Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 25, 2017

The Day After Thanksgiving

In Nellie’s hand on the first page of her Bible. Found in the first hours preparing for her memorial service in 2013.

“It’s that time of year” has an additional special meaning for family and loved ones of my late wife, Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden. The day after Thanksgiving is when she had a massive stroke. She died 10 days later. It was 4 years ago.

My youngest daughter, Maggie, wrote a beautiful piece about her thoughts and emotions now. (

Today, is the day after Thanksgiving 2017. I finished the long drive from one daughter with three children’s house – and a Thanksgiving meal shared with son and his dear girlfriend to another daughter and three children’s house. It was a beautiful autumn day on the Southern roads I’ve traveled for over 45 years. I played my personal music downloaded to my phone. Each piece evoked its particular memories. When I heard “Annie’s Song,” which I sang to my wife so many times, I wept.

Grief keeps a room in my heart. And in my mind.

Meanwhile, gratitude is expanding a room, building a mansion, in the same places.

There’s a swinging door connecting grief and gratitude. An old memory or new event moves me from one to the other, back again, and more back and forth. I spend more time in gratitude today than I imagined possible. I’m grateful beyond any expectation.

I feel like I’m living the Country song, “Live like you are dying.” I’m grateful for every day. I’m more humbled than I can write with words that our Lord God would give me such gifts in daily living – I don’t deserve and haven’t earned.

Sometimes when I’m alone, I speak as if Nellie were in the room. I tell her that I love her. Then, I get busy living, especially because she isn’t here. There are two grandchildren she never loved in the flesh. There are six grandchildren and three adult progeny who need their mom. I do the best I can as Pater Familias. I’ll continue with a grateful heart for as long as I can.

I still find it hard to understand that the complete years – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 – knew her not. There’s nothing of her in those years, except loss and grief. Yet, for me, those years are also about living – to be busy loving. There’s been a lot of living in those four years. And sweet lovingkindness.

I’m grateful for every opportunity I’ve had to just love God and others. I grateful for anytime I gave lovingkindness. Don’t misread, I’m not Billy Graham or Mother Teresa. I’m just a man.

I got to experience how my friend Danny Goad’s grandfather was right when he told the young widower Danny, that “God doesn’t add to the human heart, He multiplies.”

Also, while my medical records document my aging ailments, often I feel as vigorous, alive, and excited about life as I did in my 20s. Clearly, I’m not that young and strong, but I feel “super duper, paratrooper.” I believe it comes from and with gratitude.

This day after Thanksgiving, 2017, I testify to that grief and gratitude co-exist. I praise God for His wonderful Grace. I’m grateful, grateful, grateful.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 11, 2017

Again, One Front, Two Wars

I wrote this right after 9-11-2001.

One Front: Two Wars

The first front of the World War against International Terrorism (WW-T), our American Homeland, is remarkably united – today.  Getting nine out of ten Americans to agree to anything is heady stuff.  Yet, the adrenaline cocktail of shock, fear and anger intoxicates only for a season. Someday soon enough Americans will awaken with headaches and ask themselves ‘Why’.

Will the hangover of a patriotic binge be worth it if war and its consequences become a daily, lifelong addiction?  Or, will the glum awakening, even on the brightest of mornings, be the residue of restless nights worrying over our resolve?  Our America shall have many, many nights of anguish as we struggle with the ‘war questions’ Americans always ask – during a war of ever changing dimensions, consequences and demands for commitment.

Americans will speak to the dark hours of legitimate doubt with characteristic straightforwardness:

  • Who are we fighting?
  • Why? What are we defending?
  • What will be victory?
  • How much, how long, what risk will war cost?
  • What must I do?

The answers to these questions over time will result in two wars being waged for our Homeland Defense.  The first, the WW-T, will lead to another, but different, Civil War in the U.S.   Prayerfully, hopefully, the severity of both wars- the consequence management – will be minimized.  Regardless, the nature of both conflicts merits the name – war – and will be fought to the ultimate ends of any and every war – peace through victory or defeat.

When WW-T expands beyond the destruction of one species of terrorist vipers – the Al Qaida organization – the coalition will devolve.  The best efforts and high purpose of the magnificently experienced and talented Bush team can not stop shifting tectonic plates of history, culture and the clash of civilizations.  Sooner or later, WW-T will be the West and its shifting Moslem Allies vs. Raging Islam.

