Cultural Awakening in Japan

Story Salon                     Dan Reading poem at Onion Fall Poetry Festival 11102013

(Below was my presentation at the Story Salon this evening)

I am 15 in Japan on my first day of school with my brother Chip where Dad was stationed as a Naval Commanding Officer at Yokosuka Naval Base

Every school day at 7:00 A.M., Chip and I walked a mile to an electric train that took us to Kamakura. We caught a larger train to a city called Sushi passing a huge statue of Buddha’s mother, Maya, in Ofuna, the site of one of the most hideous concentration camps. Crowds of Japanese workers, professionals, and students nudged the person in front until the warning bell and then they shoved smiling until each car was stuffed so different than in America where touching seems forbidden. From there we boarded a grey Navy bus to Yokohama High for our first class at 8:15 A.M. The one-hour commute covered thirty miles.

Japanese Commuter Train

On my first trip, I looked around and, for the first time, realized what a member of a racial minority felt like when surrounded by people with backgrounds alien to mine, whose skin and hair color, eyes, foreheads, differed significantly from my features. I studied the faces of the people called “Japs,” in war movies, often depicted as inferior vicious buck-toothed warriors, a “yellow menace,” the allied forces had fought in World War II. Fanatic fascists who would never surrender, President Truman felt compelled to drop two atomic bombs, decimating them like so many insects.

Upon careful inspection, however, each face had a wide variety of unique characteristics. They had long or short noses, relaxed or tightened mouths, and different hair styles. Many wore hats and long, or short dresses, or silk kimonos of all colors, and black school uniforms with white shirts. Others sported three-piece suits with brief cases and wore glasses of every kind imaginable. The males had their hair slicked straight back, wavy, crew cut, or bald. Their skin pigment varied from dark to light, and every shade in between, some were clean-shaven; others had beards or a mustache.

They did not move like the automatons, or simplistic people portrayed in newsreels I had watched. The Japanese stereotypes portrayed in the movies had propagandized and prejudiced me. The Japanese were actually far more complex and distinctive.

When I attempted to communicate in my broken Japanese, they were responsive in either good or broken English, courteous, and welcoming. They seemed delighted when an American boy showed enough interest in their culture to ask a question in elementary Japanese and were as intelligent, industrious, and, often, as athletic as any American. This awareness helped me learn one of life’s most important lessons: we are all part of one race, the human race. No race, because of any attribute, over which they have no control, stands inferior, or superior, to any other.

Buddha in Kamakura Avatar

Nearby the bronze statue of the Great Buddha majestically rose above stone steps encircled by natural vegetation. A Japanese garden rested behind the immense meditating figure that induced a sense of tranquility from his facial expression, folded hands on his knees, his seated posture, and the ambiance of the surroundings. The adjacent Hachiman Shrine held the Shinto god of war and archery, in an old reddish-orange wood building with a sloping roof.

sunrise over Fuji with Torii

Located at the top of stone steps on the other side of a park, a long approach formed a tunnel ending at a large vermilion stone entrance with a black lintel known as Torii. For those who follow Shinto, this structure divides the spiritual area within from the profane region beyond. Shaped like two “T”’s their trunks straddled the cherry trees, whose white blossoms spread like dancers on branches. Petal blizzards covered the ground like pink dotted snowflakes mixed with shiny green leaves while gangs of squirrels romped, darted, and danced.

Alex(Yoshio Suzuki) Birthday Chip, Bill and Dan top left)Kamakura 1955

(Chip, Bill, Dan, top left back row at birthday party with Japanese friends from Kamakura 1955)

In another location thousands of bystanders watched a traditional spectacle featuring mounted equestrian archers in black shaggy wigs adorned in hunting costumes of feudal samurai warriors from the Kamakura period (1192-1333). The horsemen shot arrows from quivers slung across their backs as they raced at three targets set up along a straight riding ground eight hundred feet long. The turnip-head arrows made a whistling sound as they flew through the air. The large crowd loudly applauded each time an archer scored a direct hit. They shot, quickly reloaded, and launched arrows in a swift coordinated motion. A few hit all three targets that caused a thunderous roar.

cropped-daibutsu-side-cc-tarobot.jpg

  Buddha Smiles in Kamakura

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face,

White circular blossoms from cherry trees

Smoothing the wrinkles of the human face.

