Sean’s Journal: Would You Have Fought…?

January 21, 2013

To my friends and debate partners and others who care to read what drips out of my mind and my heart…indulge, forgive, raise a brow, or simply pass over. I welcome your thoughts; I really do.

“Rights” irony at its best. On this day set aside to celebrate one of the great leaders of this country, this century, and this planet, the pages of facebook and the blogs and the airwaves are lit up with a critical mass consumed with protecting their own right to bear arms.

I have no issue with the second amendment. I believe it was intended to protect us from tyranny and abuse. The contemporary radicals in this argument would love to have us believe we have now arrived at that point because of the audacity of a few requesting a discussion. Moreover they fear executive actions as downright threatening to them. Really?

Until the last three weeks I have never known a single gun owner who waxed on that his cache of weapons was to protect against government. These once regular folk who wanted to protect their family or those who got some cheap thrill out of killing a helpless and unsuspecting animal and hanging its head on a wall (as if that is something to be proud of …. take a Viagra instead…I digress) are suddenly a band of militants circling the wagons of anarchy. I’ve heard this kind of rhetoric somewhere before…not too long ago…hmmm…oh yeah, it is called Al Qadea. Rage and fear and paranoia of taking something supposedly sacred is worth a jihad of their own. Their histrionics are enveloped in “revolution.” The irony thickens.

Martin Luther King had a dream. A damned good one. One where human rights trumped any other. He hoped we might move beyond a society where others, less than a hundred years before thought it was their “right” to own other humans. And they tried to disguise their barbarism by rationalizing the fight was about State’s rights versus an economic policy of inhumanity.

Yes, less than a hundred years later, only two generations, people like King were still fighting. Not to own a gun or a weapon solely designed to wipe out mass numbers of people, but to vote, or eat, or get a job fair and square, or go to a decent college or sit where they choose on a bus.

Still Dreamin'
Still Dreamin’

Those 2nd Amendment radicals have passion all right. Good for them. Speaking out and calling for revolution. Threatening to shoot anyone who tries to pry their guns away. Irony multiplies; the only thing they are willing to die for is the right to possess an item (or many) intended to kill another.–or based on current laws–many others.

I wonder where they would be if Dr. King was sharing his dream today, for the first time? Would they be demanding time on Piers Morgan and Fox News and asking for facebook petitions to support human rights? Would they put it all on the line for real liberty…the kind that requires courage and compassion and respect and love for others?

The story today should be that civil rights, while still in their infancy, are experiencing some positive moves. To suggest that we are there is a myth. Injustice rears its ugly head in Asia and Europe and in Africa and  in South America and in North Africa and the Middle East and yes, right in in the good ol’ U.S.A.

During a trip home to Florida recently I pulled next to a truck with a triple-gun rack inside the cab and a bumper sticker on window, “The South Will Rise Again!” Another sticker read, “Obama Go Back To Africa!”

I find the artifact and the sentiment often go hand in hand. To borrow an expression from a friend, this guy is a “waste of precious oxygen.” But, he has just as much right as I to take up that oxygen. My guess is that he would draw a similar conclusion about me. Gotta love the First Amendment…even if some of those that follow it (amendment, that is) are pretty bastardized; present topic at the top of the list.

My father fought and killed. He fought honorably but never thought war was honorable. He hated the idea of killing fellow man. He loved the idea of peace and justice and a life of good. He was an angry man though until just a few months prior to his death, when he found a peace with it all. He had seen a lot of death. He saw how strategic interests were used to justify removing life. It begins with and ideology and finds it message carried in and carried out with a gun.

I support the second amendment. My worry is over the motives and true self behind the radicals screaming revolution over removal of their weapons of mass destruction. Listening to them I am convinced they secretly pray for the opportunity to use them one day. It’s in their rhetoric and in their pictures.

Dr. King was asking for the most basic of rights. It took this country almost a couple of hundred years to add human rights to its sacred list. Would you triple-rackers have fought with the same passion for those rights if proposed today? Dr. King had a dream…it is still a dream worth dreaming.

Thank you, good man, for a fight worth fighting.