Then, Americans will realize some fuzzy, global, generic, secular human ‘freedom’ is not under attack, but the West – Western Civilization – is the enemy of the resurgent Islam that breeds radicals and rage.  What is the American Civilization worth defending for long decades?  What must be preserved at all costs? Who will bear any price for what liberty?  These questions will split the unity of our nation along the fault lines of our American Culture War.

 Americans with different worldviews will seek alternatives for peace.  Some will be happy to defeat one group of terrorists and pretend there are no more until another bright September morning explodes in a new terror attack.  Some will shake in fear and shout ‘stop’ when an Islamic country turns on us as we pursue the next den of snakes or when a radical Islamic coup topples some friendly despot.  Some will stay the course to defeat the enemy, and their means of attacking the West, everywhere and suppress their successors’ ability to attack ever again – for decades and succeeding generations to come.  The nation will divide between those who seek peace at any price – because they don’t see the ultimate destruction of America and the West – and those who know that a hostile ideology – a vigorous, aggressive theology – must be defeated utterly and completely.

 WW-T will be waged on the terms of the old Roman Empire. Our enemies will fight us for generations – even centuries – until they change their way of thinking or are conquered or we are defeated from within. Our America, as the leader of the West, has imperial responsibilities without imperial ambitions. Moreover, our nation faces its greatest test since the American Civil War (ACW I).  Can a nation so powerful, so rich, so hated remain a Republic with the protected individual freedoms endowed by our Creator?  The American Culture War will become ACW II. 

WW-T and ACW II will be fought on the same front – our American Homeland. 

The distinctions between today’s liberals and conservatives will change as WW-T progresses.  When ACW II heats up – may it be a war of words and battles at the ballot boxes only – the two primary sides of the conflict will shape up in new alignments of allies, perhaps with new political labels.

One side will be soldiered largely by citizens who know that since 1776 America is the country where it is safe to be a believing, practicing, proselytizing Christian and Jew. Their troops will advocate the big ideas, the worldview supporting American Civilization and the West, namely, Judeo-Christian thought. This side will show tolerance for the Moslems, the pagans, the atheists among us, but not cede the nation to their hyphenated ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

America faces a long, long perilous WW-T and ACW II indeed. May the God of America’s Founders, the God of Jesus Christ and Abraham, have mercy on us all. May God Bless America. In God We Trust.

 James Atticus Bowden

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 11, 2017

Happy New Year, Labor Day

Labor Day is New Year’s Day for the protagonist of this novel.

Happy New Year, Labor Day

“Every year of his conscious life fit completely on one side or the other of the demarcation line of September, exactly at Labor Day weekend. Summer and the old school year fell to the rear. Autumn and the new school year stood, waiting, on the other side. Even a dozen years of work since college could neither blur the distinctions nor dampen the need to divide, label and catalogue the year. Except of course, for September 2001 when the 11th divided life as it divided the world.

Jack recalled a year like pulling a book from a library shelf. He smelled the dust, the ink, the paper of the year as he ran his hand on the binding. He felt the weight of the names of the past few years…”

From Rosetta 6.2, a novel by James Atticus Bowden


Okay, Labor Day was last weekend. So, I’m getting slow – not surprisingly so about some things.

This 2016-17 AY ended and I’m putting its book up on my mental shelf. Tentative title, “Surprisingly Unsurprising.”

There were big events. My oldest sister, Elizabeth Ann Bowden Buehrer, died at age 72. My youngest grandchild, William James Atticus Buchanan, was born. My oldest daughter and kids had their family shattered. A year ago I literally climbed down from my newly lifted house on large cribbing to be out of my home, Sanctuary, for 3 months. The great expense of lifting, masonry, concrete and carpentry was worth the greater sense of security against frequent flooding.

Yet, it was surprisingly unsurprising how this year passed as the 4th full year of life without my late wife. I guess time keeps passing – duh me. Time had a hard stop for me in December 2013. I’ve had a purpose for all the time since then – especially to be as good a father and grandfather as I can be, since their Mom is gone. Year 1 was just surviving. Year 2 was getting healthy – coming back. Year 3 was the “New Normal” – according to the late Nellie. Yet, it surprises me that Year 4 is so like Year 3.

