Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reasoned Thinking

Reasoned, sensible thinking seems to be out of vogue these days.

There is a national groundswell of opposition against the building of a mosque two blocks from Ground Zero. As I said in a previous article, the folks who own this building have the right to build a mosque if they so choose. But for the Imam responsible for this project who professes to be a “bridge builder,” this is clearly a bad idea. Nancy Pelosi believes anyone who opposes the building of the mosque ought to be investigated! So, let me see if I have this straight: If I don’t agree with Madame Speaker, she believes I should be investigated. Why? Beats me. It was always my understanding that the First Amendment guaranteed us the right of free speech. You remember the First Amendment, right? “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” My speech reflects my beliefs. And I believe erecting a mosque at or near Ground Zero is insulting and offensive. Did you know there are already one hundred mosques in New York City? And why is the only church destroyed at Ground Zero (St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church) unable to receive permission from the Port Authority to rebuild? Ms Pelosi, if you don’t like what I believe, send your goons to come and get me. But I wouldn’t be too quick to do so, because I am expecting that you will be out of a job come this November.

St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church,
Ground Zero, New York City
Medal of Honor
What really got my goat today was the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that if a person lies about being awarded the Medal of Honor (MOH), there is no harm in it. “The decision involves the case of Xavier Alvarez of Pomona, California, a water district board member who said at a public meeting in 2007 that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.” Now, listen to the rationale of the court in its decision to overturn the Stolen Valor Act: “The Majority said there’s no evidence that such lies harm anybody, and there’s no compelling reason for the government to ban such lies.” No harm in lying? Allow me to touch on the harm in lying. First, such a decision undermines every parent who teaches their child to always tell the truth. Second, lying about receiving so sacred an award as the Medal of Honor denigrates the award, cheapening the medal in the minds of everyone. Third, in the vast majority of cases, those awarded the MOH, received it posthumously. It is painful enough for the family to have lost a loved one who performed valiantly in war, but to have this award minimized merely compounds the hurt. Should you be thinking that this is no big deal, there are a staggering number of people who claim to have served in the military, or earned medals in combat who never even wore the uniform.

Brian Dennehy
There was a book written a few years back by Vietnam Vet, B.G. Burkett, entitled, Stolen Valor. Ever heard of a guy by the name of Frank Dux? He was supposedly a world class fighter in the martial arts claiming to have won a contest in Kumite (movie, Bloodsport, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme), in the Far East where the purpose was to defeat your opponents by killing them in martial arts combat. He also claims he served in the Marines in Southeast Asia. These claims were challenged by the Los Angeles Times, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, and Burkett in Stolen Valor. “His service record indicates that Dux had been referred for psychiatric evaluation due to 'flights of ideas and exaggerations.’” Then there’s actor Brian Dennehy: “In the 1998 book, Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History, co-author B.G. "Jug" Burkett exposed as false Dennehy's claim that he was a once-wounded veteran of the Viet Nam war. In the book, official records reveal that the actor was (a Marine) stationed in Okinawa at the time, and consequently nowhere near the war. When publicly confronted about his lie, the actor apologized for his false claims.” Ha! But then Dennehy tells a reporter in 2007 the same old lie again that he had served in Vietnam!

Lastly, there’s the story of one of my heroes: Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona. The FBI recently reported that a telephone threat from a Mexican drug cartel coming out of Mexico made on a disposable phone said there was a “hit” out on Sheriff Joe for a cool million. How does our 78-year-old lawman react to this? He said it’s not unusual for him to receive death threats. The last bounty against him was for five million! “The economy must be bad down there in Mexico," Arpaio said, referring to the $1 million offer for his life. What a guy!

But wait! There’s more! Now the Feds want to sue Sheriff Joe for alleged civil rights violations. Our government wants to punish this man for enforcing the laws of the land. A man who is serving and protecting the people of Arizona and all of us. Go figure! He’s very strict on illegal immigration. This makes him a lightning rod in our Politically Correct environment. I’m confident that Sheriff Joe will hang tough. Nor am I surprised he is threatened by Mexican drug cartels. But hounded by our own government? Because he is doing his job? And guess what? The Feds have come up with nothing.

