December 21st has acquired an increasing aura of ominous significance for my family and me. In 1988 Pan Am 103 was blown from the skies by now-convicted Libyan terrorists, falling to earth in Lockerbie, Scotland and taking with it the lives of 259 people on board the plane and 11 on the ground. One of those lives on the plane was my brother, returning from a semester overseas in London during his time at Syracuse University.
Annually on this date I have been reprinting my first post from the start of this blog, which I dedicated to my brother. The plane disappeared from the radar screen at 7:03 PM GMT, the moment when all those lives, my brother's included, were tragically ended. The post is timed here at 7:03 PM EST, the time when I arrived home from my residency training to discover the awful truth. In 2005 the pain of this shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere became that much greater, when my father was taken from our family suddenly. The irony - or possibly the design - of the two dying on the same date has not escaped our notice. This post now contains the original first post, from September 2004 and the material I wrote about my father when, after his death, I returned to this blog.
The original first post:
My Reason for Being
There are a lot of ways this weblog could begin. I think the best is with a brief history and explanation. You see, I lost a wonderful younger brother in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. I miss him every day; he would be 38 now. I recall thinking back then that the attack constituted an act of war. I couldn't believe that there wasn't the moral clarity and certitude of purpose on the part of our government to prosecute a war against those who had attacked us. That lack of moral clarity persisted through the Desert Storm war, leaving Saddam in power, through the first bombing on the World Trade Center, through the embassy bombings, the USS Cole attack, etc., etc., etc. With the devastation of the attack on 9-11 finally, at long last, all Americans would see that we may not have thought ourselves at war, but an enemy was at war with us. The same America that fought World Wars I & II would surely unite to fight against an enemy that attacked us on our home soil - but I was wrong.
Even before the first strikes in Afghanistan many, particularly in the media, were questioning the action, opining that we would find ourselves in a quagmire. With the attacks in Iraq the same voices were heard. Now, as Iraq struggles to find a footing for democracy many who in the 1990's thought Saddam needed to be ousted and, if necessary, preemptive action taken have changed their mind, simply because it's not their guy doing the ousting.
President Bush is doing exactly what needs to be done - aggressively prosecuting the GWOT. The critics note that terrorists are flocking to Iraq to fight against Iraqi and US soldiers - to which I answer "Good. Get more of them together, rather than chasing them to the ends of the earth." To those who think Iraq is not part of the GWOT and that we should have left Saddam in power I ask, do you really think the world would be a better place with Saddam still in power?
This is the history that has influenced me. As Senator Zell Miller said at the beginning of his speech at the Republican National Convention [link]:
Since I last stood in this spot, a whole new generation of the Miller Family has been born: Four great grandchildren. Along with all the other members of our close-knit family -- they are my and Shirley's most precious possessions. And I know that's how you feel about your family also. Like you, I think of their future, the promises and the perils they will face. Like you, I believe that the next four years will determine what kind of world they will grow up in. And like you, I ask which leader is it today that has the vision, the willpower and, yes, the backbone to best protect my family? The clear answer to that question has placed me in this hall with you tonight. For my family is more important than my party. There is but one man to whom I am willing to entrust their future and that man's name is George Bush.
My family, and in fact all Americans, are too important to me. This blog will stray onto lesser topics regularly, my passions and interests. But it will likely always return to this vital effort.
Posted by Giacomo on 28 September 2004
From my return post of December 29, 2005:
Lastly, I'd like to write briefly about my dad, who passed away eight days ago, on a professional level. He was a remarkable physician, a cancer specialist in a way that really no cancer specialists are anymore. He performed all manner of cancer surgery, soup to nuts, including the plastic reconstruction of any deformity created. He guided the radiation therapy and chemotherapy for his patients. He read their MRIs and CTs himself. He looked at their pathology slides. This was one-stop shopping cancer care, something that you need six or seven different doctors to provide now. You might think that each of those six or seven physicians would be more highly informed in their particular area to optimize their portion of the care. You would be wrong. And you'd have to coordinate six or seven different physician offices to get anything done.
He retired four years ago, and had to be dragged kicking and screaming from his practice. When he left, he spent the next two years staying in contact with his patients, and working with each of them to be sure they had the best follow-up care he could arrange. That's something you don't see either.
I won't be writing here on a personal level. That's something I did for his burial two days ago. We miss you, Dad. We all miss you very much.
If anyone is interested, here is the link to his obituary.