Department Of I Have Questions…But To Whom?
Dateline Tuesday am. Driving Highway 26 from the Oregon coast to Hillsboro, moiself comes upon a portion of the highway with has a new-ish sign on the side of the road which announces: “POW-MIA Memorial Highway.” I’ve seen the sign several times before, and have often thought, why?
Is this – naming portions of a road for a person or group of people – considered an honor, *by* that person or group of people for whom the road is named?
I know that that is a thing – roads being named for people. But what I don’t know is why having a thoroughfare named for or after you is considered to be…an act of respect  ?
Here’s what a bit ‘o googling got me: I was mistaken in thinking it’s only that particular portion of the Highway 26 (where the P-MMH sign is) which is now the P-MMH. The whole damn highway, which I’ve always known as The Sunset Highway, was renamed – excuse-moi, “officially dubbed” – the P-MMH. This happened in 2020. I didn’t get the memo, nor was moiself invited to the ceremony.
“Highway 26 has now been named the POW-MIA Memorial Highway. This designation was celebrated in cities across the state, including Boring, on National POW-MIA Recognition Day, Sept. 18, and came as a result of the efforts of Lt. Colonel Dick Tobiason (Ret.) and his nonprofit, The Bend Heroes Foundation.” 
(“Highway 26 officially dubbed POW-MIA Memorial Highway,”
Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, 9-24-2020)
I wish for a relative (of a POW or MIA) whom I know well enough to be comfortable asking them, “Does having a road named after your soldier-uncle make you feel warm and fuzzy, or honored, or that his sacrifices were not in vain, or….?”
Not that I’m against honoring or acknowledging soldiers, particularly POWs and MIAs. Anyone  remember the POW and MIA bracelets from 1970-on, during the Vietnam War era?
The idea was for people to wear the bracelets to keep the recognition of POWs and MIAs in the public eye. I wore two such bracelets, but can’t remember from whom/where I got them. I recall that, for some nominal fee to the organization which started the campaign,  you would receive a copper or nickel-plated bracelet, engraved with the rank, name, and capture or loss date of an American serviceman known to be captured or missing in action during the Vietnam War. You were supposed to wear the bracelet until said soldier (or his remains) was returned to the USA. 
I was as anti-Vietnam war as teenager could be, but didn’t blame soldiers for our country’s massive FUBAR of a military campaign. Thus, when someone asked me if I would “help” soldiers by wearing one of the bracelets I said sure, and shelled out my nominal bracelet donation (~ $3). I first wore a POW bracelet, then a MIA bracelet.
I never got the chance to return the bracelet to “my” POW. Whether or not he was part of the group set free in the 1973 liberation of North Vietnam-held American POWs, I’ve no idea. His name is lost to the abyss of my long term memory, the bracelet known to only the residents of Davey Jones Locker.
I shall explain.
My POW’s bracelet was liberated from my wrist during a body surfing incident at Newport Beach in the summer of…1971, I think. My younger sister’s friend, JT, was swimming with me, trying to catch the same (way-too-big) wave as I was riding. She attempted to cut underneath me, and we both wiped out. As we tumbled t-over-a in the foamy surf, the edge of my bracelet “pantsed” JT, catching on her bikini bottom and pulling it down to her ankles. When we both surfaced, sputtering and laughing, she pulled up her bikini bottom and handed me my POW bracelet, which had been stretched beyond its tensile strength – when I tried to crimp it back to its normal size it broke in half. As JT and I stood gasping and giggling in water up to our elbows, another wave knocked both of us over…and my POW bracelet became one with the briny.
I got a MIA bracelet after that, but cannot remember its fate (nor that of the unfortunate soldier whose remains were still – or never – to be found.) 
Yet again, I digress.
Another Oddly Named Thing ® on Highway 26, that I think of every time – yes, every gawddamn time I see it – is the Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel. “Oddly” is being kind; I consider the naming of the tunnel to be somewhat macabre, seeing as what Mr. Edwards had to do to acquire his namesake.
The Dennis L. Edwards Tunnel is a highway tunnel in northwestern Oregon that carries the Sunset Highway (U.S. Route 26) through the Northern Oregon Coast Range mountains….
The tunnel was originally known as the Sunset Tunnel until 2002. It was renamed in honor of Dennis L. Edwards, an Oregon Department of Transportation worker who was killed on January 28, 1999 when part of the tunnel collapsed while he was inspecting it for damage caused by heavy rains.
