The Journal of Graduate Liberal Studies

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John Bechtold: "Six White Horses"

John Bechtold is a retired combat veteran and master's student at Duke University in the Graduate Liberal Studies program. With his essay in the current issue of Confluence, and in larger projects still in process, John tells the stories of how our wounded veterans are trying to reclaim their lives after their experiences in war.

John worries about a patriotic narrative that seeks to valorize wounded veterans, suggesting that it may not be a useful frame to inform our understanding of their challenges. These soldiers must cognitively restructure those traumatic events, and they rightfully look to a community for a response to their situation.

John’s approach is to focus on the individual and not make generalized cultural and political statements about nationalism and the moral platitudes of war. John tells the human stories about how these veterans must live today because of their wounds, documenting how Tim, for instance, exists in a world where the slope of a hill and the width of a doorway matters.