Monthly Archives: June 2013

The SeaBees

the-seabees

The SeaBees are a construction battalion, tasked to build bases, roads, airstrips and docks during wartime. SeaBees were often on the front lines, fighting and building. Sometimes the SeaBees went behind enemy lines, at great risk, to build stuff.

I remember Grandpa talking about the War. He saw a lot of action and he told me some stories that I’d rather not share. Shell Shock became Battle Fatigue and then PTSD. It’s a serious problem for our returning Vets. I think about the price our servicemen are paying in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think about the toll it takes on them and the families it impacted. I think about what if there wasn’t any war, how these families, mine included, would have been different. Then there is this.

It’s a photo of Grandpa Frank’s SeaBee Company on Guadalcanal. Grandpa is in the front row on the far right, next to the CO and 1st Officer. Of the 32 men pictured, only 5 of them made it out alive. Grandpa was one of the lucky ones, if you want to call it that. A bit of him died back there in the South Pacific.

Band of Brothers

band-of-brothers

Mom brought some old pictures when she visited last week. We had the opportunity to go through them and talk about them. Some of them I want to share with you. This is a photo of my Great Grandmother Burns and her six sons. All the boys served in World War II, most of them seeing heavy action. It was a miracle they all returned home alive.

Going from left to right:

John Burns – Navy

John was the only Uncle I never met, I don’t know anything of him. He passed away when I was very young. I don’t know where he served, if he ever got married, had kids or how he died.

Bob Burns – Army

Uncle Bob came back from the war and married his sweetheart Vera. They lived a simple life on the South Side near Idora Park. They were a private couple. One year the family got together at one of Uncle Clarence’s birthday bashes and I found myself sitting down with Bob over a few beers. He started talking about the War. Turns out he spent the war as a Captain of an Army unit in Burma. Burma was the longest campaign in the war and arguably the most ferocious. Bob told me stories about operating hundreds of miles behind enemy lines and ruthless hand-to-hand fighting. His unit was the model of the formation of the Army Rangers. His most horrific story, by far, was about the end of the war when he entered and released starving American GI’s from Japanese POW camps.

Lillian Burns – Mom

I never met her for she passed before I was born

Jim Burns – Army

Uncle Jim and his wife spent a lot of time together with Grandma and Grandpa. Whenever we visited their house on the West Side, it was always a happy place. The ladies meet every month to play Bridge for over 50 years. Jim and Grandpa shared their love of fishing. Uncle Jim spent time in the European Theater, including, I think, heavy action at the Battle of the Bulge.

Clarence Burns – Navy

We called him Uncle Monk. He and his wife Mildred both lived into their ’90s, having being married together for over 60 years. Both of them had incredible senses of humor. I don’t know much about his service in the war because he never talked about it. I think he served in the Pacific.

Floyd Burns – Army

Sadly, I don’t remember anything about Uncle Floyd. Someone once mentioned he was at Anzio. Mom recalls him fondly.

Frank Burns – Navy

My Grandpa. Look up the definition of a crusty seaman and you’ll see a picture of him. He was a tough little guy who could build and fix nearly everything. I guess that’s why they made him a Sea Bee. He said that when the Marines bragged about landing at Guadalcanal his unit had built an airstrip and piers before their arrival. Once he told me of seeing his best friend take a shell, killing him instantly.

Strange Days

strange-days

This past week was a huge one. Savannah’s High School Graduation was going off. I had lots of family flying in from Ohio to celebrate the occasion. I was nervous. Too nervous to write in my blog.

Mom flew in for the week. So did my Mother in-law, two of my Brother in-laws, my Sister in-law and two nieces. I hadn’t seen any of them since the Funeral in Ohio three years ago. I have not spoken to the in-laws for two years.

The last two years have been very good for me. Meeting Alex is a blessing for the both of us. My therapists have done wonderful work, I see things now without the prism of PTSD. And it has been eye-awakening.

Mom doesn’t listen to much of what anyone tries to tell her. Many times she’s blown off people who were only trying to help her. We didn’t get along well in the ’80s. I had chalked it up to just her Irish stubbornness. Since then I’ve discovered Dad and learned about the heartbreaking events in her life. And for the first time ever I saw her in a new light. She is the strongest person I have ever known. She has purposely submerged in her mind all the bad things that happened. To Mom, they didn’t happen. Maybe I am wrong to try to dredge up the past with her. This is her way to peace.

My In-laws? Well, they are different. Not different in the sense of good vs bad. Just different. I realized that my lifestyle just doesn’t mesh with theirs. Perhaps I was foolish to try. Don’t get me wrong, they are fabulous people, honest, ethical, hard-working. Just the type you want to be neighbors with. Trustworthy, caring. After all, they flew X-Country to see Savannah’s Graduation. We thank them for being here.

