Letter From New York 04 29 15 Another anniversary in 2015…

It is nearly impossible for me to believe that we have reached the end of April. Today has been a glorious day in New York City, probably the finest day of the year. Warm with a gentle breeze flowing, signs of flowers blooming, I passed tulips and pansies on my way to the subway this morning, all bringing a smile.

South of here, in Baltimore, the city is quiet but very tense. Offices and restaurants that have been closed are reopening. In a first for Major League Baseball, a game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox was played in an empty stadium, it being considered too dangerous to bring people together in a public venue.

Schools reopened and protests continued, peacefully. The Maryland Governor is hoping that the peaceful night that preceded a peaceful day marks a turning point in the city. It is a city of fragile calm, a place that is delicately balanced between peace and violence.

In Washington, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, made a speech to Congress, acknowledging Japanese responsibility in WWII and making his case for a strengthened, resurgent Japan as a counterweight to China. He also made his case for the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Kim Jong-un, the pudgy little North Korean dictator, is reported as having killed 15 senior officials since the beginning of the year – that’s at the rate of about one per week. It may be true. It might not be true. It’s hard to know with North Korea but we do know little Kim Jong-un has a very itchy trigger finger.

Far away in Nepal, itself very, very fragile after the earthquake that has destroyed much of the Kathmandu Valley, there was a moment of hope today when a man trapped for 82 hours in the rubble was rescued. But hope is wearing thin and survivors clashed with soldiers as supplies continue to have difficulty reaching outlying villages that have been devastated. The death toll continues climbing and is now officially over 5200.

In Saudi Arabia, King Salman has re-ordered the succession and named as Crown Prince a member of the third generation, a grandson of the founder, King Abdullah. Prince Mohammed is said to be very pro-Western and very much against Al-Qaida [they attempted to assassinate him a few years ago],

In Nigeria, 300 women and girls have been rescued from the Boko Haram. They are traumatized and some have no home to return to as their villages have been razed in the fighting between the government and Boko Haram. They are described as needing psychological care and physical support.

While the group was being rescued, Boko Haram seized a town in what has become a back and forth battle between Nigeria and its allies and the Boko Haram, who are determined not to pushed off the stage.

I said in one letter that 2015 was a big year for anniversaries and another one is upon us. Forty years ago tomorrow Saigon fell and we ended our involvement in Vietnam.

As a young boy, I remember some older boys talking about our sending troops to Vietnam. I’m not sure why I remember it. Perhaps it seemed like a great cloud passed over me. For some reason, I remember exactly where I was standing when that conversation happened. I think some of those boys grew up, got drafted and went to Vietnam.

And now it is forty years after those horrific shots of helicopters departing the rooftop of the American Embassy in Saigon, with thousands screaming for rescue as they lifted away for the last time, forty years since we lost that war.

Last year, I went to a conference on “moral injury” and spoke with a man who had been to Vietnam, returned and lived what he thought was a normal life until one day, not long before I met him, it all cracked open and he came to wrestle with the demons that had stayed with him all those years from caring for wounded soldiers in the jungles of Vietnam.

We all carry our wounds. It is part of living, unfortunately. But so are the joys that come along, unexpectedly, like the tulips and pansies I passed this morning, lovingly planted on 93rd Street.

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