Shack II – Good Friday at the Basilica of Saint Mary. “God” Among Us.


In my tradition, today is Easter. Whatever your tradition, this day, all best for a happy one!

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At the Stone War Memorial at the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, March 28, 2017. Each Minnesota County contributed a boulder on which part of a single war time letter was inscribed. This one is from Todd County Minnesota.

March 17 at this space, I posted about the film and movie, The Shack. You can revisit it here. At the beginning of that post, I very deliberately mentioned Columbine High School which became memorable April 20, 1999. At the end of that post I have now added my blogpost about The Shack written at the time I read the book in 2009, plus my Amazon review at that time. At the end of this post – postnote 1, below – is my unedited first rough draft thoughts about todays post, saved on March 19.


It’s been almost eight years since some friend told me about the book, “The Shack”, and now well over a month since I saw the film version in Littleton CO (see postnote 2 below). I have had some very interesting conversations about the book in the past month (including with myself!), and my antennae have been up to observe, as I say in the headline, “God Among Us”.

These are two repetitive thoughts this day:
1) Ours is an individualistic society, with a tendency to create God in our own image and to justify our own action. This is a real dilemma for organized hierarchical religion of all varieties, long accustomed to controlling the flock through one or another view of what God is, or is not.
2) We have great trouble dealing with forgiveness…of others, and of ourselves. The 1916 quotation on the boulder which leads this column merits long and very serious reflection and conversation.


Tenebrae on Good Friday evening at Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis – two days ago – seems to bring it all together for me at this moment in my history.

We were in a jam-packed church Friday night.

The stage for Good Friday had been set for me, personally, through a brief back-and-forth between two of us – long-time good friends – earlier in the day.

I’m a regular at Catholic Mass; my friend used to be. He has his reasons.

Some snips:
J: “Happy Easter from the Apostate. I haven’t been to a Good Friday service in ages… do they still pray for the conversion of the Jews?”
D: “Maybe we’ll go tonight and I’ll let you know…we visited Auschwitz, etc., in the spring of 2000, a mixed group of Jews and Catholics from Basilica and Temple Israel. About that time, the big story was the shakeup in the famous Oberammergau (sp?) Passion Play, where the big deal was the guilt of the Jews… But, I think, there is a relatively positive equilibrium at the moment….

Seated, I leafed through the program booklet, and in the section, “Jesus Breathed His Last” on p.6, was this (click to enlarge):

Tenebrae Program booklet at Basilica of St. Mary Minneapolis MN Good Friday April 14, 2017

The powerful service continued, and at page 12 in the booklet, came a prelude: “Remarks (Please be seated.)”

Presider and Basilica Pastor John Bauer began brief remarks by talking about the tragic history of Jewish – Catholic relations, and the strong impetus to change those relationships particularly in the time beginning with Pope John Paul II.

Then he introduced the speaker, Rabbi Sim Glaser of neighboring Temple Israel in Minneapolis.

I have heard Rabbi Glaser before, and we did go to Auschwitz with Temple Israel members in 2000, so what I and the others were about to hear was not a surprise.

I would summarize Rabbi Glaser’s very powerful remarks in this way:
1) There are three major Abrahamic religions: Jews, Christians, Moslems.
2) Jerusalem is important to all these religions.
3) We all live together in this world, and we need to relearn how to communicate with each other, rather than continue isolation and division.

I usher at Basilica often. I am sure that many of these people who Rabbi Glaser was addressing from this Catholic pulpit had not been in Church for a long while. Some may have been surprised.

The Rabbi had been introduced to much applause; when he returned to the pew, seated among all of us, the applause was even greater and sustained. This at a service where the final words in the program are “All depart in complete silence“.

I thought of my earlier conversation with my apostate friend, and about “The Shack”, whose focus (at least to me) is the need for forgiveness, of others, of ourselves.

A few hours earlier, my friend and I had closed our e-mail conversation.
J: “Heck, I go [to Catholic Mass”] fairly often… at least 2 Sundays per month at least, at St Joan… and I don’t even consider myself either Christian or Catholic….
D: “Actually, I like going to church. It’s a good calming place for me. We’re a large diverse place so there’s all sorts of folks who wander in, including me, I guess.
J: “Yep, calming… agree!

The Shack? A novel followed by a movie. By traditional standards, perhaps, a purveyor of bad theology.

But what I witnessed at Basilica of St. Mary on Good Friday 2017 was the very essence of what I had read about and saw in “The Shack”. It may not seem like it, but people are beginning to get it. Let’s leave it at that.

Happy Easter.


POSTNOTE 1 – the early draft of this post, March 19, 2017: This post begins with two pages from an 1896 8th grade Geography book, used by my grandmother when she was in 8th grade – the final year she went to school at a Catholic school in Wisconsin, not far from Dubuque IA. It speaks for itself. (Click a second time and you can enlarge both).

The above was 131 years ago, in the United States of America, in a textbook sanctioned by my Church, the Catholic Church. It was the basis of instruction for 8th graders in a Catholic School.

We have changed, and I think very much for the better. But where we started was dismal, and for some what the standard should still be.

POSTNOTE 2: We saw the film, the Shack, literally across the street from “Cross Hill“, overlooking Columbine High School in Littleton CO. By sheer coincidence, I was visiting my family in Littleton five days after the massacre on April 20,1999. We joined the throng of people who slowly moved up that “hill” of construction remnants, to see the crosses that had been planted there by a man from another state for each of the victims killed that terrible day. It was incredibly moving.

It is long ago, now, so I don’t remember precisely, but in my memory, the day we reached the top, two of the crosses in that line had been cut down – the ones erected for the killers, the two students who had killed the others and then themselves. They, too, had perished, but denied standing as having also been killed.

In effect, they had been denied the right to be grieved – two more lost lives on an awful day.

My son and I walked up that same hill little over a month ago, and there is now a permanent monument – presently being reconstructed – remembering those killed 18 years ago.

But the killers seem to appear nowhere in todays monument, at least nowhere I can see. I can see the reasoning. At the same time, how long will it be till we can forgive, to echo that letter in the photo above, written in 1916, about the Civil War 60 years earlier.

In my opinion, unwillingness to forgive others, and ourselves, is the blind-side of forgiveness that affects every one of us. No one need qualify for forgiveness. To me, that seems to be the essence of this day, Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Have a great day, and all which follow.

from Flo: Amen.

from Jermitt: Wonderful testimonial, wonderful historical story of your Grandmothers education and great lesson on forgiveness for everyone.

from Larry(, with permission): Found your pieces on “The Shack” and Good Friday in your Roman Catholic Church to be thought stimulating. Will watch for the book and/or movie. I’ve bypassed the book several times but your article prompts me to maybe read it or at least look at the movie.

Regarding the Roman Church, I have my problems with this body and not just because I’m a lifelong ELCA Lutheran. I have many dear friends – like you – who are Catholics and when my wife and I have visited places like Mexico and Hawaii, we’ve attended mass at the most prominent landmark in any village, the Catholic cathedral. I find your church’s emphasis on string instruments and piano refreshing. I’m with Garrison Keillor on protesting against overly-enthusiastic organists. We have them in our church and, apparently, they’re also playing loudly in Mr. Keillor’s.

