Posts Tagged ‘bernice louisiana’

Christmas holds a special place in the hearts of man. It’s hard to understand just why there is such a warm feeling that envelops us like a fog moving into a high-country snow-covered meadow. A feeling of goodwill and a feeling of peace fills our being. It is during this time that we believe that as tragic as our circumstances are, there is a future, bright and friendly, waiting for us. It is during this period that we take time to reflect and greet neighbors that we would otherwise not even acknowledge. Yes, Christmas is a special magical time that brings out the best, even in the middle of a war.
In 1914 the world was at war. America had not entered the conflict at that time but England and France were locked together in a bloody fighting against Germany. It was not a quick moving war but had deteriorated to a series of static geographical areas where troops lived in muddy trenches, shivered in bitter cold and lived under constant artillery attacks. It is said that France lost an entire generation of males as suicide attacks into German machine guns often took place.
Christmas of 1914 found the two great armies facing each other. France and England were both Christian based countries and Christmas held a special place in the hearts of the soldiers. Much of the Christmas traditions that we follow today originated in Germany. The Christian doctrine had begun in Germany via Martin Luther so all warring factions had a special place for Christmas. Even Christmas trees with candles hanging from the branches were a part of ancient Germany. Christmas held a special place in the hearts of the combatants of World War I on both sides.
On Christmas Eve of 1914, German troops began decorating their trench lines. They placed candles along the trenches and on Christmas trees which they displayed to the enemy. The Germans then began singing Christmas carols. The English and the French returned the gesture with carols of their own. What a surreal world this must have been on a cold December night where two opposing forces had made every effort to destroy each other and then peace settled over the artillery pocked landscape and Christmas carols filled the night air. This was not local as it is estimated that eventually 100,000 soldiers fell under the spell.
The celebration of the greatest holiday continued and opposing troops walked into no-mans land, shook hands and exchanged cigarettes and cigars. A portion of our world where no man is supposed to remain alive was now a place of Christmas celebration. There were reports that soccer games also took place between opposing armies. What an amazing time of the year where peace is possible.
Captain Robert Patrick Mile was attached to the Royal Irish Rifles and wrote home about this special Christmas day. “Friday (Christmas Day). We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front. The funny thing is it only seems to exist in this part of the battle line – on our right and left we can all hear them firing away as cheerfully as ever. The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting ‘Merry Christmas, Englishmen’ to us. Of course, our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man’s land between the lines. Here the agreement – all on their own – came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight. The men were all fraternizing in the middle (we naturally did not allow them too close to our line) and swapped cigarettes and lies in the utmost good fellowship. Not a shot was fired all night.”
Unfortunately, the cease fire did not last past Christmas and very soon both sides were doing the best they could to kill the men they had just befriended and celebrated with. On December 30th, just five days after the Christmas celebration, Captain Robert Patrick Mile of the Royal Irish Rifles was killed in action.
Merry Christmas to everyone and take a moment to reflect on how special this time of the year is. It is not the presents we receive that really matters; instead it is the Christmas cheer that we give that really makes this time of the year so special.

