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The 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor: A Sailor and his Ship, the USS Arizona

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
On the USS Arizona, sometime between 1936 and De. 7, 1941.  Probably part of ritual of crossing the Equator for the first time.  Photo likely taken by Frank Bernard.

On the USS Arizona, sometime between 1936 and De. 7, 1941. Probably part of ritual of crossing the Equator for the first time. Photo likely taken by Frank Bernard.

You can easily determine the photographers location when he took the above photo by comparing with the following painting. (click to enlarge any illustrations).

Book cover (see referemces below)  The above photograph seems to have been taken on the foredeck of the Arizona.

Book cover (see referemces below) The above photograph seems to have been taken on the foredeck of the Arizona.

I’ve written often about my Dad’s brother, my Uncle Frank Bernard, who perished on board the USS Arizona, Dec. 7, 1941. My reference link with his – and my – story is here.

In todays post, along with personal comments about Pearl Harbor, I revisit two aspects of the USS Arizona that I have not touched on before:
1) The intersection of the lives of Uncle Frank and the USS Arizona; and
2) reflections from a diver who was assigned to visit the Pearl Harbor grave of my Uncle and the 1176 of his shipmates who perished on-board December 7, 1941.
#1 and #2, below, come from a book I’ve had for 25 years: The Battleship Arizona, An Illustrated History, by Paul Stillwell, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis MD 1991.

The ship and its crew rest in peace. As I write, this date, there are only a very tiny number of survivors of Dec 7, 1941, still alive.

1) TWO LIVES, AS THEY MET AND MESHED: UNCLE FRANK BERNARD, AND THE USS ARIZONA, AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO HAWAII AND PEARL HARBOR:
(Info about 1936 forward from pp 323-332 of the Stillwell book)
24 July 1915 – Frank Bernard born in Grafton, North Dakota
12 October 1916 – USS Arizona commissioned at New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn.

4 September 1935 – Frank Bernard enlisted in U.S. Navy at Minneapolis MN; his home address 103 Wakeman Avenue, Grafton ND.
8 January 1936 – Frank Bernard transferred to the USS Arizona

15 July – 12 August, 1936 – Frank’s first visit to Pearl Harbor. (The Arizona had been to Hawaii, but only on two occasions, both in the 1920s. It’s previous locations were the western hemisphere, earlier primarily coastal U.S. Atlantic and Caribbean areas; in later years primarily west coast U.S. and Pacific, usually on maneuvers of one kind or another.)

1-4 April 1938 – (at Lahaina Roads. The brief link about Lahaina is interesting.)
8 – 21 April 1938 – Pearl Harbor

The Hawaii years, 1940-41.

10 April – 23 October 1940
(Alternated between Pearl Harbor (PH) and Lahaina Roads (LR)
10-25 April LR
26 April – May 13 – PH
14-23 May – LH
24 May – June 9 – PH
18-21 June – LR
22 June- 14 July – PH
15 July p August 1 – LR
2-19 August – PH
19-30 August – LR
30 August – September 5 – PH
5-9 September – LR
13-23 September – PH
(Most of next three months primarily at Bremerton/Puget Sound WA)

1941
3 February – 10 June PH*
* 17 June – 1 July at San Pedro. Reunion of Frank Bernard with the rest of the Bernard family at Long Beach CA June 22, 1941
8 July – 7 December PH

THOUGHTS FROM A DIVER WHO VISITED THE TOMB (from Battleship Arizona, Stillwell, pp 286-289).

“In 1983-84 Navy and National Park Service divers conducted an underwater archaeological survey of the wreck of the Arizona. The project, which was funded by the Arizona Memorial Museum Association, had several objectives…The results of the study have been published in a book [Submerged Cultural Resources Study] edited by Daniel J. Lenihan, principal investigator for the Submerged Cultural Resource Unit of the National Park Service.

U.S.S. Arizona, U.S. Naval Institute Archives

U.S.S. Arizona, U.S. Naval Institute Archives

[Interview by author Stillwell, 5 Mar 1990] One of the divers on the National Park Service team was Jim Delgado, and he was involved in a follow-up phase of the study in 1988. He has dived on a number of sunken ships, including the collection of naval vessels used for the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Despite his considerable experience in the field, he explains that diving on the Arizona was something special. He compares it with being in the Oval Office of the White House or perhaps in Abraham Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theater. He says that he and other divers did not want to enter the ship because they felt they would be trespassing in an area where they weren’t supposed to be.

When he was under the water, especially in the area where the Arizona’s galley used to be, he could look up and see the people watching him from the cutouts to the sides of the white memorial. As he swam around the submerged hull, he was reluctant to touch it or to look too closely into it. He had a eerie feeling that someone might look back from inside, even though reason obviously told him otherwise. He looked into a hatch and saw all sorts of marine growth and twisted metal choking the entrance, and he noted that the deck was covered with silt. Unexpectedly, something emerged from a hatch, startling him. When it floated into the light, Delgado saw that it was a globule of fuel oil, freed from the Arizona after nearly fifty years. It rose slowly to the top of the water, then spread out to produce a sheen on the surface.

While he was swimming underwater, Delgado was overcome by a sense of time warp. The world above had changed dramatically since 1941, including the building of the memorial. But the hull of the Arizona was largely the same as it had been after the magazine explosion had ripped her asunder. True, she was corroded and covered with marine growth, but the essence was still there – the same hull that had been built seven decades earlier in Brooklyn. Shining his light in through one porthole, he peered into Admiral Kidd’s cabin, which was largely undamaged. He saw heaps on the deck that could have been furniture. On a bulkhead was a telephone; Admiral Kidd had undoubtedly used it many times. Elsewhere he saw the tiles that had been the deck of the galley. On the deck were pieces of silverware and crockery, obvious evidence of human habitation many years earlier. He saw nothing that looked as if it have once been part of a man, and he was relieved not to.

When he swam near the bow, Delgado saw evidence of the cataclysmic explosion that tore the forward part of the Arizona apart. The decks were rippled. Pieces of steel appeared to have been crumpled as easily as if they had been made of paper. Beams and decks were twisted into grotesque shapes. The ship showed some evidence of damage aft, but the hull was largely intact – certainly in comparison with the bow. By the time he dived on the wreck, no ordnance was visible, although divers had seen some 5-inch projectiles earlier in the decade. Delgado and his fellow divers found no sign of the kind of large hole that a torpedo would have made in the side of the ship. When the Park Service divers/historian emerged from the grave of the Arizona, he was covered with oil and filled with a profound sense of having been close to something he calls a “temporal touchstone” because it has so much value now as part of the American culture….”