But my concerns today with your church have to do with their heavy-handed role in American politics. Although it raises my blood pressure, I listened to Catholic media, both radio and television, featuring endless praise for Donald Trump because of his stand on “abortion,” although his stance on anything, including abortion, is a bit suspect. The commentators on Catholic media sounded like they took their training from Fox News. Horribly one-sided. I called into one national program and reminded two of the on-air expounders, who were praising Republicans and blasting Democrats, that it was Democrats who put across the Civil Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and fought for working class people, many of whom belonged to unions and were good Catholics. Also, because I’m “pro-choice,” does not mean I’m against life. I believe Republicans and Catholics ought to care as much about babies who are born – through health care, education, and so forth – as they are about getting between a doctor, his or her patient, and the patient’s God, or no religious belief. Our Republican legislators in North Dakota, many of whom are Catholics, cut health care programs for women and others but pass unconstitutional measures that waste tax dollars on wild goose chases that do nothing but please the Roman hierarchy.

Noting the personal morality record of Mr. Trump, multiple divorces, not paying subcontractors, and proposing to cut health care while investing more money with the Daddy Warbucks of the country, I just don’t get it why the Roman Church in the USA is so in love with Trump and expressed such hatred for Mrs. Clinton. They preached their right-wing philosophy so strongly during the Presidential campaign that, I believe, the should have lost their 501-3c tax exemption.

Response from Dick: Larry, it’s a rather daunting task to take on your response. I just googled the words “Catholic census” and the first link was a reputable one, Pew Research, that says there are over a billion Catholics worldwide, half of the Christians. The whole global population is over 7 billion. I usually hear that Minnesota has about 20% Catholics; the U.S. about 25%. That’s lots of folks, and I know from long experience that they aren’t all alike.

I was in college in the transition from the old to the new Church – 1958-61. Generalizing is dangeous, granted, but I think I can fairly say but “authority” took a hit in the post-Vatican II era. This was great for many Catholics; “the pits” for many as well. In one sense or other this battle is joined every day in one way or another.

Personally, I’m on what I’d call the social justice side of the debate within the church. I’m sure the authoritarian side would also say they’re for social justice, but they’re more into control, often played in the assorted debates that you cast concern about in your state (which is a state very familiar to me.)

I choose to stay within the Church. I don’t see it doing much good to drop out and start over in some other denomination. Those I would call “authoritarians” are not comfortable with the current Church, which is fine by me. The Catholic Church, like many Christian churches (and others, doubtless) has a very long history of authoritarianism, going all the way back to Constantine’s embrace of Christianity as essentially the state Church of the Roman Empire about 300 A.D. In general, where the ruler went, the people went. Some places, everybody was Lutheran; other places, something else. in the olden days sense, we’re sort of in the wild west.

I think I’ll leave it at that, except to emphasize once again Rabbi Glaser’s advice at my Catholic Church on Friday: we need to look at and talk with each other. That is risky, but the only way to break the current and very unhealthy stalemate. Just my opinion.

A LETTER: On April 17, I sent a letter to the Denver Post. I almost immediately got a call back that they were interested, and I expected it would be printed. Thus far (Apr 26) I haven’t seen it printed. So here it is:
Last month we were in Denver to visit family. I asked to visit “Cross Hill”, the place above Columbine dating back to just after April 20, 1999. March 11, 2017, we walked to the memorial.

April 25, 1999, I was in Littleton to visit the same family, who then and still, lives little more than a mile from Columbine. In a steady rain, four of us patiently trod up to those new crosses.

At the top were two fewer crosses than originally set in the ground. Those two were those raised for the killers, also students, who also perished that day. Those crosses were cut down.

I know the reasons those crosses came down.

Today I speak to the need, in my opinion, to recognize once again these two students whose personal demons led to the heinous results. They were victims too.

Forgiveness is difficult. Consider it, seriously.

#1045 – Dick Bernard: On "Warriors" and "American Heroes". Remembering First Sergeant Strong

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First Sergeant Strong001
If one follows national politics at all, one staple is obvious: the cult of American superiority as played out by its military “warriors” and “heroes”. It has most recently erupted in the Republican political debate, largely brandished by candidates and members of the political echo chamber who never served in the military, and conveyed to a public who have also, by and large, never served, and have a John Wayne movie (or, for the youngers, Transformers) view of the fantasy of invincibility of American military prowess.
For those who’ve been there, war is hell, something to be avoided…like the religious concept of Hell: Hell is a place you think you know about, but don’t want to go there to visit.
A few days ago, in this space, I published a photo of North Dakota farm boy and Marine Francis Long. Private Long was killed on Saipan on July 2, 1944, 13 days after the battle began; 7 days before it ended.
Late Sunday afternoon, I turned on public television, and it happened they were rebroadcasting part four of Ken Burns powerful series on WWII. This segment featured the horrors of Normandy, and of Saipan….
Francis Long gave me context for Ken Burns re-creation in images of the Saipan campaign, and about the reality of war…for all sides. About 50,000 dead during the battle of Saipan alone. Saipan was hell for U.S. GI’s and the enemy Japanese combatants; no less, it was hell for the Japanese who lived on Saipan, a great many of whom, civilians for whom Saipan was home, committed suicide by jumping off a cliff rather than surrender to the Americans.
War is hell.
But this post is about another soldier I knew: First Sergeant Fred Marcus Strong.
I was 22 when I met him in Company C, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry, 5th Infantry Division (Mech) at Ft. Carson Colorado in 1962. For more than a year I was his Company Clerk; and he was top enlisted man in Company C. There were perhaps 150 of us in the Company. I got to know Sergeant Strong pretty well, though he seemed really old at the time (he apparently was 39), and he was my superior. Our desks were adjacent to each other, and our office was “Grand Central Station” for the company; as it was when we were on maneuvers, which was often.
He and I related well, in a quiet sort of working way. Sometimes we conversed about home, and he told me about growing up in the Tennessee/Virgina border area.
Our Division was training, it turned out, for Vietnam.
Time passes, but I never forgot Sergeant Strong. He had a powerful and positive impact on me. He was a gentle man. I made some failed attempts to find out if he was still alive. Search technology had not reached today’s sophistication.
This Memorial Day a friend forwarded a powerful tribute to GIs sponsored by a grocery chain out of Bristol Tennessee. You can view it here, the link is in the first line.
Sergeant Strong came back to my life. I knew from long ago conversations that he was from the general vicinity of this place, and I decided, once again, to look him up.
Sure enough, he had a mailing address, near Fort Carson, so I wrote him a long catch-up letter, not knowing if I’d ever hear back.
Presently came an e-mail, from his daughter: “My Mother wanted me to contact you when she got your letter to let you know that my Dad passed on June 9th 2014. Mother was so happy to get your letter and it made her feel very good to know someone cared enough about Dad to write after all these years…She is so lonely without him. We all miss him.”
A little later, about July 10 came an envelope with a brief note, and Sergeant Strongs obituary, which leads this post, and speaks for itself. Look deeply at the picture: that is the Sergeant Strong I remember.
I was struck by this memory card, stark in its simplicity. This was as perfect a summary of service as I’ve ever seen. The customary biographical sketch is not on this card. But it doesn’t need to be.
Anything more would have been a distraction from the essence of a life of service by Sergeant Strong which most likely included World War II and Korea:
Military Honors. “Army”
The memory card and note from his daughter has joined the goblet made by my Uncle Frank on the USS Arizona before he went down with the ship December 7, 1941.
Thank you, First Sergeant Strong.
POSTNOTE: In my followup letter I included a couple of memories of 1962-63, which you can read here: Ft. Carson 1962-63001
Some years ago, I happened to meet the mail clerk for Company C, just a kid like myself, and we were reminiscing. He recalled, back then, that he really wanted to become a helicopter pilot, but Sergeant Strong quietly counseled him out of that idea.
Doubtless, First Sergeant Strong knew war, and not from the abstract.
We were training for Vietnam. He knew that. He knew the coming reality. We didn’t understand what was ahead.

