Posts Tagged ‘Veterans’

I have two brothers, both Vietnam Vets, who will not be marching in a Memorial Day Parade tomorrow. One step-brother Eric, a dentist in St Louis, has been involved with the “Take Me Home Huey” traveling helicopter memorial and documentary film:

Steve Maloney’s mixed-media sculpture Take Me Home Huey is composed of a transformed boneyard U.S. Army Huey helicopter that served as an air ambulance during the Vietnam War.  The historic helicopter was shot down in 1969 during a medical rescue in Vietnam. The serial number of the Huey is 67-17174; the aircraft is commonly known as #174.  The crew chief Gary Dubach and the medic Stephen Schumacher died bravely during the medical rescue attempt.  https://takemehomehuey.org

Eric had returned home to the states for a one month leave when his Med-Evac helicopter was shot down. Two men lost their lives; in fact, my brother, who was the Aircraft Commander/pilot, and a Gunner are the only two from his unit who are still alive.

Dr Jim, my psychologist brother in MN, told me this morning he was over there (in Vietnam) “Keeping us safe from Communism,” while Bob and I were protesting the war and trying to get him back home – and NOT in a body bag. It was our modern day Civil War, re-electing Richard Nixon nearly killed me. I can imagine Jim smiling as he recounted this – he was a First Lieutenant, an Intelligence Officer. He spoke a few languages and was stationed in Saigon. Jim rarely talks about the past and will be preparing a spare bedroom tomorrow for his sisters’ visit in the near future.

And although they didn’t grow up together as brothers, they have grown closer over the years partially due to their combat brotherhood. Our older brothers, Mike, a Korean Vet and Brian, career Air Force, have been gone for a few years now.

In our hometown, Great Grandma Ada’s husband, Hudson Favell, will be sitting in the lead Jeep for the Memorial Day Parade. A Navy Vet, he served in the Pacific during WWII; 92 years old now, he was the only grandfather my children ever had. And he’s been a doozy! Always carving wood totem poles and helping us out on any half-baked renovation project we could think of. They married when the Bride turned two under the same tree as our wedding, in the same parking lot, in front of Ada’s house.

Everywhere he goes people thank him for his service. In an elevator in the rehab a woman shouted into his ear that she’s a history teacher and was just teaching her kids about WWII. She bent down to his wheel chair and shook his hand. Vietnam Vets never really got a thank you, the Korean Conflict wasn’t even considered a war, I wonder what our Afghanistan and Iraq Vets are hearing.

On this Memorial Day, I will toast all those who served honorably and less than honorably. Those who committed suicide and those who died in combat or at the side of a road, those who came home with scars we can see as well as the scars we cannot see.



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It’s been a busy weekend. Not busy like Great Grandpa Hudson’s busy Veteran’s Day celebrations, but busy enough. On Saturday, Bob and I stopped by a new Vietnamese restaurant opening in our neighborhood; and that evening we saw the spectacular “Jane” documentary with the Bride’s family, about Jane Goodall and her beloved chimps of the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. As we were leaving the theatre, I remembered interviewing Dame Goodall in Rumson in the 90s.

She was slight like the Flapper, elegant in an easy way, no makeup with her grey hair pulled back in the proverbial ponytail. Wrapped in a long poncho. I remember the determination in her eyes, so focused and bright.

Last night we walked down our alley to meet our 90 year old neighbor, Burdell, and walk to a presentation on the history of Germantown. Our little outpost neighborhood in Nashville started out with an abundance of slaughterhouses in the 1840s and began developing into a mixed residential area until the 1950s. It was an old-school slide presentation and when a certain house on Monroe St appeared, Burdell whispered, “Turnip greens.” Seems a woman would sit on that front porch yelling, “Turnip greens!” all day long.

And I thought I had entered into a Southern novel and was wishing my sister-in-law Jorja  was here.

Burdell and the man wielding the laser light single(or double)handedly rescued Germantown from becoming an industrial zone in 1979. The city wanted to build an emissions testing garage across the street from those venerable old homes, so our buddies ran quite a protest with press coverage and champagne and donuts! Certain homes became historic landmarks and an architectural review board convened to save the tiny row houses and bungalows from extinction.

Now we are back to being a mixed residential zone, only the new condos and apartments being built are hardly affordable. In fact, a new town home next to an old funeral home and across from a pet store just sold for over 1M.

At least that’s what Bill told me. This is how I get my news these days, from neighbors walking past our porch to the coffee house; from Bob’s “damage report” every morning; from BBC and Nashville Public Radio; and for up to the minute “breaking news” from Twitter. I’m changing my habits. Gone are the days of yelling at Morning Joe over coffee. Instead, this morning I watched a video clip on my laptop from the Today Show of Joe Biden.

First I just watched his facial expressions, without sound. Then I punched in the sound as he answered Savannah Guthrie’s question about some juvenile Tweet Mr T sent regarding North Korea’s leader being “short and fat.” Biden was measured and serious, we are no longer laughing at Mr T’s buffoonery. He said he’s known many presidents, and that our children and grandchildren are watching, that our country used to lead by “The Power of our Example.”

We all know you can teach a child through lessons, words and workbooks, but it’s our example as teachers and parents that sifts through their consciousness. I wanted the Love Bug to see “Jane” because she also loves animals, and being outside collecting bugs. If you want your child to not develop an eating disorder, you don’t grab their arm or threaten at the dinner table. One models a healthy lifestyle by living it. Just thinking about two man-baby leaders trading sarcastic middle school Tweets with those same fingers that can access nuclear codes is more than horrifying.

