The debate continues about what can be done to prevent violence in the schools such as we have witnessed in Broward County. That horrific act fills the emotions of everyone except the most stonehearted across our nation. These emotions swell up into a frenzy that divides a great people as simple solutions to a very complex problem are suggested. In fact the solution is multi-faceted and will take social modification; financial asset reassignment; training and most importantly, cooperation, understanding and teamwork.
America is a nation of laws. We have no dictator and the laws come from the governed. We may not all ways agree to this statement but in fact the people that make our laws are elected by the citizens that the laws encompass. This thesis of a democratic nation holds validity of a democracy from the very lowest levels of local government through state government to our national régime. We have rights guaranteed by our constitution and these rights are provided to all citizens; however they are guaranteed only if they do not trounce on the very basic tenant of American rights. These are the rights of American citizens to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
When emotions run high we often let these emotions take control of rational thinking as we seek quick solutions to our problems. Over the past week we hear that gun control is the answer to the death of so many innocent lives being lost. We also hear that trained police officers refused to enter the school to stop the shooter and these officers are now receiving the wrath of a nation that ignores the police that did enter the school and thwarted even more deaths. Adults that took in a homeless adolescent had death threats posed on social media after they tried to comfort the youth for the loss of his mother, placed strict rules for the youth to follow and even called the police asking for help with the young man; the same man that slaughtered the children in Broward county.
The second amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms. It does not give Americans a right to take a gun and kill or injure someone else. We must understand there is a difference. It is known that some individuals are not emotionally fit to carry a weapon. This was not an issue when our founding fathers guaranteed that America could be armed. We must do an even better background check that better identifies an individual that has a high probability of performing gun violence if allowed to own a gun. This is a serious endeavor to balance personal rights versus safety and will require an unemotional response that is developed by professionals that understand the importance of this criteria. Both the NRA and Left Wing Liberals must come to some common ground, remove biases and develop criteria that is in the countries best interest.
One of the biggest threats to American ideals is the mis-use of social media and the social changes that it brings. A person reads some posted message that was made by a person whose post contains half truths or by a person that is totally ignorant of what is being posted. When it is read it is taken as fact and taken as fact without checking the source. This is leading to a world relying on mis-information as being the truth. This also leads to professionals that are responsible for our safe keeping to be inundated with false reports of potential danger. Unfortunately this can lead to a numbing effect on organizations that are continually receiving threat tips only to find that they are false. We need to change the understanding of what needs to be published while at the same time make it fully understood that every reported threat must be investigated by the proper authority.
When Germany determined that it would invade Switzerland during World War II, Switzerland called on its’ Army and Reserve Force to fill the mountain passes and thus Germany decided that the cost would be too great. The invasion never happened. We can think of our schools in the same manner. There has been quit a bit of discussion pertaining to arming school teachers. Perhaps using the Switzerland analogy in a school setting would discourage a shooter from entering the premise. There must be constraints though to arming teachers. A potential armed teacher must want to be armed and not forced to be armed. The armed teacher must be well trained in how to operate a weapon and must be extremely well trained in when to use the weapon.
The violence we are experiencing is complex we need to stand back and take a good look at what we must do to curtail this violence. At the same time we must address the horrendous violence that is rampant in the inner cities of America and what must be done to bring hope to that segment of society.