Dad visits his brother Dec. 18, 2015, represented by his son, Dick, and the blue t-shirt he used to wear when he went for long walks, and the Collette family reunion t-shirt (his mother was a Collette from Oakwood ND).

Dad visits his brother Dec. 18, 2015, represented by his son, Dick, and the blue t-shirt he used to wear when he went for long walks, and the Collette family reunion t-shirt (his mother was a Collette from Oakwood ND).

A PERSONAL REFLECTION: DECEMBER 7, 2016

This is what I know about my Uncle Frank Bernard: he was 26 years old when he died; he was quite a bit older than his fellow crew members. When he went into the Navy, it was, best of all, a job. It was during the Depression; he had been in Civilian Conservation Corps, and getting in the Navy was a good opportunity. He was a ship-fitter, which I understand was like a welder. He was unmarried, but had met someone, probably in Bremerton WA, who he apparently hoped to marry. She apparently was divorced, but I have never been able to learn who she was. He was a good sailor, from basic training on.

My uncle and the 1176 others who perished with him on the Arizona at Pearl Harbor were, I suppose, peace-time casualties – it wasn’t until the next day that war on Japan would be declared.

The men on the ship would have known about Hitler, and the war in Europe, and almost certainly knew that tensions between the U.S. and Japan had been building for many years. At the same time, it was quite clear that the attack on Pearl Harbor was one which was indeed a surprise, not known till the last minute. (I describe an excellent new book about this topic, here.)

I often think that Frank’s Dad, my Grandpa Henry Bernard, was unwittingly part of the history that led to the death of his son.

In 1898, likely in the fever of patriotism around the sinking of the Battleship Maine in Havana harbor, Grandpa and others from the Grafton ND area were among the first ND volunteers to enlist for the Spanish-American War. He and his ND Company spent a year, 1898-99, in the Philippines, which became America’s outpost in what the Japanese considered their sphere of influence. While among the first troops to arrive at Manila, the Spanish had basically already been defeated, and most of their time was spent fighting Filipinos who’d just as soon see the U.S. go home. The company lost four men in battle at Pagsanjan Falls, near Paete, Luzon.

Tour over, in 1899, Grandpa and the crew stopped in Yokahama enroute home from Manila (picture at end of this article). It is a picture that speaks a million words.

By late 1941, war planners thought that the Philippines would be a more likely target than Hawaii for the Japanese.

After the attack:

On Dec. 6, 1941, those on the Arizona and elsewhere at Pearl Harbor, would have had no idea about the deadly four years to come; about 50 million dead in WWII, hundreds of thousands of these, Americans; the Holocaust; the Atomic bomb….

The great prospect of peace which came with the founding of the United Nations in 1945; then the endless wars which someone always declares are necessary, but which never really resolve anything. Each war, it seems, provides a pretext for the next war.

In my opinion, for we, the living, is that the next big war, if it comes, carries the prospect of ending civilization as we have come to know it. Nonetheless, someone will be tempted to “pull the trigger”. It matters who leads.

Our nation’s default setting through almost all of its history has been achievement of power through war. War is what basically built our country; and it is war that expanded our empire to an unimaginable and unmanageable extent.

War brought prosperity; it could as easily bring defeat. There is evil; there will always be war. But we need to guard against war as the first and only solution to problems.

The illusion now sold is that we can again be as we were: the very premise of “Make America Great Again”.

It is a proposition doomed to fail. It can only be achieved at someone else’s expense, which simply ramps up anger and the desire for revenge.

We need to change our national conversation, one conversation at a time.

The solution…or the problem…lies in each one of our hands.

Our future depends on each of us.

Here are a couple of items to possibly help give definition to the years since 1941:
1. A personal compilation of American War Deaths over history: War Deaths U.S.002
2. America at War (from the American Legion magazine): America at War001
(The first is only about American war deaths, simply to help me get some personal definition of the changing problem; but the reality is that we, and many others, now possess the capacity to destabilize and destroy everything…as could have happened had cooler leadership heads not have prevailed in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.)

Also, take 30 minutes to watch the 1971 film entitled Man’s Next Giant Leap. It was produced by my friend Lynn Elling, Naval officer in WWII and businessman, who died some months ago at 94. It can be accessed here. The people who put this film together, business and civic and political leaders, Republican and Democrat, believed in the possibility of peace, and they can be examples for us to follow.

As the hymn goes: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Henry Bernard, middle soldier, in Yokahoma Japan, enroute home1899

Henry Bernard, middle soldier, in Yokahoma Japan, enroute home1899

The family members in the story are, at right: Richard, Henry and Esther Bernard.  From left, Henry and Josephine Bernard, Josie Whitaker, and Frank Bernard, Henry's parents and siblings, in Long Beach June 22, 1941.

The family members in the story are, at right: Richard, Henry and Esther Bernard. From left, Henry and Josephine Bernard, Josie Whitaker, and Frank Bernard, Henry’s parents and siblings, in Long Beach June 22, 1941.

COMMENT:
from Annelee: I read Uncle Frank, When will we learn? However, War with Japan and Germany were justifiable.

Response from Dick: There is no question that war was “justifiable” in both instances. However, I do have a couple of points.

First, it has long been my contention that America waited far too long before entering WWII, which began two years before Pearl Harbor. As a country, we were isolationist, and there were other complications such as a – let’s be honest – not terribly friendly attitude towards the Jews, and an otherwise close relationship with Germany in all senses of the word.

Second, I am always interested in when history is deemed to begin. Pearl Harbor didn’t begin our history of relationship with Japan, for instance. We were sowing the seeds long before. My Grandpa and his fellow soldiers enlisted, I’m pretty sure, to support defeating Spain, with the battle cry “Remember the Maine”, but their service was far from Cuba, in the Philippines on the island of Luzon (Manila). The Spanish-American War was Teddy Roosevelt’s war, largely, supported by the Press, and it seems to have been a war of acquisition, not defense. In the end analysis, it really had little to do with Spain, and more to do with American expansion, and in the case of Japan, what became “our” Philippines was within their sphere of influence, and far closer to them than Hawaii. Like us, they apparently had pretenses of power, and we were boxing them in.

Plus, we long had a very dismissive attitude about the Japanese, generally. People my age who grew up in the United States remember things purchased from Japan which were more in the curio class than anything else. “Japan” was a synonym for “cheap”.

Japan and some other places might now be jewels of capitalism, but at what cost in lives in WWII? I think we have a big blindspot in this area, and we’ll find out if we try to “Make America Great Again” the cost of national pride at the expense of others.

