A month ago, this tree in our yard reminded us of the coming season.

One month at this time of year makes a difference here in Minnesota.  No leaves on the tree, now, but no lasting snow on the ground either.  Thanksgiving day will be chilly, but nice otherwise.

As we all know, the seasons continue.  Happy Thanksgiving, wherever you are.

One month ago in our yard.

There are many reflective thoughts for me this season.

In all of our lives there are millions of minutes (525,600 of them each year), and many memories: things that have impacted each of us in many ways.  Today, 60 years ago, I was a brand new teacher setting up for a science class when the announcement came that President Kennedy had been shot; a short time later that he had died.

I really didn’t know a lot about John Kennedy.  Two-thirds of his 1,000 days as President I had been in the Army. At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 22, 1962, I and other GIs had watched him speak thanks to the Mess Sergeant’s tiny tv in a barracks at Ft. Carson, Colorado.  (The first third of the 1,000 days I was a senior in college, but at 20 not yet old enough to vote in the 1960 election under the then-rules.)


I am thankful this day for many reasons.  I like to consider myself an optimist.

President Kennedy’s life and work is and will be analyzed continuously.

For me, the essence of his message then, and still today, was very simple: each of us have a crucial role in making our community, worldwide, a better place for everyone.

The ball is in our court each day.  What happens, or not, is up to us.


If you’re reading this, you probably see my postings here from time to time.  The most recent three are Teddy, on Nov. 13, (about president Teddy Roosevelt and North Dakota). A Moment in Time, Nov. 15, is  about a 1972 family reunion in ND.  Gaza , Nov. 18, about the tragic situation in Gaza/Israel.


I close this post with some thoughts I had about another tree on the North Dakota prairie the summer of 2005.  Nature has wisdom to share.

And,  this day, I think of September song.  Here’s Frank Sinatra’s rendition in 1965:  “As the days dwindle down….”

Let’s make productive use of the minutes remaining in each of our lives.

Ft. Carson Colorado 1962, my barracks a couple of blocks from this end of the base; Pike’s Peak and Cheyenne Mountain area in background.  This was my “home” from January, 1962, to October, 1963.

POSTNOTE: I’ve elected to start listening to Rob Reiner’s podcast “Who Killed JFK?”.  It sounds promising.  You can access it here.  The segments are about 40 minutes. Three segments to date, all available: Nov. 8, 15 & 22.  There are commercials, otherwise no cost.  I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I do like to inquire into things.  There are multiple segments to this program and I think I’ll listen to them all.

Gaza (3)

Today came an on-line column from an historian I really respect concerning a topic we are all forced to confront.  You can read it here.  I hope you take the time to not only read but think and act about it.  Read it before or after you read what follows, but I hope you read both.  Every single one of us can make a positive difference.

Of course, since I’m the one sending it on, it exposes my own bias, which means I should at least try to explain myself,

Like everyone, I’m a single ‘grain of sand’ among the 8 or so billion of we humans currently on earth.  My bias: we have devolved into a tribal world; but we sink or we swim, together.  We can’t survive, tribally.

This post is once again about Gaza.  It could be about Ukraine or other places as well.  But Gaza is where I start.

My personal lifetime started in 1940, and I’m lifelong Catholic, with the Passion, and all of that kind of introduction to Judaism.

Along the way, in 1953, without my knowing it, I became part of what was a vibrant “Mohamedan” (as spelled by my Dad sometime in 1953-54) community in western North Dakota, whose original migrants had come from what is now border-land Syria-Lebanon about 50 years earlier, the earliest migrants migrating to avoid conscription by the then-dominant Ottoman Turks.

One of that community remains a close friend to this day; his Mom and Dad were hospitable to us, and I’ll never forget a singular visit to their home as an 8th grader.  Their mosque, unknown to me at the time, was one of the first in the United States, and it is so recognized to this day.

In 1965, my first wife died in Minneapolis, and I will never forget the kindness of the Jewish community that was the then-Lincoln Del in St. Louis Park.  I don’t remember how I got connected with them, but they were truly life-savers for me in a terribly difficult time.  I worked essentially full-time at Lincoln Del for 6 months.  It was a great gift, I’m forever grateful.

Later came trips to Israel (Jan. 1996), and to Holocaust sites in Czech Republic and Poland (Spring, 2000); then 2005-07, presidency of a large coalition of peacemaking organizations, including two advocate groups for Justice for Palestinians.

In the trip to Israel, I had some unexpected learnings: two months before the trip a radical Israeli assassinated Yitzhak Rabin (Nov 5, 1995) – we visited the temporary memorial when we arrived at Jerusalem; the Saturday before we left for home a week later, a Rabbi at a Saturday service expressed angrily his concern about the ultra orthodox efforts to get control of the Israel government.

I learned a great deal in the above experiences, some of which are in the three previous posts on the topic: here, here and here.

Along the way, I came into possession of my Grandma Bernard’s Bible, c 1911, which included a large number of maps of the Holy Land, one of which shows the 1911 land, today commonly referred to as Israel.

Here is the map in pdf and jpeg format: Palestine ca 1912 Catholic Bible.  (This pdf is enlargeable).

The Holy Bible (1911 – Catholic) The E.M. Lohmann Co, St. Paul MN

Over these many years, viewing from my perspective as a ‘single grain of sand’, here are some impressions.  Take these as they are offered: non academic observations from someone who cares a lot about this question.

Israel was an artificial creation of the victors, flowing out of WWI, and its creation was important given the atrocities towards the Jews we have all learned about over the years.

We have all learned the biases towards the Jews from the beginning, if we happen to be Christian and ever studied even a tiny bit the Passion story.  At minimum it was an annual centerpiece of the Easter season.

Don’t forget the Crusades….

I have always had the impression that the Palestinians, as a group, actually had a close family relationship with the Jews, from a genetic sense at minimum, but were not looked upon with equanimity by the surrounding Arabs nor by the Jews.  The Palestinians were more likely to be Christian, but most were Muslim.

I have always had the sense that Israel from the beginning was a small country surrounded by unfriendly neighbors.  Most recently, I have described to myself (and now to you), Gaza as a prison, within another prison, which is Israel, and the matter of the settlements question, which is a long festering sore to the Palestinians in particular.

