Fighting for Freedom

We celebrated Memorial Day last Monday, and the 30th will be the traditional observance, so this seems appropriate. PJ Media’s Claudia Rossett tells us:

Not since the eve of the 1989 Tiananmen slaughter have we seen China’s communist regime more clearly girding to demolish a vibrant democracy movement. Thirty-one years ago, China’s Communist Party shut down democracy protesters in Beijing by shooting them in the streets. This time the CCP’s target is the former British colony of Hong Kong, where protesters turned out in huge numbers last year to defend the rights and freedoms that China promised them for at least 50 years after the 1997 British handover. Now, while the world grapples with the China-spawned coronavirus pandemic, China is preparing a national security law that would override Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous system. Under this law, as previewed by China’s authorities, Beijing could criminalize any activity in Hong Kong it deems a threat, and send mainland security operatives into Hong Kong as enforcers. Hong Kongers have richly demonstrated that they are a freedom-loving people, unlikely to bow down en masse and obey. The stage is set for a nightmare showdown.

Precisely how that’s likely to play out is a sickening question. Over the past year, Beijing’s quisling administration in Hong Kong has made copious use of tear gas, water cannon, threats, bans, beatings, and arrests (more than 8,000 to date). All this has failed to quell Hong Kong’s democracy movement. Is it likely that China’s dictator, President Xi Jinping, brandishing his new security law, would go so far as to reprise in Hong Kong his Communist Party’s 1989 Tiananmen tactics, and default to wholesale gunfire? Don’t rule it out.

Last year, especially among those with vivid memories of Tiananmen on June 4, 1989 (myself among them) there was plenty of worry that a Hong Kong massacre was in the cards. But perhaps it was a serious deterrent to Xi that the world was watching, bigtime, and he was in no hurry to sponsor a bloodbath so horrifying that it might end Hong Kong’s role as China’s chief financial portal to world markets.

And American authorities have indeed said that if China suppresses the freedom of Hong Kongers, both China and Hong Kong will come under American sanctions, as will their political leaders. Not a happy prospect, but what has really changed since John Kennedy stood on the platform on the east front of the Capitol on January 20, 1961, and said this:

For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

Later on, in his address, he also said this:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

And so today, as on that cold and snowy day, that I and many of you remember clearly, he laid out what it means to be “the keeper of the flame of liberty”, and that is the mission of America in this century as it was in the last.

But today, many of us see much of America in the same position as the Hong Kongers, beset by totalitarian administrations. Well, we’ve been there before too. The first time against the foremost empire in the world, and with God’s help we won through.

And so, perhaps, we look weak to China and others, but what I see our citizens doing, even as the Hong Kongers are, is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength that will win through

This post will continue in a day or so, but Bruce Springsteen has a very clear idea of how freedom is won.

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Had a brother in Iraq, he didn’t come back
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die
Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the blood of someone’s son

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Daddy died in Vietnam, he was killed at Khe Sahn
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die
Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the blood of someone’s son

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Had a brother in Iraq, he didn’t come back
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die

Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm, hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm.

From an excellent article at: The Imaginative Conservative.

Remember that …

The question I posed about the Civil War? It gave our historians quite a bit to talk about and I learned so much from reading the comments.

I stumbled upon this just now and after watching, I thought of the historians here at Nebraska Energy and wondered what their take would be.

Without further ado, please enjoy this video. Oh … it starts out lame but go with it.

Defending the Dream

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gett...

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg, PA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, as do I, that America has never been a pile of rocks and dirt between the oceans. Whether your ancestors came over the Bering land bridge time out of memory ago, came on the Mayflower, came to escape starvation in Ireland to see the sign “No Irish need Apply”, came from old Mexico to work at a meat-packing plant, or got off a 777 last night; You are here because of a dream. Bevin Alexander said it as well as anybody.

Imagine, if you will, the sense of awe that seized the first settlers at Jamestown in Virginia, in 1607, at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and at the other landings along the coast of North America in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Here were little English communities hacking out perch sites on the very edge of an unknown land. … But when they finally reached the great chain of mountains called the Appalachians and gazed out from its heights, they were utterly confounded-before them an even more boundless, more astonishing land stretched out to seeming infinity toward the setting sun.

