Uncle Vincent’s Pocket Knife…

PRE-NOTE to everyone:  August 6 and 9 are the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  There is a significant on-line event relating to this with segments Aug 3, 6, 10, 17, 24, 31.  Details are here.  Pre-registration is required for each segment, and early registration is recommended.  This is worth your time.

To Minnesotans, Primary Election Day is August 9.  Know the candidates and the issues and VOTE well-informed.  More information here.  Click on the box “What’s on my ballot?” if not certain of issues in your area.

(Monday and Tuesday, August 1&2 I plan to have two politics-specific posts.  Do check back.)

Following are several items.  One or more may be of interest to you.

  1. A Memory: Uncle Vincent’s Knife.

We were enroute home July 20, and an apple beckoned, but I had nothing to cut it with.

At the time I was the passenger, and I remembered that in the glove box was Uncle Vincent’s key ring, which included the pocket knife which had given him long and faithful service.   That key ring went everywhere with him, farm and town; fishing, church….  The knife was a multi-purpose tool, not a weapon.  It would do things like cut rhubarb in the garden, and such.

I took the knife and ‘cleaned’ it like back on the farm.  A nearby ragged handkerchief did the duty.

The apple was delicious.

Why, you ask, was that key ring in the car?  Uncle Vince died over 7 years ago, the last of a large farm family which included my mother, his sister, (who was 16 when he was born).

Vince lost custody of his car keys a year earlier when his residence changed to the memory care unit of the LaMoure Nursing home.  Not an easy transition at age 89, but necessary.

I became the custodian of the keys, seldom had use for any of them. But they’ll be with me until I depart this earth, a reminder, I guess, of many rich conversations with my Uncle, and of family.  Thanks, Vince.

Vincent’s knife, July 20, 2022

2.  A Model: Virgil’s Oxbow Project

Two days earlier, I’d been up to rural Huot, near Red Lake Falls, MN, for a visit with my long time friend, retired Professor of French, and passionate French-Canadian, Virgil Benoit.

Virgil has been an advocate for over 40 years, and Oxbow at Old Crossing (new Facebook presence) is his most recent project.  Oxbow probably best conveys his true legacy, which is building community; truly crossing boundaries.

Virgil showed me the various projects in process on the oxbow.  They include tree planting and traditional gardening.  They involve more people than himself,  and the ideas are multifaceted.  Oxbow is a community working together.

Recently he sent a newsletter, with a description of the initiative.  Here is a copy for your perusal. Benoit Virgil Oxbow Fdn.

Virgil Benoit with young beet, Oxbow garden, Huot MN, July 18, 2022

3.  Another Model:  Annelee 

The trip north centered around our friend, Annelee, soon to be 96, in a time of transition in her own very long, productive and interesting life.

Much of her adult life, Annelee was a teacher in a northern Minnesota town.  I got a first look at her school on this trip, and found an unanticipated plaque on the wall of the school, with 13 other members of the “Hall of Fame”.  The light situation didn’t mitigate for a good photo, but here’s what I saw on the wall of the school about my friend.

Annelee was (and still is) an outstanding teacher, another unsung hero, as is Virgil, was Vincent, and so many others, everywhere who we come across in our daily lives..

4.  A Learning Opportunity for You: A Private Universe

Back in the late 1980s, my friend, Kathy, then a 5th grade teacher, sent me a handout from some inservice she had attended.  It had spoke to her.  I read it, and I kept it.

A couple of weeks ago for whatever reason she sent me the exact same handout she’d sent years ago.  It caused me to look at it much more carefully, and it spoke to me, and I think it can speak to all of us in these days when getting stuck in our own certainty is a major problem for our very society.

I think it came to me because she and I had recently chatted about the difficulty of conversing about politics in general, even with people we know well.

This time, I looked up A Private Universe on the internet, and I invite you to do the same.  In 1987 it was a learning research project with junior high school students, which apparently endures.

