Indelible

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December 7, 2019-

Three men remain alive, of the Americans who fought at Pearl Harbor.  It’s been 78 years, since that day that brought the United States into de jure  conflict with Imperial Japan. The de facto war had been going on for some time, with Lend Lease and with Americans enlisting in other nations’ military forces.

The conflict was both the second-worst war of the Twentieth Century, after its predecessor, and the scenario for the hardest choices this country’s leadership has ever had to make.  The contributions of our best service people, the sacrifices of our civilian populace and the courage of underground fighters, across the globe- and on every inhabited continent, all are part of what makes World War II indelible in the memory of a conscious citizen.

Earlier today, one of the last Pearl Harbor veterans was laid to rest, on the sunken remains of the USS Arizona, the prime memorial site of that horrific attack.  Next weekend, our memorials to fallen veterans continues, with the laying of wreaths in each National Cemetery, across the country.   We will maintain our tributes to those who fell, and to those who came back, continued to serve those they loved and, in many cases, struggled with their demons.

Their fight for the common good, however ongoing and difficult, is indelible.

No Quarter

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December 6, 2019-

When one has an adult child serving in the military, there is a particular degree of attention paid to the circumstances surrounding that child’s safety and well-being, day to day.  My son entered the United States Navy in July, 2011.  He will finish his regular active duty, in January, 2020.  Then he will serve in the Naval Reserves, for several more years.  I will keep watch on his environment, throughout.

As his final weeks on active duty ensue, three attacks have been committed, on U.S. military property, within days of each other.  One, at Fort Story, VA, was an act of vehicular homicide.  The second, at Pearl Harbor, only days before the 78th Anniversary of the infamous attacks there, by the forces of Imperial Japan, was committed by someone who apparently snapped, after a disciplinary notice was issued him.  The third, which may also have been committed by someone who snapped, happened today, at Naval Air Station, Pensacola.  ended with four dead.

There is some speculation of terror ties, in the first and third incidents, but not-as yet- in the second.  There can be, simply put, no quarter given to any terrorist, regardless of ideology.  The whole subject of the origins of terrorism can fill several volumes.  It basically boils down to sustained inhumanity of one group against another, leading to ongoing acts of retaliation and revenge.

Yet, revenge just leads to more chaos, and the cycle goes on.  I read this morning of the summary executions of four men suspected of raping a female veterinarian and burning her corpse, near Hyderabad, India.  There is no less sympathetic criminal than a rapist.  I can understand the rage of the men who captured these four.  If anyone ever sexually assaulted, much less killed, any of the many women who are close to my heart, my emotions would boil over, privately.  I would then have to  leave the punishment to the authorities, expecting them to fulfill their duties.  In the event they didn’t, I would, following the law, be a broken record, until justice was served.

Vengeance, though, is not my way.  On the rare occasions when the woman I met 39 years ago today, later married,  and then laid to rest, after nearly 29 years of wedlock, was taunted or sexually harassed, I stood up to those who exhibited their animal instincts but never once did I feel the need to beat someone down.   This was fortunate, as I am perfectly capable of flying into a rage.  It just has become less of a potentially useful method of dealing with such matters.  Our society, many parts of which dabble in false equivalency, might too easily fall for sad origin stories of  rapists or other sexual predators.  In the ensuing judicial chaos, no justice is served.

I maintain that, in each case of assault on peaceful, law-abiding citizens, regardless of the assailant’s motive, there needs to be a doubling-down on adherence to the sanctity of human life and safety.  Those who commit acts of terrorism, including sexual terrorism, must face justice, in its fullness- without mindless vengeance.

 

 

Tear Memories, Fire Sales and Recovery

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December 13-14, 2018, Prescott-

I’ve been back at work, these past two days, getting easily into the routine again.  As my crewmates read my posts here and on Facebook, there was a brief welcome back, with little conversation about the journey. We focus on the matters at hand, which are certainly enough on any given day.

It must have been quite a contrast in those schools which have endured the twin demons of school shootings and their accompanying choruses of denials/attacks on survivors and victims’ families.  The fourteenth of December, a full week after the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, has its own, equally horrific commemoration- the massacre at Sandy Hook.  There will never be a time when the survivors of this insanity do not shed tears.  There will hopefully be a time, and soon, when those of us who truly love children can forgive those who threatened the families of the shooting victims.  That time, at least for me, has not arrived, and I’m still vigilant.

Fridays are also  days when investors take to selling off their  stocks, perhaps more than on any other day of the week.  I know the sales have to originate on Wednesdays, with the cashout being completed at week’s end, but it seems to me that this is an ersatz payday.    The stock market is no place for a fire sale.

I have now fully recovered from a couple of setbacks, earlier in the year.  Finances are sound, and will have to sustain me for the rest of my life, so I will continue to maintain a measure of frugality.  I again have a passport, so prudent overseas travel can happen, to Korea, next Spring, and certain other places, two years hence.    Travel and frugality are not mutually exclusive.

