Wednesday, November 12, 2014


   “Some folks inherit star-spangled eyes
They send you down to war
And when you ask them, ‘How much should we give?’
They only answer, more, more, more.”
            Clarence Clearwater Revival, “Fortunate Son”

A huge throng attended the Concert for Valor: Saluting America’s Veterans on the National Mall in D.C., which HBO carried live.  Particularly awesome were David Grohl and Bruce Springsteen joining the Zac Brown Band, which opened the show, for a gutty rendition of Clarence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son.”  Springsteen later performed an acoustic version of “Born in the U.S.A.” that sounded more like a dirge than a celebratory anthem.  The Black Keys were tremendous, but the servicemen in the crowd seemed most excited when the heavy metal band Metallica, introduced by Jack Black, came on.  They did not perform “One,” the moving tale of a wounded vet (“Landmine has taken my sight, taken my speech, taken my hearing, taken my arms, taken my legs, taken my soul, left me with life in hell”) – just as well - but their numbers had plenty of references to the scourge of war and the folly of blind patriotism.  They opened with these lines from “For Whom The Bell Tolls:” 
“Make his fight on the hill in the early day
Constant chill deep inside
Shouting gun, on they run through the endless grey
On they fight, for the right, yes but who's to say?
For a hill men would kill why? They do not know
Stiffened wounds test their pride
Men of five, still alive through the raging glow
Gone insane from this pain that they surely know.”
In “Master of Puppets” they sang:
“Master of Puppets I'm pulling your strings
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams
Blinded by me, you can't see a thing
Just call my name, 'cause I'll hear you scream.”

As military head-bangers came on stage, James Hetfield exclaimed, “We finally get to play for our heroes,” then launched into “Enter Sandman,” with lyrics about dreams of war, dreams of liars, dreams of dragon’s fire and of things that will bite.”  The crowd went wild.  I wish Jay Keck were alive to enjoy it.  Bringing out Rihanna and Eminem to close the show was anti-climactic, and Eminem’s multi-use of the “F-bomb” was pointless.
 Linda Keck sent me a couple more poems his late husband Jay wrote, as well as an anonymous one he admired entitled, “Bury Me with Marines.”  Here’s how it concludes – RIP, Jay, Semper Fi:
The Marines I knew were commonplace
They didn't want the war;
They fought because their fathers and
Their fathers had before.
They cursed and killed and wept...
God knows they're easy to deride...
But bury me with men like these;
They faced the guns and died.

It's funny when you think of it,
The way we got along.
We'd come from different worlds
To live in one where no one belongs,
I didn't even like them all;
I'm sure they'd all agree.
Yet I would give my life for them,
I know some did for me.

So bury me with Marines, please,
Though much maligned they be.
Yes, bury me with Marines, for
I miss their company.
We'll not soon see their likes again;
We've had our fill of war.
But bury me with men like them
Till someone else does more.”

Bill Carey passed on a “Veterans for Peace” photo from Cathy Browning and a profile about Medgar Evers from Zinn Education Project, adding: “Purdue University Mitch Daniels doesn’t think you should read this.  Go ahead anyway”:
  On this Veterans Day we remember Medgar Evers who returned from active duty in WWII to be turned away from the polls when he tried to vote. He dedicated himself to fighting for voting rights; investigating race-based murders of African Americans including Emmett Till, Rev. George W. Lee, and more as NAACP field secretary; organizing NAACP Youth Councils; supporting James Meredith's right to attend Ole Miss; and more until he was murdered in June of 1963, leaving behind his wife and three young children.”

In his autobiography, entitled “Valor,” Roy Dominguez wrote that his dad served in Germany at the end of World War II, as did his uncle, David Dominguez, who was like a brother to his dad.  After the war, to supplement his income, David joined the army reserves.  When the Korean War started, he was called back to active duty and died near Koilli, South Korea, in March of 1951.  Roy wrote: “My dad for the res of his life never forgot the day David left to report for duty.  The discussion about David always brought on a surge of emotional pain and watery eyes.”

David had off from school due to it being Veterans Day, so we played board games.  Shut out, I blew an opportunity to win Acquire but made BLTs on toast.

Chancellor William Lowe announced that Vice Chancellor David Malik will be leaving IUN in less than a year to return to IUPUI. Among his accomplishments was restructuring the centers for Urban and Regional Campus Excellence (CURE) and Innovation and Scholarship in Teaching and Learning (CISTL).  Under the leadership of Ellen Szarleta CURE is involved in numerous community outreach projects.  Among other things, CISTL, directed by Chris Young, holds workshops to train faculty how to teach online courses.  I wrote Malik, who came in January 2009, when IUN desperately needed a strong academic leader:

Dear David,

I am sorry you are leaving IUN.  You arrived at a time when the university was rudderless in terms of academic direction and provided transformational leadership, including mentoring younger colleagues who will be able to carry on after you leave.  Thanks for asking me to participate in an oral history of FACET, a project that brought me into contact with the talented Aaron Pigors and enabled me to use my talents in a worthy project and interview a variety of innovative teachers, including you.  Thank you also for strategizing with me on ways to make Steel Shavings magazine sustainable; to that end I intend to donate $10,000 annually to insure its survival and continue to edit an annual issue until I can find a successor to replace me. I also appreciate that you recommended Anne Balay for promotion and tenure, recognizing that her value to the university outweighed the questionable objections of her chair and dean.