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Bonnie and I returned from a camping trip last summer to be greeted by a stray dog that had apparently been dumped in the area. I quickly let the stray know that he needed to move on but he was totally oblivious and just sat there looking at me like I was stupid, he had adopted us and there was no debating the action. I had seen the same look previously from Bonnie and realized that for some reason this dog would be a part of the family. I looked at the dog and told myself that this is really one ugly dog and if he didn’t stay with us no one would adopt him. As Bonnie walked in the door she said under her breath that this ugly dog was probably going to stay.
We tried to find him a home but to no avail. When we had our security system installed the installer told us that this was one ugly dog. All this endured the dog to me and I was sure that we made the right decision to keep the dog; who else would want him.
Bonnie and I have decided that we would take the aging process and say shove it. We would get up each morning and ultimately walk about three miles through the country roads around us. The dog that adopted us, named Brown Dog for no better name, fell in with us and trotted along the road. It was like he would physically transform himself. The ears would perk up as if listening attentively. He stood erect instead of cowering down and the tail was erect as he viewed the terrain. Brown Dog was proud to be out with us. Then he spotted a squirrel and he was off like a bullet and then jumped onto the tree barking. I thought there is more to this dog and surely he will find his way home. Every morning as the sun broke the horizon we were awaken by Brown Dog’s bark telling us it was time to go for our walk.
We left for a six week RV trip to the West and had to leave Brown Dog, now named Jinx by our granddaughter. We set up feeding and water stations and ultimately our neighbors took pity on the dog and he stayed under their car port. Until that happened he would lay in our driveway and lift his head as cars drove by looking to see if we were returning. I had half hoped that he would find his way to his original home and half hoped he would be here when we returned. He was at our neighbor’s car port and when we approached his cries of joy insured that he was ours for good.
Since the dog was now officially at home with us we planned our trip to the vet. First trip was for shots and to get him comfortable with his next trip to remove those ugly dew claws and also make it certain that the ugly dog would not produce any future ugly dogs; Bonnie demanded. I felt differently about the ugly status and kept telling her that he changed when bouncing down the road looking for squirrel or keeping up with my truck for a mile when going to the dump and besides, this is the smartest dog I have ever been around.
We arrived at the Vets office and while I stayed outside getting the dog out of the truck and on a leash, Bonnie went in to check in. She told the receptionist that his name is Jinx. He is a Hines 98 not even a Hines 57 and he is the ugliest dog she had ever seen. I took Jinx in and the receptionist said that he was a pretty dog. That made me feel a little better. Then he got to meet the vet and was greeted with the statement that this was really a pretty dog. He was also not a Hines 98 nor a Hines 57, he was a Mountain Cur. We walked out and I stood a little prouder, the dog realized that he was now an official dog but Bonnie looked at me and said that he was still ugly. It didn’t bother the dog one bit. The breed is perfect as a guard dog and will be perfect to travel with us on camping trips plus makes a good dog for grandchildren.
The point is that regardless of what the outward appearance is, it is what is inside that really matters. Don’t be so quick to judge by physical appearance, there is much more to an animal or a person as physical beauty. In our world of instant gratification, immediate judgement via social media and admiration of beauty versus substance; we need to evaluate what is truly important in life. Who knows, we may just find a Jinx in our life.

During our lives we have adversarial moments that seem to never end. We know something is right and just but wrong seems to prevail. Then we wake up one day and realize that justice is taking place and due to the untiring work of nameless hardworking individuals, right prevails. I experienced this recently.
Several weeks ago I walked through the local Wal Mart Store and discovered that a month before Halloween and in 90 degree weather Christmas decorations were appearing on the shelves. I thought that the day will eventually come when Christmas merchandise is never taken down. It really diminishes the anticipation of the holiday and waters down the true meaning of the holiday. Then I spotted something that made me think that the attack on Christmas, the true meaning of the Holiday and the happiness and good feelings it brings may be returning to our culture.
The local Wal Mart had in the past years, for the most part, refrained from selling religious significant merchandise for Christmas. Last year they did add a small Nativity Set and it was hoped that the pendulum had started to swing for a more traditional holiday period where the Holiday represented celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
This year it was a pleasant surprise to find a section of the store dedicated to Christian artifacts that acknowledged the true meaning of the time of the season. Nativity sets and wall hangings were there and other Christian significant decorations were at other locations around the store. It appears that the true story of the Holiday is returning to Wal Mart. It is only hoped that the other retail chains follow suit and we can return to a simpler, less politically correct, less money conscious time when we can truly enjoy and celebrate our Christmas season.

