Nelson Mandela 07/18/1918—12/05/2013

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“WE SEE IN HIM WHAT WE SEEK IN OURSELVES”

nelson-mandela

MADIBA . . .ROLIHLAHLA NELSON MANDELA

“The expression of love and the pursuit of justice and freedom ruled his life. His countenance, his face, his actions and his being revealed this.” (anonymous)

MandelaChild“Fellow South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu said, ‘Like a most precious diamond honed deep beneath the surface of the earth, the Madiba who emerged from prison in January 1990 was virtually flawless.’ Tutu said Friday that Madiba’s legacy would live on in South Africa.” (Jolie Lee, USA TODAY Network, 11/5/13)

Pope Francis Gets It!

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In a recently published Exhortation, Pope Francis wrote about what our nation’s political and religious leaders must heed and avoid if our nation is continue to claim that justice and equality are guaranteed for all. Below are excepts from what he wrote:
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“No to an economy of exclusion . . .
Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly home­less person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? (bold letters and italics mine) This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the sur­vival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of peo­ple find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “ex­ploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about great­er justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has devel­oped. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us some­thing new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.
No to the new idolatry of money
One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idol­atry of money and the dictatorship of an imper­sonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: con­sumption.While the earnings of a minority are grow­ing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ide­ologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Con­sequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from en­joying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide di­mensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of in­creased profits, whatever is fragile, like the envi­ronment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”

Dale Chihuly — Glass Art Genius

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IMAG1623The creative genius of Dale Chihuly’s glass art is hardly describable. You have to experience the beauty of his sculpted pieces in person to believe them. The above photo and the following seven were taken by my daughter Kindree Brownbridge as she escorted my wife, Jennifer, and me through Chihuly’s 45,000 square foot Garden & Glass Exhibit at the Seattle Center last September.

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The Tasks of Elders: Where have all the Elders gone?


W H E R E   H A V E   A L L   T H E   E L D E R S   G O N E ?

When you find them, remind him or her of their tasks (see them named below); and tell them that we need them to carry them out.

Ireena Worthy on FlickrFinding Beauty and Serenity (photo by Ireena Worthy on Flickr)

THE TASKS OF ELDERS

TO SPEAK TRUTH!

TO LOVE AND LIVE AUTHENTICALLY!

TO SEE AND MOURN THE SUFFERING THAT SURROUNDS US IN THE WORLD! (see next photo)

Richard Peter-A statue mourns the bombing of Dresden in World War II (photo by Richard Peter)

TO FACE LIFE WITH COURAGE!

TO WATCH OVER OUR EARTH AND KEEP IT SAFE FOR OUR CHILDREN AND OUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN! (see next photo)

CMGW Photography on FlickrFor the sake of The Wonder of Childhood (photo from CMGW Photography on Flickr)

TO CELEBRATE LIFE JOYFULLY!

TO KEEP ONE’S FAITH IN SELF, NEIGHBOR AND NATURE!

-Meteor Shower on Snowy MopuntainwyomingMeteor Shower at Snowy Range in Wyoming (photo by David Kingham on Flikr)

TO DISCOVER AND CREATE!

TO GIVE VOICE TO THE SONG WITHIN THAT IS WAITING TO BE SUNG!

TO SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE THE YOUNG!

TO KEEP THE HOME FIRE BURNING FOR THE HUNTERS, SAILORS AND WARRIORS; GUIDE AND BLESS AND PRAISE THEM; AND ESPECIALLY WELCOME AND HELP THE WARRIORS HEAL ONCE THEY ARE HOME AGAIN!

**KoreaWarPhoto by David Douglas Duncan – Life Magazine 1950

This ordinary man weary and facing death in a war not of his choosing needed his country to love and welcome him when he returned home again. Did his Elders who sent him and his comrades to the battlefield do that? so that he and his fellow warriors could return home whole to resume the life that he and they left behind?

Hospice Care is Misunderstood and Underutilized . . .


(The following is reprinted from a post by Dia Osborn, entitled “Odd Thing About Dying #2: We’d like some destiny with our death please.” See end of this post for a link to Dia’s blog site)

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“Most people feel to some degree that, if they enroll in hospice, then they’re choosing to die.

