Thursday, May 31, 2012

Justice John Paul Stevens, Judicial Mengele

It appears that the President of the United States gave the Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian award -- to Justice John Paul Stevens, the individual who called the planned genocide of children nearing readiness for childbirth an "Act of Freedom."

Yes, it's an exercise of liberty--the kind of liberty that is made available to you when law serves moral monsters: as it did in Bosnia, in Cambodia, in North Korea, in China, in Russia, and in Nazi Germany.

In a just world, both Stevens and Obama would be facing a dock at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity.

One abortion is one homicide. State sanctioned, legalized abortion is genocide, and those who promote it promote genocide. One day this will be so obvious a truth that generations will scarce believe we ever thought otherwise.

I do not say, Anathema sit, because my ability to curse or not curse is meaningless.

What I do say is this: may the risen Christ have mercy on them both, for they will need Christ's mercy on a scale unimaginable.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

No Prostitute Zone near Journo HQ.....?
Really?

My my my.

The Associated Press wants the area around its building in DC declared a "no prostitution zone."

Hmn.



....on second thought, .... naaah. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

No Wonder Little Green Footballs is So Popular.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Oh the Humanity....

It sez here that the largest law firm in New York City has gone bust. And why, perchance, has this horror come to pass?
[T]he firm was eventually undone by a combination of the economic downturn, excessive compensation and governance problems, according to former partners and others in the industry. In particular, Dewey's management promised millions in packages to about 100 partners, according to the court filing, leaving it strapped for cash when revenues fell during the recession.
The horror. The horror. /spit

Making Bricks Without Straw? That's OK.
Time for GREG'S GIGGLES!

Ladies 'n' Germs, it's GREG SCHANKIN!

* President Obama has been working on a new plan to boost tourism in America by making it easier for foreigners to get into the United States. We have that already. It's called Mexico.

* While in Los Angeles, the Chinese vice president said the first place he wanted to go was Hollywood. He wanted to visit where all his favorite pirated DVD movies were made.

* The Occupy L.A. protesters have been evicted. They all were evicted. As of yesterday morning, according to reports, and all that was left of their campsite was trash, empty tents and the smell of urine. Then someone pointed out that was not Occupy Los Angeles, that was Gary Busey's house.

* “Graphic novel” is a term used by geeks who don’t want you to know they still read comic books.

* Chris Wallace at Fox News asked Michele Bachmann if she is a flake. I think that’s an insult to the fine folks at Kellogg’s.

* Isn't it crazy with all these church scandals? I'm beginning to understand how all those Bibles ended up in hotel rooms.

* A few weeks back I saw that the 99 Cent Only Store was calling itself your Valentine's Day headquarters. Guys, if that's your Valentine's Day headquarters, you can also call the garage your new home.

* When bluetooths (blueteeth?) are illegal only criminals will have bluetooths. They can have my bluetooth when they rip it from my cold dead ear canal.

* Officials at BP have filed for permits to drill for oil again in the Gulf of Mexico. They say the oil is easier to find than ever because it's mostly on top of the water.

* It was just announced that the show "House" will end after its current season. That’s when you know things are bad — when even the show "House" is being foreclosed on.

* In Manhattan, Seal Team Six had their own ticker tape parade a few days back. They don't use much ticker tape on Wall Street anymore. Stock brokers just toss government bailout money from the windows.

* Forbes has come out with its list of the richest people in America. One of them is the CEO of Starbucks. His secret is that he doesn’t buy coffee at Starbucks!

* The Supreme Court has ruled that the makers of generic drugs cannot be sued for inadequate labeling on their products. In fact now all they have to say is “This will do something to your cholesterol level and/or penis.” I’m like, either way, YEAH!

* President Obama took campaign volunteers out for burgers yesterday and apparently left a 35 percent tip. Oh man, that guy is so generous — with China’s money.

* Despite the news this week that our cell phones are giving us cancer, users are NOT giving up. They're like, okay, my cell phone could give me cancer, but actually interacting with people in person is what leads to Chlamydia.

* This year, the Aflac duck balloon will debut at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And if you think that’s weird, wait till you see the balloon for that old guy from the Cialis commercials.

* I'm not sure how I feel about people buying gifts online. If you care about someone, go to Target at midnight and get pepper sprayed, it is the least you can do for a loved one.

* The Pentagon is testing a robotic hummingbird that can be used as a spy camera. They say it will help them track down terrorists and pretty flowers.

* At the White House they're recovering after the other night's big concert. Mick Jagger played. President Obama said it was refreshing to see an old white guy who wasn't running against him.

* A few months ago they came out with a movie called "Cowboys and Aliens." Wonder what THAT flick is about? (Hint: The movie has cowboys shooting at aliens. We already have that in Arizona.)

Thththththat's all, folks....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012



I saw the following on a FB page today and it is far too good not to repost. Authorship unknown:


COINS LEFT ON VETERANS' HEADSTONES ~


While visiting some cemeteries you may notice that headstones marking certain graves have coins on them, left by previous visitors to the grave. These coins have distinct meanings when left on the headstones of those who gave their life while serving in America's military, & these meanings vary depending on the denomination of coin.

A coin left on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier's family that someone else has visited the grave to pay respect. Leaving a penny at the grave means simply that you visited.

A nickel indicates that you & the deceased trained at boot camp together,while a dime means you served with him in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the solider when he was killed. According to tradition, the money left at graves in national cemeteries & state veterans cemeteries is eventually collected, & the funds are put toward maintaining the cemetery or paying burial costs for indigent veterans.

In the U.S., this practice became common during the Vietnam war, due to the political divide in the country over the war; leaving a coin was seen as a more practical way to communicate that you had visited the grave than contacting the soldier's family, which could devolve into an uncomfortable argument over politics relating to the war. Some Vietnam veterans would leave coins as a "down payment" to buy their fallen comrades a beer or play a hand of cards when they would finally be reunited.

The tradition of leaving coins on the headstones of military men & women can be traced to as far back as the Roman Empire.

RLK here. 

It's the Jewish tradition to leave a stone; the original purpose of the custom was grave maintenance, as a pile of stones in the desert indicated a grave in ancient times, and the idea was to restore the pile. This custom may be related to this.  It is also a custom to put pennies on the eyes of the deceased or in the grave; my brother and I did that at my mother's funeral. 

Today I'll be doing it the traditional American way: I'm taking flags to Dad's grave and those of my other relations who served in the wars--Uncle Tom (North Africa, Sicily, D-Day, Operation Anvil (South France), Iwo Jima and Okanawa), Uncle John Paul (Guadalcanal), and Great Uncle Gerald (WWI and the Philippines Moro Revolt).

All I can say is this:


"Earn this. Earn it!"

This was not just a line in a movie to a fictional character.

It is a message to all of us.

Earth this. Earn it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brit Scientist: Give Everyone
a Scanner-Code Tattoo!


When I was but a wee little lad, full of health and joy.... 

