NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Tuesday September 17th 2019

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Horsefly Swish

by Peter Molenaar

Unlike the pensive almost melancholy feeling induced, for example, by a visit to my childhood fishing haunts, the annual tour of the “Great Minnesota Get Together” is for me always an invigorating adventure. Jersey cows, fine arts, tractor prices, eco-technology, countryside crafts and preserves…

Then, after lightly caressing the giant pumpkins in the horticulture display, the “Pioneer Heritage House” was spotted. So enter, please. In their combined effect the representative household objects of my not-so-distant ancestors evoked the suspension of time. And then, oddly juxtaposed to everything else, there it was—the horsefly swish.

The creator of this “swish” lived in the glory days of the horse and buffalo culture. Crafted from half a horse’s tail and an eight-inch shaft of polished pipestone, its original possessor was a distinguished and dignified hunter (Lakota warrior?). No doubt this object had served the ceremonial regalia even as the rider’s mount appreciated its use in fending off biting flies.

Flash to Vietnam via Thanhnien News.com…

Elders will recall the name: Lieutenant Calley of My Lai massacre fame. Calley just recently apologized for his role in the slaughter of hundreds of peaceful villagers some 40 years ago. “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families…There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse…I am very sorry.” Now free, Calley intends to revisit the site.

Why then does Leonard Peltier remain in prison—parole denied once again? He is at least ten times more innocent than he is guilty. So now, the fact is the better part of my generation is compelled to contemplate the increments of his passing even as we contemplate our own.
Other soldiers have returned to My Lai, succumbing to tears as they do, in the midst of big hugs from survivors emerging from the blue.
Horsefly swish…free Leonard.

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