“This isn’t true for a couple of reasons:

“1) When a person enrolls early enough, hospice is about deciding to LIVE WELL UNTIL one dies.  It’s about life, not death.

“2) Dying isn’t really a choice to begin with, it’s a destiny. Choice implies we could decide not to die if we didn’t feel like it which of course we can’t.”*

*This is excerpted from Dia Osborn’s latest blog on Dying, on Hospice Care and the choices we make about our own and others’ end of life. With her permission, I am reprinting (below) the entirety of her thought-provoking blog: Odd Thing About Dying #2: We’d like some destiny with our death please.

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In the previous post Odd Thing About Dying #1: They’ve blocked most of the exits I talked about how challenging it is to die these days because the modern medical system has evolved to prevent it wherever possible, even when a person reaches the end of their natural life and is more than ready to go.  And so far hospice (along with the growing palliative care specialty which often goes hand in hand) provides the only officially sanctioned exit where people are allowed to leave the system without a fight.

Now, that being the case you’d think that everyone who didn’t want extraordinary measures taken to extend their lives would be fighting to get enrolled in hospice as early as possible, yes?

Well, no.  Far from it.  Hospice care is one of the most misunderstood and underutilized services out there while, where palliative care is concerned, the majority of people haven’t even heard of it yet. There are a number of reasons for this (including the fact that most people don’t WANT to understand them because it involves talking about dying) but there’s one reason in particular I’d like to discuss here and it essentially boils down to this:

Most people feel to some degree that, if they enroll in hospice, then they’re choosing to die.

This isn’t true for a couple of reasons:

1) When a person enrolls early enough, hospice is about deciding to LIVE WELL UNTIL one dies.  It’s about life, not death.

2) Dying isn’t really a choice to begin with, it’s a destiny. Choice implies we could decide not to die if we didn’t feel like it which of course we can’t.

People aren’t entirely wrong however. Due to some brilliant medical and public health advances we don’t usually “just die” anymore, we have to choose when; when to stop seeking treatment, when to forego that surgery, when to surrender to that infection, when to decline that CPR, or when to remove that ventilator.  Either we or our loved ones have to huddle with our doctors, weigh all the options, and then consciously decide whether to fight for the possibility of extra time or to let it go.

Of course at first we hailed these advances as unqualified blessings but over time it’s turned out that all the new choices can create something of a burden, and sometimes a curse.

You see, there really isn’t a clear point anymore where a doctor has to tell a patient, “I’m sorry but there’s nothing more we can do.” There’s always something more they can do, which means that until a person get decisive and say, “No, that’s it, I’m through. Please stop now,” chances are the doctors will keep suggesting something else.

Just so you know, this is a sea change in the way we humans face death.  It’s historic.  As far as I know, never before in human history has there been a point where the majority of people had to consciously choose when to die, or have a loved one choose for them. This development is an unintended consequence of all our new medical possibilities and, along with the miraculous blessings it bestows, it also requires that we now stand up and assume a level of responsibility for our own death that was unimaginable just a few decades ago.

Only we don’t really want that kind of responsibility.  Turns out one of the things we actually liked about the old way of dying was that we didn’t have a choice.  Destiny used to shoulder that burden for us, which we thought we hated at the time but are now starting to realize was maybe not as bad as we thought.

For a while everyone thought that of course our doctors would take over from destiny and let us know when “our time” had come.  But it turns out they don’t want that responsibility either and, honestly, who can blame them? The burden of telling someone they’re going to die is extraordinary, even when a person wants to know.  And if they don’t?  Well, that can be a lawsuit.

So doctors try and sidestep any kind of straightforward prognosis and hand us the research and statistics instead, from which we then have to try and divine the tea leaves for ourselves.  In addition, the majority of doctors still tend to encourage us to pursue aggressive treatment, often far past the point where they would themselves, with the stated goal of preserving hope but really for the purposes of distraction.  While they often have a good idea when a treatment will be futile, they also know that even a futile treatment can offer us temporary shelter from our terror of dying, which on the one hand is genuinely kind and deeply human, but on the other is a lot like that old bear attack joke:

Question: What are you supposed to do when you’re being attacked by a bear?

Answer: Run like hell.  It can’t save you but it’ll give you something to do for the last thirty seconds of your life.

