Retreat is the hardest sound a soldier hears.
The bugle calls and pierces a warrior’s heart.
Forward, ever forward! His courage calls!
Moving back is antithetical to everything he knows.
When he is called, however, he goes,
Because a good soldier always does what he’s told,
Regardless of how his heart feels.
“Live to fight another day,” the shrill sound beckons.
“But this was my day to die,” the warrior thinks.
“This was a good day to die.”
– m.j.granger ©2018
Fixing the VA: What a Disney Approach Could Do
Drastic measures need to be taken with the VA, and the Disney Way may be the best approach.
Beyond the comical mouse & friends, lies the pinnacle of business acumen. Individuals and companies spend big bucks each year to learn the secrets of Disney customer service, management, logistics, maintenance and more at Disney Institute, aka, Disney University.
Everything about the Disney Company is special, and successful. Of course, it’s all about the people, but then there’s the rub, isn’t it? The people make Disney special as much as the methods do.
I remember my father telling me repeatedly, as we frequently stopped a project to head to Sears for yet another Craftsman tool, “Right tool for the right job.”
One could easily say the same about people, or more specifically, employees. I say, “Right person, right job saves time and money.”
Disney invests in the person. Disney invests training, health care, benefits, frequent raises and vertical movement. Disney means quality. Disney means care. Disney means success.
What part of this does the Veterans Administration not need?
Exactly, they need all of it and more, fast.
Sending VA executives, managers, health care professionals, technicians, clerical and volunteers to Disney Institute may seem unnecessary and overkill, but why shouldn’t our veterans receive five star treatment and customer service? Remember, it’s about people.
Disney could help in other ways as well. The whole VA experience could be Disneyfied, from automated appointment making, to streamlined pharmacy operations; smartbands and housekeeping, parking, cuisine and yes, even entertainment. If the point is to get the veteran to the VA, then why not make it into a place that they want to be?
Short of having Disney characters in costumes at VA hospitals, Disney could infuse a little magic into the experience with state-of-the-art technology, from entertainment opportunities, moving walkways, fresh fruit and vegetable kiosks, petting places (where small mammals could be handled by vets for stress reduction), fitness centers, fitness pools, Jacuzzi’s, spa’s, bowling alleys, movie theaters, restaurants and coffee joints. OK, and maybe a meet & greet here and there?
Too frivolous, you say? Too expensive? How about the honorable veteran who wrote you a blank check for everything up to and including his or her life so that you can stay at home with your family and maybe take a trip to Disney World while he or she was out in the damn boonies getting their arses shot off?
Now whistle Dixie!
How do you infuse a quick fix while we rotate VA staff through Disney University? You activate medical National Guard and Reserve troops. Most medical personnel in the military are Guard and Reserve personnel. These part-time warriors are full time civilian health care professionals and workers, and could easily assimilate into the world of the VA medical system.
In fact, years ago, when I was serving with a US Army Hospital Reserve unit, we worked our drill weekends in the local VA hospital, and sometimes at the local state university hospital. Like fish in water, these reservists would fit right in. One big military family.
National Guard and Reserves typically do one weekend of service each month and then two weeks of training in the summer to meet minimum participation requirements. Why can’t this service be done in VA hospitals and medical facilities?
When I was hired by Disney back in the mid 1980’s for my dream job as a Davy Crockett Canoe ride attraction host, I went through Disney University (orientation). I will never forget the speech we got after watching the Disney Story in a small screening room. The lights came up and the trainer said, “So, what product does Disney sell?” Silence. “We sell happiness!” came the answer. “How do we sell happiness? By treating each person who walks through the front gates as if they were a guest in your own home.”
That was it. That was the secret to the Disney Way.
So, what’s so wrong with giving vets a little something they really deserve? A little happiness along with their health care. Vets have already paid for their E ticket, park hopper and annual pass; what’s left is a little TLC.
Alabama vs. Villanova: Championship Basketball Recalls Magical 1982 Season
Today’s ‘Bama vs. ‘Nova matchup is more than just another basketball game. Second round NCAA tournament slot be damned, this is Alabama’s National Championship.
