August 2004 Archives

Honoring the Military

Today the residents of Starkivlle and Oktibbeha County honored the military in the area. Tomorrow the soldiers of the Mississippi National Guard 114th Field Artillery depart for some additional training and will then be deployed to Iraq. Just a few months ago the US Army Reserve 324th Replacement Batallion returned from Kuwait. In addition to these Soldiers, there are also Sailors, Marines, and Airmen in the rea who are affiliated with other military units that are necessarily located in the area.

The idea for the ceremony honoring the military came from the Military Affairs Committee of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, of which I am vice-chair. I was also the master of ceremonies for the event which included the vice-mayor of Starkville, the vice-president of the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, and the president of Mississippi State University. But the truly special speakers were the Commanders of the 324th and the 114th. The speeches were, for the most part, good and on target.

I also made some remarks, but mine were directed more to the troops. Perhaps it was the commander in me coming out but I wanted to motivate the troops a little. There have been some negative reports about the evnts in Iraq and I wanted to make the troops knew that they were doing the right thing; they were providing hope to a new generation of Iraqis, and they had our support. My remarks are posted here.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the day were the numbers of people presnet. The weather was not cooperative at all. It had been clioudy all day, had rained off and on all morning, and started to rain just a few minutes before the 1530 ceremony began. In spite of that, the turn-out was terrific. The troops certainly saw the community support, and that was, after all, the purpose of the event.

My remarks to the troops of the 324th Replacement Batallion and the 114th Field Artillery are below. It was my intent to let them know that they are doing what is right and not be too political. I was fortunate to have read some recent articles by those who have been in Iraq who had a diffferent view from the primarily liberal media.

One of the questions I often get is why are we having to call on our Reserve and National Guard to fight this war? Those of us in the uniform know the answer to that question. We are getting the call because that is the way the system was designed to work. Our Reserve and Guard forces are not second-rate troops used only when we run out of active forces; they are our best and our brightest. The Reserve and Guard of today lives and fights alongside the active duty forces, and in many cases bring capabilities that do not even exist in the active forces. The Reserve and Guard are no longer the back-up troops like they used to be in the Cold War era; they are now an integral part of our nation’s military and are necessary for our country to fight and win wars.

We call on the Reserve and the Guard to ensure that we have the support of the American public for this war. It has been said that we won the Vietnam War on the ground, in the water, and in the air in Southeast Asia but that we lost it in the hearts and minds of our citizens in America. We lost the support of the American People, and no war, from the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC to the War on Terror has been won without the support of the people at home. I hope it is clear today, that these troops have our support, they have our prayers, and they have our best wishes.

The job they have done or are going to do is a noble one. Much has been said on the television and in papers about the reasons for the war, but as Lieutenant Colonel (Select) Stanton Coerr, United States Marine Corps Reserve said in a recent article in the US Naval Institute Proceedings, none of those commentators have carried a rifle or flown an aircraft in OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. Lieutenant Colonel Coerr, one of our Nation’s best and brightest, goes on to say, “Having studied political science at Duke University and government at Harvard University, I understand realpolitik, geopolitical jujitsu, economics, and the realities of the Arab world. I am not a blind follower. But the war made sense then—and our presence there makes sense now.”

Colonel Coerr then relates a story of going into a town and being swamped by Iraqis bringing food and drink and pictures of their children to the forces. He said much was lost in language differences but his clear impression was: “Thank God, someone has arrived with bigger men and bigger guns to be on our side at last.” He said they saw in the eyes of the people how a generation of fear reflects in the human soul.

