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The film “The World Is My Country”. One week to the free week, online

Friday, January 19th, 2018

PRE-NOTE: An organization in which I’m active, Citizens for Global Solutions MN, sponsored the very successful World Premiere of this film, “The World Is My Country”, in Minneapolis in April, 2017*. Film Director Arthur Kanegis is offering anyone with internet access one free week access to this film, beginning one week from today, Jan. 26-Feb. 1, 2018. Details follow, as provided by the films producers. This is a unique opportunity. I hope you take the opportunity. Dick Bernard
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For years you’ve known that our current path of war and ecological destruction is insane.

You’ve been trying to tell the world: ​”​There is a better way.​”​

Finally, a movie says it all – in ways you never dreamed of!

“The World is My Country,” is the perfect tool to show people there are GLOBAL SOLUTIONS!

It’s the movie that’s getting people out of their doldrums. It’s inspiring people with new hope. It’s the antidote to a world of “politics gone mad!”

It’s the intriguing story of how one little guy, a song and dance man on Broadway, turned his war guilt over bombing civilians into an electrifying action that galvanized war weary Europe and sparked a movement. A mighty movement that helped spark ​recognition that we have ​universal human rights​. A movement that helped inspire people to unite the nations of Europe – which ended a century of wars between its member states!

Now this film can help inspire the world to do ​something even better ​- so​ human rights can truly be honored and​ disputes can be taken to court not the battleground!

It’s a lost piece of history, that gives us what Martin Sheen calls: “A roadmap to a better future!”

The FREE FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING WEEK is January 26th – February 1st, 2018.

Sign up now to get your special viewing code here.

Here’s the deal. This film about World Citizen #1 Garry Davis is so new that it’s not yet being shown on PBS, in theaters or on Netflix or Amazon. It’s only being shown at film festivals​ – where it’s getting sold out crowds and standing ovations!

​T​he director of the film, Arthur Kanegis, wants you to see it — so you can help get it into film festivals in your area. ​ Or ​even make your own GLOBAL SOLUTIONS festival of films!

​After you see it, he’ll tell you how.

​Meanwhile, n​ow is the time ​to share the good news:

1. Forward this post to all your friends and family.

2. Contact other groups and organizations and invite them to send announcements to their members.

3. Here is the ​​Facebook post social media: link here (actual text shown below, click to enlarge).

As one of those special people — who is ahead of your time — don’t miss this opportunity to make a ​huge​ difference.

Of course you have tons of things to do – but this is the time to put them aside — while you take on ​what Einstein thought was the most important thing:

”Mark my words, this boy, Garry Davis, has grasped the only problem to which I myself am determined to devote the rest of my life, up to my very last day: a problem which is, very simply, the problem of the survival of the species. It is a question of knowing whether mankind – the very universe of man – will disappear by its own hand, or whether it will continue to exist” – Albert Einstein​ (​Quoted in the transcript of 10/4/1949 hearing before the 14th Court of Corrections in Paris, as translated by Richard V. Carter in Survival Meetings, Writers Club Press, 2001​)​

​Start now by signing up at: www.theworldismycountry.com/freeweek

Together we can fulfill your lifelong hopes and dreams for a better world!

* – I previously wrote about this film on Jan 5, here.

Oprah, and N. and S. Korea.

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

Picture an eagle flying with only a single wing, or with simply a head…. photo by Dick Bernard, October, 2008, at dedication of gift by Mary Lou Nelson at Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

In the last 24 hours came two separate and remarkable items of breaking news from the New York Times.

The first was Oprah Winfrey’s statement at the Golden Globes relating to relationships between men and women.

The second about 24 hours later from Panmunjon, Korea, about relationships between nations.

Oprah: To be as clear as I can be: my enthusiasm is not about Oprah Winfrey possibly running for U.S. President, though her personal history is immensely impressive. Rather, her speech Sunday night was about relationships.

N. Korea: Similarly, the action in Panmunjon between North and South Korea I view very similarly. It is about changing a conversation between nations from enmity and bombs to something else. I noted the conversation appeared not to involve the United States.

The Korea’s, and the Golden Globes speech, are calls to every one of us to get involved in the conversation. These are not about her or them. It is about us, all of us, continuing to strive for the community that is all of us..

NY Times bulletins disappear of course; some cannot access them at all. At the end of this post is the text of what Oprah Winfrey said Sunday night. The N. and S. Korea meeting should be routine diplomacy between nations, rather than an international piece of breaking news….

My personal mantra for many years, learned on the fly, has been the need for balance (the eagle, once again). A system does not succeed by careening from “side” to “side” (a dysfunctional eagle is a dead eagle); nor does a system built on a winner with lots of losers succeed either. A healthy system needs balance.

