been mulling this over and I’ve decided that my initial (usual) feeling that I wouldn’t write a Christmas letter was maybe a little precipitous. My thought was that I would have nothing good to say and it was best to leave Adam to write a nice wrap-up of a dubious year. But…my muse kicked in and-once again–wouldn’t let me sleep. I tried to ignore it, but it simply would not have it… So here goes:

This year has been AWFUL. Sorry, but there is no other word to describe it Awful. Horrible. Not fun. Apart from the weather (dreadful), we have been having an upheaval here in Europe that is tearing things apart. People (and countries) are at each other’s throats and it’s caused a continual level of stress that is horrendous. My reaction was to just run from the whole thing and not write. You know, do yoga and read cozy mysteries. Not a bad idea, but there my Little Voice (a persistent little devil) said, “Yes, but what have you learned?” My answer was, “Yikes! Learned!? Nothing.” And on and on…but finally I just got up out of bed, turned on the light … and here I sit in front of the blasted keyboard…once again. Can I never just write a simple Christmas letter anymore??? How about a nice letter about crickets? Or storks? Storks would be good; why can’t I do that????

I’ve been turned inside-out over this crisis in Europe. I’ve been struggling with the whole situation, but this letter isn’t about that, actually-although it came out of my anguish over it. It’s about how I’ve realized that I’ve been defining myself by labels…by names that describe things that no person could be all the time. Liberal. Conservative. Scared. Compassionate. Practical…. Who are we and what makes us that way? I’ve struggled with this and I’ve come to realize that most of the labels we use to define ourselves are decided by other people: the media, the clergy, the government, our friends…and — God help us- Facebook.

After a while all this input kind of blends together in a sort of frenzy of what we’re supposed to believe and feel. While all of that is sometimes necessary and unavoidable (it makes us human and-to a degree-accountable), ultimately we must decide how we feel and what we believe. This is hard for me, and I’ve realized that I’ve defaulted much of what I think I believe, to simply be whatever I read on the internet and what I see on TV. Unfortunately, this is way too simple. Now I’ve got to sort things out on my own and it’s kind of like uncharted territory. Frankly, it’s somewhat daunting to be thinking for myself (to whatever degree we actually can, as we’re influenced constantly) and I often feel pretty shaky about it. Am I right? Am I deluded? Who knows … and in the end does it really matter? I can’t figure out if it does or not, actually. So here I sit in front of the keyboard, as befuddled as before. You can obviously see why 1 wasn’t sure if I should even write this letter…right?

Anyway, last year I wrote about packing up my problems and fears and putting them on the doorstep. Well, they pretty much stayed outside until about mid-August, when they not only insinuated themselves back inside, they started dancing the cha-cha-cha in the living room. The cheek of it! So I’ve once more roped them up and hustled them out. And now. I’ve not only put them on the doorstep. I’ve actually taken them to the dump; I’m just hoping they don’t know the way back. The bottom line is we all have garbage trying to get back in and we all are struggling with how we view ourselves. Life is awfully complicated. BUT, it occurred to me (and this is why I hauled my sorry ass out of bed to write this) I’ve actually learned a lot this year. I’ve learned I simply have to define myself by my feelings and beliefs and not allow myself to fall into the habit of labeling who I am based on what other people think or expect. And it’s up to me to decide what I believe to be true and how I view myself. I can’t default my self-image to other people I sometimes don’t even know.

So, even though this isn’t what I would call and uplifting Christmas letter, only in a fantasy world is everything always nice and neat Let’s face it: Life is damn messy. And-truth be told-I’m not always good about sorting through messy things as I tend to run and hide. This year has been truly hard for me-and I’ve had to face some unhappy truths about myself” but also I’ve found some really nice things, too, such as a feeling of loyalty and deep love for my new home (well, it’s now been over 15 years, so it’s not so new anymore), and-in spite of not always agreeing with all the decisions made by the government-realizing that I truly am AT HOME. This, in reality, was a wonderful gift. The way it came about was painful-and will no doubt continue to be that way-but hey, nobody ever promised me a @%#*%&@$ rose garden!