Buried Treasure…A Birthday Letter from Dad

Cleaning out Mom’s garage during Thanksgiving produced something more than a walk down memory lane. It was a full Swan Dive into some of history’s most intimate and dark and sweet and unknown places. Tucked in a shoebox with pictures and cards and and a P.O.W. bracelet inscribed with Capt. James Nasmith, was this letter to me from dad. Written to me on my first birthday. He was far away, working quietly, clandestinely, in Laos as we prepared to enter a conflict that would change us all. He knew it was possible that he might not return. I learned more about him in these three pages than I did in all the days of his life with me as my father.

DadsLetter - Version 2


April 13, 1962

Dear Son,

I am writing this on the occasion of your first birthday. It will be many years before you will be able to read and understand this letter, but perhaps someday, when you have a son of your own, you will know what I mean and why I take this method of telling you.

At the moment of this writing, your dad is many thousands of miles apart from you, in a tiny, war-torn country call Laos. My purpose in being here, instead of by your side on your birthday, is in some ways rather complicated. In final analysis, I am her to insure that you and others of your generation may grow and prosper in peace. It is my prayer that you will never have to bear arms against your fellow-man, nor be apart from your son, as we are. 

If, for some unforeseen reason, I never have the pleasure of watching your tottering steps; hearing you call me “Papa” for the first time; teaching you to play catch; and all the other little things that a father looks forward to; takes pride in, and thanks God for–then let this letter show you my love, hopes, and fears for you.

Having been born from a love that was surely conceived in heaven, it is a certainty that you will grow to be the man of whom your mother and I may always be proud. Always remember that what gifts you possess started in your mother’s womb. I will expect you to honor, respect, and watch over her in my place. I want you to know that no man was ever so blessed with a wife as I. Our love was a wondrous thing, and she made me the proudest and happiest man on the earth. When it comes time for you to marry, I ask only that you look for the qualities which make your mother so dear. Don’t look with your eyes–but with your heart. Once you have chosen, love without reservation or question.

When you have reached manhood, face life squarely–admit your fears and rise above them, and never compromise your self-respect for some imagined gain. Temper your life with the knowledge that you are one of God’s children, and live it as He would have you.

I enclose a picture taken this date. When you look at it, remember that I loved you very much, and I am grateful that God saw fit to grant me a son such as you.


Major Carmon Logan Keyser, USAF April 13, 1962
Major Carmon Logan Keyser, USAF
April 13, 1962


Tell Me A Story or Two or Three…Christmas At Mom’s

The night was just cool enough to warm by the fireplace in Mom’s den. I opened a couple of bottles of red. Chelsea unwound a hanger and grabbed fixin’s from the pantry for S’mores.

We gathered in chairs and on the couch and on the floor around the fireplace. Four generations of Keyser DNA in the room. I turned on the mic and pushed “record.” This was a project planned long ago and long overdue. An audio legacy to treasure for years to come.

Mom has stories. Lots of stories. We’ve heard them for years and years. One day, when mom is singing and dancing and meeting and socializing with every angel in the next space, we will have her journal of life…to listen to and to treasure here.

Christmas 2012
Christmas 2012

We all had questions for mom. Some prepared and others offered on the spot.

“What was it like to be a small child during the Great Depression?”

“Tell me about your hometown…Horton, Kansas.”

“How did you and Dad meet?”

“What are the biggest or most significant changes you have seen in your life?”

The show-stopper question came from Gabi. At a precious 7 years old she is wondering about the less obvious. “What do you remember about snow?” The greatest question ever. Out of the mouths of babes…

Each answer led to string of more stories. A string that wound from childhood through wars and relationships and places and people and souvenirs.

Four hours later, between the wine and the fire’s warmth and the late hour, eyes were getting heavy and our bodies needed rest from the holiday fair. As I sit and mix the audio and add photos and a little guitar music, I smile. I think of a few hours in generational proximity and what that will mean in years to come.

Soon, Chelsea will be on the other side of the planet serving those who have been forgotten and discarded. Logan will finish undergrad and enter service as a patriotic officer and a healer and go to some place to protect the liberties that allowed us to gather in the first place. My heroes.

I will be here, for now, chipping away at a system of care for patients and loved ones and hoping that when I am done that it is a little better for them.

Mom–she will be telling stories.

To my family…I love you all.