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#1031 – Dick Bernard: Taps. A Memorial Day to Remember in LaMoure

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

POSTNOTE, May 29, from Kathy G: A one-minute ad without a single word, for Memorial Day. “This is a one-minute commercial. Not a word spoken and none is needed. Food City is a Southern grocery store chain with headquarters in Bristol, Tennessee.”

May 25, 2015, American Legion, LaMoure ND

May 25, 2015, American Legion, LaMoure ND

Reunion over, and about to leave LaMoure ND, we and my brother John decided to attend the annual Memorial Day observance at the LaMoure American Legion post. It is always moving and inspiring – an honor to attend, as is the usual observance by the Veterans for Peace in St. Paul MN which I had to miss this year.

I had been to several observances with my Uncle and Aunt in LaMoure over the years, so I knew what to expect, but brother John, long retired from a 20-year career as an Air Force officer, and long-time Californian, was deeply impressed with the local observance, as was my wife, Cathy. Neither had been there before.

Monday was an iffy day, weather-wise, but the place was packed as usual, with music provided by local high-schoolers, with the reading of names of departed veterans, and a couple of very good speeches. (I can’t name names: my program departed the car enroute home during a windy and rainy stop to change drivers at Fergus Falls.)

At the end of the formal presentation indoors, we adjourned to the vacant lot beside the Legion where crosses were planted, poppies affixed, an honor guard with flags and rifles for the traditional salute, and then taps, expertly played by a young woman, probably high school age.

We had a mix of near sunshine, and light rain, almost perfect.

It was all deeply moving.

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May 25, 2015, LaMoure ND

May 25, 2015, LaMoure ND

Inside, the narrator had earlier read the names of all local military veterans who have died.

Even in this small community, it was a very long list of names, particularly for World War II, and World War I as well. As I remember: departed veterans were named from the Civil War, and the “Indian War” during the same time period; the Spanish-American; Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

This observance emphasized the physically dead. Back home in the evening I noticed that the national observance on the Capitol mall now recognizes also those veterans permanently physically disabled by war. The Vets for Peace recognizes all of these, but also those mortally wounded psychologically: PTSD, mental illness, drugs and alcohol, homeless….

Saturday, I’d seen the reader of names at the fish dinner at the same Legion, and he said that every year somebody mentions somebody not named who should have been on the list.

Little did I know that I’d be writing him my own letter today. He read the names of my uncles, Shipfitter Frank Bernard (USS Arizona), and Lt. George W. Busch (USS Woodworth); but not those of Uncle Arthur Busch (U.S. Army 1945-46), nor Art and George’s cousin next farm over, Capt. August Berning, Marine in the Pacific Theatre WWII, both deceased.

So next year, the narrators list will be even longer, thanks to me, and to others who also add names, and, of course, more veterans who have died in the days to come.


The recitation of names by War caused me to think about categories of Wars in which the U.S. been engaged, and how people have engaged in those wars. (In a previous post I included an American Legion summary of these wars: America at War001)

Of course, the early wars, including the Revolutionary, came as our country grew to today’s boundaries of the lower 48 states. Wars brought us into being, over 150 years ago, against England, etc.

But by far our most deadly war was our own Civil War: the same war which birthed the very concept of Memorial Day. We were at War against ourselves, then. It is not an abstraction to think that perhaps the current “war” between Sunni and Shiite centered in Iraq and Syria might not be such a novel occurrence. There are far more similarities than differences to our own Civil War. In our own country, the Civil War was brother-against-brother; slavery or not was the main issue; plenty of Old Testament scriptural basis supported slavery.

Then there were the Teddy Roosevelt adventures: Spanish-American War, Cuba, the Philippines, etc. That was my Grandpa Bernard’s War: North Dakota’s were among the first volunteers to go to the Philippines in 1898, and Grandpa was on the boat with the others.

The deadliest wars so far, WWI and WWII, the U.S. entered long after they began, reluctantly. There was debate whether we should have entered earlier, or not at all. Wars are complicated things, after all. In WWI my Grandpa Busch’s hired man, whose name I do not know, was killed. Grandpa wanted to volunteer, but there was the matter of his being ethnic German, which complicated things a whole lot for Germans in this country.

Then there were the anti-Communist Wars, like Korea and Vietnam, and the near miss with Cuba and Russian Missiles in 1962 (I was in the Army, then). It’s been years since the Soviet Union became Russia and other countries, but the “Communist” card is still played by some, perhaps yearning for the good old days of the Cold War. Wars have an unfortunate way of living on, far past their reason.

And there have been wars just for the hell of it (it seems to me): Grenada comes to mind. Remember the Grenada War?


Through Korea, Wars were very personal things: if you were at war, you were at war against someone who could shoot you dead. The days of massive standing Armies and compulsory draft are long past, the times when (as in my own family) we three boys all served; or four of my five uncles (the fifth was needed on the farm). The notion of a citizen Army (males of a certain age) ended with the end of the Draft in 1975 and (in my opinion) will never be successfully marshaled again, even in times of major crisis.

Memorial Day remembers old wars….

Now war has become a video game, threatening every single one of us, if we can’t figure out how to deal with each other, including the top guys who have led and will lead people into these ever deadlier things called war.

“Evil” will never end (not always restricted just to the “bad guys”). Yes, we can be the bad guys, and have been.

And, there is much to be said for “duty, honor, country”.

But the reality of evil, and those honorable concepts can be and are misused by all “sides”, including our own.

