Category Archives: Stories

Asked: What is a simple, yet absolutely Beautiful Story?

My  wife and I owned two dogs that we had owned before we met and brought  into the marriage.  Her dog was a pit bull/labrador cross named Zack,  and he hated me.  When our daughter was born, I said to the wife,”If he  so much as nips at the baby, he’s gone.”

We brought our  daughter home in a car seat, and both dogs sniffed and licked her, tails  wagging.  I had to pull Zack away from her because he wouldn’t stop  licking her.  Zack immediately became my daughter’s protector, and when  she was lying on a blanket on the floor, he always had to have one foot  on the blanket.

Zack loved my daughter immensely, and when she  became a little older always walked her to bed, and then slept on the  bed with her. He somehow knew whenever it was time to go upstairs, and  he would wait at the foot of the stairs for her, and then follow her up  to bed.

Zack was poisoned by some dirtbag neighbor kids, and we  had one of the worst days of our lives.  Watching my daughter say  goodbye to him as he laid still on the kitchen floor, my wife and I were  both sobbing.

At 8:00 that night, my daughter walked to the  stairs to go to bed.  At that moment, all three of us realized what was  about to happen.  After 5 years, she didn’t have Zack to accompany her  upstairs.  She looked at her mother and me with a look of horror and  panic.

It was at that moment that my dog, who loved my daughter  dearly, but was not in Zack’s league, stood up, walked over to her, and  nudged her with his head.  He put his foot on the stairs, and looked up  at her.  They walked up to bed, with my daughter holding tightly to his  neck.

For the next 6 years, until he died, Sam waited for her by the stairs each night.

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Since the Iraq war began five years ago, more than 30,000 American servicemen and women—including my husband, Kenny, a Marine master sergeant—have been wounded. In one sense, that’s actually ahopeful number. Battlefield medics these days are so skilled they’re saving soldiers who, in any other war, would’ve died.

That’s what happened to Kenny. During a firefight in Najaf a bullet ricocheted off an armored personnel carrier and pierced his head, entering under his right eye and exiting the left side of his skull. Medics kept him alive long enough to fly to a Baghdad military hospital. In a matter of days he was on his way to America.

Unfortunately, that’s not where the story ends. Not for Kenny, not for anyone else with war wounds, especially the thousands suffering what has become Iraq’s signature injury, traumatic brain damage. For those warriors and their families, a battlefield injury is like the start of a whole new war—not only to heal, but to navigate an often overwhelmed military medical system.

 

 
 

That, too, is what happened to Kenny—and to me. Up to the day Kenny was wounded I was what you could call a typical Marine wife. After—well, let’s just say I’ve discovered a fighting strength I never knew I had.

I first began to realize what we were up against the day Kenny arrived at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It was five days after his injury and I was frantic. The only information I’d had came from patchy cell phone calls to officers and doctors in Iraq.

I’d had to drop everything—I taught aerobics at a YMCA near Camp Pendleton, where we lived with our two teenagers, Tasha and Alishia—figure out who would take care of the girls and board a red-eye to Maryland. I’d even had to put off seeing Kenny to fill out a financial hardship application to afford the rooming house provided for relatives of the wounded.

When I got upstairs to the intensive-care unit I saw a bank of monitors near the nurses’ station. One, identified by Kenny’s Social Security number, glowed with an X ray of a shattered skull. I drew a sharp breath and asked for the room number. I was starting down the hall when a doctor grabbed my arm. “Ma’am, why don’t you sit here first and let me brief you on his injuries.”

I stared at the doctor, incredulous. What could possibly be more soothing to Kenny than the loving presence of his wife? “I’m sorry,” I said. “He needs me. I don’t care how bad he looks. I’ve been waiting five days to see him and I’m going to his room right now.”

 

 
 

The doctor let go of my arm and I hurried to Kenny’s room. I paused at the door to compose myself then walked in. I didn’t recognize him. His head was swollen and disfigured, marked with dried blood and rows of staples. He lay passively, hooked to massive machines.

