Remembering The Price of Freedom

This post was originally published five years ago today. But it’s still very relevant today. So I’ve updated it slightly to reflect Veterans Day, 2021.

The price of freedom cannot be measured monetarily. It is measured by the sacrifice of the lives of the men and women who defend it.

Today is Veterans Day. The day we thank all of those who have served and are currently serving in our military. Their bravery and dedication to duty is not appreciated nearly enough. They have a unique understanding of the ways of the world that we who have not served cannot begin to understand.

To all of those who have served or are still serving, we owe you a huge THANK YOU for the time and sacrifice you, and your families, have given, and are still giving, to this great nation. You leave home and family behind far too often to serve your country because that’s your duty and your chosen profession. You and your families are invaluable to this country.

My father served in the Army during World War II, however, because of a bad knee that he had originally injured playing football in college, he was sent home with an honorable discharge and a knee brace.

My uncle also served, however, he did not get home until the war ended. He was quite fortunate. Although I do not know his entire story, I will relate what I know of it, because in my eyes, he was one of the heroes.

Fowler Cottingham joined the Army as a young man barely 18 years old. He was trained as a crewman on the fighter planes, and consequently sent to Germany, where he flew in several successful missions with his crew.WW2 Plane

The morning of the day he flew his final mission was most likely just another day. Clear skies; light wind; a perfect day for flying. I can imagine the crew loading the plane, going through their pre-flight checklist, making sure their parachutes were ready, and most likely cracking jokes and talking about what they’d do when they came back from their mission.

Flying over enemy territory was never safe. Most of us have probably seen movies of the allied war planes heading out for missions over Germany. What the movies don’t adequately show is the danger our men faced during each of these missions.

They didn’t have all of the sophisticated equipment in 1945 that our armed forces have now. There were no computers, no GPS; only a navigator with paper maps showing where they were supposed to be flying. There were gunners who fired their weapons without fancy electronics to assist them. They had to judge where to aim, and when to pull the trigger, based on what knowledge the officers and ground troops had been able to discern. It was much different than today. But they had courage, and a sense of duty. They had volunteered to serve, and knew the risks involved.

I’m not sure exactly what happened, but my uncle’s plane took a hit from a German warplane. Fortunately they were all able to parachute out, and landed in a wooded area somewhere behind enemy lines. They had only a few supplies, and had no idea where they were. And no idea whether anyone else had any idea where they were, or even if they were alive.

Shortly afterwards they were captured by German soldiers and marched to one of the POW concentration camps. Capture was certainly better than being shot, which I’m sure they were all afraid, would happen. As brave as these men were, just remember, they were all in their early 20’s, the beginning of their lives. They all wondered if they’d ever see home and family again.Blanches Banques POW Camp

Over 93,000 men were held as prisoners in the German POW camps in World War II. They were held in drafty wooden buildings, with uncomfortable cots, and only a thin blanket for warmth. They were fed one or two meals a day, usually some type of thin soup and stale bread. Their only utensils were a tin spoon, and a tin cup for water. One day they were given a treat…candy bars which they quickly bit into. And then saw the worms inside.

My Uncle Fowler and his crew spent six months in that camp, guarded by armed soldiers and German shepherds. They never knew when or if the guards would come for some of them to question them, torture them, or kill them.

There are some experiences that are just too terrible to discuss because they bring back too many nightmares. My uncle would never discuss any of what happened, other than what I have written here; not with his parents, his wife, or his two sons. After his return, and until the day he died, he was scared of German shepherds because he had seen them tear hands and arms off of prisoners who were trying to escape.

How did these men survive this ordeal? And where was the Lord in this? I’m sure the men wondered many times where He was. Even at the young age of 20, when he was captured, my uncle was a man of faith, and I’m certain his faith helped sustain him.

Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The Lord was watching over them the entire time.

Yes, their plane was shot down, but the crew survived. The Lord directed the German bullets away from the fuselage so that the plane didn’t explode, which would have killed them all. When they landed in the woods, they had no idea where they were, and no idea where to go. The German soldiers could have killed them, but instead they were captured and allowed to live. Many other soldiers spent years in these concentration camps before being freed; these men only had to endure for six months. Many died in these camps, but these men all survived, because the Lord had plans for them. My uncle had a young woman, my aunt, waiting to meet him, fall in love, and marry. The Lord had plans for all of them and made sure those plans were carried out. Prayers for safety were answered; just not the way that was expected.

I wish I knew the names of my uncle’s crew members, but I never had the opportunity to find out. I would love to thank them as well for serving with him, and being part of his support system while in the camp.

And again, to all of our veterans and those who are still serving, and their families, Happy Veteran’s Day. Thank you for your service. May God bless you all, and keep you safe.veterans_day_thank_you-1940983

Why Bother?

To vote, that is.

“My vote doesn’t count. One vote won’t make any difference.”

“I’m too busy. Besides, nobody cares what I think anyway.”

“I don’t like either candidate, so why should I vote for one of them?”

“I don’t know anything about anybody who’s running. So why should l?”

“Elections are rigged anyway. The outcome is predetermined because the Democrat party has already paid off the companies who count the votes.”

“All politicians are crooks. Who wants any of them?”

