Omaha, Utah, Sainte-Mère-Église

Re-post for the observation of D-Day…


(view from one of the myriad of German bunkers that covered the Normandy coastline /
Julie Cook / 2018)

Several years ago, one Sunday afternoon I found myself flipping through the television
channels in hopes of finding something of interest.
I stopped on what was obviously a dated war movie.
Yet having never seen the movie, I knew immediately what it was…
It was the 1962 film The Longest Day.
A big screen depiction of the lead up to and the event of
the Invasion of Normandy…D-Day.

The movie starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Richard Burton along with a host of
other big-name stars of the day.

Despite not particularly wanting to watch a war film on this particular sunny Sunday afternoon, I
hunkered in, none the less, ready to endure a long afternoon watching a long film about
about a truly significant long day.

My purpose here is not to retell the historical events of that infamous day now 74 (now 75) years ago.
but rather to offer a glimpse into what was and what is.

(*This trip was the bucket list gift for my husband upon his retirement from 50 years spent in business.)

Our day for the D-Day tour couldn’t have been much worse.

As I noted in a post from the other day…there was rain, lots of rain…blowing wind and
bitter wet cold.

And yet the peaceful ebbing ocean that greeted us this day,
was anything but peaceful 74 years ago


(a parasilor enjoys the surf that was once red from the blood lost by those
soilders who never got to shore)

Rain blew sideways, winds gusted 35 to 40 MPH, umbrellas turned upward and a Patagonia
rain jacket that hails as an H2No…proved to be no match as I might as well
have been wearing a paper bag.

But the weather didn’t seem to matter on this particular September day as it seemed
almost fitting.
I knew that the weather on this northwestern coast of France, a coast right off the
often chaotic English Channel is famous for its squalls and unpredictability.

A predicament that proved crucial 74 years ago as the Allied forces needed a window to open.

During the course of our tour, I learned that the movie The Longest Day,
along with other similar movies such as Saving Private Ryan, are actually more movie
than truth.

John Wayne’s character was not the pivotal commanding officer that decisive day but because
John Wayne demanded the most airtime, his character came across as such.
The true leader of the offensive that day was a mere blip in the movie.

And the real tale of the Ryan brothers was not what Tom Hanks offered us as viewers…
And the currently hanging mock paratrooper who perpetually dangles from the bell tower
of Sainte-Mère-Église did not actually fall on that side of the tower at all.
Today’s manikin hangs from its current wall because it simply offers a better view
for visitors arriving into town.

John Steele, the unfortunate soldier whose parachute got hung up on the church tower, in the tiny
village of Sainte-Mère-Église survived his predicament but unfortunately went deaf
that fateful night—
It was the night that he, along with hundreds of parachuters jumped on a moonless night
out of hundreds of planes sent behind enemy lines just prior to the following day’s
infamous landing.

It just so happened that a fire had broken out in town and the church bells were ringing…
endlessly ringing alerting the villagers and occupying Germans that there was a fire and
that all available hands were needed to assist in putting out the fire.
Steele, having been shot in the foot, had to “play” dead so the Germans would not continue
shooting at him.
He hung for hours beside those ringing bells.

Other soldiers fell into the trees, getting tangled up in the limbs…many broken bones
and suffered traumatic puncture wounds…
those lucky enough not to be shot while falling from the sky, hunkered in to fight.

Many who were shot as they helplessly floated in the night sky were killed long before
even hitting the ground.

One soldier that fell into this particular tree worked frantically to cut himself loose
from his shute, cutting off his thumb in the process.
Once he fell free to the ground, bleeding profusely, he managed to
get to a secure location in order to engage the enemy

Bullet holes remain in the rod iron fencing around a home once occupied by the
German commanding officer of the occupying army.
The scars of a small village which are the remaining physical reminders of
a battle fought so long ago.

