Let me not mourn for men who have died fighting,
but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived.
Monday, May 28, 2007
--Henry Ward Beecher from " The American Flag"
Memorial Day. It is important to remember (each day and not just on the "holiday") the sacrifice many have made in defense of this country, our freedom, and the protection and security of those throughout the world who have not been able to defend themselves sufficiently.
Freedom Is Not Free
By LCDR Kelly Strong, USCG - Copyright 1981
I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Service man saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.
I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still,
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin.
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
This poem reminds us to keep alive the brave men and women who have given the gift of their lives so we could be free. Keep them alive in our hearts as they softly walk in our thoughts.
THEY SOFTLY WALK
By Hugh Robert Orr
They are not gone who pass
Beyond the clasp of hand,
Out from the stone embrace.
They are but come so close
We need not grope with hands,
Nor look to see, nor try
To catch the sound of feet.
They have put off their shoes
Softly to walk by day
Within our thoughts, to tread
At night our dream-led paths
They are not lost who find
The sunset gate, the goal
Of all their faithful years.
Not lost are they who reach
The summit of their climb,
The peak above the clouds
And storms. They are not lost
Who find the light of sun
And stars and God.
They are not dead who live
In hearts they leave behind.
In those whom they have blessed
They live a life again,
And shall live through the years
Eternal life, and grow
Each day more beautiful
As time declares their good,
Forgets the rest, and proves
Two related sites worth reading through are by a high school student responding to global warming/climate change arguments. Her name is Kristen Byrnes and she has really done a thorough job in her research. Check them out:
Welcome to Ponder the Maunder, an extra credit assignment for Honors Earth Science, Portland High School, by Kristen Byrnes of Portland Maine.
This report is a comprehensive look at the global warming issue without financial or political bias. It uses the most updated information provided by scientists and researchers and interjects common sense, an important component missing from the global warming debate.
Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth does indeed have some correct facts, but as he even says himself, sometimes you have to over-exaggerate to send the message to people.
Go check them out.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
"OUR NATION HONORS
HER SONS AND DAUGHTERS
WHO ANSWERED THE CALL
TO DEFEND A COUNTRY
THEY NEVER KNEW
AND A PEOPLE
THEY NEVER MET."
KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL
Friday, May 25, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
I was a timid child, who keenly felt the double injury of red hair and a sissy name. The critical moment came aged 10, during the last year at primary school. A large boy called Herman, whose misfortune was also contained in a name, and who, therefore, became the school bully by way of compelling us to respect him, kicked me as I sat down for morning assembly, launching into a diatribe against red hair with every word of which I fully concurred. I gave him to understand that, had it been possible to vote for the abolition of red hair, I would have been first to raise my hand. To my dismay, however, Herman was not satisfied with this general apology for my condition, and indicated that I must meet him in the playground during break, so that my head could be bashed in and the problem of red hair solved for good and all.
"There's no helping it," said my friend Brian (the only one in the playground who was more timid than I). "He's after you. If not today then tomorrow. Best to get it over with." News of the impending fight spread rapidly through the school and at the appointed hour the spectators gathered into a ring. Brian pushed me forward and my antagonist strode out from the crowd with flaring nostrils, fists up and big lips parted in a sneer. I closed my eyes, shielded my face with my left hand, and stretched my right arm out to protect myself. Herman came forward at a run, with blood-curdling shrieks and flailing arms. I stood rooted to the spot, the sounds of Herman's war-dance filling my ears, my outstretched fist trembling in the air before me. After what seemed like an age, there was a staggering blow to my knuckles. I opened my eyes to discover Herman recoiling backwards, lips split open and blood pouring over his chin. With a howl of dismay he pirouetted through the crowd and fled to the headmaster's office to report my crime.
It seemed unjust at the time that I should be caned and Herman comforted. But it added to a reputation that had already spread through the school as quickly as the newest cigarette card, and I resolved at once to exploit my eminence as the conqueror of Herman. I went from gang to gang in the playground, escorted by Brian (now promoted to first lieutenant), and informing my respectful listeners that henceforth I was not Vernon but Roger, that all uses of my former name, which had been no more than a disguise adopted for secret service reasons, would be as severely punished as remarks about red hair. Obedience was immediate and universal, and henceforth I was Roger to everyone, including my family, who were told that the choice was simple: either they ceased to call me Vernon, or I went to live with the Gypsies. (12-13)
Two people stand out among the many who have illuminated for me the path to Rome — a path that I never took. One enjoyed wealth and social standing. The other lived at the bottom of society, impoverished, oppressed, but serene.
God is offended by nothing and bears everything, even crucifixion; he loves humanity boundlessly and helps in the manner of a disarmed man: he teaches, leads, praises, gives examples, chides and warns. How does he practise this method? He sends good people into the world, who are a model to those around them ...
The apostolic church is a church of the heart. When you steal from it you steal the heart. Hence the theft is easy; and amends are long and hard.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Protestantism was not, whatever else I might have wished to say about it, a picture of things that would have been at all recognizable to the apostles, nor to the generation that followed them. The faithful from Pentecost on were certainly aware of a great babel of voices among the Christians [...] . But the faithful were also aware that there was a body that could speak into the chaos and declare with serene and final authority what the Faith that had been taught by the apostles was. Clearly we modern non-Catholics were living in a scheme of things altogether unimaginable to the Twelve Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. (39)
But of course the great paradox is that she is more than in time: she is eternal, and the vicissitudes both of history and of one's own private life do not change her substance. A Catholic in first-century Smyrna, a Frankish peasant in sixth-century Merovingian France, a seventeenth-century countess in Seville, Madame de Maintenon, and I all live with our turbulent or tranquil surroundings finding their center in that which does not change. The Mass is there. The Apostolic See is there. The Magisterium is there. The clergy, high and low, good and wicked, are there. The prayers of the Church are there. War and peace are there. Doom threatens in the form of Attila, or the Black Death, or Modernism, or infidelity. But Our Lord's words about the gates of Hell stand unqualified by the threats. (97-8)
I may say that every yearning, aspiration, hope, and desire that marked my life as a most earnest Protestant Evangelical, and then as an Anglican, has been fulfilled a thousand times over. I have come home. I have dropped anchor. I have taken my place in the Church of the apostles, Fathers, confessors, martyrs, bishops, saints, and all the Catholic faithful. I have nothing to "protest." (103-4)
As I get ready to teach a little more on Newman's own "Lead, Kindly Light," a poem some of my students are memorizing (and yes, they know the proper title is "Pillar of the Cloud"), I am the better for having read Howard's short book, seeing the trust and hope of a contemporary Christian, the trust and hope we should all have in being led by the Light of Truth:
Now onto Roger Scruton's Gentle Regrets.
Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.
So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.
A few examples may suffice. During the troubles in Lebanon in the 1970s and '80s, there were many attacks on American installations and individuals--notably the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, followed by a prompt withdrawal, and a whole series of kidnappings of Americans, both official and private, as well as of Europeans. There was only one attack on Soviet citizens, when one diplomat was killed and several others kidnapped. The Soviet response through their local agents was swift, and directed against the family of the leader of the kidnappers. The kidnapped Russians were promptly released, and after that there were no attacks on Soviet citizens or installations throughout the period of the Lebanese troubles.
The more immediate, more dangerous enemy was the Soviet Union, already ruling a number of Muslim countries, and daily increasing its influence and presence in others. It was therefore natural to seek and accept American help. As Osama bin Laden explained, in this final phase of the millennial struggle, the world of the unbelievers was divided between two superpowers. The first task was to deal with the more deadly and more dangerous of the two, the Soviet Union. After that, dealing with the pampered and degenerate Americans would be easy.
From the writings and the speeches of Osama bin Laden and his colleagues, it is clear that they expected this second task, dealing with America, would be comparatively simple and easy. This perception was certainly encouraged and so it seemed, confirmed by the American response to a whole series of attacks--on the World Trade Center in New York and on U.S. troops in Mogadishu in 1993, on the U.S. military office in Riyadh in 1995, on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000--all of which evoked only angry words, sometimes accompanied by the dispatch of expensive missiles to remote and uninhabited places.
Stage One of the jihad was to drive the infidels from the lands of Islam; Stage Two--to bring the war into the enemy camp, and the attacks of 9/11 were clearly intended to be the opening salvo of this stage. The response to 9/11, so completely out of accord with previous American practice, came as a shock, and it is noteworthy that there has been no successful attack on American soil since then. The U.S. actions in Afghanistan and in Iraq indicated that there had been a major change in the U.S., and that some revision of their assessment, and of the policies based on that assessment, was necessary.
More recent developments, and notably the public discourse inside the U.S., are persuading increasing numbers of Islamist radicals that their first assessment was correct after all, and that they need only to press a little harder to achieve final victory. It is not yet clear whether they are right or wrong in this view. If they are right, the consequences--both for Islam and for America--will be deep, wide and lasting.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
I don't usually do "memes," but I like this one:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open it to page 161.
3. Find the fifth full sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.