Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Death of Captain Waskow

AT THE FRONT LINES IN ITALY, January 10, 1944 - In this war I have known a lot of officers who were loved and respected by the soldiers under them. But never have I crossed the trail of any man as beloved as Capt. Henry T. Waskow of Belton, Texas.

Capt. Waskow was a company commander in the 36th Division. He had led his company since long before it left the States. He was very young, only in his middle twenties, but he carried in him a sincerity and gentleness that made people want to be guided by him.

"After my own father, he came next," a sergeant told me.

"He always looked after us," a soldier said. "He'd go to bat for us every time."

"I've never knowed him to do anything unfair," another one said.

I was at the foot of the mule trail the night they brought Capt. Waskow's body down. The moon was nearly full at the time, and you could see far up the trail, and even part way across the valley below. Soldiers made shadows in the moonlight as they walked.

Dead men had been coming down the mountain all evening, lashed onto the backs of mules. They came lying belly-down across the wooden pack-saddles, their heads hanging down on the left side of the mule, their stiffened legs sticking out awkwardly from the other side, bobbing up and down as the mule walked.

The Italian mule-skinners were afraid to walk beside dead men, so Americans had to lead the mules down that night. Even the Americans were reluctant to unlash and lift off the bodies at the bottom, so an officer had to do it himself, and ask others to help.

The first one came early in the morning. They slid him down from the mule and stood him on his
feet for a moment, while they got a new grip. In the half light he might have been merely a sick man standing there, leaning on the others. Then they laid him on the ground in the shadow of the low stone wall alongside the road.

I don't know who that first one was. You feel small in the presence of dead men, and ashamed at being alive, and you don't ask silly questions.

We left him there beside the road, that first one, and we all went back into the cowshed and sat on water cans or lay on the straw, waiting for the next batch of mules.

Somebody said the dead soldier had been dead for four days, and then nobody said anything more about it. We talked soldier talk for an hour or more. The dead man lay all alone outside in the shadow of the low stone wall.

Then a soldier came into the cowshed and said there were some more bodies outside. We went out into the road. Four mules stood there, in the moonlight, in the road where the trail came down off the mountain. The soldiers who led them stood there waiting. "This one is Captain Waskow," one of them said quietly.

Two men unlashed his body from the mule and lifted it off and laid it in the shadow beside the low stone wall. Other men took the other bodies off. Finally there were five lying end to end in a long row, alongside the road. You don't cover up dead men in the combat zone. They just lie there in the shadows until somebody else comes after them.

The unburdened mules moved off to their olive orchard. The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave. They stood around, and gradually one by one I could sense them moving close to Capt. Waskow's body. Not so much to look, I think, as to say something in finality to him, and to themselves. I stood close by and I could hear.

One soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, "God damn it." That's all he said, and then he walked away. Another one came. He said, "God damn it to hell anyway." He looked down for a few last moments, and then he turned and left.

Another man came; I think he was an officer. It was hard to tell officers from men in the half light, for all were bearded and grimy dirty. The man looked down into the dead captain's face, and then he spoke directly to him, as though he were alive. He said: "I'm sorry, old man."

Then a soldier came and stood beside the officer, and bent over, and he too spoke to his dead captain, not in a whisper but awfully tenderly, and he said:

"I sure am sorry, sir."

Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand, and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there.

And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain's shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.

After that the rest of us went back into the cowshed, leaving the five dead men lying in a line, end to end, in the shadow of the low stone wall. We lay down on the straw in the cowshed, and pretty soon we were all asleep.

Ernie Pyle was the most famous American reporter duing World War II. The military loved him for his devotion to the warriors, and when he was killed by a Japanese sniper during the last months of the war, the country mourned him as deeply as it did President Roosevelt. This column was his most famous.

The Kiss

New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan on Aug. 14, 1945. They threw anything and kissed anyone in Times Square.

Where They Go Our Flag Goes

Two U.S. officers plant the flag on Guam eight minutes after Marines and Army assault troops landed on July 20, 1944.

Nothing Stops The Marines

Marines hit three feet of rough water as they leave their LST to take the beach at Cape Gloucester, New Britian on Dec. 26, 1943.

How Did They Do That?

Dynamic static. The motion of its props causes an "aura" to form around this F6F on the USS Yorktown. Rotating with blades, the halo moves aft, giving depth and perspective.

A Time To Reflect

With a canvas tarpulin for a church and packing cases for an altar, a Navy chaplain holds mass for Marines at Saipan in June 1944. The service was held in memory of brave buddies who lost their lives in the initial landings.

Stars In Uniform

Pfc. Mickey Rooney imitates some Hollywood actors for an audience of infantrymen of the 44th Division on April 13, 1945. Rooney, a star himself, was a member of a three-man unit making a jeep trip to entertain the troops. The fact that so many Hollywood stars enlisted is evidence of the fervor that swept the United States during World War II. Americans wanted to serve and protect their country.

Marines in World War II

Marine Pfc. Douglas Lightheart, right, cradles his 30-cal. machine gun in his lap, while he and his buddy, Pfc. Gerald Churchby take time out for a cigarette while mopping up the enemy on Peleliu Island on Sept. 14, 1944.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Military Humor

This has nothing to do with the week of Dec. 7 or the war in Iraq, but I was thinking about some of the funny things that happened when I was in the Air Force.

I was at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, when a F4 tornado destroyed a large part of the city. We had plenty of warning because the tornado touched down a little ways out of town. It moved into the city and destroyed several square miles of homes and commercial property. The destruction was severe, and Air Force personnel jumped in to help with the clean up.

Some buddies and I were helping an elderly couple sift through the rubble that was once their home. Very little was left of their property, and I was amazed that the couple survived. They were in good humor, though, just happy to be alive.

"There's nothing left of your house," I said in amazement. "How did you survive the tornado?"

The elderly woman giggled and said, "Well, we just got in the bathtub and put a mattress over ourselves."

"That must have been horrible," I said.

The elderly woman grinned. "Oh, honey. We've been married over 50 years, and that's the first time he's ever gotten in the tub with me."

The Pin-Ups

Left: Army men sent 7,000 requests for picture of Warners' tall Alexis Smith. Right: Ann Sheridan has gotten more than 4,000 requests from sailors and Marines.
Made You Look.

...Maureen O'Hara is a prime example of a fine pin-up picture. Note clever highlight on lower lip and the studied, languorous position. Life Magazine February 15, 1943
Made You Look.