From Utah Beach, we climbed down, in and around the now chared bunkers.
Soldiers who managed to survive the initial assault after storming the beachhead
and then scaled the rocky cliffs, tossed grenades into the bunkers or used flamethrowers
to render the giant guns, used to fire at the Allied Naval ships just off the coast,
inoperable…


(one of the large guns remains in its bunker/ Julie Cook / 2018)


(the stone base where one of the “big” guns was once postioned)


(the hedgehog, that giant steel x shapped barrier, is origianl)

These particular beachheads were chosen in part due to the fact that the sand is
extremely dense and compactable.
Not a soft fluffy sort of sand but rather a hard packed sand, hard enough to allow
heavy equipment to be brought ashore.

Beachgoers today continue finding remnants of that fateful day.

What appears to be a grassy covered dip in the landscape is actually a bomb crater…
the shoreline is covered with such craters…

Sheep have been brought in to assist with ground maintenance as mowers cannot traverse
the pockmarked landscape

Bunkers and beaches have been transformed and are now somber memorials…

Eventually, we moved inward, driving a few miles from the beaches,
making our way to a tiny village and its cafe Cafe J. Phillippe….a cafe
that once greeted war-weary soldiers just as it greeted us this cold wet afternoon.

Mike holds a photograph of Allied troops making their way to this same village.
Stopping just as we did for a needed bite to eat…
the cafe remains just as it did 74 years ago–preserved and frozen in time…

Following our late lunch, we made our way to the final leg of our day which seemed most
fitting as it was indeed the final leg for upwards of 9400 men and women.

Yes, there are actually four servicewomen buried here in the cemetery.

The trees that line the cemetery are all capped off at the top…cut off as a purposeful
and a visual reminder of all the fallen whose lives were cut short.

As visitors to the cemetery, we noticed that the names on all of the markers appeared
to be turned around as if backward— facing away from arriving visitors.
However, we were told that there was a purpose here as well… all 9,387 markers face west…
as in they face home…a homeland that these brave men and women would never see again.

Seeing a sea of impeccably white and neatly aligned stars and crosses standing in silent
attention, each turned so as to face the United States which was nearly 5000 miles away
was almost more than my heart could bear.

Oddly the number of the buried in the cemetery continues to fluctuate.

Modern technology now allows for DNA testing on remains that are still being discovered.
As well as for those bodies that, for all these years, have gone unnamed and unknown.
The families of those Americans now being identified are afforded the option to either bring
home their loved one or to allow them to remain in France…buried in the American Cemetery.

The United States has vowed that it will identify all unknown soldiers buried in France.
Thus the number of buried now changes yearly with the latest body
receiving honors this past summer.

There is even one soldier from WWI who is actually buried in this WWII cemetery.

President Theodore Roosevelt, cousin to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had 4 sons.
All four sons served in WWI. The youngest son, Quentin, was a WWI flying ace who was shot
in the head during a dogfight and whose plane eventually crashed.
Two other sons suffered serious injuries during the war but
it was Quentin who remained behind as he was buried in Belgium.

Years later his older brother Teddy Jr, who was at this time a grown man with a successful
business and political career was also a soldier.
Teddy Jr was actually a brigadier general.

By 1944 Teddy Jr. was in poor health suffering from both a serious heart condition and
crippling arthritis.
Knowing of the impending invasion, Teddy Jr. requested to be assigned as a
leading commander.
Yet due to his health, his initial request was denied.
Undeterred, he petitioned the high command and was allowed to serve as leading commander.

Teddy Jr. bravely leads the assault on Omaha Beach.
Four days later, Brig Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr died from a massive heart attack.

The Roosevelt family was asked if they would like for Teddy Jr’s body to be brought home for
burial at Arlington—however knowing that Teddy would want to remain with his men,
he was buried in France.
The family then asked if Quentin could be exhumed from his grave in Belgium and moved to be
besides his brother.
The request was granted.

And so when I hear of the stupidity, yes stupidity, about over-payed Football players, athletes,
and even now cheerleaders, who are all wanting to kneel during the singing of our National Anthem…
claiming that the flag of the United States does not represent them…
I am incensed.

Those kneeling individuals such as Colin Kaepernick, who is the poster face for
all things disrespectful, are no heroes.
It is not a risk to life to kneel rather than stand at the start of a ballgame.