“Kenny, it’s me,” I said softly, trying not to cry. “Squeeze my hand if you know who I am.” His head didn’t move. But he squeezed my hand.

The following weeks I discovered that the disorienting experiences of those first days were only the beginning. Kenny and I had met in high school, married young, and for the next 17 years, raised our girls on bases around the country.

We knew a lot about being a Marine family. But nothing had prepared me for all the paperwork, decisions and medical terminology that came at us. I didn’t go to college and had no medical or legal training. I had to rely on my wits every time I was asked to sign something.

Early on I was presented with documents that would have retired Kenny from active duty, transferring his care to the Veterans Administration. I didn’t know exactly what that meant. But something about it seemed wrong. Didn’t they think he would get better? I didn’t sign the papers.

I soon realized I had to be equally vigilant about Kenny’s care. His injury had left him with near-total amnesia and great difficulty speaking. Doctors and therapists worked hard with him. Some were incredibly dedicated. But there were many patients on the ward, and the staff was pulled in many directions.

 
 

Sometimes, doctors even had to accompany politicians and other VIPs touring the floor to visit wounded soldiers. As soon as they left I returned to a routine I’d developed. I got Kenny out of bed, washed him, took him around the ward and pointed out rooms with other Marines.

No subject got him talking like his fellow Marines. The week’s highlight was Sunday phone calls from the 15 men he’d commanded in Iraq. That, or me renting movies or talking about Tasha and Alishia.

As weeks went by I felt more confident. I learned every aspect of Kenny’s care, to the point I could do it when nurses weren’t available. I learned enough medical terms to talk knowledgeably with doctors—me, an aerobics teacher!

And I got savvy enough to request a copy of every piece of paper added to Kenny’s medical record. When a new doctor or therapist came in asking Kenny questions he’d answered a thousand times before—or couldn’t answer at all—I pulled out my records and pointed straight to the information.

Just as I was getting the hang of things,  Kenny was transferred to a VA rehabilitation hospital in Palo Alto, California. We were flown in a military transport plane. I had just gotten him settled into his room when a nurse said, “Visiting hours are from 1 to 7 p.m.”

I looked at her, surprised. “I’m sorry, I’m not a visitor. I’m Sgt. Sargent’s wife and have been at his bedside for the last month. He has amnesia. I assumed I’d be sleeping here.”

“Ma’am, here’s a list of nearby hotels.” As I left, I saw Kenny’s eyes widen with fear. I spent an anxious, maddening night at the Hometel, a place for vets to stay during hospital procedures. Not even prayer brought clear answers. My thoughts kept drifting back to myself, to the struggles we’d already been through. It was as if God were saying, Stay strong, Tonia.

At the hospital the next day, I found Kenny still looking terrified. I paged the nurse. “I don’t mean to be a nuisance,” I said, “but there has to be some way for me to stay with my husband. This is a whole new environment for him. I’m the only one he recognizes. What can I do?”

“You can visit during visiting hours.”

A neuropsychologist came in. “Ma’am,” she said, and her voice sounded tired, as if she had a job to do and I was making it harder, “this is your husband’s rehabilitation, not yours. It would be better if you left the work to us. Think of him as being away on a deployment.”

I looked at her, at the nurse. They showed no signs of yielding. Disappointment and anger came over me. What could I do to make them understand? Kenny was better because I’d helped with his care. I glanced at Kenny. His eyes were still frightened.

 

But I saw something else in them too. A glimmer of fight. A glimmer of Kenny, the proud Marine. I thought about myself, a Marine wife. What did that mean? Well, more than I used to think it did. I had already mastered one hospital. Kenny and I had come this far.

Now was not the time to back down. Stay strong, Tonia. I took a deep breath. “I am going to be by my husband’s side. If you won’t help me do that, I’ll find someone who will,” I said.

And that’s what I did. I contacted the local Marine Corps Reserve unit.

I pulled out business cards I’d collected from VIP visitors to Bethesda and called congressional offices. I signed up as a hospital volunteer, giving me no restricted visiting hours. And I offered to help the hospital raise money to build more housing for patients’ loved ones. In short, I became an advocate. I went to war.