Three of your distinguished predecessors left significant academic legacies.  William Neil, realizing that the liberal arts were the heart and soul of the university, built up strong English and History departments that at their peak had twice the number of full-time faculty as today.  Among Lloyd Rowe’s many accomplishments was participation in launching on our campus the School of Public and Environment Affairs.  Similarly, Kwesi Aggrey helped bring about a master’s degree program in Liberal Studies.  In the time left to you, perhaps you might consider ways to add to your legacy, such as reviving IUN’s campus summer program (gutted by online offerings) or creating an endowed chair (in Chemistry, perhaps) or a fellowship (like Harvard Fellows) that would bring distinguished scholars with an interest in Northwest Indiana to IUN for a year.  No matter what problems you tackle, I know your final months on campus will be worthwhile and, hopefully, fulfilling to you personally.

In short, thanks for six exciting years.  You will be missed.

In my letter I could have included Mary Russell, second in command under the much-maligned Hilda Richards.  Russell believed strongly in the mission of the Calumet Regional Archives and matched an offer that Steve McShane received from another university.  A couple years ago, David Malik offered Steve an administrative position at a significantly higher salary, but he turned it down because he couldn’t get assurances that the Archives would get a full-time replacement.  Like Ron Cohen and I, Steve regards the Archives as his most important academic legacy.
Larissa Dragu (above) and Jackie Walorski

Northwest News reported that senior Larissa Dragu was an administrative assistant to Indiana’s Second District Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, who succeeded Joe Donnelly when he ran successfully for the Senate.  Between 2000 and 2004 Walorski lived in Romania and with her husband founded Impact International to provide medical supplies to children.  Born in Romania, Larissa may have heard of their work.

Here are a few of Times columnist Al Hamnik’s analogies about the pitiful Chicago Bears:
  “The Bears are a stinky dumpster fire.
  If the Bears’ leaky secondary were a dam, they’d evacuate the town.
  [Defensive] players can’t stop a sneeze with Kleenex.
  The Tin Man has more heart.”

For Nicole Anslover’s class I reread Hoosier Ernie Pyle’s most famous wartime column, “The Death of Captain Waskow,” filed from the front lines in Italy in January of 1944.  Waskow’s body returned to camp lashed onto the back of a mule.  Pyle wrote:

“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.”

Correspondent Edgar Jones reported 13 months later from Iwo Jima, a volcanic island where 20,000 Japanese died.  Of the 25,000 American casualties, nearly 7,000 lost their lives. On D Day plus eight Jones came upon a section of the beach designated to serve as an American cemetery.  He wrote:

  “The chaplains were endeavoring to identify each body and hold a brief, individual service for each man to be buried in the black sands of the barren island.  Naturally the chaplains and the burial parties were far behind in their work.  The dead were brought in faster than they could be buried.
On the afternoon I walked by, there was half an acre of dead Marines stretched out so closely together they blanketed the beach for two hundred yards.  The stench was overpowering.  There, in mangled lots, not laid in neat rows, was part of the price paid for Iwo.
  Whether Iwo will have any lasting military significance is something which men out here argue about. . . .  I cannot evaluate the battle for Iwo objectively.  The Marines fought with courage and determination seemingly beyond human capabilities.  They died the hard way.” 

Iowa’s Senator-elect Joni Ernst brags about growing up castrating hogs on her family’s farm and promised that when she got to Washington, she’d make the big spenders squeal.  Angry that Democrats ran away from Obama, Bill Maher joked that if Ernst went looking for Democrats’ balls, she’d have trouble finding any.  One of Maher’s guests was New Hampshire Senator Bernie Sanders, a socialist who predicted that, now more than ever, corporate interests will dictate the agenda of the new Congress.  Let’s hope Obama stands up to them.

The European Space Agency has landed a robot probe satellite on a comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  It bounced twice before setting down on the side of a crater that might inhibit its batteries being recharged by solar power.  Still, it’s an impressive achievement, demonstrating the value of international cooperation.  That’s the way the space program should have been organized from the very beginning. 

I pinned a photo of Anne Balay speaking about “Steel Closets,” to the bulletin board of IUN’s Robin Hass Birky Memorial Women’s Studies Room in Savannah Center, where she gave a talk last spring.  On the plaque outside the room was the Geoffrey Chaucer quote, “And gladly [s]he would learn and gladly teach” – doubly appropriate because Robin taught “The Canterbury Tales.”  I thought of putting Anne’s photo on the English Department bulletin board but figured it wouldn’t last long.  Anne is on her way to Puerto Rico to accept an award from the National Women’s Studies Association. The keynote speaker at the conference is bell hooks, who wrote in “Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics”:
            Whenever domination is present love is lacking. Loving parents, be they single or coupled, gay or straight, headed by females or males, are more likely to raise healthy, happy children with sound self-esteem. In future feminist movement we need to work harder to show parents the ways ending sexism positively changes family life. Feminist movement is pro-family. Ending patriarchal domination of children, by men or women, is the only way to make the family a place where children can be safe, where they can be free, where they can know love.”

After two mediocre games I bowled a 178, but Valpo Muffler, whose leadoff man, Denny rolled a 733, swept us despite Rob, Dick, Mel, and I all finishing about our averages.  Our only chance came in the second game, but we needed John to double, and he left a seven-ten split.   Bob McCann (whose wife Shannon rolled her ankle getting up when her leg was half-asleep and was limping) announced that it was Ed St. Jean’s 76th birthday; a guy nearby said, “I hope I’m still alive at that age.”  I second that emotion.  Ed, who bears a resemblance to longtime East Chicago mayor Robert “Hollywood Bob” Pastrick, left a bunch of ten-pins (“my friend all night,” he lamented) but finished strong with four strikes in a row.  When I congratulated Denny on his series, he replied: “It was a long time coming.”

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