Thursday, October 30, 2014

Always Ready for Reformation






Tomorrow is Reformation Day, the anniversary of the day in 1517 that a German monk named Martin Luther nailed a copy of his 95 Theses (Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences) on the church door in Wittenburg, Germany.


 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Remembering

Saturday, October 29, 1988:

Best Selling books on the New York Times List:
THE QUEEN OF THE DAMNED, by Anne Rice. (Fiction)
A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, by Stephen W. Hawking. (Non-fiction)

Top 5 songs in the USA:
1 GROOVY KIND OF LOVE –•– Phil Collins
2 KOKOMO –•– The Beach Boys
3 WILD, WILD WEST –•– The Escape Club
4 RED RED WINE –•– UB40
5 WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND (PURE ENERGY) –•– Information Society

Ronald Reagan was President and George H. W. Bush was a little more than a week shy of being elected to replace him.

The Berlin Wall still stood.

That is only 26 years ago.

Today I give thanks for 26 years of sobriety.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's Still Called Music!!

From Prairie Home Companion on October 4: The Gibson Brothers and "They Called It Music"....




... and fortunately it is still music! There is power in the old songs-

It was honest, it was simple, and it helped the hard times heal!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Following the 10th Armored Division (3) - Medical Battalions

This is part three of a series that, over the next year, will follow my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. While we are still in the time before they entered battle, let me give you some of the back story of the division, this time by looking at the medical battalions in World War II.



To start, there are a number of good websites out there about medics and medical detachments in history. One is the WW 2 US Medical Research Center where a lot of my information comes from.

Here is a chart from the site showing the basic organization of a medical battalion, infantry division. As you can see, the battalion consisted of about 500 men. The same basic set-up was used in the armored divisions as well.

The MEDICAL BATTALION, Infantry Division consisted of:
  • 1 Battalion Headquarters
  • 3 Collecting Companies (usually designated Company A, B, and C)
  • 1 Clearing Company (usually designated Company D)
Battalion Headquarters established the Battalion's Command Post and was an agency of command and control. This was to be located in vicinity of the Clearing Station, which was the focal point of the Division medical support. HQ consisted of the Commanding Officer, the Executive Officer, Training Officer, and the Adjutant Personnel Officer. Another Officer in charge of Intelligence was later (1944) added and usually delegated as a Liaison Officer at Division Headquarters. The attached Chaplain was usually present at the Clearing Station.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Collecting Companies were the forward echelon of the Division Medical Service. They were the connecting links in the chain of evacuation between Infantry Aid Stations and Division Clearing Stations. Their mission was to:
  • Remove evacuees from Infantry Regiment Aid Stations to Collecting Stations
  • Prepare evacuees at the Collecting Stations for further evacuation
  • Transport evacuees by Ambulance from Collecting Stations to Division Clearing Stations
The major functions of the Collecting Companies were fourfold:
  • Contact -- to establish and maintain contact with the Medical Detachments of combat troops
  • Treat -- to establish and operate a Collecting Station, administering the treatment necessary to return minor casualties to their units, or to prepare more seriously injured casualties for further evacuation to the rear
  • Evacuate -- to relieve the Medical Detachments of casualties, moving these to the Clearing Station, or returning them to duty
  • Transport -- to transport casualties to the Clearing Station
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Clearing Company of the Medical Battalion operated Clearing Stations as necessary for the sorting and treatment of patients evacuated by the Collecting Companies. Patients were prepared at the Clearing Stations for further evacuation to the rear.

Primary functions of the Clearing Company included:
  • Reception -- receiving casualties brought into the Clearing Station by Ambulance of the Collecting Companies
  • Triage -- sorting of casualties according to the nature and severity of their injuries
  • Treatment -- administering appropriate treatment to save lives, reduce suffering, and prevent permanent disability
  • Care and Shelter -- providing temporary care and shelter of casualties until their physical condition permitted further evacuation
  • Slightly Injured -- returning slightly wounded casualties to duty with their units
  • Records -- preparing appropriate medical records for the patients
  • Dispensary -- operating and running a Dispensary for treatment of personnel of the Medical Battalion when the Division was not engaged in combat
  • Guard -- performing Interior Guard Duty for the Medical Battalion, sharing this duty with the Collecting Companies
The distribution of personnel was (1942 data) as follows :
  • 6 Captains, 
  • 6 First Lieutenants, 
  • 13 Non-commissioned Officers, 
  • 23 Technicians, and
  • 84 other Enlisted Men.
Prior to D-Day, June 1944 European Theater (ETO) medical personnel totaled 132,705, of whom 62,000 were with combat forces and the rest with the Services of Supply (S.O.S.) By March 1945 the number had increased to 245,387 men.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Geneva Convention compliant ID Card from WW II