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For anyone that is not aware we are in the middle of the Winter Olympic Games. What a wonderful sporting event for the world to witness. This is the 23rd time that the Olympics have been held (XXIII Olympiad) and is an add-on to the original games, the summer Olympics. Originally both the summer and winter Olympics were held on the same year. Recently this changed to provide more time to enjoy the games and thus allow time for sponsors to not be stretched so thin when it comes to marketing dollars.
The Olympics were supposed to be void of political intrigue and pure of heart. Unfortunately this has not all ways been true. The intestinal fortitude and sacrifice required for any Olympic athlete is nothing short of amazing. The pressure to participate and to win are enormous. For a select few the financial rewards are enormous but for most the opportunity to receive a single medal and stand on a podium as the flag of the winner’s country is hoisted makes it all worthwhile. This pressure to achieve is so great that many individuals and in some areas the majority of a countries teams will take illegal drugs to insure success.
When Russia invaded Afghanistan the Carter administration boycotted the Russian hosted Olympics to protest the invasion. Forget the purity of the games, it was then politicized. This year Russia, as a country, was banned from the Olympics due to sanctioned doping of its’ athletes. If athletes could be proven to not have performed any doping they would be allowed to participate in the Olympics; not as a part of the Russian country but listed as an athlete from Russia. No Russian flag would fly at these games.
America has it’ own political drama. Linsey Vaughn stated she would not go to the White House to visit President Trump if she won a medal. Unfortunately, it is the position and not the person that should be respected. This boycott does nothing for the country except to be divisive; however, Linsey does have every right to express her own views. Our founding fathers founded our nation on this concept and laws have been instituted to insure this right is protected. Unfortunately this freedom of speech and dissent is not a popular concept to many. After her first loss in a downhill event the Tweeters came out in droves with wishes of physical harm to the skier and hopes she continually loses. Two problems with this; first: she is still representing our country and she should be paid the respect for that and wish her good will, second: the presses assessment that the Trump supporters are wishing her bad luck is incorrect. Many Trump supporters do whish her good luck as a flag bearer of our nation. We are all Americans.
Korea has its’ own political drama. North Korea sent a contingent to the games. This is unprecedented and what is even more astounding is that some team sports consisted of both North and South Koreans competing together. The biggest point of intrigue was when the leader of North Korea’s sister arrived for the games and then offered an invitation to the leader of South Korea to meet with her brother. This has sent a flurry of diplomatic chatter between the United States and Korea and if unilateral talks take place between the two Koreas the United States will be in a very vulnerable position.
We have grossly underestimated the North Korean government. We thought it was a back wood country that was on the verge of collapse. They proved they had the ability to develop and the knowledge to hack into American computer systems. North Korea has built a nuclear weapon and now has developed a missile that can hit Washington D.C. Now they appear close to have performed and end-around of the United States diplomatically. They have definitely proven themselves to be a worthy adversary. One last political coupe that North Korea performed at the Olympics; the North Korean cheerleaders. North Korea sent an entourage of beautiful young cheerleaders to support North Korea during the Olympics. A minor detail that has proven to be a big hit at the games. No other country sends cheerleaders.
The original Olympic games were founded in ancient Greece in the country that developed and then spread the unorthodox concept of Democracy. The first Olympic games were founded in 776 B.C. These games were to honor religious gods Zeus and Pelops and consisted of athletic events. Wars were even suspended during the celebration. Due to the religious games the Spartans could not send its’ army to stop the Persians from invading Greece. Instead Sparta only sent 300 Spartans to stop the Persians from invading Greece. The games were held every 4 years, just as they are today. Location of the games was at Mt Olympus. City States and geographical areas of ancient Greece sent their athletes to compete just as countries compete today. But what was amazing was that the men competed for; glory and the admiration of their countrymen. The award was simple. A crown of olive leaves adorned the heads of the winners.

