Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Stay-at-home shelfie #54

It's Mostly Sociology on this nonfiction shelf, as we continue to wind our way down a narrow black bookcase. (I have put bookcases in every nook and cranny where they'll fit in the bedroom.)

1993's Stonewall by Martin Duberman is a historical narrative through the eyes of some who experienced the 1969 Stonewall riots, violent demonstrations by members of New York City's LGBT community that helped to serve as a catalyst for the gay rights movement. My son, Ashar, is transgender and so, yes, I do have several books on the topic — to better educate myself and also because Kate Bornstein and Sarah McBride, among many others, are terrific writers who are well worth reading.

Chanel Miller's Know My Name and Jaquira Díaz's Ordinary Girls are two well-reviewed books that were published last autumn, which seems like a million years ago. Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community is a 2012 book on Native American history that was written by a Native American woman, Brenda J. Child.

Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, edited by Bernard Edelman, was published in 1985 and features the letters and photographs of Americans who served in the Vietnam War. Perhaps some of you remember the 1987 documentary, produced by HBO, that features some of the book's content. There are numerous illustrations in the book, including 13 pages featuring the handwriting of Air Force Capt. Edward Alan Brudno. After being forced to eject during a mission over North Vietnam in 1965, Brudno endured 2,675 days (nearly 7½ years) as a prisoner of war, undergoing unfathomable torture at times. The book features some of the few letters Brudno was allowed to send home to his family during his captivity. His writing is small, tight and precise.

Brudno was released from captivity on February 12, 1973, and during the week before he returned home, according to the book, Brudno penned his Dream Sheets, "lists of things about which he had been dreaming at the time." There are nine of these sheets printed in Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. He writes of contacting friends and family, places he wants to visit (Library! he wrote, with an exclamation point), his educational interests to explore, his clothing and grooming, and so much more. So many lists detailing his plans for freedom.

Less than four months after his release from captivity and one day before his 33rd birthday, on June 3, 1974, Brudno took his own life. In a 1998 essay for Newsweek, his brother, Robert J. Brudno, wrote this: "Suicide never has simple causes, but his story reveals some unfinished business from the Vietnam War. ... Years ago, I tried to get my brother's name added to the Vietnam Memorial wall. I was told that I could not, because the wall was for servicemen who were killed in Vietnam or died later from wounds received there. Technically, I guess, Alan Brudno was mortally wounded back here."

Air Force Capt. Edward Alan Brudno's name was finally added to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day 2004.

His name will be forever on that list: PANEL 5E, LINE 2 OF THE WALL.

We should remember his other lists, too.

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