Sunday, March 30, 2008

Welcome Home Troops

I spent part of Saturday, March 29, at the San Diego VA Medical Center, participating as a Soldiers' Angels representative in the 1st Annual Welcome Home Event for our military heroes returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many organizations had volunteers onsite, such as Wounded Warrior Project, Navy Safe Harbor, and Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. It was heartwarming to see so many resources aligning themselves to help support our armed services homecoming, with volunteers visiting each other's tables and exchanging information to better inform the troops. It was also rewarding to finally meet many fellow Soldiers' Angels whom I have known only through e-mail prior to yesterday.

New Marine Corps graduates, retired veterans, and different volunteer groups, including Soldiers Angels, were interviewed by internet radio, linked here. Although the live broadcast was from 1:00-3:00pm during the event, the audio is not posted yet. I'll be checking back to listen, as I was a busy Angel during most of the taping and would like to hear all of the interviews.

Meanwhile, to our returning U.S. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines ~

Welcome Home!

Friday, March 28, 2008

From the Field

The leftys who claim to be so concerned for our "victim" troops especially need to read this post. It always helps to know what's being talked about before criticizing it.

Ask any Marine who has spent time in the battlefield. Too bad the libs are so invested in their agenda for defeat that they won't do even that much for our military.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Memory Hole

Arriving home from work this evening, I raced for my front door under sniper fire. No, wait. That was just some bees in the hedge--my mistake.

Anyway, once safely ensconced inside my home, I surfed the news and found this Jonah Goldberg offering that made me feel relieved. It appears I'm not the only one wondering why Barack Obama thinks he invented "race conversation."

Did anyone alive fifty years ago think they would ever see a black Secretary of State? One of his crackerjack staffers should remind Obama that we've had two, and Colin Powell was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before he was Secretary of State. Today, we have a black woman as Secretary of State. And what about our current black Supreme Court Justice?

Justice Thomas is our second African-American in that esteemed position. Thurgood Marshall was first black to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Marshall was appointed in June 1967 by Lyndon Johnson.

At that time, Obama was not quite six years old. No wonder he forgot about it.

Call me crazy, but I think that most thoughtful Americans today are fairly well squared away on the race issue. We don't need to be admonished and lectured by someone who feels he's carved the Rosetta Stone for an integrated Utopia. Especially when we now know the kind of hate-mongering he goes to church to hear. That's the kind of sniper fire that causes real damage and, as the Obama campaign is learning, is rarely forgotten by those it wounds.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nubs Comes Home

Photo by Scott Linnett
San Diego Union-Tribune

Nubs and his story were mentioned in my March 2 post. His happy reunion with Maj. Brian Dennis was documented in this heartwarming article in the Easter Sunday Union-Tribune.

The video link in the article depicting the reunion would melt the stoniest heart. Welcome home to our Marine hero, Maj. Dennis, and his faithful friend.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

He Shall Reign

I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself

Although it is a popular Christmas offering, the stirring Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" is actually the triumphant celebration of the risen Lord. It is Easter music. To listen to it is to shiver with chills.

It is documented that Handel had a religious experience while he was sequestered for the 24 days in which he had been inspired to write "Messiah." As one servant described it, "He was praying, or he was weeping, or he was staring into eternity." Interestingly enough, this muscial masterpiece called "Messiah" was completed on September 14, 1741--during Rosh Hashanah, which began on September 11 that year.

"Messiah" premiered in Dublin, Ireland, in April 1742. The music is as popular today, 266 years later, as it was during King George II's standing ovation. In my opinion, "The Hallelujah Chorus" was Handel's ticket into heaven.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The End of Lent

God be merciful to me a sinner

I haven't done much during this Lent. Some Lents have been like that. If I do resolve to either do something extra or give something up, I keep to it with few slip-ups. But this year, Lent just hasn't held my attention.

The first couple of weeks, I decided to read a favorite prayer book. Reading a few minutes each night, I was done after two weeks. Then, I began brainstorming for backup Lent plans.

