Saturday, June 26, 2010

AFK ... and a thought

I'm on travel right now and won't be back on the blog till Tuesday. Please be patient.

In the mean time, I leave you this thought:

Since we have learned so much about Ms. Kagan, the US Supreme Court nominee, is it not time that the Senate take the suggestion of the Swedish Chef?

BORK! BORK! BORK!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Words of Wisdom



Salute: Kristin Martin Duus, from whom I shamelessly swiped the above.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Your Monday Inspiration

Phil's Kent Wizarding Cards



Alas, the Will card is MIA....

A Blessed Father's Day to Everyone



Son Philip has decided that we Kents are all actually an old Wizarding family and thus deserve our own wizard cards. Hence the above.

Happy Father's Day, everyone.

And...





Happy Father's Day, Dad. I have no doubt that yours is full of joy.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I'm Not Supposed to Laugh At This....

... but I did anyway. And so will you.



Now THIS is how you say Happy Birthday to UpChuck. I had no idea he was a Monty Python fan....

SALUTE: 'Vlad Tsepes'

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Obit for Patrick F. O'Brien (1913-2010)



Patrick F. O’Brien passed away at his home in Santa Clara , CA on June 10, 2010 with his daughter and long-time caregiver, Peg O’Brien, by his side. Above all, Pat was a wonderful father and loving family man, and he enjoyed the love and support of his children and grandchildren throughout his long and fulfilling life.

Born on March 1, 1913 in Detroit , Michigan , Pat was 97 when he died. His early years were spent in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario , Canada where he developed his passion for everything outdoors: skating, skiing, swimming, fishing and hunting. In later years, this passion led him to gardening, boating, water skiing, and lengthy road trips with family through the natural wonders of this country and Canada .

Returning to Detroit for his senior year of high school, Pat was proud to be in the first graduating class of Detroit Catholic Central High School in 1929. At age 16, he and his sister Lucile became the primary breadwinners for their family and continued to do so through the Depression years. This did not deter him from attending college and graduating from Assumption University in Windsor , Ontario .

Pat met the love of his life, Mary Jane Kent , in the late 30’s and they were married in 1941. Pat and Mary Jane were most lovingly married for 58 years until her death in 1999. They were the proud parents of seven children and nine grandchildren.

In the 1940’s, Pat went to work for General Motors for whom he remained employed the rest of his career. The family moved to California in 1963 when Pat was assigned to be a member of the management team that opened GM’s Buick-Olds-Pontiac Assembly Division plant in Fremont .

Pat always put his family first and this commitment was very clear to all of its members. It gave his children great confidence to know that they could always count on his support. He could be stubborn at times but he encouraged independence of thought and decision making. He was a very spiritual man who consistently role modeled the values of honesty, integrity, responsibility, compassion, and consideration for others.

Highly intelligent with a great sense of humor, he loved to debate politics and everything else. He didn’t mind which side he took, he just loved to have a good argument for the fun of it. He also derived tremendous pleasure out of the occasional mischievous practical joke, usually on one of the kids. He could fix anything and was fondly known as “Mr. Fix-It”. As his mobility declined, he became a voracious reader who was conversant on any topic from investing to sports. He stayed up on the latest technologies and always had a huge pile of books and crosswords by his chair.

Pat loved life all of his days and didn’t leave it without a courageous struggle. There has never been a more enthusiastic fan of See’s chocolates and it was only fitting that his last meal, like on every other day of his life, was ice cream. He will be dearly missed.

Pat is survived by his children Mary Pat (O’Brien) Dubeck, and Paul, Kathleen, Tom, Phil, Ellen and Peg O’Brien, and his grandchildren Michael, John, Peg, and Danny Dubeck, Matt, Laura, Thomas, Sean and Katherine O’Brien, and five great grandchildren.

Funeral services to be held on Saturday, June 19, 1030am, at St. Justin’s Church, 2655 Homestead Blvd., Santa Clara (www.st-justin.org). Reception/wake to follow at the family home.

- Obit by Paul O'Brien

Monday, June 14, 2010

"Now We See The Violence Inherent In The System!"



