Monday, July 28, 2008

Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier............

A friend sent me this. It may be just a little cheesy, but I like it.

I try to not get so caught up in my day to day life to forget that we still have folks in Iraq and Afghanistan going in harm's way. We sent them and by the eternal, we should remember and support them.

The Average Military Man

The average age of the military man is 19 years.

He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears, not old enough to buy a beer, but old enough to die for his country.

He never really cared much for work and he would rather wax his own car than wash his father's; but he has never collected unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an average student, pursued some form of sport activities, drives a ten year old jalopy, and has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him when he left, or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.

He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or swing and 155mm Howitzers. He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him, but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it in less time in the dark.

He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a professional.

He can march until he is told to stop or stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he is not without spirit or individual dignity.

He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.

He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle.

He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes, and fix his own hurts. If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food.

He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and weapons like they were his hands. He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian, draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all. He has seen more suffering and death then he should have in his short lifetime.

He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies, and helped to create them.

He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while at rigid attention, while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away' those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove their hat, or even stop talking. In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends their right to be disrespectful.

Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying the price for our freedom. Beardless or not, he is not "just" a boy.

He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.

Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Heros Have Always Been Cowboys (And Law Dawgs)...............

I am STILL fired up about the GUNS WEST display that I saw at the NRA Museum a few weeks back. As I said in a earlier blog, I was raised on westerns both on TV and at the movies. I have a fairly large collection of my favorites on DVD and watch them when I have the time. I have been trying to figure out why I get so much pleasure from watching them. I guess because they are to a degree, simplistic. Good guy vs. Bad guy, Right vs. Wrong. There is very little gray in the typical "cowboy movie" Plus it is one of the few things that is truly American, unlike anything else in the world. (The same can be said about blues and jazz music) Western and America go together so much that when the rest of the world thinks Cowboy it also thinks America. Not a bad thing, in my opinion.

As normal, whenever I get interested in something I started delving into other resources and information sources. I have started digging into the history of the U.S. Marshal's service working in the Indian territory from the mid to late 1800's. Now there were MEN in that service. You no doubt have seen movies that describe some of what went on, True Grit, Rooster Cogburn, Hang 'em High. But the real story is even more amazing than the movies could ever be. The marshals who rode for Judge Issac Parker out of Ft. Smith, were sometimes the only law within hundreds of miles. They rode alone most of the time, depending on their skills with a gun, their abilities to deal with the various types of people whom they came in contact with and just plain luck to survive. They worked without salary, but only on fees and the mileage they made. For each arrest, they were paid $2.00. If they were forced to kill the man they were after, unless they could find kinfolk to bury the bad guy, deputies were required to pay for the burial out of their own pocket and maybe be paid $1.00 by the court on their return to Ft. Smith depending on the situation. Mileage would vary, 6 cent a mile on the way to make an arrest, 10 cent a mile on the return with the prisoner. They also would be paid 6 cent a mile to go out to serve papers or find witnesses. If they were able to do this they were paid 50 cent per paper served. They were not paid mileage for the trip back. If they were unable to locate the subject or serve papers or make an arrest, they were not paid anything. They were offered expenses of $2.00 a day, but they had to provide receipts for goods received (which were almost impossible to get in the Indian Territory) So these men were doing a dirty, dangerous and deadly job for very little if any pay.

Oh yeah, one more thing, The deputies had to give 25% of the fees and mileage they earned to the U.S. Marshal.

With all of that, It makes me appreciate even more the job that men like Heck Thomas, Chris Madsen, Bill Tilghman and others did to bring law and order to the Indian Nation which later became the state of Oklahoma.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Vacation, All I ever wanted, Vacation, Had to get away.............

At long last, I am back home and back on my laptop which makes everything go just a little easier. (and much faster)

I had a great time on my "vacation". Williamsburg as normal was a blast, but hot as the hinges of hell. It was said that the temp on Saturday hit 104. Luckily most of the hospital staff was inside the governor's palace, but the women of the hospital were stuck outside. My admiration for the ladies grew in leaps and bounds as the weekend continued. I don't think that I could have put up with the heat under canvas like they did and kept the distaff end of the hospital running as smooth as they did. The whole weekend the ladies supported the hospital with charm, grace and good humor. I can not tell you how proud I was of them. By all reports the Williamsburg staff were delighted with the job we did.

The week before the Williamsburg event I spent a few days with my good friend and mentor, "Uncle" Chuck Walker. We didn't get many things done, but made plans to work on a bunch of other things later on in the year. I love working with Chuck, and I think he likes having me around to bounce ideas off of. Chuck is one of those types of fellows that can make anything out of almost nothing. He is truly a craftsman and artist.

After Williamsburg, I spent the following week with my buddies, the Randalls. Again, a chance for me to decompress and spoil their little girl, Miss Susan. It was a nice relaxing week, I didn't get much accomplished project wise but did get to see something that I have always wanted to see, the NRA museum. Rick Randall, myself and young Bryan Greeley took a drive up to Farfax and wandered about for a few hours. If you have ANY interest in firearms, you need to make a trip to this museum. I know that after this trip, the NRA had to invest a great deal of money in Windex to remove all my nose prints off of the glass cases.

A really cool exhibit that we saw at the museum was called Guns West! a retrospective of the old west. It had original weapons and gear from the period as well as modern weapons used by modern cowboy action shooters in competition. In my mind, the very best stuff was firearms and clothing used in movies. I was raised on John Wayne and cowboy movies and it was very, very cool to be able to see firearms carried by John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Tom Selleck and others in movie that I watched when I was growing up.

I even managed to do a little knot work at a small one day event at Londontown Public House and Garden near Annapolis MD on the following week-end after Williamsburg.

So all in all it was a great two weeks. But now back to the old grind. GRIN

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day !!!!!!

Today is the 232rd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and as normal, I sat down and read the entire text of the document. I know that sounds strange, based on my Loyalist/British leanings but it has to be one of the best written documents in the history of mankind. It was a bold statement in it's time and signing it was as good as signing your death warrant if the rebellion didn't go in the right direction. the penalty for treason, (and make no mistake about it, this was treason)was for the guilty, to be "hanged by the neck, but not until dead but rather, to be taken down while still alive, have your bowels drawn out and burned before your face, then to have your body quartered and your parts to be disposed of as the King decided". Even with that, 56 men stepped up and signed that sheet of parchment and created something that had never been before. These 56 men took this bold step and pledged to support each other "with their lives, fortunes and their sacred honor"

I sometimes wonder if we could find 56 such men in the American of 2008. I hope so.

I also thought bit about the role in history that our rebellion served. American is a never ending experiment in self government. It is a fact of history that each time there has been a revolution against an existing government, that the new government that takes it's place is very much like the government that it overthrew. Look at the Bolshevik revolution. It replaced the tyranny of the Czar with the greater tyranny of the communist. In India, they replaced the Raj with a civil service and political establishment very much like that they had fought so hard against. We in America, had the good luck to rebel against a country for all it's faults, led the world in having the first true representative style of government and made it possible for each individual to experience more liberty and freedom than had ever been allowed or experienced in the entire world before that time. The term, "Free Born Englishman" was more than just three simple words, it was a birthright and honor.

We in America are blessed to have come from that fine quality of root stock and tradition.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It's a long way to Tipparary............

Once again, I want to commemorate a date in history.

July 1st 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme. Before the sun set, the British army had suffered 58000 casualties. (fully 1/3 of them fatal) 5 months later, when the British Army called off the assault it had lost 419,654 men.

As the German Army high command noted, "The British Army is a Army of Lions being led by Donkeys"

In memory of the 36th "Ulster" Division