There is much more to be said, perhaps later additions to this post. Why not begin with Oprah and the Korea’s?

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On the topic of N. Korea, a couple of months ago I heard an interesting talk by a retired man, not an expert, who simply had an interest in the Korean peninsula. If you’re interested in what an ordinary man seeking to be well informed had to say, you can watch Jay Kvale here.

Oprah Winfrey at the Golden Globes:
Ah! Thank you. Thank you all. O.K., O.K. Thank you, Reese. In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: “The winner is Sidney Poitier.” Up to the stage came the most elegant man I had ever seen. I remember his tie was white, and of course his skin was black. And I’d never seen a black man being celebrated like that. And I’ve tried many, many, many times to explain what a moment like that means to a little girl — a kid watching from the cheap seats, as my mom came through the door bone-tired from cleaning other people’s houses. But all I can do is quote and say that the explanation’s in Sidney’s performance in “Lilies of the Field”: “Amen, amen. Amen, amen.” In 1982, Sidney received the Cecil B. DeMille Award right here at the Golden Globes, and it is not lost on me that at this moment there are some little girls watching as I become the first black woman to be given this same award.

It is an honor, and it is a privilege to share the evening with all of them, and also with the incredible men and women who’ve inspired me, who’ve challenged me, who’ve sustained me and made my journey to this stage possible. Dennis Swanson, who took a chance on me for “A.M. Chicago”; Quincy Jones, who saw me on that show and said to Steven Spielberg, “Yes, she is Sophia in ‘The Color Purple’”; Gayle, who’s been the definition of what a friend is; and Stedman, who’s been my rock — just a few to name. I’d like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, because we all know that the press is under siege these days.

But we also know that it is the insatiable dedication to uncovering the absolute truth that keeps us from turning a blind eye to corruption and to injustice. To tyrants and victims and secrets and lies. I want to say that I value the press more than ever before, as we try to navigate these complicated times. Which brings me to this: What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. And I’m especially proud and inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories. Each of us in this room are celebrated because of the stories that we tell. And this year we became the story. But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.

So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault, because they — like my mother — had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farmworkers; they are working in factories and they work in restaurants, and they’re in academia and engineering and medicine and science; they’re part of the world of tech and politics and business; they’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.

And they’re someone else: Recy Taylor, a name I know and I think you should know, too. In 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and a mother. She was just walking home from a church service she’d attended in Abbeville, Ala., when she was abducted by six armed white men, raped and left blindfolded by the side of the road, coming home from church. They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone, but her story was reported to the N.A.A.C.P., where a young worker by the name of Rosa Parks became the lead investigator on her case and together they sought justice. But justice wasn’t an option in the era of Jim Crow. The men who tried to destroy her were never persecuted. Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up. Their time is up.

And I just hope that Recy Taylor died knowing that her truth — like the truth of so many other women who were tormented in those years, and even now tormented — goes marching on. It was somewhere in Rosa Parks’s heart almost 11 years later, when she made the decision to stay seated on that bus in Montgomery. And it’s here with every woman who chooses to say, “Me too.” And every man — every man — who chooses to listen. In my career, what I’ve always tried my best to do, whether on television or through film, is to say something about how men and women really behave: to say how we experience shame, how we love and how we rage, how we fail, how we retreat, persevere, and how we overcome. And I’ve interviewed and portrayed people who’ve withstood some of the ugliest things life can throw at you, but the one quality all of them seem to share is an ability to maintain hope for a brighter morning — even during our darkest nights.

So I want all the girls watching here and now to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again. Thank you.”

“The World Is My Country” , an inspirational film.

Friday, January 5th, 2018

One Page flier here:World Is My Country004The World Is My Country002 Jan. 26 – Feb. 1.
Sign up for pass code here. Include “CGS” in registration box.
You can probably watch the film on your home television. Everybody’s system is unique. Ask your nearby tech whiz – grandkids are great sources – to help you connect one to the other. Here’s an on-line tipsheet.
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January 26 through February 1, 2018, the new film, The World Is My Country, will be available, free, on-line, in a special password-protected site for Citizens for Global Solutions. You’ll be able to share the CGS password with others, so they can see the inspiring story of Garry Davis, “World Citizen #1”. I strongly encourage you to at minimum view the film, and to share this communication about it.

I first learned of Garry Davis and plans for this film project in 2011, and from early on have remained active as a volunteer in, and contributor to, the project.