....okay, not so wee, and not so joyful, but anyway.... I was about sixteen years old, and I made my first career decision: I wanted to serve in the U.S. military in some capacity, probably as a soldier in the Army.

I had no idea in what capacity; at the time my head was full of uniforms and drums and notions of serving my nation and patriotism and all that... entirely natural for an adolescent male.

Anyway, at one point, after reading a rip-roaring novel about Real Men in Combat, I ventured the opinion that I wanted to get a tattoo, like the lead character in the story.

Now my father–himself a retired military officer with no illusions about the nature of military service–anyway, my father handled it gently. No yelling, no "No Son of Mine!...." .... none of that. His way was far gentler, and far more subtle.

He took me to meet a man he had the honor of knowing–a wizened little man of Mediterranean Jewish extraction, a cobbler who ran a shop not far from my father's office.

On his forearm was a blue triangle and a six digit number: the sign of a German concentration camp survivor.

It was enough for me. Lesson learned. I have never gotten a tattoo.

It is in light of this experience that I read this: some British scientist has proposed putting a chip or a scanner code on the body of every individual, in order to "prevent identity theft", stop "anonymity on the Internet," to build strong bodies 12 ways, and achieve all sorts of other supposed public goods.

I don't think so. But that's just me.

Don't get me wrong; I'm no biblical literalist, and I do NOT think we are living in "the End Times" of Revelations. I do, however, think that forcing everyone to have some sort of identifying mark on their bodies for the convenience of the State profoundly violates human dignity, and reduces us to the status of, oh, say, a package of Ramen noodles on the shelf at the store.

Include me out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wester-hos: HBO's Game of Thrones, Season 1



Just finished Season 1 of "Game of Thrones." It being HBO, they should have called it "Porn of the Rings." Or perhaps "Naked Came the Ranger."

I'm not entirely sure why they had to include so much nekkid hanky panky, unless soft-core is cheaper to produce than CGI (which it probably is).

Still, it is simply amazing how many poor, impoverished slaves and whores in Westeros look like FHM cover models. And how good their dentistry is in that region. (Still, as a friend of mine remarked: "I'm pretty sure I don't want to see ugly people naked I get that enough in the mirror." Can't argue with that.)

Still. One wonders what is it about medieval fantasy that makes it so popular these days? Seventy years ago it was the invading-European-cattle-rancher-and-native-American-oppressed-defender-of-a-dying-people story (AKA Western/cowboy stories). Fifty years ago it was the space story. These days it's guys and gals living in low-tech-hell holes of the sort that no self respecting Third Worlder would want to live in in real life. (I mean really. Who wants to live in a country where people are often toasted and eaten by dragons? Or get turned into wombats by passing wizards?)

Maybe it's the fairy-tale aspect of it all. People want to escape from the reality of a country where our homes are being repossessed by banks who were paid trillions by the Government not to repossess them. They want to be rescued by knights in shining armor.

What the fairy tales don't mention is that the knight in shining armor paid hundreds of silver pieces for the charger, lance and armor, that the damsel in distress never has any money and that dragon corpses don't bring you anything if you try to market them. Hence the extreme shortage of knights in shining armor.

I know that dragon scales are in high demand by healers, but c'mon, pharmaceutical megacorporations are rarely found in high fantasy settings.

Did I mention the high cost of horse fodder? Not to mention the lifetime of training for the knight? And insurance. Life insurance premiums are hellish for knights. And also professional insurance as well. Dragons have a bad habit of calling the Round Table in on you if you fail to follow ethical procedures in dragon killing.

Add to that all those quarterly gatherings at the Round Table, Continuing Knightly Training seminars, plus all that time you have to spend networking with other knights.....and don't forget costs to stable the charger, wages for the Page, etc.

And the horse droppings. Endless, endless amounts of horse droppings. Of course that's no different from today, but....

And communications costs. Your crystal ball keeps going on the fritz, so you have to bring in a wizard-specialist to keep it on line.

You'd think that the princess' father, the king would pay for all. No such luck. All too often the damsel is a lowborn, povertystricken wench. Princesses generally travel with their own team of knights to guard them....

... and they can't live happily ever after, the knight in question is married and by definition is ALREADY living happily ever after. And if it is otherwise, if the knight's lady finds out, they may live ever after, but I guar-en-damn-TEE you it won't be 'happily.' (She'll CERTAINLY wind up keeping the castle.)

And the "Servants Unions" have made life hell on Knights who have servants. It's a wonder they could even close on negotiations in time to save the damsel.

And finally one must never, ever forget:

Sometimes. The. Dragon. Wins.

(- with thanks to my FB friends)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday, Monday.....
Time for Greg's Giggles!

Ladies 'n' Germs, It's Greg Schankin!

* We’re under a heat dome, and meteorologists believe it’s due to Oprah’s hair spray.

* Vice President Biden will travel to Turkey to speak at an economic summit. When he heard he was giving a speech to Turkey, Biden was like, (CLEAR THROAT) ‘I am SO sorry about Thanksgiving.'

* I’m feeling pretty good. I finally got myself weaned off the Weather Channel.

* Schools here in Detroit aren't allowing Santa Claus to come into the schools anymore. Not because of religious reasons, but they claim he's wearing gang colors.

* The Oxford English Dictionary announced which new words will be included in the next edition. It’s like when they announce the line-up for “Dancing With the Stars,” but for people who can read.

* This weekend, there was a six-hour tennis match. I mean, it was longer than a Kardashian wedding-

* Here’s what I don’t understand about rioting. If you’re going to destroy a city for no reason, why destroy your own city? Move one city over.

* They don't think Conrad Murray will do any jail time, but he will go to work in the prison system, however. They think he'll be in charge of lethal injections.

* There's talk that Facebook is building its own smart phone. Not to be outdone, there's talk that MySpace is refurbishing an old beeper.

* President Obama announced a plan to recover federal bailout money from banks. I guess this explains why Biden was seen yesterday buying a gun and a ski mask.

* The Greeks have decided to show their regrets for the Euro zone breakup. They left a gift of a giant horse outside the EU central bank.

* Prohibition was a dark time. Alcohol was illegal and peppermint latte was not invented yet. How did people make it through the day? Alcohol was illegal in this country from 1919 to 1933. So for 14 long years, not a single person did karaoke.

* Father’s Day is alot different now days. Kids have to buy presents for their biological father, their stepfather, their surrogate father, and their babydaddy.

* I was talking to a friend about Romney. He said, "For all my years in the State Department, I know one thing. Terrorists, what they fear most is a dog on a car roof."

* A man was busted at JFK airport for smuggling six pounds of cocaine in his sneakers. That’s right, his plan was hiding cocaine in his shoes — you know, those things that you never, ever have to take off at the airport.

* Taco Bell is product testing a new taco with a shell made of a giant Dorito. Michelle Obama spent the morning watering the White House garden with her tears.

* A new report found that Facebook has created more than 450,000 jobs. Unfortunately, photos posted on Facebook have ended 550,000 jobs.