Blossoms tumbling down and spreading in space,

Beckoning all to seek a world of peace.

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face.

Nature’s beauty slowing man’s frenzied pace.

Flying buzzing pollen gathering bees,

Petals like a dancer’s dress of white lace.

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face.

Gentle wind blowing waves upon blue seas,

Swallows flying, drifting, gliding in grace.

Archer’s arrows whistling shatter the base.

At warrior’s thunder animals freeze.

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face.

White flowers placed at Buddha’s feet in vase.

Peaceful worshipers fall down on their knees,

Seeking enlightenment and state of grace.

Bronze folded hands and Buddha’s smiling face.

(Excerpt modified from my Memoir, All the Difference, for presentation at the Story Salon this evening)

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Dan will tell a story at the Story Salon Wednesday Night

Dan will tell a story at the Story Salon Wednesday Night

Hi Friends: I will be presenting a story from my memoir, All the Difference, at the Story Salon Wednesday Night September 23 at 7:30 PM  5302 Laural Canyon Drive, Valley Village, along with other outstanding story tellers that I am sure you will enjoy. There is a $5 cover at the door and refreshments are served.See you then!! Dan Lavery

Story SalonCHAPTER 38 Dan ENCINO LAW OFFICEBookCover53113createspacerevised

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Poem Honoring My Brother on His Birthday

(Chip the fisherman, father, and grandfather)

Chip

Click to Zoom all Photos that seem too small)

Born Richard J. Lavery III in Morgan Park near Chicago in 1938

On August 14th which later proved to be a very special date

 

(Chip and Val)

(Val, Lewis, and Chip Chicago 1940)

Husky, muscular, athletic, intelligent and handsome lad

Named after and followed the footsteps of his demanding Dad

 

( Dad, Paul, Aunt Jane, Val,Chip, Dan Morgan Park 1946) 

 (Dad Annapolis plebe year 1928)

 (Dad Commander Headquarters Support Activity Yokosuka Japan 1955-7)

Loved fishing anytime and lived in places near the sea

Natural leader who could always explain the world to me

 

As children we would play cards, hide and seek and hike everywhere

We played hard, competitively and no matter what we played fair

 

He would bait my hook, untangle my line and knew all the fish

Even organized a menu telling Gammie what to put on the dish

 

Playing the sax with rhythm, riffs, jazz, classical and rock

Glen Miller, Parker, Desmond, Mozart, Beethoven and Bach

Took me to Lyon & Healy music lessons in Chicago by train

Summer Michigan boys scout camps and 3 day canoe trips in rain

 

Boxing, softball, cowboys and Indians, and piano lessons in Vallejo

Folding newspapers & packing our bikes for our routes in Coronado

 

Dillon beach, Los Coronados islands or Jenner-by-the-Sea

He'd show the way and teach his little brother a better person to be

Taught me to square away my uniform, shoes and drill at MPMA

Win at monopoly, canasta, chess, pool or other games every day

 

Yes he’d tease me, call me names and dunk me in the pool

But never had a malicious thought while making me look a fool

He’d tell a joke and break me up with a belly laugh and roar

I would follow his lead whatever he wanted me to do and more

 

Once on a playground a bully threatened Chip when I was six

I screamed at him to leave Chip alone or I'd give his face a fix

 

He knew better than to mess with these Lavery boys

Despite our daily battles, as a team we could make much noise

 

Inseparable from his loving Chihuahua Tico the mascot of YoHi

Who would wander off, bark, ruffle his fur and go eye to eye

(Tico, white husky Chihuahua, YoHi Mascot)

 

With any animal ten times his size no matter how vicious or mean

A magnificent and loving pet, his coat shimmering white and clean

 

Long distance track star and halfback at fifteen for CHS

When I saw him in shoulder pads and cleats proudly I said, "Yes"

(Alex's Kamakura Birthday Party 1955, Chip, Bill, Dan top Ken, Alex  Bottom)