I invite you to in particular watch the videos #1 (the original, featuring junior high kids) and 8 (Q&A some years later with the ‘star’ of the original), which won’t take much of your time, and then translate their topic to your own contemporary idea about communicating with people with differing opinions from your own about most anything.

I think you’ll find the time well spent, and learn something about yourself as well.

Here’s the sheet Kathy sent me, not complete, but you’ll get the idea: Private Universe 1980s.  The videos will add much more.


We learn in small and sometimes seemingly insignificant increments.  For me, simply in this post, the “teachers” have been Mom, Virgil, Kathy, Annelee and many, many more.



Two additional items well worth your time:

from Fred, re life in Russia:  Bill sent this very interesting take on the long suffering Russian people and the great writers who documented their eternal misery under despotism.

This article from the Atlantic, though less than encouraging, speaks to the hope that Russia can still overcome its long tradition of submission to despotism.

from Molly: Excellent and important article from Tom Snyder.  Not an upper of a piece, but important, thought-provoking,  and right on….

Also read the comment below the essay by Linda Macdonald (July 23)





PS: if you’ve not read yet Snyder’s 2017 book On Tyranny, it is an important and fairly brief read…

Self-Rule and Survival

Or: What the War in Ukraine (and the Coup in America) is Actually About

COMMENTS (Also see end off post);

from Christine:

I have been particularly interested in this last post of yours. The family and rural environment that has been yours in your youth is so well described that I thought I was part of it.
Your analysis of the Ukraine/Russia war is given here a light that we don’t hear so often
Finally, your view on the US political ambiance seems easy to understand. It is precious for me as a European.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I read them regularly but do not always react and maybe I should.
I respect your continuous work of writing and I am honored to receive this blog of yours.
I hope you keep well as it seems.
I will be back to the US with my film over the Fall and, of course, you will be informed amongst the first since you are my friend and you are in it!!!
from Christina, now in her 90s:

My youngest sister spent a lot of time with us. She was only three when we got married. We had a baby one year after we were married and she was almost like one of our kids.  When  mom and dad moved to Fargo, and she was older, she spent most of her summers with us.

One day she was out bailing and had trouble with the twine string that was binding the bales and when John went to help her he said “A feller should always have a jackknife in his pocket.”  she said “but I don’t have a jack knife” and he pulled a jackknife out of his pocket.  It had a broken blade, and gave it to her and said “now you’ve got a jackknife.” Now that she’s been married and her kids are grown and married her kids found that knife in her treasury stuff.  They asked her about that knife…and she told them don’t ever touch that knife.  It’s mine.

I sent her your blog with the story of Vincent’s knife.  I think she will appreciate it.



Tonight on prime time (Thursday July 21) is the 8th hearing of the Jan. 6 committee.  Following are some personal observations.

UPDATE July 22: Heather Cox Richardson, July 21, 2022


July 13, 2022.

After the last Hearing on July 12, I recalled the old saying: “give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself“.  The link gives a history of the term.  Yes, this applies to women, too!

I watched the hearing as usual.  Here’s Heather Cox Richardson’s summary.

Early on at this space I’ve said that these Hearings are to establish a record for posterity.  What happens in court is separate and will come in its own time, if at all.

I have also said that the hearings have been structured, beginning with the small fry – the criminals who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 – and ending with the spotlight on the godfather, so to speak. The Guy who orchestrated it all thought he’d accomplish the fraud, but the very long rope he’s relied on his whole life is now in the process of (figuratively) hanging him and his accomplices.  The truth is outing, as it is always  inclined to do.

Living a lie, large or small or immense, has consequences.  It only takes time.   (Of course, this applies to all of us as well, including lying to ourselves – manufacturing a false reality.  But that’s another topic.)


Doubtless the audience for the hearings has (and will) include legions of lawyers and students of law; plus the Big Deals of politics, including those who say they won’t watch.

This Congressional hearing is an entity of its own, and doesn’t operate by the same rules and timelines as Court.  The hearings are intended to inform we, the people.

Succinctly, the Law, parallel to the Hearing, is not Perry Mason,  or 48 Hours.

