Friday, September 17, 2010

Mr. Brown, Hero

I recommend this article:  "Veteran able to take trip to WWII memorial"

"Brown was in the Air Force in England for 10 months before the Battle of the Bulge. He said when it started there was a search for anyone who wanted to be in the ground force, to which he transferred."

You have to love these Watseka Old Timers! The guy gives up a plush job in England to slug it out on the ground in one of the biggest battles of the war. Then, the only thing he asks for is a little ice cream - 65 years later.

Who couldn't be proud to be from Mr. Brown's town?

Have a good weekend.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thoughts on 9-11

Since we were kids, does it seem like our public discourse has become a little meaner? Maybe it’s just that we were a bit isolated because so many of us grew up in and around tranquil Watseka.

If you let yourself get sucked into talk radio’s demagoguery, you could end up thinking we live in a divided
America. If you want to take a swan dive into a real downer – you could start believing that no generation after World War II’s “Greatest Generation” can pull its weight.

I’ve never bought into any of that. I believe that every generation of our Country’s citizenry has risen to challenges. Future generations will too. The torch is always passed to those willing to carry it. No one has dropped it. Today, two things affirmed my belief.

First, I saw a note from Watsekan Jeff Brandenberg (who served this Nation in uniform for 25 years). Jeff said: “this Country is strong and worth fighting for! We the citizens of the
USA make this Country [not the politicians]!” Jeff is right. It’s the way it is and always will be. The uniqueness of our Constitution and the system it provides for us ensure it.

After I read Jeff’s note, I watched a bit of MSNBC’s complete footage of NBC’s
9-11-2001 broadcast. The replay showed that, on that day, at , there were several dozen police officers and firefighters walking quickly toward the remaining World Trade Center tower. They were only part of a long procession. Their heads were held high and their postures displayed absolute determination. They knew the first tower was down; they had to have known the second was probably going to come down soon. At , the second tower collapsed. Those firefighters and police officers carried the heaviest of torches.

I’ve been thinking all morning about 9-11 and its aftermath. As I’m sure you do, I remember that day and the next week very well. From where I worked in 2001, I had a pretty good view of a Cathedral and a large
Lutheran Church – pretty much next door to each other.

That terrible Tuesday, when I wasn’t glued to the TV, I watched Catholics and Lutherans walk together, hug, wipe each others’ tears, and come and go from those houses of worship.  We all saw Republican and Democrat members of Congress put aside their business-as-usual foolishness and come together. We all flew flags and wondered who could hate anyone so much. Midwesterners remember that, over the following days, there were blue skies and an absence of passenger jets’ vapor trails between clouds.

Many of us wondered and worried about friends and loved ones in uniform. We all knew war was imminent. Everyone knew our children’s lives were forever changed. We knew our kids would face an enhanced threat of terrorism on our soil.

For a time, the national discourse was not so ludicrous. None of my acquaintances (neither liberal nor conservative) sent me any political emails. People joined in prayer and concern. There was a new, albeit brief, dawn of mutual respect across the land. For a while, despite the evil that spawned it, the National affect made me feel like I was thirteen years old and at the Watseka Bicentennial celebration.

I don’t want to go back to that post 9-11 feeling of mutual grief and concern. But, it sure would be nice to have everybody on the same sheet of music again. Wouldn’t it?

How do we come together? Not all of us can be firefighters or serve in the military. Does our generation carry the torch? Yes. Are there people doing things to bring us together and make the Country a better place? Yes.

Look at our WCHS class. We produced Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. We have: a scientist working for the greater good; several teachers who could have sought higher paying careers; people who gave up lucrative endeavors to go into public service; folks who work in health care; members of the clergy; people who work with the elderly; and countless numbers of you who quietly do good deeds every day. Some of you have raised thoughtful children who, despite the certainty of danger, have entered the military in the last nine years.

I’d like to think all this is unique to those of us lucky enough to be from Watseka. It’s not. There are people like you everywhere. It’s shameful talk radio doesn’t focus on you – and those like you.

This is a day of reflection. I don’t know about you, but reflection makes me proud of my Country and my Hometown. I am especially proud of (I’m paraphrasing Jeff) citizens (like you) who make The U.S. and Watseka what they are.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"12 cows escape in Prairie Green Township"

"12 cows escape in Prairie Green Township"

That's right, that was the lead story in today's online Times-Republic.  I'm serious, check it out:

 Don't go getting all defensive - I'm not making fun of Iroquois County.   I wish that was the worst news where I live.  Our stories are about egg producers who sell bad eggs, shootings, police chases, politicians, and swindlers (are those last two redundant?).

The closest news in today's Des Moines Register to cows running loose is a story about a woman who found dynamite in her garage rafters in Waterloo, Iowa.

How can a spot where escaping cows make the paper not be a great place to be a kid?