(You’re thinking, “Of course it is. Or, what is he confused about?”)

I’m amazed by the math of life. Nellie and I were ‘us’ for 41 years. I’ve been a widower for 4 years. That’s 10 per cent of our time. One-tenth is significant. If I live 20 more years – like my granddaddy Bowden – a third of my adult life and most of my grandchildren’s lives will be without my wife. I don’t understand how someone who means so much to me – simply isn’t here in the flesh. She’s with me in my mind. Always.

Also, I find it surprisingly, unsurprisingly normal that I can care for another lady and not feel conflict. None. Earlier, female relationship felt very awkward. This is a slow, steady path of walking a loving relationship forward.

Finally, there’s the aging thing. The markers of decline indicate I’ll probably need new hips and cataracts in a decade. I need to reverse the 50% blockage of one artery to the heart or suffer the consequences of increasing plaque. Yet, I feel young, vigorous and incredibly, awesomely alive. Every morning the mirror lies to me about my age. I wonder how long can this continue? Daily, I have more to do than time to do it.

I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, out loud, every morning when I rise in the beauty of my home, Sanctuary. I’m more grateful for all things – large and small – than I’ve ever been in my life. I never far from instant tears or laughter. Perhaps that seems child-like. I think it comes from deep currents of long, swirling thoughts and emotions. My passion fits me, even as a partner to my real peace and contentment.

Yes, I’ve got peace like a river. Yet, I’m up and ready to be “all in” for what is worthy. The only reason to wish to be younger – would be serve in the good fights more and love longer.

For me and this year past, I can mark the book binding – Surprisingly Unsurprising. Or, I could call it “Another”.

Labor Day is the first day of a new year for the protagonist of this novel.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | August 21, 2017

Place These Monuments in Historical Context or Tear Them Down

Two monuments from one cast – One Confederate and One Union

At left, a Monumental Bronze Co. sculpture of a Union soldier, erected in Westfield, N.J., in 1889. On the right, a sculpture of a Confederate soldier, by the same company, erected in Windsor, N.C., in 1898. (Washington Post, Sarah Beetham).  Making war memorials was a business – North and South.  But, somehow, only the ones in the South are a problem.  How odd.


The politicians, like Republican Ed Gillespie, say Confederate monuments need to “placed in historical context”.  Apparently, the plaques, which are written in English, don’t explain the monuments sufficiently for Leftists of every stripe, dumb Democrats and clueless, gutless Establishment politicians.

The rabid Puritan Liberals imagine a monument of a soldier, dedicated to “Our Confederate Dead” is really about White Supremacy and racism.  If they can’t pull down a statue like a sister Totalitarian mob in the French or Russian Revolution, Chinese Cultural Revolution, Nazi Germany or like Taliban, ISIS Islamist Totalitarians, they want to put up a plaque with an angry emoji saying this statue represents racism, White Supremacy, and a Southern “uppity” attitude.

The intolerance of tolerance and exclusion of Southerners from sacrosanct diversity is at work.  How shocking.

Ask Ed Gillespie if the Union soldier statue needs historical context.  Because it does.  All the monuments up North need to be put in this context – from solely a Virginian’s perspective:

  • This Yankee soldier looted Fredericksburg
  • He committed a war crime burning the Shenandoah Valley.  Every field and out building as well as many homes – causing suffering and death from hunger.
  • He raped black slave women who followed his Army.  (Quite different from the professionals who followed General ‘Hooker’ in the field.)
  • He served in a racist,  segregated Army.  Blacks served under white officers.  Blacks were paid less than Whites.  (Blacks and Whites were paid the same in the Confederate Army).
  • He couldn’t afford to pay someone to take his place.  The wealthy could buy their way out of the Northern draft.  (About 40% of White males, 18-60, served in the Union Army to invade and conquer, over 90% of White Males, 18-60, served in the Confederate Army to defend their homes).
  • He could be a German mercenary hired like the Brits did in our American Revolution.  Not enough Yankees wanted to fight for the Union to fill the ranks.
  • He suffered enormous casualties because his leadership was too inferior or the Army too weak to conquer just 100 miles of Virginia in 4 years.   Even though the Yankees always outnumbered the Confederates.  (Northern manpower was 3:1 and industry about 9:1).  When the butcher, Grant, finally gained ground, the Union Army won by losing more men in one campaign than Lee had in his entire Army.
  • His family couldn’t complain, because the hallowed right of habeas corpus, the right of a free press and political dissent were suspended during the war up North.
  • He was represented by racists, since up North, 19 of 24 Northern states had restrictions on the rights of Blacks to vote – after the war.
  • As an Army of Occupation, he stole everything not nailed down during Reconstruction.

