02 September 2018


By Andy Weddington
Sunday, 02 September 2018

Life doesn't last; art doesn't last. It doesn't matter. Eva Hesse

Since President Trump ordered our flag at half-mast to honor Senator John S. McCain, III, so have flown colors on the couple of dozen flagpoles lining the east side of the giant military parade field out our front door. 

The flags have hanged still, as in respect.

The flags have wildly whipped, as in anger.

The flags have gently waved, as in peace and salute. 

The flags this stormy morning drenched and whipping, as in obedience. 

Thirty-two years ago Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC) ordered me from Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, to the University of Mississippi for duty as the Marine Officer Instructor on the Naval ROTC staff. I reported to the Commanding Officer in McCain Hall (named for the late Senator's grandfather - John S. McCain, Sr. - a Navy admiral of WWII fame).

Last evening on Nebraska Educational Television aired an exceptional two-hours American Masters program on the artist Eva Hesse. 

Ms. Hesse was 48 days younger than my dad. She died on the same date - 11 January - but 44 years earlier. She was 34. 

Senator McCain was born seven months after Ms. Hess. He died 48 years after her. Both were killed by brain tumor. 

I see connections in most everything in life; and don't (yet) understand why.

Ms. Hesse was a monster talent. She saw the world differently. Her drawing, painting, and sculpting incredible though more so her productivity. She was a maverick (a term used to describe McCain) trail breaker and blazer - a leader.

My dad was a monster talent. He, too, saw the world differently - in 0s and 1s. And he was a talent with pencil and paintbrush. He was a maverick of sort - a trail breaker and blazer - a leader. A patent or two (held by IBM) still shape our world. Dad's name not famous.

Rather sad I was the day he died; and still. 

Rather sad I felt to learn Ms. Hesse died so young.

Sad not a sentiment when learning of McCain's death.  

The word funeral has two full (7-letter) anagrams: flaneur; frenula.

From Merriam-Webster ...

flaneur: n. an idle man-about-town

That's McCain.

frenula: n. a connecting fold of membrane serving to support or restrain a part (as the tongue)

Tongues failed restraint yesterday at two funerals - McCain and Aretha Franklin. Speakers, going low, disparaged our sitting President.

Big events went small. 

Good grief (but not really).

Consider Senator McCain, touted as an aisle-crosser and peacemaker, disinvited (to his services) two significant political figures - Sarah Palin (2008 running mate) and President Trump. 

A leadership trait nor principle not crossed comes to mind.

In eulogy McCain was failed. And, of note, true to character, Barack Obama (McCain's 2008 opponent) talked about his favorite person - himself. 

Consider Aretha Franklin, singer of R E S P E C T, was honored by disrespectful comments about President Trump. 

She was a fine artist. Leadership another matter. In eulogy she, too, was failed. 

These two Americans, in death, go out not as giants but midgets. 

Does it matter?

Farewell, anyway.  

Tomorrow our flag, again, flies high.


I will make it a point to stand on the porch in the morning and look across the parade field; proud, while it lasts, to be alive, an American, a veteran, and an artist.  

Post Script: Previous commentary: A tough young man still fighting a brain tumor. His family - Navy.         


Jim said...

Small, insignificant to many, hero to others, failed his friends throughout life long before seeking political endeavors and continued once there. Amazing he was re-elected so many times. True colors changed often, must ask why, what was in it for him, surely had to be something for the constant aisle changes. Sorry McCain, my flag remained two blocked, you did not, do not have my respect.

Anonymous said...

Colonel, not having had coffee, I've stolen this from Google, since I must have my say: "When you're eloquent, you have a way with words. An eloquent speaker expresses himself clearly and powerfully. Even though eloquent usually describes oral speech, it can also be used to describe powerful writing. ... To write or speak in an eloquent way takes a lot of work."
And, appropriate, as well.

A Colonel of Truth said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Is there something about Sen. McCain that John Q. Public is missing? "Failed his friends throughout life long before seeking political endeavors"...what's that all about? I think it was patently obvious that John McCain was a complicated person and as for respect, I certainly respect him for going to Viet Nam and willing to give his life for MY freedom. I don't care what his politics were or his giant-sized personal ambitions. Bottom line, he went to war and that's more than can be said for most people in this day and time.

Anonymous said...

Mr. McCain, all sound and fury. No more.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad to read what you think of John McCain. I'm sad, too, to see that some of your readers agree with you. John McCain was in active combat (which many of his detractors were not), he was captured and held prisoner (which the majority if not all of his detractors were not), he was tortured (which the majority if not all of his detractors were not), he refused an early release because as he stated in his 1999 memoir: 'I knew that my release would add to the suffering of men who were already straining to keep faith with their country.' I am pretty certain none of his detractors would do that.

A Colonel of Truth said...

What’s sad is John McCain, a retired senior military officer and United States Senator, held such personal and (un)professional animus towards the commander-in-chief. Combat and captivity and torture (sacrifices duly noted but are not blanket exemptions) do not justify his disrespectful posture toward the office nor person holding it. In fact, for what he endured and overcame it’s surprising, more so disappointing, he was not the bigger man, the biggest. He could have died on the highest of moral high ground; an icon. He did not. It’s sad he chose to be small. And now he’s in the ground - with only time an ally. And that goes for all the other uncivilized sore losers too.

A Colonel of Truth said...

PS My commentary was not about what I think of McCain rather a summation of fact(s) surrounding his death and services - which he (and Aretha Franklin) was used - exploited - to further insult and assault President Trump. Juvenile. Inexcusable.