Before the Vatican II Council, Catholic adults over age 21 and under 60 were obligated to follow a strict fasting regimen during Lent. They were allowed to eat three modest meals a day, and the sum of two could not be larger than the third meal. Meat was allowed once a day, never on Fridays. Liquids could be taken between meals, but no solid food. Sunday was a day of rest from the fast, when one could eat normally.

On top of all this food deprivation, there was the Lenten tradition of "giving up" a daily treat, such as eating chocolate, or doing something extra in sacrifice, such as attending daily Mass. Lent really packed some serious spiritual clout in those days. As a child, I viewed my distant 21st birthday with dread. How would I ever manage to keep the Lenten fast?

The energy I expended agonizing over my hungry future was wasted, as the Lenten fast was long a thing of the past by the time I reached age 21. The "giving up" or "doing extra" exercise remains, and it's impressive how many Catholics today still resolve to forego simple pleasures in the spirit of Lenten sacrifice.

During the third week of Lent this year, with the prayer book back on its shelf, I decided to try to keep the pre-Vatican II Lenten fast, the thought of which had so daunted me in olden days. I didn't do very well. The small meals, easy to manage. Meat once a day, no problem. But how can anyone power through the day without a granola bar or an apple to fuel mid-mornings or afternoons?

I must confess, I can't. "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Every night after dinner, I always have two cookies with a cup of tea. Next year during Lent, I've already decided, I'm giving up the cookies.

I'll let you know how long I last.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Just Man

Then Joseph, being raised from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife

Today is St. Joseph's Day--one of them, anyway. It's actually the feast of Joseph the Betrothed, or Joseph of the Holy Family. May 1 is celebrated as the feast of Joseph the Worker .

We don't know much about Joseph, aside from the fact that he was "a just man," as described in Matthew 1:19. He was also a man of great faith, who trusted in God when he was probably tempted to side with logic and reason. Because of his faith, Joseph became head of the Holy Family, and he is considered the patron saint of fathers and families, as well as working people.

My father (also a just man) had a lifelong devotion to St. Joseph. Dad used to say that Joseph was the most powerful saint, because he had been chosen to protect and provide for the Blessed Mother and Our Lord. Whenever he had a special intention to lift up in prayer, my father told me that he always asked for the aid of "St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus."

"When I ask in that way, my prayer is always answered," Dad said.

St. Joseph is also the patron of dying people, which is comforting. Twenty-one years ago tonight, on March 19, the feast of his favorite saint, my father died. I like to think that St. Joseph was watching over Dad. It seems like something Joseph would do, especially for a close friend.

St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus--thank you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hold the Onion

Victor Davis Hanson never fails to remind me why I'll never be a liberal Democrat. I've never liked baloney, and the Dems dish up way too much of it. Most recently, in Barack Obama's you-can't-be-serious "race" speech today.

It gives me heartburn to think Obama expects us to swallow this garbage. "A More Perfect Union," my ankle. "A More Perfect Onion" is more like it. This confirms Obama's long-simmering superiority complex, which is now locked into overdrive and about to vault him over the disaster cliff.

I may be white, but I'm not stupid, Senator O. What "racial stalemate" are you referring to? You're the one running for president, you're the Ivy League grad with the best-selling book deals and the posh $1.65 million home with the wine cellar (but that's a different controversy). It seems to me, the penny-saving daughter of a middle-class white man, that you and your complaining, America-keeps-us-down wife are doing just fine. Since you're suddenly interested in talking about race, you're far better off than most white folks I've ever known.

Sen. Obama expended a vast amount of vocabulary--4,865 words--to make an elaborate case in defense of the poor misunderstood Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama's bottom line: White folks should make more of an effort to understand Wright's views.
It's going to take a lot more than eight American flags as stage props to make me swallow that stinker.
If Obama wanted to make his speech worthwhile, he should have said something like: "There is no excuse for what Rev. Wright said about September 11. There is no excuse for him to be profaning our nation. He should apologize."