Earlier this week, in a New York Times editorial, another Marine spoke up. Major Glen Butler referred to an interview of Michael Moore by Bill O’Reilly. In the commentary he said, “Michael Moore recently asked Bill O’Reilly if he would sacrifice his son for Falluja. A clever rhetorical device, but it’s the wrong question: this war is about Des Moines, not Falluja. This country (Iraq) is breeding and attracting militants who are eager to grab box cutters, dirty bombs, suicide vests or biological weapons, and then come fight us in Chicago, Santa Monica or Long Island…No, I would not sacrifice myself, my parents would not sacrifice me, and President Bush would not sacrifice a single Marine or Soldier simply for Falluja. Rather, that symbolic city is but one step toward a free and democratic Iraq, which is one step closer to a more safe and secure America. I miss my family, my friends and my country, but right now there is nowhere else I’d rather be. I am a United States Marine.”

Soldiers, you, I, this community have a job to do. We will do it. You will be in Iraq, we will be here, but rest assured we will all be working together. You will miss your families and they will miss you, but those are the sacrifices we made when we chose to wear the uniform, raised our hands, and swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. You will come home, and we will be here to welcome you back.
Soldiers of the 324th, you know this better than most. You have been to Kuwait, you have done your duty, and we are appreciative of it. Our nation is more secure because of what you have done. Your efforts have brought freedom to an entire nation and hope to a new generation of Iraqis. Well done and welcome back.

Thank you all for your service. May God bless you and your families. And may Gob bless the United States of America.

Now, if they will only return safely.

Alice Cooper for Bush!?

Wow! Alice Cooper is for Bush. When a hard rocker like Cooper comes out in favor of Bush and goes against the left-wing entertainment types, Kerry has to be in really bad shape.

Amnesty International?

I received a mailing, okay a solicitation, from Amnesty International today. I have no idea how they got my name, why they think I am interested in their work, or why they think I would give them money, but I got a letter anyway. The tip-off was that it was addressed to Dear Friend. Me? A friend of Amnesty International? I think not!

In the mailing was a card they wanted me to sign. I believe they called it a card of hope. They said they would mail it to some poor prisoner and it would make his day, save his life, cause dictatorships to crumble, or some such non-sense. About all it would do is cause some liberal to feel better and give them a false sense that they are doing something. The material also said that Amnesty International was responsible for the release of many prisoners of conscience. They made it sound like dictators and oppressive regimes the world over tremble at the thought of getting mail with a return address of Amnesty International. If onlu it were that easy.

Naturally, they did want the card returned with a small donation. I opted not to send the card and I also declined to contribute. But it did get me to thinking. Who is responsible for the release of hundreds, if not thousands, or prisoners? Who brought down evil regimes and gave freedom to the people? Why Geroge W. Bush did of course. Kerry was flip-flopping; Bush was fighting a war. So I did make a small contribution to the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign. Thanks Amnesty International!

No More Moore

I caught part of the Michael Moore interview with Bill O'Reilly yesterday on the television and heard part of it on the radio (Sirius, of course) and have come the conclusion that I can not handle any more Moore. I'm amazed that people still call his work documentary. I have not, and likely will not, see Fahrenheit 9/11 simply because I've heard of too many inaccuracies and "photo-shopping" that are preset in the movie.

One the things Moore does not get is that there are people in this world who are not self-centered. He asked O'Reilly if he would send his children to Iraq. Bill answered with a yes and Moore couldn't believe it. I find it funny that Moore can call for greater involvement and want to effect change in the world environment but he is not willing to sacrifice his life or the lives of others. Thank God there are those who are willing to make those sacrifices. They allow people like Moore, as irritating as he may be, continue to talk.

Growing Up and Moving Out

Today my daughter moved into her dorm room, excuse me, room at the residence hall. It's not as if this is her first time to be away from home but this does seem different. The good news if that she is still only a very short distance away and we will get to see her regularly.

I'm getting a little taste of what my parents went through when I moved off to college. Of course I moved 450 miles (not 450 yards) away from home and did not see them from the time they moved me in August until Thanksgiving. This is also interesting because our daughter moved out on our wedding anniversary.

Yes, it is sad but it is also rewarding. This is a sign that we've done of job as parents and the world will soon be gaining another responsible citizen. And the world had better watch out because this one is going to take it by storm!

