BY Laura Hillenbrand

It is an honor to publish my daughter’s very sensitive reflections
on her days at Kenyon College where she contacted
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which has been a constant misery.

I lost Kenyon in a driving rainstorm in the spring of 1987. I was nineteen, seriously ill and frightened. That morning I signed the forms that officially withdrew me from school, hugged my best friend Lincoln goodbye, climbed into a battered Toyota and pulled out, bound for hospitals and tests and suffering beyond comprehension. I watched Linc recede in the rearview mirror until the rain washed him from view.

I drove through campus, looking at everything for the last time. A memory hung on each windowsill, each flight of steps, each lean of the road. I pulled past the mottled tree where Linc pulled me close in the darkness and told me his most guarded secret. Past Caples, where a guy I knew named John built a massive cardboard airplane, launched if off the roof, and cheered it on as it bellied up over the parking lot, then augured in inches short of someone’s front window. Past the quad in front of Norton, where I broke my nose playing football with the guys from Lewis. Past the deli where I sucked down coffee, fretted over osteology and slept over Burke. Past the lawn where I first felt a body folded around mine, lips warm by my ear, a whispered I love you. Past the house where Megan, my English professor, wrote me the letter than made me a writer. Past the dorm where I was told about the ghosts that haunt the campus. Past the bench where I sat and wondered why ghosts came here.

More than a quarter century has passed. I never got well, and never came back. My friends moved on, graduated, scattered to the winds. John, builder of rogue cardboard planes, is dead. The young man who whispered to me in the grass is a corporate executive. Linc is ushering his sons and daughter through the world. Some of my friends have vanished. The rest are tending mortgages and children, thinning hair, thickening waists. Life is better and worse, simpler and more complicated, and the people we used to be slip further and further from reach, becoming ethereal. Becoming ghosts.

Sometimes, in my mind, I go back to Kenyon and live in my former self, nineteen and exquisitely, irretrievably alive. I draw my old friends around me, just as they were, and drift through all the places where my memories gather. I see others there, animating their own lost selves.

I glide down Middle Path with the other ghosts, understanding now why they come.

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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The Martin and Zimmerman families are outstanding and proud families. Both have suffered terrible and needless loss in the death of sons Traylon Martin and now the hounding to death of son George Zimmerman.

George Zimmerman worked and studied hard to fulfill his dream of becoming a policeman. One of his heroes was a highly respected policeman friend who recommended that George prepare to be a policeman by buying a gun. He purchased a pistol and trained frequently at a gun range in the responsible use of that gun. He studied many other aspects of law enforcement. He also volunteered to be a Neighborhood Watch Volunteer. He had a record of being helpful to the many victims of crime in the Gated Community area.

On the rainy night of the tragedy he was returning from shopping when he say a hooded African/ American man walking slowly in what he though was a suspicious manner. He called to inform the police on a non-emergency line. They took his information and then advised him that it was not necessary for him to follow the suspect. George then made a terrible mistake and got out of his vehicle and did follow.

We now know from court testimony that Trayvon was visiting his father in nearby residence. He was retuning from shopping with can of tea and a snack. We know that he was on the telephone with a young lady. He told her he was being followed by a suspicious man he referred to as a “Cracker” and was going to respond. . That proved a fatal mistake. He should have called 911 and hurried home.

One of them started the confrontation. Unfortunately we have only George’s version. At the trial there was evidence that the larger and much more athletic Traylon punched George in the face and broke his nose as he knocked him to the grass. At the trial both defense and later prosecution agreed that Trayvon was on top and that he was slamming George’s head against a cement side walk. George was screaming for help. George had no way of knowing if Trayvon was armed. Getting no response for his screams for help and fearing for his life George fired a single shot from a full magazine.

Now comes the very troublesome trial that makes this a national misfortune. At the beginning the local police chief was convinced that George had acted in self defense as did the local persecutor. At that point people not directly involved and not knowing the facts declared that this was a racial hatred case and demanded that George be prosecuted .The Republican Governor responded by appointing a special prosecutor .The presiding judge ruled that race was not at issue. After a long trial of fierce clashes of top Prosecuting and Defense lawyers the 6 member all women sequestered jury found George not guilty of any crime.

That verdict did not please Jessie Jackson. He denounced the all woman jury for not being blacker. He has demanded a Federal Civil Rights Investigation. The verdict has also infuriated Commentator Al Sharpton who demanded and got national public racial protests. He is remember for the Tawana Brawley trial many years ago when he proclaimed racial hate when a young black girl he represented to escape punishment from her father lied when she testified that she was raped by six white men. .

