RONALD SLATER | Blowing the lid off of Agent Orange in Bermuda
January 24, 2008
To all Bermudians
Today my friends I must leave you for a while, and begin my battle with something they call cancer. While I am certain my treatment and healing will be successful, but lengthily in time, I wanted to have this one opportunity to just say thank you, for your understanding, friendship, incredible tolerance, discipline, and your marvellous beauty.
With the breeze entering from the window softly each morning and the early 60s rock and roll music playing in the background, you will know I am once again with you. Oh the joy.
But in time as I heal, and if by some chance encounter a meeting, you should observe a slight adolescent of an old man with conversation based on wine, women, song, and worn out, monotonous stories, of the truly good old days. Remember this as I scream out, weep, and beg you not to forget me.
We were the children of the 40s and 60s. Raised on war stories; Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mantle, hot rods, and the conception and creation of rock and roll. Our addictions as adolescences were Red Rider BB guns, baseball, basketball, football, Playboy, and the back seats of old cars, necking with the girl down the street who said she would.
Oh God, give me one last chance to batter up one last time. To hit the home run I never could. To catch the longest football pass at the biggest game, and make the last minute basket. But most of all to hold with tender and reverence all the girls and women of my childhood for one last kiss and embrace, as we dance to songs called Peggy Sue, Oh Donna, Chantilly Lace, and reluctantly remember the deaths of our worshipped companions Buddy Holly, Richey Valens, and The Big Bopper.
But now all our heroes of childhood have come and gone, with names like Superman, Tarzan, Hoppy, Gene, Roy, and the Lone Ranger. World War II, The Korean and Vietnam War has come and gone as well, along with Ike, Patton, Rocky Marciano, Elvis, John F. Kennedy, and a warrior called Martin Luther King. We would see the civil rights movement, assassinations, space travel, computers, cell phones, and the New York World Trade Center attack called 9-11.
We would coin the slogan, Tune In, Turn On, and Drop out. Many would fight in a senseless war called Vietnam, and never return. Others would fight in a place called Baghdad, and Afghanistan.
Some did return with severe wounds and an illness called drug addiction or P.T.S.D and never were the same. And all of us throughout the world would learn and fear the word Aids, or HIV positive. Others would survive years of childhood poverty, desertion and hunger, abuse and despair. But in time all of us would grow on to become husbands and wives, providers, fathers and grandfathers, grandmothers, mothers, and most of all leaders. And now most of my friends of childhood have come and gone. Even Stan the man my catcher would die by his own hand, after drugs and chemotherapy failed to stop the oral tumours, as the rest of us prepare for combat against heart disease, cancer, old age and senility.
We would quickly learn to embrace words like cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Alcohol, drugs, and marijuana, were replaced with diet, exercises, and chemotherapy. And now I know, and understand why, my father drank whiskey.
If you listen very carefully in the quite of the night looking upward into the heavens, you can hear our laughter and music, feel our affection, and bare witness to our achievements of life, of the big plays, at the big games wearing Levies, Pedal Pushers and D.A haircuts. With our steadfast courage when we believed the entire world was watching, we pursued honour, success, and family. I hear all there voices now, of the boys and girls that I played with, and the fine men and women they became. I see their smiling faces, their youth, and there beauty and once again I seek their approval.
If you concentrate real hard you can hear one voice above all the others yelling out to all the girls and boys around. Hey girls, watch me jump, watch me run, kiss me quick. Hey guys, watch me dive, watch me fly, catch the ball. For you made me, all of you, to never stop trying. And the voice is I. God what a journey. I leave this photo as proof that once I was with you Bermuda, and once I wore a younger man’s clothes. To all of you. I loved you.
Congressman Lane Evans (Illinois) Requested Information
(Lane Evans is retired from the US Congress)
I am also requesting an assessment of the use, testing or storage of Agent Orange, Agent Blue, Agent Purple, Agent White or other herbicides which contain dioxin, including the locations, amounts and relevant dates at the following locations and any other location for which documentation exists:
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen, Maryland
Apalachicola National Forest (Sophoppy, Florida)
Avon Air Force Base, Florida
Bushnell Army Air Field, Florida
Camp Detrick, Maryland
Dar and Prek Clong, Cambodia
Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
Fort Gordon, Georgia
Fort Richie, Maryland
Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Guanica, and Joyuda, Puerto Rico
Huntington County, State College, Pennsylvania
Kingston, Rhode Island
Kompong Cham Province, Cambodia
Las Marias, Puerto Rico
Las Mesas Cerros and La Jugua, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico
Loquillo, Puerto Rico
Mauna Loa, Hilo, Hawaii
Operation PACER HO (Disposal at sea)
Pinal Mountains, Globe, Arizona
Pranburi and other locations in Thailand
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Wayside and Wilcox, Mississippi
I would appreciate a response to this letter by June 13, 2003. If you have any questions about this request, please contact Mary Ellen Mc Carthy, Democratic Staff Director, Subcommittee on Benefits. Thank you for your efforts to improve services to our Nation’s veterans.
Ranking Democratic Member