Gateway to the past…

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This picture was taken the last time I visited the farm where I was born and raised. It was a rather melancholy visit: the barn where I played as a kid has been torn down. The tool shed that always smelled so strongly of oil and gasoline from my dad working on farm equipment is gone. The yard had largely been uncared for and no one is living in the house anymore. It was sad. It made me actually think about buying the place and trying to fix it up, but that won’t happen. Time will eventually take its course as it does with all things. 

This picture looks eastward from the old farmhouse. There was a small cement walkway from the barnyard at the base of the house steps, a small strip of grass, then this fence and view. The small gate was there when I was a child. On the down slope on the other side of the fence is where we used to burn our garbage. There was no garbage pickup out on the farm. It was on that down slope where my pet gander, Big Chief Harvest Moon, sneaked up behind me one day and bit me on the back of my leg and made me cry. The next time he approached me when I was out there I threatened to shoot him with my BB gun, but I didn’t. 

Sometimes in winter when the slope was snowy, my sister and I would take our beat up sled out there and sled down the hill. At the base of the hill you can see same trees that watched me grow and and that gave me shade as I played underneath their cool boughs in the spring, summer and fall. On the other side of the trees was a “waterway”, a depressed little valley that ran through the farm. The grass would grow so tall there that my sister and I would play cowboys and Indians hiding in the grass and we’d play with the dogs as they romped through the tall stuff. They often were hidden from sight, but we could tell where they were from the way the tops of the grasses moved. Then, beyond that, the fields. 

I remember shooting tin cans with my dad at the base of the hill and going down there to meet him as he’d come back from working the fields at the end of the day. We’d then walk up to the house together. 

Though the yard, lawn and house is unkempt and the barn and tool shed are gone, I can still see them as clearly in my mind as if I were looking at them today. I can still smell the smells that surrounded me there and still hear the sounds that filled my ears. Memories – they are precious. I hope that I never lose them. 

I have taken my children to this farm on several occasions. I hope this fall to be able to take at least one of my grand children there so they, too, can see the old home place where I first found roots. 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1950, armed forces from communist North Korea smashed into South Korea, setting off the Korean War. The United States, acting under the auspices of the United Nations, quickly sprang to the defense of South Korea and fought a bloody and frustrating war for the next three years.

Korea, a former Japanese possession, had been divided into zones of occupation following WWII. U.S. forces accepted the surrender of Japanese forces in southern Korea, while Soviet forces did the same in northern Korea. Like in Germany, however, the “temporary” division soon became permanent. The Soviets assisted in the establishment of a communist regime in North Korea, while the United States became the main source of financial and military support for South Korea.

On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces surprised the South Korean army (and the small U.S. force stationed in the country), and quickly headed toward the capital city of Seoul. The United States responded by pushing a resolution through the U.N.’s Security Council calling for military assistance to South Korea. (Russia was not present to veto the action as it was boycotting the Security Council at the time.) With this resolution in hand, President Harry S. Truman rapidly dispatched U.S. land, air, and sea forces to Korea to engage in what he termed a “police action.” The American intervention turned the tide, and U.S. and South Korean forces marched into North Korea. This action, however, prompted the massive intervention of communist Chinese forces in late 1950. The war in Korea subsequently bogged down into a bloody stalemate. In 1953, the United States and North Korea signed a cease-fire that ended the conflict. The cease-fire agreement also resulted in the continued division of North and South Korea at just about the same geographical point as before the conflict.

The Korean War was the first “hot” war of the Cold War. Over 55,000 American troops were killed in the conflict. Korea was the first “limited war,” one in which the U.S. aim was not the complete and total defeat of the enemy, but rather the “limited” goal of protecting South Korea. For the U.S. government, such an approach was the only rational option in order to avoid a third world war and to keep from stretching finite American resources too thinly around the globe. It proved to be a frustrating experience for the American people, who were used to the kind of total victory that had been achieved in World War II. The public found the concept of limited war difficult to understand or support and the Korean War never really gained popular support.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In 2012, a prison in the South Korean city of Pohang became home to the world’s first robotic prison guards. The country also uses robots to guard the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea and as teachers.

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