The Movies

Life Magazine February 15, 1943

Peter Hurd Paints Airmen

Life Magazine February 15, 1943

What They Ask Of Us

I'm sitting in comfort in an American city that isn't besieged by religious zealots. In a little while, I will get into my truck and drive on roads that aren't deposits for roadside bombs. I'll drive without worrying that the car next to me will detonate after the driver makes eye contact with me and conveys a hatred that becomes part of the explosion.

Thousands of miles away, American men and women are facing those horrors. Yet, the majority of Americans don't care. All they ask is that we care about them. Is it too much to take a moment to lift them up in prayer, to ask God to send angels to surround them with divine protection? Is it too much to thank them when they return for the hardships they endure so that we remain a protected country?

Is it too much to hold people accountable, military and civilian, when their decisions sidetrack our fighting men and women and harm them unnecessarily and when their decisions are born of arrogance and a refusal to think rationally and pragmatically? Our warriors are a national treasure. We can't survive without them, but we take them for granted. Some accuse them of horrific crimes, holding all of them responsible for the actions of a few. All they ask of us is that we vote for strong leadership, that we elect people who will make decisons that are in the best interest of the country and not a political party. All the warriors ask of us is that we make decisions that won't cause them to lose their lives unnecessarily. They'll give their lives, most of them willingly, for our country, but we should make certain that when we ask an American to die for us, we do so only after exhausting other options. It should never be done for political reasons.

That's all they ask of us.

Virgie Bell's View

First of all let me call attention to an editor malfunction. I did not report that the Hollywood obscure star soon to win an Oscar for portraying the lead in "Bobby" – I did not say nor did I imply that the future sexiest man alive read the books on the famous Kennedy clan. Scripts, De'on. This is the Estevez from the famous Sheen clan of TV and activist fame. Mom read the books.

The Kennedy saga has a long, long history. I loved JFK .When my generation shopped for bomb shelters, we went about it cheerfully and stood firm with our leader, even as we faced the RUSSIAN with CUBA MISSILE CRISIS, the one we are fixing to face with RUSSIA and IRAN. Will we never listen to one of the oldest maxims that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat history.

It makes me proud to have a redneck in office after the show-down of 9/11. For all the world to know it reminded me of my days of bomb shelter shopping. The end result of that was we couldn't afford one. Now if you noticed, I am very politcal and my parents were very political. My dad said if anyone asks you what you are, you are a Democrat. Daddy recognized bull----. That was the bottom line with him, and trust me, he was head of the house. If there was ever a get-out-of-my-face kind of guy, it was him. He was also one of the most handsome men ever to draw a breath.

If those walls in the Oval Office could talk, JFK could have made Clinton look like a girlyman. JFK was glamor personified, and his affairs brought you right into the lives of the movie industry. Now we are left with just tawdry affairs Ted. Ted is a pitiful player in real life. He is such bad casting as himself.

For a while we stood a chance. We had John, as in John-John, and not the Monica fiasco. That was tawdry, so I know my Dad would stand on principle. He would never condone lying. Dad hated liars, but he was a practical man. My sister and I were visiting with him in a bar in Lodi. It was a seedy bar, and Dad worked there as a boucer at one time. The "blondes have more fun" was the cry of the day, and one of the seeds was hollering, "Blondie! Blondie!" to my sister. Under my breath, I asked her if blondes have more fun. My dad chuckled at first, then he sat there a minute and finally spoke up that it was enough. But the seed just kept on, and my dad grabbed up his Coke bottle and broke it on the edge of the bar and said louder, "I said that’s enough." He showed me that he respected me as a woman.

My dad was into principle big time. You know what? I wish he were here to tell me what to do. He never drank liquor when we went to visit him in California. Shea reminds me of Daddy as did Aaron. There was an element of glamor that hovered around their shoulders, and I know those Pickrell men teach their daughters self respect, but most of all my mother and my daddy would SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.

Maple Mousse

Life Magazine November 30, 1942

Thursday, November 30, 2006

'A Different Christmas Poem' by LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.

Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight. A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night." "It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile. Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.

"PLEASE, Would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many people as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our U.S.service men and women for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Let's try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq.

Virgie Bell's View

I didn't receive my Albuquerque paper this morning. My newspapers and coffee are essential to getting my day started. By the time I've read my papers and am usually in or out of a snit, I’m ready to read Gunz Up, something De'on holds dear to her heart. So without my paper, I'll turn to my Time magazine.

For conservatives, this magazine is a NO, but that liberal magazine and I go back for so many years. I am, after all, a creature of habit. Oh, I've threatened numerous times to quit reading Time, but I do enjoy columns by many of their contributors. I also enjoy the editor’s column, however misguided he may be.

I used to take Vanity Fair but stopped my subscription when they published the pictures of our troops’ final return in flag-draped coffins. I may have to resubscribe if Christopher Hitchens is a regular, as he keeps popping up in headlines. The catch phrase that caught my attention was that his political party choice is known only to him, but back to my Time magazine and their 10 weekly questions posed to someone who captures the readers’ imagination.

Well, a couple of weeks have passed since I read the quotes by Emilio Estevez. He’s the one playing the role of Bobby in the “looks to be a winner film” by the same name. About the Kennedy story: Will someone tell me what is meant by the phrase “This is where the music died.” I'm not trying to be coy. I really would like to know since I’m certain Emilio is an expert on all things Kennedy since he’s read all of the books about this famous family. It pains me to be stumped on this music thing.

Having been in the world of “you with ears and hear not” from my Bible, pearls of wisdom from the Hollywood set continue to enthrall me. I see that new best friends Paris and Britney are running around without panties. It warms my heart in a way. I have been worried that when the Material Girl is finally no longer able to invent herself anew and is six feet under, when she, too, becomes just a Hollywood Legend and literary whiz for children’s books and when Madonna is only a distant dream, who will take her place? Well wouldn't you know. It’s her “French kiss on the stage partner,” Britney.

I see in this week’s Time that Al Gore is the recipient of the 10 question piece. He is another clueless, just as John Kerry is. Please Democratic party, calm these two down. Al lost me when he gave Tipper the passionate kiss at the Convention. His demeanor has been compared to the exciting activity of watching paint dry. I say he’s wrong about global warming. However, I think if we give Iran a chance, they will warm our part of the globe instantly. Why am I surprised that John Kerry is addressing the Iraqi think tank members? He is like a wind up doll that is powered by the Energizer Bunny. He just keeps going and going. Oh, well. I think I’ll go watch the news today.


