Posts Tagged ‘Respect’

Speak your mind - the brain with wingsIt was early morning, shortly after 6am. Staff would be arriving soon. I was vacuuming in a conference room when I noticed something scrawled upon the large whiteboard on the wall:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Know who wrote that? Mr. Theodor Guisel — you know him as Dr. Seuss.

How improbable to see words such as these written in blue lettering for corporate eyes to see. Capitalism requires profit motives, a constant push for greater returns and lower costs. The bottom line matters more than the human line.

Sure, plenty of corporations throw platitudes around and hope they sound genuine — “People are our greatest asset,” and other such banalities. Puh—leeeeeeeez.

Is it actually within the realm of possibility that lurking within corporate structures are those with the ability to understand the machinations of productivity? There is a biological component to capitalism. Sounds obvious, certainly, but anyone who has been part of one might be hard pressed to prove it.

“Those who mind don’t matter . . .” There will always be those who take offense or have some personal agenda to work on. Finding others to hang fault on only serves their purposes, not yours.

” . . . those who matter don’t mind.” Being human often equates to not wanting to be wrong, itself a perilous step toward the edge of pride and the ensuing fall. Those who understand and accept an opinion — when presented properly, of course — are not judgemental about it . . . unlike some other people.

Good Dr., I ask for your forgiveness for what I’m about to say, as it sullies the true simple wisdom of your words. It really must be broken down to a lowest common denominator: Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one and they stink even when they won’t admit it.

So speak your mind knowing that some will use it for their own ends, and those who are of more solid making will appreciate your having done so.

Just be careful how you phrase it . . . it might feel good when you’re done but the stench may put a lot of people off.


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At the start, a huge thank you to those who commented and showed your decisive support for our flag. I especially want to thank Mrs. Mandell for her lengthy but very helpful comment. Her comments nourish my hopes that more than sunshine patriots are alive and watching out there.

I stopped by the post office today, and quite honestly, expected to see the flag still flying in its dismal shape. What I didn’t expect to see what this:

Tattered flag at bottom of pole at Mesa post office

Day 2 — perhaps even more disgraceful than the first day

They still have not so much as removed the damaged flag from the pole. Now, if I am missing some element of flag display etiquette then please let me know, but I can’t imagine it calls for leaving the flag near the base of the flag pole.

Call me crazy.

As suggested, I have put in a call to the Mesa chapter of the American Legion and left a message. I have also tried to contact the Red Mountain Patriots.

Per Mrs. Mandell’s initial suggestion, I took the liberty of not dropping by personally, but I did call the main post office for the city of Mesa and spoke to a woman named Alice who knew precisely what I was calling about when I mentioned the Superstition Springs post office.

“Is this about the flag?”

“I’m not the only one, huh?”

“Not at all. I’ve had a few people call already. They are supposed to be on their way to change the flag. I told them it cannot be dragging on the ground.”

“As of when I went by a couple hours ago, it wasn’t touching the ground yet, but somebody lowered the flag and left it there.”

“Well, last I talked to them they said they were on their way.”

She was professional, not rude at all, but clearly took the matter seriously.

We shall see . . .

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The following is, to be fair, in antecedence of anticipated action by a local Post Office station; the post at the center of my attention, my chafed patriotism, is the Superstition Springs Post Office in East Mesa, Arizona. I’d list the address, but I’m not sure that’s completely necessary yet.

July is smack dab in the middle of the Sonoran desert’s monsoon season (did you know the word “monsoon” is Arabic for rain?). Last night we had a pretty solid monsoon storm, replete with strong winds and lots of rain. The winds that gust through during these storms can be surprisingly strong for an area as seemingly desolate as the desert. They have downed power lines and very large trees, even blown tiles and shingles off rooftops — point is, like storm winds most anywhere, they can do damage.

After work I had to drop off a copy of my book for someone who offered to review it for me. As I approached the post office I noticed something wasn’t right with the flag. I parked and climbed out of my vehicle and immediately looked up at it.

US Flag in front of Mesa Post Office Considering what a complete Gordian Knot our country is in (if you don’t know what a Gordian Knot is then substitute the phrase “cluster f—“) the appearance of this flag seemed stoicly metaphorical, a ringing visual indicment of just how badly misshapen our beloved country has become. Yet it is a simple matter to remedy in this situation. If we can’t collectively stand together and eviscerate our “leaders” for being the partisan jackasses they have proven to be, then we can, we should, we must — at a minimum — take pride in the one symbol which most represents us, perhaps most unifies us as brothers and sisters: the American flag.