This was the moment when the American character was formed. Whatever limits of class and status the settlers had brought with them from Britain would fall away to insignificance in this prodigious land. When astute individuals looked toward the limitless frontier that they now knew would beckon continuously on the western horizon, they realized that no king, no aristocracy, could crush them. At any time they could cross this frontier and put all of Europe’s restraints behind them. This had immense and overwhelming effects throughout the colonies. Americans, whether they crossed the frontier or not, were destined to be forever free.

But to make dreams come true is hard work. And there are people around whose dreams would preclude yours. So dreams have to be defended. So it is with the American Dream. From that day to this, the dream has demanded that men, ordinary men, defend it. But the defending of dreams creates extraordinary men, and so it has been here.

On 19 April 1775, a shot was fired in Lexington, MA, no one knows by whom. That shot has echoed down the corridors of time for 245 years, and its reverberations continue. For that shot was a warning that God meant men to be free, and with God’s help, men, and women would be free. A few weeks before, a member of the House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry, in Virginia said this:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

And so was the lamp lit in that fabled city on the hill that John Winthrop had spoken of all the way back in 1630.

…for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whether wee are going:…

And so it came to pass that America would be free. It would not be perfect, ever, for America is a dream of man, not a work of God. But it would continually try to be, and it would improve. And it would come to pass that the lamp lighted in that city upon a hill would become a beacon to the world, so that today the world itself is far more free than on that blustery March day when Mr. Henry spoke.

But in the middle of the 19th century the dream nearly foundered on the rocks of two different interpretations of that freedom.

Those armies of America, The Army of Northern Virginia, The Army of the Potomac, The Army of the Tennessee, have become part of the soul of America, the dusty columns still march in our hearts. And the battles they fought: 1st & 2d Manassas, the Seven Days, Champions Hill, The artillery hell of Antietam, the burning wounded in the Wilderness, the misery of the Mule Shoe, and Cold Harbor. The taking of Missionary Ridge without orders because the enlisted men decided to do it, and finally that heart-wrenching scene at Wilmer McLean’s house (where he had moved to get away from the armies at Bull Run) where General Grant met General Lee and Lee surrendered that most romantic of American Armies, the Army of Northern Virginia, under terms inspired by Lincoln’s advice to Grant to “Let ’em up easy”. And so the Army not so much surrendered as passed directly into legend for all Americans. An Army that fought until it was living on goober peas, knowing it couldn’t win, but fighting for its beliefs.

Who amongst us can forget the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, on the second day of Gettysburg (from the inscription on the monument.

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles’ Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse.

As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves & save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy.

The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy’s front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time & till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position & probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line & no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed & wounded.

The very next day, for the very last time, was displayed the grim majesty and pomp of war in the old style, as the center of the Army of Northern Virginia attacked in close order under General Pickett, and was repulsed, the high tide bringing General Armistead to die with his hand on a Union gun.

There are many other actions that we could tell of equal bravery on either side. This was merely 150 years ago, and yet, many have not heard of the glory of these men who were willing to suffer more than 83% casualties in battle, and were in line the next day to receive the most famous of American charges.

These were the men that Decoration Day was instituted to honor. Now as Memorial Day it honors all of those who died in service to America, from Crispus Attucks on.

Also note that during the Seven Days battles in Virginia it was not possible to fire the volleys requisite to military funerals, a tradition going back to the Roman Legions shouting “Vale” three times in burying their comrades. A substitute had to be found, it was, Colonel Dan Butterfield wrote a new call for his buglers to sound. It has been sounded millions of times since to mark the end of the day and the burial of the soldier. This is it of course.

If you remember a few years ago, Madison Rising did a version of the national anthem that blew many of us away. A few days ago, for this strangest of all Memorial Days, they have released a new song, this is it.

 

God Bless America and remember those who died for us.

