Marines.Together We Served

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Scourge of the Century

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
14 August 2017
www.chuckroots.com

The Scourge of the Century

Four decades ago the world was introduced to a medical terror the likes of which few other global alarms can even be compared. The scourge I’m writing about is HIV/Aids.

Let me ask you: When was the last time you read something about this dreaded disease? I’ll bet you can’t remember. It has virtually dropped off the radar screen when it comes to news reporting.

You may be asking me why I’m writing about this topic if it is no longer a blaring headline news story. That would be a fair and reasonable question. My answer is equally fair and reasonable. It is also direct. The scourge we know as HIV/Aids is still very much alive and well in our world. Please excuse the obvious oxymoron, “alive and well” in referencing this deadly, debilitating disease.

Recently, my wife and I were honored once again to be hosts in our home to our good friends, Dr. Tim and Muriel Teusink. These two Christian missionaries are simply amazing. Kinder, more godly people you will rarely find. They are home on furlough during which time they travel around North America visiting those churches and individuals who support them through finances and prayer.

I became acquainted with the Teusink’s in early 2002 when I took a team of six from our church, the Ripon Free Methodist, to spend two weeks in Ethiopia. Our arrival in the capital city, Addis Ababa, coincided with the opening and dedication ceremony of three brand new medical clinics which would provide much needed health services for this beleaguered city of nearly three-and-a-half million. Dr. Tim Teusink was at the forefront of this advance in medical care.

Our intrepid team was welcomed into the Teusink’s home and embraced as family, even though we had never met. After our two weeks were over, and we returned home to Ripon, as the pastor, I strongly encouraged (as did the others) that our church of 100 souls provide ongoing spiritual and financial support for the Teusink’s missions work. Though I have been retired from church ministry for three years, I am pleased to announce that our church continues to support these folks.

During our recent visit, I asked Dr. Tim if I could interview him for an article for my “Roots in Ripon” column. He readily agreed. So, we sat and discussed his years of medical missions, with a driving question I had of just how he wound up immersed in HIV/Aids. To better understand this man and the reasons he felt God leading him into the field of medicine and missions work, you need to know that he came from a family of Christians who were strong in their faith. His parents wanted to be missionaries, but were unable to pursue this goal. Instead, his dad became a pastor with the Reformed Church of America in Holland, Michigan where Dr. Tim was born. They later moved to Washington State which has been home for Dr. Tim ever since.

Dr. Tim told me two things had a profound effect on him growing up. The first thing that made a lasting impression on him was the doctor who gave exceptional compassionate care to his brother who was suffering from cerebral palsy. The second thing that has had a life-long impact was the strong urging (or “calling”, if you will) by God to follow a career in medicine, but more specifically, on the mission field. This was confirmed years later when he met Muriel (hailing from Canada) who also knew without a doubt that God was calling her to be a missionary. Her parents had also wanted to be missionaries. So, the die was cast for them both, you might say.

“I am not a visionary,” Dr. Tim was quick to state. Instead, he expressed his desire to be faithful in what God has called him to do.

The Teusink’s serve under the mission’s organization known as SIM, formerly the Sudan Interior Mission, first established in 1893. In the 1980s, SIM’s acronym became the Society for International Ministries, but is today better known as SIM. So great was the impact of SIM, that 40% of Africans today claim to be Christian.

In 1984, Dr. Tim was sent to the nation of Rwanda in Africa. It was here that HIV/Aids first became an issue for him, facing the reality of a populace of 25%-30% infected. Routinely performing surgeries, he was acutely aware of the growing concern of this new virus that was beginning to infect and kill people at an alarming rate. Little was known about it, even in the world of medicine. Dr. Tim was a young husband and father, so he grew increasingly concerned with the possibility of infecting his own family due to his constant contact with Rwandans carrying the virus. He wrestled with this problem until God made it clear to him that he was to continue in his medical practice and leave the welfare of him and his family to God’s sovereignty. He continued with surgeries for the next four years, dealing with the nearly daily needle pricks from infected patients.

It is because of this close proximity to HIV/Aids infected patients that Dr. Tim has become a recognized authority on this scourge, being named “Missionary of the Year” in 2012 by the Christian Medical & Dental Society. He continues to travel throughout the world, but primarily in Africa, teaching bioethics to medicos and other health professionals as to the best ways to treat those afflicted with HIV/Aids and its prevention.

Please pray for Dr. Tim and Muriel Teusink as they continue to honor God through their life’s work and passion, battling the scourge of the century.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Naval Farewell

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
7 August 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Naval Farewell

One of the great blessings of having served in the military for so many years is the association you garner with some of the most outstanding individuals this nation has ever produced. This weekend exemplifies my point.

Late last month Rear Admiral Russell W. Gorman crossed the bar, to use a metaphor written by Alfred Tennyson. He was a month shy of his 90th birthday. To read his biography, or “Bio” as it is referred to in navy parlance, is to take a walk through naval history from the 1950s through the 1980s. He graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York in 1949. One of his first assignments was to Yokohama, Japan where he met Mieko (a.k.a., Eriko), who would become his wife of sixty years.

Though I never got to know the admiral personally, I had heard of him over the years since we lived in the same region of California. Just after he passed away I was contacted by my friend Al Cruz who was put in charge of organizing a Celebration of Life service, and the committal service at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery where the ashes of both Admiral Gorman and his wife Eriko will be interred.

Al and I go back a lot of years. We both served in Vietnam as sergeants in the Marine Corps, though it would be many years later that we actually met. He had gone on to receive a commission as a Marine officer, retiring as a colonel. Our first contact was when we were both with 1st Battalion 14th Marines Artillery out of Alameda, California in the early 1990s. Al wanted to make this a special military ceremony with all the trimmings, so among others, he contacted me to perform the chaplain duties of offering the Invocation and Benediction.

Since this was to be a formal event, I pulled out my Dress Whites, which are more frequently referred to by Navy personnel as “Choker Whites.” And for good reason! The stiff collar must be fastened with metal interlocking connectors right where a man’s Adam’s Apple is located. Since it had been a few years since I had last worn this particular uniform, I had some consternation about a proper fit. I decided to wait until I arrived at the Sunday afternoon Celebration of Life held at the Veterans Memorial Building in Danville.

