Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fill in the gaps.

A decision this week to deploy an entire reserve brigade from Kuwait into Iraq’s western province will increase the total number of American troops in Iraq but for how long was unclear. Nor is it clear how the additional troops will be employed as commanders seek to quell the violence in Anbar in coming months.

One official said the additional troops would be deployed to "fill in the gaps" that now exist and that will get worse when a Pennsylvania Guard unit pulls out in about a month.

What we need to do is “fill in the gaps” within the heads of President George Bush, Vice President Richard Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. They must recognize the realties of the situation.

Hello! This war is not winnable! Throwing more cannon fodder into the mix will not do the job. We learned that in Vietnam. We have already lost. As a veteran, I object strongly to committing any more American forces to Iraq. As a veteran, I object strongly to committing any more of America’s youth to this folly in Iraq.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, a fire fight develops in Kabul because of a traffic accident involving American Forces. People die. The Afghanis, just like the Iraqis, want us out. There is a reason why the exiled King of Afghanistan decided not to stay in Afghanistan when he was coaxed back from Italy for a photo op in Kabul. He knows we have already lost there too. As a veteran, I object strongly to committing any more American Forces in Afghanistan. As a veteran, I object strongly to committing any more of America’s youth to this folly in Afghanistan.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld need to be held accountable for the deaths and maiming of American fighting men and women in those countries. They used deceit and lies to convince Americans that these military actions were necessary. In the civilian world, if someone’s deceit and falsehoods led to someone else’s death or injury, that person would be held legally accountable. –Walter Haan,

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Little Progress and Too Many People Failing

Now that we have remembered this Memorial Day Weekend those who have given their lives for us, I am reminded of this quote by the late Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, who once said:

"We see lasting discord, even wars in the world, little reconciliation, little progress and too many people failing. And with all of this there is a frightening lack of respect for each other's life and well-being, of all life on earth, that is visible again and again in dozens of terrifying shapes.

"However, all of this is no cause for surprise in a world inhabited by four billion egoists, all of them inclined to fancy themselves to be the focus point of the world."

The quote is from the seventies. But the violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, East Timor, Palestine and Kashmir is today and was around over 25 years ago when this quote was written. It just goes on and on. And young men and women in military forces around the world die or are maimed because of it.

My wife and I had been guests at an Indian mission attached to the UN in 2002. I mentioned in conversation that I had once been in Kashmir and found it to be really beautiful. A young Indian boy, about 16 years old, suddenly brightened and turned to me and asked, "Worth fighting for, isn't it?" He was referring to the 59 year old Indian-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir.

As Juliana said, "...little progress and too many people failing."--Walter Haan,

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Remembering Captain Eleanor Alexander (1940-1967) this Memorial Day Weekend

Eleanor’s military career as an operating room nurse in Vietnam during the Vietnam War is well documented. I'm putting a link about her military service in the links section to the right. Her name is on The Vietnam War Memorial Wall, one of only nine women listed.

This is a more personal remembrance of Eleanor. She was born in September 1940 and I was a month older. We met in Ozone Park, Queens, New York City at about age four. We both lived in corner houses across the street from one another. She had a brother, Francis, who was the same age as my sister, Susan. Both had been born in 1943. So the four of us grew up together until 1947 when my family moved to Nassau County on Long Island.

My father and I went to the new house in the moving van. We didn’t have a car. My mother and Susan were driven to the new house by the Alexanders, Frank, Grace, Eleanor and Francis. That was the beginning of a longer distance relationship between the Alexanders and the Haans. From 1947 on, we went back and forth visiting each other, usually having dinner at each others’ houses. Mrs. Alexander frequently served lamb for dinner. I loved it but more than once I heard my mother bemoan the fact we would probably have lamb. I still eat lamb regularly.

In Ozone Park, Eleanor and I played a lot. I remember once we got the idea to grow some apple trees. We extracted some seeds from apples and planted them in the bed of shrubs that surrounded her house. Every day for a while, Eleanor and I would crouch next to where the seeds had been planted, waiting for them to pop up. The seeds never had a chance because they never saw the sun.

We went to kindergarten and first grade together at PS (Public School) 100. The bathroom for kindergarten was one room for both sexes, two stalls with openings at the bottom and top. One day Eleanor and I were in the two adjoining stalls and I took it upon myself to peek under the stall wall to see what she was doing. She turned me in to the teacher.

In first grade, they advanced Eleanor one year up to second grade in the middle of the year. She was a bright kid and they did that sort of thing back then. I remember feeling a bit lonely that we weren’t in the same class anymore.

After we moved to Nassau County, my father installed a ping pong table and a regulation shuffleboard court in the basement of our long house. The picture here shows Eleanor and myself posing inbetween shuffleboard games. I’m the one with the big mouth. We were 16.