* The rate of interracial marriages is at an all-time high. I know from experience because I am white and my wife is super white. My wife is so white that people think she's ill. People on the street say to her: "You want bone morrow?"

* The latest fashion trend in Hong Kong is eyeglasses without any lenses in them. People just wear the frames. The feeling is that they make you intelligent, even though they're totally useless. Kind of like the congressional supercommittee.

* Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.

Ththththtat's all, ffffolks.....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Game of Thrones: Pure Yummy Awesomeness

I'd feel guilty about stealing this artwork from theoatmeal.com.... except it's the closing panel of a hilarious cartoon that basically urges us to illegally download a TV show from a .torrent site.*

Me, I paid $34.95 for my copy of Game of Thrones at Wallmart. Best money I've spent in weeks.

Anyway. Anyone want a gold crown? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

*I hope he'll forgive me for stealing the last panel in spite of the fact that he (hypocritically) asks me not to steal. After all, I'm providing a link and an up-tick.... (Where would I be without a good self-justification?) (Hat tip: Mrs B.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

REPOST: Bosnia:
After A Decade, It Still Haunts

Ten years ago today I departed Bosnia for the last time (so far), concluding what will likely be the two and a half most intense, joyful, horrible, and important years of my life.

I was there for two tours of duty: the first, as a soldier (January-October 2000) and then again as a civilian (November 2000-May 14, 2002).

I wrote the following as a memorial on the tenth anniversary of my first return, in October 2010.

In the words of a classic on the subject: "My War Gone By, I Miss It So"....



Yours Truly in front of the Headquarters of Multinational Division (North), Autumn 2000

This past weekend marked the tenth anniversary of my first return from Bosnia, at the conclusion of ten months' active duty as a peacekeeper in Tuzla. (Shortly thereafter I returned to Bosnia for an additional 18 months' work as a civilian.)

I cannot believe that a decade has passed so quickly. But it undeniably has.

It's a decade that has seen the world shift beneath our feet, and, possibly, the world has slipped through America's fingers.

But as for my Bosnian experience, I still have not yet been able to write about it in full .... particularly what I saw as part of my work in Srebrenica, where the Srebrenica Massacre took place on July 11, 1995, and which left a mess I spent the better part of two years trying to help clean up.


The Srebrenica morgue at Tuzla. Each white bag to the right contained one of the dead. There were more than 4000 in storage at the time I visited the first time in 2000.

Some months back, a friend, who will remain anonymous, asked me to write about Bosnia on his blog. I sent him the following reply:
You've asked me to discuss my Srebrenica experience.

I'm afraid that I really cannot do that. Not yet.

I was stationed in Bosnia from January 2000 to May 2002 with the US Army at MND Headquarters in Tuzla. I also served a year on active duty training before that. For the last year and a half I was there, I had the title "Deputy Political Advisor to the Commanding General, Multinational Division North" - a civilian intel analyst for the senior State Department official there, the Political Advisor.

Over the course of my stay there I traveled extensively throughout Bosnia, and was very often in the cities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, and Zvornik on official business--largely consisting of having "friendly discussions" with Bosnian Serb officials to "enlighten" them that it was "in their interest" to leave the Bosniacs ("Bosnian Muslims") returning to their old villages alone.

Sometimes they listened to us.

I also served on a committee that founded and began to build the Srebrenica Victims Cemetery near the "Battery Factory". They buried the first identified victims there shortly before my departure from BiH.

Let me sum it up my Bosnia experience by metaphor: in my youth, I was a bit of a WW II scholar; I was very interested in the phenomenon of the Holocaust in particular. But it was theoretical to me; I am an American born son of WW II veteran, and it was all books and movies, and I had a childish wish to have known my father's opportunity to fight evil.

But: it struck me then--this was the 1970s, mind you--that I thought I was born too late; there were no Nazis left to fight; they were only movie villains in the end.

It wasn't until I saw the International Morgue for Srebrenica Victims at
Tuzla that I discovered that this was not true.

And I discovered that Holocaust is not a historical event but an ever-present possibility. All it takes is the will, and the right circumstances, to make it come again.

I don't believe in collective guilt. I DO however believe in individual responsibility for mass crimes, and those responsible have not yet been brought to justice.

Srebrenica was a singular act of hideous evil, and proof that the lessons learned in 1945 have not been digested, even 300 miles from Germany. Industrial holocaust and assembly line mass murder remains entirely possible in this day and age. If it happened in 1945, AND it happened in 1995, it can happen again.

God help us.

As to a longer explication of my Bosnian experience--I'm still trying to come to terms with it. I haven't been able to write it down.... well, perhaps it is not yet time.
Please understand: This short letter is hardly the place for me to describe my
experience; it is a matter of which I still often dream.

I will say this:

The stench never leaves you.

I'm sorry I cannot write more. Perhaps again, soon.

Much respect and blessings to you,

Richard L. Kent, Esq.
I am still unready to describe in detail what I saw at Srebrenica. Perhaps soon.

In lieu thereof, I'd like to rerun the following essay, which I wrote in 2002, after visiting a small town in southern Bosnia called Medjugore. It is a controversial place: in June 1981, several teenagers saw what they claimed was the Virgin Mary.

Some of them are claiming to see her daily to this day.

And who knows? Maybe they do.

--------------------------------------------

The Stones of Apparition Hill –– A Medjugore Meditation

(Written February 2002)






The first thing that caught my attention about Herzegovina were the stones.

The border between Bosnia and Herzegovina is unmarked by any road signs. Unlike the rest of the country, which is riven by ethnic hatreds and an interethnic Inter-Entity Boundary Line, there is no real political division between the two lands.

You see the change from Bosnia to Herzegovina through a sudden change in scenery. One minute, you’re in Bosna (as Bosnians call their country)--all is green and hilly and woodsy; the soil black and deep, the mountains old and worn and friendly, like the Adirondack Mountains or the Appalachians. Next minute, Herzegovina: you’re surrounded by forbidding white stony mountains—the Dinaric Alps, southernmost sweep of the Swiss Alps—far higher than those of Bosna and covered with white stones and low, gnarly brush and tumbleweed. No self respecting Tolkeinesque dwarf would live here, as there are no minerals to be found, all is sea bottom shale to the horizon and beyond. It is as if you have suddenly crossed from the Tennessee Smokey Mountains into a white, limestone version of the Utah Rockies.

This is Herzegovina: the mountainous hypotenuse along the southern border between Bosnia and Croatia. The mountains are tall and jagged, a high series of limestone waves that stand from here to the sea, some 80 miles southeast from the border. The mountains are white, unbelievably white. The stone here is former sea bottom, billions of years of seashells piled one upon another and compressed, then pressed into the sky again by continental drift. The mountains reach to the sky in waves until they challenge the sea to the southwest.

Hence the stones, which are nasty and sharp and jagged, from the tiniest pebbles to the largest borders. Limestone is porous and, for rocks, relatively easily dissolved by rain and flood, so one often sees holes eaten in the stone by the rainfall. But the stones crack and split as they decompose under pressure of summer rain and winter ice——so the stones get smaller but tend to retain a vicious jagged edge.

