Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday, Marines!

On November 10th, 1775, in Philadelphia... the city of Brotherly Love, Captain Samuel Nicholas was commissioned to recruit and organize America's first Marines. Little did Captain Nicholas know that his name would live as long as American Marines continued to draw breath, from one age into another.

Captain Nicholas certainly couldn't know that 235 years later, his creation would be known as one of the most fearsome fighting force the the world has ever known.

How could he have guessed that these rough and ready soldiers of the sea would be the stuff of fame and legendary exploits like the assault on Chapuletec castle, or the storming of Peleleiu, or of the invasion of Inchon?

Nicholas surely, in his whole life, couldn't have imagined Marine tanks smashing the Iraqi Republican Guard at Kuwait International airport, or laying the smackdown on Taliban forces in Al-Anbar Province in Afghanistsn.

Since the inception of his Corps... Our Corps, United States Marines have been putting the boot to the asses of our enemies, but good. We have done it in the tropics of the Pacific, the sands of the Middle East, the frozen moutains of the asian mainland, and in the equatorial heat of Africa... truly, in "every clime and place" like we sing in our hymn.

I am as proud of my service in the Corps today, as I was when I graduated from basic training, in 1981.

Happy Birthday Marines.

“Resolved, That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant-colonels, two majors, and other officers, as usual in other regiments; that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said battaions but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve with advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present War with Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress; that they be distinguished by names of First and Second Battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the Continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of.”

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Reformation Sunday!

Today is Reformation Sunday, and unless you are adherent to the church of Rome (or aren't a Christian of any sort), that should mean something to you…. even if you didn't really know it. Reformation Day is the day that we Lutherans, and those in some other faith traditions, celebrate the beginning of the movement that changed the face of the earthly church forever.

This is the day that we celebrate the act of a radical German monk, named Martin Luther. Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk, scholar, and Doctor of The Church who believed that the church had strayed from the path because of certain practices, and for the sake of this post, I won't enumerate them, let's just say that it was more than Luther could stand. So he made a stand of his own.

Putting the church on public notice about his rebellion, Luther made himself an outlaw and a leader at the same time. His bold stand changed the world.

Martin Luther contended that the word of God should be preached in the language of the people hearing it. He preached that the Bible should also be printed in the common language so that the people could read scripture on their own. He preached that the celibacy of the clergy had nothing to do with being able to proclaim the good news of Christ. Most importantly, Luther believed in the concept of the "Priesthood of all believers", which means that no person needs the intercession of a priest to commune with God.

Luther's bold stand didn't only change the church, it also changed the political map of Europe, because as varying Kingdoms, Dukedoms, Principalities & Free Cities either sided with Luther and his followers, or sided with the Pope, nations went to war. The Reformation Wars had begun.

Take a look at a map of Europe today, and you will clearly see the effects of those wars. Northern Europe is nearly* all Protestant (mostly Lutheran), with southern Europe being nearly all Roman Catholic, with the majority of Eastern Europe still largely Orthodox Christian... all or mostly all, the result of the Reformation Wars (and the last battles of the Crusades, but that is another matter entirely).

Pretty heavy stuff for a 16th century monk, eh?

Martin Luther, and what he started when he nailed his 95 theses to the church door, almost 500 years ago, is still one of the most important acts ever taken by one man in order to do what he believed was right.

Did you enjoy your lesson?


OK, enough lecturing from me for today. Soon, we will be heading out for church (where we will belt out "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"), and then lunch, and then off to the National Cathedral for the big doings up there.

See you tomorrow,


* With the notable exception of Poland which remains staunchly Catholic to this day.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Gunfighter: On Military Spending

So... here is the thing. As I was driving home from church today, I saw another Tea Party-Don't-Tread-On-Me-bottom-feeding Republican with the usual run of stickers on her car. The stickers accused the President of being a socialist; being a muslim; and seeking to weaken the United States by destroying the military. Oh, and one of the stickers on the car identified her (or whomever the owner of the car is) as a commissioned officer in the armed forces of the United States.

Can we say dangerous?

It sickens me to think that not only are some of our military people this bloody stupid, but that this is an officer. A leader. A commander. A commissioned officer that thinks that this kind of rhetoric is productive, useful, or patriotic. Personally, I think that the officer to whom that car belongs should be cashiered immediately. Oh, and spare me the usual crap about "she has the right to voice his own opinon" because if you know anything about the military, you know that this is not true.

It is time the military esptablishment in this country gets put back on it's leash and understands that the armed forces aren't special. The members of the armed forces of the United States aren't any better than the society they serve, simply by having decided to wear the uniform. Members and veterans of the armed forces aren't any more or less patriotic than the general run of Americans. All of these things are true... and they also apply to those who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.

One of the things that I am getting tired of hearing about is the "fact" that President Obama is somehow "destroying" the armed forces. How can this be possible? I suppose it is because the President has supported legislation that would ensure that working Americans, many of whom make less money, and have fewer entitlements than members of the armed forces, are able to receive some modicum of decent, affordable healthcare. Have some military people never stopped to think that if it weren't for wearing a uniform and putting on airs, they would be in the same economic group as those in the ranks of the uninsured?

So... the right-wing crackpot machine thinks that the military is being "destroyed". Maybe they believe that because the President had the courage to actually put the costs of the wars on the books. You know... actually putting the costs into the budget, instead of pretending the costs were going to be paid out of some magic bag of money... or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. You did realize that this where the bulk of the "runaway spending" that the GOP complains about comes from, didn't you? Good, I am glad that I could help clear that up for you.

Could it be that the right-wingers are mostly worried that the President is actually doing something that other Presidents didn't have the courage to try? Could it be that they are afraid that if if gay men and women have the opportunity to serve openly in the armed forces, that the sttraight men and women would somehow be diminished if their homosexual fellow citizens were able to serve their country, too? Hmm.

Personally, I don't see whatever it is that they think that they see. I happen to see a world that holds no military threat that could possibly be poised to strike the United States in such a way that would cripple or destroy us. There are no two nations that even if they were to combine forces that could actually threaten the United States outside of a nuclear attack, and in this I include Russia and China.

The truth of military spending is that this country could freeze military spendin at it's current levels for the next ten years, and our nearest rival/threat couldn't hope to gain any meaningful advantage over us. So why the hue and cry?

I dunno... maybe my perspective is poor. Maybe I just don't get it. Or, maybe... just maybe, I'm right. Maybe we could quit wasting time, lives, and money in Iraq and Afghanistan and start rebuilding the parts of our forces that have been broken since 2003. Maybe we could use that money to replace worn out helicopter engines, and destroyed humvees, and rifles and machineguns that have passed their peacetime shelf-lives ten years early. Maybe we can replace the destroyed vehicles, worn out tanks and all of the other equipment that our armed forces need.

I am proud of my own service to my country, and I honor my fellow veterans, including my father, father-in-law, brother, friends, neighbors and colleagues who have served their country... especially those who went on to fully-integrated, productive civillian lives as family members and taxpayers who pay for the entitlements of those still serving. Because we shouldn't forget, my friends, that no group in America, not even the mythological "welfare queens" or even our seniors, is more entitled and receives more monetary support when weighed against their rate of taxation than those serving in the active armed forces. N0body likes to hear it, but it is true.

When I am King, our armed forces will be largely conscripted, effectively eliminating the largest part of the entitled military class.