In the fall of 2012, I showed a very early draft of the film to a dozen high school students in St. Paul – I wanted to see how they’d react to a story told by a 90 year old man, about his adventures which began more than 50 years before they were born. It was there that I observed that this story would attract and keep the interest of young people. The World Is My Country is a permanent demonstration to today’s and future generations that citizens can and do make a difference.

All ages, I have learned while watching subsequent audiences view the film, find the film both interesting and inspiring.

The World Is My Country is the story of a young song and dance man who enters World War II as a bomber pilot. His experiences caused him to rethink the notion of war as a means to solve problems. Garry Davis is that man, and he tells his story in person at age 90. The film features rare footage of events like the opening sessions of the United Nations in Paris in 1948, and the passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. More than half of the film is devoted to addressing the idea of solutions which are open and usable by ordinary citizens as ourselves.

Citizens for Global Solutions (CGS), an organization in which I’ve long been active, has been involved since the beginning and sponsored the very successful World Premiere of “The World Is My Country” at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival in April, 2017. The filmmakers were very pleased with the success of this CGS sponsorship – as you can see here. That’s why they are offering this free week – to invite others to help sponsor the film at other film festivals, or even hold their own mini-film festival showing three or more uplifting films about global solutions. The free-week movie will state that it is a Film Festival Screener and can’t be copied or reproduced.

I helped arrange for Twin Cities public TV (TPT) to see the screener – and they liked it so much they want to broadcast it. However, TPT can’t do so until the filmmakers raise $35,000 to upgrade rights to the historic footage from “Film Festivals Only” to “All Rights and Media.” Arthur Kanegis, the director of the movie, explained to me that footage houses have preserved all the amazing historic footage in cold storage over the decades. Therefore, they charge high prices for filmmakers to license it. His plan is to raise the money by getting lots of people involved in showing it in film festivals around the country. He hopes viewers will pre-order the DVD and buy screening kits, T-shirts and other items to raise the funds needed to be able to show the film on PBS stations across the country, show it in theaters, and distribute it on sites like Netflix and Amazon.

To pre-register for the free week click here and spread the word. Also, look for the website and password at this blog on January 19. This special film will accessible to anyone with the password and access to the internet from January 26 to February 1.

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The most recent newsletter of Citizen for Global Solutions MN can be read here: CGS-MN Newsletter 2018 January final. The national CGS website is here.

POSTNOTE

Coincident with the film is a year long exhibition entitled 1968 at the Minnesota History Museum in St. Paul. It is a very interesting exhibition.

Directly related to both the film and the exhibit was a project of a bipartisan group of Minneapolis-St. Paul area leaders from 1964 forward which directly connected with Garry Davis, including in 1968. You can read and watch evidence of this project here (Lynn Elling, and the film Man’s Next Giant Leap); and here.

A history of Minnesota’s efforts with World Citizenship can be read here: Minnesota Declarations002, especially pages 3-10.

Related Post, Sunday Jan. 7, here

World War I, and War, generally.

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Saturday, Nov. 11, turned out to be a very significant day for me.

The intention was to be at the Veterans for Peace Bell Ringing at the Minnesota History Center (MHS), and that was accomplished. The same day, the 99th anniversary of the end of WWI, at the same place, was the final day of the excellent “WWI America” exhibit. Later that afternoon, the outstanding film The World Is My Country, about Garry Davis, a WWII bomber pilot who gave up his U.S> citizenship, disgusted by war.

Those who lead wars always portray them as necessary and thus good (our “side”) versus evil (theirs). It is politically useful to have an enemy. War is not nearly as simple as that. It is the young who go to die “for our country”; and who are proclaimed “heroes” when they do…. In this modern age, it has been the innocents who are slaughtered.

The entrance to the WWI exhibit at MHS said it pretty well:

(click any photo to enlarge)

The bare basics of WWI are simple: 1914-18, the good guys won, the bad guys lost. The truth is not nearly so simple. Part of another side of WWI came from my friend, Michael, who sent a long article from the Guardian newspaper expanding on the story of WWI. It is not politically correct from those who have written the official narrative of WWI, but it is very interesting. You can read the long article here.

In the hall outside the WWI Exhibit, Vets for Peace remembered Nov. 11 as Armistice Day; elsewhere in the building was a lecture about aspects of the War. In England, the day is now called Remembrance Day.

The local Vets for Peace especially recognizes the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed 1928, which was supposed to end war permanently. The Vets for Peace podium had this explanation of Kellogg-Briand:

In “The World Is My Country”, Garry Davis went to war on a B-27 as part of the U.S. Army Air force after Pearl Harbor. In the end, his conscience couldn’t square killing innocent German people from a U.S. bomber over Germany to avenge the loss of his own brother, killed aboard a U.S. Destroyer in the European theater in 1943. At 26, he gave up his U.S. citizenship, and became a stateless citizen of the world.

