Archive for the patriotism Category

The meaning of courage

Posted in Honor, Opinion (Political), patriotism on July 22, 2010 by AN Security

This isn’t necessarily a deeply philosophical dissertation but how does a word like that appear in any human language is a mystery to me. My theory is that honor per se is attained through: 1- conscious thought and introspection, 2- a heightened sense of altruism and 3- the ability for detachment. That means these qualities would be exhibited in such a way as though there is no specific objective; the person knows his actions can affect positively or adversely and adjusts to accommodate others. Of course this is most impractical but plausible.

The counter-argument

Then there is reality; each small attribute existent within this word cannot be exhibited by a person no matter what their upbringing; humans have it in their nature to adopt a behavior only to replace it by a complete opposite depending on whether they feel safe or threatened, happy or sad, it doesn’t matter what it is, a person can change quickly but is it a permanent change? Can the good go bad and vice versa? I’m too much of a cynic but then what evidence is there that man has the ability to follow such a high standard of moral and spiritual prowess? Maybe there is no conscious quest for honor; perhaps I’m looking at this topic all wrong.

Man in general struggles in choosing his preferred behavior he will either gain from it or suffer from it. I think it is safe to state that man’s quest is not in itself the attainment of honor for the sake of honor but that of fighting against and surviving his own nature, which is constantly being bombarded by external and internal threats that motivate him to make a choice for himself. I still wonder if each man ever thinks of this before he acts. I say man in general terms so please don’t chastise me for not being PC. Surely this has been the ideal standard throughout the ages as we see in examples of extreme honor and altruistic traits in historical personages emulated in literature:

Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, otherwise known as El Cid is one good example of a historical figure turned national hero and practically rock star of his time; the very representative of the highest principles of living and conduct. I realize the man was a professional soldier either by decree or as an entrepreneur – okay, a mercenary, which does not bother me nor does it affect my analysis of his conduct – and that perhaps this view of mine could assign military men the very qualities I am attempting to dispute are even possible in human beings. My objective is to point out how we seem to aspire to and admire those who succeed in adopting this behavior. El Cid exhibited some of the elements encountered in the word Pravda in that even as a professional warrior, he was open to his men’s input and encouraged them to study and perfect their skills through education. His leadership style brought out the best out of those serving under him. He’s a close one alright. The stories usually feature a particular theme or conflict which is resolved in its conclusion with a moral lesson.

Honor or Pravda can sometimes even make a man go insane.

However, in the Quixote’s mind the quest is really not about finding honor, for he already believes to possess it, but rather to live the honorable life of the warrior that drives his antics. Whether this behavior – as depicted in the first part of Cervantes’ oeuvre – is a sign of a deep delusional state or the obsession that comes from greed and lust over power, perhaps is up to the reader to find. I do not believe this the case with the Quixote since in spite of all his frustrations there is the constant humming of his character, always the gentle soul ready to help others and stern but fair master to Sancho. Of course Sancho is far from willing to live the same life in order to achieve greatness but then all good guys must have a counter character to balance things out.

Are some humans drawn to achieve this state of life because of the rewards of good behavior or for their own spiritual development? That would mean that regardless how much the honorable life rewards an individual the life patterns do not change to achieve more rewards but rather to learn regardless of how one’s own actions affect others ever so positively, one does not ever deviate from the course. That is still a challenging endeavor.

Even high-profile historical people can feel at odds sometimes deciding what is good and what is evil and choosing their path. Maybe hate goes hand in hand with this transformation.

Lawrence of Arabia comes to mind.

I don’t usually subscribe to film versions of books or of biographical works (T.E. Lawrence) but I’m going to make an exception with this character because of this bigger-than-life persona built around him. It is also the expression in the man’s face that is most gripping. A crucial battle scene in this movie, as interpreted by the talented Peter O’Toole; T.E. Lawrence is seen struggling with his emotions. The character is overwhelmed as he stands in the midst of the carnage, his revolver in one hand, his body twitching with excitement, teeth bared and wondering whether it was the taste of human blood and finally engaging his enemy in a good fight or sheer terror…or both.

Honor is certainly an abstraction. Those who exhibit such traits are not usually consciously being honorable as self-respect and courage go hand in hand and part of their upbringing. It is a way of life. Our greatest and bravest people are so because they believe in right versus wrong, look after the weak and are protective of those values. They inspire others to be just like them. To be asked to restraint great courage in order to fulfill some sick perception of right and calling it the new courage is to sponsor cowardice.  There is great good in our warriors. Not everyone is perfect but Americans are a great people; and wherever we go we engage in good deeds. Perhaps now military people are not regarded with the same euphoric admiration as in Medieval times but it would be a disservice from all of us if we did not recognize their sacrifice. 