As soon as the greater number of statues up North are re-interpreted, we should consider doing the same down South in Virginia.

Then, we should start raising money for monuments to the Victims of Yankee War Crimes.  It would all be for reconciliation.


Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | August 17, 2017

Ed Gillespie, R for Governor of Virginia, on Confederate monuments

Coulda gone better

A real Virginia leader could just say, “Leave the monuments and names alone. Have a nice day.”

Many Republicans will drool over the Ed Gillipsie’s non-defense of Confederate monuments and names, etc.

His weak position is a step away from his opponent. So, Virginians who don’t want more  Totalitarian cultural cleansing have no champion in this race. If they stay home, Ed loses. Again.

Ed Gillespie describes his Democrat opponent position as, “My opponent now says that he believes decisions about historical statues are best made at the local level, but that they should be removed.”

Ed says, “I believe that decisions about historical statues are best made at the local level, but they should stay and be placed in historical context”

They both agree that decisions should be made at the local level despite the Code of Virginia saying localities can’t do that. They disagree on what localities should decide by degree. Ed says they can stay but adds the PC appeasement of changing them with “historical context.” That is no defense of historical monuments. Ed must know the Commie Blue localities will culturally cleanse everything Confederate they can find. He has no clue what PC cartoon the historical context may be. Ugh.

A defense of historical monuments should say, again, “Virginia’s monuments and names should be left alone. They should stay as they are, where they are.”

It’s a no brainer to list the sins of the past – slavery, segregation and racism – as part of Virginia history. Using the language of the Left about the wrong side of history is sloppy.

And, saying Virginia was “seeking to sustain the evil institution of slavery in the Civil War” is falling for the Liberal PC Presentism cartoonish view of the War. Wars are far more complex. It’s an insult to not know the reason why the Upper South seceded and be able to articulate it. It’s stupid to use the language of the Left.

Then, there is “they are weighing how to put them in proper historical context.” What utter BS. The plaques on the statues say what they are about. They don’t need PC Liberal Presentism interpretation.

This barf is pure PC Liberal Presentism – “Rather than glorifying their objects, the statues should be instructional. While ensuring that Confederate statues are not exalting them but educating about them, we should do more to elevate Virginia’s history in expanding freedom and equality by extolling the many Virginians who played critical roles in this regard.” Really?  How are Lee, Jackson and Confederate soldiers wrongly exalted? What education is needed? Who are the Virginians who need to be extolled for expanding freedom and equality?

He failed to mention what per cent of the Antifa rioters were from Virginia. Ed didn’t mention the other side rioting at all.

Ed punts the ball to localities to do the cultural cleansing. It’s okay with him. An alternative is to say all Virginians get to live with and learn about all of Virginia history for good and bad. Letting things be – live and let live – is real tolerance.

But, of course, that live and let live attitude is distinctly Southern.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | June 22, 2017

Part 2, Sarajevo Roses – When Neighbors Kill Neighbors

A Sarajevo rose. Someone died here when a shell exploded on innocent civilians

Part 2, Sarajevo Roses – When Neighbors Kill Neighbors

The documentary ‘Sarajevo Roses’ is important beyond its artistic value and intrinsic worth to the people of the Balkans. We need to make sure there is never a documentary made in America called ‘Sacramento, Sarasota, Syracuse, Santa Fe, You-get-the-picture Roses’. Even though such killing has happened here, we never want it back.

America witnessed wars of personal vengeance and genocidal extermination in our Indian Wars, Revolution and War Between the States. The Indian Wars were different from the Revolution and War Between the States. The Indian wars were two incompatible cultures competing to live in one place. The American Revolution (ACW I) and WBTS (ACW II) were political fights. The North and South were distinct sub-cultures, not fully separate cultures, in conflict.

Consider real culture war and Sarajevo Roses. The Indian Wars (1608-1890) consisted of many different campaigns in a long, long culture war. No cookie cutter, PC labels apply.