Davis’ story is riveting and keeps everyones attention, and especially well suited for young people of today. The film is not yet fully released, but watch for it when it is.

Back at the Vets for Peace, at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month, Bellringers rang their bells 11 times to commemorate the end of a terrible war in 1918. This is a long tradition of the local Vets for Peace. I have been to many such remembrances since 2002.

Back in the nearby WWI exhibit down the hall were three displays which particularly spoke to me: the first of the Treaty of Versailles, which helped lead to WWII; and the second which needs no explanation, coming as it did before woman gained the right to vote in the United States.

At the time of the Treaty of Versailles

Both my mother and grandmother contracted the influenza but survived. The hired man on the farm went to war and died.

The most powerful songs I know, about WWI, and the folly of war are “Waltzing Matilda”, and Green Fields of France. Give a listen.

Today, November 11, 2017, Armistice Day (aka Veterans Day)

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

Today, at 11 a.m., on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, Armistice was declared at Compeigne France ending the deadly World War I. In 1928 came the Kellogg-Briand Pact, signed by France, Germany and the United States, to hopefully renounce War. In 1939 the even deadlier https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II began when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. In 1945, WWII ended and the United Nations was born. There has not been a pandemic war for the past 72 years.

Perhaps there is hope for humanity, though wars, its seem, will always be curses on our lives.

Today is the final day of the World War I exhibit at the Minnesota History Museum in St. Paul, and at 10:30 a.m. will be a ceremony conducted by the Veterans for Peace Ch 27 which culminates, at 11 a.m., with ringing the bells of peace. Details here.

At 4 p.m. today, at the St. Anthony Main theatre in Minneapolis, the story of Garry Davis will be told in the film “The World Is My Country”. Garry Davis was a WWII bomber pilot who took ending war seriously. Details below. More about the film here.

(click to enlarge. pdf version is here: World is my Country – 2002)

Our Country Is The World

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Saturday, Jay Shahidi, President of the Minnesota chapter of the United Nations Association, commented on an aspect of the state of our world. I paraphrase what I heard Jay say: ‘about 20 years passed between the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II. It has been over 70 years, and there has been no World War III. I think a functioning United Nations is an important reason for this’.

There have been wars since WWII, of course, but nothing on the scale of the two World Wars. By the UN’s very existence, imperfect as it is, I’d join Jay’s contention that the UN has been a very positive mediating force for a better world.

At the same meeting, Prof. Joe Underhill of Augsburg University gave an excellent talk, “Connecting the local and global Minnesota’role with the SDG’s” on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Take some time to review these goals, and follow up on any that seem interesting to you.

(click to enlarge)

Joe Underhill, at UNA MN annual meeting Nov. 4, 2017

Prof. Underhill, who has strong professional credentials, including as professor, and long term involvement with the Nobel Peace Prize Youth Forum at Augsburg, laid out the basics for local grassroots involvement to make a real difference in our now global society.

Indeed, the very existence of the Sustainable Development Goals has its roots in grassroots lobbying for them at the time the earlier Millennium Development Goals came to an end in 2015. I learned this at another talk last year. The original MDG’s were developed by the UN, resulting in significant accomplishments; the new SDG’s evolved from a ground up process.

There exists a strong substructure of citizen led NGOs which have the capacity and the interest in making a big difference on local, national and Global Issues. While there will always be tensions between those in the traditional power structure (nations, leaders of nations); in the global era, citizens can and do and must have a direct impact.

In my opinion, there are two main impediments to citizen generated progress towards a better world. The first is a tendency of individuals to doubt their power to make a positive difference. The second, and greater, dilemma, is developing the ability to work together, melding people of different points of view.

At the conclusion of Saturday’s meeting I was able to announce a film, showing in Minneapolis on Saturday, November 11. The announcement is below, as well as a pdf for distribution to others: World is My Country002.

(click to enlarge)
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The film is complete, but not yet fully released. This is a film great for inspiration and for discussion. If you’re in the area of Minneapolis, I hope you can attend.

Vietnam, 17 hours, 30 years, and the road ahead.

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Earlier posts on the Vietnam series: Sep 9, Sep 13, Sep 19 , Sep 21

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I watched every hour of the now complete and powerful Ken Burns/Lynn Novick retrospective on the War in Vietnam, 1945-75.

Today begins reflection after a powerful two weeks. What does this all mean to me? To us? How can I personally translate Vietnam into personal action to help us grow, to learn, from this tragedy.