I held the In-laws to a standard to which they do not share. We grew up differently. We have different appetites for life. We evaluate risk differently. We see religion differently. None of us have anything to apologize for because none of us did anything wrong. We responded to Janet’s demise in our own way. I hope my In-laws understand.

MotoGP Time

moto-gp-time

Alex and I are going to Laguna Seca tomorrow to watch MotoGP. I haven’t been to a Moto race since I moved to CA 9 years ago. Janet never let me go to Laguna Seca. This years, things are different. I’m really looking forward to an awesome day of racing with Alex.

Big Brother is Watching You

big-brother-is-watching-you

The 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the shenanigans of the NSA, you should. Their unwarranted search of our telephone and internet activity is violating your rights. This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. Don’t blame Obama or Bush for this. This permutes every level of government – Federal, State and Local.

As one who had my 4th Amendment rights trampled on by the San Luis Sheriff Detectives, and my digital life ripped to shreds, I know. I know how it feels to be subjugated by law enforcement. I know how little I meant to the criminal justice system. I know what it’s like to have your digital devices and assets seized without a warrant properly served. I know how violated I felt having my email and browsing and Facebook activity searched.

Write to your Senators and Congressmen today and tell them to start protecting our rights. The first step is to repeal the Patriot Act.

Putting Things Behind

putting-things-behind

I had a comment on my last posting. It went like this:

Why do you post this stuff, Kenny? There are many of us who love and care about you, but who also loved and cared about Janet, too. I understand, completely, that you were very hurt by the things she said to you, but posting your resentment for all of us to hear, well, I struggle to rationalize what would compel you to have to display it like this.

This is my blog. I write about my children. I write about philosophy and morality. I write about myself and the the hell I have gone through. Writing helps me heal. Pulling my thoughts out and putting it down on paper is my way to re-integrate my mind. It isn’t resentment or revenge.

What happened on June 12, 2010 was tragic, the worst sort of bad luck anyone could have. Calcoastnews.com took our family’s tragedy and hammered me. No, they sledgehammered me. What they did was reprehensible. They have no idea of the career they ruined, the harm they did to my family, and the struggle I have with re-building my life. The impact has lasted years and spread far.

Some people have made it nearly impossible to deal with her death with decency and dignity. They know nothing about our relationship. Janet lied about me, lied to me, lied in front of our children. She told people that I was a violent drunkard. That I was having an affair with two ladies simultaneously. That I was abusing my children. Just incredulous stuff, all untrue. Friends have relayed to me her lies. They couldn’t believe the things that Janet was saying about her husband. In nearly 23 years of marriage I can’t think of once where I disparaged my wife. Not one time ever.

There are a few people who can’t leave it behind, and continue to make life difficult for our family. I have a neighbor, Alan Volbrecht, who recently verbally accosted me in front of Douglas, scaring him. Alan also gives me “mad dog” looks whenever he see me. His wife Chris is on record writing things such as “the children need to be protected from their father whether or not he did anything to Janet” and “I will protect the kids from Ken anyway I can.” The “anonymous” call to Children’s Services accusing me of abusive behavior. This posting on my blog by an In-Law, under the pseudonym A_long_silent_witness@yahoo.com, “How do you put this last bit of pain away? Reflect on the things you did and the things you didn’t do and then pray for forgiveness. If you happen to find someone else as wonderful as Janet to share your live with, history will repeat itself unless you learn from it.”

I stayed married to a woman for 23 years out of love and devotion. If I argued then I was labeled unreasonable. If I disengaged then I was labeled as not caring. If I got upset then I was a tyrant. If I called out her behavior she denied it until our relationship was past done. I was always “wrong”, always “selfish”, and always “not caring”. For wanting to see my friends, for wanting my own life, for not wanting to deal with being insulted or emotionally abused. And the worst part was that I believed every word of it. I spent years feeling like I was an awful person, and feeling scared of her. I felt like leaving the situation would just prove that I really didn’t care/love her enough, and that would make me a bad husband, a bad father, a bad human being.

Janet would be happy that I am taking very good care of our children. They have emerged from an incredible loss. They are happy, healthy and thriving. Teachers, coaches, parents and friends all have stepped forth and helped us. Alexandra has been a rock for us. They have allowed me to deal with my wife’s death with grace and dignity. I am very grateful to these people.

I will continue to call out those who slandered and libeled me. None of them have the courage to apologize to me and my family for the hell they put us through. None of them have offered any support to my family. I’m not holding my breath waiting for them to do so. I can’t change their misperceptions. They’ll believe whatever they want to believe. For them, opinions matter more than facts.

There was more to Janet that what she projected in public. Borderline Personality Disorder is an incurable mental illness, a darkness that tore our marriage apart. Those who live with it knows what hell is like. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of living with this woman and the fallout from her passing. Truth be told, I loved that woman, but I didn’t like her for what she became.