Anyone ever encountering the law, personally, knows it is not a simple process.  Law is a profession with a very long and honorable history, an adversary process, as opposed to mediation or conciliation, and effort towards Justice.

The Department of Justice is criticized for not moving more quickly, or moving at all.  The criticism is designed for public consumption.  The process is working as it has always worked, and we should be thankful for that.

The Legal and the Legislative process is methodical and involves lots and lots of what I would call committee deliberations in preparation, pro and con.

(The famous Nuremberg Trials after WWII began shortly after the end of WWII and concluded four years later, in 1949.  Not all stood trial, of course.  Hitler, the big fish, was dead.  Etc.)

July 21, 2022

I began this post July 13.  Much has happened in the intervening days, up to and including today.

On and on this goes.

Heather Cox Richardson has become, for me, a personal reliable source of honest reporting.  Here and here are her posts since July 13.  Her nearly daily posts are worth following.

The insurrection aftermath reminds me of another quotation from the past: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive“, a caution about consequences of lying.

It’s one thing when #45’s  empire was real estate and he was a one-man show. It is something else again when you are responsible for an immense country of great diversity and it is impossible to keep the lid on information which before you could hide behind things like non-disclosure agreements and such.

Personal Perceptions.

I have no idea at all what the final outcome will be in this, the worst constitutional crisis our country has encountered since the Civil War.

Neither does anyone else know, no matter how high and mighty they might be.  There are endless opinions and theories.  The process continues

I think the ex-president will be indicted and tried and  likely convicted, but the actual court decision, if it goes to trial, could be years off, absent some other resolution between.

The ultimate focus has always been the capo, the head, #45.  By all accounts, he has always been accustomed to winning by his own rules, and personal winning by any means necessary has always been his modus operandi.  “Me” is his only focus.

Winning the U.S. presidency was a plum he never expected.  It’s largest fringe benefit, I feel, was essentially a perception of immunity from accountability, including having the ability to pardon others, potentially including himself.  That was the biggest fringe benefit for #45 , the driver to lust to run again in 2024.

He still has lots of support including members of law enforcement military, bureaucrats, lawmakers, on and on.

He has plenty of allies.  Should he win, all of them will be like his opponents: the victims, short and long term.

Personally, I doubt we’ll ever actually see another ballot with his name on it, but again, nobody knows.

As they used to say on the farms, “the chickens are coming home to roost”.  The gig is up.

POSTNOTE: There is a larger issue here being fought.  For our entire history,  white men (meaning “men”) ruled, especially those already with privilege.  These folks not only made the rules, but controlled their enforcement.  This hegemony is being challenged, by women, by persons of color, by persons of less privilege, and so on, and it is a struggle that needs to happen until better balance of some sort is legally and permanently achieved.  I’m part of the privileged class.  I support the struggle for change.

COMMENTS (more at the end of post):

from Joyce: I so hope you are right about his being indicted and convicted. I’m not so optimistic, and I truly fear for our democracy.

response from Dick: Of course, I have no more or less knowledge of what will happen, but you have to remember that you and I are not the only people in the country that don’t want the American Experiment of over 200 years fail!!!!.
It will take a long while to get to the end of this, so I won’t make a bet. But…mark my words! Your guess and mine will be memorialized in the blog!!!

from Fred: We haven’t missed a word of these hearings. It’s a two buckets of popcorn night this time.





North Dakota

PRE-NOTE: What is North Dakota about?  This year you have the advantage of a new book which I’ve publicized at this space two or three times, and continue to highly recommend:  ” Clay Jenkinson’s “The Language of Cottonwoods.  Essays on the Future of North Dakota”.   There are many reviews.  Here’s the Table of Contents: Jenkinson Lang Ctnwoods Contents.   Whatever your connection with the state, if you’re at all interested, read this book.


Most of last week I spent in North Dakota.  It was not a secret trip.  Friend Jane, in California wrote: “North Dakota?  Sooo jealous.  The only state I haven’t visited yet.  Plan to go next summer, hopefully even get to Standing Rock.

