A Letter from the Secretary of War

Jeffrey here.  Today, Memorial Day, Joey is silent.

My late mother’s cousin Herbie (their fathers were brothers) graduated from the University of Miami at age 19 with a degree in English.  Soon after, in Normandy, Herbie was dead.

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[Letter courtesy of Cousin Joel]

I can’t remember Herbie on Memorial Day, because I never knew him.  I don’t know whether anyone remembers him—him, not just a name or a photo or a story, but him.  He has been dead for 72 years.

Memorials and honors do the dead no good.

Perhaps honoring the military dead is meant to encourage the living to die for a Cause.  In Herbie’s case, he died for Others’ Survival (remember, Hitler declared war on the USA, caused millions of deaths, created millions of refugees, and intended to destroy our society).  Was Herbie’s death useless?  Maybe what killed Herbie, therefore didn’t kill someone else.  And maybe not.

As for the Americans more recently fallen in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., etc., they died for Games Politicians Play.

Self-defense is a necessary evil.  We’ll always need people trained to do the awful work of killing fellow humans who won’t live and let live.  But let’s stop so readily finding it necessary.

Then, maybe, someday, we can let mourning be private; let life’s inevitable losses be about heartbreak and love, not about the military and the imagined “glory” of violent death; and let the last Monday in May be a welcome to summer rather than what it is today.  Which is a remembrance of military deaths—in our time, mostly senseless deaths—in shocking dissonance with barbecues and shopping sprees.

And if we have less war, we’ll make fewer refugees.  Then you, I, and Human Rights First can find other causes to support.

*               *               *

The Ride:

We biked 78 miles, leaving Missouri, crossing a corner of Kansas, and reaching Vinita, Oklahoma.  We enjoyed benign terrain, reasonably good roads, moderate headwinds, and cooling rains and thunderstorms.  I’d rather bike in cold rain than in fierce sun.

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After the motel staff asked for Ride information, Dick & Janis stopped to talk.  They live in San Juan Capistrano and are on the latest of several long road trips to explore America. Janis’s friend works with Central American refugees.  They asked whether they can donate online.  They can!  (And so can you.)

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Hanh and John flagged me down on a country road.  Regarding asylum applicants, they “get it”!

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Hanh looked over the trike.  Then she and John went off to roto-till.

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I was hoping this meant, closed to cars.

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No cars . . . but several miles of dirt.  Made it in, made it out.

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A beaver lodge?  A tumbledown hut?  I couldn’t be sure.

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This power plant was on State Line Road, which runs north-south.  I turned west . . .

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. . . and saw this truck for sale, with an “antique” Kansas plate, in lieu of a Welcome to Kansas sign.

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These signs lined two cornfields, one on each side of the road. I don’t understand exactly, but I knew enough not to linger.

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This Kansas bit of Route 66 is almost ideal.  Smooth blacktop.  Wide shoulder. Rumble strip between shoulder and motor lane.  Too bad it didn’t go very far.

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Baxter Springs, Kansas.

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That was fast!

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Evan, from Missouri, is studying physical education and the ministry.  He is a skinny-tire road biker.  His friend Dayzah is an Oklahoman.  Evan is horrified by recent political discourse about immigrants and refugees.  He knows that people don’t choose to become refugees; it’s forced on them.  If he becomes a pastor, he will tell his congregation that Christianity and Americanism demand that they help the stranger and the oppressed.  His guidance will make a difference.

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Amber waves of Oklahoma grain.

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Brad has ads all over.  Seems there’s a demand for bail money in these parts.

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We are in cowboy country!

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2 thoughts on “A Letter from the Secretary of War

  1. right in the middle of the country ( or close to it)…The bit about Herbie Glazarof seems to be info I had known of at one time but I read is all as if for the first time………
    Cousin Joel

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