The soil that results from this limestone erosion is highly acidic, making the land here unsuitable for most agriculture: only grapes and tobacco thrive in this otherwise inhospitable farmland.

This makes for poor living for the residents.

If the land is tough, the people who live here are tougher. The poor soil, the poverty of the populace, and their harsh and uncompromising attitude toward outsiders make the Croats of Herzegovina reviled by the rest of Bosnia as obstreperous hillbillies. "The only things that grow in Herzegovina," they say, "are rocks and Ustashe" –– that is, Croat Nazis. Croats in western Herzegovina don't see themselves as Herzegovinian, much less as Bosnians——they're Croats, dammit, and this is part of Croatia. If you have any questions to this end, just look around: flags of Croatia, and not Bosnia, are everywhere. Fighting here tends to be vicious, as it was both in the Second World War and the recent civil conflict.

By any indication, a very unlikely place for the Virgin Queen of Heaven to reach out to the human race. If it was, as Ogden Nash said, "odd of God to choose the Jews," then it is simply bizarre for Him——and His Mother——to choose as unrelenting a poverty-stricken hellpit as Hercegovina to give a Beethovian kuess fur allsem welt.

And yet that is precisely what is alleged to have taken place. And who knows? Maybe it did.

* * * * *

We left Eagle Base at eight o’clock Monday morning, stopping at Sarajevo in the early afternoon in Butmir and stayed overnight——to give those of us on the trip the opportunity to do a little shopping in Sarajevo before the main event the next day. (We could have gone straight through, but given that the English mass is only given at 10:00 in the morning, that would have required a departure time of 2:00 AM—or ‘oh-dark-hundred,’ in Army parlance—so the decision was made to split the trip into two days.)

Sarajevo continues to recover from the war; every visit reveals fewer rubble piles and bullet holes and more bricks and mortar and concrete. There's still a lot of war damage, to be sure, but it is clear that the city, now firmly under the control of the Bosniac/Croat-run Federation, is well on the road to Wellville. Business investment and international aid is making its influence felt at last. The legendary Holiday Inn, scene of the opening shots at the start of the war and a notorious smoking wreck at its end, is now reconstructed and repainted a with a bright yellow faççade that covers the worst of the devastation. Sarajevo's own Tin Towers, which are two world-famous apartment towers, named Momo and Uzeir after two local cartoon characters (think Abbot and Costello), have had all the external glass replaced and have regained their prewar look, although the apartments within continue to be slowly restored.

But not all is well. The rock pile at the Oslobozdenie newspaper building remains a towering monument to hatred and folly and the accuracy of Bosnian Serb artillery. The old Bosnian National Parliament building at the other end of the main highway down the center of town is a shattered reminder of the day Radovan Karadzic stood in its chambers and called for genocide against the Muslims. The main highway remains pockmarked with shell holes, which sink continuously. And the heavily guarded American embassy, targeted just three months ago for bombing by Algerian Islamic fascists, is a reminder too that the events of the world has not passed Sarajevo by.

I have been to Sarajevo at least twenty times since I first came to Bosnia, and every visit is a delight. One friend of mine described his first visit as akin to "being unexpectedly seduced by an older woman," an assessment I share. This visit revealed its own new delight—a recently opened (and authentic!) Chinese restaurant, complete with Chinese food, Chinese waiter, and Chinese menu that you can’t read. The hot-n-sour soup, the pot stickers, the General Tso’s Chicken—well, they weren’t great by American Chinese restaurant standards, but to me who has not eaten with chopsticks since the start of the war, 'twas magnificent.

The restaurant was only two blocks down from the famous Latinska Most, so I decided to take a little historical moonwalk before returning to base.

For almost a century, the Latinska Most, or Latin Bridge, was named after one Gavrilo Princip, an individual of some historical note: he it was who, through bad planning and worse luck, put two bullets into the hearts of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in 1914, sparking the first world war. After the end of the war, the Serbs decided that he was a hero of the Serbian people and named the bridge for him––kinda like Dallas having a "Lee Harvey Oswald Memorial Book Building". The spot he stood upon when he fired the shots were memorialized by two sunken shoe marks in concrete, so that the historically curious could imagine themselves firing the shots that detonated Europe.

Welcome to the Balkans.

The Serbs, shortly before the war broke out in 1992, dug the concrete block from the sidewalk and took down the nearby monument, moving them to their ‘‘capital’’ in Pale where they could be better appreciated. The Bosnian Muslims, having themselves had their fill of Serb assassins, closed the nearby city museum celebrating the killings and restored the original name to the bridge. An off-colored marble block in the wall covers the spot where once stood Princip's memorial.

I myself have stood there, where I tried to visualize Princip to have done, not to imagine killing, but trying to imagine the kind of nationalist madness that could, and did, drive Europe to cultural suicide. For it is clear to me now that the killing of the Archduke marked the bloody true start of a 20th Century which—it is now clear—hasn’t entirely ended yet.

* * * * *

We spent the evening together at Butmir, a multinational military base just outside the city and the true capital of Bosnia, where the High Representative maintains his offices and the Stabilization Force – SFOR – has a headquarters. A bizarre rainbow uniforms can be seen as all of Europe’s militaries form its denizens—the gates are guarded by Bulgarian(!) military police, the base is administered by French foreign legionnaires, the Russians and NATO all have representatives, but the commander is, withal, an American. The rooms are very nice (the first place that gets rebuilt in any occupation is the rooms occupied by the occupiers) and the food, while not spectacular, is acceptable in a Euro-breakfast kind of way. But it’s still a military base. The only thing that makes Butmir a delight is that it is the only place in Bosnia where American troops can wear civilian clothes and drink beer.

We sat around and got a chance to know one another in a way we could never do on Eagle Base. Here I chatted with a thirty-five year old Massachusetts state legislator (and the only member of "Democrats for Bush 2000" in Massachusetts!) who was here for six months’ active duty. Here too was a hard but still attractive female sergeant major, twice divorced and not quite sanguine about any chance at a third, blowing smoke from her three-pack-a-day habit. Here were our two Chaplains (both Protestants) and a half dozen grizzled and ancient warrant officer helicopter pilots who, after their third beer, started recounting Viet Nam war stories that held nobody rapt.

I sat back and drank beer and thought. I was finding it interesting how the trip was laid out. Leave at 8:00 on Monday, beer and visits to Sarajevo, overnight at Butmir, leave early the next morning, arrive 10:00 AM, an hour for Mass, an hour for a walk up Apparition Hill, an hour to shop at the tacky tchochkes shops and eat—then leave.

Just leave.

That was it. Some 48 hours away from base for a three hour visit to Mejd, on a Tuesday in the winter. That would be it. No more.

The Chaplain’s Assistant who organized the trip was a university administrator and mother of two college students. I looked at her over my beer as she sat down next. "S0. What did you think of Medjugore?" I asked her. "Is this really worth the trip?"

