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I'm the author of The Liberty Pole. I dabble a bit in blogging and have a fascination with early American history (late 18th century) as well as WWII. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

In the Shadow of the Greats

In April of last year my good friend and fellow writer C.E. Thornton and I made our first trip up to Boston. We went, originally, to attend a convention that Lora Innes (author/illustrator of The Dreamer - If you're a fan of the American Revolution and you haven't read it, for shame. Go now!) was speaking at. Neither of us had ever been to the city and we instantly fell in love with everything about it.

The Old South Meeting House
We took the Freedom Trail, as so many Americans do when they visit this historical city and made our way through. We found Paul Revere's home, the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old South Meeting House (which, for those that don't know, was the place that Dr. Joseph Warren gave his amazing speech in remembrance of the Boston Massacre, supposedly while wearing a toga ... not that this is one of my favorites or anything...) and so much more.
I believe this was the stage Warren gave his speech
from, but it's been redone since then.

We had a fantastic time, but the place that really took hold and refused to let go was Bunker Hill. Out of all the amazing sites that there are to see in a city like Boston, that was the one that we returned to three times within the short weekend stay. Caera (C.E.) said that the visit, especially the one to Bunker Hill, changed her life. I'm incline to agree.

The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775 and was one of the earliest battles in the American Revolution. Though they lost the battle, the Americans showed just how hard they were willing to fight that day.
The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull
Image via Wikipedia
The Bunker Hill Monument
Bunker Hill was definitely on our list of places we wanted to see in what become known more as our Joseph Warren tour than the trip down Freedom Trail. If you've been on the Freedom Trail, you know that it's quite a trip. I'd managed to throw my knee out by the time that we found the hill and was limping along, but  once we made it to the steps everything seemed to wash away. It was breathtaking.

There are certain spots on the hill that you can go, take a seat, and just look straight up. All you see sky. It's amazing to think that you're looking at the same sky as those men that laid their lives down for this country so many years ago. When you stand there, on this little patch of land in the middle of of Charlestown, you're standing in the shadows of some of the greats.

So when it came time to buckle down and get serious about my writing I had some major decisions to make, as all artists do. I had to find something that I could write on regularly, that I would never grow tired of and that I would never lack enthusiasm for. I had to find my voice, my influence, and a clear path as to what I wanted to say. Sometimes I feel like I fumble around with these posts just a little, but in the end it comes down to this: Every day we stand in the shadow of the great men and women who have come before us. Some have laid down their lives and some have simply been willing to. They have spoken, taught, and encouraged those around them. Without them, we could not share in the freedoms that we do. Without following that example, we risk losing those freedoms just as easily. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Act Worthy of Yourselves pt. 2: America's Heart

My friend Heather and I took a trip down to West, Texas this weekend. No, not the far western section of the state, but the little town just outside of Waco that made national news this past week when a fertilizer plant exploded. We're both from Texas, born and raised, so while we felt helpless after the horrific attack in Boston on Monday, we decided that we could at least make a small difference in West. So we took up donations from those that couldn't go with us, packed it up and set off on the short drive there, not really sure what to expect.

What we saw was truly amazing, and Heather summed it up best: We saw the heart of America on Saturday.

People came from all over: we saw school t-shirts from near-by Baylor University and as far out as Lubbock's Texas Tech University. I saw a young woman in military fatigues, people from various companies coming out to show support, and volunteers from all over.

I think one of my favorite things was all of the kiddos that showed. I'm sure some of them had had their homes destroyed, but some were just along to help. An acquaintance of mine from the Waco Tea Party had her grandson there (I thought I'd snagged a picture of him, but now I can't find it) and he would walk up to anyone that would listen: "May I take that, ma'am?" "Can I help with that?" Twelve and fourteen year olds were organizing lines and directing people where to carry various donations.

Sic 'em Bears, helping the people of West
For those that don't know, West is about 25 minutes north of Waco

The plant exploded around 8PM Wednesday night and this was the following Saturday morning. I couldn't get over how organized everything was, and as the day went on new signs were made. Where it had simply said "Food" before, it showed "chips, bread, snacks" in one area and another collection in another. Everyone smiled at each other and there was no frustration with the large group of people moving around some fairly tight areas.

