Remember

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This is a bronze sculpture of an American soldier paying tribute to his fallen comrades after the Korean War which was waged from 1950 to 1953. It is often referred to as the Forgotten War because of the great conflict of WWII preceding it.  However, it was a bloody and difficult war resulting in an armistice rather than a mutual declaration to name the conflict as over. A demilitarized zone (DMZ) was created separating the north and the south from one another. It is the most heavily armed area in the world. As most know, this has been in the news of late as North and South Korea are attempting to put an official end to this debacle.

As with all wars, many civilians lost their lives in addition to the soldiers who sacrificed much. It saddens me that so many paid the ultimate price for a stalemate. At the same time, I am grateful for those who fought and sacrificed in behalf of freedom for half of the peninsula of Korea. Perhaps someday the north and south will unite as did Vietnam. The North is devoid of democracy and justice and the people live in a state of misery, ignorance and subjugation. My heart goes out to these citizens.

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America is not a nation of innocence when it comes to military conflicts and of war. Blood is on our hands. I wish we were free from self-serving bloodshed such as what we caused upon our own Native Americans, African slaves and one another during our great Civil War. But, we have also sacrificed much to the betterment of all mankind by defending and promoting freedom whenever the call to arms was issued. Not all agree with each conflict. I certainly don’t, however, I support those whom answered the call to do what they think is right and for the furthering of democracy.

Man, regardless of nationality, is a self-serving being. I stand amazed at how some European nations remained neutral during the Nazi terror of WWII. In the Pacific theater of war all became enemies of a misguided empirical nation. I am grateful that my father and uncle, along with so many other young men and women from various countries gave themselves for this cause of freedom. Freedom for others and not always for their own peoples.

There is still much of the world in armed conflict. America’s best are still fighting and dying for freedom for others. Various nations are in extreme struggles just to keep their nation’s alive and safe. May we never forget those who sacrificed so much and are still doing so today. I encourage all to honor a vet or family member this weekend whether  he or she is abroad or on the home front. They are most deserving.  I am reminded that their sacrifices allow me to write this post and bask in freedom’s light.

 

Memorial Day

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Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln’s speech given on November 19, 1863 at Gettysburg to honor the dead of both the North and South of the great Civil war which eventually produced 600,000 deaths…far greater than any other war we have fought and died for.

I have felt an impulse to write sometime significant about this American Memorial Day. I recognize that many countries have their own version of a memorial day which allows them to ponder and honor the sacrifices of past and present soldiers, diplomats and brave citizens. I came across President Ronald Reagan’s famous speech which reignited a patriotic pride in Americans (given in 1986, and which addressed many conflicts including Vietnam). However, when I recalled Mr. Lincoln’s speech and was reminded of Martin Luther King’s, ” I Have a Dream” speech, I came to realize that these speeches can speak louder and more authoritative than any prose I could write. This brief summary is not about politics or right and wrong, nor even war itself. It is about those brave men and women in America, and throughout the world who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom-either from an internal oppressor or and external oppressor…and continue to do so. Also, this is not a flag waving-in-your-face post about how great America is. We have many faults and a history of violence, yet we have always retained the good and decent things in life which have made America a beacon to others for so many years. May she ever remain so. 

 Blessings to all this Memorial Day.

Friends

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What constitutes being a friend? If it means covering each other’s back then these guys are friends. If it means spending lots of time together then these guys are friends. If it means liking and doing the same stuff together then these guys are friends. If it means having disagreements, but loving one another anyway, then, most likely, these guys are friends. And, if it means sacrificing oneself on behalf of the other then these guys would probably do that which makes them very good friends.

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These stallions appear to be best friends, if I can say that about horses. They rest together, graze together, stand together and trot together. These two are never apart regardless of the season. I count myself fortunate to observe them regularly. Occasionally, I’ll stop.

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When they run to greet me, if for no other reason than out of curiosity, a smile forms on my face as I witness their exuberance.

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They are a friendly and handsome pair, and always appear to be in fine shape.

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As I witness the brotherhood that exists between these two equines, I stop for a moment and consider my friends, past and present. I also consider what kind of a friend I am and have been. To be sure, I have disappointed more than a few souls. And, I have been disappointed and hurt as a result of others who I considered close friends. There is a proverb which states, “One who has many unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”. I know that friend, and want to be like Him.

 

Let Freedom Ring

“My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountain side, let freedom ring”.Old Glory

Samuel Francis Smith wrote the lyrics to this song in 1831. It later became known as America and was one of several national anthems for a short while. The melody came from Thomas Arne of England where the tune was created for the queen. In 1963, Martin Luther King gave his famously inspired speech, I Have A Dream, wherein he reminded us to let freedom ring amidst a backdrop of racial inequality and segregation. Dr. King eventually paid the ultimate price for the freedom he dreamed about. So have many others.

There is a saying that goes like this, ” Freedom is a luxury not everyone can afford “. In America we state our freedoms as rights and not privileges of the few. How blessed we are to enjoy such liberties. We are free to worship, vote, protest, write whatever we want, say whatever we want, and pretty much do whatever we want (within reason and the context of the law). We are free to think, to achieve, and simply to be.

Thomas Campbell reminds us of the cost of liberty when he wrote, ” The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree “. Since the birth of our nation to the present, Americans have shed their blood for freedom’s sake…for you and for me. Whether you hop in your car on a whim and drive across the great expanse to see the waves crash against the shoreline or sit in a lawn chair sipping a glass of iced tea after you just mowed the grass of your own lawn-these are fruits of freedom we seldom consider as such. But they are fruits of the most precious kind because they involve a personal sense of well-being that oppression can never provide. We enjoy what others have fought for.7-3-14 038

So, as we celebrate this Fourth of July, our Independence Day, let us pause and consider the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our benefit. Generations past, present and future are all recipients of other’s heroic deeds. Whether on the home front or the front lines, sacrifices have been, and are being made. We can all do little things to express our gratitude for the defenders of our liberties: hug a vet, shake the hand of a soldier, assist those left behind, encourage the distressed.

Inscribed on the Liberty Bell is a quote from the Bible, Leviticus 25:10, which states,  Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof . May we be so bold to proclaim and defend our freedoms, for future generations are depending on us to do so until they can take up the mantel. Sometimes this means going to war. It also means to fight for our constitutional rights which are periodically attacked from forces within. One thing is certain; anyone who has been deprived of personal freedoms cherishes them. They will fight to keep them, and not simply for themselves, but for the sake of their neighbors, as well. Defenders of freedom aren’t selfish.

Let freedom ring loud and clear…I like the sound of that. It reminds me of WW II movies when towns were liberated from a sinister enemy and the church bells would ring and ring in celebration of regaining lost freedom. I thank God for living in a country where freedoms abound. If you do not know such liberty, may you find freedom from above where no enemy can steal your soul even though you may not be allowed to speak your heart. Let freedom ring!

 

Veteran’s Day 2013

Old GloryWhen I look at our flag I am reminded that our nation came about due to the sacrifice of many for the common good of America. Our world has benefited, as well. I’ll be the first to admit that we haven’t always lived up to our ideals when it comes to using our military. Many hate us for various reasons, and I understand this dynamic. However, those who have served, and are serving now in the armed forces do so with a respect for freedom by giving us their greatest asset-their lives. Our flag still waves because of these committed men and women who have chosen to serve her. Thank you seems so small, but it is a heartfelt gesture that I sincerely state without reservation.