A concluding comment: As I write I remember that letter in German written by my Great Uncle in Dubuque IA Feb. 14, 1924 to his relatives in Westphalia (borderland of today’s Netherlands). At the time of his letter, he’d lived in the United States for over 60 years. In a very long sentence, which the translator described as emotion laden, he remembered a slaughter day conversation from perhaps 1850, and comments his grandmother made about the French during the time in the early 1800s when Napoleon had designs on controlling Europe.

He said this: “I will never forget how, each year on slaughter day, as we cut the fat pigs and cows apart, dear grandmother would say if only the dear Lord will let us eat it in peace and good health, and then, each time, she would tell how the French took everything of hers, in addition to all of the oppression they had to endure, and dear grandfather would tell how the French and the Russians took him and his father with (their) horses and wagon to drive under orders for weeks and, how the horses couldn’t go anymore, and how they were then whipped and left by the wayside (to die) and that the Busch’s homestead had been their lawful property but was taken away by the French, no wonder that my father left his home with his sons [for America]. France’s history has always been full of war and revolution for the last three hundred years and Germany was always the oppressed, if they will ever become peaceful?”

The phrase, “you lost, get over it”, takes on new meaning with this very long emotion filled sentence.

#815 – Dick Bernard: What we did on our vacation: A not-so-ordinary Road Trip from North Dakota to California, 1941

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

“We did some visiting in North Dakota before we left for California…June 22, 1941 at Long Beach. The first time we had our family together for seven years, and also the last….”

Merry Christmas! This blog quite naturally follows two previous blogs about 1940: here and here. UPDATE Dec. 24 post, also related.

Today would have been my Dad’s 106th birthday (born Dec. 22, 1907). Today, his daughter, my sister Mary Ann, arrives on the Big Island of Hawaii from Vanuatu for a visit with her kids and grandkids and our niece Georgine and partner Robert. Her last 15 months in the Peace Corps is chronicled here, the most recent post, Dec. 18, at the end.

It seems a perfect day to recall a June, 1941, trip I took with my family from rural North Dakota to Long Beach California. The narrator is my Dad, Henry, RIP Nov 7, 1997.

I was one year old at the time. The travelers were Grandma and Grandpa Bernard, Mom and Dad, and I.

We traveled by car.

Here’s some background and the “cast of characters”: my parents were age 33 and 31 at the time of the trip; my oldest grandparent, Grandpa Bernard, was 69 (I’m 73, as I write); the youngest, Grandma Busch, was 57. Grandpa Bernard had a love for machines. Fixing a car enroute would have been no problem for him. Mom’s siblings, my Uncle Vince and Aunt Edith, were 16 and 21…. Dad’s sister, Josie, would have been 37; his brother, Frank, 25.

By 1941, Bernard’s were no stranger to travel: Grandpa migrated to North Dakota from Quebec in the 1890s, and in 1898, sailed to the Philippines via Hawaii to be a soldier in the Spanish-American War. Grandma and Grandpa had first gone to Los Angeles in November 1935 for daughter Josie’s wedding. They likely traveled by train, visiting people they knew in Oregon along the way. Beginning in 1937 they became a regular part of the North Dakota winter community in the Los Angeles area, living in Long Beach.

Josie’s husband, Alan Whittaker, had died after surgery only three years or so into their marriage, about 1938. In 1939 she took a major cross-country automobile trip with friends, documenting the route on a 1939 American Automobile Association road map (see below).

For the geographic inclined, here’s a map for reference. The Red and Blue lines are explained here: Josie Bernard trip 1939001

(click to enlarge any photos)

U.S. map showing the 1939 trip route, and the beginning and end points of the 1941 trip.

U.S. map showing the 1939 trip route, and the beginning and end points of the 1941 trip.

In 1940-41 Dad was a school teacher in rural Rutland ND. His parents home was Grafton, but since 1937 they had spent a lot of time in Long Beach/LA area where there was already a relatively large North Dakota population.

Mom’s parents lived on a farm near Berlin ND.

Invited by Dad’s parents to go west with them, the decision was made to go to California to visit their daughter and sister, Josie Whittaker, who had lived in Los Angeles since the early 1930s, and was widowed. An apparently unanticipated bonus was to also be able to see their son and brother Frank Bernard, whose ship, the USS Arizona, berthed in nearby San Pedro June 17 – July 1, 1941.

A first stop on the 1941 trip was at the farm of Mom’s parents, Rosa and Ferd Busch:

Henry Bernard, Rosa Busch, Richard Bernard, Josephine Bernard, Ferd Busch, at the farm June, 1941

Henry Bernard, Rosa Busch, Richard Bernard, Josephine Bernard, Ferd Busch, at the farm June, 1941

Many of Busch family, and neighbors, pose with the Bernards June, 1941.  Note particularly Edith, 3rd from left; Mary, 4th from left, and Vincent 2nd from right.  Dad, Mom and Richard (me) are roughly at center.

Many of Busch family, and neighbors, pose with the Bernards June, 1941. Note particularly Edith, 3rd from left; Mary, 4th from left, and Vincent 2nd from right. Dad, Mom and Richard (me) are roughly at center.

Dad, Henry Bernard, recalled the trip in a written memoir in February, 1981. Here is his recollection:

“The grandparents Bernard had not yet seen Richard so in the spring of 1941 they came from California to see us [at Rutland Consolidated school in SE North Dakota].

They spent a week or so with us and then said that they would buy us another car if we would drive them back to California and spend some time there. We were happy to get this gift so we managed to get to Fargo with our old ’29 Chevy and went to Ford and Dad bought us a ’36 V8 Ford*. It was used but in good condition. It even had a radio in it. [Note the so-called “suicide” back doors. This was our family car for the next 10 years.]

Grandma and Grandpa with Richard and car for the California trip May, 1941

Grandma and Grandpa with Richard and car for the California trip May, 1941

We did some visiting in North Dakota before we left for California…then on through the Black Hills of South Dakota and then on through Wyoming where we saw our first oil wells, and continued on to Salt Lake City and I remember stopping at a motel at St. George UT. Early in the morning I could hear water running and I got up and behind the motel there was an irrigation ditch running full of water. That was the first irrigation I had ever seen.

We continued on and reached Las Vegas after dark. We saw all the neon lights of the gambling dens but we were interested only in rest. Had a good supper and then to bed. We had heard that the desert crossing was an adventure and were warned to get started early so we did and made the crossing with any great incident. I remember stopping at a filling station about the middle of the desert and among other things asked for a drink of water This was reluctantly given as water had to be hauled in from miles away.

We reached Long Beach in due time and stayed with the folks in their small apartment. I recall that it had three rooms and a bath and also a front porch. It was set in the alley and there were several attached apartments somewhat like the modern condominiums. It was about two blocks from the beach and we could put on our bathing suits and walk to the beach with ease.

