#1089 – Dick Bernard: December 7, 2015, "War" to Peace: Changing the Conversation.

Grandpa's Flag, 1957

Grandpa’s Flag, 1957


Today is Pearl Harbor Day.
Anyone who knows me, knows my Uncle Frank Bernard went down with the USS Arizona Dec 7, 1941.
A year ago, Dec. 7, 2014, was especially emotional. I was given an opportunity to speak publicly about my Uncle at the December 7 observance at Landmark Center in St. Paul.
The talk was easy to prepare – I know great deal about my Uncle’s life and death, and I have no trouble in front of people – but actually speaking the words was very emotional for me that day.
(My notes for that talk, and a few added photos can be seen here: Uncle Frank Dec 7 14001).
*
Fast forward to two days ago.
I noted the box labelled “Henry Bernard Artifacts” in the garage.
Henry, my Dad, died 18 years ago.
I hadn’t looked inside the box for years, and on a whim, Saturday, decided to take a look.
There were two artifacts: one an empty hand-made box, likely made by my Grandpa Bernard, Frank Bernard’s Dad.
The other was the flag (above) which covered Grandpa’s casket when he died in 1957. Grandpa Bernard earned his flag as a veteran of the Spanish-American War, 1898-99 in the Philippines. The flag, used but rarely, has 48 stars.
Grandpa died at 85, before Hawaii and Alaska entered the U.S. as states.
Henry Bernard, upper left, at Presidio San Francisco, Summer 1898; his future wife's cousin, Alfred Collette, is at lower right.

Henry Bernard, upper left, at Presidio San Francisco, Summer 1898; his future wife’s cousin, Alfred Collette, is at lower right.


*
Revisiting history.
We are headed for Hawaii on Dec. 17, and the first weekend we’ll take Grandson Ryan, 16, out to Pearl Harbor, and Uncle Frank’s tomb on the USS Arizona. I plan to take the flag along, symbolically bringing a family back together.
*
War to Peace, Changing the Conversation

My family, like many others, has “War” imprinted in its DNA. I can directly “trace” my own families history with war back 200 years, to the days of Napoleon’s dreams of conquering Europe and Russia. My relative who gives me my last name came to Quebec from France 285 years ago, likely connected with militia.
There are common elements to all wars; the uncommon element is that War is ever more deadly in each succeeding rendition.
We are not fighting with “swords” any more.
*
The 9-11-01 Generation
Our response to 9-11-01 brought our nation into a “war” mood, bringing us into what has become a permanent state of war…on “Terror”, with attempts to make that word synonymous with a major world religion.
But away from the media and political spotlight, something has been changing in our national mood, rarely public, but very evident.
You won’t see it on the news, but there seems a basically more rational response among our populace to tragedy. Rather than demanding more war, or more and deadlier guns to kill each other, hideously easy to acquire, and division as a default response to any disagreement, the vast majority of us, nationally, person to person, seem to be embracing decent relationships among peoples as the highest value.
*
A reality.

There will always be evil in our world, including among our own citizens.
Incidents, a Roseburg, Colorado Springs, San Bernardino, must be confronted.
But we don’t need to make things infinitely worse, as we’ve done after 9-11-01, in the process becoming birth parents, almost literally, to ISIS or whatever radical groups are called; and going insane over alleged “rights” to weaponize ourselves.
Collectively, everywhere, common citizens of the world seem to get this. But we can’t implement a firmer peace and more rational gun policy without working together towards them, including being willing to accept incremental improvements, rather than insisting on instant peacefulness.
Let’s learn from the endless series of mistakes that have led so many, combatants and civilians, to premature deaths and dislocation everywhere. Let’s deal with issues as issues.
*
Looking back to the day before 9-11-01
I close with a single sheet from a file of about 2000 sheets of paper generated by myself and others between the time of 9-11-01 and the end of November 2003*.
It is a simple family letter I wrote on September 10, 2001, the day before 9-11-01: Here it is: Sep 10, 2001001. It is nothing special, just a family letter on an ordinary day, the day before we chose a violent path.
Most of us have some memory of that day prior to “The War on Terror”. Why not take a moment to recall your own memories of that ordinary day in September, 2001, when life was going on without war. Here it is, again: Sep 10, 2001001
A better world is possible. It is up to us.
I wish us peace.
March 15, 2013

March 15, 2013


Grandpa's flag, being raised at the Apartment Community, Our Lady of the Snow IL, Memorial Day, 1998.

Grandpa’s flag, being raised at the Apartment Community, Our Lady of the Snow IL, Memorial Day, 1998.


POSTNOTE:
1. President Obama’s Speech on Sunday Evening
2. A summary of 2016 Presidential candidates response to the speech.
* – The 2000 sheets referred to above are being submitted to the Minnesota Historical Society on Tuesday, as a hoped for addition to the archives of an important time in history.

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