"Oh, I guess. The people on the trip seem to be enjoying it."

"But do you think the Virgin Mary is actually present here? Actually visiting?"

"Heck if I know. Anyway, I’m Protestant."

Then it struck me. The two chaplains accompanying us were also Protestants and far more interested in our behaving ourselves than in our spiritual enlightenment. The only Catholic priest at Eagle Base, who told me privately that he thinks the whole thing is bogus, was very visible in his absence. And the whole affair had far more of an air of a vacation tour trip than it did a religious pilgrimage. No prayers were said at any point of the trip, even the next morning, when we gathered to leave. We just boarded up the bus and left.

Definitely not a USDA approved pilgrimage.

* * * * *

The drive was pretty but rather harrowing—there is only one main 'highway' down the center of the country, from Sarajevo to the sea, a two-lane asphalt ribbon that parallels the Netrevna River’s long slow walk to the Mediterranean. The road’s fully repaired now and the tunnels restored; you can drive a hundred klicks an hour, if you dare. The main danger is people attempting to pass blind curves, the #1 form of early demise now that the war is over. My theory is that Bosnians must rely on the Force as their guide—but judging from the death tolls on the local roads, my guess is that their midichlorian count isn't quite high enough for the conditions.

Or maybe being a war survivor makes you, shall we say, disregard the threats of peacetime.

As we pulled into Mostar, I saw a sight that chilled my blood. Mostar, thirty miles north of Medjugore, is the only city in Bosnia where the fighting was truly three-sided: Serbs, Croats and Bosniacs all contested control of the city for three and a half years. The Serbs claimed it as they claimed the Netrevna River, which passes down its center, as their border. The Croats coveted it because they claimed it as the capitol of their bogus republic, "Herceg-Bosna." And the Bosniacs wanted it because, well, just on general principle.

Mostar—the city name comes from the word ‘‘Most,’’ or Bridge—is most famous for the sixteenth century Turkish-built bridge over the river in its heart. The light, airy structure, a straight arch without supports, was the largest of its type until the twentieth century. It was built in 1555 on orders of a Bosnian Muslim who had become Vizier of the Ottoman Empire—a gift to his home town. A beautifully designed triumph of stone engineering, this great leap forward in bridge technology was one of the seven wonders of the medieval world; and it was nearly indestructible, having survived 350 years of warfare unscathed.

Until, of course, 1993, when Croat vandals shelled it into the river because it was built by Turks. Or to blame it on the Serbs. Unless the Serbs really did it. Who knows?

What appalled me more than anything else about Mostar were neither the devastated bridge, now being reconstructed, nor the huge number of blowed up buildings, of which I have seen already too many. What appalled me was a huge Catholic cross at the top of the highest mountain overlooking the city, built after the war as a deliberate screw-you to the Serbs and Bosniacs: a brightly lit sign that "This is a Catholic Croat city, and there is no place in it for anyone else." I’m here to tell you, I’d blow it up in an instant if I could. That cross is not a symbol of Christ; it is a symbol of hate: a We Don't Like Your Kind sign as clear as neon.

* * * * *

The city has somewhat recovered, but the outer villages remain devastated. The devastation became more widespread the more we approached the Medjugore turnoff.

We curved up the side of the mountain toward the village at the Medjugore exit. The village—which literally means ‘‘between the mountains’’—was over this high rocky wall and about five minutes past the local county seat, Citluk (pronounced ‘‘Cheetluuk’’), just at the foot of the mountain’s opposite side.

And as we came to Medjugore, all of the sudden, I noticed something strange.



No destroyed buildings.

Nothing. No gaping roofs, no devastated houses, no wrecked factories, no shellholes, no landmines. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Sing it again.

There was no war damage to be found in Medjugore.

None.

It took me a good ten minutes for it to register. It wasn’t as if the buildings had been totally repaired since the end of the war. This is what all of Bosnia used to look like, once upon a time, a long time ago.

Do you know how alien a sight that is in Bosnia? I’ve seen open graves and devastated villages, wrecked houses and human skeletons, bullet holes and shell holes and mortar holes and shrapnel holes. Even in Tuzla, which survived the war untouched except for artillery fire, you can still see spalling on buildings from incoming 122 mm ‘‘top gun’’ rounds. I’d become so used to human devastation that it was an alien sight to see ...

.... normality.

And here Our Lady of Supposedly Medjugore had been visiting for twenty years.

And what was her message? What is her message?

Peace.

* * * * *




Look, I know all about the scandals and the nonsense and the horse hockey associated with the so-called apparitions. I know about the fact that the HDZ (the nationalist-socialist Croatian National Union) party leaders all control the hotels, gas stations, food outlets, restaurants, and kitschy touristy souvenir shops in Medjugore. I know that the Hercegovocka Banka, founded by Medjugore businessmen, was the worst bank in Bosnia until SFOR closed it at gunpoint last year.

I know that Catholic commentator Michael Jones had his life threatened by Croat organized criminals when he questioned the veracity of the visions. I know that the previous year’s attempt to break the Croat territories out of Bosnia—an attempt at revolution that cost me a lot of sleep—was entirely financed by Medjugore tourist profits.

I also know that the Croat nationalist HVO militia guarded Medjugore like the apple of its eye, and the reason the village was never attacked in the war was that the Croat paramilitaries fought like the devil to keep the Serbs and Muslims from devastating the place——which they would have dearly loved to do.

But.

You have no idea how much of an oasis Medjugore is until you’ve seen blowed up buildings ad infinitum, ad nauseam for two years and find the one spot in the country where the war didn’t reach. That sight alone was water to the parched.

* * * * *

We pulled into the parking lot of St. James’ Church about 10:15, and piled out into the Church for the English mass, which was already just underway.

Three Irish priests read the liturgy; we arrived just before the start of the Gospel reading, which meant we could still receive communion.

I wish I could remember what the sermon was about, but frankly, I was so overwhelmed by the whole am-I-really-here of it all that it didn’t register. I did note however, that the celebrant ad libbed a bit at the end of his talk, greeting us "peacekeepers" from America and noting that our mission and Our Lady’’s was the really the same. If true, I hope that Our Lady's bureaucracy in Heaven is better organized and more efficient than the U.S. Army.

St. James Church is remarkably large for such a relatively small village; it was built and dedicated in 1969 to replace the previous structure, which was damaged by settling of the foundation. It was entirely ordinary, and remarkably Amchurch in its design and structure. The Mass, however, was lovely, and used the Irish English language translation rather than the Novus Ordo used in the US. (The hymns, unfortunately, were right out of the Oregon Catholic Mess hymnbook, but for this occasion I sang them anyway.)

After the end of Mass, we stepped outside and met our tour guide, a young local woman who we hired to give us the barest introduction of what happened: six children seeing the Virgin on the hill called Pobrdo, now called Apparition Hill, the first time on 24 June 1981. (Serbo-Croatians are remarkably Hobbitlike in their simplicity regarding place names; ‘‘pobrdo’’ just means ‘‘the foothill’’).