He and his ilk are certainly entitled to their feelings and thoughts…
Kaepernick may even speak out and state his peace as to why he feels the flag does
not represent him or who he is—and who he is is a young man of mixed heritage
who happened to have been adopted as a child and reared and raised by a white family
who afforded him all the privileges and comforts of middle-class family life…
He attended and played football on scholarship at UNLV–in part because that was the
only school, as reported by his mom, who would give him a scholarship.

And yet the irony in all of this is found in the lives and eventual death of those
young men from a previous and different generation who were actually the ones who
stormed those Norman beaches…
They were fearful and nervous as to what awaited them on that fateful June day in 1944—

Young men…some who prayed, some who smoked, some who whimpered through tears
and those who sat stoically before they were given the call to charge…

They raced into the sea which turned red with their blood, racing into a hail of
machine gun fire, grenades, and bombs blasting all around them…
they did so for the likes of Colin Kaepernick and his NIKE sea
of followers…they did so as well as for you and me…for those of us who are humbled
by their bravery and for those of us who prefer to show disdain for the same flag these
young men proudly carried and quickly died under…

https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/normandy-american-cemetery#.W8j6f6eZP2Q

one more word…

America is the only country ever founded on a creed.
G.K. Chesterton


(images of the flag flying over the American Cemetery in Normandy / Julie Cook / 2018)

I want to offer one last reflection regarding our visit to the Amercian Cemetery in Normandy
before moving on to other thoughts.

When we arrived at the US cemetery after a day of exploring battlefields, the “enemy’s” cemetery
as well as occupied villages and towns, it was now shortly before 4PM.

Each afternoon at 4PM an honor guard makes its way to the American flag flying watch over the
thousands of perfectly aligned crosses and stars.

Taps is played as the flag is lowered and folded.
The flag is lowered each and every day just as it has been lowered now for the past 74 years
that the cemetery has been an official US cemetery on foreign soil.

We had been wandering about the graves overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of graves—
almost unaware that we were now carrying a heavy sense of deep sorrow.

We were told that it was the state of West Virginia that suffered the greatest number of
losses during the invasion, so we looked for the names of the states whose young men are
resting under the rows of crosses and stars.

We saw names hailing from states such as Kansas, Arizona, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…
and yes West Virginia.

Just like in most cemeteries, there is a solemn quiet that carries itself throughout
the air.
Whispers or simple silence is the unspoken rule of etiquette.

As the clock struck 4 PM, as the honor guard approached the flag,
all the wandering visitors stopped wandering.

Next, all present turned toward the flag and were suddenly very still
as ball caps were removed from heads, despite the rain…
as now both young and old automatically lifted hands to either place over hearts or
lift to the head in salute.

Something very powerful was taking place.

Reverence and respect were taking place…
laced with humility as well as gratitude.

Oh how far this land of ours has fallen from those hallowed ideals.

I pray we find them again…soon.

If we ever forget that we are one nation under God,
then we will be a nation gone under.

Ronald Reagan

Omaha, Utah, Sainte-Mère-Église


(view from one of the myriad of German bunkers that covered the Normandy coastline /
Julie Cook / 2018)

Several years ago, one Sunday afternoon I found myself flipping through the television
channels in hopes of finding something of interest.
I stopped on what was obviously a dated war movie.
Yet having never seen the movie, I knew immediately what it was…
It was the 1962 film The Longest Day.
A big screen depiction of the lead up to and the event of
the Invasion of Normandy…D-Day.

The movie starred John Wayne, Henry Fonda and Richard Burton along with a host of
other big name stars of the day.

Despite not particularly wanting to watch a war film on this particular sunny Sunday afternoon, I
hunkered in, none the less, ready to endure a long afternoon watching a long film about
about a truly significant long day.

My purpose here is not to retell the historical events of that infamous day now 74 years ago.
but rather to offer a glimpse into what was and what is.

Our day for the D-Day tour couldn’t have been much worse.

As I noted in a post from the other day…there was rain, lots of rain…blowing wind and
bitter wet cold.

