Just Sitting and thinking

Bird Droppings April 23, 2016
Just Sitting and thinking

I was reading old emails and even looking at some old correspondence through my almost never used Xanga account. It was somewhere way back in 2005 and my middle son had posted a note that he had read the lyrics to a song. Joni Mitchell is and was one of the folk singers of the antiwar movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s Viet Nam era. I had just finished thinking and writing about synchronicity to a comment on my blog and how words may be for this person or that and be just what was needed. Yesterday I wrote about morality and an email came back about a ninth grade class where the discussion went into the morality of gene therapy which is what we are by chance discussing currently in my co-teaching biology classes and the students were unsure of the concept of morality. They had to discuss morality first before getting into science.

I am sitting in Georgia writing to friends around the country and a few overseas and thinking about all that happened yesterday and over the weekend pondering on what will happen today and thinking back to why my son was drawn to a song. I used words from songs periodically in my correspondence and in counseling teenagers with emotional problems. So often words and lyrics can be so powerful and so moving sadly conversely words can destroy and conquer. I share these words today a simple plea from a folk singer with a quiet voice from many years back, Joni Mitchell.

The fiddle and the Drum
By Joni Mitchell

And so once again
My dear Johnny my dear friend
And so once again you are fightin’ us all
And when I ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry, and I fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum
You say I have turned
Like the enemies you’ve earned
But I can remember
All the good things you are
And so I ask you please
Can I help you find the peace and the star
Oh, my friend
What time is this
To trade the handshake for the fist
And so once again
Oh, America my friend
And so once again
You are fighting us all
And when we ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry and we fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come
To trade the fiddle for the drum
You say we have turned
Like the enemies you’ve earned
But we can remember
All the good things you are
And so we ask you please
Can we help you find the peace and the star
Oh my friend
We have all come
To fear the beating of your drum
© 1969 Siquomb Publishing Corp. (BMI)

A dear friend in Pennsylvania whom I have known for many years and we correspond regularly was researching a drummer boy from West Chester Pa. who was the youngest soldier killed on the Union side during the Civil War. I should say he was the youngest person killed from the Union forces during the Civil War. My friend was for years obsessed with the story and is now writing a book about his findings. After many years of searching he found the grave of the drummer boy which is entirely another story. He had been to that spot numerous times as the drummer boy’s parents were buried there. A poplar tree marked the grave between the parents.

One of my student friends at school came by upset her brother had just joined the Marines. She comes from an extended family of eleven kids in several marriages and step dads and moms. It is great at Christmas time and bad at times like this. How do you explain to a teenager war or as happening now wars. The little drummer boy in Pa. was twelve when he died in battle.

Recently I ran into a friend who had joined the national guard he was rejected after going through training and suffering a stress fracture as his medical records were looked at in more detail in the hospital it came up he had been treated for depression. He was upset that he could not go and fight. I recall a good friend in high school we would play ice hockey at G. O. Carlson’s pond in the winter pick-up games and he and I would talk often as we waited for others to show up. He did not even live in our neighborhood but would come to play. He played the bassoon in the high school band and was on the soccer team. He and I both flunked out of college and were drafted within days of each other. I am epileptic even though I have not had a seizure since childhood and received a 4Y permanent medical deferment sadly he went to Viet Nam. Many years later thinking I would see him at a reunion as I drove to my tenth high school reunion and I found out he had been killed in Viet Nam. This wasn’t possible and put a damper on my weekend back in Pennsylvania I sat back and wondered as at each moment as I sat at my table at the reunion and another name was mentioned another life had passed away in a war soon to be not a war soon to be merely history.
Only a few years ago I went with one of my sons on a band trip to Washington DC. As we were riding on the bus along the way to the new Viet Nam memorial we are told how to find names of relatives and friends in the index books located at the ends of the memorial. I walked down and was so emotional at best I could find a name then two and three and four and till I could no longer look up names as I wrote on my hand where on the wall they are located in black ink. A recent email from a friend who lost her husband he had come back from Viet Nam and so many thoughts. I walked down the line found the spot and the name, emotions tears welled up I walked hurriedly away as far as I could get and sat on a bench looking down across the wall. A park squirrel wandered through my field of vision and soon it was an hour or so and my son found me “dad the bus is leaving we need to go” I do not remember thinking just staring at that wall and that squirrel that wandered back and forth interrupting my thoughts. So many thoughts as I think back as we fight another war I have a difficult time with the concept of war.

“But we can remember all the good things you are and so we ask you please can we help you find the peace and the star oh my friend we have all come to fear the beating of your drum” Joni Mitchell

Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and remember to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)

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