Daily Archives: May 25, 2009

Barry Mills' 2009 Bowdoin Commencement Address

At Bowdoin, as a residential community that is appropriately self-critical, we often lament the “Bowdoin bubble” and the perception of a dominant culture or political persuasion on campus. And yet, you haven’t really seen anything yet as you leave Bowdoin and many of you will find yourselves in self-selected and self-reinforcing communities of like-minded people. You all may be surprised to learn that Bowdoin is truly a place of diversity in the broadest sense as compared to the communities you may choose to live in. You will be well served if you remember your education at Bowdoin ”” the liberal arts education. And, please remember the art of the “perhaps.” James Freedman, the former president of Dartmouth, writes, “that is why a liberal education seeks to impress upon students that one of the most important words in the English language is ‘perhaps,’ and that we would all do better if we prefaced our most emphatic statements with the modest qualifier. Liberal education teaches the importance of tempering profound convictions with a measure of tolerance and a judicious sense of humility.” These are lessons well learned at Bowdoin and are lessons, that perhaps, you will remember as you leave the relative “safeness” of this learning and living community.

And I remind you of the most underrated component of leadership: a sense of humor. A reminder to us all that as we seek to lead through serious issues and problems, that we leave room in our sense of ourselves not to take ourselves too seriously; a sense of perspective and irony is essential. Dwight Eisenhower reminded us that ” a sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” And from T.S. Eliot: “Humor is also a way of saying something serious.”

Wonderful stuff–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces, Spirituality/Prayer

The History of Memorial Day

Traditional observance of Memorial day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

There are a few notable exceptions. Since the late 50’s on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing. In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day. More recently, beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed day for Memorial Day, the Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye’s Heights (the Luminaria Program). And in 2004, Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Military / Armed Forces

Tim Howard: Achieving His Goal

I caught this on the morning run. There is just so much here: Two cultures, England and America, separated by a common language, the power of a devoted single mother, the challenge of overcoming huge obstacles, and many more highlights. Watch it all–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

A Picture: The Three Harmon children at Nathaniel's Graduation this past Saturday

That is Abigail on the left, Nathaniel in the middle, and Selimah on the right.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Education, Harmon Family

Steven Schooner: Don't Contractors Count When We Calculate the Costs of War?

Despite the light that Memorial Day will shine, briefly, on the U.S. death tolls in Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t expect an accurate accounting of the real human cost of our military actions abroad. The numbers you’ll see — mostly likely just under 5,000 fatalities — won’t tell the whole story.

As of June 2008 (the most recent reliable numbers available publicly), more than 1,350 civilian contractor personnel had died in Iraq and Afghanistan supporting our efforts. About 29,000 contractors had been injured, more than 8,300 seriously.

But don’t expect President Obama to remember or thank the contractor personnel who died supporting our troops or diplomatic missions. Instead, expect to see contractor personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be portrayed as expendable profiteers, adventure seekers or marginalized members of society who are not entitled to the same respect or value given to members of the military.

Read it all. When I read this I thought of a friend of mine who worked as an EMT who was always troubled by how often in certain crisis situations leaders would thank the firemen and women and the police but not the EMT’s. Since he noted that to me I have been surprised by how many times it occurs–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Job Losses Push Safer Mortgages to Foreclosure

As job losses rise, growing numbers of American homeowners with once solid credit are falling behind on their mortgages, amplifying a wave of foreclosures.

In the latest phase of the nation’s real estate disaster, the locus of trouble has shifted from subprime loans ”” those extended to home buyers with troubled credit ”” to the far more numerous prime loans issued to those with decent financial histories.

With many economists anticipating that the unemployment rate will rise into the double digits from its current 8.9 percent, foreclosures are expected to accelerate. That could exacerbate bank losses, adding pressure to the financial system and the broader economy.

“We’re about to have a big problem,” said Morris A. Davis, a real estate expert at the University of Wisconsin. “Foreclosures were bad last year? It’s going to get worse.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Iran sends warships to Gulf of Aden – Navy

Iran has sent six warships to international waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to show its ability to confront any foreign threats, its naval commander said on Monday.

Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, quoted by the ISNA news agency, made the announcement five days after Iran said it test-fired a surface-to-surface missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles), putting Israel and U.S. bases in the area within reach.

