Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fed Up!

             I’m fed up!

I’m fed up with governmental policies that are weakening our nation through illegal backroom deals with countries that hate our guts and will use any advantage to bring about the death of Americans along with the inevitable demise of our country.

I’m fed up with the “sissy-fication” of our military, particularly the Marine Corps following the recent murders of four Marine recruiters and a sailor in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I’m fed up with our military being used for social experimentation creating disastrous policies that damage good order and discipline.  

I’m fed up with a public school system that believes it is smarter and better equipped at teaching children than the parents of those same kids.

I’m fed up with California special interest groups worrying about the possible extinction of some fish to the extent that politicians bow and scrape to their wishes, while farmers and everyday Americans are forced to cut back on the most important element of life – Water.

I’m fed up with politicians who appear to be more interested in insuring their retirement check than they are of making sound political decisions for their constituents.

I’m fed up with what clearly appears to be an attempt by certain high profile persons to set our country back seventy years in race relations.

I’m fed up with police officers being criticized for doing their job; and when it comes to those few “bad apples,” the police have always done pretty well cleaning up their own messes.

I’m fed up with those who want to tear down the finest institution in the world – the church – which has done so much good helping its fellow man.

I’m fed up with those in government who are attempting to appease groups or nations that clearly hate us and are doing everything in their power to destroy the United States.

I’m fed up with those who brazenly attack and denigrate our Constitution which, apart from the Bible, is the greatest document ever produced.

I’m fed up with attempts made to take away our rights as Americans which have been fought for and secured through the blood of patriots.

I’m fed up with a Congress and a president who seem incapable of addressing and resolving a problem of great significance – Illegal Immigration.

I’m fed up with certain people who hate our country so much that they desecrate the American flag in unspeakable terms.

I’m fed up with a legal system that legitimizes the wanton murder of unborn babies.

There is so much more I could say about things I’m fed up with. But you get the point.

May I remind you that we are Americans. We don’t back up for anyone, and certainly not for these crazed Jihadists, be they ISIS, or whatever flavor-of-the-week Islamic terrorist happens to be. Have Marine recruiters not wear their uniform? That is absurd. Are we so filled with fear as a nation that we cower before these spineless and heartless religious zealots? I don’t think so.

The way this ought to go down is to face the fact that as an open society with porous borders we are going to have challenges to our way of life by those who resent the hardworking ethos of Americans and its place in the world. Those who are here to do us harm need to be hunted down and removed from the scene. If that means we take them out by force, then so be it. If we capture them, then we either incarcerate them or return them to their country of origin.

It has also been suggested that military members remove all signs, stickers, decals and insignias from their cars and other vehicles which identify them as being military. This is nonsense. Rather, we should ask every American to place patriotic and military stickers on their cars which would send a clear message to the bad guys that we’re not backing down for them or anyone. And if these clowns choose not to behave themselves as either guests or turncoats in our country then they will suffer the consequences.

As one of our national songs goes, “This is my country, land of my birth. This is my country, grandest on earth. I pledge thee my allegiance, America the Bold, for this is my country, to have and to hold.”


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Start Young

             While driving in our Hertz rental car two weeks ago (a Hyundai Elantra which got 42 mpg!), Isaura and I enjoyed an unexpected stop. After visiting my brother John and others in Virginia, we headed south to Orlando, Florida where we were to attend the Free Methodist Church’s General Conference which coincides with the Annual Free Methodist Chaplains Conference.

I was asked last year to come and participate in a panel discussion for our chaplains where I and two other chaplains (two of us retired, one active duty – all of us Navy) were to address the topic, “Being a Christian in a Hostile World.” It was a wonderful experience, but I digress.

Leaving my brother’s home in Virginia near Washington DC, we decided to make the drive to Orlando a two-day affair. So the first evening we stayed at the Navy Lodge at NAS (Naval Air Station) Jacksonville, Florida. I was stationed there as a young Marine from 1970-71 where I attended the school for learning to become an AE (Aviation Electrician). That was my job in the Marine Corps – I fixed the electronic components of our “fast movers.” That’s a euphemism for Fighter jets and Attack aircraft. During my four years on active duty I worked on A4s, F4s, EA6As, and T-A4s. But I digress.

Upon leaving the Jacksonville area we drove toward Orlando expecting to arrive sometime in the early afternoon. However, as we approached St. Augustine we spied a billboard announcing the World Golf Village. Isaura said, much to my delight, “Why don’t we stop and visit this place!” Well, what could I say but, “Yes!”