The Crimson Tide basketball program has not been a storied dynasty of multiple national championships; in fact, Alabama has never won a national championship in basketball, and advanced to the Elite Eight only once after defeating number one seed Stanford and then Syracuse on their way to losing to eventual National Champion Connecticut in the 2003-2004 season. But over the years it has been competitive.
The program has produced many successful NBA stars, among them, Robert Horry, Antonio McDyss, , T.R. Dunn, Gerald Wallace, and some more notorious than others (Latrell Sprewell). Alabama players have played with 9 NBA championship teams, earned six All-Star selections, six All-Defensive Team honors, and three All-Rookie honors.
The Elite Eight showing and brief number 1 national ranking in 2004 notwithstanding; arguably the Tide’s best was the 1982 team. Their highest national ranking that year was 5, and their overall record of 24-7 was best in the SEC, and they defeated a loaded Kentucky team in for the conference championship.
‘Bama’s Achilles heel that season though was inconsistency and turnovers, something that may haunt this year’s team if they are not careful. But when the Tide was on they were virtually unstoppable. Point Guard Ennis Whatley (1983 NCAA All-American), who went on to play 12 NBA seasons with 7 NBA teams, was magic on the floor and played toe-to-toe with one Michael Jordan in the Midwest Regional Semifinals in 1982. Jordan and Whatley were freshman. Ironically, Whatley later played two years in Jordan’s shadow with the Chicago Bulls before moving on to the rest of his journeyman’s NBA career.
Ennis could get the most stoic crowd on their feet with his showmanship, no-look passes and incredible ball handling and leaping ability. I have never seen a more physically talented player, although ‘Bama’s current point guard and magician Collin Sexton is inching toward that pedestal. Ennis could and would dunk the ball on breakaways.
At power forward, Alabama had Eddie Phillips, a finesse player when needed, but a Phi-Slamma-Jamma in crunch time who could produce thunderous dunks if left alone for even a blink of an eye with the ball near the hoop. Eddie was the quiet leader of the team and could play with nearly every other best player they faced at his position.
Another phenom on the team was Bobby Lee Hurt, center, and constant presence in the paint. He could just as soon block your shot as look at you. All-Time leading Alabama field goal percentage leader (63%), he had the sweetest and almost automatic turnaround jump shot I have ever seen, to this day.
Setting up in the paint with his back to the basket, his too-long arms stretched high above his 6’9” frame, getting him the ball there was an almost guaranteed bucket. His method was always the same if someone was on his back, fake one way with an elbow in the chest, pivot away and then release a high arching, impossible to block, soft-as-a-feather shot which would more times than not elicit a sweet, “String music!” call from long time SEC basketball analyst and announcer, Joe Dean, as it swished through the net.
Bobby Lee frequently got the better of SEC opponent, Charles Barkley, aka the “Round Mound of Rebound,” whenever ‘Bama played Auburn. Sir Charles was confounded and rejected many a time by Bobby Lee, though they were a well matched pair overall.
Rounding out the frequent starters were Mike Davis, guard and reliable shooter to Whatley’s flash and dash, and Phillip Lockett, a 6’ 11” goal keeper who could match up against the best big men in the paint, but knee issues saw him needing frequent stints on the bench. With Lockett, Bobby Lee and Eddie Phillips on the floor at the same time virtually no other team in basketball at the time could match up.
The Midwest Regional Semi-Final vs. a stacked North Carolina team, who were the eventual tournament champs, included Jordan, Matt Doherty, Sam Perkins and James Worthy. The game was see-saw. When Jordan was out, Whatley and ‘Bama crept in. When Jordan was in, North Carolina pulled ahead, as if shifting into another gear. The margin of defeat for ‘Bama was five points.
Only a freshman at the time, Jordan was obviously the best player on the court, and probably in all of the NCAA, if for no other reason than his leadership, as he was mature and confident beyond his years. The Tar Heels lost two games that season, and only beat Georgetown by a point in the championship game, but Jordan was Mr. Refuse-to-Lose. Dominant, defiant and breathtaking.
The college game has changed however, since 1982. It is faster, brasher, more entertaining with current hairstyles (Alabama obviously leads this category), super talent and acrobatic displays unlike any before.
Alabama has perhaps two of the best players in the game today, both freshman and both with nothing to lose. Collin Sexton and John Petty can explode and blow open any opponent.
