Thursday, September 29, 2011

Half Boy, Half Man

I wish I'd written today's post. I didn't. I received it as an e-mail. I wish I knew who actually wrote it. I don't. There was no name associated with it. But the message was one I couldn't keep from sharing. May God bless all of our military men and women and keep them safe. They volunteer their very lives to keep us safe and free. And I, for one, pray for them.

For whatever reason the pictures wouldn't work in my post. Some of them were very poignant. But the words written here say enough.

Half Boy, Half Man

The average age of the military man is 19 years. He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country. He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's, but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sports activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away. He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and a 155mm howitzer. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark. He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional. He can march until he is told to stop, or stop until he is told to march. He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.

He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts.

If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food. He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands.

He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay, and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away ' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not a boy. He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.
Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

And now we even have women over there in danger, doing their part in this tradition of going to War when our nation calls us to do so.

Prayer wheel for our military... please don't break it. Please send this on after a short prayer.

Prayer Wheel
'Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us.
Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen.'

When you read this, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our ground troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, sailors on ships, and airmen in the air, and for those in all foreign countries.

Of all the gifts you could give a US Soldier, Sailor, Coastguardsman, Marine, or Airman, prayer is the very best one.

He Sounds "Presidential"

During the 2007 Presidential election campaigns people began talking about certain candidates looking or sounding “Presidential”. Mr. Obama was often praised for sounding “more Presidential than George W. Bush.” Tuesday night, after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made a speech at the Reagan Presidential Library, people and pundits were talking about how “Presidential” he sounded. As I’m writing this I’m listening to someone talking about how “Presidential” Mitt Romney looked and sounded during the last debate.

Maybe it’s me but I just don’t understand how someone “sounds Presidential”. Does that mean he or she is a good speaker? If so, there are plenty of people in the world who can sound Presidential. Does it mean they can read well from a teleprompter? Again, there are many people who can do that well. Is it as much about appearance, presence and delivery as it is the speech itself? If so then the Reverend Billy Graham, one of the greatest (in my opinion) evangelists who ever lived, could have been President. For that matter, so could have Madeline O’Hare or even Sarah Palin. (Yes, I said it. Sarah Palin may not be the best Presidential candidate but she has a knack for public speaking. Listen to any of her speeches – particularly her impromptu speeches - and watch the audience.)

I’m of the opinion that sounding Presidential is merely in the mind of the listener. As someone who used to teach adult training classes I’m impressed by a good speaker for his speaking abilities but not necessarily for the message. I could teach a class and motivate my students with my words and actions. All it really takes is to connect with your audience, whether that audience is a group of students or a group of your best followers, and to be very familiar with your subject matter. Connecting with your audience means talking to them in a manner that makes them feel comfortable and making them feel like you’re talking directly to each of them. Sarah Palin has that ability. She connects with her audience because she talks to them on their level without being pretentious or arrogant. Some others who have been called great speakers can’t do that.

One of the marks of a good public speaker is their ability to ad lib as necessary. Sarah Palin was ridiculed for writing a couple of notes on her hand before an impromptu appearance yet the President is praised for his speaking abilities even though he can barely put two sentences together if his teleprompter goes down. So geez, in that situation who sounds more Presidential – a person who can think on their feet or someone who is lost if their prompter goes down? By the way – I’m not writing this to praise Sarah Palin. I’m simply using her as an example of someone who has great public speaking ability. Even if you don’t like Sarah Palin, if you look and listen to her giving a speech and judge her solely (and honestly) on her ability to deliver it, you’ll agree. Mr. Obama has the ability to do the same thing yet, to me, he often comes across as dry and haughty. Perhaps it’s because he’s trying to appear “Presidential.”

I’m sure I’ll be attacked for posting this. I’ll also be attacked for saying that Obama’s speech the other day to the Congressional Black Caucus was pretty pathetic as well. I suppose he felt he was connecting to his audience on their level. If a conservative President attempted that they’d be ridiculed to no end. The main stream, Obama supporting media won’t comment on things that obvious. They must figure if they don’t talk about it, it didn’t really happen. But it did, and not for the first time. Of course, Hillary did the same thing on March 5, 2007, putting on a Southern drawl during a campaign speech in Alabama. And again the main stream media ignored it.

I don’t really care if President Obama wants to change his speech pattern between one audience and the other. What bothers me more is when it’s factually reported and those reporting it are called racist simply for pointing it out. There was no doubt the President was changing his normal speech pattern to suit his audience. So why is it racist to point that out? Truth is truth. It may be unimportant but it’s certainly not racist.

Let’s all hope that whoever we choose as leader of the free world in next year’s election doesn’t get elected based solely upon his/her ability to look or sound Presidential. Is it a plus? Certainly. But I’d rather have a person who is competent and able who struggles a little with speeches than someone who talks a great game and can’t do the job. Wouldn’t that be more “Presidential”?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Not in a union? The President Wants Your Family To Starve

If you don’t belong to a union – the President hates you and wants your family to starve.

