IT’S JUST A PARADE

Posted: July 4, 2019 in Uncategorized

America has been celebrating its’ birthday and what a celebration it has been. The 4th of July is a wonderfully fun time for the United States as we celebrate the founding of a great nation. Men took chances, other men defiantly went to war and some men died so that a fledgling piece of land in the wilds of the North American frontier could seek its own destiny.
There is no easy way to obtain freedom and there is no easy way to maintain this freedom and there is no easy way to ease the suffering of friendly nations. It takes guts, determination and a strong military. Since the first days of America’s founding, the American military complex has kept us safe and secure, has made the world safe for democracy and has kept the sea lanes open for free and safe trade.
America went to war to gain its’ freedom. In 1812 America was back at war with England and America won. In the early 1860s America was gripped in a horrible civil war as brother fought brother in a four-year series of battles that devastated a great nation. The war ended and then the nation healed and within thirty-five years of the civil war America was again at war; this time with Spain and once again the great agricultural experiment that had been looked down on by classical Europe had defeated two colonial powers. Within twenty years of that victory, America would be back in battle as World War I had ground to a paralyzing stalemate. The shot of adrenalin provided by the American Expeditionary Force would be the catalyst that doomed the German army. America took a breath and twenty-two years later it was again in a two-front war in Europe and the Pacific. Within five years of that war’s ending, America would be on the Korean peninsula and a few years after that war America would be bogged down in Viet Nam. Twenty years after America exited Nam and the country was in the Middle East for a series of wars that brought freedom and security to countries around the Persian Gulf.
For all intents and purposes, America has been at war for a large amount of its’ existence. It is that man and woman that heard the call to arms and picked up the rifle that ensured our freedom and made sure that we sleep under the light of a free moon. What better way to honor our men and women in arms than to parade them through the streets of America amid cheers and flags waving; showing America’s appreciation.
Military parades have been a part of America’s legacy since the birth of the country. Ticker tape parades were held following World War II and troops marched through New York City as confetti showered down from the skyscrapers. Presidential inaugurations have been marked with military units participating. President Dwight Eisenhower had a large military parade as did John F. Kennedy.
Parades that contain military displays make people proud. There is something about a sharp military unit marching down a boulevard with ole glory flying in the breeze at the front of the column. There is nothing wrong with America displaying the arms that are keeping the world safe and what better time to show this display of power than the birthday of our great nation.
At a time that we should be celebrating the magnificence of the United States, individuals are more interested in taking down the president of our great nation. How sad that petty politics is taking precedent over celebrating the birthday of the greatest nation on earth. How sad that so many in our country do not realize how fortunate we are to be living in America during this period of time. How sad that a magnificent event such as a military parade to honor our great nation can not be viewed as an American heirloom.

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We have just completed the celebration of the birth of the greatest nation in the world. Some refute this to say that we are not the greatest nation, or never have been great. My response to this would be to look at the rest of the world and ask how many countries are struggling to keep people out and then look within America and ask how many people are beating down the doors to migrate out? My final question is to ask what country is greater than the United States?
In 1776 fifty -five brave patriots, men performing treason against their mother country of England, signed a document that would certainly place a bounty on the heads of each signee. This document, the Declaration of Independence, has become the iconic case for liberty and freedom throughout the world and displays how a young fledgling country can grow to prominence when the spirit of the human mind and body can be set free.
One year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the second Continental Congress met and one item that was agreed to was the development of a flag to represent the newly declared country. The resolution read, “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation”.
By 1779 the Congress had not decided on the final design and requested George Washington to provide input. Ultimately the design was completed and seamstresses from around Philadelphia were made busy sewing the new symbol of freedom, the American Flag.
Betsy Ross has been given credit for producing the first flag though some dispute the assertion. Still this is a part of our country’s history and legacy and symbolizes the enthusiasm of a new country. How wonderful it must have been when the Continental Army was standing in ranks ready to take the field against the greatest army in the world and saw the flag being unfurled and waving in the wind like a beacon announcing the arrival of a new world power.