And yet the peaceful ebbing ocean that greeted us this day,
was anything but peaceful 74 years ago


(a parasilor enjoys the surf that was once red from the blood lost by those
soilders who never got to shore)

Rain blew sideways, winds gusted 35 to 40 MPH, umbrellas turned upward and a Patagonia
rain jacket that hails as an H2No…proved to be no match as I might as well
have been wearing a paper bag.

But the weather didn’t seem to matter on this particular September day as it seemed
almost fitting.
I knew that the weather on this northwestern coast of France, a coast right off the
often chaotic English Channel is famous for its squalls and unpredictability.

A predicament that proved crucial 74 years ago as the Allied forces needed a window to open.

During the course of our tour, I learned that the movie The Longest Day,
along with other similar movies such as Saving Private Ryan, are actually more movie
than truth.

John Wayne’s character was not the pivotal commanding officer that decisive day but because
John Wayne demanded the most airtime, his character came across as such.
The true leader of the offensive that day was a mere blip in the movie.

And the real tale of the Ryan brothers was not what Tom Hanks offered us as viewers…
And the currently hanging mock paratrooper who perpetually dangles from the bell tower
of Sainte-Mère-Église did not actually fall on that side of the tower at all.
Today’s manikin hangs from its current wall because it simply offers a better view
for visitors arriving into town.

John Steele, the unfortunate soldier whose parachute got hung up on the church tower, in the tiny
village of Sainte-Mère-Église survived his predicament but unfortunately went deaf
that fateful night—
It was the night that he, along with hundreds of parachuters jumped on a moonless night
out of hundreds of planes sent behind enemy lines just prior to the following day’s
infamous landing.

It just so happened that a fire had broken out in town and the church bells were ringing…
endlessly ringing alerting the villagers and occupying Germans that there was a fire and
that all available hands were needed to assist in putting out the fire.
Steele, having been shot in the foot, had to “play” dead so the Germans would not continue
shooting at him.
He hung for hours beside those ringing bells.

Other soldiers fell into the trees, getting tangled up in the limbs…many broke bones
and suffered traumatic punture wounds…
those lucky enough not to be shot while falling from the sky, hunkered in to fight.

Many who were shot as they helplessly floated in the night sky were killed long before
even hitting the ground.

One soldier that fell into this particular tree worked frantically to cut himself loose
from his shute, cutting off his thumb in the process.
Once he fell free to the ground, bleeding profusely, he managed to
get to a secure location in order to engage the enemy

Bullet holes remain in the rod iron fencing around a home once occupied by the
German commanding officer of the occupying army.
The scars of a small village which are the remaining physical reminders of
a battle fought so long ago.

From Utah Beach, we climbed down, in and around the now chared bunkers.
Soldiers who managed to survive the intial assualt after storming the beachhead
and then scaled the rocky cliffs, tossed grenades into the bunkers or used flamethrowers
to render the giant guns, used to fire at the Allied Naval ships just off the coast,
inoperable…


(one of the large guns remains in its bunker/ Julie Cook / 2018)


(the stone base where one of the “big” guns was once postioned)


(the hedgehog, that giant steel x shapped barrier, is origianl)

These particular beachheads were chosen in part due to the fact that the sand is
extremely dense and compactable.
Not a soft fluffy sort of sand but rather a hard packed sand, hard enough to allow
heavy equipment to be brought ashore.

Beachgoers today continue finding remnants of that fateful day.

What appears to be a grassy covered dip in the landscape is actually a bomb crater…
the shoreline is covered with such craters…

Sheep have been brought in to assist with ground maintenance as mowers cannot traverse
the pockmarked landscape

Bunkers and beaches have been transformed and are now somber memorials…

Eventually, we moved inward, driving a few miles from the beaches,
making our way to a tiny village and its cafe Cafe J. Phillippe….a cafe
that once greeted war-weary soldiers just as it greeted us this cold wet afternoon.

Mike holds a photograph of Allied troops making their way to this same village.
Stopping just as we did for a needed bite to eat…
the cafe remains just as it did 74 years ago–preserved and frozen in time…

Following our late lunch, we made our way to the final leg of our day which seemed most
fitting as it was indeed the final leg for upwards of 9400 men and women.