Today, four years later, Kenny is back home in Oceanside and I’m still teaching aerobics. Everything else is different. Kenny made a remarkable recovery.

But he is not now, and never will be, the man he was before he shipped out for Iraq. He has retired from the Marines with 21 years of service—we waited to sign papers until he was eligible for a full pension—and is not working. He spends days cooking, cleaning and keeping an eye on the girls.

I’m still an advocate, speaking to church groups and Rotary clubs about the challenges of life after active duty. My message is simple. No matter when the Iraq war ends, the warriors who come home will need more than slogans, more than bumper stickers and ribbon magnets on cars.

 

 

 

Find comfort, humor and knowledge that God’s love extends to all His creatures – human and animal.

 

They’ll need resources to get the health care they need. Support for family members taking part in that care. A lot of prayer. And a nation committed to seeing them through. 

 

Iraqi War Veteran and his Wife

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The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

ImageJuliane Koepcke grew up in Lima, Peru, before moving, at 14, to the Peruvian rain forest, where her parents, Maria and Hans-Wilhelm Koepcke, established the Panguana Ecological Research Station. After two years of accompanying them on research trips into the jungle, Juliane returned to Lima to complete high school.

On December 24, 1971, Juliane, 17, and her mother boarded a flight in Lima bound for Pucallpa, the city with an airport closest to Panguana, to visit her father for Christmas. In her own words:

My days in Lima are wonderful. Despite my jungle experience, I am a schoolgirl. I spend my vacations in Panguana and my school days with classmates in Lima.

My mother prefers to fly to Pucallpa earlier, but a school dance and my high school graduation ceremony are on December 22 and 23, respectively. I beg my mother to let me attend.

“All right,” she said. “We’ll fly on the 24th.”

The airport is packed when we arrive the morning of Christmas Eve. Several flights had been canceled the day before, and hundreds of people now crowd the ticket counters. About 11 a.m., we gather for boarding. My mother and I sit in the second-to-last row on a three-seat bench. I’m by the window as always; my mother sits beside me; a heavyset man sits in the aisle seat. Mother doesn’t like flying. She’s an ornithologist and says it’s unnatural that a bird made of metal takes off into the air.

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Boy with no Legs – Never Gave Up

Naga Naresh Karutura has just passed out of IIT Madras in Computer Science and has joined Google in Bangalore. You may ask, what’s so special about this 21-year-old when there are hundreds of students passing from various IITs and joining big companies like Google?
Naresh is special. His parents are illiterate. He has no legs and moves around in his powered wheel chair.
Ever smiling, optimistic and full of spirit; that is Naresh. He says, “God has always been planning things for me. That is why I feel I am lucky.” Read why Naresh feels he is lucky.

Childhood in a village
I spent the first seven years of my life in Teeparru, a small village in Andhra Pradesh, on the banks of the river Godavari . My father Prasad was a lorry driver and my mother Kumari, a house wife. Though they were illiterate, my parents instilled in me and my elder sister (Sirisha) the importance of studying.
Looking back, one thing that surprises me now is the way my father taught me when I was in the 1st and 2nd standards. My father would ask me questions from the text book, and I would answer them. At that time, I didn’t know he could not read or write but to make me happy, he helped me in my studies!
Another memory that doesn’t go away is the floods in the village and how I was carried on top of a buffalo by my uncle. I also remember plucking fruits from a tree that was full of thorns.
I used to be very naughty, running around and playing all the time with my friends.. I used to get a lot of scolding for disturbing the elders who slept in the afternoon. The moment they started scolding, I would run away to the fields!
I also remember finishing my school work fast in class and sleeping on the teacher’s lap!