The flag consisted of thirteen alternating red and white stripes while thirteen five-pointed stars were placed in a circular pattern on a field of blue. Since Betsy Ross was credited with making the first flag, this original flag design of the United States if referred to as the Betsy Ross flag.
American patriots marched into battle under this flag. Thousands died from British bullets while many thousands more lived in deplorable conditions, falling ill from cold, disease and hunger. Still these young men and women continued on and through the suffering and won the independence for a new nation.
This flag, the Betsy Ross design has been the symbol of a great nation ever since the first flag flew. It has been a symbol of pride for our great nation and has decorated the landscape of presidential inaugurations. President Barak Obama, living proof of the great strides taken by America, used the Betsy Ross flag for his 2013 inauguration backdrop.
Nike, the world leader in athletic gear and a company that takes advantage of families by providing “must have” shoes at greatly inflated prices, designed a Betsy Ross Inspired shoe to commemorate the 4th of July. Then as the shoes were hitting the floor, the shoes were withdrawn. A protest from Colin Kaepernick that cited a racial period in the country when the flag flew ended the celebration of a great nation. Nike, an American icon had succumbed to political correctness instead of patriotic prevalence. Other despicable comments link the flag to deplorable white supremist and even the Nazi swastika.
Arizona has long been independent and provided a major source of American patriots. Cowboys and Indians from Arizona were part of the famous Rough Riders that followed Teddy Roosevelt as they charged up San Juan Hill. Navaho Indians from Arizona made up the core of the famous U.S. Marine Code Talkers in World War II. Arizona was scheduled to have a new Nike plant built in its’ state. Due to the Nike decision, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey pulled all state incentives that were to be given to Nike to build in Arizona. A bold statement from a bold Governor and State.
California stated that it will welcome Nike’s new plant to its’ state.

 

Several years ago it was announced about the execution of a Syrian archeologist, historian and curator of one of the most spectacular archeological sites in the Middle East. ISIS took this eighty-one year old scholar to the city square of Palmyra and during the busiest time of the day ISIS decapitated him. His headless body was hung from a pole in town. His crime was spending his life dedicated to the excavation and preservation of a 2,000 year old Roman era city. He loved the site so much that he named his daughter for one of its’ queens and when he could no longer work at the site he lived in a house where he could see the ruins every day. ISIS claims that he was a Director of Idols and was thus executed. This is reminiscent of the Taliban in Afghanistan blowing up gigantic stories-high carvings in the name of stringent Islamic ideals. Of course the artifacts were not destroyed and usually were sold to fund the ISIS military campaign.
Archeological sites are truly open air museums where visitors can walk and enjoy what man has built in the past. Years ago when taking a summer archeological course I had the good luck of visiting a University of Texas dig in Nacogdoches, Texas. I remember listening to Dr. Diane Storey, matriarch of Texas Archeology, tell of her expeditions. Her type “A” personality displayed the type of person that Speilberg invented with his Indiana Jones character. Just as interesting as Diane was, her husband was equally accomplished. He was the curator of the Texas Museum of Natural History. He was quiet and non-assuming but his dedication to the museum could not be denied. She would dig it and he would display it.
I really enjoy museums; museums of all kinds. Whether it is the open expanses of the ruins at Mt. Olympus or the Rijks Museum of Art in Amsterdam or some western museum along old Route 66, they all capture a snapshot of a specific time or geographical location from our past and preserved for future generations. It’s unique to see what generations before us accomplished what they left behind as our world formed into what it is today. It’s said that if we want to see our future then look at our past.
A museum is defined as an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Today there are over 55,000 museums in 202 countries around the world. This doesn’t include small personal museums that are not registered.