Likely, midweek next week I’ll share my thoughts, such as they will be; and I encourage you to share yours as well, including at this blog space. If you wish your own blog space, just let me know. dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom. All I ask is respectful opinion, and willingness to share your name and your own personal role 1961-75. There is no judgement. We did as we did, then. Vietnam is an indelible part of our national history. We need to own and learn, from the experience.

To begin, among a flood of memories the series brought to the surface for me, below are two: meeting Daniel Ellsberg Feb. 23, 2008; and a totally unexpected visit to the newly dedicated Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, Nov. 14, 1982.

(click to enlarge)

Then, remembering a powerful afternoon with Daniel Ellsberg and other anti-Vietnam war activists, Feb. 23, 2008: Daniel Ellsberg 2008001 Daniel was here in connection with a powerful program conceived by peace activist Frank Kroncke about the Minnesota 8, of which Mr. Kroncke was part.

Daniel Ellsberg (at right) being recognized for his contribution to peace Feb. 23, 2008, Minneapolis MN.

Here are shared some reflections received in the last days from friends. Doubtless there are thousands of such reflections, and they are just beginning. Thomas Bass, America’s amnesia; Jon Pilger. I have not picked these to pass along; they were forwarded by friends. There is room for lots of points of view in the conversations that are already being generated by this powerful series.

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At a time like this, I feel very, very, very small…what can I do?

It is not a matter of moving on; rather feeling very, very, very small.

There is a great plenty which can be done, one small act at a time.

Just being attentive to the plight of the people of Puerto Rico, a country 4% the size of Minnesota, with 60% of Minnesota’s population, devastated by hurricane. One is tempted to say that we should pay more attention to them, because they are all American citizens. But how about the residents of tiny Barbuda, essentially completely destroyed in an earlier hurricane. How do they fit into my world view? Humans, anywhere, are our brothers and sisters. The globe has no borders.

We don’t need to live within a single event. There are endless opportunities to get constructively involved.

Tuesday, October 3, I plan to join what promises to be a very interesting 4-session course on women who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Here are details. Course leader, Maureen Reed, MD, has sterling credentials to lead this course. Among other experiences, she served as Executive Director of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, through which she worked with both the Nobel Institute and its laureates. Consider enrolling, investing, in this class.

My friend, Donna, makes another suggestion: “I wanted to tell you about a group Rich and I have joined called the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM). People from many faiths are doing some actions in regards to DACA and immigration. One action is to hold a vigil from 8-9 AM on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at the Whipple Federal Building [at Ft. Snelling – near the airport]. It is there that the immigrant deportation court is housed. Last vigil we had 85 people attend, including both concerned citizens and religious. Our goal is to grow this group so if you know of anyone interested please pass the word. After last vigil some attendees attended a court hearing on someone in deportation. We have done this as well and it truly feels so evil. Many of these deportations tear stable families apart. Anyway I hope you can join us sometime and spread the word. The next vigil is scheduled for October 10, National Immigration Day.”

And on, and on, and on.

Be “on the court” for solutions.

POSTNOTE:
Take time to read this: Don’t Bother. It is long and it is depressing, but it cries out for activism. We live in this country.

Five Citizens Reflect on the Vietnam War

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Your comments are invited for a follow-up post: dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom. Please include your permission to include in a post.

Following are some thoughts about Vietnam, prior to the beginning of the 17 hour film series on PBS, Sep. 17, 2017 7 and 8:30 p.m. CDT. Here’s the schedule of programs following Sep. 17 (see pages 21 & 25): PBS Vietnam Sep 17001

(click to enlarge all photos)

photo copy of Padre Johnson sketch from 1968, used with permission of the artist.

Re the sketch, above: I’m proud to count the artist as a friend, Padre Johnson. He was a field medic in the Mekong Delta in 1968, among other vocations in life. He sketched the incident, and describes it here: Padre J Viet Combat003.

Padre is one of many Vietnam vets, including conscientious objectors and protestors, I have come to know either in person, or through others. There are many “truths”, and perhaps the best we can do is to acknowledge differences, while working to learn from the past.

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from Jim, Sep 10: Fifty years ago my brother was in Vietnam. During the spring and summer of 1967 he saved lives, both American and Vietnamese. He spoke fluent Vietnamese and had tremendous empathy for the people even the so called enemy soldiers. He was soft spoken, kind and generous and very much a hero. He was honored this year in Washington on June 17th. I included a short summary on the Minnesota History Center’s Vietnam Story Wall: here.

As I said in my writing, I grieve for his loss every single day.

