humility lives among us…we just happen to over look it.


(Master Sargent William Crawford)

During his daily readings, my husband recently stumbled on a story that touched his heart.
It was a story that he, in turn, felt compelled to share with me.

It’s that type of story.

It is so much that type of story, that I, in the same like spirit, felt compelled that I should
now share with you.

It’s a story of war, sacrifice, loss, life, discovery as well as that of a quiet and very deep humility.

A forgotten story really.

And it seemed that it was to remain a forgotten story…that was until one day
in 1976 when a young airman cadet, studying at the United States Air Force Academy,
who much like my husband happened upon a particular story during his daily reading…
a story that in turn, deeply touched his heart.

One that he knew he would not only need to investigate but would be compelled to eventually
share in like kind.

It is a story that I pray continues to touch all of our hearts…

It is a story that unfolded in the mid-1970s when a couple of young Air Force Academy cadets
discovered a hidden unknown little fact about their school’s quiet and unassuming janitor.

A story that would have our current culture’s minds racing to the muck and mire of the nefarious…
but rather it was to be a tale that harkened to the amazing and the near miraculous.

Perhaps it was the way he carried himself in an unassuming and humble manner,
but day after day hundreds of Air Force Academy cadets would pass this janitor in the hall
oblivious to the greatness that was among them.

In the mid-1970s, William Crawford might spend one day sweeping the halls and another cleaning
the bathrooms, but it was a day approximately 30 years prior that would create for him a special
place in the history of war…

Fast forward to a military dinner in 2011…

Retired Air Force Col. James Moschgat shared Medal of Honor recipient
William “Bill” Crawford’s story last Friday night with about 200 people gathered
at the annual Pueblo Medal of Honor Foundation Golf Tournament Dinner.

Moschgat was a cadet at the Academy when, one day in the fall of 1976,
he was reading a book about individual experiences from World War II.

Moschgat said he was reading about a Colorado man named William Crawford,
an Army private who, in September 1943 in Italy, raced through intense enemy fire —
three times and on his own initiative — to detonate hand grenades on enemy gun sites.

After the battle, Crawford later was captured by the Germans and was presumed dead.
In 1945, the Medal of Honor was presented to his father, but later that year,
Crawford was found alive when a group of soldiers were rescued from German control.
Crawford re-enlisted in 1947 and retired in ’67 as a master sergeant.
After the Army, he went to work at the academy where, according to Moschgat,
he blended in and developed a reputation for being a shy, shuffling janitor.

Moschgat said he wondered if this war hero was the same man who cleaned his squadron’s quarters.

“I looked at my roommate and said, Jim, you’re not going to believe this,
but I think Bill our janitor is a recipient of the Medal of Honor.”

The next day, Moschgat said he showed Crawford the book and asked if it was him.
“He looked at it a moment and said it was him. He said,
‘That was a long time ago and one day in my life.’

Read the full article here:
https://medalofhonornews.com/2011/05/story-told-of-medal-of-honor-recipient.html

Crawford’s was a tale of the ordinary doing the extraordinary.
As well as that of a forgotten prisoner of war.

Once released and back home, Crawford reenlisted in the Army and eventually retired from
the Service in 1967.

Eventually making his way to that of janitor at the United States Airforce Academy.

Crawford was once heard to lament that his one regret was that he not had been awarded the medal
honor in person once it was discovered that he was actually alive as a prisoner of war and not
dead as it was presumed.

So unbeknownst to Crawford, in 1984 when then-President Ronald Reagan came to offer the commencement
speech at the Academy’s graduation, a special presentation had been arranged.
President Reagan would present the Medal of Honor, during the commencement, service to an
unsuspecting Crawford.

When Crawford passed away in 2000, he was awarded one final and unique honor for a non-airforce veteran.
He was buried in the United States Airforce Academy’s cemetery—the only member of the
United States Army afforded such a fitting tribute.

Crawford’s story reminds us of the importance of humility as well as how the ordinary
can always be extraordinary albeit humble and quiet.

https://www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-ii/air-force-academy-janitor-medal-of_honor-x.html

Bataan Death March. Have you forgotten yet or did you even know?

The Bataan Memorial Death March is a challenging march through the high desert terrain of
the White Sands Missile Range. The memorial march is conducted in honor of the
heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II,
sacrificing their freedom, health, and, in many cases, their very lives.

The New Mexican

“A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility ”
Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation


(Batan Death March, American Prisoners 1942)

My cousin just got back from a trip to New Mexico.