At About.com, is this part of an answer about medics in World War 2:
World War 2 medics carried no weapons. Under the existing conventions of war they were not supposed to be fired upon, but depending on the enemy this convention was not always adhered to. And of course some enemy weapons (bombs, artillery and mortar shells, land mines) were incapable of discrimination. Toward the end of World War 2 the helicopter was used as an airborne ambulance to evacuate the wounded to a field hospital, but mostly the medic was on his own, administering what aid he was able with the limited medical supplies he carried. Some procedures were based on expediency, such as allowing a badly wounded soldier to die in order to concentrate on saving another who had a better chance of survival. ...All in all, being a medic is World War 2 was not a pleasant job.
It is noted in some accounts that, at first, some soldiers resented the medics during training in the states. They were non-combatants and, as such, seen as less "macho." That changed once they all got into battle. There is this found on one of the medical history websites:
As stated by Stephen Ambrose, "It was the universal opinion of the frontline infantry that the medics were the bravest of all".
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
From a page on combat medics:
During the war, such drugs as sulfa (sulfanilamide) and penicillin were discovered as well as advanced surgical techniques, effectively contributing to the survival rate. A wounded soldier, if treated within the first hour, had an 85 percent chance of survival. Contributing to that survival rate was the speed with which the combat medic on the frontline attended to his patient. At the war's beginning the medics were often ridiculed, sometimes being called "pill pushers," or worse. In combat, however, that attitude drastically changed as they gained respect from all ranks. When a soldier cried out "Medic!" there was no hesitation, and they were eventually referred to as "Doc."

Medics did whatever was necessary to stabilize the wounded soldier, lessen his pain and get him to a forward aid station. The station lay within a distance of 300 to 1,000 yards of the front line where there was a sergeant and four litter-bearers. Once the wounded soldier was attended to, the "litter team" arrived to carry him to the main aid station or field hospital, today known as the M.A.S.H. unit, one to three miles behind the line. The physician on duty attended to the soldier's wounds and, if necessary, ordered transportation to the nearest general hospital for further treatment.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Portion of 10th Armored Medics at Camp Gordon, GA

My first reaction to reading this was utter amazement. I have always been conscious of the incredible logistics it took to go to war in Europe in the 1940s. The basic movement of so many troops across the Atlantic Ocean (and into the Pacific as well) is obvious. But the scope is nothing short of overwhelming, mind-boggling and just about any other word you can find to describe its immensity.

All told, 16.1 million American troops served in World War II; over 1.9 billion people were engaged from all nations on both sides world-wide. Staggering numbers!!! Even breaking it down to the Division level it is still staggering- a Division consisted of about 15,000 troops. 91 divisions were mobilized during the war: 68 infantry divisions, 1 mountain division, 16 armored divisions, 5 airborne divisions, and 2 cavalry divisions.

Still another insight- serving the 15,000 troops of the 10th Armored Division, there was a medical battalion of about 500. The work must have been everything from horrific to boring depending on what was happening. The level of what we today call PTSD for all these troops must have been as staggering as the numbers themselves.

With this kind of background, then, I humbly attempt to follow the 10th Armored with my Dad, a Tec 5, in 1944-45. I will never know his story specifically, but I honor all who like him did what they needed to do.

Here's a version of a documentary on WW 2 medics:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's Just This Simple

Matthew 22:34-40-- When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Of course, simple doesn't mean easy. Why? Because we are humans who have been slow to learn this thing call loving your neighbor as yourself. Or, at least when it comes to defining who my neighbor is. But maybe we can get better at it. What I think will be more likely to enhance our ability to do so is to understand that in a world like ours, EVERYONE is our neighbor- and we each are everyone else's neighbor. The world-wide recession in the past six years shows that. The price of oil and its effect on gas prices AND food prices shows that. Even the world-wide terror alerts and the Ebola reactions show that.

Yet, Jesus was speaking something far more profound than we are willing to admit. We humans are community-based creatures. We need other humans to support us, protect us, raise our children. The simple fact of the long period of growth of human children and their powerlessness and helplessness is an indicator of that. When our primitive human ancestors started to form small bands or tribes, the movement toward community was begun.