That's 26 words and it covers everything that needs to be said. But Obama is more interested in churning out his baloney about more perfect onions. I'm glad I don't eat either.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Celebrate the Day

I found the lyrics under the name "Gypsy Rover," but that's nonsense. This song is introduced on a rare live-performance Clancy Brothers album as "The Whistling Gypsy"--and, as the Clancys are the last word in Irish music to me, that's the correct title.

Tommy Makem, who sang with the Clancys during their glory years in the 1960s, delivers the best version of this Irish classic on that live album (link here to listen), which is one of my life-long favorites. St. Patrick's Day would not be complete without hearing it:

The gypsy rover came over the hill
Down through the valley so shady,
He whistled and he sang 'til the greenwoods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

Chorus:Ah-de-do, ah-de-do-da-day,Ah-de-do, ah-de-da-ay
He whistled and he sang 'til the green woods rang,
And he won the heart of a lady.

She left her father's castle gates
She left her own fine lover
She left her servants and her state
To follow the gypsy rover.

Her father saddled up his fastest steed
And roamed the valleys all over
Sought his daughter at great speed
And the whistling gypsy rover.

He came at last to a mansion fine,
Down by the river Claydee
And there was music and there was wine,
For the gypsy and his lady.

"He is no gypsy, my father" she said"
But lord of these lands all over,
And I will stay 'til my dying day
With my whistling gypsy rover

Sing it again, Tommy, boyo! The way you hold that last note still gives me goosebumps. Let's lift a glass to toast a happy St. Pat's Day for all. Slainte.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Me, Me, Me

Eliot Spitzer's resignation statement contained 377 words. Twenty-five of those words were "I" and thirteen were "my." Even in an apology--and I give him credit, he did actually apologize--Spitzer's phraseology manages to attribute himself with noble motives.

He won't "disrupt the people's work." Throughout his career, he has "insisted" that "people...take responsiblity for their conduct" and he "will ask no less" of himself.

Quite admirable. But only because he got caught. Client #9 would still quite happily be disrupting the people's work, taking no responsibility for his conduct, and asking nothing of himself, if he hadn't been busted. So how sorry is he, honestly, for all the pain and suffering he has showered upon his family?

We'll never know. But when a public official is going down in the kind of atomic flames that Spitzer currently is, we can learn a lot from the fact that ten percent of his speech is about himself.

Here's a self-congratulatory snippet, with personal references highlighted:
"I look at my time as governor with a sense of what might have been, but I also know that as a public servant, I and the remarkable people with whom I worked have accomplished a great deal."

Well, aren't New Yorkers the lucky ones? I'd like to ask a few. In fact, I intend to do just that. My next weekend telephone calls with NY family members should be highly entertaining. If I hear anything worth sharing on what New Yorkers think about "public servant" Spitzer's "accomplishments," I'll be sure to do a follow-up post. By then, the disgraced former governor should be in the process of trying "once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good ..."

Oh, please. Just go.

Monday, March 10, 2008

You Must Remember This....

....A sin is still a sin.

For an elderly pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI is quite the modernist. The infamous "Seven Deadly Sins" are getting some spiritual Botox and being translated into 21st century jargon.

Even in our decadent era, it's tough to improve upon the 6th century originals: lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy, and pride. But far be it from a nice Catholic girl to argue with the Pope. Although in the olden days of my recalcitrant youth, that was the worst and final accusation my exasperated mother would hurl at me: "You'd argue with the Pope!"

Which, no doubt, qualifies as a deadly sin. Oops.

But back to our new and improved deadly sins. They are, in all their stylish ignominy: genetic engineering, polluting the environment, social injustice, obscene riches, abortion, pedophilia, and taking drugs.

Now, call me unimaginative (if you dare), but I think this is just putting some flashy new UGGs over the worn old work boots. Think about it. In genetic engineering, you've got your old-fashioned pride--we humans figured out how to do it, so let's show off how smart we are by turning manipulated DNA into a party game.

Polluting the environment? Well, that could be a combo of sloth and greed...or sloth and avarice...or sloth and gluttony. That one word insists on popping up, so face it--you're just plain lazy if you're not separating your recyclables from the trash.