Why bother? It’s very simple. Because we all need to voice our opinion and have our say in who’s going to make the laws that impact our daily lives, and our children’s lives. If we don’t voice our opinion, then we don’t have any right to complain about the outcome, or to complain that you don’t like the way things are being done.

I’m not saying you can’t complain after the election if you don’t like who won, but if you didn’t have any input, then it’s not your place to complain because YOU didn’t even TRY to make a difference!

Your vote doesn’t count? I’m sorry but every vote counts. There are any number of local elections, albeit in small towns mostly, which have been decided by one vote. And if one person had voted differently than the outcome would have been totally different. Other elections in other precincts, and even states, have had similar situations in which the outcome was determined by a small handful of votes.

No one should ever claim to be too busy to vote. Most employers allow time off for voting. Or if they don’t, not everyone works a 12 hour day to keep them from the polling places. Saying you’re too busy to vote isn’t a good excuse. It just means you don’t care one way or the other. And that’s just wrong. Going to be out of town on Election Day? Surely you could take the time to get, fill out, and return an absentee ballot.

I don’t always like any of the candidates either. Which many times causes me to vote for the one I dislike least. But that’s not good either. We have the right to write in the name of a candidate. And many people do. They know there’s not much of a chance that person will win, but it does show that there are voters out there who want other choices. And don’t write in Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck! You may think it’s cute, but the poll workers have to count every vote and tally up even ones like that.

If you don’t know anything about any of the candidates who are running, where have you been? In this day of nonstop media ads, and the internet, you can find out what the candidates stand for. And don’t listen to all the attack ads, because that’s what they are. Attacks against someone they’re running against. Go to the candidates’ websites and read about what they stand for. If you can take time to be on social media for hours each day, you can surely take time to do a little research for yourself.

Elections are NOT rigged. Those untrue and unfounded conspiracy theories being spread by poor losers are just ridiculous and designed to make people question our system. Of all the lawsuits that have been filed, none have proven any election tampering or rigging. Our system may not be perfect, because none are, but there aren’t people out there driving aound trucks full of fake ballots and substituting them for the real ballots after the polls close! Computers in China and Korea aren’t changing the results.

All politicians are crooks? Well…I imagine some may be. But all? No. That’s a statement that has no merit. Just because you don’t like what someone stands for doesn’t mean they’re a crook. Just because one candidate has more money than you think they should doesn’t necessarily mean they earned it illegally. Yes, there are most likely politicians that aren’t totally aboveboard, and we’ve seen many of those brought down, forced to resign, and some eventually end up behind bars. But that doesn’t make ALL politicians crooks.

Just bear in mind that in our country we still have the right to vote without the fear of being hurt or killed. We have a choice of candidates, not just one name on the ballot because the regime in power controls everything and will do anything to retain that power.

So now what’s your excuse? Did I miss one?

I’m voting on Tuesday. Whether the candidates I select win or lose, I will honestly be able to say I voiced my opinion and had my say in the outcome.

Will you be able to say that?

[Note:  Our state of Virginia has an off year election on November 2. Which is the reason for this post at this time.]

Stop the Attacks

The attack ads, that is. Those totally irritating and most often false claims spread by one political candidate or political party against their rival. I guess the candidates and their ad agencies think they help sway voters, and maybe sometimes they do. Or else they wouldn’t spend thousands of dollars to run them

When I was younger we called it mud slinging. Smear campaigns. And it used to be frowned upon. But not any longer.

Today that’s all we hear during political campaigns. This candidate caused children to starve. That candidate wants to let all the violent criminals out. This candidate plans to take away your guns by going house to house. That candidate is going to get rid of the police departments. This candidate is planning to raise your taxes by 15%. And this one is being investigated for tax evasion. That one is going to force teachers to teach fake history that was rewritten by the other political party. Another candidate even talks about how bad it is to run these attack ads, and then in the next sentence attacks his opponent for things that were said in that candidate’s attack ad…

Wow! If any of what’s claimed in those attack ads are true, those people shouldn’t be considered as serious candidates! How’d they even get on the ballot?

Why are they even running? In many cases that’s an easy answer. Most of the candidates who use these tactics are ego-driven, wanting to have their name in the forefront; to be known as a state representative, congressman, senator, mayor, governor, and yes, maybe eventually president. Do they really care about doing good for their district, their state or their country? Maybe. Or maybe they want the prestige, the limelight, and the power to say, “I’m the [whatever office he/she holds] and I make the rules! If you don’t like it, that’s too bad!”

And to hear some of these ads, if what’s being said is true, that particular candidate should actually be behind bars instead of running for office!

We are inundated constantly with these nasty, untrue, derogatory political ads to the point of total disgust. It makes me not want to vote for any of them. Because each candidate says they supported that attack ad!

Seriously? Why would I vote for someone who can’t run on his or her platform. Whose only claim as to why he or she should be elected is how bad the other person is?! I really don’t think any of them deserve my vote.

But if I don’t vote, then I have no right to complain and criticize who won when they do something I disagree with.

And that causes me to cast my vote for the candidate I dislike the least in order to vote against the one I don’t want in office.

That’s a terrible way to vote, but unfortunately I’m not the only one doing that in today’s elections.