Torn US Flag in front of Mesa Post Office

This poor specimen most likely took her thrashing last night during the storm. I am apalled that nobody at least took the flag down . . . that’s a mere matter of sheer respect. I showed up just before 1pm and she was still waving in the air, torn, punished by forces stronger than any of us. Just look at her.

If you don’t find yourself moved in some regard then perhaps you should take your Communist Party credentials and go someplace like China or Cuba where you will be welcomed openly.I understand the Middle East hates us too . . . perhaps you would fit in with them. I’ll give you heartless Pinkos one last chance to be a shocked as I was.

There was but one teller inside, and his English wasn’t exactly outstanding, so I didn’t attempt taking the issue up with him. He looked beaten down by his job, he didn’t need Mr. America poking a finger in his chest.

Instead, I called my parents first. I absolutely wanted to write a post about it, but before I went off half-cocked I thought it better to see what the best approach would be for contacting someone about this egregious disregard for American symbolism; they have both worked for the Postal Service for quite a long time — for once, I had an inside track on something!

Turns out my dad used to take care of matters like this when he traveled around the state and did maintenance inspections at various locations — this very thing is one of his deepest pet peeves. He told me he used to make the station managers keep three flags on hand at all times, so should one become soiled (or, helloooooo . . . damaged!) it could be swiftly replaced as befits our flag.

They advised me to call the station manager first, then if that didn’t achieve the desired result go straight to the Phoenix Postmaster.

I tried. I really did.

Seven different attempts to the offending post in Mesa resulted in sot so much as one person answering the phone. I queried Mr. Internet — the Great Oz of our time — to try and locate the contact number for a one Robert J Hurley, the Phoenix Postmaster sworn in in 2010, but unsurprisingly his number seems to be unavailable. How are the public supposed to be served if they can’t reach his office?

So I called ASK USPS and talked with a very nice lady who shared my affrontism about the flag’s condition, but all she could give me was the Teller Window number at the main office in Phoenix; a dead end.

Tried a few more searches, switched up my search terms, but still couldn’t find any contact info for Hurley. Back to ASK USPS and another sympathetic woman. This time I got the number for Consumer Affairs.

Another voice in accord with my own who promised to forward my discontent to the proper powers. “Give them a week to get it corrected” she said.

For me, her statement was unbelievable — for my parents, not so much. I texted them after I got off the phone and told them I thought it was a steaming load — not in those words, of course. I called the help line one last time and gave my contact info to yet another voice in agreement who assured me someone would be taking up my issue soon and would contact me.

So there you have it. I’ll post an update soon. This much I am sure of: one week won’t cut it for this American.

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Bronze plaque from WWII Memorial in Washington D.C.
A veteran of World War II, he served in the Pacific Theater of Operations, eventually arriving in Okinawa, Japan, as thousands of troops did, just before the Enola Gay would drop her well-kept secret on Hiroshima. Having fought unimaginably hard to help take strategically important islands and atolls he bore witness to barbary which only mankind could unleash upon one another. He watched men die all around him.

Some sixty years later he would be traveling through Payson, Arizona, and encounter a group of youths entirely discourteous and disrespectful to those around them—assuredly a clash of generations but a bitter reminder of how faded our thoughts have become concerning those men who fought to bring wrong to right.

Mr. DeMayo would later show his daughter something he wrote down shortly after that encounter: “Before I went to combat I found a reason for putting my life on the line—to preserve the next generation. Had I known what their character was going to be, I would not have been nearly so eager to put myself in harm’s way.”

This had bothered me for quite some time. My father had served in Europe (as I note below), and yet I have never probed about his war experience. I do know he had no love of Paris at that time, but I won’t repeat his description of it here as it was a long time ago and likely not indicative of Paris today. But Mr. DeMayo’s words resonated with me, and not in a pleasant way.

When my son and I go to a ball game and the national anthem is played—I get choked up most every time. I stand and applaud with thousands of others each time they recognize men and women who are currently in service to our country—and yet that is pitifully short of proper gratitude for what they sacrifice; it is wholly shameful to my father, grandfathers, Mr. DeMayo, and every other soul who has worn the stars-and-stripes on their shoulder. I felt like I needed to let this man, my father, and posthumously, my grandfathers know that while we are an almost disgracefully quiet majority we indeed value and are deeply grateful for what they have done for us and our beloved country.

I assure you, we vastly outnumber the reckless, disrespectful few.

Below is the letter I wrote to Mr. DeMayo, now 85-years-old. It is perhaps a small whisper amid the din of everything else in our lives . . . but it is heartfelt.

If Hell is, as philosophically defined, the impossibility to reason, then war is the horrific struggle to bring logic to chaos, to try and strike a noble balance between the casualty of misguided power and the just cause of Natural Rights.

Mothers lose their sons and daughters; children their mothers and fathers. In answer to any question of rectitude of man’s nature one must fully consider the sacrifice, the indescribable purging of soul and spirit both sides of the familial unit endure. Is the greater iniquity that of loss to families, or to that of a higher cause if all ideals are dissolved for more transient, impermanent matters?

My father and both grandfathers served during World War II: dad in Europe in a support capacity with the Army, and both grandparents as airmen who flew over the coast of Normandy on D-Day. I know precious little about my father’s military stint outside his old tattoo and Army-issue rifle. I knew nothing of my grandfathers’ participation in the invasion until well after they both passed. None of these men spoke of war with us. I would bet that had we asked, once adjudged to be of proper age, they would have answered each and every question, however sparingly.

Neither I nor my brother has served in the military. This fact, I certify, does nothing to diminish our consummate respect for those who have served. My approbation and heartfelt gratitude extend to all who have answered their nation’s call to duty. Sadly, I know there are people bold—and egregiously wrong enough—to call themselves citizens, who detest or ostracize those who served on their very behalf. To marginalize any man or woman who has served, in any capacity, in any conflict, is surely a moral stain, a melancholic blight, an act of untenable turpitude.

To the degree which our children are inoculated against these conflicts is an indication that we, as a collective, are blithely willing to let them repeat the same mistakes, to declare the value of history as a zero sum, and to inflict dishonor upon those who participated—in short, an act of impersonal despotism.

On December 4, 1776, the man who penned Common Sense, a pamphlet which arguably lit a tinderbox of patriotic passion under an increasingly lethargic colonial population, published his follow-up, The Crisis. With the patchwork army badly dispirited, haggard, and ailing, and after a solid string of defeats since the prior August, Loyalists were all but rejoicing the ultimate demise of independence; once stalwart patriots were absconding to the British side in droves; the public sentiment toward the cause as a whole had taken on the figurative stench and staleness of a rotting carcass. Just across the Delaware river, opposite Trenton, New Jersey, the exhausted army scattered into several encampments as a brutal winter begun to settle in. Enlistments were expiring for almost half the soldiers and more were deserting every day. Thomas Paine, in concert with a stirring, impassioned plea from Gen. George Washington, managed to help rekindle the barely glowing ember of patriotism and respect for the men, and restore faith and vigor amidst a dubious public. His essay started with the most appropriate statement of gravitas:

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

My point to all this, Mr. DeMayo, is that while I understand your incisive resentment regarding post-war sentiment of returning vets, I am bothered, moreover, moved to declare, with the utmost urgency and exertion, that I am not one of the pathetically oblique. As surely as Providence guides my heart I can attest that I am not singular, but rather representative of millions who are equal in my discernment—proof exists not in me alone, but in your venerable daughter as well.

I cannot, with any imaginable veracity, begin to comprehend the horrors you have experienced at the nadir of humanity’s violence and Death’s remorseless culling. I have seen grass die and leaves fall; I have witnessed the quiet passing of my grandmother; but I have never known the adrenalized anguish of comrades and friends falling in the wake of God’s own thunder. I cannot conceive the encumbrance of such demons, resolved to claw at my soul and tatter my dreams until my last breath. Such corruption of hope and splintering of faith in man can only be assuaged by our better angels, but only if we are receptive to them.

I genuinely respect your opinion, Mr. DeMayo, and will—as your daughter would attest—fight with every and any gift in my arsenal for your deserved right, your suitably justified prerogative to hold fast to your convictions, regardless of my perspective. Most importantly I owe you, my father and grandparents, and every man who served with you, a debt I could never possibly repay.

It may be impossible to mend the hearts of those put in harm’s way, but it is entirely proper and fitting that we should—if I may step into Lincoln’s words for a moment—take increased devotion to that cause, to those soldiers, who gave their last full measure of devotion for our mutual benefit. It is, indeed, far above my poor power to add or detract to the atrocities you and other veterans have suffered.

My work here is arrived at a most sincere, if deficient conclusion: Thank you for your service, sir. My benediction is delivered as not just any obtuse citizen, but as a grateful American.

J.W. Nicklaus

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Jesus playing football with a child
Rant Ahead!

Unless you’ve been under a rock the last few years, or haven’t followed any form of media whatsoever, then you probably have at least heard the name of Micheal Vick—an NFL star player who was convicted for dog fighting. Ring a bell now?

This little tirade is not about all that stuff . . . however, keep that little nugget in the back of your mind because it indirectly relates to the followig soapbox bluster.

There is an organization named the Southeastern Virginia Arts Association (SEVAA). These folks have publicly stated they are holding a fundraiser to (and here’s where the fun begins!) “honor” Michael Vick. Is that great or what! But wait, it gets better!

They are honoring him because they feel he epitomizes the word “hero.”

A Quick Digression

In a post I wrote just over two years ago (If We Could Be Super) I stated the following:

We love our heroes because they showcase all that’s good about ourselves. I believe the majority of us are innately good and we want to believe in the ultimate good of humanity.

A few months later I posted Of Admiration & Noble Qualities, in which I elaborated upon ‘heroism’ as a construct:

When you read or hear the word hero the immediate thing that likely comes to mind is probably the hero of comic book or movie variety: Superman, Batman, Capt. Jack Sparrow, Robin Hood, Luke Skywalker, etc. . . . But true heroes are not those who punch, shoot, pummel, vaporize or otherwise vanquish their enemies in the name of fulfilling a storyline. They are genuinely men and women of profound moral convictions.

The main gist of the post was to draw the defining line between ‘hero’ and ‘idol’. I made the assertion that heroes are people to admire, people of noble qualities.

Please take a moment and absorb that. Or better yet, take a few minutes and revisit those two posts. I’ll wait . . .

Back To Our Evolving Rant

If you read my blog then I take a measure of comfort in the idea that I don’t need to completely flesh out the subtext for you. I can sum it up in a tidy little statement and move along—the SEVAA is going to honor a convicted dog killer.

Okay, I purposely embellished that a little bit . . . sorta.

Michael Vick did do his time. He completed his sentence as the law dictated. By most accounts he is genuinely remorseful for what he did and is truly working to put it behind him. I give him credit for that. He played very well for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, and the NFL awarded him Comeback of the Year. He actually had to earn his spot on the team when he returned from prison, it wasn’t handed to him. I’m not defending him, just setting the facts out there in the interest of fairness.

As I said, the Vick conviction/past is not the underlying story here. A mere three words bridge the preceding story and the one to come: honor and convicted felon.

This is a good point to introduce you to SEVAA president Michael Muhammad. What Mr. Muhammad lacks in knowledge he more than makes up for in chutzpah, good ol’ big-time American balls. You see, the SEVAA are intensely proud of their fundraiser and its namesake. In a press release, the group says it chose Vick because of his “resilience in overcoming obstacles” and becoming “a true example of life success for all to emulate.”

[imagine your favorite cricket chirp here — make it two, to heighten (or dull) the drama]

Clearly they left out the part that tells the story of how Vick’s circumstances were not something life dealt to him; they were a choice he made and paid the price for. The “obstacle” was of his own doing. But I guess that’s the fast track to heroism these days.

And This One Time, At Band Camp . . .

Surely, if you have any sense of my tendency for wordiness you realize I haven’t arrived at the true sticking point yet. A car won’t overheat until it gets good and warmed up, right? It doesn’t blow right away; Yellowstone’s Old Faithful even takes a while to build up pressure before unloading.

Mr. Muhammad must have been poked a few times with the media stick because he felt compelled to justify his organization’s honoree selection as follows:

People talk about Michael Vick as a convicted felon, well so was Jesus Christ, yet he was able to do things above and beyond the naysayers to the point that we all recognize him today as Lord and Savior.

Forget that the structure of that sentence is mangled to the point of roadkill. That’s the least of my annoyances. Allow me to go to the opposite extreme and say that I’m not all uppity about a reference to Jesus. For Christ’s sake, John Lennon said the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, and they made out alright.

The Honorable President Michael Muhammad gets this so very wrong from a factual, and empirical, perspective. That really punches my card. But the real kick to the groin is yet to come. Let’s cover a little history here, shall we?

Through The Hostile Sands Of Time

Around 5-6 A.D. a delegation was sent to Caesar Augustus in Rome fervently requesting that Rome annex Judea to the empire. Judea had long been under Rome’s domination, but it wasn’t officially part of the empire. Judea was a critical piece of Middle Eastern real estate as it sat smack dab between Syria and Egypt. A burgeoning Roman empire meant lots of soldiers and citizens to feed, and with three grain crops a year coming out of Egypt the mighty Augustus couldn’t afford to let Persia (modern day Iran) muck things up by conquering Judea. So he annexed it.

What followed, as part of the annexation process, was a census. This is where Joseph and Mary come into the picture. You all know this part of the story.

Around 35-36 A.D. a man name Pontius Pilate was made provincial governor of the region. As is customary during the week of Passover he traveled into Jerusalem with a small contigent of Roman soldiers to make sure the various ethnic factions didn’t get out of control. He was just about done for the week when the Sanhedrin showed up demanding that Pilate take mortal action against Jesus.

Shut The F*** Up!Yoo hoo, Mr. Muhammad . . . I understand what you are trying to achieve here, but you’re completely wrong in referring to Jesus as a convicted felon. Get your damn facts right, lest you earn the ever-popular Have-A-Cup badge of Honor—’cause I know you’re really into the whole ‘honor’ thing.

I’ll help you out here, since apparently nobody in your group grasps the biblical enormity of your stupidity: Pilate himself tells the crowd that Jesus had commited no crime whatsoever under Roman law, and since the locals are the ones who asked to be placed under Roman law then Jesus was clearly innocent. Pilate requests to be shown proof that the man had broken the law. I won’t keep you in suspense: no proof was given.

Fact 1: Under Roman law, Jesus Christ had broken no law, given not the least offense. Ergo, he was definitively not a felon.

The Sanhedrin tried pulling the blasephemy card—they had met amongst themselves and declared him guilty of such charges. Again, Pilate reminded them that blasephemy was not a crime under Roman law. The council insisted that they could not put him to death themselves, only Rome could. For the Jewish people to do so would be to commit murder, which would violate Roman law.

Fact 2: Even Jesus hates the Yankees!. Woops . . . how did that get in there. What I meant to say was even though Jesus wasn’t a Roman citizen he had certain individual protections under its laws.

Someone in the crowd yells “He goes around calling himself King of the Jews!” The Sanhedrin nod and pat one another on the back, telling Pilate this is treason, which is an act punishable by death under Roman law. They threaten to notify Caesar Tiberius of Pilate’s refusal to mete out proper punishment on treason charges if he didn’t comply with their demands.

Understand that Tiberius has been likened to Joseph Stalin based on his level of paranoia of those around him. Tiberius would swiftly execute any governor who was weak on treason. So Pilate was sensibly concerned. But he remained absolutely convinced of Jesus’ innocence. He sent one of his staff off to find a loophole, something he could use to get himself and Jesus off the hook.

Fact 3: Jesus was a teacher. In case you can’t wrap your feeble mind around the concept allow me to clear it up for you: he was a tee-chur. For the record (and future reference) so were Socrate, Budhha, and Confuscious. All teachers, all figures who have had almost incalcuable impacts on the history of mankind. Not a one of them wrote a book, believe it or not. Nor did they play football. Imagine that. Now look at those four names again—those might be better suited to be honored as “heroes.” I’m sure Virginia has a large number of military vets who have served our country who would equally qualify for such honors. But they’re not famous. I get it.

The only thing Jesus did was show up the Pharisees. In their absence he would preach at masses. The difference was that people began to listen to Jesus and even follow him; he had a certain Gallilean je ne sais quois. The more people followed him the more the Sadducees and Pharisees took notice. They viewed him as a political and ecumenical threat to their very existence. Try as they might they couldn’t pin anything truly criminal on him. Best they could do was shoot the moon with the treason charge.

Eventually Pilate’s officer returned with just the loophole he needed; an obscure tradition wherein the governor could pardon one prisoner per year during the feast of Passover. But by this time the crowd had been whipped into a cold-blooded frenzy and clamored for the true convicted felon, Barrabas. Vick wasn’t near the crinimal Barrabas was, I’ll grant you that, Mr. Muhammad.

Fact 4: The Jewish rabble collected before Pontius Pilate unanimously chose Barrabas—the real convicted felon—to be released by Pilate. Pilate never convicted Jesus of any crime. To be sure I am clear I shall repeat myself again: Jesus was not convicted of a crime by Roman authority; he was sacrificed by his own people. That does not satisfy the definition for “convicted felon” Mr. Muhammad.

Pilate had Jesus flogged to try and quell the crowd’s blood lust. It was accepted at the time that forty lashes with a whip would likely be fatal, so Pilate sentenced him to 39 lashes. When Pilate asked Jesus to respond to the charge of treason the bible tells us he asked “Are you the king of the Jews?” Different books give different answers, but Jesus in essence replies “If you say I am.” Pilate desperately wanted to help Jesus, but after the crowd chose to have Barrabas pardoned his hands were tied. The general practice of crucifixion was the only option Pilate had.

The View From 33,000 Dollars
(you thought I was going to say “feet” didn’t you)

What the hell does thirty-three large have to do with any of this? Funny you should ask.

Turns out the good (if not entirely brilliant) folks of the SEVAA held a little soiree, the Afr’am Festival, about a year ago, and hired out police officers and Sheriff’s deputies to provide security. They still owe these gentlemen, you guessed it, $33,000. They’re banking on the $100-a-plate fundraiser to be a huge success so they can pay the officers back. I’m not against holding a fundraiser to pay down your debts. Not at all. But I am completely against the offensive manner in which they approached this one.

The SEVAA invoked (via mouthpiece Muhammad) Jesus in analogy to Vick. As if that weren’t distasteful enough, Rhodes Scholar Muhammad slanders a beloved figure like Jesus Christ, and for what . . . $33,000?

I have publicly stated before my stance on organized religion—it’s not my thing but I understand it works wonders for some people. I’m amazingly comfortable with that. I prefer to carry my faith and belief with me instead of strapping on the dogma and almost draconian constraints of a ruling theological body. Having said that, even I wouldn’t be so stupid as to slight an iconic figure like Christ. You can make fun of most any other iconography you like, from Mickey Mouse to Bugs Bunny, Charlie Chaplin to Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods to Tony the Tiger, but you don’t mess with figures which have done more to spread a positive message and assist mankind in not eradicating itself over differences of opinion.

Jesus, people . . . think before you say something stupid!

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A Pin Drop

swaddled-in-flagIt is a very rare occasion when I pass along something I received in an e-mail. I don’t get a ton of stuff, but I used to. We all know the feeling of weeding through ankle-deep forwarded jokes and ‘send-this-to-twenty-people-or-you’ll-be-visited-by-some-horrible-fate’ chain notes. Therefore, I feel that anything shared should have intrinsic value. It should be something that at least makes you smile, and at best makes you think.

What you’re about to read was sent to me by someone I used to work with, an ex-colleague and equally proud patriot; so it’s no surprise to me that I received this from him. I have made an admittedly meager attempt to ascertain its veracity, but the message is what’s important.

Those of you who have followed my blog know I tend to lean to the jingoistic side every now and again. Not only should you shroud yourself in a big ol’ flag before reading, but be prepared to nod a lot!

At a time when our president and other politicians tend to apologize for our country’s prior actions, here’s a refresher on how some of our former patriots handled negative comments about our country.

JFK’S Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, was in France in the early 60’s when DeGaulle decided to pull out of NATO. DeGaulle said he wanted all US military out of France as soon as possible.

Rusk responded “Does that include those who are buried here?

DeGaulle said nothing in reply. You could have heard a pin drop


When in England, at a fairly large conference, Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.

He answered by saying, ‘Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.’


There was a conference in France where a number of international engineers were taking part, including French and American. During a break, one of the French engineers came back into the room saying “Have you heard the latest dumb stunt Bush has done? He has sent an aircraft carrier to Indonesia to help the tsunami victims. What does he intended to do, bomb them?”

A Boeing engineer stood up and replied quietly:
“Our carriers have three hospitals on board that can treat several hundred people; they are nuclear powered and can supply emergency electrical power to shore facilities; they have three cafeterias with the capacity to feed 3,000 people three meals a day, they can produce several thousand gallons of fresh water from sea water each day, and they carry half a dozen helicopters for use in transporting victims and injured to and from their flight deck. We have eleven such ships. How many does France have?”


A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included admirals from the U.S., British, Canadian, Australian and French navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of officers that included personnel from most of the represented countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks, but a French admiral suddenly complained that whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English. He then asked, “Why is it that we always have to speak English in these
conferences rather than speaking French?”

Without hesitating, the American admiral replied, ‘Maybe it’s because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn’t have to speak German.”


Robert Whiting, a gentleman of 83 years age, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry-on.

“You have been to France before, monsieur?” the customs officer asked sarcastically. Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

“Then you should know enough to have your passport ready.”

The American said, ‘The last time I was here, I didn’t have to show it.”

“Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports upon arrival in France!”

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look, then quietly explained, ”Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 to help liberate this country, I couldn’t find a single Frenchmen to show a passport to.”

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Time makes more converts than Reason.

Perhaps one of my favorite sentences in Common Sense, and it’s on the first page of a pamphlet that set a convulsive group of colonial territories upon a course which would bring astounding concepts and hard-fought liberties to a people who’d had quite enough of being manhandled by aristocrats holding power via ‘birth right’ and not by consensus of the governed.

Ironically penned by an Englishman, it gave a wary populace the grist they needed as the mill of independence lurched to life, groaning and creaking under its own weight, yet setting powerfully clandestine machinations in motion. God touched Thomas Paine upon the shoulder and nudged the muse of inspiration within.

Yet I am hard pressed to declare witness to the same fire-in-the-belly spirit today, at a time when we conceivably need it most. Certainly there are voices straining to be heard, almost whisper-thin and inconsequential amongst the thunderous appelations of media prophets (and profits). Content and editorial decisions are based more upon ratings and sponsor appeasement than upon proper distillation and dispersion of critical knowledge to the public; massive capitalist juggernauts blindly cruising upon the dwindling waters that gave it industrial, economic, and global significance.

A sobering number of “Americans” have no idea whom the Vice President is—even more stunning are those in our schools who don’t know the three branches of government. Pretty safe bet that far more people know who our current president is, if for no other reason than he more preferentially befits minorities than any other in our history. Don’t misconstrue what I’ve written—I’ve watched President Obama speak and watched the inauguration. I’m incredibly proud that America has finally elected a non-white to her highest public office. I, along with a disenchanted multitude, are waiting to see the promised “change we can believe in.”

But what do you believe, America?

It would seem to me that Reason can’t be coaxed from those whose Time is spent avoiding or ignoring that which they glibly take for granted. Ratings for American Idol are still through the roof, yet voter turnout typically hits a high of 40%, if that; the registered yet non-voting majority indignantly take any opportunity to chest-thump about their constitutional rights—rights which I most confidently bet they can’t begin to enumerate.

Video games thrill and entertain, blowing up and slaughtering enemies of all ilk, yet the virtual combatants have little (if any) idea what the fight is for outside of point totals and online aggrandizement.

Where is your fight, America? Do you not realize that our vigilance has been usurped by those who only wish to extract your cherished liberties for their own self-indulgence?

Are you comfortable with your exchange of freedom for perceived security?

How can you abide complacency and watch yourself being dressed down from within, much less in front of a leering and delighted global community.

Stand up my dear America!

Let go the teat of corpulent power and reclaim your voice along with the rest of your countrymen and women. Demand that those who claim privilege of public service do just that, perform public service, not self service.

Do you still believe in yourself America, or do you prefer to struggle and let those who should be attending you continue to look askance at your feeble exertions to right yourself?

I urge us all, a dangerously carefree and trusting nation, to bear presence of mind to our very foundations, that the cause of America is indeed the cause of all mankind. Without perpetuity of God’s grace and his bestowment to us thereof we can only imagine those things which have long held berth in our collective hearts: The natural rights of man as granted through providence, the sweet and expansive perfume of freedom, and the absolute necessity and reponsibility to self-govern.

Society and government are, and always should be, separate entities. We are the government; it is comprised of us only by virtue of our saying so. It MUST serve us, not the twisted inverse. Should we continue to feed its gaping maw it will only become more bloated, lethargic, and self-serving.

Let us do something about it. Reach across to our brothers and sisters and once again grasp their hands in friendship and unity, and work with one another to get done what must be done. Long enough we have procrastinated and allowed the feral beast to gorge upon our very souls. Confront and subdue it we must, with one loud, clear voice, lest it haunt us eternally as a thought of necessity instead of celebrated accomplishment.

If the sands in history’s hourglass are perilously close to culmination, then we have precious little time to contemplate reason. Raise your voices, America . . . from sea to shining sea.

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