 

Sixty Six, for Sixty-Six, Part XL: Breathe, and Be

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June 4, 2017, Prescott-

I made it a point to watch several of the You Tube videos coming out of today’s One Love Manchester concert, organized as a response to last month’s bombing, and, by extension, to yesterday’s attacks in London.

The performances, in my view, were heartfelt, as was the outpouring of support from responsible adults, worldwide.  Any one critiquing the “quality” of the singing, or the motives of the people involved, is missing the point.  Many young people, both male and female, were injured-and 22 lost their lives, needlessly.  Entertainment is part of a full and healthy life.  The kids had every right to go to an entertainment venue of their choice, so long as no one else was harmed by that choice.  No one should have to answer to conservative religious zealots, macho men who hate girl singers, or anyone else, for that matter.

Enough of that, though.  The focus was, and will remain, on the healing of those communities which have experienced deadly attacks.  It takes most people a long time, and some never fully recover.  Survivors of the Pearl Harbor attack and of the World War II concentration camps, have been forever scarred by their experiences.  People who were in New York and Arlington, VA, during the September 11, 2001 horrors, are hard put to set those events aside.  They ought not have to answer to conspiracy theorists, or naysayers of any stripe.

The same is true of those recovering from these latest terror episodes.  The focus needs to be on just breathing, on being.  I have a lot of love for kids, and for people in general.  Victims have a special place in my heart, as they do in the hearts of a good many.  Terrorists and haters, so long as they persist, will never count for much in my book.

Five Still Standing

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December 7, 2016, Prescott-

Seventy-five years have passed.

It was the second attack by foreign military

on U.S. soil, in our nation’s history.

A third would follow, fifty-seven years later.

By then, many had forgotten

the bloody sacrifice,

which again jarred our sense

of innocence.

This was as it had been before.

Those who remembered the White House burning,

were few and far between,

when the bodies fell

like cord-wood, at Antietam and Shiloh.

The Great War was witnessed by a few old soldiers,

who had served under Grant and Lee.

When the planes hit the Towers,

Pearl Harbor was a footnote,

in the rush to the House of Gifts.

How swiftly we deny,

and then forget.

Seventy-five years have gone by

and five still stand,

in remembrance of

that day,

when they were young

and no longer innocent.

(The five are the remaining survivors of the attack on the USS Arizona, at Pearl Harbor, in 1941.)

 

Souls Passed Through Him

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September 11, 2016, Yarnell- I read, in this morning’s paper, about a Port Authority policeman, his experiences on September 11, 2001 and his wrenching aftermath- a life no one should have to live.  He spoke of being knocked to the ground, after the second plane hit, the tower fell, and “souls passed through me.”

I believe the last part, having experienced my wife’s soul filling our bedroom, as she prepared to leave for the next life, 5 1/2 years ago.  I know much of the rest: The buildings were physically hit by two airplanes; implosion devices, already in place since the towers were repaired after 1993, were triggered and  brought the towers straight down; dozens of people jumped to their deaths, to avoid being immolated; there are over a thousand for whom there has never been any identification or accounting, as to their fates.

Fifteen years does not erase the horror anyone felt that day.  Most, like me, watched incredulously, on television, as the engineers’ devices went off, automatically, saving tens of thousands more people from dying- as would have happened, had the buildings EXPLODED outward.  Just as those who were alive during the attack on Pearl Harbor still have nightmares, on occasion; just as walking through Gettysburg, Auschwitz, Valley Forge in winter, can still give the average soul and eerie feeling, so I was off to a shaky start, just from reading a post by a friend who was in the first (1993) World Trade Center bombing.

My resolution was to go to this serene town, 25 miles southwest of Prescott, and itself the scene of one of our state’s worst nightmares, on June 30, 2013, when 19 wildland firefighters died in the Yarnell Hill Fire.  I went to St. Joseph’s Mission and Retreat, and walked up the Stations of the Cross trail, revisiting another of history’s greatest horrors- the Martyrdom of Jesus the Christ.  This place brings peace, because the love I feel for Christ, and for His Father, is  primally soothing.  As always, the walk brought me to a centered place, as I recited some Baha’i prayers, words which Jesus Himself would have given His followers, had they been ready to receive.

Terrible things will ever plague humanity, in a harsh world.  Nonetheless, the Sacred Teachers are with us, and having felt Their presence, along this replica of Via Dolorosa, I am able to return to Prescott, and later, to Chino Valley- observing the birthday of a good friend.

