Sunday, September 23, 2012


The day after labor day in 1950, my mother took me to a place called school and left me in all alone in a room full of strange kids. Although I didn't know it at the time, I had just joined Damascus High School Class of 1963..  

We were a small class, numbering sixty-five or so on that day in 1950 and slightly less than seventy at graduation. Many, like me, were part of the class for the duration.  Others joined later. Some left early, but are still members.  And some even left for a while and came back. 

Somehow, over the course of those years, we became family. Like all families, we worked together, played together, laughed together, cried together, and even fought and scrapped with each other. And through those shared experiences, as much as through the academics we were taught, we were transformed from children to reasonably responsible and productive adult members of society.

During those years, bonds were formed that continue to this day. For most of us, those are bonds of mutual respect and friendship.  

Much water has passed over the dam in the forty-nine years since we proudly received our diplomas. Twelve of our classmates have passed and are no more. With their  passage, we are all diminished.  

Yet we remember.

We remember so many announcements calling for Paul to report to one or another of the administrative offices that it became fashionable to ask why the administrators did not report to Paul's office instead.

We remember Donnie storming out of 8th Grade English Class and sending himself to the principal's office.  

We remember Carl's little green sports car and perfect flat top haircut, Charles' wide smiles and "Cool List"', Anna's take-charge attitude and cackling laugh, and so much more.

These people were among our oldest friends and we miss them. We may go to them, but they can never return to us.

In the otherwise forgettable movie "The Long Voyage Home", John Wayne tells a young lady why he remembers the names of two men interred in lonely graves on a deserted island "The islanders have a belief that a person lives as long as his name is remembered. They were good men. They deserve that."

And so we choose remember our classmates.

Bob, and

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

--Robert Laurence Binyan

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Day the World Changed

The day began as did most of my days with sound of the alarm clock at 4:45.  Forty minutes later, showered, shaved, and with coffee in hand, I was out the door and on my way to the park and ride.

It was a beautiful morning. I took the 6:10 bus to my cubical in a windowless office on the ground floor of the Pentagon and began my day shortly after seven.

At eight o'clock, we assembled in the Colonel's office for staff call. Half-way through the status reports the building was jolted as if by an explosion.  We didn't realize it at the time, but our world had been suddenly and irrevocably changed.

There was conversation.  

"What was that?" 
"It felt like blast over pressure."
"It did. I haven't felt anything like that since the night they blew up the Pleiku ammo dump."
"I heard that someone ran an airplane into the World Trade Center."
"It was two planes. The second one hit right before we came in."
"You don't suppose someone did something here?"
"Maybe we should see what happened."

I moved to my desk and began shutting down my computer.  Someone opened the door.  The hall was full of smoke. We realized "Yeah. Maybe we should be getting out of here." 

Remembering what countless elementary school teachers had said about fire drills -- don't stop; don't go back for anything -- I left the computer behind and walked out the door, away from the smoke and out of the building.

Only later did we learn that the Pentagon had been hit by an airplane. Only then did we recognize that the world had been changed.

When I went to work that day, my nation and the world were at peace. Before I got home we were at war.

I went to work believing in goodness. I returned having experienced evil.

I went to work not doubting I would return home when work was done. Nearly 4000 of my fellow citizens probably thought likewise, only to have their lives ended in an act of coldly premeditated malice.  

I went to work not considering the means by which one people can inflict terror on another. I returned outraged at the atrocity I had witnessed. And, since anger is the appropriate response to outrage, I returned from work angry and eager to see justice done..

Eleven years have passed since the day the world changed. Time has done little to assuage my outrage.  An atrocity, even after eleven years, remains an atrocity. Time has allowed me give up my expectation and hope of retribution and get on with life. In some quarters, that probably counts as forgiveness. 

How about you?

Where were you the day the world changed?

How has it affected you personally?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Good Thing

Forty-six years ago, I stood in front of a church as the most beautiful girl in the world walked down the aisle to join her hand and life to mine.

Nothing has been the same since.

We were both young. It is no esaggeration when I call her my teenaged bride.

No one expected us to make it. We were told that statistics were against us. We didn't care. Rather, with optimism fueled by youthful infatuation, we determined to be the exception.   

Neither of us knew exactly what we were getting into, but were determined to get into it and go through it together.  

Neither of us in our wildest imagination could have forseen college, flight school, ten years of active military service, one war followed by nine months of recovery, cancer, Pink Panthers, four children, eight grand children, numerous grand dogs, and nineteen addresses including thirty years at a single address in the same community. 

When we married, neither of us thought that we could love each other more, or that life could get any better.  We were both wrong.

Today, I can only look back in wonder at the last forty-six years. They went by so fast, and are not nearly enough.

To those who knew us and were there forty-six years ago, thank you. You are very dear to us.

To those of you whom we've met since then, thank you for being part of it all. You have enriched our lives immeasureably.

And to my teenaged bride of forty-six years I say, "I'm still not sure exactly what I'm getting into, but I want to get into it with you.  And I know it will be wonderful."

It is written that "He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD."

I am, among men, most richly blessed.