Last week America experienced, once again, a horrific act of violence perpetrated on innocent youth of our nation. Broward County, past famous for the strong impact in presidential elections, is now at the center of this horrific act of childhood genocide. There have been several factors that were in place that allowed this violence to take place.
Immediately a scream for gun control was launched by the Democrats. This is the key note address from the liberals and the feeling is that if we have gun control we have won the war and the American world becomes a pure sweet land where there is no more violence and we all live in this utopic home where violence disappears.
If a law was enacted tomorrow banning all guns in the United States and thus guns sales were completely stopped, gun manufactures closed their doors and all guns in all gun shops are confiscated and melted down there would still be no effect on the use of guns in violent crimes. It is estimated that today we have between 270 and 310 million guns in the hands of the general population of America. The American defense forces of the United States of America has 2 million seven hundred thousand weapons at its’ disposal; ten percent of what is in the hands of civilians. Law enforcement has 1.15 million arms in use today. The reason for this comparison is to identify the massive amount of weapons that are in America today and the absurdity of thinking America can be disarmed by stopping all gun sales. If all sales were suddenly stopped the guns for potential and active criminals are still available. What we do need is an in-depth background check on all gun sales and not allowing sales to those deemed mentally challenged or those that are convicted felons.
Unfortunately what the main issues we see today are results of our society and while schools have a major impact on the education of our children it is not the most important focal point in the development of our youth. When I was growing up the family was the core of training and it was there that values and moral rights were infused into the child. The child went to school and it was there that they were educated while at the same time learning respect for country while being introduced to social interaction and discipline. If a child did wrong he or she was punished. If a child did real bad he received corporal punishment; at least the male did as females would not be and should not be touched. If a child received a spanking at school and the parent heard about it the child could expect a second spanking when he got home.
Today so many of the children in our country have parents that want to be a friend and not be a teacher or a mentor. Parents are not taking the tough road to child rearing and instead of having the adolescent work for what they get the parent sees their role as an enabler to ensure that the child receives what they want and not what they deserve. This is not to ridicule the role of the parent in today’s world. The parent thinks they are doing what is right to let the child feel loved and materialistically fulfilled. One result of this type of child fulfillment is displayed when the child has children of their own and they are incapable of raising their own off spring. So many times we see the grandparents becoming the parents of a second generation. How unfair that these adults are forced to raise the children of their children.
When growing up a person could walk through the parking lots of our schools in the deep south and at least one gun was hanging in a gun rack in the back window of the truck. No one took notice. Let that same person drive down main street, pass a police officer and all the driver received would have been a friendly wave from the police officer. This youth that owns the weapon grew up understanding the power of the gun and how to use the gun and most importantly when the weapon should be used and when it should never be used.
During my childhood gun violence was rampant on television. Every western displayed someone being shot while “cop and robber” shows always had a shoot out between police and the bad guys. I remember the country being warned that violence on television would lead to violent behavior in the real world. People would say that in true war people don’t get up after being shot, brush themselves off and go home. Today it is even worse. Video games not only allow a person to observe but now empowers a person to participate in the actual killing without seeing the actual consequences of the action of killing.
The world is drastically changed today from a far more innocent and simpler way of life we experienced in the 50s and 60s. Instead of a rural America we have grown into an urban America where instant gratification is a way of life. Next week we’ll look at other underlying factors that have lead to horrific acts we see today. In the mean time let’s be more understanding on the “gun only” mentality as a cure for violence that grips a nation when we see such gut wrenching events as we have just witnessed.

 

A patriot is defined as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” Patriotism does not just rest in America but is ingrained in the souls of individuals around the world. The intensity of patriotic pride does vary in different countries and while it is very strong around our planet there is no country that claims patriotic pride any greater than the United States.
Colin Powell is a true American patriot. He was born to Jamaican immigrants and having risen through the ranks he became the first non-West Point graduate to become the Commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He later became Secretary of State. During his appointment as Secretary of State Powell was in Switzerland at a conference. While there he was asked about America’s use of hard power instead of soft power. Hard power is referred to as military options while soft power refers to negotiations.
Following the Spanish American War the United States went to war with the Philippines. Instead of giving the Philippines freedom the United States annexed it as a part of America. The Philippines thought that America was liberating them they found that they became an American colony. After years of fighting it became clear that America was not imperialistic and there is no true desire to conquer and dominate another country.
Powell’s response to the question in Switzerland reinforces what America truly is, identifies the true American spirit and portrays American patriotism at its’ best.
“The United States believes strongly in what you call soft power, the value of democracy, the value of the free economic system, the value of making sure that each citizen is free and free to pursue their own God-given ambitions and to use the talents that they were given by God. And that is what we say to the rest of the world. That is why we participated in establishing a community of democracy within the Western Hemisphere. It’s why we participate in all of these great international organizations.
There is nothing in American experience or in American political life or in our culture that suggests we want to use hard power. But what we have found over the decades is that unless you do have hard power — and here I think you’re referring to military power — then sometimes you are faced with situations that you can’t deal with.
I mean, it was not soft power that freed Europe. It was hard power. And what followed immediately after hard power? Did the United States ask for dominion over a single nation in Europe? No. Soft power came in the Marshall Plan. Soft power came with American GIs who put their weapons down once the war was over and helped all those nations rebuild. We did the same thing in Japan.
So our record of living our values and letting our values be an inspiration to others I think is clear. And I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of or apologize for with respect to what America has done for the world.
We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.”

