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Earned Innocence: Camaraderie while taking on the world alone is mandatory. Paperback – September 28, 2017
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About the Author
C.M. Halstead is product of 40 plus years of travel and exploration; a childhood as an Air Force brat and service in the Marine Corps changed him forever. He managed 84 people, negotiated multi-million dollar contracts, drove Jeeps professionally — usually at crazy angles and locals. An astute believer in adventure, he is now doing the craziest thing ever, pursuing his passion full out and creating a body of works. Ready or not, here he comes! Are you ready to join in as he takes you on one wild ride after another? Free your mind to worlds that may or may not be reality.
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Where does one begin to tell you about one of the most emotional books I’ve read in some time. I guess by telling you that “Earned Innocence” by C.M. Halstead is just an incredible, thought provoking and very moving and real piece of literature. As a Veteran I want to thank Chris for writing such a moving story and allowing me the opportunity to read it before it’s release in September of this year. It was a pleasure and an honor. Also thank you for your ability to pen this story in such a way that makes the reader stop, think and reflect. I was transported back to my days in basic training and my time in the United States Air Force the entire time I was reading this book. Although I entered the military at the end of the Vietnam conflict in 1974, and never saw any kind of action, this book was still very relevant and comes as close to Non Fiction that fiction can allow. C.M. related that writing this Military Fiction was quite cathartic. I must say that that feeling came through in the telling of this story. I would also say that in categorizing this book it goes well beyond the “Military Fiction” genre. I would consider this a work of “Contemporary Literature”, and also a “Coming of Age” story. I highly recommend this read for any Veteran or non Veteran who has to deal with any kind of unresolved demons in their life. Brilliant...that about sums up my feelings.
The protagonist at age 17, feed up with and bored with school, and having no desire to continue his education by going to college decides to join the military, as it is part of his lineage. So he and a buddy from his hometown decide to join the United States Marines. He endures and completes boot camp and goes on to and completes Recon School. Soon after completion he and his unit go on their first mission. The location of the mission is unknown and on a need to know basis, so all he has to go by to figure out where they are at any point in time is their surrounding landscape. Although they are there to observe and report they are witness to carnage and genocide of civilians including children and women. This image will stay with him for some time...after the second mission he is injured and decides to be medically discharged opposed to taking a desk job.
Fast forward 20 years...the protagonist unable to deal with his demons makes his home in the wilderness, living in the deserts, forests or wherever he ends up. While in the wilderness hiking he meets a young lady who has fallen off a cliff. It turns out she’s a nurse and hikes the area from time to time. She comes and goes and on one particular hiking excursion she decides to try and get him to tell her why he lives in the wilderness.
Coming home in a physical sense doesn’t mean you are home. It’s going to take a battle with his demons to finally find a path home….
Now imagine you decide to look into that box, to see what it is you can unload, so it is less burdensome, to try and let go. However much like Pandora’s, the “things” that come out are unspeakable; horrifying images of what man does to man in the name of war. Not only did you see those images for real versus the movies like most, you are in this very real movie, playing the leading role, committing acts never to be spoken of again, all in the name of patriotism.
If you or someone you know is active military, first responder, veteran, et al… Earned Innocence will lighten the load of that box full of memories. This triumphant story empowers all of us to be better and do better, fight the battle with integrity and come back whole.
Who should read it? Vets, of course, and the women who love them. Military families and media companies who may have up to now upheld only the mindsets necessary for war, at the expense of the benefits of peace. For while it is based on a true story, and told wholly in Truth, (although in Kesey's words, “even if it didn't happen”), Earned Innocence blazes a trail out of hell for us all, finally reclaiming those left behind, by showing them how to apply their warrior's code in fighting the toughest battle of all, that of taking back that hill they once called home, and in so doing, earning in themselves the right to believe they can re-enter the green valley beyond.
Through Halstead's stream of consciousness, you know this guy. You know the man who was once a boy, and you know the heart of the man inside a marine. He's the guy you've seen on the corner with a cardboard sign, or in your living room at 2 a.m., staring blankly at the TV. Maybe you've both admired and loathed the marine inside your man's heart. Doing his job. Ignoring the pain. Doing his job. Keeping it bottled in. Doing his job. Not showing weakness that could hurt his unit, which is now his family.
To the proud Vet, Halstead seems to be saying “Got your discharge? You're not done yet, Buddy. Don't quit on yourself. Move swiftly and silently through a sleeping society, avoiding the tripwires of ignorance and the pitfalls of depression, never looking away from your area of responsibility in fighting your way back.”
Do we have a part in this? Halstead is again thankfully relentless, exposing the inner world of the Returned to us, showing us how to reach out to our Vets and actively welcome them home. In the process, Earned Innocence impels us to be better people, not by command, but by slowly, gently, welcoming us into our own better selves.
Producer, Male 2010