I wish I had the courage to ask my dad about Vietnam

first_imgI’d never seen him do that before. He stood stock-still, as though he were defending something.Dad has never broadcast his military service, but around that time he confessed – in a long conversation on Interstate 20 toward New Orleans – that he felt people like him were “under-appreciated,” that they were being “pushed out,” their service to the nation taken for granted.We were on the way to meet up with my brother for a father-son fishing trip. Dad was driving a black Hyundai with peach-colored Georgia plates mounted in a frame that read “Vietnam Veteran.” That was new. My dad has never asked to be thought of as a hero, but somewhere in that burgeoning period of conspicuous militarism, he found the room to do something he’d never done before: publicly identify himself as a veteran, and bear on his license plate and on his person the sometimes wordless emblems of military service.When I was a boy, Dad’s Army service uniform hung in a closet in my brother’s room, along with his combat boots and black felt cavalry hat with the captain’s bars pinned on the front. Categories: Editorial, OpinionWhen I attended my first college football game in Athens, Georgia, in 1981, it was a relatively spartan affair by today’s standards.As I remember it, there were few or none of the militaristic flourishes that accompany sporting events nowadays.We sang the national anthem to ordinary fanfare, palm to left breast, but there were no F-15 flyovers, no surprise halftime reunions between returning soldiers and their gobsmacked children, no public-service announcements reminding us to support our troops. A few years ago, I returned to Athens with two of my boys and my father.When the national anthem began playing over the PA, my father turned toward the gigantic high-definition flag on the enormous new video display and stood at full attention, his right hand up to his eyebrow, saluting in the way he’d been taught. I never touched the dress uniform, but I used the hat for dress-up and possibly for one of the “Son of Rambo” home videos my brother and I shot on the VHS handheld.Dad seemed indifferent to the existence of the mementos of his Army service.If he wasn’t, he never said anything.But we didn’t bother to find out, either, because the subject of Vietnam was a no-fly zone.Dad simply didn’t talk about it, and he must have had his reasons. My father volunteered for a controversial war; he served a one-year tour because he chose to.Whenever I meet an Army solider or veteran, I tell them that my dad was a Huey helicopter pilot in the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. I watch as their jaws slacken and their eyebrows pinch slightly. They often say the same thing. “Whoa.” I had heard from my brother rumors that Dad had walked out of “Apocalypse Now,” but I have never heard why or if it’s even true.Maybe he saw in Robert Duvall’s character – like my father, an officer in the First Cav, in the same felt hat that sat in my brother’s closet – too much of himself, or too little.We saw “Platoon” together when it played in Atlanta, but we didn’t talk about it after it was over. Once, at a dinner with my wife, my parents, and my brother and sister-in-law, Dad volunteered a story about a training flight on a Huey while he was an instructor at flight school at Fort Rucker in Alabama.The engine blew a hole in the side of the combustion chamber, and Dad managed to land the Huey in a peanut field.While I don’t recall the details with the precision I wish I did, I remember it for one reason: My brother gently hushed the conversation at our end of the table. Dad was telling a story from his Army days, and that never happened.Dad volunteered for Vietnam, but he has never once volunteered to talk about it. The Fort Rucker story is as close as I think I’ve ever come to hearing one. The whole experience is like a blacked-out, redacted portion of my father’s personal history as it has been handed down to us.My father didn’t take a single hit during his year in Vietnam, but on either side are tales of wreckage: the damaged Huey in Alabama, and the story about how his helicopter, piloted by someone else, was shot down while Dad was on  R&R not long before he returned to the United States to marry Mom. When Mom texted me a couple of months ago to tell me about the new Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam War, I was attempting, unsuccessfully, to put one of my children to sleep. “It’s on now,” she said. Watching it then was out of the question, a casualty of multiple-child-induced bedtime fatigue. “Worth a watch,” she followed up. “Makes you realize what your Dad went through.”I told her that I would watch it as soon as I had the chance. But what I meant was, I wish he would tell me about it himself.And when the boys were finally asleep, the dust of my mind blown away like the circle of ground beneath a landing Huey, I realized what I actually meant but did not have the guts to say: I wish I had the courage to ask. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the census It makes me proud that my dad is considered a badass by active-duty soldiers who have seen hells of their own – maybe even a slightly crazy kind of badass, who put his life in the line of fire flying into hot zones in Southeast Asia.It’s a vicarious pride, and I take it with some measure of guilt:It’s not my own, and at 46 I know that I will never have to fight in a war the way my dad chose to do.Maybe I tell that to soldiers to establish a tenuous connection with people who have given their lives over to demands that will never be made of me.Maybe I tell it to make myself seem more courageous than I really am, as if somehow some of my father’s courage passed down to me.But at times I feel as if I have as much business telling that story as I did putting on Dad’s flight jacket for a home movie, bearing the accoutrements of courage and military service that I did not earn.It may also be an attempt to solicit from strangers some iota of information on a subject about which my father has chosen to remain mostly silent.last_img read more