But it was also the beginning of competition between tribes which only morphed (dare I say metastasized?) into states, nation-states and then mega-states. Suddenly the definitions of neighbor needed to be expanded- or identified differently. The result was the expansion of tribal conflict into war, into global war. As I mentioned in one of my posts on the 10th Armored Division in World War II the number of people involved in that conflict was staggering. There were 1.9 billion people impacted by the war. That is an amazing 90% of the world population in 1941!

Who says we are not all neighbors?

Certainly not Jesus. He broke all those neighbor taboos from women to Samaritans to children to lepers to those possessed to Romans to tax collectors to the poor to orphans to those in prison to those caught in adultery. In short, he broke the taboos by making all of the known enemies of the day his neighbors. What is kind of scary to me is that the only group he was less-friendly with - the religious and political leaders. (That I will just let sit there. Make your own determinations of that one. At least for today.)

The challenge I hear from Jesus in this hate-filled world in this time of fear and finger-pointing is to take a different look at the enemies we put on our hate list. Until we can treat them with love, we are not living up to our name as Christians. I hear Jesus telling me to pray for them- and to pray that we ourselves may be blessed by them. It is a two-way street.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

One of My Now All-Time Favorites

Love! This! Commercial!

Young girl, with a "can-you-believe-this" attitude: We've heard that over 400 million vacation days go unused every year.
Young boy, world-weary with the news he's heard: That's the stupidest thing I ever heard.
You get paid for taking them. They are precious and essential.

This commercial speaks the truth!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Completely Orthodox

She's a "company person." She gives the free food with no strings attached and then has the prayer service. She is part of the church alive in St. Paul. Here's a report from Religion and Ethics Newsweekly:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Colors- Wild and Subtle


A wonderful day last week to get out on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi at Great River Bluffs State Park. Just enjoy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Let's Get Serious- and Stay Calm

How can we ban all flights into the US from Ebola-stricken nations when there are no direct flights into the US from Ebola-stricken nations?

Yes, we need precautions at airports, etc. But what we really need to do is increase the level of education about Universal Precautions that very few of us pay any attention to in our daily lives. Then push these precautions.

We should also allow clear-headed reporting to take over instead of scare reporting which is happening across the political news spectrum. When in a crisis, or even a perceived crisis, it is never helpful to yell at the top of your lungs that the sky is falling and we are all doomed! No one seems to be doing that very well.

AIDS and Hepatitis are far more easily transmitted than Ebola (lifestyle questions aside) and all it takes is common sense health precautions to stay safe. If it didn't work with more dangerous diseases we would all have contracted AIDS by now since it, like Ebola, is spread from contact with bodily fluids.


End of health rant.

For today.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Final Week of Baseball Overdosing

The post-season has been remarkable this year. Extra-innings, power playing, excitement.


Now here we have a team that has not been in the post-season since Ronald Reagan was president (1985) coming to the World Series with a remarkable string of post-season wins.





And they face those Giants from San Francisco who looked like they were trying to replay history with an impressive walk-off home run to get into the Series.




THIS is baseball.

Tonight the end begins.


Let's enjoy the last days of the Boys of Summer. 
When it is over, we are in the dark days in-between.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Following the 10th Armored Division (2) - Some Back Story

This is part two of a series that, over the next year, will follow my father's 10th Armored Division in World War II seventy years ago. While we are still in the month before they entered battle, let me give you some of the back story of the division.



It was created in 1942 in the months after Pearl Harbor. The United States was finally in the war but without a broad-based and large enough military. In fact it was only through the first peace-time draft in history the previous two years that gave the foundation for what would become a huge fighting force. New armies and divisions were being created as long-range planning developed in Washington for a war across both oceans very far from home. The 10th Armored was officially activated on July 15, 1942.


My dad had been drafted in early 1941 and was put into the reserves in late 1941 or early 1942 after his initial active service training. Then, on July 25, 1942 he got his notice to return to service. A week later, August 6 he left his home in northern Pennsylvania for New Cumberland where his reserves met. Another nine days and he was called up and left for Georgia, arriving at Fort Benning on August 20. He was now with the medical battalion assigned to the 10th Armored, most likely the 80th Medical Battalion.

When the 10th was created the new commander, Major General Paul Newgarden held a competition to give the unit a nickname. They took the name “The Tiger Division” and lived up to the name for the next three years. Newgarden, it is reported, was a strong leader with a sense of pride in unit identity and the importance of teamwork. His initial work in forming the 10th was given a lot of credit from the troops when they reached battle.

