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Poem: Born during the Korean War

640px-Aldrin_Apollo_11_originalBorn during the Korean War

Born during the Korean War,
Raised in the 1950s and 1960s
Stay at home mom and hard working dad
They gave us a better chance than they ever had.
And were glad they did, but never told them.

Eisenhower was president when we started school,
Boys wore flat-tops, tee-shirts, and Levi’s jeans.
Girls in dresses, saddle oxfords and knee sox,
Kennedy debated Nixon,
And we got a black and white TV.

Mantle and Maris chased Babe Ruth,
In Cuba we faced off the Soviet Missiles,
In Dallas President Kennedy was shot,
It was different before the British invasion,
And then the world started to rock.

Our hair grew longer, our skirts got shorter,
We had loud music our parents couldn’t stand,
We watched Viet-Nam each night over supper,
Hey, hey LBJ how many kids did you kill today?
We wanted muscle cars and drove old Chevys.

Saturday night with our favorite girl,
Sheiks and Trojans would go with us to the drive-in.
And we’d be in luck each month if nature struck
And if not you said I do – and did
Beatles, Stones, CCR, Johnny Cash, and Glen Campbell

We crossed the Trinity River for a beer,
Boones Farm and Everclear… and Nixon was back
And we buried Everett who was killed in ‘Nam
With dozens from high school somehow surviving the big trip
And we went to the moon.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
January 1974

Photo Source:
Aldrin Apollo 11 original” by NASA – http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/a11/AS11-40-5903HR.jpghttp://www.archive.org/details/AS11-40-5903 (TIFF image). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Book Review: How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones

How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War by Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones is a scholarly look at the Civil War. Hattaway and Jones have produced a great book on Civil War logistics, planning, and administration. They authors seem to focus more on the logistics and strategy side over the tactical side.

The book was very good, but at times, it was a dry recitation of chronology, dull facts, and statistics. I had to force my way to complete the book, and it took two attempts to get it read. Most copies of the book will collect dust on some university library bookshelf. It is too deep and too dry for most readers. Better to borrow this book from your library than spend your money purchasing the book.

Read by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.

Poem: By the Big Creek

CAM00397By the Big Creek

I was hiking
by the big creek
on a summer day
in the bright sun.
It was so hot
and I was all alone.

Lost in my thoughts
my foot struck the pathway
to the cadence
of the music
I was listening to
on my iPod.

By the big creek
there were people
reading signs saying keep right
and a concrete path
with city dwellers walking
to and fro.

Lovers hand in hand
and it all made sense
except for the litter
on the big creek’s banks
while across the way
was a broken down barbed-wired fence.

In the bright sun
not a cloud in the sky
there was sweat on my brow
running down my temples
as an old lady walked by
and she smiled at me showing her dimples.

It was so hot
I drank some water
lots of cool water
and the temperature
was 110 degrees
and that was in the shade.

Lost in my thoughts
my foot struck the pathway
to the cadence
of the music
I was listening to
on my iPod.

While I was hiking
by the big creek
on a summer day
in the bright sun
it was so hot
and I was all alone.

Jimmie A. Kepler
August 2011

Photo Source: Taken by the author

Book Review: A Soldier Reports by William Westmoreland

The book is the memoir of one of America’s most controversial military leaders. I found it refreshing to read of his background and upbringing. He briefly covers his days as a cadet at West Point where he graduated in 1936, the horse dawn artillery days, and his role in World War II where he fought with distinction in North Africa and Europe with the Ninth Division. We see his fast rise to a Brigadier General before thirty years of age and later (1952–53) in role in the Korean War. He served as superintendent of West Point (1960–64), attained (1964) the rank of general and commanded (1964–68) U.S. military forces in Vietnam. He then assumed the position of army chief of staff, which he held until his retirement in 1972.
I was saddened as I read Westmoreland’s comments on one of the early killed in action lists that crossed his desk. It included 2LT John J. Pershing III, grandson of World War I supreme commanding general “Blackjack” Pershing. The book looks at the Viet-Nam war from Westmoreland’s point of view. It explains his decision making process. It is more than an after action report. It is worth reading if you are a political or military history junkie. His relationship with Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara are not covered in the detail I would have liked. This is the story of a decent man, giving his best to his country in difficult times.
Read and reviewed by Jimmie Aaron Kepler.

I Wish It Would Rain

I love rain. Many people hate it. I love it. We are in a bad drought in north Texas. Many of the lakes that provide our water are less than 20% full. This is a good time to reflect on needed rain. As I write this on October 7 it is 101 degrees on my front porch. It is hot and dry. Why should I love rain? It is not easy for people to understand, but I will try to explain.

Rain is a precious gift from God. It falls from the sky. Sometimes it falls in large amounts. Sometimes it comes from the heavens in small amounts. Sometimes it doesn’t visit us for weeks or months at a time. When it does visit, it always brings its friend the clouds. Rain can also bring its noisy colleague thunder and bright pal lightning.

