Commitment and courage go hand in hand, don’t they? You can’t really have one without the other. And when they’re done consistently, trust is inevitably the outcome. But how have other people done this well?
Let’s review some additional life and leadership principles that are amazingly demonstrated in our new book Captured by Love: Inspiring Tree Romance Stories from Vietnam POWs. So many of these love and marriage lessons and principles apply at work and vice versa.
Commitment in the POW Camps
In the POW camp, we were all committed to our country and our military mission. But for clarity, it was a blessing that we had been required to memorize the Military Code of Conduct[i]—six articles that emphasized our loyalty to our country, our leaders, and our team. We would resist the enemy’s efforts to exploit us for their purposes. But once the torture started, it was courage that enabled us to suffer to keep our commitments. It provided the critical consistency and unity that we needed to stay committed.
Commitment at Home
Back home, most of our wives and families stayed committed to us and that often meant that they had to resist the policy of “Keep Quiet” of our own government until they could convince our leaders to go public.
Can you imagine the humble ladies that adapted to courageously confront the President of the United States and the Secretary of Defense and their agencies to convince them to “Speak Up” about our bad treatment? How inspiring!
Balancing the Scale of Trust
“Keeping your commitments is essential to be a person of character in all situations because without it, people will lose their trust in you.” [Tweet This]
And as we all know, trust is the anchor for all good relationships. Also, it was very clear in our stories that commitment and courage were the foundation requirements for POWs and wives to learn to adapt their behaviors to succeed in difficult situations.
In the book, the 20 stories of couples move back and forth between the POWs in cells and the wives of the POW/MIAs back home. The risks by everyone to keep their commitments gives motivating examples that highlight this month’s focus.
My brief coaching clip this month goes deeper on this topic. Please watch, and then continue reading the blog below –
A Tale of Two Heroes
This story highlights the courageous commitment of Paul and Phyllis Galanti. Paul is an outgoing, fun guy and a Navy fighter/attack pilot who was a POW for more than six years. Yet, he courageously used his quick thinking and courage to outsmart our captors and make them look bad when they used a foreign journalist/photographer to snap his picture.
Paul and I were cellmates, and he was a great risk taker and always spoke positively to encourage us that we should and could keep our commitments. And like him, my other cellmates demonstrated courageous resistance.
His wife Phyllis was a very reserved and shy person, who did not like to speak in front of a group. Yet she traveled to European countries and the Paris Peace talks to confront Vietnamese diplomats about our inhumane treatment.
Because of her commitment, she courageously led the National League of Wives as state president in Virginia and later became the Chairman of the National League of POW/MIA wives and families.
Two Love Stories and a Thriller
Out on the west coast, there was another great example of commitment and courage- Carole and Steve Hanson and then Carole and Jim Hickerson.
Carole Hanson was married to Steve, a Marine helicopter rescue pilot. Steve was deployed to the War while Carole was eight months pregnant with their first child. A few months later Steve was shot down and was MIA for almost six years. After a couple of years of keeping quiet, she decided to speak up about the POW/MIA situation—the North Vietnam Communist (our captors) were not abiding by the Geneva Conventions[ii]. She wrote a letter requesting public support for the POW/MIA situation and sent hundreds of letters to newspapers asking them to publish it. Many of them did and she was a key mover and shaker in getting the early League of Wives moving.[iii]
As the League got going, Carole encouraged the launch of the POW/MIA bracelets that became so crucial to the rapid expansion of support across the US for POW/MIAs. She was even able to get Hollywood stars like John Wayne to wear her husband’s bracelets.
Unfortunately, Steve Hanson did not come home—but soon Carole met a returning POW whose wife had moved on to divorce him. The empathy between them grew from a spark to a giant flame in a few months and they have been committed to each other in marriage for almost 49 years now.
What’s Your Commitment Story?
These two stories are incredible examples of commitment that had different outcomes, but in Carole’s case soon turned into a beautiful love story that endures forever.
What’s your commitment story? Please share it with us, and remember at home and at work, commitment is essential but can only be kept through courage.
LE [Tweet This Article]
Amazon Bestseller! 20 Top Gun Romance Stories
Captured by Love shares the real love stories of 20 Vietnam War POWs. Some had wives who started a movement that changed American foreign policy. Others came home and had to start over, while five single men met the loves of their lives.
Former POW Lee Ellis and love expert Greg Godek take you on a dramatic journey of faithfulness, passion, excitement, resilience, and practical love lessons from these couples.
New Amazon Bestseller in the Military Families and Survival Biographies & Memoirs
Order Your Copy on Amazon.com
Read some sample stories
[i] You can read it as the first “Historical Highlight” on page 18 of the new book Captured by Love.
[ii] The Geneva Conventions were a set of treaties after WWII that required signers to provide captured soldiers with lenientand humanetreatment. Also, they required that the captors give the names of all those held in prison and let the world know who was not captured.
[iii] The League of Wives soon transitioned to the National League of POW/MIA families mentioned earlier.