But taking care of the basketball will be an essential key to defeating a Villanova team that just does not make mistakes.
Villanova is not big, and ‘Bama can go bigger (6’9” Donta Hall, 6’11” Daniel Giddens, 6’ 9” Galen Smith). Villanova is not deep (tending to stick to a seven man rotation), and ‘Bama has depth, experience and talent. Villanova can and does shoot the three point shot well, and ‘Bama tends to rely more on penetration and opportunity shooting inside the three point line. Good team defense on both sides should help add up to a classic tournament nail-biter.
Historically, this is usually as far as an Alabama basketball team gets. But these are the days of surprise and opportunity. Alabama is scrappy, impossible to intimidate, and just might put together something special this afternoon, for this is their championship game. A win today would propel this team into the stratosphere of Alabama Basketball, and then everything else after would just be gravy on the biscuit.
I know, I know, one step at a time. But having watched that 1982 ‘Bama vs. NC tournament game, and having attended the University of Alabama from 1980-1985, I have Alabama basketball on the brain, and it’s been that long (2004 notwithstanding) since I have felt this excitement.
Roll Tide, ‘Bama! Make us proud!
Fisher House: Shut Down Doesn’t Mean Troops Will Be Shut Out
Unless special provisions are made, families of fallen soldiers whose death benefits will be suspended could be hit especially hard during the current government shutdown. These benefits include vital monetary support for dependents of fallen soldiers who suddenly, and unexpectedly, find themselves facing financial hardship at one of the lowest moments in their lives.
In 2013, the Fisher House Foundation stepped in to cover the lost benefits and last Thursday night, the Foundation announced that they will be stepping up to do it again. Below is a statement from CEO of the Fisher House Foundation, Ken Fisher and a release from U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Ken Fisher Statement: Government rules and regulations can often prevent it from doing what is best for our military. A perfect example of this occurred during the 2013 government shutdown when DoD could not pay the death benefits earned by service members through their ultimate sacrifice. Fisher House Foundation was there to fill the gap for grief-stricken military families. The Foundation volunteered to help the federal government meet this need and, though the crisis ended quickly, wound up providing $750,000 in grants to 30 families.
According to Ken Fisher, “Families like the ones we helped in 2013, are very deserving. They are deeply dedicated to overcoming the challenges they confront. Helping them isn’t charity but rather this nation’s solemn duty. In these very tough situations, they don’t quit. Neither should we.”
Senator Manchin has worked with the Ken Fisher, to make sure these families are taken care of in their time of greatest need.
Senator Manchin Release: The Fisher House generously agreed to offer the families an advance grant until the government can make reimbursements at an appropriate time. The Fisher House will also cover flights, hotels and other incidentals for family members.
“Today I spoke with my good friend Ken Fisher who generously volunteered to help our military families and ensure there is no funding gap during a time of unfathomable loss,” Senator Manchin said. “I applaud Ken and the Fisher House for their dedication to serving our soldiers and their families during their time of need and especially as this senseless shutdown looms. It’s shameful that our military families could bear the consequences of this shutdown and that’s part of why I will never vote to shut down the government. I’m grateful for Ken’s leadership and generous spirit.”
Fisher House Foundation is best known for the network of comfort homes built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers nationwide and in Europe. Fisher House Foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program, using donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to the bedside of injured service members as well as the Hotels for Heroes program using donated hotel points to allow family members to stay at hotels near medical centers without charge. The Foundation also manages a grant program that supports other military charities and scholarship funds for military children, spouses and children of fallen and disabled veterans.
Walmart’s Military Showcase Offers Officially Licensed Military Products
Last month Walmart launched a vetted showcase where customers can shop to salute the nation’s military, veterans and their families. Walmart.com/usmilitary features an assortment of officially licensed products across all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces — U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Coast Guard. The showcase launched with an initial assortment of nearly 3,000 products offered across a variety of categories.
“As a 31-year U.S. Army veteran I’m proud to wear my Army gear, and I’m thrilled that Walmart is providing a way for all of us to shop for officially licensed military merchandise with confidence and convenience,” said retired Brigadier General Gary Profit, Walmart’s senior director of military programs. “It’s a privilege to be part of such important efforts to remember our service members, veterans and their families every day.”
