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Don't Dread Suffering': Read the Incredible Words of Vietnam POW Hugh Stafford


"Adversity is a horrible thing to waste."

(Photo via Veteran Tributes)

(Photo via Veteran Tributes)

The family of former Navy Commander Hugh Stafford, who became a prisoner of war in 1967 Vietnam, joined Glenn Beck on TheBlaze TV Wednesday to honor Stafford and speak about what we can learn from his sacrifice.

Captain Charlie Plumb, a former Navy fighter pilot and cellmate of Stafford for their last years in captivity, also appeared on the program.

Beck began with an explanation of how his path crossed with the Stafford family's, before reading one of Stafford's letters that now sits framed in his office.

Scrawled on the inside of a cigarette carton, Beck described Stafford's letter as "profound."  It reads:

“Don’t dread suffering. It only makes it worse. Anticipate it. Predict it. Even exaggerate it in your anticipation of it. Don’t fight a neurosis or a symptom of one. It may be a friend in disguise, a mere symptom of a deeper disturbance rendered less severe by it. A neurosis may well be a vital protective shield. Detach yourself from it. Predict it. Exaggerate. Laugh at it. It can safely and effectively be ridiculed away but not torn away. Try to find ‑‑ try to find meaning in this every circumstance. Meaning varies with the individual and with every circumstance. With him ‑‑ or with me it may vary by the hour. The meaning for a particular moment may simply be to endure that moment in a manner in which you can be proud of. But beware of false pride. Don’t expect too much. Perhaps in retrospect it will show that it was meaningful enough just to have endured, to have survived, to try. Perhaps at the end of it, it is just as meaningful to look back and say 'I tried' as it would be to say 'I succeeded.'"

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Plumb said they had two choices while imprisoned.  They could walk three steps, hit a wall, turn around and do it again -- thinking all the while -- or they could lay in the corner and die.

Both chose to keep walking, and to keep thinking.

Plumb described the struggles of the men in prison -- how, though they were living in hell, some were concerned about going home.  What if everyone had moved on?

"A lot of the veterans had come back to very angry crowds," he added. "They couldn't wear their uniforms or they'd be spit on when they got off the airplane."

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After a discussion with Stafford's wife Sharyl about the "strange" way they met (her word choice), Beck asked Plumb what lessons can be learned from their unimaginable experience.

He replied: "One is, you're stronger than you think you are.  And if you want to see the real strength of the generation, look to the military."

Plumb continued: "[The other is], adversity is a horrible thing to waste.  If we waste the adversity by blaming other people for our problems, feeling sorry for ourselves, and denying that we have any control over our destiny, then we waste that opportunity that adversity gives to us."

Watch the entire segment via TheBlaze TV, below:

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