There are lots of alternatives to war, and while peace can be very messy in itself, it far exceeds the never-ending problems with attempting to win the peace by war. That has never, and will never, work.

Thanks, LaMoure American Legion, for a most respectful and sombre Memorial Day 2015.

I will not forget.

LaMoure ND May 25, 2015

LaMoure ND May 25, 2015



The Reader of the Names

The Reader of the Names

The Student Speaker

The Student Speaker

The main speaker

The main speaker

The traditional Salute

The traditional Salute

#1029 -Dick Bernard: The Sounds of Music

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Friday night was a conflicted one for me.

In Havana, the Minnesota Orchestra was playing its first concert; out in Eden Prairie, a relative, Mickey, was graduating from Dakota County Technical College; over in South St. Paul, 8th grade granddaughter Kelly was part of the year-end Choirs concert for the St. Paul Public Schools.

I chose the graduation: an especially big deal for a wonderful Mom of two teenagers. She was graduating with honors, and along with the graduation, receiving a significant promotion at her work.

After the graduation, perhaps ten of us gathered at a restaurant in Edina to celebrate. It was about 8:45 when I got in my car and tuned the radio to FM 99.5 to hear the rest of the Orchestra Concert in Havana. The concert was not yet over when I reached the parking lot. The others went in. I sat there, in the car, till the concert concluded.

Some times you do what you need to do. This was a memorable moment.

A Parking Lot theatre seat in Edina, May 15, 2015

A Parking Lot theatre seat in Edina, May 15, 2015

A memorable moment indeed. As I sat listening to the strains of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, the Eroica, streaming from Havana, I thought about the great significance of this cultural exchange.

This wasn’t about a continuation of, now, 56 years of sullen war of one aggrieved country against its small neighbor. Rather, it was an overture of peace; a reprise of the same worked played at the last concert by the Orchestra in Havana in 1930 but having, at least for me, great symbolic importance. Beethoven originally called this symphony the “Bonaparte”, in admiration of Napoleon, but changed his mind…. The last straw was Napoleon’s declaring himself as emperor. There’s lots to discuss there, parallels and not….

The language of music, even what it is called, is important.

So, I had a great evening, Friday.

Saturday night, the second concert conflicted with my one “addictive” TV program: Antiques Road Show on PBS. I watched one, and listened to the other.

The listening won out.

Then came last night, in the auditorium of the South St. Paul High School, the Spring Concert of the South St. Paul bands, directed by Andrew Peterson. There is genuine synergy between Mr. Peterson, his youthful charges and the audience…a “three-legged stool”, as I’ve noticed is crucial to the success of the Minnesota Orchestra.

This was a long program with the usual great energy, both on stage and in the audience. These are fun evenings, always.

The very first piece, Crunchy Frog, by the Jazz Ensemble, was opened by 9th grade grandson Ted on the Vibes, and he did a great job.

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Ted Flatley, May 18, 2015

Ted Flatley, May 18, 2015

Of course, Band and Orchestra are your basic “team sports”, as demonstrated by the Jazz Ensemble in its five pieces, and with all the other groups as well.

The Jazz Ensemble May 18, 2015

The Jazz Ensemble May 18, 2015

At intermission, Ted’s Mom asked: “any chance you could get Ted to McPhail for his lesson this afternoon?”

Of course. When you’re watching talent accompanied by passion, as Ted possesses, you want to help out, and Ted seems to have found his own muse.

Saturday, we’ll be up in North Dakota, and can’t use the regular Orchestra seats, so Ted and someone else will be going in our stead, to experience the Minnesota Orchestra and pianist Garrick Ohllson.

I suspect Ted’ll have a great evening.

I’m glad I can be a tiny part of the supporting cast.

#1027 – Dick Bernard: Remembering 50 years; a Teacher Union Gathering.

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

Today was the annual Recognition Dinner of Anoka-Hennepin Education Minnesota, and as I’ve done since the first one, in 2001, I always attend. And when I get home, I’m always glad I made the trip to the north suburbs of Minneapolis, to some venue in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

It was a rainy late afternoon, early evening, this year, and a rush hour drive, but as always the general theme of food, fun, family prevailed, the family being 85 or so present and past leaders of the now over 2700 member teacher union.

This year I was especially glad to be there, though externally I probably looked and sounded a bit withdrawn.

It was an evening of reminiscence…a time of thinking back.

It was 50 years ago this coming summer, July 21, 1965, when I came to Anoka for the first time, and signed a contract to teach in the brand new Roosevelt Junior High School in the neighboring town of Blaine. I signed the contract in Superintendent Erling Johnson’s office in the old Anoka Senior High School, the school from which Garrison Keillor had graduated a few years earlier, in 1960.

I didn’t know it then, but three days later my critically ill wife, Barbara, would die at the University of Minnesota Hospital, leaving me in a strange city, a new arrival, with a year and a half son. Survival depended on community, in the broadest definition….

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Dick and Tom Bernard about Halloween 1965 at Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis MN

Dick and Tom Bernard about Halloween 1965 at Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis MN

The early weeks remain a blur, and the first year was especially difficult, but somehow or other unplanned things tend to work out, and in this case they did.

Another unplanned event got me involved in the teacher’s union beginning towards the end of the 1960s.

I was teaching at Roosevelt, and a teacher colleague, Ron Swanson, became President of what was then called AHEA, the Anoka-Hennepin Education Association. Anoka-Hennepin was already a large district, and while there was not yet collective bargaining, representing about 1000 teachers was very hard work.