Since Memorial Day 2013, Walmart has hired more than 188,000 veterans and promoted more than 26,000 to roles of greater responsibility. The company is well on its way to reach its hiring goal of 250,000 veterans by 2020. Interested veterans can contact their local Walmart store or visit https://corporate.walmart.com/global-responsibility/opportunity/veterans-and-military-families for details.
“The trademark licensing program leverages the importance of pride, performance and personal development to build brand awareness and create multiple touch points for Americans to show support to the U.S. Army,” says Paul Jensen, director of U.S. Army trademark licensing.
Each military branch independently determines which quality products and vetted suppliers are deserving of their respective licenses. These official licensees may then apply to be included in Walmart’s Online Military Showcase. As more suppliers join this program offered through Walmart Marketplace, a broader range of assortment will provide shoppers even more choices.
When asked what the inspiration was for the showcase, BG (Ret.) Gary Profit said, “The Walmart.com Marketplace team, which includes a few veterans, one an Army captain and one a PO2, saw an opportunity to provide an online destination where our customers could shop with confidence and convenience for officially-licensed products.”
The curated products for sale through the Walmart.com showcase are sold by individual sellers authorized by each U.S. military branch. Walmart worked directly with representatives from each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to gather input on top categories and popular products that our customers shop for and purchase to include in this showcase.
The online Military Showcase is specifically designed as a single destination for customers eager to show their support for the U.S. Armed Forces through products that represent each branch, and even specific units. These products are officially licensed so that customers hoping to purchase items benefitting the military can do so with ease. Walmart.com/usmilitary is filled with officially licensed merchandise with the goal to continuously expand the assortment to meet customer demand, and be a place where customers come to discover those hard to find items.
While many of these licensed products are for sale in Walmart stores, they are organized and shelved differently due to Walmart’s effort to have stores reflect the needs of the community. On Walmart.com/usmilitary Walmart is able to offer a much larger assortment of officially licensed military merchandise. While Walmart stores near U.S. military installations tend to have more military-specific products, the curated digital space for officially-licensed merchandise is an online concept at this time.
Many of the suppliers of products in the Military Showcase are veterans or have a personal connection to the military community through a family member. Walmart is eager to support service members, veterans and military families during all stages of their service journey, including through potential supplier partnerships.
In fact, Walmart recently hosted and sponsored VetSource, a first-of-its-kind event created by the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business (CVOB) supporting the success of veteran and military spouse-owned businesses by connecting them to Fortune 500 procurement opportunities.
Walmart’s Military Showcase is special for other reasons as well. The military branches are authorized to expend the excess of the licensing fees after expenses to morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) activities. The MWR program provides military members and their families quality of life programs and services aimed to boost morale and resiliency, with benefits such as fitness centers, libraries, parks and picnic areas, restaurants, family child care and youth and school-aged services.
BG (Ret.) Gary Profit shared, “In 31 years of military service, my family and I have personally experienced the value MWR programs bring to military communities, enriching the lives of all they touch. I believe that MWR programs are essential to the long term viability of the all-volunteer force. That’s why I am excited that Walmart is able to provide a way for all of us to shop for officially-licensed military merchandise with confidence and convenience.”
And talk about commitment! To help address challenges many veterans face when returning to everyday life, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have pledged a total of $40 million for veteran reintegration programs through 2019. The funding supports job training, education and innovative public/private community-based initiatives.
In addition to supporting veterans, Walmart assists active service members and their families through collaborations with organizations dedicated to providing support and services in times of need. Recently, the Walmart Foundation granted $500,000 to Operation Homefront’s Critical Financial Assistance program to help meet the unique and urgent needs of military families affected by the 2017 hurricane season. The funding supported financial needs for military family members struggling to make ends meet in areas impacted by disaster, including hotel costs for those displaced from their homes, car repairs, utility bills, housing costs and groceries. The grant will also help those service members who deployed to help with recovery efforts that may have a shortfall in income due to their time away from work.
During Memorial Day 2017, Walmart announced major changes to its military leave of absence policy. The enhanced policy now offers differential pay to associates for ANY military assignment, including basic training, allowing associates who are considering enlisting in the armed forces to do so without fear of losing wages.