The Red Cross said Thursday that they needed clothes.
People gave so that everything was overflowing.

An ambulance pulled up stocked with water and
other supplies.
People would gather as soon as a new vehicle
showed up with donations, ready to help unload.

The front was full of supplies as well as the back.

I think everyone was in awe of the crowds that turned out.

A horse trailer full of supplies.

The guys started a line to get the water from the back
to the front. Everyone helped out.

You could see all the companies that were freely giving to support people in need. HEB was there, AT&T volunteered free charging stations for phones and those are just a couple that I saw. I know that Uncle Dan's BBQ out of Waco had donated in a couple of different ways.

I hear people say that Americans are selfish and that we don't give. They think that's why the government needs to do it for us, but that's not what I see. I see an amazing group of people willing to band together. Individuals, communities, and companies, local and otherwise. They were all willing to reach out to these people that had been struck by tragedy, and no one forced their hand. They gave of their own free will.

Heather is a high school teacher here in Texas and she told me how, when her kids found out that she was going, they jumped on the opportunity to give in any way that they could. Some wanted to go with her, some wanted to donate. It didn't matter how, they just wanted to give.

Last Wednesday I talked about the American Spirit and how it's shown so clearly in the face of suffering. We will always pick ourselves up and we will always carry on, but this is because we have each other. If you ever question it, just take a look at how we reach out to one another, how we rush into the face of danger - not thinking of ourselves, but of those that we can help - and you'll see the American Spirit. You'll see America's heart.

I'll leave you with this video. This post is primarily for West, but I can't let any more time go by without sharing this with you. As Joseph Warren said: "Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Act Worthy of Yourselves: The American Spirit

“Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”
                                                  Dr. Joseph Warren, 1775

Photo via the Warren Tavern's
Facebook page
On Tuesday (the day after the attack on Boston) The Warren Tavern posted a Facebook message with a beautiful photo of the American flag and the Bunker Hill Monument behind it along with the statement "Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and families impacted by yesterday's tragedy. Thank you to the first responders and all others who were helping out" and quoted part of Dr. Warren's address that he made in 1775 in the Old South Meeting House on the anniversary of the Boston Massacre. It was a beautiful addition to the many statements made across the internet to let Boston know that they are in everyone's thoughts and prayers during such a horrific time. 

The quote that they used is a personal favorite of mine. It has had many deep meanings in my own life, but has taken on even more after Monday's cowardly attacks. Like all Americans, I'm still reeling from this, trying to put together thoughts and understand what all it truly means. While the 
casualty-rate is nowhere near as high, there is still that same feeling of pain that accompanied 9/11. We don't yet know what kind of terrorism this is, but I'd wager that there is no question in anyone's mind - even before the government officially called it so - that this is terrorism. I'm certainly no expert, but I do understand that the explosives found to have been used are at least very similar to those used against American soldiers in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. With that understanding comes the knowledge that we may have just been hit at home again in a foreign-based terrorist attack. We have been insurmountably blessed that in the nearly twelve years that have followed 9/11 that we have seen relatively few attacks from our enemies in such a way (some that were not labeled as an act of terror), but in times like these we remember, much as Dr. Warren said 238 years ago, our enemies are numerous and powerful. 

Image via The Washington Post
 They attack as only cowards can: preying on innocent people that have never wronged them, spreading their dark terror across the globe. Their delusions push them forward in actions that only a lunatic could justify, and for what? What does it gain them to maim us, to injure us, or to even kill us?   President Bush said, on the eve of 9/11, "America was targeted for attack because we're the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining." I believe this still holds true. Those that wish to oppress others will try to snuff out freedom  in any way they can. 

Image via the Boston Globe
These people hide in shadow, some more willing than others to give their own lives for their insane cause, but many more willing to simply take life. These were runners, athletes, spectators, Bostonians, Americans. What could Martin Richard have possibly done in his eight years of life that would warrant such a terrible death? What did Krystle Campbell do? Or the many, many others that will never be the same? What was their terrible crime that drove these cowards to attack them? There was nothing. They were innocent.

There is a darkness that may threaten and a pain that will linger and it should linger. We should not forget, as those that were on the front lines of this horrific event cannot forget. 