Ron was a local boy, and I was an outsider, but one day I remember Ron walking by with a large box of Association files, heading to a meeting, and complaining of a bad headache.

It was then and there that I decided that I needed to get involved and do something, though I had no idea what teachers unions did. That singular decision led to a 27 year career representing public school teachers – something I’d never even considered doing. So is how life goes.

AHEA Executive Board Meeting in October 1971

AHEA Executive Board Meeting in October 1971

You learn quickly, of course, when you jump in, and others who are active see that you have an interest.

For me, it began with becoming part of a Public Relations Committee which founded something we decided to call “Coins for the Community”. Tonight, at the dinner, it was mentioned that Coins for Community remains as a project of the Association 45 years later!

Old AHEA Newsletters I have reveal the origin and first results of “Coins for Community”: AHEA Coins for Community001. I can still see in minds eye the small committee meeting in an Anoka-Hennepin classroom deciding on the project. A teacher at Sorteberg Elementary School asked her son to design the Coins logo which was used for years.

Then came a year of editing the Teacher Association newsletter, thence dabbling in negotiations, thence diving into the totally uncharted waters of Executive Director of the local Union beginning in March, 1972.

American Education Week 1970.  These youngsters would now be in their late 50s!

American Education Week 1970. These youngsters would now be in their late 50s!

"Revolution" in the Fall of 1970

“Revolution” in the Fall of 1970

Growing Pains January 1971, at what was soon to become Anoka Senior High School

Growing Pains January 1971, at what was soon to become Anoka Senior High School

There were increasing numbers of we teachers who became active back then and, truth be told, we all basically slogged along, putting one foot in front of the other, learning as we went along. So did management adapt and adjust. They had no concept of sharing power with employees – it just was something that had never been done.

We all learned, making abundant mistakes in the process.

What heartened me tonight is that this Association survived and thrived long after we departed from the scene.

Sitting in that room tonight, among a number of we “old-timers” were a large crop of present day active members of the Association, the people who make any organization work: in a real sense, a family of people who work together towards a common cause, not always agreeing on what or how to do this or that, but nonetheless getting the job done…and being respected by the other side.

Sometime in the next months there will be a 50-year anniversary of the opening of Roosevelt Junior High School. When it happens, I’ll be there with the rest of us, all well on in years, now, but nonetheless all people who contributed in our own ways to the future.

Thanks AHEM Local 7007. It was great to be there.

LeMoyne Corgard, President of AHEM, presides over the recognition of teacher leaders May 14, 2015

LeMoyne Corgard, President of AHEM, presides over the recognition of teacher leaders May 14, 2015

#1025 – Dick Bernard: Camp Buell, Dakota Territory, July, 1863

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

On my frequent trips to LaMoure ND, I’ve always passed by a road-side historical marker on the edge of Milnor (about 40 miles west of Wahpeton on Highway 13).

Markers like these are “magnets” for me, but this one I would always pass by – enroute, and too tired – though I think I read it back in the late 1980s, before it had any context for me.

Here’s a photo of the marker, weather beaten but readable. Click to enlarge it.

Milnor ND May 6, 2015

Milnor ND May 6, 2015

This marker had, it turns out, personal meaning to me: back in 1863 my ancestor, Samuel Collette, was a private in the very unit that camped here, part of Co G of the First Minnesota Mounted Rangers, on their mission to remove the Indians from territory about to be settled, part of the Indian War (now called Dakota Conflict) of 1862-63.

There is no need, here, to either justify or condemn that long ago action. It could be argued either way, and has been, and likely will be. It was a part of history.

The marker itself is now over 50 years old, and it would be interesting to discuss how its contents might be changed, if at all, at this time in history.

Five years ago as part of my French-Canadian family history I included a few pages about this campaign. A portion of those pages can be read here: Sibley Expedition 1863*001

The North Dakota Historical Society has an interesting weblink which describes, briefly, the circumstances and experiences at each of the camps on the Sibley Expedition. You can read it here. Simply use the drop-down menu on the page to find any of the camps, including Camp Buell.

No photos exist of Samuel Collette. Apparently they were all lost in a house fire somewhere years ago. He was an interesting character, coming from Quebec to what is now Centerville in suburban St. Paul in 1857.

In 1862, for reasons unknown, he became part of the First Minnesota Mounted Rangers, thus becoming part of the historical narrative of this part of the midwest.

* – Pages three and four of this link are from a newsletter, Chez Nous, which endeavored to keep alive aspects of French-Canadian history in the midwest. The entirety of Chez Nous can now be read on-line, and is indexed. Go here, click on Library, click on Chez Nous to access both index and newsletter entries.

#1024 – Dick Bernard: “A Boy Named Sue”, a song for Mother’s Day?

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Today we did what has come to be an annual trip, possibly four miles to the Ramsey County Correctional Facility (RCCF) to purchase Mother’s Day Flowers. (More here.)

The seasonal business is staffed by inmates at this place once called the Workhouse; 25% of the proceeds count as a donation. It is a pleasant task, buying flowers at a jail while helping some folks recover from the mistake(s) that got them confined there.

(click to enlarge)
RCCF Flowers001.

I’ve written about this program before. Every inmate there has a mother, and father, and ancestors…and some problem that got them time….

This year I was reminded of a session on “heritage” that I conducted on Monday evening, coincidentally my 75th birthday, in Minneapolis.

Heritage, I said on Monday, is everything about us, brought to us from our past. In Old French the word heritage essentially means “inheritance” from our ancestors.

