Remembering Jim Northrup

In April 2015, Jim Northrup and I were featured speakers at an evening program titled, “Making Meaning of Vietnam.” I will always cherish the memory of Jim, sitting a few feet from me, nodding in agreement and encouragement as I spoke. Jim followed me. My sister videoed Jim’s presentation. As I sat watching the video …

WWII Veterans and PTSD

I recently read Thomas Childers Soldier From The War Returning (2009) in which he explores the lives of three Second World War veterans and their families. The book documents a part of our collective past—an inconvenient truth—that has been airbrushed from our national memory. Yet millions of Baby Boomers grew up in the shadow of …

70 Years ago, A Few Months After Victory over Japan

My grandmother’s diary entry: 11-18-1945: Walked through Central Park—a telegram from John Curry saying he had arrived in San Francisco from Tokyo and was leaving for New York on Friday. This picture, taken two years before I was born, jumped out at me perhaps because of the date. My mother Barbara, oldest brother Chris, about …

Ewa (Eva) Barbacka, my Mother’s Lost Friend from WWII

In September 1939 my mother wrote, Eva Barbacka was a typical Slavic type—a very pale complexion, a round sweet face, large grayish blue eyes and a head of reddish brown waving hair. To tell the truth I had always been a little afraid of her. At that time I did not know that the Slavic …

22 August 2007: Revisiting the Past

Have you ever been troubled by an event in your past? Troubled enough to revisit it? I did. I needed to make sense of why antiwar protestors would attack a hospital bus carrying wounded troops. The discoveries I made have had far-reaching effects. Here is the story, published in Vietnam magazine about my 2007 visit. …

Chickenhouse Chronicles—-Genesis

A few months after my mother, Barbara, died in 2010 I discovered a time capsule—including my grandparent’s urns— locked in the chickenhouse on our old homestead in northern Minnesota. (I stopped calling her Mom the spring of 1962. In 1960 she had been committed to Fergus Falls State Hospital—we children had been sent to foster …