Even in the darkness there are beams of light. If Joseph Warren ever called for Americans to act worthy of themselves, he would have seen it on Monday. I've never personally been out to the marathon (I tend to stay away from running if I can help it), but after watching a video I got a better idea of how the crowd control was set up, therefore a better idea of what happened. It looks like the bomb went off from right in front of the barricades with the people pressed up on the barricades themselves. When the blasts went off - with the understanding that most Americans have nowadays that there could be more to follow - fellow runners, medics, police officers, and others on the scene flooded to help. They tore away obstacles and saved lives. They put aside their own safety to help others. They helped people into wheel chairs when the ambulances couldn't get in and they carried people out. 

Image via ABC News

We are in danger, there is no question on this. We face a threat that we cannot always see or touch, often forgetting the magnitude, but it's there. We see it every time it strikes, but no matter the evil they cannot win because Americans are strong and we're brave and we're giving. We are a unique group of people, resilient, and a beacon of hope. We will live free because we know how to fight for it. The fighting may not always come in the form of donning a military uniform and shipping out over seas - though to those men and women that protect us we are eternally grateful - but in the form of those that give selflessly of everything they have here at home. When those bombs went off, those people that jumped the barriers couldn't have been thinking of themselves. Their actions, and those of the men and women that have stood up against terror every day that we face it, show that America is not afraid and we will not bow to  the to the disgusting cowards that won't dare face us openly. 

Boston, our prayers and thoughts are with you. You have shown what it meant to act worthy of yourselves and I think you've shown what can truly be called the American Spirit. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

God Bless Boston

I had originally planned a post for tax day that was meant to talk about taxation issues in pre-revolutionary America and reactions to that. That has been postponed. Regardless of the date on the calendar, I think that to offer my condolences and my thoughts and prayers (as small as my little corner of the internet may be) to those in Boston today is more pressing.

As I'm sure everyone has heard by now, two bombs went off near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon today around 3PM Eastern Time. Another blast went off about five miles away. The latest report that I've read says that two people have been reported dead (though I've seen as many as 12 people reported) and as many as one hundred are injured from this attack.

The New York Post says that they believe a suspect is in custody. 

The man that is in custody now is reported to be a Saudi national, 20 years old. (Update as of 5:10cst: Boston PD is saying they do NOT have anyone in custody yet.)

I'm curbing my thoughts on the matter because I don't have all the facts. I'm not a journalist, just a writer that has read some terrifying things today. I don't know if this man (if he did it, or whoever set those bombs off) is a part of a terrorist organization such as we've been fighting since the Twin Towers fell or if he's a lone nut job, but it stands that this is terrorism. If a person sets out to do massive harm to the citizens of this country and creates terror in the streets, that is terrorism, no matter what it may be called.

If you pray, pray for these people. If you don't, at least keep them in your hearts.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Remembering Margaret Thatcher

It's interesting to think how posterity may view us. There are so many ways that people are classified: They were part of this generation or that generation. Were they involved with a political or social movement? Did they write anything of great consequence? Did their words touch many? Were they alone, standing apart from their peers, for better or worse? Or, like most, did they simply fade into the crowd? Family will remember for a while and friends might think fondly, but their names will not be left in to the chronicles of time.

I heard someone say recently: people are remembered in history for being either exceptionally evil or exceptionally good.

This past Tuesday I posted on my Facebook account that I had read some very hateful responses to Margaret Thatcher's passing this Monday. I noted that it was interesting that a woman was dead and the the Left was celebrating it. Isn't the Left meant to be the open-minded, open-armed side of politics? There has been celebration in the street, anti-Thatcher groups encouraging people to buy the song "Ding-Dong the Witch is Dead", and, even more recently, our own Senate has blocked a resolution to honor Thatcher in her passing.

I received some interesting responses from the post. Many were positive towards the former Prime Minister, but the one that caught my attention and really started me thinking on this post (because, come on, let's face it, when people you know, people you've gone to school with say things, it has a little more meaning than a journalist in an article) was from an individual that I was acquainted with at university.  His response was as follows:

Thatcher was one [of] the "left's" main opposition during her life. I would expect the same were her affiliation switched and the "right" would be throwing the parties. 