January 11, 1993, the fateful day
On the January 11, 1993 when we had the sankranti holidays, my mother took my sister and me to a nearby village for a family function. From there we were to go with our grandmother to our native place. But my grandmother did not come there. As there were no buses that day, my mother took a lift in my father’s friend’s lorry. As there were many people in the lorry, he made me sit next to him, close to the door.
It was my fault; I fiddled with the door latch and it opened wide throwing me out. As I fell, my legs got cut by the iron rods protruding from the lorry. Nothing happened to me except scratches on my legs.
The accident had happened just in front of a big private hospital but they refused to treat me saying it was an accident case. Then a police constable who was passing by took us to a government hospital.
First I underwent an operation as my small intestine got twisted. The doctors also bandaged my legs. I was there for a week. When the doctors found that gangrene had developed and it had reached up to my knees, they asked my father to take me to a district hospital. There, the doctors scolded my parents a lot for neglecting the wounds and allowing the gangrene to develop. But what could my ignorant parents do?
In no time, both my legs were amputated up to the hips.
I remember waking up and asking my mother, where are my legs? I also remember that my mother cried when I asked the question. I was in the hospital for three months.

Life without legs
I don’t think my life changed dramatically after I lost both my legs. Because all at home were doting on me, I was enjoying all the attention rather than pitying myself. I was happy that I got a lot of fruits and biscuits.
‘I never wallowed in self-pity’
The day I reached my village, my house was flooded with curious people; all of them wanted to know how a boy without legs looked. But I was not bothered; I was happy to see so many of them coming to see me, especially my friends!
All my friends saw to it that I was part of all the games they played; they carried me everywhere.
God’s hand. I believe in God. I believe in destiny. I feel he plans everything for you. If not for the accident, we would not have moved from the village to Tanuku, a town. There I joined a missionary school, and my father built a house next to the school. Till the tenth standard, I studied in that school.
If I had continued in Teeparu, I may not have studied after the 10th. I may have started working as a farmer or someone like that after my studies. I am sure God had other plans for me.
My sister, my friend
When the school was about to reopen, my parents moved from Teeparu to Tanuku, a town, and admitted both of us in a Missionary school. They decided to put my sister also in the same class though she is two years older. They thought she could take care of me if both of us were in the same class. My sister never complained.
She would be there for everything. Many of my friends used to tell me, you are so lucky to have such a loving sister. There are many who do not care for their siblings.
She carried me in the school for a few years and after a while, my friends took over the task. When I got the tricycle, my sister used to push me around in the school.
My life, I would say, was normal, as everyone treated me like a normal kid. I never wallowed in self-pity. I was a happy boy and competed with others to be on top and the others also looked at me as a competitor.
Inspiration
I was inspired by two people when in school; my Maths teacher Pramod Lal who encouraged me to participate in various local talent tests, and a brilliant boy called Chowdhary, who was my senior.
When I came to know that he had joined Gowtham Junior College to prepare for IIT-JEE, it became my dream too. I was school first in 10th scoring 542/600.
Because I topped in the state exams, Gowtham Junior College waived the fee for me. Pramod Sir’s recommendation also helped. The fee was around Rs 50,000 per year, which my parents could never afford.
Moving to a residential school
Living in a residential school was a big change for me because till then my life centred around home and school and I had my parents and sister to take care of all my needs. It was the first time that I was interacting with society. It took one year for me to adjust to the new life.
There, my inspiration was a boy called K K S Bhaskar who was in the top 10 in IIT-JEE exams. He used to come to our school to encourage us. Though my parents didn’t know anything about Gowtham Junior School or IIT, they always saw to it that I was encouraged in whatever I wanted to do.. If the results were good, they would praise me to the skies and if bad, they would try to see something good in that. They did not want me to feel bad. They are such wonderful supportive parents.

Life at IIT- Madras
Though my overall rank in the IIT-JEE was not that great (992), I was 4th in the physically handicapped category. So, I joined IIT, Madras to study Computer Science.
Here, my role model was Karthik who was also my senior in school. I looked up to him during my years at IIT- Madras. He had asked for attached bathrooms for those with special needs before I came here itself. So, when I came here, the room had attached bath. He used to help me and guide me a lot when I was here.
I evolved as a person in these four years, both academically and personally. It has been a great experience studying here. The people I was interacting with were so brilliant that I felt privileged to sit along with them in the class. Just by speaking to my lab mates, I gained a lot..
‘There are more good people in society than bad ones’

July 28, 2008
Words are inadequate to express my gratitude to Prof Pandurangan and all my lab mates; all were simply great. I was sent to Boston along with four others for our internship by Prof Pandurangan. It was a great experience.

