As the moon lingers a moment over the bitterroots before its descent into the invisible, my mind is filled with song. I find I am humming, softly, not to the music, but to something else. Someplace else.
A place remembered.
A field of grass where no one seemed to have been, except for the deer. And the memory is strengthened by the memory of you – dancing in my awkward arms.
Finally joined the library, the new reading list looks like this:
One reason I join libraries is so that I can read books from people or institutions that I refuse to give money to.. like Seymour Hersh. I refuse to fund this bastard, but I do want to know what he’s saying.
“Blueprint for Action : A Future Worth Creating” (Thomas P.M. Barnett)
One of my favorite authors is Richard Bach. A run through of my blogging over the last four years will point you to many quotes from his works over the years. There’s probably been no other author that was more influential in my most contemplative years as a teenager as this man.
Bach wrote across two books of his belief, so to speak, in alternate worlds. I believe it was in “One” that he wrote of how everytime we reach a major decision in life.. our world splits in two.. The reality.. and the alternate…
In one world, we move on.. with the decision that we made, the choice locked, and the reality is…. well the reality of what we face.
In the other world, the alternate, the opposite is true.. and thus the world splits off and becomes…. the alternate… it goes on without you, so to speak…
And then, in our dreams, or our nightmares, and at other times, we get a glimpse of what could have been – but yet will never be.
Or could it…
I wasn’t expecting it and so when I unwrapped it I had a huge grin on my face – and nearly became teary-eyed.
Silent America is a collection of Bill’s essays from his weblog EjectEjectEject about life in the post 9/11 America. Bill is one of the most gifted writers i’ve found on the internet. His essays bring out and highlight what I think is best about America. Not to mention that I believe Bill has captured best the essence of our country today – and how we’ve changed.. but yet not changed.. from our past.
You owe it to yourself to read this book. Or – just visit his weblog and read for yourself.
An excerpt from HONOR:
On October 7th, 2002 I returned to Los Angeles from Arlington National Cemetery where we interred my father, 2nd Lt. William Joseph Whittle, who died from what may have been sheer joy during a fishing trip in Canada.
My dad served in the US Army in Germany, from 1944 through 1946. He was an intelligence officer, and was responsible for recording the time of death of the convicted War Criminals at Nuremburg after the war. He saw them hanged — he stood there with a stopwatch. He was 21 years old.
My father spent two years in the U.S. Military. He spent a lifetime in the corporate world. After twenty years as a world-class hotel manager, turning entire properties from liabilities into assets, he was let go without so much as a thank-you dinner or a handshake. Twenty years of service. He was a four-star general in the corporate world for two decades, and that was his reward.
Monday afternoon, at 1 pm, I stood underneath the McClellan arch at ANC. There were 13 family members there. There were also 40 men in uniform. I was stunned.
They took my dad’s ashes, in what looked like a really nice cigar box (what a little box for such a big man, I thought at that moment), and placed it in what looked like a metallic coffin on the back of a horse-drawn caisson. His ashes were handled by other twenty-one year old men, men as young as he had been, men whose fathers were children when my dad was in uniform. Everything was inspected, checked, and handled with awesome, palpable, radiating reverence and respect.
As we walked behind the caisson, the band played not a dirge, but a march…a tune that left me searching for the right adjective, which I didn’t find until the flight home. It was triumphal. It was the sound of Caesar entering Rome; the sound of a hero coming home. It was the only time during the service that I really began to cry.
My father received a military funeral: the folded flag, the 21 gun salute, the honor guard, and a Chaplain named Crisp who declared a grateful nation was welcoming their brother William home to rest among heroes.
My dad served for two years. He wrote on the back of his Army officer class graduation photo that he expected to die fighting for his country within a few months. Most everybody who signed his photo wrote the same thing.
The chaplain said, looking my stepmom in the eyes like this was the first time he’d ever said the words, that the men and women buried here had agreed to lay down their lives for their country and each other, and that THIS, not rank, or social status, or length in service, is what entitled them to be buried in America’s most sacred ground.
Before the ceremony, I was looking at the headstones, and it’s sad how each area of Arlington is like a forlorn vintage: here are buried the veterans who died around 1995, there is the 1982 pasture, the mid-fifties crop over on yonder hill. And standing between a Major and a Lt. Colonel, I saw a headstone for a PFC who was born in 1979, the year I entered college, and who had died in 1998. This young man, not even twenty, couldn’t have been in the service for more than a few months, and yet there he lay, with the same headstone as colonels and generals and the many, many sergeants that cover those fields.
That is American honor, and nowhere else in the world does it exist in such a naked, magnificent form. Each of these men and women, this band of brothers, receiving the same heartfelt respect. For my father, who died at age 77, it was the honoring of a contract he had signed more than half a century before, defending Europe and helping bring those criminal bastards to justice. It was a contract paid in full, one that has given my family and me an indescribable sense of comfort and pride.
Some deep thoughts from Ayn Rand:
For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values, I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you are perishing – you who dread knowledge – I am the man who will now tell you.
You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning. You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty.
You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection. You have fought for it, you have dreamed of it, and you have wished it, and I – I am the man who has granted you your wish.
Your ideal had an implacable enemy, which your code of morality was designed to destroy. I have withdrawn that enemy. I have taken it out of your way and out of your reach. I have removed the source of all those evils you were sacrificing one by one. I have ended your battle. I have stopped your motor. I have deprived the world of man’s mind.
Men do not live by the mind, you say? I have withdrawn those who do. The mind is impotent, you say? I have withdrawn those whose mind isn’t. There are values higher than the mind, you say? I have withdrawn those for whom there aren’t.
While you were dragging to your sacrificial altars the men of justice, of independence, of reason, of wealth, of self-esteem – I beat you to it. I reached them first. I told them the nature of the game you were playing and the nature of that moral code of yours, which they had been too innocently generous to grasp. I showed them the way to live by another morality – mine. It is mine that they chose to follow.
All the men who have vanished, the men you hated, yet draded to lost, it is I who have taken them away from you. Do not attempt to find us. Who do not choose to be found. Do not cry that it is our duty to serve you. We do not recognize such duty. Do not cry that you need us. We do not consider need a claim. Do not cry that you own us. You don’t. Do not beg us to return. We are on strike, we, the men of the mind.
– Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Do I shell out money for Bill Clinton’s book or not.
I really don’t want to give that fucker any of my money. But I want to read his book.