The Sounds of Fall Are in the Air

The weather today was actually cool, well cool for August in Mississippi anyway. After getting home from work I grabbed a Guinness, a book, and headed for the swing on the front porch. It was nice to sit and read without sweat dripping onto the pages.

Familiar sounds also accompanied the cool weather--some appreciated, others not. One of the pleasant sounds is the MSU band practicing for the coming football season. The band practice field is not too far away and, if the wind is blowing just right, we can hear the session with no problem at all. Sylvester Croom is getting the Bulldogs ready to play and it sounds like the band will be ready to urge the team on. The canon in front of the ROTC building is away getting rebuilt for the coming season as well. With luck it will be fired more this season than it has been in the last several.

The cool weather is also inviting for motorists to turn off their air conditioning and open the windows and sunroofs. But what lets the fresh air in also lets the obnoxious, pounding, over-bassed music out. I have to ask myself how anyone can possibly enjoy music so loud that I can hear it a mile away. And most of the tunes come from rickety old cars in which the sheet metal resonates more than the speakers making good quality sound an impossibility But then again, I wouldn't really call what they listen to "music" so who cares how it sounds. Bad music is bad music regardless of the decibels but my ears would much prefer it not be heard at all.

With any luck there will be many days like this before winter hits. One of the things I dislike about Mississippi is the lack of four seasons. We go from blazing hot to freezing cold in a weekend and typically have very short, almost non-existent, falls and springs. The winters are usually cold and wet with an occasional snow but mostly they bring icy roads, broken tree limbs, and power outages. Growing up in other states I did grow to love actually having four seasons in a year. One day maybe I can get back to the world of four seasons.

Bill Clinton is a Coward of the Year

Well I've always said that the man lost all integrity when he denied having sex with Monica and argued over the meaning of "is". Now FastCompany agrees. In the September 2004 issue they present the 2003-2004 Cowards of the Year on page 33. Their reasoning is that on page 773 of My Life the former President says " I'd had an inappropriate encounter with Monica Lewinsky". Come on, admit it; admit you had sex "with that woman" We all know it, step up to the plate and say it.

I've not read My Life, and probably never will. I have looked for it though and can't find it in the fiction section. Perhaps it is mis-shelved in the bookstore?

PC(USA) Just Doesn't Get It

I got another response today, if you call it that, from the PC(USA) on the Israeli/Palestinian issue. I wrote to the Anti-Defamation League and told them that I was sorry for what my church had done in proceeding with a selective divestment in companies that do business in Israel. What I got today was:

Thank you for your message and remarks.

We understand there are many news articles circulating that do not contain all the facts of this issue. Due to space availability in various publications, many of the details of this complex issue are not reported. We would like to direct you to the following web sites, where this issue is explained in more detail. Perhaps some of the information contained on these web pages will foster greater understanding between all concerned peoples.

They then listed some other web resources to "further my understanding" of the problem. This is a common reaction by my church leadership and by liberals in general, to assume that if you disagree with them, the problem is that you do not understand. No, the problem here is that they do not understand. And I mean that literally--they do not understand the problem and apparently have no desire to understand.

The issues are indeed difficult but one of the web resources they referred me to assumes it is simply a problem of the West (the US) needing to invest more in the third world countries. After all that is what this problem is all about, isn't it? In some cases that may be true and we are trying to invest and bring more of these countries along with us. But Al Qaeda does not want this. They are, in fact, fighting and committing acts of terror because they do not want the investment from the West. They want to keep control by denying basic freedoms and access to information to others. Offering them money and helping them develop a better government will not work.

Of course the PC(USA) goes on to argue for UN involvement and reduction of nuclear weapons. All typical moveon.org and Democratic party talk that is irrelevant. The UN was not able to act effectively for over a decade and that is why the US went to war in Iraq. We did not cut the UN out of the picture, the cut themselves out by taking little or no action.