North Korea has finally developed and tested via a successful launch an International Continental Ballistic Missile, ICBM, that is capable of reaching the United States. At this stage in the fledgling North Korean missile program, the only state that the missile can hit is Alaska but it won’t be long before Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angles will become targets. Parallel development of a nuclear weapon that can be transported by one of these missiles is ongoing. Even if a nuclear payload is not available a conventional bomb can be transported on the ICBM and can ultimately cause damage to our beautiful nation.
Another threat leaves North Korea clean when it comes to launching a missile on the West. It will let some other country do the dirty work. North Korea will be able to dismantle and sell its’ weapons of destruction to countries that wish to do harm to Western nations. If transport is not available for the weapons, North Korea can sell the technologies and then let rogue nations build their own missiles much as a child designs and builds an erector set. The nuclear warhead will come later and we are then in a huge and complex mess as countries such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Germany become easy targets for North Korean Technology that is launched from reprobate locations in the Middle East. North Korea becomes a double winner in this scenario. Western countries are hit and harmed while North Korea’s coffers are filled with foreign money funded by the sale of the sinister weapons.
It appears that the decision is simple; let’s hit them and hit them quick. Not so quick my friend. There is no way short of a nuclear strike that we could hope to neutralize the North Korean Military. Nuclear attack is not an option. With a standing army of 700,000 and several million reservists, we can damage the beast but not destroy it. North Korea is waiting for provocation and they will not be satisfied to take a defensive posture. North Korea will move south and with speed. So where will the North horde go. It will wear out tanks speeding to Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Seoul is only 30 miles from the demilitarized zone that separates the two countries and contains ten million residents. The loss of life would be catastrophic. While the North Korean army would take large losses it would continue to function as it moves south. I worked with Koreans in Arabia and the Koreans are a tough race, very tough. The North Korean army can take a lickin and keep on ticken.
Another concern is China. While China has become a major world economy there is all ways that isolated chance that China will enter the campaign and support North Korea just as it did during the Korean War of the 50s. This is almost incomprehensible but if that happened we could see an escalation that could pull the Mid-East into the conflict as an opportunity to strike a blow against the West. Then we have to ask what will Russia do and who will they side with.
Korea is quit complex and it is not a new issue. It began when America had a warship stopped, boarded, captured and taken to North Korea in the 1960s. The USS Pueblo’s crew was eventually released, but only after the Unites States paid ransom. Since then North Korea held America at lower esteem and America thought it could negotiate itself out of any conflict. We fooled ourselves and for the last forty years North Korea has built one of the largest armies in the world while laughing at America and the West. We have really painted ourselves into a corner and we can’t wait for the paint to dry to walk out.

Over the past several decades the impact of Mexican influence on America has become scrutinized in various conversations. The rhetoric has become ever more loud as some groups call for the deportation of all undocumented and thus illegal aliens while on the other side of the conversation the American border should be wide open to anyone desiring to enter and live in our great nation. A more moderate message that garners a more practical approach is a worker program allowing undocumented workers that perform a vital role in America to remain on work visa’s but who are not considered citizens. Citizenship is not a wholesale right guaranteed to everyone nor does the Constitution of the United States guarantee rights to non-citizens of the United States that live outside the borders of the United States.
While many may look upon Mexico as a country that distributes its poor to the southern American borders in an effort to pass its’ problems to the United States while never providing anything of substance to our country; nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that Mexico provided direct support to our great nation and helped the United States win two major wars. This has taken place since the beginning of our nation.
In 1776 the British colonies in the Americas declared its’ independence from England. At the time of the revolution Spain claimed most land west of the Mississippi. Following the turning point of the American revolution, the battle of Saratoga; Spain, France and Holland joined American in its’ war with England. An army from Mexico that swelled to over 7,000 began a campaign along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Valley.. Since an army marches on its’ stomach, herds of Texas beef were driven into Louisiana to feed the Spanish army, This was the first cattle drives of this type in America and predated the famos western cattle drives by over a hundred years.
In 1779 Spanish troops won battles at Manchac, Baton Rouge and Natchez. A year later the Spanish forces, from Mexico, defeated the British at Fort Charlotte at Mobile. A year later the Spanish forces captured the English fort at Pensacola. By opening this southern front the Mexican troops held English troops in battle in the south and thus aided George Washington in his victories in the North, This aided in the success for the war for independence.
One hundred and sixty years later Mexico once again provided much needed support for the United States and the free world. When America was attacked at Pearl Harbor Mexico was one of the first countries to pledge support to America and cut ties with the Axis nations. America sent much needed funds and technology to the Mexican mines that produced mercury, zinc and copper. America purchased Mexican oil and Mexico’s newly updated army was supplied with American weapons. Mexican Americans answered the call for the army and an estimated 500,000 filled the recruiting statins across America. Many of these were not born in the United States and were granted citizenship following the war.
Mexico also provided another resource for the war effort, farm labor. With the traditional farm laborers leaving the farms and going off to war, America needed a way to harvest its’ crops. Without this ability America would feel the pangs of hunger. A formal program was launched and Mexicans known as “braceros” crossed the borders to assist America. Following the war they were allowed to stay and seek citizenship. Many remained and brought their families to a new life that promised a better future.
Mexico was instrumental in helping America win its’ war for independence and then followed up its’ support by helping America do its’ part to make the world free for democracy.