I was pleased to find a parking place directly across the street and in front of a small restaurant with an outside patio for dining. As I stood by my car, slipping into the choker white jacket, a couple having Sunday brunch smiled and offered a few complimentary words about the uniform. So, instead of wrestling with trying to hook the collar together without benefit of a mirror, I asked the lady if she would kindly do the honors. She agreed, while her husband smiled. Well, it was a tight fit, and the lady was very concerned about hurting me, but after a few minutes she managed to connect all three loops. I thanked them and proceeded to enter the Veterans Memorial Building.

There was quite an assembly of retired military present, both officer and enlisted, along with local government officials as well as friends and neighbors of the admiral. One of the invited speakers was Rear Admiral Tom Brown III. After the program was over I had a chance to chat with him and discovered he had at one point in his career been the commanding officer of the USS Midway aircraft carrier. The Midway is currently a museum, permanently anchored at the pier in San Diego.

The service for the admiral was very nice, and concluded with the playing of the Navy Hymn followed by the Benediction. We all stood while the Navy Hymn was played, but it was strictly instrumental. The words kept running through my mind, and I thought, “There are people here who are not part of the sea services who don’t know the song.” So, on the spur of the moment as I moved forward to offer the Benediction, I decided to sing the first verse acapella. “Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave, Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep, its own appointed limits keep; Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee, for those in peril on the sea!”

Farewell, Admiral Gorman! Fair winds, and following seas.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Grandkids Say the Darnedest Things

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
31 July 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Grandkids Say the Darnedest Things

A great blessing in our lives is being geographically near all of our grandchildren. Our two daughters and their families live within twenty-five miles of us. Either Isaura or I are involved in caring for these delightful kids each day throughout the week.

So, the other day Isaura is down in Turlock taking care of nine-year-old Brook, and five-year-old Colson which is part of her weekly schedule. Brooklyne (she apparently prefers to go by “Brook” now) was engaged in one of her drawings, a gift that jumped from my father to her. The grandkids call Isaura “Meema”, so she says to Brook, “You’re a very good artist. What would you like to be when you grow up?” Brook says, “I want to be an artist.” To which Meema says, “That’s fine, but is there something else you’d like to be? Maybe a doctor? You’re a very caring person. You’d be a good doctor.” Brook says, “Nah! I don’t want to be a doctor. I want to be a lawyer.” Meema asks, “Why do you want to be a lawyer?” Brook’s reply is classic! She said, “I want to be a lawyer because I like to argue. And I’m good at it!”

If you knew our Brookie, you’d say, “Amen” to that confession!

This week Isaura and I have Brook and Colson with us through Wednesday. School doesn’t begin until next week, so this works out really well for us.

This afternoon (Sunday), Josh, our son-in-law, dropped the kids off with us. A small suitcase for each, and games were all carried into our home. No sooner had they set foot in the house than Colson wanted to play with his new nerf gun. Well, let me tell you! These are the coolest guns ever! There were, I believe, three nerf guns, plus a new nerf gun, which was the latest model. After tearing open the package I began the process of trying to figure out how the fool thing worked. You see, this newest whiz-bang nerf gun didn’t fire just one spongy projectile. Oh no! Nothing so mundane as that. This gun fires three different types of sponge bullets, all exiting the gun from different portals.

I sat out on the back patio with the directions spread out on the table in front of me. I figured out how to fire two of the bullet types, but was having a doozy of a time trying to load the 10-clip magazine designed for rapid fire. Well, I fussed over this silly play gun for about half-an-hour before I figured it out. I felt ridiculous struggling with this harmless play gun. Rather embarrassing for someone who qualified expert in both the rifle and pistol in the Marine Corps! It was humbling, to say the least.

So, we loaded up the four (or was it five?) nerf guns and prepared to do battle in the back yard. With nerf guns at the ready, Colson, Brook and I stalked each other around the back yard, firing at will. I commented that Brook had hit me several times, to which she said, “That’s because you’re a bigger target, Granddaddy!” It wasn’t said to be mean or insulting. She simply stated the obvious: next to a slip-of-a-nine-year-old girl, and a five-year-old boy I do look pretty big, presenting an obvious target.

After frolicking in the yard dealing out death to each other, I returned to the safety of the home. Even the kids took a break.

We are having guests with us most of this week, so Isaura had Brook help her change the sheets on the guest bed and put out the fresh towels and wash cloths. Then Brook asked Meema if she could make a jelly roll. So, all on her own, Brook mixed the ingredients into the correct consistency for the batter. Now, mind you, Brook has never baked a jelly roll before, either at our home, or at her own home. She did ask Meema to help her roll out the dough, but otherwise she did everything herself. And it was delicious!

But we weren’t done with the nerf guns! Next thing I know Brook has talked Meema into playing war in the back yard. I was stunned and delighted at the same time. Here is my wife of 41 years with a nerf gun that can shoot multiple projectiles standing in the middle of our back yard, feet spread apart, gun held at hip level, facing her three antagonists, dealing out imaginary death to those of us who dared tread on her domain. You had to see this! She was a female version of Rambo! Except the kitchen apron didn’t quite fit the image.

Brook and Colson are sound asleep on the floor at the foot of our bed as I bring this article to a close. We have plenty of beds for them to sleep in, but they much prefer to sleep in our room. And you’ll have no argument from either of us!

Proverbs 17:6 says, “Grandchildren are the crown of the elderly.” To which I say, “Amen!”

Monday, July 24, 2017

Jordan Spieth: A Class Act

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
24 July 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Jordan Spieth: A Class Act

Admittedly, I am an inveterate golfer. And this past weekend was the holy grail of golf which is the British Open (also known as the Open Championship, or simply as, The Open), held this year at Royal Birkdale in England. This tournament is held each year at one of several golf courses within the British Isles. The most recognized, Saint Andrews in Scotland, is known as the “Home of Golf.”

This four-day event is the desire of all professional golfers. But only those who have earned enough points, or have won certain tournaments are then invited to play at the Open. The very best golfers fly in from all over the world, dreaming of winning this coveted prize. To be the last man standing at the end of the tournament establishes the winner into golf immortality. Your name will be engraved on the claret jug alongside of past champions, such as, Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, and now Jordan Spieth, the 2017 winner.

Spieth made a huge splash in the world of professional golf two years ago when he won two of the four major championships (The Masters, and the U.S. Open) at age twenty-one. His victory on Sunday at Royal Birkdale makes him the youngest American golfer to hoist the silver claret jug. And he’s only twenty-three!