3 Reasons

Life Magazine November 30, 1942

Bring Out The Guns

Greg and I went to town today, armed with a grocery list from De'on and instructions to return with a perfect Christmas tree. We maneuvered Wal-Mart's aisles and managed to avoid running the elderly and children into the ground with our cart. It wasn't an easy feat because Greg had the cart heaped to the ceiling with De'on's provisions. By the time the last item on the list was crossed out, we pretty much needed a team of oxen to pull the cart to the check out line.

While we were driving home, Greg and I talked about our country's responsibilities for the war in Iraq. Our candor wouldn't endear us to our fellow citizens whose commitment to being politically correct outweighs their commitment to preserving the freedom we enjoy as Americans.

Greg and I believe that our war efforts are hobbled by those who insist that we treat the enemy with tenderness and understanding and that we extend olive branches to a people who repeatedly demonstrate they long ago abandoned any resemblence to anything human.

The enemy delcared war on us, and they're the ones who said it's a holy war, but we shy away from saying that this war has religious connections. We didn't delcare war on Islam, Islam declared war on us. Why are scared to admit it? The Islamic extremists operate without regard to civilized rules, but we're expected to fight them while our gloved hands are handcuffed to politcal correctness. We need to take off the gloves and let the enemy feel our unrestrained power.

During World War II, the enemy was portrayed as ... the enemy. Americans had no problems with identifying our enemies as a force that had to be destroyed. The terms for peace that the Allies submitted to Germany, Japan and Italy were unconditional surrender. We would accept nothing less, for we were convinced they were evil regimes who could not be allowed to survive.

We are now at war with another evil regime that hides beneath a cloak of religion. If Islam is a religion of peace as some say, then why haven't the majority of Muslims screamed in outrage at the hijacking of their faith by the extremists? Where is the anger? Where is the collective determination of the Muslims to eradicate the monsters who have put an evil face on their faith? Instead, there is silence from the Muslims. Again, they are the ones who said they are fighting a holy war against us. OK. Fine. Then blow them off the face of the earth. Isn't that what we do in war? Level their cities. Isn't that what we do in war. They'd level ours if they had the weapons to do it, and our complacency and apathy is going to ensure that they will one day have the weapons to attack our cities with weapons other than hijacked civilian planes.

Let's support our military in every way possible. Let's give the Islamic extremists the war they are so determined to wage. Sometimes a pest just has to be exterminated.

Nazi Nightmare

Life Magazine November 30, 1942

2nd Lt. Lonnie D. McCurry, USMC

2nd LT. Lonnie D. McCurry, USMC. Fought in Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima.

Uncle Lonnie will also be featured in the "Blood Is Thicker Than Water" series.

Roy Hobbs, United States Army, POW

Gunz Up remembers Roy Hobbs, United States Army. POW in the Philippines for three years before the unmarked ship he was on was bombed by friendly fire.

Petty Officer Third Class Charles Coulson, USN

Petty Officer Third Class Charles Coulson, USN. Was at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941
Made You Look.

International Prayer For Our Troops-Daily 11:09 A.M. CST

We thank you, dear Heavenly Father for our sons and daughters. And we ask that you will protect and comfort them. And that you'll guide them and bring them home safe. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Quin, age 5; Kaika, age 4, and Aaron, age 10 June 1993
Made You Look.

Breakfast In Panama

I became a single parent while in the Army stationed in Panama. The first morning in this new position will never be forgotten.

I awoke and went downstairs full of excitement. I was planning the day's activities with my two sons, 2 and 3 1/2 years old. Halfway down the stairs, I noticed white plume in the air. The boys decided to make breakfast. Cereal, flour, sugar, milk and butter covered the livingroom. The boys spent the next two hours in the tub.

I spent the time going back and forth cleaning the breakfast of choice out of their hair, off the livingroom floor and various other places. It took 2 1/2 hours to clean up the mess that took only 15 minutes to make. The lesson I learned that morning: never ending.

Virgie Bell's View

I understand where De'on is coming from when she writes about my vote not to use tax money for homes for low income people. I also know how she feels about hurting the majority to please the few. I believe with all my heart that helping others in time of need is required of those who prosper, but I have been around for a long time, and the Kenneth Lays of this world have just about done me in. Believe me, they are everywhere.

As you know, I have come to the point in my life where I accept only what I believe to be directed by God’s word. I'm certain that I disobey what I interpret, or misinterpret, every day. I have no righteousness at all other than that filthy cloth just like everyone. You of all people know what a relief it was when Greg told me that God looks only at the heart. When I do that, I am content.

We have all read in the Bible about beating swords into plowshares, but what about the passage that comes at a later date in the book of Joel 3:11? “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decisions is for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” The translation is valley of judgment. Joel was a prophet and was using the language of his time. I believe that today it is anything the prince of the power of the air can throw at us, and that is unlimited. Be it planes, missiles, floods or tornadoes, the whole lot of it.

I know there will be worse coming; if nothing else global warming will finally come. It is not here yet. We are still traveling around in that desert of confusion. Oh the children of Israel have finally come home. They have finally come back to the homeland, the one given to them by God, and nowhere have I read God has taken it away. I know he took the Jews away from their homeland. The same God is over us all. I know he resides in our hearts.

I believe spiritually is something that tastes sweet in the mouth and is bitter to the belly afterward -- a conflict, in other words. I am tired of the Jim Baker and Tammy Fayes or the immoral slugs who want us to allow men to have relationships with our 12-year-old boys. I have a deep distrust of late term abortions. I stayed out of the fray for years, but when you say a woman has a right to choose and will, by damn, kill a baby a-borning, then I am saying “not on my watch.” Suddenly you put something in my face, and my dad taught me "Any SOB can pin you to the wall, but it is your fault if you let that SOB push you through that wall.”

It is the duty of man to fear God and keep His commandments. I know what I feel is in the hearts of people even though they may not have the ability to read the Bible and translate it. On my very best day I am never as decent as Otto Dean or my Lisa. I know it is not within me to live as unselfishly as those two people. I am glad Greg cancelled your vote as I am sure that someone else cancelled his and mine. That is the way it is supposed to work.