#917 – Dick Bernard: The Hermit as Metaphor for US. With Comments from Wilhelm and George about Israel-Gaza and the Ukraine-Russia situation.

My summer has taken on something of a theme: most of my thinking, and a great deal of my time, has related to an old farm 310 miles away. My Aunt Edithe, born there in 1920, died in February; and her brother, my Uncle Vince, is in Nursing Home Care and no longer can even visit the farm on which he lived for over 81 of his 89 years.
It’s fallen to me to deal with the multitude of issues that relate to such a transition. This is not a complaint: it is simply a reality.
On the road there’s no computer for me (a deliberate choice), and usually no TV (too tired), and ordinarily no newspaper either (available, but otherwise preoccupied). So in a small sense I’m like that hermit I came across in the Tarryall section of the Rocky Mountains during Army maneuvers in 1962. He lived in an isolated log cabin, no electricity, no phone, and once a month he walked to the nearest town far off in the distance, to provision up. One of his provisions was the entire previous month issues of the Denver Post. Each day he would read one of the newspapers. So, he was always up to date, just 30 or so days behind.
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Hermit Shack at Tarryall Rocky Mountains Colorado June 1962.  Dick B in photo.  Visited with the hermit, but didn't have the nerve to ask to take his photo.

Hermit Shack at Tarryall Rocky Mountains Colorado June 1962. Dick B in photo. Visited with the hermit, but didn’t have the nerve to ask to take his photo.

In the hermits mind, perhaps, what happened out there in the world was not his concern. He had his patch, his cabin with door and window, his dog, his goat, and all was okay. Some day he’d die and when he didn’t show up in town, somebody would go out to recover his carcass.
His life was in control. He seemed pretty happy, actually.
Sometimes I think we Americans, in general so privileged and so omnipotent in our own minds, think that we can pretend that what’s happening inside our tiny sphere is all that matters; and if we do care, in any event, we can’t do anything about it anyway, so why bother?
Of course, it matters, and we can impact on it, but once settled in to routine, as the hermit was, we tune out. In the end, it will be our own loss that we didn’t pay attention.
In recent weeks I’ve written here about the Central American immigrant crisis; and the Israel-Gaza catastrophe at the same time as the downing of the Malysian Airliner over the Ukraine.
Even when I’m off-line the material just keeps flowing in to my in-box, and back home I take some time to just scroll through. Sometimes something catches my attendtion.
For instance, yesterdays Just Above Sunsets here goes into a too-little known facet of certain Christians and Israel.
A friend, Wilhelm, who grew up in Germany, made some pertinent comments about how he sees the Israel situation.
“I feel I have to reply to [some] remarks [seen quoted in] “My favorite blogger’s commentary about the Israel-Palestine situation”
According to [the quote] the Germans had the right to defend themselves against the French Resistance or the Russian Partisans even if it was inadvisable or strategically not the right thing to do. Or even the final destruction of the Ghetto in Warsaw after several and seemingly unending up risings. But maybe I have it all wrong here. The difference might be the reason why people are put into a ghetto in the first place. Some reasons might be legitimate, some might not? I really do not know.
But the I read the following: Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked published on Facebook a call for genocide of the Palestinians. It declares that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and justifies its destruction, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”
She quoted Uri Elitzur, who died a few months ago, and was leader of the settler movement and speechwriter and close adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
It strikes me that this could have emanated from Berlin at a earlier time just as well .
But if I am right then this is also relevant:
“Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be “governed” without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct. It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes – crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure – reach the light of day?” First Leaflet -The White Rose Society – Munich, 1942

A little later, Wilhelm sent this:
Chris Hedges as usual cuts through the fog of propaganda and handwringing. His article is well worth reading!
Then, last night, George, a retired electrical engineer and native of Hungary, wrote about his experience as a young man in the Hungarian Army, then part of the Warsaw Pact nations.
There is nothing unusual here, especially for anyone who’s been in the U.S. military, but George’s commentary gives an unusual perspective into the relationships between powers, and how people in the military operate:
“Even in the old Warsaw Pact Countries, like Hungary, ROTC University students received training in operating and servicing anti-air defense/attack systems. During summer we did our practical training. As an EE [Electrical Engineering] student I was training to both eventually manage the servicing and train regular enlisted men to operate this kind of equipment at the combined arms battalion level while being assigned as a technical officer to the staff of a combined arms division. If I did my job properly by age 30 I could have been promoted to a Brigadier (1 star) general level and be in charge of the ‘heavy arms artillery regiment’ of the division (ground attack mobile rockets and long range artillery).
The Soviet military and its Warsaw Pact allies after WW2 were gradually reorganized into combined arms divisions (tanks and mechanized infantry) using the old WW2 German Panzer Division as the model!
To save on costly training and extra manpower the country’s civilian and military manpower was completely integrated based on the University trained ROTC graduates. University education was free and was supported by free scholarship to all accepted into a university program. Women were encouraged to go into medical and law professions and did not go to summer training camps. We did have several women in my EE faculty who attended military class-room instruction but not the summer’s practical training camps.
I don’t know what they did instead of learning how to goose-step, learn to live with an always dirty rifle (as per my drill-Sargent), and go on 3AM to 9PM full backpack load walkabouts! — George (ex-staff Sargent of the ex-Hungarian Peoples Republic Army)
PS. The only time Soviet military’s training, tactic and weapons systems were tested was the 1973 war waged by Egypt and Syria against Israel. These armies were trained and equipped by the Soviet Union. Initially they beat the Israeli army and air force. On the Golan, Syria’s Russian Style Army took the Golan Heights and was within ~20 miles from reaching the Mediterranean Sea. Its APC [Armored Personnel Carrier] mounted mobile SAM’s [Surface to Air Missiles] managed to neutralize Israel’s vaunted Air Force and only because the 2nd-wave Iraqi Divisions were halted by the Kurdish army in the mountains of Northern Iraq did Israel survive! They were eventually destroyed by the Israeli army reinforcements from the Egyptian front. The Egyptian Army was also trained and equipped by the Soviet Union. They re-crossed the Suez canal and their light infantry used Soviet wire guided infantry portable missiles to hold back the Israeli tanks while the Egyptian Soviet T55 tanks were also shipped across using Soviet bridging equipment and barges. This deployment was covered by Russian heavy SAMS from fixed positions on the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal and also destroyed most of the Israeli air force! The Israeli army had to withdraw into the Sinai mountains and because of a technical problem of the T55 tanks they managed to halt and eventually destroy the Egyptian Army. The T55’s guns could only be elevated ~15 degrees because they were designed for the flat German and Russian plain. The Israeli tanks looked down on them from the Sinai escarpment and destroyed most of the Egyptian tanks at long distance who could not even defend themselves! Also the heavy duty Russian SAMs were not mobile and could not protect its mobile tank units when outside their range. So now the Israeli air force came back into action and completed the destruction of the Egyptian tanks! An Egyptian general predicted the outcome of this battle but President Nasser, with Soviet advice, overruled him.
After the initial battles both sides were fought out and needed new equipment to continue. President Nixon did not believe the huge losses suffered by Israel and did not want to completely destroy Egypt, a Russian ally! He was worried that the Soviets would directly intervene by sending troops and that the local war could grow into WW3! We sent our U2 spy plane to survey the battle field as did the Russians send their equivalent plane. Both the USA and Russia started resupplying their respective allies and also ‘advised them’ to start peace negotiations! The most complicated position was that of President Nasser’s whose direct order, against those of his general’s led to this disaster! So the Egyptian public was never told about the disaster that was disguised as a great victory! This was also the reason why President Nasser was the only one on the Arab side who accepted the Israeli Peace offer, originally proposed by Secretary of State Kissinger. He even went to Russia to start the negotiations on behalf of President Nixon.