For a professional golfer to win even one of the annual four major tournaments (The Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA) during their career puts them into a class of golfers that is practically deified. For a player to win multiple major tournaments means this player has gained a status unlike most any other in sport. For instance, the aforementioned Jack Nicklaus, arguably the greatest golfer of all time (the acronym G.O.A.T. is frequently bestowed on such an individual) won 18 major championships during his career. Only Tiger Woods has come anywhere near Jack’s achievement, having won 14 majors.

The skills necessary to play at the professional level apparently deteriorate during a player’s 30s, because only a handful of players have managed to win a major after turning 40. Jack won his last major at age 46. But then again, Jack is a god in the world of golf. Tiger is 41.

Back to Jordan Spieth. I have enjoyed watching this young man play for several reasons. He is much more like the average guy. He doesn’t crush his drives, launching his tee shots ridiculous distances down the fairway. He has a phenomenal “short game,” meaning his use of his wedges, and particularly his putter, have grown almost to legendary status. But it’s his humble attitude that I appreciate the most about him.  

Jordan took the lead at the Open on the first day, and played great golf for three days, holding the lead into Sunday. Well, because the tournament is in England, there’s a bit of a time difference. So, the first players out on the final day were teeing off at 4:30 Sunday morning here on the west coast. I crawled out of bed about 4:45, made myself a cup of coffee and settled in for a few hours of enjoyment. Since it was Sunday, and I help lead singing in our worship services at church, I still had to shower and shave in time to make our 8:30 service. Jordan was in the final pairing with Matt Kuchar. When I left for church, these two were battling it out. They were almost at the turn (meaning they had finished the first nine holes and were about to play the second nine) when I walked out the door. Now, normally I will help lead in singing, and then sit in the pew with my wife to listen to the pastor deliver his sermon. Then it’s off for coffee and donuts in the fellowship hall, followed by our adult Sunday school class. Then I help with the singing again in the 11:00 service.

Well, the way things were going with the tournament, I knew I’d miss the conclusion (yes, I was recording it!) if I attended things the way I normally did. So instead, I helped in singing in the first service, then left for home to watch the remainder of the tournament, which ended at 10:45. I then drove back to church to lead in singing for the second service and stayed to hear the sermon. Boy, am I glad I changed things up for this!

As it turned out, Jordan was having all sorts of difficulties with his game on the final day. Jordan hit the most horrific tee shot on the 13th hole. When they found his ball, it was not even playable, which meant he’d have to take a penalty stroke. He managed to minimize the damage, dropping only one stroke to Matt, putting Jordan one shot out of the lead for the first time after 67 holes. Only five holes remained, and Jordan’s game was going south!

As the announcers rightly stated, Jordan seemed to “throw a switch”. On the 14th tee, a par 3 hole, he hit his tee shot, nearly getting a hole-in-one. He settled for a birdie, bringing him even with Matt. On the 15th hole, a par 5, Jordan landed his second shot on the green and made the 48-foot putt for an eagle. On the 16th hole, a par 4, he birdied this as well, and also a birdie on the 17th, par 4. Going into the 18th and final hole, Jordan had a two-shot lead over Matt. He parred the hole and was declared the “Golf Champion of the Year”.

For years to come, the golf world will be talking about the incredible finish Jordan had to win the Open. But, what makes this young man so enjoyable, is that Jordan is a class act. His comments after receiving the claret jug were not about himself at all. Instead, he thanked his caddie, Matt Kuchar, the fans, the groundskeepers, the more than fifteen hundred volunteers, and the officials. That’s class!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Get Down to Business

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
17 July 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Get Down to Business

The news is full of reports about how the Health Care Bill, a.k.a., the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a., Obamacare needs to be scrapped, rescinded, done away with, repealed or any other term describing elimination you wish to choose.

Republican Congressmen have been caterwauling about the disaster Obamacare would visit on the American people. And they were right. It is and has been a disaster. I even read the original draft (all 1100 pages) of the ACA back in 2009. It was brought before the House of Representatives October 29, and was known then as the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962 – House Resolution). President Obama and the Democrats had just assumed control of the presidency and the Congress after eight years of President George W. Bush and the Republicans. Within the first year in office, the Democrats crafted and enacted a health care bill. On December 24, the Senate passed an alternative health care bill known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In early 2010, the House abandoned its reform bill in favor of amending the Senate bill, known as the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Opponents of this bill began referring to it as “Obamacare,” fully intending that the term would be used as a pejorative.

My point is this: The Democrats managed to bring a health care bill up for vote in Congress, and succeeded! And all this occurred within the first year of Obama’s presidency. Republicans have vowed since 2010 to repeal Obamacare, and present to Congress a much better bill to be implemented once Obamacare is no more.

I say, Hooray for the Republicans! So, where’s this bill you’ve had eight years to work on? Excuse me if I’m a bit flummoxed by the excuses coming from the leaders of the House and Senate (Ryan and McConnell) as to why the bill is not ready. And you’re telling me and the American people that you can’t rally enough Republican support as a party on the hill to pass what is currently being proposed?

May I remind the Republican gentlemen and gentleladies of Congress that we the people of these United States voted you folks into office to do the work you’re supposed to do on our behalf so we who vote and pay taxes shouldn’t have to be troubled with such matters as health care. You all promised to bring a new health care bill up for vote once you gained the House in 2010. You reaffirmed that promise once you gained the Senate in 2014. Now, in 2016, you have an admittedly unconventional president, who, nevertheless, is a Republican. So, what’s the problem here? Whining, hand-wringing, and the making of excuses will not be tolerated. We voted you in to do the hard work. Now, get to work!

This all brings me to my final point: There is a dearth of leadership within our government. The Republicans are embarrassing themselves through Congressional ineptitude, functioning as though they are the minority party. The leadership within the Democrat party is no better. The difference is, the Democrats always act as though they are in charge, especially when they are the minority party, as they are right now. In fact, I would point out that it has sunk to a new low. There’s not a one of these leaders from either party that is demonstrating true leadership at a time when it is desperately needed. Statesmanship is completely absent within the Halls of Congress. You may wish to respond with a comment such as, “But Chuck, not all the members of Congress are poor leaders!” And I would, on the surface, agree with you. But those who are attempting to lead well are being silenced by those who are in the Washington DC “Beltway Club.” Some of these congressmen have spent decades inside DC. It’s the, “Good ole boy club.” They have learned to play the game. They scratch each other’s back to the degree that if you don’t play the game the way they have it set up, you simply will be ignored. You may be pure in your desires to bring change, but if you don’t go along, you’ll be a one-term Congressman. And the electorate, the voting public, is left wondering where their champions have gone.