We usually think of our ancestry, as people we know: our Mom, our Dad, maybe our Grandparents, but we are a sum of thousands of predecessors, parents, uncles and aunts, siblings, on and on and on. Each brings to us something empowering or disabling. Much is DNA; or observed and learned behaviors, and on and on.

Our “inheritance” is far more than money – or lack of same….

Thinking about how to approach Mondays topic, I decided to frame heritage as our collective “baggage” and “balloons”.

If we’re lucky, and determined, the balloons we’ve inherited have greater lift than the weight of the baggage. We can rise above much; sometimes like these inmates who were helping us today, we’re dragged down, but we can recover.

I kept thinking of Johnny Cash’s old tune, “A Boy Named Sue”, and found an unexpurgated and particularly entertaining version on YouTube. (Yes, this version has the cuss words, little kids doing fake violence and the like, but c’mon, every now and then you’ve thunk the same ’bout your own situation and who bears the blame for your state of being at some particular time!).

Somewhere out there on the internet, I’m sure, there’s analysis about what drew Johnny Cash to sing the verses of that song, and made that song so popular. Here’s one. We identify with imperfection, because we’re imperfect. Doubtless in the video that accompanies the song, those little kids who were the “actors” had fun with the rubber knife and the play gun.

I guess it’s part of the life we all experience from time to time, our private face..

But for all of us it started with a Mom and a Dad, and for them, the same, and back all through human history.

Happy Mother’s Day!

And if you’re in the area, and haven’t got your flowers as yet, try the RCCF sale this weekend, or through May 24.

A related post here.

And an interesting commentary, “Teach Your Children Well“.

#1023 – Dick Bernard: On Turning 75….

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Today I’m 75. “Just a kid” to great numbers of my contemporaries; nonetheless, a very noticeable birthday, to me at least.

Each person has their own story, along life’s road. And life’s journey is, indeed, a new “road” we all travel, with the attendant surprises any trip down a previously untraveled road or path has for everyone.

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Richard Bernard, new kid on the block, with parents Henry and Esther, May, 1940, McGillivray Apts,  Valley City ND

Richard Bernard, new kid on the block, with parents Henry and Esther, May, 1940, McGillivray Apts, Valley City ND

(This photo was taken a block away from Valley City State Teachers College, which my Dad was then attending, and which I attended myself beginning 18 years later.)

Perhaps this birthday is more prominent to me than the others because the last member of my parents generation, Uncle Vince, died just three months ago, on February 2.

I’ve written often about he, the family and the North Dakota farm on this page. My sister, Flo, and I were with him during his final few hours.

It surprised him when I mentioned a few months ago that I was soon to be 75.

He’s told me that he was the first family member, other than my parents, to hold me after I was born.

Vincent was 15, then.

Tomorrow, I’ll be out at the family farm again, continuing the process of transitioning an entire generation into history. To me that place, those things, represents far more than just stuff to dispose and/or distribute. It’s occupants were, Grandma and Grandpa, and all of these Uncles and Aunts, and my parents, the ones who launched me and all my siblings and cousins in many and sundry ways.

Some pictures of them, at various times back then, are at the end of this post.

Today, also, grandson Parker celebrates his 13th birthday.

He’s already an accomplished baseball guy, his passion, and yesterday, at a small family dinner, I gave him a home-made card with a photo of my brother Frank, and I, taken 1955, at Antelope Consolidated School, near Mooreton ND. I used to stand out in our yard, there in the country, and try to hit baseballs over the trees, imagining I was Mickey Mantle.

We have our dreams.

Dick, at right, and Frank, summer, 1955.

Dick, at right, and Frank, summer, 1955.

I think he liked the photo.

He’s on his own road, now, with its own promise, ruts, crossroads, forks…. Like every one of us, he’s on his own journey, in which all of us participate, in one way or another.

Life is, I’ve learned, a community event. And the community, now, is the planet earth – every last one of us, everywhere.

Here are a couple more photos with my own past memories, one’s which today hold more significance than usual.

Maybe they’ll jog some of your own, about you.

Have a great day.

Grandpa and Grandma Bernard and we Bernards, Spring 1946, Grafton ND.  Grandpa, then, would have been 76.  I'm the five year old in front, with parents and then-three siblings, Mary Ann, Florence and Frank.

Grandpa and Grandma Bernard and we Bernards, Spring 1946, Grafton ND. Grandpa, then, would have been 76. I’m the five year old in front, with parents and then-three siblings, Mary Ann, Florence and Frank.

Grandma and Grandpa Bernard had three children. My Dad, Henry, was the middle child. His older sister, Josie, was deaf, and from the 1930s on lived in the Los Angeles area. She rarely came home to Grafton. Grandma and Grandpa, beginning in the later 1930s, spent winters in Long Beach, so they saw her often. Their youngest son, Frank, served on the USS Arizona beginning 1936, and died on the ship December 7, 1941.

Grandma and Grandpa Busch at the farm on their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 28, 1955.  Grandpa would have been about 75.  All but two of their children, my aunts and uncles, are in the photo.  Art was unable to be there, I guess; and their daughter, Verena, had died at age 15 in 1927.  Uncle Vincent is third from left, his sister, Aunt Edithe, is at far left.

Grandma and Grandpa Busch at the farm on their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 28, 1955. Grandpa would have been about 75. All but two of their children, my aunts and uncles, are in the photo. Art was unable to be there, I guess; and their daughter, Verena, had died at age 15 in 1927. Uncle Vincent is third from left, his sister, Aunt Edithe, is at far left.