Having grown up in ND, in many towns, and an almost annual visitor there, I can speak with some authority about the prairie state.   The book I recommend at the beginning of this post will do a much better job than my scribbles in defining present day North Dakota.

North Dakota is a pretty normal place with its pluses and minuses, as is true everywhere.  I could make lists.  No need.  Suffice, we’re a nation that defines others by labels and extremes.  We’re mostly just folks: think of yourself and the people you know, personally.  Then think of what leads the news, regardless of the medium; the latest of anything that brings the outside world to your attention….

A few personal notes here: DB ND July 2022

Below is my  2022 ND road map.  It seems a better visual than assorted random photos between Fargo and Bismarck.   Generally, had you been along, you’d have seen lots of green and open farm area, interspersed with tiny towns, mostly, along the mainline of the old Northern Pacific railroad and U.S. Highway 10.  Of course, the interstates intentionally by-passed the small towns everywhere, which didn’t help the local economy, but so goes progress

The weather was magnificent summer weather.  I travelled in the southeast quadrant: I-94 and a little south, as far west as the Missouri River.

There was a relatively small amount of summer road construction on I-94.  75 is the legal speed limit in ND. Bismarck to St. Paul is about the same distance as from St. Paul to Chicago…400+ miles.   It was a hike for someone my age, alone.

Fargo-Moorhead on the east border is the Prairie metropolis, truly.  Still, the centerpiece artifact at the Fargo visitor center is the woodchipper made famous in the Coen Brothers movie, “Fargo”, which really had nothing much to do with Fargo or North Dakota, but both added to the marketing appeal of the film.  Stereotyping?  Sure, but you take what publicity you can get.  As the quotation attributed to someone(s) goes:  “I don’t care what they say about me, just spell my name right.

North Dakota road map 2022

My first stop in N. Dakota, and my first visit, was with my friend, Larry, in Fargo on July 5.  I told him about Jane’s comment (above), and said I’d like to take a photo of a real North Dakota ‘hayseed’, and he was more than happy to oblige (more at the end of the post about him).  He’s lifelong NoDakker, escapes the bounds of the state now and then, but always returns.  He’s the real deal!

Larry at West Acres, Fargo ND July 5, 2022

Jane isn’t the first to have told me that ND has never been their destination.  We have some kind of reputation, I guess.

I thought about Eric Sevareid’s famous commentary in Colliers Magazine in 1956.  He was born and raised in Velva, not far from Minot and Karlsruhe (where I lived 1951-53).  “You can go home again” was the headline.  Between his growing up in Velva (1912-25), and the 1956 commentary, Eric had become a celebrity to those in my generation.  He only lived a while in Velva as a youngster, but in a sense he never left.

There was a time when I would hesitate to say I was from North Dakota.  That reticence is long past.  I’m proud I grew up there, and in a larger sense, I’ll never really leave, though I’m more than 57 years out of state, most of that a ‘city slicker’ in metro Twin Cities Minnesota.

North Dakota is a pleasant place to visit, Larry and others make it so.  For me, “others” this year meant 10 folks I know.  My particular business this year focused on the State archives in Bismarck where my family has a presence (collection 11082).  I’ve gone back to the archives about once a year or so, usually for a couple of days.  Enroute out and home, I enjoy my state and I visit. This year was no different.


What about Larry (picture above)?

I’ve known Larry G for over 60 years.  When I was in college, he was a high school classmate of my future wife.  I didn’t know him then, except that he was the announcer with a superb radio voice on local radio, KOVC in Valley City.

I didn’t know he was a high school kid.

He went on to success in other areas, and in retirement he blogs as I do.  His turf is HERE.    I think you will like his content.  His information is shared with his permission.   Take a look.  Pieces about Garrison Keillor, Louis L’Amour, “Fargo”, Bobby Vee….

One of my destinations last week came via a tip from him as we conversed.