The Boeing Corporation is being sued by the National Labor Relations Board for building a new factory in North Carolina, a right-to-work state. The union at the Boeing plant in Seattle, Washington, says Boeing is unfairly retaliating against them because of past strikes by building a new plant in a right-to-work state and is trying to force Boeing to build their new plant right there in Seattle.

The Obama administration supports the actions of the NLRB. Big surprise there, huh? It’s no secret the President has always been a big union supporter and vice versa. So once again the administration is supporting the union by attempting to take away about 1000 jobs from the people in the state of North Carolina simply because North Carolina doesn’t make people join unions. You just have to love how the President talks about putting people back to work even as his administration is working to take the jobs away from those who don’t play by their rules. He obviously doesn’t think non-union people should eat.

Boeing’s motivation for building in North Carolina is two-fold. They can pay lower wages since there’s no union negotiation (which makes sound business sense) and they don’t have to worry about an organized labor walk out. Not to mention the unemployment rate in North Carolina is at 10.1% as of June, 2011. Washington’s unemployment rate at the same time was 9.3%. So who needs the jobs more?

As for my first comment – it makes as least as much sense as the rhetoric from the left about how Republicans hate seniors, teachers and police officers because of bills designed to reduce spending. Oh wait – liberals don’t use rhetoric. I forgot. When liberals say things like that it’s… different. Either way, Boeing should be able to build and staff their new plant wherever they choose. Of course, Eric Holder is suing Arizona as well for enforcing Federal laws that the Federal government refuses to enforce.

Nothing surprises me about this administration, except maybe the fact that some people still support it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Honoring a hero...

This was sent to me this morning in e-mail form. I don't know the name of the person who wrote the actual piece but it was originally forwarded by one Sherri Gallant of Fort Worth, Texas. What an incredible honor to a fallen hero. The people of Texas have always been proud and patriotic and this gesture by so many people, so simple yet so meaningful, is a proud reminder of why America is still the greatest nation in the world.

Subject: We Buried A Hero Today

As I write this, the time is 11:25 p.m. on the evening of Friday, September 9, 2011. We have just arrived back home from a long, very emotionally grueling day. For you see, we buried a hero today in Gustine, Tx. A young man who would have turned 21 years of age next week: Private first class Jesse Wayne Dietrich. Jesse, while being a member of our family, was so much more than that – he was a true American hero: a young man who willingly placed himself at the point of his platoon, because he thought that he could bring them all back alive. A bullet from an insurgent in the Kandahar Region of Afghanistan cut his life short on Friday, August 25, 2011 and we laid him to rest in the very place he had requested before he left to defend this country. This nation has lost a strong, courageous young man, but for me, it has gained so much more.

After the funeral in Mansfield, Tx we gathered in a procession that must have stretched for over a mile on our 120+ mile ride to his final restring place, the Diamond J Youth Ranch in Gustine, Tx. On the way, something happened that the military escort, the funeral home Directors, the family and friends: none of us expected to see. It was something we had heard stories about but had never witnessed with our eyes, until today!

In short, we rode through a 120 mile patriotic tribute; a gauntlet of honor and thanks that began in Mansfield, Tx, then made its way through, Rendon, Ft Worth, Crowley, Whiskey Flats, Cresson, Granbury, Tolar, Bluff Dale, Stephenville, Dublin, Proctor, Gustine, and finally, the Diamond J Youth Ranch. All along the way there were thousands of fellow Americans: some old, some very young, from every walk of life you can imagine, all standing on the sides of the highways, silently holding American flags, carrying homemade posters and banners, hats and hands placed over hearts, amid a myriad of tears and reverence. Motorists who had known nothing of what was coming their way had not only stopped their vehicles out of respect, but were standing outside them, on the sides of the roads, many of them saluting as we passed by.

At every town there were fire trucks with ladders extended and flags flying high and police vehicles by the dozens. Businesses wrote words of thanks and tributes to Jesse on their marquee signs. There were employees who completely left their businesses to come and just say “thanks” to Jesse as his body was driven past them. City offices were totally shut down and all of their employees were standing in silent tribute. There were entire schools of children, all gathered along the roads with the kids holding up signs and posters, telling Jesse how much they loved him. From town to town the scene kept repeating itself, over and over, and over again. When we thought that it would be the last of them, we would top a hill or round a corner and there were more! Even in the deep rural areas where there were no houses or businesses, pickup trucks were off the road and people were in their beds or on the sides of the roads, proudly holding up their American flags.

Several people stick out in my mind. One is the older veteran standing alongside Highway 377 in Granbury, feebly holding onto an American flag. At first I wondered why he was hobbling and finding it difficult to stand, and then I saw that he had no right leg, for where it had been, there was a prosthetic; the same kind that soldiers wear when they have a leg blown off, and yet he stood as best he could, proudly in honor of this hero!

I remember the lady who was standing beside the road weeping and as I said “Thank you” from my car, she answered back with tears in her voice, “I am so sorry! This is all we can do. I am so sorry!”