What really bothers me in the repeated calls for greater understanding of Muslims and their religion by the PC(USA). I have no problem with everyone striving to better understand other religions but the PC(USA) implies that this is a Christian/Muslim war. They, and a few uneducated people, are the only one's who seem to think this. Most people that I know, including warriors who are currently fighting in Iraq understand that this is not a war with Islam. Actually, most of the Muslims I know would argue that Al Qaeda, not the PC(USA), need to better understand Islam.

The PC(USA) essentially calls for more talk while ignoring the realities of the situation. The goals of Al Qaeda are clearly stated in a manual captured in an Al Qaeda member's home in Manchester, England. The manual says in the very beginning:

Islamic governments have never and will never be established through peaceful solutions and cooperative councils. They are established as they [always] have been
by pen and gun
by word and bullet
by tongue and teeth

The terrorists, in this case at least, are not willing to listen to the UN. I submit that based on the actions of the Palestinians, the Palestinians are not willing to listen to reason either.

Before President Clinton left office, he met with Yassir Arafat and, depending on which report you listen to, had brokered a deal that would have given Arafat 85% to 95% of what he was asking for. Arafat turned the deal down because it was not 100% of what he wanted. So what do we do? The PC(USA) goes after Israel.

No, I'm not the one who needs to better understand the issues, the PC(USA) needs to better understand the issues. They need to realize that Israel is one of our greatest allies, and although they may not be perfect, they deserve our support. The Palestinians are not all bad either but they are not as lily white as the PC(USA) will lead you to believe. But perhaps most importantly, we are not at war with Islam but with terrorist who are denying freedom, freedom we as Presbyterians believe is every person's right, to those under their control. We are not out for oil or land, we are the good guys trying to help the downtrodden get what is their God given right--basic freedom.

CO Leadership Conference

I just finished a weekend leadership conference for Prospective Commanding Officers in Atlanta. The conference started out as one just for those recently selected fro command but then turned into one for those already in command as well. I fall into the later category.

The workshop was a great idea and most of those who are in command now said they wished they had something like it when they assumed command. We all learned the hard way and it is great that the new commanders can benefit from that. Admittedly I was a bit reluctant to attend. The last thing I needed was another weekend filled with work but I went anyway and am glad I did.

Part of the reasons I am glad I went was that I got to spend some time with the best people this nation has to offer. I was in a room with about 100 others who had been selected by a national board to lead our Sailors. We had Captains leading much of the discussion but we were participating. We even had a video teleconference with Vice Admiral John Cotton. It was some pretty heady stuff.

Talking about leadership always gets you fired up, which, I suppose, was another reason for the workshop. Leadership development is truly a life-long process and I know I get better with every book I read and every workshop I attend. The workshop was not inexpensive in terms of travel costs and pay for all of us in attendance but I think it was well worth the price and hope the workshop continues next year for the new COs.

My Niece's Graduation

Today was one of those rare occasions when everything worked in my favor--my work life and personal life converged to a point where there was little difference between them. We are considering making some changes to how we conduct the graduation ceremony at my university but had a few concerns about how the revised process would work. To help get some answers the Registrar worked out a deal where a few of us could fly down to LSU to see their ceremony, meet with some of their people, and still get back home at a decent hour.

Okay, so why was it a special day? It was special because my oldest niece graduated from college. After starting with us a few years ago, she later transferred to LSU and graduated today with a degree in political science. She will join us this fall in graduate school and I am really excited about that.

I do have another niece and I have several nephews--and I love them all dearly--but there is something about Jennifer and she will always have a special place in my heart. You see, when Jennifer's father was in school, they lived right down the road from us and we saw a lot of them. When my wife and I would walk down for a visit, I would usually take Jennifer outside (she often didn't give me a choice) and we would play. I was the Uncle who did the things her mother and father wouldn't let her do. When she was with me, she could swing as high as she wanted to and I would even push.

