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Memorial Day, 2017

History of Memorial Day

Let’s take a look at the holiday marking the official beginning of summer and America’s most solemn occasion.
(Source: History of Memorial Day – The History Channel)

America’s most solemn holiday — A day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while defending their nation.

During the Civil War 600,000 soldiers were killed. Mourners in both the North and South began placing flags and flowers on graves of fallen soldiers. On May 5, 1866, Waterloo New York’s citizens closed their shops and businesses so that everyone could decorate the graves of the men killed during the war.

An old war general and leader of the Union Veteran Association, John A. Logan, spearheaded an effort to unite all the decoration services into one national holiday, designating May 30th as Decoration Day.

2017- Virginia Confederate Veteran’s Decorated Grave  (Click on image to see  details.)

Decoration Day grew throughout the 19th century and by the end of the century was renamed Memorial Day. By the end of World War I, May 30th became a day to honor all soldiers who died in battle as far back as the revolutionary war.

The first unknown soldier was interred in Arlington Cemetery on Armistice day in 1921. Every Memorial day unknown soldiers are honored in a wreath-laying ceremony conducted by the President or Vice President of the USA. They are reminders of all of those who never made it home. Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, and Congress shifted it from May 30th to the 4th Monday in May.

All across America, veterans and civilians still gather in parades and vigils to remember the generations who gave their lives for their nation’s freedom.

Source: History Channel – The History of Memorial Day

Memorial Day – 35 years ago and today

behavior modification, straight inc, seed inc.
Report that states that the Seed, Inc. (a.k.a. Straight, Inc.) uses highly refined “brainwashing” techniques used by the Koreans in the early 1950s

How fitting, in my view, that 35 years ago today on Memorial day weekend, I was unexpectedly (and unjustly) thrown into Straight, Inc. This life experience was what initially taught me what “freedom and justice for all” truly were when both were promptly ripped away from me. Had my father, who was a Korean War veteran, lived through the Straight, Inc experience, he would be mortified to learn what actually went on behind closed doors in this program. I am confident that he would be horrified that he risked his life in the Korean Conflict, only to have his child subjected to the same tactics used on the American Prisoners of War in Korea.

It saddens me that young men, like Sean Cutsforth (one of my son’s peers), who are still giving their lives for this country’s freedom are being dishonored by businessmen like Mel Sembler (commercial real estate capitalist and Straight, Inc. co-founder), who abuse their freedom to advance their own interests.

My dream is to one day have the United States of America show its appreciation and honor for all of the fallen soldiers who have fought for freedom and liberty, by allowing freedom and justice to be equal for all USA citizens regardless of the amount of money they have in their bank account.

Memorial Day – a day to recognize PTSDPTSD

For all of the soldiers that gave their lives, there are also soldiers who survived their ordeal and came back home broken from their experiences. Some of these soldiers have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many civilians who have been exposed to traumatic events also suffer from PTSD.

Often people who suffer from PTSD experience anniversary reactions, which you can read about here.

It is important that more scientific research is conducted in pursuance of knowledge about how to best recognize, understand and treat PTSD.

Project Straight Ink hopes to dedicate a portion of this website to the latest studies in PTSD, to help all Americans who have suffered from PTSD

Memorial Day – the Unofficial Start of Summer

arlington national cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery

As stated on the history channel video, “On a less somber note, many people take weekend trips or throw parties and barbecues on the Memorial Day holiday, perhaps because it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.”

Some people get angry that the meaning of Memorial Day seems to be growing distant with more focus being on the unofficial start of summer. I think parties and barbecues are a wonderful way to celebrate the freedoms we have, as long as we first remember what freedom is, what it costs and to remember those who have paid with their lives to preserve the freedoms we still have.

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The Seeds of Resilience

Learning from the past, and seeds of resilience.

//Resilience is defined as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences, according to the American Psychological Association as stated in their guide, The Road to Resilience.

One of the steps on the road to resilience, as stated in the guide mentioned above, is learning from your past.  We must examine the past to learn from it. In part, provides information to help those who have had experiences in abusive and fraudulent treatment programs review the past and learn what happened, how and why these things were ever allowed to happen, and how and why survivors reacted as they did. In turn, survivors will discover what they have been through and decide how to use these insights in a positive manner in the future.

[bctt tweet=”It’s definitely necessary to go back and reinterpret past events to find the strengths you have” username=”projstraightink”]

Reasons to review the past

Another reason to review our past experiences in bogus treatment programs is to investigate how these programs were legally allowed to exist back then and how they continue to exist without suffering any legal consequences despite repeated complaints and probes into these businesses. (Straight, Inc. opened its doors for business September of 1976, by November of 1977 a formal inestigation was being conducted due to complaints, yet the continued to freely operate for decades before changing their name and opening new spin off programs–some of which are still in operation today.)

Even if no one figures out how to prevent these harmful businesses from hanging their shingles, at the very least, we hope to educate the parents of today and of the future about the dangers of entrusting your child to a program without first researching its background history and credentials.

Yet another aim of this site is to be a resource of information that may help survivors move beyond understanding their past experiences to cultivate that knowledge into new strengths and insights.

[bctt tweet=”Some people not only bounce back but succeed in unimagined ways” username=”projstraightink”]

Sheryl Sandberg’s, (Facebook COO) speaks about resilience in her 2016 commencement speech to UC Berkeley

“The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events of our lives.” ~Sheryl Sandberg


“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It’s a muscle. You can build it up, and then draw on it when you need it. In that process, you figure out who you really are and you just might become the very best version of yourself.” ~Sheryl Sandberg

More Resources on Resilience:

The American Psychological Association has several resources about resilience at this link.