I can still remember political ads that actually stated a candidate’s platform. They were running to do this or that. They had a reason for running, and wanted people to vote for them because those voters believed in what the candidate stood for, and believed he’d keep his promises. Bad-mouthing their opponent? That wasn’t done. Political debates were polite. There was no yelling and screaming at the other side. The candidates made their points in a positive manner without calling the other candidate derogatory names.

How things have changed. And not for the better. Politics has evolved to the majority of candidates acting like spoiled children who want their way, no matter what. They stretch the truth for their own means, call people who don’t agree with them insulting names, and accuse their opponents of all sorts of things, that if it weren’t for the election, would institute lawsuits for libel or slander.

And our children see this and when their parents don’t disagree or say it’s not right, those kids are taught it’s ok to act that way.

But it’s not. Not for our children, and certainly not for the politicians who are trying to get us to vote for them!

I’m tired of it all. Here in Virginia we are electing a new governor and delegates, along with numerous local offices. We have one more week of this mess. But every day it gets worse. I cannot wait until this election is over.

And of course, the way things have been going lately, then we’ll have to listen to all the unsubstantiated claims of stolen elections and voter fraud.

Because that’s unfortunately becoming the new normal in American politics. I seriously doubt our founding fathers would be happy to see how things have evolved.

Maybe one day politics will change and become more civil again, but I doubt it will be in our lifetimes.

And that’s such a shame.

I’m sure many of you will disagree with me. And that’s your right. But please be respectful about it. Our state and our country’s future is more important than blasting someone for opinions you don’t agree with.

Are We Actually Helping the Terrorists?

I’ve seen so many posts and memes in the last few days of our President Biden, yes the president who was duly elected by a fair and not stolen election, being made to look like a Talib, a member of the Taliban.

I’ve also seen one of them of him made to look like Bin Laden holding ice cream cones. People think it’s funny. It’s not.

And let me explain why. And yes it’s my opinions and you ha e a right to your opinion, like I do. But please listen to what I’m saying.

I do not agree on how Afghanistan was handled. Is being handled. It began when a former president decided to negotiate with the Taliban, a terrorist group not in charge of the Afghan government. He made agreements with them and even invited their high ranking members to Camp David, one of the most private and secure places for our president and his family.

Fortunately that didn’t happen. Can you imagine if it had? That would’ve been opening the door to our country and saying, “Come on in. My home is your home. We’re all friends now! What can I help you with? I’m pulling our troops out like you asked.”

I didn’t see any postings of Trump made to look like a Talib, but I may have missed that.

In my opinion, which is just that, President Biden should have not followed though with the withdrawal when he did. Yes, I believe we needed to leave, but we did not plan well. In fact, it was very poorly planned.

Even worse, people are being killed because of it. Americans and Afghans as well. We are now in a very dangerous position. The Taliban sent suicide bombers to the airport like the threatened.

Thirteen American service members were killed along with Afghan men, women and children. This is an outage.

There are countless posts about

remembering and honoring these service members. About praying for their heartbroken families. Which we should do.

And then some of these same people start posting pictures of our president dressed in Afghan garb and implying he’s Taliban.

Now what do you think the real Taliban think of that? And don’t say they don’t know about it because they do. And I can assure you, they are even more emboldened because of it.

This tells them that the Americans are weak. That we have no respect for our elected leadership, just like the Taliban had no respect for the duly elected Afghan government. Just like they have no respect for women. Nor respect for anyone who doesn’t believe as they do.

People, you’re playing right into their hands. And they love it. You’re weakening our position in the Islamic world. You’re telling them you no more respect our president than they do. And in their mind you’re actually telling them you think they’re in the right.

That world kills people for doing what you’re doing. Literally.

Just because we have the right to make our opinions known doesn’t mean we should do it in this way. And how is this honoring the Americans who were just killed in that bombing? How does it make their families feel?

I know a lot of you will say I’m crazy, I don’t have a sense of humor, or call me a communist Democrat. Call me what you will, because I am not affiliated with either political party.

I don’t care how you feel. I’m just asking you to be careful of what you post during this time. You may think nothing bad can happen here, but it did and it could very well happen again.

I had a teacher in high school who had a number of favorite sayings, one of which was “a word to the wise should be sufficient.” So I close with that thought.

The Dying Bird

For the last several weeks I’ve been seeing this poor hurt bird. His wings are damaged, broken. His feathers are ruffled and quite obviously many have either fallen out or been pulled out.

His eyes, although still clear, are sad. Sometimes he just closes them and shakes his head, as if trying to get certain images out of his mind. Images that he never thought he’d see, and hopes he’ll never have to see again.

He’s an old bird; he’s been around a long, long time. He’s seen way too much. Wars. Poverty. Depression. Hatred. But he’s also seen a lot of good things, things that have made him proud. And you can still see an occasional smile as he remembers them. He remembers soaring high above fields and mountains, rich with beauty, amazing colors, and clear skies. It was such a sight to behold.

The way things used to be.

But those good memories fade all too quickly as he continues to see more and more hatred. Division. Partisanship. Friends against friends, and neighbors against neighbors. People talking against each other instead of with each other. Threatening each other because they don’t see eye to eye.

His friends, once counted in the hundreds, are slowly deserting him. They see what’s going on, and they’re afraid whatever sickness he may have may infect them, too. So he becomes more and more alone.