Richard on the beach, Long Beach CA June 1941

Richard on the beach, Long Beach CA June 1941

[My sister] Josie was living in Los Angeles and we saw her frequently. We were surprised one day to hear that “the fleets in” [San Pedro] and shortly after my brother Frank [crewman on USS Arizona] came over. He had leave and several times he was in port we had a chance to visit with him and go on trips here and there. Little did we realize that Pearl Harbor was only six months away. [Grandma wrote on the back of the iconic photo of the trip, below: “Taken June 22, 1941 at Long Beach. The first time we had our family together for seven years, and also the last. This is where we lived.”]

from left, Henry and Josephine Bernard, Josie Bernard Whittaker, Frank, Richard, Henry and Esther Bernard

from left, Henry and Josephine Bernard, Josie Bernard Whittaker, Frank, Richard, Henry and Esther Bernard

I remember one time we were riding around the suburbs of Los Angeles that we came by an area of Japanese homes. Each one had huge radio aerials and Frank said that was sure they were in communications with the home land. he already felt that we were going to be in the war soon. Security was heavy with the fleet and we did not get a chance to visit the Arizona, the ship on which Frank was stationed. We would be just curious but not spies like the Japanese.

We left Long Beach on July 5 for the long trip back home. Up the California coast to Oregon and Portland where we visited the Krafts and also the Battleship Oregon [then in repair at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton WA] and on through Montana and then stopped at Amidon [ND] to visit people we had met there while teaching [1937-39] and then back to the Busch’s before getting on back to Rutland Consolidated where I would be teaching a second year.

I had a chance to do some shocking of grain and threshing before school started. This little bit of extra income was certainly welcome.”

Little more than three months later, Frank Bernard lay dead in the hulk of the USS Arizona.

War was on for the U.S.

Lives had changed dramatically, instantly.

POST NOTES:

How long a trip was it? Assuming Jamestown ND to Long Beach CA, Long Beach to Seattle WA, and Seattle back to Jamestown, and just doing Mapquest as a guide, that single trip was 4268 miles, under far different driving and vehicle conditions than we’re accustomed to today. It is unknown the exact number of days enroute, or in Long Beach, but the assumption is we were gone at least a month, at least ten of these days basically in the automobile, no air conditioning, seat belts, gps, automatic transmission, cruise control, four-lane highways…. It would not have been a simple trip.

Dad was 73, my present age, when he wrote his memoirs in 1981. If you’re thinking you should do something similar, it’s not too late!

Esther’s brother, George (not in the family picture), finished college at Mayville and became a Naval Officer on the Destroyer Woodworth in the Pacific 1943-45, docking at Tokyo Sep 10, 1945. Melvin Berning (the 13 year old to my left in the family picture above, double cousin to my mother, next farm over) saw his brother August off to the Army. August Berning became a Captain in the Pacific theatre.

Unknown to everyone in the pictures, the summer of 1941 was to be the last of peacetime for over four years….

Twenty-five years later, in the summer of 1966, my parents essentially duplicated the 1941 trip with their two-year grandson, my son, Tom. His mother had passed away a year earlier, and I was in summer school at Illinois State U (Normal), and my parents were the sitters-in-residence for Tom. They, along with my brother John and sister Flo, drove to LA (by a different route, if I recall right), thence up the coast and back to ND across Montana as before. Florence was about to begin two years in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, as her older sister, Mary Ann, is now past half way in her own later-life tour in the same Peace Corps.

George Busch and Jean Tannahill wedding Thompson ND May 20, 1944.  Vincent Busch, George's brother, was best man, 19 years old at the time.

George Busch and Jean Tannahill wedding Thompson ND May 20, 1944. Vincent Busch, George’s brother, was best man, 19 years old at the time.

Josie (Bernard) Whittaker and group at Hilo HI May 2, 1969

Josie (Bernard) Whittaker and group at Hilo HI May 2, 1969

Models of the USS Arizona and USS Woodworth, Frank Bernard and George Busch's ships in WWII.  The Arizona was 608 feet long; the Woodworth, 381 feet. The models were made out of wood blocks by good friend and colleague Bob Tonra in 1996.

Models of the USS Arizona and USS Woodworth, Frank Bernard and George Busch’s ships in WWII. The Arizona was 608 feet long; the Woodworth, 381 feet. The models were made out of wood blocks by good friend and colleague Bob Tonra in 1996.

#661 – Dick Bernard: Pearl Harbor Day and the wreckage of the Minnesota Orchestra Lockout

Friday, December 7th, 2012

UPDATE February 23, 2013: Still unsettled…. I sent this letter to the 28 members of the Minnesota Orchestra Association Executive Committee last week. here. Sometime today I’ll again watch the story of Pearl Harbor. [Here’s this years Pearl Harbor reflection]

I also have interest in current affairs, and the recent lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra is an important issue to me, as we are subscribers, locked out like the orchestra from, perhaps, this entire year of concerts. Thus the following post:

Today is the annual meeting of the Board of the Minnesota Orchestra (MO). I didn’t know that till a newspaper column in yesterdays Minneapolis Star Tribune. I had decided, some weeks ago, that December 7 would be an appropriate date to write about the very public catastrophe facing this world class orchestra whose home is downtown Minneapolis MN.

As I write, there are major issues between musicians and management at the Orchestra. The solution for the moment is to lock out the musicians and those of us who bought tickets to the concerts.

For those with little or no interest in or knowledge of the issue, some time ago the Orchestra Board made at least two major decisions: to embark on a major renovation of Orchestra Hall; and to lock-out the Musicians of the Orchestra in a contract dispute, thus almost guaranteeing that the season will ultimately be cancelled (half has already bit the dust.). We subscribers have thus been “locked out” as well.

The Japanese preemptive strike on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and the lockout of Minnesota Orchestra musicians came quickly to mind for me when this conflict affected we ticket-holders. In both cases there was a ‘win’, albeit short-term, for Japan, and for the MO management, but in the long-term it is a rather pyrrhic victory.

(click on all photos to enlarge)

Orchestra Hall Minneapolis MN December 5, 2012

There have been numerous interesting commentaries not necessarily taking one side or another: In the New Yorker was this contribution; last Sunday in the STrib carried this column. There have been many more commentaries. This has become national news.

I happen to have a particular interest in this lockout, since for a lot of years we’ve been a subscriber for six concerts a year, and perhaps have attended two or three more each season. We sit in the fourth row, behind the maestro. Perhaps there are better seats in the house, but we’ve come to like being upfront, and over time you get to know the nature of your neighbors, and they, you. We seem to be fairly typical among our fellow concert-attendees.