Museums date back to ancient Greece where Plato is credited with the first museum although some dispute this and think they have been in place prior to Plato. Other early museums or displays of strange or curious objects date back to 530 BC when a collection from Mesopotamia was displayed. Early museums often opened their doors to only the “respectful” members of the community. Fortunately this changed over time until we have, for the most part, an open door policy to entry.
Some special collections that are very rare and fragile are still closed to the general population and are only open to scholars for research.
We have our share of museums in our own area. Monroe has the Chenault Military Museum, The Biedenhorn Museum and the Masur Museums. Go to ULM and visit a magnificent museum of Natural History and you may see individuals from this area that helped collect pieces for that display. Bernice has its’ railroad museum and the gem of museum in deep North Louisiana is our own Union Parish Museum in Farmerville. This museum is located in a historical building on Main Street and the enthusiasm of the individuals that run the museum is apparent as rotating exhibits are routinely displayed.
I am so thankful that I live in a country where we are free to visit museums without fear of political intervention or injury. Recently in Tunisia ISIS attacked a museum and killed tourists that wanted to view artifacts from that ancient country. We are so fortunate to live in the good ole United States.
Today the Union Museum of History and Art is displaying a traveling exhibit from the World War II museum in New Orleans. The World War II Museum is the third most visited museum in America and the traveling exhibit is only displayed in 7 museums a year in Louisiana.

In our time of instant communication, we are inundated with talk shows, news programs, and a myriad of communications that keep us updated on all the happenings of the world. Every once in a while, a speech seems to capture the essence of the moment. I recently came across a speech from a radio program that embraces the magic of our nation’s birthday, the 4th of July. I hope you enjoy.
“At this time in our history when we view other nations in distress and oppression of dictatorship, the threatening clouds of war, and men lined up by the thousands to destroy with cannon, airships, and destructive machinery of every kind, not only property and lives but the fundamentals upon which True Americanism was founded, how fitting it is that we should pause from our daily pursuits to defend Americanism, to remind our neighbors, our friends and our people of their duty to protect the principles upon which real Americanism rests, with the American Flag flying over your head.
When Washington, Morris and Carol, all of different faiths and creeds, signed the immortal, everlasting document which became the tenants and creed of Americanism, they, with inspired hearts and minds, planted as the most beautiful flowers in the garden of Independence, tolerance, justice, freedom, liberty and patriotism.
So let us ,on this occasion, bind ourselves as Americans to keep alive, watching out for hidden adversaries and enemies, these elements which will forever inspire peace, happiness and tranquility to the American people and their future generations as intended by our forefathers when they founded this great republic.
Isms, false doctrines, and race or religious prejudices have no place in this country. All alike the Jews, the Gentile, the descendants of those from every land, who live in obedience to our laws, have equal rights and privileges. Let every man and good woman teach this ideal, love, tolerance and fairness to one another, practice these ideals, love, tolerance and fairness to one another, practice these ideals, love tolerance and fairness in their relationship with one another and to one another in all instances, and Americanism will live on.
In these tragic days when man’s inhumanity makes countless millions mourn, when racial and religious groups are oppressed elsewhere, persecuted by the ruthless, damnable and barbarian practices of dictatorship, when the cherished ideals of democracy are being trampled upon, there is no greater moment of importance in America than to let every man, woman and child stand as a sentinel watching for an enemy, standing as a soldier to guard the immortal principles that we have inherited, and to remember there is but one way to happiness. Love and peace can always be maintained, and that is by upholding, protecting and maintaining democracy, religious freedom and tolerance, which all summed up together are Americanism.
To his great common altar of Americanism there comes daily into this country the Jew, the Protestant and the Catholic with the best traditions of each, coming to pray that their traditional rights may always be preserved, and that the sacred altar of Americanism be preserved, and that the sacred altar of Americanism be preserved by an edict and the sanction of Almighty God will not be blemished by the polluted and bandit hand of dictatorship or false propaganda spread among our people through those who would take from us the heritage of the past and leave us with a false and cruel idol to steer us to anarchy and chaos in the future.