George’s comments remind me of our own longstanding relationship with Israel, an unhealthy co-dependency which enables the current behaviors. History dies hard (but in this business of killing each other with every more sophisticated means must end, otherwise we’ll all be goners.)
Then, there is the radical rabble that is feeling its oats in our own United States. Given their own surface-to-air missile, they’d launch it somewhere on our own ground.
There is an interesting, troubling video about goings on at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, the monument to where President Kennedy was assassinated. You can access it here. Its a ten minute watch, and one can only wonder what goes on in these folks minds….
We are a nation, and a world, of very decent people.
But sitting on the sidelines is an invitation to extremists to take over.

From Wilhelm, Jul 26:
“If I was an Arab leader I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal, we took their land. It is true that God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we come and we have stolen their country. Why should they accept that?”
That statement—which would certainly outrage the current government of Israel and most of its supporters–was made by David Ben Gurion (1886-1973), revered as the father of the State of Israel.
If that is the case where is the call for justice
No peace possible without justice.
In light of what Ben Gurion admitted it sounds a little timid to ask for divestment or boycott of anything associated with Israeli Settlements. It seems the whole State of Israel is responsible for the policy and should be held responsible. This means any action has/ should include all of Israel or it is but self serving window dressing. Another action that says we are ding something and occupy the moral high ground but we are not doing any harm or damage.
The above quote was taken from the article:
OK. So, What Would You Do About Hamas? By Barry Lando
Just something to consider as one ponders what to do, what to do ….

#731 – Dick Bernard: Remembering a Wedding 50 Years Ago Today, June 8, 1963

A short while back came an invitation to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Jules and Sharon (Alinder) Dragland: click on Dragland.
They went to the same college as I, at the same general time, and while we didn’t know each other personally, then, we’ve become acquainted through a college alumni mailing list.
I asked if I could send their announcement on to the list, and they said fine.
I also remarked about the coincidence: my first wife, Barbara, and I were married June 8, 1963, as well. And asked the question: and where did you marry? It turned out they married the same day as Barbara and I, at a Church one-third of a mile from ours, in the same town, Valley City ND. A pretty amazing coincidence.
Those who know me know that Barbara and my marriage was not at all routine. It wasn’t marital problems – not that at all. Five months after we were married, she had to quit teaching due to a previously unknown and ultimately fatal kidney condition. She had our first and only child, Tom, February 26, 1964, and passed away waiting for a kidney transplant July 24, 1965.
A friend marveled, today, that I remember the details so well, so many years later. Such journeys one never forgets.
Life has gone on, and I don’t think she has accompanied me too much as a ghost since then, in the sense of impacting on later relationships. Had she lived, I think we would have done well, knowing our mutual interests, then, but anyone who’s been married knows that you are never guaranteed an easy path. There is this and that wrinkle: every couple knows this. Widows have the luxury of defined memories that, at some point, are terminated by their partners death. In my case, this was only two years for both of us living from one day to the next, not knowing what the next 24 hours would bring, healthwise.
Here are two photos: of Barbara on our wedding day at St. Catherine’s in Valley City ND; and of me, a few weeks earlier on Army maneuvers at Yakima Firing Range, Washington. There is a little story to follow:
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Barbara Sunde Bernard, June 8, 1963

Barbara Sunde Bernard, June 8, 1963

Dick, Yakima Firing Range, Washington, May, 1963

Dick, Yakima Firing Range, Washington, May, 1963

Barbara was doubtless better at planning this wedding than I. She was very poor, but she had family and she had friends in town.
Me? I had been in the Army since January of 1962 at Ft. Carson, Colorado; she and I had become engaged, and the wedding date was set.
Then our entire Division set out to play war on the Yakima Firing Range in dismal southeast Washington State. (The Division was preparing for later duty in Vietnam. We didn’t know that at the time.)
We went the 1200 miles one-way, there and back, by truck, and, it seemed, I’d be home in time to get the required blood test.
I know from letters I wrote her (which she kept), that she was nervous about all of this separation, so close to wedding day. This was not deemed to be an emergency matter by either the Army or myself.
I recall distinctly, on some liberty time, going in to Yakima to be fitted for the wedding wear, so at least that could be ready.
Maneuvers over, the Division motor-marched back to Ft. Carson, I took my leave and got home in time for the wedding, which went well.
We “honey-mooned” by taking the Greyhound bus back to Colorado Springs, and living in a tiny apartment, half of a two car garage, for the next month. We gave meaning to the phrase: “poor as church mice.” Then she returned home to start a teaching career, which lasted two months till she had to resign due to illness.
And that began Fifty Years Ago today.
Dick and Barbara with family members, Grandma and Grandpa Busch, my Mom and Dad, sister Mary Ann, David and Ruth Kent, Barbara's Mom and brother, my sister Florence, and brother Frank.  Missing from photo were my brother John, and Barbara's brother Mike.  My Dad's parents had both passed away by then.

Dick and Barbara with family members, Grandma and Grandpa Busch, my Mom and Dad, sister Mary Ann, David and Ruth Kent, Barbara’s Mom and brother, my sister Florence, and brother Frank. Missing from photo were my brother John, and Barbara’s brother Mike. My Dad’s parents had both passed away by then.

Barbara's bridesmaids, June 8, 1963.  (I hope I'm correct) Connie Cink, Florence Bernard, and Shirley Undem.

Barbara’s bridesmaids, June 8, 1963. (I hope I’m correct) Connie Cink, Florence Bernard, and Shirley Undem.

from Sharon and Jule, June 8, 2013: This was most interesting to us. You have great memories. I found this sad to read, yet happy to see how happy Barb was on your special wedding day. She chose lavender and we had blue with lavender flowers. . We have been so very lucky and have had a great 50 years. We had an awesome day, are so happy, feel extremely blessed and looking forward to our party tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your story and sending your best wishes. There will be several people here that you know. It was great to get a long note from Richard Greene yesterday. We have heard from so many people. Because of you, we have heard from people we hardly remember, but who seem to remember us. It has been a fun ride.
See also Responses to this post.
Barbara is buried in the St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Valley City ND, perhaps 100 feet northeast of the statue on the south edge which overlooks the cemetery.
At St. Catherine's Cemetery Valley City ND August 16, 1978