The famous story that the children saw the Virgin and told their parents—who threw shoes at them for being crazy. The next day, 25 June, the children went back to Pobrdo to get a second look. This time, Our Lady spoke with them, in the presence of several score witnesses (though only the children could see her, of course.) That day, 25 June, is now noted as the first day of the apparitions, since she spoke on that occasion.

Fast forward to the next day: the children, fleeing Communist secret police, fled to the Church, where they were protected for a few hours by the legendary Father Jozo, who was arrested and spent 18 months behind bars for barring police entry to the Church. There, on that occasion (only) did Our Lady appear to them in the church—in the sacristy, now called the Apparition Room. (On the orders of the local bishop, who was completely hostile to the apparitions, the children were barred from holding any more meetings with the Virgin in the church. And so they have, at least at the Parish of St. James.)

And so the story was telescoped. All but one of the ‘‘children’’—today they’re aged 38 to 40—scattered around the world during the war. Two of the boys attempted to become priests but left. (In previous days that was a source of shame, but given the rotten state of the Church in our era....who knows?) All have now married; three live in Medjugore (though one is married to a former Miss America and lives in Boston in the summer). Interest in the apparitions have waned and the events themselves have become almost mundane, just a bizarre near-footnote to the almost Zappaesque monstrosity that is the history of Bosnia since 1981.

Three of the six visionaries receive daily visitations, though only one has a ‘‘message’’ to tell the world, which is broadcast from Italy once a month. Three of the six have received all ten of the famous ‘‘ten secrets’’ and are no longer receiving the visions. The other three, two in Mejdugore and one in Italy, still receive daily visitations and have received nine ‘‘secrets.’’ When the last one receives the tenth ‘‘secret’’, the visitations will be over.

Or so they say.

* * * * *

By any rational account Medjugore is – there is no other word for it – nonsense. It is the end result of either a drawn out lie, mass delusion, or a Satanic manifestation, piled upon by the desperate desire of Catholics around the world to have some proof, some tiny sign, that the nullity they call God has not abandoned them to be eaten by a meaningless history. Catholics, that superstitious lot, want to believe that they won’t evaporate at death, and they’ll put their faith in anything, whether Polish pope, pedophile priest, or Eucharistic magic cookies, to convince themselves that they haven’t been fooled by a bureaucratic money vacuum that sells wolf tickets to a nonexistent Heaven.

To paraphrase Gandalf’’s words of counsel to the Forces of the West, ‘‘That would be the prudent thing" to so believe. Or not believe.

But: ‘‘I do not council prudence.’’

I have not seen anything but twenty year old pictures of the visionaries. I have not even read anything but one book about Medjugore since coming to Bosnia, so I’m not an apparitionist by any means, and haven't the slightest idea if they’’re receiving visions of God or not.

But I have climbed Apparition Hill. That is enough for me. For now.

* * * * *

The path to the base of the hill starts at a garbage heap (where tourist buses dump their loads, passengers and trash alike) and extends perhaps fifty yards, infested by gift shops that sell simple wooden rosaries at a euro a pop (though they’ll accept your dollars, thank you very much). I bought one rosary and walked to the base.

I mentioned the stones of Herzegovina. As we stood at the foot of Pobrdo, which is perhaps a mile from St. James' Church, I looked up this steep, nasty near-mountain, which goes up about a kilometer from the valley floor.

Twenty million pilgrims have not worn the path up the hill in the least.

Oh, there is no vegetation on the path, and the snakes that once infested the area have fled rather than be crushed under the heels of the pilgrims. But the rocks and stones themselves are unworn. Perhaps a century of pilgrimage may change this. But for now, the long, slow walk up the hill is an exhausting, dangerous enterprise. As I was the only civilian in our party, I was also the only one not wearing combat boots——which I regretted the first time I slipped off and twisted an ankle into an unnatural angle.

The path up the side of the mountain, the higher I went, was a perfect model for the pilgrimage to God while alive on Earth. It is not a walk in the garden; it's a nasty struggle, with every step a potential stumble and fall. Each fall, when it comes, has consequences of pain, and possibly permanent injury, possibly even death.

As we climbed ever higher, the Village came more and more into view, the Church of St. James to the center, a gleaming jewel on the flat plane that is the village land; off and high to the left, Kricivac, Cross Mountain, where the villagers built a high cross in 1933 to in celebration of 1900 years of Christianity.

And still the climb continued. The struggle up the mountain is punctuated by brief stops for prayer, one of the decades of the rosary, the first five being the Joyful Mysteries: The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Nativity, The Presentation, and The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Hail Mary, Full of Grace. Our Father. Glory Be.

And onward.




Each of the stations are marked by exquisitely beautiful original sculptures from Italy, of incredible intricacy and obviously made by a loving believer. Fredrick Hart would have been proud. These stations were the only things of beauty to be seen on this remarkably harsh and ugly mountainside.

The rocks seemed to get sharper the higher we climbed. I have never seen anything like them: they gleamed in the midday sun, sharp as dragon’’s teeth. They reminded me of the anti-tank obstacles we used to discourage unfriendly visitors at Eagle Base.

I began to consider the stones themselves. Why put a shrine in the middle of dragon's teeth? Surely there is some meaning to this.

Stones: What are they? Why are they symbolic of faith and spiritual growth? How can these things be a sign of God?

Stones: so easy to hand that every house in Medjugore, indeed almost all houses in Hercegovina, are built from the rocks of the ground rather than from brick and mortar.

Stones. The anthropologists tell us that they were our first tools, chipped into sharp edges to kill animals and cut meat: the first tools and the first weapons.

Stones chipped and sparked make fire, the gift of Prometheus.

Stones cut and polished were the first valuables. Diamonds and sapphires and beryl and onyx and jade: baubles that we use to attract mates much as penguins do even today.

Stones hold ore, and are used to make metal, the skeleton of civilization.

The sword in the stone: mythic symbol of the power that is given only to the worthy but once given to the righteous can bring peace and prosperity to the land.

The stone of Abraham, on which he almost sacrificed Issac. Or was it Ishmael? (The Muslims and Jews have been arguing about that one for 1500 years.)

The great hewn stones that made the Pyramids, the tombs of the Pharaohs.

Ebenezer, the Stone of Help, set by Samuel in thanksgiving. 1 Samuel 7:12 says, ''Samuel took a stone and named it Ebenezer, saying ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.’

The stones of the Rocky Soil of the parable, where the Seed fails to take root.

The Great Stone before the grave of Christ, thrown aside as by an army to reveal His Resurrection.

Ka’aba, the Heavenly Stone, the meteorite revered by Muslims worldwide as a sign of God from the heavens.

The Stone of Scone, upon which the true Kings of the Land of the Scots are always crowned.

The Garden of Stone, Arlington national cemetery, where heroes lie in hope and reverence.