No, she didn’t go on a ski trip or vacation.

She actually went to participate in a commemorative march.

Big name walks and marches, such as the March of Dimes, the Susan G. Komen march
and even the Relay for Life are marches most of us are familiar with.

They are marching money raisers for various good causes.

But what about a commemorative death march?
What might that benefit?

Perhaps it, like other marches, benefits our future.

Perhaps it is the commemorating of the past which in turn benefits our future…

What a novel idea.

Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl shares in his memoir Man’s Search For Meaning that
“it did not really matter what we expected from life,
but rather what life expected from us.”

So what exactly does life expect from us?

Does Life expect that our idiotic politicians run about willy nilly telling children
that life, as we know it, will end in 12 years?

Does it matter that our pathetic politicians keep screaming “the Russians are coming,
the Russians are coming” when they were never coming in the first place?

Does it matter that we have youthful arrogant imbeciles, for the lack of a better word,
in leadership positions trying to play government while running around screaming
that we all need to be embracing Socialism just so we can level life’s playing field.

Yet did anyone catch the memo that life isn’t, nor will it ever be, fair?

Or what about the politicians screaming for some pie in the sky, far fetched,
new green deal that rings in at a price tag of 93 trillion bucks.

Mo Money…

Your money, my money…all God’s little children’s money…

Don’t they know that nothing in Life comes free—as in somebody will have to pay…
and that my friends will be you and me—the thinly stretched middle core of America.

However, one thing they, those far-flung left thinkers, fail to understand is
that life expects more from us than a left or right leaning or the embracing of
some uber new think…

Ben Shapiro in his new book The Right Side of History:
How Reason And Moral Purpose Made The West Great, notes that
without individual moral
purpose granted by a relationship to a Creator,
we seek meaning instead in the collective, or we destroy ourselves on the shoals
of libertinism.
We live lives of amoral hedonism,…

“if we do not pursue that purpose, we pay a price; we serve foreign gods,
which cannot provide us any sort of true fulfillment.
Lasting happiness can only be achieved through cultivation of soul and mind.
And cultivating our souls and minds reqiures us to live with moral purpose.

Something our politics and politicians cannot achieve for us.

My cousin told me that during the course of the commemorations surrounding the
The Death March of Bataan was that she had the opportunity of listening to a
98-year-old veteran who candidly expressed his deepest fear in life…

That being that these current generations and those following generations,
those generations that no longer have members of his generation, will simply forget.
They will forget the sacrifices made on behalf of the betterment of the free world.
They will forget the moral purpose and responsibility that we are all
held to in order to maintain the freedom of man.

That freedom is indeed not free.

Below are two excerpts explaining the Bataan Death March and why it is
so important that we never forget.

Taken from the Bataan Museum information page
bataanmuseum.com

The infamous Bataan Death March was one of the greatest atrocities of
World War II.

Approximately 1,800 men from the 200th and 515th Coast Artillery Regiment deployed
to the Philippines in September 1941. When the Regiment reached the Philippines they
immediately moved to Fort Stotsenberg, 75 miles north of Manila. Over the coming months,
they would train under simulated war conditions. By December things would change drastically.

On December 8, 1941, Japanese bombers made their appearance and the war was on.
It was the 200th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) — the original full Regiment —
who is credited as being the “First to Fire” on December 8, 1941.
That night, the 515th Coast Artillery (Anti-aircraft) was formed from the ranks
of the 200th.
The Japanese landings on Luzon began on December 10, 1941,
with more Japanese forces landing on December 12, 1941.

The 200th and later the 515th could not do much damage as their powder train fuses
only had a range of 20,000 feet and the bombers were flying at 23,000 feet.
The main Japanese invasion forces landed December 22,
1941 and the decision was made to withdraw the forces into Bataan.
The 200th covered the retreat of the Northern Luzon Force into Bataan and the 515th
for the South Luzon Force. They were able to hold the Japanese air and ground
attacks back, thus saving the bridges –
and the North and South Luzon Forces found a clear, safe passage to the Bataan peninsula.

For months the American and Filipino troops fought bravely as the war situation worsened.
By April 3, 1942 the Japanese received sufficient reinforcements and began to drive down
the Bataan peninsula. Four days later, the Japanese broke through allied lines.
After holding off the Japanese from December to April – four long months –
the battle for Bataan ended on April 9th

Following the fall of the Bataan Peninsula, on April 9, 1942 the United States
surrendered to the Japanese and instantly, more than 75,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers
were forced to become Prisoners of War. The POWs were soon forced to make the 65 mile trek –
with no food or water – to confinement camps throughout the Philippines.
Thirsty and exhausted, those who attempted to steal a sip of water from roadside streams or
collapsed along the way – were shot or bayoneted on the spot by their Japanese captors.
In total, 10,000 men – 1,000 American and 9,000 Filipino –
died during the Bataan Death March.