The Tiger Division’s shoulder patch was the standard patch for
armored divisions, simply adding the number “10” on the top of the triangle. The top third of the patch was yellow that stood for the cavalry. At the beginning of the war the cavalry had been reorganized, mechanized and given armor. The lower left third was blue for the infantry and the lower right, red for artillery. The tank tracks signified the mobility of the division, the cannon was for firepower and the lightning for their speed of attack. All together the colors and symbols showed their teamwork.

For the next year, Lester Nichols, author of the 10th’s history, Impact, writes, the
training was especially rugged. There was the Tiger Camp with its night problems, forced marches, endurance tests, 'dry runs' and firing problems. (What the medical battalions did then isn’t reported in the book. I will write more about the medical department in the war later.)
In that first year I know my dad had two furloughs home. The first was from January 28 to February 11, 1943 and the second in the spring when he made it back north for two weeks in late May.

In late June the Division packs up and leaves Fort Benning, Georgia for maneuver training in Tennessee. There, Nichols reports, that the maneuvers were
the scene of combat with chiggers, choking dust, sleepless nights, sore backs and aching feet. As always, the ‘enemy’ was constantly pursued. The battle umpires, too, were on hand to declare tank, track and truck ‘knocked out’ by a hidden ‘enemy’ anti-tank crew.
The first week of September 1943 and the 10th moved to its new home. They left Tennessee and settle at Camp Gordon near Augusta, Georgia. Here they would continue to train, grow and develop into a highly effective unit for the battles that lay ahead.
Note: Some information in these posts comes from a combination of books as well as personal effects of my father’s family. Most notably is the book, Impact, The Battle Story of General S. Patton’s Spearhead Tenth Armored Division in Europe in World War II, by Lester M. Nichols (1954).

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Just Thinking

When working on some of genealogical research the other week I had one of those moments when the world made a little bit of a shift. It comes with just a simple questions:

Why do almost exclusively self-identify with the "family" of our birth surname?
I was looking at my family tree and realized that just three generations back (my great-grandparents) I can potentially find as many as eight surnames and the one more generation (great-great grandparents) there would be sixteen. Does that mean I am as much a Klein and a Keller and a Freighley and a Ritchie as a Lehman? Then, by marriage I am also related to another whole set of family names on my wife's side. But without confusing it too much, just sticking with my direct ancestors, who am I?

This made me think back to a part of the Race exhibit that was here in Rochester a few years ago that was originally developed by the Science Museum of Minnesota. The basic point of it was that, at the very heart of who we are, we really are mutts. We are a mixture of ethnic, national, religious and probably racial parts. Genetic research is showing this truth at an even deeper level.


Another piece of the reality also goes to what portion of who I am is what national background. I know there are Ukrainians and Germans, Scottish and English back there. Because of ghettos in the Ukraine before 1900, that may be the greatest part of my heritage. Yet all these years I identified as of German background. And, since the Germans arrived here at least 80 years before the Ukrainians, that also makes me American, since here is where I was born. As were members of my family back at least five generations.

Maybe, then, for me it's time to even drop the hyphenated ethnicity and just be American.

See what I mean when I say it caused a slight seismic shift of self-identity.

Which brought me back to a discussion some of us were having on an ethics meeting about diversity. We finally got to the idea of self-identity. Different people talked about different ways of doing that. It struck me at that moment that my cultural identity is as much 60s Hippie Radical as it is a German-American or whatever. In fact, maybe even more so. A great deal of that ethnic identity has broken down in my life.

That wasn't true of my family. But perhaps being part of a religiously mixed marriage of the 40s and 50s helped move me the way I have.

So that's where it has taken me today. I look forward to the day when these issues are resolved in favor of being part of the one and only human race and where nationality is truly as a citizen of the world trying to keep our world from falling apart.

I think know that's what John Lennon was singing about.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Be In Love- Playing for Change

I was doing some surfing of videos from the great folk at Playing for Change and came across one from 2012 that I hadn't seen. The Maine Academy of Modern Music put this one together for Playing for Change day. It's fun. Enjoy.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Reflecting on Mission

Last Sunday was Mission Festival at a local church. I went to hear what the speaker- a dynamic young man with the Board of World Mission had to say and to worship in support of the ideal of missions. Mission Festivals have been a significant part of the life of the Moravian Church (and others) for a long time. The Moravians were the first Protestant missionaries, sending the first workers to the West Indies in the early 1730s. They went to share the Gospel with the slaves, not a particularly popular thing among the slave owners. The first missionary even went so far as to proclaim that he would become a slave if he had to in order to share the Gospel with them.

