*The Serenity of “Snow.”

When you grow up in the “other” New York, the upstate region, you learn real quick the weather can change at the drop of a hat.  Winter could begin as early as the second week of September sometimes, and usually, we wished for the fall season to last a little longer.  Nevertheless, when the inevitable slaps us in the face, and we get that first dump of white powder all over the house, yard and streets, one thing always seemed to stick more than the icy residue- the smell.  The first bit of fresh, snowy whiteness that dropped always seemed to feel and smell so good, it was almost an emotional experience.  There was always something about that fresh coat that made the air so crisp and clean.  That first time you inhale the humid, invisible oxygen up your nostrils, you instantly just felt great physically, and emotionally. The sky would turn blanket white, and your breath felt so fresh, even with that Listerine aftertaste lingering before heading to work. Whether I was off to the Bethlehem Steel to cut metal sheets with the other humps, get to my Catholic High School, or the playground, that first dump was always the best- and it usually set the neighborhood up with a keen sense of foreshadowing of the winter ahead.

1968 was a bitch.

It was the year America lost so much.  Our country and our people watched its heart, soul and voice get snuffed out by acts of revolt, terrorism, and insanity.  We lost one of the greatest men ever to walk the streets in peace and poetry- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. We lost another political juggernaut, Robert F. Kennedy after he was shot to death in Los Angeles.  For the simple rebellious act of raising their fists during the National Anthem, the International Olympic Committee condemned American medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City after winning the Gold and Bronze medal.  The racial segregation in the south was anything but under control, and an entire generation of youth was at a standstill of unrest. Our television news blasted our living rooms with graphic war scenes shot with super 16mm film camera footage, and rock music was responsible for initiating some of the most popular anti-war anthems ever performed. 

The Snowflake- it’s not a logo, it was a symbol of reality.

The (Think Snow) “Snowflake” was strategically and carefully designed in all aspects.  The symbolic imagery relates to the title of the book, but offers a bigger insight once you start analyzing the chapters, respectively.  The M-16 illustrated was a U.S. ARMY issued automatic rifle nearly every “grunt” in the jungle became very intimate with during their tour.  The infamous “Peace Sign”, or broken cross, was more than just a logo representing a lifestyle in ‘68. The broken cross was a symbol of peace, love, harmony, and ironically, branded each person who wore it with the acknowledgement you were against the war in Vietnam.  When veterans came home from their tours, they associated the “peace sign” with ignorant protesters who threw rotten fruit and vegetables while screaming, “baby killer!” Meanwhile, back stateside, some people tried to wear and promote the symbol as a political statement of peace and “no war.”  Nevertheless, the “peace sign” continues to conjure up mixed feelings and emotions to this day.  The skulls represent more than death- They’re symbolic for what the year was like both in the United States and in the regions of Southeast Asia. Everywhere you flew, walked, hiked or “humped,” in Vietnam, you saw death.  Death was everywhere, and you either witnessed it, or you were a part of it. Back home, America’s political heroes were dying, too. Lastly, the military issued “knife” was more than just a cutting tool.  When placed on the rifle, it became a sword.  When the night fell upon the jungle, it was used to break open cans of food and rations.  When platoons were under severe fire, and no medic was in sight, they were sharp enough to start bloody, in-battle surgeries and amputations.  The “knife,” was a life-saver, and a life-taker.