When I lived in Littlefield I would go to my mother’s house and would watch the Democratic Convention with her. Mother and Daddy were yellow dog, and Mother knew exactly when the final vote was cast for or against her party, and she knew immediately. I was at her house when the voters spoke, and George H. W. Bush was elected. I remember distinctly that she slapped the table top with her hand and said, “The American people have spoken. George Bush is my president, and I'm behind him 100 percent.” It kind of makes me proud even now that she raised me.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Virgie Bell's View: Part One

Have you noticed how often we get a view of those who are famous just for being famous? Two in particular have struck me. I'm speaking, of course, of the Rev. Al Sharpton and Paris Hilton. I believe you could have a pro ‘Love your Mother’ group and rally for the cause and you would immediately see the reverend with his group of protesters screaming it was racist, and no, I don't mean this in reference to that dude who used to be on Seinfeld. What I am referring to is the shooting at the club in New York that is most famous for drugs and prostitution. I first heard of that when it was three black police officers and two white officers involved, one of whom was an unarmed undercover cop.

Well of course all of life is a stage show anymore, and I tried to get my mind around the fact that there were three black officers and one white, and how on earth did this constitute racial? I mean did that one white officer fire all of those 50 shots? Are we now allowing our officers of the law to carry Uzis instead of side arms? For it to be racial we would need stretch limos to carry more than four policemen to have a white majority in the shooting. Well anyway, all the officers have been suspended, which I agree has to be done, but it seems it goes before the grand jury which is alright with me, too, except for the fact of this being a racial crime of blacks on blacks. Now that is what I have trouble getting my mind around.

I found out the title of reverend is an honor granted to Mr. Sharpton by Mr. Sharpton. In the past this pillar of society was an actor and not a very famous one at that. All I can remember about his past is the Tywana Brawley incident. Of course we all remember where she was dumped in a garbage dumpster and his own party got the blame. It got nearly as much coverage as the Democratic Convention. I was a member in good standing of that party and really hated it, too, that the scandal received any attention. It turns out that Mr. Sharpton and his loyal followers were the ones who committed the dastardly deed. I saw him in the last presidential campaign. The young lady had been smeared with fecal matter using racial slurs, but here the reverend was was running for president of the USA. Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Of course if it is not sex with whomever for our famous Ms. Hilton, it’s who her next girl friend is. I love to keep up with the best friends of the nearly famous. If you missed it today her best friend is Britney Spears. Last week it was Nicole Richey. Ms. Hilton has as much trouble keeping best friends as Britney does husbands, and I am so glad that this information is right up there with the War on Terror. Grrrr.

Virgie Bell'sView: Part Two

On to the ones who are running for president or just plain popularity poll. Mayor Rudy is No. 1 on this list of 20, followed by Osama then McCain. Now their hats are in the ring for top job with Condi as fourth and good ol’ Bubba as fifth. Hillary Rodham Clinton was ninth with Sen. John Kerry last, or No 20. Mrs. Clinton will keep the Clinton name that she refused until her husband ran for president, whereas Sen. Kerry’s wife has opted out for her old name of Heinz again. I expect to see Chelsea Clinton run for president in the future. The Clintons will then become a political institution just as the Bushes and the Kennedys are. If we could all vote on the most famous soap opera, I feel it would go to these.

No news yet on whether the Rev. Sharpton will run for president. After all, he has one vote from Harvey no matter who runs. I heard Mr. Obama at the Democratic Convention proclaiming that he didn't see two Americas but only one where all are equal. When I heard Mr. Obama was the son of a goat herder (or whatever) in some Third World country, I was mighty impressed.

We are falling behind in education folks and I do mean WAY behind. Good old Willy Nelson will jump in there and support Sen. Obama, I feel certain. The editor of Time magazine said the senator was very green, and who is greener than our Willy, if you get my meaning. Oh well. All I can say is I see a bunch of candidates to vote against.

So I'll go on to my own little news. Jerry built a thing to hold our wreath on the front door. He welded a thing that will hold in a tornado. I have just one regret about it. Because he goes to bed about 7:30 p.m. or 8 p.m., which is also when I retire to do my reading, the lights on our Christmas tree and our front door wreath are turned off. So when they have the annual parade of lights, they just skip our house, and we still look like Scrooge.

We have a really nice home, a red brick that is the dividing line between the mansions and the blue collar homes. We are on the wrong side of the street, though. So if Santa Clause is hunting for me, I'm in the house that looks like the only blue collar one in the really nice part of town, the one that belongs to the family who can't pay the electric bill or doesn't celebrate Christmas, and remember I have been a good girl all year. And most of all I still ... SUPPORT OUR TROOPS.

Just A Note

It does me so much good to come here. Not to read my words, but to read Mom's, Kayla's, Steve's, and lately, the comments! I can't tell you what these do for us as writers. Feedback is important to everyone. I knew we had the readers because of the numbers, but it does the heart good to hear from you. I didn't put the counter up for a while, because I didn't want to get into a "numbers" thing, and then later, I thought, no, I want to know. Thank you readers. And thank you commentors.

At this point, I want to remind you about the submissions we ask for. Just send them to my email and put something in the subject area that clues me that you'd like to see it up. And if there's any of you who would like to be a regular contributer, please email me. We don't have rules really, so far, it's all pretty much worked. I think we're all wanting to attain the same goals, and it's okay to disagree and debate here. We just ask that it's respectful and in no way disrespectful to those in uniform or in grief of any form. We want this to be a place of freedom, encouragement, and a place to share concern or grief. Whether we like it or not, or agree or not, we are after all, in this together.

Steve will be here this evening. I'm picking up dog poo and other tedious chores--keeping me away from where I want to be, which is here. Writing and reading. Greg is off today and said he'd help me clean house. When I told Steve, he laughed and said, "Why didn't you tell him you'd just set there and look cute while he worked?" I told Steve that it'd been so long since I looked cute, it'd probably be easier to just get up and dust at this point!

I took about three mini-naps yesterday and each time I'd wake up, I'd dip into the french burnt peanuts and M&M's. The deepest thing I reflected on is why the blue and red ones taste so much better than the orange and yellow. I never got it figured out, but did catch up on some rest.

So, now I'm going to get up from here and go dust and clean bathrooms, but I can't wait to get back to my real work.

Have a great day, and one of us will be back tonight. Maybe even Greg!

Gunz, I love you being here and wish you'd do some stuff for us. Gunz and his love, Ebyjo, have the coolest site. You actually hear two rounds pop off on Freedom, GUNZ, Glory, and EBYJO when you first enter in. He has the coolest pictures and he's a Marine veteran from Desert Storm. Ebyjo is a secondary mathematics teacher, and where was she when I was so stuck in College Algebra? ;)

Love to all, especially our troops! Mushrooms, are you out there or in the thick of it all again?

