One of the really good guys.

November 26th, 2012 by John Morris

When I met Morris Green, I sensed he was a special person. Time proved me right. He had just read my article about who is eligible to join the Vietnam Veterans of America and wanted in. From the moment he joined us, he applied himself fully even serving as chapter President twice.

Morris Green and I became fast friends and even promoted the nickname of the “Morris Brothers” but it didn’t catch on. To his Veteran friends, he was “Moe”. Others called him “Morrie”. Such a man could easily shoulder two nicknames. At a mens-only Italian dinner at Saint Anthony’s Lodge, he quipped he felt trapped in a Godfather movie scene. We pointed out a Godfather’s movie is no place for someone named Moe Green.

I preceded him as President and courted him to succeed me. We reached an agreement: he would take the job, and  I would do a “Polar Bear Plunge” with him. Fair enough, I thought. At our April induction banquet, I sat with him to plan the plunge event. I said, “How about we do it a few months? Say August?” His answer did not please me. “January!? I repeated. It’s really cold then.” He flashed his patented elfin smile at me and said, “Hence the term ‘Polar Bear Plunge””. What did I get myself into?

On a cold January Sunday, we journeyed to Rehoboth Beach’s annual Polar Bear Plunge. He briefed me with small tips gleaned from years of such fool hearty ventures. Above all, he said once the cannons fire to be sure to run into the ocean with eyes on those who are running from the ocean. Oh my, what fresh new hell.

At the beach, I found a huddling mob of strangely dressed “Polar Bears”. Moe and I moved our gear to a small opening to wait out the shivering time and to watch the impromptu parades. It was here were Moe put his plan into action. He had a small banner bearing the phrase “We Support Our Troops”. He went to groups of young women and asked them to pose with the banner, and he would put the photos on the Internet for our troops in Afghanistan. Not all said yes but enough did. They played along well and posed playfully in their bathing suits.

When the photo fun was done, we steeled ourselves for the plunge ahead. Like clockwork, the cannons roared; people cheered and started running into the icy cold Atlantic. Moe’s prediction of wimps running back from the ocean was spot on. The problem was the inrushing crowd was so dense, they blocked my view. The big guys ahead of me would serve to avoid an outgoing cub and then I would get sucker blocked by them. The game was on. We on-rushers would playfully push them from side to side. It lasted only a few seconds until my crowd reached the feared ocean waves.

Moe kept driving me on. “Don’t think about the water; just keep running”, he yelled. Then he gave me the command, “You must get your hair wet”. He sprinted ahead and dove into a wave. He surfaced with the biggest beam humanly possible. I wouldn’t allow his challenge to go unaccepted and did my own dive into the glacier water. It was COLD. A cold that should stop human organs in place. The water felt heavy like jello and not water. A thick presence causing me to struggle and slowing me down.

Just when I thought the Plunge pledge was satisfied, Moe waved me onward again. He shouted about getting our picture taken by the Navy Seal on patrol at the shark net line. At this point, I imagined it couldn’t get any colder, and I wasn’t looking forward to immersing from the water and into the morning wind.

Moe and I made it out to the Seal who agreed to the photo.He complimented us on our tenacity where most others had failed.

The way back was made easier by the waves but complicated by the less venturious Bears acting as barriers to the beach head. Once on dry land, I found the formerly cold air had taken on a much harsher attitude. The plan was to dry off and redress ASAP. Moe hadn’t not mislead me to date so I followed all his directions. He said there are no places to change out of our wet bathing suits here but maybe at a more inland location. We had already spent an hour shivering so hanging around did not appeal.

We did the walk back to Moe’s car and drove out of the area. Moe made a wrong turn and was doubling back when a VFW post came to our view. “We’re home, Moe”, I said. He gave me that “damn right” look. I was surprised it was opened so early in the morning, but they were having a $3. pancake breakfast day.

We flashed our IDs to the bartender and ordered drinks & chance tickets. Moe and I took turns changing in the Mens room . It was about 40 more minutes before I felt normal again. The bar was circled by guys our age and experiences. During the rest of the morning, we chatted easily with them and accepted their barbs out how really stupid it is to go into the ocean in January.

Early morning on Veterans Day, Morris Green’s battle with Parkinson’s Disease ended. PD came at him with a vicious force, but he went all-in fighting it.

When I lose a good friend like Moe, I have a sharper appreciation about what he meant to me. I also thank God for bringing him my way.


Japan V China

November 4th, 2012 by John Morris

There is a small, uninhabited island between China and Japan, and these two nations are at loggerheads over ownership. The island’s most appealing qualities are location and the discovery of oil.

Of course, this quarrel has history. Here’s some background: Japan v China island dispute

My take on what I read is, if either country acts to secure their claim, America is obligated by treaty to side with Japan against China. This will bring about a brain breaking decision by our government’s leaders. If we stand with Japan, China can then exercise its right as our nation’s banker to call in our loans. This leverage alone should tip the balance towards them. But this flip says to Japan and the rest of the world that America doesn’t honor its agreements even those made when China was part of the Red Menace.

On November 6, somebody will be elected our President for the next four years. I’m certain whoever wins will either face this knotty decision head on or just kick it down the road for the next guy/gal.

Some day, our President must decide which is more important: keeping our word to an ally or not thrashing our economy.






The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.