It will always be like this with major figure heads passing. A little out-of-the-box thinking will reveal this.

It's funny, because I don't remember dancing in the street when, say, Ted Kennedy died and he was pretty far to the left in his political opinion. People didn't gather in the street to celebrate his suffering, to sing and to dance and to potentially interrupt the funeral. Many conservatives were not fond of his approach to many subjects, but there was no celebration of death there. Apathy, perhaps, but no celebration. (I did note this to him, but he failed to respond.)

How much do you know about Lady Thatcher? On the day of her death I knew very little beyond she was a staunch leader of the Conservative party in England, had been the Prime Minister in the same time period as Ronald Reagan served as president, and was nicknamed the Iron Lady. (There was also the propaganda posters that showed up in passing on that one Doctor Who episode, but I digress...)

Realizing that I knew very little about her other than these things I did what any 21st century, semi-tech savvy individual does: I googled it. I'm very wary of where content comes from because it tends towards bias (as does my blog, but I'm okay with admitting this openly). I simply do not know enough about British politics to be able to adequately search through multiple websites and decipher how credible they were. Certainly not within enough time for this post. Being that as it was, I settled on what I felt was a fairly safe site for straight-forward, biographical information about Margaret Thatcher: The Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

A few brief tidbits from this overview-biography of an extraordinary woman:

  • She was born a grocer's daughter and rose in politics to be the youngest female political candidate in the UK
  • Though challenged by half a dozen senior colleagues, she became the first woman ever to lead a Western political party and to serve as Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons
  • She is, currently, the only woman to have held the seat of Prime Minister in England
  • She served from 1979 - 1990
  • She turned the British economy around for the better
  • She survived an attack by the IRA on her life

The Left often speaks of the need for strong women in politics, but when a strong conservative woman comes forward she is met with hate and disdain, such as has been seen in the aftermath of Lady Thatcher's passing. One of the commenters on the Facebook conversation stated that it shows a certain lack of class, and I'm inclined to agree with him. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Yom Ha'Shoah: Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013

Yesterday evening at sundown marked the beginning of Holocaust Remembrance Day. About six million Jews were killed in this horrible display of humanity at its worst. They were rounded up in ghettos before being shipped off to various camps to either be put straight to death or worked until the Nazis felt that they were of no more use.

Caera, Shannon, and
my small act of rememberance
Friends of mine came into Dallas this weekend and we decided to take a trip downtown to the Dallas Holocaust Museum  to pay our respects to those that were so brutally murdered. I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't gotten down there yet, but I'm very happy that we went. It was remarkable and while  I have studied the Holocaust before every face, every article of clothing, or pair of glasses, or gold tooth that is left behind pulls at my soul in a new way. We cannot begin to understand.

Time limitations and the abundance of information guarantees that I missed more than a few pictures and articles. I have a feeling that if I were to go back every day for a week I might not hear everything that is recorded for the self-guided tour. Each section offered new facts and information about the ghettos, the death camps, and life for the Jewish people and others that the Nazis believed to be lesser.

We had the honor of meeting a survivor, however briefly. Mike Jacobs was signing copies of his book at the entrance to the main section of the museum. I haven't had a chance to read his book, but it is certainly on my list. With the shortness of people's memories and humanity's willingness to forget the past, it's terrible to think what will happen when this generation passes away.

I know that this isn't a long post, and it is not for lack of things to say. If had been any other Monday it may have gone without an update, but I cannot, in good conscious, let this day pass without at least saying something in regards to it. I hope we always remember the people that died so that we will not allow it again. Sadly, there are still people that would play this out in our generation.

I ran across this video a few years ago. It's shocking to say the least, and took place in our own schools here in the United States. A young woman, part of the school's MSA organization, claimed to agree with the head of Hezbollah in his statement that all Jews should be rounded up in Israel so that he does not have to hunt them down globally. In other words, he wishes to have a second Holocaust.