What happens when a citizen asks a (drunk?) Congressman about his agenda?

"Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Lest We Forget, Part II



Ronaldus Magnus tells the Soviets to "tear down this wall," 6/12/1987.

And lo, it fell.

HT: Sarah Palin, from her Facebook account.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Obama On The Couch.....?

At the excellent website American Thinker, Robin of Berkeley does some armchair diagnosis about President Obama's, er, psychological profile, engaging in some speculation: does his "strangeness" stem from a physical cause, like a closed head injury? Is he schizophrenic? Is he the child of abuse? Is he an Aspie (Asperger's Syndrome)?

Money graph:
While Obama doesn't appear to hallucinate, he seems to have delusions. His believing he has a Messiah-like special gift smacks of grandiose delusions. His externalizing all blame to conservatives, George W. Bush, or the "racist" bogeyman hints at persecutory delusions.

Along with a delusional disorder, Obama may fit for a mild psychotic disorder called schizotypal disorder. It may explain some of Obama's oddness.

People with schizotypal disorder hold bizarre beliefs, are suspicious and paranoid, and have inappropriate and constricted affect. They have few close friends and are socially awkward...

What is wrong with Obama? My guess is a great deal. The answer is complex and likely includes some combination of the above.

Along with the brain issues are personality disorders: narcissism, paranoia, passive-aggressiveness. There's even the possibility of the most destructive character defect of all, an antisocial personality. Untreated abuse can foster antisocial traits, especially among boys.

Robin, like any major leaguer, whiffs on occasion. As here.

There is nothing more dangerous than engaging in psych-eval-at-a-distance of a President, as you are going on only data that is allowed to reach you by the team of filtering agents--those who immediately surround Obama--who modify and control what personality quirks reach the public. I remember endless stories from idiots who tried to prove that Dubya was Hitlerian, insane, or both, and I don't suppose that if "they" do it to "us" then "we" should do it for "them."

I think his problem is very, very simple: he has been overpromoted and doesn't have a (blanking) clue as to how he got there or what he is really supposed to do. Overpromotion of one too young or unprepared for the responsibilities leads to (trust me) an empty, horrible feeling from day to day and ultimately to a paralyzing inability to make decisions, and also to 'brain pharts' like the 57 states remark. The latter are not hard to explain; the fear of being caught out as a manque causes one to lose sleep; that lost sleep accumulates over time and causes you to make silly mistakes.

He's been President a year and a half, and he's no good. Which puts us at a disadvantage. Remember Churchill's saying about prime ministers: "An accepted leader has only to be sure of what it is best to do. If he trips, he must be sustained. If he makes mistakes, they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good, he must be poleaxed." Of course, *of course*, Churchill was being metaphorical; I know of no British politician who was ever actually poleaxed (although Richard III's Lord Hastings might so qualify). What Churchill meant was, an incompetent must be removed from office. Unfortunately, we simply can't do that in this scenario, as Obama for his faults has committed no high crime or misdemeanor (or not yet). Furthermore, impeaching him and replacing him with Biden is not exactly an improvement. Why replace a fool with a complete bozo?

So we're stuck with the guy for another, oh, 2.5 years. Were he prime minister he'd be gone already. But he ain't, is he?

Of course, I also remember back in '94 or so when every good GOPer had a "Is It 1996 Yet?" bumpersticker on their car. And 1996 came and went..... :-(

ADDENDUM

A much better explanation, from The American Spectator
Leave it to my wife to come up with a jewelry metaphor for Barack Obama. Obama is, according to my bride, the political equivalent of cubic zirconia. Usually sold to people who love the look of diamonds but can't afford a real one or are fooled into buying an imposter, cubic zirconia is superficially pretty and appealing. But when subjected to the scrutiny of an expert or when placed under great pressure, the falseness and weakness compared to the real thing become apparent.

The pressure analogy is particularly appropriate given that the source of Barack Obama's troubles lie a mile under the ocean's surface, where pressures are about one ton per square inch. The pressure of the situation is causing Obama's vaunted reputation as "competent" to crack like the false promise it always was.