And he realizes that unless something is done quickly…unless something changes…the life he once knew and enjoyed will be destroyed. And destroyed so totally that it cannot be rebuilt in any way that will resemble what it originally was.

The bird shakes his head sadly, closes his eyes, and lays his head down. And he cries.

He cries for what has been lost and will never be again. For innocence lost. For hope that’s rapidly fading.

And he wishes he could stop the disease that is spreading so quickly that it will eventually kill him, and everything he once believed in.

Suddenly he hears voices. And they’re speaking directly to him.

“Don’t worry, mighty bird. We’re going to fix those broken wings so that they’re both pointed in the same direction. Once again you’ll soar to amazing heights. You’ll feel wonderful again! We’ll make both wings the very same. They can point in the same direction so it’ll be easier to fly! You wait! You’re going to be better than ever!”

The bird thought about it for a moment. And then gave his answer.

“That sounds wonderful. I want so badly for both of my wings to be strong again. I want to be able to fly high again like I was meant to do. It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to do that. But there’s a problem.”

“A problem?” The voices answered. “How in the world can you see a problem? We’re going to fix your wings, and make them better than ever. Your life will be better, easier than ever! How’s that a problem!?”

The bird replied. “You see, your ideas are a bit flawed. Your hearts seem to be in the right places. But my wings aren’t designed to point in the same direction. They have to point in opposite directions in order for me to be able to fly correctly. They may appear to be in opposition to each other, but in reality they’re supposed to work together for one common goal. These wings are tired and hurting, because over the years they’ve decided they have to work against each other rather than with each other. They’ve started beating against each other so badly that my feathers are falling out. It’s exhausting, and I just don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

“If these wings don’t find a way to start working together again, instead of against each other, this tired old Eagle is going to give up. I’ve been around a long time, you know, and I’m not ready to die, but in the shape I’m in right now, it could very well

happen. And sooner rather than later, unfortunately.”

The voices continued. “But we know so much better that if both wings did everything the same way, in the same direction, life would be so much easier on you. No more controversy. No more disagreements. Just peace and tranquillity”

“That will never happen,” said the bird. “I wasn’t designed like that. Both wings need to have their own direction, BUT they have to work together to a common goal, instead of fighting to have ultimate control over the other. And that’s just not happening right now. If both of these wings don’t start working together….well, I’m done for.”

And the Eagle closed his eyes again, folded his broken wings around him, and waited for someone to help him.

So who will step up to help this poor bird? Before his freedom, his spirit, is lost forever?

Maybe if more of us thought about the situation we’re in right now in this country in terms of a broken and dying Eagle, things would begin to change.

Think about it.

I Still Remember. Do You?

I purposely didn’t write this for publication on 9/11. Because we’re all reminded of what happened on that day. We certainly remember it every year on that date. At least those of us who were adults, teenagers, and old enough to watch it unfold before our very eyes.

Almost 3,000 people died suddenly that day. Almost 3,000 people who had waked up that day, prepared for their daily routines and most likely their plans for after work.

And suddenly, within hours, those plans were gone. Because they were, too.

Families were destroyed, never to recover again. Our nation would never be the same again.

Yes, that day was one we should never forget.

But what about the day after?

Because today is the day after 9/11/2001.

That day, most of us went back to our daily lives. Yes, we were still shaken, still in disbelief. We were still thinking about all the lives lost, wondering what, if anything, would happen next. Yes, we kept seeing the pictures on tv, but a lot of them were re-runs of what had happened.

We’d already seen those pictures several times, and already we were getting a little tired of them. After all, we’d already seen, heard about it. And already our initial fears were starting to subside.

That was for those of us who weren’t directly affected. Because it hadn’t actually touched US.

Where we live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia we were a bit more watchful, as this is home to the world’s largest conglomeration of naval bases. Many of friends and neighbors, their families, worked there or were in the military. And we were concerned about them, and for ourselves.

But our day after 9/11 was mostly back to our normal work lives, our normal after work and/or after school activities, with a bit of sadness and apprehension thrown in. But we still had our loved ones.

The day after 9/11 for those personally affected was a continuation of the vast horror that had been inflicted upon them.

It was a realization that no matter what happened from that day forward, their lives would never ever be the same. No amount of time would ever be able to make them forget; to make the horror and anguish disappear.

Nothing could ever make it go away, or make things right again.

The weddings that had been planned would never take place.

The birthday parties that were planned would never be celebrated.

The babies who were waiting to be born died along with their mothers. And fathers who were anticipating the birth of their children would never be there to meet them.

Children would grow up without one or maybe both of their parents.

Thousands of funerals would have to be planned. And attended. And most likely no one knew where to start…

Life for those left behind would continue, but in a new, frightening, and uncertain way. Those left behind were most likely totally unprepared for what they needed to do. Just the sheer stress of dealing with such a horrific death of a loved one, not to

mention the hundreds of details involved in the necessary tasks of finances, insurance, closing apartments and homes….overwhelming doesn’t begin to describe it.

Then there was the wondering of what actually happened to their loved ones in those final seconds. Did they know what was happening? Did they have time to think? Some were fortunate enough to receive a last phone call. Most weren’t. And they are still left to wonder about the unimaginable.

They just wanted to go back in time to 9/10/2001. And let time stop.