Only dying is now taking a lot, lot longer than thirty seconds and people are starting to feel like there are better things to do with that time.  But our instincts work against us.  Seeking further treatment still feels like the most right and natural thing to do, and besides everyone else is seeking further treatment, and on top of that there’s major disagreement about when it’s wisest to stop because it’s completely different in every case.

So to recap, while destiny is still in charge as far as death itself is concerned…we all still die…our medical advances have allowed us to seize more control around the timing issue.  Only that means somebody now has to decide when to treat and when to stop, and while we’d mostly prefer that our doctors made the decision since they know so much more than we do, they’re proving reluctant.  Which leaves us to make the choice ourselves, only 1) we don’t know enough to make an informed decision, and 2) we’re unwilling to educate ourselves because that would mean actually talking about dying and we don’t want to do that either.

The whole situation reminds me of a teenager who wanted nothing more than to move out of the house and call all the shots, only to discover the new freedom requires getting a job to pay the bills.  Well, it looks like our new miracles also demand that we assume more responsibility. We’ve created a bewildering array of new choices around the question of when we actually have to die and our new job is to figure out what, among all those choices, constitutes a wise one.

Next up, I’d like to explore some of the reasons why the current choices we’re making aren’t working out so well.  I’m curious to see if breaking them down and examining them more closely might suggest better options.  And, as always, If anyone else has some thoughts on this subject I’d be eager and curious to hear them.

copyright Dia Osborn 2013

Related articles:

A Better Way To Die

(See Dia’s original blog on her WordPress blog site http://bit.ly/15EuB5u)

5 Korean War Medal of Honor Winners from Idaho

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Medal of Honor Recipient

David Bruce Bleak

BleakDavid Bruce Bleak was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on October 27 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in a ceremony at the White House.

Born in Idaho Falls, ID, 27 February 1932

Died 23 March 2006. His ashes were scattered near Arco, ID. A Cenotaph is located in Lost Creek Cemetery, Moore, Idaho.

The 7th of nine children in his family, David Bleak grew to a height of 6.5 feet tall and weighed 250 pounds. He was described by his family as being  humble and quiet throughout his life. He dropped out of high school and worked for a time on railroads, farms and ranches before enlisting in the US Army on November 1, 1950. Trained as a medic and assigned to the 40th Infantry Division he shipped out to Korea in January 1952, and he and his unit were assigned to a mountainous area along the 38th parallel. Duty assignments were characterized by trench warfare with continued battles over the same ground producing high casualties. David was known as a fearless man devoted to the welfare of his men.

His deeds that won him the MOH were beyond heroic, reported here:

On 14 June 1952, Bleak was part of a patrol of the 2nd Battalion, 223rd Infantry Regiment, sent north to probe enemy forward positions and attempt to obtain prisoners of war for interrogation. Bleak volunteered to accompany the 20-man patrol on their mission up a sparsely vegetated Hill #499. As the patrol ascended the hill near dusk, it came under heavy enemy fire which injured several of Bleak’s patrol. Bleak immediately treated and stabilized several soldiers. As the unit continued their advance, several Chinese soldiers from a nearby trench opened fire, injuring another of the patrol. According to witness reports, Bleak rushed the trench, diving into it and tackling one Chinese soldier, killing him. Bleak was then confronted by two more of the enemy, killing them both in hand to hand fighting.

Bleak then returned to the main patrol and within minutes, a Chinese hand grenade bounced off of the helmet of a soldier standing next to him. Bleak swiftly tackled and fell upon the man covering him with his larger frame to protect him from the grenade; miraculously, neither was injured in the ensuing blast. As the patrol resumed their descent, other Chinese hidden in a trench opened fire on them. Three more American soldiers were wounded and as Bleak ran to them, he too was hit in the leg. In spite of this, he dressed the wounds of his injured men, but found one of them too critically injured to continue on. Under continued Chinese fire, and in spite of his own injury, Bleak picked up his wounded comrade and began to carry him back down the hill.[5]

With the wounded soldier on his shoulders, Bleak was confronted directly by two more enemy troops. Putting his comrade on the ground, Bleak charged the enemy soldiers, smashing their heads together with such force that he may have fractured their skulls before pushing them out of his way. All 20 men of the patrol somehow got back to the UN lines with a third of them wounded.

Sgt. Bleak’s Medal of Honor Citation is found on the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Website.  To view it, click on this address >>> http://bit.ly/1dQHqOV

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 Medal of Honor Recipient (Posthumously awarded)

James Edwin Johnson

Johnson

Born January 1, 1926 in Pocatello, Idaho

Died December 2, 1950 at Chosin Reservoir in North Korea

After leaving high school in 1943, James joined the U.S. Marines Corps on November 10. Trained in Camp Pendleton, he participated in two World War II Pacific combat campaigns at Peleliu and Okinawa with the 11th Marine Regiment (the same regiment his father was in during World War I). Discharged February 7, 1946, James Johnson returned home to work as a machinist in Pocatello’s Naval Ordnance plant until attending Western Washington College, Bellingham. He next re-enlisted with the Marine Corps and was assigned to Quantico, VA, where he met his wife-to-be Mary Jeanne. Serving as an instructor at the Marine Corps Institute, Marine Barracks, in Washington, DC until the outbreak of the Korean War, his next and final assignment was with a special Marine unit in Korea, departing from the states in August 1950, just five days after the birth of his daughter, Stephanie.

Sgt. Johnson fought in the Incheon landing and participated in the battle to recapture Seoul from the North Korean Army. From there he was sent to fight in sub zero conditions in the Chosin Reservoir campaign in N. Korea where on December 2, he sacrificed his life when voluntarily staying behind to cover the men of his platoon who had been ordered to withdraw. When last seen by his comrades he was wounded, but continued to engage the enemy in close grenade and hand-to-hand combat. He was never seen again, his remains never recovered. His heroic actions led to the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously awarded, given to his widow Mary Jeanne Johnson on March 29, 1954 in Washington DC by Navy Secretary Robert D. Anderson, in the presence of his daughter, Stephanie, mother Mrs. Juanita Hart and his sister Mrs. Edwin Hanke.

James E. Johnson’s name is engraved on the Wall of the Missing at the National Memorial, Honolulu, HI. A memorial marker in his honor is located at Arlington National Cemetery. On November 30, 1984, a street at Camp Pendleton, CA was named for Sgt. James E. Johnson.

To view Sgt. Johnson’s Medal of Honor Citation on the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Website, click on the following address >>>> http://bit.ly/15YGV4q

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Littleton

MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT

PFC HERBERT A LITTLETON

Born July 1, 1930, Mena AR

KIA April 22, 1951

Burial Location: Kohlerlawn Cemetery, Nampa, ID

“Hal, as he was called by his family, attended high school in Sturgis, SD, and immediately afterward enlisted in the Marines Corps for one year. Moving to Nampa, ID  after his discharge, he worked for Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph as a lineman and soon married the love of his life, Barbara Sawyer, a student nurse in Nampa. His family reported after his death, that at that time in his life, he was a happy, loving and polite young man with an infectious smile When the Korean War started, he re-enlisted in the Marines and took training at Camp Pendleton. Sent to Korea, on December 3, 1950, he was assigned to I Battery, 3rd BN, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marines, and worked on a forward observation team, carrying a 65 lb .619 radio into combat both in freezing weather and then in the mud and rain of Spring 1951. On the night of April 22, on Hill 44 of the Quantico Line, his unit of 4 men was attacked. Seeing an incoming grenade, he fell upon it saving the lives of his 3 comrades. For his self-sacrifice, PFC Littleton was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Other recognition and honors he has received are: 1.) The #1261 Marine Detachment in Mena, AR, is named after him; 2.) the Marine Corps yearly gives three awards bearing his name for excellence in communications; 3.) the City of Nampa, ID renamed its main Post Office in his honor; 4.) A memorial park in Spearfish, SD, today carries his name; 5.) in 1998, the Marine Corps Electronics School mess hall in Twenty-nine Palms was named after him; 6.) in 2009, the governor of Arkansas, Mike Bebee proclaimed September 12 of that year as Herbert A. Littleton Day.”*

*Excerpted from a Remembrance of H.A. Littleton by T E Moore on the Korean War Project’s website. To view his Medal of Honor Citation, click on this link  >>>> http://bit.ly/11al74e

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Myers

Medal of Honor Recipient

Reginald R. Myers

The Medal of Honor was awarded him by President Harry S. Truman in the White House on October 29, 1951.

Born Boise ID Nov 26, 1919

Died October 23, 2005

Burial at Arlington National Cemetery

A career Marine, Reginald R. Myers had participated in the World War II invasions of Guadalcanal, the Marshall Islands and Okinawa before serving as a major in the Korean War with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines Division in 1950-51, participating in the Inchon invasion and later assigned to defend a mount overlooking an American base at Hagaru-ri, near the infamous Chosin Reservoir at a time when Chinese forces outnumbered those of the United States by thousands. Major Myers gathered some 250 dispirited soldiers — cooks, clerks and mechanics included — and embarked upon a steep nighttime ascent of the icy East Hill. The Chinese fired on them with machine guns as they climbed in temperatures that fell to 23 degrees below zero. Only 80 Marines, including Myers, reached the summit where they fought an arduous and ultimately successful battle. After being wounded in another action, Myers shipped back to the U.S. in 1951 where he continued to serve in various locations, over time rising to the rank of colonel and eventually serving as Executive Officer to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G–L.  Colonel Myers retired from active duty in the Marine Corps on May 1, 1967

See Colonel Myers MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION at this link: http://bit.ly/1b9iciB

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 SchoonoverMedal of Honor Recipient

Daniel Dwaine Schoonover

 Born Oct 8, 1933, Boise, Idaho  . . . KIA July 10, 1953, 2nd  Battle of Pork Chop Hill, Dan was killed just one day before all U S forces were ordered off that murderous hill because, as our I Corps commanding general said, “The outpost is no longer worth defending at the cost of so many of our troop’s lives.” I’ve often asked, why didn’t the commanding general issue that order one or two days earlier?

The leader of his squad, Dan sacrificed his life when he stayed behind to lay down covering machine gun fire for his men whom he had ordered to run for their lives from an onrushing Chinese attack. Dan’s men begged him to leave with them, but he refused—shouting that they had girlfriends, wives and kids to go back home to, while he did not. His remains were never found. Posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, Corporal Schoonover’s name is engraved on a handsome memorial (see picture below) at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii. A cenotaph (empty tomb) is located at Morris Hill Cemetery, Boise, Idaho.

1Photo courtesy of Richard A. White*

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The following is a moving remembrance found on the Korean War Project’s website, written by *Dan Schoonover’s platoon leader in Korea, Richard W. White 2nd Lt 3rd Platoon A Co, 13th Eng. BN. (C) 7th Inf Div.

“I was Dan Schoonover’s platoon leader in Korea. There are many reasons why I particularly remember Dan. While there were many wounded in combat, Dan was the only man in the platoon killed in action while I was there. He is surely remembered for his courage, above and beyond the call of duty, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor . . . Mostly though, I remember Dan Schoonover for who he was. There are many whose names and faces fade from memory. Dan was the exception. He was that soldier that knew everybody and everybody knew and liked him. There are incidents in our lives that leave an indelible mark. Things that are as fresh today as they were fifty years ago. One such incident, in my mind, was the day the entire Company was assembled, after the action on Pork Chop Hill, and the roll called. As the name was called of someone that had been wounded and evacuated, someone in the ranks would shout out, he was sent to Japan, or he’s in the hospital. When the First Sgt. called out Schoonover, Dan…Schoonover, Dan…Schoonover, Dan. The silence was numbing, as everyone there knew what had happened. It was almost as if it were a silent tribute to Dan. While at that time we all just stood there and showed no outward emotion, I can now, unashamedly, weep for Dan. May God keep you, Dan.”

Click here to view Dan’s MEDAL OF HONOR CITATION

 

 

Raymond Curtis Chapman, Navy Corpsman who died in the Korean War

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Most of the nearly two million Americans who served in the Korean War came home, but close to 44,000 did not. Curtis Chapman, from my original Iowa hometown did not, nor did Dan Schoonover and Herbert A. Littleton, both from Idaho where I now live (Read their Medal of Honor stories at http://bit.ly/11oFT0a). I write about them not just to honor them but also to remind readers that wars―past and present―are not just abstract happenings that occur in distant lands. By the deaths and woundings of our young men and women, wars’ tragedies and losses touch all of us. Their lives and deaths are a part of us. For they were and are, our brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and sons and daughters.

