I was saddened and a little bit shocked to read of two men passing away within days of each other who I had come to respect and admire through the Lodi News-Sentinel’s Letters to the Oskar Johanson and John Lucas. Although we never met personally, I felt a kindred spirit to both.
I learned of Mr. Johanson’s death right before I left for Hutchins Street Square for the combined concert of the Lodi and Stockton bands. As I sat listening to an amazing concert, I looked over the packed crowd and Mr. Johanson’s generation was well-represented. I thought that without their sacrifices I wouldn’t have the freedom to sit there with my kids and grandchildren listening to this beautiful music.
Oskar was like my father, who fought as a Marine in the Pacific. And, like my father, he was very concerned and even heartbroken to see what our country had become — a people being divided by a government out of control, resembling governments they had fought against in the war. At the end of my dad’s life, he would break down crying, just unbelieving this could happen in America. Semper Fidelis, Mr. Johanson.
Mr. Lucas was a true believer in that government that evolved out of World War II. I was one of those whom, as his obituary stated, he “crossed pens” with. We had Vietnam and being truckers in common. He was a master bridge player while I’m still figuring out “Go Fish.” But we were polar opposites in our beliefs about government. Even so, he always treated me fairly, unlike many of his like-minded comrades. He served two tours as a helicopter crewman where he was wounded, which means he had guts in excess; only corpsman are revered more, and only God is above our corpsman.
Oskar and John struck me as honorable men who not only talked the talk but walked the walk. I will miss Oskar’s sage advice and “crossing pens” with John. As my Irish Nana would say, “Bless our memory of them and may God bless all in their house!”