Lastly, Profit says, “Through our Military Family Promise, Walmart guarantees a job at a nearby store or club for all military personnel and military spouses employed by the company who move to a different part of the country because they or their spouse have been transferred by the U.S. military.”
Please visit Walmart.com Help Center at https://help.walmart.com/
For assortment recommendations: USMilitaryProducts@Walmart.com
To apply as a Marketplace Seller: marketplace.walmart.com
What if NYC Terrorist was bin Laden?
The question is asked because even though President Donald Trump initially said that the man who killed 8 and injured about twice as many in an Islamist rampage on the Lower West Side of Manhattan bike lane using a rental truck should be sent to Gitmo and tried as an enemy combatant, but then later changed his mind, saying it would take too much time compared to a Federal prosecution.
He had it right the first time.
If the NYC terrorist is an unlawful combatant in the Global War on Terror, then he belongs at the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (a.k.a. Gitmo).
The problem is Obama’s 2009 Military Commissions Act, which gives unlawful combatant detainees accused of war crimes virtually the SAME rights you or I would enjoy in a Federal court of law. That’s why it’s taken years for several accused detainees to come to trial.
The Law of Land Warfare (U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10) and the Geneva Conventions allow accused war criminals only the same rights as an accused U.S. soldier would have under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Giving accused terrorists (unlawful combatants) an opportunity in U.S. Federal Court to be read Miranda rights, go free on technicalities, go to a Federal prison where they can spread their rhetoric and recruit other inmates and then eventually be set free puts us all at risk. Expediency should never come before security.
Gitmo is legal, and it is a small but essential piece to the big puzzle of how we defend ourselves in the Global War on Terror.
Trump needs to get Gitmo right and use Gitmo as a tool in our efforts to defeat the Islamist threat. He is fence-sitting, and it doesn’t suit him or his objective of winning the Global War on Terror.
Imagine for a moment that Osama bin Laden had been captured instead of killed in a raid. Would the President believe he should be tried in Federal court or a Military Commission? Why?
If Osama bin Laden had been captured it would have been the ultimate test of legal and political wills.
We are either at war or we are not at war. The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) provides the legal permission to wage war against terrorists. It allows us to capture, interrogate and retain detainees. Once captured, the Law of War and Geneva take over as guiding edicts on treatment and privileges for those detained and those accused of war crimes.
Would bin Laden have been tried in Federal court or a military tribunal?
His status as the leader of al Qaeda and the planner of the attacks of September 11, 2001, would make him the top commander for the opposing forces. Surely if anyone could be tried for war crimes it would have been him.
Why then is there even a debate about the status of those who followed his example and perpetuate the jihad against the infidels?
Lawfare and politics.
Using the liberal legal system of the United States against us is not a new tactic, and has been practiced vigorously by our enemies since the very beginning of the Global War on Terror, shortly after the attacks of 9/11/01.
An al Qaeda manual captured by British intelligence prior to 9/11 revealed our enemy’s protocols if captured. They should lie about their treatment, claim they were abused and tortured, disrupt detention operations, threaten and harass guards and demand a lawyer.
That last part has proved most advantageous. The result? 730 Gitmo detainees have been released. None have been executed, beheaded, blown up, hacked to death, dragged naked and lifeless through the streets, drowned or burned alive, all things our enemies have done to us and/or our allies.
Never mind that at least 30 percent of released detainees are either confirmed or suspected to have returned to the fight. My concern is more about the 70 percent of released detainees we don’t know about. Where are they, your neighborhood, trying to rent a truck?
Even in a game of Capture the Flag the jailer knows not to release captured members of the other team until the game is over. Why then has our strategy been to release unlawful combatants before the end of hostilities? That’s not a winning formula, and it sends a message to the enemy that we are inferior and weak.
Some released detainees have been paid off by their governments of origin and profited from published book proceeds. So, if you survive the jihad and get captured by the Americans, you’ve hit the jackpot!
Former Gitmo detainees were allowed to claim habeas corpus, even though precedent dictated that even lawful combatant POW’s could not challenge their wartime status in civilian court. How then did we get from there to here, where an obvious and confirmed case of jihad has been turned almost matter-of-factly into a civilian crime? Expediency? Convenience?
My patience with the POTUS on this one is running thin.
