REMEMBERING CHRISTMAS PAST

I attended a semi-military residential school with both male and female students. We lived segregated in cottages of twelve students of the same educational grade. Each Christmas each cottage would be decorated by the students and who would perform a Christmas musical for visiting VFW and American Legion members and their auxiliaries.

Each group would bring presents for their “Adopted” child. Cookies and candies would be shared. And then the school rules would be set aside and the students would be allowed to visit the other cottages. Mistletoe would be employed to garner kisses, something frowned upon the rest of the year.

There was a festive atmosphere in the cold. An atmosphere that never was seen during the course of the school year.  Rules relaxed and students wondering the campus, not in military formations. Everyone enjoying the Christmas joy.

I remember one year when my “Legion Ladies” gifted me with a bundle of various board games. I was as happy as can be with them and would play them during the year with my fellow cottage mates when we could.

When all the Christmas parties were over and the VFW and American Legion members drove off campus back to their cities the students would board buses that would begin their journies to their hometowns for their Christmas vacations.

My hometown was to the north of the state nestled between mountains in a river valley. I could feel the cold growing as the bus made it’s way up the mountain. The light was fading when the bus pulled into the station. I searched for my father on the landing. Once he was found and my luggage stored away we drove to my father’s house. And so began another Christmas celebration.

The one thing I remember vividly, still, was the street on my father’s house, which ran up the side of the mountain, would be closed off and at the bottom, coal ash would be spread. There the children would fly down the mountain street on their sleds. The ash would stop the sleds at the bottom. What a joy it was.

The one tradition I loathed most at these Christmas vacations was my father’s trips to all the relatives homes. I would have to endure seeing all the gifts they received that I did not. The adults drank their adult beverages and by the time all the relatives were visited my father was .. really happy!

Memoirs are to be cherished. And Christmas brings us a multitude of them. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

 

 

COMPASSION OR HATRED

We and President Trump have become so consumed with hate that we have lost the compassionate teaching of our faiths. Our ‘LEADERS’ have guided us down the path to this battlefield. My confusion is how our current President is able to claim the mantle of the leader of the Evangelical Christians and the moral authority of the country. It is my belief this President has opened the door for those who existed behind doors in the darkness of the left and right to crawl out. They feel emboldened with a freedom to spew their hate. They distort the teachings of the faith.

When we look to the teachings of two of the great teachers of good and compassion … Jesus Christ and Buddha. We can see how muddled these teachings have become to us. The teachings of Jesus Christ in the eight Beatitudes is a message of humility, charity, and brotherly love.

He teaches, in the Beatitudes, that solutions come from the inner person. In the sixth Beatitude, Jesus tells us ‘blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God’ in the fifth Beatitude He teaches ‘blessed are the merciful  for they shall obtain mercy’  and in the seventh Beatitude He teaches us ‘blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God’ My contention is that President Trump is neither pure of heart, merciful, or a peacemaker.

In Buddha’s teachings in the Eight-Fold Path, his message is to see life realistically, without delusions. In the second Path (right intentions) he teaches not to create more suffering, to pay attention to what our intentions do to others. If for example, our intentions stem from anger, resentment, or greed, then we are likely to cause harm. In the Fourth Path (right speech) he teaches not to speak, write *(tweet) in a way that hurts feelings, do not lie, do not use deceptive or intentionally use confusing language, do not gossip, or intentionally make people angry with your speech. Meditate on that a second.

I have studied the teachings of Jesus Christ and Buddha and have come to the conclusion that both men taught us Peace and Compassion, not war and hatred. But this President speaks the language of WAR AND HATRED.

 

 

PRESIDENTIAL ?

I remember, it was either grade 4 or grade 6, the school was on outdoor recess. Even at that age, we were separating into groups. There was one group that all others feared, the ‘BULLIES’. They would push and intimidate anyone who disagreed or tried to stand up to them. They used language that was never used in my family. Their motives were to divide all other groups so they could sew fear in all.