Reliving History

A few years ago a British American wrote something. In it he said this:

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature; a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

If you are a properly educated American, you will recognize these from the ‘Bill of Particulars’ against King George III written by Thomas Jefferson into our Declaration of Independence. I think at least half of our governors need a refresher course. Because they appear to think we didn’t mean it. From Issues and Insights

Weary of more than two months of lockdowns, lost jobs, vanished income, and emotional distress, Americans are practicing a bit of Irish Democracy, shopping, dining out, gathering, and trying to carry on as before the pandemic arrived without approval from authorities. It was bound to happen. […]

We hate to use a cliche, but politicians have been moving the goalposts. Flattening the curve isn’t good enough. They want to keep people home until there’s a vaccine; or science, which has sadly become a loose term that means whatever the user wants it to, has established an effective treatment; or maybe until there are zero coronavirus cases.

You may have noticed this, I surely have.

Meanwhile, Michiganders are chafing under the boot of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has issued arguably the harshest lockdown orders in the country, and has even extended to May 28 her initial closure order for some businesses. The capital in Lansing has been the site of demonstrations by some deeply restless, and in many cases angry, protesters.

We haven’t had any bloodshed yet,” one member of a Facebook group called Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine recently wrote.

Note that ‘yet’. It is no longer inconceivable as it has been since 1865 for there to be an armed rebellion in the United States, against several of the states.

By the way, Gov. Whitmer has ruled that while a gay sex club is essential, church is not. And she, like Governors Cuomo (NY), Murphy (NJ), Wolf (PA), and of course  Newsome (CA), and perhaps others, have taken the responsibility to kill thousands of elderly Americans by forcing them to live in close quarters with Coronavirus positive people, when they forced nursing homes to admit the contagious without testing or quarantine.

America has never been a safe space. We, all of us, take our chances, we always have, for we know that without risk there is no life. We are the people who believe (or once believed) that “the weak never started, the sick died along the way”. This country was built and maintained by people willing to risk ‘our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor’. all in the cause of Liberty. Many, perhaps most, of us still are

I fear that soon, we will hear, with Governor Patrick Henry:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

In the war that came after that speech, this was one of the Hymns used as our national anthem.

Time and Place.

Sen Daniel Inouye, former Captain AUS 442d Regimental Combat Team
Holder of the
Medal of Honor
The Bronze Star Medal
The Purple Heart
The Presidential Medal of Freedom
and, at his death
The President pro tempore of the United States Senate

Ordinarily, if we have enough, I have been mostly alternating between Audre and myself during the week. We tend to about equal views (and that pleases me). But I’m going to break pattern today since it was my turn yesterday to have an internet outage. And besides this continues on from yesterday’s about American heroes. Enjoy! Neo.

 

Still thinking about all the information contained in the documentary The War. The personal interviews, though, is what really stays with you. The faces, the voices, the eyes of the men interviewed feel like they become part of you somehow. Perhaps it’s because we see the faces of our fathers or uncles, or brothers who served. They share a look to their eyes; it’s more than an ‘I’ve seen a thing or two’ look, that look also has deep tones of sadness.

The second favorite interview is with Daniel Inouye; yes, that Daniel Inouye. Mentally and physically strong. Focused. Assured. Confident. Quite striking and remarkable. His contribution to the war effort is something that almost sounds made up, but he had witnesses to his heroism. This is just a snippet from Wikipedia about his time in WWll: (after he had blown up the other two bunkers) – As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Lt. Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, coming within 10 yards. As he raised himself on his left elbow and cocked his right arm to throw his last hand grenade, a German soldier saw Inouye and fired a 30mm Schiessbecher antipersonnel rifle grenade from inside the bunker, which struck Inouye directly on his right elbow. The high explosive grenade failed to detonate, saving Lt. Inouye from instant death but amputating most of his right arm at the elbow (except for a few tendons and a flap of skin) via blunt force trauma. Despite this gruesome injury, Lt. Inouye was again saved from likely death due to the blunt, low-velocity grenade tearing the nerves in his arm unevenly and incompletely, which involuntarily squeezed the grenade tightly via a reflex arc instead of going limp and dropping it at Inouye’s feet. However, this still left him crippled, in terrible pain, under fire with minimal cover and staring at a live grenade “clenched in a fist that suddenly didn’t belong to me anymore.”[13]

