Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why is 20 July not a national day of remembrance?

Today will pass, like many other summer Sundays, unmarked and unobserved for the date it represents. And yet it is, perhaps, a date that should be remembered as humankind's most marked achievement.

We rightly honor our fallen who carried out their duty on Memorial Day. We salute those who served on Veterans Day.

But July 20th is hardly noticed.

The following was first posted 28 September 2007.

We did it.

Quick trip to the market and back to try and eke some more brain music out of this Steinway.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMundane. Not blogworthy.

So...something must be percolating--I mean, I think I have an idea of what's compelling and what's not.

Sometimes you see and don't notice. Sometimes you do.

What I noticed was that handicap parking spots are proliferating. The ones threatening fines if you park there without the special license plates or the rear-view mirror hangie thing. I'm pretty sure there would be no more than two for that size store 25 years ago. There are easily a dozen today (filled btw). Ten or fifteen years from now...?

Have you ever had the experience of standing on line at a movie box office and finding that, except for one other parent with a child, every person was 50 or older. I never had before. Add in that it's rated PG and there was no advertising budget yet the majority of seats were filled for a matinee on a glorious first day of autumn.

Turnson will be eight next week. I wanted a father-son day. The twin tween turnettes are soon to be twelve, and I have become a great big doofus (only slightly less retarded than their little brother) in their eyes.

I had planned to take him fishing with his brand new Ugly Stik. But Saturday evening I heard about a film on a weekend radio chat show that changed my plans--especially because it was playing in only one venue and only until Thursday. It was Sunday or wait for the video release. And it was playing in the sole surviving movie palace in the region.

OK. Show of hands. How many of you have heard or read about In the Shadow of the Moon? The Ron Howard film...the winner of the 2007 People's Choice Award at Sundance...the film that documents mankind's greatest technological achievement?

So in a fit of nostalgia for myself and for the sake of Turnson's understanding of our family we leave the beautiful sunshine to sit in a dark place for 90 minutes. Because my living father was there in early days at Canaveral doing engineering work--telemetry and guidance.

Dad is typically taciturn; much of his long life holds memories that don't bear saying out loud--the kind of memories of an impoverished southern family with too many children and too much responsibilty shouldered by the older boys. He's the only surviving male. When he speaks about the past it's more often about running 'shine to the mills or terrapin hunting with his father. Turnson won't get the story of the fisrt decade of the Space Program from his Grampa.

The curtains drew (yeah! curtains) and Turnson asked if this was going to be a play.

Wait for it, son.

The show started with a piece of film archived for 45 years by this movie house--turns out JFK made a short subject for limited distribution to select theaters on the Bill of Rights. He would be the last president to address the nation on film.

In the Shadow of the Moon begins with narration. It's the simple narrative of the living men that went there, did that, and got a patch instead of a t-shirt. Told in their words and nothing but real images and clips, the story unfolds at its own pace.

The Soviets beat us to get to space first, of course. Gagarin was undoubtedly a hero. But four weeks later we shot Alan Shephard into space for fifteen minutes. That's what we called them then--space shots.

The race was on

JFK challenges the US to land a man on the moon before the decade was out. Because we could. But also because one of the oldest military doctrines is take and hold the high ground.

Little of the film relates the Mercury and Gemini missions. This is the story of Apollo, specifically Apollo 8-17. Apollo 8-10 reached lunar orbit. Told by the men that did it.

In all of time, only 24 human beings have flown to or around the moon, looked back, and seen Earth as a small blue sphere in the blackness of space.

Their numbers are dwindling. Of the 12 who walked on the moon's surface, only nine are alive today, and the youngest is 71.
Yeah, baby--we're definately aging when the young heroes of Apollo are seniors. It means lots more handicap parking.

See this movie. Buy it when the DVD is released. Apollo 11 launched 15 July 1969 from what was by then called Cape Kennedy. Thousands watched from the ground but tens of millions watched on live TV.

Here's a taste.

My September 11 post Moments described how sometimes I view my life by those evil events--going all the way back to JFK's assassination when I was nine.

Well...September 11 tends to be a black day of the soul for me and I wasn't really thinking about some of the great events that have also marked me.


A wild ride, indeed. Summer, especially so. August had the most. Manson Family, Chappaquiddick, Woodstock.

On the evening of July 20, my local rock band opened a concert at the big civic center (no matter how big the headline act was, it always started with a local band). Delaney, Bonnie and Friends (with Traffic's Dave Mason) performed and then it was time for the headliner--Blind Faith.

Backstage was a bit oif a madhouse. Roadcrews and performers waiting their turn.

I was fourteen.

A few minutes into Blind Faith's performance there was an announcement. It was decided that Delaney, Bonnie et al would fill in while the headliners broke for something special.

I was still backstage and a makeshift table with a rabbit-eared 13 inch set was placed in front of the concrete stairs. Way better than crowding around--it was 'stadium seating' on the fly.

When the images began I had the urge to fiddle with the antennae, but the picture was as good as it was going to get. Next to me sat Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker was directly behind him. Try to understand--these musicians were heroes to me--this was the most exciting night of my life so far. Sharing this moment of pride in the US accomplishment with superstars from the UK was bliss. I said to myself, "We did it."

When the weight of those first words spoken from the surface of another celestial body were understood everyone erupted in handshaking and backslapping. There was a chorus of American and North of England accents shouting, "WE DID IT!", and I kept the thought to myself that, "No Eric--we, the US, did in fact DO IT."

Juvenile, huh? Yah, well, 14... not much perspective.

Near the end of In the Shadow of the Moon the narrative relates that on the world tour of the Apollo 11 crew that wherever they went--Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia--they heard over and over those words, not "Congratulation, men, you did it.", but rather, "We did it."