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from Norm, Sep 10: I am looking forward to watching the series as I am sure are many, many other veterans who served in SEA during that war let alone many others as well.

Burns has always done a great job with his previous efforts and I expect that this one will be done well also.

There was a series (TPT) on the VNW [Vietnam War] several years ago that I thought was very good as it included perspectives, experiences, reflections and remembrances from people fighting on both sides and in between, i.e. the Montagnards, the Bru, the Sioux and the Hmong, the latter working with the CIA in the “secret war” in Laos.

The feelings about the VNW were still kind of raw at that time so I was aware of many folks including several veterans that were not comfortable with the series as it included comments and perspectives from the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong, including general Giap. In addition, it showed some of the destruction caused by the B-52’s when they “went north” over Hanoi and Haiphong in the early 70’s coming from Andersen AFB(Guam), Kadena AFB (Okinawa) and Utapao (Thailand) where I had been stationed with the BUFF’s(Big Ugly Flying F…….s)in the late 60’s.

The B-52’s had been involved in the Arc Light operations for many years bombing sites in that theater before going north and encountering SAM missiles in or near North Viet Nam. The BUFFs took heavy unsustainable losses early in the effort to go North as a result of the SAM [Surface to Air Missile] missile defenses around Hanoi and Haiphong as they would initially come in on predictable routes over those two cities.

Several of the crews became residents of the Hanoi Hilton albeit for relative short times compared to Alvarez (seven years) and McCain (five years) as the truce was signed not long after the bombing of the north began and the prisoner exchange began.

Some of the crews who survived being shot down in their B-52’s were rescued by the Jolly Greens (helicopters) and the crews of medics. Several BUFF crewman did not survive either hits on the aircrafts by the SAMs, the subsequent crash and/or their injuries from received from one or the other or both.

One of the BUFFs from Utapao was hit by a SAM when over the north and limped back to its home base before crashing just outside its perimeter as it made its final approach to the runway.

I am definitely looking forward to watching this important series.

I am sure that Burns will feature the unrest within our country related to the VNW as well which is of less interest to me as that has been so well and so often documented so many times already.

I am primarily interested in learning about what other veterans were doing in that theater at the same time that I was there, it, 1967-68 as well as when my brother was there as a helicopter pilot in the early 70-‘s working with the “little people.”

I really don’t care about the impact of the war on the domestic side of the equation for various personal reasons.

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from Larry, Sep 11: My “perspective” on War in Vietnam, with direct link to my story on the “wall”, here. And Aug 31 a radio interview at KFAI.org (here).

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from Susan, Sep 11: My husband, Tom Lucas, served four years in Vietnam. He worked in Supply, so wasn’t in the trenches. But he flew in helicopters from time to time and experienced ammunition fire.

Tom loved the children and visited orphanages often. He knew that often children were sent into areas with bombs attached to their bodies. (You probably know all about that.)

I’m sure he knew of other atrocities but never once mentioned any.

In the 37 years we were married he rarely spoke about his time there, and I never once asked him about it. I knew it was too painful for him to discuss it. Once in a great while he would be in contact with someone who also spent time in Nam and did engage in some conversation with that person. But I was not present. Tom had two photo albums he showed.

He left them laying in the living room after their meeting, and he didn’t care if I looked at them. Shortly after our first child was born I received a call from the government asking about Tom’s possible contact with Agent Orange and whether or not our child suffered any disability. Tom was not in the jungles so wasn’t in contact with Agent Orange.

That’s about all I can remember. He did receive a couple of Commendation letters, but right now I cannot recall what they were for. I know you will sum up the whole Viet Nam experience so I’ll let you add the descriptions of that war. Tom died one day short of his 62nd birthday. He planned to retire at 62. He will be gone 9 years the end of October.

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Dick Bernard, Sep 12: I am a Vietnam era Army veteran, which means I was in the service after Feb. 28, 1961. Truth be told, at the time I entered the Army, Jan. 11, 1962, I had no idea of the future significance of that time in history. A vivid memory from early in my Infantry days is of a long time Platoon Sergeant hoping to get assignment to Vietnam duty because he’d heard Saigon was good duty.

Draft Card. I must have lost the original.

I had volunteered for the Draft. At that time, we were required to register for the Draft and carry Draft cards. There was no patriotic impulse: it was something I thought I’d have to do anyway, and may as well get it out of the way. I had just graduated from college. I could have qualified for Officer Candidate School, but declined as it would have required me to extend the two year tour. I had no thoughts of conscientious objection, or alternative service. My family history has many military veterans.