Yes, there are actually four servicewomen buried here in the cemetery.

The trees that line the cemetery are all capped off at the top…cut off as a purposeful
and visual reminder of all the fallen whose lives were cut short.

As visitors to the cemetery, we noticed that the names on all of the markers appeared
to be turned around as if backwards— facing away from arriving visitors.
However, we were told that there was a purpose here as well… all 9,387 markers face west…
as in they face home…a homeland that these brave men and women would never see again.

Seeing a sea of impeccably white and neatly aligned stars and crosses standing in silent
attention, each turned so as to face the United States which was nearly 5000 miles away
was almost more than my heart could bear.

Oddly the number of the buried in the cemetery continues to fluctuate.

Modern technology now allows for DNA testing on remains that are still being discovered.
As well as for those bodies that, for all these years, have gone unnamed and unknown.
The families of those Americans now being identified are afforded the option to either bring
home their loved one or to allow them to remain in France…buried in the American Cemetery.

The United States has vowed that they will identify all unknown soldiers buried in France.
Thus the number of buried now changes yearly with the latest body
receiving honors this past summer.

There is even one soldier from WWI who is actually buried in this WWII cemetery.

President Theodore Roosevelt, cousin to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had 4 sons.
All four sons served in WWI. The youngest son, Quentin, was a WWI flying ace who was shot
in the head during a dogfight and whose plane eventually crashed.
Two other sons suffered serious injuries during the war but
it was Quentin who remaind behind as he was buried in Belgium.

Years later his older brother Teddy Jr, who was at this time a grown man with a successful
business and political career was also a soldier.
Teddy Jr was actually a brigadier general.

By 1944 Teddy Jr. was in poor health suffering from both a serious heart condition and
crippling arthritis.
Knowing of the impending invasion, Teddy Jr. requested to be assigned as a
leading commander.
Yet due to his health, his initial request was denied.
Undeterred, he petitioned the high command and was allowed to serve as leading commander.

Teddy Jr. bravely lead the assault on Omaha Beach.
Four days later, Brig Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr died from a massive heart attack.

The Roosevelt family was asked if they would like for Teddy Jr’s body to be brought home for
burial at Arlington—however knowing that Teddy would want to remain with his men,
he was buried in France.
The family then asked if Quentin could be exhumed from his grave in Belgium and moved to be
beside his brother.
The request was granted.

And so when I hear of the stupidity, yes stupidity, about over-payed Football players, athletes,
and even now cheerleaders, who are all wanting to kneel during the singing of our National Anthem…
claiming that the flag of the United States does not represent them…
I am incensed.

Those kneeling individuals such as Colin Kaepernick, who is the poster face for
all things disrespectful, are no heroes.
It is not a risk to life to kneel rather than stand at the start of a ballgame.

He and his ilk are certainly entitled to their feelings and thoughts…
Kaepernick may even speak out and state his peace as to why he feels the flag does
not represent him or who he is—and who he is is a young man of mixed heritage
who happened to have been adopted as a child and reared and raised by a white family
who afforded him all the privileges and comforts of a middle-class family life…
He attended and played football on scholarship at UNLV–in part because that was the
only school, as reported by his mom, who would give him a scholarship.

And yet the irony in all of this is found in the lives and eventual death of those
young men from a previous and different generation who were actually the ones who
stormed those Norman beaches…
They were fearful and nervous as to what awaited them on that fateful June day in 1944—

Young men…some who prayed, some who smoked, some who whimpered through tears
and those who sat stoically before they were given the call to charge…

They raced into the sea which turned red with their blood, racing into a hail of
machine gun fire, grenades, and bombs blasting all around them…
they did so for the likes of Colin Kaepernick and his NIKE sea
of followers…they did so as well as for you and me…for those of us who are humbled
by their bravery and for those of us who prefer to show disdain for the same flag these
young men proudly carried and quickly died under…

https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials/europe/normandy-american-cemetery#.W8j6f6eZP2Q

Transcendent of time

“the Declaration of Independence was not a creation of the Gods,
but of living men, and, let us never forget, extremely brave men…”

David McCullough

“When he [Thomas Jefferson] wrote the Declaration of Independence,
he was speaking to the world then, but speaking to us also, across time.
The ideas are transcendent, as is so much else that is bedrock to what we believe as a people,
what we stand for, so many principles that have their origins here,
with the mind and spirit of Thomas Jefferson.”