Guest column: GOP tax bills harm charities, donors, society

first_imgRELATED: House Republicans consider adding some state income tax deductions to overhaul billAs widely reported in the press, the proposed tax “reforms” would essentially double the standard deduction thereby eliminating individual deductions by the vast majority of individuals, particularly including charitable donations.This will profoundly impact all nonprofits in the U.S. likely resulting in loss of billions of dollars of critical funding.This will threaten the survival of many fragile nonprofits and damage the safety net which is largely made up of nonprofits, particularly given government’s devolution of services to local communities.My interests here are first, as father of a permanently disabled daughter named Jennifer, and also as member of the Eastern New York Developmental Disabilities Advocates (ENYDDA). ENYDDA is an independent, all-volunteer organization founded in 2015 to advocate for disabled family members and educate the public on matters pertaining to the developmentally disabled. I am gravely concerned, along with many other parents, with the legislation’s impacts on all nonprofits, particularly including human service providers not only in this area but across the nation. While consulting with a tax professional is always recommended, donors can accelerate or expand their regular contributions or make major donations to the charity of their choice, in this tax year, before Dec. 31, 2017, before any changes in the tax law can take effect.Secondly, given the dramatic rise in the stock market, an opportunity to discuss with a tax advisor is to donate appreciated securities.This not only allows the deduction on the appreciated value but avoids or minimizes capital gains taxes which can be substantial.Such actions may make particular sense to maximize benefit to your favorite charity now– and lock in the tax savings before the next major stock market decline.While these steps can hardly compensate for the substantial damage to charities, donors and society the GOP legislation inflicts, they at least provide some incremental benefit to charities and donors alike, and in the process all communities which depend so heavily on the nonprofit sector and the services it so critically provides.Christopher Corbett is a nonprofit researcher and author of “Accountability and Ethics in Nonprofit Organizations” in the Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy and Governance (2017, Springer International). The views expressed are the author’s alone. More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidationEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists Sure, the government and for-profit sectors are important. But it is the nonprofit sector that is largely responsible for America’s exceptionalism.That is, charities and nonprofits fill in many of the gaps and fulfill roles that neither government, nor for profits, are remotely capable of performing, particularly relating to critical health and human services.As noted by de Tocqueville, such institutions are responsible for our country’s most unique character.Under a substantially increased standard deduction, the vast majority of citizens will no longer be able to deduct charitable donations as they would not likely exceed the dramatically higher standard deduction.Yet nonprofit organizations are responsible for the very fabric of a civilized society and are an essential byproduct of our country’s longstanding freedom of association.Given the timing and partisan back-room dealing, there may be limited actions that can be taken at this point.However, there are steps donors can immediately take to reduce the risks of the new legislation.center_img Categories: Editorial, OpinionAfter reading Albert H. Hunt’s column in The Daily Gazette “Republicans’ haste leading to flawed tax legislation”, (Nov.  30, 2017), my reaction is the column substantially understates the damaging implications of this partisan legislation proposed under President Trump’s administration.The column fails to mention the great harm to charities and the whole nonprofit sector.last_img read more

