Jim O'Leary

Waverly Star

By Jim O'Leary

An e-mail newsletter for and about Waverly people, used with permission in the HLW Herald and on this web site.

May 19, 2001


Next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, but May 19 is Armed Forces Day.

Today, I would like to use this space to honor our veterans.

Perhaps the Pentagon spends too much money on ordinance, but there isn't enough money in the world to reward our veterans. Tom Brokaw calls the WWII veterans "the greatest generation," and nobody is disputing him.

There are only two classes of people I have ever met, who were willing to leave their homeland and go to foreign lands, to risk their lives for the rest of us:

The Maryknoll priests, brothers, and sisters I have met - and the men and women in our military.

What is a vet?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them - a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel, the soul's alloy forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet? He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia, sweating two gallons a day, making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales, by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She (he) is the nurse who fought against futility, and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW, who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back at all.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat, but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each others' backs.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in the Tomb of the Unknown, whose presence at Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes, whose valor died unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp, and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive, to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary, and yet an extraordinary, human being - a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so that others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

Just tell them two little words which mean a lot - thank you.

Author anonymous, through the courtesy of Glen Keener, Minneapolis.


In "The Waverly Star" for July 3, 1952, two items appeared, one on page three and one on page 8.

Failed to report for army induction

Minneapolis, Minn, Associated Press - "A 21-year-old Monticello, Minnesota farmer, Ralph Herman Sieg, who said he wasn't going to let a draft board run his life, is under arrest here on charges of failing to report for army induction.

"FBI agents quoted him as saying he was needed on his father's farm, and that as far as he is concerned, the Selective Services law is not in effect." (page 3)

President questions recruitment of farmers

Washington, D.C. Associated Press - President Truman Thursday told the armed services to quit recruiting farm workers if they are deferred from the draft, for necessary production.

He said he was alarmed by the loss to the farm of six million workers in the last four years.

The president issued a statement, in connection with the signing of an executive order, which he said would provide a more orderly policy for granting temporary deferments for essential industrial workers.

"These orders do not permit permanent exemption of any worker from selective service," the president said.

"Rather, they provide a more orderly basis for granting the temporary deferments, which local boards have customarily extended to qualified individuals." (page 8)

Don't you rather wonder how all this came out?


The most Rev. Rene Gracida, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas, and a Waverly Star reader, says that, as a bishop, he discontinued asking about names after he asked a young man in one of his confirmation classes why he had chosen the name Patrick, since he knew the young man was ethnically Slovenian.

The boy replied that he chose the name because it was the name of his horse. His answer brought down the house - in this case, the church.

Another Texas reader, our friend in Texarkana, Dr. James W. Presley, pointed out that I should have included Texas in the list of states having a Waverly. However, the town is really named New Waverly, so it's a judgement call as to whether or not Texas should be included on this honor roll.

New Waverly is located on Interstate Highway 45, midway between Houston and Dallas, with the zip code 77358.

New Waverly has a population of over a thousand. Most of the people find their employment in the state penitentiary in Huntsville, where the main state prison is located, as is Texas' Death Row, where a few hundred men are awaiting execution. (The state of Texas now has over 150,000 inmates in its prison system, mostly for non-violent drug offenses.)

I prefer Waverly, Minn. any day, although Dr. Presley remembers New Waverly as the home of Minnie Fish Cunningham, "one of our late, great liberals."

The "L" word is no longer spoken aloud in these parts.

No Texas readers helped me out with Lee Horsley of Muleshoe, Texas, but an alert reader from Buffalo, Minn., knew who he was. She did not want to be identified, however, because she told me she didn't want her boss to know she was a subscriber to the Howard Lake-Waverly Herald.

Lee Horsley turns out to be a movie star and, believe it or not, his movies are not horse operas. His best-known movie was "The Sword and the Sorcerer," and he also had a bit part in a movie released in 1985, called "13 for Dinner."

They do have a movie theater in Muleshoe, so perhaps there will be a film festival there some time featuring Lee Horsley's films. I am sure they will come from mules around. (Yikes- did I say that?)


More from "The Waverly Star" of July 3, 1952:

"Dr. and Mrs. John O'Leary stopped here, overnight, at the Ed O'Leary home, enroute from New Ulm, where they had resided the past year. They are moving to Minneapolis, where the doctor will be on the Veterans Hospital staff."

Note to readers: As of May 2001, my brother, Dr. John O'Leary, is back with the Veterans Administration. He is working every day at the Veterans Clinic in Brainerd. Next week, you are going to see his Memorial Day address given in Waverly on May 31, 1999 in this very space.


The minutes from a Waverly School Board meeting in 1901 declared, in a resolution passed unanimously, that "The School Board would look with extreme disfavor upon any teacher attending any ball, dance, or other kind of amusement requiring long nightly vigil when the ensuing morrow was a school day."

Wouldn't you give anything to know what went on to prompt that outburst?


Up north is a certain way the wind feels on your face, and the way an old wool shirt feels on your back. It's the peace that comes over you when you sit down to read through one of your old trip journals, or the anticipation that bubbles inside when you start sorting through your tackle box early in the spring.

Up north is the smell of the Duluth pack hanging in your basement, and the sound of pots clinking across the lake. It's a raindrop clinging to a pine needle, and the dancing light of a campfire on the faces of friends.

Up north is a lone set of cross-country ski tracks across a wilderness lake, and wood smoke rising from a cabin chimney. It's bunchberries in June, blueberries in July, and wild rice in September.

Each of us has an up north. It's a time and place, far from the here and now. It's a map on the wall, a dream in the making, a balm for one's soul. - Sam Cook


I heard from Alvin Broll, whom I had listed as "a missing person." More next week. Thanks, Alvin. He had moved "up north," to Backus, Minnesota.


Everyone is entitled to my opinion.


Give me this day my daily opinions, and forgive me the ones I had yesterday.

And please try to remember: I am a columnist, - not a communist.

Jim O'Leary

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