 

 

 

Last week I discussed Korea being a major threat to the United States and any capitalistic democratic country.  It is a conventional military threat greater than any other country in the world today and this threat has remained camouflaged as we have focused on the threats from the Middle East and non-conventional military action.  The military force of Korea as well as all political and economic activities reside in the hands of a twenty-seven-year-old dictator that many consider to be mad while others consider him to be quite sane and smart yet ruthless.

 

Korea was occupied by the invading army from Japan from 1910 to 1945.  During this time Korea launched guerrilla war against the invaders from Japan.  Kim ll-sung was one of the guerillas and he later became the first leader of North Korea.  After World war II a boundary was drawn that divided the country in half much as what happened to Germany.  Russian control was in the North and American control was in the South. 

 

In 1949 North Korea invaded South Korea with the aid of the Soviet Union.  Eventually the United Nation supported army moved north, crossed the 38th  parallel that marked the border between the two countries, destroyed the majority of industrial buildings and stopped at the border with Korea and China.  An armistice was signed and remains in effect today.  There was no formal surrender or peace treaty.

 

Over the years China continued to support the North while America supported the south.  In 1958 China officially moved out of North Korea and that is when North Korea marks the birth of its’ nation.    Kim ll-sung remained in power until 1994 when he died of a heart attack.  At the time the countries was in collapse following reduced support from China and the collapse of its’ largest financial supporter, the Soviet Union.  Korea was in a standoff with America over its’ nuclear program and the stress was too much on the elder leader.

 

Kim Jong-ll assumed power but the stress was still there.  North Korea had a great famine and this disaster proved that the country could not support itself in such a catastrophe.  Then George W. Bush declared North Korea to be a Rogue State.  In 2006 North Korea conducted its’ first Nuclear Bomb test.  In 2011 Jong-ll died and he was replaced by his son and current ruler Kim Jong-un.

 

Jong-ill had planned for his son to assume the lead as ruler of Korea.  What was not planned was his early death and it was speculated that Jong-ll’s son, Jong-un was not experienced enough to rule North Korea.  Many believed that Jong-un’s uncle would act as regent until the child-ruler had matured.  This did not happen and eventually the uncle was stripped of all power, his pictured was removed from all public locations and the uncle was executed.  It was reported that his family members were also executed to include children and grandchildren thus eliminating all trace of Jong-ll’s life.

 

Jung-un used the press to build his power and position.  He was declared as “a great person born of heaven”.  Then the working party declared that “We vow with bleeding tears to call Kim Jong-un our supreme commander, our leader.  One Korean magazine declared Jong-un to be the most handsome man in the world for that year.