Time for government to provide free meals to all school kids

first_imgCategories: Editorial, OpinionWhen we think of childhood hunger, we usually think of famine-stricken countries abroad or our own industrial-era past.But even in 2018, one in five American children lives in a “food insecure” household — i.e., where the USDA says “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources.”This doesn’t mean that 20 percent of children in America are literally starving to death.But kids don’t need to be emaciated to suffer the effects of long-term malnutrition.When kids lack proper meals, it doesn’t just mean an uncomfortable day. It negatively impacts their ability to learn in school. Cognition, retention, test scores, classroom focus and attendance are all demonstrably affected by childhood hunger.Fortunately, there are options for “food insecure” kids.Families meeting certain criteria (e.g., whose income is below 133 percent of the poverty line) are able to apply for subsidized free or reduced-price (F/RP) meals. Sixty-two percent of public-school students qualify.Unfortunately, many kids still fall through the gaps.Of the 1.39 million children in New York who qualified for F/RP meals in 2015–16, about 1.06 million participated in the lunch program and just 484,000 participated in breakfast.Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken note, proposing the “No Student Goes Hungry” program, which addresses the enrollment gap in a number of ways and generally improves mealtime at school.First, it ends “lunch shaming,” a perverse Dickensian practice where schools torment kids with wristbands, chores or cold meals for getting F/RP meals or racking up meal debts. Sure, it’s nice to believe that success is just a factor of effort and personal responsibility. And nobody wants to create lazy people who are dependent on handouts.But children are already dependents.Whatever you think of adults on government assistance, kids are not welfare queens suffering from moral failure. There are no “sins of the father” when it comes to school lunch.Poor kids often already grow up in comparatively substandard and unsafe schools and neighborhoods. They lack the networking opportunities and mentoring, tutoring and parenting time that their wealthy classmates enjoy.Giving all students a good meal is the least we can do to give poor kids a fair shot.Steve Keller is a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.More from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusEDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motoristsEDITORIAL: Beware of voter intimidation Second, it requires many schools to provide breakfast during school hours instead of before the bell.These kinds of in-classroom meal programs have been shown to dramatically increase participation in F/RP breakfast, meaning more kids start the day with full bellies.Third, it increases funding for vending machines and coolers — as well as the Farm to School program, which stocks schools with healthy, local food.This is all good, and we should support it.But it’s really just tinkering around the edges.Our state should do what New York City has already done: Offer free meals to all students.While ending school-sponsored lunch shaming certainly mitigates the embarrassment of poverty at mealtime, we can’t force the stigma discouraging kids from getting F/RP meals out of existence.center_img Only a policy of free meals for all can make it completely obsolete.By making meals universal instead of a unique handout, this particular resentment towards poor kids would disappear.Free meals for all would also eliminate the meal debt problem. If meals are free for everyone, kids whose families are just barely above the eligibility line wouldn’t have to risk skipping lunch or incurring meal debts.Importantly, no child would go without food because of their parents’ ignorance of the program, negligence in applying, or even abuse and neglect.This seems an obvious policy to me. But I suppose there are counterarguments.If you’re hesitant about expanding government programs, remember that nobody would actually be forced to eat school meals — they’d be free to opt in only if they wanted.If it turns out all of those eligible kids are unenrolled because their families are just fine without the school’s help, this policy won’t make much of a difference at all. We all know the tired maxim that “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”In this case, the federal government is likely to bear most of this (relatively small) cost because of the way reimbursements already work.Adding to the deficit is controversial, but if you think that’s “borrowing from our kids’ futures,” consider the child whose future will be impacted by an empty stomach today.Aren’t there charities that help with this?There are. And there’s even a movement afoot to help families pay off their meal debts to school districts.But while charity is nice, getting a meal as a kid shouldn’t be contingent on the willy-nilly goodwill of others.Here’s what it comes down to: Do we believe the old philosophy of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” applies to kids too? Or do kids deserve a fair shot regardless of their station in life?last_img read more

How long must we wait for gun control?

first_imgCategories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionFirst some history: 160 years ago, you could own a slave. People fought to the death for the right for you to own a slave. One hundred years ago, your mother was not entitled to vote. Thirty years ago, you could smoke a cigarette almost anywhere. Twenty years ago, Adam could marry Eve but not Steve.And so, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, effective gun control will come. The critical question is, “How many more children must die until then?”James FogartyNiskayunaMore from The Daily Gazette:EDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusNiskayuna girls’ cross country wins over BethlehemFoss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?Puccioni’s two goals help Niskayuna boys’ soccer top Shaker, remain perfectEDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homeslast_img read more

Posh designer sets up shop in Sloane Square

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Chelsfield awaits go-ahead from President Bush

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Riau zoo management under investigation after death of leopard cub entrusted by police

first_imgRini said that parvoviruses could be transmitted through air, dirt and saliva and commonly attacked felines. It was also possible for the virus was transmitted by lions that were in the zoo, she said. “In the zoo, there is a lion that was also infected by the same virus. Fortunately, the lion was cured and now is in good health. But it is possible the leopard could still have been infected from [the lion],” she added. On Monday, the Riau Police’s Directorate of Special Criminal Investigations (Reskrimsus) summoned and requested information from Rini and the zoo manager, Laskar Jaya Permana, regarding the death of the animal. “We need clarification because the animal was evidence in the alleged smuggling of protected animals. We asked for information to find out the chronology and handling from the beginning,” Reskrimsus director Sr. Comr. Andri Sudarmadi said.Andri said that the clarification process would not stop there as several other related parties would also be questioned as the police continued to explore allegations of negligence.“We are very concerned, hopefully such an incident will not happen again,” he added.In addition to the leopard cubs, the Riau Police also entrusted four lion cubs and 58 Indian Star tortoises to Kasang Kulim.“As regards the rest of the animals, we are still monitoring the situation going forward before deciding whether to move them somewhere else or not,” he said. (syk)Topics : “A few days later, its appetite declined and it started vomiting. On the morning of Jan. 31, a number of medical procedures were administered: [the cub] was given intravenous fluids to avoid dehydration, a number of medicines to increase immunity and antibiotics to prevent secondary infections, as well as anti-emetic drugs,” Rini told reporters on Tuesday.At around 5 p.m. on Friday, the leopard’s health continued to decline. It became increasingly weak, experienced shortness of breath and finally died 30 minutes later, Rini said.Riau BKSDA conducted a necropsy to find out the cause of death and concluded that the leopard was suffering from panleukopenia, a disease caused by a parvovirus that attacks the digestive system and potentially the respiratory tract.“The virus can grow and develop if the immune system is weakened,” Rini added. “Nothing the leopard ate was found to be improper.” The management of Kasang Kulim Pekanbaru Zoo in Riau is being investigated over allegations of negligence after one of two leopard cubs sent by the Riau Police to the zoo died on Friday.The police had confiscated the cubs as evidence in a suspected illegal wildlife smuggling case and placed them at the zoo for safekeeping in December. A veterinarian from the Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Rini Deswita said that a health check on Jan. 28 showed the cub was lively and in good health.last_img read more