My service time began at Ft. Carson, Colorado (Colorado Springs area), mid-January, 1962. My memory is that the night before we boarded a bus from Fargo ND to Ft. Carson, my roommate and I went to a movie down the street, Bridge On the River Kwai.

Ft. Carson, then, was primarily a Basic Training base for the Army. Midway through Basic Training the announcement came that an Infantry Division was being re-activated at Ft. Carson, and after we completed basic training we were virtually all transferred into this new 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized). I ended up in Company C, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry of the 1st Brigade (if memory serves) of the 5th Infantry (Mechanized). I became Company Clerk. My recollection is that there were perhaps 140 or so of us in the Company, which shared a block with Companies A and B, and a headquarters Company.

Our routine was no different than anyone else preparing for combat.

Some years ago I contributed some pictures to a website which still exists, here.

Ft. Carson CO. Best I recall, Co C was at the NE corner of the 4th full block up. This photo is from the south and dates from 1962 or so. The church we attended (all denominations) was at the very end of the base.

Succinctly, we were, at that time, a peacetime unit being prepared for war. But if there was talk about a coming war in Vietnam, I don’t recall it.

I left the Army at the end of my tour, just before the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963.

Co. C continued, and ended up in Vietnam beginning in 1968. By this time, I was back home, with a “row to hoe” – working to raise an infant. My first wife had died in 1965, and our son was 1 1/2. I saw the war develop on the news, but that was all. I had no connection to protests, for no particular reason other than home duties.

In 1967 and 1970 my two brothers entered the Air Force as officers, and the war became much more personal to me.

About the same time, Company C became heavily engaged in combat in Vietnam, though I didn’t know that till years later.

The war ended in April, 1975, thence out of sight out of mind. In mid-November, 1982, I happened to be in Washington D.C. for meetings, and while waiting for my flight out of Washington National learned that the Vietnam Memorial was being dedicated that very weekend. I went there. It was a very powerful and emotional experience. Vietnam Mem DC 1982001

It was not until last week, when I revisited the unit website, that I learned that my Company C, that small group of about 140 men for whom I had done the Morning Reports for nearly two years had, in four years between 1968 and 1971, lost 37 men in Vietnam; in all the casualties of the Battalion which had earlier shared my block at Ft. Carson totaled 145. War was, indeed, hell. I just happened to get lucky.

May my comrades rest in peace, and may we intensify our efforts for peace.

POSTNOTE: I am always conscious of people who I know are veterans, particularly so at this moment in time – that is a benefit of this 17 hour film by Ken Burns.

Yesterday I was at my barber, a retired guy who works out of his home. I’m a long time customer and we’re good friends. He’s a combat Marine vet from Vietnam – assigned as tunnel rat, at times. His brother, another Marine, was killed at 18 in Vietnam about 1968. His name is on the Wall in Washington, and here on the Minnesota Capitol grounds.

Last Thursday at the preview of the film at the PBS station, my brother, John, was with us. He was an Air Force officer, a navigator on C-141 and other transport planes, for a year or more detailed on flights into Vietnam in the early 1970s, at least once drawing heavy ground fire.

The stories go on and on. I had a chance to say my piece on film at the preview, and I said that while I didn’t think war would ever end, we certainly can do a great deal to keep it to a minimum. There are no “winners” in war, only losers. We all lose.

I stay a committed member of Veterans for Peace. I am also a long-time member of the American Legion. VFP is my personal preference. There is no perfect organization, but such groups are important.

The Nobel Peace Prize Forum

Sunday, September 10th, 2017

PRE-NOTE: Yesterdays post now includes details about Ken Burns 17-hour, 10 day film about The Vietnam War. You can check the schedule and get other information here.

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The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg University, Minneapolis, convenes this Friday and Saturday, September 15 and 16. All details are here.

The Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg began in 1989 and has a long history of excellence; it is the only international adjunct of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, which has administered and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize since its beginning in 1904.

The other Nobel Prizes are awarded in Sweden. It has never been clear why Alfred Nobel, whose fortune funded the prizes, reserved the Peace Prize for award by Norway.

John Rash wrote an interesting commentary about this years Peace Prize Forum in Sunday’s Minneapolis Star-Tribune. You can read it here.

I have been actively engaged with the Nobel Peace Prize Forum for quite a number of years. I have never been disappointed. There is a great deal to be learned, both from the sessions themselves, and the other participants. Check it out.

POSTNOTE: For those with an interest, Dr. Maureen Reed, for several years Executive Director of the Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg, will be teaching a four session series, “Of Courage and Controversy: Women and the Nobel Peace Prize“, at the University of Minnesota Oct 3 – Dec 5, 2017. All details, including enrollment information, are accessible here.

On Losing Hope…Don’t….

Monday, August 14th, 2017

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”
(Proverb, uncertain origin)

As the awful days of 2017 drag on, I am very tempted to give up. Why bother? There seems little reason to hope for any improvement in our increasingly awful status quo – a fate we freely chose last November. If you watch the news only a little, you know what I mean. Here’s a longer version of the most recent, Charlottesville. Scroll down to the quote from “Daily Stormer”, the modern voice of the Nazis.

from Carol: a two minute film from 1943

The reason for my malaise is our national leadership – our President – and a largely cowardly “win at all costs” far Right government leadership who considers people like me the enemy.

But becoming paralyzed is not good for this country. I march on.

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In my now long life, I have always emphasized personal optimism: that however bad things were, there was hope for a better future.

A friend once asked me how I came to this positive philosophy. The answer came to mind quite easily. Very early in my adult life, the short two year marriage of my wife and I ended with her death from kidney disease; and I was left with a 1 1/2 year old son, and truly insurmountable debts, mostly from medical costs.

Barbara was 22. We were in a strange place, surrounded by strangers. I was flat broke.

It was 1965, and survival was the essential; everything else was a luxury.

I didn’t give up, and with lots of help from some relatives and new friends and society in general (North Dakota Public Welfare in particular), things turned around, albeit slowly. I’ll never forget 1963-65.

Later perspective came from a career where my total job was attempting to help solve problems between people, not to make them worse.

It was a difficult job. Sometimes I feel I did okay; sometimes I was not so sure. But I gave a damn, and knew the difference between “win-win” versus “win-lose”. In “win-lose” everybody loses…. We have long been mired in “win-lose” in this country of ours.

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So, I seek optimism even in the worst of times.

A few days ago I did a blog about Al Gore’s new film on Climate Change: “Inconvenient Sequel Truth to Power“, and highlighted a long and what I felt was a very positive interview with Vice-President Gore on Fox News a week ago; and then noticed on the jacket of his 2006 “An Inconvenient Truth” the highlighted recommendation, from Roger Friedman of FOXNEWS.com. Fox News? Yes.

Yesterdays Minneapolis Star Tribune had an Opinion written by the newspapers publisher, billionaire businessman and former Minnesota legislator Glen Taylor. You can read it here.

I sent the column to a former work colleague, now in Michigan, who knew Taylor in the 1980s when he was an up and coming business man, and who, herself, successfully used “win-win” in contract negotiations. She read the column and said, “He is so correct in his observations. For one thing, this approach is less likely to produce unintended consequences that can hurt either party. Because the potential solutions are freely discussed, those potential problem areas are more likely to be seen and avoided before they happen.”

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“Win-Win” is not part of the current American environment.

But it is not time to quit. Just yesterday I was at a gathering where a current member of the U.S. Congress spoke, and he said that next week, August 21 to be precise, is when Trump has to make a crucial decision on CSR under the Affordable Care Act. “CSR”? More here about CSR and the implications of next week. Several times Cong. Walz said, yesterday, August 21 is very important. Express your opinion to your Congressperson and Senator.

Cong. Tim Walz, MN 1st District, at DFL Senior Caucus Picnic Aug. 13, 2017

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Finally, the matter of “news”, generally, and what can one believe these “fake news” days, especially from the President of the United States? There is truth out there, but it takes effort to find it, especially now. I think it is prudent to believe nothing this President says; only what he and his lieutenants do, have done, and will do, and not as reported by him, either.

Facts are complicated. A couple of days ago my long time friend Michael sent an article from a technical publication about the N. Korean ICBMs. The article, here, is difficult, and it is technical, but was reassuring in that it came from someone who I’ve known for years to be not only a PhD, but a straight talker. We all know people like Michael. Value them. Here is how Michael introduces the article: “if moral analysis does not move you, maybe technical aspects can. Ted Postol [and others have] a super essay in today’s Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists about the latest NK missile launches of Hwasong 14, probably not quite ICBM missiles.”

N. Korea is a very dangerous situation, but consider the source for any information you see or hear about it. There are “facts” out there.

Here’s my Korea Peninsula region map, once again.

Personal adaptation of p. 104 of 7th Edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World

COMMENTS
from Fred: An excellent piece, Dick. In challenging times it is tempting to withdraw, hang on and hope for the best. We need to remember that the future is not linear; its unpredictably is about all we can safely predict. Of course, that can mean even more difficult days are in our future. You’ve reminded me that a pragmatic and persistent approach in working for positive change is a most worthwhile option.