And of course: a pile of bloodied stone at Ground Zero, and the fortress of stone called Pentagon.

I tried to understand. Obviously the stones were important, indeed crucial, to the Medjugore experience. But what was the pattern? It didn’t fit yet.

We came to The Place of the Apparition. No improvements up here, save one: a marble statue of Our Lady of Peace, marked with the date: 25 June 1981. She stands on a pedestal in the shape of a Star of David. She stands on a carved stone cloud: for it is said in all her apparitions her feet never quite touch the earth.

Given the rocks here, that makes perfect sense--for it is indeed Our Lady, then she has long since completed her earthly pilgrimage; why would she need to cut her feet anew?

I stood before her and prayed, prayed to her my private and most important intentions, and begged for what I need the most: to be reunited with my wife and sons*, whom I had not seen since 9/11.

And I considered the perfection of it: a view of Our Lady of Peace, looking down over the only village in Bosnia that I’’ve ever seen that has known unbroken peace through the last ten years of torment and blood.

Exquisite.

Behind the statute of Our Lady were a number of polished stone memorials: most, if not all, in Croatian, thanking Our Lady for this or for that gift granted.

But even among them——some were broken and shattered, having fallen over in some windstorm or other, breaking on the rocks below. Even these permanent memorials could not be permanent here. Sic transit gloria mundi.

I stood back and thought: Of course. Of course. Now I saw it.

The stones here were no coincidence. The people of the village have had twenty years to improve this path, much as they have improved the town and improved the church through the profits of the visitors. Yet, aside from the carved stone Mysteries——nothing. No change. It is every bit as dangerous and forbidding a climb as ever it has been. And even the polished stones we leave as memorials are riven by the stones of the mountain when the winds blow.

To reach to God is to climb a stony mountain, on which you can stumble and fall and be hurt, even permanently. We must eternally climb, with no rest in this world, and pray only for perseverance.

And yet, on the way, Our Lady, a sign and symbol of God’s mercy, the Mother of God, Theotokos—awaits to comfort us in our exile and our empty loneliness, until the journey is complete.

Whether the apparitions are real or not is of little import to me now. But the pilgrimage we finished was perfect sign and symbol for life itself on the vale of tears called Earth.

Presently, I turned away and returned to the village below.



* * * * *

As I climbed down, however—stepping carefully, for the descent was every inch as dangerous as the ascent—I admitted to myself a small bit of disappointment. For one part of the Medjugore experience had eluded me.

It is my strange gift that I can always tell the presence of the truly divine in my life through some small validating sign: something that makes it clear to me that what I have just experienced is of divine origin. Such a sign is almost always subtle, but very clear when it happens: it is almost always some bizarre coincidence. Something that makes no sense as anything but a radical violation of the laws of probability. In other words, synchronicity and serendipity: for in my experience there IS no such thing as luck. Weird things happen to me on occasions like this.

I expected something. Anything. An unexpected friend. A surprise gift. A small sign that I was doing that I was supposed to be doing.

But here, nothing. It was just as if I had visited a nice little village, climbed a mountain, saw a statue, climbed down, spent far too much money on souvenirs and rosaries, and ... that was it.

I tried to ignore the lack of synchronistic validation, but I will admit I was disappointed. There was nothing to speak of, nothing.

Maybe the absence of a validating sign is a sign that I’m fooling myself, I thought. Maybe there is nothing here but a well-guarded village with a lot of tourists. Oh well. The Church has committed worse frauds than this, if that is all that it is.

We didn’t even get a final external validating sign. Here we were, loaded down with hundreds of dollars worth of rosaries and statuary, and we couldn’’t even find a priest to bless the items before we left the town. So I have hundreds of Medjugore rosaries, still unblessed. Oh well.

* * * * *

Three days after we returned from the trip, I was having dinner with a friend -- that officer from Massachusetts who had once been a state legislator. He had been very quiet and uncommunicative through the six hour drive home from the village. I did not press him on the issue, but it seemed to me he was somewhat disturbed by the visit.

But today he was a bit more personable, he invited me to join him and we ate together in the chow hall.

"So what did you think of Mejd?" I asked him as I dug into my badly overcooked chili.

He looked evasive, then shook his head.

"I’m a really bad Catholic," he said.

"What do you mean by that?" I said, trying to ignore the fact that he hadn’’t answered my question.

"Look, you know what was said to Thomas the Twin? That’’s me. I’ve seen, and I’ve believed. I’ve known all my whole life that Christianity is the truth, and I’ve wasted my life as a lousy Catholic."

"Hooookaaay. . . " I said, trying to draw him out.

"When I was six years old, I was dying of a blood infection. I had a 105 degree fever. The doctors told my parents I wasn’’t going to make it, that there was nothing they could do. So my parents called in a famous healing priest. (He named the priest, but I had since forgotten his name.) Father came to me to give me last rites. Have you ever heard of him?"

"No."

"He’s very well known in Massachusetts. He set his hand on my head, and the next day, the fever was gone. He saved my life. I’ve known my whole life that Christianity is the truth, because he saved my life."

"Okay." I was trying to see his point.

"Do you remember when I got off the bus to go to the rectory? I tried to track down the priest, but there wasn’t one, so we just left, right?"

"Yeah. So what?"

"Do you know who the secretary is in that rectory?"

"Who?"

"His personal secretary. No jive. I recognized her at once."

I smiled.

"It doesn’’t surprise me in the least," I replied.

-30-

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Repost:
Martha A. Kent:
The Arc Of A Life

I first ran this post after my Mom's death in June 2010. It remains one of this blog's most popular postings; I still get at least three hits a day on it. Happy Mother's Day, Mama. You are missed.



It is short. Simple. And will take up but a few column inches in the newspaper.

But it means the world.

Martha Ann Kent
News Death Notice


KENT, Martha Ann formerly of Detroit, MI, Minneapolis, MN and Miamisburg, OH, passed away on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at Sycamore Glen Health Center. Martha was born on October 19, 1922 in Detroit Michigan to the late Frank and Loretta (Dueweke) Remski. In addition to her parents, Martha is preceded in death by her husband, Major William J. Kent and by her sister, Jane DeCosmo. Survivors include her children, William Kent Jr. (Gayle Gyure), Mark Kent, Gerald Kent (Christine), Raphaelle Tamura (Michael), Cecilia Wendler (Tom Johnson), Brian Kent (Linda), John Kent (Susan), Richard Kent (Patricia), Eileen Kent (Ed Stevens); her grandchildren, Thomas, Caroline, Mario, Nicholas, Gregory, Zachary, Andrew, Stephen, Daniel, Jennifer, Abigail, William, Paul and Philip; her brothers and sisters, Helen Cassidy, John Remski (Therese), Mary Rose Carey, Pauline LeTarte (Edward), William Remski (Florence), Frank Remski (Helen), Richard Remski (Julianne), David Remski (Jill) and other loving relatives and friends. Martha attended Marygrove College in Detroit. Before opening her own video production company, Kent Creative Communications, she was a communications and video executive at J.L. Hudson, Bendix Corporation, and Sidney A. Lutz and Associates. Martha was widely recognized in her career by both the Detroit Chapter of the International Television and Video Association (ITVA) and Detroit Producers Association. She was a member of St. Gertrude Catholic Church in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. The family will receive friends and relatives on Monday July 5, 2010 at the ROY J. KAUL FUNERAL HOME, St. Clair Shores from 3:00 to 9:00 PM, with prayers at 7:00 PM. A Mass of Catholic Burial will be on July 6, 2010 at St. Gertrude Catholic Church in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, beginning with a final pre-gathering at 9:30 AM and Holy Mass at 10:00 AM. The Mass will be immediately followed by graveside internment at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, 35800 W. Ten Mile Rd, Detroit, Mi. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Martha’s name to Sycamore Glen Health Center, 2175 Leiter Road, Miamisburg, Ohio 45342.
What an extraordinary woman she was. You can see the arc of her life in the photographs that follow.
But.