Social injustice is kind of vague. Does it include the CEO of my company, who let the stock crash 75% and left all of my shares underwater? I certainly hope so--sorry, the deadly sin of anger flared up on me (does that still count?) The CEO example ties right in with obscene riches, which should make a lot of oil corporations and Hollywood stars nervous. But it won't, as they are still busy with most of the outdated deadly sins such as avarice, gluttony, lust and pride and will take no notice of the revised pitfalls along humanity's path.

Abortion. Now, we're getting somewhere. Here's a deadly sin for our modern age. But as far as I'm concerned, it's been covered since the Old Testament, Book of Exodus, under the "Thou shalt not kill" commandment--which is #5, as I learned them in Catholic school. The order of the "no killling" commandment may vary in different faith traditions, but the message doesn't.

Pedophilia. Well, it's about time that was mentioned, considering the clergymen that have dragged the Church through the muck--and inflicted lifelong tragedy upon their victims. In the New Testament, Our Lord has strong words for people who hurt children. Pedophiles should indeed be worried, in this or any century.

Taking drugs. It's hard for me to know how to categorize this one. Is it lust, gluttony, anger, pride, or any combination of all the original deadly sins that leads a poor soul to such misery? But, it is indeed a sin of our time, one that unfortunately is spreading among ever-younger age groups, so it is timely that this is included in the "new" sins.

Yet, a sin is still a sin. What was once intrinsically wrong is still and ever will be, regardless of our times and personal interpretations. In fighting against the deadly sins, old or new, practice of the seven holy virtues of chastity, abstinence, temperance, diligence, patience, kindness and humility will go a long way towards keeping us spiritually safe.

On that point, not even the Pope could argue with me. Although, wait a minute, that might just be pride talking...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Liberal Dose of Fun

Don't miss Mark Steyn's entertaining analysis of the Democratic race. I started giggling on line two and didn't stop until the end.
"The Mummy (as my radio pal Hugh Hewitt calls her) kicked open the sarcophagus
door and, despite the rotting bandages dating back to Iowa, began staggering
around terrorizing folks all over again. "
Mark, as the kids say, you rock.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Looking Ahead

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

It’s been a while since I’ve linked to Victor Davis Hanson, which makes me remiss--but better late than never. With no further delay, I refer you to Victor Davis Hanson’s March 3 article, “The World in 2009.” It’s an important read.

George W. Bush has made a boatload of mistakes during his two terms in office. There aren’t even many Republicans who will argue against that statement. But President Bush never seems to get any credit for his successes, most recently the stunning results of the 2007 troop surge in Iraq.

There have been other success stories in the second Bush presidency, which Hanson points out. He also underscores the fact that the enduring perils of our times await the next president and that, in many cases, these ominous realities pre-dated George W. Bush.

The looming international challenges of Russia, Iran, Al Qaeda, Kosovo, China, India, and Latin America won’t magically disappear when Bush leaves office. Today’s tragic headlines remind us of Israel’s pervasive problems, also. Ready or not, the next president will have to step up and deal with all of the global issues, each on its own urgent timetable. By definition, a crisis won't wait for a convenient photo-op moment.

Platitudes play well on the campaign trail, but actions are the stuff of the presidency. It's impossible to expect a human being, even one occupying such a lofty position as the President of the United States, to choose the correct action in every decision--especially if that decision is made under stressful circumstances or extreme time pressures.

It may be an inconvenient truth for our illustrious candidates, but those are the conditions under which most critical presidential decisions are made. In 2009, President Whoever will need to buy a helmet and buckle up when the new rubber meets the old road. He--or she--is in for a rough ride.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Saving Energy

I've decided to take some advice that my late husband gave me about a year before his death. "Don't worry too much about it," Pete once said to me, after I finished a rant about the possibility of Hillary Clinton becoming president.

Wise words. I don't worry as much as I used to about Clinton Part II. Of course, I've had much more pressing worries over the past two-plus years. Perhaps that has given me a certain perspective that previously eluded me. But really, whoever thought that we'd see the day when Hillary might be the lesser evil? