The story The Unequal Burden of U.S. Wars [Fall 2016] was enlightening but did not go far enough. A few years ago I went to the movie Taking Chance, about the death of a young soldier and his trip home to be presented to his parents for burial. A military officer who showed sensitivity and respect accompanied the body as a courtesy to the family. It is worth seeing if you can see through the tears that well up in your eyes.
After seeing the movie, I started thinking of the family and their blue-collar surroundings and had the same question that the article addressed. I went online to search for military casualty statistics and found a wealth of information for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan by the Congressional Research Service. The contents were about post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, self-inflicted wounds, gender and race/ethnicity distributions of deaths, and medical evacuation statistics for U.S. military personnel.
The Minnesota Alumni article addressed the inequalities in our military focusing on the greater sacrifice from the nation’s poor. Digging deeper into the subject of inequality reveals more inequalities. Some are uncomfortable to face but need to be talked about, specifically gender and race. The vast majority of deaths by far are males. This is understandable because most men would willingly sacrifice their life before seeing a women being killed in combat. I think this is just a guy thing no matter what people say about equality in the workplace or pay inequality.
Regarding race, when compared with the number of deaths among black or African American, American Indian/Alaska native, Asian, and native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, a large majority is white.
The inconvenient truth about sacrifice goes beyond just being poor. The reality is that poor white males make up the majority of the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. These realities may stimulate needed conversation about the who, what, where and why of military conflicts.
David E. Wolff (D.D.S. ’71) White Bear Township, Minnesota
Ode To Choral Song
I am just now getting around to writing a note regarding the touching story by John Toren (B.A. ’74), Letting a Song Go Out of My Heart [Fall 2016]. I fully agree with his remarks concerning choral singing as a kind of therapy, as well as, I believe, one of the higher forms of artistic expression.
My personal experience in choral singing started in high school. It gained in personal exhilaration when I entered the U in 1947. I enrolled in University Chorus, not knowing what to expect. The conductor was Dr. James Aliferis, a true master in choral conducting. He could not sing himself, but had the ability to elicit (and sometimes coerce) the kind of sound he was intent on producing.
Under Aliferis’s direction, we prepared several of the greatest works of choral music. Under the direction of Mitropouls and then Dorati and the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, we sang works such as Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, all hefty works that demanded hours of grueling rehearsal time. Under Aliferis, it was even fun, as when we prepared for Rifle, Axe, and Plow in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Minnesota territoriality, in 1949.
I am an octogenarian now, but fondly remember those days. Truly, choral singing is therapeutic and fun!
Leroy Gardner (B.A. ’60, M.A. ’66) Silver Spring, Maryland
Writing About Writing On Aging
I was truly thrilled with your winter issue of the Minnesota Alumni magazine and the sensitive handling of the readers’ focus on aging! Thanks so very much for addressing the issue with such breadth and depth. (And for including my own small contribution.)
I believe your magazine has contributed greatly to readers’ understanding and views on growing older—something we all have in common. This is important stuff, as how we view aging impacts our health and longevity.
Lindsey McDivitt (B.S. ’82) Ann Arbor, Michigan
I just read the winter issue of Minnesota Alumni and decided to write my first letter to the editor.
The article Intimacy Endures by Susan Maas is about the work of [Dr. June La Valleur,] a student I had in high school when I taught at Ashby Public School. I enjoyed it and found it accurate and interesting.
Pardon this 90-year-old’s shaky printing. I am old. I do two miles a day with my wheeled walker and also 40 minutes of physical therapy. The doctor says, “Stay active.” I live in assisted living combined to a nursing home, clinic, and physical therapy facility.
I have three degrees from the U of M. I enjoyed being a G.I. Bill student there and earned my bachelors in two years. I had a wife and daughter so I had to get to work! Thanks and keep up the good work. I enjoy all the department publications I get, as research is of interest to me.
Keith Kapphahn (B.S. ’51, M.S. ’51) Greenbush, Minnesota
I always start reading Minnesota Alumni with the Editor’s Note and with [the winter] issue I read straight through in one gulp. Thanks.
Rita Quigley (M.S.W. ’73) St. Paul
Best. Issue. Ever.
Bill Sonsin (M.S. ’71) Prescott, Arizona
Thank you for this very interesting issue about what it means to grow older. I didn’t think of it from the perspective of younger people reflecting on age, but that is important if they want to improve it when they get older. Thanks to all for sharing.
Marion Palm (B.A. ’78, M.A. ’93) Brooklyn, New York
We have read our winter Minnesota Alumni cover to cover and wanted to thank you for using our Getting Older offering. Your request was certainly successful and it was interesting to see that all ages were represented. We also thought the Editor’s Note was so interesting. It must have been fun receiving so many different stories and thoughts from young and old.
John (B.M.E. ’57) and Carol Koepcke Erhard, Minnesota