As one tries to come to grips with one’s destructive past it’s easy to run smack dab into the middle of one the most shameful acts you’ve ever committed, so shameful in fact you had completely forgotten about it. Well, I was reminded of one of mine recently by a gentleman named Pete Riehm. Mr. Riehm’s name has come up recently in connection with a possible run for the District-2 commission seat soon to be vacated by Steve Nodine. In May, Mr. Riehm was a guest on The Uncle Henry Show on News radio 710 AM. He commented at some point during the show that I had no credibility since I had been run out town 10 years ago.
I took offense to the comment as I certainly had not been run out town at any time, to my knowledge. There were times when I probably deserved to be run out of town, but it hadn’t happened that I was aware of. Furthermore, I was sure I had never met Pete Riehm before in my life. The only thing I knew of Mr. Riehm, I thought was from two well respected pillars of the community who knew him and happened to be friends of mine. Both of them had always spoken very highly of him. But, as it turned out I had met Mr. Riehm one other time before.
Pete Riehm was the ceremony coordinator for the Korean War Memorial dedication at Battleship Park some years back. I had been invited to serve as master of ceremonies for the event. I believe the night before I had been out drinking all night and fell asleep somewhere in my car. I didn’t show up at the dedication until several hours later. Of course, I was apologizing all over the place, but my disgraceful display was understandably not appreciated. It is something for which I’ve been ashamed ever since.
The whole awful episode took place during a time when I was at my lowest in terms of my reckless behavior and abusive use of alcohol and marijuana. However low Mr. Riehm’s opinion of me became after that was entirely justified. I deserved it. There’s no way really I could ever make that up to a group of people who bore the heavy burden of war in a far off place so that I could live in a country that allowed me to be free. I am forever grateful for that and it makes my shame over not showing up when I was needed all the poignant.
According to All POW-MIA Korean War Casualties’ website, a total of 671 Alabamians died fighting in the Korean War. Their names are etched on the monuments that comprise the memorial which is located at Battleship Park in Mobile. Glen Fraizer was interviewed on Fox 10 News Wednesday night, he is among the Korean War veterans who came home and worked hard to make his community stronger. Pete Riehm is too, he arrived in Mobile in 2002, and according to his biography at Common Sense Campaign holds a Master of Military Arts and Science degree in National Security from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1996. Mobile was his last duty station before he retired.
All I can offer to Mr. Riehm, Mr. Fraizer or any of the men and women who were present that day at Battleship Park on the Causeway, is my heartfelt apology for what it’s worth, and my commitment to shape myself up into a better person. I’d like to think I’ve become the type of man who would today never dream of showing such a lack of consideration for a group of men and women who gave the last full measure of themselves that I and my children today may still enjoy the blessings of liberty that their service help secure.