At that time there was a television show…’Rogers Rangers’ and that formed the identity of my group. We would pretend and act out what took place on the show. That day the ‘BULLIES’ picked on my group. ‘So you think your big shots?’ they said as they surrounded my group. And they pounced on us swinging and swearing. I was the center of their attention and I suffered a bruised spleen.

I now see in this President that bully group. He uses the PRESIDENTIAL PULPIT to divide and sew fear. He spends much time dealing with things that do not matter in our moment in time. We as a nation have problems that need our politician’s focus. War, infrastructure(badly in need of upgrades), health care costs, cancer research, and on, and on.

We need the President to focus on what is important to us all….NOT WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO ONE GROUP.

P. T. S. D.

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

This disorder developes in those who have experienced a shocking or dangerous event. But not all who experience those events develop P. T. S. D.  I, unfortunately, am one who did develop this disorder.

BUT  in my case,  and many fellow veterans as well,  it took years to strike. I believe the reason for that delayed development, especially Vietnam vets, was that we were not welcomed home. We were not encouraged to talk about our experiences. So we just buried it somewhere deep in our memories, so deep in fact,  we forgot. Until an event triggered the release of those memories.

In my case that trigger came one day as i walked by a hospital heliport on a very hot, humid summers day as a medevac helicopter was landing. And,  for whatever reason,  i was transported  back in time to Vietnam 1968.  A busy heliport where the sounds and wind opened all my memories from the Tet Offensive. It was 1978, almost ten years from those events.

I became an angry young man on that day. Nightmares, that were mostly not remembered, filled my nights. I would be up and alone in our kitchen drawing clowns !? I became a loner not even wanting friends. I had no Vietnam veterans i could talk to ( that points to how few of our population actually went and served in Vietnam ) I did not want to talk to my wife about Vietnam because i did not want to scare her. But she became my island in the storm. 

One night she found me in my studio in a corner holding my dress uniform tightly to my body. She then convinced me to seek counsel. I had devolved into a sacred, crying heap of fears. Most of my sessions were constant crying events, until i could no longer afford the medications and therapy.

I was eventually blessed to connect with an active Vietnam vets group through a fellow artist at a dual exhibition. I had used my art as a therapy tool to deal with my P. T. S. D. . Half of my work were dealing with Vietnam and the artist sharing the gallery was a Vietnam veteran too ! He directed me to that  group.

For years after i thought i was doing fine, but the nightmares came again. It was then i reached out to the V.A.. It could not have been a better choice for me. To this day the V.A. has worked honestly with me and i could not be happier.

 

CHOICES…

‘ SOMETIMES IT’S THE SMALLEST DECISIONS THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER ‘  …..Keri  Russell  (actress)

I came across this quote and immediately thought of a time in Vietnam when one choice changed my life …forever. ……Let me take you back to that night.

We worked in P.P.I.F. (Precision Processing  and Intelligence Facility)   mobile units that set up on flight-lines where needed. We took the Intel film directly from the  F4C Phantoms, as they came in from their missions. We processed and fed that Intel to the appropriate units in record time.

That night we were working frantically on a lot of film important for an upcoming operation. The ‘incoming’ sirens went off,  this was the warning that rockets were launched at us.

We had been working on this Intel for about a week and it’s importance was impressed on us by top command. So when the sirens sounded we took the time to insure the work was safe and secure before taking to our shelter.

After all the Intel was secure we rushed out of the units into the humid night. We were the midnight shift and as such we were few. So as we rushed to the sandbag bunkers, our unit had two, the noise of explosions and the drone of our generators filled the air.

As we rushed to the bunkers we, as a group, realized that we would all fit into one bunker. Rockets walked across the air base exploding as we all rushed into the… ‘right-hand bunker’.

We settled into silence with our knees up and our helmets buckled and listened to the noise. I was shaking and out of breath as i looked into the darkness to see my brothers. When suddenly an extraordinarily loud explosion shook the the bunker and lifted a cloud of dust around us.  My ears were shut down, i breathed in the dust as my hearing returned.

