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Yale 62

Afghanistan: Slippery Slope or Reminder of the Work We Did and Didn’t Do?

By Lee V. Bakunin

How do you define Freedom?

Freedom has a taste, smell, and feel that’s especially difficult to understand when you are repressed, held back or downright discriminated against. It’s also a question of how much and how little or none. Too little and you are wanting more and then just a little more because you want to savor what it’s like to be satiated. Too much and the satiation may take you to a place of illusion as well as delusion.

Is there a happy medium or some constant of freedom on which we can all agree? Or price to pay?

“The best cookies on Cyprus” says Lee

Here’s my take and it’s ok to disagree. Because in my book, that’s a necessary element to maintaining it.

Freedom means that you are in service to others. The more freedoms you have, the more responsibility to serve others.

When too many grubby hands reach for too few pieces of pie instead of figuring how to create more pies, no one is served and freedom crumbles.

No pie, no freedom and you become a guerilla and no longer engage under Marquis of Queensbury Rules, much less craft for a solution than with all sides at the table. Run, hide, strike and withdraw, stay alive to do it the next day. Dirty, smelly, revolting, lie, cheat, steal, indecent, intimidating and innovative. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually wear them down. Raw survival and using what you have to eradicate and demonize any enemy that dares invade your turf.

‘Cause you have nothing to lose when you are in survival mode, have absolutely nothing and no prospects. Except your soul, which your oppressors are willing to purchase for less than 1 cent on the dollar.

That’s the very essence of how a bunch of rejects and bumpkins declared their independence and began the United States in 1776. Yale then was a mere baby, 75 years old. But paid its share. Because it served and kept serving the needs of others.

Lots of lessons for succeeding generations as history tends to repeat itself.

Forward to VJ Day, 1945.

An infusion of what freedom meant and the price paid. We pre-Yalies were then 4 or 5 years old. Our parents, relatives and acquaintances had come together despite their race, color, pigmentation, ethnicity, religion, culture or economic class – to bestow this future legacy.

Our silent generation’s mission, as we entered Old Campus in 1958 was to protect and pass on those values. A beginning and not an end. Respect, honor, obey, be the best you can be, semper fi, stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance and Flag, say thank you to those in uniform, in government, and in industry, who stepped up but also remember the countless others whose lives ended prematurely with a Cross or Star of David who made it possible.

For God, For County and For Yale!

Yes, our aspirations and freedoms were served to us by those sacrifices.

Despite our inherited differences there was a sense of community: privilege and none, prep and high school, alumni legacy and first in family to go to college. What bound us was we’d live together, eat together, study together, play together in buildings, classrooms and fields where background made no difference. Learn from each other plus obey rules including the Draft and our privileged exemptions.

Freedom with choices and opportunities to serve whether it was healing for the student laundry, joining ROTC, pledging DKE, singing in the Yale Glee Club, attending Battell Chapel or burning midnight oil with a dozen White Castle Burgers at 2 am or early morning Yankee Doodle “egg no break.”

Reminding us every day on our path to Commons and Woolsey Hall: The Yale Memorial from Revolutionary War on. Plus a reminder that failure to come together and serve produces civil strife.

And, of course, the Old Campus Statue of Nathan Hale by Connecticut Hall.

Hallmarks – lots of them to remember.

Payment for lives lost in servicing freedoms and liberties for the rest to live in peace.

The message: pay it back and pay it forward.

Be in service to others to repair the world.

Before you can lead, you must learn to serve. Servus servicio deorum. For God, For Country and For Yale. In that order.

The higher you go, the more affluent or prestigious you become, the more you serve others.

We “Octogenarian Blues” did it and still do.

Call or text any member of Class of 1962 today and get a response and often an invitation to chat, stop by or visit. Even if you had little or no contact with them.

As I reflect now on August 29, 2021 regarding the exodus from Afghanistan:


What took 257 years (1958 – 1701) of patience along with blood, sweat and tears could not be accomplished in 20.

To be continued or not…

We welcome your comments below.