Worse yet is each generation born will learn less about this country’s greatness, about its courageous people and history and continue on their journey into utter obscurity.

Don’t call us Tea Baggers

Posted in how to speak tea bag, liberty, NPR, patriotism, tea baggers, tea party, tyranny on January 21, 2010 by AN Security

I sent NPR online a note as an upset ‘tea bagger’ to see what I would get. I was surprised at the level of professionalism in their response but learned that we both have to grow a thicker skin and also learn about how what we read online sometimes can feed into the stereotype of conservatives. I picked a bad day to quit sugar and I’m running out of coffee so this may be the first of several hard core posts…enjoy. Here is my rabid conservative email:

Let me tell you something, whoever chooses to read this email, and feel free to pass this on to your bosses. Your days of squandering the public’s money by promoting insulting and demeaning garbage like your little How to speak Tea Bag cartoon may be over. Has it occured to any of you that flushing the media with this type of propaganda does not go unnoticed? Clearly none of you think you’re immune to being dismantled because it’s going to happen. Politicians who usurped the people’s power of self-governance will be removed one by one and after that ‘institutions’ such as NPR which do not represent the people who pay for it so NPR has to go. If you want to do comedy take your garbage to comedy central, maybe they’ll give you a chance. I hold two degrees and working on a masters’ and unlike you people I can read between the lines. Go ahead and make fun of our anger and continue to represent tyrannical rule; it’s all crashing down on you. I don’t listen to NPR anymore so I don’t know how you want to ‘share’ my views.

This is NPR’s response:

Dear Ms. Leclerc,

Thank you for writing the Ombudsman. We value your feedback on independent commentator Mark Fiore’s November cartoon. The response has been overwhelming. Many were offended; and a few were delighted. We wanted to share Ombudsman Alicia Shepard’s column on the cartoon. We encourage you to read it and leave comments. And invite you to sign up for future Ombudsman postings by putting your email address in the bucket on the right at http://www.npr.org/ombudsman. The cartoon is a commentary, and reflects the animator’s perspective – and not NPR’s. However, NPR initially didn’t make that clear. NPR senior news management has since made sure that Fiore’s cartoons are labeled Opinion and that he’s identified as an independent syndicated columnist. Ms. Shepard feels the cartoon is not in keeping with public radio’s Core Values. We appreciate your perspectives, and value your taking the time to contact us. Clearly you care about the quality of NPR’s coverage. We are sorry if the cartoon offended you, but hope you will still donate to your local station. When you donate, it goes directly to your local station. Your station uses the money to buy a variety of programs that you may enjoy that have nothing to do with NPR – such as Prairie Home Companion, BBC, Marketplace or This American Life. We hope you will continue to support your local station. Again, thank you for writing. Sincerely, Caitlin Office of the Ombudsman

My actual response:

Caitlin,

Thank you for your prompt response to my email. I would like to clarify that though I am a conservative, vote republican and have participated in the Tea Party rally phenomena at some point in the past year; I am not foaming at the mouth and screaming bloody murder at liberals. Well, not literally anyway.

I write all the time and take great pleasure at poking fun at the ‘other side’ because that’s just the way of politics and I love the back and forth of political debate. Thus for the short but visceral email I sent to you today. It was the best mirror behavior I could come up with. The purpose of my email was to test your response, perhaps it was a bit underhanded of me but given the amount of negative feedback I read on friend’s online blogs and other political networks I frequent I decided to write. When I got the link to the animation page I had to see what it was about first. The quality of Fiore’s work is great though the more I watched the cartoon – before I panned back up to the short introduction – I caught on to what may have been interpreted by the viewers as offensive to the Tea Party people.

Many people will be offended in spite of my review but I thought it was worth some examination and analysis. I’m not saying that fellow conservatives’ views are not legitimate because the animation itself had a direct impact on them and their beliefs but I felt I had to offer a different view. Frankly, I am not offended by Mark Fiore’s “Learn to Speak Tea Bag” cartoon which made fun of the Tea Party movement as it has many other people were in that I don’t take silly, childish things seriously. I could find more insightful and entertaining videos on youtube and many I can watch and learn from compared to Fiore’s. I see just as much political and social satire every day enough to fill a warehouse yet this cartoon, as much as I hate censorship, bothered me on a different level, but I don’t feel it has to be pulled from the site. It is the format of the opinion piece that leads the reader, often drawn first to visual effects before the written word, left with a bit of a void but allowed for the reader to focus on the animation without the benefit of further background information. In fact, the piece is very anticlimactic to me because Fiore goes on about how great his work is and does a self-endorsement then gives the reader a link to National Review’s article by Jay Nordlinger about the birth of the term ‘tea bagger’ then leaves you with the animation. No segue to this theme or a real discussion of this political manifestation, just the animation showing the incoherence and ignorance of Tea Party revelers. Basically, Fiore is just not funny and these jokes are just old.

