Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
7 December 2009: It amazes me that some sixty-eight years after the fact, the nation remembers Pearl Harbor and continues to view images of the attack with horror and outrage. Yet a mere nine years after the attacks of 9/11, images of airplanes striking the twin towers, of the towers burning and collapsing are deemed "too disturbing" to show on the six o'clock news.In the years following 1941, images of the devastation wrought by the attack at Pearl Harbor galvanized the nation to act with resolve in the years to follow. During the dark days immediately following, and throughout the long slog from island to island in the Pacific, the battle cry was "Remember Pearl Harbor." And even today, on the anniversary of the event, the nation pauses to remember. In the weeks following 9/11, images of the devastation wrought by the attacks galvanized the nation to unity and action. Unlike the situation in 1941, such unity was short lived as our elected officials acted like the petty politicians that they are rather than the statesmen that the nation needed. National unity was squandered in the name of momentary political advantage. And the images that could have united us disappeared from view. The news media labelled them "too disturbing." Where is the horror? Where is the outrage? Where is the resolve to see justice for the wrong done on 9/11? Sixty-eight years after Pearl Harbor, the images of December 7, 1941 still unite us. And eight years after 9/11, in the absence of appropriate images and resolve, we find ourselves back to business as usual as if 9/11 had not happened. Where is the horror? Where is the outrage? Where is the resolve? On the brink of losing all sense of national resolve and our will to survive, we are on the brink of losing our culture and our freedom. Where is the outrage? Where is the resolve? Have we become a nation of wimps?
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I had the good fortune to grow up on a farm -- I was never allowed to be bored. When I was young, summers were for playing outdoors and, when I got bored with that, there was always the garden.
In the garden, there were always weeds. And weeds always needed to be pulled. It wasn't until years later that I realized that the places I was assigned to pull weeds from when I was a child were places where there was no danger that my childish enthusiasm for uprooting stuff would damage any of the plants we were trying to nurture!
When I got older, I was given the responsibility -- today I consider it an honour -- of working with my Dad and Grand Dad to produce the crops that would sustain us through the coming winter and until next year's crop went to market.
However, at the age of eleven, working in the fields and tobacco barns was exactly what I didn't want to do with my summer. I recall protesting long and bitterly before grudgingly proceeding do what needed to be done. As a result, I learned a lot of truth at the end of a long handled hoe.
I learned that being dusty won't kill you.
Being hot won't kill you.
Being bored won't kill you.
The work had to be done whether I wanted to do it or not and the work I did had to be done right. I soon learned that if I didn't do it right the first time, doing it over a second time was no easier than the first, and having to do it a over a third time was damn sure no easier than doing it the second.
I think three times is my record for having to redo the same row, and I remember the day I set it. That day, I hoed one particular row of worm seed three times before my work would meet my father's minimum acceptable standard. It was almost sunset when I had finished my third trip down the row and Dad told me "You could have been home an hour ago if you'd done it right the first time."
The lesson stuck. I learned that complaints fall on deaf ears when your Daddy and your Grand Daddy are in the same field as you doing exactly the same thing you are.
I learned that there was a right way and a wrong way even to hoe weeds. And the right way actually requires less effort and gives better results than any other. Weeds between the rows were removed by cultivating with the tractor. Then, we hoed to remove the weeds from between the plants. When hoeing, the objective was not to chop the weeds from between the plants. Chopping took a lot of energy. Instead, the method is to either pull dirt over the weeds if they were small, or to disconnect them from their roots by sliding the blade of the hoe beneath them if they were not.
Doing it the right way, if conditions were right, I would get into a rhythm -- kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk down one row and kerchunk, kerchunk, kerchunk up the next. Hour after hour, day after day until the harvest. And I learned that when I was in rhythm, moving easily up and down the rows dispatching weeds from between the plants, only the smallest part of my mind needed to be engaged with the task at hand and the rest was free to travel as my imagination directed.
