Lifeline

I think of prayer as a spiritual lifeline back to where I most want to be.

Marianne Williamson

(US Sailor Petty Officer First Class Joe George / Photo: George-Taylor family / Speical for The Republic)

(****for some bizarre reason, the post I wrote yesterday and attempted to post
via my phone this morning did not post in its entirety.
I’ve had to delete it and go back in to find what I had last written and saved.
I’ve cut, paste and fixed the original post intended…which you will see here…)

Last night with the television on, while the news played on in the background
as some sort of mindless white noise,
I was perched on the couch with my trusty little laptop in my lap.
I was struggling with my ponderings.

I didn’t know what to write.

What was to be the next day’s post??

Time, or the lack thereof, has been such an issue so being short, sweet and concise
seemed essential.

Suddenly, a familiar voice caught my attention, pulling me back to the moment.
The voice was that of Gary Sinise and it was coming from a trailer for a new story coming
to PBS.

As most folks know, Gary Sinise is most remembered for his iconic role as Lt Dan
in the movie Forrest Gump.

I was not a fan of the movie.

I found it just way too silly and bordering on stupid.

Sure there was that hoped-for lesson at the end of unconditional love, but I just
wasn’t won over by the attempt.

However, my appreciation for Gary Sinise runs deep and comes from his tireless work for
and with veterans along with and for their families.
He actually oversees a foundation that focuses on our veterans, first responders
and their families…

At the Gary Sinise Foundation, we serve our nation by honoring our defenders,
veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.
We do this by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate,
inspire, strengthen, and build communities.
Freedom and security are precious gifts that we, as Americans, should never take
for granted.
We must do all we can to extend our hand in times of need to those who willingly
sacrifice each day to provide that freedom and security.
While we can never do enough to show gratitude to our nation’s defenders,
we can always do a little more.
-gary sinise

So now it seems that there is a new documentary coming to PBS about Pearl Harbor.

The trailer is narrated by Gary Sinise.

The story is about the heroism of an unsung naval roughneck and boxer,
Naval Petty Officer First Class Joe George.

With only seconds to make a life-altering decision, to defy or not to defy the orders given
by his commanding officer, a 26-year-old Petty Officer George unwittingly turned hero.

It was within those few seconds of wavering that meant the saving of 6 men who
were caught on the burning USS Arizona, men who without the quick thinking and action
of Joe George, would have all burned alive–
right in front of the eyes of this young sailor.

However, despite his selfless act, Petty Officer George was never recognized for
his action of heroism nor was he to ever talk about what happened that
fateful December 7th day…
not until very late in his life did he verbally recall a very visceral nightmare.

Fast forward to our current day.

Joe George passed away in 1996, at the age of 81, but that did not stop efforts to
bring a long overdue recognition to a man who was never acknowledged as the one man
who made the difference between life and death for the lives of the last living
6 men on the USS Arizona on that horrific Sunday, December 7, 1941.

PBS will be airing his story.

President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor to George’s
daughter in 2017.
The ceremony took place on the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii–it was the first
time a medal ceremony had ever taken place at the Memorial.

But there would never have been a ceremony or a PBS story had not two of the
surviving 6 men, who now in their mid to upper 90’s, made it their mission to
make certain that Petty Officer George was recognized for saving their lives
as well as for his actions of bravery and heroism.

In a previous article written in an Arizona newspaper, the story ran that,
“Donald Stratton, 94, and Lauren Bruner, 96, will go to Washington, D.C.,
next month and hope to meet with lawmakers,
Navy officials and representatives from the White House.

Their goal is to secure a posthumous award for the sailor, Joe George.

“He should have the Navy Cross,” Stratton told The Arizona Republic last year.
“He saved six people’s lives. Joe saved six lives and he didn’t get crap.”

https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-best-reads/2017/06/05/honors-forgotten-hero-uss-arizona-survivors-take-their-case-washington/364303001/

Their decades-long efforts were finally acknowledged when Petty Officer Joe George
was officially honored by the Navy and the US Government on December 7, 2017…
76 years after the very day he risked everything for his fellow sailors.

