Rolfe High School Alumni Web Site: Graphic by Wendy Bennett

November 2001
Bulletin Board

Food for Thought about Patriotism

by Helen D. Gunderson, editor
November 23, 2001

Patriotism is a dominant theme in these months following the September 11 tragedies. It seems to be everywhere from newspaper and magazine pages to television and computer screens to talk radio, not to mention all the flags that are displayed some with proper decorum and some in a disgraceful manner.

I wrote an essay about patriotism during the national day of mourning on the Friday that followed the attacks. It's been on this site for awhile, but I finally got around to tightening the piece and correcting some typos this weekend. Many thanks to my friend Sylvia Olson in Pocahontas and my sister Clara Hoover (RHS Class of 1960) in Omaha who proofed the essay and gave me suggestions. However, they are not responsible for any gremlins left in the piece. Sure wish I were better at attending to detail. However, I do believe the essay is an important one and hope you will read it. I've also added another essay that I wrote several years ago about the loss of our rural heritage.

Some items have come across my desk recently that I thought important to share with you and that represent diverse perspectives on patriotism, the September 11th tragedy and its aftermath. I encourage you to check them out.

Ann Cleal Bittner (RHS Class of 1966) sent me an e-mail with a link to a beautiful and profoundly moving audio-visual reflection that is "Dedicated to the men, women and children who lost their lives; all those who sacrificed their lives; and to all the Heroes that responded to the emergency 11 September." The show consists of a seven megabyte file that will work well on fast computers with high speed internet connections. Unfortunately, some of you may have trouble downloading it. link

An e-mail colleague sent me a link to a web site called that has the slogan "Action for Justice, Not War." The site has considerable information and links to more information the kind that you won't find in our country's popular and prominent sources of news stories and commentary. The first bulletin I received was an introduction to the sources of "blowback." Here's the opening paragraph from it (Bulletin Issue #5).

"In spook-speak, the term is "blowback." Originally, it was used to refer to a cloud of radioactive gas left over after an atomic bomb test that blows back over the study center. Now, it refers to individuals or groups who received training from US operatives and who later turned against us. Think Manuel Noriega. Think Saddam Hussein. Think Osama bin Laden." new link

A friend in California forwarded me the text of a profound and complex speech by Bill Moyers. It's not easy to summarize his long remarks in a capsule. He is a veteran and honorable journalist with experience in the halls of power yet who is willing to tell things like they are. He talks with about details of some of the common people who lost their lives on September 11th but also tells of the preposterous ways in which some governmental leaders are taking advantage of this crisis to push through horrific agendas with little scrutiny by a distracted public. His talk was the keynote address to the Environmental Grantmakers Association annual conference in Brainerd, Minnesota on October 16, 2001. It can be found at the following address. I hope you're good at reading red on gold text. I think there is an option where you can e-mail the text to yourself which might result in easier reading. new link

Also, when my father, Deane Gunderson (RHS Class of 1935) wrote his series "Bubbles in the Wine" in the mid-1970s, he had a column on patriotism that we've added to his collection of material on this web site.

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