Leonard Will Go Home

By Melissa Musick Nussbaum

My father-in-law sent four sons to Notre Dame and helped send five grandchildren as well. He did not attend college himself. He went to war, enlisting the day after his high school graduation in 1944. Leonard joined in the Navy and was sent to the Pacific theater. This much we always knew.

Leonard told us he was a cook in the Navy, and so he was. He liked to brag about cooking pancakes and eggs, hundreds of them, flipped and scrambled for the waiting sailors. Mostly, though, he did not talk about the war. He was not one to reminisce, not like my husband’s Great-Uncle John, who sat on his sister’s front porch and told us stories of his time in France during World War I. Uncle John was animated, glad to have an audience, telling us about the trench rats able to detect poisonous gas before the soldiers. He was fine until he mimed taking the gas mask and placing it on his face. Then his hands began to shake and his voice to tremble and he could not go on.…

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After Goodwill, There Is Haiti

By Melissa Musick Nussbaum

The people of Haiti wear the clothes we cannot sell or give away. After Goodwill, after the Disabled American Veterans, after Saint Agatha’s rummage sale, there is Haiti.

My daughter Anna, who recently finished her freshman year at Notre Dame, says Americans are T-shirt literalists. If you see a guy with “Varsity Swim Team—Palmer High School” on his shirt, chances are he’s a teenager a few credits shy of graduation with a decent backstroke. Literalist T-shirts require a context: the big game against State or the protest against the new Wal-Mart out on the highway or the annual race for, not a, but “The,” cure. Haiti is—the whole place—out of context, at least any context with which I am familiar.…

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