Too true. Alas.

ADDENDUM II:

J.R. Dunn shares American Spectator's take.

A word on the matter of competence: Obama is slowly being stripped of any reputation for ability he may have accrued during his political career. The Deepwater Horizon blowout, the Korea crisis, Iran, Sestak...Commandant Zero is being revealed as the most inept president on record. This is in no way hyperbole; it is a sober evaluation of the record as it exists. Fillmore, Buchanan, and even Carter are simply not in the running here. As a schlemiel, Obama stands in a class by himself, a man who not only can't solve problems, but can't recognize them when they appear.

And this limited individual is somehow going to coordinate and carry out an operation as complex, difficult, and risky as a national coup? That's one of those questions that answers itself. (And let's not argue that his "handlers" would take care of it. His handlers were the ones who came up with the Sestak approach. If they were capable of anything impressive, we'd know about it by now.)
Wouldn't we just.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

...and farewell Uncle Pat O'Brien (another Kent death)

Just got word that another of my relatives, Patrick "Uncle Pat" O'Brien also just passed away yesterday. That's two in less than a week.

This leaves my mother the last living member of the Kent Greatest Generation.

ADDENDUM: Added the above picture of Uncle Pat and his youngest daughter Peggy, taken in the 1970s, when I last saw him.




Another picture here, ca. 1951, of my Grandmother Jennie F. Kent (wife of A. Leo), her brother, my Great Uncle Gerald (this is the first pic of him I've ever seen!), Uncle Pat O'Brien, my Aunt Mary Jane O'Brien (his wife, my Dad's sister); and cousins by the dozens. Baby in bonnet is my sister Raphaelle; my brother Mark is in the railroad hat; cousins Colleen and Gregory Kent (Aunt Ginnie's two eldest) are in front left. Don't know who the others are, maybe my brother Jerry is the one next to Mark.

(Pix raided from my sister Eileen's photo page on Facebook.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Farewell, Aunt Ginnie....



More Kent family/ancestral news, but of a somewhat sadder nature.

Just got word of the passing of my Aunt Virginia Plotts Kent, wife and widow of my dad's youngest brother, John Paul Kent, and mother of my late cousin Christopher Kent, as well as his brother and sister Gregory and Colleen.

Aunt Ginnie was a very sweet woman who suffered from adult-onset deafness; she coped through lipreading and paying very close attention to you, which gave her a warm and intimate manner that was very pleasing and kind.

The picture above shows Uncle John, Aunt Ginnie and Christopher together as I remember them best, back in the seventies. And today they are all again reunited, with all the souls of the faithfully departed.

Her departure leaves only my mother and my Uncle Pat O'Brien to represent the Greatest Generation Kents.

Rest in peace, Aunt Ginnie. You were, and are, much loved.

Monday, June 7, 2010

More Kent Genealogical Stuff



I was at Immigration today, and having finished my business there early, I decided to follow a hint I had in one of Uncle Tom's notes--and.....

I discovered the ancestral Kent family plot at Mt. Elliott Cemetery!

Found no less than 14 relatives, including Great-grandfather Thomas Kent, Great-grandmother Ellen Hart Kent, Great-great-grandfather Richard Hart, Great-great-grandmother Honora Hart, two of Ellen's sisters, a Hart "mystery love child"*, no less than *7* of A Leo's sibs (our greatuncles and greataunts), several of whom died in childhood. It's across the street from Father Solanus too.

The cemetery records show that "apparently two bodies were removed from the site in 1929." I.e., this is where A Leo and Robert were buried briefly, too

And its two blocks from Immigration. I drove by it 2x/week and didn't know.

PS You will be pleased to know that even tho the Mt. Elliott cemetery is in one of Detroit's most blighted districts (there are over 40 burned out buildings on Mt. Elliott Avenue between Gratiot and Jefferson) the cemetery itself is still immaculately maintained. The graves were an in wonderful condition and the stones clear and readable, almost new in fact--more readable, in fact, than at Holy Sepulchre.

It is exceedingly cool to encounter relatives you thought were lost to you. Truly.

*An unnamed "Miss Hart", year of interment 1879, is buried in the plot; if she died that year, then the only two likely candidates for her parantage is one or the other of Great-Grandmother Nora Hart Kent's two sisters, buried beside her. Although I may be wrong; since other relatives were moved to the site around this time, it is possible also that "Miss Hart" is a deceased legitimate child of Richard and Honora Hart and thus sister to Ellen. There is also an unnamed "Infant Kent", sex unknown, the next youngest sibling after A. Leo; cemetery records show he/she lasted only hours in 1882.

Amazing. What must have been such pain once, losing so many so young. We have been incredibly blessed in the years since. Truly.

ADDENDUM

Now here's a thought. My first cousin John Hammang has a daughter, Eileen. Eileen Yaworski has four children. Her youngest daughter, Eleanor Rose--named for the two gals closest to the heart of Sam Gamgee--is about one year old.

So.

Eleanor Rose's mother is Eileen Hammang Yaworski. Eileen's father is John Hammang. John Hammang's mother is Eileen Kent Hammang. Eileen Kent Hammang's father is A. Leo Kent. A Leo Kent's mother is Ellen Hart. Ellen Hart's mother is Honora Fitzgerald Hart.

That Honora Fitzgerald (1808-1882), who lies in Mt. Elliott, is the...

...wait for it now...

Great-great-great-great-grandmother of Eleanor Rose Yaworski and her three sibs. (Whew!)

OR, 1/(2^6) of her ancestry...

OR, one of 64 Great-great-great-great-grandparents of Eleanor Rose Yaworski.

(Double whew!)*

(*Triple whew: that's four greats, not five. Sorry. Still, though....)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Quote of the Day

Anyone who clings to the historically untrue-and thoroughly immoral-doctrine that 'violence never settles anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedom.

- Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers, 1959

June 6, 1944 - June 6, 2010



It has been sixty six years since the invasion of Normandy, making today the two-thirds-a-centennial of this great event.

By this invasion, which ultimately freed Europe up to the Elbe, the West was saved. (It simply took us another forty-nine years to finish the job.)

Let us never forget.*

(And yes, I know I posted the above only last week. So sue me.)

ADDENDUM

This weekend also marks the end of the 68th anniversary of the Battle of Midway, possibly the most devastating naval victory in the history of civilization--where 37 aircraft broke the back of the Japanese empire in less than five minutes.

Again, let us never forget.

==================
*Oh, and Uncle Tom? Thank you again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Possible Solution To The Oil Leak

This may appear like a crazy idea... but it's not without precedent.

It's simple: set off a small nuke within a few hundred feet of the hole. The melted stone and collapsed rock will seal the leak. The Sovs tried it five times, and it worked four of those five times.* (Hey, the Soviets were NOT stupid when it came to technology.)

Here's a Sov-era propaganda flik that demonstrates the principle:



The New York Times hates the idea, as it's far to scawwy to think about:

Stephanie Mueller, a spokeswoman for the Energy Department, said that neither Energy Secretary Steven Chu nor anyone else was thinking about a nuclear blast under the gulf. The nuclear option was not — and never had been — on the table, federal officials said.

“It’s crazy,” one senior official said.
Give Obama another two weeks to work out the other options. However, if there ARE no other options then he has a moral duty to nuke the hole. If he does not, we will have irrefutable proof of President Obama's pusillanimity. He'd rather let the oil spew than do something lawful and demonstrably effective to save the country from the effects of BP's bad actions.

*NYT says four out of five times so we'll go with that figure.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A. Leo Kent (1879-1929) Rediscovered (With An Addendum)



I have come to think that Google is an awesome thing (in spite its many flaws!).

First, by way of background: My grandfather, A. (Alfred) Leo Kent Sr., was a railroad man and a funeral director who died in February 1929, at the age of 49. My father was 9 years old and hardly knew him. A. Leo, when he died, left a 40 year old widow and six living children, as well as one infant, Robert, who predeceased him.

My Uncle Tom Kent (he commemorated in the Memorial Day postings below) left the following about him:
My father, Alfred Leo, attended Pitcher School in Detroit, then Detroit College (later the University of Detroit) where he was captain of their first football team in 1893. He left school, joined the [Michigan Central Rail Road] first as a brakeman, then an engineer on the old Bay City run. (Train engineers were the airline pilots of their day; a very high status job!) He was a Union man -- was secretary for the local Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. Just before marrying "Jenny" O'Brien in 1910 he went into a scrap-brass business, which failed, then entered the funeral business. An affectionate (sometimes too generous) father, he was not very well during our growing-up years, dying when his eldest son Alfred was seventeen; at age 49.

My father told me the following story shortly before his own death in 1991:
Your Grandfather nearly worked himself to death in 1918 during the Great Flu--he performed hundreds of funerals in eight weeks in the fall of that year. So Jenny insisted that he take a few days' break and take a train with her to Chicago. When they arrived at Union Station in Chicago, they found, to their horror, that the station was literally filled with coffins, awaiting shipment to home towns across America. She took one look, said to him, 'This is a city of death!' They got back on the train and immediately returned to Detroit.
The picture above is A. Leo Kent. It was taken in 1925, when he was 45 or so, about four years before his death. All he needs is a set of headphones. :0)

The second pic below is the only other known to me. Doesn't do me much good, alas; it appears to be the same pic as above, just flipped and shrunk to fit the obit.



Anyway. It turns out that part of Google's (evil, copyright-violating) effort to scan every single book int he universe includes several railroad journals kept at the University of Michigan Library. I googled "A. Leo Kent" and ... what did I find?



The above pic is from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen's Journal for April 1906. My Grandfather Kent is perhaps 27 or 28 years old. Brown hair, chubby, slightly self important air. Yeah, he's a Kent.

I think this is the first "new" picture of A. Leo discovered in almost a century.

But that was not all. I also came across a few clippings of things he wrote from some articles in other issues of the journal:
LOCOMOTIVE FIREMEN'S MAGAZINE, APR. 1903: "The Charity Ball - (A. Leo Kent, Detroit, Mich.) The charity ball which was given in Detroit, January 6th, for the benefit of aged and disabled railroad men was a success in every way, and everyone who attended was loud in its praise. Thanks to Mr. Hamilton Carhartt and the Detroit Leather Specialty Co., our expenses were light. Mr. Charhartt shouldered the expense of the hall, whcih was the largest and best that could be secured, and the Detroit Leather Specialty CO. furnished the programs, which were gotten up in a very neat manner. Mr. Carhott also speaks of endowing a bed at the Home as soon as arrangements can be made. May he be blessed.
"The amounts raised by the charity ball is between $475 and $500 [about $10,000 2010$] and then there are some we have not yet heard from. I would like to say that these balls, given jointly by the different railroad organizations, have a tendency to promote a btter feeling among the men, and I believe that an effort should be made in the different secions ofthe country to work together for the Home, as more can be accomplished in that way than can be done by individual work."

He also wrote a couple of obituaries in April 1904:
"LODGE 508 - (A. Leo Kent, Detroit, Mich.) Bro. Jonn Smith, formerly a member of Wayne Lodge 508, was killed while in the performance of his duties as a fireman. He had been in the employ of the Michigan Central Railroad for the past ten years, and had just been promoted. His remains were accompanied to his home in Aila Craig, Ont., by a delegation from Wayne Lodge, where the funeral services were read by a member of the delegation. He will be long remembered in the minds of his fellow members, as one who was just and honorable in all his dealings.

"Bro. Chas. Seitz was the second member to succumb to the grim reaper. He had been a member of Lodge 508 for the past ten years, and was known from Minnesota to Louisiana as a brother whose charity to those in need was unbounded, and the members who best know him will hear of his death with sorrow. His death occurred at McDonoughville, La. The remains were accompanied to Detroit by his mother and brother, who is also a member of Wayne Lodge 508, and were interred at Woodmere Cemetery. May he rest in peace."
I should also note that a 1906 note from the same magazine commemorizes his singing to his fellow railroadmen at a lodge meeting--which is in keeping with the musical nature of the Kent family. I should also note that it has always been our family tradition, when saying grace at meals, to add the following, very Irish coda: 'And may the souls of the faithfully departed in the mercy of God rest in peace, amen!' I was always told as a child that we did this in commemoration of A. Leo Kent. I suppose, given his later profession, from 1910, as a funeral director, that it is appropriate that one of the two pieces of writing above are obituaries. Certainly the last 'rest in peace' is very Kent-like.

