Valor, Tragedy, and Scandal

Our town was mentioned in the national news over the past couple of days due to an obituary.  I bet in the next couple of days it will make the national news due to a scandal at the local post office. Both stories involve the local newspaper.

Earlier this week our newspaper ran a moving and poetic obituary on a former resident, a Vietnam veteran, who died in a Veterans’ home in Montana. The story made the national news. If you read the article, it also provides a link to the actual obituary.

Then, late Thursday afternoon, the paper broke a story about thousands of pieces of mail being thrown in dumpsters behind the post office by postal employees.  I believe I have mentioned here my frustration with late or non-existent mail delivery.  Well, now we know what has been happening.

Both these stories will elicit Baboon reactions and comments, so my question is simple:

Comment on these stories and your reactions to them.

27 thoughts on “Valor, Tragedy, and Scandal”

  1. I have always had a very visceral reaction to the Vietnam war. I assume that this is because I knew young men who went to that war. And two that did not come back from that war. I have never been able to watch Vietnam war movies or read Vietnam war books. For many years, I thought this would change but even after four plus decades, it has not. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to carry actual memories and images around in your head like that.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I had read the Bill Ebeltoft obit yesterday, but hadn’t seen the mail-in-the-dumpster story. Considering the amount of “junk” mail that we get on a daily basis, it’s hard for me to muster much outrage about it, although I understand, of course, that we can’t have our mail carriers arbitrarily deciding what mail they’re going to deliver, and what mail they’re going to throw in the dumpster. I trust that the new postmaster will sort that all out.

    The Bill Ebeltoft obituary, however, strikes me as profoundly sad. A young life so thoroughly derailed in a senseless and brutal war that it never got back on track. Paul’s recollections of the brother he knew, the one whose life gradually spiraled out of control upon returning from the war, are heart breaking. The anecdote of Bill singing “My Old Kentucky Home” to a sad nurse in an attempt to cheer her up, show that whatever else Bill had lost, a small shred of his humanity remained intact.

    I find it interesting that Paul chooses to remember his older brother as he was in 1969 and not as he later became. That he deliberately chooses to see Bill’s life as not diminished but drastically different. If that strategy works for him, who am I to quibble?

    Many baboons fall in the age group that the phenomenon of the Vietnam War veterans affected us personally. I have three close friends who came back as severely damaged goods, mentally. Two of them were medics, so they were witness to all sorts of horrors. It took them years to regain any semblance of sanity, but luckily they have, but those scars are deep and lasting.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. My hope is that mail delivery improves after this. It is so frustrating to have the mail arrive after supper, or not at all.


  3. I have mixed emotions about the postal story. My mailbox is filled with ads, pleas for donations, bills and stupid messages from my medical insurer. If I get one thing in fifty that I’m actually happy to see in my mail box, that’s a good day. My friends use email, so if snail mail were to just disappear my life would maybe be nicer.

    The war was a senseless tragedy that has been a blight on my life in spite of the fact I was one of the lucky ones who avoided serving. I grieve for those who had to fight in that senseless, ugly conflict. Even the survivors were often messed up ever afterward, and we should never underestimate the way the war distorted politics in this nation. We are still paying a horrible price for the moral cowardice of earlier political leaders.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I think the links are not working correctly on my iPad. There are several things that will not allow the stories to be viewed. Later today I will try on my laptop. That war was so very devastating in so many ways. Of course, 50 years later, it interferes in your mail.


  5. That is alarming about the mail, esp. since “Among the newspapers and Advertisers were other addressed envelopes and general mail.” We’ve had a mail scandal here, too, where the (former!) postmistress was STEALING people’s mail – people weren’t getting checks and all kinds of personal mail. The articles I’ve read didn’t provide her motive, and she ultimately received a “slap on the wrist” rather than a prison sentence. People here are outraged, but it sort of gets lost in all the other outrage happening.

    Will have to read the Vietnam one later…


  6. One thing the story doesn’t mention but that was mentioned in a story from another paper is that Mr. Ebeltoft developed Korsakoff syndrome along with Wernicke’s encephalopathy. The conditions develop due to a thiamine or vitamin B1 deficiency caused by heavy drinking. It results in dementia and brain dysfunction. I have seen people with these conditions when I worked at a VA hospital and it is heartbreaking.