My Mother told me the family lore of farm families on a Sunday picnic when Greenville County, SC was frontier. The Cherokees attacked. A neighbor lady died with an arrow to the heart as she was trying to get over a split-rail fence. Had those families traded with the Cherokees who lived a few miles away?

My late wife’s Clay family was on the frontier in Virginia when the Shawnee came a killing. They killed one son on the farm. They took another son back across the Ohio River and burned him alive as a sacrifice to their pagan gods. Had those Indians and English settlers met each other before murdering? In many cases they did.

What was in the hearts of those families who survived Indian attacks and massacres? How is it different from the King David and the Hebrews with their Canaanite neighbors?

Indian Wars end with the slaughter of Indians at the Battle Wounded Knee

I argue there is a distinct difference between two kinds of murderous war. The distinction is lost on the dead children, woman, seniors and innocents of all kinds. Yet, the distinction matters as to why the neighbors kill each other.

Cultural conflict is inevitable. There is no such thing as a multi-cultural society. There are multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-racial, multi-lingual societies that exist under or are built upon one, single culture.   Culture commands.

Political conflict is avoidable. The Lilliputians of the world don’t have to kill each other over which end of the egg to open. They really don’t.

I suggest – the conflict in the Balkans started with political avarice for the usual reasons of all political struggles – power and money, money and power. But, people made the political contest into a contest of cultural survival – of kill or be killed. The result, like our Indian Wars, was horrific.

More than 8 thousand Muslims were murdered at Srebrenica in July 1995.

For over a decade after the dictator Tito died, politicians built their constituencies by dividing people.   Tito had crushed the differences among Catholic Croats, Orthodox Serbs and Muslim Europeans.

The politicians who preached Serb Lives Matter, Croat Lives Matter and Muslim Lives Matter practiced cancerous identity politics. They aligned with intelligentsia and religious leaders and built greater identity by group.

The Balkan equivalent, say like – a Serb Congressional Caucus – elevated permanent victim status to statehood. The elevated status of their ancestors’ martyrdom had no expiration day. Claims of moral superiority, recompensation or special privileges based on ancient wrongs were unending. It didn’t have to be that way.

When war came, all murdered each other – Serb, Croat, Muslim. There were no good guys. But, there were good people.

In our Indian Wars the humanity of the individual Indians shouldn’t be denied or exalted above all. The humanity of each of the English-speaking People shouldn’t be forgotten. Individuals wanted to live. Love. Have families. Laugh. Some wanted to make war in its season. All wanted to survive and win.

Is that different from life among Sarajevo Roses? In the Balkans innocents on all sides just wanted to live in peace. Innocents were killed in combat. Some were raped or murdered in person.

Virginia – leading America again – needs to rid itself of identity politics.

If we have a Virginia identity – we are all in this life in this place together – then we can squabble about more or less government, higher or lower taxes, etc. Politics should be about power and money – as it is – but not about a “them vs. us” with special privileges, affirmative actions, protected classes of persons, and labeling with endless “-phobes”.

Virginia must put away the poison of identity politics, sooner rather than later, so there’ll never be a ‘Staunton Roses’ documentary.

Part 3 of Sarajevo Roses will look at Americans killing Americans in the Revolution and the “Recent Unpleasantness.”

My buddy Bill Stuebner was at the exhumation of Srebrenica in an official capacity

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | June 21, 2017

Sarajevo Roses

A documentary about the siege of Sarajevo

Last week an old Army buddy of mine, who is a friend “closer than a brother”, invited me to see the documentary ‘Sarajevo Roses’. It was an engaging, moving, provoking experience. It tied together thoughts and emotions that date from back during the Vietnam War for me forward to today’s wars and coming certain cataclysms.   It’ll take a number of written pieces to put together the puzzle the movie illustrated. Consider this an intro to “Why Neighbors Kill Neighbors.”

Neighbors have killed neighbors since brother Cain killed Abel. Yet, murdering people who are very much like you severely disturbed the West through the aftermath of World War I. The 17th Century Treaty of Westphalia and the 19th Century Congress of Vienna created the illusion of limited war and greater peace across the ancient killing cockpit of Europe. The mega-deaths of industrial age warfare in World War I shocked Western Civilization to its core. Then came World War II. The genocide, crowning a second world war more horrific than the mass slaughter which masqueraded as WW I, shook the foundations of the West. The West questioned its confidence in its own culture.

