Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Marriage Matters

Have you been paying attention to the ongoing debate over the Federal Marriage Amendment? If not, you need to become knowledgeable prior to Election Day, Tuesday, November 2nd.

Admittedly, I grow weary of the campaign banter each election year because it’s the sort of rhetoric offered to the body politic (that’s us) in hopes that in our gullibility we will endorse with our ballots policy that continues to erode our nation’s moral fiber. This year we are faced with a very important decision. Let me explain.

The Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) H.J. Res 56 is an attempt to return a sense of sanity to our national psyche. The amendment reads, “SECTION 1. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”

This “congressional resolution proposes an
amendment to the Constitution that would legally define marriage as the union between a man and a woman only”

To those of us coming from a traditional background this is a no-brainer. But don’t be fooled! There are plenty of folks in our society who want to change the way the family is viewed. Consider all the attempts to perform same-sex marriages in the past year.

How have we as a nation managed to find ourselves in this position? Why is there a need to define marriage anyway?

Allow me to propose that our current need to define marriage with precise language stems from a gradual slide down the slippery slope of moral decay. I watch very little television, and for good reason. I am sickened by Hollywood’s portrayal of what is normal. It began with the criticism of the traditional family. Programs such as, “Ozzie and Harriet,” and “Leave it to Beaver,” were maligned and castigated for being unrealistic. Let me tell you that I enjoyed these programs as a kid because of the way these family members cared for each other and treated each other with respect. What’s wrong with that? Compare that with, “The Simpson’s,” “The Osbourne’s,” and their ilk.

In particular, the male figure is typically cast in a most unflattering manner. No, that’s too kind. Let me rephrase that. Men, especially the husband/father figure, are portrayed as buffoons, dolts, sexually inept, bores, spineless, and in general, having no sense of personal identity or any grasp on what it means to be a man in society. We have been fed this image of men now for forty years.

Due to the growing concern over political correctness, we have become fearful of expressing our thoughts because of the ridicule we might receive from certain quarters. No one wants to be labeled as a homophobe, or gay-basher, or whatever other term might be used. That’s the problem faced in open and serious debate – it descends into name-calling, using libelous terms.

The need to define marriage is so that our society won’t fall into total abject immorality. By making it a Constitutional amendment, it makes it law. It’s a sad day when we need to make such a law, but if that’s what it takes to protect our culture, then so be it.

God did not make a mistake when he created a man and a woman. His design and purpose was for the opposite sexes to be attracted to each other. Read about it. It’s in His book.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Technologically Challenged

Boy, do I need help! It’s not easy to admit to this, but I have not managed to even get much beyond using a computer as a word processor.

Today’s world requires, nay, demands that we be “computer literate.” Okay, fine. I’m all too aware that those in their forties and up did not grow up with PCs. I still remember our first television with its nine inch screen. Then, wonder of wonders, along came color TV.

I knew this advancement into technology would continually change. What I didn’t realize was how much I was going to need to adapt to those changes.

Some of my friends still refuse to enter the world of personal computers (PCs). Some have only recently made the transition because they want to communicate with their grandkids, so they’ve even learned how to download photos to be sent as attachments.

In 1988 I was assigned to the Naval Communications Station on Rough and Ready Island in Stockton. I immediately became aware of the encroachment of technology when I saw the very large computer on the desk in my office. I reminded myself that this was, after all, a communications base. I was told that we could send messages to each other on the base through our computers and never leave our desk. I said, "What’s wrong with using the phone?” Seemed like a logical question. The look I received in return made me feel like a Neanderthal. Well, no matter. This base was so small that if I really needed to speak with someone, I could walk to their office in a matter of minutes. Problem solved, or so I thought. After all, I had an IBM Selectric typewriter, which at the time was the “cat’s meow.”