All of we customers have become the victims of this conflict. The list of victims is expanding, daily.

I also spent an entire career in and around collective bargaining, so I know the trade, including the foolhardiness of inserting oneself in the middle of a dispute where the real ‘facts’ (issues) may not be visible. All I can say for certain is that at some point there will be a settlement, and the sooner the better that will be for both parties.

As in war, the more protracted and bitter the conflict, the greater the residual damage will be.

In such disputes there are always diverse points of view, strongly felt. In this one, there seems to be value in ranking several top priorities, which I present in alphabetical order below:
Concern for the customers (the people who actually attend the concerts, whether one or a thousand)
New Lobby construction
Power and Control: authority issues
Quality Musicians and others who work for MO
Savings Account (the endowment fund)
Rank these from one to five (most to least important) and you might have a personal idea of where you stand.

Of course, there can be more factors, but these give an idea. As for me, the November 26 Star Tribune printed a letter from myself on the issue, in which I said, in part: “… we buy tickets to hear the Minnesota Orchestra….”

As a result of this letter, I received a number of very interesting phone calls and e-mails, all positive, all expressing similar concerns.

November 24, I sent a U.S. mail stamped letter to all of the 81 listed members of the Minnesota Orchestra Board. It is here: MN Orchestra Nov 24 Ltr001 (There are actually 25 members on the Board, but the Orchestra website lists honorary, emeritus and other Directors as well. They are listed at the end of this post.)

I asked each for “individual acknowledgement of this letter.” So far, no acknowledgements of any kind have been received from any Board member. Perhaps it’s a little too early.

Meanwhile, the hurt goes on as the cement shoes worn by the respective sides seem to be hardening. Maybe there will be a breakthrough, maybe not.

I went by Orchestra Hall Wednesday to take some photos (above, and following at the Hilton across the street), and together the photos evoke for me a very sad situation for a great orchestra in our great community.

I ask good faith bargaining, all cards on the table, and an honorable settlement.

Since it appears that this is essentially a Business driven conflict, I offer a piece of advice to the people who will have to ultimately settle the matter from my good friend, former Governor and successful businessman, corporate owner and philanthropist Elmer L. Andersen, in his memoir “A Man’s Reach” (2000), edited by Lori Sturdevant. At pages 96-101 Mr. Andersen summarizes his four corporate priorities, as follows:
1. “Our highest priority…should be service to the customer.”
2. “The company should exist deliberately for the benefit of the people associated in it.”
3. “[Our] third priority was to make money.”
4. “Our philosophy did not leave out service to the larger community…The quality of life in a company’s hometown is important to that business’s welfare and future….”

Of course, Mr. Andersen was talking about internal priorities within his own company, but still, it is quite good advice, I’d say.

At the Hilton Hotel near Orchestra Hall December 5, 2012

The Dream...December 5, 2012

Directly related post: here.

The Minnesota Orchestra Musicians Union website is here.

The Minnesota Orchestra Board as of December 6, 2012:
* – denotes membership on Executive Committee
Officers
Jon R. Campbell*, Chair, Wells-Fargo Bank
Richard K. Davis*, Immediate Past Chair, U.S. Bancorp
Michael Henson*, President and CEO
Nancy E. Lindahl*, Secretary, Deephaven MN
Steven Kennedy*, Treasurer, Faegre Baker Daniels

Life Directors
Nicky B. Carpenter*, Wayzata MN
Kathy Cunningham*, Mendota Heights MN
Luella G. Goldberg*, Minneapolis
Douglas Leatherdale*, The St. Paul Companies
Ronald E. Lund*, Eden Prairie, MN
Betty Myers, St. Paul MN
Marilyn C. Nelson, Carlson, Minneapolis MN
Dale R. Olseth, SurModics, Eden Prairie MN
Rosalyn Pflaum, Wayzata MN

Directors Emeriti
Margaret D. Ankeny, Wayzata MN
Andrew Czajkowski, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, St. Paul
Dolly J. Fiterman, Minneapolis
Beverly Grossman, Minneapolis
Karen H. Hubbard, Lakeland, MN
Hella Meaars Hueg, St. Paul MN
Joan A. Mondale, Minneapolis MN
Susan Platou, Wayzata MN

Directors
Emily Backstrom, General Mills, Minneapolis
Karen Baker*, Orono MN
Michael D. Belzer, Crescendo Project Board, Minneapolis
David L. Boehnen, St. Paul MN
Patrick E. Bowe*, Cargill, Wayzata MN
Margaret A. Bracken, Minneapolis
Barbara E. Burwell, Wayzata MN
Mari Carlson, Mt. Oliver Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
Jan M. Conlin, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, Minneapolis
Ken Cutler, Dorsey & Whitney, Edina
Jame Damian, Minneapolis
Jonathan F. Eisele*, Deloitte Service LP, Minneapolis
Jack W.. Eugster*, Excelsior MN
D. Cameron Findlay Medtronic, Minneapolis
Ben Fowke*, Xcel Energy, Minneapolis
Franck L. Gougeon, AGA Medical Corporation, Plymouth MN
Paul D. Grangaard, Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation, Minneapolis
Jane P. Gregorson*, Minneapolis
Susan Hagstrum, Minneapolis
Jayne C. Hilde*, Satellite Shelters, Minneapolis
Karen L. Himle, HMN Financial, Minneapolis
Shadra J. Hogan, Minnetonka MN
Mary L. Holmes, Wayzata MN
Jay V. Ihlenfeld, St. Paul MN
Philip Isaacson, Nonin Medical, Plymouth MN
Nancy L. Jamieson, WAMSO, Bloomington
Lloyd G. Kepple, Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly, Minneapolis
Michal Klingensmith, Star Tribune Media, Minneapolis
Mary Ash Lazarus, Vestiges Inc, Minneapolis
Allen U. Lenzmeier, Best Buy, Minneapolis
Warren E. Mack, Fredrikson& Byron, Minneapolis MN
Harvey B. Mackay, Mackay Envelope Company, Minneapolis
James C. Melville*, Kaplan, Strangis and Kaplan, Minneapolis
Eric Mercer, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Minneapolis
Anne W. Miller, Edina MN
Hugh Miller, RTP, Winona MN
Anita M. Pampusch, Bush Foundation, St. Paul
Eric H. Paulson, Excelsior, MN
Teri E. Popp*, Wayzata MN
Chris Policinski, Land O’Lakes, St. Paul
Gregory J Pulles*, Minneapolis
Jady Ranheim, Young People’s Symphony Concert Assoc
Jon W. Salveson*, Piper Jaffray & Co, Minneapolis
Jo Ellen Saylor*, Edina
Sally Smith, Buffalo Wild Wings, Minneapolis
Gordon M. Sprenger*, Allina Hospitals and Clinics, Chanhassen
Sara Sternberger* WAMSO, Eagan MN
Mary S. Sumner, RBC Wealth Management, Minneapolis
Georgia Thompson, Minnetonka MN
Maxine Houghton Wallin, Edina
John Whaley, Norwest Equity Partners, Minneapolis
David S. Wichmann*, UnitedHealth Group, Minnetonka
John Wilgers, Ernst & Young, Minneapolis
Theresa Wise, Delta Air Lines, Eagan MN
Paul R. Zeller, Imation, Oakdale

Honorary Directors
Chris Coleman, Mayor, St. Paul MN
Barbara A. Johnson, President, Minneapolis City Council
Eric W. Kaler, President, University of Minnesota
R.T. Rybak, Mayor, Minneapolis MN.

From 11th and Marquette, December 5, 2012

Downtown Minneapolis from 11th and Marquette December 5, 2012

#486 -Dick Bernard: The 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

It is not hard for me to remember Pearl Harbor Day. Seventy years ago my Dad’s brother, my Uncle Frank, near the end of his 6th year on the USS Arizona, lost his life aboard the ship. I’m old enough to have “met” him, in Long Beach CA, five months before he died. The caption on the photo, written by his mother, my grandmother Josephine, is succinct: “the first time we had our family together for seven years and also the last.” December 7, 1941 and the days following were chaotic. My Dad’s memories, as recorded years later, are in this single page: Bernard Frank Pearl Har001

Immediately came WWII for the U.S. Many kinfolk, including seven of his cousins from a single family in Winnipeg (one killed in action, some in U.S., others in Canadian forces), went off to war Collette boys Winnipeg001.

Last year I sent the Pearl Harbor museum all of the photos and records I have of Uncle Frank, and the photos have been posted ever since on Facebook. (The family photo referred to above is near the end of the album.)

WWII was very short for Uncle Frank. Then came the rest of it.

NOTE: I have written several posts about Uncle Frank. Here are links to the others: Dec. 7, 2009, Dec. 7, 2010, Dec. 9, 2010, Jan. 2,2011, Dec. 7, 2011, May 28, 2012.

Ah, “War”. A good friend and I recently engaged in a conversation about the complicated business called “War” and he asked this question: “What do you think are the rational lessons learned from WWII?”

It’s a fair question, and below are some thoughts on the topic from someone (myself), born on the edge of WW II (1940) who’s a military veteran from a family full of military veterans dating from at least the MN-ND Indian War of 1862-63 through, very recently, Afghanistan.

click on photo to enlarge

New Draftees into WWII, August, 1942, North Dakota

Here’s my informal list.

1. War begets more and ever worse future War. For example, the defeat, impoverishment and humiliation of the Germans at the end of WWI gave Hitler his base for seeking revenge.

2. The American isolationist attitude during Hitler’s rise was not helpful to containing the evil objectives of the Third Reich. This was both pacifist and (primarily) “me first” attitude in an unholy alliance: what was going on in Europe and the Far East during the 1930s was, supposedly, not our problem. By the time the U.S. engaged after December 7, 1941, the die was cast for a horrible, long war. Corollary: politically, spotlighting an ‘enemy’ is far better – and more deadly – than nurturing true ‘friends’.

3. War is much less about heroism than it is about fear and and the reality of death. There is a tendency to feel invincible when you’re young, but that disappears when your buddy beside you ends up dead and you’re at the mercy of the next projectile with your name on it. A very young cousin of mine, American citizen perhaps three years old, was killed in the liberation of Manila, in the supposed sanctuary of a church yard in early 1945. It will never be known whose shrapnel it was that hit her, in her mothers arms, that day. It matters not….

4. War casualties are far more than simply being killed or physically injured. PTSD and other kinds of mental illness is now a known outcome; displacement of non-combatants; homelessness, suicide, property loss and the like are also major (and largely uncounted) casualties from war.

5. Winning a war is illusory and short-term at best. Those who think they’ve won better begin preparing for the next war, which they may lose.

6. The Marshall Plan, following World War II, was a good outcome of War. But it would have been an infinitely better outcome of Peace not preceded by war.

7. War is great for business (but Peace would be even better). “Swords beaten into ploughshares” to tackle future threatening things like resource scarcity, climate change etc., would be great for business, and great for us all, but require changes that business is not inclined to make. The business rule of thumb which I believe prevails: we don’t want it until we can control it and make money off of it.

8. War enables new tyrants, each of whom thinks they’ve figured out how to avoid the mistakes of the previous vanquished victors of earlier wars.

9. The only really new developments of War post WWII are a) horrors of nuclear annihilation (the U.S. has a huge arsenal which is worthless unless we wish to annihilate ourselves); b) terrorism is a new tool, and we have far more home-grown domestic anti-government terrorists than evil others.

10. “They who live by the sword will die by the sword” is ever truer and deadlier. Mass annihilation is ever more possible. In the recent wars, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. human casualty count was relatively low. This was overshadowed by huge Iraqi casualties, and population destabilization and displacement, and massive debts incurred by the U.S. to wage war. We bred resentment, not friendship. While we were not brought to our knees physically, this time, we were nearly destroyed economically. Here is the U.S. physical casualty count from past wars, from The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2007. War Casualties U.S.001

Reasonable estimates of deaths from war in all countries in the the previous century approach 100,000,000. War is usually,in the end, a creature of convenience than of necessity – an easy but deadly way to attempt to solve problems. That is another rational learning, in my opinion….

With the greatest respect for all victims of war, I urge Peace.

#306 – Dick Bernard: Frank Peter Bernard, U.S. Navy 1935 – 1941, USS Arizona

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

It was on a Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, that my Uncle, Frank Peter Bernard, was killed on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor HI.

Each December 7 I remember that day, and indeed, am reminded of that day, as the iconic film clip of the Arizona being hit by the bomb is shown.

Dec. 7, 2010, was no different, until an e-mail arrived late in the afternoon from Dave Calvert, someone unknown to me. The e-mail included two photographs of his Dad, Max Calvert, and my Uncle, taken in 1938 at Long Beach CA. The photographs (below) seemed familiar, and I looked in my collection and found two photos taken at exactly the same place on the same day, one of them identical to the one of Max and Frank; the second with my Uncle and his Dad, my Grandpa Henry Bernard.

The miracle of the internet!

