How many died in Vietnam? I guess if you consider those named on the Vietnam War in Washington DC the official figure it is a little over 58,000. The dates are from 1954 to 1975 although not much was happening before 1964 or 1965. I know that because I was in Japan from 1961 to 1962. I was a Marine disbursing officer assigned to MAG -7 at Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan. One of the our squadrons was doing carrier training in the Philippines so it was my job to fly down and pay them.
I flew to Iwakuni and then on to Okinawa in a DC 3. There I changed into another plane that carried large cargo. This one had on it a crash truck something like you see in the photo above. Along with the truck there were about a dozen Marines dressed for combat with all the gear and the weapons. I was dressed in my casual dressed khaki shirt and trousers. My weapon was the briefcase I was carrying.
It’s a beautiful morning on Cape Cod. A slight breeze, sunny, the marsh is at low tide unlike the photo to the left, not too many birds around which is surprising. They may be sleeping late.
Walking to get my morning coffee which my wife Maria insists on making in part because she believes I use more coffee than necessary I had a thought come into my head: “Was Shakespeare’s play the Merchant of Venice anti-Semetic?” I’ll explain later why I believe the thought came to me. Immediately after thinking of it I recalled that in high school it was the only Shakespeare play that I read. I’m sure I did it because it was assigned which made me wonder why that was the only one which was assigned, or if others were assigned, that I recall reading. For years I remembered little about it other than Shylock’s speech “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”
I had read the play a few months ago and it was surprising to me how evil the Jewish Shylock was made to appear adamantly insisting on his pound of flesh. I wondered what people more learned than I thought. I found this which labored to say there are some who think that it is not.
Dick and I were close friends for 65 years. As the years passed and our lives ran their separate ways we spoke on occasion and had lunch or dinner. We both had busy lives. Time would slip by but when we got together it was like we were together the day before.
Dick had a degree in engineering and worked most of his life at Beth Israel Hospital as its primary building engineer. He’d marry Chris, move to Arlington on the other side of the Charles River and eventually end up living in Winchester. He took up tennis after a while. He spent considerable time playing it continuing doing it just about up until weeks before he died. Even when his feet surrendered he pushed on. He’d tell me, “I can run pretty well but I can’t stop.” In later years he could hardly walk having beat up his feet so badly but he played on. He never complained although when we got together he would lament about the grim reaper diminishing the number of his tennis buddies.
Trump is telling us that he has brought about a great success in the fight against Covid-19. If it wasn’t for him – if some other president was in office – we would have over 2 million deaths from Covid-19. That we have only 100,000 – only 100,000 or almost twice as many deaths as happened in the Vietnam War – Trump considers quite a victory.
Where are the crowds on the streets celebrating this victory?
Yes, Jared Kushner had it right – Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law – said “the federal government rose to the challenge and this is a great success story and I think that that’s really what needs to be told.”
Where are the crowds on the streets celebrating this great success? Where are the Mission Accomplished signs? Is there any other president who can say he presided over 100,000 deaths of Americans in three months?
Above is a photograph of Times Square on V-E Day when Germany surrendered? People poured out into the streets all over American in celebration of our success on the European theater. There was still a war going on in the Far East with the Japanese Empire. Japan would surrender in August. Again, as shown on the photograph to the left the people jammed Time’s Square in celebration of victory over Japan, V-J Day. The country had finally stopped fighting since Pearl Harbor was bombed, the day of Infamy, on December 7, 1941.
Mike Pence’s prediction that by Memorial Day we would, “largely have this coronavirus epidemic behind us” is proving wishful thinking.
Had Pence said (and by the way rumors of him having contracted Covid-19 himself were widespread over the week ) “by Memorial Day any hope that Americans would use their common sense and recognize the dangers from this virus is still extant” then he would have been right on the mark.
The doors and beaches are open; limits are being lifted here and there, the incidences of wearing masks has fallen remarkably, and people are being lured out of their houses to mix and play. Houses of worship are being told to ignore their state rules and open up as if it was the good old days.
We won’t sink as fast as the Titantic I figure. But unless somehow someone made a deal with Covid-19 to go easy on American scofflaws we’ll certainly sink. Most of an ice berg is below the surface; most of the deadly cases of Covid-19 are lurking near by.
You can see the bad trend in the weekly reports of positive cases. As I said last week I’m not happy following the death rates because I believe they are being monkeyed around with by the states. Several news media reports have clearly shown this.
Every so often I tend to dwell on this great tragedy. I probably should not label it like that for a couple of reasons: first I try not to use the word “great” too often because it has become abused by Trump who has used it so much that it has lost its meaning since he thinks everything he does is great; secondly the fate of one person in a nation seems to have little significance.
I probably thought of this because early on this morning I read an article showing the callousness of our government which sends young kids who cross the border illegally back to their countries without notifying anyone about it. The story is about a 10-year-old boy who crossed the Rio Grande in a small boat with a stranger after saying goodbye to his mother. Any one who harms children has no place in a decent world. I don’t have space to go into it but read the article and think that this is your country doing this to the least of us. Trump’s new policy of hurting children is just another way he thinks he is making America great. That is a real tragedy.
I was at one of those Emergency Care places a few weeks back having taken someone in there for something minor and easily correctable if done by a skilled medical person. Fortunately, the nurse there had the necessary skills, so the problem was quickly resolved but the person I was with got gabbing with the nurse so it took much longer than it should have..
While waiting I was thumbing through a magazine. Two young women, barely out of girlhood, one with long blond hair and the other the shiniest long black hair I had ever seen, came in. The one with the blond hair went to the counter; the other took a seat close to me but with her back towards me. At some point the one who went to the counter came over and sat with her friend. I had become interested in an article I was reading about Carlo Tresca so I didn’t now this until I heard them talking. I overheard some of their conversation because they were not too discreet apparently oblivious to or not caring about my being there.
One, the one with the black hair, I’ll call Jacqui. She said to the other “why didn’t you find out about this before?”
One thing that has rarely changed is the South has always viewed America differently than other parts of the country especially the Northeast and the states bordering the Great Lakes. My good friend E. H. has suggested to me that I read a couple of books – which are not available at the libraries because the libraries are closed – one tells about the different cultural areas of America and the other about a trip through the South prior to the Civil War. I’ve ordered them and will let you know the highlights.
I laugh when I read that some people suggest the Republican Party today somehow has a connection with Abe Lincoln beyond the name Republican Party. Between 1875 and the election in 1900 of McKinley the South had voted pretty solidly Democratic because, precisely because, they had a great disdain of Lincoln. There was one time in 1872 when one of the old Confederate States of America cast its vote for Ulysses S. Grant – the Union general responsible for their downfall – which seems at first thought a mistake. How would a Confederate State vote for a victorious Union general one would ask? It turned out that the Army was still in that state ensuring all got the franchise – by all I mean men since women were not considered capable of voting – which meant that black citizens could also vote along with the Carpetbaggers and Scallywags who were really Union men.