Breakouts from prisons seldom end well for anyone, and those responsible are very well aware of this, I would think.

It is difficult to imagine any ‘winner’ coming out of this, especially the dominance of a ‘win-lose’ mentality shared by almost everybody, across the ideological board.  Losers immediately prepare to get even, and on the cycle goes.  We are enduring this in our politics in this era, especially.  That’s another story for another time.

Just yesterday I was observing to a good friend my sense of dialogue in this divided day and age.  I put my pen in the middle of the restaurant table we were seated at, and simply observed that today the general rule seems to be “I’ll deal with you only you are willing to go more than half-way, first”.  In other words, I won’t talk to you unless I win.

It doesn’t work in day to day life; it doesn’t work in national or international relations either.  We are stuck with some tough lessons left to learn…but we candy our part to change the conversation.

POSTNOTE Nov. 22:  The Tuesday Minneapolis Star Tribune had a long article about a controversial Minneapolis teacher’s union action.  The article speaks for itself and is worth your time: CMFT re Israel-Gaza Nov21 2023.

It’s been years since I’ve been to such meetings myself, but as a full-time teacher union representative, I attended probably thousands of them in my career.  People who make the difference are the ones who show up and participate, and likely this is solely what happened here.  In short, as best I can tell, this was simply an expression of freedom of expression which took on a life of its own when one side didn’t like it.

Ironically, I wouldn’t even know about this action, unless it was made to be a public matter….


A Moment in Time….

Every family has a history.  I think I can justly claim to have been more involved than most in preserving family heritage memories of both my mother and dad’s families in rural North Dakota.

One of the particularly evocative photos I have is below, taken in early August, 1972, after the funeral of my grandmother, Rosa Busch, the last of my grandparents to die, at age 88.  The photo in enlargeable pdf format is here: Busch Family Rosa Funeral 1972.  

Busch farm August 1972 rural Berlin ND

In the photo are the house built coincident with my grandparents arriving in ND in 1905; and in the yard three generations of the family: children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Rosa.  A typical scene for any family.  All that changes are the individuals and the location.

I’m not in this photo; I would have been among the group taking the pictures.  Others were unable to be at the funeral for assorted reasons.   Here is the “cast of characters” (the people in the photo) as best I’ve been able to discern: Busch Family Rosa Funeral 1972 caption

Years later, in 2000, the family took on the project of taking down the old house piece by piece.  One of the group observed the very high quality of construction, long before sophisticated and powerful tools of the present day.  They did a good job building the house, to last.

The Cream Can

Over 50 years later, on the exact same farmstead, one of the children of the current owners came across an interesting artifact – an old cream can, apparently owned by the Lakeville MN Creamery, located in the Minneapolis area, 330 miles from the old farm.

How could this be?  There exists a brief and fascinating on-line video of the history of the Lakeville Creamery, which connects the creamery with far away North Dakota years in the past.

Here’s the e-mail where I learned of the find:

I asked Christine Long, a great friend and nonagenarian in Berlin ND, if she could help.  Here’s what she said Oct 1, 2023:

Gabriel Aberle was my uncle.  He had a grocery store in Berlin.  I remember Uncle Gabe buying cream and sending it on the Northern Pacific rail train.  I also tested and bought the cream when I worked at Uncle Gabe’s store.

There are endless similar family stories well hidden everywhere.

Perhaps this brief post might peak your interest in remembering and recording for posterity some of your own family memories.


The Sunday Nov. 12, 2023 Minneapolis Star Tribune carried a story about the upcoming Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Medora ND.  You can read the article here: Theodore Roosevelt ND Star Tribune Nov 12 2023.  The Library is scheduled to open in 2026.

No, this isn’t a joke.  I’ve known about its planning for some years now, and it is now coming to fruition.

Teddy Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, was no stranger to ND, residing in the Badlands area for nearly three years, beginning as a visitor in 1883, when he was about 25; then became a young rancher.  His wife and his mother tragically had died on the same day in New York not long before he came to Dakota, and the wilds of the Badlands were where he recovered his will to carry on.

I think he would  approve the location of his library.  His surviving family did….

My grandmother, Josephine Collette, was two years old when Roosevelt came west.  She was born in Dakota Territory in 1881.  North Dakota became a state in 1889.

Her cousin, Alfred Collette, and her husband-to-be Henry Bernard, were among the earliest volunteers for the Spanish-American War, arriving in Manila in the summer of 1898.  They had scarcely arrived when the Spaniards surrendered, and the following year was mostly against native insurgents, who were glad America had come, but wanted us to go home….  The insurrection continued for several years.  In the end, the U.S. had a new territory.

(There is a good summary of how Roosevelt came to be a dominant figure in the Spanish-American War in Wikipedia,  Note sections on Naval History and Emergence as a national figure.)

My other grandparents, Fred and Rosa Busch, came to North Dakota in 1905, the first year of Roosevelts presidency (he had earlier replaced President William McKinley, killed by assassination in September, 1901).

One of the things found in the basement of the Busch farm home was a poster of the U.S. Presidents including the then-most recent, Theodore Roosevelt.  The print was in bad shape, but here is a photo I took of it several years ago.  Teddy is standing, second from right.  Here is the photo in enlargeable pdf format: Presidents through TR

The U.S. presidents and the U.S. Capitol, 1905. All Presidents shown up to and including Theodore Roosevelt (standing, second from right).

Here’s the White House description of Teddy Roosevelt.  He became President after the assassination of William McKinley in 1901, and was elected in his own right in 1904.  He was only 43 when he became President.

Teddy Roosevelt was truly a unique occupant of the White House, with many accomplishments.  He was not a wallflower.

It’s a long trip out to Medora, but I think it would be very interesting to visit this newest library to a President of the United States.  There apparently are about 15 Presidential libraries in nearly as many states, according to the National Archives.  The  Theodore Roosevelt Library is not yet listed.  A somewhat mysterious listing is the library for the 45th President.  It’s the last one listed.

I’ve visited the libraries for Truman, Eisenhower, and Clinton.