You know, there is no 'in the beginning,' just a continuation: "When LAST we left our heroes...."

It was the year 1910. (A very good year.) A ten year old girl named Loretta Dueweke, the youngest of 13 children, was having her first communion. At about the same time, in another parish, Frank Remski, aged 14, was also celebrating his.



In the days that followed the end of the first World War, they met and fell in love.




Wedding Picture of Frank Russell Remski and Loretta Marie Therese Catherine Dueweke, August 16, 1921.

"In the front row was Best Man Thomas Remski; Groom Frank Remski, Bride Loretta Remski, and her sister Rose Duweke Manquen. In the back row was Matron of Honor Irene Dueweke Steinhoff, Dan McDonald, Albert Dueweke, Mary Remski Allison. The wedding took place at Annunciation Parish in Detroit." - MAK, typewritten note, ca. 1985




And in their love they produced their first of ten children, a daughter, Martha Ann Remski, born October 19, 1922.



The Duewekes were a large clan, the largest in Detroit at the time. This picture was taken in 1930.

"This picture was taken at a Family Reunion at Chandler Park, on Detroit's East Side. It includes all my mother's brothers and sisters and their spouses andchildren, as well as my grandfather, Louis Dueweke [who died in 1939]. "Grampa" is the bow tied gentleman on the far left in the front of the picture; I am fifth from the right, between my brother John (rubbing his eyes) and Mary Rose (facing backward).

"This picture was subsequently submitted to a Detroit News contents looking for the "largest family in Detroit" ... and it won. Our prize was for all of use to be picked up by cab and taken to the Michigan Theatre downtown, where we saw the first talkie version of "Tom Sawyer." The picture was also published in the Annunciation Parish paper in the year of Msgr. Stapleton's Jubilee Year, 1931." - MAK, typewritten note, ca. 1985




A closeup of Mom from the picture above.



Martha learned the love of books under Frank and Loretta's guiding hand; she also was guided at her school by her namesake, Martha Helen Remski, then known as Sister Marie Fidelis, I.H.M. All were loving but uncompromising teachers.



This picture was taken when she was about seventeen, in 1939 or so.
As she grew she blossomed in beauty....



....and grew in knowledge. Her high school graduation photograph, 1940.
She went on to study at Marygrove College in Detroit.



As the clouds of war gathered overseas, business opportunities opened for women here at home. At the time this picture was taken, she had started her career at Hudson's, which ended in 1946 with her as Hudson's senior advertising exec.

Here she is standing with her mother, Loretta, and her younger sister, Janie, who was about 13 years old (note the cut of Janie's blouse--a modified military cut). This picture was taken around 1945 or so--a color picture, unusual for the time, and likely right after wartime rationing had ended.



About this time, she met a charming young gentleman just out of the Army Air Corps, who called himself Bill.... William J. Kent, Sr.



Mom's engagement picture. Mom and Dad were married in 1946.



Mom, November 1946, on her honeymoon, a glamor shot at the top of the Empire State Building.



Mom as Dad saw her. This had rather dramatic demographic effects.....


(Cecilia and Raphaelle.)
As the family grew.....


(Mom & Dad; Mark, Cecilia, Jerry, Raphaelle, Bill.)
...and grew....

'
(Jerry, Mark, Bill; Brian, John, Raphaelle, Me, Mom, Eileen, Dad, Cecilia.)
...and grew. This picture was taken on June 6, 1966, the day my Dad retired from the Air Force. (I'm the one kicking his heels up.)


(Brian, Jerry, Mark, Bill; John, Raphaelle, Me, Mom, Dad, Eileen, Cecilia.)
Eventually the family stopped growing larger and we all started, well, growing older. This picture was taken in June 1980, when Brian and John (on the far left) graduated from Michigan State University and I (mustachioed and sitting on the ground) graduated from Lakeview High School.


Mom enjoyed her middle years immensely. Here she sits on Bicentennial Day, July 4, 1976, with her sisters in law Pat (Mary Ann Whelan Kent) to her left and with Ginnie (Virginia Potts Kent), standing. Aunt Pat died in the 1980s. Aunt Ginnie died only three weeks before Mom did, and only two days before our Uncle Pat O'Brien, who was the other living Greatest Generation Kent.

(Birth order: Bill, Mark, Jerry, Raphaelle, Cecilia, Brian, John, Me, Eileen; Mom in Front)
But time moves on. This is Mom and the Nine at Dad's funeral in 1991....



(Mark, Michael Tamura, John, Robert Wendler, Trish, moi, Bill, Brian, Jerry; Eileen, Raphaelle, JP's Abigail, Susan, Cecilia, Cecilia's Andy, Mom, Anne,Bill's Caroline, Linda, Brian's Daniel, Brian's Steven; on floor: JP's Jennifer, Cecilia's Zach, and Bill's Thomas.)
....and at a happier occasion, my wedding, in 1993. All 8 of the then-living direct grandkids are in this pic; missing are Jerry's Mario, and Raphaelle's Nicholas and Gregory. (Later we'd gain three more, my sons Will, Paul and Philip. As you can see, the family, uh, started growing again....)



Mama enjoyed much travel before conditions changed. Here she is in 1992 or so.



But Mom was bound and determined to have a joyful time, which she usually did. Here she dances with Cecilia at Eileen's wedding in 2006.



Eileen took care of her in her final days...



And here Mom receives her precious Mary statue back in one piece a few weeks ago.



Mama entered into the new life on June 29, 2010, shortly before one o'clock in the morning. She was the matriarch of both the Kent and Remski families.

These pictures by no means sum up this remarkable woman's life. But her vibrancy and strength can be shown even in her final pictures.

Now THIS is how a life should be led. God love you, Mama, and watch over us as we come to join you in the days ahead.

With love,

Your son,

Richard

Sunday, May 6, 2012

ON HIATUS FOR A FEW DAYS.....


Thursday, May 3, 2012

An Aussie Draws a Map of the US.....


....which is heartening, as the average American's map of Australia would probably look the same. Just emptier.