Glen Campbell

I’ve never been much of a country music fan, but I was saddened to read this today:

Glen Travis Campbell brought country music to new audiences. He found success as a session musician before embarking on a solo career that included smashes Gentle On My Mind, Galveston, Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy and that landed him in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Campbell died Tuesday at 81, according to his Universal Music publicist Tim Plumley.

‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ Glen Campbell dies at 81 after Alzheimer’s battle

Lone soldier on guard, Vietnam, 1967

PFC John Sizemore, Co C, 1st Bn, 8th Inf, 1st Bde, 4th Inf Div, stands guard on Hill 742 as the sun sets in the background. Nov., 1967. Image credit: U.S. Army/Wikimedia

For me, Campbell’s hit Galveston will be the one I remember him by. It starts out sounding like a song about a man missing the place he grew up and a girl he used to know there. It’s not until the second verse:

While I watch the cannon flashing
And I clean my gun
And I dream of Galveston

Jimmy Webb – Galveston lyrics

that you realize it’s about a man who has gone away to war. Released in 1969, the song spoke to a generation of young men and women who were either involved in the Vietnam War, or worried they were going to be there soon. Unlike America’s recent wars, Vietnam was fought by draftees, men who were sometimes there because they had no choice.

According to the Wikipedia entry Galveston was meant as an anti-war song by its writer, Jimmy Webb. Even as Campbell sang it, though, Galveston was about the price of war on a personal level, and clearly from the point of view of a man who didn’t want to be there. For some of us, Galveston was about what it meant to fight for your country in a far-off place. For others, like me, it was a reminder that there is a terrible cost to war, and that we ought to be sure it’s worth that price before we send our young people to fight one.

Decades later, I still don’t think we’ve learned that lesson.

But we should thank Glen Campbell for trying to teach it to us, anyway. For that song and all the others he sang, he will be missed.


Fort Hood On My Mind – Again

A view of the 1st Cav Museum, Ft. Hood, Texas

A HWWMV (left) and US armored personnel carrier at the 1st Cav Museum, Ft. Hood, Texas. Image credit: Adam Bartlett/Wikimedia

It was a few years ago that I last wrote about Fort Hood, Texas. That, too was because an armed person went on a rampage there. I spent considerable time during the 1980s and 1990s in that area, and have visited several times since. That makes it extra hard to read something like this:

CBS News identified the shooter as Ivan Lopez, 34.

He was reportedly in uniform at the time of the shooting.

Fort Hood has confirmed the shooting, but has issued little other information.

“Fort Hood’s Directorate of Emergency Services has an initial report that a shooter is dead but this is unconfirmed,” the post said in an updated statement at around 6:30 p.m.

The Associated Press earlier quoted a U.S. law enforcement official as saying the suspected gunman is believed to be dead.

Some of the wounded were taken to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center on post and others to Scott & White Hospital in Temple.

Four Dead And 14 Injured In Fort Hood Shooting

It’s still early, so there are conflicting reports about what happened. At the moment, I don’t even take that death toll seriously. When the news agencies and officials have a chance to double check things, then we can believe what we’re told. On Twitter today, someone posted this handy checklist of how to treat early reports of an incident like this, where people are frightened and they and the news are taken by surprise:
Image credit: On The Media (PDF)

Image credit: On The Media (PDF)

This is why I won’t write anything more than to extend my condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

UPDATE/Afterword: Apparently, another person with a gun is loose at Kent State University, Ohio. All that seems to be known at this point is that at least one shot was fired, and the campus is locked down.

Hopefully, this will be all the damage from that incident.