When I became a Christian at age 15 it was through a mission-oriented Baptist congregation. There was a mission training facility a few miles up the road and one of the sons of the congregation was a mission worker through them. Every year or so he would come home on furlough and share his work with the congregation which was giving him financial support. In addition we would regularly get letters from him outlining what he was doing. This was out version of the Mission Festival and always was moving and exciting to me.

So it should come as little surprise to anyone (but me, of course) that when I found a denomination that I felt called to be part of and to be ordained in, the Moravian Church, mission pioneers, was where I settled. I have been part of the church now for over 43 years, forty of those as an ordained pastor. Mission work has, of course, changed and, in reality, expanded to something I find even more exciting than I did back in my high school years. Mission has become far more than the sharing of the words and promise of the Gospel. It is now sharing the heart, life, healing, and soul of the Gospel where it needs to be shared.

This, too, was part of the early Moravian mission work and there are many stories about care and concern beyond simply converting the unbelievers. But it has been the changes in world cultures, technology and the self-understanding of the church that has made the biggest impact, taking the basic understanding of mission into more than it ever was.

One of the ways I understood this was to begin with the people at home and introduce them to mission as something THEY do, something they are engaged in. It becomes, at that point, a combined educational and missional experience. I first learned this through a Lutheran Church in Greenwich Village when I was doing an internship in Bethlehem, PA. The church in New York would bring youth from outside the city into the Village for a weekend of what the city was about. They had a mission to runaways and, in those days of the early 70s that was significant. It was quite an experience. When I moved to my first Moravian congregation, I signed up to take a group. Later we went to another Moravian Church on Staten Island to experience the city and its potential for mission.

You see what I learned at Operation Eyeopener was that when you enter New York City you are simply placing a big magnifying glass over the problems and needs. The same problems and needs are to be found in your local community. Once you can begin to see them, you can begin to minister to them. To me that was an essential and basic understanding of what the Christian Church is to be. Without that, we are nothing but a country club. (I do have a way of exaggerating for emphasis.) A few years later I moved to Wisconsin where a “mission trip” movement was beginning at the church I was called to serve. The day I was installed as pastor, one of the members was in Alaska on a mission trip. The point was not lost.

Three years later I arranged a trip of about 15 youth and adults to travel east from Wisconsin to New York City where the denomination had a food program for the homeless and were about to open housing for older people who had been homeless. We raised the money and traveled by train in what may have been one of the first such mission trips from the Western District. Others began to organize trips for adults to Central America and the West Indies. It took off- and hasn’t stopped.

There was some initial push-back from others, though not usually from the congregation itself. Other pastors would periodically say that we shouldn’t be spending the money that way or that it wasn’t really mission. We were simply doing tourism. While there is some truth in that, it is as much educational as it is mission so that when we got home we were more mission-aware. Adults or youth would invariably comment that they were touched, moved, changed by the experiences. Interestingly some of those clergy who raised concerns would later go on their own mission trips and become convinced of the importance and power of the experience.

As a result of some major work in the Southern Province along with a number of lay people from the Western District the whole mission trip experience expanded in the 90s and 2000s to include a number of different opportunities. Some of us even began to also take youth to places like the West Indies, Jamaica, or Native American reservations. Friendships were made, rebuilding work was done, mission was expanded.

I thought of all those things last Sunday listening to the next generation of mission leadership challenging us to keep our vision. The work of the church – what we call “mission”- is alive and well. It is just as essential as it ever has been. No, it is not always bringing people to Jesus. It is often more like taking Jesus to them.

I am excited for the future of the mission of the church. The “church” is at a time of change and uncertainty. Politics and fundamentalism have combined forces in our world to distort the message of Jesus into something I don’t believe Jesus would recognize. It is not a triumphalist attitude that mission work promotes. It is just the opposite. It is like the first Moravian missionary, willing to become a slave in order to share the Gospel.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Get Moving

Was out walking at Whitewater State Park last week. Looking down before I took a step I saw this little guy moving along. So I watched him for a few moments.