David McCullough
July 4th 1994
Address at Monticello

“We are a nation under God, and I believe God intended for us to be free.
It would be fitting and good, I think, if on each Inaugural Day in future years
it should be declared a day of prayer…

Beyond those monuments to heroism is the Potomac River,
and on the far shore the sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery,
with its row upon row of simple white markers bearing crosses or
Stars of David.
They add up to only a tiny fraction of the price that has been
paid for our freedom.

Each one of those markers is a monument to the kind of hero I spoke of earlier.
Their lives ended in places called Belleau Wood, The Argonne, Omaha Beach,
Salerno, and halfway around the world on Guadalcanal, Tarawa,
Pork Chop Hill, the Chosin Reservoir,
and in a hundred rice paddies and jungles of a place called Vietnam.

Under one such marker lies a young man, Martin Treptow, who left his job in a
small town barbershop in 1917 to go to France with the famed Rainbow Division.
There, on the western front, he was killed trying to carry a message
between battalions under heavy artillery fire.

We’re told that on his body was found a diary.
On the flyleaf under the heading, “My Pledge,” he had written these words:
“America must win this war. Therefore I will work, I will save, I will sacrifice,
I will endure, I will fight cheerfully and do my utmost,
as if the issue of the whole struggle depended on me alone.”

President Ronald Reagan’s Inauguration Address

May God bless America…

a day lived in infamy to our endless gratitude

“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy —
the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces
of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and,
at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government
and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific….”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Addresses the Nation following the attack at Pearl Harbor

71381-004-534732c4
(image of the USS Arizona after it was bombed)

75 years later…we still carry a heaviness on this December day.

During the course of World War II, there were many atrocities, unspeakable brutalities
and a loss of life that is nearly impossible to wrap one’s head around.

Pearl Harbor was but one horrific moment in a long line or horrific moments during the
duration a war steeped in the abominable.

For whatever reason, I do not feel as if this generation grasps the full significance of the
tremendous impact WWII has played in the history of mankind…
nor do I feel that they particularly seem to care.

The loss of life was staggering.
It is estimated that 80 million people lost their lives during the course of the war,
between 3% and 4% of the world’s population at the time…

Add to that those lives of the many more who were dramatically wounded or whose
family’s survived loss and destruction…those who were affected and are considered to be secondary casualties…
Those such numbers are simply left to our fading memories.

The USS Arizona, one of the 8 battleships bombed that fateful December day,
lies as a silent haunting specter on the floor of Pearl Harbor
as she is the lasting tomb of 1,548 servicemen…those whose bodies were never recovered.
A visual tomb which rests just below the surface of the sea.

But my thoughts however today are not merely with those individuals who lost their
lives that fateful December day 75 years ago, but rather my thoughts
gravitate to the collective family of all Servicemen and woman
who have continued putting themselves in harm’s way for those of us who
simply go about living our lives, day to day, as if nothing has ever been different.

I think of a young entitled football player who opts out of sharing in his country’s
national anthem prior to his taking the field of play…
to participate in a game in which he earns millions of dollars.
A game he can play in safety because there are Service men and woman
making certain that he is free to opt out of his country’s national
anthem and to simply play a game.

Lives put on the line every day, as well as countless lives lost,
all for a young man to be able to
make millions of dollars while playing a footbal game…

The balance of those two thoughts will never equal one another.

And it was just yesterday that I finally sent an item home
to it’s rightful serviceman’s family…
45 years after the fact.

A single stainless steel bracelet worn by a young Georgia elementary school girl…
worn as a reminder and a tiny link to a man who was living, and had lived,
for 7 years in captivity, held by the North Vietnamese in a land that
seemed to be lifetime away.