For years, North Dakota has recognized citizens with outstanding accomplishments with the Rough Rider Award, a tribute to Teddy Roosevelt.  Here’s the site.

POSTNOTE Nov. 22: 

60 years ago today, President Kennedy was assassinated.  Those old enough to remember will quite likely  remember where they were and what they were doing when they heard the President had been shot, Friday, Nov. 22, 1963.  (I was in my first month of teaching, and was setting up a chemistry lab when the announcement came.  Three months earlier I was in an Army Infantry Company playing war in rural South Carolina on the day Martin Luther King Jr gave his “I have a dream” speech on the national mall in Washington, D.C.  Of course,  I learned of that later on….  I was watching the excellent film of JFK’s life this week, and it really hadn’t occurred to me till the program was almost over, that I was on active duty in the Army for fully two-thirds of JFK’s time in office, and in that time probably watched TV only one time, and that when he addressed the nation during the Cuban Missile Crisis Oct 22, 1962.  I watched him along with a few other GI’s on the mess segments tiny tv in a barracks at Ft. Carson Colorado.  We were within a few miles of one of the targets of any nuclear strike – the NORAD facility in Cheyenne Mountain, which we could see maybe 15 miles away most every day.  We were in the front row of history, and hardly were aware of it.)

Sunday, Nov. 19, Rosalynn Carter died in Plains, Georgia, survived by her husband, President Jimmy Carter.  It is not unusual nature of life,  that the President, 98, will soon follow.

Early on Nov. 20, historian Heather Cox Richardson remembered a speech given by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Nov. 19, 1863.  It has come to be known as the Gettysburg Address.

Armistice Day

POSTNOTE Nov. 12: Yesterday, after the bell-ringing at the Victory Memorial, came some personal reflections on War, generally (see “Later” section).  The most recent, overnight, is an essay from Heather Cox Richardson, on the end of WWI and the almost immediate transition to WWII.  Her note is powerful and you can read it here.

On the way home (“Later”, below) I learned of Classical DJ Lynn Warfel’s essay in honor of her Dad and his colleagues at Normandy.  It is a powerful commentary.  My sister, Flo, commented on the Peace Corps (also below), which followed on a column in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by John Rash on the institution of the Peace Corps (also included).

Overnight my French-Canadian colleague Don Marier, reposted an article on the Mercy Train, which he had passed along to us on November 6, and reposted yesterday:

“This article on the Merci Train was sent to me by Nikki Rajala, wife of Bill Vossler, a St. Cloud area writer who put together this story on the Minnesota “Merci Train” for the Seniors Perspective magazine.
It think is should appear on our website or somewhere. It turns out the train car is in Little Falls.”  This was France’s gift to the people of Minnesota and all the other states after WWII.  It is a wonderful remembrance.

Every day we have an opportunity to learn from the past.  This is simply another of those opportunities.  Have a great day.

Saturday, Nov. 11,  is Armistice Day, aka Remembrance Day.  In the United States the name was changed to Veterans Day by Congress.   I’m a veteran and I prefer the term Armistice Day, remembering the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 when hostilities ceased officially ending WWI.

The local Vets for Peace has its annual observance beginning at 10:30 Saturday in North Minneapolis.   Their news release is below.  I have attended frequently.  The observance is always moving, even if the weather does not always cooperate.


Originating post Nov. 11: I have long expressed the belief that the only result of one war is providing the basis for the next.  World War I begat WWII, and on and on.

I equally believe being anti-war is not set in cement:  the choice in the 1930s was to act or not.  We waited too long.  There was evil to be confronted.  All the rest is argument.

This year the world is faced with  Gaza and Israel, and Ukraine and Russia, among other assorted conflicts.  Both in one sense or another are creatures of earlier wars, including WWI.  The rest is all argument – better, in my opinion, dialogue among us about other approaches.  (I did a followup on Gaza earlier this week.  Take the time, here.)


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2023, Minneapolis.

Veterans For Peace will conduct its yearly Armistice Day remembrance service by ringing bells at 11:00 am honoring the Armistice which was signed on November 11, 1918 which was to be the war to end all wars.

This year we will gather at the World War 1 Victory Memorial Monument on Victory Memorial Drive (45th Ave N & Victory Memorial Drive-where Xerxes crosses) at 10:30 am.

Two options:

#1. 10:00 walk begins at 33rd Ave. N. & Xerxes Ave. N.
The 1 mile walk will honor service men and women along the way reading their names from ground markers. “Presente”
#2.  Meet at the Victory Memorial at 10:30
Words from ch 27 president Dave Logsdon and others.
Bell ringing at 11:00 am.

FFI contact Barry Riesch

Comment by WAMM member Lucia Smith:
This always is a moving commemoration of the Armistice (rather than a salute to military veterans) that took place at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 — to end all wars. The Victory Memorial Drive in North Minneapolis is the biggest memorial in the world to honor those killed during WWI. The Victory Memorial Drive features tall trees with a marker at the base of each tree showing the name of each of the 568 Hennepin County residents killed during WWI (including two women who were nurses in the war zone).  The central memorial is located at 4558 Victory Memorial Parkway, Mpls. 55412.
Dave Logsdon was on the radio about Armistice Day on Nov. 9.  [I listened to this radio program out of Nashville.  I thought it was well done well worth your time.]  Dave Logsdon, President of the local VFP Chapter 27, joined the show to talk about the Veterans for Peace project to reclaim Armistice Day a day to celebrate and work for peace. You can listen to the Thursday Nov. 9 program, Here. 
November 11 used to be Armistice Day but that was changed in 1954 when it became Veterans Day and since then it has been a holiday to celebrate war and militarism.  VFP is trying to bring back that sentiment of peace to the United States before it devolves further into an outlier and bully within the world community.  Dave Logsdon is the facilitator and coordinator of the project and joins us to share the importance of doing just that.++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Born in Gaza Special Screening

November 12 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pmSunday, November 12, 2023 at 1:00 pm, 4200 Cedar Ave S, Mpls MN Born In Gaza: This documentary film focuses on the violence of the Israel-Palestine conflict and its effects […]


MERCHANTS OF DEATH War Crimes Tribunal – November 2023

The Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal aims to hold accountable U.S….
Opens Sunday night Nov. 12.