A patriot is defined as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.” Patriotism does not just rest in America but is ingrained in the souls of individuals around the world. The intensity of patriotic pride does vary in different countries and while it is very strong around our planet there is no country that claims patriotic pride any greater than the United States.
Ever since Thomas Edison developed the motion pictures, patriotism was a main draw to the movies. In 1911 DW Griffith’s silent movie, “Birth of a Nation”, followed two families from the civil war through reconstruction. Though controversial due to racist background, it was an early entry to the patriotic movies produced in Hollywood. Nationalistic movies have spurred the patriotism in Americans and have helped to portray the history of our great nation.
Without fail these patriotic movies contain at least one rousing patriotic speech that instills pride in our country. One memorable speech was given by George C. Scott who won the Academy Award for best actor in the movie that also won best picture of the year; “Patton”. I have taken literary license to slightly clean up certain verbiage with the speech.
“Now, I want you to re0member that no person ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb person die for his country.
Men, all this stuff you’ve heard about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of horse dung. Americans, traditionally, love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle.
When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. Now, I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. Because the very thought of losing is hateful to Americans.
Now, an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of crap. The bilious derelicts who wrote that stuff about individuality for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know anything more about real battle than they do about breathing.
Now, we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. You know, by God, I actually pity those poor guys we’re going up against. By God, I do. We’re not just going to shoot them. We’re going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Huns by the bushel.
Now, some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you’ll chicken-out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you will all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood. Shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo that a moment before was your best friend’s face, you’ll know what to do.
Now there’s another thing I want you to remember. I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We’re not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding onto anything — except the enemy. We’re going to hold onto him by the nose, and we’re gonna kick him in the butt. We’re gonna kick the hell out of him all the time, and we’re gonna go through him like crap through a goose!
Now, there’s one thing that you men will be able to say when you get back home, and you may thank God for it. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you, “What did you do in the great World War II?” — you won’t have to say, ‘Well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana.’”
When going through SEABEE training in Pt Hueneme, California I had been taunting how great our state was. Louisiana could do no harm; and then we went to see “Patton”. They never let me live down that final statement.
Patton hated Louisiana due to the Louisiana maneuvers he participated in prior to World War II. These maneuvers were the final use of horses by the U.S. Army Calvary. The derogatory comment that referenced Louisiana dealt with shoveling out the horse pens. If all goes right we hope to be fortunate enough to relive the Louisiana Maneuvers in the future through the eyes of the Union Museum of History and Art.

SMALL COMMUNITY CHURCHES

Posted: February 3, 2018 in Uncategorized

America has been on a path of continual change since it was founded in 1776. At that time America was very rural with the majority of its’ citizens living in rural conditions. Agriculture, mining, hunting and fishing was the predominant ways of life. Small towns sprang up and made it easier for the agricultural minded Americans to obtain goods while at the same time they provided an easier path for farmers and trappers to sell their goods. With the towns came the church with the cross topped steeples. These small simple structures provided the divine message sought by settlers in a tough land.
Over time different denominations set up residency in the small communities that had grown over the decades. Multiple churches could be found in the communities and religion ranged from Protestant to Jewish to Catholic to Buddhist to Mormon to many other various sects. The geographical lineage of a community would influence the religious complex of the smaller communities. While a German based community in the alpine meadows of Nevada would worship in the Lutheran church a small community in rural North Louisiana would be vacant of the Lutheran Church, but Baptist and Methodist churches welcoming worshippers would proliferate. The important thing was that churches were present.
Over time many of the churches in large cities would migrate to interdenominational worship sites. Large cities provided a platform for new ministries that would grow to astronomical proportions. Today these churches represent the ten largest churches in America. What used to be California styled worship centers with services held in drive-in theaters on Sunday mornings; the urban megachurches grew to enormous size edifices of worship. Weekly attendance at the ten largest churches range in size from 17,000 to a massive 43,500. While these churches serve a purpose and bring individuals to a forum to worship in a situation they are comfortable in, there is something missing.
The small churches that dot the landscape of the rural South provide a very unique feeling of comfort that is found nowhere else. So many of these worship sites are surrounded by serene pastures or picturesque pine or hardwood timber. Ironically, each pasture seems to have a lovely pond adding to the sense of peace. Some winding country road passes in front of the church and there is all ways the church steeple with the white cross on top. Many have a hospitable sign outside welcoming people to attend the services. So many of these are red brick and each seem to be acquired from the same source. A small cemetery is beside the church and provides a plot of land as a final resting place. But it is not the welcoming exterior that makes the small churches so special.
Open the front doors and the churches all seem similar. An open pew lined aisle leads to an elevated altar where the pastor will provide the message of love from his holy book. A southern choir sitting behind the pastor brings forth a heavenly sound from hymn books as a piano and/or organ accompany the singers. As warm as this message is and as welcoming as the interior layout is and as beautiful as the music is, this is not the best part of the small country churches.
Everyone knows each other in the small rural churches. When someone has a child everyone has been expecting the blessed day for months and together the members welcome the newborn to the church family. When someone is sick the church rallies around the ill. When someone dies the church cries and mourns. It is the love within the walls of the church that makes small rural churches so special. It’s that warm feeling that is felt when you walk through the doors that “salves the soul”.
As appealing as gargantuan churches are with the sound systems and rock style bands and supported by a throng of ushers passing out flyers and invitations; it is the small churches filled with friendship that I find most appealing. It is here that friends give each other hugs and hearty handshakes and really mean it. It is here that the core of America spirit resides.