(Wikipedia entry for Dennis L. Edwards tunnel)
When moiself sees the tunnel sign, I briefly ponder: what does Edward’s family think, when they are driving to or from the coast and approach the tunnel? Or perhaps, after the tunnel was renamed, they said uh, yeah, thanks for remembering and now just avoid THE SUNSET HIGHWAY altogether?
Inquiring minds want to know. But perhaps we never shall.
* * *
Department Of Blast From The Past
Updating/cleaning out my writing documents on my computer, I stumbled upon a contribution I had been thinking of making, several years ago, to the literary journal Stoneslide Collective’s Rejection Generator Project. As described on their website, the rejection generator was…
“…a tool to help anyone who faces rejection. The Rejection Generator rejects writers before an editor looks at a submission. Inspired by psychological research showing that after people experience pain they are less afraid of it in the future, The Rejection Generator helps writers take the pain out of rejection….The Rejection Generator Project is built on the premise that the most painful rejections ultimately help writers build their immunity to future disappointment.”
Moiself had completely forgotten about that project of theirs, until I came across notes I’d made for my planned contribution (which I can’t find any record of having been sent).
Stoneslide Corrective had published a story of mine, “The Aunt” (October 2012) , which was an excerpt from my then novel-in-progress.  A few months after publication of my story I received this email from SC’s editor:
I hope all is going well with you and your writing. We at Stoneslide are planning a celebration to mark the one-year anniversary of our Rejection Generator Project. As part of that, we are inviting some of the writers we’ve published to provide “Guest Editor” rejection letters. Please let me know if you’d like to participate.
Evidently, I had fun with the Rejection Generator Project…but in my records there is no indication if I ever sent it in (and SC ceased publishing in 2016 or 17). Here are the rejections I (apparently/evidently) would have contributed.
We are returning your manuscript. As per your request for feedback: Don’t quit your day job. If you don’t have a day job, find one with a benefits package that includes adult literacy classes.
We are returning your collection of poems, any one of which makes the bathroom stall ode, “Here I Sit So Broken-Hearted” read like Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 by comparison.
While our standard rejection letter begins with the phrase, Thank you for thinking of us, we are anything but thankful that you considered us an appropriate venue for your manuscript of “erotic verse.” If for some inexplicable reason we’d desired to be assaulted by expressions of juvenile sentiment and vulgarity we’d have install listening devices in the nearest junior high school boys’ locker room.
P.S. and F.Y.I. – nothing rhymes with “bulbous.”
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Please excuse this form rejection letter. Frankly, your mediocre manuscript does not merit a personal response.
Do bother to acquaint yourself with the most basic understanding of submission guidelines. When an English language journal states that it accepts translations, this means that the work submitted must be translated from its original language into English. Whatever dialect your short story was written in, none of us – not our Da Bronx native fiction editor, not our Appalachia-born, Kentucky-raised poetry editor, not our intern from the Ebonics exchange program – could decipher it.
Vaya con Queso,
Please excuse what appear to be coffee stains on your returned submission. By the time she made it to paragraph three of your putrid prose our fiction editor was laughing so hard she spewed a mouthful of her espresso bean kale smoothie on the manuscript.
Should you wish to submit to us in the future, please heed our guidelines – specifically, our request that you “Send us your best work.” If what you sent was your best work, you have our sympathy, as well as our enduring request that you ignore our future submission periods.
* * *
Punz For The Day
Writing Punz Rejection Generator Edition
What kind of references do physician writers insert in their research papers?
Podiatrists use footnotes; proctologists use endnotes.
What is a car’s favorite literary genre?
What mantra did the Star Wars screenwriters use to remind themselves to put more figures of speech in their scripts?
“Metaphors be with you.”
* * *
May no one ever have cause to name a highway after you;
May your rejection notes be few, and facetious;
May the metaphors always be with you;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Or something else? I cannot think of another concept.
 For y’all non-Oregonians, Bend is a city in the central high desert area of Oregon. So, the Bend Heroes Foundation refers to the location of the veteran’s organization, and not to their limberness or exercise routine. And Boring – yep, that’s an Oregon town as well.
 Of a certain age, ahem.
 I think it was a couple of college students.
 At which time, via the organization, you could send the bracelet to the serviceman and/or his family.
 An older veteran once I spoke to told me that MIA essentially meant KIA, but that in some cases, where a soldier’s death was witnessed by others and the death was in such a gruesome manner that there could be “no body parts left to identify,” the MIA label was reassuring to the family…which I never understood, unless it was a tacit agreement on their part to not acknowledge the unimaginable? A soldier blown to pink mist by a bomb is still dead, even if there was not enough of him left to be identified at the time, in the battlefield, with the forensic methods then available.
 Since retitled…still unpublished!