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  • May 26, 2023



    It’s strange how all these years I still take pride in my military service.

    Vietnam was a stupid war, waged by a stupid and corrupt President, backed by a brain trust of arrogant “intellectuals” who squandered the lives of young American patriots with little regard for the human cost.

    It doesn’t matter. I didn’t do it for the politicians or the bureaucrats. I did it for my country and for myself.

    War is the most manly of pursuits. It is baked into our genes. Defend and protect the homeland. It has been the story of the world since we climbed down from the trees, lost the tail, and started wearing clothes and making weapons.

    I don’t need to go to a Memorial Day observance, with a stage full of politicians all wanting to make a speech and pay lip service to the sacrifices made by young men who died in service to their country.

    Most regular Americans will take the occasion to fire up the barbeque, toss on some burgers or hot dogs, and enjoy the company of friends and neighbors. And that’s OK – in fact, that’s just fine. That’s exactly what those young men from years ago fought and died to protect.

    I served in Vietnam, and I witnessed some of those young men take their last breaths. That was early in the war and we moved around the country, wherever there was a need to combat the enemy – D-Zone, the Iron Triangle, the Plain of Reeds, the Central Highlands.

    My brother, Charles Kenneth Cunningham, was stationed in support of a Special Forces unit in the Mekong Delta region. The Americans were not officially allowed to torture prisoners, so that task was outsourced to the Vietnamese, but my brother, who was eighteen at the time could hear their screams in the night.

    So he stole pain pills from the medical supplies and would smuggle them to prisoners. It was a stupid thing to do. Giving prisoners pills for the pain did little to improve their long-term prospects, and he could have been court martialed and punished if he had been caught.

    Five years later, he was killed in a construction accident. My mother was presented an American flag all neatly folded at his funeral. I still have the flag. I am not sentimental, but for some reason I cannot give it up.

    Military service used to be a common experience shared by most American men, whether they picked up a rifle, flew an airplane, or peeled potatoes in the mess hall.

    It’s different now. I went to the funeral of my wife’s uncle at Arlington Cemetery in Riverside a few weeks back and the mourners were directed during the salute to the flag to place their hands over their hearts. Veterans were directed to salute.

    There was a time when almost every man in attendance would have saluted. That was then. I only saw two mourners who saluted – an active duty Marine, the husband of my niece, and myself. There may have been others that I didn’t see, but most stood silently, with their right hand over their hearts.

    That certainly doesn’t make them bad people. Many are people I love and respect. It’s just different than it used to be.

    Service to one’s country changes the way one thinks about what it means to be an American. Sadly, as each day goes by, it seems to mean less and less.

    So when you join your friends and family to celebrate the holiday, you are doing exactly that for which those warriors fought and died.

    Enjoy your holiday, but if you think about it, take just a moment to say a little thank-you prayer or at least send out a kind thought for those young men and women who would be doing exactly what you are doing if they could.

    – George Lee Cunningham

    If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know and you will get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time. You can also find past stories at: www.georgeleecunningham.com

  • April 27, 2023

    Old Man Talking

    I appreciate plain talk. I am an old man. You may call me a senior citizen, but that’s just polite code for the O-word. What if I go to another country, am I a senior citizen there, as well? Or am I a senior visitor or perhaps a senior alien? I frankly prefer “old man,” because that’s what I am, no matter where I go.

  • Criminal Class

    “There is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress” – Mark Twain. Mr. Twain was correct. So why do people think big government is the answer to our problems? You tell me.


  • Business, Humor and Guts


    Do you ever feel like we live in dour times, when nothing can be funny because it might offend someone, somewhere?

    You see this a lot in big corporations, where they bend over backward not to offend anybody, anywhere because a tiny minority of people are offended by pretty much everything.

    Then you see some rare bright spots of businesses just trying to do a good job and make a living without losing their sense of humor. An example is the sign in the bathroom of the auto shop in Huntington Beach where we get our truck serviced.

    “Please don’t flush sanitary napkins, paper towels, kittens or puppies, or hopes and dreams down the toilet,” it says. I would never do any of the above, but especially, I would not flush puppies, hopes or dreams. I’m not really a cat person, but I would never dream of flushing a kitten down the toilet either.

    My bill for the day, for an oil change, four new tires, and 24 new lug nuts was well over $1,400, but the funny sign in the bathroom made the financial pain a little easier to bear.

    FYI: the 24 lug nuts were not a rip-off. The bitter experience of having been stranded by the freeway in Tucson in the June heat with a blown tire and stubborn lug nuts that were almost impossible to get off made me a believer. One of the not-so-pleasant realities of the Ford F-150 are the notoriously cheap and hard-to-remove lug nuts.

    Another example of corporate humor in this virtually humorless age, is a flyer we got in the mail from Al Moses, a carpet cleaner in Glendale, who begins his pitch by warning would-be customers not to invest in saltwater fish tanks or chickens – both things, he says, are “instruments of death.”

    “Saltwater fish just drop dead for no reason,” he warns. Consider your tank death row.”

    Chickens aren’t much better.

    “We started with 10 chicks a year ago, six turned out to be roosters,” his ad reads.

    If you get roosters, everybody in your neighborhood will hate you for waking them up at 4 a.m. every morning and might even kill your chickens. And even if the neighbors don’t do it, the alpha rooster will eventually kill off his competition.

    One of the four hens got sick and died, and although the surviving three became family pets, the cost of food, shelter and various other chicken paraphernalia, not to mention the personal labor involved, meant the hens would have to live to three times their life expectancy for us to break even in fresh eggs, he said.

    On the other hand, if you want your carpets cleaned, Mr. Moses is your man.

    We don’t need our carpets cleaned, we recently had it done by another company, but next time, I will call Al.

    The point of all this is, I don’t want to flush away my sense of humor or my dog, I certainly don’t want to raise saltwater fish. And even though I would be tempted to raise chickens if I lived someplace where they could be free-range happy creatures, I do understand the risks.

    The good news is that out there in the real world, people still have a sense of humor and that alone is enough to brighten my day.


    – George Lee Cunningham

    If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know and you will get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time. You can also find past stories at: www.georgeleecunningham.com

  • March 25, 2023

    Nuts to Nutella

    Confession: I have never eaten Nutella, but whenever I saw it advertised it always looked kind of good. Lucky me. After a little research, I found Nutella to be – if not death in a jar – not exactly a healthy alternative to smear on your toast. Two tablespoons (one serving) has the same sugar as one “Oh Henry” bar or three lollipops. If  you like it, you should eat it, but be careful. One serving contains 200 calories, 12 grams fat, 4 grams saturated fat, 15 milligrams sodium, 23 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams sugars, and 2 grams of protein. The bottom line, it’s more a dessert topping than a breakfast treat.