And why should not the Jew and the Protestant and the Catholic, together with the other various sects, come to this common altar in the great country of ours.
First and foremost it is fundamentally right. Second, we are a people who came from lands across the waters where oppression dominated at the time they came over. Third, and most important of all, highest and greatest of all the reasons we could set forth, do we not have the challenge of the old Bible. Is it no true that after all is done and said that we have but one Father? Were we not created, after all is done and said, by one and the same God?
Civil and religious liberty with the rights and privileges given us under what is known in America as The Bill of Rights, a national jewel, adopted by all of the states of these United Commonwealths, stands as a gift not only from our forefathers, but from Almighty God, as they in turn were inspired by their Creator when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States, which guarantee freedom of thought, freedom of press, freedom of religion, and personal liberty as long as it does not interfere with the rights of others, is not abused, and the laws of the country are obeyed and not entrenched upon.
To me it is necessary that the best of our people, old and young, should not forget the altar of Americanism, for when the day comes that the altar is forgotten, then America will cease to be a land of freedom.
At this common altar of Americanism let us steer the youth and the children of this historic land in order that in the days to come, when we have passed away to an unknown and, there will still remain an army and host of true Americans, plighted and pledged to uphold the ideals, the noble sentiments, the achievements and the principles of real Americans.
I thank you.”
This speech rings true in so many ways and is appropriate at a time that we celebrate our Nations birth; however, the speech was not presented recently. Nor was it given within the last decade or for that matter within the last generation. As much as this reflects our country and the challenges we face today, the speech was given on radio station KWKH in Shreveport on March 1st, 1939.

As we take our journey through life we meet or are introduced through media sources to many individuals. Some are public officials while others lead a less public life while many are those that desire a life that screams for attention. Then every once in a while we meet that unique individual that is his own man or woman, that has the virtues that we all desire yet we fall short of achieving some of these characteristics; a person that quietly and efficiently molds generations that will populate a great nation.
Last week I said goodbye to such a person and I was not alone. Larce Holder, Jr. died and he was laid to rest on June 22nd. Though he has left the world, his spirit and his accomplishments to preparing young men for the world remain.
Larce Holder was born in 1921, just in time to be brought into the horrors of a Great Depression at the impressionable age of eight. The Depression made an undeniable effect on a generation and the need to save and be frugal was a part of Mr Holder’s life and was passed on to future generations.
Mr. Holder embraced his profession; art and photography. He served in a cartography unit during World War II. This had a lasting effect on a twenty-year-old very creative mind from the hills of rural North Louisiana. Following the war he used his GI bill to obtain an art degree from Louisiana Tech. Like many millions of returning veterans he entered the labor market to make his mark in an appreciative nation. This is where his commonality with the typical American ended.
As much as he loved art; he loved the outdoors, nature and passing on this love to the scouts that families had entrusted to him. He had a spiritual connection to nature and this spilled over to his scout troop. Mr Holder was raised in the scouting tradition and I learned that he attended the first-ever scout jamboree where he met the founder of the Boy Scouts, Lord Baden-Powell. He knew the woods like the back of his hand and I recall local lawyer Johnny Wagnon state that Mr Holder could take a knife and ball of string and survive in the wilderness with no problem.
This commune with nature, his association with mountain men of the past as well as Indians of a forgotten frontier went much farther than reading books and dreaming. He walked the walk. As a young man he would take his bow and slip into the woods to hunt. So unorthodox was this hunting method that he received death threats from gun hunters due to his selection of weapons in a world of machoism where guns were the only means of killing game. Mr Holders scouts were not immune to his hunting techniques as we would routinely go on bow hunt campouts. Among his friends was Fred Bear, early archery pioneer and founder of Fred Bear Archery. Today bow hunting and archery are major sports in America.