Those that survived the march would spend the next 40 months in horrific conditions in
confinement camps. Most were transported to the Japanese man island aboard “death ships.”
Many did not survive the voyage. Given very little food,
water and even clothing, the men were tortured, malnourished and riddled with disease.
Two-thirds would die from disease, starvation, horrendous conditions,
and beatings or were murdered. More than 11,500 American soldiers died during
the three plus years in confinement.

It wasn’t until late summer of 1945 that these prisoners of war would see freedom.
Survivors were diseased, frail – emaciated, skin and bones, some blind,
others unable to walk. Sadly one third of the former POWs would die of complications
within their first year of freedom.

Of the 1,816 men 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men identified, 829 died in battle,
while prisoners, or immediately after liberation.
There were 987 survivors. See the “Casualty Report” attached.
The attached report is the result of 12 years of research and is a must read.

UNITS

The 200th Coast Artillery was inducted into federal service on January 6, 1941,
for one year of active duty training.
Unit designations and home stations at the time of induction were:

Regimental Headquarters – Deming
Headquarters Battery – Deming
Regimental Band – Albuquerque
Medical Detachment – Albuquerque
HQ & HQ Battery, 1st BN – Albuquerque
Battery A – Albuquerque
Battery B – Albuquerque
Battery C – Santa Fe
Battery D – Gallup
HQ & HQ Battery, 2nd BN – Clovis
Battery E – Clovis
Battery F – Carlsbad
Battery G – Silver City
Battery H – Taos

SURVIVORS

There are currently (69) 200th & 515th Coast Artillery survivors living today.
Not all of the 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men made the Bataan Death March.
At least 100 were sent to Camp O’Donnell by truck; some were immediately assigned
to details throughout the Philippine Islands and did not make the Death March.
A handful of men were patients at one of the field hospitals on Bataan and were
eventually moved to Old Bilibid Prison in Manila, never making the March.
(107) 200th & 515th Coast Artillery men were ordered to evacuate to Corregidor
on April 8, 1942, or made their way to Corregidor by any means possible,
never making the March. Some of these Corregidor men did begin the March,
escaped, and then made their way to Corregidor. At least 14 men are known to have
escaped to fight as Guerrillas with only a few of the 14 beginning the
Death March before making their escape into the mountains

The 200th & 515th Corregidor men’s experience is worth taking notice.
Initially, they endured the hunger and disease on Bataan while in action
against the enemy for several months. When Bataan fell,
the Japanese turned their attention to Corregidor, and the island was subjected
to constant shelling for the next month.
Many of these men were absorbed into other units on Corregidor and continued
the fight until Corregidor was surrendered.
Many soldiers, now prisoners of war, were held as
hostages while the Japanese coerced General Wainwright’s cooperation to convince General Sharp
to surrender on Mindanao. The prisoners of war were held in the open,
exposed to the elements with little water and only the food they could steal from the food
stores the Japanese denied them. Another way the prisoners of war got food was to volunteer
for burial details. After about 10 days, the prisoners were loaded into boats
and taken to a stretch of shoreline south of Manila, near Paranaque,
dumped in the water short of the beach and made to wade ashore.
They were then marched up [then] Dewey Boulevard [now Roxas Boulevard],
past the University Club where General Wainwright and his senior officers were being held.
General Wainwright watched his men in their misery paraded through the streets in
what has come to be known as the “Gloat March” to Old Bilibid Prison.
They were held at Bilibid for about five days, and then marched to the train station,
loaded in to the same 40×8 type boxcars as those who made the Bataan Death March.
These men experienced suffered through the same conditions as those on Bataan:
extreme heat and humidity, filth, and extreme overcrowding with at least
100 prisoners to a car box car meant to hold only forty men or eight cattle.
They were unloaded at Cabanatuan City and then marched about 20km
(or about 12 miles) to Cabanatuan prison camp.

Two 200th Coast Artillery men were awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action on Corregidor.

Nationwide, there are less than 1,000 Bataan & Corregidor survivors.

There are, that we know of, two men who made the Death March, one who was surrendered
on Corregidor, and one who was captured at Java,
who were attached to other units, not the 200th or 515th, living in New Mexico today.
There may be more.