But it doesn’t work like that. Unfortunately. Because reality intervenes.

We all remember the haunting photos of the buildings being hit, crumbling down. The wreckage of a plane in a Pennsylvania field. A gaping hole in the Pentagon.

But I also remember the faces of those desperately searching for a loved one who may have somehow made it, hope quickly fading as realization set in.

And the pictures of loved ones plastered on fences, light poles, building walls; the flowers and notes; a grim reminder of the lost.

So today, the day after the remembering of 9/11, let’s remember what so many were going through that day AFTER 9/11. And are still going through; still remembering.

They deserve to stay in our hearts as well. Because for them, the horror will never be far away.

We remember what happened, but we should also never forget those who were left behind to carry on by themselves.

Do you agree?

Why?

And when will it stop?

Sunday morning I was bombarded with news stories about the two horrendous mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Countless lives destroyed; forever changed. Senseless and uncalled for.

My first thought when I heard the first news reports were “why”? “Not again.” “Whats it going to take to stop these senseless acts of murder?”

And I have no idea.

But suddenly everywhere you turn, everyone has their answer. In some form or other.

Many people say it’s Trump’s fault because he uses so much hate speech. (And he does. Sorry, but if you disagree, tell me why so many of the things he says aren’t hate speech.) I demand more dignity and respect from the president of the United States.

But I do not put the blame on him alone, although he has contributed to this growing theme of hatred and intolerance in this country. Because others are playing into it as well.

Many politicians say the problem is access to guns, and we need more gun control laws. One presidential candidate basically said the heck with the second amendment [to the Constitution] and that we need gun control immediately. This is not the time to try and use this for a campaign nor is it time to jump and scream for things that may not be able to be done. Or should not be done.

Maybe these people need to read the Constitution, understand what it takes to change it, and then look into ways to pass legitimate laws to control assault weapons, buying and owning firearms, and realizing that guns are used by PEOPLE to do this. People who I believe have mental issues, because of their intense hatred for others. And these individuals will find a way somehow to get around the laws.

Maybe we need to actually enforce the laws that are already in place. What an idea.

One person even went so far as to put down another for speaking out by calling this individual a terrible defamatory name for a gay person, adding “he’s even married to a guy – what do you expect?”

What do I expect? I expect civility. Dignity. Respect for other people who are different from you and I and who have a right to their own life without being maligned by others who have a right to their own lives as well.

I expect individuals to be allowed to speak out without our president telling them they should go back where they came from! This further incites those who have no empathy and no compassion for others, who think those individuals have no right to live and need to be eradicated.

I am appalled that our president makes obnoxious and derogatory remarks about the plight of a certain city because the representative of that district is not of his political party, and then goes on to make sarcastic comments about that representative’s home being robbed. “Too bad!” That’s further contributing to the discontent and hate in this nation.

What next?

I hope and pray for no more mass shootings. But I will not be surprised, because unless we all work together to stop the hate speech, the intolerance for those who have differing views than we do, the acceptance of those who spout intolerance for those who disagree with them, the violence will continue.

Why?

Because we are too busy being offended by things which should not offend us. We are too busy turning a blind eye to injustice and the plights of others who are not in the same economic and social strata as ourselves. Whose skin color is different from ours. Who don’t have the same religious viewpoints that we do. Who don’t have the same sexual preferences that we do.

We are too busy being better than everyone else and ignoring the underlying problems that are slowly tearing this nation apart.

We are too busy being on one side or the other and refusing to sit down and negotiate with wisdom, cool heads, and common sense. And refusing to stand up to those who make comments designed to put down others and incite them to anger. Too blind to recognize and speak out against the words of hatred and insult coming from the side they’re on because to deviate from such blind loyalty would mean that maybe…just maybe…they’ve been wrong about certain things. And we can’t have that!

Now, I’m sure I’m already being de-friended by some people because I have voiced my opinion. But it’s my opinion, and I’m still entitled to it. Just as you are to yours. Until someone decides to try and figure out a way to take away that right in our Constitution.

Don’t think there’s not someone out there who might try.

I have no solution to these disasters, these horrible mass killings, but stopping the hate speech might be a good place to start. Understanding other points of view would be good also. Enforcing our existing laws might help as well!

I don’t want to hear about another mass shooting. But I’m afraid I will….

And all the finger pointing will start again. And the arguing. And the accusations.

Until we all decide to work together to solve these problems, and stop putting other people down who aren’t like us, whoever “us” may be, it’s not going to end.

How many lives will be lost, how many families destroyed, before we finally understand?

5/31/2019

We read about it happening in other cities. We talk about how horrible it is. We pray for the families of the victims. We don’t understand what happened or why…what made someone just “lose it” and go on a shooting spree, taking the lives of so many others.

We don’t understand why or how one person could destroy the lives of so many in just a few minutes. Why he had no feelings for his fellow human beings. Why he thought shooting so many people could solve whatever problems he had.

And we don’t think about anything like that happening in our own city, or own town. It always happens somewhere else.

Until it happens where we live. In our own community. In our case, ten minutes from our neighborhood.

Near the end of a work day, on a Friday afternoon, a disgruntled long-time city employee, after shooting and killing a contractor in his car in the parking lot, calmly walked through the employee entrance of Building 2 of the Municipal Complex and began shooting. Why? Who will ever know?