Art, the only child absent, was an electrical engineer in Chicago, in the early years of marriage and career, and was probably unable to come home for this event. On the wall behind the family, one can see the General Electric annual wall calendar, which was certainly from Art to his parents.

Henry Bernard, 74, "mannequin" in a Quebec City suburban department store window, June, 1982

Henry Bernard, 74, “mannequin” in a Quebec City suburban department store window, June, 1982

Birthday  Twins: Parker (May 4, 2002) and Dick (May 4, 1940)

Birthday Twins: Parker (May 4, 2002) and Dick (May 4, 1940)

#1022 – Kathleen Valdez: A Surprise Find from a DNA Analysis.

Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

PRE-NOTE FROM DICK: For some time I’ve been thinking of having an ancestry DNA analysis done.

A short while ago, the inclination racheted up quite a bit with this e-mail from an out-of-the-blue e-mail from Kathy (Corey) Valdez, an Oregonian whose Mom Ellie Lemire Corey was (she thought) from primarily French-Canadian roots from Quebec to Minnesota to North Dakota.

Here’s Kathy’s e-mail, with followup comment, all from Kathy, passed along with her permission:

March 24, 2015: “In going through mom’s letters, I felt I needed to tell you about the DNA discovery I’ve made and how it’s all come about through the Spirit. You know, the Spanish have a word that is much richer in meaning for our word- coincidence. The word is diosidencia – google it!

In my DNA (autosomal – half from mom and half from dad), I found among the English, Irish and Western European that I was 19% Iberian Peninsula. I first thought, “I don’t have Spanish blood- I’m all French on Mom’s side with some Native American mixed in.”

About 3 weeks ago, I came across a French-Canadian Project for Aunism…Spanish Jews who fled to France as a result of being targeted in the Spanish Inquisition. Yep, that be me! [NOTE from editor: here is a general link to the topic.]

I cross-referenced the 50 or so names of those on the list of Sephardic Jews who fled to France and then 400 years later to settle New France and I found 18 surnames on my Lemire/Parent family tree!

My great uncle Arthur Parent (Mom’s uncle on her mom’s side) passed on to his descendants that they had Jewish blood in their ancestry but I dismissed it because the ‘reporter’ (uncle’s daughter) was way off on some of her other information. She also liked to sensationalize information.

Well, my DNA test showed she was right!”

I asked Kathy for more info, and got her permission to pass on her information:

March 27, 2015: “I first had my test done through Family Tree dna because they test Y and Mitochondria chromosomes as well as the more general testing for autosomal. You are able to find your closest matches in the database and contact these matches, hoping they have some sort of family tree to see where you connect.

Ancestrydna did my second test and it’s more ‘user friendly’ to the public and only tests autosomal. Autosomal is the test for ‘ancestral place’. It goes back 4-5 gen. and matches you with other people who have been tested so you can contact each other.

So both test autosomal and give matches for you to contact but only Family Tree dna finds your Y dna (males) back to the beginning of humankind. Both men and women have the mitro. (X) and everyone has autosomal (half from your mom and half from you father).

Autosomal: It’s a toss up as to which genes you inherit (crap shoot:) Your sibs inherit different combos unless you’re identical twins. I just attended a LDS Conference in Forest Grove last Sat. and a woman from Ancestry was keynote – excellent! She said that AncestryDNA altho has only been around 3 yrs. is growing faster than Family Tree and for all intent and purposes the autosomal is the only test you need….unless you want to find your deep, deep roots!

Ancestry DNA usually has specials from time to time – I think before Mother’s/Father’s Day..$79

The woman said you’d have to test no less than 5 sibs to get a clear picture of your parent’s dna. Except for Tim, my sibs are reluctant so I guess I need to pay for their tests :) If both parents are alive, that’s all you need to test (not yourself as it’s all there :) Test your oldest relatives.

If you’re a member of Ancestry (AARP membership- I just joined last month because of this) has 10% off membership so I pay $209 annually now as opposed to $299 when you subscribe annually)….on Ancestry they have tutorials about dna that they archive. If you want, I can notify you when specials are happening:)”

from Jeanne: There will be a DNA round table at Minneapolis Central Library: Genealogy Research: DNA Testing Discussion Minneapolis Central Library • N-402 • Share Tuesday, June 9, 7–8 p.m.

from Christine: These Jews were called the Maroons in Spain and in France later. This is a well known migration of population in Europe. They have become Catholic and gradually lost their Jewish practice.

This search of your DNA and origins is very enriching.

from Marshall: It is funny you mention DNA. We have been curious for a while on our own DNA, and Carole and Karen (twins) sent in swabs for “zygosity” testing, meaning the absence or presence of twinship. To my surprise, they are certified identical. Their DNA markers were expressed as numeric, and some were 7 or 8 digits long. Being identical twins, their markers were identical with no deviations. Case closed.

My own DNA testing was through Here are my results (for me only).

Great Britain 54%
Iberian Peninsula 18%
Europe West 15%
Ireland 5%
Europe East 3%
Scandinavia 2%
Italy/Greece 2%
Finland/Northwest Russia 1%

From what I know about my family, I expected a higher percent for Europe West (the French influence). The Iberian Peninsula includes western France, the Basque area, Portugal, and Spain.

#1017 – Dick Bernard: Reminiscing Along North Dakota’s I-94

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

For a few hours last Friday I reacquainted with about 130 miles of North Dakota’s I-94, between Mandan and Valley City ND. Thanks for the unexpected trip, and the opportunity to reminisce, go to my Uncle Vince.