My mother and father also purchased nine untamed lots in Kings Park, Suffolk County, New York. The property was so wild we had to hack and saw down the trees to make the road to reach it. My father built a prefab, 10’ x 16’ cabin on the property for summer vacations. The Alexanders visited us there often and we had some wild croquet games on the top of a sandy hill with no grass. Just clumps, surrounded by forest. Our favorite thing to do was to shoot each other’s balls into the woods. Eleanor was an attractive brunette and a lot of fun.

We both went to college in upstate New York, she in Buffalo and me in Rochester. We’d meet at rest stops on the Thruway at Thanksgiving and Christmas vacations.

I think it was 1961 when her father died from a heart attack. He was only 54. Eleanor called to tell us. My father kept Frank Alexander’s picture in his top chest drawer until he died himself in 1981.

After college, she was an operating room nurse and was paid well. I served in the Peace Corps in India for two years. Six months after that I was drafted into the Army, serving for two more years, mostly in Germany.

The last time I saw Eleanor was in early spring 1967. We were both still single. She was at my parents’ house with her mother and I expressed concern about what she was doing. I told her if she wanted to give back, it was safer to join the Peace Corps than volunteer to go to Vietnam. She replied that she knew that but felt that her skills were needed in Vietnam.

My mother called me in November 1967 to tell me Eleanor was dead, a victim in a plane crash in Vietnam.

I took my wife and two daughters to the Vietnam Memorial in the 1980s and we all looked for and found her name on the wall. And every Memorial Day, I remember Eleanor and her family. They were wonderful people. ---Walter Haan,

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Praise the dead on Memorial Day

The following two paragraphs speak volumes about what we should be remembering on Memorial Day. They are from a new essay being published for Memorial Day, 2006, by Southfarm Press. The book is Good Night Love, Copyright 2006 by Dudley C. Gould (ISBN: 0-913337-56-0).

"I praised the dead I knew personally and as my admiration grew, it dawned on me that the earth is full of soldiers in such numbers as stars in all galaxies; young soldiers gone under the earth to uphold the living, losing their lives that others might prosper unthreatened; quitting life far from home, slipping unknown, unhonored into the deep river of time flowing darkly along.

"The surface of the earth, except where snows lie year-round, is strewn below with the bones of exhausted soldiers savaged and bled. Gettysburg is the mass grave of my great-grandfather’s beloved drummer-boy son, who, as they used to say, died in the Glory of the Lord, and it’s well-known how the Western Front in the first world war turns poppy red each spring from blood of soldiers in the ground—ne funestentur, defiled by death. It did anyway back when people cared. Once there was a day set aside for remembrance, limping veterans selling red paper poppies on Armistice Day. There is no more Armistice Day and poppy vendors hobbled away long ago."

Reconsider how you spend the day before you drive off merrily to a Memorial Day sale at Wal-Mart.---Walter Haan,

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SPECIAL REPORT: Veterans Ripped Off

The names, social security numbers and birth dates of 26.5 million veterans, mostly involving veterans who were discharged from 1975 onward, have been stolen. The records of some veterans who had been discharged earlier and then filed a claim with the agency may also be involved. They are all now exposed to possible identity theft.

How? Why? What is our government doing about it? What needs to be done?

How? A VA worker had taken the data home to work on a VA department project. The worker, who has not been identified, is a longtime employee of the agency. He lives in suburban Maryland, a law enforcement official said. Probably in some plush, cushy home that we veterans paid for with our taxes and in so many other ways.

Why? Stupidity is the answer. Who allowed this stupidity?

What is our government doing about it? The VA and the FBI (the people who can’t find Bin Laden and his cronies) are investigating the theft. The data was on at least one disk and stolen along with the VA employee’s laptop.

What needs to be done?
1. Identify and fire the longtime VA employee. Right now this guy is on "administrative leave." Show his picture in newspapers and on TV. He should have known better. Fire his superiors. Today.

2. The VA must guarantee any and all vets compromised by this breach of security that the agency will reimburse any financial loss resulting from this gaffe. This should include financial compensation (at $25 an hour) for a veteran’s time in fighting this breach if it affects his financial well being.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is advising veterans to be "extra vigilant" and to monitor their bank statements, credit card records and the like. Veterans can go to and for information, or call a toll-free number: 1 (800) 333-4636.

Wouldn’t it have been nice if the VA had been “extra vigilant?”
--Walter Haan,

Monday, May 22, 2006


I received a copy of the May 2006 issue of History Magazine on Friday because the publication is courting history book publishers such as Southfarm Press to get them to advertise. Whenever I receive a new history book or magazine, I go to the index or table of contents to see what they have to say about the Dutch in history, a subject I specialize in. If I find a mistake about the Dutch in the book or magazine, I take a very jaundiced look at the rest of the publication.

