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#1058 – Dick Bernard: The Humanitarian Crises that we watch on Television. That little Kurdish boy who drowned….

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

It was heart-wrenching to see this picture in an e-mail this morning:

(click to enlarge)
demo on sunday

Here is the text of the e-mail: “Join us on Sunday, September 4 [6?], at Minnehaha Park [Minneapolis MN] to DEMAND an end to inhumane treatment of refugees, an end to tight border regulations and border walls, an end to police abuse of refugees and immigrants everywhere.

While a little Syrian boy didn’t survive his journey to safety around the world, the image of his body washed up on Turkey’s shore did. Images are not enough. As hundreds of thousands of people undertake the dangerous journey to Europe’s asylum, we must take to the streets to demand the world support them and keep them safe.



See our facebook page for more info.”

I’ve watched on every newscast the last couple of days first, the Turkish policeman carrying the lifeless body of this three year old Kurd who, with his mother and brother, drowned attempting to reach freedom. Yesterday and in today’s news we see the anguished young father returning to war-torn Syria to bury his wife and children, saying he does not plan to leave home again: he had left to help save his childrens future; now he has nothing but memories.

The news is full of stories about the tens of thousands seeking refuge from war-torn Syria in other places. We seem to say, “not our problem”….

What troubles me, as an ordinary American, is how insulated I am from these harsh realities. It is so easy to deny our place within the family of man, Watching the news images doesn’t affect me – we see so much of this so often on the tube, but most of us rarely experience anything like it, personally or through people we actually know.

We are isolated from an awful reality of so many. And life goes on: go to the State Fair, the last summer weekend at the lake, etc., etc.

For some reason, the TV image of the Turkish policeman carrying the lifeless Kurdish child reminded me of a long ago photograph from the Fargo Tornado Jun 1957003. The previous day a deadly tornado came through Fargo and West Fargo, killing at least seven people, including this little girl:

Fargo Tornado Jun 1957002

Of course, ten years ago came Katrina, devastating, particularly, New Orleans.

Ten years later, all is not back to normal, though everyone tries to put a positive face on our response to that tragedy, short and long-term.

It’s old news. So easy to forget.

Many years ago, perhaps sometime in the 1990s, an African-American minister put things in their proper context for me. I need to revisit his lesson….

By random chance, I happened to be listening to Krista Tippett’s Speaking of Faith (now called On Being) on Minnesota Public Radio, and her guest was a former evangelical Bishop down south somewhere.

He had built a very large congregation, based largely on expert preaching about the reality of Hell. He filled the hall, so to speak.

One day, at home, he happened to be watching the television news and saw the procession of refugees from the Genocide of Rwanda (1994). In the picture were children.

At that moment, he said, his definition of Hell changed, and the next Sunday, so did his message: Hell was not down there, for bad people; rather it was right here on earth for those poor refugees, particularly those innocent children.

For him, it had dire consequences. His congregants didn’t come to Church to hear messages like “hell on earth” as applied to real persons like themselves – that was too close to home for them, apparently.

His congregation quickly declined, and he literally had to start over.

I don’t remember his name, and thus I can’t find archival record.

For a moment, though, he changed my attitude, and it is good that I can remember it at least the anecdote now, and get more personally engaged.

We are, all of us, part of a much larger world, than just our home, town, state, or nation.

We best not forget that.

NOTE: Follow up post published on Sep 7, here.

from Alberder: This was a powerful post. Thank you.

from John: The hell on Earth part is true. The refugee/migration crisis of today will only get worse. But just imagine how much money is being made by the military industrial complex.

from Annelee who grew up in Nazi Germany, whose father refused to join the Nazi Party, then was drafted into the German Army as a road engineer:

Time moves on, the little Kurdish boy’s drowning, the Turkish policeman holding his lifeless body, the inconsolable father will shake most people up for a while — little will be done and people will move on with their lives glad they are not in the refugees situation.

I am guilty too of moving on with life —but memories of my past will not leave me.

I remember 1945 when 3 million Sudetenland Germans [what is now western Czech Republic] were forced to leave their homeland; when residents of what became East Germany left their homes and lived in refugee camps for a decade or more.

As you know I have a little doll house chair that keeps my memories alive. Today, my aunt Lisbeth is so much on my mind [one of those expelled from Sudetenland]. I still can see her when she handed me the little chair— she took it from her home— even though she had lost everything— she thought of me.

“Papa? may I ask why God leaves us so alone? I am NOT losing my faith, just questioning?????”

I watched 2020 last night when the Holy Father [Pope Francis]—spoke via phone to homeless and refugees.

A young man told his life story: His Mexican father brought his family to Texas where they worked to have a better life. The young man attended school in Texas— when he applied to attend the university, it was found that he and his family were illegal immigrants from Mexico. He and his family were deported to Mexico where they live in a homeless shelter.

Germany has so much to be ashamed of — from 1933-1945 — but I am proud that Germany will take 800,000 refugees to ease the suffering of people who were caught in a web not of their making.

My niece Manuela was here [from Germany]: I always tried to console Mama when she wished we would learn what happened to Papa [Annelee’s father, who refused to join the Nazi party and was drafted into the Germany Army to work on road construction – he was an engineer]. I always said that maybe it was better not to know.

Manuela: “I always wanted to know what happened to my grandpa [Annelee’s Dad] during or near the end of the war. I had it researched, which is costly, but possible now. here is what I have learned so far:

[Annelee’s Dad] was taken prisoner by the Russians during March 1945—-

He ended up in Siberia where he with other German prisoners of war built roads.

After 1945 Poland demanded German Prisoners from Russia —Papa was selected with a great number of other prisoners to be sent to Poland —- Poland sent these prisoners to Auschwitz.
While there they were killed to avenge all the Jews that Germany had killed at Auschwitz.”

NOTE FROM DICK: This is a particularly profound commentary on the reality of war. Annelee has been to Auschwitz four times, and never knew what Manuela, her niece, has revealed. The Jewish population of Poland was virtually obliterated by the Nazis; but a similar number (though fewer as a percentage of the population) of Poles were killed as well. Annelee’s “Papa” did the right thing, refusing to go along with the Nazi line, but was punished by the victors anyway. Those of us who feel we are insulated simply by virtue of thinking righteous thoughts have best think about this again. We are part of whatever system we happen to be in.

from Larry, in Fargo ND: Excellent piece on the refugees, Dick. Your comparison of the photo of the three-year old from Turkey with that photo from long ago is, sadly, appropriate and thought-provoking. As Shakespeare wrote, “what is past is prologue.” Truer words, unfortunately, were never written.

from Jeff: Good piece.