NOTE: The term ‘tea bagger’ is used in a derogatory way and I have to agree that regardless of intentions those people who use it to describe conservatives is being vulgar and reluctant to engage in intelligent discourse about politics without using some gimmick.

In my estimation had I reviewed this piece at NPR I would have required for him to compose an intelligent essay on the differing views between the left and the right but found it to be lacking in theme development but manages to pander to biased and heavy-handed stereotypes of conservatives. The actual funny thing is that given the opportunity to showcase both ends of the political spectrum, the animation could be made to favor conservatives over liberals just as easily. Do I think the piece is heavily pro-liberal? Oh yeah. But then it is an opinion piece, so trying to shut it down is counterproductive. Perhaps offering a counter piece or opinion to balance it out would have appeased your readers. A history of political arguments and character assassination abound in Washington; a treasure trove of materials to keep any writer with access to strong coffee and a computer happy for a while. I would read more of NPR’s content as long as it is of higher quality in reporting and variety of topics and I did not find it in Fiore’s post. In essence, the piece looked more like a work in progress, a draft perhaps and not a final product. Maybe Fiore’s style is about leaving something for the reader to think about with nothing else to go on.

I just know the piece served little purpose in expressing an intelligent opinion and offered the visual aid to drive the point without intellectual elaboration which is really boring. As for the angry reactions from readers even though Ms. Shepard stated that NPR indirectly receives federal funding through grants but most of its budget is based on corporate and private donations… Americans still consider your organization to be in much closer relation to them than they would with the privately-owned radio and television companies so those who read your content on your site do feel a direct stake on what is published I suppose.

This may be something you and your company should look into and maybe spend more time conducting peer review with your writers. If the piece itself goes against NPR’s core values as posted by Ms. Shepard then it merited more review before going online. NPR, with its vast range of programming sufficient to satisfy many a taste, really dropped the ball on this one. The cartoon serves hardly any purpose other than to project a group of people, which by the way, is growing exponentially, is all inclusive – go to a Tea Party rally sometime, folks come from all colors, races, creeds and political affiliation – and may very well become the political majority in this country. Given those odds, I’d say Fiore is sorely outnumbered and his work overrated. Thank you again for your professional response. Please feel free to post this on your site or forward to Ms. Shepard. I had some problems signing up to post my comment so I am sending it to you instead. I may read some stories on your site again.

Here is the stupid video. I welcome your opinions.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120344047

The Rise of Tyranny

Posted in freedom, government corruption, liberty, Opinion (Political), patriotism, tea party, tyranny on December 26, 2009 by AN Security

On this Christmas morning the evidence that a body of government has grown so far away from its original principles and taken our lives hostage is undeniable. The treachery takes place in our very presence in spite of the cries of the people in protest. Scores of citizens now understand what it means to make sacrifices as they stop work, care for family and leave behind other duties and pleasures to become one people once again and march onto Washington as one. We’ve marched onto the Capitol, held peaceful protests and voiced our complaints to their elected officials face to face; only for their plight to fall on deaf ears. But then that is not true. They are listening indeed, but feel justice is nothing more than an attempt to regain powers they usurped from us long ago. To them, our plight is nothing more than mob rule; we are nothing more than deranged subversives bent on trespassing on their property. Well, this property is ours. This could either be the longest winter of our lives or the beginning of a stronger America. You the patriot must choose the course of history for history has been re-written for us and it favors only Tyrannical rule.

Tyranny is a clever beast. It lies in wait for as long as necessary until it gets what it wants and only does it meet its objective with ease because of the inherent goodness of a people. Tyranny does not exist in a vacuum nor does it suddenly appear; it is cyclical, and it follows Liberty at every step throughout history and across generations. Look to your right to find many of us are for the Republic and freedom. Look to your neighbor two doors down to the left, he stands in the yard smiling, waiting, his eyes shining red and teeth glaring; enjoying victory over justice with great anticipation. This neighbor is the Progressive in his true form. To you this is a mirage; to him, it is his code; his quest to someday rule over you; to rob you of your freedom. These are the people who grow richer and stronger but do not want you to prosper and the same who insisted that the state was more qualified to tell you how to live than yourself. They are the ones who turned what once was a noble path to citizenship, turning public office as the expedient way of attaining power and wealth without accountability.

