Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This and That

              Yup, my wife and I are on vacation! So here’s bit of this and that from our travels.

We’re spending time at my brother’s in Virginia, and then heading for the cabin in Maine. Part of the fun of these summer family get-togethers is that we do a variety of things. So allow me to fill you in on some of the more interesting and novel outings we have experienced thus far.

There has cropped up in recent years a wonderful tradition here in Great Falls, Virginia where my brother lives. It started with a handful of “gearheads” deciding they liked getting together to talk about their cars. In the downtown shopping center of Great Falls they began to meet in the parking lot outside of a local eatery early on Saturday mornings to drink coffee, while standing around talking and admiring at each other’s cars. Over the past half-dozen years or so this handful of guys (and gals) and their cars has grown into a car show all its own. The parking lot is now full of cars of every imaginable make and design, mostly from a previous era. Lots of folks come down just to check out the scene. I have written about this in prior articles, but last Saturday was especially cool.

My brother and I arrived about 6:40AM to an already packed gathering of car aficionados and their commensurate selection of choice cars. We went inside Katie’s for a cup of coffee where we met up with John’s son, Josh. We then struck up a conversation with one of the car owners who is a mainstay each Saturday. Bob Shawn is 92 years old and is one of the last of a rare breed of individuals. He is a three-war veteran having served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam as a fighter pilot, starting out with the old Army Air Corps, changed in 1947 to the U.S. Air Force. Each Saturday Bob fires up his old Willeys Army Jeep which he has restored, complete with a mounted .50 caliber machinegun and all, and drives it to Katie’s. He’s small in stature, but oh my, is he full of stories. We sat and chatted with him for well over an hour. One of his stories from WWII was the time he was shot down – by the French! He was chasing a German Messerschmitt in his P51 Mustang while at the same time the French forces on the ground were taking aim on the same plane. Instead, the French gunners shot Bob’s plane out of the air. He crash-landed and spent the next four days drinking brandy with the same French soldiers who shot him down. Since he hadn’t reported back to his command, it was assumed that he was dead, so his wall locker was emptied and his bunk was vacated. There are many more stories from Bob, but it will have to wait for another time. He did say that his brother was also shot down over Belgium, but was picked up by the underground and spent the remainder of the war blowing up German bridges.

On Sunday evening I took Isaura to the Wolf Trap which is an open outdoor stage not far from downtown Washington, D.C. We purchased tickets to attend the final performance of Riverdance in North America. These Irish dancers have been touring the United States for the past sixteen years, performing some 5,500 times. The program was exceptional! Besides the famous Irish straight-bodied perpendicular tap dancing routines usually performed in various precision formations, there were other performers of differing tap dancing styles. One was the stunningly spectacular dancing of the Spanish Flamenco dancer. Now, I was previously stationed in Spain, so I was familiar with this style of dance. But this lady was exceptional! The other dance style was that of two African-American guys who performed street tap with flips and splits, providing a wonderful contrast. When all three forms of dance were going on at the same time it was something to behold.

On Monday Isaura and I drove to Charlottesville, Virginia where we enjoyed a quick lunch at Chick-fil-A, a favorite Southern Fried Chicken restaurant chain in the South (there are some in northern California, but none close to where we live). We then began the 105 mile drive up the Skyline Drive of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western Virginia. The fog decided to roll in about the same time, which restricted our view. But the drive was beautiful despite the fog, which, in actuality, enhanced the experience. This is located in the Shenandoah National Park system. On the drive back to Great Falls last night, Isaura and I stopped for dinner at the Cracker Barrel. Yum! Sure wish they had some of these restaurants in California!

Next stop: Maine and fresh lobster!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sacrifice (Part 2 of 2)


          What is it that our service members fight for? FREEDOM!

          When you study history you will see that almost without exception armies are raised to conquer other nations or territories so as to expand their territory, subduing cultures and peoples to a new way of living. That is, only if the conquerors allow the people they have conquered to live!

          Greece, Rome, China, Russia, Germany, Britain, and so on, all wanted to add to their kingdoms. The United States, on the other hand, has a history of defeating its enemies and then rebuilding that aggressor nation from the ground up. We have defeated Germany twice in the past 100 years, along with Italy, and Japan. We have engaged in wars and skirmishes in Central and South America also during that same period of time. We have acquired other nations from defeated foes like Spain in 1898. As part of the war settlement, we were given control of much of Spain’s vast acquisitions, namely: Puerto Rico, the Philippine Islands, Guam, and Cuba. Each of these countries was eventually granted its independence. In the case of the Philippines, we have liberated them twice from conquering nations. First, from Spain in 1898; and second, from Japan in 1945.