A few hundred words does not due justice to this man. Though he instilled excitement in our world of nature, it was what he installed in the lives of young men that is a true legacy to the man. His sense of right and justice are aspects that we carry with us throughout our lives. He loved America and respected this great nation. The American flag that draped his coffin is testament to this love.
When a 97 year old man is laid to rest there is usually just a handful of mourners at the service. Mr Holder had seventy of eighty people in attendance. Among these were state elected officials, business leaders, doctors, lawyers and even a Federal Court Judge.
When our Troop 16 would end its’ weekly meeting, we would close with the Scout Prayer. We would form a circle, left hand on the right shoulder of the scout next to us, right raised in the scout salute and heads bowed. One scout would lead the prayer.
And Now,
May the Great Scout Master, Of all Good Scouts,
Be with Us, Until We Meet Again,
And May We Follow the Trail, That Leads to Him
Amen
A fitting farewell for Mr. Holder.

THIS WILL A[[EAR IN THE BERNICE BANNER THE WEEK OF 6/16/2019
When I was in Navy bootcamp we spent many hours in classes learning the fundamentals of being a good sailor. While much of this information has been locked in the recesses of the gray matter between the ears, some tidbits seem to remain present in my everyday memory. One of the learnings was the mission of the United States Navy. My first thought in class was that the Navy’s mission was to fight the enemy and win the war. While this is a requirement of the overall mission, it is not the mission in itself. Simply stated, the mission of the United States Navy is to “keep the sea lanes free for democracy”.
Today the U.S. Navy is being brought to the forefront of world headlines as it focuses to accomplish its’ mission. Iran has been suffering from American sanctions for years. Not only have trade restrictions strangled the fundamental Muslim country but hundreds of millions of dollars of frozen funds were being held in America. An agreement was reached with America and its’ allies under the leadership of the Obama administration that would stop nuclear development of arms by Iran in exchange for reduced sanctions and release of the frozen funds. When the Trump administration took office it was felt that Iran was not following the agreement and new sanctions were imposed and now the majority of Iranian crude sales, the major income for the country, are being blocked. Iran is in a desperate situation and desperate men turn to desperate measures. What Iran does not remember is how America responded in 1988 when it felt it could stop the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf and how an American President was not afraid to display American power.
In 1988 American warships were escorting American flagged tankers through the Persian Gulf from ports in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to a safe location outside the Straights of Hormuz. The tankers then sailed to their designated ports to offload their cargo. The Iran-Iraq war had been slugging on for eight long years and the death toll was near half a million men. Iran was desperate for a victory while America and its’ western allies were supporting Iraq as has Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Iran was unable to stop the flow of oil and had tried desperate means to shock the world into leaving the Persian Gulf area. One civilian Iranian airline plane flew in the direction of an American warship but had turned off its’ transponders that identified it as a non-military aircraft. Despite attempts to contact the aircraft, there was no response and the aircraft was blown from the sky by and American surface to air missile with all civilian passengers and crew perishing. This did not curtail the American mission, though our nation was extremely saddened by the loss of civilian loss, America continued with its’ mission.
Then Iran turned to a new tactic, one that had been in naval history for over a hundred years; mine warfare. Iran had mined the Straits of Hormuz and on April 14, 1988 everything came to a head. The USS Samuel B Roberts hit a mine and almost sunk. Fortunately, no lives were lost but the stage was set and President Ronald Reagan gave the order to retaliate.
A well-coordinated attack was carried out by ships from the United States Navy. After a day of fighting that saw America sinking three fast attack speed boats, one naval frigate and one fast attack gunboat while damaging another frigate and destroying two intelligence positions on oil platforms. Following this action there were no more attacks on American tankers or military ships. It is surmised that this response was a final action that helped to bring an end to the Iran/Iraqi war.
