The University of Ghana was bombed. First came the pillars of the registry. Then the lecture halls. Then every lecturers bungalow. [There were no survivors.]
– When the War Came to Ghana
The Tree (narrated)
by Kendall F. Person
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
based on the real life events
The real danger in playing a high-stakes game of don’t blink, is when one of the participants values bravado more than the beautiful lives of his very own citizenry.
Kim jong-il, former Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, by most estimates, was hardly ready to become head of any state. But if the state in question were Nauru, an 8.5 square mile, island nation of 13,000 people, his seemingly out-of-nowhere posturing, would have receive no second look. But he inherited a starving nation, whose motto appears to be ‘worship MY government or die’, and seemed content with maintaining North Korea’s presence on the world stage, by imposing fear and spreading a cult-personality style regime on the rest of humanity.
On August 18, 1976, long after the stalemate of the Korean War, the Napoleon syndrome would be taken to a whole other level. North Korea, also referred to as the hermit kingdom, shields outside knowledge, feeding their people only information that presents the Dear Leader as everything. But to believe all North Koreans are desperate to get out, would be misinformed, for many of them are devout.
North Korean Lt. Pak Chul was prepared to start a world war over the cutting of a poplar tree that was rumored to have been planted by their dear leader. Captain Arthur Bonifas of the U.S. had ordered the tree to be cut down. It sprawled between outposts, and created blind spots in the already dangerous Joint Security Area of the infamous Korean Demilitarized Zone. American troops held axes, prepared to carry out orders. Lt. Pak approached the captain, ordering him to halt his men from cutting this specific tree. Captain Bonifas stared him down, informing him he would do no such thing.
A captain over posts in one of the most dangerous landscapes of the world, his loyalty, bravery and honor remain unquestioned, deservedly so. But his next move, still baffles war strategists. Facing a mortal enemy, tensions burning in the air, he would turn his back on the Lieutenant, a disrespect even in peaceful parts of the world.
The Captain would never see his attacker coming, as the lieutenant showcased his willingness to fight to the death, over the poplar tree, displaying solid loyalty to his leader. The lieutenant, then clubbed the captain to the ground, then screamed these orders to his army of men, “Kill the bastards! Kill them all!” As soldiers, its paramount to their country, to carry out their mission, to obey the law of the land. Captain Arthur Bonifas would stand no chance, the enemy surrounded and hacked him till dead.
A reminder of just high the stakes have been raised. I hope peace seizes the moment, and I pray the world’s leaders push for diplomacy even as the drums of war ricochet.