Posts for June, 2014
I have published this before, but it remains, in my opinion, the greatest speech President Reagan ever gave, as well as today, a most poignent tribute to this, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944. It was a different time and a different national ethic, one that we will probably never see again. But, despite the horrendous cost of that war--some half-million casualties--it was in many ways our finest hour as a nation.
I pray that the sacrifices made on this day in 1944, in World War II, and in other conflicts to preserve the American way of life and our freedom, which indeed was, and is, the motivation of those who fought and gave all, will not have been in vain.
May they rest in peace. God bless America
American Cemetery Memorial, Normandy, France
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied peoples joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon.
At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs. Their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion: to climb these sheer and desolate cliffs and take out the enemy guns. The Allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the Allied advance.The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting only 90 could still bear arms. Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there. These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.
Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are the men who in your lives "fought for life and left the vivid air signed with your honor."I think I know what you may be thinking right now, thinking "we were just part of a bigger effort; everyone was brave that day." Well, everyone was. Do you remember the story of Bill Millin of the 51st Highlanders? Forty years ago today, British troops were pinned down near a bridge, waiting desperately for help. Suddenly, they heard the sound of bagpipes, and some thought they were dreaming. Well, they weren't. They looked up and saw Bill Millin with his bagpipes, leading the reinforcements and ignoring the smack of the bullets into the ground around him. Lord Lovat was with him, Lord Lovat of Scotland, who calmly announced when he got to the bridge, "Sorry I'm a few minutes late," as if he'd been delayed by a traffic jam, when in truth he'd just come from the bloody fighting on Sword Beach, which he and his men had just taken.
There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.All of these men were part of a roll call of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: The Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet" and you, the American Rangers.Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love.
The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge, and pray God we have not lost it, that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.
You all know that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.The Americans who fought here that morning knew word of the invasion was spreading through the darkness back home. They fought, and felt in their hearts, though they couldn't know in fact, that in Georgia they were filling the churches at 4 a.m.; in Kansas they were kneeling on their porches and praying and in Philadelphia they were ringing the Liberty Bell.
Something else helped the men of D-Day: their rock-hard belief that Providence would have a great hand in the events that would unfold here; that God was an ally in this great cause. And so, the night before the invasion, when Colonel Wolverton asked his parachute troops to kneel with him in prayer he told them: "Do not bow your heads, but look up so you can see God and ask His blessing in what we're about to do." Also that night, General Matthew Ridgeway on his cot, listening in the darkness for the promise God made to Joshua: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
… We in America have learned bitter lessons from two World Wars: It is better to be here ready to protect the peace than to take blind shelter across the sea, rushing to respond only after freedom is lost. We've learned that isolationism never was and never will be an acceptable response to tyrannical governments with an expansionist intent.
… Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which Matthew Ridgeway listened: "I will not fail thee nor forsake thee."
Strengthened by their courage, heartened by their value, and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died.
Thank you very much, and God bless you all.
The headline references the last line of the second verse of America the Beautiful, a patriotic song that I believe would have made a much better national anthem than The Star Spangled Banner. But that's not the subject of this post. The subject is the pervasive attitude of lawlessness emanating from Washington. I have never in my many years seen the like. Yes, Dick Nixon and Bill Clinton lied, for which they were either impeached (Clinton) or threatened with impeachment. No such fate awaits our present occupant of the White House who is insulated by the inevitable accusations of racism directed towards any opposition.
There is an old saying about not seeing the forest for the trees. The blizzard of scandals and outright prevarication endemic today I believe obscures a much greater threat to our Republic. We are focused on the IRS, NSA, VA, Benghazi, Syria, Iraq, Obamacare's illegal "adjustments", border incursion of thousands of "children" (many are teenagers), and other outrages, while the larger issue is obfuscated. That is the cancerous spread of arrogant lawlessness and disregard of the Constitution that this administraton practices every day.
