Letters to the Editor

Recalling Final Exams

I was delighted with "Final Exam" on the last page of the Summer 2004 issue, particularly as it triggered my recalling the only true-false, yes-no exam I ever took at Kenyon. The history course was given in 1955 by Dean Frank Bailey and was entitled something like "Europe from 1900 to 1930." Despite that title, it was really mostly Bailey on World War I. Dean Bailey, who was a wonderful, tough, no-nonsense old guy, gave us an exam in which the first two questions were, answer yes or no, as follows:

1. Fascism was good for Italy (Y)(N).

2. The Russian Revolution was inevitable (Y)(N).

I sat there in panic for a moment when faced with these two questions. Question one brought back memories of "Mussolini made the trains run on time" and the ruins of a bombed medieval monastery and a dynamited bridge across the Arno. Question 2 aroused thoughts of Toynbee's patterns in history and, if memory serves me on his name, H.A.L. Fisher's remark that "history is just one damn thing after another." From the vantage point of nearly fifty years, I am proud to say that I answered both questions wrong.

--Robert S. Price '58

Calling on Oprah

Kudos on the editor's page by Amy Blumenthal ("Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Read") in the Summer 2004 Alumni Bulletin. I found it smart, funny, and all around well done. Congratulations. That teachers would discourage reading seems tantamount to heresy. It would be wonderful to see the English model you present implemented in the United States, but that would probably take too much time and energy. I mean, Oprah is only one woman. Keep up the
­good work.

--Scott Guldin '99

War and Leadership

Fredrik M. Bergold '59 wrote a critique in the "Letters to the Editor" section of the Summer 2004 edition of the Alumni Bulletin. He discussed the anti-war impulse at Kenyon as well as in much of America and abroad in the late 1960s. He raised compelling questions about the obligations to lead the world's only military superpower.

I suspect Mr. Bergold would be comfortable with the words of the popular song of the 1960s, "the dead don't matter when God is on your side." What Mr. Bergold referred to as "the syndrome" is starting again. As in 1964, we are sending our young to their death without the clear and unified support of the American public or of our international allies. The "ugly American" lives.

Instructive here is the couplet Rudyard Kipling wrote upon learning of his son's death in the trenches of World War I: "If any question why we died, /tell them, because our fathers lied."

Does America's freedom to exercise its own self-interest forgive the horribly maiming physical wounds and deep psychological trauma suffered by millions on both sides in Vietnam?

It is not easy being the world's military superpower, but moral leadership cannot be carried out at gunpoint.

--David W. Clark P'07

Correction: The Summer 2004 Bulletin listed Ann Starr '73 as the writer of a profile about David Jonker '82. The piece was written by Mieke Bomann '77.

To our letter writers

The Bulletin welcomes letters of three hundred or fewer words. Letters to the editor may be used for publication unless the author states the letter is not to be published. Letters may be edited for style, length, clarity, grammar, and relevance to Kenyon issues. Please address submission to: Editor, Kenyon College Alumni Bulletin, Office of Public Affairs, Gambier, Ohio 43022. Letters may also be submitted to alumni@kenyon.edu. Letters for the Summer 2005 issue must be received by March 11.

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