          The United States has had the muscle and the technology to conquer as much of the world as we could want – yet we have not done so. We have been accused of being imperialistic – but are we? Imperialism is “the policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations.”

          In one sense we are imperialistic, but for a reason. We have maintained bases in countries that are friendly to us in order to protect not only that country from another aggressor nation, but to also protect America and her interests around the world. The formation of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was developed to protect Europe from the aggression of the former Soviet Union. If there were no other threats, then we would be content to leave those countries. Even after driving the German army out of France twice last century, the French government asked us to leave which we did in the 1970s. The same thing occurred with the Philippines in the early 1990s.

          Today we are faced with many challenges to our nation. War and rumors of war abound. Our State Department is acknowledging that we are prepared to stop the bloodshed occurring in Syria; and that we have the capability and the willingness to halt the advances of the nuclear development of bombs by a rogue nation, Iran.

President Calvin Coolidge, circa 1925, said this insightful quote regarding patriotism, “Patriotism is easy to understand in America; it means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.”

The Marine commanding general in Afghanistan read this letter on Memorial Day written by Marine sergeant, William Stacey, who left this for his family in the event of his death.

"My death did not change the world; it may be tough for you to justify its meaning at all," Allen wrote. "But there is a greater meaning to it. Perhaps I did not change the world. Perhaps there is still injustice in the world. But there will be a child who will live because men left the security they enjoyed in their home country to come to his. And this child will learn in the new schools that have been built. He will walk his streets not worried about whether or not his leader's henchmen are going to come and kidnap him. He will grow into a fine man who will pursue every opportunity his heart could desire. He will have the gift of freedom, which I have enjoyed for so long. If my life buys the safety of a child who will one day change this world, then I know that it was all worth it.

"Semper Fidelis means always faithful. Always faithful to God, Country and Corps. Always faithful to the principles and beliefs that guided me into the service. And on that day in October when I placed my hand on a bible and swore to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic, I meant it."

          Patriots are never in abundance. We need them every bit as much today as when George Washington was tasked with raising the Continental Army.

          Our freedoms come at great cost. It is the blood of patriots that has purchased our liberties.

          Such patriotism is needed today. Please, speak of the heroics of our fallen to your children and grandchildren. They need to hear about this from your lips. That is how it must be passed on if our freedoms are to be defended into the future.

          God bless you, and God bless America!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sacrifice (Part 1 of 2)


The article for this week and next is from a speech I gave on Memorial Day a couple of weeks ago. I was invited to be the guest speaker by the folks at Cherokee Memorial Cemetery in Lodi, California. They have a wonderful remembrance on Memorial Day honoring our fallen, of which more than 7,000 are interred there. There are on average between 600-800 people in attendance. American flags are placed on all veteran burial sites, and large American flags line the roads throughout the grounds. It is a visual feast. There ceremony concluded with a missing-man formation fly-over. The remainder of this article is the first half of my speech entitled, “Sacrifice.”

Our nation has borne the burden of sacrifice from its earliest days, taking up arms against an oppressive British monarchy that cared little for the personal desires of the colonists. The longing of those early Americans was simply to be free from tyrannical rule by a king thousands of miles away across the Atlantic. From the first shots fired at Bunker Hill in Massachusetts to the latest battles in the mountains of Afghanistan, American men and women have always stepped up to the fight. Personal sacrifice has been the requirement. Our American fighting men and women have never failed to answer that call.

Patrick Henry’s famous words ring as true today as they did in 1775:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

I believe the reason Americans have always answered the call to arms is found in our spiritual DNA. A people desiring freedom to worship came to this land nearly four hundred years ago. That desire to be free to worship continues to this day. And the greater desire for freedom in all aspects of life yet remains.

It is my contention that the present-day Tea Party is the rebirth of the spiritual freedoms embodied in each of us. We dare not lose this precious desire to be free regardless of any personal cost or the cost to our nation.

          What exactly does sacrifice mean?

          Sacrifice is taken from a Latin word, sacrificium, which is a compound word meaning “to make sacred.”