(YoHi Varsity Football 1956 Defense, Chip 15, Dan 13)Click to expand

Hard running YoHi fullback who could cut and run through you

Potent stiff arm, dive, rolling block or a mighty bulldoze too

(Tom running, Dan and Chip blocking for YoHi at Yokohama Japan 1956)

(YoHi Offense 1956)

 

(Chip and Pat, high school sweethearts, first to marry Annapolis class of 1960 at USNA Chapel)

Fell in love with a beautiful gal born on his birthday

Apple of his eye and by her side he would always stay

(Dan and Chip at Annapolis 1959)

 

To the Naval Academy at Annapolis at only 17 he proudly went

After much refined preparation he was appointed by our president

(Chip at Pensacola Summer Training)

 

Scientific mind with peerless mathematics and engineering skill

After a Rickover interview a nuclear submarine billet he did fill

 

First married from the proud class of 1960 he led the way

Love of family, character, and knowledge lit each day

 

Honest, hard-working family-man who traveled far and wide

Pat, Rick, Bill, Tim, Steve, Chris and their pets always by his side

 

Until one dark day when fate dealt Chip and us a bitter blow

And took her and her mother to a place some day we will know

 

She sang silver-toned with angelic voice any musical part

Wonderful mother and companion who was always in his heart

 

Five happy, healthy, handsome and hearty boys remind us every day

Of  her and her mother's beauty, commitment, and love here to stay

 

We see this in each wonderful grandchild's life and face

Rick, Bill, Tim, Steve, and Chris's support provided a special place

 

For Chip to begin a new life and find another soul-mate to share

The future with and build a business from scratch with flare

Linda came into his life at just the right time to help them both

Quell the despair from the unspeakable loss of the one they troth

Melodious voice, warm heart, love for kids, teaching, and Chip

Perfect match to ease them into the golden year's trip

 

Their boys moving forward steadily since they were born

All in their own way the family heritage they well-adorn

Now another fateful blow from a doctor's shrill report

A new battle against a foe that knows not fair sport

 

We support you with the love that characterizes your life

Knowing interceding forces will sustain you in your strife

 

We hope that the enormous resources of our medical world

Will help your life flourish like a bright flag unfurled

 

Know from your brother this poem is written from the heart

To the best brother I could have been blessed with from the start

 

(Presented at Richard J. Lavery III’s funeral in Gainesville, Florida, and to him in the hospital )

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The 70th Anniversary of the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Still Haunts Me

Hiroshima explosion

I am an active member of Vietnam Vets Against War, Annapolis grad, retired civil rights attorney, and author of an inspirational memoir, who changed my path as soon as I could once I realized how immoral and obnoxious the Vietnam War had become. As a navigator of a US warship, the USS Oak Hill (LSD-7), I navigated 300 marines to Vietnam where our ship stayed on station for six months supporting the war effort. Immediately after the Vietnam period I navigated our ship to Hong Kong and then Japan where I had spent two years attending an American high school in Yokohama when my father, a WWII hero, was a Commander in the Navy assigned to the Yokosuka Naval base. After visiting the city where I lived, Kamakura, I decided to take a train to Hiroshima where I felt my anti-war sentiments would find a place to ponder what my future might be once my commitment was over in about a year.  That impetus I recorded in a memoir I wrote called All the Difference, that showed how I changed from a pawn in the military to a crusader for justice as a civil rights lawyer for the poor and powerless.Here is an excerpt of that experience that I want to share for the 70 th anniversary of the horrendous bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

WWII Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima August 6, 1945

I navigated the Oakhill to Hong Kong, where I wandered the streets for a day, amazed at the bustling beauty of an island with skyscrapers piercing the sky and shopping centers with tailors fitting customers with silk and other fine materials. I followed some officers from our ship to a team of tailors who fitted me with the best fabrics for suits, sport coats, ties, and dress shirts. Rugged mountains covered the background populated by millions of Chinese in a diverse British city. I had never seen so many sampans and makeshift vessels tied together along wharfs shaping a village of thousands of poor boat people.

