What was so awful about it?

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, December 31, 2008

“If I never learnt nothing else out of pap, I learnt that the best way to get along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way.” — Huck Finn

I think Huckleberry shared some good advice there. In the book a good friend lent me on American literature, the question is asked regarding Huck: “What changes and growth can we see in Huck from childhood to maturity?”

Perhaps we could all be thinking about this, as we get ready to look into the New Year. Some of us have many years to think back on, but most of us “seasoned ones” still have the where-with-all to look back on our own “roots” and early childhood, those first days of school. Then it was the transition from elementary school to middle school, for us it was called junior high, and then senior high.

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I guess our parents still influenced us, as did our peer groups. Way back when when I was in school we were all one. Going into junior high moved us out of the elementary schools where there were two classrooms of students your own age when most of us paid attention. Of course there were times our minds wandered. In junior high, the other two classrooms of the various elementary schools joined our two classes and created a new world.

For me, this occurred at Austin High School. This was just after it had been a kindergarten through 12th grade system with the “junior college” occupying a couple corridors of the third floor where many of us went after graduating from the same building.

This was where Mr. Rupert introduced Vietnam to many of us. I think at the time the military only had “advisors” over there. It might have been called Indo-China on Mr. Rupert’s map. Then Vietnam was divided into North and South Vietnam and the north were the “communists,” and there was nothing worse in the eyes of America then. I listened to what Mr. Rupert had to say. It was hard not to listen to what Mr. Rupert had to say. Yet I wondered what it was that was so awful about communism. This was never clearly explained.

After becoming a teacher myself, actually beginning in Austin, but leaving not far into the next New Year, I went out west and taught until I was drafted; eventually making my way to Vietnam.

At this point, I want to share a poetic piece From Both Sides Now, the poetry of the Vietnam War and its aftermath entitled: “Corporal Charley Chungtu, U.S.M.C.” by Bryan Alec Floyd

“This is what the war ended up being about: We would find a V.C. village, and if we could not capture it or clear it of Cong, we called for jets. The jets would come in, low and terrible, sweeping down, and screaming, in the first pass over the village. Then they would return, dropping their first bombs that flattened the huts to rubble and debris. And then the jets would sweep back again and drop more bombs that blew the rubble and debris to dust and ashes. And then the jets would come back once again, in a last pass, this time to drop napalm that burned the dust and ashes to just nothing. Then the village that was not a village anymore was our village.”

Were they communists?

And now of course we have our eyes on the Bush legacy and we have First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defending Bush’s administration, with Rice stating, “Achievements sometimes need time to pass before we know how good they are.”

I guess that’s one way.

I’ve read where military recruiters are personally having a difficult time, and often they are post Iraqi soldiers. I’m not sure how many national guardsmen come from well-to-do families or if they do as in the case of our present President, who was able to maneuver around his duty, as I understand it.

Lately, I’ve been searching high and low for a New Year’s resolution. Maybe I could quit writing about the gruesomeness in life.

My father was pretty good at talking about things that concerned him around the dining room table. And watching football he often played harder with his motions than some of the players with an occasional “Sacrada…” thrown in, the beginning of a Czech word pronounced a little different then the words we say. He also chewed Copenhagen that he referred to as “brain food.” Hmmmmm?