Posts Tagged ‘Farmerville Louisiana’

 

PTSD seems to be a term that has come to the forefront of visibility when discussing war injuries from the Iraqi Wars and the Afghanistan War.  Viet Nam had earlier taken its toll on the young men returning from war.  The mental anguish imposed on our youth from an unpopular war was apparent; however, the nation was not ready to embrace the returning military or the emotional effects the war imposed on many individuals.  Ignore it and it will go away.

 

While PTSD seems to be a recent malady of war, it is in fact as old as man himself.   In 490 BC the battle of Marathon took place.  The Greeks defeated the invading Persian army on the Marathon plains.  It was reported that Epizelus, a Greek soldier, witnessed the death of his friend and immediately went blind without being injured.  Dreams of battle and a fear of night was later reported of soldiers by the physician Hippocrates, the same man whose name is associated with the oath taken by every American Physician; the Hippocratic oath.  While ancient historical documents speak of PTSD, the Christian Bible eludes to what modern military historians and biblical scholars believe to be PTSD.  One battle depicts the Hebrew army destroying a city and killing every man, woman and child.  Upon returning home the army cannot enter their own city until they have had a week of cleansing.  It is speculated by many that this cleansing was not one of the body but instead a cleansing of the mind. 

 

In 1678 the Swiss described PTSD as melancholy, incessant thinking of home, insomnia, weakness, loss of appetite, anxiety, cardiac palpitations, stupor, and fever.  The term used was “nostalgia”.  During the Napoleonic war the term “cannon wind” was used to describe a near miss and later a German writer wrote of his own encounter with PTSD.   Your eyes can still see with the same acuity and sharpness, but it is as if the world had put on a reddish-brown hue that makes the objects and the situation still more scary … I had the impression that everything was being consumed by this fire … this situation is one of the most unpleasant that you can experience.”

 

America experienced the first recorded accounts of PTSD during the Civil War.  When the war ended, towns or states would pin a note on the clothing of the PTSD victim and send them off as being insane or allowed to wander off and let nature do the dirty work.  The term used at that time was “soldier’s heart”. 

 

War was not the only cause of PTSD.  The Industrial Revolution in America saw a vast expansion of the rail roads.  Horrific accidents took their toll on the men that worked in the construction and operations of the rail networks.  The term “railway spine” was used to describe PTSD at the time it was believed to have been caused by lesions in the spine brought on by the accidents.

 

By World War I the term “shell shock” was used to describe PTSD.  The renowned psychiatrist Sigmund Freud was called on by the Austrian government to see if there was a treatment to which he reported that his horrendous electroshock treatment had no effect on the illness.  All armies witnessed the same malady and unfortunately there was lack of understanding of the illness.  Many British soldiers were executed for malingering or cowardice. 

 

By World War II “Battle Fatigue” was identified and methods of treatment were developed.  One General, George Patton, did not believe in PTSD and was relieved of command for slapping two soldiers while in a hospital under medical care.  His referral to the soldiers actions as cowardice was a major black mark against one of the greatest Generals in the American Military.  While researching one of my books I uncovered a letter to the Secretary of the Army.  The letter objected to the treatment of the soldiers and criticized General’s Patton’s actions.

 

We live in a time that PTSD is understood and is treatable and is no longer ignored by a grateful nation; a nation that welcomes their military home from battle.  I have witnessed firsthand the scourge of PTSD.  My roommate while at NAS Memphis was there to be near the hospital following his tour in Viet Nam.  He told me of a truck back firing and then driving off the road onto the beach at Pensacola and then again how he fell to the ground when neighbor children set off firecrackers.  After leaving the navy I entered Northeast Louisiana and became friends with two individuals that never knew each other.  One was a recon Marine.  The other was an Army infantryman.  Both were in school and strived to re-enter society.  Each spoke seldom of their time in Nam.  One thing was common to each; their marriages had failed and then neither completed their education.  Years later when returning from Arabia I discovered that each had another common bond; they had both taken a firearm and had taken their lives. 

 

Thank God for a country that is far more understanding than the past and if far more grateful to its’ returning service men and women.

 

 

Different industries and different products have a definite life cycle that is ushered in with an idea that grows from a seed to a full blooming business only to eventually wither and die.  There are exceptions like the giant Redwoods of California that break with tradition and live for thousands of years.  In our own short life times we have witnessed this cycle with major products.

When I was a teenager 8-track tape decks came into vogue.  A person could take his car into the 8-track store in West Monroe, Louisiana and in an hour and a half you could drive out with a new Munce tape player hanging from the dash connected to four speakers that had been installed in the doors or beneath the dash.  The industry exploded and while you waited to have the deck installed you could scan thousands of 8-track tapes that carried toons from hundreds of musicians.  Later the 4-track tape was introduced and the industry expanded.