Three years ago, as a Fourth of July tribute, I wrote a post about the POW bracelet that
I wore so very long ago.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/an-overdue-thank-pow-lt-col-james-young/

It is a post that I still occasionally receive comments on to this day…
by those individuals who also wore Lt. Col. James Young’s POW bracelet

Lt.Col Young was taken prisoner in 1966.
At the time his daughter Denise was just an infant.
For almost 8 years her father was simply a name and a face in family photographs…
because she had no recollection of the man who was currently in a prison camp
thousands of miles away in a remote Asian country.

Not until 1973, when most of our prisoners were released with the signing of the
agreement to end the war, would Denise be formally introduced to her father.

Denise met her dad for the very first time when she was 8.
Eight birthdays and eight Christmases came and went before Denise was to meet her dad.
A man who was not the same man who left his infant daughter in the arms of his wife
as he went to fight a strange war on a foreign land.

Those of you who know me know that I do not participate in social media.
It has always been my thought that if God wanted someone to see or read my blog,
He would bring that person my way….

He did just that this past summer.

Out of the blue in June, on Father’s day actually, I received a comment on the post
I’d written about Lt Col. James Young…
the comment however was not by someone, who like me had worn his bracelet during those dark days of the war, but rather the comment came from his youngest daughter, Denise.

There was even a comment that I had made to others who had reached out to me
about wearing the bracelet that I had hoped that one day one of his daughters
would see the post and then I could actually send them the bracelet.

And on Father’s day of 2016, almost 45 years after the day I took off that bracelet,
a now grown daughter received word that piece of her dad,
who had passed away years earlier,
was still very much in the minds and hearts of many other individuals across this nation.

As life has a way of getting in the way, it wasn’t until this past weekend that I finally
retrieved the bracelet out of the safety deposit box,
packed it up and sent it across the country to an anxious daughter.

dscn4694
(a collection surrounding the bracelet, photos of the family upon his return as I had written to the family when I learned of his return and the letter I was to send but never did with the bracelet, until finally this past week)

I could never give back to Denise those nearly 8 years she lived without her dad.
Nor could I have offered her help during those unimaginable days of adjustment that a
family endured at the return of a long lost member…
a time of reacquaintance and simply getting to know one another again…
or in the case of Denise, getting to know for the first time…

Nobody can give any of that back to a family of a Service member.

But we can however unite as a Nation..
uniting when it comes to respecting our flag,
uniting when it comes to our National Anthem
and uniting as show of solidarity for our collective Service members and their families…
as they give,
have given
and continue to give more than any of us can ever repay….

And so I thank Denise, her family, and her father, Lt Col. James Young,
for the sacrifices they made for not only this Nation as a whole,
but to me and all the other individuals out there who make this county who and what she is…
even to those young entitled individuals who simply don’t get this whole mindset of sacrifice….

Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

And the sheep were silent…

“The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision.
It is a silent acquiescence to evil.
The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction,
while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

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(a sheep farm outside of Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

Where does one begin…
Where does one look when attempting to sort it all out?
From whence has it come?
What was the root cause?
What was the catalyst?
How did it ever come to this?

Standing in the center of the raging maelstrom
Silent and dumbfounded…
Only a remaining handful are left to sort it out.

As the majority silently chooses to ignore it…

We choose to turn our heads.
We refuse to call truth by its name.
While hoping it all just goes away.

We don’t want to get labeled.
We don’t want to lose our businesses, our jobs, our positions.
We don’t want to be taken to court.
We don’t want to be disliked, unliked or disconnected.
We don’t want to be shamed…

All the while we are being told we’d best accept things or otherwise shut-up.
We are told to get on board or get out.
We are vilified,
We are hated
We are deemed ignorant.
We are considered backwards.
We are called all manner of vile names
We are stalked by the shadows…

That is unless we recant, we back down, we reconsider,
we change our minds, we accept the once unacceptable…
as the bitter taste is no less palatable, yet we swallow for survival.

And it is because of one thing and one thing only…
We carry the name Christian or Jew.
We support the cross, we support Israel and we hold the word of God as just that…
The Truth.