LOYALTY

Posted: February 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

Loyalty is one of the most dominant human traits that Americans possessed to build this great nation. The definition of loyalty is “ devotion and faithfulness to a cause, country, group, or person”. This attribute is pervasive in our culture and makes up one of the 12 laws of the Boy Scouts of America. Some scholars feel that loyalty is limited to only one individual to another individual. I feel that loyalty goes much further and is a part of the American fiber that puts other things above one’s self.
Today we are witnessing a trend that may be minor but yet it could be a trend in loyalty that is spreading within our society. We have many institutions that have reached out to athletically inclined individuals and provide a free education in return for the athlete to compete in the name of the institution. This has been happening since the early 1900s. Then several years ago a college athlete in his prime may decide to leave college to go pro and make a bucket load of money. Now we see many athletes that refuse to play in the final football bowl game so as not to risk getting hurt. It is understandable that a player wants to leave a university early and move to the pro ranks but what happens to the school that has invested so much in the athlete and what of the many fans that live and breathe a specific university athletic program. What has happened to the individual that use to say that if you cut their wrist they will bleed the school colors. It is only hoped that this lack of loyalty stops at the college level and does not diffuse into the normal culture of our great nation.
Americans have an uncanny loyalty to the country. This has been displayed since the birth of America. It is something that is built into the psyche of our selves. Perhaps it is the love we have for America or perhaps is in the DNA of a people whose ancestors turned their backs on their homeland and families to make a perilous passage to a new land to build a new life. For whatever reason, Americans have been extremely loyal to land, companies, military commitments and many other noble causes.
During World War II players for the University of Texas football team were sworn into the Army at half time of the Cotton Bowl. These players epitomized the American spirit just as Joe DiMaggio did when he put his baseball on hold to fight in World War II.
Loyalty could be no greater than that soldier that lifts his weapon and goes forward to do battle. This individual is willing to give all for his comrades, his country and for his honor. This is the true measure of loyalty. This is no more apparent than the loyalty displayed by Pat Tilman and the sacrifice he made to America. Tillman played football at Arizona State where he graduated in 3 ½ years with a 3.85 GPA. Despite being considered short for a linebacker, he was drafted by Arizona and played one year at safety. St Louis offered him a 9 million contract after his first season. He turned it down out of loyalty to Arizona. In 2002 Tilman made $512,000. At the end of the season he was offered a $3,600,000 contract by Arizona. Instead he turned it down and joined the U.S. Army and began his military as a specialist in the Rangers. Tillman was totally selfless and gave up a 1,2 million dollar a year job to serve his country and avenge the 9/11 attack. Tillman’s loyalty to country represents the same sacrifice shown by the members of Washington’s army who walked barefoot through the snow to attack and defeat a far superior British Army, On April 12th, 2004 Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan while serving in the United States Army.
Let’s hope that the loyalty displayed by our forefathers remain with us as we continue to build our country.