How could Western Civilization, with all of its success in elevating the human condition, be debased in the mud of World War I and denied in the mass murder of World War II concentration camps?   How could the West descend to barbarism? Why would civilized neighbors kill their neighbors?

Existentialism as a philosophy attempted to answer the insanity of discretionary – and completely avoidable – violence and horror, but failed. Meanwhile, wars and rumors of wars forever evolved the end of World War II into the cold-ish World War III Super Power struggle. The mystery of why neighbors murder neighbors receded in public consciousness as most people got on with living. Then, when the epic struggle of the Cold War ended in 1992 a new war erupted in Europe – and neighbors killed neighbors again. The former Yugoslavia broke up into warring Balkan factions – who murdered each other.

Almost 12 thousand people died in the 4 year siege of Sarajevo. A Norfolk photo-journalist, who experienced much of the war, made a documentary – Sarajevo Roses.

One of the three main protagonists, Asim Haracic, is a psychiatrist in NoVa. He served as a plastic surgeon and ER doctor during the war. He watched the movie with Bill and me. He answered questions afterwards from the audience. He is a dear friend of my dear friend, Bill Stuebner. Bill says he is one of the finest human beings on the planet. Asim is Bosnian Muslim. He’s an American now.

Asim is still trying to sort out why neighbors killed neighbors in his hometown.

Bill served doing humanitarian duties during the Bosnian War. He retired from the U.S. Army at the same time I did – 1992. Later he worked on building the cases for war crimes for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Earlier, from 1986 to 1992, Bill saw neighbor murder neighbor in El Salvador. He was a participant and witness for 11 years to two vicious, horrific killing fields in what should be Western Civilization.

Bill hates war.

I know why – even though I’m the unbloodied, wannabe warrior of us two. Bill saw the Heart of Darkness. Bill experienced his wars for what they are, always have been and always will be – evil. There’s no such thing as a good war. I reject Christian Jus Belli concepts – as I have since I was a teenager at West Point thinking through my role and complicity in the Vietnam War.

All wars are evil. Some wars are necessary. Many wars, once fighting begins, are worth winning. Personally, I was willing from age 17 to 60 (when I became legally unfit) to go to any war my country called me to serve.

Neighbors kill neighbors because of evil. Sin. Neighbors might murder neighbors anywhere in Western Civilization – at any time – as shocking as that seems.   When evil is unleashed with the dogs of war to run amuck, unconstrained, among the nicest of neighbors – awful, horrible things happen.

It’s coming again, sooner or later, in a very predictable cataclysm in Western Civilization. Jihad will likely spark a “Jacquerie”. That wasn’t the fight in Bosnia that created the Sarajevo ‘roses’ – which are marks of death on city streets.   Regardless, neighbor will kill neighbor in Western Civilization again.

Let’s see if we can keep it from America.

Asim Haracic and Bill Stuebner

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | June 7, 2017

45 WTH?

Graduation, United States Military Academy – West Point – June 7th, 1972

I graduated 45 years ago.  WTH?  (As the Germans say, “In former times”, I’d use other acronyms!)

Huh?  How’d that happen?

Time is baffling to my mind.  I can’t believe that number.  45.  WTH!

If I think about all of life since graduation, well then okay sure, it’s been a long time.  Lots of stuff happened.  I’m not going to get into my usual introspection (actually used that word for pieces I wrote for The Pointer when I was Managing Editor – see below!), philosophy, navel gazing and history nerdism.  This is all pure raw emotion.  WTH.

I take the officer commissioning oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, from my Daddy, Regular Army LTC (RET), Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army. Honored to do so. Never taken one step back since.

Graduation was the 2nd happiest day of my life.  Number one was birth of first child.   And, yes, I told my late wife and other kids this.  Many other wonderful times in life.  But, this was stellar.   I hated being at West Point as an inmate.  Loved teaching there later!   I stayed to graduate just because I knew I’d always wonder “what if”, didn’t want to quit or leave my band of brothers classmates, and knew better to go to Vietnam to fight as an infantry officer.   The later didn’t happen – war called off during Winter Ranger.