Oldtimers will remember renowned singer Peggy Lee, who started life as Norma Egstrom of Jamestown ND [July 13: as my college roommate Richard reminds me, below, she actually grew up in tiny Wimbledon ND].   Turns out that she did her first live radio gig probably in the same KOVC studio where Larry Gauper did his announcing.

He told me about a mural on the side of the building that was the radio station and I stopped to see it.  Sure enough, there it is:

The stories go on and on.  If you have the chance to go to North Dakota, go.  You won’t regret it.

And pick up Clay Jenkinson’s book on the Future of North Dakota, “The Language of Cottonwoods”.

Cleveland ND on I-94 from the south July 5, 2022

Missouri River at Bismarck ND July 7, 2022

COMMENTS (more at end of post):

from Mark: Not So Wild a Dream  is one of Eric [Sevareid]’s best pieces of writing about our region.

from Debbie: Thanks for this, Dick.  I taught music in South Dakota on a Sioux reservation and would often go home with one of the teachers from North Dakota – Buffalo.  People there LOVED N. Dakota and called it God’s Country.

I think Lawrence Welk is from there too!  I drove through his home town once.
Unlike your friend Jane, I’ve been to all the states but Oklahoma.

from Fred:  My take away from your ND travelogue: Peggy Lee was born in North Dakota??!! That is something of which to be proud.

Actually, your journey sounded pretty interesting. But that’s coming from a big city guy from Red Wing, so what do I know?

from Jeff: Thanks Monsieur Bernard….I miss my several times a year visits to Fargo/Wahpeton/Breckenridge, and other points west, north and south in Nodak. I still vividly remember driving east on ND15 I think , between Northwood and Thompson, and a storm came in behind me from the west and I was watching a tornado move to my south maybe 2 miles away just moving along for about 3-4 minutes west to east before dying out….

It really is an interesting state…but the winds in the winter…uff dah.
Dick’s response: The wind is to keep the riff-raff out…!
from Rich: So we are fellow “No Daks” … I had to learn the song below in Miss McGraith’s fifth grade classroom in Minot. (Ironically, this is the NDSU choir … from the alma mater of Bill Haring.) As for me, Minot was a great place to grow up … Nestled in a river valley, 50 miles from Canada, it had some interesting history that caused it to be known by some as “little Chicago.” during prohibition.
from Dick: Rich provides a Facebook link to an article for those of you who do Facebook, here.

from Mary:  I think all ‘Bernard Kids’ get to be unofficial ambassadors of North Dakota!  Many versions and many memories.  I am sure I have told you of attending a function where a local well-heeled traveler bragged of having visited “all 49″ states.  Of course I asked which one she had not visited and got a hoity toity response…”well, North Dakota, but why would anyone go there!”   Another time I was ushering and a fellow usher was so intrigued with my home state connections that I became an immediate ’cause celeb’!  She brought friends to see me in the flesh and was genuinely thrilled with her find!

I have been to all fifty states and have worked in twelve states…but then again, I am old!





The Fourth of July

It’s a rainy day in our community, so the expression “rain on our parade” is probably appropriate for the nearby town of Afton’s annual parade.

July 4 is when we celebrate how exceptional we are.  This year “exceptional” has a very different definition than previous years, in my opinion.  We are awash in uncertainty and division.

Some opinion pieces reflect my personal opinion, this day:  One or more of these may be subject to a pay wall.  But all of them are well worth your time.

“Happy Fourth?” by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

“For the first time in my life…” by Charles Pierce, Esquire

July 2 by Heather Cox Richardson

Our Gun Myths Have Held America Hostage for Too Long” by Franciso Canti, New York Times guest essay

Sunday afternoon I had the fortunate opportunity to watch a portion of the PBS program on the American Space Program of the 1960s, which began with President Kennedy’s famous speech calling on us to have a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s; the decade ending with three men accomplishing the goal on July 20, 1969.

These were three two hour episodes of American Experience: Chasing the Moon (#’s 3103, 3104, 3105)

I wrote of my personal experience that day 5 years ago: Apollo 11.