Read More     Register at

Once the Opening Session concludes, the entire Tribunal will be streamed via video links over consecutive weeks examining War Crimes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Gaza, and Yemen.
VFP27 Monthly Meeting, Sunday, Nov. 12 at 6 pm. For more information contact Dave Logsdon,

I attended the Bell-Ringing along with a nice sized group (below photo).  It was a chilly, breezy day.  Many had walked a mile to the ceremony, which began precisely at 11 a.m.  It was impressive.

11-11-23 at 11 a.m. Victory Memorial 45th Ave N and Victory Memorial Drive Minneapolis MN

Today, I have a rather unusual reflection to offer.

Enroute to the event, on a busy freeway, a car slightly ahead and in the lane to my left, hit a unknown piece of road debris, which kicked up and hit my car.  The debris dented the car hood, and almost surgically sliced off the rear view mirror on my side.  A split second and a foot or two with an open window could have been very bad for me and others on this busy freeway.

Later, enroute home, I got to thinking about a cousin of mine, Marie Josephine Collette, two months younger than I, living in Manila P.I.  The family genealogy says she died between February 3 and March 3 of 1945.  She was 4 years old.

Many years later, in the summer of 1998 in San Francisco, her brother Alfred, one year older, told me the rest of the story, with considerable emotion.

WWII was nearing its end, and the Allies were about to re-take Manila and the Philippines from the Japanese.  Their Dad was in Santo Tomas prison; their mother took the three kids to what she felt would be a refuge: the churchyard of the church where she and her husband had married Feb. 14, 1938.

As it happened, they got caught in the crossfire, and little Josephine climbed into her mothers arms for refuge.  Soon thereafter a piece of shrapnel from someone’s shell killed her in her mothers arms..

It was really obvious that Alfred, in re-telling the story, was returning to long suppressed memories.  He was there in the churchyard in Manila.

Obviously, I never met my cousin Josephine.  I did know Alfred and his sister Julie, who ironically and sadly both died in 2007 of different illnesses.  A fourth sibling was born after the war, and died at 13 in 1961.

As I was thinking about this in my car, I was listening to Lynn Warfel on the Your Classical Channel on MPR, ending a show of music dedicated to Veterans on Veterans Day.  Her Dad had been at Omaha Beach (1944), and she was remembering him, and as the show ended, she played some of the music from the movie “Saving Private Ryan”.  Her powerful contribution to today can be read here.

War is not a video game.  There are many victims who don’t even show up on lists.

Continue the necessary conversation.

COMMENTS (more at end of post):

Back home, a comment to the blog was in the mailbox:

from Chuck a long-time activist for justice:  I’m impressed with what you wrote and agree with you perspective 100%.  But I’m not a vet.  I dodged the Vietnam war by joining ROTC.

“one war is providing the basis for the next.”  World War I begat WWII, and on and on.  Non-ending war against a tactic that can never be beaten.  And I too equally believe being anti-war is not set in cement.  Sometime ya just gotta pick up arms…like the Ukrainians.

I grew up with guns. Thinking of buying one.  Not sure it will be of much help against a bioweapons attack.  Except against looters…

Stay healthy, fit and sane!

from Florence: I hope everyone will recognize Peace Corps Volunteers who continue to proactively work for Peace. There has to be more effort put into seeking that path for the good of the world and all who make it their home, including children to the seventh generation.  Peace be with you!

Note to Flo: Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune had an excellent column on the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Rash STrib 11-11-23

Gaza/Israel (2) one month

Pre-note: Overnight, from Sue: Tuesday night. “Frontline on PBS showed an old documentary of theirs detailing the history of Israeli-Palestinian attempts at peace over a number of years from the Cairo Agreement of 1994 through the Oslo Accords to the Wye River Memorandum to the Camp David Summit and the Taba Summit to the outbreak of war among Israel, the Palestinians, and Hezbollah. President Clinton was involved in most of these peace negotiations, until war shattered the hope of adoption of what was a fragile proposal in a fraught political time for many of the main players, and Clinton was replaced by Bush II, who soon had his plate full with his own foreign problems. Throughout, Prime Minister Netanyahu does not look good.

It was a stupendous rendering of the history, and everybody should know that history today, although it might just make us more depressed. This program was a late substitution for the scheduled program, which was to have been on the Uvalde shootings.”

to Sue and all: I didn’t, but I just called up Frontline on the web [same as above link] and the program is featured and apparently available to watch on-line. Don’t forget Jimmy Carter in this equation.  He, too, made heroic efforts.


This post is deliberately set aside from the first post, Saturday.  You can read the first post here.  There have been a number of comments.  Yesterday was the one calendar month anniversary of October 7.

One of the most troubling aspects of the catastrophe in the place that is called Israel is the perceived fear of having a civil conversation about differing points of view on the whole issue of Israel/Palestine (the land) or Jews/Palestinians (the people of the land).

I wish it would be possible for everyone, from ordinary citizen on up, to just be able to dialogue across the boundaries which now exist.  Maybe it would only be me and you – but even that is productive, towards understanding.  The current standard seems to be: “This is my position, and until you agree with me, there’s no use talking.”  This goes both ways.

Today, as every day, my experience is that most people I come across, regardless of how they look, or the language they speak, make it a point to get along with others.  I don’t think I live in an atypical bubble.  We are all human beings.

Monday came a post from Doug Muder in his Weekly Sift: “Can We Talk About Israel and Palestine?” which is well worth your time, and personal consideration.  A question each of us can ask ourselves:  “what can I do with this, where I am, as a single individual?”

The instant issue seems always to be framed as us versus them.

The sense seems always  getting even.  “You beat me up, I’ll beat you up even worse”.   Over and over.  Retribution is a descriptor I’ve heard that speaks to this self-defeating strategy.

And on and on….

As noted, over the years, I’ve come to believe that at least informally the large majority of humanity much prefers peace writ large over division and conflict.  A small minority prefer disrupt and confuse and anger.  Most just want to get along.  All we need is the will and the patience and persistence to implement it.