Please remember their suffering that the Nazi's inflicted on the Jewish people and let's do what so many refused to do in the 1930's and early '40's: Stand up. Remember.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Words, Words, Words

Image via kalyan02
Flickr Creative Commons

As a writer, I think quite a bit on words. What do they mean, how do they fit, and what are the best collections of words to paint the picture of the world that I want to share with the readers? I often wake up with a stream of conversation between characters running through my mind, or a scene playing out, or any number of things, but it all comes back to words. Believe me, putting as much time as I do into thinking on this can be a bit disrupting in life, but I think that it can gives a bit of a different view than others that are not in the business of weaving words. 

Words are powerful, as they should be. After all, as Franklin said, the pen is mightier than the sword, and that is a continuous truth. 

I think this is also why people fear words. When you look to history and start noting similarities in societies  that begin to take that horrible spiral into despotism, there are trends that can be found. Freedom of speech and of the press is either limited or eliminated and knowledge is severely suppressed, often in the form of limiting citizens' access to the written word. While at university the question was posed by a professor why there did not appear to be any art or creativity in the society in the book that we were reading (which took place in a totalitarian state). I stated that artists have always been known to push limits, and that a government that does not acknowledge natural freedoms would not be keen to allow those limits to be pushed. It would threaten them. It would threaten their power.
Image via LordJim
Flckr Creative Commons

It's interesting to think, as citizens of the United States of America, a pioneer in freedom and liberty, that our speech is stifled every day. Our words, thoughts, and beliefs are put under scrutiny, and if we do not toe this imaginary line (one that seems to keep changing without warning) we are labeled. It's as if we've been put in the corner with a dunce hat. Peer pressure will, after a while, encourage all the other students in the room to point and laugh, the words lost and the meanings trampled, even if they might have been worth something. 

Every thought is worth something, even if not implementable

Political Correctness has muzzled free speech, causing people to have to internally debate every syllable of every word before speaking them for fear of being called a bigot, a hater, a [insert group of people]-phobe, a racist, or any other number of derogatory terms that are regularly attributed to people that do not adhere to Political Correctness. It stifles meaning and drowns out personal freedoms of expression. Instead of risking offense, we are expected curb our own personal opinions, our own beliefs in many cases, so that they are aligned with what is considered the correct way of thinking in society. All in line. One after another. Just keep marching.

How does this encourage growth? How does a society move forward in such a way? If the Elite (a group nearly as difficult to define as that PC line that we're expected to toe) is able to choose what is right or wrong and demand that you silence any disagreement with it (lest you be called one of the aforementioned names), then they have full control over the direction that society moves in. They have the reigns, and we (the citizens of this nation) become the animal that has been broken in and easily maneuvered the way they wish us to go. 

They control the words and they control the meaning of words. I remember during the '08 elections that a man called into a talk show host on the radio and told the host that he was a racist. The host asked how he came to that conclusion, and the caller stated that it was because he disagreed with Barack Obama, therefore he must be a racist. This was interesting, because I never realized that to disagree with someone on a set of beliefs was to hold a prejudice against them. I suppose that's why I'm not very good at toeing that invisible line. 
Kudos to the person that put this together
It's been floating around FaceBook for a bit now

Words are important. Words are powerful. If a group of people can twist words to mean what they want them to mean or can intimidate another group of people into silence the second group is shackled. Think back, once again, to American history. In many places in America, free speech and freedom of the press was stifled by the British just before the Revolution broke out. Before the Civil War, it was illegal to teach a slave to read. They were not allowed to speak their minds, they were not allowed to put forth their own thoughts in most cases. Why was this? To keep them subservient. Once a voice was heard saying "You cannot own me, I'm a human being" it gained strength. When Americans gathered in Boston and spoke of God-given rights that King George and Parliament could not take from them, it threatened England's authority. 

If you claim to be free, speak boldly, for if you choose to bow to the passing whims of Political Correctness you give up that freedom and enslave yourself to it. Respect those whose views differ from your own. You can always learn something from them. Believe strongly and keep faith in your ideals. It is only by voicing those thoughts that you can change the world around you into a better place. Stand firmly for what is right. People will always speak lies around you, but know for yourself where you come from so that you do not have to rely on their opinions for validation. 

I've been listening to the words of a man that I have a great amount of respect for. That respect grows each time I hear him speak. I'll close out this post with Dr. Ben Carson's words and his thoughts on the matter.