Today Iran is again flexing its’ muscles. They are stronger on the sea and possess modern weaponry, some of which came from Russia but America will not be out done. If Iran continues with its’ aggression the United States will have no option other than to retaliate. We have moved the majority of the consular staff from Iraq and are have moved a carrier force to the Persian Gulf and B-52s to Qatar. America has all warned civilian aircraft to be cautious while in the Gulf air space. You can also bet that the battle plans are in place for numerous situation that may arise in the near future. The American Navy is ready.

THIS WILL APPEAR IN THE FARMERVILLE GAZETTE AND RUSTO DAILY LEADER THE WEEK OF 6/16/2020
I arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1978. One year later the Mid-East suffered a crisis that is with us today and has impacted the way the world operates. The Shah of Iran, a staunch ally of the West, had been deposed and was replaced by fundamental zealots led by Rouhollah Khomeini, the Ayatollah.
In 1980 Saddam Hussein was worried about the Iranian revolution and how it could boil over to his own country. He felt that with the turmoil that was underway the timing was perfect to launch an attack on Iran, seize the government and then he would be in possession of the greatest land mass in the Mid-East.
On September 22, 1980, Iraq launched an invasion of Iran. Iraq made quick progress before being stopped. Within six months Iran had retaken all the land it had lost and continued the offensive war against Iraq. The was war was brutal, long last and ended in a stalemate with neither side having accomplished any gains. It was classical World War I that was being fought in the 1980s. Trench warfare, bayonet charges, mass casualties from charging directly into machine gun fire and no fast-moving tank thrusts and no generals such as Patton, Bradley or Eisenhower to control the battle fields. Eventually the scourge of warfare reared its’ ugly head; poison gas, the weapon of mass destruction banned by the Geneva Convention, was used. It became a war of attrition that saw 500,000 Iranian and Iraqi soldiers killed.
The Iranian/Iraqi war escalated from a land based-only war to sea operations in 1984, Iraq attacked the Iranian tanker loading terminals at Kharg Island. Saddam Hussein had hoped Iran would retaliate by closing the Straights of Hormuz, the small waterway that tankers use carrying oil from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran. This closure would then bring America into the war to support Iraq. This did not work but Iran did begin to attack Iraqi ships. Iraq then began shipping oil loaded on Kuwaiti tankers. Iran then began to attack neutral Kuwaiti owned tankers. This brought America directly into the war as it began escorting convoys of tankers from loading ports through the Straights of Hormuz and then into the Gulf of Oman.
America suffered casualties during the war at sea. An Iraqi pilot had mistaken an American frigate, the USS Stark, for an Iranian vessel and fired a missile that hit the ship killing numerous sailors. This attack borders on incompetency as the American ship should have been easily identified. A similar incident happened to one of the contractors installing an offshore facility for the company I worked for in Arabia. A Korean contractor had several very large barges working in the Zuluf/Marjan oil fields near Iranian waters. At dusk over a hundred men were in the galley eating when a tug came along side to deliver fresh water. Just as the tug tied up to the large barge a heat seeking missile slammed into the tug blowing it in half. The tugs engines may have attracted the missile. Several men were killed but the casualties could have been worse. Had the tug not been alongside the barge the missile would have hit where the construction force was eating supper. Unlike the Stark encounter, this incident was never reported.
Today we face Tanker War II. Iran is specifically targeting tankers carrying oil from American allies in the Persian Gulf. The message is clear, Iran is poking a stick in America’s eye; they are desperate due to American sanctions and they are at a point of not caring what the consequences are. Desperate times require desperate measures. They were so bold as to attack two tankers on the same day that the Prime Minister of Japan paid a formal visit to Iran.
This crisis is expanding and Iran may be underestimating American resolve. A new president is in charge. If they keep pushing the envelope something will go horribly wrong and America will retaliate in a quick, fast paced hard hitting strike that will leave Iran waking up tomorrow and wondering what happened yesterday. Let us all hope it never comes to this and pray that the conflict does not expand beyond a surgical strike.