Veterans Day Heartbreak and Plea to Younger Veterans

(Author’s note:  It is likely that there will be some or many who will disagree.  I ask only for us all to respect one another as we get into discussions.)

For anyone who has read my posts for the last several years, or who have known me for a few years or a lifetime, you know what I stand for, especially when it comes to service to others, patriotism, and my reasons for why I joined the military.  But today, I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness because of what has transpired in these last few days since the Presidential election this year.

I know that half of you who voted are happy about the outcome.  The other half are not. It was certainly a shock to everyone that Donald Trump–never a politician–would win over Hillary Clinton, whose life-long dream was to take the political path to the White House.

In all elections, there is a winner and loser, where the candidates are concerned.  There are always going to be those who are happy about the outcome and those who are unhappy or, better said perhaps,  ecstatic and devastated.

I, too, am disheartened by what I’ve seen in these last few days. But, before you start making assumptions about how I cast my ballot, I suggest you continue reading.

First of all, I will start by saying that I voted my conscience, which is what I have always done, and encourage others to do. I, in good conscience, could not vote for either of the two major party candidates. (The reasons behind my decisions are not important to share in this post. If you would like to get into a respectful discussion about them, I would be glad to do it over a cup of coffee.)

So, the reason that I am so disheartened is not so much about the outcome of the election itself, but how people are responding and reacting.

What I am observing in many situations is this:  People who are very vocal about wanting the freedom to say what they want and do what they want and be who they want to be seem to be some of the major offenders of doing it at the expense of the freedoms of others.  They are rioting, burning, smashing, assaulting, and killing others just because they are angry, enraged, and (perhaps a bit) spoiled, with no regard for the sanctity of the process. Instead, they opt for the hateful destruction of anything or anyone who is in the path of the rage. Sometimes, this is effecting some of the very people who agree with them.

One of the most difficult things I have seen is: Known  veterans are out there in the streets protesting, and allowing the extreme ugliness.

They are not the remaining World War II veterans or the Korean War vets. I am not seeing too many Vietnam veterans.  Of these groups, we are certainly raising our voices in  disagreement with what has gone on in politics these last couple of years. We are not the ones seeking out media cameras to get our 15-minutes of fame by smashing storefronts or setting fire to monuments or destroying cars because they (the cars) are there to be destroyed.

I am saddened that some people, who have no understanding of the price of freedom, are doing, some of them who have been in uniform.

Several years ago, I started to see a major change in this country, as it related to service to others.  When I would thank a young veteran for serving, there were some people who would answer, “I didn’t do anything for you. The last thing in the world I joined for was for this country or the people in it.  I just did it for free college.”

I try to impress on many of these young veterans that, even though they do not  think they have served  or maybe that was not their intent, what they actually did was serve this country and its people. It may have “fallen on a lot of deaf ears,” but I believe there are some who realized it. There are even some who always knew it, even though it is not popular to admit it.

There are many of those who are in our younger age groups with the same attitudes of doing solely for self, without regard to the common good for others.  Some are a bit less of more ill-mannered. This is not to say that all Millennials fit into this profile, any more than all we Baby Boomers are  alike either.  I know many  good and rotten folks in both age groups, and many in-between.

I just can’t seem to get over this overwhelming black cloud that is not coming from one party or another, but is coming from people who are now becoming the largest in numbers.

And I cry for this country.  I cry for those who are hurting and fearful. And I cry for myself, as a veteran, who would be willing to lay down my life to protect their freedoms, yet most would not do the same for one another and, least of all, me.

We do not have a perfect country or system. There are many things that I wish that I could change over the last few days, weeks, years, and my lifetime.

But I also know that I live in a country where we are still free to vote, disagree, protest, and share so much more that others can not do, by the nature of their birth.  All that is asked of us is that we respect order and, if we are to dissent, we do it peaceably.

It is my hope that those young people who have served, and understand what it takes to work together with people who think differently than they do, step up as leaders to help heal this nation and its people.  It starts with each of of us, as we seek to understand one another by getting into dialogue, rather than breaking laws of order.

To all my fellow veterans–the younger ones–step up.  Take the lead. Do what is right.  Not just what is for right now. You will make the difference.  And I thank you for your continue service to this country by doing so.

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A Sunday morning in Hawaii

HI SunriseIt was a Sunday morning, December 7th, 1941, much like today, and around 8 a.m. when Japanese planes attacked the American Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii Territory. President Franklin Roosevelt went on to say that it was “a date which will live in infamy.”

That surprise attack killed more than 2,300 Americans, and it destroyed the battleship, U.S.S. Arizona, and capsized the U.S.S. Oklahoma. Other ships were sunk or damaged, and more than 300 U.S. aircraft were destroyed or damaged. The property and personal loss was immeasurable. And no one was prepared for it.

The following day Congress declared war on Japan and its allies, and in a few short days, war was declared on Germany and Italy. America entered into four years of what would become the “deadliest military conflict in history,” claiming more than 60 million lives around the world, including 420 thousand Americans, according to Wikipedia.com.

I have often thought about that day, which was 14 years before I was born. I heard the stories of war from my uncle who had served. I knew of the heartache of the battle-worn civilians who worried, and waited, and worked to support the war efforts. These stories and people are the reasons I chose to serve by joining the military at a time during the Vietnam conflict when it was no longer popular to do so.

HI Arizona MemorialI lived in the Pearl Harbor area for two years, 38 years after the air attack. I havestood on the Arizona Memorial, remembering those who gave their lives on that day in history, as 1,102 of them continue to “lie in state” in their sunken battleship coffin, the ocean floor their grave.

As a military musician, I have played many times on military bases for the Colors ceremony at 8:00 a.m. I can only imagine what the day would have been like for all, including those military musicians who also felt the fear and terror, as they played the National Anthem on their military station in the Hawaiian Islands before running for cover for their lives.

I think about those we send off to war, even today. Some might say that they serve (or have served), because we were attacked. Knowing what is right or wrong for us to do as a nation or as an individual is something that cannot predict until we are placed in a situation that requires us to make that decision.

We must always remember that there is a price to pay for war, just as there a price to walk away from those who attack us.

Today, on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, let us never forget those men and women, military and civilian, who lost their lives that day and in the years to follow. They are the ones who paid the ultimate price.

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8-year-old Boy Goes Beyond to Help Young Cancer Patients

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I ask my readers for your help:  Please reblog this post or share my URL  to get the word out.  People need to hear this story of this remarkable little boy.Thank you.

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Christian McPhilamy is my hero.

How many of you know a boy who would go through ridicule of being called a girl for two years, just so he could help other children out?

That is exactly what Christian McPhilamy did when he grew his hair out for over two years. He saw a a commercial for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and saw other young kids like him without hair while going through cancer treatment.

Now, at 8-years-old, Christian has donated his hair to an organization, which supplies wigs to those in treatment.

In a world where so many begrudge a call for donations to help others in need, there are people who willing to step up and show what true kindness and love really is.

Christian McPhilamy is one of those people. And this was a random act of kindness that I will never forget happened.

To read his story and see Christian’s pictures, click here for the story on MSN.