The Marine on the Mat | Retired Master Sergeant Lee Beckler


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conversation with retired Master Sergeant Lee Beckler. Powerful, moving, inspiring.

"I’m a damn Marine and haven’t cried in a hundred years."

After sharing this photograph of highly decorated Marine, Lee Beckler, he sent me a letter. A portrait of a soldier is never complete until they tell their story. The series was shot at the California Sculpture Academy and is called "Breaking the Mould." The title did not come until after we created in the dust and clay filled sculpture studios. In his own words, United States Marine Corps Master Sergaent Lee Beckler:

I saw the photo of me sitting on the mat and fell apart for the rest of the day. I couldn’t even comment on the photo. I tried, but I couldn’t. I would just reach over and click “like” on different comments. I’m sure you are wondering what the hell I am talking about and why I am so messed up. My wife was wondering as well. I didn’t know how to explain it to her so I just grabbed my laptop and started typing. Attached is what I ended up with.

You brought up demons, ghosts, horrors, and love … so much love. I’m a damn Marine and haven’t cried in a hundred years. This one photo tore me all the way down. I needed this release.


Have you ever noticed that when two people look at a piece of art that they usually focus on something different? Abstract art is a great example. You may see a horse running through the woods while another sees a narwhal swimming in the frigid ocean. In this photo, you probably see a man in uniform sitting on a yoga mat in an art studio with a dusty floor. Well, I am that man. Let me tell you what I see.

I see a child that was beaten by his alcoholic father. “I probably deserved it.” [ scrape away some clay ]

He beat my mother in front of me and my brothers. “She DIDN'T deserve it.” [ scrape away ]

Finally, after all these years she is leaving him. [ more dust on the floor ]

Why am I getting tossed back and forth??? [ dust ]

My best friend killed himself. We’re just kids! [ scrape, press, dust ]

I have to move out on my own, get a job, pay my bills and finish high school on my own. [ more dust ]

I am trying hard to make dad proud but nothing is working. I’ll try harder. [ scrape ]

I have to get away from here but how? I’ll join the military, that’ll make him proud. No. [ squeeze ]

Going to war. I want to go. I need to go. [ press ]

My best friend was burned so badly that I didn’t recognize him when he asked for help. [ take more off ]

Back from war. He’ll be proud. No. [ dust ]

He died. Damn it!! Why?? Just once!! Why didn’t you say those words??? PROUD. [ f!@k ]

Regroup. My family. My career. Focus. [ dust ]

Failed marriage. Kids won’t speak to me. I’m alone. [ mud, dust, scrape ]

Career. New love. New life. Hope. [ dust ]

Another war, deployments, will she put up with it?? Will she put up with me?? [ scrape away ]

Dave .. my friend, my mentor, my Marine brother. Why?? Why did you do it?????? [ hell, f!@k, dust ]

She did it. She stayed with me. How?? [ dust ]

She shared her breath, her life, her yoga. I can sleep!!!! I can breathe. I can rest. [ dust ]

This is what I see coming from the clay. Namaste

United States Marine, Lee Beckler, founder of one of the most beautiful yoga studios I've had the honor of passing through - Sage Yoga Studios ~ Fallbrook, California.

Lee retired in 2009 as a Master Sergeant after serving 20 years in the Marines. ———————————————————————————————————————

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