All leaders, particularly government elected officials, should memorize Solomon’s prayer to God from I Kings 3. Beginning in verse 7, it says, “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart.”

Lord, please give us such leaders today! Leaders who will put the governance of the people first, not seeking vainglory for themselves. And dare we lift our heads to ask you once again, please, God, bless America?

Monday, July 10, 2017

No Place Like Home

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
10 July 2017
www.chuckroots.com

No Place Like Home

Home Sweet Home! That is such a true statement. About an hour ago Isaura and I walked in our front door after ten days of romping and playing across California, Nevada and Utah. We even clipped the edge of Arizona on our drive from Delta, Utah to Las Vegas, Nevada. What a beautiful drive! Nevada and Utah have one thing in particular in common. Both states have specific high population areas. The rest of the state is open and fairly barren. For awesome scenic beauty, there are parts of eastern Utah that are simply breathtaking. Then there’s the drive through the southern part of Utah that brings you through some fantastic mountains (a spill-over of the Rocky Mountains).

Our time spent with family was priceless. But the biggest treat for me was watching Alyssa, our nine-year-old granddaughter, rise up early three mornings in a row to help hold the super-sized milk bottles for the one and two-day-old heifers to nurse from.

So, on Tuesday we pulled out of Delta for the roughly five-hour drive to Las Vegas. We had booked tickets for Popovich’s Comedy Pet Theater for the 2:30 show. We arrived in Vegas about 1:20, quickly settling into our hotel room at Bally’s. We then walked to the V Theater for the show. It was a delightful performance with Popovich using most of the 30 dogs, cats, birds and mice he has rescued from animal shelters. It was non-stop activity on stage with several assistants helping keep things moving along. Alyssa loved the show! Popovich was in the lobby afterward to sell his books and CDs. We bought one of the CDs for Alyssa, and I took a nice picture of her with him in his clown costume.

It has been some time since I was last in Vegas, so either my memory is failing me, or the raunchiness of sex for sale has gone to new levels of depravity. There are no areas in the Vegas Strip that are safe from the sexual perversion that oozes from every casino, and ditto for the fleet of stores and entertainment facilities that feed off the lust we humans seem to have for money and sex. If it had not been for the International Barbershop Annual Competition held in the Axis Theater, located in Planet Hollywood next door to Bally’s, you simply could not have gotten me to go there.

I had to call into question my being there at all in the midst of the raw nakedness evidenced on the sidewalks, not to mention the performers in the casinos. But then to have my wife and our nine-year-old Alyssa there, too, made me stop and rethink the wisdom of bringing her along. I suspect I’ll be mulling this over for some time to come. There were, however, several street preachers positioned on the curbside using loudspeaker systems to proclaim God’s Word from the Bible. I had to admire their tenacity. That’s a rough place for ministry, but they were persistent in proclaiming God’s righteousness, and calling sinners to repent from their immoral behavior. It was an amazing contrast to witness.

My time in Vegas was spent either resting in my hotel room, finding a decent place to eat that was close by, or rehearsing with the VoCal chorus in preparation for our performance on Friday afternoon. We seventy stout-hearted souls put all of our effort into giving our best performance. As I mentioned in my last column, we were going up against 29 other choruses. Well, as it turned out, we fell well short of our hoped-for score. When all the choruses were done on Friday, we placed 26th of the 30. We can take some consolation in the fact that very few choruses even make it to this level of competition, and furthermore, a chorus from our district, the Far Western District, took first place, receiving the coveted gold medal. We are very proud of the Santa Fe Springs, California chapter, Masters of Harmony, for winning first place.

As for the quartet competition, it was tight because the top ten quartets are just that good. These ten were left standing from the original 55 which started the competition on Thursday. The gold medal winning quartet, Main Street, is from Florida. Listening to these ten quartets competing down to the wire on Saturday night was such a treat. The musical quality and presentation on stage is worth the price of admission – literally! Afterward, Alyssa and I joined several of the VoCal chorus members down in the hotel’s food court for some chocolate ice cream! Yum!

On Sunday morning, we attended a church service with other barbershop singers along with friends and family in the inner sanctums of Bally’s Hotel and Casino. Then it was time to drag our suitcases down to the car and drive home.

It was a hectic ten days, but we sure had fun, especially with Alyssa. Next year our International Barbershop Competition will be in Orlando, Florida. Now won’t that be fun!

But, when it’s all said and done, there’s no place like home!

Monday, July 03, 2017

A Little Traveling Music, Please

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
3 July 2017
www.chuckroots.com

A Little Traveling Music, Please

“A Little Traveling Music, Please,” is the signature expression uttered by The Great One, Jackie Gleason on his television show from 1952-1966.

I have taken the liberty of borrowing this phrase to start my column this week. You see, Isaura and I, along with nine-year-old granddaughter Alyssa are currently in Delta, Utah, visiting her brother Tony and numerous other relatives.

What prompted this trip was my involvement in my hobby of singing barbershop. The Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), the parent organization for all things barbershop, officiates an annual International Competition for barbershop quartets and choruses which is held in a major city somewhere around the country. This year we are gathering in Las Vegas.

Since I am a member of Voices of California (VoCal) out of Sacramento, I will be joining 71 other members of the chorus on stage competing against 29 other choruses. This is my first time to sing on the International stage. What an exciting opportunity!

Isaura’s brother, Tony, has developed a very prosperous dairy farm here in Delta over the last eighteen years, and Isaura loves visiting whenever possible. So, we decided to head for Delta last Friday making this part of the overall trip to Vegas. We were thrilled when Alyssa asked to come with us. This would give her an opportunity to meet and get to know better some of her extended family. Plus, she was really excited to see (Great) Uncle Tony’s cows!

The nearly 700-mile drive to Delta would likely be a challenge since we had not taken any of our grandkids on such a long trip before. But we planned it well, leaving Ripon at ten o’clock in the morning. About 12:30 we stopped at a Subway shop in Truckee for lunch. Then it was back on the road following Highway 80 east. Somewhere around Fallon, Nevada we cut over to pick up Highway 50 east. We basically stayed on this road for the remainder of the trip. We stopped a few more times. We grabbed a smoothie in Austin at an old bar and grill after traveling over small mountain ranges, and dipping into more valleys than I could count. When we arrived in Ely we stopped for dinner at a Denny’s restaurant on the downtown drag. Casinos are everywhere! I’ve never been a big fan of this restaurant chain, mostly because the service has been terrible most everywhere I’ve stopped, but we were hungry and we didn’t know any of the local eateries. Much to my delight, the service at this Denny’s was superb, and the food was excellent.