Harrell, still waiting to hear from you and Diana. Let us know you're okay if at all possible.

International Prayer Time: Daily @11:09 A.M. CST

from God Calling November 29

If two of you shall agree.

I AM the Truth. Every word of Mine is true. Every promise of Mine shall be fulfilled.

First, "gathered together in My Name," bound by a common loyalty to Me, desirous only of doing My Will.

Then, when this is so, I am present too, a self-invited guest, and when I am there and one with you, voicing the same petition, making your demands Mine, then it follows the request is granted.

But what man has failed perhaps to realize is all that lies behind the words. For two to agree about the wisdom of a request, to be certain it should be granted, and will be granted (if it should be), is not the same as two agreeing to pray that request.

Russell, A.J., ed., God Calling, New York: 2002

Virgie Bell's View

Here is my advice to the party who will no longer be in power; lean back and enjoy what’s in store for the coming two years.

After reading the editorial in my newspaper, I see that Prissy Pelosi is making so many wrong choices in those she is choosing for her majority party. If there is a “Most Wanted” poster up in our Capitol, the images surely reflect the choices of her party, which is nearly having a late term abortion ... but she just keeps on keeping on.

I finally understand how those Chicks From Dixie feel, and just so you all know, I am embarrassed that Pelosi is a woman. Sure doesn’t do much for future women Presidents, if you know what I mean.

Now, we all know that bad news is what sells ... so we still have Harry Reid's little “two million dollar forgot to report land deal” to look forward to. Old Harry's explanation was "I bought some land and sold some land. End of story.” WANT TO BET? Between a war zone and some good old juicy tidbit here in the USA, we'll take the gossip every time ... We will also look into the facts behind those two college degrees perched beside Charlie Rangel's name. Could it be they were given as an honor instead of earned? Is this high school drop out as brilliant as that?

Johnny Carson laughingly remarked one time that the best thing for talk show hosts as far as Jimmy Carter was concerned, was the President's ever entertaining brother. How about it? Any other Brother Billy’s out there? We need to wrap our minds around this trouble with Iran. You know, just like before, when the Canadians had to come to our rescue and save our captured on American soil, namely our embassy in Iran? Jimmy Carter really did win his peace award. Nothing but nothing would make him go to war. I noticed he never does much about anything anymore. I still resent President Carter for selling the yacht that belonged to the people of the USA, even though I never gave it much thought until he sold it. I realize everything must go in order to reduce government waste, but the people’s yacht? I guess we should be glad he didn't sell the White House.

If you have a secret, rest assured we will find it out. Actually, we will believe just about anything. In this last election I voted “no” on an extra tax increase for low income houses. I have decided that some of this is just more pork and needs some oversight by its voters ... I really felt mean about it, but in just a few days, I found out that two of our government officials with annual incomes of over $100,000 and $73,000 were living in these houses. And rent free for a long time! One even was able to graze her horses, but here’s the real clincher: now that she has been caught, she’s trying to bargain future rents down. I guess if $73,000 is low income, that means Jerry and I qualify for food stamps. Just a little dig about how you don’t have to go to college to be dumb, and sometimes you get to be like Charlie Rangel — you get to govern.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Fallen of November

Gunz Up Salutes

Cpl. Joshua Alonzo from Dumas, Tx Dumas is where Steve is from. It's in between Sunray and Amarillo.

PFC Heath Warner

Memorial dedicated to The Fallen

November Sacrifice. This site is as updated as any I've found. Name, age, rank, unit, and location of loss are listed. There are currently 68 military losses for November thus far.

Marine Funeral at Arlington

Army Funeral at Arlington

Dear Families:

Thank you for your loved ones' service and sacrifice.

Young Weston's Eye

This is a story about my three year old nephew, Weston. Weston and Aaron did know each other, but Weston was quite too young to know what death was, just as any other three year old. When Aaron died Weston asked questions non- stop. Like " Where did Aaron go" and " Why did he have to die." People answered him " So he could be with God. " He never stopped asking. But it wasn't until a while later he blew us away with shocking words, especially me.

There is more than one of these periods of stomach dropping moments so pay attention... One day we walked outside with Weston, in our backyard. The adults were talking and Weston asked me to go to the other side of the yard with him. I think we were throwing a ball but the only part that captured my memory was when he said " Look, there is Aaron!" I asked him where and he pointed up to the sky and told me he was flying around. I kept on asking him again and again if that was what he really saw. He always said yes. There were on and off things of when he would say that he saw Aaron. One time Weston told his mother, Jes, that Aaron was floating in about about us. They did believe him and we all wondered in awe.

Later on in days my best friend Corrie came at my house. Weston and his parents came over. Weston asked if he could come in my room with Corrie and me. I said yes, which was a special occasion at the time because I never liked it when he came in my room. As usual he fished around in my stuff and I told him to stop. Corrie was sitting on my bed and I was reorganizing my things. Weston said " Hey there is Aaron," and we asked where. " Right there sitting on your bed." Corrie and I had our mouths agape and my stomache was crawling with butterflies. Then we asked Weston again if he was still there. (By the way, above my vanity was a picture of Aaron and me sitting in a chair.) Weston then told Corrie and me that Aaron flew back into the picture.

This was a very exciting moment for me. I strongly believe that young children can see a deminsion of which they can see spirits. It is an awesome thing, and those stories should be shared to spread belief, smiles, and tears. Because whoever left me that wonderful comment brought upcoming tears of joy. I do appreciate it when people share those things.

Father God, thank you for the safe return of The Mushrooms, and thank you for the safe return of Steve. Thank you for the life of Aaron and so many others who've given their lives for our safety. Bless those who fight, those who mourn, oh Father, please care for them and for their brothers who've fought along beside their loved one and are too, missing half of themselves. God bless you, Cruz and all of Aaron's brothers and family. Amen.
Made You Look.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I love you, Cruz and Mushrooms! Thank you for all you have sacrificed for me. Mom De'on
Made You Look.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Part 9 Shock & Awe--Dedicated to The Mushrooms

LCpl Jose Cruz and my son, LCpl Aaron Austin were a team. Thank you, Cruz, for allowing me to share this beautiful piece of yours. As you lovingly wrote it for me, I lovingly share it with others and dedicate it to the safe return of The Mushrooms. They are all present and accounted for!