We took the exit and soon found ourselves in a beautifully laid out setting where the World Golf Hall of Fame and Museum is on full display. We dodged a few raindrops, but otherwise it was a delightful experience. Isaura, who is not a golfer, even bought me a World Golf bag tag which now is securely ensconced on my golf bag. The museum was very well done, taking us through a series of golf events going back to the early days of golf in the mid-1800s with Old Tom Morris and right up to today. I would imagine the powers-that-be are making room for 21-year-old Jordan Speith who may well have won the British Open by the time you read this article.

The grounds at the World Golf Village are massive with two 18 hole courses, fountains, shops, and plenty of homes and apartments for those who wish to wile away their days in this luxurious setting. The museum highlighted quite a few of golf’s stars, such as Bobby Jones, Anika Sorenstam, Jack Nicholas, Arnold Palmer, Nancy Lopez, Tiger Woods, and Gary Player, etc., offering personal background sketches of these individuals explaining how they arrived at the pinnacle of their game.

We spent five hours at the World Golf Village! That was not in our plans, I can assure you! We made it to Orlando in time for a late dinner at Bravo’s. Isaura and I loved it! Great food, service and atmosphere!

But all of this caused me to want to get home so I could watch my granddaughter Alyssa play in her second golf tournament. She is seven and is currently playing in the PGA Juniors program which our club is hosting. Older kids are paired with younger kids and then they play against each other. The first tournament for Alyssa was last week, so I missed that one. But Sunday was her second one. After church I had a brunch, took a nap, and then arrived at the club for the grand privilege of watching Alyssa play with her partner Aiden (13-years-old). They use a Scramble format which is a benefit to the weaker, or less experienced player.

I began teaching Alyssa to play golf when she was five. She seems to really enjoy it, so we keep working on her skills with the game. She and Aiden won their match today which put a smile on her face, and on mine!

Watching these young kids swing a golf club with all of their flexibility and rhythm makes me wish there had been something like this when I was a young kid. But I thoroughly enjoyed watching all the kids play today, cheering and clapping for each one as they made their shots.

Learning to play this game at an early age is great for them as they move through life. There are constant challenges in golf that each player must face and conquer, just as there are in life. There’s great satisfaction in mastering a particularly troublesome shot or hole. True for life, as well.

So after my young golf prodigy put her clubs away for the day, Alyssa, along with her parents and I adjourned to the club dining room for a cold drink. The waitress came to the table with a root beer float for Alyssa. Her eyes got real big, and her smile was infectious. A nice way to end the day.

It may not be the World Golf Hall of Fame, but it is our slice of the golf world and we love it!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gentleman George

             Over the years I have read a lot about our first president, George Washington. One of the first things that immediately jumps out at you is that George Washington was the consummate gentleman. He did not, and would not, speak ill of others.

So Isaura and I decided to visit Mount Vernon while we were back in Virginia recently.

The layout of Mount Vernon is in a beautiful setting on the west side of the Potomac River just south of Washington DC. It’s all rolling farm land that rises between 50-100 feet above the Potomac. The view from the home is spectacular just at a turn in the river. We imagined what it must have been like for our nation’s first chief executive to sit and enjoy this lovely setting.

The character of a man was critical to Washington. Of the many quotes posted throughout the tour of Mount Vernon, this one said volumes. “Good moral character is the first essential in a man.” Washington’s gentlemanly qualities were extended to all people, regardless of position or station in life.

Two criticisms often heard about Washington during my life have been found to be questionable when presented with the facts. First, as a kid growing up in New England, there were (and I assume still are) countless numbers of towns that boast that “George Washington slept here.” This comes as no surprise because he was leading a revolutionary rag-tag Continental Army throughout the eight-and-a-half years of the American Revolutionary War. The fighting was all over New England and up and down the eastern seaboard. But what I often heard were disrespectful inferences implying that Washington was engaged in immoral, adulterous relationships. In truth, he was totally dedicated to his marriage to Martha, and also being a good father to her children from her first marriage, her husband having died.

Such nefarious insinuations cast upon Washington’s character were absurd. If those making the accusations had bothered to do even a cursory study of Washington’s life and character they would have easily concluded that their derogatory comments were unwise. But it’s much easier to snicker while destroying a person’s moral character.

Washington left his wife, Martha, at Mount Vernon in 1775 at the behest of the Continental Congress which had requested that he lead the newly formed Continental Army against the British. “My whole life has been dedicated to the service of my country in one shape or another.” He returned to his beloved home just one time in those eight years. Washington wrote, “We are a young nation and have a character to establish. It behooves us therefore to set out right, for first impressions will be lasting.” So true!

When the war was over in 1783 Washington did something that was unheard of – he resigned his commission as general, returning to the life of a gentleman farmer. Once again in 1785, the United States Congress called on him to consider being the first president of this new country. He again accepted, serving from 1789-97. “I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love." He would not serve more than two terms however, thus setting precedence for all future presidents to leave office after eight years. Nor would he accept any over-blown title as the head of the country. Congress eventually agreed to “Mr. President.” Robert Frost wrote, “George Washington was one of the few men in all of human history who was not carried away by power.” Once again Washington returned home to Mount Vernon where he took up farming. Two-and-a-half years later he died of a throat infection at age 67. Today such an illness could have easily been treated with antibiotics.

The second criticism leveled against Washington was his having been a slave owner. This is true enough. He had a large and prosperous farm requiring lots of workers to make it run. It was his desire to see slavery eliminated from this new country, but it was not to be. He did not believe he had the political clout to bring this about. So in his will, Washington stated that all his slaves were to be freed upon his death, or upon the death of his wife should she outlive him. Martha obviously shared her husband’s feelings about slavery as evidenced by her actions. In 1800, the year following her husband’s death, she set all slaves free, not realizing that she herself would be dead the next year at age 69. Washington also set aside considerable funds to provide for his slaves for the time when they would be set free.

George Washington was totally dedicated to the success of the United States. This new republic would be sorely tested, but Washington made his views clear: “That the Government, though not absolutely perfect, is one of the best in the world, I have little doubt.”

In the spirit of George Washington, let us as Americans, hold true to the character of our early nation and her first president and leader. We must fight to keep the values and rights that were passed to us by those willing to sacrifice everything so that we might have liberty.

God bless America!

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

A Fond Farewell

              As of this writing Isaura and I are in Virginia where we attended the funeral of a close family friend this week who had been battling cancer for the past several years.

Like so many of my colleagues in ministry, I have had the solemn responsibility of assisting families in the heartbreaking, and often expensive process of having to manage all the various steps that must be taken so that a final farewell of their loved one can be just that – final.

How a person or family goes about handling these necessary steps will determine if your final farewell is also remembered with fondness.

It’s well understood that no one enjoys having to discuss end-of-life issues. But ignoring this inevitability only makes the certainty of your death that much more difficult and painful for your loved ones. This is particularly true financially.

Many have experienced the high costs associated with laying a family member to rest. For instance, there were numerous costs surrounding my mother’s death last year even though she and my step father had purchased their burial plot in Fresno well over twenty years before which included mom’s being taken care of by the folks at the cemetery. What still needed to be paid for were my mother’s remains being taken care of first in Ripon where she died, then transported to a funeral home in Fresno, to then to be delivered to the cemetery for final internment. The extra costs above and beyond my mother’s pre-paid plan came to just under $3000.

In speaking with my brother about his plans, he told me that he and his wife bought eight lots in the cemetery in Great Falls, Virginia back in 1985 for $200 per lot. Today those same lots go for $3000! As an aside, a plot is a section of lots. Your plot may have two or more lots.

Let me suggest some steps for you to take since most folks have not done so. Sit down with your spouse and decide what you want to have done when you pass from this life. A medical directive is an important first step. An advance health care directive, also known as living will, personal directive, advance directive, or advance decision, is a legal document in which a person specifies what actions should be taken for their health if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of illness or incapacity.” You will want to carefully select the person responsible for making decisions for you should you no longer be capable of doing so. On they offer a great list of things to consider. The best item, in my estimation, is How to Create an In-Case-of-Emergency Everything Document to Keep Your Loved Ones Informed if Worst Comes to Worst.”

Then sit down with your children and make it very clear what your decisions are. If you don’t, I can guarantee there will be a crisis when you are dead or dying. If you wish to be cremated then you need to make that perfectly clear so there is no misunderstanding. I have seen families nearly split over this issue alone.

When my step father unexpectedly lapsed into a coma at age 80, we, as a family, were able to come to agreement concerning what should be done. He had been in a coma for more than a week. I remember specifically asking one of the doctors about the possibilities of Pop coming out of the coma. He said the chances of that were very unlikely, and that even if he did, his words: “The lights might be on but no one is home.” All of us knew that Pop did not want to be kept alive in such a physical state, for he had said as much numerous times.

Another step to take is to secure a burial plot for you and your spouse assuming you are fairly certain of where you want to be laid to rest. And even if you decide not to be buried there, you can sell your plot.

Make an appointment with a funeral director to begin planning your end-of-life particulars. They will have a list of those things you should take care of, for instance: where you keep your important papers, such as life insurance, investments, stocks, wills, power of attorney, funeral service plans, DD214 (military), bank and savings accounts, mortgage papers, and so forth.

Buy the casket or urn ahead of time. These things are so expensive! Do it now! They won’t get cheaper.

You should also sit down with your pastor to discuss the type of service you would like to have. Do you want a graveside service? A funeral service (your body is in a casket)? Or do you want a memorial service (you have already been buried)? List your favorite hymns, passages of scripture, poems, speakers, and other directives you desire.

It is best to take care of these things when you are not facing severe health issues or emotional upset. Make your plans ahead of time, because if you don’t, your family will have to step up and make decisions on your behalf. If you have done the pre-planning then you have blessed your family by relieving them of decision making while also dealing with the grief over losing you.

If you are a military veteran you are entitled to several benefits, so be sure you to inform the funeral director. They will handle all the military arrangements for you.

Please, don’t put this off. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. You need to make yours a fond farewell.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A Rudderless Government

         As a result of the two Supreme Court decisions this past week, I will admit that I debated over addressing this travesty of jurisprudence primarily because I am so sorely disappointed in those who sit in such positions of responsibility such as the men and women appointed as justices of the United States Supreme Court. With a spineless, do-nothing Congress that for all intents and purposes seems to be complicit in an obvious attempt to destroy our republic; and a president who claims to love the United States, but who is constantly critical of its history, its actions, and its people, I confess that the government of the United States of America has reached a point where it is rudderless, and without any guiding moral foundation.

I am not a lawyer, nor do I make any claim of expertise in understanding how the whole judicial system works. I’m just that guy who has always wanted to be called to sit on a jury trial. When I receive a summons I show up at the courthouse only to be excused. The closest I’ve come is sitting all day watching nearly everyone else get selected, only to have the remaining half-dozen of us dismissed. I’m still holding out hope though, but they’d better hurry up. I’m attending way too many funerals of my friends these days.

A friend of mine who works for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) sent me an email letter written by Reverend Franklin Graham writing in response to the decision Friday by the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage.
         “The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled today that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to re-define it. Long before our government came into existence, marriage was created by the One who created man and woman—Almighty God—and His decisions are not subject to review or revision by any manmade court. God is clear about the definition of marriage in His Holy Word: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). I pray God will spare America from His judgment, though, by our actions as a nation, we give Him less and less reason to do so.” (Reverend Franklin Graham).

In my opinion, Franklin Graham has nailed this problem. The Supreme Court went way outside its realm of authority in both these cases: Obamacare (Affordable Care Act), and Same-Sex Marriage.

While listening to a radio talk-show this morning, the host made reference to the 10th Amendment, which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Here’s the short version: The United States government is not authorized to meddle in matters not authorized in the Constitution. Such matters are to be addressed by the leadership of each state, and if that fails, then it is to be brought to the voting public.

The part in all of this that is most difficult to swallow is our government’s unlawful disregard for the Constitution. If we are to continue as a free nation, we must demand from those we elect that they represent us by adhering to the Constitution, and that they engage in activities specifically stated in the Constitution and nothing more.

All of this makes me wonder if the Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives), our Supreme Court justices, and the President of the United States actually have read the Constitution. Before you smirk and dismiss such a question on my part as being absurd, ask yourself this question: Do you know what the Constitution says? Have you read it in its entirety? If your answer is No, then you should not be surprised to discover that our elected representatives and those appointed by them are simply acting in ignorance of the one document that ensures our liberties; or we are being hood-winked by certain charlatans who are intentionally destroying our hard-fought liberties and freedoms.

Franklin Graham is quite right when he states that, “[God’s] decisions are not subject to review or revision by any manmade court.” You and I would do well to remember that the Constitution was written by Godly men who were authoring a document that was designed to protect us from those who would attempt to enslave us by their diabolical, malicious philosophies and wicked beliefs.

“I pray God will spare America from His judgment,” Graham said, “though, by our actions as a nation, we give Him less and less reason to do so.”

Amen! I, too, pray for God’s mercy on us. In fact, I pray he will send a powerful move of his Holy Spirit to once again awaken us as a nation to his holiness and righteousness.