Curtis Chapman

Curtis Chapman

Curtis, as we called him in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was age 22 when he was killed on an outpost called Bunker Hill on the night of October 7, 1952. The closest friend of my youth, he became a Navy Corpsman assigned to the US Marines, and was mortally hit by shrapnel while tending the wounded and dying men of his Marine company in battle against the Chinese—doing so in spite of his own serious wounds. When Curtis and I were 16, we worked together as a team on a railroad section gang, and as we liked to think at the time, “we became men together.” Fifty-nine years later, Curtis was one of three persons to whom I dedicated my memoir of the Korean War. In it I wrote: “During our happy summer of work and play, little did we know that only a few years later a far-off land called Korea would loom so large in our lives—for him the last place he would walk on earth, for me a time and place of great learning and lasting sorrow. To this day, I think of Curtis and his family almost daily.”

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Into War with an Empty Gun – A Korean War Story

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Author Robert Brownbridge’s moving memoir of his experiences in the Korean War coincides with the 60th anniversary of the ending of our country’s 5th bloodiest war. Brownbridge shows us that the reality of a soldier’s life in war 60 years ago is similar, if not identical, to our nation’s recent wars.

As a reluctant and inadequately trained draftee, the author is sent to the war’s Pork Chop Hill sector while being forced to endure an odd Army order of carrying an empty weapon. Loathing the possibility of taking another man’s life as much as he fears the loss of his own, he encounters not only the dangers and absurdities of war, but also faces challenging complexities in the characters of his officers and fellow soldiers. Eventually, he develops a fierce loyalty and admiration for his comrades and their courage and sacrifices. The deaths of some of them have haunted him ever since.

Surviving the war is not Brownbridge’s only struggle; while on duty, he is unexpectedly felled by violent seizures. Misdiagnosed in a MASH unit as a “war hysteric,” he is returned to duty until months later when his recurring condition is recognized as real and life threatening. Hospitalized again, he endures a series of grueling medical tests to determine the source of his illness. Here, the care and forbidden love of a young WAC medical tech help him through the darkest and most traumatic time of his life.

Reviews of Into War with an Empty Gun posted on Amazon Books

  •   “Into War with an Empty Gun is so much more than a war story. It is a metaphor for life: … more
  •  ”A superb book! Compelling, painful and delightful. Robert Brownbridge writes with dramatic honesty. A gripping … As a woman I was touched especially by the brief romantic episodes …more
  •   “I was struck by the author’s refreshing honesty about his own limitations, real and imagined, in coping with life in a war zone– …more
  •   “You won’t want to put this one down. A story about war – one young man thrust from a peaceful, small town …more
  •   “The story is a five-star grabber. Brownbridge knows his stuff, and he knows …more
  • I am so glad I read this book, and I so want others to read it. It gave me a real sense of the chaos …more

To order a signed 6 x 9 Paperback Copy, contact the author at bobbr6@gmail.com

Veterans Living Memorial Sculpture Garden on Mt. Shasta

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The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden is dedicated to veterans of all our nation’s armed conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the present.

The garden’s ten remarkable sculptures were created by master sculptor Dennis Smith, Vietnam War Marine Veteran. Smith’s works are “Specific yet symbolic, monumental yet intimate, patriotic yet cautionary.” Nine of the sculptures are pictured below. (Double click on any photo to see larger size)

The Living Memorial Sculpture Garden (LMSG) is located at the base of Mt. Shasta.

무 사

THE WHY GROUP

The Garden’s centerpiece. One soldier rushes to aid a falling comrade; another reaches toward the sky asking, “Why?”**

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THE GREATEST GENERATION

“The (work) expresses the love, admiration and thanks we all have for the generation that fought this most terrible of conflicts, World War II.”

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KOREAN WAR VETERAN

A sword lies broken at Korea’s 38th Parallel. . . .  “Who remembers the Korean War Vets?” Sculptor Dennis Smith asked, then answered, “We do. This one’s for you, my spiritual uncles . . .  Semper Fi!”

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THE NURSES

This somber sculpture honors nurses, Navy corpsmen, Army medics, pharmacist’s mates and doctors . . . who bring the healing arts to places rife with injury and death. “God love them, they saved a lot of lives.”

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POW — MIA

“Imagine confinement, mosquitoes, leeches, rats, rotten rice, rotten fish, abusive guards, and little chance of survival. Hope is reaching for the will to hang on.”