At St. Catherine’s Cemetery Valley City ND August 16, 1978

#709 – Dick Bernard: The Boston Marathon

Yesterday morning, before 9 a.m., I was at the gym exercising at my usual place. Behind me, visible in the mirror, were two women, exercising beside each other and quite loudly chatting.
One of them mentioned to the other that her husband was in Boston, running the Marathon, checking in from time to time.
A few hours later I heard the news of the bombs at the finish line at the Marathon. This probably changed the woman’s conversation. Perhaps I’ll read in the Woodbury MN news something about this today or maybe next week…. Such is how communication goes these days. Instant and worldwide.
I got to thinking about two happenings in my own life.
Back on April 20, 1999, I was in the car on the freeway in north Minneapolis when I heard that there had been shooting at a school in Littleton, Colorado.
Littleton. That was where my son and family lived.
Soon enough, I learned my granddaughter, then 13 and in Middle School, was safe. No cell phones then. It was via e-mail.
I tried to find where Columbine high school was on the then-version of Mapquest. The school location on the map was misplaced, I soon learned. My son and family, it turned out, lived only a mile from the high school, and later he said he probably had seen the two killers the previous day in a local McDonalds restaurant – just three of the customers at that time, that day.
But in those days, communications was not quite so convenient or instant (though it was pretty good.) There were cell phones of a sort, but not ubiquitous like now. There was cable, but not hundreds of stations vying on the competitive edge for news. I don’t think I was thinking, then, about what has since become something of a mantra for me: “too many news people, too little news.”
Then I thought back further, to December 7, 1941, when my Uncle – Dad’s brother – went down with the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.
I was alive then, just 1 1/2, so I didn’t pay much attention.
Dad told me about his memories of that awful time years later. They didn’t know for certain that his brother, Frank Bernard, had died until some weeks later. The time was so chaotic that I don’t think there was even an organized Memorial Service for Frank. His parent were in Long Beach for the winter and had no car (they traveled by train, then), his sister in Los Angeles, and his brother in rural North Dakota. Making even a phone call was not a routine matter. No television. Less radio. The news coming via newspaper – I have the clippings.
We tend to forget that.
And now we are besieged for hours upon hours by repetitive images of the same exact thing; by speculation by experts about who done it, and why it was done. Everybody with their own agenda for communicating whatever it is they choose to communicate.
We’re a big country, and such incidents will happen from time to time.
We used to worry about the Russians bombing our school in central North Dakota in the 1950s; now, well you know….
We need to get a grip and keep things in a bit better perspective.
It was bad, what happened in Boston, yesterday.
As a city and as a nation and as a world we’ll survive it.
We really have it pretty good, here.

#678 – Dick Bernard: Anniversary of a Retirement

It was thirteen years ago today, January 18, 2000, that my staff colleagues at Education Minnesota bid me adieu at my retirement after 27 years attempting to do my best to represent teachers in a collective bargaining state.
I was not yet 60 when I cleaned out my office, handed in my keys and walked out the north door at 41 Sherburne in St. Paul.
It had been long enough.
Even so, I had purposely fixed my retirement date to accommodate the statutory deadline for contract settlements that year: January 18, 2000.
My job back then was an endless series of negotiations about anything and everything: elementary teachers had differing priorities than secondary; that teacher who’d filed a grievance, or was being disciplined for something, had a difference of opinion with someone. Somebody higher up the food chain had a differing notion of “top priority” than I did….
So it went.
And negotiations was a lot better than the alternative where the game was for one person to win, against someone else who lost.
It was one of many lessons early in my staff career: if you play the game of win and lose, the winner never really wins, at least in the real sense of that term, where a worthy objective is for everybody to feel some sense of winning something. Win/Lose is really Lose/Lose…everybody loses.
We are in the midst of a long-running terrible Civil War where winning is everything; where to negotiate is to lose.
We’re seeing the sad results in our states, and in our nation’s capital, and in our interpersonal communication (or lack of same) about important issues, like the current Gun Issue, Etc.
Thirteen years is a while ago.
I brought my camera along that January 18, 2000, and someone took a few snapshots (at end of this post). Nothing fancy, but it is surprising how many memories come back:
There’s that photo of myself with the co-Presidents of Education Minnesota, Judy Schaubach and Sandra Peterson. Two years earlier rival unions, Minnesota Education Association and Minnesota Federation of Teachers, had merged after many years of conflict.
I like to feel that I played more than a tiny part in that important rapprochement, beginning in the late 1980s in northern Minnesota.
Both officers have retired. Sandra Peterson served 8 years in the Minnesota State Legislature.
Leaders don’t stop leading when they retire.
February 28, in Apple Valley, Education Minnesota’s Dakota County United Educators (Apple Valley/Rosemount) will celebrate 20 years from the beginning of serious negotiations to merge two rival local unions.
I was there, part of that. And proud of it.
There’s my boss, Larry Wicks, who many years earlier I’d practiced-teaching-on at Valley City State Teachers College. I apparently didn’t destroy him then; he’s currently Executive Director of the Ohio Education Association.
And my work colleague and friend Bob Tonra, now many years deceased, who somehow took a fancy to my Uncle’s WWII ships, the battleship USS Arizona and destroyer USS Woodworth and painstakingly made to scale models, behind me as I type this blog.
And of course, colleagues – people in the next office, across the hall, other departments, etc. Or Karen at the Good Earth in Roseville – “my” restaurant for nearly its entire existence. They gave me a free carrot cake that day….
That January 18 I finally cleared the final mess from my office and took a few photos of my work space, across the street from the State Capitol building. On my office door hung a photo from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, April, 1999, a few days after the massacre at Columbine.
That young lady in the picture is granddaughter Lindsay, then 13. She, her parents and I walked up that Cross Hill on a rainy April day, and saw the stumps of the two crosses one Dad had cut down – the ones erected by someone else to the two killers, who had killed themselves. They lived then, and now, scarce a mile from the high school….
All the memories.
Let’s all learn to truly negotiate and to compromise on even our most cherished beliefs.
Such a talent is our future. Indeed our world’s only chance for a future.
(click to enlarge)

Judy Schaubach, Dick Bernard, Sandra Peterson Jan 18, 2000

In Gallop Conference Room at Education Minnesota Jan 18, 2000

Karen Schultz and server at Good Earth, January 18, 2000

Bob Tonra with his model of the USS Arizona ca 1996

Larry Wicks (at left)

Cross Hill above Columbine High School, April 1999, granddaughter Lindsay by the crosses, late April, 1999

#603 – Dick Bernard: End of a week after the Aurora massacre during Dark Knight Rises. Part Three

When I awoke last Friday morning, and saw the first news of the carnage at the movie theatre in Aurora CO, the first thing that came to mind was the horror at Columbine High School in 1999. It became the basis for my post one week ago today.
As I write media is beginning to go silent on the tragedy at Aurora. Over at the Eagan Patch non-scientific online poll, the number favoring no gun control still dominates, but the percentage has hardly changed since the beginning. The thread of comments seems to be ending, but the emphasis has seldom been the tragedy inside the theater, rather the unfettered right to have guns*.
So we live.
Monday, mostly out of curiosity, I went to Dark Knight Rises at the Woodbury Theatre. The film isn’t my normal fare, but I felt it was well done, deserving its four stars (highest rating).