If your gut tells you that the NYC terrorist should be held and tried at Gitmo then so let it be done.
If bin Laden would have been taken and then tried at Gitmo, then so too, should the lowest member of the group.
If not, then we are not at war with unlawful combatant Islamists who want to kill us; we are victims of random, disconnected violence, and should study the childhood of every terrorist and attempt to empathize with their disadvantaged upbringing and feel sorry for them and others like them, and then bear our throats for beheading.
Bergdahl and Honor
The US Army Values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl apparently forgot these when, on June 30, 2009, he deserted his unit in Afghanistan, where he wanted to, in his words, “make the world a better place.”
SGT Bergdahl also forgot that he was wearing the uniform of the United States Army, and that armies fight wars. He signed up. No one forced him into service, and no one forced him to continue service if at any point he decided he had had enough.
In the Army there are legitimate avenues of redress of grievances, and now more than ever before. Your chain of command, the Chaplain, a JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer, or even the highest commander above where you think your problem lies.
SGT Bergdahl had whipped himself into an almost psychotic state of isolation, from his unit, from his battle-buddies and even from himself. In the end, the enemy seemed more desirable than the mess he had made in his foxhole.
The circumstances under which SGT Bergdahl was released, the trade of five Taliban leaders, notwithstanding, there is a reckoning on the way. That trade has its own implications of treason, but for another time.
As we enter into the penalty phase of military legal proceedings to determine not whether or not he is guilty of the crimes of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, for he plead guilty to those charges, but what punishment he will receive.
Some say SGT Bergdahl has suffered enough.
Some say he is not fit to live, let alone wear the uniform.
Several witnesses have testified about their war injuries and losses they claim happened because of Bergdahl’s desertion.
There were rumors but no evidence that SGT Bergdahl had given the enemy critical information about the unit and its operations and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). This would allow the enemy to anticipate the unit’s movements and tendencies, deadly information.
Some say while searching for SGT Bergdahl they were hit and men died. One man, a former Navy SEAL, claimed tearfully that his service dog was killed on one such mission.
In my opinion, all this testimony is over-engineering. It’s all good, but shouldn’t be necessary to complete the project. He deserted in time of war.
How do you maintain good order and discipline if you allow folks to just walk away?
There is no claim of insanity. There is no plea bargain. There is no excuse.
The punishment for desertion can be death.
The reason for this goes back to the beginning of human conflict. If you run in the face of the enemy you have abdicated your responsibility as a member of the group to help keep the group safe.
In our own Revolutionary War and subsequent conflicts, such as the Civil War, it wasn’t so much power and punch that won the day as which side would run first.
Name a war or conflict, and what wins the day more times than not is the will to win or survive. Fight or flight.
This is why the American Army is so effective; we are trained that in war the mission comes first. We are trained to never leave a soldier behind. We are trained be good teammates. We are trained to care for each other, help each other and protect each other. And in the foxhole, when the bullets are flying, it’s about you and your battle-buddy, fighting for your lives.
The bigger picture is that you are defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, part of the oath of enlistment that SGT Bergdahl breached.
But if you allow soldiers to run and then suffer no consequences, what are you telling everyone else who swore that same oath. What then does it mean?
In our politically correct, social media, “If it feels good, do it” society, oaths and promises seem blasé and passé. In fact, they are our life’s blood. If we let one instance of obvious and blatant desertion slip through the cracks, what then do we do with the next one, or the next?
Kneeling for the national anthem and the absence of even one American flag on the opening night of a national political convention are not simply warning signs, they are signs of the apocalypse that feed the idea that SGT Bergdahl did nothing wrong. That he is innocent of desertion because he was oppressed and that somehow his actions were free speech.
It’s not about any of that. It’s about loyalty. The number one most important Army value, and value in life.
The acronym constructed out of the Army Values is LDRSHIP (Leadership). The Army aspires to train every soldier to be a leader, because in the American Army, even E-Private Zero, Snuffy Smith is expected to carry out the mission if all the leaders above him are incapacitated, in the spirit of Audie Murphy, the highly decorated farm boy turned hero from WWII who was battlefield promoted from sergeant to second lieutenant and saved many lives with his heroism, over, and over again, all at 5’4” and 112 pounds.We owe it to the memory of all those who gave their lives in defense of this great nation. We owe it to those who were injured and may have died while searching for Bowe Bergdahl, and we owe it to the future of this nation that Bowe Bergdahl’s punishment fit the crime.