Now these may seem to be trifles to you all but this is the first I have ever seen of anything written by or about him other than his obit and death notice.

I have to say, I'm delighted. It's not often you rediscover something lost like this.

ADDENDUM

I've decided to add the following is an essay I sent out to some family and friends six years ago. It ties together the threads of the last few days, about A. Leo Kent, about Memorial Day, and about grief and hope.

THE ASHES OF OUR FATHERS - MEMORIAL DAY 2004

On [Memorial Day] Sunday, I took my two older sons to St. Clair Shores, [Michigan,] the little working class town where I grew up, to watch the Memorial Day parade. We had a grand time--overdosing on ice cream and candy, and I ran into some old friends: Chris and Dennis Prost, classmates of mine and friends, along with their parents, of my father's, who still remembered him 13 years after his death. I also received some Memorial Day flags, which we waved of course. I took them back for a "memorable honor" on Monday.

I was glad we went. I had not been very joyful these last months. Back in the second week of February, we lost our last child to miscarriage, an event that remained unspoken-of but profoundly grievous to both my wife and I. This was the first 'fun' time I'd been up to in the long months since our silent loss.

The parade itself was a delight--St. Clair Shores prides itself on giving the largest, longest (and, God bless them all, tackiest) Memorial Day parade in the entire state of Michigan. It was full of wonderful absurdities -- like the enormous inflated Godzilla, the inevitable old guys in bogus-islamic Masonic fezzes on tiny motorcycles, and the go-cart Snoopy on a doghouse chasing a Red Baron around the street (someone next to me shouted 'Shoot that Fokker!' and I almost spit my coke I laughed so hard, then couldn't explain the joke to the kids).

But the high point came even before the clowns and politicians and high school bands... I never in my life thought I would ever see hundreds of people in the middle of Harper Avenue, our main drag, doing the Chicken Dance. Yeah, it looked absurdly stupid--and then I realized that the whole point of our current war was to preserve the right of our silly teenaged girls in t-shirts and jeans and fat middle aged women with small children to do the Chicken Dance in public.

On Monday, there was a more solemn bit of business to attend to. I drove out to the ancestral graveyard--Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, owned and operated for more than 100 years by the Archdiocese of Detroit.

This is a pilgrimage I do alone. The drive out is only about 20 minutes from where I live; it used to be 2 hours from my childhood address before they finished I-696.

The grave site is easily spotted; a 25' sandstone Celtic cross stands over the graves of my father, my great uncle Gerald, my uncle Al, my uncle Tom, his wife, my aunt Pat, my grandfather and grandmother and the unmarked grave of their infant child Robert, my father's brother.

Robert starved to death in 1917 since my grandmother could not produce milk and he could not digest the baby formula available in those days. My father was born with the same condition, and lived only because my grandmother's best friend wet-nursed him in her stead.

God provides.

After saying a prayer or two, I placed the little plastic American flags over the graves. The first flag was for my uncle Tom, an unassuming little man, gentle as you could imagine, who commanded and landed LSTs (Landing Ships, Tank) at North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, the South of France, and finally Iwo Jima, before returning home to be cheerfully lorded over by his socialite wife... whom he had married in 1939, and never saw again until 1946.

There were giants in those days. If only we knew.

Once, shortly after the war, this stoic little man got drunk and told my mother how he landed his LST at Omaha Beach in the front edge of the second wave, and dropped the front of his ship and offloaded his tanks. Do you remember the end of the opening scene in Saving Private Ryan? All the bodies all over the beach? There they lay. In full obedience of orders, knowingly received and fully briefed to do so beforehand, the tankers drove forward, deliberately driving over the bodies of fallen American soldiers--or soldiers everyone HOPED were bodies of the fallen and not just wounded--from the first wave of the landing.