I remember an older lady, not satisfied with just standing in respect, but was kneeling down beside the road with her flag in her hand and her other hand over her heart.

I called a friend of mine, Brad Heitman, who is on the radio in Stephenville and I asked him if he knew we would be coming through his town, and he said, “Oh yes! Just listen to 93.1 FM.” I turned over there and he was giving updates on our arrival in between playing songs about our American heroes. Before we entered the town, thousands of people were already there waiting for us, with their flags and their hands over their hearts!

All along the road, for 120 miles this continued. And most of the people were not waving, but standing in complete silence and reverence as we passed by. The amazing thing is that we were almost 2 hours late, so some of those folks had been standing there for hours in the sun by the time we passed them - all to show their appreciation and gratitude!

When we finally arrived at Gustine, the entire town was there on the highway! In fact, the whole football team from Gustine High School was standing at the gate to the ranch, all saluting with the hands over their hearts, in tribute to our hero as we turned in front of them.

Finally, the pastor stood at the end of that patriot ride, next to the freshly dug grave and said these words "Rural America has not forgotten! Rural America remembers her heroes!"

Needless to say, for Cindy and I and the hundreds who were part of that processional, it was a day of continual tears and unrestrained gratitude; gratitude that people Jesse had never met, nor had ever met him, sacrificed their time to say “Thank you” in ways that we, the family and friends will NEVER forget! These were not frivolous displays of feigned attempts at patriotism, but rather, the tears we could see them crying, the salutes from the soldiers, adults, teenagers and the children, the flags, banners and signs of support – everything, all of them, were genuine acts of gratitude from hearts that truly meant it! While they were thanking Jesse, they were really thanking all of our military who continually lay their lives on the line for us.

My faith in America has been restored today!! No longer will I allow the far-removed liberals and media in the big cities define who and what America is for me! I saw her today, and words cannot begin to describe what we all felt as we viewed the heart of this great land with our own eyes!! In fact, I overheard two family members say these words this evening: “We just thought that we were patriotic!”

We sing God Bless America and America has indeed been blessed by God, but I am here to tell you, the kind, compassionate heart of God is alive and well in the heart of this bountiful land He has so richly blessed us with and I believe that today, this people of this land unselfishly blessed Him – while they were blessing us!

Thank you America, and may God bless you as you have blessed others today!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sack Lunches

I got the following e-mail today. I have read it before but this time I decided to post it for everyone. I checked to see if it happened to be true and as of yet Snopes hasn't been able to make a determination. The story is attributed to a man named Denny Kukich and was published in the magazine "Renewed And Ready - Adventist Living For Today" in an article written by Beverly Brass. Snopes has stated it could very well be true and even if it's not, it's a great reminder for all of us to honor and appreciate our military members. If it is true then God certainly blessed those soldiers but even moreso Mr. Kukich. It puts a lump in my throat every time I read it. I hope it does yours as well.

Sack Lunches

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation.

'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.

'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch
would help pass the time...

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base.'

His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in
Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?'

'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class.

'This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room. A
man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me
twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand.

With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought
me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was
heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base. I walked over to
them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers.

As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001 - Ten Years Later

Ten years ago today, 19 radical, Islamic terrorists belonging to the organization “Al Qaeda”, hijacked four U.S. commercial airliners and deliberately crashed them. Three hit specific targets – the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. On the fourth plane the hijackers were forced by passengers to abandon their mission and the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. It was headed for the Capitol. All passengers, crew and hijackers died in the attacks, as did over 3,000 other innocent civilians of all races, faiths and nationalities.

September 11, 2001, marked the first time in decades that the United States was attacked on our own soil. It was also the first time we were attacked by a religious/terrorist organization instead of another country. Al Qaeda is a terrorist organization started by (the late) Osama Bin Laden. It is not, however, free of Islamic influence and belief as some people want to believe. It is deeply controlled by Islamic followers, however radical they may be.

I do not believe all Muslims are terrorists. Nor do I believe all terrorists are Muslims. That said – if you look at the majority of terrorist attacks throughout the world in the last 10 years, you’ll find Islamic terrorists to be the most common. There have literally been hundreds of documented attacks. This website: shows documented attacks from 2001 until 2011. Denying or ignoring this fact could be seriously dangerous to our nation and our people.

Today’s post is in honor of the victims of September 11, 2001. From the innocent people in the twin towers to the military members at the pentagon, to the heroes who attempted to take back control of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, all of you deserve our remembrance and honor. There were heroes in all three locations, from the average World Trade Center employee who helped another out of the building, to the police and firefighters who lost their lives doing what they do best – protecting people – to our service members who died just doing their jobs, to the passengers on that fourth plane who decided they weren’t going to die without a fight.

For me, today is about remembering those who died; some innocently and without knowing it and others who died trying to save them. There are heroes born every day in this country. And many of them become firefighters and police officers.