Have a wonderful, blessed Christmas! With love and patience (and a bit of booze) we can get through anything! I fully expect to be back next year…and let’s hope I have a cute little story to share-there might even be crickets in it – and no true confessions. God, how I hate true confessions. Oh well, no one’s perfect (see my comments above about rose gardens … ).

Advertisements

Yearning for Liberty–A New Book

A Yearning for Publius

Click http://www.blurb.com/b/8546463-yearning-for-liberty to get your copy of this new book.

cover

In Yearning for Liberty, the author explores various facets of Liberty. Relying heavily on first person accounts, history and some of his own personal experiences and friendships, Johnson examines a broad sweep of time and geography beginning with the Biblical Exodus; through the American Revolution; the American Civil War and the aftermath of the long struggle in gaining liberty for the freed slaves. Then modern-day events and nations are examined such as the Normandy invasion of World War II; the 1956 Hungarian Revolution; the fall of South Vietnam to the communist North, and the subsequent mass evacuation from Saigon. The stunning contrast between the two Koreas is highlighted.

Combining first person accounts with plenty of pictures, Johnson weaves an eye-opening story of what having liberty looks like – its value, as well as the grim reality of what the lack…

View original post 117 more words

Yearning for Liberty–A New Book

Click http://www.blurb.com/b/8546463-yearning-for-liberty to get your copy of this new book.

cover

In Yearning for Liberty, the author explores various facets of Liberty. Relying heavily on first person accounts, history and some of his own personal experiences and friendships, Johnson examines a broad sweep of time and geography beginning with the Biblical Exodus; through the American Revolution; the American Civil War and the aftermath of the long struggle in gaining liberty for the freed slaves. Then modern-day events and nations are examined such as the Normandy invasion of World War II; the 1956 Hungarian Revolution; the fall of South Vietnam to the communist North, and the subsequent mass evacuation from Saigon. The stunning contrast between the two Koreas is highlighted.

Combining first person accounts with plenty of pictures, Johnson weaves an eye-opening story of what having liberty looks like – its value, as well as the grim reality of what the lack of liberty brings to nations, individuals and the world at large – its cost.

These first-person accounts are taken from sources such as: memoirs and diaries of French citizens experiencing the brutal Nazi occupation and the liberation at Normandy France; the story of a personal friend and US Navy shipmate – a World War II veteran at age 7 followed by years of oppression under communism, a twice wounded freedom fighter from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, a refugee to the US, and a Navy Vietnam veteran; soldiers and marines regaining freedom for captive Europeans; the story of a small Navy warship rescuing tens of thousands of Vietnamese refugees.

Click http://www.blurb.com/b/8546463-yearning-for-liberty to get your copy of this book.

The state of free speech on the American university campus.

A conservative author and filmmaker  spoke at Yale last night and I went to here him speak. I expected a large crowd, and I expected some amount of disruption, if not outright violence.

The crowd was rather small – maybe 75 of us, and there were no demonstrations of any kind.

Aa very good lecture, but painful to hear because of the subject matter dealing with the history of racism and fascism in America .

I sat in the second row so I had a good seat, and I had a copy of a picture of myself and the speaker’s brother who we had met last year in St. Petersburg Russia. I had hopes of giving him the picture should the occasion arise. Standing in the doorway at the front of the small lecture hall, and just to the left of the speaker was an obvious plain clothes body guard. I don’t know how many others there were, but there was a New Haven or Yale Police officer close by as well.

As he was closing out the QA session, and I was anticipating the next question, the speaker abruptly said “thank you all for coming” and then very quickly exited the hall along with the guard who covered his exit. As quickly as I could I exited the same door in hopes of catching him and giving him the picture of me and his brother – he was nowhere to be found.

So I went outside to wait for my wife to pick me up. Out front was a armored Suburban obviously waiting for the speaker, so I decided to hang around for awhile. The young Yale student who was the MC was there, so I showed him my card and the picture, and explained to him a bit and asked if he could give the picture to the speaker . He told he would see what he could do and asked me to wait outside and took the picture back inside.