He killed twelve people during a 35 minute shooting spree. Four others are still in area hospitals in critical condition. The shooter was also killed by some of our brave first responders who risked their lives to save others and most likely prevented further carnage.

I heard about it like many others, a text message sent by a friend at the end of the work week that there were reports of an active shooter at the municipal center. We hear such reports often in our area since we are near so many military bases, and usually they prove to either be rumors or one person causing some problems not even gun related.

I didn’t think a lot about it, even when I checked the news apps on my phone, because it was still in the “reports of an active shooter and police are responding” report. With “no further details available at this time.”

Within the hour all of that had changed. And not for the better.

Rumors and stories spread across the news. Facebook and Twitter were blowing up with posts. As in every such situation, reports were skewed one way or the other, because in such emotional events, so many facts are repeated over and over and changed each time someone else repeats them.

That’s what happens.

But unfortunately at the end of this day, reports were sadly true. We watched and listened as the death toll kept rising. And couldn’t believe what we were hearing.

And at the end of the day, the end of the weekend, we could not, and still can not, even begin to understand the enormity of this event in our community. Nor will we ever.

We cannot begin to count the toll this has taken on the families of the victims; their friends and neighbors; the co-workers who were spared who will forever wonder how they made it and the person working next to them didn’t.

Husbands and wives lost their spouses. Children lost fathers and mothers. Parents lost children. Others lost brothers and sisters. And it goes on….

We did not personally know any of the victims. But over the last few days we’ve heard stories about them, and wish we had known them, because each and every one of them are being remembered as a very special, loving, and giving person. Their loved ones of course are devastated. Who could have known when they said their morning good-byes before heading to work that it would be their last?

I cannot begin to imagine what the families are going through; what their coworkers are going through; I can’t do anything to help them except contribute to the campaign that has been started to help the families financially. It’s a help, but nowhere nearly enough.

To everyone affected by this tragedy, our heartfelt condolences. Please know that this affects us all, but nowhere nearly as much as you who lost so much in the blink of an eye, the senseless pulling of a trigger.

Please keep our community and the victims in your thoughts and prayers.

#vbstrong

One Nation…Divided…with Fairness for My Side Only

We all know the Pledge of Allegiance to our country. Well, most of us do. I hope.

It doesn’t say what I just wrote in the title, does it?

So why does it seem like this is the way things are going?

Republicans condemn Democrats. Democrats condemn Republicans. And before you start condemning me for saying that, may I clearly state, I am NOT a member, or a sympathizer, or have allegiance to, either party. I am an independent conservative. And an American. An American who is really concerned about my country.

Right now we have way too many Republicans and Democrats, and not enough Americans. Everyone seems to care more about what party they belong to, and insulting and degrading the other side, rather trying to figure out what’s best for the American people, and the country, as a whole.

If one side says they’re in favor of something, the other side automatically says they’re against it. Without even stopping to think about the issue itself. Maybe it’s something that’s important to both sides, and just needs a little tweaking here and there, a compromise.

But oh no! If the other side is in favor of it, they certainly can’t be!

Why?

Could it be because all we hear in the news are elected officials criticizing the other side. We’re bombarded with it, because each side wants to hear their own point of view expounded upon, so they can claim that they’re right no matter what.

We have a president who delights in lambasting the other side every chance he gets. He continually bashes his opponents, bullying those who speak out against him, usually calling them derogatory names and making fun of them, which he thinks makes him look good. His die-hard supporters love it. I’m disgusted by it. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s insulting, and it’s bullying, and certainly not presidential.

And it continues to divide our country even further. As do the conservative talk show hosts that constantly and pompously espouse “Democrats bad, Republicans good, and this president is the best thing ever! If you don’t believe me you’re not a true American!” I cannot even listen to a promo for those shows without feeling disgusted.

And the Great Divide grows larger.

We continue to hear cries of “fake news” every time a news outlet says anything that makes one side or the other look bad. The last time I checked, our Constitution provided for freedom of the press, which today includes all of the media. So are we saying any news that’s published that makes YOUR side look bad is “fake” and if it makes the other side look bad it has to be true?

And what is happening to our right of free speech? Unless you agree with what is said, it’s wrong! It’s “fake.” Well, if it’s not true, there are laws governing libel and slander. Take advantage of that and do something about it; otherwise stop saying everything you don’t like is “fake news!” Prove it. Put your money where your mouth is!

And the Great Divide keeps getting wider and wider….

And we keep becoming a nation divided.

It’s past time to end this. It’s time to end the divisive rhetoric, the name calling, the insults, and the “them vs. us” mentality. It’s time to stop the “tweetstorms” of grandstanding, name calling, insults, and accusations , and get on with our nation’s business.

It’s time to act like we’re all Americans, rather than one party vs. the other, because that’s not the way to accomplish anything.

It’s time to become one nation…united…again. Or else our nation is in danger of once again becoming two distinct countries.

And I don’t want that any more than I think you do!

The End of Civility?

It’s certainly looking like it. And sounding like it.

And I certainly hope I’m not the only one who’s tired of it. However, I’m not too sure.