As the industry reached its’ pinnacle it was quickly replaced with the smaller and higher quality cassette tapes and the introduction of the Walkman.  Cars and trucks came from the factory with cassette players installed and the 8-track player disappeared.  Then the CD discs took over and replaced the cassettes and today we are watching MP3 players and touch pads challenging the CD industry.

All of this evolution took place over a mere fifty years and we have witnessed this in many other endeavors such as the VHS player to the streaming video we have today; stick welding in industry changing to automatic welding; rotary dial phones to digital phones to wireless bag phones to the iphones we have today;  change is constant and icons of our society disappear over time.

One representation of the American fiber is the good ole News Paper; rolled paper arriving daily or weekly and brought to us through the mail or by a person tossing it from the window of a car in the early morning hours.  Many years ago it was a paper boy on his bicycle making money in his after school job that delivered the news to us.

The news papers was used to light the flame of democracy in our fledgling nation.  Benjamin Franklin was a publisher and writer.  The news paper was the single most important source of information for our country.  It carried stories of war and peace, of entertainment and history and how amazing it was when USA Today began printing in color and we could see images in living hues instead of black and white.

We also found other uses for the paper.  If a dog did wrong then a quick pop on the nose from a rolled up paper could be expected.  Many a read paper found itself lining the floor of the parakeet cage and when winter arrived a rolled up paper kindled many a fireplace.  Yes, the paper had multiple lives in our society.  Unfortunately the paper copy of the news paper is going through a transition that threatens the future of our historical landmark.

Internet and digital publishing are major threats to the hard copy newspaper.  The competition is unique and quit large as we transition to music, books and news available on one small electronic device.  Major papers such as the Rocky Mountain News are disappearing and a list of ten papers that are in trouble has recently been identified.  Leaders in the industry such as the Boston Globe and the Miami Herald are on the list.  How sad as we watch a major thread in the fabric of our nation dissolve and disappear.  But alas there is some salvation and like a beacon from the past the newspaper will survive courtesy of the small town community focused newspapers.

Our local communities in Union Parish are fortunate to have two well-focused papers.  This is at a time that the much larger Monroe paper is evaporating as it shifts its focus on digital publishing while minimizing news in its’ printed edition and at the same time encouraging its’ readers to move from paper news to digital news.

The local papers around the country have been with us since the founding of our country and it appears that these papers will be the torchbearer for the industry.  At a time that we are experiencing technology advances at an exponential rate it is comforting to revert back to a slower time and sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy reading about our communities in one of our local newspapers. The local newspapers are the Redwoods of the printed news industry.  And we will still have something to pop the dogs’ nose with.

 

Theodore Roosevelt, former president of the United States, one said “Speak softly but carry a big stick”.  This iconic statement has embellished America’s resolve to build a great nation full of ideals and advantages for the common man and live in peace but be prepared to defend itself and its’ interest if required to do so.  This man felt that America had a manifest destiny to provide the leadership to throw off the yokes of dictatorships around the world and provide some semblance of safety and security to all mankind.  While Roosevelt was president the Czar of Russia was in power.  The Czar was ruthless and showed little care for the Russian peasants.  It has been reported that Roosevelt had a shooting range behind the White House and on occasion the targets he would shoot were silhouettes of the Czar.

Recently America transitioned away from Roosevelts comments.  Following several conflicts that made America war weary, the phrase changed to “speak softly, carry a stick but let someone else use their stick”.  While this keeps us out of conflicts it also left America’s allies asking where is the resolve to lead that made America such a great nation.

When I first began writing several years ago I expressed my concern that the United States needed to quickly support the Syrian rebels and overthrow the dictatorial Assad regime.  There had been 240 civilian deaths at the time.  Today over 400,000 have been killed.  Then later I noted that the revolution was taking its toll and allowed ISIS to get a foothold in the fragmented nation and later told how the longer we wait the harder it would be to obtain peace in Syria while at the same time defeating the growing monster, ISIS.  We have seen Russia move into Syria and take a lead in the region and eventually snubbing its’ nose at the United States and its European allies.  Then we saw America tell Syria that it would not accept use of chemical weapons on its’ civilians only to do nothing when they did use it.  Britain voted to take no action, America opted to do nothing and France stood by in amazement as its’ jets sat on the runways waiting to strike Syria alongside its’ allies.   The planes never launched and The Great American Mystic was beginning to lose its’ allure.

Last week Syria launched a deadly gas attack against its’ own civilians killing men, women and children with indiscretion.  Men and women that only wanted to live one day at a time and children that only wanted an opportunity to play in peace all met an agonizing and horrific death.  The use of gas in war has been outlawed by the Geneva convention so the gas used by the Assad regime to kill its’ own civilians should have never been developed and stored.  Also, this is not the first time that Syria used gas against its’ own citizens.  In the late 80s the present ruler Assad’s father attacked two Kurdish towns in Syria and used gas to indiscriminately kill the populations.  Last weeks’ attack was nothing new for Syria, it was its’ third time and like the saying goes, “three’s the charm”.

President Donald Trump launched a strike against Syrian air force resources in what is nothing less than brilliant.  First, the attack had to be designed.  That means that details of what was to be hit had to be identified.  Then each cruise missile had to be programmed to hit specific targets.  This was not a carpet bombing raid that would have indiscriminately dropped missiles on a Syrian base.  Instead a surgical strike that placed individual missiles inside aircraft bunkers was launched and only after a few hours to design the raid.  In addition to the precision of the strike the magnitude was surprising.  Instead of a few missiles being launched to send a message, the strike consisted of forty-nine warheads.  This sent a further message that when America launches a raid it will to win.  All this took place within a few short hours.

Had America wanted to take Syrian lives the cruise missiles would have targeted air force barracks.  Instead the causalities were small, only nine dead and shows America did not care to kill but instead destroy planes and missile sites and send a message.   Finally America was speaking softly but proved it carried a big stick and was prepared to use it.

Many criticized Trump for not debating the strike.  While this may be a nice gesture, telling an enemy it will be attacking and giving the enemy weeks to prepare is ludicrous.  The shock factor of this strike was enormous and sent a clear message to Syria and to its’ key ally, Russia.

 

Recently the Trump administration took the “supposed” unprecedented move to ask 48 Federal Prosecutors to resign.  One of the prosecutors had been asked in November to remain and he said he would.  When he was on the list to resign the press exploded with comments about how the current administration was acting so unfairly and exploited the terminations to make it appear that Federal Prosecutors being dismissed is an unprecedented act.  Nothing is further from the truth.

The Regan administration has been credited to be the beginning of mass firings of Federal Prosecutors.  President Reagan replaced 89 of 93 Federal Prosecutors in his first two years in the Oval Office.  This was a large turnover and it was done over a quit long time span.

When President Clinton took office, he had all of George Bush’s prosecutors fired and this happened almost immediately.  Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales had the honor to perform the terminations.

Then it was tit for tat as the younger Bush became president.  He also fired most of the Federal Prosecutors but it was more staggered and only after the prosecutors had been polled as to when the best time would be to replace them.  Of course the political card was thrown into the mix as the Democrats called the Bush Republican inspired firings to be politically motivated.

President Obama continued the post-election purge of Federal Prosecutors.  By that time it was all but expected to be replaced if a person was a Federal Prosecutor and a new president took office.  Generally the Attorney General will request letters of resignation to end the term of the Federal Prosecutor in a respectful manner and not declare that the prosecutor was “fired”.

Newly elected President Trump has followed the rule and has requested that Federal Prosecutors resign.  There are a couple of exceptions to what transpired in the past.  First, the Trump administration has so far only asked for the resignation of forty-eight prosecutors, not all ninety-one.  The terminations did happen immediately with little thought to case load.  Secondly, one of the prosecutors refused to resign and has truly been fired.  It was claimed that the fired prosecutor was asked in November to remain in his position but was later asked to resign.  Of course this made head line news and the “mass firings” were thrown out to an unknowledgeable American population.

While the firings of Federal Attorneys are credited to have begun with Reagan, the terminations have taken place over a much longer time span and Louisiana was not immune.  In 1939 the Louisiana Scandals were taking place.  Governor Leche and two hundred other Louisiana citizens to include the president of LSU were indicted.  Two committed suicide and the president of LSU was extradited from Canada following his flee across the border.   Despite the cases initial development in Louisiana and despite that every trial seated by the Louisiana Federal Prosecutor ended in a conviction, the Federal Prosecutor was not reappointed to a second four-year term.

Instead of sensationalizing the replacement of Federal Prosecutors, wouldn’t it be better to get along with the business of running the country.  Let’s get all the new cabinet in place so that the government can a run little bit smoother.  Let’s get our laws enacted that allow the country to run a little more efficient and let’s quit dwelling on individual tax returns and what the first lady is wearing that was first popularized by Jackie Kennedy or analyzing a president’s daughter line of clothing at Macy’s Department Store.  Running a country is serious business so lets’ get serious about it and lets’ all pull together to get it done.

 

The United States was originally a great experiment.  The idea of national power being totally generated and held in the hands of its’ citizens was a unique approach to governing a sovereign country.  The great experiment was viewed as a doomed approach to government.  Then France had its’ revolution and power flowed from a monarchy and an elite few to the populace of France.  This continued around the world and gradually democracy became the favorite form of government for the typical resident of the planet.

Even though Democracy is preferred by most humans, other forms of government has sprouted and flourished for a while.  The yoke of monarchy was overthrown in Russia when the Czar was captured and his family executed.  Democracy did not materialize and communism bloomed.  Alternate forms of government eventually failed and some form of democracy developed.  This shows that countries flourish when its’ citizens are allowed an opportunity to make their own decisions and are not dictated to as to how they live and what they can consume   We are seeing today in Venezuela this cycle of dictatorship followed by a breakdown in goods and services and finally followed by anarchy.

In the 1950s Venezuela was a Mecca for oil and gas.  American companies were present and oil flowed out of the Venezuelan oil fields.   In 1992 Hugo Chavez led a bloody military coupe aimed at overthrowing the Venezuelan government.  The coupe failed and Chavez was put in prison.  Two years later and following his release from prison Chavez visited Fidel Castro, the communist dictator of Cuba.  It was there that Castro began his mentorship of Chavez.  Four years later Chavez was legitimately elected as president of Venezuela but Chavez dissenters won an overwhelming majority of seats in congress and governorships.

When taking the oath of office he began implementing his changes that would lead to becoming the dictator of Venezuela.  He modified the oath when asked “Do you swear before God and the fatherland to fulfill the duties of Constitutional President, to obey and promote obedience to our Constitution?” Chavez replied , “I swear before God and the Fatherland, before my people and over this moribund constitution, that I will promote the transformations required for the new republic to have a new constitution adequate to the times.”  One month later he changed the electoral process that would guarantee he would obtain a majority in congress.

Later the federal judges were dismissed and were replaced with judges identified by Chavez.  Two years later the military was instructed to ignore any judicial rulings and instead follow what Chavez instructed.  Chavez was methodically taking over control of the country.   A year later he fired eighteen thousand oil field workers who had struck for politicizing the government oil company.

By 2007 Chavez had taken over all oil activities from foreign companies and had disbanded all political parties with the exception of his.  Hugo Chavez had now captured supreme control of Venezuela.   Soon after this the cracks began to appear in the country.

Chavez’s fiery rhetoric against the United States lasted until he died in office in 2013.  He was fully attached to the Cuban communistic regime and attacked the United States and capitalism every chance he could.  Oil prices, Venezuela’s main source of foreign income, had increased seven-fold while Chaves was in office.  Still, poverty and corruption increased and Chavez had to endure a two-day coupe and nationwide strikes aimed to overthrow the dictator.

I had hoped that with the death of Chavez and the election of Nicolas Madura the country would break ties with Cuba and once again become a strong partner of America. Nothing could have been further from reality.   Madura continued with the Chavez policies and the country is now in full collapse.   A state of emergency was declared in 2016,

It has been reported that 15% of the population is eating garbage from disposed food containers.  Riots are becoming more prevalent as the population shows its disappointment with the current government.

A collapse is coming and a void will be present in the leadership of the country.  America must be standing by with a helping hand filled with support for the new government.  We must not fall into the same trap that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.  A few years after the collapse it was noted that Russia needed help, not advise.

Venezuela does not need money, it is a member of OPEC, and has enough cash flow.  What it needs is leadership to properly use what it has and have the long-range vision to build a strong and viable nation.  What is proven is that capitalism and true democracy is the best approach to governing a nation.


 

Americans are so fortunate.  It is true that many Americans are not as well off as others and it is true that life can be somewhat harsh for some as compared to the average American.  It is also true that living in America is great as compared to the majority of the rest of the world.  True, we have children going hungry at night and in certain areas a person could die after being struck by a stray bullet; but so many other parts of the world are much more deprived than what we have in America today.

The average American does not realize how fortunate he or she is.  Unfortunately, many feel they are guaranteed to a soft and comfortable life if they are citizens of our country.  Many feel this is a constitutional right when in fact the constitution only grants its’ citizens “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  Everyone has a right to pursue their dreams.  It is up to the individual to make the best of it.

Last week I visited   a man that was 94 years young.  When I left I felt so fortunate to live in a country with so many advantages and built from the sweat and blood from men and women like the man I visited with, Raymond Johnson.  I learned about the fiber of the ones who carved out our country during the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.  I learned what it was like to live in rural North Louisiana, to move with the sawmills as they moved, to go to school in numerous locations in rural America and most importantly to build a very successful business.  This is one of those success stories that proves the American dream is achievable.