Inouye’s horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. As the German inside the bunker began hastily reloading his rifle with regular full metal jacket ammunition (replacing the wood-tipped rounds used to propel rifle grenades), Inouye quickly pried the live hand grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. The German soldier had just finished reloading and was aiming his rifle to finish him off when Lt. Inouye threw his grenade through the narrow firing slit, killing the German. Stumbling to his feet with the remnants of his right arm hanging grotesquely at his side and his Thompson in his off-hand, braced against his hip, Lt. Inouye continued forward, killing at least one more German before suffering his fifth and final wound of the day (in his left leg), which finally halted his one-man assault for good and sent him tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. He awoke to see the worried men of his platoon hovering over him. His only comment before being carried away was to gruffly order them back to their positions, saying “Nobody called off the war!”[14]

The remainder of Inouye’s mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him.[15]

What can I say? All the truly profound things have been said about war and heroism. If you’ll pardon me, I’ll just say that was one tough som’bitch. He was, after his return and college, the Democrat Senator for Hawaii. For years. He voted for some things I would have been against, and against some things I would have been for, but gosh, he earned his right to say his piece. A stellar member of the Great Generation.

Fast forward to today. Who is the loudest, nastiest, snidest Democrat Senator from the State of Hawaii? Maizy Hirono. I have very little to say about her – but only because she brings out the absolute worst in me. So I’ll just leave this video as a small sample of the difference in time and place between Daniel Inouye and Maizy Hirono. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w8ml5lQvOo.

Joe Medicine Crow

Joe Medicine Crow –
The last Crow War Chief, and
the winner of the
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Bronze Star Medal, and the
French Légion d’honneur

The other day, the internet was out for almost twelve hours. I have ‘bundled’ service for my phone, television, and computer so nothing of importance was working. I would prefer a sharp stick in the eye to being without my computer – my window on the world, my contact with friends far and wide, my shopping aid, my distraction from relentless, hammering news about ‘you-know-what’. What’s a woman to do? I toddled over to the ‘little room’ (a spare bedroom) and grabbed a DVD. Well, it was actually a boxed set that cost me a handsome sum at purchase. It’s proven itself to be worth the investment.

The War is a six DVD set of the Ken Burns documentary about World War ll which aired on PBS (Public Broadcasting System – educational tv). I still have two more DVDs to view to finish it but the images and the personal stories can get to you after a while and I need a little bit of a break from it. But I watched DVD number four all the way through because it has one of my favorite personal stories in it. The interview with Joe Medicine Crow.

The elderly gentleman is a delight to watch and listen to. He must have been in his seventies at the time of his interview but his eyes were bright and sharp and his memories of the War clear and focused. The aged body held within it the twenty-something young man who went to war for his country.

Mr. Crow tells the story of being camped just outside German lines in France. He and his team watch a group of German soldiers riding horseback to a farmhouse in the woods. The team is going to take the Germans in the farmhouse but Mr. Crow has an idea. Shades of old western movies, Mr. Crow sneaks around the farmhouse and manages to stampede the horses away from the farm and then joins his group to take the Germans.

As he finishes his interview, he says he went back to his camp in the woods and sang songs of praise. (Ok; I get weepy – sue me!). At the prompting of the production staff, he sings his song of praise in Crow and the pride and the history of his people glows warmly in his face and sparkling eyes.

You can read about Joe Medicine Crow here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Medicine_Crow

You can watch each episode (small rental fee) here https://www.amazon.com/Necessary-War-December-1941-1942/dp/B002W65HIA/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=the+war+-+ken+burns&qid=1589629701&sr=8-2

What stays with me is his final sentence, uttered in both humility and pride. He says, “I guess you’re looking at the last Plains War Chief”.

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