Joining Google R&D
I did not want to pursue PhD as I wanted my parents to take rest now. Morgan Stanley selected me first but I preferred Google because I wanted to work in pure computer science, algorithms and game theory.
I am lucky. Do you know why I say I am lucky?
I get help from total strangers without me asking for it. Once after my second year at IIT, I with some of my friends was travelling in a train for a conference. We met a kind gentleman called Sundar in the train, and he has been taking care of my hostel fees from then on.
I have to mention about Jaipur foot. I had Jaipur foot when I was in 3rd standard. After two years, I stopped using them. As I had almost no stems on my legs, it was very tough to tie them to the body. I found walking with Jaipur foot very, very slow. Sitting also was a problem. I found my tricycle faster because I am one guy who wants to do things faster.
One great thing about the hospital is, they don’t think their role ends by just fixing the Jaipur foot; they arrange for livelihood for all. They asked me what help I needed from them. I told them at that time, if I got into an IIT, I needed financial help from them. So, from the day I joined IIT, Madras , my fees were taken care of by them. So, my education at the IIT was never a burden on my parents and they could take care of my sister’s Nursing studies.

Surprise awaited me at IIT
After my first year, when I went home, two things happened here at the Institute without my knowledge.
I got a letter from my department that they had arranged a lift and ramps at the department for me. It also said that if I came a bit early and checked whether it met with my requirements, it would be good.
Second surprise was, the Dean, Prof Idichandy and the Students General Secretary, Prasad had located a place that sold powered wheel chairs. The cost was Rs 55,000. What they did was, they did not buy the wheel chair; they gave me the money so that the wheel chair belonged to me and not the institute.

My life changed after that. I felt free and independent. That’s why I say I am lucky. God has planned things for me and takes care of me at every step.

The world is full of good people.

I also feel if you are motivated and show some initiative, people around you will always help you. I also feel there are more good people in society than bad ones. I want all those who read this to feel that if Naresh can achieve something in life, you can too.

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The Story of Bob Marley

Image He was born in the village of Nine Mile, in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica In 1945 His mum was 18years old when a white Marine officer aged 55years impregnated her and left her in poverty with little Marley in a small slum house. Due to poverty she took Marley to his Matrimonial grandfather. They had no money to take Marley to school so Marley hustled and became a bicycle welder to make ends meet but satan could push away the ends anytime they almost met. When Bob Met The Wailers, he fell in love with music and was determined to make it. Atfirst Producers ate all the Wailers money so Bob’s poverty couldnt end even with music. One day he went to his rich white family to ask for a living place and money tohelp his music but they chased him awayand immediately he sang, “THE STONETHAT THE BUILDER REFUSED, SHALL BE THECORNER STONE, THE THINGS PEOPLE REFUSE ARETHE THINGS THEY SHOULD USE.” Bob never gaveup and in 1970, Bob had changedhis management and he conquered the world of music better than the Wailers who left him.
Today, Bob isarguably the father of Reggae because he brought it to theworld. He is the 1st internationalsu perstar from 3rd World. Ironically, Bob became more famous and richer than his white relatives who rejected him. Bob was so rich that when asked by journalists how rich he was, hereplied wisely, “Having Money isn’tbeing rich, but having life is richness”. Bob is the 6th richest Legend today earning around,3,600,00 0,000 dollars per year with the music he made and his family gets the money. The money he got, he used to donate to poor people in Kingston. Imagine an artiste organising a free concert then he pays the fans. Bob was not educated in anyschool buthe said that he’d ratherget inspiration than education. Indeed inspiration is greater than just being educated. Now for you, you might be the stone that the builder/ richness refused, you might have done odd jobs to make ends meet, you might have met greedy producers, your friends might have left you. But when you stay focused with an aim to eliminate your poverty in the name of God, you shall make it and your next generations wont surfer like you.

