Bomber Mascot Controversy
Issue # 23 ~ 08/21/01
Today's comments submitted by:

Bob (Mike Clowes) Carlson (54), Lea Branum Clark (55)
Robert Cross (62), Bob Rector (62)
Gary Behymer (64), Bill Didway (66)
Tedd Cadd (66), Dick Pierce (67)
Jerry Lewis (73), Kim Edgar Leeming (79)
>>From: Bob (Mike Clowes) Carlson (54)

After reading the impassioned pleas for common sense to
prevail in Issue #22, I feel I must add my two-bits worth
(yes, inflation has struck even tired clichés).

First of all, cooler heads must prevail.  The main object
of all this passion is not The Bomb, but Our Bomb.  And
what is "Our Bomb" but shared memories of a past youth?
To those of you who get the impression that most of us
are savage, bomb dropping, war worshipers; nothing could
be further from the truth.

The feelings about "Our Bomb" have more to do with
striving to maintain touch with our past.  We older folks
are hopefully connecting with a past that was surely
rooted in doubt and confusion.  We were, for the most
part, uprooted from what we knew as a "safe" place, and
transported willy nilly by our parents to a wind-blown
town, where at times tumbleweeds seemed to outnumber the
inhabitants.  Then, we were put into a school system that
seemed a strange collection of people, our fellow
classmates.  We discovered that we came from all over the
nation, and at times had a hard time understanding the
language of our classmates.

In a short time we became assimilated into the group, and
even went so far as to welcome newcomers.  In the
process, we forgot what life was like "out there" and
through some process became "Bombers" heart and soul.  It
was something to cling to, because we didn't want to be
the answer to the question "what happened to.....?  Oh,
the father got fired and they had to leave town."
Frightening thought, your father getting the sack and the
whole family has to pack up and leave just when you were
getting settled.  You "WB's" know this, especially the
older ones.  And now we have several forums to discuss
what it meant to be "Bomber".  Then someone gets a great
idea, pushes it forward, only to have it stopped.  The
great idea (Our Bomb) has now become a rallying point for
those who need the symbol.

Yes, school budgets are far more important than "Our
Bomb".  They (the budgets) are the staff of life for the
school.  They mean new books, films, lab equipment,
computers, athletic gear; and just maybe some building
rehabilitation.  As important as school budgets are, they
do not stir the soul.  Most people can take them or leave
them.  But mess with "Our Bomb" and by golly, you have
stirred up a hornet's nest of emotions.  So, before you
start thinking this is trivial (it is to a point) and
mere idle chatter, remember your past.  Remember what
brought you to "Bomberville".  Remember the good times,
the winning seasons, the achievements, remember the
knocks from the TCH.  Remember that you are a Bomber, not
necessarily by choice, but certainly by chance.

Well, that's my opinion, and I'm entitled to it.

Bob (Mike Clowes) Carlson (54) - from Albany, OR, where
                  we may get rain as the State Fair
                  should mark the beginning of the
                  monsoon season.
>>From: Lea Branum Clark (55)

To: Gordon McDonald (56)

I agree with you Gordon!  I will match your $50.00 to
place the Bomb at the entrance to Richland.  I am sure
that others would come forward to support the idea.  What
a great idea.  With some landscaping and maybe a plaque
listing "Bomber" servicemen who lost their lives during
war would give EVERYONE a chance to appreciate the Bomb.

I would like to thank all of the alumni in Richland that
have worked hard on the project.  For those of us that
live outside of the wonderful place that we all call
home, thank you -- Burt Pierard and Roy Ballard.

I hope to see that Bomb displayed somewhere in Richland
the next time I pass that way.

-Lea Branum Clark (55)
>>From: Robert Cross (62)

Anyone who thinks that the school board's vote was about
accepting a gift, GET YOUR HEAD OUT!  The whole vote was
about control and the school board said: we control
things, not you.  If you disagree with the school board,
shut up and go away; you embarrass them.  The gift of the
bomb cost the district nothing, was not a hazard, and did
not cause the education of the students to suffer, so
what problem could it possible have been?  If it was 'too
big' then maybe a different place could have been
suggested by the board.

Sure the bomb is just a hunk of painted metal, but the
American flag is just some dyed pieces of cloth sewn in
an interesting pattern (please don't say that to a vet).
Pride in our heritage make us a stronger community.

-Robert Cross (62)
>>From: Bob Rector (62)

OK, I just got back and see that we lost 3 to 2.  Not
sure what is best to do next .... however .... I do have
one thought.

For the "re-installation of the Mascot Ceremony" perhaps
we should begin accepting the "Memorial Plaque" wording.
I.e., we should proceed as if the decision will be
overturned, and we can receive support from both sides of
the fence by placing a formal "Statement" with the Bomb's
display.  Are you with me???  Something like:

   "We the Students of Richland High School, and children
of the nuclear age, hold forth this symbol of awesome and
fearful power, in faith that those who follow .... etc.
etc. etc."

I suggest a contest .... winner to be selected by (?).
Then we raise funds to make the plaque and present it to
the School Board.

Well, so much for my brain's capability on a Monday eve.

-Bob Rector (62)
>>From: Gary Behymer (64)

Re: Bomber Mascot Controversy

From 'crisis' to 'controversy'.  A metamorphosis? (;-)

-Gary Behymer (64)

[The 'crisis' -- the yea or nay vote of the board to
accept the gift of our bomb -- was resolved by the
board's rejecting the gift.  The 'controversy' of our
bomb as symbol of RHS rages on.  So I changed the name.
Editors get to do this sort of thing. -ed]
>>From: Bill Didway (66)

To: Jim Anderson (72WB)

Jim, just wondering which high school you graduated from
and does it have an alumni "Sandstorm"?  What are the
comparisons between it and the Columbia/Richland High
School spirit?

I was raised in Richland and went through its school
system -- Jason Lee, Chief Jo, Columbia High -- so have
no comparisons.  Don't know if it was/is just the Tri-
Cities that has so much post school spirit.

Just curious.     

-Bill Didway (66)
>>From: Tedd Cadd (66)

Subject: Time to move on ....

I can appreciate the disappointment.  It is too bad the
history of the school alone wouldn't afford a place for
the old-style mascot to be displayed.  However, those
offering characterizations of board members based on this
vote alone are only displaying their ignorance of who the
board members are and what they do.  To disparage a
person on a board solely because she home-schooled her
children is every bit as PC as anything I can think of.
We elect school board members to manage the affairs of
the school district.  The education of our children is
far more important than any mascot, PC or not.  To
suggest that the electorate base their votes on a
discussion of a historical mascot's return is not only
absurd, it is wrong.

-Tedd Cadd (66)
>>From: Dick Pierce (67)

Personally, I would rather be a part of, and much prouder
of, the alumni and town that built the bomb, that decided
to bury the bomb.  Again, for 20 years I have lived on an
island that was taken from the Japanese during WWII.
Later, on an island four miles away, the Enola Gay
carried its load from the runway there.  We are a part of
the United States of America.  Two years ago, both the
Marianas Visitors Authority and the Japanese travel
agents that get about 1.3 million Japanese tourists here
and to Guam each year have decided to drop the WWII theme
as an attraction.  Not because it is offensive, but
because, "who cares anymore?"  It was time to move on.

I must truthfully admit that every time the cheerleaders
and songleaders carried out the bomb and set it down at
half court before our games, I felt funny about that
bomb.  I didn't have ESP, but I thought others felt
funny, too.

My false pride, my compensation for defeat, has a lot to
do with shame, and it usually lies at the bottom of my
strong reactions.  I am proud to be a Bomber.  I would
take exception with anyone that challenged me about my
high school.  The bomb, that's different.  Get a tattoo
and let the books talk about what really happened.

-Dick Pierce (67)
>>From: Jerry Lewis (73)

It's ironic that someone complained (a while back) of
Hiroshima's making a business of being the first victim
of an atomic bomb blast, rather than moving on as
Nagasaki has.  Could we not be accused of the same here,
albeit on a smaller scale?

Like many Bombers, I've enjoyed the notoriety of the name
and symbols, and don't think they should be changed.
They do represent the history of the community and the
school better than most nicknames and mascots.
Nonetheless, I too am kind of embarrassed at the reflexive
and vitriolic response of the majority of this group.

-Jerry Lewis (73)
>>From: Kim Edgar Leeming (79)

There's been a mention that the bomb doesn't represent
the actual bomb and the size is just too big.  How about,
if we get a scaled down version of the "Fat Boy" for the
gym foyer floor and use the other bomb mounted on a car
or truck to go around to the Bomber events?

-Kim Edgar Leeming (79) ~ Poulsbo WA
>>From: Aaron Johnson (82)

Subject: Glorifying the Bomb

In response to Dianne Carpenter Kipp (72).

I am from a later generation than you or most of the
Bombers who regularly post to this newsletter, so perhaps
I am not best suited to respond to your post of

I have, on many occasions, stated to people how fortunate
and grateful I feel for having been a part of a
generation spared the horrors of war.  I have attended
memorial services on Veteran's Day, arranged for an honor
guard of VFW veterans for an uncle of my ex-wife's
funeral when her family didn't know how, have encouraged
my son in his Young Marine pursuit, and tried whenever
possible to show gratitude to those who gave their lives,
or friends and family, in order that I wouldn't have to.
I even had to publicly embarrass our City Council in
order that they wouldn't callously remove the Memorial
Flagpole Park memorial to Richland residents who gave
their lives in WWII.

