J. Arlen Ecker
West Point, 1989
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by The Dunn Family on February 4, 2010:
As you so many of you know, Arlen was deeply spiritual. We want to share an excerpt from a letter that Arlen wrote a few years ago, describing his favorite song. We don't think Arlen would mind us quoting him:
"Where the Streets Have No Name - Let me try to take a stab at this and explain why I like it so much...
"...It evokes certain images with me that represent boundless hope, possibilities, and life. Certainly the words bring that out. But it's the combination of the words and the music that really do it for me. In the accompanying videos (and the album cover), there are images of the desert southwest. Deserts are vast and expansive. I love them. So, the theme of vastness and expansiveness carries through on the album. I didn't care much for U2 in 1987 when the album was released, primarily because I had more important things I was focused on at West Point. But the exact point in time when Streets, and the whole album for that matter, touched me deeply was when I had the tape with me in Desert Storm. The theme and images of the album fit perfectly as I lived day to day in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It was during that time that Streets left an indelible mark on me...
"...Streets, as with any good poem or work of art, leaves enough for the consumer to experience on their own. So, it's written with enough room for a little interpretation. One way to interpret is the suffering part. But another way to interpret this, which is certainly how it strikes me, is that vast, boundless potential. When I listen to it, I feel like Bono is summing up the frailties, classes and constraints that come with being human. 'Where the streets have no name' makes me feel like he's suggesting a place that is free of these constraints, is boundless, and where labels and names are irrelevant - a place of infinite love and possibility. To me, that could be a specific place, and it also could be a 'state of being,' of higher enlightenment, of higher conscience, that is worth striving for.
"These are all the things that this song makes me feel. It really touches me deeply... The expansiveness, openness, infinite feel, were all compatible with the deeply emotional and difficult time spent in the Arabian deserts."
We are comforted by the belief that Arlen is there, in "a place of infinite love and possibility," and that we will see him again.
- The Dunn Family
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