Woodbury Theatre July 22, 2012

The film kept attentive a fairly full Woodbury theatre audience of teens and adults, and it had strong take-away messages for anyone caring to ponder such things as good and evil.
There were no armed guards at the theatre, or unusual precautions I could notice. Staff were polite as always. Going to the Woodbury Theatre is always a pleasant experience.
In the theatre, I would guess that most of us were thinking about what happened a few days earlier in Colorado.
I certainly noticed my own feelings at the approximate half-hour mark, the point in the movie when the carnage took place in Aurora.
It was heart-warming to notice a couple of days later that Batman himself, Christian Bale, had showed up at the hospital in Aurora. It is hardly worth being shot to meet a movie star, and President Obama came to Aurora as well, but the in-person presence was a nice touch nonetheless.
Of course, death is something we all live with. Aurora was only a spike.
Out of curiosity I looked up death statistics.
On a normal day in the United States, nearly 7,000 people die. About 100 of these die in automobiles; perhaps 25 or so die in shootings; twice as many die through gun accidents or suicide with a gun; (far more are injured and terrorized in these shootings.)
World-wide, that Friday in July, 2012, about 156,000 people died from all causes.
So, should we even care about a few wasted lives in that movie theater in suburban Denver?
Yes, we should.
They are unnecessary deaths, due strictly to allowing someone “freedom” and “liberty” – “the right” – to purchase and then use deadly weapons to take away others freedom and liberty.
The thread of the community newspaper poll went on. The most recent comment count I have is nearing 300.
Monday, at 11:16 a.m. I entered my second and last personal response to the thread:
“I’ve followed this thread since almost the beginning – my computer says 163 posts so far. I wonder how many have experienced the reality of guns person-against-person. It makes a big difference. When I filled in the questionnaire which brought me here, I marked ‘sometimes’. In my comment, I said I qualified as expert marksman in the Army, but I have never owned a firearm and don’t intend to.
I was in the Army 1962-63. Volunteered for the Draft (ever fewer know what that is). Turned out I was assigned to an Infantry Company in a newly reactivated Infantry Division preparing for duty in a place that was abstract to most of us – Vietnam. We played a lot of war in my two years, up close and personal, with real primitive M-1 rifles (blank ammo), bayonet training, and the like. We crawled under barbed wire under a fusillade of machine gun fire. We experienced tear gas. We did maneuvers in several states.
Even playing war was dead serious. You found out it wasn’t a video game or a theory. You could get killed more easily than you could kill. Having a gun, and doing target practice isn’t the real deal, rest assured. In the chaos of that theater on Friday night, the worst thing to happen would have been a gunslingers duel. My opinion: authorize everyone to have a machete, and banish guns, period. Yes, a fantasy. But makes more sense than assault weapons on every corner. And check out “On Killing” by David Grossman on Amazon. Somebody earlier referred to him.”
There were no responses on-line, but the conversation continued on other topics.
Maybe it’s a good time to review Columbine and that movie the gun-folks love to hate: Bowling for Columbine. It’s free for viewing on-line, here. And here’s Michael Moore on the issue. He’s paid his dues.
If my math is correct, since Columbine there have been over 100,000 violent person-against-person gun deaths in the United States.
If you think policy makers need to pay attention to our being awash in deadly weapons, don’t go silent, as the news media leaves Aurora for the next deal. Stay with it. The Brady Campaign is a good ongoing resource.
Gandhi had it right: “we must be the change we wish to see in the world”.

* – Here’s the last comment on the Patch poll, at least by 11:15 p.m. Thursday, July 26.
Carol Turnbull: “This is from An Arms Race We Can’t Win, one of the links posted above, for those who didn’t bother to check it out: “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has compiled a 62-page list of mass shootings since 2005. What’s striking is that there isn’t a single example of a concerned bystander with a concealed-carry permit who stopped a mass shooting… “We’re also excessively pessimistic about our ability to control firearms in the United States. Since 9/11, federal officials have done an excellent job of restricting the fertilizers and chemicals required to produce homemade explosives.””

#599 – Dick Bernard: Thoughts in the immediate wake of Aurora CO

UPDATE: Followup posts here and here.
Out and about this afternoon I noticed that Dark Knight Rises is playing at our local Woodbury Theatre, and the parking lot was packed. What these two facts might mean, I don’t know. The front page of the Variety section of this mornings Minneapolis Star Tribune gave the film Four Stars (out of four). This places the STrib in an awkward position this afternoon.
One has no doubt what the lead story on tonights news – all channels – will be. It is yet another tragedy, certainly not the first, and as certainly not the last in this comfortable-with-violence country of ours.
Waking to the breaking news this morning caused me to think back to an afternoon on April 20, 1999.
I was returning to St. Paul from a day-long meeting in Brooklyn Park, and along I-94 somewhere heard the announcement about school shootings in Littleton CO.
This elevated my concerns. My son and family had lived in Littleton for more than ten years, and Lindsay, my granddaughter, was 12 and in a Littleton school.
Those were the days before cell phones, and I couldn’t make contact till I got back to my office. There was an e-mail. All was okay with our family.
I learned the school was Columbine, which didn’t relate to me since no one had mentioned it before. I looked it up on the then fledgling version of mapquest, and found its location, which was misplaced on the computer map.
Turned out Columbine high school was about a mile straight east of where my kin lived, and Lindsay’s school was in a different attendance area in the massive Jefferson County Public Schools.
About a week later I was in Littleton – it had been a previously planned trip – and together we hiked up “Cross Hill” in the rain, and with hundreds of others, including pastor Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral and his film crew, silently remembering and witnessing. Cross Hill was simply a pile of construction dirt, but it did overlook Columbine just a little to the east. It had its own controversy. The builder created and planted the crosses to each of the victims of the massacre at Columbine, including crosses to the killers, who had committed suicide after the deed. Someone else had come in and cut down those two other crosses….
Such is how grief works its way through, and in one way or another it will play out this way in the latest tragedy.
(It turned out that last night Lindsay, now married and living in the same neighborhood as in 1999, was at the midnight opening of Dark Knight Rises, but at another theater 20 miles away from Aurora.)
One never knows.
In the wake of Columbine I dug out an old handout from some workshop I had attended back in the early 1970s. It was one of those pieces of paper that seemed to be worth keeping, and I have kept it in its original somewhat primitive condition. A psychologist used the graphic to walk us through the stages of response to Crisis situations we might face.
(click to enlarge)