It’s about our military service members who have died in the fight to end terrorism. Regardless of their political or religious views, with few exceptions, they do what they’re asked to do out of dedication to and love for their country. Sadly, there are those Americans who ridicule the military even knowing the only reason they have that right is because of our military.

Today is about remembering all the 9/11 victims, including those who were not Americans. It’s about remembering how fragile life can be and how vulnerable our way of life can be when people who don’t have what we have are envious and hateful. Islam is not our enemy. Those who use violence in the name of Islam are our enemies. And it’s important that we all recognize that and keep working against them lest this tragedy happen again.

May God bless all the families of those fallen heroes and those who survived and suffer today because of 9/11. May God bless the families of all those innocent people who lost their lives that day. And may God continue to bless this great nation and guide her toward a strong and peaceful future.

We will not forget….

Friday, September 9, 2011

An Untold Hero of 9/11

Over the years since 9/11 there have been stories come out of heroism, during and after the attacks, from people in all walks of life. Most were firefighters and police officers. Some were civilians and others were serving their country in the military. This is a story of two such military members. I’d never heard the story until today. It was published yesterday in the Washington Post and needs to be publicized.

I’ve posted the saying before that "A military service member is someone who, at some point in his/her lifetime, writes a check to "The people of the United States of America" in the amount of "Up to and including my life".

Even though it turned out to be unnecessary, Lieutenant (now Major) Penney and Colonel Marc Sasseville certainly lived up to that statement on 9-11-2001. This will give you chills if you care about our military at all. Read on.

F-16 pilot was ready to give her life on Sept. 11
By Steve Hendrix, Published: September 8

Late in the morning of the Tuesday that changed everything, Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney was on a runway at Andrews Air Force Base and ready to fly. She had her hand on the throttle of an F-16 and she had her orders: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it.

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Except her own plane. So that was the plan.

Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.

“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”

For years, Penney, one of the first generation of female combat pilots in the country, gave no interviews about her experiences on September 11th (which included, eventually, escorting Air Force One back into Washington’s suddenly highly restricted airspace).

But 10 years later, she is reflecting on one of the lesser-told tales of that endlessly examined morning: how the first counterpunch the U.S. military prepared to throw at the attackers was effectively a suicide mission.

“We had to protect the airspace any way we could,” she said last week in her office at Lockheed Martin, where she is a director in the F-35 program.

Penney, now a major but still a petite blonde with a Colgate grin, is no longer a combat flier. She flew two tours in Iraq and she serves as a part-time National Guard pilot, mostly hauling VIPs around in a military Gulfstream. She takes the stick of her own vintage 1941 Taylorcraft tail-dragger whenever she can.

But none of her thousands of hours in the air quite compare with the urgent rush of launching on what was supposed to be a one-way flight to a midair collision.

First of her kind

She was a rookie in the autumn of 2001, the first female F-16 pilot they’d ever had at the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National Guard. She had grown up smelling jet fuel. Her father flew jets in Vietnam and still races them. Penney got her pilot’s licence when she was a literature major at Purdue. She planned to be a teacher. But during a graduate program in American studies, Congress opened up combat aviation to women and Penney was nearly first in line.

“I signed up immediately,” she says. “I wanted to be a fighter pilot like my dad.”

On that Tuesday, they had just finished two weeks of air combat training in Nevada. They were sitting around a briefing table when someone looked in to say a plane had hit the World Trade Center in New York. When it happened once, they assumed it was some yahoo in a Cesna. When it happened again, they knew it was war.

But the surprise was complete. In the monumental confusion of those first hours, it was impossible to get clear orders. Nothing was ready. The jets were still equipped with dummy bullets from the training mission.

As remarkable as it seems now, there were no armed aircraft standing by and no system in place to scramble them over Washington. Before that morning, all eyes were looking outward, still scanning the old Cold War threat paths for planes and missiles coming over the polar ice cap.

“There was no perceived threat at the time, especially one coming from the homeland like that,” says Col. George Degnon, vice commander of the 113th Wing at Andrews. “It was a little bit of a helpless feeling, but we did everything humanly possible to get the aircraft armed and in the air. It was amazing to see people react.”

Things are different today, ¬Degnon says. At least two “hot-cocked” planes are ready at all times, their pilots never more than yards from the cockpit.

A third plane hit the Pentagon, and almost at once came word that a fourth plane could be on the way, maybe more. The jets would be armed within an hour, but somebody had to fly now, weapons or no weapons.

“Lucky, you’re coming with me,” barked Col. Marc Sasseville.

They were gearing up in the pre-flight life-support area when Sasseville, struggling into his flight suit, met her eye.

“I’m going to go for the cockpit,” Sasseville said.

She replied without hesitating.

“I’ll take the tail.”

It was a plan. And a pact.

‘Let’s go!’

Penney had never scrambled a jet before. Normally the pre-flight is a half-hour or so of methodical checks. She automatically started going down the list.

“Lucky, what are you doing? Get your butt up there and let’s go!” Sasseville shouted.

