Victoria Day 2023: “Whatta Ya Doin’ For May Two-Four?”

By: James M. Leslie

This exciting question is on the minds of many Canadians as we get closer and closer to the month of May. This long weekend at the end of the month stands as an exciting milestone in any Canadian year. For many it marks the beginning of the summer season, when warm weather begins and summer holidays are fast approaching. It is a time where we get together with friends and family, take some time away from the difficulties of life, and really unwind with some fantastic summer-themed activities. 

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Interview with Ben Inks, Author of Soft Targets

Author of “Soft Targets,” a collection of short stories that launches on 18 May, 2023, is Benjamin Inks. A Purple Heart recipient, Benjamin served three years in the Army and has worked an odd array of jobs—private investigator, personal trainer, peer recovery at a crisis receiving center. So far, the highlight of his résumé was teaching literature as a grad student at George Mason University.

Phil: I have a lot of questions that I want to ask, but maybe the best place to start is at the beginning. What was your motivation to join the Army?

I don’t know anymore. I remember it being the plan when I was a knucklehead in middle school, which is strange because I have difficulty forming long-term goals now that I’m grown, and I can’t imagine how/why I’d have such conviction at that age. No one in my immediate family served, though I have an uncle in Kansas who also earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam with the same unit as me (The 173rd Airborne Brigade). I didn’t know this prior to enlistment, but we’ve since had great fun reconnecting.

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Vimy Ridge – A Memory of War

Mist gathers at the edges of distant forests.

A vast, emerald field in northern France lined with neatly maintained trenches, scars from long ago. A lonely paved road leading up to a towering white limestone structure reaching up into the sky. It is covered with figures, stone faces staring out across the field. Some in triumph, some at peace, and some in grief, tears frozen on cold stone cheeks, never to fall to the ground. A solemn list of names etched into the stone, a reminder of those who gave their lives here on this soil. The Canadian National Vimy Memorial.

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On the Rocks

After The Chicago East India Company was published in July I wasn’t able to write a word. I shied away from it, and only recently started knocking the rust off the brakes. In doing so I realized what I learned writing the book. Mostly, it’s that I am afraid I have nothing else to say. I no longer have mountains, or patrols, or excitement to frame a story. I have, however, counted the number of beeps my car makes when I don’t put on my seatbelt. It’s 50 by the way, then a pause, and then 50 more. Every now and then I’ll go shooting with my son, but it’s controlled and safe, and while that is a good thing, it only leaves a thousand loads of laundry to write about. So, I’ve decided to lean into what helped me write the book in the first place. To lean into the inspiration to start again. For lack of a more sophisticated word, it’s “place.” 

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Terrorism on the brain – is there a cure for that?

We humans worry about a lot of stuff, don’t we?  Did I leave the burner on when I left the house?  Did I remember to pay the hydro bill?  Do I have enough money in my change purse for a double-double (not a Double Dagger!) at Timmies?  Ok, maybe not the last one so much the last one since everyone uses debit cards these days!

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Good Morning, Vietnam and more!

In one of the first chapters in our book Hot Mics and TV Lights: The American Forces Vietnam Network, my co-author, Rick Fredericksen, a newscaster at AFVN-Saigon himself, wrote, “One of the worst miscalculations in movie history was averted by raw perseverance and auspicious luck. Studio bosses were afraid to commission a Vietnam War movie that would make audiences laugh. One ABC executive scolded producer Ben Moses when he pitched Good Morning, Vietnam as a TV movie of the week: “She basically threw a book at me, figuratively, and told me how dare I try to do something funny about Vietnam.”

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Teacher, Trainer, Soldier, Fraud

A wise woman once said: “PFC, money and titles don’t mean shit to me. My heroes have always worn combat boots.” A curious statement, given she was a civilian addressing me by rank and not by name. But I’ve come to view this slogan—this attitude, this ethos—as a subtle reminder to value a person not for what they have achieved but for who they are and (perhaps) who they aspire to become.

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A book on terrorism in Canada? You’re kidding, right?

We Canadians have to acknowledge that we are one lucky nation.  Not only are we a staggeringly gorgeous land but we live in a stable democracy, have a neighbour with whom we are on good terms (usually!), and are seen by most other countries in a very, very good light.  It is surely not a coincidence that many people seek to emigrate to Canada (our nasty winters notwithstanding!).

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