——-

New Mexico survivors fear Bataan Death March will be forgotten
By Robert Nott | The New Mexican

Evans Garcia used to tell his daughter Margaret that freedom is not free.

He and hundreds of other New Mexicans — as well as soldiers from other
states and native Filipinos — learned this lesson 76 years ago as they made a valiant
stand to stave off a superior force of Japanese invaders on the Bataan peninsula
in the Philippines.

Their four-month defense bought America and its allies much-needed time to
organize forces and derail a Japanese plan to invade Australia,
among other places. But it also resulted in one of the most infamous and brutal events
of the early years of World War II: the Bataan Death March.

The Battle of Bataan, the first major military campaign of the Asian theater
in World War II following the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,
took a huge toll on New Mexico. Of the 1,800-plus New Mexico soldiers who fought
in that battle, only half survived. Many returned home physically,
mentally and emotionally scarred after surviving the 65-mile Bataan Death March and
subsequent incarceration and inhumanity in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps.

Just over a dozen of those soldiers are believed to be alive today.
As they and their descendants prepare for another annual commemoration of that
campaign in Santa Fe — 11 a.m. Monday, April 9, at the Bataan Memorial Building
on Galisteo Street —
some wonder if their story will eventually be overlooked as those survivors pass away.

“We descendants are often concerned that the legacy and sacrifices our fathers,
uncles and other family members made on Bataan will be forgotten,”
said Margaret Garcia, whose father died in 2011.
“So many people in society today, especially our youth,
do not appreciate what our World War II veterans fought for.”

Consuelo “Connie” DeVargas, wife of Valdemar DeHerrera,
a 98-year-old survivor of the march who lives in Alamogordo, agrees.
Two of her grandchildren came from Colorado to take part in the annual
Bataan Memorial Death March commemoration hike of up to 26 miles
on White Sands Missile Range in late March.

When they returned to their school the following Monday,
replete with stories about the march and materials pertaining to the 1942 campaign,
the other students and teachers “didn’t even know what they were talking about,”
DeVargas said. “I think it will be forgotten.”

But others, including historians and history teachers, disagree.
They say that as long as the story of the “Battling Bastards of Bataan,”
as the defenders were known, remains in the textbooks, they and other
educators will continue telling their story.

“It’s one of the state standards [for education] set by the state’s legislators,
many of whom knew the people who were involved with it, and who see it as an important event,”
said Capital High School teacher Steve Hegmann, who incorporates the story of
the Bataan campaign into his New Mexico history class for ninth-graders.
“It would take a long time for it to be forgotten, at least here [in New Mexico].
Most teachers in the state realize that New Mexicans were involved in the campaign.”

Stephen Martinez, a professor of U.S. and New Mexico history and
Western civilization at Santa Fe Community College, agrees.
“It’s always a sad chapter in the story when we lose the survivors,”
he said. “But New Mexico is very proud of its history,
and it’s a very long history, and because of that,
I think their voices and stories will never be lost, even though they pass on.”

Both Hegmann and Martinez said they blend coverage of the Bataan campaign
with other New Mexico-related events tied to World War II,
including the story of the Navajo Code Talkers and the creation and detonation of the atomic bomb.
In Hegmann’s case, he also uses the Death March and its aftermath as a way to discuss
the issue of war crimes, a still-relevant topic.

“I can tie it to current atrocities … and the idea that there are rules that society
has decided are not acceptable in wartime,” Hegmann said.
“The question my students often ask is,
‘What were the consequences of violating the Geneva Convention code of conduct
[regarding prisoners of war]?’ ”

Jon Hunner, a professor of history at New Mexico State University,
puts the battle of Bataan and the ensuing tragedy into the context of the Japanese Bushido —
or samurai — code of conduct. To a Japanese soldier in World War II, Hunner said,
“If you surrendered, it was so dishonorable that you could not be treated like a human,
so it was perfectly justifiable in that Japanese code of war to treat your
prisoners as less than human.”

He said many historians overlook the actual battle of Bataan and focus on the
Death March and the atrocities “because it is very tragic; it shows the inhumanity of man.”

Capt. Gabriel Peterman, who runs the New Mexico National Guard Museum
in Santa Fe, agrees.

“We always talk about the surrender and the Bataan Death March,
but we don’t talk about the four-month battle that those men fought,” he said.
“They were low on ammunition, low on food, low on supplies. …
They shut down a lot of plans the Japanese had to take over Australia and other islands.
I don’t think it’s too much to say that their defense helped us win World War II.”