Our nation's leader has discovered the secret. The Attorney General, constitutionally charged with enforcement of the nation's laws, is in his pocket and will not enforce any law the president doesn't like. These actions are justified as being "for our own good" or to "correct inequality." Thus we have the basis for despotism. The Marquis de Custine in 1839 observed, "Despotism is never a greater menace than when it claims to do good. It excuses its most heinous acts by its intentions, and evil posing as a remedy has no limits." Make no mistake; what is happening is evil with respect to the preservation of our Republic.
However, the real enabler of this outrageous behavior is us. As Pogo Possum observed many years ago, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." Where is the public outrage? Where is the media outrage" (O.K., I guess that's expecting too much.) If we allow this cancer to consume our nation in the name of benefits and governmental paternalism, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Perhaps the worst consequence is the spread of this paradigm throughout society. "If the government can get away with lying, cheating and ignoring the law, well, why can't we?" Should we be surprised at widespread cheating in schools and colleges, corporate irresponsibility and greed, local political and governmental corruption, and lawlessness among inner city youth? Monkey see and monkey do.
Edward Gibbon, author of the monumental work The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, said it well regarding the fall of the city-state of Athens, a lesson for us all:
"In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all -- security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again."
If we as a nation do not rise and clean up this putrid mess in Washington and elsewhere, then we are indeed doomed to second-rate status and mean pettiness. Moral principles matter. The Ten Commandments are more than the "Ten Suggestions." Whether or not you subscribe to Biblical precepts of conduct, the Christian ethic guided this nation for a very long time. Yes, there were injustices and corruption, but they were anomalous, not basic. Slavery was wrong but we eliminated it at great cost. There was corporate greed but it was considered wrong, not "business as usual." There was a foundation of morality that is missing today. There were no mass murders or school shootings. There was respect for authority and it worked, not perfectly but a lot better than now. And we were strong.
We must begin to see the forest before we as a nation become totally lost in the woods of corruption and lawlessness. Wake up, folks; time is not on our side.
The dogs are in full cry. They think they have Gov. Scott Walker treed, and well they might. The formerly "secret" John Doe documents recently released seem, at least from reading the media reports, to consist mostly of allegations and accusations by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's staff. In case you just came out of your cave, he, John Chisolm, is a Democrat. If you carefully read the report in Friday's daily newspaper, it consists almost totally of quotes and statements by said prosecutors, who not only have been defeated in the courts but are actually being sued.
Lost in the fog is the fact that state and federal judges have shut down the second John Doe, now well into its third year, stating clearly that there is no evidence of a crime having been committed by Walker or his campaign staff. I won't go into all the legal ramifications, which are complex, but essentially money spent in political advocacy is virtually unlimited so long as said advocacy does not specifically endorse a candidate. The advocacy can parallel the campaign platform of a candidate so long as he or she is not mentiond by name. Consultation between the candidate and advocating entities is also not illegal so long as there is no quid pro quo.
The real issue here is the blind anger of the left at Scott Walker, who took a state spent into fiscal danger by a Democratic governor and turned it around into one with a budget surplus, and he (horrors!) actually cut taxes in the bargain. Coupled with his unprecedented defeat of a recall which cost unions and other lefties mucho bucks, the dogs are indeed ravenous.
The news media is complicit in this hatchet job because, while obviously left-leaning, they most specifically do not like a totally Republican, conservative to boot, state government. They would like to see a Democrat governor to put things into "balance". Translation: gridlock is better than conservatism. I am reminded of a quotation from Samuel Johnson, who said, referring to journalists:
Truth, Sir, is a cow which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull."
Thus we have a campaign of innuendo, allegation and accusation with, as the courts have stated, no basis in fact. Scott Walker has committed no crime, but that won't stop the dogs. This story will have "legs", with a story-a-day for a long time. Many unthinking voters, and there are many, will assume that where there is smoke, there is fire. "He must be guilty of something because I have heard it so often." This is a basic principle of propaganda.
Sadly, this might just work in November. If it does, then we are indeed in deep trouble, because the left will have found a strategy to take down anyone they don't like with nothing more than fog and smoke. And they sure don't like Scott Walker.
Are we going to let them get away with it? I hope not, but I am not optimistic.
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