The stages in essence, and their approximate duration, are these:
IMPACT – Hours
This is what “normal” response to a crisis looked like to some psychologist in 1972.
How will this latest tragedy be dealt with? How will it be used? The following days and weeks will tell the tale.
A good friend, a retired prosecutor in a major city, sent an e-mail this afternoon with an observation which occurred to him: “Every mass shooting in the United States has not occurred in a large city. They have all occurred either in rural areas, such as the Red Lake Reservation school shooting, or in suburbs such as Littleton (Columbine high School) or Aurora Colorado and the school in a small town outside of Cleveland, for example. What does that prove, what does that mean? I have no idea. Nor have I read of any analysis of this phenomenon, and I have searched for one/some.”
May we all seek non-violence as a solution to our problems.
From Will:
1. Every time there is a national tragedy, every American wants the world to know where (s)he was and what (s)he was doing.
2. Are you saying, with no proof, that this film provoked the shooting? What if the theater had been showing a religious film and a shooting still took place?
3. Are you saying or suggesting we must start censoring, even banning films on the basis of their likelihood to provoke shootings? ACLU and CCR will come after you with both barrels!
4. If you believe Congress needs to pass stronger gun laws, use your computer skills and tell us which Congresspeople still in office received donations and in what amount from the NRA over the past five years and put it on your blog.
5. Write a letter to Sens. Franken and Klobuchar and your Congressperson—it’s Bachmann, isn’t it?—with your specific ideas on tightening gun controls.
Copy the NRA.
Response to Will from Dick:
1. Certainly, and why not? The only difference between now and 50 years ago is that most all of us can instantly communicate with most everyone anywhere.
2. No
3. No
4. Yes, member of Brady Campaign already, but not inclined to push my weight around in a blog. According to Brady Campaign, this year we already have over 54,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. and we’re only halfway through 2012. We are awash in weaponry, but to even think about voting for some kind of gun-control is, at this moment, a political death sentence. The public does have to make a difference.
5. See #4. But the odds of any candidate for office actively pursuing gun control four months before the 2012 election are essentially zero. Groups like Brady Campaign know that, but I’m sure they are fully capable of thinking longer term.
There might be one or two that have some thoughts as a result of my blog. That’s all I can expect. It is pertinent and timely.
From Greg:
As it looks now, Friday evening, evidence points to serious mental illness on the part of the shooter.
Serious psychoses typically begin growing small during childhood/high school years, then burgeoning during college/graduate school.
The man is undeniably bright. Eventually we will learn whether he voluntarily dropped out of graduate school or whether the University asked him to leave. We will learn what his professors thought of him, and whether they saw similarities with the Virginia Tech shooter. What did the professors/ administration do to bring this man to the attention of the county mental health authorities? Keep in mind also that Colorado as with many other states is facing budget shortfalls. Mental health services historically are among the first government expenditures to be cut. Reason: There is just no natural lobby to press the legislature to retain funding. Compare mental health services with funding for highway construction, school aid, etc.
The mother of the young St Louis Park man who shot and killed two convenience store clerks was quoted in a newspaper article saying she knew her son had severe mental health problems but was unable to get medical care for him. Everyone will be abuzz for a week or two about this man, then something else will come up. A new legislature will be elected in Colorado November 6th. There will be other more pressing issues with which to deal. There may be some talk about this tragedy but basically nothing will be done. It will be yesterday’s news by then.
Someone who knows him was said to have described him as a loner, another indicator of mental illness.
Saw his father on cable tonight boarding a flight in San Diego for Denver. Got the quick impression the father is well educated and perhaps upper income class.
If this is even close to being true, what efforts did the father make to lead his son to mental health treatment? This is a major flaw in our society, that parents have no legal obligation to notify police their adult child is mentally ill, receiving no treatment and just may be dangerous
If a parent knows this to be true yet does nothing to warn authorities that parent faces no legal liability, civil or criminal if the adult child then shoots up a theater. Moral responsibility yes, but no civil or criminal responsibility.
Back to the shooter, look at his photo being shown on TV. Is that his booking photo taken after his post shooting arrest? The almost smirk he seems to have; another indicator of possible mental illness.
Now, a person can be seriously mentally ill but not have an insanity defense to criminal charges. Insanity is but one type of mental illness. Each state has its own definition of what constitutes insanity. In the days ahead we will learn what the Colorado standard is.
Look at the planning that went into this attack. Tonight we learned he had about 6000 rounds of ammunition for the four weapons he possessed. He wore an elaborate costume with protective gear. He had to make an effort to purchase all of that. Then he booby trapped his apartment. From the preliminary description we have of the apartment he must have spent quite some time and effort to purchase the materials with which he constructed the booby trap. The prosecution will argue the booby trapping effort is further evidence he understood the difference between right and wrong and constructed the booby traps as a way of avoiding capture.
from Carol: OK, a little bit miffed here at some responses. While I have due respect for prosecuting attorneys (retired or otherwise), I take exception to Greg’s trying to blame the parents. He wrote: “Got the quick impression the father is well educated and perhaps upper income class. If this is even close to being true, what efforts did the father make to lead his son to mental health treatment? This is a major flaw in our society, that parents have no legal obligation to notify police their adult child is mentally ill, receiving no treatment and just may be dangerous…”
If, of course, the parents were divorced – the father abusive, alcoholic or whatever – then they would get blamed for THAT. From all indications, in high school and so on this kid was not any weirder than his peers. He is legally an adult. His parents may, or may not, have made efforts to “lead” him to treatment, but they couldn’t force him. Greg wants what to change, exactly? What is the age cutoff where he thinks a parent should be “legally obligated” to notify authorities that their “adult child” may be mentally ill? 25? 35? 50? How about a child who is in school, working, married, living in another state – possibly has cut off contact? Should the parents be legally obligated to force themselves into his or her life?
And what exactly does he think the police are going to do with that information? Even this kid’s apartment mates didn’t know he was collecting an arsenal, boobytrapping his apartment, and risking all their lives. If the police ran around checking on every adult child who the parents fear may be mentally unstable, they wouldn’t get anything else done.
Those who have daily contact with an individual are the best assessors. And in this case, you have the sinking feeling that there was very little to set off alarms.
It does seem the best indicator should have been that someone who in a short period of time bought several weapons, a ton of ammunition, complete bulletproof clothing, plus chemicals and bomb-making materials was in deep trouble, and should have been on the police radar. But we can’t have any coordinated database of this kind of thing, of course. That infringes on our civil rights – having our kids shot in a crowded theatre does not.

#196 – Dick Bernard: Lindsay and Jeffrey's Wedding

Okay, okay.
Here’s a slide show of a wedding with 84 slides, and I took them all. (Simply click on the first photo in the group, and then you can play this as a slide show, as you wish.)
Do cut me some slack. After all, it was granddaughter Lindsay’s wedding, June 4, 2010, at the beautiful Red Rocks in Morrison CO, with other events in Denver suburbs Lakewood and Littleton. We had a wonderful trip, and time.
Some of you know the “players” in the slide show; others may know no one. I’m the white-bearded, white-haired guy…there aren’t many of us to pick from! In the photos are my siblings and my kids and many of their spouses. At the wedding, a few deer were a delightful distraction (the man officiating reminded us that he knew the deer were there, right behind him, but we were in the chapel for a wedding!) But how can you not notice?
Simply Sloppy Joe’s is there in the slides: it is a small, well known popular walk-in eatery in Denver area, the enterprise of Lindsay’s Mom, with her Dad’s help. The business name says it all. A few standard varieties of Sloppy Joe with a weekly special. Even Sloppy Joe cookies. They’re a local institution, well known and loved in the Denver area, at the corner of Pierce and Mississippi in suburban Lakewood. Check them out if you’re in Denver. If you know someone in Denver area, let them know of Simply Sloppy Joe’s!
But this slide show is about a wedding. And it was, truly, one of the nicest, best weddings I’ve ever attended. Sure, I’m biased. But it was.
In the images are some clues about the high points of the wedding.
There’s a sock monkey who appears in a few places. “Sock Monkey” travelled all over creation, and appeared in lots of photographs on both sides of the new family. The images ended up in an album, an enduring message about the strength of family. One of Jeffrey’s relatives in Michigan made a stained glass sock monkey. Cute. I took my sock monkey duty seriously. Along the monkey went to North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado. Sock Monkey even stopped at Wall Drug for a glass of free ice water!
I liked the refrigerator door display in the new couple’s townhome. It’s in the photos. Lindsay loves the Beatles, for a very personal reason. I told her the Beatles were just hitting it big in the United States when her Dad was born in 1964.
Instead of the traditional unity candle, the couple used a natural theme, a young sapling, for that portion of the ceremony. The simple wedding cake followed the natural theme. A story teller told a marvelous story. At this wedding, good followed good followed good….
They recently closed on their townhome, and a criteria was that its cost be low enough so that it could be paid for if only one of the two were working. Good practical old-time kind of thinking.
Marriage is often viewed as a destination.
More accurately, I see it as the beginning of a trip along a road which is not always predictable.
I wish Lindsay and Jeffrey well.
From what I experienced last week, they’re off to a good start.
Congratulations and best wishes!
A pre-wedding post on the upcoming wedding is at the blog for May 31, 2010.