Max Calvert and Frank Bernard, Long Beach CA 1938

Max’s son and I met each other through the ‘twin’ photos. His Dad, he said, was an Iowa farm kid actual first name Howard, who had joined the Navy and at the time of the photo was secretary for the Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, on the USS San Francisco. Uncle Frank, two or three years older, was a small town kid from North Dakota. How Max and Frank became friends is unknown; as is why they happened to show up at the same place as my grandparents were then visiting. But it was a fascinating story.

The handwritten caption on the back of Max’s photo said it was taken in November of 1938. The mechanical stamp on the back of my photos identified the date the film was processed as August 15, 1938. Such small discrepancies are common in history work. Most likely, because of the photo processing date stamp, the photos were taken in August in Long Beach. The Arizona was in port at San Pedro August 12-15.

The surprise event caused me to write an e-mail to the National Park Service at Pearl Harbor, telling them I had some photos to share of Uncle Frank. In late December, I received a reply, and sent jpeg’s of all of them for the National Park Service Library at Pearl Harbor.

Last night I decided to post the collection on Facebook. You can view them all here. Double click on any photo to get a larger version. Hold the cursor on the photo to see the caption.

Not at Facebook, but also provided to the Park Service, are three text items relating to my Uncle Frank who, in his short 26 years of life, became, unintentionally, an actor in World War II: Arizona014; Memory017; Fam History015

Frank is at peace; May we all be at Peace as well.

Model of USS Arizona hand-crafted by Bob Tonra ca 1996; goblet, one of six made by Frank Bernard on USS Arizona (size 6 inches high); leaves are Hawaiian, gift from a friend in 1998.

A newspaper column I wrote in 2005 about the end of WWII is at this link:Atomic Bomb 1945001

#294 – Dick Bernard: Naming a mystery man in a photograph, 72 years later.

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Pearl Harbor Day I posted a piece about my Uncle Frank and his service and death on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

The day went on and late in the afternoon came an e-mail from a name I’d never heard before. The e-mail included two photos of my Uncle Frank in Long Beach CA on November 10, 1938. The writer of the e-mail identified himself as the son of the man, Max Calvert, who was posing with Uncle Frank in the photo. His Dad, Dave said, was then the secretary for Admiral Kimmel on-board the USS San Francisco. Kimmel was at that time commander of the Pacific fleet and professionally suffered in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor.

I have my pictures fairly well organized, so I took out the package labeled “Frank Bernard” to see if there were any matches. You can see the results for yourself, below.

The first photo of each pair is from Dave Calvert; the second is from my family file.

Max Calvert and Frank Bernard Nov. 10, 1938 Long Beach CA

Same setting, date, place from the Bernard files

Max and Frank from the Calvert album Long Beach Nov. 10, 1938

Same setting, Frank with his Dad Henry Bernard, from the Bernard album

Again, the first photo is from the Calvert album, the second from the Bernard album, third, Calvert, fourth, Bernard.

Before December 7, 2010, Dave Calvert, a Californian, and I had never heard of each other.

How did Dave find me? He had the pictures, and he knew that Frank was a casualty on the Arizona, and on this particular Pearl Harbor Day he decided to see if he could find any evidence of family of this long ago sailor who was friends with his sailor Dad in 1938. He did a simple google search and several pages in found reference to my family history website. From there he managed to get ahold of my e-mail address and the rest is history.

The miracle of the internet.

Some days later, he says, he still has ‘goosebumps’ over this essentially chance meeting and our sharing of essentially identical photographs from 72 years ago. I share his sentiments exactly.

I couldn’t label that photograph with the unknown man though I knew that the picture had been taken in 1938 from a developers mark.

Now, thanks to someone who took the extra step another piece of the family tapestry has been identified.

#292 – Dick Bernard: “Remember the Maine”; USS Arizona; “Never Forget” LPD 21 USS New York

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

December 7, 1941, my Uncle Frank Bernard was minding his own business on the USS Arizona, berthed at Pearl Harbor, HI. Without doubt he was awake at the time a Japanese bomb destroyed his ship and snuffed out his life. 1176 shipmates also died that day. Frank was definitely at the wrong place at the wrong time. Every year on this date, no doubt today as well, I will see a photo or a film clip of the Arizona blowing up.

I am the only one of my siblings old enough to have ever actually met Uncle Frank; the last time at the end of June, 1941, in Long Beach, California.

Bernard Family Reunion at Long Beach CA late June, 1941. Frank is in the center, Dick, 1 1/2, is next to him.

Frank had served on the Arizona since 1936. Though he seems to have been engaged to someone in Bremerton WA, he likely intended to be a career man in the Navy.

Frank Bernard, Honolulu, some time before Dec. 7, 1941

Wars are never fought without reasons, or consequences. They are collections of stories, often mythology masquerading as fact. One war succeeds the last war. That’s just how wars are.

Frank’s Dad, my Grandpa Henry Bernard, 43 years earlier had enlisted to serve the United States in what he always called the Spanish-American War in the Philippines. He was very proud of this service, which lasted from the spring of 1898, to the summer of 1899. The pretext for this war was the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. Whatever actually caused the explosion was blamed on the Spaniards, and led to an outpouring of patriotic fervor in the U.S. “Remember the Maine” was the battle cry.

Grandpa’s unit, one of the first to the Philippines, never actually fought any Spaniards – he and his comrades were hardly off the boat near Manila when the Spanish surrendered. His battles were with the Filipino “insurgents” who were glad to be rid of the Spaniards, and just wanted the Americans to go back where they came from. That war is now called the Philippine-American War – a term Grandpa wouldn’t know.

In Henry’ company was his future wife’s cousin, Alfred Collette. Some years after the war, Alfred returned to the Philippines, becoming successful, later marrying and living the rest of his life in the Philippines.

After Pearl Harbor, the first major conquest of American territory by the Japanese was the Philippines…. Alfred was imprisoned at the notorious Santo Tomas. During the final battle for the liberation of Manila in 1945 his second child, named for my grandmother Josephine, was killed by shrapnel from either the liberators or the Japanese. She was only four years old, in her mother’s arms. Her two siblings witnessed her death.

Seven of Uncle Frank’s cousins in Canada, all from the same family, went to WWII, three in the Canadian Army, four in the U.S. Army. One of the seven died in combat. Others from my families served as well, as did neighbors. Most survived; some didn’t.

Alfred Collette, 1898, Presidio San Franciso CA

Henry Bernard, middle soldier, in Yokahoma Japan, enroute home1899

Which brings to mind the USS New York LPD 21.