Friday 25, June [2004]
By LCpl Jose Cruz, USMC

One day shy of two months ago exactly marks the worst day of my life. The window in my heart that was left open that day now lets in an icy gust of the entire length of my body. The fireball in the sky that puts out that energy draining heat has now disappeared below the horizon. Now a half moon looks down at me in my tactical pause. Its silvery light filtering through the wavy and inconsistent nylon pattern of the cammie netting that stands above us, held up by poles with plastic tentacles at the ends. These poles must look like giants with outstretched arms holding up the sky to the mosquitoes that come out at night only to harass and annoy me as I stand, or try to, a watchful and vigilant watch. Most of the time I spend fighting the little pestering insects though. It seems as if the bug repellent I spray on myself only attracts them even more, announcing a feast under the cammie netting. Like it screams “buffet tent;” with arrows that flash pointing towards my direction. But during the day it provides a nice refreshing shade, keeping the fireball’s heat to a bearable degree.

Everything outside of the cammie netting is an outline of buildings casting their shadows as the moon’s light floods down on the land. A running generator and the distant barking and howling of flea infested homeless dogs are the only sounds of the night along with the occasional menacing roar of fighter jet engines piercing the sky as they pass by.

There is a rumor that is lingering in the air like the rotting stench of trash and corpses in this country. There is talk about launching a full combat offensive again. Normally I would be pumped about this but something is not quite the same. I feel alone, like I’m missing something. Something that managed to escape through that open window in my heart. Something that used to give me energy, and pump me up before the attacks, raids and ambushes that we had done before. Something that used to tell me that everything would be okay, confidence booming in its voice, like the bass you can hear coming down from a teenager’s car two blocks down the road. And I know what I am missing…. I am missing my teacher. I am missing my roommate. I am missing my friend. I am missing my brother. I am missing my comrade. I am missing my dip and cigarette provider. I am missing my role model and hero. I am missing Aaron. And it is hard to think that he is no longer here. That I will no longer hear his echoing voice. His ability to convince me to do things for him. To have a beer with him (or Gentleman’s Jack), or party in Texas and California like we had planned to do. And I ask myself, why him, but I know that only God himself knows why, and I dare not question my Lord and Aaron’s savior. All I know is that we will meet again in the gates of heaven. I don’t know when, only time will tell.

A slight breeze rolls through, making the cammie netting shiver as if it knew what I was thinking, allowing some of the stars to peek through. And I know that one of those stars is Aaron, lighting my path and watching over us. But right now, I feel like the moon. I feel that the other half is missing….

William Harvey Grigsby, Jr. 1953
Made You Look.

Virgie Bell Pickrell Grigsby 1955
Made You Look.

Dear Mom

I come, bearing gifts.

You know that Dad is beautiful to me, just as you are. And I've told about his cancer before, Mom. I don't like writing it over and over. Dad was diagnosed 4 days before Aaron was killed. I've written a personal essay (so long ago) about this time of our lives that Dad and I shared.

You can be sure that every reader here either has a mom or dad or grandmother or grandfather that is just as beautiful to them as you are to me. Your age and all that it brings is 'art still in making.' You are beautiful to me now, Mom, more than ever.

The other day, on our drive, I looked down at your left hand, nestled against my right forearm, and I felt a tenderness so deep within me; it startled me. That wrinkled hand was so beautiful and so human, yes, like your flowers, the time draws nearer and nearer for me to be without my Mother. Unless nature tricks you too, again.

I have grown used to my dad's aging. It's been a process of many years. And for many years, Dad has surprised me with his strength and resolve. It's a new thing to think of my mother aging. You have been one of the strengths of my life.

As far as your eyes being shut; that quickly exits into the archives. But you know how we used to joke about it at Christmas and stuff. We have our memories of those things that were always. ;)

I watch in love's amazement, my mother and father aging. Just as you both watch me age, but love me the same as when you first held me. This, truly is the eccentric beauty of sacrifice.

Your gifts are highlighted below. I love you.

Christina's World

The Praying Hands

National Gallery of Art

Kathe Kollwitz: bio

Kollwitz: Self Portrait, Drawing, 1933. Charcoal on brown laid Ingres paper 18-1/4 "x 25". (Rosenwald Collection at NGA)

Virgie Bell's View: To De'on

November 26, 2006

I have been reading my Bible this morning. That is not something I do every morning ... it is the last thing I do before I turn out my reading lamp every night. I no longer go to the Word of God in order to justify my actions but in order to direct the paths of my journey on this earth.

I am just like everyone else on this planet; that is to say, a sinner saved by grace. Do you know the reason I can believe in heaven? It is because I believe so totally in hell. I really believe that evil prowls the deepest secrets of man and would change truth into a lie.

I gave up my attempt at reading my latest novel last night—when I do that—I know I am under extreme pressure. I knew after I read the same paragraph over and over (I guess you might say that is my version of God Calling.) The reason is this:

Just before my bath, I came into our office and was going to take a quick peek at the latest postings. De'on has wanted me to do a profile for Gunz Up and when I finally agreed to have a picture taken, of course, my eyes were shut. So she called me and said, “Mom you had your eyes shut and I don't think you would want that for your profile.” And low and behold there’s the photo right in front of me, the one of my eyes closed! You all have seen it now, so on the profile it will go.

This is not why I was distressed, I raised this girl, and I know her, so I’m going to give her an open letter about my fretfulness. What bothers me most is this: the picture of her Daddy. It breaks my heart that she put that picture up without an explanation.

Harvey has been in a horrible fight for his life. He has been battling cancer and has been in some of the toughest situations known on this earth. First of all, they had to cut into his throat; to do that they had to remove his teeth, and then he had radiation and chemo… and this went on and on and on. Finally, when he came home all the food he could ingest had to be put into a blender, and he had to drink it. Radiation burned his mouth to where he can still only wear false teeth a few meals a week. We still do not know if Harvey won the war, all we can say is he has won the battle ... at least for now.

I have seen the victims of this lost war. Indeed, I have sat with them and held their hands as they finally gave up the fight and went to sleep. Before Mama Curry died, I prayed over and over again for God to take her because her torture was so great.

I have come to the conclusion that beauty is a curse ... it is a crutch that we use and an effective one it is. It is also a weapon used against us by a society that cannot worship anything but a culture of beauty. And too, it is a mocker, and as we set in the midst of our old age infirmaries, it hides in the shadows of memory pricking our mind, whispering in our ear what once was and will never be again. The beauty of a man is like the flower that blooms for a season and fades quickly and then is gone. If anyone thinks differently, they are mistaken.

