Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas thanks.

Christ is the center of a reason for Christmas. Sometimes though I think it is a good thing to say thanks to those who help insure that we can continue to celebrate His birth in freedom. Too many of those folks are away from home and hearth this night and I wanted to say thanks. I know this poem is copied but I am not sure who wrote it. It says things better than I can though.

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear..
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.."
" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Book review - Uncommon Sense.

Cal Thomas' 278 page book Uncommon Sense was published in 1990. It is subtitled as "A Layman's Briefing Book on the Issues." The book is divided into three major sections. Within each section are several issues sections that consists of a briefing on each issue and a collection of Cal's commentaries on each. An introduction and prologue start and finish the book.

While some of the issues are dated, the principles and concepts that Mr. Thomas discusses are not. Cal lays out a brief history of each issue and presents a road map of where he thinks we should head from that point. It is very interesting to see just how correct he has been in the last 19 years as far as the dangers of mishandling the issues facing America. It is also a spur to correct, if possible, some of the mistakes that we as a nation have made. As far as the issues that are still open, the book is a nice call to action in those areas.

In spite of the time lapse between the publication of the book and now Uncommon Sense is still very relevant. I give two thumbs up to this concise and engaging volume.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

After action report - Elmore City, Oklahoma.

Went down to Elmore City, Oklahoma this past weekend for what was billed as a tactical event for reenactors only. The information that I had received stated that the U.S. and C.S. camps would be separated and that the area for maneuvering would consist of about 160 acres. The action was supposed to kick off at 0600 on Saturday and continue with only one truce until Sunday afternoon. Sounded like a great finish to the season so I decided to go. Only two other guys from my battalion were able to make it but we figured we could fall in with another unit.

When I arrived Friday evening the other two guys were already in camp and set up. I quickly unloaded and got my gear set up and squared away. Then I noticed the blue. Blue uniforms that is, around the campfire. I inquired as to the reason. Only one camp I was told. So much for pickets or any attempted surprise raids. Confident that things would look better by daylight I decided to retire to my tent for the evening.

Before turning in I asked who was in command. Nobody seemed to be sure, there was no clear chain of command or organization. On that doubtful note I turned in.

I woke on Saturday morning to the sound of women conversing by the campfire. I was under the impression that this was a military only event. I rolled over and grabbed my watch. 0730! Reveille hadn't sounded, never would in fact. I jumped up, got dressed, and out of the tent. Two women in sweatshirts and blue jeans were sitting by the fire talking. A Federal sergeant was in a chair by the fire warming his brogans up. He was wearing house slippers and a hooded sweatshirt while he waited. Across from him sat a Folgers' coffee can with the plastic lid on. A plastic jug of water was thawing by the fire and the hiss of propane heaters emanated from several tents in the street. Nobody seemed to be moving in any particular direction. Beginning to doubt the wisdom of my trip I made breakfast and waited to see what would develop.

The event coordinator showed up in his uniform, and tennis shoes. He remarked that the camp did not look very authentic but that since there was no public we would not worry about it. Hmm. Not a good sign.

Finally formed up at 0930 for safety inspection. Moved out for the tactical at about 1000. Had a nice little fight that ended around 1200 when the truce was called. Headed into town for lunch. This was expected from the original information. Talked over things with my battalion mates. We decided that theme camping was not for us. One of the other guys told the event coordinator that we would be heading out. He replied that he hated to see us go since we would miss the adult beverages that would be passed around that evening. That sealed the deal. Alcohol and tactical events cannot co-exist. After lunch we loaded up and headed home.

While the event was disappointing there were a few bright spots. The terrain was awesome and lived up to every expectation. The concept was spot on, if it had been adhered to the event would have been an overwhelming success. Perhaps in future years the tactical will become a reality, authenticity will be enforced a bit more, and the camps will be separated. If that occurs I would look forward to returning.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

They said it.

"At the Constitutional level where we work, 90 percent of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections."
- Justice William O. Douglas, USCT

"I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court's judgement. . . . As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has the authority to do what it does today; but in my view its judgement is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review."
- Justice Byron White, USCT
Dissenting opinion on Roe v. Wade.

"If this is all that judges do then their authority over us is totally intolerable and totally irreconcilable with the theory and practice of democracy."
- Professor Alexander Bickel

Came across these quotes the other day and have been thinking them over. I guess they explain much of what has occurred in the history of The Supreme Court and other courts. They seem to sum up perfectly the source and problems with the courts that we now have in this country.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Catching up.

Woohoo! Been a busy last week or so.

Had the Thanksgiving Day in there, hope everyone had a good and grateful one. Had Mrs. Spiff's family up for that, they were cold even though we weren't. It was in the 50's but they're from Texas and were having a hard time with the temperature change.

Started hauling out the Christmas decorations for Mrs. Spiff. I don't really mind this but don't care for the actual decorating. I do enjoy the end result though. Advent started last Sunday at church so it's easy to get into the reflection mode of the season.

December looks to be a busy month but I'll try to keep up on the posting.