We finally rolled into Tony and Edna’s about 11:30 that night. I did all the driving so I was pretty much done in. I was up early, made some strong coffee and did some reading. Isaura and Alyssa didn’t show themselves till about mid-morning. We relaxed most of the day which we sorely needed. But Alyssa was anxious to have a tour of the dairy, so off we went. Crossroads Dairy runs more than two thousand cows which requires three eight-hour shifts for milking. It is quite a process with cows shuffling in and out of the milking barn. In one hour, a four-person crew is expected to milk 260 cows. If they move more than that through then they get a bonus. Tony has forty employees working somewhere on their spread every day.

Seeing the enormous undertaking required to bring milk and other dairy products to a store near you always leaves me deeply impressed by the efficiency of the entire system. However, I really enjoyed watching Alyssa marvel at the production required so she could have milk on her cereal. Computers control everything, including the amount of milk each cow produces in a day, along with the quantity of grain they eat and what kind, and very soon each cow will have a necklace of sorts that is computerized and will be able to record everything going on in the cow. If the cow starts to get sick, the device will signal the computer, and then that cow is pulled out of production and sent to their animal hospital for treatment. And the hospital is right here on the dairy.

Alyssa’s favorite part is feeding the calves. At any one time, they have 500 or more calves (heifers) in individual shelters where they receive personalized attention until they’re old enough to be released into the herd. I’ve been around these dairy farms and all that goes on since I was first introduced to Isaura’s family in 1975. But as I mentioned earlier, I am always in awe of the strenuous and diligent work that is necessary in the care and feeding of the cows. Alyssa was thrilled to hold big milk bottles for the two-day-old calves to drink from.

Usually when Isaura and I are here in Delta, I’m invited to preach to the small independent evangelical congregation known as The Way, which meet in a store front. And so it was this weekend. What a wonderful time of fellowship we had!

Tomorrow morning I’m meeting Dan, one of the dairymen, at the Sunset View Golf Course for a round before it gets too warm.

On Tuesday, we leave for Las Vegas where I’ll meet up with the others from VoCal so we can get a few more rehearsal sessions in before our Friday competition. Then it’s back home to Ripon.

This evening Alyssa was asked if she’d like to live here in Delta, Utah. Her immediate answer was, YES! She loves animals and has expressed an interest for some time in being a veterinarian. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Happy 241st Birthday, America!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Girls of Summer

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
26 June 2017
www.chuckroots.com

The Girls of Summer

There was my granddaughter, Brooklyne, proudly wearing her red team jersey with the name in black emblazoned across the chest, Lady Warriors, one of the many softball teams for 9-11-year-old girls in Turlock.

I had to smile at that, remembering my Little League days when I played for a team in our town of Mount Kisco, New York, called Briccetti’s. This appliance store in the downtown area was responsible for sponsoring our team. Those days of playing endless hours of baseball are as alive in me today as they were nearly sixty years ago.

Over the years I played some baseball in high school, and later softball, both fast-pitch and slow pitch, while serving in the Navy. I spent countless hours teaching both Laura and Jenny how to play softball. I even coached Jenny’s 7th grade team which is an article for another time. Yet, those early memories of playing with my friends is a cherished part of my childhood. I never wanted those games to end.

After arriving at Pedretti Sports Complex in Turlock for the 10:30 game, I set up the folding lounge chairs for Isaura and me in a shaded area since we’ve had a string of very hot days. Once the game started, however, I moved to the bleachers which offered a much better view of the field. This worked well as Brook was playing 3rd base, and the bleachers were on the 3rd base side. There she was, anticipating each pitch, dropping into a crouch, expecting the batter to hit the ball to her. As a nine-year-old, she has a lot to learn. But she’s game, and even got a hit!

Since I’ve been away from the game a very long time, I would ask questions about the finer points of today’s version of softball of the folks seated around me, hopefully without being annoying. At one point, I turned to a number of the adults sitting behind me, and asked a question about the diminutive pitcher for the Lady Warriors. I quarried, “Is this girl really nine-years-old?” A young woman smiled and said, “She is ten!” This little player, named Haven, is her daughter, and her husband is one of the coaches. I just had to ask another question. “How much does she weigh?” Mom smiled and said, “43 pounds.” She then told me that at the beginning of the school year, Haven weighed 42 pounds, and had managed to grow an inch. I was floored! She might be really tiny, which she literally comes by naturally (her dad the coach is 5’2”), but this little dynamo can play! I watched her in the batter’s circle practicing her swing motion, and let me tell you, she is all business. She proceeded to smack a hit, eventually scoring her team’s second run of the game.

It was such fun sitting there watching these girls playing their hearts out. I was transported again and again back to my days of playing. There were the smells of the dirt and leather mitts, the sounds of players chattering, and coaches encouraging, along with the “ping” sound of aluminum bats, all within the confines of a neatly manicured grass ballfield with chalk lines marking the base paths, and the fair and foul territories. The sky was a bright blue with an ever-rising temperature, but so what! After all! This was a ball game!

Brook and her five-year-old brother, Colson, had spent the previous night at our home. In the early evening at the request of both Brook and Colson, I piled them into the car and headed for Spring Creek Golf and Country Club. Their very favorite thing to do is have me drive them around in a golf cart through the almond and walnut orchards that surround the golf course. It is especially exciting if they find a few lost golf balls. Back home, Brook made Russian Tea Cakes, which were delicious, and Colson helped me make a big bowl of popcorn the old-fashioned way – over fire on the stove – which we ate while watching the movie, Black Beauty.

To cap off our time with these two terrific grandkids, following the game, which the Lady Warriors won, 4-2, Isaura and I took them to the McDonalds in Turlock that has an indoor playground. We ordered lunch and an ice cream cone before finally returning them to their home.

For years I had heard grandparent-aged folks go on and on about how much fun their grandkids were, and how much they looked forward to the time they spent with them. Isaura and I never quite understood this effusiveness over grandkids until we had our own. What a blessing these little ones are!