The photo was one of those that ends up changing minds. (starting to see some help for these unfortunates in EU)

As to yr preacher who had a change of view on “Hell”, I do remember that, think there was a magazine piece on him a few years back.

We apostates prefer to point to the continuing occurences of bad things happening to innocent people of course as proof of the absence of a “just” god.

Since the death of this innocent child alone, much less the people found suffocated in locked trucks, or hacked to death in Rwanda, Nigeria, (add your location), defies certainly the logic Of St Augustine and Aquinas, but certainly extinguishes the dim light of faith for many of us as well.

#1055 – Dick Bernard: Dealing with Differences. The Iran Nuclear Agreement, the Koreas, North and South, et al

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

POSTNOTE, AUGUST 28: Here is the video of the entire two-hour program on the Iran Nuclear Agreement, on which I comment, below.

A few hours before attending a two hour “Round Table” on the Iran Nuclear Agreement Monday night, I was talking with a friend, who at the same time, was monitoring tweets from another friend at some political conference somewhere. A prominent Minnesota legislator was speaking at the time, and he commented, according to the tweet, that “in my district, the only acceptable vote [on any legislation] is NO”.

He would have been talking, of course, about his “base”, the majority of voters who elected him to the legislature from their district. They obviously aren’t into the give and take of what I consider healthy politics: healthy debate accompanied by compromise to reach an always imperfect resolution. Rather their idea seem “my way or the highway”. You win or you lose, and all that matters is winning…. A certain recipe for conflict where, ultimately, everyone loses.

A few hours after the Round Table, on Tuesday morning, I noted at the top of page A4 of the Minneapolis Star Tribune the below photo, which was surrounded by a long article, “Talks yield deal to ease Korean Tensions”.

(click to enlarge)

Minneapolis Star Tribune Aug. 25, 2015

Minneapolis Star Tribune Aug. 25, 2015

Clearly these representatives of enemies of over 60 years were negotiating to resolve an issue; face-to-face with a handshake to seal a doubtless imperfect deal to both sides.

The image particularly struck me because a dozen hours earlier I watched and listened to another group of four men, talking pro and con about the Iran Nuclear Agreement before a couple of hundred of us at the Cowles Auditorium at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The below photo is representative of many that I snapped of the group.

August 24, 2015, at University of Minnesota.  From left, Terrence Flower, Oren Gross, Tom Handson, William Beeman

August 24, 2015, at University of Minnesota. From left, Terrence Flower, Oren Gross, Tom Handson, William Beeman

Each photo would have seen the four characters in a somewhat different light. Photos are simply “freeze frames”, in these digital days easily manipulated to convey the desired “spin”.

The content of the Monday gathering was no particular surprise: polar opposites invited to express their positions. A good summary was provided by Eric Black who covered the session.

William Beeman and Oren Gross apparently were the main spokespeople for the pro and con side: both were well informed and convincing; the room was probably filled with partisans, one way or the other who didn’t need convincing. Everything was very civil, but there was no bargaining, not so much as “you have a good point”….

While the Monday session was strictly a talking at, rather than talking with, exercise, it was a very worthwhile use of my time, I felt. At two hours, it is too long for airing on on-line media, which is a shame. It was very interesting to hear these four panelists talk about an extraordinarily complex topic – the multilateral Nuclear deal with Iran – to an audience which was, likely, split in its opinions about whether the deal was “good” or “bad”.

We all had an informal ballot we could fill out, assessing whether the two hours changed our individual minds on whether the deal was good or not. I answered “no”. My guess is that my answer was by far the most common vote.

We were not there to negotiate; rather to listen and learn a bit more.

Of course, this was intended, but it is also very representative of an unfortunate reality in our nation today. We are a nation filled with sound bite certainties. We make judgments based on our own fragments of information about all manner of simple and complex issues.

I happen to be in Beeman’s corner on the Nuclear deal issue (Beeman, Iran Nuclear001), but always willing to listen to other points of view.

As for “getting to yes”, those four folks (photo above) from “axis of evil” North Korea; and shining star of capitalism South Korea best represent the harsh reality of actually doing a deal, where the status quo, even on relatively simple issues from a global perspective, is difficult.

The actual negotiations for the Iran Agreement of course is infinitely more complex, but the very engagement of our countries participation and leadership in the process is worthy of congratulations to all negotiating parties.

Negotiations is part of everyones life. Why should negotiating international differences be any different?

POSTNOTE: RELATED, Note the October 9-10, 2015 Workable World Conference on Transforming the United Nations System. Details here.

Here is a link to a year-long series of posts related to international issues on this, the 70th year of the United Nations.

#1054 – Dick Bernard: Tom Atchison’s Memorial; and two upcoming events

Monday, August 24th, 2015

Saturday I went to the Memorial Service for Tom Atchison, deceased earlier this month at 93. His picture from many years earlier is below; his brief bio is here: Tom Atchison002.

Tom Atchison, undated photo

Tom Atchison, undated photo

Tom and I got along very well, serving together for three years as President and Treasurer of the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP) 2005-2007 (his service with MAP far pre-dated my own; I believe he was one of the founders of the now 20-year old alliance.)

I didn’t know till the memorial that Tom was “absolutely critical to the start of Wolf Ridge Environmental Center which began on Earth Day, 1969″ and has since given educational programming to “over 500,000 people”.

One of my own remembrances of Tom seems pertinent here. Sometime during our working relationship with MAP, I distinctly remember him sharing with me that when he graduated from Princeton in 1944 as a physicist, he was offered a job with the “Manhattan Project“. That project, of course, is synonymous with “The Bomb”; and Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He declined the opportunity, and spent the rest of his working career as a “rock guy”, a research scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Mines; and spent his spare time working for a better world in peace and with justice for all.

Strange indeed how decisions made, or not, live on for all of us.

Tom’s generation is now rapidly exiting.

We tend to read and see, still, the war stories of those who served in the military (yes, Tom was a Naval officer in WWII and then in Korea, retiring from the Naval Reserves in the 1960s).

Too seldom is it recognized that great numbers of these veterans lived on, and in one unsung way or another committed to the need for peace for the survival of all of us.

I am privileged to have known many of these unsung heroes.

There is much more to be said, of course. There always is.

Farewell, Tom. You done good!


(click to enlarge both pictures. Text of both is here: Fliers001
Sunday, we went to a small but incredibly powerful exhition at St. Paul’s Landmark Center entitled “From War to Reconciliation: Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Exhibition”. The exhibit runs August 22 – November 28, 2015. Here’s the information:

Hiroshima Nagasaki001

Today the debate continues, on the pros and cons of the Iran Nuclear Deal. We’ll be at the below session this afternoon. Be there if you can.