I don't think I am necessarily representative of my
generation.  In my experience, the further one is removed
from the time or the action, the less reverence one holds
for same.

That said, I feel I must disagree with a couple of points
in your post (and hope you understand I am not responding
to you personally, but the points themselves).

I do remember the people, the sacrifice, the
intelligence, and the principals of that time.  I use as
a symbol of my former school, an object which quantifies
not horror, destruction and death, (which no one can
argue it did), but the singleminded determination of a
group of people who came together in a baking wasteland
for a project they were not even told what it was for.
They endured extreme temperatures (in both directions),
termination winds, poor housing (at least the beginning),
and other hardships.  And yet they endured.

But even more that they endured, they thrived, and
completed a monumental project which in the history of
mankind, rivals any undertaking you might name.  No one
in the scientific community believed the Manhattan
Project could be moved from concept to reality in
anywhere near the timeframe in which those early Richland
residents performed it.

What symbol could we possibly put forward which more
clearly represents what made this community spring up
from the desert overnight, its sole reason for being, and
kept it from disappearing afterwards?

Does this mean we glorify death and destruction?  At
least for me, I am well aware of the consequences of
using this weapon, but choose not to focus on the
consequences, but the only positive which can be
associated with the weapon.  Please remember; Richland
was where the plutonium was refined, not where the weapon
was constructed.  Farfetched as it may sound, to blame
the residents of Richland in those days for the weapon
which resulted from their labors, is like blaming people
in Allentown's steel mills for tanks, guns, and

But we are in a different era, and have the fortunate
position of historical hindsight.  We are able to sit
back and say, "oh, the horror of the atomic bomb!  How
can anyone have felt this weapon was necessary?"  History
has been viewed from many angles (and by people more
gifted and learned than myself).  But to those people, at
that time, in the decision-making position, it seemed the
last and best hope to stop the horrible bloodshed on the
islands in the Pacific, and prevent the estimated
hundreds of thousands of deaths in ending the war in a
"conventional" method.  (I've always wondered what made a
weapon which killed people in the tens of thousands AT
ONCE, more unconventional and horrible than burning the
same number of people up over a couple of weeks?)

The Bombers do not focus on the weapon, even if the bomb
is the symbol.  It symbolizes what brought our town into
being, and what forged the bond of the residents, still
felt today.

As to questioning where the talk is (in this forum I
suppose) of freedom and sacrifice and brilliance and love
of Country, I must assume you have not read very many of
the posts here.  I have read many posts (and have
submitted a couple myself) speaking of reverence,
respect, and gratitude.  I do not love the tool,
certainly not more than the people or principles.  It is
because of those people and principles that a symbol was
chosen to represent them.

Why was the bomb chosen as the symbol?  I wasn't there.
I can only suppose (from those, like my mom, who were
there at the time).

A symbol is an object put forth to represent, whether an
idea, a principle, or an event.  I believe the latter, the
event, is what this symbol represents.  Not the dropping
of a bomb.  But the coming together of people to strive
to perform a project which was, as the people were told,
"to help our country end the war."  In order for a symbol
to endure, it must provide a powerful visual and
emotional pull upon the people whom it represents.

And finally, the mental path regarding "the bomb killed
lots of people, so they gave up" etc. is only simplistic
and primitive because that is EXACTLY what war is:
simplistic and primitive.  Did the United States begin
the aggression, or perpetrate the horrors of occupation?
No, this was thrust upon us, and indeed, we may never
have become involved in this war in the Pacific had this
not been thrust upon us that early Sunday morning at
Pearl Harbor.

To suggest we raise ourselves to a higher level, and
think of freedom, peace, and sacrifice is to ignore the
very fabric with which our country was woven together.
These are the very ideals which brought us into being,
and sustained us in times of famine, depression, civil
war, and outside aggression.  What do we suppose our
forbears were thinking of at the time if not freedom,
peace, and sacrifice?

One doesn't represent the cabin with paycheck stubs.
These are not what bought it.  What bought it was the
hard work, sacrifice, and goals-setting, and achieving.
These qualities are not represented by the stubs, or the
cabin.  The Christmas card should show the people who
quantify these qualities in front of their cabin; but
this is not a good analogy pertaining to the Bomb issue.

The bomb is the focus and the symbol we use because there
is no other object directly attributable to this town
which represents gratitude, intelligence, honor, liberty,
and sacrifice.

I apologize for the length of the post.  Just trying to
put out my answers to the questions raised by Ms. Kipp.

-Aaron Johnson (82)
That's it for today.
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