Richard Cohen added balance to the discussion in his July 16, 2013 column
“Where is the politician who will own up to the painful complexity of the problems and acknowledge the widespread fear of crime committed by young black males”? President Obama said the same thing in an excellent testimony to his own recognition of the problem of troubled young black males.

George Zimmerman like everyone else has the right to self defense and every American is presumed innocent until proven guilt. He was charged and tried and declared not guilty by a jury of his peers. There is no reason for him to be called “the most hated man in America.”

The FBI has for many months have been investigating George to determine if there is evidence that he hated blacks. They should also investigate Trayvon to see if his on the phone characterizing George as a “Cracker” indicates any history of hatred of whites. They should also investigate to determine where Trayvon got the illegal drugs the residue of which were discovered in his autopsy and determine if these two factors may have caused him to start the fight and punch George in the face..

The Defense Council has said with respect to race in this case if Traylon was white there would have been no public attention.

George does not show emotion as witness his stone face response to the not guilty verdict. However if George were my parishioner I would urge him to find a way to tell the Martin Family how terribly sorry he is that he unintentionally killed their son and ask their forgiveness. We do know that this week he came out of seclusion to help remove a family from their overturned car.

Rev Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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It has been 69 years since last I saw the faces of fellow WWII soldiers Bill Erwin, Dwight Holmes and Harry Kolasa. Although they are deceased they are often in my thoughts and prayers particularly on Memorial Day. Bill and Dwight and I went into the Army from various college Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC) programs and were assigned to the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). We came together when that program was suddenly ended and participants in mass were assigned to the 106h Golden Lion Infantry Division at Camp Atterberry in Franklin Indiana.

We were sick of constant training and we three who had bonded as brothers volunteered for combat. We were set to Maryland’s Fort Mc McClellan near Dwight’s home in Baltimore. After a birthday party for Dwight at his home and a night in New York City we sailed on the Queen Elizabeth to the Firth of Clyde in Great Britain. We three were still together and assigned to a replacement Depot at Salisbury England.

During the war for security reasons we were not allowed to keep a diary or any written record so dates are guesses. It was after D Day at about the time of the Allied breakout from Normandy. With no warning and only a hasty goodbye we were suddenly separated and assigned as Riflemen Infantry replacements. Dwight and I were assigned to different regiments of the Big Red One First Infantry Division and Bill was posted to another Infantry Division.

I sailed from Plymouth England on a troop ship the former Belgian passenger the Leopoldville which on the following Christmas Eve was sunk by a German Submarine with the loss of several hundred soldiers. As we approached Omaha Beach we were met by small Boats called Landing Craft Infantry. (LCI) and ordered down the Leopoldville’s side on rope ladders. We were in combat gear with gas masks and back packs. The soldier above me was impatient and his boot kept hitting my helmet. I saw the shoulder bars of the Second Lieutenant below me who was descending very cautiously. Suddenly a giant well raised the LCI several feet and crashed it against the ship side rope ladder. It crushed the Lieutenant to death and splattering me with his blood as he sunk into the sea. The LCI feel back deep in the water and started to rise again. In an instant I had to decide try to escape up the ladder or try to dive head first into the small boat. Timing was everything. It was the greatest leap of my life. With luck I landed head first just inches inside the craft just as it hit the ship’s side a second time. As we quickly separated from the Leopoldville my prayers were a thank you for being alive and for the Lieutenant. To add my war experience the LCI Sailor dropped anchor far short of Omaha Beach and dumped we survivors in water up to our waists. We spent our first night in a combats zone soaking wet from sea water and pouring rain in two- man tents in a flooded field at St Mere Eglise.
After a truck ride across France I joined the Company G of the 18th Regiment near Namure Belgium. My first action was in the attack on Aachen a proud German City famous as Charlemagne’s Capital. It was a and part of the heavily fortified German Siegfried Line. Our 16th Regiment attract to the north, our 26th regiment attack the center and my 18th the other side. .My Company captured Crucifix Hill and gained control of the major highway into the city.
After the capture of Aachen we attack the Hurtgen Forest. This was the longest continuous and bloodiest American military action in history. . It was here that I met Harry Kolas who I knew not as a close friend but as the company runner. On November 23 1944 while alone on a road block armed with a rife launch anti-tank gun I was blown unconscious into the snow by what apparently what was a small German mortar round. When I regained consciousness I realized I was hit in several places and my left hand was unrecognizable. I was in a huge pool of blood. We were under almost constant Artillery bombardment just as a new replace officer appeared. He pointed in the direction of an aid station and asked if I could make it alone. I said yes and started up along a tiny forest road under barrage from very heavy Artillery fire. There was a rather deep depression in the snow and I dove in face first. I looked up to see Harry Kolas jump in on top of me. A huge artillery shill hit the tree above and the down ward blast stunned me but killed Harry instantly. One piece of shrapnel took a chunk out of my right shoulder. But I was able to make it to an American tank column and the bottom of a blown out barn that was the aid station. It was jammed with wounded half American and half German.
My war I was over and I was off to 18 months of rehabilitation hospitals. I learned that Bill and Dwight had been killed. I did meet Bill Irwin again in Shelby Ohio when his remains where returned to his home town. I participated in his internment ceremony with my mother who had become close friends with Bill’s mother.