We need our leaders to be reasonable thinkers, who exercise common sense. Keep this in mind when you go to the polls to vote this November. All branches of the government need a good house cleaning!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

God, Country, Corps

I guess I’m feeling a bit nostalgic this morning.

It was forty-one years ago this month that I signed on the dotted line to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. That may not seem like such a big deal, but anyone who has ever taken the step of joining any of our military forces remembers only too well that you knew that by signing your name on the dotted line that you were offering yourself up to be used by and for your country in its defense in a hostile world.

It has been correctly written that anyone who makes such a choice is, in essence, offering the government a blank check made out to the amount up to and including your life.

Such a decision, like marriage, “should not be entered into lightly or unadvisedly.” And everybody said: “Amen!”

Two weeks ago a young man from our church left for Marine Corps boot camp at MCRD San Diego. Many consider the climate and quality of life in San Diego to be the nearest thing to heaven here on earth. I would not disagree with this assessment. However, life at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) for a young man attempting to “earn the title” of Marine is not remembered for it’s balmy weather and recreational pursuits!

I remember only too well finishing boot camp and then the next day traveling by “cattle car” to San Onofre, one of the many training camps at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton. It was here that we continued our training in what was called Infantry Training Regiment (ITR). Over the years this term has morphed into several newer acronyms. Today it is called SOI which means School of Infantry. There’s an old saying in the Marine Corps: “If it moves – salute it. If it doesn’t – paint it!” That’s not far from the truth. Around any Marine training unit you will find varying rock formations, usually laid out in oversized letters to identify the training unit, or to spell some Marine Corps axiom. What I remember seeing, lo, these many years ago, were rocks painted white, spelling out for all who passed by, “God, Country, Corps.” Oorah!

This young man, Ramon Vasquez, spent a number of hours in my office soaking up as much about the Marine Corps as he could from me, particularly boot camp training. I urged him to focus on one thing from that moment on: Do not let anything get in the way of graduating from boot camp! It is only upon graduation from boot camp that you have earned the title, Marine! Anything short of that is failure. I told him that despite the fact that you’ll wake up with leg cramps in the middle of the night; you’ll frequently wish you were anywhere but there; you’ll question your sanity for ever volunteering for this abuse; you would kill for a chance to eat a home-cooked meal; you’ll wonder how you could have gone off and left your girlfriend like this (Right, Aileen?); and you might even consider telling your drill instructors and the Marine Corps to go pound sand (That would be a really bad idea!), do not quit!

Prior to his departure for this monumental change in his life, Ramon approached me and asked if I would baptize him. Would I? Of course! About a month ago now during our second service on Sunday morning it was my privilege to baptize this young man in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I also had asked him to share his testimony in trusting Christ as his Savior during our monthly men’s breakfast. What a joyful time we had amidst mounds of pancakes and sausage as Ramon opened his heart to us! On the final Sunday before he left, I invited the congregation to gather at the altar so we could lay hands on Ramon and pray for him. He will be missed for a number of reasons: his delightful personality; his gentlemanly manner; and his faithful work with our children’s program.

This last Sunday Ramon’s parents (his mother is from Mexico) passed out prayer cards so we, as a congregation, could remember to keep him in prayer. The card reads, “Please remember Ramon in prayer for the next fourteen weeks as he is off to Marine Corps boot camp. He has wanted to defend God, our Country, and Freedom as we know it, for years! May God bless you for taking time out of your day to pray for him!”

I encourage you to continually pray for all of our young men and women who make this decision to defend and protect the Constitution and our way of life.