Psychology Today Magazine also carries several articles about resilience.

Here is a great example of a survivor resilience: Laura Faehner Reed’s story.


Do you have a story of resilience? 

What are you grateful for?

Please let us read it in the comments below.


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Do You Experience ‘Anniversary Reactions’?

May 29th

Each year on May 29th, I remember the day that my life took an irreversible turn. I tend to mark that day as the last day of my naiveté and the last day of my childhood. That was the day, I unexpectedly found myself in the Straight, Inc. program.

‘Anniversary Reactions’ is the name that social scientists have given the phenomenon in which many people experience intensified memories, and/or emotions on the anniversary date of a traumatic event.

According to an APA article (

Anniversary dates of traumatic events can reactivate thoughts and feelings from the actual event, and survivors may experience peaks of anxiety and depression, according to psychologist Susan Silk, PhD, of APA’s Disaster Response Network.

Around the anniversary of a traumatic event, people are likely to remember events clearly and many will feel emotions more intensely than usual. Reliving the sadness is a very natural part of the healing process. But there is no one right way to heal. Try not to compare your reactions to those of others. Each person is different, and each individual will find his or her own way of coping with the memories.

Some of the reactions those affected may experience as the anniversary date nears include difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, irritable outbursts, nightmares, difficulty falling or staying asleep and feelings of detachment from others.

According to the Veterans Administration

Most people will feel better within a week or two after the anniversary. Over time, the stress symptoms will decrease in both frequency and severity. Providers can suggest strategies to help survivors through the anniversary period. For example, survivors may find it helpful to make specific plans for the anniversary day so that they have other things to occupy their time besides memories of the event. Some may choose to participate in a commemorative ceremony such as visiting a grave, making a charitable donation, giving blood, helping others, or dedicating the day to spending time with family.

It is common for people who did not seek help for the original trauma to feel ashamed that they are still suffering months or years later. However, the fact that someone did not seek help may itself be symptomatic of trauma-related avoidant behaviors and can be viewed as a signal that professional help should be sought.

Unanswered questions about the skeleton in the closet

Before I began to research the facts surrounding the ‘skeleton in my closet,’ my anniversary date was filled with questions about the how’s and why’s of the Straight, Inc. program, followed by anger towards my parents for initiating the action, then allowing the ordeal to continue. I was ashamed of the skeleton in my closet even though I knew I it was a ‘fake skeleton,’ placed in my closet by others. I couldn’t reconcile the feelings I had with the events that occurred. Nothing made sense.

The mixed emotions and confusion are (among other things) what propelled me to research the exact nature of the Straight, Inc. program and eventually work to expose the nature of the Straight, Inc. programs and other similar institutional or residential settings.

Acceptance, and planning for peace and gratitude

For me, learning the truth was the first step in my being able to make some sense of the conflict I would experience each year on the anniversary date of entering the program. Each year, May 29th, still makes its presence known in my life, even though it all began thirty-four years ago. I suspect it will always be one of those dates in which I remember each minute detail of everything that I experienced on that particular day in my life, and because I imagine that this date will always stand out above all others, I have made peace with it.

Each year I view the date as a day of gratitude. I make sure I plan activities that take me outside (to represent my freedom from a warehouse) regardless of the weather, though so far the weather has generally been very good on this day. I usually plan at least one solo action (which represents my freedom from being watched and controlled by others 24/7), and if at all possible I plan something that involves water—either going to a beach, swimming in a pool or walking around a lake. (This represents the trip to the beach that never occurred because it was the pretense under which my parents dishonestly lured me into the dreaded warehouse).  I celebrate my survival, my health, my freedom, the love in my life and all of my good fortune.

Was it always like this? No. But it is today and has been for a while and with continued good fortune it will remain this way.

Everyone copes differently

I respect that everyone copes differently, but I also want to put this challenge out there for any willing takers: Each time the anxiety, anger, depression, etc. find their way into your life, go find a way to recognize the good in your life, perhaps help others who are less fortunate, or at the very least, do something nice for yourself.

This year on May 29th, I hope to visit the Korean War Veteran Memorial in homage to my father. I remember my father calling the Korean War, the “Forgotten War.” It was downplayed and considered a ‘conflict’ rather than a war. Because, according to a writer on this site (, Even though it was the first “hot” conflict of the Cold War, the Cold War was still young and not wholly appreciated for how it would grip American society. 

I’ve been reading through letters that my father wrote  while he was fighting in the Korean War.  As I read them, I feel a deep empathy for this young man who found himself in a frightening, unwanted situation in a foreign land. I wish I could talk to my father about my own experiences and hear about his, and compare notes. But as you may have read in an earlier post he didn’t survive the program.

He turned 53 years old eleven days before he died on May 11th, just short of my one year anniversary in the program. I believe the excessive stress he experienced in the program put the final nail in his coffin. So to honor a man who gave a lot in the under-recognized (during his lifetime) Korean War and who gave his life believing he was saving mine in another under-recognized war (“the drug war”), I will spend some time contemplating our lives in the presence of the ‘Korean War soldiers.’ After that I hope to visit a nearby park with a beautiful lake and end the day enjoying my home and my neighborhood at the fourth annual neighborhood Memorial Day bash.

What will you do on your next ‘anniversary’?

Add your answers to the comments below, in case your ideas can help out another survivor who is reading this.

For further reading on this topic, search “anniversary reactions.”

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