무 사

ALL WOUNDED WARRIORS

The agonized figure “symbolizes all service-connected wounds, physical and psychological. There are many ways to be wounded.”

무 사

THOSE LEFT BEHIND

A female figure receives a folded American flag. “Who can repay those who have lost loved ones in combat? What on earth compensates for this loss of life. . . ?”

무 사

COMING HOME

“it is not uncommon for Vets to feel . . . emotional pain upon returning home . . .  I feel fortunate; sculpture is a positive way for me to deal with the pain. . . .”

무 사

THE “HOT LZ” MEMORIAL WALL

The names of veterans newly etched on the granite-clad wall are read aloud as part of memorial ceremonies twice a year. For a donation of $100, families and friends can place the name of any honorably discharged veteran, living or dead, on the wall. Contact LMSG at 530-938-2218 or their website.

무 사

THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR

 “The Peaceful Warrior honors those who step forward to . . . fight against aggression to preserve peace. There is no contradiction to this.”

무 사

A poem for healing

무 사 *

______

 Photos of the garden by David Lee Woods, Walnut Creek, CA. Permission to post this presentation was granted by a member of the LMSG Board of Directors. Apply for LMSG membership on their website, (click here) or write them at PO Box 301, Weed, CA 96094. Phone 530-938-2218.

* The Korean characters 무 사 seen several times above, mean Warrior.

** Descriptive quotes below photos were taken from writings by the garden’s sculptor, Vietnam War Veteran Dennis Smith

 

For the Love of Hospice . . .

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Dear Readers and Viewers:
       You are about to read and view an enlightening blog and video about Hospice Services. It was originally written and presented by writer Dia Osborn on her WordPress Blog Site, “The Odd and Unmentionable,” where she frequently writes about dying in an articulate and compassionate way.
       For most people, dying is a difficult subject to think about, talk about, to prepare for. But because it is inevitable, it behooves us all to do so. And that is where Dia Osborn, in her frequent blogs on dying, can help; with an experienced eye, she gives us an honest and intelligent look at dying as part of life. From years of study and providing care to hospice patients, she strongly believes Hospice Care paradoxically enhances quality of life while helping individuals and their families accept dying as a dignified, pain-free and spiritual experience.
       Dia has written so many profound, insightful articles about dying that it’s a challenge to choose her best, but the one you are about to see is, for me, her ultimate offering to date, featuring a video by her lovable and heroic 86-year old father-in-law Mon Pere (not his real name) who because of his long-time struggle with cancer is currently living at home under Hospice Care. His time with Hospice has been so rewarding that he decided to share his experience with it on YouTube (see video below). According to his family, he believes Hospice has prolonged and improved his quality of life; he further thinks that the earlier a patient enrolls in Hospice in the course of his or her illness, the greater the benefit.
       Learn, enjoy, and be inspired.

*****

       “Mon Pere Speaks! Hospice in his own words.”(Orginally posted July 9, 2013 by Dia in Living and Dying. Tags: , , , , )

“I’ve written about my father-in-law’s surprising, tricky, and wonderful journey with prostate cancer and hospice in several posts now. (I’ll have links to them at the bottom for anyone interested.)

Well, Mon Pere’s experiences with hospice have been so good that he’s become quite the convert and unbeknownst to anyone in the family, he went off and did an interview with the Idaho Quality of Life Coalition in order to try and help alleviate some of the persistent confusion that exists around hospice care.  Afterwards, the video was posted on Youtube!  (Which is all kinds of ironic since Mon Pere doesn’t own, want, or even like computers very much. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what Youtube is.)

Anyway, my brother-in-law just stumbled across it by chance today and emailed the link to the rest of us.  I thought I’d put it up here, too, both to help Mon Pere with his awareness raising efforts as well as introduce him to you all in person.  (The interview is about six minutes long.)

He’s really trying to behave himself but his ribald sense of humor sneaks in towards the end with his little joke about dancing (the unabridged version suggests a more carnal activity.)  We’ve all heard the joke…and others like it…more times than I can count but he laughs like it’s the first time, every single time he tells it.  He’s such a character.

Without further ado I give you Mon Pere.

Click on Link: http://bit.ly/15JnKK4

copyright Dia Osborn 2013