Rare Case Of Taking Responsibility

I’ve never been a fan of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, but watching a Civil War show on The History Channel recently gave me a new respect for his candor and humanity, at least. And a reminder of how rare those two things are in modern American public life.

Lee’s Southern army was coming off a big victory over Union troops in Virginia, and he pressed northward, hoping to reach Philadelphia, and thus convince Northern politicians to give up the war. But during three days of fighting at Gettysburg in July 1863, Lee made what has been called “the mistake of all mistakes” and lost one-third of his army.

Estimates are that more than 4,000 Confederate troops were killed, 12,800 wounded and more than 5,000 missing. (Union losses included 3,155 killed, more than 14,000 wounded and more than 5,000 missing.)

It’s said that the Confederates’ funeral/medical wagon train retreating back to Virginia stretched 17 miles.

And a shaken Gen. Lee, surveying the death and devastation following his misguided order pressing an infantry assault, remarked, “All this has been my fault.”

Wouldn’t you like, just once, for a modern general or politician to stand up and take full responsibility for the lives lost, the bodies disfigured and the families shattered by their ill-considered decisions? …

* It would go against our company’s ethics code, not to mention my natural inclinations, but if I were to found a political party, I’d call it Middle Class Independents. Someone has to speak up for us at the Capitol and in D.C. …

* Bob Jones’ recent reporting on the troubles at the Kaua’i Independent Food Bank reminds me why a lot of us get into the news biz. There are always many individual reasons a person “takes up the pen,” of course including in my case wanting to write but for many of us it’s also the desire to shine a light where things seem shady. The Kaua’i food bank’s misuse of $779,000 in federal grant money that should have gone to feeding hungry people, and then selling food for a profit, was worth shining a light on.

See Jade Moon’s column on page 21 for more on food banks …

* Whatever happened to mango and lychee season? Those local fruits are two of the best things about summer in Hawaii. Curious, I emailed Duane Choy, who writes about horticultural matters for the Star-Advertiser, and whom I also queried for a recent column item on shower trees.

Sez Duane: “Our unusual weather pattern is a major culprit in the manini fruiting this year. Unseasonal wet weather is deleterious it stimulates tree growth, but hinders flower production, and can encourage fungus disease with the inflorescence and fruit. And the prolonged windy days we also experienced result in many fruits falling from the tree early.”

I was really enjoying the cool spring and summer we’ve been having, with enough rain I haven’t needed to water my little herb garden as much as past summers. But no mangos or lychee is a tough tradeoff.