  

Made me think of a joke I've heard around recently:
What did the snail say when it got on the back of turtle?
"Wheee!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Another Mid-Week Swing

Came across this video last week. It is a compilation of swing dancing videos put to the music of "Hooked On Swing" by Larry Elgart from 1982. This was a medley of swing jazz hits: "In the Mood"; "Cherokee"; "American Patrol"; "Sing, Sing, Sing"; "Don't Be That Way"; "Little Brown Jug"; "Opus #1"; "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart"; and "String of Pearls". What I find amazing is how well the producer of this video did at keeping the dance videos in time with the music. I know, this isn't a great piece of music in and of itself, but it is fun to listen to- and then go back and find the originals.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Colors- Wild and Subtle - Fungus, et. al. Edition


It was a cloudy kind of day on Sunday when I went to Whitewater Park. I did get some good overall pictures, but I focused a little more on the little things. Fungus, mushrooms, lichen, moss- that kind of thing. Again, the sharp colors or the more subtle ones combine on the fall forest floor for interesting patterns. I am always amazed at how the colors merge, blend and contrast depending on the area of focus and depth of focus.





What continues to amaze me, even more than the colors and contrasts is a technical item. The camera on my iPhone 4s produces such good pictures. The next two of the mushrooms from underneath were taken with the iPhone. It is light, compact and has a decent lens for the more wide-angle shots. I do not even use the wide to normal angle lens on my Nikon and rely on the iPhone for the general shots or when I get down on my knees and try to get pictures like the next two.






Monday, October 13, 2014

Following the 10th Armored Division

It was seventy years ago that World War II had taken on a new and final dimension. After the D-Day invasion in June, the United States began to move troops into battle. They had been building up the forces since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Soldiers, techs, infantry, medics and all others had been in training across the country. New units, new divisions were created and filled with personnel.

One of these was the 10th Armored Division which was created in 1942 and assigned to the Third Army, General George Patton's Army. Their timeline for their first two years was:

  • Fort Benning GA - 15 Jul 42 to 21 Jun 1943
  • Tennessee Maneuver Area - 24 Jun 1943 to 2 Sep 1943
  • Camp Gordon, GA - 3 Sep 1943 to 3 Sep 1944
  • Camp Shanks, NY - 4 Sep 1944 to  11 Sep 1944
  • NYPOE (SS Sea Owl) 12 Sep 1944 to 23 Sep 1944
This was my father's division. He was a Tec 5, a non-commissioned officer as a medical corpsman. He was assigned to the medical battalion of the 10th Armored. Seventy years ago this week he was in France getting final training and doing all they could to be ready for battle.

I have been working on a family history that describes some of what was happening in those days. Part of the World War II story that unfolded between October 1944 and VE Day in May 1945 involved some of the fiercest fighting and greatest losses of the war. I will be doing some posting here on what was happening with my Dad's division in Europe in 1944.

While it now feels like somewhat ancient history, for me and my generation, it is recent events. It is what made our parents' generation into what we now call the Greatest Generation. Perhaps it has taken me all these 66 years of my life to begin to understand what that means. I am humbled by it and am just here to tell part- a very small part of that story.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Making Music

I got into a conversation with another musician last week. It started when I asked some people to tell me about what spiritual means to them. One of the people smiled and said, "Playing music!" We then talked about different ways that works. For me, I said, it is usually when a group I am in plays in public- a performance. I can't even begin to describe what that means. I play in a couple concert bands, a brass quintet, and a big band group. I can get bored sometimes with rehearsing. [Do we have to play that song again? Don't we know it good enough?] I can get tired of the same old, same old. [How many times do we have to play "In the Mood"?]

Then we get to the gig. It can be a dance, a concert, a recital or playing at a senior living center. The drummer kicks off the beat, the director gives the downbeat or the lead trumpet nods the tempo. My mind goes into gear. We play. It makes sense. This is why we practice. This is why we rehearse. This is why I do lip slurs or scales to keep my lip in shape. It's about the music that moves out of us and into the world around us. It's about he music that we translate from those black dots on the white page into a classic like "In the Mood" or a concert version of "Stars and Stripes Forever" or the quintet playing Gabrielli. The child in the first row begins to dance, the woman in the wheelchair sways back and forth, the audience smiles at a familiar song, or someone hears a 400 year old melody that moves them.

The connection is made and we play. What a moment, or better series of moments. Every now and then it doesn't work. Sometimes the audience doesn't get it. They may sit there with detached interest. Or, and this has happened, we are too far away from the audience and can't get the feedback.

It is a relationship and I love it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Colors- Subtle and Wild (2)


Whitewater State Park, MN
October 10, 2014

This one has both subtle and wild colors.
What a beauty of a day it was.