    1. I know that a lot of Vietnam veterans turned to pot and booze to dull their pain. My three friends initially did, as well. All three have since developed more appropriate alcohol consumption habits, and are living relatively “normal” lives, whatever that means. But the first couple of years after they got back home, it was touch and go. It helps that all three have developed a strong community of friends through hobbies. One belongs to a Swedish glee club in Chicago, one is a competitive ballroom dancer who is especially passionate about the tango, and Randy is a devoted music lover and promoter who lives in Nashville.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Morning-

    I don’t want to make light of the mail situation. No one should be allowed to just “dump” the mail. I can sure see where the newspapers decisions on their end to help themselves, inversely affected the post office too. Huh. They didn’t think of that did they? Or the one lonely voice who did was overruled anyway. Our mail is always late. Never comes before 5:30 or 6:00 at night. But at least we get it every day. And we’ve talked with the mail carrier; he’s working two shifts because of shortages in staffing. One night driving into the theater I saw a mail carrier in town with flashlights delivering mail and that was close to 7:30. So we could be worse.

    Isn’t there a Seinfeld episode of mail in a storage room and they all pitch in to deliver. That was kinda funny in a ‘tv reality’ way.


  8. I’ve long been frustrated by the impossibility of younger generations to understand what it was like to live through earlier periods of history. I’m sure this is basic to the human condition, so people who experienced the Civil War must have felt much the same. The Vietnam fiasco worked many distortions on our society, creating a nasty climate of opinion I will never forget. Younger people cannot comprehend what it was like in the 60s and 70s, when police assassinated black leaders they feared and National Guard troops fired live ammunition at college protesters and Charlie Stenvig (former Mpls mayor) ordered tear gas to be dropped on the U of MN campus from helicopters. Some young people felt morally obligated to emigrate to Canada (a more appealing notion than kissing a military recruiter, pretending to be gay).

    Things were nuts. It is all depicted in the song (and film) Alice’s Restaurant, but to really know what it was like, “you hadda been there.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. they can comprehend but it’s similar to my comprehending the rush to sign up in 1941 after pearl harbor called the us to war
      i spent 2 years getting my co in line for the day i turned 18 and when i went to file in 73 the guy told me i could if i wanted to but that he suggested i just sign up and that no one would be called that year and if i was called i could file at that time
      i was hesitant but he was speaking from the heart and i signed my draft card and they ended the draft that year. it had a profound impact on me. canada , jail anywhere but combat and the killing fields


  9. Do US mail is having a tough time existing and running at a deficit and if the mail carrier doesn’t understand that the junk mail pays his salary and that the people who are trying to run their advertising through the US postal system need to be assured that the stuff is being delivered then there’s a problem

    The Vietnam era stuff is the story of war PTSD used to be called shellshocked and it was common in the old movies to see some old veterans mumbling about because he was shellshocked I recently had a friend die went through a Trumatic brain injury and basically drank himself to death

    every urban and many non-urban areas have corners occupied by people with mental health challenges people sleeping in sleeping bags outdoors at night asking for a little help to buy their next meal in today’s economy where if you have a pulse you can get a job it’s hard to understand why these people aren’t able to find a way to take care of them selves but when you realize 95% of the problem is mental health it all makes sense

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Viet Nam was a concern for me because I turned 18 in 1974 and had to register for the draft. When the lottery balls stopped bouncing, my birthday was somewhere around 110. (Each number represented the 365 days of the year and they were randomly chosen.)

    That meant that IF the draft continued, I was a sure bet to be drafted. The rule of thumb was that the first third of the lottery numbers were sure to be drafted; the middle third maybe, depending on whether the war escalated or not; and the last third was pretty well guaranteed of not being drafted.

    Knowing I had nothing to lose, I applied for and was granted Conscientious Objector status. All I remember was filling out the draft registration form and then submitting a written explanation of why I thought I deserved CO status. To this day I wonder what I wrote in that letter than convinced some Pentagon official to approve my request. I vaguely explained that I was morally opposed to all violence, and had never been an aggressor on the school playground or with any friends, barely even with my brother and sister other than the usual sibling quarrels.

    I doubt I was very eloquent, and how well can a typical 18-yr-old effectively state their case for anything as monumental as that life-changing decision anyway? I could barely get up the nerve to ask a few girls out on a date.

