Make The Leftovers Last

I’m posting my From The Editor’s Desk Column from Sat., Nov. 25.
What do you think of the idea of extending the Thanksgiving holiday? You know, there are 12 days of Christmas, why not four days of Thanksgiving?

It is too bad (as today’s editorial cartoon shows) that Thanksgiving gets such short shrift. It gets crowded out by Christmas shopping . Christmas can wait till the third week in December, right?
What do you think? Leave your comments here on this blog. Or you can write them as letters to the editor to our newspaper (, or

MY friend Brad Haugaard says that Americans cheat the Thanksgiving holiday of its due. One day and done doesnt give this wonderful ritual listing the things you are thankful for and maybe discussing them aloud justice.

Worse, turning Thanksgiving weekend into a shopping spree or a couch potato football marathon is sacrilegious to Brad. I doubly agree.

So, applying the concept of continuation to this holiday, we should keep listing, keep thanking, keep celebrating what we have all weekend long.

So to Brad, and to all of you, I present a modest list of people and things Im thankful for that I share today, the Third Day of Thanksgiving. With an emphasis on lifes smaller things.

1. The lady behind the American Airlines counter at LAX almost 24 years ago when my wife Karen and I were embarking on our honeymoon to St. Croix. Her act of random kindness wont be forgotten. She bumped us up to first class. (Ironically, the trip was free because I received the tickets in a promotion after buying a Chevrolet Chevette from Cormier Chevrolet.)

2. Rick Potter, my boss at Dairy Barn in Bellmore, N.Y., for not being afraid to talk about religion to me, something very politically incorrect these days. Rick took a chance and that conversation continues in me, nurturing a spiritual inner life awakened 28 years ago by a blue-collar guy in a milk store on Long Island. He spoke about Gods grace or unmerited favor to me. Something also to be thankful for today.

3. For being born in the United States, the greatest country in the world.

4. For my grandmother, Pompelia DiCarolis, who with her sister, Matilda, left their home and parents behind in Italy for the unknown shores of America. No men, no husbands, no jobs only the hope of freedom and a better life, no doubt similar to the hopes and dreams of those Mayflower riders.

5. A rock outcropping beneath the American River. Im thankful it wasnt a foot or two closer to my head as I traveled through the water like a missile from a submarine from the force of a white-water rapid. Those endless seconds were calm moments as I thanked my God for so much. Then I surfaced, breathing in gulps of air and clinging to the rock from which I was rescued.

6. The rising silver moon above Jenny Lakes 9,100 feet in elevation from Earths sea level. It was a magical moonrise, perhaps the closest to the moon and all of Gods creation I ever got.

7. For Dr. Charles March, whose infertility treatments led to our first child 17 years ago.

8. For Chris Chambliss, whose home run I witnessed leave Yankee Stadium and put my Yanks into the World Series for the first time in my conscious life.

9. For the regular telephone calls from Mickey Fox of Covina, here at work, who challenged me to think about life, but, more importantly, showed me it was a random moment of small talk that reminds us we are alive.

10. For the truck it was a Chevy Luv lent to me by Steve and Linda Sargent in September 1984 so my wife and I could move from our apartment in Placentia to a rented house in Monrovia. I got to thinking about that truck Sunday after learning that Linda, the sister of my wifes best friend in high school, had passed away at age 47 from Lou Gehrigs disease, which she fought with courage and grace for four years. The obituary Sunday said the wife and mother of two had also been a respiratory therapist. And I remembered how she and he would always come to Halloween costume parties dressed in green hospital scrubs, stethoscopes dangling from their necks. Funny what you remember. There was not time to thank her for her kindness, for helping others who were sick, and for being an example to me of sacrificial love.

11. Last year, an airline worker for Delta Airlines at Romes DaVinci Airport spoke my name through the public address system. Concerned, I went up to the ticket counter, announced myself and presented my ID. We were going home, first class! Yup, it happened again. There was no explanation, only kindness.

So, who is on your list? Theres still time to draw one up. Have a happy Rest of Thanksgiving Weekend.

Talk up veterans

DEPENDING when you read this, soldiers have or will soon drop from the sky onto Baldwin Park. No, U.S. forces are not invading the San Gabriel Valleys sixth-biggest city. They are paratroopers marking today, Veterans Day.

Did you know that Veterans Day is always the 11th hour, the 11th day of the 11th month? quizzed John Diaz, 83, who spent a career in the U.S. Air Force and served in two foreign wars, Korea and Vietnam.Diaz, of Alhambra, and others in the American Veterans Post 113 in Irwindale give presentations at grade schools and colleges and participate as honor guards at veteran funerals. In military language, they are educational ops.

A lot of people dont know where the 21-gun salute comes from, said Diaz during my brief stopover at their facility on Los Angeles Street Thursday afternoon.

I was baffled. Luckily, Diaz was eager to explain.Take the year of our countrys independence, 1776. Add the seven and the six, and you get 13. Now add the one and the seven, and you get eight. Eight and 13 adds up to 21. Thats where they got it from.

Unfortunately, not all veterans take after Diaz. Many dont like talking about the wars theyve fought in, or the military in general. Once theyre discharged, they quickly blend into society. I heard a radio report about an Iraqi war veteran who lost a hand. He chose a metal hook prosthesis over the more life-like rubber hand because he would be forced to talk about his injury and not hide from it.

Richard Moreno, 84, parachuted behind enemy lines in 1944 in occupied France. The place was Normandy. The battle was D-Day. Before that, he fought in Northern Africa and Sicily as part of the 82nd Airborne.

My father, Louis Scauzillo, also fought in World War II, also in Northern Africa and Italy. I saw in Moreno the same kind of reluctance to share about the war as in my dad.I first learned about my dads bravery on Dec. 11, 1998, when my older brother delivered the eulogy at his funeral.

He never talked about the Nazis going through the bodies of his buddies with bayonet stabs, making sure everyone in his company was dead. By remaining still, by playing dead, my father lived. Later, he was knocked unconscious by a mortar blast. He owed his life to the army surgeons and nurses who stitched him back together.

And he carried more than a dozen reminders tiny pieces of metal bomb fragments in his right arm and shoulder for the rest of his life.He rarely complained of the pain, the arthritis and limited movement of his arm. He never spoke of the war; the deep scars in his shoulder told the story whenever he took off his shirt.

No, I dont like to talk about it because I will remember the guys who got killed, Moreno said. I dont want to remember.

Moreno is still clearly shaken by talk of war and remembrance, memories more than 60 years old. He, too, said he never spoke to his children about his war experiences.

Diaz, who flew missions in Vietnam, was wounded when the plane was hit by enemy fire. The loss of compression popped his left eardrum. His military career spanned from 1946 until 1977. For the next 20 years, he worked as a flight mechanic at Edwards Air Force Base.

Pete Ramirez, who runs the Am-Vets facility, said todays recent war veterans dont usually join with the older veterans groups. From talking with some whove served up to three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said they are tired of war. They want to resume their lives.Sometimes Ill hear them talk about those IEDs (improvised explosive devices or roadside bombs) which are responsible for killing hundreds and hundreds of U.S. troops, said Ramirez, who served during Desert Storm as a reservist.

Moreno politely excused himself and left. Then, after a brief tour of the clubhouse, Diaz shook my hand and thanked me for my interest.

They are men of few words. But their reticence to talk about war is their choice. It doesnt excuse us from not talking about them. They are what today Veterans Day is all about. Lets talk it up.