She climbed in, rushed to power up the engines, screamed for her ground crew to pull the chocks. The crew chief still had his headphones plugged into the fuselage as she nudged the throttle forward. He ran along pulling safety pins from the jet as it moved forward.

She muttered a fighter pilot’s prayer — “God, don’t let me [expletive] up” — and followed Sasse¬ville into the sky.

They screamed over the smoldering Pentagon, heading northwest at more than 400 mph, flying low and scanning the clear horizon. Her commander had time to think about the best place to hit the enemy.

“We don’t train to bring down airliners,” said Sasseville, now stationed at the Pentagon. “If you just hit the engine, it could still glide and you could guide it to a target. My thought was the cockpit or the wing.”
He also thought about his ejection seat. Would there be an instant just before impact?

“I was hoping to do both at the same time,” he says. “It probably wasn’t going to work, but that’s what I was hoping.”

Penney worried about missing the target if she tried to bail out.
“If you eject and your jet soars through without impact . . .” she trails off, the thought of failing more dreadful than the thought of dying.

But she didn’t have to die. She didn’t have to knock down an airliner full of kids and salesmen and girlfriends. They did that themselves.
It would be hours before Penney and Sasseville learned that United 93 had already gone down in Pennsylvania, an insurrection by hostages willing to do just what the two Guard pilots had been willing to do: Anything. And everything.

“The real heroes are the passengers on Flight 93 who were willing to sacrifice themselves,” Penney says. “I was just an accidental witness to history.”

She and Sasseville flew the rest of the day, clearing the airspace, escorting the president, looking down onto a city that would soon be sending them to war.

She’s a single mom of two girls now. She still loves to fly. And she still thinks often of that extraordinary ride down the runway a decade ago.

“I genuinely believed that was going to be the last time I took off,” she says. “If we did it right, this would be it.”

Why Is It Always So One Sided?

Once again the people on the left side of the political spectrum prove they are hypocrites; mostly talk and criticism.

In January of this year, after Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head by a mad gunman (Jared Loughner) in Arizona, people on the left; politicians, the media, elected representatives and even the President called for a ceasefire in inflammatory rhetoric. They blamed Loughner’s actions on such things as Sarah Palin “targeting” political opponents, and various words from conservative talk show hosts and politicians. Of course, all of the blame by the left was completely off base but that really didn’t matter to them. Their motto often seems to be “Don’t try to confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.”

This week the left proved their hypocrisy in so many ways it’s almost (yes, almost) unimaginable. On Sunday the President attended a “jobs” rally in Detroit. AFL/CIO leader, Jimmy Hoffa, Jr., opened the event with a fiery speech about how the Tea Party is destroying jobs. He told the President that they, “the unions”, were his army and that they need to “take the SOBs out”, referring to the Tea Party. President Obama, who immediately followed Hoffa, said nothing about the rhetoric, even though he had condemned such speech only 9 months earlier. His Press Secretary, Jay Carney, justified the President’s silence on the issue by saying the President didn’t hear Hoffa’s remarks and that the President wasn’t responsible for what Mr. Hoffa said. And while I agree with the second statement, I don’t believe Mr. Obama didn’t hear the remarks and I feel if Mr. Obama was so adamant about toning down the rhetoric he should have said something to correct Mr. Hoffa when he took the stage.

Vice President, Joe Biden, went to a rally the same day and said “You are the only folks keeping the barbarians from the gates”, speaking of the Tea Party and the conservatives. “The other side has declared war on labor’s house and it’s about time we stand up!”

In January, President Obama called for “civil discourse”, not only in Washington but around the country. But it seems that only applies to one side.

A couple of weeks ago, Congresswoman Maxine Waters said “The Tea Party can go straight to Hell. And I’ll help them get there.” Amazingly civil discourse there, Ms. Waters.

Debbie Wasserman Schults, Congresswoman from Florida and leader of the Democratic National Convention, was asked specifically about Mr. Hoffa’s comments and whether it was inflammatory and/or improper. She refused to answer the question. Instead she broke into talking points about jobs.
I’m sure there will be those who say “Ah, come on… you know neither of those speeches constitute any threat.” And quite honestly, I agree, just as I agree that Sarah Palin’s political “targets” had nothing to do with the actions of Jared Loughner. Yet the left still continues to demonize the right for their “hateful and violent political rhetoric”, all the while continuing to use it themselves.

Do I think Jimmy Hoffa means his words about “taking the SOB’s out”? Not literally, really. However, his family history isn’t exactly the most non-violent around. (I remember the Teamsters strike in the early 70s when anyone who crossed the picket line was beaten and/or shot.) Do I think Mr. Biden is a threat? Nah. I doubt Joe Biden would be a threat to a wet paper bag is he was suffocating inside it . Do I think talking about “Republicans are holding Americans hostage with a gun to their heads” is appropriate for the houses of Congress? Nope. Do I think all the comments about “those violent Tea Party members” who cannot be found in any reputable search are OK? I don’t. But the rhetoric from the left is still there on a regular basis. I’m getting tired of hearing criticism from the left about words and rhetoric only to have them say whatever they want whenever they want and believe it’s OK for them. It seems “civil discourse” means different things to different people, depending on which side you’re on…

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Word Of The Day - Hubris

Wickipedia defines the word Hubris ( /ˈhjuːbris/), in the following manner: “also hybris, meaning extreme haughtiness, pride or arrogance. Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power."

Below are excerpts from two Presidential speeches. The first was made by then President George W. Bush after our military captured the ousted Saddaam Hussein. The second was delivered by President Obama following the killing of Osama Bin Laden. There are vast differences between the two speeches if you look closely at them. After reading the definition of Hubris it should be easy to figure out who best fits the definition of word.

President Bush:

“The success of yesterday's mission is a tribute to our men and women now serving in Iraq. The operation was based on the superb work of intelligence analysts who found the dictator's footprints in a vast country. The operation was carried out with skill and precision by
a brave fighting force. Our servicemen and women and our coalition allies have faced many dangers in the hunt for members of the fallen regime, and in their effort to bring hope and freedom to the Iraqi people. Their work continues, and so do the risks. Today, on behalf of the nation, I thank the members of our Armed Forces and I congratulate them.”

President Obama:

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as I continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network. Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by my intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that I had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Not too difficult, huh? Notice even one place in Bush's speech where he took any credit for the actions of the intelligence and military communities? I didn't either.

Monday, September 5, 2011

We Noticed

I received the following article/letter via e-mail today. The e-mail said the piece was written by Sherry Hackett, wife of the late, great comedian Buddy Hackett and a staunch Democrat. Research has shown me the author was not Sherry Hackett but a woman named Faye Parrish of Bunnell, Florida. Her words, however bear repeating. You don’t have to be a Republican or a Conservative to agree with at least some of her words. I post this with all credit to Faye Parrish. Well said, Faye.

President Obama:

Today I read of your administrations' plan to re-define September 11 as a National Service Day. Sir, it's time we had a talk.

During your campaign, Americans watched as you made mockery of our tradition of standing and crossing your heart when the Pledge of Allegiance was spoken. You, out of four people on the stage, were the only one not honoring our tradition. YES, "We noticed."

During one of your many speeches, Americans heard you say that you intended to visit all 57 states. We all know that Islam, not America has 57 states. YES, "We noticed."

When President Bush leaned over at Ground Zero and gently placed a flower on the memorial, while you nonchalantly tossed your flower onto the pile without leaning over. YES, "We noticed."

Every time you apologized to other countries for America's position on an issue we have wondered why you don't share our pride in this great country. When you have heard foreign leaders berate our country and our beliefs, you have not defended us. In fact, you insulted the British Crown beyond belief. YES, "We noticed."

When your pastor of 20 years, "God-damned America " and said that 9/11 was " America 's chickens coming home to roost" and you denied having heard recriminations of that nature, we wondered how that could be. You later disassociated yourself from that church and Pastor Wright because it was politically expedient to do so. YES, "We noticed."

When you announced that you would transform America, we wondered why. With all her faults, America is the greatest country on earth. Sir, KEEP THIS IN MIND, "if not for America and the people who built her, you wouldn' t be sitting in the White House now." Prior to your election to the highest office in this Country, you were a senator from Illinois and from what we can glean from the records available, not a very remarkable one. YES, "We noticed."

All through your campaign and even now, you have surrounded yourself with individuals who are basically unqualified for the positions for which you appointed them. Worse than that, the majority of them are people who, like you, bear no special allegiance, respect, or affection for this country and her traditions. YES, "We noticed."

You are 24 months into your term and every morning millions of Americans wake up to a new horror heaped on us by you. You seek to saddle working Americans with a health care/insurance reform package that, along with cap and trade, will bankrupt this nation. YES, "We noticed."

We seek, by protesting, to let our representatives know that we are not in favor of these crippling expenditures and we are labeled "unAmerican","racist", and "mobs". We wonder how we are supposed to let you know how frustrated we are. You have attempted to make our protests seem isolated and insignificant. Until your appointment, Americans had the right to speak out. YES, "We noticed."

On September 11, 2001 there were no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. And we all grieved together and helped each other in whatever way we could. The attack on 9/11 was carried out because we are Americans. And YES, "We noticed.."

There were many of us who prayed that as a black president you could help unite this nation. In six months you have done more to destroy this nation than the attack on 9/11. You have failed us. YES, "We noticed."

September 11 is a day of remembrance for all Americans. You propose to make 9/11 a "National Service Day". While we know that you don't share our reverence for 9/11, we pray that history will report your proposal as what it is, a disgrace. YES, "We noticed."

You have made a mockery of our Constitution and the office that you hold. You have embarrassed and slighted us in foreign visits and policy. YES, "We noticed."

We have noticed all these things. We will deal with you. When Americans come together again, it will be to remove you from office.

