Story and Photos by Ken Krayeske • 11:29 PM EST
The Dixie Chicks: Traveling Soldier - an anti-war ballad.
Brilliant idea that Oxfam beat me to: Somali Civil Society. With all the talk about the pirates in the Gulf of Aden, I began to get curious about how the daily life of Somalians is without government.
I wanted to go to Somalia on a fact-finding mission. But I have that law school stuff, and a job, and lots of debt before I can consider traveling again. So we wait.
And earlier today, I wrote about Obama's soft changes. It's all about tone, and how much does it say that Obama volunteered at a soup kitchen today with his family. Since I've been in law school, I've done so little volunteer work.
I tell myself that blogging, going to school, trying to keep my debt to a manageable level and waging my lawsuit is sufficient public service, because when I get out I will fight for justice with more tools. That I need to be in school to improve my ability to push levers of social change.
But it seems insufficient, that I am getting mine, I will have a nice dinner with my parents and sisters. That my wealth - however minimal - is protected. I don't have an answer. I don't think volunteerism is enough, though. We must assume Obama understands Eisenhower's warning - that every dollar for the military industrial complex is a dollar robbed from a hungry child. So why isn't he speaking more clearly on it?
Tara Donovan: Amazing artist who won a MacArthur Genius Grant. She has a show in Boston going on now. My sister is in town from Savannah, and we may go check this out. The toothpick cube Donovan made is pretty amazing. Makes me think of like what Frank Gehry might do if he worked with styrofoam cups instead of steel.
This has been a bit of a family week. My sister said I surprised her twice today, because a) I have the Dixie Chicks on my iPod (Traveling Soldier is a great song) and b) I said that I am conflicted on Obama because he is giving voice to concerns that I have, and defusing critics on all sides of the equation.
In reading some of the stuff I have written about Obama since the beginning of the year, my opinions have veered wildly on him. I think it will be a fun retrospective at the end of the year to highlight my most contradictory thoughts. It seems like nuance is probably the best word to apply to Obama - he challenges us to think.
Funeral: My great uncle Dino died this week. He was my maternal grandmother's only brother, and he lived a long (86), happy life, although his wife (Aunt Mary) of 52 years predeceased him by a few years, and those years were sad and difficult for him.
I was a pallbearer, and I couldn't stop thinking about my grandmother, who succumbed to alzheimer's long before she died. But the Roman Catholic funeral mass is something that I have long considered.
The church as an institution I find fatally flawed and not worth my time. What will I do when I have kids? What kind of religious consciousness or tradition will I try to impart upon them? I don't know. But I find the Roman Catholic funeral the most comforting way to confront death.
It may be from my days as a parochial school eighth-grader, when I was an altar boy and the school would send us over to serve at funeral masses. The funeral directors would slip us a fiver as a tip afterwards and we would go juice up on sugar at John's Confectionary on Main Street in Watertown on the walk back to school.
So, yeah, it could just be that I have been to so many funeral masses that it helps me confront death. It's certainly not because I think that some guy actually died and magically rose from the dead. I just can't reconcile that with my base of scientific knowledge.
Sitting through the mass Monday morning, I was struck by a passage in the Gospel, and it referenced the Eleven - the 12 disciples minus Judas the misunderstood.
And I thought about that Grateful Dead song - the one that St. Stephen usually segues into. Someone else, of course, long ago found Robert Hunter's allusion to the founders of the Christian church in the song title. I always like the bit about William Tell.
But there isn't a legit sounding video for it online, so you'll just have to hunt down Live/Dead for the best version. This also marks the second time this week I have written about the Dead, but I saw them like 30 or more times, and they were amazing. Except when Jerry forgot the words, which even back in the 60s and 70s they did with the Eleven.
Reason number two that church forced me to think: Uncle Dino was a Navy veteran in World War II. He served on two aircraft carriers, the U.S.S. Croton (I'm told, but I can't find info on it) and the fourth U.S.S. Princeton.
The Croton sailed in the European/African theatre, and the Princeton patrolled Pacific waters. My Uncle Dino disembarked the Princeton three weeks before it sank at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in the Phillipines in 1944.
My cousins said he never talked about his service until about three weeks ago. But a month before he died, he told my cousin the horrors of war - a boat in his carrier group torpedoed, and the metal decks got so hot from the fire down below that their shoes melted, which means their feet weren't too far behind.
Yeah, it amazes me that he would suddenly open up about it. But the last time I saw Uncle Dino, he knew his time was limited, and he often talked to us about how he wouldn't be around much longer. It could make you uncomfortable - what do you say to an 86-year-old man confronting his mortality? I don't know.
At the church, the priest said we should pray for our servicemen and women serving overseas. And I want the priest to come out a bit stronger. I want the priest to rail against the war. I suppose not every man of the collar can be Father Roy Bourgeois, and run the School of the Americas Watch.
The protest at SOA in Georgia this week was pretty tame compared to others - only 8,700 or so people. Fr. Roy said last year at the annual SOA protest that God does not bless killing. Sounds reasonable. If the church would only speak louder on this.
I can't support a church that buys into the Cheney propaganda line, that we need to support the troops. The next thing, we will singing Twain's "The War Prayer," but not as satire. There are parishes and pastors who oppose the war, and torture, but not enough.
And I understand we have to respect Uncle Dino's service, and that of all veterans. But a discussion of the human cost of war would have done me better rather than the fobbing off of remembrances for those soldiers suffering.
As the exit music for Uncle Dino's funeral procession leaving the church, we sang the National Anthem. I felt some sort of cognitive dissonance talking about bombs bursting in air, and land of the brave. R.I.P. Uncle Dino. We'll miss you.