Did I mention there’s another game on Monday?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Religious Liberty Rescued

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
19 June 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Religious Liberty Rescued

Amidst all the hullabaloo over collusions with the Russians, a disgraced former FBI director, illegal immigration wars, ad nausea, there are some really great things taking place in the first five months of the Trump Administration.

This is especially true for people of all faiths, but specifically Christians. Ever since the Johnson Amendment of 1954 (during the Eisenhower Administration) pastors, preachers and ministers have effectively had their hands tied, so to speak, when it came to discussing or preaching a particular viewpoint from the pulpit that may be construed as political influence. Then Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ) of Texas introduced a bill into Congress that would make a provision in the U.S. Tax Code prohibiting “all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.” These organizations “range from charitable foundations to universities and churches.”

Republicans and Conservatives for the past two decades have been working to overturn the Johnson Amendment. The good news is that President Trump has taken the first steps to reverse this law.

It has been disheartening for the last sixty-three years to see those who have been entrusted with proclaiming Jesus as the Savior in our churches silenced when it comes to speaking on what could be considered political issues and political candidates. Far too many ministers knuckled under to this law. Others ignored the law, realizing the IRS could remove their tax-exempt status if found guilty of violating the Johnson Amendment.

One of President Trump’s campaign promises was to reverse the Johnson Amendment. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” the president declared. In an article in Decision Magazine, June 2017, Reverend Franklin Graham, director of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, (BGEA) wrote about the president signing an executive order to help protect our religious freedoms in a Rose Garden ceremony. Hallelujah!

Graham elaborates, “The executive order counters the chilling effect on the speech of churches and charities. The president wants to protect the freedom of pastors and church leaders to address political issues and candidates.” Graham added this important caveat, “The order is also designed to help protect organizations from being forced to include abortion-inducing drugs in their health-care plans.” You may recall the brouhaha over the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order of religious women who care for the elderly poor, being forced by the United States government to provide abortion services in their health-care plan. This all began in 2013, finding its way to the United States Supreme Court. The Little Sisters’ case was eventually won three years later. President Trump signed his executive order just last May. In the order, he directed HHS (Health & Human Services) Secretary Tom Price “to protect the Little Sisters of the Poor and other religious ministries from the HHS Mandate.” Price said that the HHS “will be taking action in short order.” The executive order nullifies the HHS Mandate, stating that  other federal agencies “must end their unnecessary legal fights against the Little Sisters and other ministries in courts around the country.”

There is still much to do in reversing so much anti-religious laws and policies that have been allowed to become part of our national condition. One group that has been having its way against people of faith is the LBGTQ (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transgender, Queer) folks who intentionally target businesses owned and operated by people of faith, specifically Christians.

Another business owned and operated by a Christian came under attack from the LGBTQ. This was Chick-fil-A, the very popular fast-food fried chicken chain. In comments opposing same-sex marriage made by the COO (Chief Operating Officer) for Chick-fil-A, protests were staged attempting to force Chick-fil-A to change their tune or close their business. There was a huge reaction in support of Chick-fil-A, which effectively ended the protests.

It’s this sort of bullying that has evoked the need for political action on the part of the president. As a nation, our core beliefs as Americans came directly from the Bible. Those beliefs were then modified into our system of laws, not the least of which is the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Constitution of the United States (1787), and the Bill of Rights (1791). If we choose to stray from these beliefs, we do so at our own personal and national peril.

For now, we have a president who is in strong support of protecting our religious freedoms by passing legislation to secure, once again, those freedoms which for a time had been lost to us.

May there ever be American patriots who burn with such moral rectitude and courage as to forever stand for the right. This I believe will always bring about God’s willingness to bless America.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Knights in Shining Armor

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
12 June 2017
www.chuckroots.com

Knights in Shining Armor

Well, not really. But I thought I might catch your attention with this title. However, the knights part is correct, whereas the shining armor part is up for debate.

The expression “knight in shining armor” has historically implied an upright, valorous and virtuous man who goes around rescuing maidens in distress. On a more intimate level, women often are looking for a husband who will be their “knight in shining armor”.  

This week’s missive toys with this idea of knights, but I’m coming at it from an entirely different perspective.

As most of you who have been reading my column know, I enjoy singing. And one of my hobbies is singing Barbershop 4-Part Harmony. I’m a member in the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS) which is an international organization specifically focused on this uniquely American music form we know as “Barbershop Music”. The Society has grown to the point that Barbershop Music has spread throughout the world. Other countries that are currently singing barbershop are Great Britain, Holland, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific Islands, South Africa, and more! To see what I’m talking about, go on YouTube and type in Barbershop Chorus Champions. Then listen to your hearts delight. Do the same with Barbershop Quartet Champions. But be careful! This can be addictive.

I actually am a member of three barbershop choruses. I’m active with Voices of California (VoCal, for short, 75 men) out of Sacramento, and the Golden Valley Chorus (GVC, 25 men) in Modesto. The third chorus is the Alexandria Harmonizers in Washington, D.C. My nephew, Josh Roots, is active with this chorus which boasts 125 men.

Each year choruses and quartets compete at various events in their districts to move up the competition ladder. If they are good enough, they earn the right to compete on the grand stage at the annual International Convention. This year the convention is being held in Las Vegas at Bally’s (July 4-9). The Voices of California (VoCal) will be heading for Vegas where we will compete against other big choruses, as well as the overall title of Gold Medal Chorus Champion for 2017. This will be my first time competing at an International.

So, last Saturday VoCal had an extra rehearsal in preparation for our big opportunity in Vegas. We spent four hours going over the two songs we’re required to perform, which includes a fair amount of choreography. We spent all four hours on our feet with only a ten-minute break. As you might surmise, we’re committed to this event!

The theme of our performance package is Knights of the Round Table. A package typically has an “up tune”, and a ballad. Our up tune is, ”The EPIC Knight Medley”, followed by the ballad, “If Ever I Would Leave You”. The Medley is a spoof on Knights of the Round Table, harkening back to the swashbuckling days of the Middle Ages in England with King Arthur and his knights. The EPIC Knight Medley, using known tunes, uses entirely different wording in order to stay true to the Knights theme. And should you be concerned that there might be copyright violations, rest assured: We are diligent in acquiring the needed permission.