Tyranny thrives were complacency is the norm, often weaving itself into the fabric of society as small snags of cloth are torn and takes a place where no one dares challenge its presence. It has been instrumental in replacing virtue with debauchery, cloaked murder with the veil of freedom of choice, Godliness with spiritual emptiness and issued decrees to foreign lands; that our strength would one day wane and our armies soften. They’re the ones who twist and mold history from glorious into evil. Its Hessian soldiers cross our borders, quietly and settle down amongst us, waiting. They will someday benefit from this incursion as progressives portray them as entities worthy of illicit citizenship while vilifying our birthright and those who have fought bravely to earn it. These foreigners do not come in peace and do not assimilate; they come to take what we have and make it their own. Tyranny mocks the honor of battle and our military traditions and its heroes who sacrificed everything to praise the enemies of Liberty. We must change the way we think, the way we see things and people. If it is something disturbing and seems impossible, then we must assume that Tyranny is already working on exploitation. Conventional wisdom will not suffice. Vigilance is the only way to preserve our freedom.

Tyranny never rests and is disloyal to its followers and willing to sacrifice them as it can always recruit more to fight for its cause. It stands watch for that one opening in the cloth so that it can weave itself right in and start the process again. Well it’s here, manifested in its ugliest form for all to see. This is no surprise or mystery; this is all about our survival and this is a war and we must find a way to defeat our enemy. When one challenges a lie with the truth, Tyranny shouts it down, drowns and destroys it beyond repair to create confusion. Intellectual argumentations need not occur, as it either artfully twists your words to help itself win without substance or evidence or resorts to violent intimidation. Long ago many courageous people lost their lives, their wealth and their happiness so that we could be a free people today. Are we going to give up without a fight? Tyranny however, lacks courage; the one virtue of the true patriot who understands the difference between right and wrong. While it is so apt to seduce the senses while it, Tyranny crumbles in the presence of Justice and Honor.

There is a way to defeat it but it may be costly. Tyranny’s error is that it denies the hand of Providence as key to our being and that we are what we are by design. Now that you know what this threat means to all Americans great measures must be taken to preserve our way of life. At first sight it may appear that we are doomed to fail in our endeavor but we have Divine guidance if we seek it and apply it. At midnight on Christmas Eve history’s clock was reset. We’ve gone back in time to repeat history as we learned little the first time. This is our Republic. We must fight so that we can keep it. The rise of Tyranny could be the birth of Liberty. Some of those who are in power today may say that when history calls one must answer. I agree.

Are we ready?

The Story of the Quilt

Posted in honoring troops, patriotism, quilts for fallen soldiers, quilts for soldiers on December 23, 2009 by AN Security

Christmas is a hard time of year in a war zone but it’s not hard to find cheer everywhere you go; you just have to want to find it. I could use some of that right now. With everything that is going on in the world, our country faces grave peril while we fight in two warfronts, yet there is always room for love and honor.

When I stopped by the Stables to see how the Christmas decorations were coming along I had no idea that the morning

The New Stables

which started mostly about my own problem shifted to other people and what I found there had been hidden in plain view for so long that I was really embarrassed. I was greeted by the staff at this facility once I entered the building, now sporting a neat porch and sitting area with a giant camouflaged Santa upfront. I smiled and shook my head. This is all Gunny’s doing. The Stables was once nothing more than a large tent surrounded by sandbags and some cammo netting that when it rained the whole place turned into a muddy lake and then some.  The staging area had two sides divided by plywood and the floor was also plywood so it would warp a bit when wet. I recall one trip long ago which was a bone-chilling night, as I often arrived there at dark; something that did not make me miss my time in the field. The sign above the tent’s entrance read:

CAMP STRYKER STABLES

TRANSIENT QUARTERS    24/7

Travel in Iraq is hard on the body and the mind but most of us find ways of tuning out these things. I like to watch people walk in and out.  Arrivals are hectic as people coming in line up behind the luggage truck and help unload it. People bump into each other, trying to find their way around but nowadays the process is much smoother. Today I have an office only minutes away from this facility and though my traveling days are pretty much over I make it a point to visit the place during my rounds.

