Monday, May 30, 2011



Today we honor our war dead - from the Revolutionary War minutemen who helped win our freedom all the way up to our present day heroes, who help us keep it.  Freedom isn't free, and those brave men and women who gave the greatest measure of devotion to their country have paid the ultimate price for the rest of us. 

The Memorial Day tradition was begun during the Civil War, when women would take it upon themselves to decorate the graves of the fallen to honor their sacrifice.  In 1868, General John Logan, in his General Order #11, created an official day of remembrance for our Civil War dead.  With the advent of WWI and WWII, the observance was expanded to include all war dead, and the date was made official in 1971 when Congress passed the National Holiday Act, making the day a federal holiday (and a three-day weekend). 

In 1915 Moina Michaels wrote a poem about remembering those who died in war:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

She started a tradition of wearing red poppies to commemorate the Memorial Day.  She sold poppies to friends and co-workers and donated the money to servicemen in need.   The idea was picked up by a visiting Frenchwoman who took the tradition back home to France, where it spread throughout Europe.  In fact, Europeans have managed to cling to that tradition far better than the Americans who started it. 

If you would like to make some poppies for your Memorial Day observances, here's how.

Unfortunately this country seems to have forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day.  It seems the purpose has been lost, and many Americans think it is a day to remember all of our dead, not just those lost in war.   Or, even worse, it is just the official start of summer and the first day of barbeque season.  Our reverence for those who have fallen in service to their country has dimmed over the decades, starting with our nearly forgotten Korean conflict.  Observances really started to wane during the Vietnam war era, when it was much easier for radicals to blame drafted soldiers for the violence than the democratic leadership that ramped up operations in the first place.  In fact, the day had so lost its meaning that Congress passed the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution in 2000, which calls for all Americans to offer a moment of silence at 3pm on Memorial Day to honor our war dead.

Just last year, Arlington National Cemetery was embroiled in a scandal that illustrated how low we have fallen as a nation when it comes to proper reverence for our fallen military.  In response to that scandal, a seventeen year old patriot in Virginia, Ricky Gilleland, has taken it upon himself to create a database with photos of the graves of those killed since 9/11 at Arlington, so relatives can 'visit' the grave sites of their loved ones whenever they wish.  He started it with $200 of his own money and countless hours wandering through Lot 60 at Arlington, photographing graves and posting them on his website,   Patriots like Gilleland remind us that honoring our dead is necessary to remind us of just how precious our freedom is, and what a great price we have paid for it as a nation.

So at 3pm today, take a moment to reflect on this great country and those who died to make it so.   The roots of the Tree of Liberty have been watered with the blood of patriots, and it is our duty, not just to them but to ourselves, to ensure their sacrifice wasn't in vain and is remembered throughout the ages.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Some residents in the path of the flooding Mississippi, facing certain loss of property, have taken matters into their own hands.  With true American ingenuity, these intrepid souls have built their own personal levees.  Be sure to visit the Daily Mail to see more pictures:

Some have even gone so far as covering the levees with plastic to ensure against erosion:

Where else but America do you see such creativity in the face of looming disaster?  Such determination in the face of overwhelming odds?  With a lot of hard work and a little luck, there's a chance these mini levees won't fail and at least a few homes will be saved.  Above all, hopefully opening the floodgates and inundating these areas will have the desired effect of saving the city centers so the loss in the rural areas wasn't in vain.

The south has been through so much this spring - wildfires in Texas, the second deadliest tornado outbreak in US history, and now the slow, relentlessly creeping onslaught of water from the mighty Mississippi.  If you can, please give to the American Red Cross.  For Florida and Georgia residents, you can add your donation to your grocery bill at your local Publix; all donations go to the Red Cross. 


Monday, May 2, 2011


Osama bin Laden is dead.

It took almost ten long years, but the deed is done.  The titular head of radical islamic terrorism is, quite literally, sleeping with the fishes. 

The wave of patriotism and joy that is sweeping over the country is a sight to behold.  Today is a day of elation, unity and national pride.  Three things that have been in short supply for far too long. 

Osama bin Laden took more than American lives that fateful day in 2001.  He took something deeper; he took our sense of infallability.  But yesterday our fine military - the best in the world - reminded us "that you can hit us, you can knock us down, but we're gonna get up and when we do, we're gonna find you and kick your ass!"  Some may lament the 'eye for an eye' attitude, but sometimes that is exactly what is called for (no small irony that he actually was shot in the eye).  Let's not forget that this slaughterer of innocents, in his final moments, used a woman as a human shield.  A heartless coward to the end. 

I had originally planned to do a post on how unusually quiet May Day was yesterday.  Europe, in particular, is usually awash in riots on May Day, but it seemed almost preternaturally quiet.  I thought it might have something to do with the residual comraderie from the royal wedding, but now, in retrospect, it's almost like it was the calm before the storm.

Of course politicians on the left are attempting to take all the credit for the get.  It is important to give President Obama high marks for making the call to send in the SEALs.  It was a risky call, and if it had gone badly, he would have taken a lot of heat, especially since the Pakistan government wasn't informed of the operation.  He took a big chance, and it paid off.  But it is also important that credit should also be given to the CIA and George W. Bush for their interrogation techniques in secret prisons that got the initial information that started us down the path to bin Laden. 

Yes, those hated programs that democrats - including our current president - went after, demonized and shut down as soon as they could are directly responsible for the actionable intelligence that led to the raid on bin Laden's compound for which they are now taking credit.  We certainly didn't get a tip-off from our "allies" in Pakistan.  No doubt there will be more investigation into their role in covering up his residency, but that is a story for another day.  No, the reality is, the Bush administration knew what needed to be done, and Obama is the beneficiary, as are we all.  The problem is, now that the head is off the hydra and we've taken away the weapon that enabled us to decapitate it in the first place, what do we do when the replacements step in?

There is a good chance al Qaeda will attempt to retaliate, so we must be ever vigilant, but for today, let's indulge in some national therapy and celebrate! 

U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!


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