Originally posted in September 2005. Minor edits made in September 2012.
In the spring of 2005, I got a comment on the blog from a gentleman named Bunker Mulligan. I don’t get a lot of comments, which isn’t surprising; it seems the content is so mind-numbing that few of my innumerable readers are in any sort of shape to do something so pedestrian as “comment.”
But Bunker did comment, and thanked me for stopping by his site. I hardly remember what I did when I was there and what sort of tracks I left. It was really two bloggers passing in the night of cyberspace.
And during this real night I was doing some routine maintenance on the site, and I saw Bunker’s comment, and I clicked through to his blog… and was reminded that blogs are people.
Bunker — his real name was Michael Reed; he liked golf, so his pen name was Bunker Mulligan — died. He passed away at the beginning of the summer, a total surprise to everyone; he was only ten years older than I am and looked a lot more fit than I do now.
Here was his last post:
I really don’t understand why folks who dislike the military are often the same people who push for diversity. I can tell you from personal experience that the military is the most diverse group of people you will ever meet. We’ve got ’em all. Including members of a royal family. From Nigeria. Capt. Wisdom Osagiede-Ogbewekon. He is in Iraq, working to help get their nascent government operating. As he has a perspective they can respect.
“I tell them, ‘Look at me. What does that tell you? I’m an African who is an officer in the most powerful army in the world,'” says Osagiede-Ogbewekon, a member of the active Guard and reserve. “I’m a very good example of what America is.”
(HT to Sarah)
In fact, Bunker Mulligan was at least as good an example. This is a little about who Bunker was:
I have lived in many places. I am a Texan, and an American, and quite proud to be both. . . .
I support President Bush and see him as the embodiment of Teddy Roosevelt, who was also disparaged as a cowboy. I also support our troops, two of whom are my sons. One of them will go overseas soon, and the other one recently returned from Afghanistan. I have less concern for their safety than I do for my other son who is a police officer. He, unlike his brothers, can’t shoot first and ask questions later.
My daughter, the youngest, is in LA making her way in the entertainment business doing casting and production.
I’ve coached baseball at every level from T-ball to NCAA junior varsity, and football up to high school. I watch sports, but am not very serious about it above high school level. I play golf, and enjoy the game more than others due to the individuality, honor, and sense of community in it. . . .
I am NOT a celebrity watcher. I get frustrated to turn on the news. With everything of import going on in this country and around the world, the lead stories are Kobe Bryant, Scott Peterson, and Michael Jackson. It is easy TV, and not hard to put a story together around them, so something more important gets overlooked because it takes real work to get the story.
So, welcome to my site. I hope you find something you like!
I have little in common with Bunker. I don’t care much for golf, true; I was never in the service — he was an Air Force veteran, evidently with combat experience, though I can’t really tell; he was Christian, and I’m a Jew. I fancy myself something of an intellectual, and although bunker has two degrees, including a Master’s in international relations, he seemed more down to earth than that. But for the love of God I can tell you that I was hit so hard when I saw this personal, honest, specimen of American life blog that I just broke down.
I like to say that some people have the ability to project personality on an Internet web page. What could be a more powerful projectile than, “So, welcome to my site. I hope you find something you like!” I don’t think anyone within 50 miles of where I am, on the crest of the ancient Passaic River basin overlooking New York City, could write a more earnest sentence.
And it had been a hard day that way, seeing as how earlier that afternoon I left my office and helped bury the father of a longtime friend and neighbor — he also died suddenly, scant months after the death of his wife after a long illness.
The dirt from the cemetery was still on my heavy-soled lawyering shoes when I wrote this. My friend, Mike the professor, spoke beautifully, passionately, eloquently at the graveside — eloquently as in I didn’t know Mike had it in him — about how his father knew so little peace during his lifetime, pursued as he was by hard knocks economically; and how he pursued his obligation to honor his own mother, especially after his father’s early death, to a degree beyond fashionable in our times; and then how his dad had to watch his wife get sick and then predecease him… and how his solace and his joy had been his children and his grandchildren — Mike, the professor; his brother, Eric, a Harvard graduate and succesful consultant, whose children attend the local Jewish school with mine…
Mike’s dad and Bunker Mulligan weren’t linked by anything but me and by being “good examples of what America is.”
And now … yesterday, September 15, 2012, would have been my own dad’s 75th birthday. But it wasn’t, sadly. My dad was that kind of guy, too. A regular guy from the humblest of origins, a heart big as all outdoors, and pretty proud of his two sons and their families. An American success story. In spades, as we say in the digging business.
It’s been a hard, hard few months in real life, outside the blog world, separate from the Redweld folders whence come and whither go all the papers I analyze, generate and quote from while I generate more; separate from the adversaries, the clients, the judges; blogs, the politics; the trademarks and the copyrights alighting on the heads of pins. A hard day for a white-collar guy feeling the earth for a change.
It’s Rosh Hashana in a few days, and I remember how God did me the favor of shaking me up but good on that last Wednesday of the year, back in 2005. All it cost was a little sweat as I shoveled the dirt, and the cost of a shoeshine. Solomon said, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2.
It’s true. It was better.