    My parents and I had serious discussions about sending me to Canada (my dad is strongly anti-war too), and I thought about that particular “what if?” a lot. But somehow I was spared and feel lucky to have missed out on that little party(debacle) in the jungle.

    However, my late brother in law wasn’t so lucky. He served in the early 60s, got exposed to Agent Orange or some equally deadly chemical somewhere during that time (The belief is, that happened at the basic training base in North Carolina, but he did go to VN too. The Army is highly reluctant to admit any wrongdoing with his case and many others–because of the cost and liability of course.)

    As a result, he contracted a disease similar to ALS whereby his muscles slowly degenerated to the point where he could no longer walk, talk, or care for himself in the most basic ways. It was incredibly painful and depressing and angering to watch that slow-w-w-w decline. And pardon my French, but when I say slow, I mean more than twenty fucking years.

    All the while, the Army would admit no culpability or responsibility, offered no help other than standard VA benefits, and treated him like a minor inconvenience rather than a hero because he willingly volunteered to serve his country and put his life on the line.

    I’m sure many of you know of a Viet Nam vet (or more recent wars) who has been treated like shit after their service–it’s not uncommon considering all the homeless vets, rampant PTSD, other mental illnesses, and the various unique health problems many vets have developed by serving in a toxic environment or theater of war. But when it becomes personal, you see reality more clearly and you feel the pain and frustration of the loved one who suffers.

    I always wondered about my decision to go against the flow and manage to “be allowed” to “chicken out,” as some people would gladly say. But since 9/11, and then reflecting on ALL the foolish wars our “fearless idiots” have gotten us into–starting with our first serious attempt at empire building in the Spanish-American War–I’ve come to believe that applying for CO status was one of the wisest decisions I’ve made in my life. It has allowed me to live a life true to my beliefs.

    I’ll probably get some flack from those with a more hawkish outlook on the world, but all I’ll say in rebuttal is that if all or most of the governments in the world officially sanction violence (war) as the solution to the world’s problems, it tacitly endorses violence as the solution to all the problems of every citizen ruled by those governments. We are literally on a path toward self-inflicted, world-wide genocide.

    Chris in Owatonna
    (whew, never intended to open up this much)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’d like to see a list of ALL of the military conflicts this country has been involved in, a list matched up with a candid discussion of how favorable the result actually was. And how about an account like that that lays out the true cost of our big and little wars? Nobody ever looks at military adventures that way, taking into account all the damage done to young people who experience combat.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Many Libertarian scholars make the case that all wars the US engaged in except the American Revolution and perhaps the Civil War were unnecessary, ill-advised, and resulted in outcomes that were either worse than expected or didn’t achieve the original goals at all (example: WW One, the war to end all wars).

        Regarding the personal cost, think of how many millions of young, energetic, productive members of society were killed, injured, enslaved, tortured, or imprisoned for years so that their possible contributions to the improvement of society were lost or minimized. And then there’s the trillions and trillions of dollars (in today’s dollars when factoring in all wars since recorded history) that were wasted on killing people and developing better ways of killing people instead of being used to improve the lives of everyone in the world.

        Each war fought is a conscious decision to rob individuals of their chance to live a better life.



      1. One of the great mysteries of my life that I’ll probably never solve. I always wonder, was there one guy at the Pentagon who read CO applications, had a bad day or a weak moment or decided, “Meh, I guess I better approve at least one application so the US Military doesn’t come off as completely heartless bastards.” 🙂

        Talk about “winning” a lottery. Back then I figured I had about a one-in-a-million chance to be approved.



  11. A lot of my important mail comes electronically, but I still value the personal mail I occasionally get in the mailbox. I would miss the post office if it were to go away.

    The obituary brings this to mind…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. the post office employed the disney method of delivery promises this christmas and is whooping fed ex and ups
      they promise delivery by the 24th and deliver 2 or 3 days early with priority
      fedex promises 2 day delivery and meets expectations 60% of the times
      usps is at 87%


  12. disney always tells you you’ll be in line for a ride for 1 hour s as nd you get there in 45 minutes and are elated to have only waited 45 minutes

    universal studios tells you 40 minutes and you are really pissed that it took 45

    different ways to do it

    good luck usps

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.