Remember, poverty ain’t the end, the end is the destination of your hard work.

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Never Give Up – Powerful True Story of Motivation


This man tore his hamstring during the 400 meter in the Olympics, and was so determined to finish the race, that he did. One of the most inspiration videos I have ever seen in sports.

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What made Alexander the Great so Great? – He rocked, shocked, and conquered…Here is how he did it

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Nov. 24, 2004
By ANDRA VARIN
 
 
 Caesar crossed the Rubicon. Napoleon had a good run before he met his Waterloo. But when it comes to capturing the popular imagination, they can’t hold a candle to Alexander the Great.

“When you look at the imagination that was necessary to be Alexander, the effect he had on other people’s imaginations — he was head and shoulders above them,” said Thomas R. Martin, author of “Ancient Greece.”

“Alexander is a legend, but he’s not a myth. He’s real. What he did — for better or worse — shows in the starkest and most exciting terms the lack of limits of human possibility.”

One of the most successful (and some would say the most successful) military commanders of all time, Alexander has been inspiring would-be conquerors for centuries. He’s been immortalized in story and song. The latest movie version of his life, Oliver Stone’s epic “Alexander,” opens today with Irish bad boy Colin Farrell (sporting a bad blond dye job) as the Greek hero who never lost a battle.

“He has no failures,” said Elizabeth Carney, a history professor at Clemson University in South Carolina. “That’s the glamour — he’s the invincible, the unconquered one.”

 

Braving the Unknown

Alexander is a pretty hot property these days. When Stone got the green light for his film, Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge”) was planning his own Alexander picture, with Leonardo DiCaprio tapped to play the conqueror. (That project has now been pushed back.)

The accomplishments of Alexander still sound pretty impressive today: Born in 356 B.C., he became king of Macedonia when he was 20 years old, on the assassination of his father, Philip II. Not long after, he set out in search of glory and had conquered most of the known world by the time of his death in 323 B.C., just before his 33rd birthday.

“He starts in Greece, crosses over what is today Turkey, gets down into today’s Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Then he heads off into Iraq, which was just as dangerous then as it is today,” said Martin, the Jeremiah O’Connor Professor in Classics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “Not only did he get past Iraq, he got into Iran, and he kept going.”

He made it as far as the Indus River, in what is now Pakistan, before his troops demanded they turn back. This is especially impressive, says Martin, because he was taking a leap of faith into the virtually unknown.

“In Alexander’s day, people lived in a world that was conceptually different from ours in the 21st century,” he said. “We know the world is a globe, we’ve seen maps, we have a geographic picture. They didn’t.”

Some latter-day Alexander admirers have posited that the Macedonian set out to bring Hellenistic culture to the rest of world, or to spread Greek ideals of democracy.

Not a chance, says Carney, author of “Women and Monarchy in Ancient Macedonia.”

“He was an absolute monarch,” she said. “He’s conquering to conquer, which is pretty much what conquerors do.”

 

 

Good Guy, Bad Guy, Divine Guy?

In fact, some modern scholars consider Alexander an imperialist who committed atrocities as he battled his way east. Others contend he was comparatively humane for a warrior of his time.

Carney sees Alexander as “scary.”

“I’m not sure that he was unusually bad. I’m not saying he was an evil person. I’m saying he was a scarier person than his father,” she said.

Philip (played by Val Kilmer in the movie) was an extremely successful general, and his victories in Macedonia and Greece created a solid foundation for what would become Alexander’s empire. But Philip was easier to get along with.

“Philip is a sort of Lyndon Johnson-y type or Clinton-y type; he’s a glad-hander,” said Carney. “The kid is stiffer, not so much one of the boys, more humorless.”

Alexander was very much a product of the Homeric world of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” “He is very much compelled by the desire to be a hero in the way that heroes were in Homer,” she said.

Alexander’s own personal hero was Achilles, the Greek warrior who is invincible until one lucky Trojan finds the weak spot on his heel. Alexander claimed descent from both Achilles and Herakles (known as Hercules to the Romans).