Take notice.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Finding God

After my post yesterday and the comments and ensuing discussion, both on the public page and in private messages, I felt this story was a good follow up. I have researched this and cannot find any information that leads me to believe it’s not a true story. only has a discussion between people who believe it and those who don’t and says it’s absolutely true. I do know God does work in mysterious ways and sometimes He finds people instead of the other way around. As Garth Brooks said a few years ago… “Sometimes God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

The story appears as it was posted. It's a little long but worth the read. At least, I think so.

This story was written several years ago by Father John Powell, a retired professor from Loyola University in Chicago. Father Powell is advanced in years, but found him and talked with him. The story was fresh in his mind and he confirmed that it is true and happened in the way that he described it.

Subject: a true story - Finding God

Rev. John Powell, a professor at Loyola University in Chicago, writes about a student in his Theology of Faith class named Tommy:

Some twelve years ago, I stood watching my university students file into the classroom for our first session in the Theology of Faith.

That was the day I first saw Tommy. My eyes and my mind both blinked. He was combing his long flaxen hair, which hung six inches below his shoulders. It was the first time I had ever seen a boy with hair that long. I guess it was just coming into fashion then.

I know in my mind that it isn't what's on your head but what's in it that counts, but on that day, I was unprepared and my emotions flipped. I immediately filed Tommy under "S" for strange - very strange. Tommy turned out to be the "atheist in residence" in my Theology of Faith course. He constantly objected to, smirked at, or whined about the possibility of an unconditionally loving Father/God.

We lived with each other in relative peace for one semester, although I admit he was for me at times a serious pain in the back pew. When he came up at the end of the course to turn in his final exam, he asked in a cynical tone, "Do you think I'll ever find God?"

I decided instantly on a little shock therapy. "No!" I said very emphatically.

"Why not?" he asked. "I thought that was the product you were pushing."

I let him get five steps from the classroom door and then called out, "Tommy! I don't think you'll ever find Him, but I am absolutely certain that He will find you!"
He shrugged a little and left my class and my life.

I felt slightly disappointed at the thought that he had missed my clever line: "He will find you!" At least I thought it was clever.

Later, I heard that Tommy had graduated and I was duly grateful. Then a sad report came. I heard that Tommy had terminal cancer. Before I could search him out, he came to see me. When he walked into my office, his body was very badly wasted and the long hair had all fallen out as a result of chemotherapy. But his eyes were bright and his voice was firm, for the first time, I believe.

"Tommy, I've thought about you so often - I hear you are sick," I blurted out.

"Oh, yes, very sick. I have cancer in both lungs. It's a matter of weeks."

"Can you talk about it, Tom?" I asked.

"Sure, what would you like to know?" he replied.

"What's it like to be only twenty-four and dying?" I asked.

"Well, it could be worse," he replied.

"Like what?" I asked.

"Well, like being fifty and having no values or ideals; like being fifty and thinking that booze, seducing women, and making money are the real biggies' in life," he replied.

I began to look through my mental file cabinet under 'S' where I had filed Tommy as strange. (It seems as though everybody I try to reject by classification, God sends back into my life to educate me.)

"But what I really came to see you about," Tom said, "is something you said to me on the last day of class."

(He remembered!)

He continued, "I asked you if you thought I would ever find God and you said, 'No!' which surprised me. Then you said, 'But He will find you.' I thought about that a lot, even though my search for God was hardly intense at that time."

(My clever line - He thought about that a lot!)

"But when the doctors removed a lump from my groin and told me that it was malignant, that's when I got serious about locating God. And when the malignancy spread into my vital organs, I really began banging bloody fists against the bronze doors of heaven. But God did not come out. In fact, nothing happened.”

“Did you ever try anything for a long time with great effort and with no success? You get psychologically glutted, fed up with trying. And then you quit. Well, one day I woke up, and instead of throwing a few more futile appeals over that high brick wall to a God who may be or may not be there, I just quit. I decided that I didn't really care about God, about an afterlife, or anything like that. I decided to spend what time I had left doing something more profitable.”

“I thought about you and your class and I remembered something else you had said: 'The essential sadness is to go through life without loving. But it would be almost equally sad to go through life and leave this world without ever telling those you loved that you had loved them.'”

“So, I began with the hardest one, my Dad. He was reading the newspaper when I approached him. 'Dad.' 'Yes, what?' he asked, without lowering the newspaper. 'Dad, I would like to talk with you.' 'Well, talk.' 'I mean.... It's really important.' The newspaper came down three slow inches.”

“What is it?”

“Dad, I love you. I just wanted you to know that."

Tom smiled at me and said it with obvious satisfaction, as though he felt a warm and secret joy flowing inside of him. "The newspaper fluttered to the floor. Then my father did two things I could never remember him ever doing before. He cried and he hugged me. We talked all night, even though he had to go to work the next morning. It felt so good to be close to my father, to see his tears, to feel his hug, to hear him say that he loved me.”

“It was easier with my mother and little brother. They cried with me, too, and we hugged each other, and started saying real nice things to each other. We shared the things we had been keeping secret for so many years. I was only sorry about one thing --- that I had waited so long.”