What I was most inspired about was that this story represented the core fiber of America that built our great nation.  That unique individual that did not complain about living conditions because it was the only living conditions that was ever known.  That person that was working while obtaining an education in rustic country schools and who felt fortunate to be able to get an education.  The person that worked endless hours without complaint to realize a dream because that is the way it was supposed to be.

I thought back to something I said several years ago; every community has a history and every person in that community has a history.  Unfortunately when a person dies the history dies with them.

I promised Raymond that I would return to visit again and asked permission to bring a tape recorder with me.  He was quite responsive so next week I hope to capture a little of the essence of growing up in timber camps around North Louisiana.  Then I remembered a note I received from the LSU library following my donation of my grandfather’s political papers.  The note disclosed that the enclosed papers were copies of interviews of my grandfather written by T. Harry Williams, a professor at LSU.  Williams was writing his book, “Huey Long”, and he later won the Pulitzer Prize for his publication.  It was noted that he was a pioneer in writing by using oral history was he captured the life of the Kingfisher, Huey Long.

I started thinking about how we could capture the history of our community and preserve his for future generations.  Perhaps a new project is on the horizon.

Several years ago I was in my office and someone sent me a link to a UTUBE site.  I opened it and saw a British television show named Britain’s Got Talent.  I believe this episode predated the introduction of the American version, America’s Got Talent.  I watched as the three judges, Amanda Holden, Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan smirked as a middle aged portly women walked on stage.  Members of the audience rolled their eyes and snickered as the contestant told the judges that she was singing a famous show tune and wanted be as big a performer as a famous British singer.  The judges told her to sing as their look a cynicism gave notice this lady would be quickly departing the show.  As the lady began to sing the audience leapt to its’ feet in thunderous applause and the look of amazement on the judges face told the story.  I have to admit that a knot formed in my throat, not just from the beauty of the moment but also from the realization that anything is possible; Susan Boyle came of age.

Later a similar occurrence happened on American Television as a young 10 year old Jackie Evancho captured the love and admiration of America on America’s Got Talent.  Another success story that originally prompted viewers to ask if she lip synced the original song.

Recently I attended a Christmas performance of two professional singers that was sponsored by the North Louisiana Arts Council.  The singer and piano accompanist were magnificent but to the pleasant surprise of the audience a local singer joined the professionals.  When she opened her mouth to sing songs of the season the crowd sat in amazement as did the professionals.  A strong beautiful voice belted out song after song as she joined in with the other two singers on stage.  I had seen her months earlier as she performed at the Miss Teen Louisiana pageant in Monroe, Louisiana.  She was great there but she was that much better at Christmas.

Not only is she talented but she has beauty to match.  She entered the Miss Louisiana Watermelon Pageant last spring, her first pageant, and won.  This is the same pageant that produced the current Miss Louisiana.  The young lady then entered the Miss Teen Louisiana Pageant, her second pageant, and won it also.  When she appeared in the Miss Teen America she was in the top five finalist.

As she stood on stage at the Christmas performance, her confidence was a special treat.  There was no intimidation from here senior peers and a huge smile during the performance was contagious for the crowd. It is hard to believe that she is only fifteen years old.  I sat and thought about all the earlier contestants on the numerous talent shows and how it would it be almost insulting for the young lady to being placed in competition like that; but that may be what has to be done for America to see the talent. Her moral fiber is reminiscent of another local celebrity, Sadie Robertson from Duck Dynasty and Dancing with the Stars fame.  My wife is a big fan of this young lady that she kept her at her daycare years earlier and our young  grand daughter glows as she recalls escorting her at the Miss Teen Louisiana pageant.

The young lady’s name if Sarah Katherine McCallum and she comes from pretty good stock; quit a wonderful family.  Her mother and father are both lawyers and her father is also a local judge and prior state legislature.  They are active in the community as well as the local Baptist Church.  The father is a deacon in the church.  Her brother is an extremely courteous young man who has done quit well in his own right.  After his senior year where he quarterbacked the Cedar Creek Cougars, John McCallum packed his bags and headed to Harvard on a full scholarship.  While there he and his girl friend, now his wife, invented Cake in a Can and won the  Harvard Innovation Challenge and the AdClub’s Branding Challenge.   While dressing for work early one morning I looked at Fox and Friends on television and there was John and his girl friend explaining their new invention.

With the voice Sarah Katherine possesses and the strong family and faith surrounding her there is a bright future for this lovely young lady.  Look out world, here comes Sarah Katherine.