Of course, much life transpired between JFK’s aspiration, and the accomplishment of the goal, including the assassination of JFK; the Civil Rights accomplishments largely on Lyndon Johnson’s watch; the conflicts of the Vietnam era; the competition with the Soviet Union, on and on.  But the program did give excellent context to me about what we are going through now in our national conversation about what we are as a nation.

Of course, July 20, 1969, was a national celebration, literally.  A goal achieved, against all odds.  If you can, the referenced program is a good one to access if you can.


PRE-NOTE: Jan 6 Hearing 7 entitled “25” here.  Another post on July 4, 2022.  I’ll be off-line July 5-8.

The Nekoma ND Pyramid July 2009. (More at end of this post).

Call it what you will, but from time to time, events seem to come in seeming related groups.  I’ve experienced such often in my life.  I don’t think they’re ‘coincidences’ or random chance.


Last weekend I finished a book I very highly recommend: Clay Jenkinson’s “The Language of Cottonwoods.  Essays on the Future of North Dakota”.  At page 300 came a 3-page segment on Father Robert Branconnier, in the 1960s Chaplain at the Newman Center at the University of North Dakota.  The discussion was about protesting the missile complexes cropping up in North Dakota   Branconnier late 1960s.  Nekoma (above photo) is part of this book segment.

A day or two later came notice that Twin Cities anti-war activist Marie Braun had died at 87; a day after that, notice of a webcast featuring anti-war activist Frank Kroncke, who went to prison for his anti-draft activities in Minnesota in the late 1960s.

In the same time period, Kathy sent a most interesting series of recommendations by a group of Catholics on the occasion of the current Synod on Synodality of Pope Francis.  Each of the actors referenced were Catholics during the time of their activism, so the final item is pertinent.

So, the news came in bunches this week….


I have been part of the peace movement since 9-11-01.  I couldn’t see anything productive coming out of our national collective response to the disaster we experienced on 9-11.  Almost every American agreed, then, that we needed to retaliate against somebody.  The disaster was a gift to the warriors among us.  As we all know, this started with Afghanistan, then Iraq, even though none of the 9-11-01 perpetrators were associated with these countries.

I got involved, and was so involved for a number of years.  In a sense I still am involved, and will always be so, but not as active as early on.  Those who know me well know the rest of my story.


Tuesday Stephen and then JoAnn let me know that Marie Braun had died, apparently unexpectedly and quite suddenly.  She was 87 and legendary in the Twin Cities Peace and Justice community, active for over 40 years.

I had my longest involvement with Marie and her husband John from 2006-08, when we and a half dozen others planned and carried out the major Peace Island Conference in St. Paul.  We essentially met weekly to plan what turned out to be a very successful event.  Here is a period photo of Marie and John, from July 23, 2007.

John and Marie Braun July 23, 2007

John died Nov 28, 2018.  He was always a partner of Marie.  He is remembered here.

The celebration of Marie’s life will be at St. Joan of Arc, Minneapolis, on Thursday, July 7 at 11 a.m.  Visitation at 10, and lunch after.  A memory of Marie can be read here.


The next day,  I joined a Zoom conversation featuring Frank Kroncke and Chuck Turchick, of the Minnesota Eight, both activists in the anti-draft times of the Vietnam War.

The entire one hour conversation can be watched here.  Scroll down to Frank Kroncke.

(This site is also access to the documentary, The World Is My Country, the story of WWII peace activist Garry Davis, well worth your time if you have not seen the film.)

At the Minnesota Eight link, there is also an 8-minute link to Fr. Harry Bury, still an activist in his 90s, and then pastor at the University of Minnesota Newman Center, remembering the Vietnam years.   Fr. Bury in recent times has been the inspiration behind Twin Cities Nonviolent, an annual 10 days dedicated to non-violence around September 21.  Here’s this years plans for 2022, thus far.  Check back.