Memorial days typically deal with numbers like these: In WWII 112,000,000 served in the armed forces of the United States. Some 405,399 died in battle or other causes and 670,846 were wounded. By latest count only 1,462,809 of us survive at the median age of 92 years. My memorial Days are filled with the human faces that I have mentioned but also my comrades of the Golden Lion 106th Infantry which in two days suffered 8,700 casualties in the Battle of the Bulge and was disbanded.. There is a selfish reason for sharing these names of precious comrades. My belief s that if I had been killed that on Memorial Day Bill or Dwight would remember me in print as I remember them by name.

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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In an earlier Blog entry I suggested that guns should be register and regulated just as we register and regulate the motor vehicle which also can be a fatal instrument. A well informed friend points out the folly of the National Rifle Association’s response to child slaughter is to arm school personnel.


“Bernie: I read your draft blog, and I agree with you very much. Registration could be relatively simple for most weapons, but would be more thorough for automatic long guns. I think
You could also point out that gun registration is already widespread so that there is a system in place to do the registrations -- the gun sellers.

“I also think it would strengthen you case if you point out that one of the alternatives to registration, the physical guarding of schools, is really impossible. Just counting high schools, there are more than 35,000 of them, with about 7.6 million students. Most high schools sponsor many events for students, and most of these events such as sports games, club meetings, parties, concerts etc. are after hours. It is remarkable that school sports attract an extraordinary 500 million attendees each year -- more than colleges and professionals combined. Thus, physical
Guarding of students in schools is really hopeless, and if tried, would be extremely difficult and costly. School systems could never afford to hire 180,000 guards (93,000 schools using two shifts). The only option for physical guarding would be to train teachers in weapons use, and guarding techniques. I would not like to have thousands of teachers or administrators running around with guns but no training.

“Further, the people who might attack children may be unbalanced, but they may not be stupid. If attacking children in and around schools becomes high risk, they will probably find other locations where children can be found -- churches, parks, shopping malls, etc. In short, guarding of physical locations is hopeless, and this just makes your idea seem more attractive"

Highest regards, Chuck Bingman

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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The numbers are staggering. It is estimated that there are more than 310 million guns in the U.S. and 254 million registered motor vehicles. It is also estimated that by 2015 annual firearms deaths will edge our vehicle deaths at slightly more that 32,000.each. There have been more than 400 gun deaths since the December 14, 2012 Newtown massacre.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for “a well regulated militia” which is interpreted as the right for every American to own a gun. It's not in the Constitution but individuals also have a right to own an automobile which of course like a gun can also be lethal. Automobile ownership is extremely well regulated and of course taxed. The driver must meet age, visual and health standards. The driver must demonstrate in public the ability to drive an automobile. The vehicle is identified by Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and a numbered license plate is attached to the vehicle. The driver is issued a photo identified Driver’s License and the ownership is a matter of public record. An annual tax is levied against the owner and vehicle. The driver must periodically renew the drivers license and the vehicle must periodically inspect for and public safety and pollution control.

Above all the driver must purchase liability insurance to compensate in a monetary way any damages caused by the operation of the vehicle. Both the driver and the vehicle are strictly monitored by state and local police and by specialized Traffic Courts.

These regulations are constantly revised and it is documented that they save thousands of lives and provide death benefits and medical care and compensations for the injured, their property and other loses.

The registration and safety of motor vehicles engages State, city and county governments .The national government has established anti-pollution measures; regulates the gas mileage vehicles; determines the contents of motor vehicle fuels; and establishes and enforces special regulation on Interstate Highways that are funded in large part by the federal government.

Considering the enormous destruction and loss of life from guns and an almost identical Gun Licensing System should be considered. It should be remembered that in most civilized countries and owning firearms is are forbidden or very strictly regulated. In Great Britain even the police are not armed.

Our U.S. Constitution mandates the sacredness of our homes which can not be entered by the police or anyone else without a Search Warrant. It goes without saying that we have the right to bear arms to defend our homes. Our Founding Fathers however applied Common sense in demanding that government actions be “.well regulated...”

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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