God bless you, Ramon! You are what makes America great! God, Country, Corps!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ground Zero Et Al

My mother used to make some great spaghetti when I was a kid. But what intrigued me most was her method of determining when the spaghetti noodles were properly cooked. She would take a fork and carefully snag one of the noodles from the pot of boiling water. Then with a quick flick of the wrist the hapless noodle would sail through the air, ending up with a “splat” against the kitchen wall. If the noodle was suitably cooked, it would stick to the wall. On the other hand, if it fell off the wall, then the noodles needed more time to cook. I found this to be most entertaining.

I’m also finding the various things happening in the news around our country to be much like spaghetti noodles being tossed against the wall. With all of the nonsense and tomfoolery going on it’s as though various situations erupt which grab our attention for a few days, only to be quickly forgotten as soon as the next crisis emerges. The following are a few of the “spaghetti strands” I’m talking about.

For instance, there’s the illegal immigration issue in Arizona. The federal government is suing the Grand Canyon State for attempting to enforce its recently established State Senate Bill 1070, authorizing the state to enforce federal laws currently on the books in order to protect the state from the overwhelming problem of illegal immigrants coming across their border from Mexico. U.S. citizens have been murdered on their own property by people coming into the country illegally. Many others are simply terrified of going outside after dark, even in areas that are 80 to 100 miles north of the border! The length of the border with Mexico is 389 miles – no small distance to protect. Supposedly 1200 National Guard troops are being sent to help “monitor” the illegal immigration issue. One problem – they are there to observe and report any illegal activities going on – nothing more. Only 524 members of the National Guard are to be sent in August. This seems an illogical, even a dangerous decision. You’re asking American military personnel to do nothing as people cross illegally into our country. Suppose those same soldiers are witness to a crime, such as attempted murder or rape or drug trafficking. Do they call the local authorities? What happens if one of these guys finds it too difficult to sit by and do nothing? Do we get into a shooting war with illegals and drug runners from the south? Does this not exacerbate an already volatile situation? And 1200 troops? Are you serious? Even if all 1200 were “trigger-pullers,” there is simply no way to cover a border of nearly 400 miles. Constitutionally, the federal government has an obligation and responsibility of protecting its citizens. Amazingly, that simply is not happening!

Then there’s the British Petroleum (BP) busted oil well spewing thousands of gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. This disaster dragged on for more than three months before the said oil company was able to place a cap on the offending oil leakage. My, how our president talked tough toward the CEO of BP, saying he was looking for someone’s posterior to kick! Makes you proud, doesn’t it? This whole thing has been a debacle from the outset. The only people who seemed to have any idea of the right thing to do were the folks in Louisiana – the ones most affected by the oil spill. Once again, the federal government wanted to focus on blaming BP – all the while ignoring the continued requests of the governor and other state leaders to provide the essential items necessary to protect their shoreline from the pollution that was certain to cripple their fishing industry for some time to come. Many in the federal government were painting doomsday scenarios for the Gulf region, only to have recent reports come out stating that the oil is virtually gone! What is the government doing? Looking for political advantage and more people to blame!

And of course we have the Islamists who plan to build a mosque in close proximity to Ground Zero on Manhattan. Initially, this decision to build a mosque rubbed a lot of folks the wrong way – including me. I still believe it is very bad form on the part of those Muslims in New York. By this action, they are showing that they do not care about the sensitivities of New Yorkers in particular, and Americans in general, by building a structure that is too closely associated with the evil that was brought upon us as a nation on 9-11, a mere nine years ago. Adding insult to injury, the ground-breaking is to commence on 9-11 next year, the ten year anniversary of the most infamous and heinous attack leveled against us as a nation since the British burned Washington D.C. in 1814. Make no mistake – this is a free country. These folks have the right to build a mosque close to Ground Zero. It’s perfectly legal – but it is definitely not wise! If Muslims expect Americans to be open and accepting of their religion by rubbing our noses this way, they are proving to be very ill-advised. Does the federal government investigate the leader of this mosque? No. This imam rants against our nation and its freedoms, and threatens us with Sharia law. Sounds like a terrorist to me. But our government gives him a pass!