The story is full of the providence of God’s hand.

George had been confined to his to repair ship which was tethered to the
USS Arizona there at the Pearl Harbor docks…

Had George not gotten into trouble the day prior for brawling in town,
he would not have been on the repair ship, confined to quarters.

He would not have seen those last 6 men stranded on the deck of a ship engulfed
in flames.

With the final bomb dropped, engulfing the Arizona in a massive fireball,
had George not defied the orders given to cut the tether, he would
have left those 6 men to perish in the flames joining the other 1177 men
who perished on that ship that life-changing day in 1941.

Instead, he managed to throw another rope 70 feet to the stranded men, who quickly
tied it off and began the hand over hand climb from the burning and sinking
death trap to the safety of the repair ship.

Once the men were safely aboard, the tether was cut allowing the repair ship
to slip away unharmed from the dying Arizona.

Stratton and Bruner both acknowledge that George saved much more than 6 men.
He saved the lives of the children and the grandchildren and the
great-grandchildren that would grow from those 6 men.

Generations of families now exist because of the bravery of one man.

Stories of men like Petty Officer Joe George are so important.

They remind us of what was.
They remind us of what we can be.
They remind us how fortunate we are and just how much we owe to one another,
our fellow human beings.

They remind us, a currently hate-filled and divided people,
that we are better together then we are separate.

To forget such stories, allowing them to slip away into the fog of the past
is not an option.

We are who we are because of who they were.

I somehow doubt that many of our current day, angst-ridden, hate-filled,
angry progressive liberal culture understands the gravity of the actions of men
like Petty Officer Joe George nor of the lasting impact such actions have had
on our own lives today.

If we opt to ignore and forget our past, we are bound to repeat our mistakes.

https://www.foxnews.com/shows/the-story

http://www.wwiifoundation.org/films/sinise/

https://www.aptonline.org/offer/LIFELINE-PEARL-HARBOR-S-UNKNOWN-HERO

https://www.nps.gov/valr/learn/historyculture/joe-george.htm

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

John 15:12-13

the gifts of the unknowing

“What you are is God’s gift to you, what you become is your gift to God.”
Hans Urs von Balthasar


(Senator Bob Doyle, now 95, salutes the casket of his friend, colleague,
opponent and fellow WWII vertern, George, H.W. Bush)

If there is one image that has touched my heart the most over the past couple of days,
other than the image of former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully resting
at the foot of his casket, it is this image…
this one picture…

The poignant and heart touching image of Senator and fellow WWII Vet
Bob Dole of Kansas being helped to his feet, in order to salute his longtime friend.

Senator Dole, of Kansas, is 95 years young yet is frail and is in failing health
but he was determined to be brought to the US Capitol building in order to pay his
respects to his fellow veteran and friend.

To most men of ‘that generation’ respect has always meant standing, and in this
case saluting, as both men fought, and were each wounded,
during what they simply refer to as “The War.”

Bob Dole was in the infantry fighting in Italy when he was hit by German machine gun fire
in the back and arm.

According to Wikipedia:
Dole was badly wounded by German machine gun fire, being hit in his upper back and right arm.
As Lee Sandlin describes, when fellow soldiers saw the extent of his injuries,
all they thought they could do was to “give him the largest dose of morphine they dared
and write an ‘M’ for ‘morphine’ on his forehead in his own blood,
so that nobody else who found him would give him a second, fatal dose.”