After all, Neil Armstrong did say, "...One giant leap for mankind."

On the short walk to the car, Turnson asks, "Why haven't we ever gone back?"

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Is Set

Flashpoint was the beginning. Or maybe what seemed to be the beginning.

It is now a year and a half since the incident that sparked weeks of civil disobedience. In the weeks following, the National Guard had been called upon to restore order. And order was restored. But not without deep resentment by the Guardsmen and women.

It is now January of 2011. The northern tier of the country is suffering more deaths from cold than in many decades and the winter is still young. Poor nutrition adds to the mortality rate. Children and the elderly are hit hardest.

Of those, in the past, that believed in a second American Revolution most were committed to a Marxist ideal.

Those have fallen by the wayside. The new rebels intend a return to the recent past--affordable energy and abundant food. And decent jobs.

The new rebels are a small minority. Just like the first one.

The vast majority hold protests for increased food-stamps, health care and Section 8 housing.

The public's dependence on government has never been so urgent.

The government, since the last election cycle, has taken over responsibility for most services previously held by the private sector. Food, fuel and medical distribution lies solely in the hands of the authorities with the exception of the few that can barter for them. Print and broadcast media have been co-opted. TV and radio programming is a mix of English and Spanish.

Food stamps and TV have become the 'bread and circuses' that the new empire uses to keep the populace placated and 'in line'.

The prisons have been emptied of those jailed for their crimes and refilled with a new class of criminal--those that have spoken or acted against the New State.

The internet is now heavily monitored. Pornography--especially 'gay' porn--is readily available but dissenting opinion is... not so much.

As written in Isaiah 11.11 there will arise a remnant from scattered places.

The remnant--those who are willing to sacrifice for a return to the values of America v.1-- use the O.T. from Genesis to Malachi for the codes to communicate on the monitored internet. Their number is unknown but is estimated to be just a few hundred thousand.

They are the latter day Essenes--perhaps doomed to die out but whose message may, one bright day, prevail.

Eighteen years earlier, in 1993, young Army and Air Force officers, none higher than captain; young Navy and Marine officers had begun talking and emailing with concerns over the direction the armed forces were headed in the wake of the so-called Peace Dividend and the clear lack of commitment from the new administration.

Mostly concerned with their individual and shared futures they committed to toeing the politically correct lines to all but each other. Their sole focus was to advance through the ranks so that they could eventually make a difference.

This was in no way blind ambition. This was to be a bulwark for freedom and the protection of the nation if ever one was needed.

Their ranks swelled after 9/11. In the crucible of Afghanistan and Iraq more came to be trusted and it was in these places that sergeants were first recruited.

After the elections of '06 and the governmental failures on immigration and energy their traffic and their focus changed. Most had participated in war gaming and adapted the urban fighting skills honed in Iraq to an imaginary nation that looks a lot like the US.

They had come to an extraordinary conclusion--that the most likely outcome of past and predicted future events was either anarchy or virtual dictatorship.

Not all of the original 93ers are still in uniform. Some have made the ultimate sacrifice in distant lands, some the penultimate and now wear prostheses and appliances. Some have simply left the military. These living veterans have become some of the most important people in the struggle as they live it now. These provide the liaison to the rebel citizens. These taught the instruments of tradecraft and how to develop the simple but effective codes that the rebels now use.

Some have entered law enforcement and using the same 'go along to get along' methods earlier perfected in uniform while still performing their duties in exemplary fashion they have advanced to high positions.

Some have taken skills they learned while serving to advance in other fields--most notably telecommunications. Telecom is the high ground in this coup.

Of the original 93ers, none hold a rank below full Colonel or Navy Captain. There are more than a few Generals and an Admiral. All the ranks below are newer recruits and all have been thoroughly vetted.

Friday, July 4, 2008


This 232nd anniversary of the publication of our Declaration of Independence bears some reflection.

Having only recently attained adulthood, 1976 was a memorable celebration. The tall ships in New York harbor and the community parades and displays were joyous even in the midst of a fuel crunch and a nation reeling from disastrous retreat in Viet Nam.

No Fourth of July celebration has come close since but every Birthday of the Great Experiment is another miracle to celebrate what the inspired Founders wrought.

Personally I feel more awe than pride. What we have accomplished, our freedom and prosperity, our gifts and charity to a suffering world, the strengths that we have hewn to--all due to the clarity of thought rendered by the Fathers and held true by those that followed.

This Document is divided into three sections.
The general declaration
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
There is more to this section but the focus of this post has to do with a few parts of the second section--the Grievances.

Tyranny is not solely in the hands of kings and dictators. Sometimes it may fall to an unexpected place.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
The good people of Louisiana had decided that a person guilty of the rape of a child deserves to no longer live. Justice Kennedy, siding with the predictable liberal justices, found that evolving standards of decency should prevent the execution of the death warrant.

The same justice held that foreign, non-state combatants captured on foreign soil and held abroad should enjoy habeas corpus rights in US courts. A finding that another justice declared would endanger American lives.

Tyranny may also emanate from special interest groups.
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.
Substitute he for they where they are the coalition of environmental groups and activist judges that have prevented us from exploiting the resources we need to maintain and grow.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
We find ourselves quite in the opposite predicament now. The relevant words here are " obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners".

Make no mistake that the unlimited immigration we've now been facing for many years is a tyranny, as well.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Here I mean the growth of the federal government, the unknowable tax code, imposed social security--the veritable multitude of New Offices that eat out our substance.

The final portion of the Declaration is meant to stand as the legal and formal statement of intent to nationhood.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Before we end up refreshing the Tree of Liberty with blood we need to read and understand this precious document and find the grievances that have crept back in our society.

And fix them.

Happy Independence Day

Four months to go.