Iran Nuclear Deal001

It is ironic to me that for some reason the awful results in 1945 of the most deadly weapons ever invented are now, 70 years later, presented as justification for some countries, especially our own, to hold on to immense stockpiles of even more deadly weapons, while at the same time demanding that others be denied the right.

It is hardly rational to talk the talk of Peace, while insisting on being armed to the teeth, and threatening, in effect, Hiroshima and Nagasaki like solutions to today’s international problems.

We should be the ones “beating the swords into ploughshares” as a witness to the intrinsic evil of war, especially of nuclear and similar weapons designed to destroy us all.

Nuclear weapons, from display at Hiroshima Nagasaki Exhibit at Landmark Center, St. Paul Aug 23, 2015

Nuclear weapons, from display at Hiroshima Nagasaki Exhibit at Landmark Center, St. Paul Aug 23, 2015

Same source as above, Aug. 23, 2015

Same source as above, Aug. 23, 2015

Cuba? Very important too. Here’s what I wrote to President Obama and my Senators and Congresswoman about the relationship between Iran, Cuba and ourselves….
Sens Klobuchar et al re Iran and Cuba

#1052 – Dick Bernard: A Thank You to President Jimmy Carter

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

Pre-note: I was privileged to hear Jimmy Carter speak in Minneapolis March 6, 2015, in Minneapolis, at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. The near one hour talk and q&a several hundred of us heard can be viewed here.

Jimmy Carter, March 6, 2015, Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis MN

Jimmy Carter, March 6, 2015, Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Minneapolis MN

A few days ago, Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President 1977-81, and 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, announced that he has cancer. At age 90, and with a strong family history of cancer, President Carter’s long term prognosis is likely not optimistic.

Jimmy Carter has been much maligned by his enemies over the years. Their criticisms speak more about them, than about President Carter.

I happen to have always been a strong supporter of President Carter, and as his Presidential years turned into now-34 post-Presidential years, President Carter has proven to be one of our nations and worlds most outstanding and respected leaders – unless one’s criteria for success is taking the nation into war, something Jimmy Carter never did, truly a badge of honor.

Jimmy and Rosalind Carter have walked the talk of service.

He has been a prolific author. I have, and have read, most of his many books.

The Carter Center has in its 33 year history been a positive presence in many countries, particularly in the areas of human rights and health.

Jimmy Carter lent early and persuasive support to the Habitat for Humanity program.

He gave a most positive definition to the word “Christian”, for many years leading a public Bible discussion group at his Church in Plains, Georgia.

He is one of a select group, and the only American, of The Elders, an organization founded by Nelson Mandela to share wisdom with the rest of us.

When his term on earth ends, the ledger sheet will show that he more than paid his dues.

Thank you, President Carter.

#1051 – Anne Dunn: Meeting Billy Mills

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

The item which follows from Anne Dunn*, was forwarded to me by my sister, Flo, June 8, 2015. We had been trying to decide on an appropriate Native American recipient of a financial gift in honor of our Aunt Edithe. Edithe had been especially attentive to Native American fundraising appeals.

Anne’s commentary was originally on her Facebook page, and is forwarded with her permission. It helped Flo and I decide that Billy Mills organization “Running Strong“, was a good recipient for a family gift in memory of Aunt Edithe.

Possibly Aunt Edithe's introduction to Running Strong, a Date Book.  This one had no website.  The 2004 edition includes a website.

Possibly Aunt Edithe’s introduction to Running Strong, a Date Book. This one had no website. The 2004 edition includes a website.


Anne Dunn

Billy Mills, Running Strong

Billy Mills is the second Native American to win an Olympic gold medal. Jim Thorpe had won two gold medals in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. Mills ran the 10,000 -meter competition at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to become the only American to ever win the gold in this event. His victory has been considered one of the greatest Olympic upsets.

A former United States Marine, he is a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. He was born (June 30, 1938) in Pine Ridge, South Dakota He was orphaned at age 12 and raised on the reservation by his grandmother. He took up running while attending the Haskell Institute (Haskell Indian Nations University) in Lawrence Kansas.

After he graduated he joined the USMC. He was a First Lieutenant in the Marine reserves when he competed in the 1964 Olympics.

He later set US records for 10,000 m (28:17.6) and the three-mile run, and had a 5,000 m best of 13:41.4. In 1965 he and Gerry Lindgren both broke the world record for the six-mile run. They finished in a tie at AAU National Championships, running 27:11.6.

On February 15, 2013, Mills met with President Obama at the White House to receive the Presidential Citizens Award for his work with Running Strong for American Indian Youth. His broad based nonprofit humanitarian organization has international ties. The medal is the nation’s second highest civilian award

In 1983 a movie was made of his life. “Running Brave” features Robby Benson in the starring role.

I met Billy Mills many years ago. We were standing over a garbage can at a school picnic on the Red Lake reservation. I was working for the Bemidji school district and had been asked to chaperone a group of Native American students that had been invited to the event.

He was disposing of his paper plate, plastic utensils and milk carton when I asked him for his (already been used) spoon. He was a bit unnerved by the unusual request but he put the spoon into my waiting hand. Then I asked for his milk carton, too. Now he was curious.

“Why do you want these things?”

“I will donate the carton to the school athletic department,” I told him. “I’ll ask that it be displayed in the trophy case. The spoon I will keep for a memento of the day I met Billy Mills.”

I suppose he was mildly flattered for he smiled and asked my name. Then he shook my hand and walked away.

The milk carton was accepted and placed in the trophy case where it stood for several years. Then, one day it disappeared! I suppose it looked like old garbage and someone had tossed it into the trash.

At first, I showed the spoon to everyone. But almost no one believed my story. The problem was that it looked like a hundred billion other plastic spoons. So one day I put it in my jewelry box and didn’t take it out for several years.

Then Florence Hedeen called to tell me that Billy Mills was going to speak at the school in Park Rapids. I decided to attend and to take the spoon with me. My friend LeRoy Chief, also from Pine Ridge, said he would ask Mills to autograph the unremarkable spoon.

The next problem was… would Billy Mills remember? Would he think I was just some old groupie trying to get his attention?

I arrived at the high school to find several friends waiting. They had saved a front row seat for me. Afterwards I approached the world-renowned speaker and asked if he would sign my spoon? He smiled and greeted me like an old friend! I took the spoon from my pocket. He whipped out his sharpie and wrote: “Billy Mills Olympic 10 K Gold.”

The event made front page news! There we were above the fold! A blurry black and white image of me with Billy Mills and the remarkable plastic spoon!
Years later he would visit the Bugonaygeshig School and run with students and staff. My daughter Annie was working there at that time. They were both former marines and ran together. After a few minutes she asked if he remembered her mother and the plastic spoon. He stopped in his tracks and gasped, “That woman is your mother?”

Mills, also known as Makata Taka Hela, lives in Fair Oaks, California, but still travels for his non-profit agency as an inspirational speaker.

I met him again when I attended a wellness conference for seniors at the Black Bear Casino Hotel (June 2010). Marlene Stately and I were sharing room 339. When I saw Billy Mills eating alone in the dining room, I dragged Marlene to his booth and introduced us.

He was so gracious! He pretended to remember me but was actually quite baffled until I mentioned my Marine daughter and the plastic spoon. Then he offered us a hearty smile and invited us to sit with him.

We sat with him for about 30 minutes and we spoke of many things. It was exciting to hear this famous man speaking with passion about helping his fellow Native Americans.

He likes to quote his father: “Follow your dreams. Every dream has a passion. Every passion has its destiny.”

His father also told him, “Know yourself and find your desire.” With desire comes self-motivation. Then comes work. With work comes success.

He ran a 5k fun run on New Year’s Eve about three years ago. Not only his daughters but his wife beat him! He saw them waiting for him to come in. I’m sure he thought about his glory days.

When had he become an old man with bad knees?

Let me leave you with more encouraging words from my hero, Billy Mills:

“God has given me the ability. The rest is up to me. Believe. Believe. Believe.”

“My life is a gift from my Creator. What I do with my life is my gift back to Creator.”

“What I took from the Olympic Games was not winning an Olympic gold medal but an understanding of global unity through dignity of character and pride of global diversity. And global unity through global diversity is also the future of mankind.”

“The ultimate is not to win, but to reach within the depths of your capabilities and to compete against yourself to the greatest extent possible. When you do that, you have dignity. You have the pride. You can walk about with character and pride no matter in what place you happen to finish.”

* – Anne M. Dunn is a long-time and wonderful friend, an Anishinabe-Ojibwe grandmother storyteller and published author. She makes her home in rural Deer River, MN, on the Leech Lake Reservation. She can be reached at twigfigsATyahooDOTcom. She has several previous posts at Outside the Walls. You can read them all here.

A personal story about Red Lake, experienced in August, 1988, can also be found here.

#1050 – Dick Bernard: Nagasaki, August 9, 1945. A Message to the Peace Movement.

Monday, August 10th, 2015
Woodbury MN Aug 30, 2008, Kathy Kelly (kneeling, in black, in front), with group.

Woodbury MN Aug 30, 2008, Kathy Kelly (kneeling, in black, in front), with group.

Most everything has been said, many times, about the deadly ending of WWII at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The second atom bomb exploded over Nagasaki, Japan, 70 years ago yesterday (August 9, 1945). It was scarcely news in the public sphere yesterday.

It occurred to me that while I knew plenty about the deadly events in Japan, I’d never really checked where the cities actually were, to give some context. So, here’s where Hiroshima and Nagasaki are in relationship to each other, and to Tokyo. (While looking at the map, note the proximity of the Korean Peninsula and Japan.)

There is another piece of context usually missed.

Recently I was watching a re-broadcast of the last segment of Ken Burns, War, about the end of World War II. The U.S. possessed two A-bombs, it was said, and if Japanese surrender hadn’t come after Nagasaki, the war would have continued.

What if a third bomb had been available then, and a decision had to be made to use it? Or four, or ten, or 50 were available and “needed”? Would we have bombed Japan essentially out of existence? Would that have brought lasting peace?

Japan is not a tiny country; even then it was very heavily populated (about 80 million, one-fourth the current population of the United States). Today it has 127 million people, about 40% of U.S. population.

Alternatively, what would have happened if no A-bombs had been available to drop on Japan at the awful, bitter, end?

There are many opinions, all speculative, to answer these questions – what we think might have happened.

We now possess a huge arsenal of deadly weapons that are too frightening for someone sane to actually use in war, yet we continue to insist on keeping this huge stockpile, and condemning others who even consider the possibility of having even one of their own.

One wonders what we are thinking? Or, whether we are thinking at all.

Yesterday there were events commemorating Nagasaki, and speeches about what it means to us as a civilization. But mostly, August 9 was off the radar.

But not all was quiet.

Yesterday, a group of which I am a founding member, the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation, awarded its 2015 Peace Prize in Los Alamos NM, where the atomic bomb experiment became a deadly reality in 1945.

This years award winner, I learned overnight, was Kathy Kelly, who we hosted overnight August 29, 2008, when she and seven others were completing the last day of a walk from Chicago to St. Paul to witness for peace (Photo begins this post, above). Several folks from the Twin Cities area joined the group for their last several miles, ending at the College of St. Catherine.

Kathy’s group was very impressive and committed, I recall. Kathy obviously continues her quest for an enduring Peace in the world.

While people today generally yearn for Peace, the public atmosphere seems far more one of hopelessness than hope, in effect: “What can I do? Nothing.”

That 1964 movie, “Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”, comes to mind.

Still, there is a massive and ready market for peace in our country and around the world.

But the salesforce for peace – people like Kathy and the Peace Memorial Foundation – have to drastically change their marketing strategy, in my opinion. This will take much introspection, and retooling of tactics. Otherwise a noble message will continue to be marginalized, and those who “Love the Bomb” will remain dominant.

But all is not hopeless:

For the first time in many years, there are active and efforts at the highest levels of government to change the conversation about relationships between the United States, and Cuba, and Iran; indeed all countries. Building such relationships had seemed hopeless, but they are proceeding, and that is very good news.

My friend, Ehtasham Anwar in Pakistan, has his own driving dream of a peaceful world, and he has the drive to achieve his dream. He and I and others visited here in June; his goal for us is a United States Alliance of Peacemakers.

94-year old Lynn Elling, Naval officer in WWII, witnessed for peace at the Concordia Language Villages at Bemidji MN last Friday, rededicating the World Citizen Peace Site his organization established years ago. Sometimes his quest seems quixotic, impossible, but he’ll never quit.

Peace activities continue between St. Paul MN and its now 60 year friendship with sister city Nagasaki, Japan.

In early October, 2015, another friend, 88 year old Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, witnesses for peace with a very important Creating a Workable World Conference in Minneapolis.

These folks and many, many others simply need to coalesce together, in concert, towards a common goal: a peaceful and sustainable world.

As the song some years ago so clearly said, “We Are The World” (The long version).

POSTNOTE: a powerful eight minute video received from a friend, today.

#1049 – Dick Bernard: August 6, 2015: The Atomic Bomb at 70. Reflecting on Peace.