Dole was transported to the United States, where his recovery was slow,
interrupted by blood clots and a life-threatening infection.
After large doses of penicillin had not succeeded, he overcame the infection with the
administration of streptomycin, which at the time was still an experimental drug.
He remained despondent, “not ready to accept the fact that my life would be changed forever.”
He was encouraged to see Hampar Kelikian,
an orthopedist in Chicago who had been working with veterans returning from war.
Although during their first meeting Kelikian told Dole that he would never be able to recover fully,
the encounter changed Dole’s outlook on life, who years later wrote of Kelikian,
a survivor of the Armenian Genocide,
“Kelikian inspired me to focus on what I had left and what I could do with it,
rather than complaining what had been lost.”
Dr. K, as Dole later came to affectionately call him, operated on him seven times,
free of charge, and had, in Dole’s words, “an impact on my life second only to my family.”

I am always gratified when I read of or hear of the stories about the impacts
that one human being can have upon another…
impacts, that more often than not, are unbeknownst to the one who is doing the impacting.

I call it the gift of the unknowing.

These unknown gifts actually consist of simple things such as time,
assistance or a listening ear or even what might be perceived as an
insignificant opportunity…
These gifts, which more often than not are unbeknownst to the giver…
become paramount and even life-changing to the recipient.

Bob Dole had his gift giver.
And we Americans are better for it.

And if the truth was told, I think most all of us have had a gift giver, if not several,
during the course of our lives

And so I wish to share the following story that was offered by Dana Perino, a current
Fox News analyst and host and former press secretary for President George W. Bush…
one more story about a gift giver of the unknowing…

As our nation continues the process of mourning President George H.W. Bush, I wanted to share a story with you that was shared with me this past weekend. It was told to me by a friend who spent his career at the CIA. I can’t reveal his name for obvious reasons but his story is one I wanted to share with you. I think it’s a particularly good lesson for those who lead a team – whether they’re in political, private or military life.

Here’s what my friend told me:
My first encounter with 41 was many, many years ago; he was the Director of Central Intelligence. I was a young officer, still not sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had spent very little time in the headquarters building – and I actually worked hard not to go there.

My supervisor finally cornered me and forced me to go to a mandatory two-week course at headquarters. I had managed to squirm out of it three times but this time I was trapped. I hated the course, didn’t care for the instructor and didn’t warm up to my classmates. They all appeared to know each other, I didn’t know any of them and made little attempt to get to know them.

At lunch, I would slip down to the cafeteria, get a cheeseburger, chips, and a coke, take my newspaper and go sit in the corner, eat and catch up with the world. (There was no internet!)
On about the fourth day, I was sitting in the corner, minding my own business and I felt a presence… someone was standing over me, with a tray. “Mind if I join you?” The stranger asked. I looked up, ready to say I was almost done… To my surprise, it was George Bush, then the Director of Central Intelligence. He was all by himself.

I stood up and said, “Please, have a seat.” I introduced myself and told him where I worked. He started to introduce himself and I said, I know who you are.

He laughed… that laugh of his. He said we had minutes before his people (handlers) would realize he was missing and come find him.

We talked about duty and service. I told him about my job and how I was there for a class… I left out the part about me being a jerk and not mixing in.
He opined that those classes were a good way to bond with people from different parts of the organization. I believe he sensed I wasn’t doing that because I was eating alone. I was embarrassed.

True to his thought, soon after some folks “found” him – although he insisted he wasn’t lost. I invited him to come visit the building I worked in to see what great work my colleagues were doing. He said he would.

I went back to the class. Late. I told them why and was bombarded with questions about him. I had an epiphany and became a full participant.

He left me with a message I hadn’t understood – not only was I learning from my classmates, but they were also learning from me.

A few weeks later a handwritten note found its way to me at my office. He thanked me for our conversation at lunch; it said he had learned a lot!

Little did he know the lesson I learned from him. He turned my life and career around.

This was the first encounter I had with him… and my favorite George H.W. Bush story.
When I responded to my friend’s note, saying how remarkable this story is, he said this:

“Remember, the Agency was under seize by the Church and Pike committees. People were angry (I was angry). Morale was low and it wasn’t enjoyable coming into work. He made me feel (probably for the first time) a senior [leader] cared about me and what I thought.

“His gift of asking the right questions and listening was amazing. He made me feel what we were doing WAS important and everything was going to be alright.

“I had been looking to leave. Of course, I didn’t… but his lessons weren’t lost on me.

“I learned how to be a good, compassionate leader and understood that everyone was always looking at you for direction and assurance that you care about them and what they do.”

It is and was most important to lead when things were not going well.”

Dana Perino currently hosts FOX News Channel’s (FNC) The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino (weekdays 2-3PM/ET) and also serves as co-host of The Five (weekdays 5-6PM/ET). She joined the network in 2009 as a contributor

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12

Remembrance Days

So why do we celebrate ‘Remembrance’ Sunday?
We don’t.
We mourn.
We remember those who died in senseless slaughter.
We remember those who fought for our freedom, but we do not celebrate war.

David Roberston


(U.S. World War I veteran Joseph Ambrose attends the dedication parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.)
Wikipedia

On November 11th, each year since 1919, when President Woodrow Wilson first addressed
a mourning yet grateful nation recalling the sacrifices made and the countless numbers of
lives lost during World War I…
November 11th has become the day that we as a nation officially recognize our military personnel.

It was in 1926 that Congress voted to permanently and officially mark November 11th as a
national day of remembrance and recognition.
A national day we permanently set aside in order to pay tribute to our Veterans and
military personnel both former and current.

A day to mourn, a day to remember and a day of gratitude.

It is also the day that coincides with the marking of what our European kinsmen
observe as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day.

It is the day that will forever mark the ending of World War I.

Marked so because it was on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour in 1918
that the War officially ended.

World War I was a war that caused 40 million deaths of both military members and civilians…
leaving behind some 23 million people wounded.
Wounds that we now know, that for many, never healed as the scars remained both visible
as well as hidden and internal for years to come.

World War I was the war that was hailed as being the war to end all wars…
And yet it would only be a short decade later that the world would come together
again in open hostilities.

Our nation officially changed the name of Armistice Day to Veteran’s day in 1954.

And so as our Scottish friend The Wee Flea, David Roberston, so aptly reminds us…
this 11th day of this the 11th month, we gather together as free nations to recall
the sacrifices made for our freedoms by generations who went before us.
We do not celebrate, but rather we remember and we mourn.
We mourn the lives taken far too soon.

David goes on…
“It is also fitting to remember our history.
In a postmodern, dumbed-down, self-absorbed culture such as ours,
we both forget our history and we far too often end up believing a fake historical narrative –
one that just happens to suit our current feelings and views.
Cambridge University students,
supposedly the elite of our educational system,
recently voted not to support the wearing of poppies and Remembrance Day,
because they ‘glorified war’.

There are many things that glorify war,
but remembering the Fallen in previous wars is not one of those things.
Nor is it wrong to particularly remember the dead from your own country –
they, after all, are the ones who died so that we can have the freedom we have today.”

So on this day, the 11th day of this 11th month,
may we mark this day with grateful hearts…
remembering those who have sacrificed so very much for each of us…no matter our
beliefs, our color, our politics or our status in life…we are free…
this much we know.

Come and see what the LORD has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

-Psalm 46:8-10 NIV

We Shall Remember Them – December Record Editorial

ideologues verses heros

“In a room where
people unanimously maintain
a conspiracy of silence,
one word of truth
sounds like a pistol shot.”

Czesław Miłosz


(image of Alejandro Villanueva, the lone Steeler player who opted to stand and
acknowledge the National Anthem prior to the Steeler / Bear game / courtesy Miami Herald)

This was not the post I intended to write today.
This was not the post I wanted to write today…
but this is the post that I felt necessary to write today.

Alejandro Villanueva is a professional football player who plays left tackle for
the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He is also a former US Army veteran.
Add to those facts that he was the only player…. the only player…
let that resonate in your head for a minute…the only player who emerged from
the shadows of the Steelers locker room to stand for Sunday’s pregame
National Anthem.