Rain is like a guest in your home. At first, you are glad to see the rain, but if it stays around too long, it can out stay its welcome.
Rain can be refreshing. It gives the air and the countryside a shower. It washes the pollen from the air. It washes the pollen off the cars, sidewalks, and driveways. Rain removes dust from the leaves of the flowers, bushes and trees.

The temperature falls when the rains come. Rain transforms the hot world into a cool, air-conditioned environment in the summer and a chilly one in the winter. It helps you appreciate a warm, dry house. It is a muse for Ray Bradbury as he writes short stories about it in “The Illustrated Man”.
Rain also helps a person forget their troubles. You worry less about how you look. After all, the water from the mud puddle may have splashed on you. You enjoy freedom from irritations. Only those people who truly want to see you will come see you in the rain. Most gripers and complainers stay away when it is wet outside. They wait for a less rainy day.

It is fun walking outside when it rains, especially with an umbrella. Just singing in the rain … you can hold an umbrella in one hand, letting it prop on your shoulder. When the rain falls, the propped up open umbrella keeps you from getting soaking wet. It is fun to take a wet umbrella, hold it at a forty-five degree angle to the ground and spin it around and around making something magical happens. The drops of rain the umbrella has collected go flying off in every direction away from the umbrella holder. You can aim the umbrella where the drops spray someone or you can splatter the drops on the ground as you spin the umbrella ‘round and ‘round.

Even if you don’t own an umbrella you can still have fun in the rain. Shopping malls miraculously have parking spaces available closer to the door when it’s raining. The crowds are noticeably smaller. The joy of the mall increases as you experience less hustle and bustle. At church, better seats are available.

A sad not about rain is it sometimes cancels baseball games. While this is sad, though not to all wives, it does hold the potential of prolonging our great national pastime’s season or giving us the rare treat of the near extinct double-header. Without rain, there would not be real green grass on the baseball fields, rain checks from baseball games, manageable crowds at the mall, or great seats easily available at church. Rain makes the world a nice place.

Without rain, the flowers would not grow. Without rain, there would be no Fillet of Fish at McDonald’s Restaurants. Without rain there would be no people living.

I love rain. Now, I just wish it would rain. Here’s a little mood music by The Temptations. It is their 1960s hit “I Wish It Would Rain”.

Written by: Jimmie A. Kepler

Poem: Books

A_tower_of_used_books_-_8446Books

Books take you places
You hope someday to go
They transport you to times
In the future or long, long ago

The words paint the pictures
The author’s canvas is your mind
Surreal images greet you
Where people are not always kind

You do not have to dress up to read one
They have a special texture, smell, and feel
Some tales make you laugh
While others make you squeal

Jimmie Aaron Kepler
May 7, 2009

Photo Source: 
© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.arCC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Book Review: A Life in a Year: The American Infantryman in Vietnam, 1965-1972 by James R. Ebert

Includes spoilers:

Wisconsin high school teacher James R. Ebert does a masterful job as he combines interviews and printed primary sources in this remarkable telling of the infantryman’s experience during the Vietnam War. Ebert tells the story of the US Army and a few US Marine infantrymen during the Vietnam War. He takes their story from induction into the service through basic and advanced individual training, arrival in Vietnam, their first combat experiences, the first killed in action they experience, in some cases the soldier’s death, and the freedom birds that take them back to the world. Ebert points out while infantryman accounted for less than 10% of the American troops in Vietnam, the infantry suffered more than 80% of the losses.

Ebert uses an interesting technique starting every chapter with a letter by Leonard Dutcher to his parents. Dutcher just wanted to do his part for God and country and go home at the end of his 12-month tour (13 for Marines). Spoiler alert! In the last chapter, we find out that Dutcher was killed. It caught me off guard and really added to the impact of the book. Ebert takes many of the soldiers and Marines experiences word for word from the individual himself through interviews or letters. It is a collective look at similarities of the many infantry soldiers and Marines in the war. It is a very personal account from many points of view.

This is an important book in Vietnam War literature. This is what the grunts really went through. I was left with somewhat of feeling of guilt from reading the book. Why? I graduated high school in 1971. Some of my high classmates went to Vietnam and fought. Everett Maxwell was killed in action. I went to college and was ultimately commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry, went through airborne school and served three years active duty. My becoming an officer deferred my entry on active duty from 1971 to 1975. This is the reason for my reflective thoughts.

Read and reviewed by Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Winner Very Inspiring Blogger Award

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BOOKS BY JIMMIE A. KEPLER
The Prairie Dogs Have Coal Miners' Helmets with Lights and Other Stories
by Jimmie A. Kepler
Short Story Collection: Available on Amazon

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