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

PRE-NOTE: The U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation will award its 2015 Peace Prize in Los Alamos NM on Sunday August 9. The event will be live-streamed. You can access information here.

Numerous observances have been and are being held on this deadly anniversary of the first use in war of a nuclear bomb: Twin Cities of St. Paul/Minneapolis; St. Paul; other events in many places. Consider joining something, somewhere.

Some quotations from Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer and Charlie Chaplin on the Atomic Bomb.

Related post: here.

(click to enlarge all photos)

Peace Plaza Fountain, Rochester MN Aug 4, 2015

Peace Plaza Fountain, Rochester MN Aug 4, 2015

Today is the 70th anniversary of the first use of the Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, the first of only two uses of the deadly bomb as a weapon of War (Nagasaki was August 9, 1945).

The United States is the only country to have ever actually used the bomb in warfare.

The United States and Russia have over 90% of the total arsenal of nuclear weapons worldwide. The U.S. alone has over 7,000 nuclear weapons, hardly a good example of disarmament. Only 9 of over 190 world countries have nuclear weapons.

My personal reflections about August 6, 1945 was written ten years ago. That column was published in the August 6, 2005 Minneapolis Tribune: Atomic Bomb 1945001

Of course, there were differences of opinion about The Bomb in 1945, in 2005, and now. I won’t solve those arguments here.

My intention is simply to open space for dialogue and reflection.

The most recent American Legion magazine (I’m a military veteran and long-time Legion member) has a long article defending the assertion that being armed to the teeth with thousands of nuclear warheads is good, essential even, for U.S. national security. I think such a notion is insane, but here’s the article from my copy of the magazine: Amer Legion A-Bomb001

Both articles represent a reality, then and now, of how a world divided inevitably fails: the downside of powerful people cultivating enmity and division among peoples to achieve and maintain dominion, power and control anywhere. In war, ultimately, everyone loses. Each war is progressively more dangerous. In many ways we now live on a planet without borders. We are at the point where we risk destroying everyone and everything.

But division for the purpose of asserting dominion is, unfortunately, a tactic that is still useful, though never long term. Study any in a long line of those who lusted after long-term victory, power and control, including in our own country.


Emphasis on peace is a hard, but much better, road to travel. Peace is a process of inches, never simple. But we see evidence of it every day, everywhere.

I saw it on display Tuesday at the “Peace Plaza” in Rochester MN, just down the street from the famed Mayo Clinic, through whose doors enter people in medical crisis, from many cultures.

Tuesday is best conveyed in pictures (click to enlarge them):

1. The older man, likely Arab, sitting quietly next bench over, feeding the birds with bread crumbs kept in his pocket.

Rochester MN Aug 4, 2015

Rochester MN Aug 4, 2015

2. The man and woman, likely father and daughter, who spoke quietly, conversing in Spanish.

Rochester MN Aug 4, 2015

Rochester MN Aug 4, 2015

At one point the younger woman, obviously a very gifted dancer or gymnast, posed for her Dad in front of the Peace Fountain, and he took her photo with his iPhone.

3. And finally, the crowd that began to swell nearby, for some unknown reason. But it was obvious that they were proud to be together:

Rochester MN Aug 4, 2015

Rochester MN Aug 4, 2015

Turned out, they were together to celebrate successful completion of a summer project to set up mini-libraries in Rochester, for the purpose of quietly improving literacy. There was a ribbon cutting, and the Mayor read from a childrens book.

After they left, I looked at the fruit of their labor – the mini-library which will remain on Peace Plaza, cousin to (apparently) many others around Rochester, and in other places.

War was not welcome in Rochester, on Tuesday…a typical scene everwhere.

Rochester MN Mini-Library at Peace Plaza Aug 4, 2015

Rochester MN Mini-Library at Peace Plaza Aug 4, 2015

So, which reality will dominate us forward from today? Peace, or permanent and unending war or threat of war? Neither can be successfully imposed unilaterally. Both require negotiation of differences towards and compromise, such as the recent and difficult negotiations with Iran.

Watch the emphasis of the questions and responses of the first presidential debate tonight. This is the face of America that the rest of the world will see.


Our planet cannot survive war.

Any two people in relationship must negotiate differences, constantly. Why should it be any different among nations?

Neither choice is easy. There are downsides, as my relatives conveyed in their letters (above commentary) back in the summer of 1945. Though it is never perfect (it is, after all, negotiation) reaching an imperfect agreement is far better than the alternative.

Peace takes work, lots of work; and it takes an ability to understand, appreciate and negotiate differences, including amongst “birds of a feather” who seem to have the same basic beliefs, but are hampered by the same competitive power struggles that hobble societies at large.

Peace will continue to happen neighbor-to-neighbor; town-to-town; but it also must happen all the way up the line through the leaders we select by our action or inaction at the local, state and national level.

My opinion: a huge stockpile of nuclear weapons in our arsenal is not a deterrent; it is an expression of national insanity.

There is a better way. Let’s work towards it.


POST NOTE: This week was also National Night Out in the United States. This is a week to highlight neighborliness in our communities.

Doubtless the event I witnessed at Rochester’s Peace Plaza on Tuesday was related in some way to National Night Out; and was the culmination of an activity that began in March.

People prefer peace. We ordinary citizens are the one who must lead the conversation about peace everywhere, including in our world.

Let’s rid ourselves of the illusion, as the Aircraft Carrier below, that massive weapons of war reflect any solution to anything.

A United States Aircraft Carrier, Summer 2015, too often the kind of symbol that represents our image to the rest of the world.

A United States Aircraft Carrier, Summer 2015, too often the kind of symbol that represents our image to the rest of the world.

from Joyce D Aug 6:
from Juan Cole, Informed Comment (Includes President Obama’s speech, August 5, 2015.)

from Norm H: Thanks, Dick.

Some good food for thought and the basis for some serious thinking and reflection.

I am one who does think that dropping the A-Bomb twice on Japan was absolutely necessary and really the only way to eliminate the need for an invasion of Japan that would have resulted in thousands and thousands of US casualties. In spite of their significant losses of land, men and material as the Allied forces marched up the Pacific towards Tokyo, the Japanese military was till not convinced that waving the white flag was a better alternative than preparing to defending the homeland from the pending Allied invasion.

And, dropping the two bombs did bring Japan to the table and the end of the war even though there were still members of the military who wanted to fight on till the death literally and figuratively.

The problem with all of the above is, of course, that it opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box of the potential for nuclear warfare….and lead to many years of détente and the Cold War…with the operating theory being that at least in terms of Russia and the United States, if each nation could theoretically destroy the other given their respective nuclear arsenals, that “peace” would exist.