You would be surprised how many mistakes I find.

This issue of History Magazine features the history of the 1660s, so I took a look at what they had to say about the Dutch surrender of New Amsterdam to the English in 1664. Right away, History Magazine was in trouble: They reported:

"The British seize New Amsterdam from the Dutch, changing its name to New York in honor of the Duke of York, the future James II." According to the magazine, the year this happened was 1665!!! WRONG. Credibility out the window.

As a publisher of military history, this kind of a mistake is the makings of a nightmare. We check and recheck facts in our books here, praying we don't print something like this gaffe in History Magazine. I wish History Magazine ( the best. It's colorful and well illustrated. The articles seem interesting, but how accurate are they? Southfarm Press won't be advertising.
--Walter Haan,

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pain, more pain.

The quotation of the day from today’s New York Times is: "You get a lot more authority when the workforce doesn't think it's amateur hour on the top floor."

Who said this? General Michael V. Hayden, President Bush's nominee for C.I.A. director.
Now I’m sure he wasn’t referring to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, but those are the men I immediately thought of when I read that quote.

Their actions regarding Iraq and Afghanistan have caused individuals around the world, both civilian and military, so much pain. Today’s news reports alone include:

1. The middle class of Iraq is moving heaven and earth to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. The very people Bush and Cheney said our invasion of Iraq would help are fleeing for their lives. What do the amateurs on the top floor have to say about that?

2. A mother's fight to have her soldier son's body disinterred from an Oklahoma cemetery and reburied near her home in California ended with a lost court appeal.

A roadside bomb exploded in Iraq on February 16, 2005, killing Army Staff Sergeant. Jason Hendrix, 28 years old.

His mother, Renee Amick, argued that Hendrix had wanted to be buried in California, where he spent his childhood. A little-known military policy favors the elder surviving parent for custody. So the Army shipped Hendrix's body to his father, who buried him in Tulsa, Oklahoma, next to his own father, a former Marine. Pain, compounded by more pain, for both parents.

Associate Justice Hugo Black of the Supreme Court once said, “Here’s hope, strength and love to those who give hope, strength and love.”

Are the amateurs on the top floor projecting American hope, strength and love to the world? It's something to be considered as we prepare on Memorial Day to honor those American servicemen and women who have fallen or been wounded in the last three years.—Walter Haan,

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Memorial Day Reminder

Memorial Day is observed on May 29th this year. If you have lost someone while he or she was serving in the military and would like them remembered by and, email us at or reply to this post. I'm going to start the ball rolling next week by posting my memories of Captain Eleanor Alexander. Eleanor was an operating room nurse in Vietnam and died there in a plane crash in 1967. She was my oldest friend. As children, we played together starting in 1944. She is one of the nine women listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC.--Walter Haan,

Monday, May 15, 2006

They hate us.

Two books published recently outline the deep and diverse roots of current anti-Americanism in the world:
Friendly Fire by Julia E. Sweig
America Against the World by Andrew Kohurt and Bruce Stokes

When I had been in the military and Peace Corps during the sixties, I experienced anti-Americanism first hand. While stationed with the Army in Germany, if I sat on a park bench shared with an elderly German, the German would immediately get up and move. And I was always dressed in civvies. In the Peace Corps in India, I was physically attacked for no apparent reason by a coolie on a Goan train station platform. Some Indian soldiers (Jawans) came to my aid.

In reflecting on both my Peace Corps and Army experiences, I think I might have been in more personal danger in the Peace Corps. When in the military, you are always stationed with other troops. You are rarely deployed alone and you have all sorts of support: medical, commissaries, EM and officers’ clubs, for examples. Peace Corps volunteers are alone with host nationals much of the time, and literally, could disappear off the face of the Earth if someone wanted to take them out. About one third of the time I was there, the PC main office in New Delhi had no idea where I was when traveling. And I was all over the subcontinent, including Srinigar, Kashmir where two Indians sat down suddenly at my table in a restaurant, put a gun in the middle, and asked how we were. There was another PC Volunteer with me. We said we were fine, had a conversation, and they eventually got up and left, with their gun.

Why are America and Americans unpopular in today’s world? Well, we act like bullies, use more than our share of world resources such as oil, overthrow governments that don’t do our bidding, attack and occupy nations such as Iraq and push our weight around in international organizations as the only world superpower. It used to be that our government took all the heat. That heat has now been transferred to individual Americans, making it more dangerous for Americans traveling. And as we learned on September 11, 2001, making it more dangerous for Americans in America.—Walter Haan,

Friday, May 12, 2006

Writers of military memoirs take note

It’s getting harder to get published.