We all sat in silence when the explosions stopped and the ‘all clear’ was sounded we slowly crawled from our bunker. Then i realized that everyone was stopping as they cleared the bunker. When i cleared the bunker i saw why they stopped… i looked at the debris that remained of the …’left-hand bunker’.

We, as a group, had made a decision that certainly changed our lives…forever. To this day i look at this choice as one that saved my life.

ADDICTION

uh-dik-shuhn….. the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

 

I want to tell you of my, our, personal confrontation with addiction. many say ‘ just stop!’  If only it were that easy !  …………

In the month of August in the year of 1968, our first child was born while i was stationed in the military at the Pentagon, Washington D.C. . He came one month early at Bethesda, Maryland, Naval Hospital.  We, my wife and i, were so happy and proud of this tiny bundle. But with much sadness and anger we lost him at the young age of 42…..to an addiction …..alcohol.

He began, innocently, with a couple of beers after work, get together ‘s with friends. Then relationship issues began, work related issues then began. He turned to alcohol to dull the frustrations he was facing.  More and more alcohol was needed to dull his mind to the troubles he faced. I know some will say he had the choice to not turn to alcohol. BUT DID HE , it was a socially acceptable form of relaxation, and he used it.

This is a very common addiction…more than three million cases a year are reported. ‘Alcoholism is the most severe form of problem drinking,  Alcoholism involves all the symptoms of alcohol abuse, but it also involves another element;  physical dependence on alcohol. ………that was our son.

His diagnosis was CIRRHOSIS of the liver. Alcohol Cirrhosis is the most advanced form of liver decease. He would try to stop drinking but the hold was too great. Society’s acceptance of  alcohol as recreational allowed him to fit in with his group.

Allow me to illustrate what it means to watch someone with this condition try to function. Our son would stand in front of a toilet and rub his hand around the seat. He explained when he was more lucid that he knew what he wanted to do, but could not figure out how ! He would try to leave the house naked. His mother and i would have to give him his meds and injections because his did not know how. He would become frustrated and turn to violence to deal with his frustrations. We had to watch him every second so he would not wonder off or hurt himself.

When he was admitted to the hospital, and those times grew more and more frequent, he would need to be strapped to his bed. The nurses had their hands full with him. The drugs would clean him up and he was sent him home to start the process over again.

Soon we needed to place him in a nursing home so he would get the proper care 24/7. At one point it became irreversible and we needed to place him into Hospice Care. We watched him through his good days and his bad days lying in his bed until that day his breathing stopped.

To those  who ridicule addiction i ask you to open your heart with compassion and see that it is not always a choice. We miss our first born child each and every day and say prayers for those that fall to…..ADDICTION !

SINGLE PAYER

What is it ?………a national health insurance system ( MEDICARE FOR ALL ) where a single public agency organizes health care financing. The delivery of heath care remains in private hands. Under this system all people in the country would be covered for all  medically necessary services.  (i.e.) doctor, hospital, preventative, long-term care, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescriptions, medical supply costs.

It would be funded from the savings obtained from replacing the inefficient, PROFIT ORIENTED, multiple insurance payer system , a simple small tax based on ability to pay. Doctors would regain autonomy over patient care.

The problem with our current system is that it is financed by a complicated system of multiple payers both private and governmental health insurance. They have high administrative costs past onto the patients bill.

From the Harvard Health Publications of the Harvard Medical School……” major obstacles to adopting Medicare- for- all are political, rather than actual practical problems within the single payer system structure.

Countries like Canada, United Kingdom, Japan  have a single payer system. If the politicians would put down their shields of party and look at  this problem with clear bi-partisan eyes they could cobble together a system that would be efficient and less costly.

They, the politicians, in the last attempt to fix it excluded themselves from their solution for “US”

We must fix this problem before we are swallowed up by by higher and higher costs that will soon make GOOD HEALTH only affordable to the wealthy!