I wasn’t active in the peace movement at the time of Frank Kroncke – I met him only in recent years.  I knew Marie, and she and I were not necessarily on the same page in how to approach the issue of Peace – her gig was anti-war; mine was more pro-peace.  In my mind, there is a difference.  People can disagree on specifics, but be in concert on the objective.  It’s part of living.  Marie richly deserves the accolades she will certainly receive this week.  She showed up….  And so did Frank, and Chuck, and Harry and Robert, and endless others, including today.


This brings the aforementioned Catholic “Synod on Synodality”  which you may find of interest even if not Catholic.  Many of those listed above were Catholic, and Catholics have always been central to issues of peace and justice.

The Catholic Church is an immense international entity and as a lifelong Catholic I can assure anyone that its membership is not cookie-cutter.  It is as subject to the current American tribalism as any other group.  People come and go, as do pastors and hierarchy, etc.  Nonetheless there is constant effort to paint with a broad brush what the Catholic Church is or is not; who controls what, or does not.

The world-wide Catholic Synod began in 2021, worldwide.  Personally, I haven’t participated – unless writing this connotes participation.

A few days ago my friend, Kathy, on the west coast, sent a summary document from an independent group who participated in a discussion by the process suggested.

Except for removing the specific description of the group and named persons, I am offering this “synthesis” as I received it: Synodality Synthesis June 2022.  (The only mention of “war” is #11 in Hopes and Dreams on the last page.  In #11 of “obstacles, the group reports on the what I agree is the reality of today’s Catholic Church: “…those who have left the Church are the second largest denomination in the U.S….”)


About the photo which leads this blog: The Nekoma Pyramid.

Some additional photos of/about Marie Braun.

Marie at meeting of Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers Oct. 9, 2007, speaker Dr. Michael Klein from University of St. Thomas.

Marie speaking at a planning meeting for Minnesota Alliance of Peacemaker Nov. 9, 2010.  A dozen of us were talking about the future of our organization, which still exists in 2022.

Kathy Kelly and group Peace walk from Chicago to St. Paul August 29, 2008, Woodbury MN.  Marie worked closely with Kathy (in middle front row) on this project.

Personal observation:  By no means is the Peace and Justice movement dead, though my generation is passing on, and the situations to confront and the advocates of a new generation.

Then was the War in Vietnam; now Ukraine with all its deadly complexities….

I’m long enough with the Peace Movement to know that the road to peace is a very long slog, not amenable to simple solutions, if to solutions at all, rife with complexities not easily overcome.

As I write, the U.S. is heavily engaged in the Ukraine.  This is an extraordinarily difficult situation, with no simple solution; the Ukrainian people caught in the deadly middle; others of us dealing with other dilemmas: what to do when a peaceful nation is invaded by a neighbor attempting to claim it as its own; in the process upsetting a fragile international stability; and facing individuals with sacrifices they didn’t expect, such as high gasoline prices, and on and on and on.

(I’ve contributed another $100 to the Ukraine cause, this time here, featured on the July 3 NBC special presentation.)

Martin Luther King made famous the phrase “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice“.  As we know, that arc is, indeed, very long, unsmooth and uncertain.  The natural tendency is to give up when success seems out of reach.

So might be said about peace, which is a twin of justice.

In my daily walk in life, I see a nation, indeed a world, of people who live in peace.  But my media conveys another story, and the political conflict seems to indicate that we are at war with each other.  Peace is far more popular than War; War gets all the attention….

Best we can do is to find ways that we can work together on a common goal towards a better world.  This absolutely requires compromise.

When I look at the pictures included with this post, all taken by myself, I see lots of people very much committed to peace.  Most of them are now deceased.  This does not mean, by any means, that the movement is dead.  But those of us who remain need to regroup and reassess how best to continue towards a goal which will probably never be reached.

I am a founding member of another group, The U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation.  And I would encourage your membership.  Details are here.  The Memorial is a positive aspiration.

Sep 1, 2008, St. Paul MN

COMMENTS (more at end)

from Brian:  Good stuff–interesting to read.