On Thanksgiving day came one of those power point forwards celebrating the launch of the Amphibious Transport Ship the USS New York, a ship partially manufactured out of the wreckage of the World Trade Centers September 11, 2001. The internet is awash with items about this ship, commissioned in November of 2009.

A key caption of the powerpoint said that the New York’s contingent was “360 sailors, 700 combat ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft”, apparently roaming the world at the ready to do battle with the bad guys wherever they were. The transport has “twin towers” smokestacks,

I could see the attempt at symbolism in the power point: “don’t mess with the U.S.”. The boat plays to the American fantasy that we are an exceptional society, more deserving than others.

But, somehow, I failed to see the positive significance of this lonely boat, roaming the world, looking for opportunities to do battle against our enemies.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of geographic knowledge to know how immense this world is, and how tiny and truly insignificant is a single ship with about 1000 U.S. servicemen, no matter how highly trained and well-equipped they might be.

It seems we have better ways to use our money.

Uncle Frank was technically a peace-time casualty – War wasn’t declared against Japan until after he was dead. He and his comrades at Pearl Harbor who also died were only the first of hundreds of thousands of Americans, who joined, ultimately, millions of others who became casualties of WWII. A few of Grandpa Henry’s comrades were killed on Luzon, and till the end of his life in 1957 in Grafton ND there was an annual remembrance at the monument in front of the Walsh County Court House.

The triumph of war is what we seem to remember.

The horror of war is what we best “never forget”.

Peace takes work, lots of it. Let’s work for Peace.

#191 – Dick Bernard: A Pleasant Spring Day in the Country May 4, 2000

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

We had our breakfast in the hotel in Krakow the morning of May 4, 2000. We’d been together, the 40 of us**, since April 26, but this day was even more serious than most earlier days had been, and those days had been serious, too: Tabor, Terezin, Prague…. There was not much small talk this day.

We boarded the bus and travelled west out of Krakow towards the Polish town of Brzezinka, 40 miles away. Near Brzezinka we gathered in a parking lot, and entered a place called Auschwitz, filing under the archway with the infamous words “Arbeit Macht Frei“. For us, roughly half and half Christian and Jew, this was not the first visit to a place of the horrors of the Holocaust – there had been several stops before today – but for most of us it was probably the most powerful single event.

May 4 also happened to be my 60th birthday.

As Spring days go, May 4, 2000, was ideal. The trees had leafed out; it was bright sun. But there is something about spending a pleasant day in a place like Auschwitz….

Brzezinka (Oswiecm to the Germans) was actually home to two of the three places in the Auschwitz group. Auschwitz I, where we went under the arch, was basically for Polish prisoners of the Reich.

We spent some somber time there, then it was time for Auschwitz II, a place called Birkenau, where between 1.1 and 1.5 million Jews perished between 1943 and its liberation January 27, 1945.

It is about 1 1/2 miles between Auschwitz I and Birkenau, and we requested and received permission to walk between the two places, most of the route along the same railroad track which transported the Jews to their death. It was a time of pretty intense introspection, there was no frivolity on that walk. For almost all the Jews who entered Birkenau, there was no exit.

A quiet walk on a beautiful day May 4, 2000

I guess you could say that we “toured” Birkenau, but somehow that word doesn’t fit.

We saw the ruins of the ovens which, they said, could efficiently cremate 4415 bodies a day, but which often incinerated twice as many.

In the afternoon, in a pleasant glade between the ruins of the crematory ovens, there was a memorial service. The youngest of our group, and me, the birthday boy, were chosen to light candles to the memory of those who had died in the holocaust. Two of the photos, here, are at that place.

It was a beautiful afternoon, the birds were chirping in the trees surrounding us. Somehow it didn’t match the black and white images of the camp when its sole function was to kill Jews. May 4, 2000, is one of those days whose memory will never leave me.

A memorial service between the ovens....

We’re now 10 years from that day in 2000. Another ten years have passed.

May 4, 2000, was 16 months before 9-11-01 and all that has transpired since that time.

Our group stayed in touch for awhile, but it has been a long time since there was any real contact. Such is how things go, even when you’re together in intense experiences as we were.

Entering the first museum building at Auschwitz one’s eyes encounter George Santayana’s famous quotation: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it“.

I would like to propose a corollary to all of us: it is not enough to simply remember the past, unless one learns from it for the future, and diligently applies the learnings.

Remembering is not enough.

At night, back at the hotel, I mentioned to the group that my Uncle Frank Bernard was among the first American casualties of WW II, on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. In that awful war, WWII, it is said that at least 50,000,000 ultimately perished because of the war. Six million were Jews*. Another nearly six million were Poles.

The records show that the official beginning of the German surrender to the allies began 65 years ago today, May 4, 1945. It would be early September before the Japanese surrendered. Another uncle, my mother’s brother, Navy officer George Busch, was aboard Destroyer DD460 which docked at Tokyo the evening of September 10, 1945.

Until we become more proficient at making Peace than we are at making War; at being friends than being enemies; all is ultimately lost….

I wish I could be hopeful.

Ben and the Memorial Candles within Birkenau

* One of the prayers at Auschwitz, May 4, 2000:

Reader: Silence. Only silence. Waiting for our reply. All of them, waiting. Three million and three hundred thousand Jews lived in Poland before the war.
Congregation: Three million died.
Reader: Two million eight hundred and fifty thousand Jews lived in Russia.
Congregation: More than a million died.
Reader: One and a half million Jews lived in the Balkans and Slavic countries.
Congregation: More than a million died.
Reader: Germany, Austria, France and Italy had six hundred and fifty thousand Jews.
Congregation: Half of them died.
Reader: Rhodes and Cyprus had happy, thriving congregations.
Congregation: The synagogues stand empty now.
Reader: Our brothers and sisters were murdered everywhere in the days of destruction.
Congregation: They died in cities and towns, in villages and fields.
Reader: They died in the night and the fog, they died between dawn and dusk.
Congregation: They died by fire and water, by poison and gun.
Reader: They died alone; but we will not forget them.
Congregation: They died alone; but we will not forget them.
Reader: We will remember them; in reverence, and in silence.

** – We were a delegation from Temple Israel and Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis MN. To my knowledge (I haven’t checked, lately), Temple and Basilica were the first, and probably remain the only, joint Christian and Jew plaque on the remembrance wall at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. That is a testimony to the friendship of Rabbi Joseph Edelheit and Fr. Michael O’Connell.

Postscript June 30, 2010: Note this link: A powerful photo album from Auschwitz with pictures taken when the death camp at Birkenau was in operation..

Here’s a more recent photo album, including photos taken by our fellow pilgrim on our visit to Auschwitz and other places of the Holocaust in April and May 2000. Note #3.