You throw the battle of old age in atop the ravaged battle of a cancer survivor and you have just about seen someone that has thrown themselves on a grenade to save their buddies. Cancer has no cure except to cut it out and cast it away…anything else is experimental…that is really the truth, no matter what anyone says.

De'on does look through the eyes of love and she sees her Dad with a grateful heart. This also a victory for all of us for it is the first time he has been able to travel the seventy miles to our son’s house in a while. Harvey also suffers from emphysema, so just crossing a room is a victory for him. De'on told me that her Dad had a new walker that he was really thrilled with. During Thanksgiving I had a chance to see that walker and let me tell you, he is far more proud of it than he was his second-hand Ford he had when we were first together… and rightly so…for it is a way to be out and about....

Harvey was always one of the most sociable creatures on earth. He is as proud of his walker as I am my new hearing aids. Old age is hard to bear. God tells us in the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes to: “Remember our Creator in the days of our youth while the evil days come not for when the eyes grow dim and the keepers of the house tremble. The grinders are few and the daughters of music are brought low....” Well, read it all for yourself ... but God’s conclusion of the whole matter is, to Fear God and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Let me add before all know how beautiful an Iris is when it blooms ... It is more beautiful and showy than any flower. The Iris blooms early while everything else is still sleeping the winter away. I had some of these lovely flowers and was gazing in awe, and yet could see that by tomorrow the most beautiful would start to fade. Just as I was feeling regret, then suddenly, it seemed as if out of nowhere, came this whirl-wind and blew loose grass and dust into my face, it reached under those fragile petals without bruising a one. As it passed from my yard into the air that spun it, I saw those beautiful flowers live for another day and I knew right there that I had just seen my God work the impossible.

Kayla asked me one day what my favorite book was and I told her I hoped I had yet to read my favorite book; well, let me qualify that statement by saying The Holy Bible is my favorite and I hope I never finish it, for it is without a doubt the Word of God . As for the other thousand books on my shelves, well Kayla, I still look forward to reading my favorite.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Virgie Bell's View: Part I

If anyone believes for one minute that things in Washington DC will change because of the recent election, I have a news flash for you; our nation’s leaders will continue to emulate Hollywood. They will remain so enamored of themselves, they will not be able to see the forest for the trees. The foreseeable future predicts the gridlock we’re currently in will remain fixed.

It seems to me that our President is despised for being a redneck, and being a redneck myself, it is easily recognizable to me, this condescending disgust of the redneck. It’s as if the majority of the press and the liberals verbally attack our Commander In Chief for statements like, “Wanted dead or alive ... .”

“You are with us or against us,” just doesn't go over too well in our nation’s capitol. I agree with him wholeheartedly, or maybe I just understand plain statements. Personally, I have nothing against a Texan or any other redneck for that matter. There is a difference in a redneck and a plain old hick.

I’ll put it in language Hollywood can understand. John Wayne's roles were by and large, redneck characters. He was beloved by all, but then he became so yesteryear, and then the Duke was gone. Marlon Brandon was not a redneck. He could scream Stella or fill his mouth with cotton and play the Godfather with equal aplomb. Make no mistake about it, Brandon was good and I loved the abilities of the Duke and Brandon alike, but by the end of his life, Brandon became so full of himself; it was like viewing a tragic comedy. I cannot imagine John Wayne grabbing Larry King and kissing him full on the lips, but then I have trouble imagining anyone kissing Larry King on the lips at all.

I mention all of this because it seems that Hollywood has now inundated our newspapers with their words of wisdom. Just as men will grab the sports section, I grab for the editorials. Consider the newspaper that is daily delivered to my door. This past Thursday there was an article in the Albuquerque Journal, authored by none other than Michael Moore, “A Liberal Feels Conservatives' Pain." In it, Moore listed twelve promises to the losers—meaning all of us poor-slob-has-beens.

Our political system is so overwhelmed with good acting that we still are trying to find that straight line in the late night fog. We have only one thing our system cares about and that is a vote.

I’m a one vote person. I have voted against candidates for so long, I don't know if I could vote with a full and happy heart for anyone. I am a one vote redneck. I vote the party ticket, and yes, it is hard because whatever else we may be, we all are still human. We all have our Foley’s and our John Kerry’s. We always will. They are all human and convinced in their views. We who vote the party choose our contractor and give him the tools of his trade, or of his choice, to build our system into a working order. We are definitely not a block of voters; sadly, we are the silent majority. We usually speak only once every two to four years.

I read in the editorials today that it is the women that shaped this election and we [the women]are only interested in the kitchen table issues.

Well, thank you very much for putting us in our place, Dear Editor. You see us as poor and misguided--your view of us it that we only care if our children are better off than we are ... financially ... after we are gone. But it is our lower class hearts, our uneducated voices that deeply care and write and worry that the next generation is still even "here" at all to enjoy health or social benefit. The notion that we do not care about other world issues is as outdated as swan feathers are for a dress on Oscar Night.

Virgie Bell's View: Part II

I only had one year of college. I took oil painting, color and design, drawing and art appreciation. I finished at the top of my classes too. As luck would have it, I never had anything I could display in my home. The subject matter was stupid.

The entry I really excelled in was a four foot by four foot painting of a jewelry making machine and four jars of canned goods falling... .Well luck was with me. I had really gotten into canning fancy-pack-green-beans in the midst of a busy season the summer before. My green beans were so artistic that my instructor asked to keep mine for his still life’s. I was so glad that any of us had anything he wanted to display that I handed them over instantly.

All of the students had to get pickup trucks to get our art work home, and if you haven't tried to get a four by four stretched canvas in the back-end of a pickup truck during a strong wind, well then, I just don't know what to say. Understand now, we all guarded this painting as if it was a Monet. My gosh, we spent the entire year performing that trick.

Before I was a college girl, I took beginner paint classes in the back of a local paint store and in just a few lessons I won the blue ribbon for the advanced division at our county fair. The art director from Texas Tech was the judge that year and the ribbon was for a still life of a saddle, a pair of boots with comanchero spurs, chaps and a saddle blanket. One of the judge’s assistants remarked that the painting was not his kind of thing, but the artist sure knew saddles, which is not so. I'm a redneck, not a cowgirl. The only saddles I had ever paid any attention to had tall dark handsome cowboys in them. But you know it looked like a saddle and set like a saddle and it didn't quack like a duck ... so it was a pretty good guess that the saddle spoke for itself. It hangs proudly in my home today.