As an Air Force intelligence officer during that time, I was particularly aware of the reality of that situation.

Of course, once the Box had been opened, other countries began to develop nuclear weapon capacities which began to challenge…perhaps only in a minor way…the integrity, if you will. of détente.

The Cold War ended and historical researchers will no doubt spend time trying to sort out whether Russia was actually ever as strong as the US claimed as justification or its arsenal and defensive capability build-up in terms of nuclear weapon capacity let alone the ability to deliver those weapons during that period of time.

So, while I have no doubt what-so-ever given the situation in 1945 that the dropping of the two bombs was necessary, the result was the opening of Pandora’s Box which could never again be closed on the matter.

On the other hand, many countries were developing the nuclear weapon technology so it was just a matter of time before some country either used it or used the threat of its use as leverage for some strategic position or policy.

#1048 – Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg: Remembering India’s Early Support for ‘One World’

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

PRE-NOTE: Too rarely, in this age of sound-bites, Twitter feeds, Text messaging, analysis by headline and screen crawlers, and similar shorthand, and other often blatantly false “forwards”, comes a breath of fresh air, an actual ‘back-and-forth’: an e-mail between two friends with acknowledged expertise about their topic of conversation.

What follows is such an e-mail exchange, shared with permission of the authors, Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, Distinguished International Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Manu Bhagavan, about Dr. Bhagavan’s book “The Peacemakers”.

This e-mail was received July 23, 2015.
Dick Bernard


[Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg]:
Several friends have suggested that the following exchange between me and Manu Bhagavan, who has written an excellent book on early Indian support for world citizenship and world government might be of interest to a wider audience. Manu has encouraged its being put out in the form of a blog, which is now happening. I have edited out a few sentences that would be of interest to nobody but Manu and me and inserted, in square brackets, a few short notes for those whose knowledge of India might be a bit fuzzy. The exchange has, I believe, interest from both a historical and a human interest perspective and contains some lessons for those who see themselves as World Citizens. Manu, a historian of modern India at Hunter College of the City University of New York, is a guy you would like to know. Among his five published books is one entitled Speaking Truth to Power. His interview with Garry Davis, World Citizen No. 1, was broadcast on World Citizen Radio. He maintains a close connection with the World Federalist Movement and will likely be making a presentation to World Federalists in connection with their annual Council meeting this November in New York.

Joe Schwartzberg
Director, The Workable World Trust


Dear Manu,

Several days ago, I finished reading The Peacemakers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, It is written in a very readable, jargon-free style, tells an interesting story, and is exceedingly well documented. I learned much from reading it. . . . . .

While there is no reason why you should know this, you may be interested to learn that, on my first trip to India in 1955-56 I made a point of meeting the then head of the Indian World Federalist Movement, C.L. (Chiranjilal) Paliwal. We became and remained good friends until his death (I believe it was in the late 1970s). On that and subsequent trips I was often his house guest and had many discussions with him about world federalism, and, more generally, about world and Indian politics; and he shared with me many of his reminiscences of the freedom movement in which he played an active role as a student leader and close associate of Gandhi. (He was jailed twice for his activities.) . . . .

Another relevant outcome of my first and subsequent trips to India was that they reinforced my conviction about the potential efficacy of World Federalism, not as a global panacea, but as the most suitable system (among other possibilities) within which to address global problems, I viewed the diverse nation of India as a microcosm of the world and reasoned that, If India, despite its enormous problems and limited resources, could maintain a viable system of federal democratic governance, so too, could the world as a whole, with its comparable problems, but vastly greater resource endowment. . . . . .

I offer below what I regard as my only significant criticism of your work, namely its excessively hagiographic portrayal of Nehru and Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit [Nehru’s sister and a leading Indian diplomat]. (Your recognition of the genius and moral steadfastness of Gandhi, on the other hand, was warranted.) Of course, you are in good company in lionizing those two leaders and there was a time when I would have subscribed to your views.

As you point out , Nehru and his sister were children of enormous privilege. They moved in elite circles and habitually captivated the intelligentsia (even most of the impoverished intelligentsia), political leaders, diplomats and the media. Their vision was truly global. But, while they struggled mightily on the global stage for an independent India, embedded in “One World” [Nehru was immensely impressed with Wendell Willkie’s 1943 book with that title] with equal rights for all human beings, they never, to the best of my knowledge, engaged themselves wholeheartedly in the struggle to bring equal rights and opportunities to India’s own marginalized groups, in particular, the scheduled castes [the official name for ex-untouchables] and adibasis [tribal peoples]. They could have made a big difference, but failed to do so. They were more concerned, it appeared, with the plight of black and native Americans, than with the counterparts of those groups in India itself. . . . .

It is one thing, when one is out of power to rail against the injustices of a system that denies many groups — especially colonized peoples — their political and social due. And Nehru and Mme. Pandit were superb spokespersons for a moral agenda to which millions of people worldwide could resonate, And they basked in the adulation that came their way. (I think here of Barack Obama’s undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.) But talk is cheap. What really constitutes a test of character is what one does when one actually holds power and has to make tough and binding decisions. Nehru failed the test in Kashmir, in Goa and later, disastrously so, in his handling of the Sino-Indian boundary disputes. [The failure in Kashmir was not following through on his 1947 promise to hold a UN-directed plebiscite to determine the state’s future; in Goa it was the seizure in 1961 of territory by military force; and in the dispute with China it was India’s unwillingness to consider very reasonable compromise proposals put forward by Zhou En-lai in 1960,]

On p. 161 of your book, you quote Nehru as saying, in the wake of the 1962 military debacle in its border encounter with China: “We were living in a world of illusion. … [W]e were getting out of touch with reality in the modern world and were living in an artificial world of our own creation. We have been shocked out of it.” You then go on to argue that, Nehru’s disillusionment notwithstanding, Mme, Pandit kept the faith. I disagree. In 1963 or’64 (as I recall),when the University of Pennsylvania, where I was then teaching, awarded her an honorary doctorate, she made a speech about India’s border disputes with China that I thought was exceedingly bellicose, inappropriate, and often factually inaccurate. It went over well, however, because China was then the bad guy du jour (not to mention her enduring charisma); so I found myself in a small minority of dissenters.

To return to the global stage, it is one thing to proclaim lofty goals, such as those embodied in the two major human rights conventions and pretend that they have the force of international law (which, in theory, they do), but quite another thing to follow through meaningfully on the implicit promise of such conventions by establishing a system of enforcement and of punishment for offenders. The longer the disconnect continues, the greater the loss of respect for the system as a whole. Happily, a beginning has been made in rectifying this problem globally with the creation of the ICC and the adoption of the R2P paradigm. But we have a long, long way to go.

Once, when I was having dinner at the home of Ashish Bose, India’s leading demographer, another guest, his aunt, a member of the Lok Sabha [the lower house of india’s Parliament] from Assam, asked him, “Well, what do you think, Ashish? Should I introduce a bill raising the legal age for marriage from 16 to 18?” I then asked her: “Wouldn’t it be better to enforce the laws you already have than to enact bigger and better laws that few people will take seriously?” To this, Ashish responded: “You don’ understand, Joe, India wants to be judged by the enlightened nature of its laws, not by what it actually does?” This applies, I’m afraid, to much of what Nehru and Mme. Pandit were doing , or arguing for, at the UN. They knew the problems in theory, but they didn’t demonstrate a good grasp of what the real world was like.

This criticism, I would argue,applies to most of my World Federalist friends and renders them fair targets for the accusation of being naive utopians. Obviously, ideals are important; but to achieve lasting changes, one has to find or create a workable mix of idealism with an understanding of real world power relationships. Otherwise, one loses credibility and effectiveness. That is why I’ve scaled down my emphasis on World Government as our common goal (while noting that it remains my preferred goal; cf. 2nd full paragraph of page 2 of my book and 1st full paragraph of p.297). I argue instead for the creation of a workable, though clearly imperfect, world. That is a general goal on which virtually all people of good will can agree. But it will garner little support unless one can demonstrate that there are, in fact, ways of dealing with problems much better than those on which the UN presently relies, mired as it is an anachronistic Westphalian rule system. Hence, the “Designs” in the title of my book.


[Manu Bhagavan]
Dear Joe:

Thank you, so much, for this careful reading of my book. I am grateful for the considered engagement. I’d be very happy if you chose to publish this somewhere, either as a review, or, less formally, as a blog post. It’s a great way to promote debate around the issues. . . . .

I’d love to see the Paliwal interview and to discuss other aspects of your experience. I’d really appreciate your insights.

Of course, I think we may have a few disagreements, but perhaps not as many as you describe. For instance, I concede in the book that Kashmir, Goa, and the Sino-Indian war were tripping points. But mistakes or shortcomings do not negate everything else, and there is much that Nehru and his sister accomplished, and where they were true to their ideals.

On the 3 major faults: I have a paper coming out on human rights, self-determination, and the question of Kashmir. I concede, as I indicate in the book, that this was the one issue on which Nehru ultimately was not able to rise above. Goa and the Sino-Indian conflict I largely chalk up to Krishna Menon, [India’s then Minister of Defence], though of course Nehru went along. I have another paper coming out where I discuss the Sino-Indian issue briefly, . . . . I’ll be bringing out an edited book that will address some of this in more detail shortly. . . . .

I agree that Nehru could have done much more to address the problem of caste, though I think we could have a fruitful discussion on the issue, and on locating Nehru somewhere between Gandhi and Ambedkar [an ex-untouchable who was the chief architect of India’s Constitiution] on the spectrum of moralism and law in change making.

I don’t think that your assessment of Mme Pandit, based on her Penn talk, is particularly fair, as you might have guessed. I don’t know what she said there, of course, but considering the nature of the setback and the humiliation following the war, and her brother’s despair, I think it hardly unexpected that she would give a rousing defense of India’s position in a foreign forum in the immediate aftermath. But she did deal in more internal ways with the critics, as I indicate. And, importantly, she also returned to speak for the old internationalist vision in the years that followed, in public and private settings. Her general position remained Nehruvian internationalist, and the talk you mention seems the exception. Most significantly, she and her daughter broke publicly with Indira Gandhi, and suffered for it, when they thought she was going down a dark path [initiating a period off emergency rule that lasted from 1975 to 1978], and taking the country with her. I’d say that that is indeed indicative of someone who “kept the faith.”

I don’t think it fair, either, to claim that Nehru was about showpiece laws and not about real change. Almost all of the new scholarship reassessing the Nehruvian period, whether economically or socially, reveals substantive progress on many an issue. This isn’t to say that everything was perfect. Nehru was powerful, but he wasn’t a dictator. He held the foreign minister portfolio, and so was much freer to act internationally, and domestically was much more constrained by cacophonous parliamentary democracy.

My position . . . . is that Indira Gandhi systematically undermined and destroyed the Nehruvian state. Nehru’s was an imperfect model, but what it could accomplish was going to take time. . . . .

Both the ICC and R2P [International Criminal Court and the Responsibility to Protect] have come under withering criticism from numerous scholars for being neo-imperial western tools. I don’t think that they are an unmitigated good. But I agree that they are, overall, positive steps, but ones that must take place in concert with other major changes to make the system more effective and fair. (I say this as someone who has heard Kofi Annan explain the reasons for R2P and who has met Ocampo and Bensouda [ICC prosecutors] on occasions, and who deeply admires Bill Pace and the work he has done.)

Anyhow, I say all of this only in the spirit of engagement. Not at all to be defensive. I love the fact that you have such a passionate take on the book, and that you have taken the time to write. Thank you!! . . . .



#1046 – Dick Bernard: 50 years ago today. A personal memory. Remembering a death.

Friday, July 24th, 2015

(click to enlarge all photos)

At the Busch farm, August 1964.  Barbara at right, Dick next to her.  Grandma and Grandpa Busch at left.

At the Busch farm, August 1964. Barbara at right, Dick next to her. Grandma and Grandpa Busch at left.

Yesterday afternoon, enroute to a meeting, I stopped to take a couple of photos:

3315 University Avenue SE, Minneapolis MN July 23, 2015

3315 University Avenue SE, Minneapolis MN July 23, 2015

University of Minnesota Hospital, Minneapolis, July 23, 2015

University of Minnesota Hospital, Minneapolis, July 23, 2015

Fifty years ago today I lived in a rented upstairs room in this house, just a block from KSTP-TV; and my wife, Barbara, was in the University Hospital less than two miles away, my memory says on 8th floor, in intensive care, .

It had been a very long two months since we arrived in Minneapolis in late May, when Barbara was admitted for a hoped for kidney transplant, her only remaining option to live.

This particular Saturday morning, 50 years ago today, she had fallen into a coma, and at 10:50 p.m. she died. The previous day there had been a brief rally, not uncommon for those critically ill.

Among the whisps of memory was my going to the Western Union office in downtown Minneapolis after she died, sending a telegram to relatives.

Communications was not instant, then. Mine was a very succinct message.

While death is never expected, particularly in one only 22 years old, there really was little hope left: three major operations in two months, no kidney transplant.