That sight haunted him all his days.

As he pulled his offloaded ship away from the landing zone, they took a German shell amidships. His little ship, not even dignified with a name, just a number, sank like a stone. His entire crew were lost. Only he survived.

To him, a flag.

A second flag was for my Great Uncle Gerald, who died before I was born. Physically, he was said to resemble the guy holding the fork in American Gothic. He too was a war vet. He fought in WWI, which is mentioned on his grave stone. What the grave stone does not mention is that he first saw combat action in the Philippines, fighting against the Islamic Moro rebellion. And it was his memories of that first combat, and not the second, that, as I understand it, kept him in a gentle state of alcoholism his entire adult life after his release from active duty, a ward of his sister, my grandmother, the rest of his days.

The third flag was for my father, a career Air Force officer, gone now, lo, these 13 years, a peaceful man who, in spite of 26 years' service, never left the States during WW2 and never saw a single day of armed combat his whole life.

I was once young and stupid and ashamed of that.

Finally, I had one flag left over. Saluting my Uncle Robert, Uncle Al and Grandfather, who never served, I saw a nearby grave of a WW2 veteran, one without a flag; I left him the last one.

I looked forlornly on my father's grave. Holy Sepulchre Cemetery allows but one large above-ground headstone per family plot; all the rest must be flush to the ground, the better to mow the lawn with, my dear. This has the unfortunate side effect of leaving the flush headstones very vulnerable to being grown over by the grass. I had to fight and rip at the sod to even reveal my father's name; the rest of it was almost invisible. (I have to go back with gardener's tools sometime soon and do the job right.)

Once I cleared Dad's stone, at least enough to make it visible, I went over to Grandfather Kent's to do the same.

A. Leo Kent Sr. was born in 1879 in Detroit, to Thomas Kent, a railroad engineer who, legend has it, was one of the many engineers who drew the Lincoln funeral train. He himself was an engineer in his youth, and later, after he married Jennie F. O'Brien, bought a home at 405 W. Grand Boulevard, Detroit, and opened the A. Leo Kent Funeral Home, which remained in business until 1960. There he raised his brood of eight kids, of whom seven reached adulthood. He died in 1929 of blood poisoning after a burst appendix; he had badly planned his final illness for an era where
antibiotics hadn't been invented yet.

He was 49 years old. My father was not yet ten.

At the time of his death, he was president of the Detroit Association of Funeral Home Directors, which accounts for the almost unbecomingly huge Celtic cross over his grave. Had he specified such a stone for himself, it would have been a monument to an enormous, indeed embarassing, ego. As it is, it is a monument to his friends' love for him, for they it was who erected the stone in his memory. For one thing everyone agrees upon: he was a wonderful, loving man, who made a fine living helping great numbers of people through the worst days of their lives.

While the great headstone is clear as to his name, and contains a quote from Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), chap. 45, about how he was "beloved of God and man," there is no more information about him there. As I scrabbled at the sod overgrowing the smaller, flat headstone below, over his actual grave, my heart skipped a beat.

"FATHER

ALFRED LEO KENT, SR
BORN MARCH 31, 1879
DIED FEBRUARY 10, 1929"


In other words, he died 75 years to the *day* before we lost our unborn son Nicholas Leo, who was to be named for him.

I drove home with head held high.

Not a sparrow falls.

---

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We Do Not Have Fingers And/Or Toes.....

The indispensible Breitbart reports that a court in South Korea has decided that frozen embryos are not life forms and you can pretty well do whatever you want with them.

In honor of this rather stunning act of judicial ledgerdemain, we would like to dedicate the following song, which I first heard on Doctor Demento lo these many years ago....



(And no, the song is not the least bit disrespectful; it simply states a truth: "One day we may grow up to be President; all we're looking for is just a womb to rent....")

I'll just close out with this comment: apparently the judges have found that the embryos are not "life forms" because their hearts are frozen solid.

The judges', I mean.