Still I tend to be silent out of caution.  Unfortunately, silence without positive engagement is not productive.  Some tension is necessary.

The vast majority of all people, everywhere, are alike.  We want peace.

More than once, at this space, I’ve urged civil conversation.  Here I go again.  It will look different everywhere, but one conversation at a time will make all the difference in the world.


Gaza/Israel one month

A few brief musings from Oct. 31.

One month ago today, October 7, 2023, the carnage occurred ‘outside the walls’ of Gaza in Israel.  I wrote about it on October 8, here, and early on (in a note on Oct. 13) said I’d comment more on the one month anniversary, which is today.  The latest news is of what sounds like a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

We are all needed, on the court, to resolve this.

I write as an individual, 7 time zones west of Gaza.  I follow history.  What follows is my own opinion.


Background: In January, 1996, I was privileged to spend over a week in Israel. The program itinerary, music and readings included the below perspective map of Israel compared with Minnesota.   Especially note Gaza.

Israel, including Gaza, 1995

In 1996, we did not get near Gaza, but you can see the tiny land area that is Gaza within the small country that is Israel.

I’ve had two extraordinarily rich learning opportunities about Israel and the Holocaust.  The first was in January, 1996 (Israel); the second April and early May, 2000 (Holocaust places in Czech Republic and Poland).  Both trips were preceded and followed by intense study and reflection crossing religious boundaries.  The travelers in the first were Christians; in the second about half and half Jewish and Catholic.

2005-07 I was privileged to be President of a coalition, Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers, whose membership included a church based group, “Palestine-Israel Justice Project”, whose members were highly respected senior leaders, and advocates for Peace and Justice: a Methodist minister, a Lutheran Bishop and a Catholic Nun.. Another member group was Middle East Peace Now (MEPN).

My trip to Israel was at a time of relative peace, though two months before we arrived, Yitzhak Rabin had been assassinated by a radical Israeli in Jerusalem.  Yasser Arafat was soon to be elected PLO President.  There was no separation wall, and travel seemed unimpeded.  I recall no nervous moments.

Back home, a few years later, the suicide bombings began,  They are a topic of their own which anyone can easily research.  One incident particularly caught my attention.  A young Palestinian woman blew herself up, killing an Israeli young woman.  The story is here: Newsweek April 14, 2002.  What is missing are the side by side photos included with the article of the two young women, who looked startlingly alike.  They could have been sisters.  Unfortunately the internet doesn’t include the photographs, and I didn’t keep the pages.  But the photos were extraordinarily powerful.  Of many memories I have, the photos of these two young women, Jewish and Palestinian, were the most striking.


What is ahead for Israel and, for that matter, ourselves?

I decided to wait a month to see what the Israeli response would be to October 7, 2023.  Everyone now knows the answer to that question.  Essentially it seems a repeat of our ill-fated action in response to 9-11-01.

I don’t pretend to know any more than anyone else, except to say that I do watch things like this, which are not abstract random events.

In this first month, I’ve thought back, a lot, to post 9-11-01, and a directly related event, our attack on Afghanistan one month later, on October 7, 2001.  The justification for that event was to rid the world of something called Al-qaida.  We Americans were almost totally in support of this reprisal.

I won’t waste words arguing our 21 years mired in Iraq and Afghanistan…there is a great plenty of history of what happened next, and the present day.  We can’t pretend that history didn’t happen, and what happened within the 21 years.  We aren’t the only one with memory.  I wonder, did we learn anything?  Has the Israeli government…?

Personally, I think that October 7, 2023, was not a coincidental date for the attack on Israel.

Having said that, personal opinion: war is never the answer.  The end of one war, simply begins preparations for the next.  War doesn’t deliver us from evil.  As I look at the map, it is as if the war erupted from within a prison (Gaza) from which escape was near impossible.  Sometimes irrational acts like this are messages of desperation, regardless of the stated motivation.

A personal opinion came from a friend on October 9.  He’s a long-time good friend, whose ancestors came from Syria many years ago, and he laid the problem at the feet of the Balfour project and the  and the British Mandate … executed resulting in the creation of Israel [in the wake of WWI]“.  I haven’t asked, but my presumption from previous conversations with him are that he’s talking about this.  

The history of October 7 , 2023, did not begin on October 6, and will not be weighed by the pounds of words for or against, and so far the future does not look bright.  Regardless of the outcome of the war,  the “Hamas” philosophy will not be eliminated, but simply be replicated and appear again in some other form.


We seem resistant to learn a basic lesson: we’re all together on the same patch of real estate – the earth – and we best figure out how to live together.

I think there is some good news in the midst of the bad.  I believe that a vast majority of us – all of us – Palestinians and Jews and everyone else, are people of good will and given the chance will figure out some way to work together.  At least I can hope for that.

I’d like to know the opinions of three of my mentors, who were all advocates of peace and justice, but they’re no longer available.  Florence, a Catholic Nun; Lyle, a Methodist Minister; and Lowell, a Lutheran Bishop, all would have valuable perspectives.  So would my political hero, Jimmy Carter, who took this issue very seriously.

But they’re no longer available, and it’s left with us, now, as individuals, in dialogue with others who may see things differently than ourselves.  Making a better world begins at the basic level: you and I.

Failing that the victims of failure to find an equitable resolution will be common folks like ourselves who control the outcome by who we elect to represent us.

There will always be evil among us.  No amount of ‘thoughts and prayers’ or wishing away will suffice in times like this, and in the future.  In a democracy we have a choice as to who will represent us, and it is incumbent on us to make a careful choice.

COMMENTS (more at the end of post):

from Gail: Thanks, Dick.  I gather from your blog that there is some historical significance to the date of October 7?   I like your map overlay, BTW – useful!

Response to Gail: October 7 is significant only in my own mind, at this point.  It wouldn’t be the first time that an anniversary of something is used as a pretext for something else, sometime years later….

from Dick G: Thank you for this piece. I’ve always depended on you for reasonable thoughts on conditions in our world. I’m really concerned about this situation. I’ll look forward to your thoughts. I wonder what Jesus would have to say…maybe I’d better dig out my Bible and see.

from Carole: Thank you.  I will be heading to Freedom Plaza this afternoon to plead for a cease fire (at the very least) until the people of Gaza can find safe refuge somewhere.

from anonymous, with permission:  It’s unnerving to be Jewish in the United States right now.

Jews in America don’t like what’s happening in Gaza. But the massacre of Jews on October 7 is devastating and makes us feel like we’re targeted. And it’s completely horrific and unacceptable. Do you think this is rhetorical? It isn’t. I have a friend who posted on FB  one of those “disappearing” stories this week, so I can’t find it to share (she doesn’t want it on her page permanently clearly). But it basically said “What would you have done during the Holocaust? It’s what you’re doing right now.”
Yes, the Gaza issue is way bigger and has been historically an issue.
But so has exterminating the Jews.
I am not a Zionist. I am a Jew. And I don’t think Netanyahu is anyone’s friend, and never has been. I’m not in favor of West Bank settlement expansionl. I’m not happy about the way he’s waging war in Gaza. This is the common thread in my family and friends. But — and that but is a big one — what Hamas did was a massacre of Jews. Pure and simple. And what would we have Israel do?  Negotiate?
Maybe you ought to write about the anti semitism and violent threats on college campuses and corporate america’s response to not hire from any campus that doesn’t respond appropriately. Not just to Jews but to other groups, though I am more sensitive to the anti semitic comments. And maybe we’ve talked about it, but this is the first state I’ve lived in (of 4) where I’ve encountered anti semitism over the years.
I’m even reading a thread of junior high school Jewish kids being targeted in [my city]….and the parents say nothing is being done by the district.
We are very scared right now. Proud. But scared.
from Joni: Great post.

from Brian:  Love your post about Gaza!    So right on.

And I thought I’d share two of my journal entries, as well:
1)  IT’S YOURS! NO, IT’S MINE   11-2-23
Waiting to get into the Peace Corps, I was a substitute teacher. Even 2nd grade. I learned how to deal with kids.
And now what’s going on in Israel/Palestine reminds me of the same thing. Can’t you guys just get along, calm down?
Population of Gaza = 2 million, of Israel = 9.1 million.
Population of the world = 8 billion.
Percentage of (Gaza+Israel population)/World population = incredibly small
Ergo the good news is that most of the world is getting along just fine! Have a beer, Brian 😊



October 20, 2023

Back in San Antonio when I was just in grade school, I was almost crying when my teachers told me about Hiroshima and Nagasaki and women and children being openly killed by our then President, Truman. I shared this with Momma. She said “Brian, calm down, might makes right”.

Well, I’ve been working a lot with Native Americans. We have somewhat peace because “might makes right”. No more scalpings, no more mass murder killing Native Americans with poisoned blankets.

And Israel Palestine? Might makes right. Jesus or whoever’s God is not helping out much. If the Native Americans wanted NYC back, where I live, would I want to give it back to them? Might makes right. (And I’m gonna hide and have a beer, ha ha…)
On a totally different note, flying in the Cessna at several thousand feet, I can hardly see a person on the ground. Tiny, tiny! But I can sure see what they–we–have done. Roads, fields, so visible!

My mother was so wise! Bless her soul. I love her so much.

from Curt:  I suggest reading 1948 by Bennie Morris. Give great perspective to the current situation. As much as I hate to say this, I believe the only Middle East solution is regime change in Iran.   Have a great weekend,

from John: Thoughtful   and timely.

from Peter: Here’s something beautiful from Hedges, who I finally met in NYC last month at a luncheon for Julian Assange.

from Larry: Thanks, Dick…that’s an excellent idea showing the map with the size of Gaza vs. Minnesota. Puts it into geographic perspective.

Say, you said when got that Drake [ND] book burning thing done, tied to today’s attacks on libraries, that you wanted that…so here is the link to the YouTube video that’s now posted…see what you think, criticism is welcomed. This video and two other essays I’ve done are available on both my Youtube channel but more conveniently on my blog.

from Jeff:  Peace is sadly a long way away.  Israel is sowing the dragons teeth.

from John: I appreciated your thoughts and perspectives on Gaza in your latest blog. With a brief burst of sanity in Iraq 1 [Jan. – Feb. 1991], where we just got in and got out after achieving stared objectives, Israel’s going down the same rabbit hole we did in Vietnam, Iraq, 2, and Afghanistan – when a greater power tries to go into a native population and try to figure out who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy. Add that to the countless other smaller scrimmages that don’t make the headlines – in general Africa, and Somalia comes to mind.


October 31, 2023

Please see endnote as well.

Halloween eve it snowed overnight, the first of the season, certainly not the last.  Something we look forward to, and then wonder why….  Here’s the view from the garage at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

October 31, 2023

It brings to mind another Halloween: October 31, 1991.  I was in Hibbing at the time.  Halloween night – it was a Thursday – started benignly enough.  I recall a light freezing rain.  And then it started to snow, and snow, and snow…by the time it cleared I recall  nearly three feet of snow.  Paralysis.

Yesterdays did not match this, but whatever, winter has introduced itself once again.


Three additional brief musings today:

Some weeks ago one of my daughters asked about a painting we have of the old farm house in ND.  This brought memories of a photo moment at that farm house in August, 1972, following the funeral of Grandma Rosa.

Busch farm August 1972 rural Berlin ND

Of course, I’d seen the photo before.  Possibly I’m the one who took it that day.  This time I decided to identify everyone I could in the photo: parents, aunts & uncles, siblings, cousins, inlays, kids, nephews and nieces – three generations, at the funeral of the last of the previous generation, born 1884.  Eight of the “kids” who grew up in that house were there….  It was not an unusual scrum of large families back in the day.

The names aren’t relevant here.  There were 28 in all in the picture; 20 more who were not, some there but AWOL at the time of the photo.  One cousin not yet born.  The person who asked about the painting, is front and center in the photo, walking towards the group, then nearing three years old, now 51 years older.  There have been lots of changes over the years – that is how moments go in all of our lives.