In Egyptian mythology, the phoenix rose out of the ashes to live again. We need a rebirth in America of leadership – true leadership! It pains me to say that what currently passes as leadership at the federal level, is pathetically embarrassing. We cannot allow our nation to be systematically destroyed this way.

We’re better than this, America.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

America's Soul

Alarm bells should be going off in your heart and mind! The events that are taking place around our nation are frightening, to say the least.

You no doubt have heard or read about the young woman who is a graduate student at Augusta State University in Georgia that has run afoul of the school administration. She is working on her master’s degree in School Counseling. The administration has now declared that she will be dropped from the program unless she recants her Christian views concerning homosexuality. It seems that in class, and outside of class, the young woman, Jennifer Keeton, has openly shared her “Christian ethical convictions on matters of human sexuality and gender identity.” This has placed her in the cross-hairs of the elite liberal faculty.

A lawsuit is in the works. No surprise here. However, the faculty wants Miss Keeton to atone for her sins by having her “take part in a remediation plan due to faculty concerns regarding her beliefs pertaining to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.” It has been suggested that she gain sensitivity by attending a “Gay Pride” event. The suit goes on to say that Miss Keeton has stated that she believes sexual behavior is the “result of accountable personal choice rather than an inevitability deriving from deterministic forces.” Allow me to clarify: She is saying that people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender are choosing to live this way, instead of seeing such a lifestyle as being determined by birth. The suit goes on to aver that she “has affirmed binary male-female gender, with one or the other being fixed in each person at their creation.” Well, imagine that! A Christian who believes what the Bible says about God making them male and female!

So why have I worked up a lather on this? Because it is the continuing degradation of Christians and the Christian faith in America. I’ll guarantee you that no such action would be taken against similar views held by a Muslim student in that school. You don’t want to know what Muslims do to those who are not heterosexual!

At the same time this story comes out I am reading a book by Jerry Newcombe, entitled, “The Book that Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation.”

Newcombe had collaborated with Dr. D. James Kennedy in writing several books about our Christian heritage as a nation. Dr. Kennedy, former pastor of the Coral Gables (Florida) Presbyterian Church, passed away in 2007.

Consider this quote from Dr. Kennedy addressing our nation’s Christian roots: “The Scripture states, ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: and the people whom He hath chosen for His inheritance.’ The Bible asks, ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ (Psalm 11:3) There is no doubt this is, indeed, a nation built upon the foundation of God – that the Lord was the God of this nation; that it was founded upon the principles of God’s Word, upon the teachings of Christianity, and for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ. All of that has been under enormous attack for the last few decades. In fact, so effective has been that attack that the historical revisionists have all but removed every vestige of our Christian heritage from our schools’ textbooks. Even the very monuments in the nation’s capital that point to the Christian origins of this country are being changed or removed. My subject: ‘America: A Christian Nation.’ That is a concept that has been so systematically blotted from the collective memory of this country as to sound in the ears of most people in America to be an alien philosophy, an intrusion of religion into the tranquility of a secular nation.”

Now reflect on these words of George Washington, written shortly after the Constitution was ratified on June 29, 1788: “No one can rejoice more than I do at every step the people of this great Country take to preserve the Union, establish good order of government, and to render the Nation happy at home and respectable abroad. No Country upon Earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United America. Wondrously strange then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were we to neglect the means, and depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to, so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass. The Great Governor of the Universe has led us too long and too far on the road to happiness and glory, to forsake us in the midst of it. By folly and improper conduct, proceeding from a variety of causes, we may now and then get bewildered; but I hope and trust that there is good sense and virtue enough left to recover the right path before we shall be entirely lost.”

Miss Keeton may well be expelled from this Georgia school for holding to her Christian views, or she may cave to the demands of the institution so she can earn a tainted degree. Hers is merely another example of the soul of America being lost in the whirlwind of secular demands from a nation that has lost its spiritual moorings.

"If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"