I figured the Stables would be decked out for the holidays and I really needed some cheering up. It wasn’t disappointed when I walked in, camera in hand, ready to get some pretty nice shots of the place. Sgt Byrd, the Liaison Officer for the 30th HBCT sat behind a dull-looking counter, writing. He looked up. I asked him what was up with the lack of decorations and he mumbled something about his boss being a bah-humbug. I grinned.  That sucks, man, even I’m not that bad. The Rhino desk across the room was decorated beyond belief and no one was manning it yet. It took me a minute to convince him to walk over to the other desk and pose with all the decorations. He looked around, hesitated then stood up. I told him hey, this is for your family, how’s that?

Amazingly enough the Stables had a few people there that morning, a rare thing since thousands of people cross that threshold all day and night every day of the week but on that morning the place was quiet. I stopped by the administrator of the place, Larry Sizemore who is a Vietnam veteran and goes by Gunny. Natali Birkic is his assistant and mostly they make sure that service members are provided billeting (housing) while they wait for transport going home on leave or back to the war. TVs in the background have some live news program on. The large coffee machine at the other end of the waiting area – which is pretty much a lounge – boiled the precious liquid slowly and loudly. I grabbed a Styrofoam cup and made a bee line for the coffee only to be greeted by a sign hung over the spout:

COFFEE NOT DONE YET

Figures.

I made my way down the hall lined with pictures of ceremonies and people who have expressed their gratitude for the hospitality over the years and there is barely an inch left on the wall. Gunny and Natali were in their office and as usual there was someone at the counter chatting. I snapped a picture and Gunny squinted at me and said hello. He’s nice to everyone. I don’t know anyone as cheerful as this guy and he forgave the spontaneous picture because he knows about my Corpsman past so I got the warmest welcome from him.

He asked me what was going on and I told him I needed cheering up that I had no Christmas spirit so I went out looking for it. I’m just in a bad mood right now. That led to me telling him about my mom’s passing. He got up from behind his desk and came to the door and I got swept into the main waiting area, and insisted we had to take some pictures taken together but at that point I realized that the Stables has seen many people through the same doorway over the years, many did not make it. Many stories come and go but what I learned from this visit today left me inspired…and feeling a little better. 

Stables inaugural flag

The flag you see was given to him when the new Stables building had been built and was about to be opened for business. I didn’t want to make my visit a big deal but taking on this kindness and since the place was unusually empty like I said, I decided to stay a little longer.

I looked around for decorations and Gunny took me aside and showed me this section of his office which is in the back of the building where a conference table held a magnificent quilt. I had to smile. I had not noticed that, nor the other quilts displayed on the walls, mingling with autographed pictures of thankful soldiers or marines. He asked me if I knew about the traveling quilts exhibit and I said no. Gunny told me that the traveling quilt exhibits started because of one woman and her love for her brother who had volunteered to come to Iraq.

Don Vicars deployed to Iraq in 2005 as a police trainer for DynCorp. His sister, Kaye Vicars Hansen, worried about his safety and also thought his quarters looked a bit drab, so she made him a quilt she called Independence and a diary to go with it so that Don could write in where he had traveled with the quilt. She also intended the quilt to give comfort to others until the war is over. She wanted it to have a home; though she didn’t know where it would end up but was sure the quilt, once in her brother’s possession would go to that destination. Kaye mailed her gift November 2005 and it arrived just before Thanksgiving Day. Don who was preoccupied about finding a home for the quilt brought it along on each mission along with his security team. By Christmas Eve the team had a party in the Green Zone and they were discussing where the quilt would find its final home. One of the guys mentioned that he had heard good things about the Stables to Don who then decided they would make the trip to Victory and see what the place was about. He wrapped the quilt and the book in a special pouch and upon arriving at the Stables he met Gunny. They struck up a friendship after Don explained what he wanted to do with the quilt and the quilt has remained there ever since. Scores of people come through and many have enjoyed the warmth of the Independence quilt but the story does not end there.

The Independence quilt remains at the Stables and today was neatly folded and rested on the  back of the couch. The label says it all:

Gunny talked about the plans for building the new Stables – which is another great story – but explained that some ladies from Oklahoma were spearheading a traveling quilts exhibit Thanking Our Troops God Bless America Touring Quilts to honor our troops. The quilts are designed to revive the tradition of the Civil War bedroll quilts. Each quilt represents a fallen American and those on exhibit at the Stables in Iraq are admired by many but on January 15th 2010 they will be carefully packed and shipped out to each grieving family.

There will be other quilts on display for the rest of the year. I thought I’d share this gift with you. My pictures are in my Facebook album for this post and you may view all others at the Heavenly Patchwork site.