Monday night, Molly sent her fall poems, “With the leaves turning and falling here in MN, and the first accumulation of snow predicted for tonight (an inch or so, melting soon), it seems like there’s still time for a bit of autumn poetry.” Poetry 2023 Fall.


October 23, Kathy sent a musing about a ‘road race’ in her town, involving herself and four little kids:

Thought you’d get a kick out of this….
You’ll NEVER believe what I did today!!! I drag raced 4 little kids as I was getting back from my ride around the abbey hill on my etrike😜 They challenged me to race them knowing my trike was electric😂 
They had a lot of chutzpah and were faster than me from the start but the electricity outlasted the kid power. We were neck and neck as I turned down my street. Couldn’t believe I took them up on it but could see they were serious😉
The 2 dads on the street were all in! My friends Sherry and Inga were aghast to see the kids and I racing together!  The kids think my trike is pretty cool😎They would love to ride my trike😉


Yes, these are not kind and gentle times – we all can see the same news.  But there is a lot of kindness and gentleness out there, and this is another timeout to highlight that.

October 24, 2023

ENDNOTE: November 4, as promised, I’ll comment on Gaza/Israel one month after October 7.  Here is my original post, if you wish to review it.  Your own opinions are welcome.  Let me know before Saturday.

Le Vent du Nord

There is a great plenty of difficult news out there in our world.  This is an opportunity to take a refreshing and very enjoyable break.

Last Sunday evening we spent a great couple of hours with the Quebec music group Le Vent du Nord.  There was a full house at the Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis.  The group is celebrating 20 years this year.  My photo isn’t the best, but here they are last Sunday:

Le Vent du Nord, Minneapolis, October 22, 2023. Photo: Dick Bernard

Le Vent du Nord is an incredible group, and better information and some music as well is best accessed at their website and on YouTube.  (My favorite cut from their latest album is Ma Louise.  In YouTube scroll down to find the 7 minute official version sung by the group.)

Take the time to learn a bit about the groups history and accomplishment at the website.  They recently won prestigious recognition in England (Songlines).  Songlines has a very interesting writeup about the group.

Last Sunday was the third time I’ve heard the group in person.  The previous times were 2011 (in Fargo) and 2012 (Minneapolis), both times, brought here by Virgil Benoit.   I had the unexpected task of introducing the group at the Minneapolis performance as Virgil was hospitalized after a car accident. It was the first and only time I’ve had that kind of duty.  Most recently, the band is the background music for a new film on the French and French-Canadians in Minnesota, En Avant L’Etoile du Nord .  Christine Loys film is in English, (trailer is embedded link).  Christine first met the band at the 2012 performance.

The language of the music is all in French, but the band is fluent in English, and the rhythms literally sing.  In a sense, the lyrics translate themselves.  You don’t need to know the language to get the translation.

My Dad was 100% French-Canadian, and his growing up language was only French, but I only learned English.  Makes no difference in getting the drift of the tunes.  The group members are great ambassadors.

Give yourself a gift.  Take a listen.  And if they happen to be in your area, attend the concert.  You’ll be glad you did.


from Brian in NYC:  Thanks for sharing. Here’s a live version :). [NOTE; there’s portions of more than just one song….]

I had no idea about your French Canadian connections until I took the time to ready your email.  Fascinating.
As you may know [we] have a log cabin in upstate NY near the Quebec border.  We go up often, and also often visit my Peace Corps hostess mother … near Montreal.   We love it up there.

from Jane in Berkeley: Kind of a cross between bluegrass and Cajun.  Nice break from all the sorrow in the world right now.  And I’m STILL trying to get to North Dakota.  Didn’t realize that your dad was French Canadian.

from Kathy in Oregon: I plan to make it either to Eugene or Lincoln City depending upon the weather 🙂 Thanks for the tip!

from SAK, in London:

Dear Mr Bernard, I was just thinking of you today what with all what’s happening all round!

And here you are with Le Vent du Nord, a group I have enjoyed for decades now. I have to say in little doses since they are very rhythmical & that might get a bit taxing.

Some of the songs are political & this one has certain hints:  Lanlaire

It is obviously Quebecois & not metropolitan French. It is often the case that Quebecois retained & uses words which went out of “fashion” in France just like south Americans still use ancient Spanish words. Very cute how languages evolve.

Well this song fascinates because of the word Lanlaire & how it is used as the name of someone & as sending someone packing (or to the devil or worse 😊).

Here is a translation which doesn’t do it justice

Did you know Lanlaire, whose passing we mourn

We hardly see the like, we don’t see the like of him

Barely was he born when instead of moaning and screaming

He went around, singing in all the neighborhoods

“Go get Lanlaired”, so much was he spoken of

Lanlaire Lonla, go get Lanlaired, go get Lonla!

They put him in a college to learn Latin

He committed sacrilege, he smoked Libertines

And when the severe master condemned him to dry bread

His ordinary food, he answered him in Greek

Go get lost (lanlaired), Lanlaire, that’s all he knew

They tell him go or stay, being a soldier is too frugal

Doctor? you are too modest, trader? you are too loyal

So you want to be a notary, but the cost is high

Since you don’t know how to do anything, be a lawyer or a stock marketer  🙂

Go, get lost, the devil has been there

He only placed wisdom in permitted pleasures

Often changing mistresses, but never changing friends

They wanted him to take a kind wife with a big dowry

Me, he said, I would sell myself and tomorrow the first fool

will send me lanlairing, now what would you say to that!?

He did nothing in his life, so as not to do evil

He was poor without envy, he lived on his native soil

He remained single and even had no children.

If you think you will find many of his descendants on earth

Go get lanlaired, we don’t make the like anymore.




PRENOTE:  Some comments have been added at the very end of the Oct 8 post about Gaza.  Here.  I expect to do a followup post on this topic on Nov.. 4.  Your contribution is solicited.


In a couple of months I’ll mark 24 years retired after a 36 year career in public education.  Nonetheless, yesterday, as has been fairly common for me in my retired years, I went to the morning sessions of the “2023 MEA conference”  (at River Centre in St. Paul).  (Here’s the Minneapolis Star tribune article: MEA Conf Star Trib Oct 20 2023).