Certainly, it’s been going on from generation to generation. Kids call other kids names because they can. Because they enjoy bullying and intimidating other kids. It makes them feel important. It gives them a sense of superiority. But in our generation, the names weren’t anywhere as nasty and insulting as they are now. They didn’t make those that were picked on and humiliated want to kill themselves (and sometimes succeed); at least not that we knew of.

Our teachers would hear about it and try to stop it, but there was always a group of the “cool kids” who delighted in putting others down so that they could be the center of attention, the “leaders of the pack,” to quote an old song. They wanted to be at the top of the heap, and it didn’t matter who they stepped on to get there, as long as they were the leaders. And it certainly wasn’t “cool”.

But that was back in high school for most of us of a certain generation. And for many of us, it was a long time ago. Fortunately we’ve grown up, become mature adults. And most of us know that kind of behavior, that kind of humiliating bullying, is just plain wrong.

Putting others down to make yourself look good is wrong. It’s offensive. It’s disrespectful. It’s degrading to yourself as well as to the person or persons you’re doing it to.

It’s a serious character flaw, and when taken to extremes, it can result in disastrous consequences.

So why do we not tolerate it in our children’s lives and become advocates for anti-bullying, and at the same time think it’s ok for celebrities, right wing talk show hosts, and some of our highest elected officials to do it?

Where did this double standard come from? Isn’t what’s right is right, and what’s wrong is WRONG?

And yes, I’m going there, and yes, I’ll probably lose some more friends with what I’m about to write, but I just can’t take it anymore.

I am so tired of hearing the president of the United States use insulting nicknames for his political opponents, world leaders, and others he doesn’t like. Why does he think it makes him look strong and important? Why does he think it’s ok? Doesn’t he ever stop to think that it makes him look foolish and weak? Why does he think it’s ok to say that this or that person is stupid, or not as smart as he is?

It’s derogatory. It’s rude. It’s disrespectful. It’s governing by intimidation. It’s embarrassing to our country. And it’s certainly nowhere near presidential.

And it’s spreading to other elected officials as well.

Why aren’t more people speaking out about it, and why aren’t those who support him saying it’s wrong, when at the same time they teach their children and grandchildren that such actions are not to be tolerated because it’s wrong? Why is he allowed to insult everyone he doesn’t like with no one who is close to him trying to stop it?

Why do his supporters just laugh it off and say, “Oh, he’s just telling it like it is! He doesn’t care about how it makes him look. It’s part of who he is!”

It sure is. A bully. Who’s been able to get away with being a bully most likely all of his life. It’s wrong. And many of those same people are furious when comedians and other celebrities make fun of him and call him derogatory insulting names. They’re doing the same thing he is, but it’s still ok for the president.

No, it’s not.

It’s not right for either side. I was disgusted with it during the election campaign, and it keeps getting worse and worse.

Because if all the political insults and name-calling, I’ve stopped watching all of the tv awards shows except the CMA’s whose hosts and sponsors haven’t stooped to that low, at least not yet. Because one side does it, doesn’t make it right for the other side to do it, too.

It’s just bullying. Plain and simple. It’s ego taken to a new level. No wonder bullying in our schools has reached a new level, with more and more kids who are perceived as weak being continually picked on to the point they just can’t take it any more.

Because adults have taken it to a new level as well; the very people who should set good examples for others are setting an example, and it’s not a good one.

What’s happening to us?

Let me say this. I am not a Democrat. And I am not a Republican. I am a conservative independent who’s embarrassed and disgusted over the political machinations and insulting behavior going on in our country.

The longer we tolerate this behavior, the more consequences we will have. It’s not ok. It’s not funny.

And it’s time to end. Once and for all.

The Little Man Who Cried Wolf

We all know the story of the “Little Boy Who Cried Wolf”. He was a young shepherd tending his sheep. The boy wanted attention so he yelled there was a wolf chasing the sheep. The villagers came running to help, but the boy just laughed at them, telling them there was no wolf.

After they left, he did it again, with the same results. Once again the villagers told him not to yell about a wolf when there was none.

Later, a real wolf came and he cried out for help. No one came. When he didn’t come home that night, the villagers went to find him and found him crying because the sheep had run away from him because of the wolf. “You didn’t come,” he said. “Why?!”

To which the villagers replied, “Why would we? You lied twice. We can’t believe you anymore. No one believes a liar, even when he is telling the truth.”

Kind of like the last four days here in Virginia.

First a picture appears from the governor’s college yearbook. A very racist photo showing two men, one in blackface and one in a full KKK robe. You cannot tell who the men are, but the picture is on the governor’s yearbook page, with other photos of him. Mind you this is his yearbook from his graduation year from medical school, not high school.

At first he actually did the right thing. He admitted he was in the picture, and said he was sorry “for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo.”

But then, the next day, most likely after he’d had the opportunity to realize he’d ruined his political career, he changed his mind…and his story.

Suddenly he said he’d looked at the picture again and decided it wasn’t him. “I’m telling you the truth. It wasn’t me in the photo on my page.”

Huh????

He said he took responsibility that it was on his page, but he doesn’t remember posing for a picture like that and he doesn’t know who the people are.

He didn’t see the yearbook page, and he didn’t buy a yearbook. But he gave them the pictures to use. What? You graduate from a prestigious medical college in your home state and you don’t buy your senior college yearbook or even look at it? You never even saw it?

