Medal of Honor

In every dogwood blossom his face
smiles too perfectly.
He never yelled about
my forgotten homework; never
buried my first dog by the fence
in our backyard; never
went eyeball-to-eyeball
with a used car salesman
to get my first car.
He’s a photograph now,
an old one in gray scale.
Only I remember
how the dogwood bloomed
the last time he leaned from the train
to wave goodbye.


~Note: Written to honor Technician Fifth Grade F. Peden who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on February 13, 1946. All events but the dogwood and the train are fictional.

Thoughts on hearing about ban on Art Spiegelman’s Maus

Tennessee is worried about one drawing of a woman without clothes on? How about actual photographs of the piles of naked people murdered in gas chambers? How about images of bulldozers burying those bodies? How about the skin from those people being crafted in lamp shades? How about the images of people starved? Used for experimentation?

In the 1960s PBS did not yet exist, and all of America chose between three television stations ABC, CBS, or NBC. I don’t recall which one of those three aired the documentary, but it was an especially frank broadcast for the times. It may have been shown as a result of Adolf Eichmann being captured and facing trial. Since I was so young, I don’t remember the name of the program. Research leads me to think that it may have been “Remember Us” by director Arnee Nocks and producer: Ted Yates which was aired in July 1960.

I was five years old. I watched it. It still haunts me 60+ years later. That is as it should be. Anyone who isn’t haunted by the holocaust has surrendered their own humanity.