November 26, 2015 13 Comments
If you all were to follow this link, you will find a new post by our editor, my dearest friend, and a friend of most all of you. Jessica has just posted on AATW.
The view from the Prairie, with an emphasis on Energy
November 23, 2015 9 Comments
It was fifty-two years ago yesterday that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. For those of us alive and old enough to understand, it was very much like 9/11. I doubt any of us have forgotten what it felt like. But I’m not just talking about Americans, for one reason or another, he was loved by so many people around the world.
I look back and like all presidents, some of his policies I think were correct, perhaps outstanding, while others wrong, perhaps abysmal. But that only says that he was a man, and like all politicians, he had to get elected. But even as a child, and I was in a small elementary school in northwest Indiana that black Friday, we all, I think, saw in him much of the best of America, young, vibrant, personable, witty, and yes, good-looking. Very much what we all hoped to be. And that I think is the key to much. He was what the world wanted to be as well.
By that time he had been tried by fire, about 13 months before, he had faced down the Soviets in the Cuban missile crises, we didn’t know it then, of course, but time would prove that this was the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union. perhaps Brezhnev knew, it’s still hard to picture a Soviet Premier going to the American Embassy in Moscow to sign the Memorial book. But he did. Westminster Abbey used the same toll of the bells that it uses for a King of England, and it was much the same around the world.
We wanted to commemorate him, so the United states Information System made a film, to be shown only outside the US, a later Act of Congress allowed its showing here as well. It is called Years of Thunder, Days of Drums, and this is it after it has been restored by HBO.
You know, if he was running next year, I just might vote for the man that said this:
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. [..]
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. […]
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.
Days of Drums, indeed, in the quiet of the night those muffled drums still echo in my heart, and I wonder if we would have been different, or not, if he survived.
September 18, 2015 7 Comments
A little something to ponder on the day after Constitution Day:
September 17th is Constitution Day.
M.E. Bradford in “A Worthy Company” summarizes their religious views. He writes, “With no more than five exceptions (and perhaps no more than three) they [the 55 delegates] were orthodox members of established Christian communions: Approximately 29 were Anglicans, 16 to 18 Calvinists [Presbyterians and Dutch Reformed], two Methodists, two Lutherans, two Roman Catholics, one lapsed Quaker and sometimes Anglican, and one open Deist—Dr. Ben Franklin.”
But how can it be shown that the Constitution was shaped by biblical presuppositions? The single most important foundational doctrine in forming a civil government is what is called the “doctrine of man,” or the “doctrine of human nature.” Most of the Founders held to a biblical view that man is depraved, sinful and frail but, through Christ, capable of regeneration. That conventional Christian view of man was predominate among the Founders. Both James Madison and Alexander Hamilton used the term “depravity” to refer to man’s capability to do evil with political power (The Federalist, #37 and #78). Even Jefferson, the least orthodox of the Founders (who incidentally was not a delegate to the Constitutional Convention), said in the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798: “In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” How was the Constitution shaped by that view of man?
Madison, in Federalist #51, which may be the most important commentary in American political history wrote, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
Their genius is above all in writing a document that when fairly applied, provides the civil framework that keeps the government in its place. That is the fundamental corruption we are seeing now. One of application, not of prescription.
September 11, 2015 8 Comments
There were plenty of heroes on 9/11. Fire and police and port authority all going in. Passengers counterattacking on Flight 93 and various civilians and military in New York and the Pentagon. Even what the military calls NCA, the National Command Authority.
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
But the one that is my especial hero of the day; is my hero because of how he lived his life.
A British NCO from Cornwall who served in the Parachute Regiment, immigrated to the US, served as Platoon Leader, B Co 2/7 Cavalry in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the battle of Ia Drang, where he gave the British commands of ‘Fix Bayonets, On Line, Ready forward’. His picture is on the cover of ‘We Were Soldiers’. It is a praiseworthy story prompting us to Remember ,
but it doesn’t end there.
On 9/11 he was vice-president in charge of security at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. We all know what happened that day, but do we remember that only six Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated. One them was this man, now a retired Colonel, who stayed to make sure he got his people out. In all those situations, he was singing an old song commemorating the resistance of the Cornish against the British, and Roark’s Drift in the Boer War, and other engagements. That song is:
Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can’t you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors’ pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!
That man was Colonel Rick Rescorla and he is a legend in the 7th Cavalry. He is not a man any of us should ever forget. A real life Sagaman, who lived quietly amongst us. From Shakespeare:
“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world ‘This was a man!'”
The tragedy of 911 was this; multiplied by three thousand.
After having reached safety, Rescorla returned to the building to rescue others still inside. He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains have not been recovered. He left a wife and two children.
He is my hero not least because he fulfilled to the last breath the leadership credo that the Air Force taught me, and so many others:
First: The Mission
Always: the People
And thus, on this September 10th the story of how the people of a great American financial institution were rescued by the 7th U.S. Cavalry (Custer’s Own).
That was fourteen years ago today. Often it seems a lifetime, as leadership wanes, and enemies multiply. But perhaps, if we have faith, in God, and in ourselves, all may yet be well. As always, Kipling said it well.
September 9, 2015 12 Comments
That’s a pretty long time, a bit over 63 years in fact. And that is how long Elizabeth has been Queen, at 11:30 CDT, it will be longer than any British monarch, ever. I’d say she’s been one of the best.
I think she’s likely had a good bit to do with keeping Great Britain together through some pretty stressful times. Of course, her ancestors know a certain amount about that, she is, after all, a direct descendant of King Alfred the Great of Wessex, and so of the oldest ruling line in Europe, ruling (well, presiding over) the oldest nation state in the world.
It’s hard to believe that she was an ambulance driver in the Second World War, seems like several lifetimes ago, even to those of us, who know many of those who survived, including some rather famous people. Most of whom justifiably got that way, during the war.
She will take that longevity record from her great-great-grandmother, Victoria. It was her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, wife of King George VI, who started the tradition, of Brtish royal brides bouquets be placed on the tomb of The Unknown Warrior, a lovely gesture, a remembrance of her brother Fergus, an officer of the Black Watch, killed at Loos, in 1915. It sometimes seems so long ago, but it really wasn’t. And we can easily say that it is likely that without The Queen Mother, and the Queen, and their very strong sense of duty, it is unlikely that the monarchy itself would have survived, and we would all be the poorer for it.
And so, the queen will mark the day by reopening a railroad closed by the infamous Beeching report’s consequences, it will reopen with a steam drawn train, as is appropriate for the largest railway opening in Britain since Victoria was queen, and one that closing hurt Scotland badly.
But perhaps the highest tribute to the Queen is the fact that she oversaw the transformation of the Empire – her Mother was the last Empress of India – into the Commonwealth. Which is, in fact, a tribute to what the Britsh and the Empire accomplished, not least because it is voluntary. As an American, I think it safe to say, it also contains the best friends, this group of former colonials could ever hope to have.