Private George Eber Duclo and the Human Experience of War

*Note: This essay was originally published on the Modern War Institute’s Commentary & Analysis site.

Editor’s Note: This is the story of a single Marine in the Great War. His name was Private George Eber Duclo. He was from Manitou Springs, Colorado.

One of our non-resident fellows, Major (P) ML Cavanaugh, lives in Manitou Springs and wrote a five-part series on Duclo for the Pikes Peak Bulletin (April 26 through the May 24, 2018 editions). The Bulletin is largely a print operation and so the series is not easily accessible online, which is why we’ve asked for and received permission to run the whole series as one large essay (with some minor modifications).

Duclo’s life at peace and death at war—one hundred years ago this month—were so compelling that Cavanaugh also penned some words on the experience of learning about Duclo in an essay that ran in the Wall Street Journal on May 25, 2018.

Today, Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy stand near Duclo’s hometown of Manitou Springs. In the most obvious sense, this is where his life intersects with the Modern War Institute—right now, soldiers who call Fort Carson home and Air Force Academy graduates are serving, as Duclo did, in American wars abroad.

But there is a deeper connection. Duclo’s story is one with near-universal echoes that travel far across time and place, resonating in the enduring elements of the human experience of war. Continue reading “Private George Eber Duclo and the Human Experience of War”

Why we need libraries, even in the digital age

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on June 6, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I often looked up at the enormous World War I-era “doughboy” statute in Memorial Park, Manitou Springs, and wondered about who was immortalized with so much bronze atop so much granite.

But there was no sign nearby. Nothing to explain who he was. And so I did what we all do: I turned to the internet and searched “statue Memorial Park Manitou Springs.” A bunch of tourism websites popped up, none of which explained the mystery of the anonymous hero. Continue reading “Why we need libraries, even in the digital age”

A Fallen and Forgotten Doughboy’s Legacy

*Note: This essay was published in the Wall Street Journal print edition on May 25, 2018. It can also be found online here.

The closest I came to getting killed in Iraq was during the summer of 2005. I spotted an enemy fighter firing a rocket-propelled grenade right at my Humvee. Somehow he missed, but for a moment I was sure I wasn’t going home.

Whenever something like that happened, afterward came a mental flash. In my mind’s eye, I’d see my funeral or look down on my corpse. Soldiers think about mortality more than most. I still do. We also think—especially over Memorial Day weekend—about those who died on other battlefields. Continue reading “A Fallen and Forgotten Doughboy’s Legacy”

Throwing fruitcakes could be healthy fun

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on January 31, 2018. It can also be found online here.

It turns out tossing some fruitcake might have been the healthiest thing you could have done this past weekend.

I did, this past Saturday, at the 22nd annual Manitou Springs Great Fruitcake Toss. Hundreds took advantage of a sunny afternoon to descend on Memorial Park to try their hand at three fruitcake-infused challenges: throwing for accuracy (through hula-hoops of various sizes), throwing for distance (on a marked field), and balance (speed-walking a zig-zagged path while holding a cake on a spatula). Continue reading “Throwing fruitcakes could be healthy fun”

Libraries are our community’s greatest investment

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on January 22, 2018. It can also be found online here.

I’ve always liked libraries, but never knew how vital they are to society. They’re our community’s memories and dreams, and where our collective past, present, and futures collide.

It started in the summertime. Mom used to take us to the library, where I’d lay on a beanbag chair for hours, gobbling up kid versions of classic literature like “Treasure Island” and “Robinson Crusoe.”

Today, I use them for research, whether it’s my dissertation or to dig into the story of Marine Corps Pvt. George Eber Duclo, the first boy from Manitou Springs to die in World War I. I also bring my daughters to our local Manitou Springs library – they love the endless rows of children’s books, the puzzles, and the kid-friendly touchscreen computers they use for digital drawings.

But that’s just our family. What about others? What’s a library good for? Continue reading “Libraries are our community’s greatest investment”

Manitou race proves politics can be decent

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on November 3, 2017. It can also be found online here.

We’re now repeatedly reminded that Americans are intensely divided: a recent poll found “seven in 10 Americans say the nation’s political divisions are at least as big as during the Vietnam War” and a writer recently opined that too many believe “politics needs to be weaponized to be enjoyed.”

Not in Manitou Springs. You may not have heard, but there’s a tight race for mayor. Incumbent Mayor Nicole Nicoletta, elected in 2015 to a two-year term, seeks another on Tuesday against a challenge from long-time resident and retired lawyer Ken Jaray. Continue reading “Manitou race proves politics can be decent”

Keeping Manitou weird

*Note: This essay was published in the Colorado Springs Gazette print edition on August 6, 2017. It can also be found online here.

America is an angry place these days. Politics burn hot on both ends; cable news stokes the fire. Families choose sides, dividing the closest bonds. Arguments abound, and at times, that spirit of animosity can just be too much.

Which is what makes Manitou Springs so different, so distinct – so weird. While most think it’s the pot or the art, or maybe even that residents call each other “Manitoids” – what really sets Manitou apart is an uncommon neighborliness, connectedness, and kindness.

Continue reading “Keeping Manitou weird”