The only question that remains is whether or not the military court hearing the evidence against Bowe Bergdahl will see it that way.
Blowing Up #TakeAKnee
If I spit in your face do you really want to hear what I have to say?
Of course not.
The same tactics used by the Alt-Left, ANTIFA, Democrats and Leftists of all shapes, colors, sizes and genders are taking hold in the National Football League.
Please don’t be confused. NFL players are not self-motivated to #TakeAKnee. They are tools of the Alt-Left.
This is the same Alt-Left who attacked through the entertainment industry at the 2016 Academy Awards, infecting many black actors and entertainers who chose to boycott the award ceremony.
One black actor who chose to attend, despite the hubbub, was Oscar Winner Louis Gossett, Jr., who, when asked on the red carpet before the ceremony what he thought of the protest, simply said, “We are all part of the same family, the American family.”
I have a feeling that if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were alive today he just might say something similar. Although Dr. King was famous for civil disobedience, he never shamed his country by taking a knee in anything other than prayer.
I can’t help but recall Dr. King’s famous quip: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
The content of their character.
Dr. King’s dream may not be yet fully realized, but it won’t get there any quicker by what’s going on in the NFL today.
There was a time when the American flag represented freedom and liberty to all Americans. Dr. King never marched without it, and it was a symbol of love, togetherness and justice for all.
Adrian Cronauer, American Entertainer once said: “Martin Luther King, Jr., didn’t carry just a piece of cloth to symbolize his belief in racial equality, he carried the American flag.”
But the objective of the Alt-Left is to divide and conquer.
Now that everyone is in the middle of visceral and passionate responses to #TakeAKnee, few can see clearly to help us understand and then pull us out of our collective cultural nose dive.
Like any politically charged issue, we are talking past each other and not to or with each other, and no one is listening because everyone is right, in their own subset of political thought.
When someone pushes, there is push back. When someone is told what to do, they resist. Exactly what the Alt-Left thrives on.
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys (a.k.a. “America’s Team”) tried the linked arm, #TakeAKnee before the National Anthem, and then stand for the Anthem ploy. Nope. We weren’t having it. Compromise did not work. Who is more important, your players or your fans? Because you can’t have it both ways.
Mike Tomlin, Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, tried sequestering his team for the Anthem. Nope. Alejandro Villanueva (Address: P.O. Box 6763, Pittsburgh, PA, 15212), a former Bronze Star decorated US Army Ranger snuck out of the tunnel, put his hand over his heart and sung. He sung like a hero, a patriot, a true American.
Coach Tomlin’s goal of trying to protect his players from having to make a political choice (“Do I stand or do I kneel?”) by keeping them inside during the National Anthem was based on a false premise: that standing for the Anthem is a political statement. It is not; it is a patriotic statement.
Trouble was, the Alt-Left influenced Tomlin, who promptly made Villanueva apologize for not being a good teammate or player, and for being so personally selfish as to color outside the lines of what is acceptable . . . to the Alt-Left. The forced apology reminded me of fake confessions produced by ISIS and al Qaeda of their captives before beheading them.
Villanueva’s Pittsburgh Steelers football jersey (#78) is now the number one seller among all NFL jerseys (let’s all keep it that way), even better than Odell Beckham, Jr.’s, jersey. That’s right, OBJ, the multi-millionaire twenty-something superstar receiver for the New York Giants, who, after scoring a touchdown recently got on all fours like a dog and then lifted a hind leg as if to take a pee. He said it was in defiance of a statement made by President Trump.
In contrast, last year, during the Colin Kaepernick controversy, Rashad Jennings, a black athlete who plays for the NFL’s New York Giants, channeled Frederick Douglass (who loved to play the Star Spangled Banner on his violin) in his support for the National Anthem and the American flag. Jennings told the Daily News he was “proud to stand” for the song.
President Trump at a speech in Alabama, wondered aloud what a patriotic NFL owner might say to a “son-of-a-bitch” football player who disrespected the flag and Anthem. “He’s Fired,” he said, “He’s FIRED!”
