A Couple of Questions

Am enjoying the irony this morning of a few recent news items. That led to a few questions.

Are the folks who insist that the Confederate Battle Flag represents hatred and bigotry and thus must be removed from all public spaces the same folks who declare it OK to desecrate the US Flag in public places because it is only a piece of fabric?

If it is brave for some people to self-identify as something there is no DNA evidence to support, then do those same folks laud the Confederates who self-identified as a nation seperate from the US?

Today’s project perhaps should be to present those inquiries to some lefties. The response would at least be amusing.

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Loss

Having a friend die is certainly nothing new. This most assuredly won’t be the last time. All losses are unique and some hit us with more force than do others. It is in that place I find myself today.

We buried a dear friend last week. My friends in the veteran community did not know him, but most of you have experienced this depth of loss. This man had a profound influence upon my civilian career. He also shared the joy of my becoming pretty good at it. His presence in my life will be missed. Continue reading

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Memorial Day Melancholy – An Annual Re-post

Two or three times a year some of us geezer types get a bit tangled up in old times. Late April and much of May include several dates that trigger memories here.

Late April because my pop was declared KIA in Korea on April 25, 1951.

Early May because years ago I was discharged on May 9, 1969 from the Navy after spending over a year around Vietnam.

And then there is Memorial Day. The advertisements for sales and off topic events make the day difficult to avoid, even if I wanted to. So I repeat this post with minor updates.

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I was an Army brat the first few years of my life. I have vague memories (or memories of memories?) of several Army posts; in Georgia, in Arizona, and another place or two. Then my dad was deployed to some place called Korea sometime in 1950.

Three additional memories are a bit more vivid – the day we were notified he was Missing in Action and, sometime later, that his remains had been recovered, and finally, his funeral. I wasn’t allowed to go – I was deemed too young.

But, I have a Purple Heart.

He is buried in our home town, and there’s a small memorial in the city park there with his name inscribed. I visit both as often as I can. Even though I was only five or six at the time and will be 69 in about a month I still miss him. I have pictures and memories, and…

I have a Purple Heart.

For many others, like myself, Memorial Day has a face.

We’re past the 50 year anniversary of Vietnam and there is a wall FULL of my brothers and sisters who earned a Purple Heart

So please don’t wish me a happy Memorial Day because…

I have HIS Purple Heart!

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We Grieve

It has been confirmed that the USMC UH-1 transporting relief materiel and personnel in Nepal was lost.  It will not be flying out.  The onboard personnel will not be greeting their families at home.

For some reason, this loss is more difficult for me to process.  Military personnel die regularly in training, in combat, and in quite a number of other circumstances. It’s not as if we don’t face death we don’t understand quite often.

There is something particularly poignant about these Marines being lost while conducting operations which Americans do with some regularity. Not at this altitude or exactly in this manner. But, coming to the aid of people around the world who are negatively impacted by a disaster is what we do.

That these Marines died while displaying the best of America results in a strange sense of pride in them and in us. Perhaps some day that knowledge will soften the grief we feel now. Not today. Today the grief is still raw.

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Signs of Spring

Now that tax day has past, it’s time to enjoy some of the other signs of the season. The first flowers have come and gone, the second wave is blooming, and the trees are greening up nicely. Most of the neighbors have even cut their grass this week with some breaking out their weed eaters.

The homestead here found itself in need of some new chickens. We’ve talked about it for a couple of years but have failed to do anything about it. Until this morning. We have 8 baby chicks under a light bulb to keep them warm. At this stage, they all look pretty much alike and are not exactly the mix we had intended. But next week the feed store gets another delivery, so we may get a more diverse crowd so that the grown flock will look more interesting.

The rooster seems happy in anticipation of having new hens to protect. We might even let him make some pin-up posters of them.  Since this is an Air Force household, perhaps we should encourage him to think of nose art instead of pin-ups.

Sure. That’s what we need. Nose art. Of course, we would need an aircraft nose for that.

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“Brave New World” or “1984” A Twist on the Theme

Dystopia: “a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.”

I still lean towards Bizzaro World myself, but I HAVE spent  several days re-reading/skimming both books after the revelation I stumbled across.

“In 1949, George Orwell received a curious letter from his former high school French teacher.

Orwell had just published his groundbreaking book Nineteen Eighty-Four, which received glowing reviews from just about every corner of the English-speaking world. His French teacher, as it happens, was none other than Aldous Huxley who taught at Eton for a spell before writing Brave New World (1931), the other great 20th century dystopian novel.”

The last paragraph opens with chilling prescience:

“Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.”

I don’t really care about being thought as an odd sort of Luddite, but if you have spent any time around someone looking at their phone AND offering little, if any, connection to things going on around them perhaps you should wonder too. Toss in the notion of Texting While Driving, or this reaction to tech deprivation as discipline,  and maybe the modern day Luddite has a point.

Maybe, just maybe, Orwell and Huxley both missed, and yet sort of emphasized  a simple thing. Nobody was actually paying attention.

Why bother posting about things esoteric and a bit painful to deal with?  Most here have, at least, committed to watching the back of  their brethren. We’ve also committed by oath to defend this country. Still, when ennui becomes rampant what can we do? Yelling FIRE in crowded theater is only a crime IF there is no actual fire –  but what if no one is paying attention?

Oh well… Sitting around watching the world crumble is The Geezer Prerogative, ain’t it?

One thing that cheers me up is a song from some fellow hillbillies. YMMV:

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Happy St Patrick’s Day

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, a wee story with something of an almost Irish twist. At least for those who do not understand or appreciate the difference between Ireland and Northern Ireland, there is an Irish connection. And perhaps there is in any case.

During the summer of 1980, give or take a year or two, I was in Belfast seeing the sights and enjoying a vacation among folks whose language was the same as mine. Most of the people we were hanging with were either members of the British Army or a local police force, which gave much of our sightseeing a slightly different perspective than what the ordinary tourist sees. It was a terrific good time.

The IRA was very active that summer. One of our hosts’ watering holes was firebombed while we were there. Quite a few public buildings were not open to the local population much less to tourists. The central business district of Belfast was secured by fencing with access extremely limited and tightly controlled. Armored vehicles were everywhere and heavily armed police officers conducted very efficient searches of anyone wishing to enter the central city. Continue reading

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8 Years Ago Today…

A thing happened on this day 8 years ago.  Any number of reference sources are available on-line if yer Google-Fu is good.

Some ‘Nam vets decided to stand up and be counted. ANSWER was gonna do some protesting at The Wall in DC. A coupla geezers decided to organize a counter effort. Captain Bailey and Colonel Riley managed to get the word out and The Gathering of Eagles was born.

I hope I can be forgiven for personalizing this post rather than dealing with the event in more generic terms. The latter has been done by many, and arguably better than I might offer.

The event marked my first trip to The Wall and my second trip to DC.

I, somehow, wound up being in charge of on-site communications. There were folks doing “security” that needed to be able to talk to each other and Captain Bailey made me his commo Petty Officer so I bought encrypted walkies-talkies and some (then) cheap cell phones as back-up. The day before the event we scouted the site and I picked the highest point for my headquarters.  While technically the right thing to do, it had one significant downside. It snowed and the temps dropped. We were ready technically, but not so ready for the weather. We were “under’ a canopy on poles that both threatened to blow away AND periodically dumped snow on us.

Still… it was the first time I’d felt proud to be a ‘Nam Vet. I could see The Wall from my spot, and the thousands who had joined us. Needless to say… ANSWER didn’t get close to The Wall.

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Just A Squid

In THE OLDEN DAYS… The other branches called us, generically, Squids – But I recall terms we used in The Navy to refer to our fellow sailors. NOT PC.

I’m gonna share the ones I can remember:

Airdale: Someone  who plays with aircraft and inhales jet exhaust with a smile.

Bubblehead: A submariner – NEVER a sub mariner.

Radarman: Scope dope.

Gunners Mate:  Gun Bunny.

Them that kept us moving and kept the lights on, etc.: Snipes.

Pond Scum: Surface sailors collectively – according to the Bubbleheads.

Kinda wonder how the other branches referred to themselves.

So with no acronyms and/or numbers, please, offer the friendly terms you all used  to refer to your fellow service members. Keep in mind that I’m including The Navy here. I certainly don’t remember them all… anyway the ones I DO remember are from near 50 years ago.

The Marines and Army types were collectively “Grunts” to most of us, as I recall, so now you can set the record straight.

One I DO recall is “Redlegs” for artillery – There is some historical basis for that one.

Anyway, fill in the blanks…

 

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Sunday Silly – NOT Quite

I’ve been scanning my usual news sources when I can this weekend. Can’t seem to find stuff that makes me smile.

Long aside: Snow storm knocked out our satellite internet AND we were without power for a time. Even didn’t have DirecTV, etc. My back-up generator did the self test on Wednesday just fine, but decided NOT to run when our power failed. Did get it running, and the snow on the dishes slid off, etc.  We do have battery powered laptops and a cell based Hotspot, but we only used those for weather and tracking power outages. A point worthy of note only because I reckon those events soured my attitude some.

Subsequent to all that I still haven’t been able find much that makes me grin out there in the rest of the world. So I’m gonna ask YOU lot for links to the silly I know is out there.

The only rule is that it has to be safe for work. Kinky does NOT equal silly.

Should add also, that the snow is melting, and our world is just fine.  Living on a remote ridge in WV, even with yer own gas well, does have some downsides at times .

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