A question for you:  my friends in Germany are calling Pres. Biden a “neocon” because by helping Urkaine he’s supporting war and the US has had so stupid many of these.   What is your opinion about Biden and helping Ukraine militarily?   I’m for it, but I can also argue the other side and say let’s avoid a bigger war…

from Claude:  I remember during one of my business trips to the far end of North Dakota going out of my way to see the truncated pyramid in Nekoma. Years ago the Strib had an article on. It was only operational for about two weeks before it was closed down as part of the treaty with Russia limiting the very low frequency radio communications with submarines around the world (if I remember correctly). The local county and especially the small town of Nekoma had made all kinds of road improvements and expansion of sewage in anticipation of this permanent base that would bring federal dollars into the area for decades to come. But it was all over in two weeks. This was and is to me a perfect example of how our defense economy distorts and wastes limited resources.

Years before that visit in the fall of 1974 I interviewed with Morrison Knutson at the job site of the then under-construction landing strip at Cape Kennedy. During that three hour interview the interviewer made mention of this North Dakota pyramid that he himself had worked on. It was designed that way in order to withstand a direct nuclear hit as communications with our submarines would surely have been on the top list of targets the Russians had.

Fast forward to 2006 and my one and only trip Kazakhstan, I visited the glass pyramid in Astana as the capitol of the country was then called. It was and I believe is still used for a once every two year religious conference of faiths “of the book” (Hindus, Buddhists, Animists need not apply) that was organized by the “moderate” dictatorship. So the pyramid in the middle of Asia (Eurasia? You decide after looking at a globe) is dedicated to religion and the pyramid in the middle of the North American continent is dedicated to doomsday. Hmmm…

This just goes to show you that even if your readers don’t read every line of what you write, there are connections being made and insights shared with every post.

Thank for all you do, Dick,

from Jane:     Ironic that Independence Day this year falls on Day 837 of the Lock-Down!  Enjoy the fireworks.

response from Dick: Jane and I are friends.  She’s out-of-the-park progressive but (apparently) a contrarian on the approach to Covid-19.  So it goes.


Tuesday a young White House Aide and ketchup dripping on a wall in the Presidents dining room at the White House became famous (or infamous) depending on individual spin.

Here’s Heather Cox Richardson’s report on the two hour hearing (which I watched, as I have watched all of the hearings thus far).  Her June 29 has more, here.

The news was filled all week with the implication of the Aide’s testimony (I’m purposely not including her name).

The Jan. 6 hearings are not random events.  The following ones, I’m sure, will bring forth more and more evidence even closer to the ex-President.  The phrase “you can run, but you can’t hide” comes to mind.


Much is made in some quarters of the Aide’s youth, and that hers was a relatively low level position, just getting started.  In short, she wasn’t very important.  On the other hand, she obviously had passed the political litmus test, and was talented, and she was officed (albeit tiny) very close to the ‘scene of the crime’.  And, apparently, she couldn’t be bought off.

I strongly endorse the televised hearing strategy.  We are a society addicted to tv programming.

I especially noted the Aide’s age, which was said to be “25” – in other words, just a kid.

For me, “25” resonated.  Just yesterday I was looking at a photo of me at 25:

Christmas 1965, Valley City North Dakota, Tom and Dick Bernard

I had turned 25 about 7 months before.  Tom is my son, was not yet two.  (Last birthday he was 58.)

On the wall behind us is a picture of Tom’s mother, Barbara, when she was a little girl.  Five months earlier, Barbara had died at University Hospital in Minneapolis at age 22.  Kidney disease.

I had just turned 25.

At 25, I was truly just a kid, college, two years in the Army, two years of teaching under my belt.  It seemed significant at the time.

But just two years earlier, there was no conceivable way I could have predicted the two years ahead.


For the Aide, for every one who’s reached and passed 25, there are infinite variations on my own personal story.

Odds are that she will do very well, though all seems tumultuous at this moment in her own personal history.

I invite you to think back to when you were 25, and forward to today.  Most likely, your road hasn’t always been paved, straight and picturesque in perfect weather!

I’m reminded of “The Station”, which I’ve shared often at this space and in other places.  Here it is, again: The Station001