Here is what I said then. (Pic on my phone is clear.  Dunno why this copy is so bad.)

1972 Graduation issue, The Pointer Magazine.

I’d write it differently now.  Less self-conscious youthful cynicism, but have the same passion about living and doing.  Now, I’m able to speak to the humbling honor of being allowed to serve Duty, Honor, Country with a happy heart and every ounce of being.   And, personally, I’d add so much more about family and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Family there, then.  L-R. Mother Edith, Sister Susan, JAB, Uncle Stanley (34 Inf Div, WW II), Grandmother Lillian Susan, Father Albert.

So, here I am 45 years later.  WTH.  It’s just weird.  I know I am not the same physically.  Got it.  But I feel the same.  I feel as alive and even up for a good fight as I did then.  I’m excited about living life although I’m keenly aware of my mortality.  Attended 3 funerals in the past 3 months and no weddings.

Saying you graduated 45 years ago makes you older than dirt.  WTH.  But, at this short end of life’s candle, I feel just about the same as I did – not kidding –  when I was at the youthful long end – and not knowing how much candle was ahead and what would be there in the burning wick.  WTH?  I’m grateful to God that “I ain’t dead yet” for whatever I’m supposed to do.  Read and write.  Be Daddy and Papa.  Be a husband again.   Make my classmates laugh.  For however long or short I’m to do it.

Just a few days ago next to a Sequoia tree actually older than me.

I look forward to all the laughing with my buds and their wives at our 45th Class Reunion.  I just can’t believe it’s really 45.  WTH!

Proud and True, ’72

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | June 6, 2017

D-Day Again

D-Day Again

The U.S. Army leads the liberation of Western Europe

Three years ago, I was in Bedford, Virginia at the D-Day monument right after the 70th anniversary memorials.  It was perfect timing to visit an awesome place of memory – and pride.

The reflected glory of being a Virginian, American and old soldier with blood relation WW II veterans a plenty was a first blush, quiet, pleasant pride.  But, the realization of what those soldiers did was truly humbling.  The enormity of their service and sacrifice banished every selfish feeling and thought for good.  They did it, not me.  I’m grateful for what the soldiers, sailors and airmen did to liberate Europe.   General of the Armies Dwight D. Eisenhower called it “The Great Crusade”.   Yes, he used the word “Crusade” as a good thing.  A crusade is and was – a good fight.

Timing is everything: 70th Anniversary

I was pleased and proud to serve in the 82nd and four other divisions.

I try to note this day – June 6th D-Day – as well as the Army’s birthday on June 14th and the first day of the Battle of the Bulge on December 16th to educate folks about the U.S. Army.  I may make mention on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veteran’s Day also.  I want to educate more because The Army is lousy at self-promotion and politics.

The Army created the Nation in the Revolution.

The Army wins our wars.  (Korea and Vietnam being the strategic political, not tactical military, exceptions.)

In WW II, the role of the Army is extraordinary.  The Army – especially an officer in his early 40s, Albert Wedemeyer – wrote the War Plan.  The basic plan for the Armed Forces, manpower, industry, and agriculture to win WW II was written by the Army.  The Navy had wargamed the naval campaign across the Central Pacific well.  The Army planned the War.

Also, the size of the load the Army carried can’t be overstated.  The Army and its Army Air Corps expanded over 60 fold to provide the forces needed to win.  The Army fielded 90 divisions.  The Navy stood up 6 Marine divisions.

Take a bow, U.S. Army.  Hooah.

(Although, I must fuss that the Army never should have changed the dress – office – uniform.)

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | June 5, 2017

A Celebration of Life for Elizabeth Anne Bowden Buehrer

Her Celebration of Life. She’s alive now and forever – but not here.

My nieces and their husbands did great.  It was perfect for her, my sister, and their families and friends, who she loved with all of her heart.  My other sister and 1 nephew came from Boston.  2 of my 3 kids and 3 of my 5 grandchildren came with me.  It honored and celebrated Babs’  life.   It was “bien fait” and “comme il faut.”