However, there was a nagging thought that would not leave me alone. People all around me were learning to use PCs. One day I received a phone call from the Navy Chief of Chaplains office in Washington, DC, informing me that I had been chosen to attend post-graduate school. This was very exciting news! I spent many hours researching the different schools I might attend. My top three were: Duke, Princeton, and Claremont. I soon discovered that they required all work to be done on a computer. Alas, I could no longer avoid the inevitable. I remember sitting at my desk, knowing I had to make the break. With a sigh, I reached under the desk, unplugged my beloved Selectric, lovingly carried it to my secretary and asked her to find it a good home. I then walked back to my desk, sat down and began searching for the computer’s on/off button.

Since then, I have had several computers, with the most recent purchase performing more like a word processor. It’s a Dell Inspiron 1150 Mobile Intel Pentium 4 Processor. So it would seem I’m right back where I started from! The only apparent difference is that this has many more bells and whistles than the computer I started with sixteen years ago. That’s why I need help. I think I’ll call my friend, Bruce. He’s a whiz at this stuff.

Now if I can only remember how to bring up his number on my cell phone!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Back Home

Two years ago I knew I was going to be called back to active duty. As the Command Chaplain for the First Marine Expeditionary Force Augmentation Command Element (I MACE), it was just a matter of time.

When I reported to the First Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) Chaplain’s office at Camp Pendleton, California in November, 2002, no one knew what was to come. Readily apparent was the reality that the Marines were preparing for war in Iraq. All the Humvees, howitzers, and new 7-ton trucks were rolling off the base to San Diego for shipment to Kuwait where we were staging for our invasion of Iraq.

During those days in late ’02 and early ’03, we were planning for all possible contingencies, including serious losses should weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) be used against us. With such weapons, there are no longer “front lines” as we once understood that term.

Now that I’m home, I want to personally thank many of you for the wonderful words of encouragement you have offered to me during these last two years through cards, e-mails, and notes. I was also reminded Tuesday night that there were people praying for me all during my period of active duty. I was visiting the Golden Valley Chorus for the first time since I returned home, and was pleasantly surprised by several of these barbershoppers who told me they prayed for me every day.

The “Welcome Home Ceremony” at Stouffer Park on August 15th was simply overwhelming. What a wonderful gift to receive from the folks of Ripon. Family and friends made the trip to Ripon from all over Central California. My wife’s brother, Tony, traveled from Utah, and friends from Portland coordinated their trip to be here for that weekend.

As I have been getting around town to visit so many of you, I can’t begin to tell you how good it is to be back home. Ripon is a wonderful town! I stopped by the Police Department last week to pay a call on Chief Dick Bull. Before leaving two years ago, I was serving as the chaplain for the department. I saw so many of the same officers I’d known previously, plus some new faces. Everyone was so kind to me. It’s good to be back as their chaplain again.

I dropped in to see Sharon Buzzini in her shop, Fabulous Finds, on Main Street. George, and son Tim, welcomed me back to the Jack Tone Golf Course. Of course, I stopped in to see Russ Owen at REO Espresso, admiring his wall commemorating our men and women in uniform. I always enjoy chatting with the regulars that hang out there. It’s always a pleasure to get a hair cut at George Rocha’s shop. I stopped in at Schemper’s Ace Hardware to pick up a few items, and was comforted to see the same folks still working there.

Over the years, I’ve met folks who grew up in small towns and couldn’t wait to get away. Too bad. The major complaint in growing up in a small town is that everyone knows your business. I respond by saying, “If you’re not doing something you’d be ashamed of, what’s the problem?”

Thomas Wolfe, the writer, said, “You can’t go back home again.” Well, I’m back home, and Ripon is still the great town it has always been. I’ll be looking for you.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

9-11 Revisited

Three years ago, almost to the day, the United States of America was attacked by terrorists – terrorists who care nothing about human life and freedom.

I was invited to speak the other evening to the men and women of the Marine Corps Club of Stockton. These are former Marines who have seen more than their share of war; many are veterans of World War Two, as well as Korea and Vietnam. Several of the WWII Marines made the island landing on Iwo Jima, February 1945. The cost in human life was six thousand Marines just to secure the beach in those first four days. Only then could they begin the slow process of routing out the entrenched Japanese soldiers who were sworn to die defending the island.