The parody on the tunes we use for our Medley are: “Knights of the Round Table.” A classic line from this song is, “We dine while here in Camelot. We eat ham and jam and spam a lot!” We then bridge into the tune, “So Long Mother”, only the wording is, “Oh, Guinevere a little tear is gleaming in your eye. Your knights are all assembled, off to war where we may die!” Then we roll into “Just in Time”, only we sing, “It’s jousting time. Hooray it’s jousting time! Those pointy sticks are primed. Let’s have a show!” The next tune is the classic “Chariots of Fire” followed by “I Could Have Danced All Night”. We sing, “I could have lanced four knights, I could have lanced five knights and still have lanced some more!” Next up is the tune, “Bright Was The Night”. It’s changed to sound very much like the original, but instead, we sing, “This knight’s not bright! His head’s not right”. And then we end the up tune with “I Love A Parade”. But we sing, “Oh, I love a crusade!” One line in this part goes like this, “I love a crusade! The Bubonic plague, the loss of a leg or maybe a thumb, a Thumb! We’re off on a crusade!”

Remember what I said earlier. This is a spoof, a lampooning of knights as they prepare to go off on crusades.

The ballad, “If Ever I Would Leave You”, is sung straight, and is intended to illicit emotion as the character of the knight leaves his love behind while he rides off into an uncertain future.

All seventy-five of us are dressed in period costume. Originally, I was one of the townspeople, and my singing position was strictly on the risers. Last week I was informed that I would now be one of the soldiers which requires coming off the risers and doing a lot of foot and hand movements all performed on the stage along with other soldiers and knights.

I wish you could be in Vegas to see us perform. But one thing you can be certain of: I will be writing an article (or possibly two) about the experience. Isaura will be accompanying me, so we’re going to have a blast!

Monday, June 05, 2017

A Weekend Jaunt

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
5 June 2017
www.chuckroots.com

A Weekend Jaunt

          By definition, a jaunt is usually understood to mean a short journey meant for pleasure. Thus, jaunt is the exact word I would use for this article.

          This weekend foray came about after we learned of a friend’s illness in El Cajon (ka–hone) which is just east of San Diego. Gary has been struggling with a debilitating sickness for some number of months, and is currently in a nursing facility. Isaura and I looked at our calendars and decided this past Friday thru Sunday would work best for us to make a drive to see Gary.

          Isaura reminded me that some dear friends we have known since before we were married had just moved back to Azusa (near Pasadena) from their home in Cincinnati, Ohio where they have lived the last twenty-two years. I used to sing in a Gospel group with Ed and Dolly when we all lived in San Jose. We called ourselves, The Redeemed. We absolutely had a blast traveling around the Bay Area and Central Valley of California singing at a plethora of events and venues.

          On Friday after playing a round of golf with my friends at Spring Creek, Isaura and I hopped in the car and headed for our rendezvous with Ed and Dolly, arriving in time for dinner. Ed’s dad (also goes by Ed) joined the four of us at a Mexican restaurant in Azusa called, Max’s. We sat around stuffing ourselves with massive portions of food and drink. I have never seen such serving sizes, literally covering the entire platter. And the drink mugs were more like the size of a beer stein. I could not finish my meal!

          We spent a delightful evening with our friends, with Ed pulling out his six-string guitar and leading us in singing a couple of the songs we used to do. We finished up with, I’ll Fly Away! After a restful night in their guest room, we had breakfast in the kitchen before Isaura and I headed for San Diego. It was such a joy to catch up with these friends whom we have not seen in at least a half-dozen years.

          Another part of our trip while in southern California was to visit with our niece, Emily. She is the daughter of Isaura’s youngest sister, Judy and her husband Greg. Emily is now working in San Diego and is dating, Alex, an active duty Marine who is stationed at Camp Pendleton. We met them for lunch on Saturday at Seaport Village, which is a fun place to visit. There are numerous stores and shops of various kinds all along the waterfront. One of our favorite restaurants there is the Greek Islands, known for its great Mediterranean style food. Of course, I was curious about Alex. I was very impressed with him. The four of us talked over our food for a couple of hours, learning that Alex has been in the Marine Corps for eight years, and has every intention of making this his career. Before we left Emily and Alex in the parking lot, we took the obligatory pictures which the rest of the family was dying to see.

          Next stop was a visit to Gary in the nursing home. He was in fine spirits even though he has a trache which certainly limits communication. However, I learned they have a device now that allows the person with the trache to still be able to speak, and it was surprisingly clear. Gary also spent twenty-five years in the National Guard, so we have a military connection as well. We chatted with him for a time, and then I read a number of passages to him from the Scriptures. I then anointed his forehead with oil followed by prayer from Isaura and me. It was, indeed, a special moment!

          After saying goodbye to Gary, we drove to Camp Pendleton where we were booked in the Inns of the Corps lodging for Saturday night. But first we stopped in the Marine Corps Exchange (MCX). This is one of Isaura’s favorite things to do when we visit any military base. There are a lot of good deals and no sales tax! I usually wander over to the sporting goods to see what they have in golf equipment. Aha! To my great delight, I found a putter I had wanted, and it was the last one. It cost all of $25.00! I snagged it right quick and will have an opportunity to try it out this Wednesday morning.

          While stationed at Camp Pendleton in the mid-80s, we had found two favorite restaurants which we always try to patronize when we are in the area. So we drove to the Armenian Café which serves the best lemon soup you’ll ever have. To our great shock and dismay, the building was gone! The area was encircled with construction barriers, but nothing to indicate what had happened. So we drove two blocks over to the Vera Cruz Fish House, which also was vacated and a new sign indicating who the new business was to be. Both of these places are wildly popular, so we were stunned, to say the least. I had the phone numbers for both in my phone, so I called. The Armenian Café is under totally new construction and will open again, however the date is unknown. As for the Fish House, it is in a new location. All is right with the world again!

          I’ve been asked if I miss the military life, and my answer is always, no. Thirty-four years was enough. But as Isaura and I stood outside the Ward Lodge at Mainside on Camp Pendleton this morning, I looked at her and said, “This is what I miss.” There is a quietness on a military base that is very calming. You can almost feel it. I explained what I meant, and she agreed.

          Our drive back to northern California was uneventful. But it did include a stop at our youngest daughter’s home in Turlock for a birthday party for granddaughter, Brooklyne who is nine.

           It was truly a weekend jaunt, full of delight!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Soldier's Reflections

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
29 MAY 2017
www.chuckroots.com

A Soldier’s Reflections

          Memorial Day is now passed. As Americans, we celebrate this special day each May acknowledging the sacrifice of patriots who placed their lives in harm’s way so you and I could live in peace and freedom.