During those summers, moving up and down the rows, I authored short stories and novels and directed award-winning screen shows in the free part of my mind. I was present at the great events of history. I had conversations with great men. I performed incredible deeds of heroism. I envisioned my future and established in my imagination the dreams I would one day live.
Since that time, I have had the good fortune to live a great many of those dreams. I've even been allowed do some of the deeds of daring that I first envisioned while attached to the end of that hoe during those long past summers.
I was hot, bored, dusty, and not always willing but, during those summers in those fields at the end of that hoe, God gave me the grace to recognize truth.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
I hereby proclaim TODAY, June 26 in the year of Our Lord 2009 and every Friday through Labor Day of this year to be Hawaiian Shirt Day.
In celebration thereof, every follower and friend of this blog is to wear a Hawaiian Shirt on this and every subsequent Hawaiian Shirt Day in the year 2009.
Aloha and Mahalo!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Long ago, I raised my right hand and swore to protect and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, to bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and to obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officers appointed over me.
Nothing has released me from my oath even though it's over a quarter century since I last wore a uniform. Nothing ever will. For better or for worse, I am a soldier.
Long ago, I fought the battles of this nation in a war that had even then been declared lost, and a terrible waste. I went where my country sent me. There, to the best of my ability, I strove for victory in places called Tan Canh, Firebase Charlie, Ben Het, Kontum, and Polei Kleng.
I am a soldier.
I have risked everything for my friends and for people I never knew and probably never will. They would all have done the same for me. Most would do the same again today. We are, and remain, a band of brothers.
I am a soldier.
With my brothers, I share a heritage that begins in the earliest mists of the human experience and will continue until the last trumpet sounds, a heritage of personal sacrifice and desperate deeds done by desperate men in the face of great adversity.
At the dedication of the military cemetery at Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln stated "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here. But it can never forget what they did here." And, like the soldiers of the 1860s, we dared and accomplished much.
I came home on a stretcher to a country indifferent to my sacrifice and that of my brothers. By the grace of God, I recovered. Tim died at a place called Ben Het thirty days after he arrived in country. Fred died in the Kontum Pass and now sleeps in Arlington. Dusty sleeps in the land he died fighting for, the site of his resting place undiscovered until recently. Bill spent nine months in captivity. Flame took a .50 through the chest and went on to serve until retirement.
Ultimately, we all took off our uniforms and assumed our places in civilian society, but we remain different.
We are soldiers.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
My first reaction was to congratulate myself for decoding the message. My second, as one who recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of his 39th birthday, was to wonder, "Were it possible to hold at a particular age, which one would I choose?"
Seventeen was a very good year. I met the love of my life that fall, but I would not want to hold at seventeen.
Twenty-one was a very good year. I married the girl of my dreams that fall -- the same girl I met at seventeen -- and we began our life together, but I would not want to hold at twenty-one.
Twenty-six and twenty-seven get mixed reviews. At twenty-six, I graduated from college, went into the Army, learned to fly, and went to war. At twenty-seven, I did deeds of daring during a major battle, got shot up, and began nine months of recovery. I also greeted my first son. The times were exciting. I made some life-long friends. My life would be incomplete without my son. Nevertheless, I would not like to hold at twenty-six or twenty-seven.
I have no particular memory of being 39. I'm sure it was a good year, but I do not wish to hold onto it. Were I to hold at 39, I would miss too much. I would miss my children growing up. I would miss a great many soccer games, baseball games, school dramas and talent shows. I would miss being part of their school, church, and social activities. I would miss their graduations from High School and college. I would miss their weddings and the births of my grand children. I would miss going to Alaska. I would miss many of the greatest experiences of my life. Thirty-nine and holding? Not me! Last year I learned the joy of being 63. This year, I'm doing a good job learning to be 64. After all, I only get one chance to be every age. And, whatever age I am, my plan is to live it well.