I couldn't tell you for the life of me where my college project ended up ... I finally got it home to a storage shed and took one look at it and asked myself, What are you trying to say? It reminded me of the graffiti on a rusty old Santa Fe box car that I used to see sitting on old and abandoned railroad tracks. I never went back to college... I was ready to paint things I was proud of ... I never found out what became of my instructor, the one who loved my green beans. We ate mine. I will say this : Michael Moore, just because you have us rednecks in "High Noon," keep in mind the words to the theme song and don’t forsake us my darling. And above all else, get out of my editorials.

A quick note on the net news today. Fergie, the royal mistake, wants to be on Dancing With The Stars. Can you believe that? Duh...I also want to send a message here to my kids ... I no longer want you to get me the Desert Rose dishes ... I am trying to get Jerry to get them so I can finish out my pink kitchen and I need them now. He hasn't said, “No,” so chances are looking good. I truly hope everyone had a blessed Thanksgiving. I have always said my children are my success story. I am so very proud of each of you and thank you for affirming that belief this Thanksgiving.


Starry Night: You must read this!

I have a story to tell, but it has been known to be a secret. But I am going to type it anyways. Please know that this is a deep secret even though I have already told people.

One day I went and hung out with my cousin. Later that night we went to the country and looked at the stars. Hold on though because I know what you are thinking, and no we aren't kissing cousins because I have been told that. He is simply my older cousin and this is a story about him being my cousin and friend. So he pulled down to tailgate so we could have a sit. He told me that he had encounters with Jesus. I asked about them and he said that that was for me to find out. So he did tell me that it is for people that seek hard for their purpose in life. I had no idea what he was talking about so he told me that if I really did want it I could find it. He said your purpose in life is something you would never think of in a million years and it is shocking. As much as I hate telling his secret he had thoughts of suicide and was in the making of attempting it when Aaron's spirit came to him. This caught me off guard. It isn't everyday that you hear people seeing your dead cousin's spirit. My cousin was crying.

Now of course I don't know the exact words but this what I got. Aaron asked him what he was doing and that trying to attempt suicide was just stupid.
He told him as well about purposes of life and that his was very special ( He didn't say what it was) and that he should know it. Then he did. Of course now my cousin is shocked and doesn't know what is going on. I don't know if he asked but Aaron also told him that if you believe in God and believe that Jesus walked this earth you will not feel that pain of your death. Instead you will see a light and be able to watch yourself die. By this time I was hold my tears back as hard I could. But you will feel the pain if you don't believe. What happens then is still a mystery to me. Now to my cousin I don't know. He told me that Aaron told him that he needed to come down to us ( his family) and spend as much time with us he could. He said that why Aaron has talked to him, besides the fact of his attempt to suicide, was unknown to him. He said God and his ways are so very, very, very mysterious and that is story was only a grain of sand compared to all about God.

This story has changed me in ways that my family wouldn't even really know. I hope it some how affects you in a marvelous way and that it helps you believe a lot more. Don't ask me if it is true because I do not know. All I can say is that the look on his face was something that you wouldn't normally see on a liar's, and the way his voice sounded was anything of a liar's. And even though you can't explain, most the time you just know and feel what is the truth. I guess this no longer a secret but a strong story. I hope that he would never get mad at me for telling this because I could tell this needed to be a secret but show respect towards it. It still is deep in my heart's core.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Part 8; The Arts
Made You Look.

Eddie Cantor Life. Feb. 23, 1942
Made You Look.

Harry Wickey (right) welcomes a friend from downstairs inhis studio overlooking Hell's Kitchen in New York. At right is one of Wickey's few large works. Life. Feb. 23, 1942
Made You Look.

Harry Wickey: His sculpture of Hell's Kitchen strikes new note in U.S. realism.
Made You Look.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Part 8 - Tribute to Journalism, WWII

The following is a copied in full article from Life Magazine published February 23, 1942.


Carl Mydans, a boy from Boston whose father is an oboist, and Shelley Smith, a girl from Palo Alto whose father was a professor of journalism at Stanford University, met in LIFE's editorial office a few years ago. Carl was a photographer, Shelley, a researcher. Pretty soon they got married and formed LIFE's first and most brilliant photographer-reporter team.

In three years Carl and Shelley Mydans covered 45,000 miles and four wars. In 1940 Carl took his camera to the Russo-Finnish front while Shelley sent reports in from Sweden and privately worried about Carl. Carl covered the Fall of France, joined Shelley in Lisbon . Back in the U.S., they were sent to the ominous Far East, first to China, and then to the Philippines.

The day of Pearl Harbor, the Mydans' story on the defense preparations of the Philippines arrived in New York. It was the last picture story to come from them. When the Japs took Manila Jan. 2, they also captured Carl and Shelley Mydans. Presumably they are interned in a Japanese concentration camp.

After graduating from Boston University, Carl found himself so excited by pictures that he joined the photopgrahic staff of the Resettlement Administration. When LIFE started, he joined its staff. Shelley Smith, who once wanted to be a dancer, came to New York, worked on the old Literary Digest instead. She joined LIFE's research staff and found herself quite content to be a journalist.

Carl Mydans, 34, is a chunky fellow with an amiable manner and a way of wangling himself anywhere. He always got hard photographic jobs--sandhogs in tunnels, sailors on submarines, truck drivers on cross--country runs. Shelley is 26, a slim, pretty girl with incredible patience in tracking down facts.

The last message their LIFE colleagues received from the Mydans' before the utter silence of war shut down on them, was a cablegram from Manila the day after Christmas. It read:

"Christmas morning was very quiet. Three raids kept us close to our base. We opened our presents under a tiny tree in our room, while a Filipino serenader below sang God Bless America. Manilans first choked on the words 'Merry Christmas,' but soon found the toast of the day: 'May this be the worst Christmas we ever spend.' Christmas night we can laugh because we are still free."

Luce, Henry R., ed. "Speaking of Pictures" Life Magazine 23/02/1942: 1 page.

Left:The photo-reporter is a new journalistic phenomenon. After photographing Finnish war, Mydans got to Sweden and, though ill with scurvy, wrote vivid account of his battlefront experiences. Right: The photo researcher is the other half of the team. In Chungking, by candlelight behind a blackout curtain, Shelley Smith Mydans types her notes on the same machine Mydans used in Sweden.
Made You Look.

The Fall of France was photographed by Mydans, Wearing a British war correspondent's uniform he took pictures of the tragic flight of French fugitives as he rushed along with them, barely a day ahead of German armies.
Made You Look.