Unsung & Oversung Heroes

by W. D. Ehrhart I was reading a book recently by Jerry Mikorenda called America’s First Freedom Rider. It tells the story of Elizabeth Jennings, a young school teacher in New York City who on a Sunday morning in 1854, while on her way to the church where she was the organist, was physically hurled by the conductor and the driver from the streetcar she tried to board because she was African American. Jennings, who later became Elizabeth Jennings Graham by marriage, hired a lawyer, sued the streetcar company, and won. The young lawyer who took her case was Chester A. Arthur, then an idealistic …

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Let’s Get Real

by W.D. Ehrhart Yes, the surprise attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7th was unspeakably brutal, inhumane, merciless, without a shred of mitigation. War crimes were committed, crimes against humanity. There is no way to justify or excuse what happened that day to thousands of innocent civilians, some 1,200 murdered, another 240 kidnapped, countless others forever traumatized. Meanwhile, between October 7th and the day I’m writing this (December 18th), NBC News reports almost 20,000 Palestinians killed by the Israeli military in response to October 7th, 70 per cent of them women and children. The Israeli military admits to accidentally killing three of the hostages …

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I Pledge Allegiance…

by W.D. Ehrhart Way back in 2006, a few years after the 9/11 attacks, I was teaching at the Haverford School for Boys. Our a cappella choir, the Notables, was hosting a companion choir from a school in Denmark, and each choir member hosted a Danish boy. One morning, one of my students told me this story: He and his Danish guest were driving to school when the Danish boy asked Neal if the day was some sort of holiday. Neal replied that it wasn’t. The Danish boy asked, “So why are there so many American flags all over the place?” The American flag has …

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A Poet in Palestine

By W.D. Ehrhart Back in the spring of 2022, I wrote an essay titled “A Farewell to Arms” about a young Palestinian poet named Mosab Abu Toha who had just published a book called Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear (City Lights, 2022). Mosab is a remarkable young man. Still in his very early 30s, he is married and the father of three children. He was a visiting poet at Harvard University in 2019-20 (during which time his youngest son was born, thus making Mostafa a U.S. citizen); founded the Edward Said Library, the first English-language public library in Gaza; and earned an …

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Sorrow, grief, and trouble sit like vultures on my psychic fence

by Jean Stimmell A few years ago, I photographed five vultures attempting to warm up on a cold winter morning by spreading their wings toward the sun. I am using it to illustrate this rant. The title⁠1 reflects how I feel. I can’t get images of maimed and bloody bodies out of my mind, first in Ukraine and now doubling down in Israel and Palestine. They are broadcast nonstop on the news and haunt my dreams. Especially disturbing are the corpses of dead babies. As I write this, 4104 children have been killed so far, just in Gaza, according to the United Nations.⁠2 Seeing their …

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A Gordian Knot

by W.D. Ehrhart I was among a small unit of U.S. Marines who entered Hue City, Vietnam, on January 31st, 1968, at the beginning of what turned out to be the Tet Offensive. The city had been secretly occupied by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army forces (VC/NVA), and it took us nearly a month to drive them out. By the time we were done, the city was largely in ruins. A year and a half later, and immediately after public revelation of the massacre of hundreds of unarmed Vietnamese civilians by units of the U.S. Americal Division at a place known as My Lai, …

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