July 25, alone, I drove west to Valley City, North Dakota, where the funeral was held on July 29.

In a family history I wrote for our son on his 18th birthday in 1982 I remembered the day of the funeral this way: August 1965001

It was a very lonely time, I have never been able to recall many specifics of particularly the first month after her burial, but life went on for 1 1/2 year old son Tom and I.

It was very early in my life too – I was 25 – and I grew up in a hurry. It has informed my life and my attitudes ever since.

I became very aware of how important and how broad “community” is in society.

There were, out there, among family, friends and many others, people who in diverse ways helped us get through the very hard times. By quirk of fate, the funeral was one day before President Lyndon Johnson signed into federal Law the Medicare Act, societies immense gift to the elderly of this country, one of whom is now me. Here’s Grandpa Busch’s first Medicare card, dated July 1, 1966: Medicare card 1966001

Today in our country we debate whether or not everyone should have a right to medical insurance; whether it is a responsibility of the individual, or of society at large.

Medicare was debated then, too.

It was not on Barbara’s or my radar screen. Debate is a luxury when survival is the only issue.

Our married life was very short, only two years, and almost 100% of the time distracted by the progression of a finally fatal illness. We never really got to know what a “normal” marriage might have looked like.

I think we would have done well together, but that is sheer speculation. The inevitable tensions of a normal marriage were something we were never able to experience.

Three weeks ago I made a visit to Barbara’s grave in Valley City. It is in St. Catherine’s Cemetery, high on a hill just east of town.

June 29, 2015, Valley City ND St Catherine's Cemetery

June 29, 2015, Valley City ND St Catherine’s Cemetery

St. Catherines Cemetery, Valley City ND June 29, 2015

St. Catherines Cemetery, Valley City ND June 29, 2015

Yesterday I went briefly into the University Hospital, including up to the eighth floor, which is now used for other purposes than 50 years ago.

In the lobby area I lingered for a moment by a plaque recognizing the founding of University Hospital in 1916, near 100 years ago.

University of Minnesota Hospital, July 23, 2015

University of Minnesota Hospital, July 23, 2015

Elsewhere, in the medical wing of University Hospital, doubtless were patients for whom yesterday was, or today will be, the last day of their lives.

It is the single immutable fact that we all face: at some point we will exit the stage we call “life”.

Take time to enjoy the trip. The Station001

My public thanks, today, to everyone who helped Tom and I, in any way, back then in 1965, before and after, especially the public welfare system and public and private hospitals.

#1043 – Dick Bernard: Going to Peace. A Reflection on Detente with Iran.

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

POSTNOTE, July 18: see “The Women in the Yard. Looking for Clara”, here.

Going through old papers and photos of a deceased relative can be tedious, but occasionally something pops up, as did this photo a few days ago.

(click to enlarge)

A farm family, the summer of 1943

A farm family, the summer of 1943

While not of my town, or my family tree either, I have some knowledge of this farm family in the summer of 1943. Sr. Victorine, of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet in St. Paul, was a good friend in her last years. She passed on in October, 2010.

I never knew that her brother was Francis, at right in this family photo taken in the summer, 1943, in rural ND. (The entire family is in the photo, save their mother, Clara, who was probably taking the picture. On the back of the picture are written the names of the Charles Long family. From left, as identified by a family member, they are: Leonard, Clem, Marcella, Charles, Sr. Victorine, John and Francis Long.)

The 1976 town history (Berlin ND) says that Francis was “Killed in Saipan, July 2, 1944“. A short article from, likely, the Fargo Forum, says that Francis dropped out of high school to go in the service. In the Berlin history, he is listed as “deceased” in the class of 1943.

A letter from my Grandma Rosa to her son, my uncle Lt. George W. Busch, officer on the USS Woodworth in the Pacific, dated August 20, 1944, sums it all up well: “[W]e had a Memorial Mass for Francis Long killed July 2 on Saipan in action Sister Victorine was here to come to visit us on Fri afternoon is done with school now has one test to take then she has her Masters Degree in Science she did very well looks so good too but all felt so badly….

So goes war, willing heroes, full of all of the brash confidence and invulnerability of youth. Francis was probably 19, just starting life, when he died.

I think of Francis and family this day because this week a major agreement was reached between U.S. and Iran negotiators.

The media is full of commentary about this agreement, and people who stop by this blog can find far more than adequate information in other sources, on all sides about the technical details, and dead-certain positions and opinions about it.

President Obama framed this pretty well, yesterday: “Either the issue of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon is resolved diplomatically through a negotiation or it’s resolved through force through war.”

Either we figure out how to get along, or there will be more and more people with names who perish, and not only ours.

This won’t stop the drumbeaters for War, for unconditional surrender of the Enemy, whoever that happens to be at the time.

Peace is a very hard sell in this country.

Peace is, I think I can fairly say, considered by the traditional Power People in our country to be an instrument of terrorism…It threatens their prosperity or their authority.

For the media (and the people who watch or read it) Peace is boring as a generator of revenue (just watch your local and national news and see what is prioritized for coverage.)

Peace is costly – a competitor – for the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower so correctly identified as a big and looming problem way back in 1961.

For others, an enemy is absolutely essential to retain power and control. It is useful to keep people in fear, and portray yourself as the only safety buffer between “us and them”.

Eisenhower was as military as they come…he knew, however, a reality to which we’ve paid too little attention.

My friend, Tom White, who spent a great deal of time for many years establishing accurate numbers concerning military and other costs in this country always estimated that over half of the U.S. discretionary budget related to military.

He’s out of the card business now, but the general information on his last one is still pretty accurate.

All that military money goes somewhere, and the vast majority not for the peace and general welfare of our or other citizens.

We live or we die by our priorities.

Francis and millions of others have died defending the premise that war is necessary for peace.


A postnote from the present:

I’ve been a member of the American Legion for years. I’m a vet. The Minnesota American Legion seems to enroll perhaps 1 1/2% of Minnesota’s population. It is a small, and decreasing in membership (old soldiers do die), but still a powerful entity.

In the most recent American Legion newspaper, announcement was made of the 2015 Minnesota American Legion Convention, including the Resolutions it would be considering, among which was this one.

(click to enlarge)
American Legion MN 2015001

Are our (America’s) priorities:
Military Power

as stated in the Resolution?

The drafter of the resolution seems to think so, and I can predict that this resolution will sail through. Look carefully at the four pillars of the resolution.

If we choose survival, we choose peace: that is my opinion.

And I thank the administration of President Obama for forcing us to begin this conversation, since an alternative to his forced choice is a third way, which he did not mention: to stay the course of our dismal reality of fear of anything and everything but war.