#9 – Tom Bernard: Columbine 10 years ago, and 10 years after

Note from Dick Bernard:
On April 20, 1999 – it was a Tuesday – I was at a meeting in suburban Minneapolis. Driving back to my office after the meeting, on the car radio, I heard about some shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton CO. I didn’t know anything about Columbine, but I knew my son, his spouse, Jennifer, and my 12 year old granddaughter Lindsay, lived in Littleton. I tried to get a map location of Columbine on the then-primitive on-line maps, and the location which came up on computer turned out to be a few miles away from what turned out to be the actual location. I was soon to learn that Columbine High School was one mile due east of their home, separated only by a park and a few streets of homes in their subdivision. That afternoon, Jennifer called to say that Lindsay was okay. Later that week, I went ahead with previous plans to take a hiking vacation in Utah the next week, with a scheduled return stopover in Littleton on May 1 and 2. During the time in Littleton the four of us spend several somber hours in a rain-soaked line going up what had been dubbed as “Cross Hill” to view the crosses erected at the top of a dirt hill dedicated to each of the victims of the shootings. It was a powerful time. We reached the crosses at the same time as the celebrated TV preacher, Dr. Robert Schuller. I had huge respect for Dr. Schuller. Sixteen years earlier his sermon, Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do, had saved my emotional life, literally.
The day after the shootings, my son Tom Bernard, wrote his immediate impressions of April 20, 1999. They appear below, with his permission, preceded by a short commentary written by him on April 19, 2009.
Here are his comments, the most recent, first:
Tom Bernard
Littleton, April 19, 2009

Ten years ago, our family walked with hundreds of neighbors to the hills surrounding Columbine High School. It was surreal and intense. Everyone that was touched by the event, so close to home, carries the hurt from it to this day. The shared tragedy brought everyone together for a short time, as we all wrestled with the magnitude of the days events. We needed each other, not to discuss, not to blame, just to see in a strangers eyes the same confusion and fear that we were feeling. We needed to know that we were not alone. Columbine was a shared tragedy like many before it, unique to the human experience. We can look back to grainy black and white photos of Lincoln’s funeral procession and see in the eyes of the mourners a very real and profound connection with ourselves. The deaths of Kennedy, King, Kennedy again, Lennon, The crew of Challenger, all the way to September 11, 2001, were common in their effect on society. For a moment, we all stopped yelling and rushing, ignoring and patronizing, judging and blaming. For a time far too short, we stood together quietly and accepted our shared loss. The lessons ignored in these tragedies is not contained in the event itself. The lessons reside in everyone around them. The quiet of the shared pain is quickly and inevitably replaced with yelling and rushing, ignoring and patronizing, judging and blaming. The community splinters into its preferred cliques, all smug and self assured that they are not the problem, its obviously the other guys. As time speeds by, the time of quiet community grows shorter with every passing shock. Columbine was story of youthful alienation, rejection, and social separation. It was the end for the casualties that day. And for the rest of us, it could be a new beginning, or it could be the beginning of the end.
Tom Bernard
Littleton, April 21, 1999

Today was anything but usual. The sun rose and was bright as ever, the sky was a brilliant blue, and the foothills to the west were coming to life in subtle greens. Puddles, our new puppy, woke me as usual, warm snout on my cheek. I rose slowly and went downstairs. The television was still on the same story, 8 hours later. Katie Couric was welcoming the new day from Clement Park, a short 5 minute walk from my front door. The long night had given the television crews plenty of time to sift thru interviews, footage and facts. The whole country (and most of the world) needed to know. I hoped to myself they were ready to listen.
Yesterday was April 20, Tuesday, senior skip day. I was locked into a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. shift at Piccolos [the restaurant Tom managed]. Lunch was uneventful, very slow…Around 1:30 I noticed a group of employees standing under the television near the bar. I looked up. The trailer at the bottom of the screen stopped me in my tracks…”GUNFIRE AT LITTLETON HIGH SCHOOL…POSSIBLE HOSTAGES.”
My jaw dropped. I was not worried so much about Lindsay, she is still in Middle School. It was the area. I didn’t know which school it was at first…but my fears were realized. This was less than 1 mile from my front door. For the next two hours I paced, sat, tried to keep occupied as the story grew worse and worse. I tried to equate the situation with some past experience to make it easier to take. I found nothing to hide behind. This was new. This was bizarre. This was….
The next few hours were a blur. We had a busy dinner, the casual attitude of the diners upset me. Few people showed any interest in the news reports. I heard some reports and said almost nothing to anyone. A young hostess was laughing and joking around. She told me to smile and it will all be fine. I snapped a bit and said “I have too much on my mind…I will smile later, I promise!” She huffed a bit and walked away. The night finished and I went to pick up Lindsay at [sister-in-law] Julie’s house. I drove in dead silence. I could not bear the sound of another voice, and music was out of the question [Tom loves music and is a musician]. Lindsay was fine. She didn’t have much to say about the shooting. I doubt at 12 she really understands the magnitude of the event. We talked a bit and Lindsay went to bed. I sat up awhile and went to an AOL chatroom to talk, and listen, and maybe make some sense of it all. I met a couple of nice people in the room, and stayed up till 2.
As I said, today [Wednesday] was anything but usual. The stories, one after another, left me in tears. I knew these people. I did not know their names, but they live in my subdivision, shop in my stores, eat at my McDonalds. On a side note, last week I went for lunch at McDonalds and sat in a booth next to who I believe were the two killers and a friend.
The television was on nonstop coverage all day. President Clinton considered a trip here, but declined because it would be disruptive. Gov. Owens announced that all weapons bills before the legislature had been shelved indefinitely. The blood bank turned away 200+_ people and asked that they return another day. Makeshift memorials appeared everywhere anyone had been seen in pain. Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and at least 2- remote news feeds from various cities were broadcasting from Clement Park. I was still not convinced that anything would change.
About 6 o’clock, we decided to go lay some flowers at the memorial at Clement Park. The storm was moving in fast, wind and rain kicking up, and I had never felt so cold. The traffic was backed up, so we parked at a nearby restaurant and walked the ½ mile to the memorial. The lake was cold and angry, the sky dark and colourless. The people walked together, old, hippies, yuppies, trench coats, and jocks to the site of the memorials. Closer to the memorial there were news trucks from at least 15 cities, wires taped everywhere. I counted at least a dozen cameramen going about their business, and an equal number of well coifed anchors preparing to do their gig. I was not prepared to be there.
I read some of the messages on the paper chain surrounding the memorial. There was no anger, no hate, no blame, only hope and love. I saw a young girl, no more than 16, emotionally broken and crying on the shoulder of her friend. I saw a teachers car, covered with flowers, surround by students huddled and praying together. I saw students from 20 different schools, together in the knowledge that it could have been any of them. I saw, for the first time, hope.
[A writing apparently read by Denver Mayor Wellington Webb]
“No one can make sense of a thing like this.
No one can make the pain go away
All we can do is this:
Pray for those who have lost their loved ones
Hug your own child a little tighter
Hug another child who may not get enough love
Hug someone who is different from you
Teach your children to do the same.”

The storm is rolling in, pray for those who will never share the warmth of home with family again.”
Postscript from Dick Bernard, April 20, 2009:
The same day Tom wrote his account, April 21, 1999, I was at an all-day training session in a Minneapolis suburb with perhaps fifteen school public relations professionals. As I recall, the topic of Littleton did not come up until the end of the day when someone remarked that they were relieved that their assignment did not include the public relations nightmare that was Littleton (Jefferson County School District). There was agreement round about, until I mentioned that my son and family lived only a mile from the high school. It was at that moment that one of many learnings took root with each of us: there are no boundaries in this world of ours. The crisis at Littleton did not stop at school district, town, state or country lines. We were all in this together.
Shortly after the tragedy, someone from another state constructed simple large wooden crosses to remember the dead from April 20. The crosses were planted atop a pile of dirt just to the west of the school building, between Clement Park and the schools athletic fields, and became “Cross Hill”. The crosses themselves became controversial in that the builder planted crosses not only for the victims of the shootings, but for the two killers as well. By the time I walked up Cross Hill more than a week later, the two crosses for the killers had been cut down and removed. A message remains from that happening as well….