MY SCHOOL

I would like to tell you about…….’ my school ‘ .  It is nestled in a village in the south central region of Pennsylvania. The village of Scotland lies in a valley between two mountain ranges in a farming region.   It was established after the  CIVIL WAR to house and train orphans from the war. It was  ( i will disgust the is, was later ) unique school, one of only a handful of such schools nationwide. Because of its location it was titled….. SCOTLAND SCHOOL for VETERANS CHILDREN ( S.S.V.C. ).

Over the years it’s student body entry requirements changed with the state of the veterans population. When i was enrolled the requirements were ….one of your parents had to be a veteran and were incapable of raising you. In my case my parents were divorced when i was seven years old.  My parents were sharing us and soon it became apparent that we were not in a good place  (i was running the streets at night alone )  so they decided  to put us in the school….i was twelve years old.

The school was a residential school (you were housed there year round ) given an education and taught discipline, military style. Thank heaven only my first year were we required  to were uniforms ( wool pants, gray shirts, black tie, black shoes and socks ). Uniforms were only required for graduations and parades. But the discipline remained the same. While there you complained about the discipline but years after graduating you saw that the discipline was a good thing.

We were taught to respect our elders ( YES, SIR…YES, MAM ) , and to respect our teachers. We hand small classroom sizes that, with that military respect and good teachers, gave us a good, comprehensive education. We were also taught to respect our flag. We were taught flag etiquette. Revelry and Taps were preformed daily. Many students, after graduation, enlisted in the military….i was one.

But the school was government funded and , after over 100 years, politics entered into a debate over budgets. The school was DE-funded and closed. The campus and the beautiful old buildings were sold.  A seminary took over the sprawling site and with open arms invited alumni to visit.

With sadness  i think about the school. The place that gave me so much. It gave me sound morals, respect for others and my wife of 49 years, as of this writing.  We have been together for over 50 years, AND STILL DEEPLY IN LOVE!

I thank, for all i am,….. MY SCHOOL !

 

 

PROMISES, PROMISES

President Trump made promises to his voters during the campaign. He fired up the passions of them. His rallies were loud and filled with rage. They were fervent in their belief in him, and those promises.

I believed then and i believe now he never believed he could win the presidency. As a showman he created a show to boost his public persona. He felt aroused by the passion and adulation these crowds heaped on him.

But now he is the President and those supporters want him to act on those promises. So let’s take a look at how he has handled some of these the promises to those passionate followers.

 

Probably the top promise that energized his voters most was…REPEL OBAMACARE 

Real change begins with immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare “….. Certainly he tried as quickly as he could, to do that. But it is a multilayered, complicated subject that needs more than 17 days to construct a bill that addresses this very complicated subject,  without hurting more citizens. The bill was pulled from the House floor before any vote. And now he just wants to move on!

 

SUSPEND IMMIGRATION FROM TERRORIST HARBORING NATIONS

” And if people don’t like it, we’ve got to have a country. Got to have a country. Countries in which immigration will be suspended  would include places like Syria and Libya. And we are going to stop the tens of thousands of people coming from Syria. ” …the policy he put in place as been judicially blocked twice.  And nothing since then. ( March 16th )

 

BUILD A WALL

” We are going to build a great, great wall on our southern border.” and “have Mexico pay for it. “…the astronomical costs aside, will it actually do what he wants it do ? In my opinion it never will. And Mexico is never going to pay for it. A huge waste of time and money. But that is not a concern i do not dwell on because it will never get through a conservative Congress, or any Congress for that matter.

 

These are a few of his most popular campaign promises. and his recently proposed budget shows that some of his other promises are hollow as well. For example… my administration will promote clean air and water. ( He abolishes the GREAT LAKES RESTORATION INITIATIVE, seven states rely on this water to be clean. ) …  we will free the earth from the miseries of disease   ( He slashes 20% of the budget of  H.I.H. which does research on these diseases! …On and on it goes.

President Trump can say what he will , but it is what he does that will deflate or backup his…PROMISES, PROMISES