A bit of time passed and I could look back up into the building exit and I saw the speaker’s entourage ready to exit to the street. It seemed they had waited until the crowd dissipated,  then my guess is they did a security sweep of the hallways on their way outside. They paused at the door and eyes were going everywhere sweeping the street scene and accessing the threat.

My young guy, the master of ceremonies at the event,  had the picture, and I could see he was trying to get the attention of the speaker, but they scurried across to the limo  as quickly as they could and got him out of the area very quickly.

The man is obviously a target. It was refreshing to hear him speak so much truth about Fascism & racism in this country, but it was sad to see that speaking such truth puts such speakers in mortal danger.

Such is the state of free speech on the American university campus.

Don Johnson – March 2018

On Mocking President Trump’s Remarks About Confronting A Shooter

image

You may have seen the movie Hacksaw Ridge about this medic who refused to carry a gun into battle. Saved many lives.

image

And you recall those firemen who rushed into the threat with no regard for their own safety or lives.

image

This rich New Yorker fled the safety of his limo to intervene in a beating on the sidewalk. Recognize him?

_______________

And how will I react?

How Should I React as an Adult In an Active Shooter Situation?

With or without a gun, we may very well find ourselves confronted with someone with a gun and the intent to inflict  much mayhem. Teachers, students and school adults seem to be in the front lines these days, but many of us attend large events such as church, concerts, sporting events and even large block parties. We are not immune to attack.

Maybe we should rehearse in our own mind what we would do in these situations.

What I intend to do if confronted with a shooter is to charge the shooter with as much noise and hollering as possible – with or without a gun. Charge and create a bit of confusion and uncertainty in the shooter and hopefully save lives in the process.

Is this not what our young soldiers , sailors and Marines are trained and expected to do, and in fact do? Reading military award citations, this is what typically happens when a soldier charges an enemy position and often times turns the tide of battle. School shootings are a battle and take place in a war zone – they don’t take place in a gun free area … there is no such thing as a gun-free area.

So that’s my plan – run to the shooter. If I have a gun, shoot him first, but at least cause him to shoot in my direction.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13

Don Johnson – February 2018

_______________________

Have you given any thought on how you might react?



How Should I React as an Adult In an Active Shooter Situation?

With or without a gun, we may very well find ourselves confronted with someone with a gun and the intent to inflict  much mayhem. Teachers, students and school adults seem to be in the front lines these days, but many of us attend large events such as church, concerts, sporting events and even large block parties. We are not immune to attack.

Maybe we should rehearse in our own mind what we would do in these situations.

What I intend to do if confronted with a shooter is to charge the shooter with as much noise and hollering as possible – with or without a gun. Charge and create a bit of confusion and uncertainty in the shooter and hopefully save lives in the process.

Is this not what our young soldiers , sailors and Marines are trained and expected to do, and in fact do? Reading military award citations, this is what typically happens when a soldier charges an enemy position and often times turns the tide of battle. School shootings are a battle and take place in a war zone – they don’t take place in a gun free area … there is no such thing as a gun-free area.

So that’s my plan – run to the shooter. If I have a gun, shoot him first, but at least cause him to shoot in my direction.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13

 

My book and the upcoming Tom Hanks movie.

I’m looking forward to seeing this Tom Hanks movie. Actually, the star of the move will be the Fletcher class USS Kid.
I served on a Fletcher, the USS Porterfield DD-682 in the 1960s as well as the USS Shields, DD-596, a reserve ship.

Click on the link below to learn of the film plans to date.
www.wbrz.com/…/tom-hanks-wwii-movie-set-to-film-at-uss-kidd/

USSKiddMovie

A couple of years ago I published a book which highlights much of what a sailor goes through at sea, and what those left behind on shore may not know about. Take a look at —

http://www.blurb.com/b/7168147-i-didn-t-want-to-worry-you-m…

image

as well as a companion video at —

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sloZqBsalZc