PREMIUMIndonesian companies turn to global bonds as interest rates decline

first_imgIndonesian companies are turning to global bonds to raise funds in order to reduce funding costs amid a downtrend in interest rates in the world’s financial markets.At least seven companies have already issued their global bonds since early January to take advantage of cheaper funds overseas.Property developer Lippo Karawaci and oil and gas company Medco Energi International were among the latest issuers of the global bonds.Lippo Karawci issued on Jan. 15 US dollar denominated bonds with a tenure of five years and a coupon rate of 8.13 percent a year and raised about $325 million. The bonds were oversubscribed four and a half times, the company said.Meanwhile, Medco Energi International said it had just issued global bonds with a tenure of seven years and a coupon rate of 6.37 percent. Medco raised $650 million from the issuance of the global bonds, which were liste… Google Log in with your social account Facebook LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Forgot Password ? Linkedin Topics : global-bonds-issuance bond-market interest-rate US-dollar Indonesia companies business funding fund-raisinglast_img read more

PREMIUMIndonesia to get new business license regime with omnibus bill

first_imgGoogle Topics : Log in with your social account LOG INDon’t have an account? Register here Facebook omnibus-bill omnibus-law job-creation BKPM investment-coordinating-board Bahlil-Lahadalia license Linkedin Forgot Password ? The government will introduce a new business licensing regime in the omnibus bill on job creation to boost competitiveness and bolster investment as Indonesia’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) index stagnates at 73rd.The draft omnibus bill obtained by The Jakarta Post introduces the new “business licensing” mechanism issued by the central government, streamlined through the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), according to the bill’s draft and Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 7/2019 on the acceleration of ease of doing business.BKPM head Bahlil Lahadalia said on Monday that the board had started to handle all licensing issuance as per Jan. 31. The new system will cut licensing hurdles as issuance was previously spread across government institutions and regional administrations, causing uncertainty to both investors and b…last_img read more

‘It’s only a matter of time’: Ex-terrorists in Central Java to reintegrate with society

first_imgSuherdjokoTHE JAKARTA POST/SEMARANG According to Haerudin, Jack was the only person who was willing to open up to the program’s officers.“We are conducting a person-to-person approach. It’s only a matter of time [until others open up],” he said. Research from the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) marked Surakarta and some of its neighboring regencies, namely Boyolali, Klaten, Sragen, Karanganyar, Sukoharjo and Wonogiri, as part of a “red zone” for radical teachings.Haerudin also stated that the government was collaborating with public figures, ulema, foundations, Islamic mass organizations such as Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, and government institutions. During one of its recruitment periods, the Islamic State (IS) group was joined by at least 75 Central Java residents who were looking for a way to enter Syria and Iraq.However, it is not known how many of them actually ended up joining the IS. The majority of them came from Surakarta and its surroundings area.Since the downfall of the IS, the Central Java administration has refused to welcome back former IS members to their respective hometowns.“We are following the government’s decision, since Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo has strictly refused the entry of former IS combatants to Central Java. We should have similar commitments in treating them,” Haerudin said. (dpk)Topics : The Central Java administration is currently assisting 127 former terror convicts in a community reintegration program, head of the Central Java National and Political Unity Office Haerudin has said. Of the 127 former convicts, 39 of them have joined the Gema Salam Foundation, which specializes in a deradicalization program in Surakarta, Central Java.“We are still discussing what to do next with the rest of the former convicts since they haven’t entirely been integrated with the public. They refused to open up during a meeting,” Haerudin said recently.One of the 39 people already in the program is Joko aka Jack Harun, a former bomb-maker who was among those responsible for the Bali bombings in October 2002. He was sentenced to six years in prison, finishing his sentence at the end of 2008.last_img read more