My late sister, Elizabeth Anne Bowden Buehrer, was “Babs” to the world. She was “Bumpy” to us. She earned her name, “Bumpy”, during her terrible twos. She would be so frustrated and angry to not have her toddler way, that she bumped her head on the floor. My Daddy, with Scot-Irish green eyes ever grinning, named her and it stuck for life. Yet, if she were to carry a name based on behavior for all her life, it’d be – Sweet, Kind, Loving, Nurturing, or Gentle. If her name were based on character it’d be – Fiercely Protective, Stubborn, Deeply Devout, and again, Loving.

Bumpy loved others the way our parents loved us. Totally and completely. Unabashedly openly. Sweetly and sentimentally. And, especially so, for family, family, family.

Bumpy was born in Jackson, Mississippi during World War II. Daddy drove around town honking his horn the night she was born. Bumpy was the apple of his eye from first breath.

Momma and Bumpy were the second American dependents to come to Bamberg, Germany in 1946. She was the princess for so many officers separated from their families for so long. When they sailed back into New York harbor in 1949, Bumpy started crying in terror. The unbombed buildings meant “The War”, which clearly was the horrible thing grown-ups were always talking about, hadn’t come to America yet. She was afraid. Such a gentle soul.

We came back to Europe, just two years later, to France. We lived in parts rented out of three chateaus near Bordeaux. We moved every year when they raised the rent. Her playmates were the French children who lived there. She rode to the first grade – almost 90 minutes – in the back of an Army ambulance used for a bus.

Growing up she was a shy, quiet girl in public. She took ballet and piano while five of us lived in a one bedroom apartment in Leavenworth, Kansas and small houses, Army quarters and apartments in San Antonio, Texas and Memphis, Tennessee. Bumpy was more animated at home. In Memphis, like many firstborns she was the special pride and joy of our grandparents – Atticus and Lillian League. She named them “Namoo” and “Pop”. She helped Momma a lot when Daddy was gone for thirteen months to Vietnam. She was baptized in the church where she would one day be married.

In Arlington, Virginia she was the big High School sister who babysat us daily, so Momma could work. She fixed us tomato soup, tuna fish or grilled cheese sandwiches as we watched a full length movie on TV after school. She loved musicals. She played Broadway show tune records over and over. She was very close to her friends. She was still quite shy.

She was dragged back across the Atlantic for her senior year in High School in Orleans, France. She volunteered in the hospital. She led us to the bus stop, unafraid, past all the soldiers with sub-machine guns and after two bombings on our block during the Algerian Crisis.

Then, Bumpy went to the University of Arizona. She fell in love with Dick Buehrer.

Bumpy was 20 when she got married. She had lived in 20 houses by then. 21 if you count her college dorm. The longest we had lived in one house was 3 years. Yet, since Momma decorated with the same accessories in each living room, dining area and kitchen every place looked like our home. Home is where we 5 were. We kids always knew we were part of large extended families in South Carolina and Tennessee. We knew we had our People. But, we were the expatriate cousins. Until Babs started her family, it was us 5 against  the world. Us 5 – as family – wherever we were together. We had great security nurtured by great love in that tight family.

Babs got married and her life was fulfilled as wife, mother, grandmother, master teacher and friend. We were separated by thousands of miles and years between visits.

Babs was far less retiring as a grown woman. She was a dedicated wife and mother. She made everything work for her family from Arizona to Washington to Oregon to Bakersfield, California. She loved teaching. She adored her students and their families.

I saw her after a number of business trips in the first decade of this millennium. Each time I told her how proud and happy our parents would be to see the family she had raised. She was the happy matriarch with the brood close enough to touch in her lovingkindness. Her three daughters and six grandchildren have the imprint of her hands in their clay of their lives – from their DNA to their memories – much of Babs is in them. I hope they’ll live up to how sweet, kind, protective, nurturing, gentle, loving, devout, and — Bumpy stubborn – our Bumpy was.

My first thought when I heard of her passing was how happy our parents are to see her again. Someday, we will be too. I love you, Bumpy.


James Atticus Bowden

The way we were at the start together.

They way we were at our last time together. Our finish as all 3.

Why we 3 lived. Our Clan, next gen, missing Nathan, Maggie and Russell. The children, grandchildren and spouses of James Albert and Edith Henderson Bowden. Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ.


Thank you, Bakersfield Sept of the Clan.  My parents and Babs – and my wife –  in Heaven are so proud of you.  So grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Her video produced by Granddaughter Hannah – when I can figure out how to upload it…TBD






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