Coach Mike Tomlin had decided to keep his players in the locker during the National
Anthem so as not to join in the latest political ruckus.
But what message did Tomlin send by hiding in the locker room…?

And if you’re wondering why any of this is of any significance to a football game,
well then you have most likely missed out on the latest minutia brouhaha percolating
to the surface between America’s favorite pastime…
that being her sporting events, verses the President of the United States.

Now let that little notion sink in…slowly.
Professional sports verses, not an opposing team, but rather the
President of the United States of America.

Really.

For there seems to be a war of words escalating beyond average comprehension.

Yet tomorrow morning’s headlines won’t consist of Alejandro Villanueva’s image
and name…
And you most likely won’t be reading the columns of sportswriters touting the
story of a lone act of patriotism….

You won’t see the National news explaining what’s wrong with grown men being paid
millions of dollars to simply play games yet who insist on using their various playing
fields to make political commentary….
their choosing to be ideologues rather than what they’re paid to do, and that is to simply play ball.

No you won’t see or hear any of that.

What you will see are the images of player after player locked arm in arm, across the league, kneeling in disrespectful protest.
You will hear the angry defiant words spewed from the mouths of players, coaches
and even the Commissioner himself, Roger Goodell.

You will hear NBA greats like LaBron James calling the President of the
United States of America a “bum”.
You will read how Stephen Curry has said that it once was an honor to visit the
White House…that was until Trump got in……

All of this latest mess coming on the heels of a speech delivered Friday evening in Alabama, when President Trump responded to the the current trend of professional
football players who are opting not to stand for the National Anthem,
preferring rather to kneel or raise a defiant fist….
his comments were swiftly met with some rather harsh criticism.

A now never ending tit for tat stemming from the poor decision made last season by Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick opted to use his very public platform as the QB of the San Francisco 49ers
to express his thoughts that the National Anthem was not an anthem of equality.

Oh really?

Trump told the crowded arena Friday night that such behavior is a “total disrespect
of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for.”
He went on to say that those “Sons of a Bitch” who persist with such defiance
should be fired.

I happen to agree with the President.

However do I think the President of the United States needs to jump in this fray?

I don’t know.
But when we have blatant disrespect for our very National Anthem, who better then the
President to say, “hey wait a minute, something is wrong here….”

But at the same time I am now absolutely sick over our professional athletes using
their various sport as one more link in an increasingly brittle chain of
toxic politics.

I don’t watch football or any other sport because I want to deal with politics
or because I want to be reminded that our country is swirling down the tubes of
self absorption, ignorance and hate.

I watch sports to forget all of that.

I quit watching long ago any other sort of entertainment because it all had
become nothing but overtly violent, immoral and political while reeking of utter disrespect.

When I was still in the classroom, I can remember a growing sneering mantra offered
by one too many a defiant high school kid who butted heads with a teacher or administrator…
“I don’t give respect unless I get respect.”

Oh Really?

Here were kids claiming that if a teacher got on to them for their behavior
that they in turn could respond with vehemence and defiance.
A gross lack of respect for an adult who in the mind of the student had actually “disrespected” them and therefore deserved no respect–a twisted thought process.
And sadly many a parent and even a growing number of administrators
found themselves, albeit for some begrudgingly, in agreement.

The writing was then on the wall….the inmates were running the asylum.
And where might these inmates be getting their life examples….??

It takes little men to stay back in a locker room trying to avoid a glaring issue.
It takes little men, who make millions of dollars for simply playing games, to act like
disrespectful selfish and childish ideologues.
But it takes a real man who will go the journey alone in order to stand up for what
is right when no one else will….

—we call those kinds of men, heroes……

Honour all men.
Love the brotherhood.
Fear God.
Honour the king.

1 Peter 2:17