They are putting humans on the endangered species list. When Jane’s chimps ventured south on the Gombe, they were systematically annihilated by a different group in that area. Territory is hard-wired in our brains I’m afraid. And Mr T goes to China and comes back with a branding agreement for his name to be used on hotels and escort services among others, but nada on North Korea. There is a move to impeach this president, have you signed the Need to Impeach Trump petition yet? https://www.needtoimpeach.com

We are walking on a tightrope.



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This morning I devoured my first cup of coffee with the Love Bug on my iPhone. Oh Facetime, how wonderful you are! She kissed me and carried me around with her while she cruised the living room, demonstrating her superior walking technique. I wish they could return to the Blue Ridge this weekend for our next wedding, but the Groom is on call every other night in the MICU. Great Grandma Ada and Great Grandpa Hudson are coming South to see a Big Chill daughter tie the knot in Richmond. Her fiancee was is a Marine, “…once a Marine always a Marine. There are no former Marines”

Who doesn’t love men in white gloves and dress uniforms holding an arch of swords? Unfortunately, we’re not sure if that arch will be there due to the government shutdown. We also had planned to take Hudson, who is a woodcarver and an ex-Baptist minister who officiated in 2010 at the Bride’s wedding, J&M  0622to the National WWII Monument in DC after the wedding. Gpa Hudson is an 86 year old WWII vet and has wanted to see the memorial since it first opened. We may have to storm the barricades next week if the Park Police are still guarding the gate. Listen for my Tweets people, if I’m arrested with Ada and Hudson get us a wheelchair and a lawyer!

It’s bad enough that Ted Cruz and his ideologic idiots have been holding our government hostage over their ever-moving concerns about affordable health care and debt ceilings, but it becomes meteorically worse when they try to claim this memorial as their own and blame our President for its closure…it almost made me sick in fact. It’s not only sightseeing that has been curtailed for 14 days, this shutdown has left “…vital drug trials on hold, which is a matter of life and death for some patients.”

Yes, life and death, real people who cannot participate in life-saving treatments because the NIH has stopped accepting new patients. 75% of their staff are sitting at home while 15% of their patients who cannot start a treatment protocol are children. The GOP can make up fictional scenarios like “death panels,” but they are so much better at creating real tragedies for the 99% of us.

Under normal circumstances, 200 patients at NIH enroll in clinical trials each week, 30 of whom are children. While 12 exceptions have been made for the most critical cases, this still leaves hundreds of sick patients and families stuck waiting until Congress can settle its differences. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-24525913

So that comes out to about 400 people so far, who may not have a month or two to wait…two weeks after giving birth a young mother diagnosed with stage 4 sarcoma had her application for a clinical trial delayed. Michelle Langbehn has started an online petition on Change.org in order to pressure Congress and has over 140,000 signatures:  “I speak for everyone battling cancer when I say we don’t have time to wait.”  http://www.change.org/petitions/help-me-fight-cancer-and-stop-the-shutdown

Crossed swords it seems are the least of our problems. We need to vote the old guard out, get money out of politics and organize policy makers who will speak to the wide breadth of our country, with common sense and dignity for all. I can’t wait to see the new documentary “Inequality for All.” http://inequalityforall.com I’m usually pretty optimistic about life, I like to think we can take our country back, from the fringe GOP. Fingers crossed.







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On this Memorial Day weekend, we are going to the beach, firing up our grills, or strolling through the mall to check out the sales. So many forget what the holiday really stands for. A quick Google check finds that it was formally proclaimed a national holiday by General John Logan, “…the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.” So it started up in this country a few years after the Civil War, honoring the war dead, trying to reconcile the horror, the madness of war with reconciliation; and now it’s all about parades and sales and the start of the summer. I remember being handed small red flower pins on the street with my Dad, by old men in beards who honestly scared me a little.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I’d like to bring to your attention a small protest at the NATO Summit; one that got little if any media coverage. Last Sunday a peace march was held in Chicago and a group called the “Iraq Veterans Against the War” held a ceremony where nearly 50 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan “…discarded their war medals by hurling them down the street in the direction of the NATO summit.” If you watch the video you will hear them talk about their brothers and sisters with head trauma, and PTSD, the 18 suicides a day of returning soldiers, the orphaned children of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, the lies that were bought and sold in the run-up to war. If you watch the video, you will be moved. “No NATO, No War!”

On this Memorial Day weekend, I think about my 2 brothers, both Vietnam vets, And I think about my other 2 brothers, one from the Korean theatre and one who served in Germany. I think about my Father-in-Law, the Officiant at our daughter’s wedding, who served in the Pacific during WWII. One brother, the psychologist, is actually working with his state’s National Guard to help those returning soldiers facing multiple deployments. Families suffer in silence; the military culture is not one to seek help. Not only are our current vets suffering from major physical trauma like lost limbs, they are suffering from mental health issues like combat stress, substance abuse, broken marriages and more. If we say that we value their service, if we stand when they board planes before us and clap, if we march with our children in a parade, do we really understand what these wounded warriors have to face when they are returned to us?

On this Memorial Day, instead of visiting a grave with a wreath, or throwing a hamburger on the grill, let’s all decide to make our veteran’s lives just a little bit better – I think of my new Son-in-Law. He is about to end his year as the Chief Resident at Vanderbilt’s Veteran’s Administration Hospital, and become a Fellow in Pulmonology. He is an incredible physician, an outstanding human and healer, with a way of making my daughter smile. I think of Bob, who will always hire a vet, believing their experience in combat makes them particularly able to handle a busy Emergency Department. And of course my own brother, working with the National Guard. I will continue to work for peace.

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