 

His education was based in Switzerland where he attended school under an assumed name.  He is reported to have been quiet but not a good student and liked basketball.  This could be a reason that he enjoyed a visit from Dennis Rodman to North Korea.  His attendance at school was not good either and his mentor was the North Korean ambassador to Switzerland. When he returned to North Korea he is suspected of attending a military college for five years.  North Korea is very secretive and very little is known of its’ ruling class.

 

Recently, Jong-un is believed to have ordered his half-brothers assassination in Thailand.  The man has no conscience and his method of execution is intended to serve as a psychological message to any that oppose him.

 

The future is very perilous when it comes to North Korea and even though America would triumph in a war, it would be very bloody and brutal.  Twenty-five million civilians would be caught directly in the fire of the two military giants.  Also, as bad as the North wants to march South the South also want to go North and vanquish the devils in North Korea. 

 

The coming weeks will prove to be very interesting if not disconcerting.

 

 

Last week I returned from a week in Mexico.  A trip to the Mexican Riviera; i.e., Cancun south to Tulum, connotes thoughts of free flowing liquor, dancing and one long party.  While his does happen and can happen almost anywhere in the world, there is far more to see and do while vacationing on the Rivera Maya; another term used to describe the vacation spot of the Caribbean in Mexico.

Anyone desiring to visit the remains of a monumental civilization that collapsed and eventually having its’ massive structures swallowed up by the jungle can easily visit reconstructed Mayan cities.  No less than six city states can be visited via tour busses that pick up the tourists at their hotels.  A seventh set of ruins are available four hours south of Cancun but you will need to rent a car to get to it and that is what I explored this year.  Concerns for public safety on the Mexican Riviera or within the Yucatan Peninsula is a myth.  Very seldom do I take a tour bus any longer but instead opt for a rental car.

Instead of an archeological excursion, a tourist can pick a day for a snorkeling tour.  This includes both salt water or fresh water or a combination of both.  One can board a boat that takes a swimmer to various locations that are loaded with fish and you can immerse yourself in a multitude of swimming brilliant colors.  Or a person can take a tour of one or more cenotes, sink holes that are fed by underground rivers and who’s cool crystal clear waters are a refreshing change to the hot humid jungle. 

Water and/or adventure parks abound.  The Travel Channel selected Rio Sigreto as one of the top ten swim locations in the world while XPLOR was selected as one of the top ten water parks in the world.  Both are within twenty minutes of each other. 

The true essence of my trips to Mexico do not lie with archeological ruins or water parks or viewing fish in their nature habitat.  As fun and relaxing as this may appear, the true experience rests with the friendship experienced with the trip.  While sitting on the pool deck of the hotel where we were staying, I stated that this was really a nice trip.  My friend Jeff Davidson who traveled with us with his wife Dianne said that it is not the location that matters.  It is the friendship that makes it special.  A lot to be said for that.

Whether it is on the back porch with a radio playing while sipping ice tea or going out for a movie or sitting on the pool deck of the Royal Hacienda in Playa Del Carmen, it is the friendship that make that point in time so special.  There is nothing more comforting while enjoying some type of outing than to be surrounding by friends.  There is nothing more sad than to witness an individual, either with or without abundant financial funding, sitting alone with no one to experience life with.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines friendship as “the state of being friends, the relationship between friends”.  The problem with a dictionary term is the sterile definition that doesn’t capture the true essence of a meaning.  I prefer to think of friendship as a further expansion of the word as a “relationship that can survive the test of time and remain unconditional”.   Friendship does not demand continual interaction but instead knowing that someone has your best interest and not theirs’ while you all ways have their best interest in mind and would sacrifice to insure they are taken care of.  In todays’ world “having someone’s back” is a term that expresses true friendship.

While Mohammad stated that, “If you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything”, Aristotle refers to friendship as, “A friend is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”