 

The Road to 65, Mile 26: Homage to a Chief, and Hail to the Heathens

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December 24, 2014, Vail, AZ-  Growing up, and especially in my teens and twenties, Christmas Eve almost achieved a holiday status all its own.  As a young adult, it almost became a not-so-dry run for its sister Eve, a week later.  This morning, I scouted around for a breakfast place in Lordsburg.  The Pilot Truck Stop store turned out to be the closest thing to such an establishment, since I swore off fast food chains, a while back.  (Well, I do go in Subway, now and then, but you get the picture.)  Armed with a blueberry muffin and high test coffee, I checked out of Holiday Motel and headed west.

Cochise, the famed Apache warrior chief, was a complex man.  His thoughts on the state in which he found himself and his people were summed up by his observation to General Crook that the common enemy of both Apache and American was the Spaniard, who had long since disappeared from these lands, to be replaced by the Mexican, whom Cochise neither understood, nor trusted.  He didn’t particularly like Crook, but he did see the General as a man of his word.  The feeling was mutual.

Cochise would probably like the way in which his old redoubt, the Stronghold that bears his name, has been kept largely wild.  There are horse camps and vacation cottages nearby, but the campsites that are set aside, for those who come to pay their respects to him, are primitive.  Pack it in, pack it out, just as the Chiricahua people did.

I walked a short distance, from the Day Use trailhead, to the base of the Dragoons, and said quiet prayers to the Father of us all.  Like Quanah Parker did, at the Sipapu in Palo Duro Canyon, nearly three years ago, Cochise communicated with me:  “You are ever welcome at this place.  Return, at length, when you are able, my son.  For now, go in peace and harmony, and above all else, keep your word.”

SAM_3498 SAM_3502 SAM_3504 The ruggedness of Cochise Stronghold was soon replaced by the wild yapping of those whose owners call them the Heathen Hounds.  Hacienda Ranch lies a fair stretch down towards the road from Vail Steak House, one of my homes away from hom, when I’m down this way.  The Heathens and their people came this way, from Oklahoma, about six months ago.  These are hounds (chihuahuas) that like all such little critters, would gladly enjoy me as their breakfast.  Bob and Tamy are of a different opinion regarding yours truly, and so I was given a fine lunch and a nice little guest room.  So, I hailed the Heathens from the other room, and went off with Bob, exploring the low country, and a winding hill.

SAM_3505 After such a repast, the confluence of the Chihuahua and Sonoran Deserts called out pretty loudly.  There are no sahuaro, or yucca, in this transition zone, but everything else is here, including the javelina and coyotes.

SAM_3508 These ancient rocks are found along a wash, just southwest of Hacienda.SAM_3509 SAM_3511 SAM_3512 Bob and i went a bushwackin’ through the scrub, and found this seasonal tank.  He thinks a larger one lies just to the west of this one.  Maybe on a future jaunt, one or both of us will find it.SAM_3513 Th scene is recorded for posterity.SAM_3514 These next scenes are from the winding road up a nearby hill.SAM_3516 SAM_3519SAM_3517 SAM_3521 In the absence of sahuaro, the ocotillo take full advantage.  The dogs didn’t take advantage of me, but even if they tried, I’d have loved to death.

This Christmas Eve was spent watching a rebroadcast of A Christmas Story 2″, which bored me to tears, and . another, of “Pearl Harbor”, which delivered the full horror of that awful day.   One element of surprise, though, led to another, and as Admiral Yamamoto said, the sleeping giant had been awoken.

A Small-Time Mariner’s Voyage, Day 4: Bidding Paradise Farewell

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Oct. 14, 2014, Honolulu-  Hawai’i’s role in the life of the United States, and the world, became more complex with the entry of the Trojan horse that was the entry of outside commercial interests into its affairs.  The people of any given nation are far more polyglot now than they were even fifty years ago.  For the land now called the Aloha State, this has meant being a constant target, both domestically and from foreign interests.  A stark reminder of the last time this happened is the USS Missouri/ USS Arizona Memorial, in Pearl Harbor.  We sailed past this stirring sight, on the calm waters of Pearl Harbor, knowing that during our journey, there were no threatening forces between here and San Diego.  Our only challenge was building and maintaining a strong and unified sense of purpose during the six days of return from deployment.

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As soon as we headed away from shore, a storm was seen over O’ahu.

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As the clouds headed swiftly over the island’s central cordillera, Pai’Olu Olu Point was visible from the starboard side.SAM_3018

Also visible were two gulls  following us, in the off chance that food would be tossed out the galley portal.  No such luck, though.  The Navy is being more careful with what gets put into the ocean these days.

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One brown gull hit the deck, and was momentarily stunned.  It took about ten minutes for the poor creature to get re-oriented and head off skyward again.

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As the morning wore on, we caught a glimpse of Moloka’i, as we headed through the channel separating it from O’ahu.

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The successful start to our cruise to San Diego was celebrated, with the first of several cakes.

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The sea reminded us, every so often, of who was boss.  All in all, she would be a reasonable Madame.

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