Hiroshima yes, yes,

A ferry boat took me past these water-bound wharf villages to Macau, then under communist rule. A taxi driver motored me to a Mao Tse Tung school. High school students shouted slogans, marched, and waved red flags. He told me if we drove near them they would kill me if they knew an American naval officer rode in his vehicle. Gambling casinos decked out with roulette wheels, card sharks, bartenders, dancing girls, lavish carpets and accommodations overwhelmed with a gambling crowd of rich professionals and tourists. Since time was short, I jumped on the ferry to Hong Kong to my hotel. The next day my clothes were ready to pick up and bring back to the ship.

Hiroshima Torii burning

Our next port, Yokosuka, Japan, was where I had lived as a teenager. The base PX provided me an opportunity to buy gifts for my friend Yoshio Suzuki’s family in Kamakura. His boy enjoyed the baseball glove and girl a doll I had purchased on the base along with a fifth of Jack Daniels for his Dad who still ran a milk factory there. While there, I visited Enoshima and was shocked by its change. Waves still crashed on the rocks and the sound of the surf mingled with the shore, but there were no crabs or fish in the tide pools. They were inundated with dirt from the excavation that created the bridges, roadway, and souvenir shops that dotted the way. Escalators snaked to a slick modern observation tower while shrill pop music wafted across the island from the multitude of restaurants and shops constructed in the recent past. Horn honking replaced the natural sounds that had refreshed me on my first visit. Exhaust fumes choked me when in the past only ocean spray and sunlight danced on the rocks and natural pathways of the revered island. Neither the magnificent hawks nor Mount Fuji were visible through the smog. A two lane road lead to an escalator that reached a modern observation room after we passed tourist shops and restaurants that blared music and commercials where once stood a sacred island sanctuary. Crowds shoved and filled the pathways. How dismal progress made this once peaceful ancient shrine.

Hiroshima Einstein

A train swept me off to Hiroshima where I saw a film of the devastation caused by the first atomic bomb ever dropped on human beings at the shrine to the dead. Seeing the effects of that enormous blast on human beings haunted me. The photographs of the victims etched the atrocity against humanity graphically in my brain no matter what the justification. The statistics baffled my mind. By the end of the war, atomic bombs killed about 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki. Most of the casualties were civilians. Many died slowly from radiation sickness so these statistics understate the deaths. At the museum was a reference from an eye witness:

“Towards evening, a light, southerly wind blowing across the city

wafted to us an odor suggestive of burning sardines. I wondered

what could cause such a smell until somebody, noticing it too,

informed me that sanitation teams were cremating the remains of

people who had been killed. Looking out, I could discern numerous

fires scattered about the city. Previously I had assumed the fires

were caused by burning rubble. Towards Nigitsu was an especially

large fire where the dead were being burned by hundreds. Suddenly

to realize that these fires were funeral pyres made me shudder, and

I became a little nauseated. 8 Aug 1945 by Michihiko Hachiya.”

Dalai Lama Peace message avatar

A memorial book at the shrine to the dead contains my statement that as a patriotic American who had grown to love the Japanese people, to see what horror we caused them with the dropping of atomic bombs made a lasting impression of extreme sorrow. I hoped no country would ever use atomic or nuclear weapons in the future. I walked to a carved stone in Hiroshima Peace Park called the Memorial Cenotaph and read the words: “Let all souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.”

 

Hiroshima 60th annivesary never again

Daniel C.Lavery

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Memories of Dad on his Birthday

Posted on April 29, 2013 by Daniel C. Lavery(Click on photos to read and expand)

He was born in Morgan Park Illinois April 28 of 1910

Athletic, scholarly, and musical who became a man of men

Loving animals and horses, especially his own called "Pep"

He was handsome and polished and seldom out of step

Possessed of musical talent he played the piano and the trumpet

Strumming the ukulele he sang about a honky-tonk strumpet

An outstanding Morgan Park Military Academy Grad

His achievements, skills, and talents made his family most glad

Appointed to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis

Brought his father, Poppy, and mother, Gammie, exceptional bliss

   

Richard J. Lavery Jr, Midshipman, USNA, 1928-32

   

(Dad as a midshipman at Annapolis)

Basketball, soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse, sailing, and even polo