“Here I was, just beginning to open up to all the people I had actually been close to. Then, one day I turned around and God was there. He didn't come to me when I pleaded with Him. I guess I was like an animal trainer holding out a hoop: 'C'mon, jump through. C'mon, I'll give You three days, three weeks.' Apparently God does things in His own way and at His own hour. But the important thing is that He was there. He found me! You were right. He found me even after I stopped looking for Him."

"Tommy", I practically gasped. "I think you are saying something very important and much more universal than you realize. To me, at least, you are saying that the surest way to find God is not to make Him a private possession, a problem solver, or an instant consolation in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said: 'God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.’”

“Tom, could I ask you a favor? You know, when I had you in class you were a real pain. But (laughingly) you can make it all up to me now. Would you come into my present Theology of Faith course and tell them what you have just told me? If I told them the same thing it wouldn't be half as effective as if you were to tell it."

"Ooh, I was ready for you, but I don't know if I'm ready for your class."

"Tom, think about it. If and when you are ready, give me a call." In a few days, Tom called, said he was ready for the class; that he wanted to do that for God and for me. So we scheduled a date. However, he never made it. He had another appointment, far more important than the one with me and my class. Of course, his life was not really ended by his death, only changed. He made the great step from faith into vision.

He found a life far more beautiful than the eye of man has ever seen or the ear of man has ever heard or the mind of man has ever imagined. Before he died, we talked one last time.

"I'm not going to make it to your class," he said.

"I know, Tom."

"Will you tell them for me? Will you tell the whole world for me?"

"I will, Tom. I'll tell them. I'll do my best."

So, to all of you who have been kind enough to read this simple story about God's love, thank you for listening. And to you, Tommy, somewhere in the sunlit, verdant hills of heaven - I told them, Tommy, as best I could.

Rev. John Powell, Professor, Loyola

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thoughts On God...

I haven’t written much over the last few months because of things going on in my own life. The other night, however, I felt compelled to write something. I watched a couple of videos on Youtube of “The Booth Brothers”, gospel music in incredible harmony. They sang “Amazing Grace” and it gave me chills. I finished the post today.

Although I was raised in a church, I’m not a religious person. I don’t go to church anymore, at least for now. But I do believe in God and in Jesus Christ and I’m glad they are both in my life. I have friends who are Atheists, they don’t believe at all, choosing to believe in science rather than in God. And ultimately, I’m OK with that if it’s what they choose to believe. Personally, I believe science couldn’t exist without God. I know I’m supposed to witness to them and try to change their minds but in reality, I know it would be a waste of my time and I don’t believe God wants us to waste our time witnessing to people who refuse to believe.

Now, to the point of my post. The first video I watched, “If We Never Meet Again This Side Of Heaven” is about looking forward to seeing people we love again who have passed on to the next life. If you don’t believe I guess you don’t have that to look forward to. If you do believe you know you’re going to see that person again regardless of how long it takes. I think of my son that way. I believe one day I’ll see him again and that feeling is indescribable.

One friend of mine, who professes to be an Atheist, talks about holding his newborn daughter in the finite, like one day it will cease to exist. I refuse to believe that. Everything I have been taught since I was a child reminds me that life doesn’t end at death but that death is merely a transition to eternity for those who believe. I suppose if you think about it in logical, scientific terms it doesn’t make much sense. But science hasn’t exactly explained the gaps in the evolution process from amoebas to ape to man, even though they want us to believe we descended in that manner. There is no evidence to support the entire transition, only a theory. So I choose to believe the Bible. I don’t necessarily think everything happened all at once. In fact, I think evolution in some ways is supported by the Bible. In the Book of Genesis God created the heavens and the Earth, and all the creatures therein, in 6 days. So how long is a day to God? How long is a day to a being who has been around forever? If creatures and people evolved over millions of years is that “evidence” God had nothing to do with it?

Have you ever studied the human body? Is it really feasible that such an incredibly complex and intelligent creature can exist merely by a random grouping of cells? I think not.

It is my belief, and the belief of millions, or billions of other people in the world that there is a supreme being whether it is called God, Yahweh, Allah, or something else. For the purpose of this post I’m not going to get into who may be right or wrong. Those who don’t believe in a supreme being of some sort are themselves a minority in the world. That minority seems to be growing daily, which, in my opinion, is one of the reasons things are getting worse in the world. But the minority will disagree with me on that point.

The main thing I’m saying here is that I not only believe in God but also in an afterlife. I believe I will see my son and be able to hug him again when my life is through here on Earth. It doesn’t matter to me if some people think I’m crazy and/or wasting my time believing as I do. All that matters is that I believe it, as do countless others.

Those of you who don’t believe God is real – mock me if you so desire, although I don’t mock you for your beliefs so I think those of you who do this simply prove your shallowness. If I’m wrong in my beliefs, so be it. If you’re wrong – sorry for you. I’m happy and like who I am and your opinion, while respected, isn’t necessary.