A Quiet Hero

Last week a story related to the very late receipt of a Purple Heart from World War II was published ( http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/19/purple-heart-given-to-wwii-soldier-daughter-7-decades-later/  ).  This was no ordinary “late award” story.  The military did not make a mistake and lose track of things.  The reality is both stranger and more impressive.

The original recipient of the award was PFC John Eddington of Missouri, a soldier in Italy during World War 2.  The finder of the award was Donna Gregory, whose only relation to PFC Eddington was that she was helping her husband clear out his grandparents home.  The box also contained a letter from the War Department to Eddington’s mother, informing her of his death.

The relationship between his mother and the grandparents of Donna Gregory’s then-husband is unknown, but the box troubled her.  With the Purple Heart was a very personal letter from the soldier to his new daughter, who was only four months old at the time of his death.  The letter told about how much she meant to him.

Donna Gregory made it her mission to find that daughter – to give her the medal and the letter.  It took her 14 years of searching but finally, earlier this year, she found Peggy Smith, John Eddington’s daughter, now 69.  Peggy Smith knew that her father received a Purple Heart but she didn’t know what had become on it – the subject of her father was far too painful for her mother to discuss.  In fact, she knew very little about her father.

Thanks to the dedication of Donna Gregory, who went far beyond what anyone would expect, and the advent of social media which finally provided a breakthrough in her search, Peggy Smith now has her father’s Purple Heart.  More importantly, she has the letter he wrote to her so long ago.

Donna Gregory is a true hero.  She went far beyond what most people would do, spending her own time and resources with no expectation of a reward – just the desire to complete the circle begun when PFC John Eddington wrote a letter to his infant daughter from that battlefield so far away.

Next time you find yourself in a position to make a choice – to spend some of your own time and effort to help, or to just pass on – remember Donna Gregory, who spent 14 years to bring a lost letter and a lost award back to the family of a man lost long ago.



I am a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry. If you are interested in learning more about me or my work, check out my website at http://www.leomaretan.com.



Kitten in the wall – Nice story + a writing challenge

This is the story of a kitten rescued from inside a wall over Labor Day weekend.


Certainly the people who reported it and kept calling until something was done to find and rescue it is are heroes to the kitten, but there is a question that remains unanswered: How did the kitten get into the wall.

If there was recent construction on the wall of the building the answer could be simple.  If not, there is an entry point and other animals could wind up in the same place if it is not closed.  This is an issue that needs to be addressed.

It also leads to a story idea:   How did the cat get into the wall?  What else might be in there?

Story challenge:  Anyone interested in trying to write a  story based on that concept and post it for others?  You can post a comment with your story to this blog.


I am a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry. If you are interested in learning more about me or my work, check out my website at http://www.leomaretan.com.

Television Heroes

Heroes and superheroes are popular topics for films these days, causing television to try to get into the act.  With the success of the X-Men and Avengers films in theaters and the series Arrow last season, others are jumping on the bandwagon.  Arrow is returning, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is starting, and there’s talk of a new version of The Flash potentially spinning off Arrow.  Even reality television is joining the party.  Over the summer, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hosted a reality competition called The Hero, which tried to put ordinary people in situations that would make them face their fears.

Superhero series have generally not done well on television in recent years, often dying quickly.  Various people have looked at the reasons for their failure from a television critic’s point of view.  I would like to look at it from a fan’s point of view.

I admit it.  I have watched superheroes on television for most of my life.  When I was young, I used to rush home from school to watch Marvel Superheroes and a Japanese import called Danguard Ace, among others.  Since that time, I’ve seen a great many series come and go, with varying levels of success.  What makes me reject one series and embrace another?

  1. I like my superheroes to be heroic.  Sure, they need to have flaws and weaknesses to make them interesting characters.  They can’t go too far into the “dark side”, though, unless it’s a temporary condition caused by something done to them.  I shudder whenever the critics describe a show or its characters as “edgy” or “out-of-the-box”.  Generally, that translates to “I’m going to hate it”.
  2. The show can’t be too preachy.  The heroes stand for right and justice but they need to show that by their deeds, not through a bunch of boring speeches.
  3. The show needs to have a sense of humor.  Characters that are all business, all the time, are dull.  There needs to be a balance between the world-saving ‘big events’ and the interplay between characters.
  4. The show needs to stay true to the established mythology for the character, when there is one.  If it varies too far, unless there is a rational progression to the change, I will reject it.
  5. While I enjoy exploration of the mythologies, preferring it to the ‘bad guy of the week’ technique of story telling, the writers need to be careful about making the mythology so convoluted that it requires a written flow chart to follow.
  6. I do not want my superheroes either swearing constantly or jumping into bed with everyone in sight.  For me, these are not heroic characteristics.  Quite frankly, I have very limited tolerance for them in any show and I won’t put up with them in my superheroes.

I’ve told you my view of what makes a superhero series good or bad.  What’s your view?

I am a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and poetry. If you are interested in learning more about me or my work, check out my website at http://www.leomaretan.com.

My Biggest Hero

My biggest hero is my father.  He is gone now but, to me, he was everything a hero ought to be.  He didn’t often talk about his beliefs.  That wasn’t his nature.  If you knew him, though, you knew what he stood for because he lived it every day.

He was honest and honorable and didn’t believe in cheating his way to success.  Sometimes that caused him problems.  I remember a case when he prepared his department budget for the following year and was stunned when his superiors cut it by some percentage, 10%, I think.  When he inquired, he was told that was done because “everyone pads their budget.”  He argued with them, explaining that he was not in the habit of doing that and that he would promise to continue to send honest budgets if they would promise not to cut them arbitrarily.

I’m not sure what the resolution of that incident was but it speaks volumes about who he was – always honest and straightforward.

In our world today, sometimes we are often pressured to be otherwise and many of us will give in to the pressure.  Think, though, how much more pleasant the world could be if everyone would conduct their affairs as he did – with honesty and consideration for others.

If you are interested in learning more about me or my work, check out my website at http://www.leomaretan.com.