Vincent, who died on February 2, was a long-time member of the Catholic Fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus, as was his Dad, my Grandpa. Grandpa joined about 1921, and Vincent in 1947.

As part of the annual North Dakota Knights of Columbus gathering, this year in Mandan ND on April 17, about 150 KCs who’d died in the past year were recognized by a reading of their names and procession of candles, one dedicated to each departed Knight.

I was invited as a member of Vincent’s family, and attending was the least I could do.

It was a very impressive event (portion of program here: KCs Mandan 4-17-15001. Listed (p. 4) and somewhere among the candles (below) was Vincent Busch. A retired and prominent Catholic Cardinal, Theodore McCarrick (p. 5), was celebrant.

Knowing Vincent as I do, he’d probably be embarrassed and said, “what did I ever do to deserve this?”

Well, of course, he deserved the recognition, and the others as well.

We all deserve to be remembered.

(click to enlarge all photos)

At Christ the King Church, Mandan, ND, April 17, 2015

At Christ the King Church, Mandan, ND, April 17, 2015

To get to and from Mandan I drove a portion of I-94 I have rarely driven in the past 50 years.

I-94 Bis-Vc001

Thursday, I started from LaMoure, where I’d had a very busy couple of days. Though only 60 miles to “Jimtown” (Jamestown, in Grandpa’s rendering), I arrived pretty well exhausted and “motelled” there. I wanted a beard trim, and learned from the clerk that the J.C. Penney store across from the motel had a walk-in Beauty Salon. Sure enough. A pleasant lady trimmed my beard.

“How much?”

“No charge”.

It was one of those unexpected kindnesses that you relish when they occur, and you don’t forget. It becomes an invitation to pay it forward, to someone else….

Next morning, enroute west, I stopped in at nearby Eldridge, my home from 1943-45. Elridge is a main-line railroad town on what used to be called the NP (Northern Pacific) Railroad. I photo’ed the first place we lived there (upper floor, north side); and the school in which my Dad was Principal, both still full of memories. I visited both with Dad back in the 1990s. Then, the school was occupied by a lady and her daughter. Today the place is empty, like most of those tiny town schools, mostly brick, which have managed to survive, though empty.

Eldridge ND April 17, 2015

Eldridge ND April 17, 2015

The Eldridge School April 17, 2015

The Eldridge School April 17, 2015

Enroute again, the map reacquainted me with places from my past, especially college days at Valley City State Teachers College. Many classmates I knew, then, were from places like Tappen, Napoleon, Streeter…. I graduated from high school in 1958 at Sykeston; another place we lived in 1942-43 was Pingree. These towns were tiny, but mostly much larger than they are now.

In Bismarck, of course, I visited the State Capitol. The “Prairie Skyscraper”, built to replace the old capitol which burned down Dec. 28, 1930, was always a place of pride for we NoDaks.

This was a bustling place this day: the state legislature was in session. I was there about lunch time, and Senators and Representatives were among those catching lunch. A group, DigitalHorizonsOnline, was testing our knowledge on North Dakota Trivia. Do visit their site.

On the Capitol Grounds is an immensively impressive and newly enlarged State History Museum and Interpretative Center. I highly recommend it. It matches any such facility I’ve seen anywhere.

ND State Capitol, April 17, 2015.  Foreground, the old ND State Library.

ND State Capitol, April 17, 2015. Foreground, the old ND State Library.

Of course, no trip to the Capitol is complete without a trip to the top, to take a picture (below). On the ground level are about 43 winners of the North Dakota Roughrider Award. There are perhaps 43 portraits now, among them my early childhood friend from Sykeston, Larry Woiwode, who is directly across from the portrait of the old Roughrider himself, President Teddy Roosevelt.

Missouri River from the State Capitol, Bismarck, April 17, 2015

Missouri River from the State Capitol, Bismarck, April 17, 2015

Larry Woiwode

Larry Woiwode

Enroute to the Mass I took a side trip over to the Ft. Abraham Lincoln a few miles south of Mandan. This is the place from which Gen. George Armstrong Custer took his ill-fated trip to the Little Big Horn in 1876. Of course, this is April, and nothing was open, but I could drive around, and walk to see the Slant Village and the Custer home. Earlier, a lady at the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department pointed out that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Parks Department, and each State Park will have their day. Fort Abraham Lincoln’s Day is Memorial Day, May 25, 2015.

George Armstrong Custer house at Fort Abraham Lincoln April 17, 2015

George Armstrong Custer house at Fort Abraham Lincoln April 17, 2015

Historic Slant Village at Ft. Abraham Lincoln State Park April 17, 2015

Historic Slant Village at Ft. Abraham Lincoln State Park April 17, 2015

Visit over in late afternoon, back on I-94 East, this time to Fargo.

Dominating the trip back was thinking about May, 1965, when my wife, Barbara, was released from Bismarck’s St. Alexius Hospital, and we began the long trip by car to Minneapolis where she was to be admitted for a kidney transplant at the University of Minnesota Hospital. It was her only remaining option to live beyond 22.

Near hidden facade of old St. Alexius Hospital, Bismarck ND April 17, 2015

Near hidden facade of old St. Alexius Hospital, Bismarck ND April 17, 2015

Back then, late May, 1965, someplace along 94, east of Bismarck, the radiator hose chose to burst. Luckily, we were close to one of the very few exits with a gas station. At Valley City, she and her mother and brother and our year old son Tom took the train the rest of the way to Minneapolis. I continued on by car. Barbara was admitted to the hospital, and died there July 24, 1965. 50 years ago, now. A major marker on my life path. We all have such….