At formal recitals he played many a magnificent trumpet solo

While a midshipman he fell for a beautiful debutant: Hilda Crim

Her grace and beauty, love of tennis and raccoons, made his head swim

Soon they were married after he graduated in nineteen thirty two

During the Great Depression, an insurance career he wisely did pursue

He raised a family with a lovely girl and two athletic boys

And gave unselfishly to provide for them a multitude of joys

Music, stories, travel, camping, sports, fishing to name only a few

He filled their lives with these and always found more for them to do

Dad naval officer photo story Our Picture of the Month USS George F. Elliot

(Dad leaves for World War II after eight years as an insurance agent 1932-40)

Uncle Sam came a-calling him to return to face the brutal enemy

In ruthless World War II with fascist dictators and gross barbarity

A gunnery officer on the George F. Elliott, a transport ship

At Guadalcanal what seemed in the smoke-filled sky only a blip

Grew into a descending Japanese warplane known as a Kamikaze

That his blazing guns tore into but instead of falling into the sea

Struck the Elliot broadside in a deadly gasoline fed fireball

Down to a sea grave slowly went the transport as nothing could stop its fall

 A friendly destroyer rescued the crew that fearful and fateful day

 Because of brave me like "Bull" Halsey and a man known as "R.J."

 Yamamoto and his fleet were left limping and slinked back to Tokyo

 Our proud protectors of liberty forced the foolish fascists where to go

 On to Korea when duty called him again in nineteen fifty three

 Commanding officer of an amphibious ship called an "LSD"

The USS Whetstone with Lavery at the helm was a beauty at sea

    CHAPTER 7 USS Whetstone (LSD-27)                                    (USS Whetstone(LSD-27))

It was Dad's first command and he did her splendidly

Even rescued capsized Japanese fishermen he noticed adrift

Opened the dry-dock saving men and boat in a manner swift

Earned honors from Japan and our Navy for his humanitarian deed

He was never one to by-pass helpless persons at sea in need

Rescued hundreds of fleeing Vietnamese from Saigon

By navigating the Whetstone in the shallow river Mekong

His crew enjoyed the way he played his ukulele and sang a song

He was a model naval captain who knew and taught right from wrong

Gained respect and honor for his naval skill and industrious toil

Commanded the USS Chemung carrying to the fleet precious oil

USS Chemung (AO 30) head on (Dad when a Navy Captain and the USS Chemung he captained)

Retired from Naval Service after a dedicated thirty years

And became one of those McDonnell Douglas Quality Control Engineers

He always provided for his family as he was a frugal man

Invested for his and their future and prepared a well-organized plan

He cared for his loving mother when she became ill and very old

Took her to many doctors because his heart was made of gold

 When his sister Jane's diabetes became the brutal brittle type

 He gave up his Long Beach ocean view and moved close without a gripe

 As he grew older he fractured his left hip and was forced to use a cane

Then a wheelchair, had another fracture that caused excruciating pain

He found peace when he played his ukulele and launched into singing

To our family and his dog Pablo when on life he was barely clinging

Dad, we will always remember you for the memories you left us all

And hold high the course you navigated while you always stood tall

Duty, honor, country, family and pets, to these you were always true

We are proud on your birthday to always respect and honor you.

Dad, Paul, Jane back Val, Chip, and Dan Morgan Park  1945,Hilda and Val and Jane and Val 1939

(Dad, Uncle Paul, Aunt Jane top, Val, Chip, and Dan

Mom and Val

Val and Aunt Jane)

Valerie and Chip 1939(Val and Chip 1939)CHAPTER 11Chip Plebe year Annapolis 1956

(Chip an Annapolis midshipman-plebe 1956)

CHAPTER 21 Dan by wall third class year Annapolis 1961

(Dan a midshipman at Annapolis near a wall some people scaled on a boring weekend night)

Dad, Nicky, Paige, Tico, Dan, and Valerie Lee June 1956

(Valerie Lee, Dan, Paige and Tico, Dad, and Nicky at Yokosuka 1956)

Dad at Yokosuka Naval base Japan 1955 (Dad as commanding officer Headquarters Support Activity Yokosuka, Japan 1955-57) Captain Richard J. Lavery, Jr. USN

Dad's Memorial 4 28 09(Richard John Lavery Jr.,  Apr 28, 1910-Mar 8, 1998)

 

Rel

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