And don’t forget how he also said he heard some of the pictures got mixed up. Right. That sounds good, too.

But when asked if he’d ever worn a KKK robe he said he didn’t remember ever doing that, but he did wear blackface for a Michael Jackson dance contest. (And when asked by a reporter if he could still moonwalk, he appeared to be looking around to see if he had enough room on the podium to demonstrate that he could. Until his wife said that wasn’t an appropriate question.

And his nicknames listed in the yearbook of Coonman and Goose?? Gee, he remembered Goose was because of his changing voice, but he has no idea about Coonman?? If you don’t know what that means, let’s just say “coon” is an old derogatory term for an African American person, a term unfortunately commonly used in the part of Virginia where he grew up, and during that same time period.

Supposedly he’s spoken to some of his former classmates who say they don’t believe it was him, but as I write this, no one has come and and stated that, nor has anyone else spoken up and admitted they were in the picture, either with him or not. So who or what are we to believe?

This is crying wolf, only in reverse. It’s insulting. It’s racist. It’s a sad attempt to save his political career. And by now almost no one believes any of his story. How can we, because he changes it, and conveniently thinks of excuses, and can’t seem to remember a lot of things.

I would hope a pediatric neurologist would have an excellent memory. Wouldn’t you? Or is it just a convenient excuse? If his memory is that poor I wouldn’t want him taking care of my children or grandchildren.

He has embarrassed himself, his family, and the people of Virginia. One photo circulating online shows him during the press conference with his wife angrily staring at him. The picture we saw in the newspaper Sunday morning of him and his wife on the podium at that same press conference spoke volumes. She looked so embarrassed standing beside him, her head down, and not even looking at him. Yes, it was just one photo, but I felt so sorry for her. Sorry for the embarrassment he has caused to a fine medical school from which some of our friends or their children have graduated. Sorry for his family, and for those of us who live in this state, whether we voted for him or not. And I did vote for him.

Although there have been calls from politicians from all over the state for him to step down, he’s still refusing to resign. Obviously his ego won’t let him. He’s trying to hold on to a political career that has spiraled down so far it’s probably at the bottom of the ocean.

Virginia deserves better than this and so does our nation.

Mr. Northam, for everyone’s sake, please resign and let all of us move on.

Back to Normal? Not Really…

This morning some 500,000 federal employees are finally heading back to work, as are hundreds of thousands of federal contractors. Those who had been working without being paid are still on the job but breathing a sigh of relief because they’ll now at least be paid for their efforts.

For three weeks. Three short weeks, most likely, before they may be put back in the same situation.

And if that happens, what next? Where does it end?

The president has already said that if he doesn’t get his way during this time, “it’s off to the races!” What an awful thing to say! Obviously, he fairly well knows he’s not going to get everything he wants, and he’s threatening the American people he’ll do this again. And reports from the White House have said they’re once again prepared to play the same horrible game with hundreds of thousands of federal employees being at risk again.

Why? The president wants what he wants, no matter what he has to do to get it. He wants to fulfill a campaign promise. Half of it, at least, because Mexico isn’t paying for his wall; the American people will, IF he gets his way.

And the federal employees are already in limbo over what the next month will bring, even before they get back to their offices this morning.

Employees shouldn’t have to put up with that from their boss. Working under threats does not cause increased productivity. It creates a hostile work environment. It creates stress. And causes mistakes to be made, some of which could have dire consequences.

These employees have enough facing them right now. Not only the stress of wondering how soon their back paychecks will come, and how many of their bills they’ll be able to pay with them, but trying to figure out what they’ll do if it happens again.

Save some of the money they get? I’m sure some will try, but it depends on how far in debt they already are because of the past five weeks.

How in the world will they be able to concentrate on doing their jobs to the best of their ability under those circumstances? Could you? I know I couldn’t.

Plus, after being away from their desks for five weeks, can you imagine the enormous backlog of work they’re facing? It’ll probably take all day just to prioritize what needs to be handled first.

Yes, they’re back to work for now, but it’s not going to be as simple as it was when they left their offices on that last day before the shutdown started.

Many are probably already looking for new jobs, and may continue doing it while they’re at work. And I really cannot blame them. Many may be close to retirement age and have already decided to leave now, while they can. And when they do, who’s going to be there to adequately train the new hires for their particular position? If any one even wants to work for the federal government right now, that is!

It’s not really a simple problem. It’s a complex situation for which there’s no easy solution.

Three weeks isn’t a long time to solve this. And there shouldn’t be a time limit on people’s livelihoods.

And if it does happen again, it’s going to be worse than before. Because it could make the longest government shutdown in the history of our nation, the one that just ended, look like a walk in the park!

And don’t try to tell me it’s all worth it, and it’s all for the greater good, and as one of the president’s family members said, “future generations will thank us!”

Nothing good will come out of this if it happens again. Too many people will be hurt in the end.

Please, BOTH SIDES, please sit down and negotiate in good faith. No walking out if things aren’t going well. No starting out by saying “I either get what I want or I’m not talking any more.” Negotiating is give and take. A good negotiator knows how and when to compromise. And a good negotiator doesn’t constantly belittle the other side, especially in the national news or social media.

Everyone needs to ALL work together before our federal employees, and our country, have to go through this mess again!