“He emulates both heroes, and he takes this heroic emulation much further than anyone else had,” Carney said.

Alexander experienced some kind of epiphany during a visit to the shrine of the god Zeus-Amon in the Egyptian desert. “I think he really did believe he could become a god by the remarkableness of his accomplishments,” Carney said. “I think it’s possible that he believed himself to be the son of Zeus-Amon.”

 

The Relationship Question

Whether or not he believed he had a divine dad, Alexander was certainly influenced by the strength of his mortal mother, Olympias.

“She was one tough cookie,” said Carney, who is working on a book about her. “She certainly kills a few people.”

After Philip’s death, someone disposed of his baby daughter and the child’s mother. That someone was probably Olympias, who would have wanted to rid her son of some potential rivals. “Lots of people think killing the baby is mean and nasty, but it’s clearing off the dynastic ranks,” said Carney. “All the deaths we know her to be responsible for are for political reasons.”

In the new movie, Angelina Jolie plays Olympias as a power-hungry woman who will stop at nothing to turn her son against his father. At 29, the actress is all of a year older than her on-screen son. Since snakes were prominent in the religious rituals the queen practiced, Jolie had to film scenes with serpents writhing at her feet or winding around her neck.

 

There’s been some controversy over the movie’s treatment of Alexander’s relationship with best friend Hephaestion (played by Jared Leto, wearing gobs of eyeliner). Some have been angered by the film’s suggestions of a sexual relationship between the two men — which almost certainly existed. Others think it should have been more explicit: While there’s plenty of innuendo about Alexander’s interest in men, his only sex scene is with a woman.

Whether Alexander was gay, straight or bisexual shouldn’t be an issue, scholars say, because the ancient Greeks just didn’t think that way.

“You have to remember that ancient conceptions of sexuality don’t map exactly onto ours, and you could have loving, even sexual, relationships with persons of the opposite sex and persons of the same sex,” said Martin.

Scholars think Alexander was probably married three times, mostly for political reasons. He also had a longtime mistress named Barsine (who isn’t in the movie). He had two young sons, neither of whom survived him very long. But Carney thinks Alexander was always more interested in military conquest than in sex of any sort.

 

Going Downhill

Nevertheless, when Hephaestion died, Alexander was consumed by grief. He was already on edge because his army, exhausted after more than a decade of fighting, had flatly refused to push on into India.

“The traditional interpretation is that he worsens in character in the later stages of life,” said Carney. “Most people who want to modernize it go with clinical depression.”

Alexander also — like many of his time — was a heavy drinker. When he fell ill in Babylon, he knocked back a lot of wine, which undoubtedly made things worse. He died in Babylon on June 10, 323 B.C.

No one knows for sure what caused his high fever. At the time, poison was widely suspected. But in an age when there were no antibiotics, any minor illness could prove fatal. The general consensus is that he died of natural causes.

It’s tempting to imagine what else Alexander might have conquered if he had lived longer. One thing is sure, said Martin: “Alexander was never going to stop.”

 

 
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Unsung Hero of 9/11

The Story of an Unsung 9/11 Hero

by  Sep 11, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

Twelve years ago today, Benjamin Clark saved hundreds of lives in the South Tower. But he wasn’t a firefighter or a cop. Michael Daly on what we can learn from the courageous chef

    At midnight every September 11, Elsie Clark hangs a banner on the fence alongside the front-yard memorial to the 39-year-old son who perished at the World Trade Center.

“In Loving Memory
Benjamin Keefe Clark
9/11/01”

130910-daly-clark2-tease
Benjamin Clark remained in the South Tower of the World Trade Center helping countless to safety. (Louis Lanzano/AP; Clark Family)

The son was not a firefighter or a police officer.

He was a chef.

But a morning that began with him preparing meals for the people at the Fiduciary Trust Company suddenly led to him becoming as brave as any first responder. A Fiduciary official would later credit Clark with saving hundreds of lives as he made sure that everyone in his department along with everybody else in the company’s 96th floor offices in the South Tower was safely exiting the building. Continue reading

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