          So, all of this attention on the price of freedom and the visit to a special Memorial Day service at a local cemetery got me to thinking. Browsing through my shelves of books on the Civil War, I ran across one particular volume about Charles W. Sherman, a soldier with the 12th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. The book is the compilation of letters (160 in all) that Private Sherman wrote home to his wife, Virtue, during his two years of military service. Entitled, Letters to Virtue, the book is subtitled, A Civil War Journey of Courage, Faith, and Love.

          Charles Sherman is truly and American story! He was born in England in 1828, immigrating to the United States in 1838 with his family. In 1848, Charles married Virtue James, also an immigrant from England. They had five children. He seems to have been something of a Jack-of-all-trades, working first as a harness maker in Connecticut as recorded in the census of 1850, then as a carpenter in Webster, Massachusetts in the census of 1860.

          The Civil War began in 1861, requiring men to leave their families and their vocations to serve their country in order to preserve the Union. In January of 1862, at age 33, Charles Sherman enlisted in the 12th Connecticut. He must not have had much of an education as his letters reflect poor spelling and grammar usage. However, his ability to express what was important to him comes through with clarity. You see, “Charles enlisted because of his strong belief in the principles of his adopted country as well as his firm opposition to slavery.”

          It is a fascinating journey to catch glimpses of a soldier’s life during the most arduous of wartime challenges. His unit left Connecticut, traveling to Louisiana, then to Virginia, before finally returning to Connecticut at war’s end. He is quick to express his love for his wife and five children in each of his many letters. His graphic descriptions of combat and its horrors are not enjoyable reading, but he is frank and honest in his assessment of their conditions and the combat they are frequently engaged in.

          In his last letter home, dated October 15, 1864, Cedar Creek, Virginia (The Battle of Cedar Creek), he shares a thought that must have been troubling him for quite some time. Describing preparations for battle, he writes, “It is not fear, but a sad feeling when you see the skirmishers deploy into line, and the regiments unfold themselves into a line of battle.” He further describes the cacophony of battle. “When the thunder of the artillery comes upon you, you forget everything else and look out for the shells that come screaming toward you, not that you can dodge anything, but you want to see where they are coming from.”

          He conveys the relief in returning to camp, saying, “A man feels better in going away from danger than in going to it.” I can vouch for that!

          But it was this expressed thought that captured my attention, and his reluctant acceptance of war’s horrific devastation, regardless of who wins and who loses. He wrote, “I do wish this cruel war would come to an end, for this going about to kill one another has an unchristian look to me, when you come to look at it in that light, but it has to be done, I suppose.”

          On October 23, 1864, Sergeant Edward S. Larkum wrote a letter to Charles’ father. “Dear Sir, It devolves on me as a tentmate of your son to line (write) the sad news of his death, which occurred in terrible battle of the 19th of the present month. As a soldier, he was much respected. He was courteous alike to everyone and there was not a man in his regiment who did not respect him. He was killed in the foremost rank, bravely fighting for his country which he thought so much of. . . . Any information that I can give will be gladly attended to, and if I can be of any benefit to you in any other way, willingly will my services be offered and gladly will I pay the last tribute to him who was so brave and so kind.”

          Corporal Charles Sherman joined the ranks of the fallen, but whose shed blood has helped to insure a future for all Americans, whether native born, or naturalized citizen.

          God bless America!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My President

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
22 MAY 2017
www.chuckroots.com

My President

On January 20 of this year, Donald John Trump became the 45th President of the United States. This is not news, I know, but the way some folks are behaving, you’d think it was.

President Trump may not have been your choice for president. He may not be in your political party. Heck, he wasn’t my choice either. As a Conservative, I was definitely voting for a Republican. But of the seventeen candidates who threw their hats in the ring to be the Republican nominee, Mr. Trump was number seventeen for me. As I felt then, and still feel now, he is brash, arrogant, unduly critical of those who do not side with him, and generally boorish in his behavior. And, yes, I voted for him.

But, an election was held last November and Donald J. Trump won. He is now my president. Period.

Listen, I remember only too well watching the returns on TV in the 1992 election. I was stationed in Rota, Spain at that time. On Election Night Isaura and I decided to call it a night since we were many hours ahead of the polls closing in the States. We were hopeful that George H. W. Bush might pull off a victory and serve a second term. We were sorely disappointed to find out the next morning that William Jefferson Clinton was our new Commander in Chief. Same thing occurred with the election of Barack Hussain Obama. Did I throw a hissy fit and publicly declare that the new president was not my president? No! Of course not. To be honest, that thought never crossed my mind. In fact, such a thought to me is absurd.

We are Americans. Which means we are a free people. We enjoy liberties others around the world can’t even fathom. So as imperfect as we are, I still trust the system of government we have. This means in an open and free election I willingly accept the will of the American people in their choice for president, and most importantly, even if I disagree with the outcome.

As I watched the President make an historic speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia over the weekend, I got to thinking: “How is it that this man is honored by a foreign government that has been openly opposed to the freedoms and liberties enjoyed by all Americans?” This is, after all, the home of Islam. Saudi Arabia was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11. If you watched the news about this trip at all, you saw how the Saud royal family received the President and his entourage, including a ravishing, eye-popping First Lady, Melania Trump. The royal carpet was literally rolled out to the stairway of Air Force One. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud personally greeted President Trump as he deplaned, something he never did for President Obama. Later that evening at a royal dinner, the king presented President Trump with the highest civilian award known as the Collar of Abdulaziz al Saud medal.

Later in the evening, President Trump was asked to address the heads of state from some fifty different Islamic countries. Our president was absolutely brilliant! In a gracious and humble manner, he made it clear that neither he nor the American people had any interest in changing the culture and beliefs of the Saudi people. This is one of his opening statements, [America’s] vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity—in this region, and in the world. Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honour to God.” What he did say, and with a wonderful sense of historic and religious sensitivity, was that the Saudis, and all other Islamic nations, must drive out the terrorists in order for there to be peace.

I encourage every reader of my column to take the time to read the transcript of the President’s speech in Saudi Arabia. You can pull it up easily on the Internet. The speech was forceful, yet respectful. I will close with these remarks made by our President in his speech as he addressed the terrorist problem head-on.

“Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith. Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.

“If we do not act against this organised terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism's devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered.

“If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing – then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.

“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilisations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it. This is a battle between Good and Evil.”


Now THAT’S my President!

Psalm for the Day