I drove on, finding a motel in Moorhead MN about 9:30 pm.

In the morning, at the house breakfast, I saw a number of people wearing bright t-shirts, “Team Fred” on on one side; “Muscle Walk 2015” on the other. I asked a family of four, “what’s this about?” “A walk for ALS” the Dad said. Fred, I surmised, was someone they knew who has ALS, but I don’t know that.

I went out to the car, remembering the earlier kindness in Jamestown, the free beard trim, took out my checkbook, wrote out a check for $50 to Muscle Walk 2015, went back into the restaurant and left the check with the family: “have a great day”.

Probably the gift surprised them.

Pay it forward, thanks in part to the kind beauty salon person in Jamestown.

It was a great day….

POSTNOTE: Sunday evening came one of those calls from an Unknown Caller. It was Jim F, from Carrington ND. Turned out he was the “Fred” from Team Fred, and he was calling to thank me for the donation Saturday morning. It was a most pleasant surprise; we knew people in common, it turned out.

#1014 – Dick Bernard: Farewell to a Special Lady

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Yesterday my cousin Mary Kay and I traveled to Dubuque to the funeral of Marion Placke. It was a long day: the odometer read 550 miles traveled when I arrived home; and the clock showed 16 hours from the time between when I left and arrived home.

But it was an extraordinary day; a very, very rich day.

Marion was one of those folks who, unsung, bring richness to the lives of those around them.

In the casket, she was 98, by her own self-declaration a month or so ago, “an old lady”.

A solitary photo by her casket was from some long ago time:

(click on photos to enlarge)

Marion Placke

Marion Placke

She never married nor had children of her own. Most of her life her occupation was “housekeeper” at various places. Her obituary did not include a listing of this or that degree, or such.

The fall and broken hip that preceded her death by about a week occurred at her long-time home on the slope of Sinsinawa Mound in southwest Wisconsin, a few miles from Dubuque, only half a mile or so from the nearby house in which she was born August 1, 1916.

But these few words hardly do justice to Marion Placke.

Her nephew, Fr. Wayne Droessler, himself a retired Catholic Priest, gave a wonderful tribute to his Aunt Marion, as part of his homily at the Mass. At the end of the Mass, before dismissal, he kissed her casket in a fond expression of farewell. At the mausoleum, the casket was surrounded by young people who up until the most recent years had been “babysat” by Marion and her sister Lucina Stangl. I particularly noticed one young person near the coffin, who was obviously grief-stricken at the loss of the person she quite likely called “Grandma”.

Fr. Wayne Droessler April 10, 2015

Fr. Wayne Droessler April 10, 2015

Farewell, April 10, 2015

Farewell, April 10, 2015

For we travelers from the Twin Cities, who seldom actually saw Marion in person, much of our trip down and back was dominated by memories of this or that about Marion and Lucina(Lu) Stangl.

Marion was a superb story-teller and this, coupled with her love of family history, brought the Berning family (our common root) and the old days alive in a extraordinarily rich way.

The two sisters – Lu was 6 years Marion’s senior, and died in 2010 at 100 – were adventuresome.

Mary Kay related that some years back, when Lu was a spring chicken of 92 (Marion, 86), Lu and Marion went white-water rafting. At the end of the trip, they learned that Lu was the oldest person who’d ever done that trip!

Ten years ago, in July, 2005, the ladies and several family members made the trip up to a mini-reunion at the North Dakota farm.

While there, they expressed an interest in visiting Whitestone Hill Battlefield monument, perhaps 25 miles away.

Those of who’d been there know that there is a rather daunting climb up to the monument itself, so we expected that Lucina and Marion would stay at the parking lot, and we younger “kids” would do the walk up the hill.

Not these ladies: both of them climbed the hill, reached the top, and spent some time at the monument itself (photos below).

That trip up that hill helps define, for me, the example left by Marion Placke and her sister. I could give more examples, but that will suffice.

Others will have their own memories.

A fond farewell.

Marion Placke and Lucina Stangl, LaMoure ND  July, 2005,

Marion Placke and Lucina Stangl, LaMoure ND July, 2005,

Walking up Whitestone Hill, July, 2005.  Marion in white slacks; her sister Lucina, in blue slacks just behind her.  Lucina's son, David Stangl at rear.

Walking up Whitestone Hill, July, 2005. Marion in white slacks; her sister Lucina, in blue slacks just behind her. Lucina’s son, David Stangl at rear.

A small reunion at the Vincent and Edith Busch farm, Berlin, ND, July 2005.

A small reunion at the Vincent and Edith Busch farm, Berlin, ND, July 2005.

Marion Placke (2nd from right) at Memorial Park, Grand Rapids ND, July 1920.  Her mother had come up to assist her Aunt Rosa Busch, who gave birth to Edithe.  Others in the photo are Busch's and possibly other Placke's

Marion Placke (2nd from right) at Memorial Park, Grand Rapids ND, July 1920. Her mother had come up to assist her Aunt Rosa Busch, who gave birth to Edithe. Others in the photo are Busch’s and possibly other Placke’s

#1006 – Dick Bernard: The Plane Disaster in France. Thinking about Flying….