That of course threw gasoline on the Alt-Left fire.
No one who supported Trump before that statement had much bad to say about it. No one who hated Trump before he said that had much surprising to say about it. But emotions and rhetoric erupted. NFL ratings went down.
It used to be that the NFL went to commercial during the National Anthem. Then things changed after the attacks of September 11, 2001, which included a rule that said everyone would stand, helmet in the left hand and right hand over the heart, facing the flag, not talking and showing respect. In fact, NFL Rule A62-63 states just that.
As a business model it’s never a good idea to alienate your customers. But it appears that the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell (and the Owners) are betting the fans will return after all of this blows over. If they alienate their players they may strike, refuse to play, or refuse to play well. Then they would lose . . . money. And losing money would be very bad for business.
Remember, standing for the National Anthem to honor America is not a political statement, and it’s not about oppression, free speech or Donald Trump, it is a display of patriotism, togetherness, you know, like the national motto: “E Pluribus Unim;” From Many, One.
The Civil Rights battle was won. Civil Rights law was passed in 1964. That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect, or ever will be, but if we take a phrase from our own Declaration of Independence, “In order to form a more perfect Union,” we understand that the Framers knew that striving for perfection, aiming for excellence, would force us to keep getting better. And that’s what we’ve done, despite the forces of evil that oppose our progress.
There is one culture in the United States, the American culture. And anyone who would divide us for any reason is un-American.
Unfortunately, the Alt-Left has a history of shunning the American flag and patriotism. Opening night at the 2016 Democrat National Convention (DNC) saw not one US flag on display. Not until that fact hit the national news and social media like late summer hurricane did several flags finally appear on the DNC stage, but virtually nowhere else. Not one delegate displayed the flag nor were there any flag-like clothing or hats worn, nor any flags on signs or posters. The flag has always been about politics to the Alt-Left.
In contrast, there was hardly a corner of the 2016 Republican National Convention without a US flag, and various versions of red, white and blue seemed to be everywhere.
To the Alt-Left, the American flag has become a symbol of the Right, by default; another tactic of the Alt-Left to easily identify the enemy. That’s right, law abiding, gun toting, bible thumping, flag waving Americans are the enemy to the Alt-Left. If you wear the flag in any form you are a target.
Our battle is a moral battle, it’s right or wrong, good vs. evil, not black or white.
In solidarity – black, white, brown; man, woman; young, old – stand proudly for the flag and Anthem. After that, speak with your American brothers and sisters about whatever you want. Just please avoid spitting in their face or peeing on their shoe to get their attention.
True Americans are better than that.
Politicizing standing for or properly respecting the National Anthem, our flag or any patriotic public tradition is simply part of the manipulative agenda of the Alt-Left aimed at controlling the thinking of the People. Not this time, and not these People.
The Alt-Left says you have to pick a side, a “Yes” or a “No.” I say, be like Louis Gossett, Jr., and remember who you are, a member of the American Family. You are not who the Alt-Left says you are or should be. We’ve all come too far for anything else to make sense.
Of Flags and Football
Imagine that you invite me over for dinner, and we’re going to relax in the living room before the meal. You tell me I can sit anywhere I like, except for the big easy chair in the corner, because you say, that was your deceased father’s chair, and no one has sat in it since his passing.
I walk over and then sit in your father’s chair.
You are in shock. Then you are incredulous.
“I asked you not to sit in that chair!” you say.
“I know,” I say, “but this is a free country, and I have a right to sit wherever I like.”
I continue, “When I was growing up my father had an easy chair just like this that he never let us kids sit in, and I’m tired of people telling me where I can and cannot sit. There’s no law against me sitting here, is there?”
You get the point.
In fact there is a law that says we “should stand” for the National Anthem:
36 US Code, Section 301 – National Anthem
(a) Designation.— The composition consisting of the words and music known as the Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem.
(b) Conduct During Playing.—During a rendition of the national anthem—
(1) when the flag is displayed—
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and
(2) when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.
(Pub. L. 105–225, Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1263; Pub. L. 110–417, [div. A], title V, § 595, Oct. 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 4475.)
Although the law does not specify a criminal charge nor penalties for not standing for the Anthem, it is nonetheless illegal to sit for it.