“MEA”  is such a tradition in Minnesota that the third Thursday in October is always the start of “MEA weekend”, a no-school event for kids, as hard to dislodge as Thanksgiving and other similar holidays.

“MEA” for the past 25 years has been a program of Education Minnesota, the merged organization (1998) which previously had been two competing teacher unions, MEA and MFT.  The name “MEA weekend” survived – more so public tradition than anything else.  I noticed that officially, in the program, that”MEA” means  “Minnesota Educator Academy”  – (called “MEA Conference”. on the cover of the union’s Minnesota Educator Oct – Nov issue).  Words…Acronyms….

For much of my career and 100 years before the annual gathering was called the “teachers convention”.   In more recent years, including in my career, it has become recognized there are many teachers in schools, which include folks like cooks, custodians, secretaries etc.  “School” is all of the children and adults assembled – a place for kids to become adults, with abundant adult role models.

There was a large menu of choices yesterday.

I can only speak about the five persons I heard.  There were many choices.  It was an excellent day.  Click on the names for more about each of those I heard.

Monica Byron, vice-president of Ed MN welcomed us.   She acknowledged this was the first such speech she’d given to such a group.   Personally I thought this comment added a great deal to otherwise very well prepared remarks.  I would bet all of us in the hall could remember our own first, among many firsts in our own lives!

Monica introduced Michael Houston, MEA’s 59th Teacher of the Year, who gave an inspiring talk.

Keynoter was Brittany Wagner, one of the main stars of the Netflix series “Last Chance U”.  She was an outstanding  motivational speaker.

After her speech I caught Brittany and Michael (both at right).  Both spring from very ordinary roots, like we do:

Brittany Wagner and Michael Houston. St. Paul Oct 20, 2023

I had two other learning experiences Thursday.

I sat in on the session led by Evan Rosenthal: “Exploring Gender: Helping Cisgender Teachers Support Transgender Students and Staff.”  The link below Evan’s name is a YouTube video he presented to a group of Dentists.  It is definitely the same Evan I saw on Thursday, and the content is similar.  I specifically chose this particular workshop, and the interactions with the group in the audience were very meaningful.

Finally, As I entered the exhibit area Thursday morning, a table attracted my interest.  A teacher, Blair Clinton was selling his book “Memoirs of a Mediocre Teacher“.  I bought the book, and I think I’m going to find it worthwhile.  Blair has been teaching for over 20 years, and he’s a reading interventionist in a twin cities metropolitan school district.  Like very teacher, he has his own personal story, and my guess is that most of us who have ever taught have had lots of experience of feeling mediocre!  Things in school don’t always go perfectly!

A final thought: Most of the presenters yesterday noted the influence of at least one teacher in their career trajectory. It occurred to me yesterday, and has occurred to me often over the years, that every teacher (regardless of title: parent, co-workers, etc.) inevitably and often without knowing it has a particularly memorable impact on someone in his or her orbit.  I’ve thought often of these teachers in my own life.  Even a negative experience with a teacher can ultimately have a positive outcome in the long run.

Give it some thought.

Thanks, Education Minnesota.

POSTNOTE Oct 22:  I noted with interest a column by retired Community College history teacher Chuck Chalberg in today’s Minneapolis StarTribune opinion section.  Chalberg apparently retired about 2010, and is about my age, and has written frequently from his point of view.  He would have been a long-time member of MEA/Education Minnesota, but he is apparently no fan of public education and teachers unions.  I found a most interesting commentary about him on-line, which includes within a link to a talk he gave in South Dakota some years ago.  You can read it here.

I have a very different point of view: public school reflects all the imperfections of society in general, and is therefore a crucial platform for young people of all abilities and disabilities to prepare for adulthood.

My parents were career public school teachers, both beginning with country schools about 1929.  Several aunts and uncles were career teachers.  My parents entire career was in a state where teachers had no rights, and their salaries and working conditions reflected that, and my siblings and I saw the downside of that arrangement.  My parents certainly had contracts, a key provision that their contracts were annual, renewed at the discretion of the local school board.

Personally, six of my school years were in Catholic elementary school; I taught junior high school for 9 years, 8 in Minnesota, then represented public school teachers for 27 years, all in Minnesota.  Nine grandkids have spent all or much of their school years in public schools.  One daughter is a middle school principal in a large suburban middle school; another is full-time long term substitute in another middle school.

Is public education perfect?  Absolutely not.  Is there a better alternative?  I think not.  In the end, all of us citizens are in the same kettle.  Perhaps you can delay your childs exposure to the real world, but that is always temporary.  We swim or sink together.

As to politics, the teachers union is not in thrall to any political party; its interest, however, is in good public policy for public education, generally.

Chalberg’s commentary can be read here: Chalberg Star Trib Oct 22 23.  Here’s something he wrote in 2010, at about the end of his career as a teacher.  Here are some comments shared between friends James Klein and Dick Bernard on the topic of public education and unions:Jim Klein on public education and unions October 24, 2023   (The beginning of this link is Jim’s comment in the on-line comments section below.  The link includes more comments from Jim and myself.)

ADDENDA: Brief Essay on School and Community, by Dick Bernard, 2006: Community by Dick Bernard 2006.  Positive qualities of educators identified by teachers at a workshop in the late 1990s: Qualities of Educators.

COMMENTS (more at end of post): 

from Fred: Sounds as if you had a fine time at MEA. The Diary of a Mediocre Teacher sounds interesting.

from Norm:  Thanks for your analysis of what school is actually like.  That is, not every student is well behaved and follows the rules.  Not every student is there to learn although many are.  Not every parent is supportive of what the school is doing with their child, nor does every parent even care what is happening with their child when he/she is in school. or (fill-in-the-blanks).

In many ways, that mixture of the interest levels of the students in the public school system are in some respects just a microcosm of society at large in many ways.
So, I suspect, that the purpose of Moms for Liberty and those kinds of groups who want to interfere with the teaching in public schools is to make sure that kids are only taught what they themselves are comfortable with in their limited view of the world.
That is really concerning to me.  Hopefully, the results that will become known on November 8th will not show large inroads onto the school boards by the MAGA nuts.