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

1. Links to full length videos of about 10 talks at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Mar 6-8 can be accessed in the first paragraph, here
2. The entire 90 minute video of the powerful Seven Stories from Vietnam on Mar 20 can now be accessed, also in the first para, here.
“I watched the news tonight from a slightly different perspective than usual. My wife is flying home from Arizona tomorrow night, and I am sure she and her sister are watching tonights news with more than a normal amount of interest.”
Those first sentences were written Thursday evening, March 26. What follows is written on Saturday, March 28.

A few hours ago, about 1:30 a.m., I went out to Terminal 2 to pick up Cathy. The plane was full, she said. Not a word was mentioned about the Germanwings catastrophe over France, still dominating the news. The 1280 mile flight was apparently uneventful.

Truth is, of course, that flying is far safer than driving a car somewhere. Over the last 15 months I’ve averaged 1500 road miles per month, 310 miles at a stretch, just traveling between my home and the town in rural North Dakota where my uncle lived. Over half of that trip is on very busy I-94, including big city traffic; the rest is on rural ND roads, sometimes facing icy or snowy conditions, and always meeting oncoming traffic.

We all know, from life experience, that stuff can happen. People are killed in cars all the time. Sometimes we’re the crazy ones; other times the person is driving the other car.

Aircraft casualties kill more at a time, and are thus more newsworthy.

But to be in a plane is, on average, to be much safer than to be in a car. Anytime. Anywhere. It is impossible to enact and enforce rules that guarantee anyone anything.

We tend to forget that.

We are a creature of the air age. This morning at coffee I simply jotted down some memories (below). My Dad’s sister, Josie, my oldest Aunt, who I knew well, was 1 1/2 when Orville and Wilbur Wright made the famous flight at Kittyhawk (Dec. 17, 1903).

Here’s a photo of Josie with a tour group just arrived in Hilo Hawaii in 1969: Airline tour group 1969003

Personally, I would be in the category of occasional passenger on an airplane, several times a year during my work career, but not “frequent flier”. Except for my first flight, which was nerve-wracking (personally, not anything to do with the plane), most of the flights were normal, though some had their moments, like landing in an approaching storm at St. Louis’ Lambert Airport back in the 1990s. Either we’d land or we wouldn’t – nothing you can do about it.

Here’s some of my memories. Maybe they will jog your own.

First sightings of airplanes:
1940s, in Sykeston ND: A local electrician owned a two-seater, and occasionally took off and landed in the pasture north of our house. One time he overshot the runway, ending up in Lake Hiawatha. It was far more interesting to me that he’d run in the lake, rather than what had happened to him. He apparently lived.

Somewhere in the late 1940s, same town, a huge six engine airplane flew over our town at very low altitude. It came from the northeast, as I recall. Later research showed that it probably was a B-36B from Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, South Dakota. They were probably practicing bombing runs. Thankfully, we weren’t a target. It was probably enroute home to Ellsworth, approximately 300 miles southwest of us

About 1953, I saw Air Force One over Minot ND. President Eisenhower came to town, probably to review the in-progress Minot Air Force Base. Later we had a close up and personal view of the President in motorcade down the main street, in an open convertible. Those were the days….

First flights:
In 1962, I flew home on Army leave from Denver’s Stapleton Airport, to Bismarck ND. The plane was one of the class I knew as DC-3 planes, very, very loud. Lots of rattling. It was frightening just to be on the plane. We arrived at Rapid City, and the connecting flight to Bismarck was full. So two of us were switched to a single engine four-seat plane and flew across the night landscape. It was a flight not to be forgotten.

A year later, in the same Army unit, a practice troop deployment took us from Colorado to South Carolina. We didn’t know it then, but the Army was practicing for Vietnam.

We flew in what I’d call a flying cigar, probably a 707 type aircraft, which doubled as troop and general cargo carrier. There were no attendants on this flight, no plush seats, and there was only one tiny window, and the only sensation of whether you were flying or crashing, etc., was your gut. There was not much banter among the GI’s that day.

Most interesting flight:
In 1973, the organization for which I was working chartered an airliner to take a plane full of delegates from Minneapolis to Portland OR. The memorable part of this trip was when the pilots opened the door to the cockpit and allowed us to actually enter the cockpit, a couple at a time, to see the business end of the airplane, in business.

Wouldn’t happen today, that’s for sure.

Most tense flight:
Back in the good old hi-jacking days of U.S. flights in the 1970s, I was on another flight from Minneapolis to Denver.

A man boarded with a metal suitcase which seemed to be very heavy, and there was a protracted and very tense negotiation between the flight crew and the man, asking him to store the suitcase during the flight.

He refused, and ultimately they relented and he kept the suitcase with him.

I’ve often wondered what he was carrying.

The most memorable flight day:
Actually, this was an absence of flight days.

We live more or less on the flight path into and out of Minneapolis. There is always something in the air, and often times you can hear residual noise from planes.

For a few days after 9-11-01 there was no air noise whatsoever. Every plane had been grounded.

We have, it seems, been terrorized ever since.

I’m sure you have your own stories….

Care to share?

from Anne D:
Dick, yes it jogged my early memories of plane sightings and other flying objects… blimps.

I had secured a collection of plane cards, probably from a cereal box. So when one flew over I ran outside to see if I could identify the airborne vehicle. Some of the planes pulled banners. Later I remember many that wrote on the sky. My favorite were the slow floating dirigibles that fascinated me and my grandfather Vanoss. Also, the searchlights that lit the night. My grandfather told me they were friendly ghosts dancing in the sky. We watched them together from the front porch.