Iran said on May 14 it had sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden to protect oil tankers from the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter against attacks by pirates but ISNA did not make clear whether they were among the six Sayyari talked about.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iran, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces

Iran's Ahmadinejad rejects Western nuclear proposal

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday rejected a Western proposal for it to “freeze” its nuclear work in return for no new sanctions and ruled out any talks with major powers on the issue.

The comments by the conservative president, who is seeking re-election in a June 12 presidential vote, are likely to further disappoint the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, which is seeking to engage Iran diplomatically.

The United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain said in April they would invite Iran to a meeting to try and find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear row.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iran, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces

A Local Editorial: Our vast Memorial Day debt

The epic history of sacrifice by America’s armed forces fittingly commands considerable attention on this Memorial Day. And that noble service persists. Our indispensable men and women in military uniform have not only sustained this nation, they have spread ”” and continue to spread ”” the blessings of liberty to distant lands.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Fact Sheet: Facts about Veteran's Affair's National Cemeteries

–Volunteers donated approximately 482,000 hours at national cemeteries during 2008.

–More than 7.7 million people visited VA national cemeteries in 2008.

–With laws passed in 1999 and 2003, Congress directed VA to establish 12 new national cemeteries. Nine of them have opened in these states: Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, California and Florida. The final three, Alabama National Cemetery, near Birmingham; Bakersfield National Cemetery, California; and Washington National Crossing National Cemetery, near Philadelphia, will open during 2009.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Patterns

I walk down the garden-paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden-paths.
My dress is richly figured,
And the train
Makes a pink and silver stain
On the gravel, and the thrift
Of the borders.
Just a plate of current fashion,
Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes.
Not a softness anywhere about me,
Only whalebone and brocade.
And I sink on a seat in the shade
Of a lime tree. For my passion
Wars against the stiff brocade.
The daffodils and squills
Flutter in the breeze
As they please.
And I weep;
For the lime-tree is in blossom
And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the splashing of waterdrops
In the marble fountain
Comes down the garden-paths.
The dripping never stops.
Underneath my stiffened gown
Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin,
A basin in the midst of hedges grown
So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding,
But she guesses he is near,
And the sliding of the water
Seems the stroking of a dear
Hand upon her.
What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown!
I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground.
All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths,
And he would stumble after,
Bewildered by my laughter.
I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes.
I would choose
To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths,
A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover.
Till he caught me in the shade,
And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me,
Aching, melting, unafraid.
With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops,
And the plopping of the waterdrops,
All about us in the open afternoon–
I am very like to swoon
With the weight of this brocade,
For the sun sifts through the shade.

Underneath the fallen blossom
In my bosom,
Is a letter I have hid.
It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke.
“Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell
Died in action Thursday se’nnight.”
As I read it in the white, morning sunlight,
The letters squirmed like snakes.
“Any answer, Madam,” said my footman.
“No,” I told him.
“See that the messenger takes some refreshment.
No, no answer.”
And I walked into the garden,
Up and down the patterned paths,
In my stiff, correct brocade.
The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun,
Each one.
I stood upright too,
Held rigid to the pattern
By the stiffness of my gown.
Up and down I walked,
Up and down.

In a month he would have been my husband.
In a month, here, underneath this lime,
We would have broke the pattern;
He for me, and I for him,
He as Colonel, I as Lady,
On this shady seat.
He had a whim
That sunlight carried blessing.
And I answered, “It shall be as you have said.”
Now he is dead.

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk
Up and down
The patterned garden-paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
The squills and daffodils
Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow.
I shall go
Up and down
In my gown.
Gorgeously arrayed,
Boned and stayed.
And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace
By each button, hook, and lace.
For the man who should loose me is dead,
Fighting with the Duke in Flanders,
In a pattern called a war.
Christ! What are patterns for?

–Amy Lowell (1874 – 1925), Patterns

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

O CAPTAIN! my Captain!

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up””for you the flag is flung””for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths””for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

–Walt Whitman (1819”“1892)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

We Here Highly Resolve

“”¦that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion ”” that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain”¦”

–Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Military / Armed Forces

Support for Veterans from Veterans

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces