Memorial Day: Remember Them

27 05 2018

Leavenworth, KS, National Cemetery

Memorial Day: It isn’t about the government. It’s not about a President, or a Party. It’s about “Them”; They who have preceded us, and inspire us to
measure up. To Them.

The endless rows of white stones and mausoleums command the heights of former battlefields and sprawl across the rolling course of green, under the cobalt space which beckons the occupants, and comforts those eyes who behold the wonder and contemplation of a grateful and humble people.

Those who fail to simply stand for a few minutes in the presence of self sacrifice, and listen, and feel, the proud and reverent spirit that hovers over and among these places of hallowed memorial, who never feel the moist fog rise up in the eye, will never know what it truly means to be an American.

I salute thee, Oh valiant Ones, who ‘saw the elephant’, felled the giants, charged into the Angle, bled on the Poppy Fields, drowned in the icey Seas, scaled the jagged Cliffs under enfilade fire, and plunged into darkness unknown.

Never shall I forget Ye who sweated and bled in the Jungles, choked in the Desert Sands, froze in the Chosin, watched as Saigon fell behind you, served your shipmates in death rites, and were felled by the sniper’s round at Fallujah.

Nor will I ever forget you, who survived the battle, carried those scenes your entire life, sharing only a few, and finally found rest after a lifetime of continued service to your country and those around you.

This I promise.

Never Forget. Them.

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Born on the 4th of July

30 06 2011

PRESIDENT CALVIN COOLIDGE, the only president born on the 4th of July, said:

“About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. … No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress.”

That quote alludes to a movement that had great gains in the early 1900′s known as “Progressivism”, who’s chief advocate of that time was the Harding/Coolidge administration’s predecessor Woodrow Wilson (D). Wilson believed the United States had outgrown the Constitution and he was a founding member of the League of Nations (predecessor to UN) which the Republican dominated Congress refused to allow the US to join. Exponential government expansion and increased taxation (gave us the first Income Tax) and oversight marked Wilson’s presidency, only being overshadowed by WW1, after Wilson was narrowly elected for a second term. Wilson also brought us the Federal Reserve banking system and advocated nationalized health care.

Wilson’s successor Warren Harding was a “moderate” Republican who died after 2 years in office leaving his conservative VP Coolidge in the Oval Office. Coolidge was a true conservative, believing that issues not addressed in the U. S. Constitution were better left up to the states. This was proved out during his tenure as Governor of Mass. when he signed into law measures that opposed child labor, reduced hours for women (to 48 or less) and raised pay in the factories, stating “we must humanize industry”. He also pushed the legislature to give a $100 bonus to WW1 Veterans in that state.

Conversely, on the Federal level, as President he believed that labor unions were a skid to socialism, and opposed them at every turn. He also fought Congress on government subsidization of agriculture stating that “government control cannot be divorced from political control“. He believed that taxes should be lower and fewer people should have to pay them.

Coolidge is not without his warts, and many blame lack of controls on Wall Street for the “Crash of ’29″. I believe this criticism is warranted. Hindsight is always better than foresight and commentary easier than commission, but I would contend that policies of his successor Herbert Hoover (moderate Rep) followed by FDR (another Progressive) contributed to the duration of the Great Depression.

Hoover was not Coolidge’s VP but Commerce Secretary, and after Coolidge announced he was not going to run in ’28 the Republicans nominated Hoover. Coolidge once said of Hoover, “for six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad”. However, he did not want to split the party and quietly went back to private life. Known as “Silent Cal” someone at a dinner party once challenged him, “I have a bet with someone that I can get you say more than 2 words”. He replied, “You lose.” When this same person was informed of his death years later, she asked, “How could you tell?”

Coolidge’s presidency is now largely forgotten along with the unprecedented economic growth during that time. Few people know who he was, let alone his politics. He was a Republican yes, but more than that he was a conservative who realized the bounds of the US Constitution, and the restraints that must be applied to government. He was very popular and after the landslide victory won with Harding in ’20, Coolidge went on to win his own landslide in ’24.

I believe that without this conservative tempering between Wilson and FDR, we may very well have had a similar type of revolution as experienced in Germany and Russia as the Socialists and Communists struggled for power. They were very present here in America. They’re back.

In my reading of this era of American History I realized that there is a pendulum swing in American politics from left to right and usually the swing matches the distance marked on the opposite side. We have recently been witness to a drastic swing to the left. However, with the 2010 sweeping victory in the House of Representatives, and the “re-awakening” of grassroots America, it seems the momentum has become static. As we move into the next election cycle, look for continued retaking of Congressional seats and a shift in the Senate, along with Obama returning to Chicago, or Honolulu, or maybe Nairobi to look for new digs.

So while you celebrate the “4th” and this great country we have been given, maybe give a passing thought to “Silent Cal” Coolidge on his birthday. Then have another hotdog…God Bless America!

(Revised-Previously published 7/4/2010 under title “Happy Birthday America!”)





Dedicated to Those Who Gave All

30 05 2011

I wrote this poem many years ago after taking my family to visit the portable version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall which was visiting our town. It is called the “Moving Wall” because it is portable. However, it was emotionally one of the most ‘moving’ experiences of my life. Even though these verses were inspired by those valiant Americans whose names are engraved on that black wall, it is nonetheless a tribute to each and every person who has ever died in the service of our country. When this was written, my son whom I mentioned was about 6. He is now a 25 year old United States Marine Corps Reserve, and an Afghan vet.   He is my hero.

The Wall

I saw your name the other day
While reading the local news.
It said you played a good ball game,
Your last year, and you’ve paid your dues.

I saw your name then sometime later,
Graduation day had come.
You walked up proud and took the scroll
That your hard work had won.

I saw your name in another season
And smiled to myself as I read
Of a young married couple just starting out
With a promise and dreams ahead.

I saw your name a few months later
But this time it worried me.
Your name, and others, on a long list
Training for war overseas.

I saw your name and uttered a prayer
For you and your young family.
I knew of your character and duty-bound love
For country, for God, and for me.

I saw your name and thought of your father
Who fought in another time.
And he, just like you, hated to leave
His wife, and new son behind.

I saw your name just yesterday
And my heart broke as mist filled my eyes.
You were killed with some buddies while out on patrol
Where many a good young man dies.


I saw your name again just today
And all of your comrades’ as well,
Where flags fly high and monuments stand
With more stories than words can tell.

I saw your name on a glossy black wall
And as my throat became tight,
My chest swelled slightly with pride for a man
Who thought freedom was well worth the fight.

I saw your name in the deep black reflection
of the face of my dearest young son,
And prayed he would never be called on to go,
But would cherish the liberty won.

I saw your name and wondered just how
I might thank your family,
For sacrifice made for people unknown,
As well as my family, and me.

I saw your name and thought that perhaps
Despite lack of glory and fame,
It may be enough to think of you now,
And tell them that I saw your name.

Copyright (All rights Reserved)








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