          The dictionary offers several definitions for the various uses of the word sacrifice. The one that applies to our fallen heroes is also the definition that applies to Jesus. Here’s what I mean.

          “To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.”

          Did you catch that?

          Sacrifice means something determined to be of lesser value is exchanged for something that is of greater value. Let’s personalize this. When a man or woman steps up and takes an oath “to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic,” they are, in essence, stating that their life, as an individual, is of lesser value than the lives of those they choose to defend. That Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, or Coast Guardsman in uniform that you see is publicly announcing that you, their fellow American, is of greater worth and value than their personal life. Furthermore, your freedom and the freedoms enjoyed by our nation are worth defending.

          Some might say that we should be able to “just all get along.” War is terrible, it’s true. So why can’t we just all get along? One word answer: SIN. Adam and Eve opened a Pandora’s Box when they sinned in the Garden of Eden. Sin has warped and distorted the image of God in each and every human ever since. We’re never satisfied. The grass is always greener. We want what someone else has. Jealousy, envy, covetousness, and a host of other ungodly attitudes and desires cause us to be leery of each other. Motives are questioned. Trust is hard to come by. Is it any wonder that we need a Savior?

          Because sin puts us at odds with each other, we need to have people who will stand up against those who would take our land, our freedoms, and yes, our very lives. Sin causes us to think and act that way.

          This is why on Memorial Day we must remember that of the more than one million Americans who have died for our freedom, we dare not forget. By their sacrifice they have declared that we who yet live are of greater worth.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Candidate Mitt Romney

           The next presidential election, as if you did not know, is Tuesday, November 6th.

          Because of the seriousness of this election, I have drawn a list of information regarding the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, for your perusal. As I have mentioned before, the Mainstream Media (MSM) failed to properly vet Barack Hussein Obama, either when he was the presidential hopeful of the Democratic Party in 2008, or during the intervening four years.

          The MSM will vet Mitt Romney, to be sure. However, their vetting will be to cherry-pick information that thy can use against him. Since you are not likely to read or hear about anything positive, allow me to share information provided by an organization called, Freedom Squad. Their web site is www.freedomsquad.org.

Personal Information:

· Full Name: Willard Mitt Romney

· Born: March 12, 1947 (65 years old)

· Father: George W. Romney, former Governor of the State of Michigan

· Raised in: Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

· Married to: Ann Lois Romney (née Davies) since 1969; they have five sons

· Education: B.A. from Brigham Young University, J.D. and M.B.A. from Harvard University

· Religion: Mormon – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS)

Working Background:

· After high school, Romney spent 30 months in France as a Mormon missionary.

· After going to both Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School simultaneously, he passed the Michigan bar, but never worked as an attorney.

· In 1984, he co-founded Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm, one of the largest such firms in the United States.

· In 1994, he ran for Senator of Massachusetts and lost to Ted Kennedy.

· He was President and C.E.O. of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

· In 2002, he was elected Governor of the State of Massachusetts where he eliminated a $1.5 billion deficit.

Some Interesting Facts about Romney:

· Bain Capital, starting with one small office supply store in Massachusetts, turned it into Staples; now over 2,000 stores employing 90,000 people.

· Bain Capital also worked to perform the same kinds of business miracles again and again, with companies like Domino's, Sealy, Brookstone, Weather Channel, Burger King, Warner Music Group, Dollarama, Home Depot Supply, and many others.

· He was an unpaid volunteer campaign worker for his dad's gubernatorial campaign for one year.

· He was an unpaid intern in his dad’s governor’s office for eight years.

· He was an unpaid bishop and stake president of his church for ten years.

· He was an unpaid President of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee for three years.

· He took no salary and was the unpaid Governor of Massachusetts for four years.

· He gave his entire inheritance from his father to charity.

· Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest self-made men in our country, but has given more back to its citizens in terms of money, service and time than most men.

Mitt Romney is Trustworthy:

· He will show us his birth certificate.

· He will show us his high school and college transcripts.

· He will show us his social security card.

· He will show us his law degree.

· He will show us his draft notice.

· He will show us his medical records.

· He will show us his income tax records.

· He will show us he has nothing to hide.

          Character matters.

Much more will come out about Romney leading up to the election, but at least you’ll know some basic information as you determine who to vote for in November.

Psalm for the Day