This, too, was a war brought upon us that was not of our choosing. Americans are a peaceful people. Historically, we have leaned toward being isolationistic – that is to say, we’re content to live and let live. This has been seen as weakness by those who have attempted to strike at us. Usually, we are stunned that anyone would want to harm us when we haven’t done anything to others. Our wealth as a nation is shared throughout the world. Let any devastation take place outside of the U.S. and we’re there to offer assistance with food, clothing and lodging, along with medical aid. Funny, I don’t seem to recall any countries offering to assist us when we’ve been hit with hurricanes, earthquakes, or any other natural disasters. Nor would we ask for help. We have learned to take care of ourselves.

Woe to those who mistakenly believe we are weak, and therefore, an easy target for their terror. It’s true that we are an easy target. The reason for this, is that we are a free and open society. We like it that way. We don’t have guards searching people entering and leaving our cities and states. As a response to 9-11, we have, rightly so, placed security guards in our airports. I travel quite a bit and welcome the time needed to process through the security lines. Of course, I would prefer that we did not need this inconvenience, but the terrorists brought this on us.

It’s important to remember that we have not been attacked on U.S. soil again since 9-11. I suspect that our Homeland Security is working far better than the media would lead us to believe. There is not one freedom-loving American who would ever want to see us attacked again. So, those serving in the FBI, CIA, and other agencies are diligently working to prevent any such future attack. We’ll probably never know of the attempts to harm us that were thwarted because of the hard work performed by these patriots on our behalf.

In an attempt to keep the wolf from the door, the men and women of our armed forces and Homeland security are standing in the gap. They’re proud to do so.

Think about it – has your life really been affected by 9-11? This Saturday, take a few minutes to pray and thank God for those who are willing to keep us safe, allowing you and me to continue to live our lives in freedom.

Make no mistake – we will win this war on terrorism.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The Right to Vote

I continue to be amazed at the number of people who do not exercise their right to vote.

As citizens of the United States of America, we are unique in the annals of world history in that we are a nation which empowers the populace to determine who shall be their leaders. As a free people, we have the right to be involved in the process of who governs us as “we the people.”

Following the Revolutionary War, also referred to as the War for Independence, our founding fathers determined that we the people needed to have sound principles recorded in documents outlining the rights each person would have as a citizen of America.

It has been said that the most important right we have is the right to vote. Why? Because this is the sole means by which we can insure our freedoms. All the other rights stem from the right to vote.

In the course of our nation’s history, there have been struggles to insure that this right is enjoyed by all citizens.

There have been four changes to the right to vote. First, because of the Civil War and the subsequent abolishment of slavery, the opportunity to vote was now accorded to those previously left out of the process. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” — Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1870).

Second, the nineteenth amendment to the Constitution gave women the right to vote; finally eliminating the gender biased voting system originally established. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” — Nineteenth Amendment (1920).

Third, it was determined that citizens should not have to pay to vote. This “poll tax” was now illegal. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election . . . shall not be denied or abridged . . . by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” — Twenty-fourth Amendment (1964).

And fourth, there was the change enacted that lowered the age a person could vote. “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age.” — Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971).

We would do well to remember that many of our military members down through the years have fought and died so you and I could continue to live as a free people, exercising one of the greatest gifts offered to man – the right to determine who will be our leaders.

If you have moved recently, or turned eighteen, or have become a naturalized citizen, contact your Registrar of Voters. For those in the County of San Joaquin, use the following information: Debbie Hench, Registrar of Voters, 212 North San Joaquin Street, Stockton, CA 95201, P O Box 810, Stockton, CA 95201-0810, (209) 468-2890, (209) 468-2889 Fax, Hours 8:00am - 5:00pm, E-mail:, Website:

Let your voice be heard. Exercise your right to vote. Do it today!