After four straight years that included some huge increases, new title output fell 9.5% in 2005 to 172,000 new titles and editions. Figures indicate that the largest decline occurred at small and mid-sized publishers; production from the smallest publishers fell 7%, while new titles from small-to-medium and medium-to-large publishers dropped 10% and 15%, respectively. New books from the large, mainstream book publishers fell 4.7%.

However, new titles from university presses rose 1.8%. Don’t overlook them as possible publishers of your memoirs. Kent State University Press and University Press of Kentucky publish military memoirs.

Biography, history and technology all had big declines in 2005, while sports and recreation had the largest gain in output at 22%.

However, the number of adult fiction titles rose 6.9%. Instead of writing your memoirs, perhaps you should fictionalize your experiences. And if you do that, add plenty of sex. Sex not only sells books, but makes movie studios more interested in buying film rights.

With costs increasing, publishers are being cautious about the number of titles they will publish in 2006. That certainly is a factor here at Southfarm Press. ---Walter Haan,

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Interesting week historically

As of Monday, May 8th, the official death toll of U.S. Service members killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion has now exceeded that of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. 2,422 troops have died in the Iraq conflict. The number killed at Pearl Harbor was 2,403.

Oil was the cause for both events. In 1941, the Japanese wanted the oil in the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) and needed to knock out the American fleet to insure it couldn't help the Dutch. Our attack in 2003 on Iraq was to insure our everlasting supply of oil to keep our SUVs running and to maintain our supply of plastic bags in American kitchens. For these needs, 2,422 of our best and brightest have lost their lives. So far.

May 10th, today, is a big day in recent military history. Winston Churchill became British prime minister because the Nazis launched their attacks on The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France the same morning in 1940. In 1942, General "Skinny" Wainwright surrendered all American forces in the Philippines to the Japanese as they landed on Corregidor. It was the beginning of over three years of brutal captivity for thousands of American airmen, soldiers and sailors. Thousands died, clubbed to death, starved to death, bayonetted, shot by their brutal Japanese captors. Please remember them this coming Memorial Day.--Walter Haan,

Monday, May 08, 2006

Does Everyone Deserve Veterans' Benefits?

Received a brochure last week from my local congresswoman titled “Medicare Update.” In it she complains that the new Medicare D prescription drug plan doesn’t save seniors enough money: “The new Medicare coverage has a fatal flaw—it doesn’t let Medicare negotiate for lower prices. As a result, seniors pay 78% more under Medicare than veterans do for the same drugs from the Veterans’ Administration.”

Now I believe that Medicare ought to be able to negotiate for the best drug prices they can get, but I bristle at her inference that all seniors deserve the same deal veterans receive. Most seniors did not take two to four years out of their lives, put themselves in harms way for the good of their country or take the total pay cut that it has been proven veterans suffered by serving.

There are seniors out there who went out of their way to avoid serving their country during the Vietnam War by fleeing to Canada or Sweden or by becoming perpetual students to receive a deferment for the length of the war. Or, worst of all, there are senior men out there that became teachers for the duration of the war just to avoid being called up. Many of them found that the fathers of the children in their ghetto classrooms were in Vietnam, resulting in children sometimes calling them “daddy.”

I am a veteran. All seniors do not deserve the benefits I receive from the VA because they did nothing to earn them. If all seniors were eligible to receive the same benefits as veterans, it would just be more proof that the United States does not value the sacrifices they made.

Future veterans, such as our troops in Iraq, pay attention. Your service demands recognition and financial breaks not available to the general population. --Walter Haan,

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Widespread Torture

Blog yourself over to Andrew Sullivan's blog, to read "Widespread Torture by the U.S.," one of his posts for today (May 3, 2006). He's right on the money, especially when he talks about our military being tarnished by torture authorized by our civilian leaders on high.--Walter Haan,

Book authors everywhere: stop writing

The plagiarism scandal involving Harvard sophomore Kaavya Viswanathan is a big lesson for
authors everywhere: stop writing for large, mainstream publishers and expecting to be published by them. Book packagers in collusion with these book publishers are creating their own products without ever having to look for, nurture and publish your new voice or talent. All of their books are created by committees based on what has sold well before.

Reminds me of the late fifties in the movie business. Big studios stopped producing and bought pictures from independents to distribute. This is the norm today. So whether you're talking about movies or books now, their distributors (mainstream studios and publishers) have abandoned their original editorial voices. Though profit has always been the motive, it was their original, distinctive look and editorial voices that led these studios and publishers to their original profits. I'm talking about quality book publishers such as Little, Brown, Random House and Knopf. No more. When I say original editorial voices in reference to movie studios, I cite MGM and its musicals, Republic and its westerns as obvious examples.

Authors and their agents shouldn’t ignore independent book publishers as possibilities for getting their manuscripts published. As a matter of fact, independent publishers such as Southfarm Press ( may be your only option in this conglomerate world. ---Walter Haan,