Tuesday, December 04, 2007

During the Deluge

Coming to the Northwest, I anticipated rain but this appears unusual even for Northwest. Yesterday, after about 18 hours of downpour, people were already commenting about the rain. I would not expect rain to be a dominant concern since that is a normal expectation if you choose to live here. By yesterday afternoon, rain and flooding were THE topic. Rain poured in sweeping sheets across the city, sometimes lighter but mostly heavy and always wet.

Despite the weather, I saw at least three cyclists heading downtown. People were walking. One local I talked with yesterday said, "There are no bad days here, just bad rain gear days." Mine leaves something to be desired for an urban setting, so I expect to make some changes. I will also be figuring how to bicycle in what will be a cold, wet environment for a few months.

Last time I relocated from state to state, Arizona experienced severe flooding after my arrival. The flooding wasn't quite this immediate but my newly adopted state had two severe floods within my first 18 months. The Winter 1983 flood on the Colorado River during a very wet winter statewide almost took out Glen Canyon Dam, scoured the Grand Canyon for the first time since Glen Canyon's gates were closed in 1963 and damaged property all along the lower Colorado. In October a storm washed out much of Havasupai Canyon, the largest side canyon in the Grand Canyon and noted for its travertine falls and emerald pools. The storm trapped tourists and the Havasupai community in the canyon. The same storm hit southern Arizona, flooding the the Gila River basin, taking out the I-10 bridge over the river and washing out the iconic cottonwood growth in Arivaipa Canyon.

God supposedly promised no more exterminating floods to Noah. I guess that promise did not cover periodic, damaging floods.


Monday, December 03, 2007

A Correction

The other day on About Face, we talked about the lack of protest against our current war as opposed to protest against the Vietnam war. At one point, we mentioned that some protesters in the 60's actually sympathized with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. I know I did. Not because I hated America but because I recognized the difference between Vietnamese Communism and the Communist Menace. I didn't have a great regard for the South Vietnamese forces, primarily because I saw them fighting on the wrong side of Vietnamese history for a puppet government. Americans had little faith or trust in our South Vietnamese allies and I shared that opinion pretty much by osmosis and pre-existing prejudice. My only knowledge of actual South Vietnamese operations was the ill-fated Operation Lam Son 719, that tied up all of our helicopters and ended in a disastrous South Vietnamese retreat. During our discussion, that perception came out as "They wouldn't fight."

We had a call from a South Vietnamese veteran who didn't challenge my statement directly but he reminded us that many South Vietnamese fought against Communism and were proud of their fight, regardless of how it ended. The call made me realize that whatever I may have thought about the South Vietnamese regime, there were many who considered it better than a Communist victory and bravely fought with Americans to prevent that victory. The call also reminded me of how much respect I had for all Vietnamese because of their endurance and determination. The North was disciplined and tenacious. The South lacked that cohesion but had a LOT of drive and initiative. I thought at the time that even if the Communists won, the entrepreneurial drive of the South Vietnamese would change the nature of that victory over time, which is what happened. During my tour, I was always amazed at the Vietnamese ability to somehow manage to live in the midst of that chaos. In some cases that meant fighting, more often it meant enduring.

A more correct description of the South Vietnamese would be that they lacked a government that was worthy of their sacrifice.

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