He added: “If we don’t maintain the annual Bataan ceremony and the tradition
it was built upon, there is a fear that we will forget Bataan.”

Hunner said he thinks that with the passing of each Bataan veteran,
as well as the passage of time, there is legitimate concern that the
story of Bataan could fall by the wayside.

“As generations get away from the time of any historic event,
they lose sight of it because other historic events that are recent become more
relevant and they can find someone living to talk to about those,” he said.

As such, he said, these history stories “are like a ship sailing over the horizon.”

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

To all those who won’t be making it home this Christmas

Christmas is a time when you get homesick —
even when you’re home.

Carol Nelson

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time;
a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of,
in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open
their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were
fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

Charles Dickens


(an odd site here at home / Julie Cook / 2018

Driving home yesterday after visiting the dentist, I was cutting through an area of town
full of some of our communities older homes, when I found myself driving behind a
vintage WWII Army ambulance.

An odd sight but suddenly I felt strangely transported to a different time and era.

The vehicle, the homes, the time of year.

If you didn’t happen to notice the small security company sign out front of this house,
you might just think it was 1943.

My thoughts drifted across time and space to places that were far away from
my own current little corner here in Georgia.

Despite there being such a heightened sense of urgency wafting through the air
this time of year…
What with the odd increase in mid-day traffic and the massive number of folks hustling
here and there…along with that unseen force that was moving the masses of folks
to go out and buy, buy, buy with a frantic frenzy…

And despite the current pull I was personally feeling to race from the dentist to some
local den of commercialism, seeking out those last minute items to fill in the blanks…
I felt a tinge of warming nostalgia instead.

I heard Bing Crosby’s crooning…his rich melodious voice echoing deep in my head.

A small smile spread across my face for no one in particular to see.

A simpler time, yet a precarious time.
A warmer time of humanity, yet a violent time for our world.

No matter that it was an ominous time,
we knew what our collective civilization was fighting for.
We were a united civilization standing against a giant monster of tyranny and an invasive evil.

There was a decisive and determined collective willingness to sacrifice.
Rations, victory gardens, sharing and giving when there wasn’t ever much to give nor share.

There was a joint desire for unity.
A shared experience of apprehension blanketed by a blessed sense of thankfulness.

I found myself gently humming a familiar yet comforting tune.

My gift to you today…

“In 1943, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” joined “White Christmas” to become one of
America’s most popular homegrown holiday songs.
Recorded in a rich baritone by Bing Crosby,
“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” shot to the top ten of the record charts
(as “White Christmas” had for Crosby the previous year)
and became a holiday musical tradition in the United States.”
Library of Congress

“His mission was not his own”

“His mission was not his own”
Words shared by The Rev Russell J. Levenson Jr
during his eulogy of his friend and parishioner, President G.H.W.Bush


(18 year old Lt George H.W.Bush in naval uniform)

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you came out on the other side
wondering how in the world you made it through?
How you survived and made it out alive?
Or more likely that you fared better than those around you?

Have you ever found yourself wondering or even lamenting “why me?”

Why me Lord?
Why was I spared and they weren’t?
Why did I win when I shouldn’t have–
knowing that someone else should have won?
Why was I so fortunate, or so lucky, and why were “they” not?

These can be haunting questions for anyone.
They can be a life’s curse or a life’s blessing.

For there is a great responsibility to whom much is given.
(Luke 12:48)

And life, for those who have had near brushes with death, know all too well, that
life suddenly becomes a tremendous responsibility.

Yet such a question as ‘why me’ can be particularly haunting
for one so young. For one who actually stares at death and yet surprisingly,
is allowed to walk away when others were not.

We have seen this in wars and sadly in recent terror attacks and mass shootings.

And it just so happened that this very overwhelming life issue of ‘why me’ actually
happened for a newly turned 20-year-old boy who found
himself alone in a small rubber yellow life raft, bobbing up and down in the middle of
the Pacific Ocean after having baled out of a burning airplane…
coming to the stalk revelation that he’d been spared while his friends had not.

This same “why me” question came up three times Wednesday during the funeral of our
41st president, George H. W. Bush.

First, the question was raised by Jon Meacham, the famed author, and presidential historian.
He painted the scene vividly as only such a gifted writer could.
A young naval pilot and his crew taking off from a Navy aircraft carrier with a bombing mission
on the docket.
They were to take out a Japanese radio tower on a tiny Pacific island.