Yet even under that banner there are those who toil
at rewriting and altering ancient words and law in order to
“modernize” them.
“God didn’t mean that, He actually meant this instead….”
As we don’t like thinking about sin and Hell, so let’s
just throw the blanket out covering everyone…as in
it is all indeed good…because we are all about feeling good.

We stand before the manger feeling all warm and fuzzy,
as we look upon that peaceful nurturing scene of Mother and Child…
All the while we throw up our Christmas trees as the media screams at us,
telling us what we must have and actually need under those trees
in order to be forever happy…
never mind what we really need or want….

…simply to love and be loved….
as in forever…

We want our God to be all loving, all caring, all good, all giving
all about us….
He loves everyone no matter what, right?
He tolerates everything right?
He accepts us no matter what right?

Cause if that’s not right, we don’t want Him.

Cause and effect.

Have we forgotten?

For every cause, there is an opposite reaction or effect.
Up, down
push, pull
lift, drop,
climb, fall….

Yet we decide that the law of physics will not apply to us.

We will live as we choose, with a God who we demand will
abide by our choices and our will…or else…
We will simply rewrite Him…

…or deem Him ill suited, outdated, or better yet…
the product of mere myths…

We deem marriage is not just between man and woman.
We decide boys can be girls and girls can be boys.
There is no separation, no division, no balance…
We don’t like results so we kick and scream until we get the results we like.
We don’t like the flag so we burn it.,
We don’t like religion so we ignore it,
We don’t like those over there cause
we are paranoid and think they don’t like us over here….

We are so busy being us and loving us…as in me, myself and I…
that we are failing to see what is happening all around us.

We are so afraid of offending anyone and everyone that we can’t call terrorists what they are.
We can’t admit that radical Islam wants to annihilate us so we instead invite
them to all come live with us.
We bend everything about us…
until we break, all in the name of acceptance and equality.

And yet we still just don’t get it.
We can’t see it.
We don’t want to admit it….
We’d rather just stare at the crib feeling all warm and fuzzy…
as we forget that the road to Bethlehem, and it’s inviting manger, leads directly
to the Via Dolorosa…

Cause and effect.

Birth and death
Life or not…

If we claim to be Christian or Jew.
If we believe in morality as a guiding principle.
If we believe in cause and effect
If we believe that God is God and we are not…

Now is our moment to be silent no more….

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(a sheep being sheared at a sheep farm outside of Killarney, Co. Kerry, Ireland / Julie Cook / 2015)

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Acts 18:9-10

truth and lies

When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies
Don’t you want somebody to love, don’t you
Need somebody to love, wouldn’t you
Love somebody to love, you better
Find somebody to love

Lyrics Somebody to Love
Jefferson Airplane

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(St Kevin’s Monastery / Glendalough National Park, Co Wicklow, Ireland /Julie Cook / 2015)

“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.”
Thomas Paine

Finding ourselves living in the balance between Truth and Lies
With fiction far outweighing reality,
The faithful stand caught in the middle…
bewildered, battered and weary.

When did this vacuum, now plaguing the land, become so fierce…
As so many are now left reeling in total shock and confusion.
No longer able to discern between this or that
as all lines have finally merged and blurred beyond recognition.

Hawking on the sidewalks, like a street vendor peddling hotdogs,
the falsehoods and fake tales are pushed as the gospel to each hungry passerby.

“Read all about it,” they shout with verbiage in hand,
while passing out dribble like candy to an unsuspecting child.
As the affluent youth tear and burn a once proud flag.

With reality and truth now being pawned off as phobia,
the righteous are stripped and thrown to the wolves.
While the insatiable appetite of the beast is impossible to quell.

The time to take courage has arrived right on cue…
As a handful of the faithful now remain ready to defend…

Yet in the end, when all is finally left in tatters and ruin…
there will be only one thing left standing in the smoldering debris,
which is the only hope that will set those who remain free…
and that being, simply…
the Truth…

But I will leave within you
the meek and humble.
The remnant of Israel
will trust in the name of the Lord.
13 They will do no wrong;
they will tell no lies.
A deceitful tongue
will not be found in their mouths.
They will eat and lie down
and no one will make them afraid.”

Zephaniah 3:12-13