Part Three: The Present, The Future, and Other Things
DDY Talk: First of all, thank you and here's to your health and happiness, now and in the future. I have a very fond place in my heart for your early collaborative work with Dennis. Really great songs!
My Question: Can you give us any insight as to what Dennis might have planned to promote his wonderful new CD when it is released in the US this coming year? (TV Appearances? Radio? Print interviews?)
Thank you again for taking time to do this.
—Kathy (Ladybug), Houston, TX
Chuck: Thank you, That’s very nice of you to say and I appreciate your kind words. I’ve got to tell you, I heard a rough mix of one of the songs Dennis is planning to put on the American release of 100 Years From Now and I was blown away. A lot of the things you’ve asked about are being coordinated and planned as we speak. I would look to Dennis’ Web site in the near future for the scoop.
DDY Talk: I would like to know were Dennis stands spiritually?
—John (Chicago Guy), Rolling Meadows, IL
Chuck: Dennis attends mass every Sunday with Suzanne. He’s a loving husband, a great father and true friend. He performs many charitable acts that are not made public. To me, these things define spirituality.
DDY Talk: Will there be follow up album to 100 Years From Now?
—John (Chicago Guy), Rolling Meadows, IL
Chuck: If I were a betting man………..
DDY Talk: I saw Dennis and the Band in Halifax. He struck me with his dignity and poise. His Roman Catholic faith has been a rock, does he feel optimistic about the future?
—Tom, Bedford, Nova Scotia
Chuck: Dennis lives in the future. He can’t write the songs he does without a profound belief in the potential of the human spirit.
DDY Talk: What activities do you and Dennis enjoy doing together?
Chuck: In my younger, healthier days we used to play golf, go to sports outings, mainly Chicago White Sox games, go to concerts, movies and plays and out to dinner with our wives. We would always hang out and still do, for barbecues, Bears football games and a highly competitive game of cards, usually a game called “Back Alley” which I learned in the Marines. We have great political discussions which sometimes can be quite heated.
DDY Talk: Now that you have regained your health, what are your future plans?
Chuck: I wish I can say that I’ve truly regained my health but I have not fully recovered as of yet. The last 5 years have been difficult. Organ failure, kidney dialyses, quadruple heart by-pass surgery and a kidney transplant all have taken a toll. But things are getting better. I’m getting stronger every day following the doctors’ orders, going to physical therapy and looking forward to the future. I am continuing to write and have recently finished a novel that I’ve sent to several publishers. It’s about my time in Vietnam, my assimilation back into society, a thumbnail sketch of the turbulent ‘60’s, my relationship with Dennis and Styx etc. ending with my participation in organizing the “Chicago Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Parade in 1986 that was the largest parade of its kind in history. It drew over 200,000 marchers from around the country and as far away as Australia, and over 300,000 spectators.
DDY Talk: What inspired you to coordinate the “Welcome Home” event in Chicago in 1986?
Chuck: For many reasons too numerous to mention in this venue, the war in Vietnam was very unpopular. Unfortunately some Americans, and many in the media and entertainment Industry, attached their thoughts and hatred of the war to the men who fought it. We had movie stars like Jane Fonda posing in North Vietnam during the war, smiling while sitting on an anti-aircraft gun that was used to shoot down and kill American fliers. We had other movie stars and prominent Americans recording anti-American statements that were played to American prisoners-of war telling them what assholes they were for fighting for the U.S.A. There were coordinated demonstrations portraying us as baby-killers and losers. As a result, instead of extolling the patriotism, courage and self-sacrifice that motivated most of those who served, they used all their energy and influence to destroy them. They ignored the overwhelming numbers of Veterans who, under difficult circumstances, came back to live productive lives, to become responsible citizens, captains of industry, senators and congressmen, etc. During that time you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing a police drama portraying a Vietnam Veteran as a drug crazed psychopath. In fact, during the 60’s there was more drug abuse on American Campuses than in the jungles of Vietnam. All of this negative publicity caused most of us to keep quiet which was a mistake. By keeping silent we allowed our detractors to define us. These are some of the reasons I got involved. Some of us figured it was about time to set the record straight. Not to “hawk” my work, it’s not even out yet, I can just say that I do go into much greater detail on this subject in my book. By the way, Dennis was a very big part of the success of the Parade. He advertised it around the country while he was being interviewed on radio stations for the release of his album, Back to the World. He gave a performance at Park West in Chicago to raise money to bring the replica of the “Wall” to the city. He performed a concert in Grant Park on the evening of the Parade with beer provided by Coors that drew an estimated 100,000 people. This allowed us to pay off the debts of the Parade and provide seed money for other veteran’s causes. He did all this for no money and very little recognition at a time when it wasn’t cool to support us.
DDY Talk: Do you feel that veterans are still treated poorly, or do they receive the respect that they deserve from the American people?
Chuck: I believe that up till now our courageous men and women of the armed services are being treated with the respect and dignity they deserve. I pray that this continues. I also think that public opinion of those who fought in Vietnam has changed for the better. We must always be vigilant to honor those who are willing to put aside their comfort and safety to defend our way of life. I believe that things such as freedom are worth fighting for. This is true not only for the current veterans but all those who have answered the call throughout our history and believed in something greater than themselves. Freedom is not free and many have paid the price.
In conclusion, I would like to once again thank Chuck Lofrano for participating in this interview, and for sharing his memories with us. I would also like to thank all of you that took the time to submit a question or two.
Edited by Ron