“Shortly after dawn on Saturday, September 2, 1944, Lieutenant Junior Grade
George Herbert Walker Bush, joined by two crew mates,
took off from the USS San Jacinto to attack a radio tower on Chichijima.

As they approached the target, the air was heavy with flack.
The plane was hit.
Smoke filled the cockpit; flames raced across the wings.
“My god,” Lieutenant Bush thought,
“this thing’s gonna go down.”
Yet he kept the plane in its 35-degree dive, dropped his bombs, and then roared off out to sea,
telling his crew mates to hit the silk.
Following protocol, Lieutenant Bush turned the plane so they could bail out.

Only then did Bush parachute from the cockpit.
The wind propelled him backward, and he gashed his head on the tail of the plane
as he flew through the sky.
He plunged deep into the ocean, bobbed to the surface,
and flopped onto a tiny raft.
His head bleeding, his eyes burning, his mouth and throat raw from salt water,
the future 41st President of the United States was alone.

Sensing that his men had not made it, he was overcome.
He felt the weight of responsibility as a nearly physical burden.
And he wept.
Then, at four minutes shy of noon, a submarine emerged to rescue the downed pilot.
George Herbert Walker Bush was safe.
The story, his story and ours, would go on by God’s grace.

Through the ensuing decades, President Bush would frequently ask,
nearly daily— “why me?
Why was I spared?”

Next in line during this service, this looming question was raised by the former
Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney who also eulogized his former world leader compatriot
and more importantly, his dear friend.

Mulroney opened his verbal tribute to his friend by asking those in attendance if they could
remember what they were doing just after their 20th birthday.

Most should remember the joy and gaiety found in the passing a milestone—
that being the leaving behind of the tumultuous teenage years as they were
now standing on the great periphery of adulthood.

And yet I wonder as to how many of us know that at 20, one is more child than adult?

Mulroney shared that as he had just turned 20, he was working as a laborer in the outskirts
of Quebec while still living at home and thankfully enjoying his mother’s cooking.

All the while his one-day dear friend was bleeding and clinging to life in a liferaft
out in the middle of the Pacific ocean weeping “why me??”

For a third time this somber day of a State funeral, another speaker addressed the question…
“Why me?”

This time the speaker was President Bush 41’s parish priest,
The Rev. Bruce Levenson who once again raised the question but who rather matter of factly
gave us the answer.

Father Levenson explained that “his mission was not his own.”

His mission was not his own.

It was other than and much more than that liferaft bobbing up and down in the
ocean…

Yet that is not to say that the lives of his comrades at arms on that fateful day
were any less important.
Any less than, as some might think with such a response to such a question.
That somehow, they were simply “allowed” to die while young George was allowed to live.
The issue of allowance is not to be the issue here nor are we to be recipients of such
deep knowledge.

For God uses our lives and our deaths to extend far beyond our simple understanding.

It is the ripples that reverberate outward from the dropped stone in the pond.

The ‘why me’ questions that have been asked by countless individuals who have lived to tell of
another day all live with a tremendous burden of guilt and a tremendous burden of responsibility.

Father Levenson, James Baker, Al Simpson, Brian Mulroney and even son George H. Bush
each reminded us that a day did not pass in George Herbert Walker Bush’s life that he did
not ask that question…nor not feel the heavy responsibility.

He either asked the question audibly or silently…but he asked none the less each and every day.

I am reminded of the 1946 Christmas Classic It’s a Wonderful Life.

The entire premise of the movie, for Jimmy Stewart’s character George (so aptly named),
was what would life have been without him. How in turn would the lives of those who
were a part of his own life turn out without a George Bailey to interact with them?

One dark and lonely Christmas eve night so long ago, George was inches away from ending his
own life, by jumping into an icy cold river.
Yet God needed to give George a wake-up call.
He still needed George to do some important things.

Much like in the real-life story of a young George Bush…God still needed
for him to do some things.

Now I can’t say that all such stories have happy endings.
Nor can I say that all spared lives seem to turn out better than imagined.
So why George H. W. Bush?

That is the question remaining for all those lives that have been affected,
touched and even created because of him to ponder…as well as those of
us who have been directly or indirectly affected by his actions, choices,
legislation as well as leadership to ponder…

Yet the one thing that I do know…the same thing that President Bush knew…
is that God will have has His ways.

Ways that elude us.
Ways that often frustrate us, but they are His ways and His alone none the less.

What President Bush learned, one of life’s most important answers, was that his life,
his mission was indeed not his own…
it was God’s.

That we should all bend our ways to be His ways…

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things;
I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23

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