Jennifer and I had a lot of fun and then my daughter came along. Jennifer got a little angry with me over that because I couldn't spend as much time with her anymore. They moved away shortly after that and I didn't get to see her quite as often. The bonds we formed some twenty years ago are still as fresh in my mind today as if they happened yesterday.

Without a doubt I will be happy when all of my nieces and nephews graduate from college (none have started yet though). It will be a milestone in their lives, their parent's lives, and in my life. But there will always be something a little special about Jennifer--she was the first. Congratulations Jennifer! I love you!

Vernon Broyles' "American Values"

Vernon Broyles, the associate for corporate witness in the PCUSA National Ministries Division publishes a regular column in Presbyterians Today, a column I regularly take issue with. I emailed him once and disagreed with him only to learn he does not take criticism well. He latest column on American values appears in the August 2004 edition of the magazine.

Mr. Broyles obviously reads news that I never see. He, like most liberals, continues to harp on the Abu Ghraib prison abuse (he calls it a scandal but I see only deplorable behavior, not a "scandal") and talks about how it is becoming obvious "that these atrocities are not isolated incidents" but, in his typical fashion, he fails to offer any proof of this. Sure, he goes on to say that "Some are calling for full investigations that go 'all the way to the top'." Well, Mr. Broyles, since when did "calling for full investigations" constitute wrongdoing? If that is indeed the standard we use, then there is obvious corruption in the PCUSA for many have "called for full investigations".

Calling for full investigations is a typical ploy used by those without proof. If there was proof that these were not "isolated incidents" then why investigate? If you have proof then the next step is to prosecute, not investigate.

Later in his column, Mr. Broyles cites a long list of sins that he believes we should "boycott" he leaves out gay marriage. Now, I have no desire to debate gay marriage right now but I find it very interesting that in his sin list he leaves out the very topic that is currently being hotly debated at this very time within this very church. Could he perhaps be more interested in not stirring things up within the church than in presenting a list of sins?

I can't say he is all wrong, however. He does mention that "as Christians we have a unique privilege and responsibility to call people into a community anchored in the gracious promise of God that we can be different if we are willing to be changed." When he cites that our current "City on a Hill" is Las Vegas, he loses me. I certainly admit that our coutnry has problems but to say Las Vegas is our city on a hill is a bit extreme. Obviously the America Mr. Broyles lives in is very different from the on in which I live. But that is not really news either. I've often said that the church in Louisville is very different from the church in America.

I am still waiting to read an article on Condoleezza Rice in Presbyterians Today, she is after all, a Presbyterian, but I doubt that day will ever come. I've asked the editors about doing such an article but am told that when they ask for an interview, Dr. Rice is always too busy. Is should say so! Given the leftist leanings of the magazine I doubt Dr. Rice really thinks she would receive a fair shake anyway. Yes, the PCUSA claims to desire more women and more African-Americans in the church yet are hesitant to profile the who is arguably the most powerful African-American female in the world who just so happens to be a Presbyterian. It is, after all, much more fun to talk than to deliver.

So where has Kerry been?

This morning as I was getting ready for work I was listening to NPR's Morning Edition, that exceedingly liberal "news" show I typically refer to as simply Morning Sedition, and they, as usal, presented a Kerry sound bite without coment. The clip was Kerry's comments on the need for a Intelligence Czar and he said that it was about time the BUsh administration did something.

Perhaps he was on extened leave or just reliving his Vietnam days (you do realize he is a war hero, don't you?), but he seems to have missed the entire Department of Homeland Security. It was, I beleive, created by Bush in response to the threatof terrorists. He may also want to take stock of the fact that there have been no incidences of terrorism in the US since 9/11. That is not to say there will not be some in the future, for as many in Washington say, they only have to be right once, we have to be right all of the time.

I realize this all just politics and sound bites are the standard fare in an election year. What disappoints me is that NPR airs such without comment or without airong the other side. Morning's like this make me grateful for Sirius.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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