Loving the United States

With all that goes on, it really isn’t hard. Now, first off, before anyone decides to come along and point out the sins of the United States I’d like to first point out a couple things:

1. There is no sinless nation. Whatever you can dredge up about the United States can be matched (or, very often) exceed by other nations on the level of sin.

2. I really do know all our national sins. In fact, if you’re getting your list out, save it. I probably know it better than you. My knowledge of history really is rather encyclopedic – I currently have somewhere north of 300 books in my personal library, most dealing with history…and I’ve probably read into the thousands of books over the course of my life…most of them about history. Seriously, I’ve got it – I know.

But it is still easy to love the United States. Not least, of course, because to love means to love the unlovable – it is when the United States is at its most unlovely that the true patriot stands ever more firmly beside her. And right now, we’re a rather unlovely prospect.

We’ve got millions of people in jail – many for crimes which only a liberal could think up. We’ve got abysmal poverty in a lot of areas in the nation. We’ve got a host of illegal immigrants which are brought here by a Ruling Class only interested in political calculations and cheap labor. A great number of our young people are ignorant of basic facts – and deliberately made that way by our public school systems. We’ve got a class of elitists battened on to our government, determined to grab what they can regardless of the fate of the nation. About 20% (my guess) of the population actually hates the nation they live in (not enough to leave it, of course). The wide world looks with contempt upon us – certain that our great days are behind and the wicked actors in the world are certain their time has come. The leading candidates for the Democrat party nomination are someone who should be indicted and someone who is convinced that socialism is a good idea. Over on the GOP side, the leading candidate is a demagogue who, I worry, doesn’t really know what he wants to do – but is determined to do it, anyway.

And it’s a great country – the best ever devised by the mind of Man. Trouble is, even the best thing devised by Man is bound to be horribly screwed up. But, still, we are the nation which leaps into action to help others. We are a nation of astonishing generosity within. We are a kind people who merely wish everyone to live as they see fit. We are an amazingly powerful nation which has not used it’s power for conquest. I know a lot of Progs think we have, but if we really were an Empire, the world would look a lot different…not better, but very different…mostly with the American flag flying over millions of square miles of land which is currently independent…and independent by our leave, as if we weren’t around, other nations would have conquered them a long time ago. We are, warts and all, a shining city on a hill – and will remain so, I think, for quite a long time.

I believe that because I believe that the seeds of regeneration are already sprouting within us. Do keep in mind that historical forces on the verge of triumph usually look like they are at death’s door – while that which appears to be all-powerful is usually already falling into the ash heap of history. The poisons which entered the United States well more than a century ago have burnt themselves out – still holding the reins, they appear powerful, but they are actually a spent force. I mean all that, for lack of a better phrase, left-of-center, Progressive nonsense which had the fundamental flaw of thinking that the “smart people” could organize everyone for the benefit of all. That is done. It is finished. It is despised and on it’s way out – and not just here, but around the Western world.

Oddly enough, it is the Trump phenomena which awoke me to the death of Progressivism – not that Trump has a clue, but the fact of Trump. The fact that he’s risen so far and appears invincible (though, of course, he still may wind up losing the GOP nomination). All of the forces of the Status Quo have been marshaled against Trump…and it, so far, hasn’t made a dent. And what did Trump do to gain this? He just spoke against it – and didn’t back down when he was told that he daren’t speak against it. Trump isn’t the man who will fix things. Supposing he gets in, any good he does will, in my view, be in a real sense accidental. But he has shown – and will continue to show – that those who have been ruling over us and wrecking every last thing they can get their hands on can be defied…and defied rather easily. Some time after Trump, someone else will come along and tap into the ocean of people sick to death of things as they are and bring about the real changes people want.

This is the United States of America, after all. We did such a good job that it took more than a century of Progressivism to mess it up (in Europe, which could never hold a candle to us, it took less than 20 years). People were willing to put up with the nonsense because for the longest time it didn’t have any immediate, negative impact on most people. But now it is having an impact – a very bad impact. People have been demanding change for 20 years and they haven’t been getting it. But all this has served to do is expose the Ruling Class for the liars they are. People know, for a fact, that as long as those in power remain in power, nothing will get fixed…and, so, on to Trump. He’s a lot of things, but he hasn’t spent his whole life ruining things, nor the last few decades serially lying to the American people about what he’s doing. He might make some fabulous mistakes if he gets into office, but fabulous mistakes are different from (and more forgivable) then horrible screw-ups deliberately concocted by people who have been lying to us about their intentions.

To me, it is all a sign of the basic health of the American people – a willingness to take matters in hand and smash a system which has become hopelessly corrupt. There’s life in the old girl, yet – America is not finished, not by a long shot. We might have a decade or two of “interesting times” as it is said, but I think that by the time I head for the hereafter, America will be the great, vibrant, free nation my grandfather was born in.

Veterans Day

Peace

Now, God be thanked Who has watched us with His hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary,
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move,
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary,
And all the little emptiness of love!

Oh! we, who have known shame, we have found release there,
Where there’s no ill, no grief, but sleep has mending,
Naught broken save this body, lost but breath;
Nothing to shake the laughing heart’s long peace there
But only agony, and that has ending;
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death. – Rupert Brooke, 1914

Attack

AT dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun
In the wild purple of the glow’ring sun,
Smouldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud
The menacing scarred slope; and, one by one,
Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire.
The barrage roars and lifts. Then, clumsily bowed
With bombs and guns and shovels and battle-gear,
Men jostle and climb to meet the bristling fire.
Lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop! – Siegfried Sassoon, 1918

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. – John McCrae, 1915

Who were they?

…in memory’s eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs, on many a weary march from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle-deep through the mire of shell-shocked roads, to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.

I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always, for them: Duty, Honor, Country; always their blood and sweat and tears, as we sought the way and the light and the truth.

And 20 years after, on the other side of the globe, again the filth of murky foxholes, the stench of ghostly trenches, the slime of dripping dugouts; those boiling suns of relentless heat, those torrential rains of devastating storms; the loneliness and utter desolation of jungle trails; the bitterness of long separation from those they loved and cherished; the deadly pestilence of tropical disease; the horror of stricken areas of war; their resolute and determined defense, their swift and sure attack, their indomitable purpose, their complete and decisive victory — always victory. Always through the bloody haze of their last reverberating shot, the vision of gaunt, ghastly men reverently following your password of: Duty, Honor, Country.

The code which those words perpetuate embraces the highest moral laws and will stand the test of any ethics or philosophies ever promulgated for the uplift of mankind. Its requirements are for the things that are right, and its restraints are from the things that are wrong.

The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training — sacrifice.

In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when he created man in his own image. No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.

However horrible the incidents of war may be, the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind… – Douglas MacArthur, 1962

In Congress, July 4th, 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…

…We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Memorial Day Open Thread

Sorry for not having this up earlier – and for not having anything interesting to write about this important day. My internet connection got some gremlins last night and I was unable to really get anything done.

At all events, do take some time today to remember our fallen – those who really did give the last, full measure of devotion to our nation. We owe our existence as a people to them and we can never repay the men and women who gave all for us.

In Congress, July 4th, 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…

…We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Memorial Day

It comes on Monday, of course.

At Nijmegen in Holland, during Operation Market-Garden in World War II, the US paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne had to take the bridge in that town – as the Germans held the bridge and capturing it was vital, the Americans were forced to cross the river so they could take it from both ends, thus preventing the Germans from blowing the bridge up. The trouble was that its not like Airborne units carry landing craft with them.  And so the men had to cross with what could be made available – collapsible canvas boats without even enough oars, so the men had to use their rifle butts to propel themselves across the river in the face of determined and well-sited enemy forces.

I’m sure all of us have heard descriptions of battle where it is said that the “fighting was fierce” or words to that effect.  That is how the fighting across the river was, once the men actually got across – made extra fierce because the paratroopers were pretty much massacred as they rowed across the river and this appeared to build a gigantic, towering rage in the men who made it across.  To put it into old, fashioned phrasing, they spared not, but slew.  Those paratroopers quite simply fell upon the German defenders like a thunderbolt and regardless of losses started to slaughter them.  At least for a while there, no prisoners were taken, even though it does appear that the apparition of these American killing machines quickly stunned and actually frightened the Germans, who were in superior numbers.

What does it all mean, this Memorial Day? That we are remembering our dead in war – but I don’t think that really does justice to what is being marked.  Men in war enter into unspeakable terrors and are cut down most horribly.  They may be good men or bad men; men who have lived lives of justice and mercy or men who lived lives of disgrace and perfidy – but when sent into battle, the men become heroes.  Something appears to click within them and all thought of self vanishes in a fierce desire to grapple with the enemy and emerge victorious.  Men who might not have been willing to lend a dollar to a friend will leap upon a live grenade, or distract and enemy machine-gunner, just so his comrades might live, even if only for a few minutes longer.

The soldiers who die in war have lives to live, just as all of us do.  The mere thought of ever being in a position where another man is around the corner, determined to kill me, strikes fear in my heart.  Some how, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines manage to get past that, and get around the corner – to kill, before they are killed.  To fight the enemy.  To put their valiant heart between the enemies of the United States and our people.  Maybe if I had ever been in that position, I would have passed the test.  I only know for certain that the men and women in the graves of our military cemeteries did pass the test; and because they did, very few of us are ever called on to do what they did.

Go on and have the barbecue.  Enjoy the time with family and friends.  That is ok.  It is good that the living go on living – but pause just for a moment some time this Monday and spare a thought for what it means for a soldier to die in battle, and how much you owe them.

 

Cutting Military Benefits

I’m posting this from a former ship mate of mine – we served together on board the USS Conolly way back when.  Joe became a lifer dog, of course, while I got out after four years – but that just puts him in an even better position to understand these things. 

Sorry if this offends anyone but I feel I need to post it.

Mr. President and US Senate,

I just want to say, Thank you , and You are welcome for the service of my self and my brothers in arms, who sacrificed 20+ years of our lives, enduring years of deployments out of CONUS assignments, 24+ hour days in conditions most Americans would consider not fit for an animal to work in, endless hours of waiting for the next order to get underway or move out, the letters from our families that state they miss us, don’t want to worry us, but we are not sure if we can make the rent this month or the light bill, least of all the grocery bill. Thank you.
We left our families on a moments notice to engage an enemy, right a wrong, supply disaster relief, chase an unseen enemy for months on end during the cold war, to protect embassy’s against people who hate us, but need us there to make sure the relief money keeps rolling in from the US, and keep the Sea lanes open, air space free, and our shore lines protected from those that would want to cause us harm. We did it because we love this country.
We did it for you and for our fellow Americans because we felt it was a our duty to give back to this great country for all that was given to us. All we asked for was a paycheck (and that was not much: most of us qualified for food stamps and public housing, but we were to proud to apply for it, and actually at times forbidden to apply, so as not to embarrass the US Government with the fact we were so poorly paid), and for the vision of the retirement we were promised, when we finished.
Now the comments coming from Washington are that we have to give it away because we really don’t need it, if we are of working age.
Pleased can you explain to me why you let welfare run rampant with fraud and do nothing, why you let SSDI run rampant with fraud and do nothing, why you let Medicare and Medicaid run rampant with fraud and do nothing. Why are you giving cell phones and calling plans away for nothing, public housing availability without drug testing, and the list goes on and on.  Yet when it comes to the Military who daily put, and are to this very second, place or have placed their lives on the line.  Please Sirs, let me know why, you feel it is ok to take from us, to cut back on what we were promised, because you consider it an “entitlement”, yet other entitlements are off limits.
To the citizens of this country, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity o serve and defend this great country. To the US Government thank you showing your gratitude for all that we did for you, time and time again. By stating it is my duty to give back so that others may take what they did not earn, and in a lot of cases do not want to earn.

I love this country and what it stands for, I will defend it to my death, gladly and without hesitation, all over again if asked.

God Bless America and those that have defended and those that continue to do so.

Leo P Leonard Jr. RMCS(SW) USN Retired
Richard W. Schuerch Jr. BTC USN Disabled Vet
Joseph J. LaPenna Jr. OSCS(SW) USN Retired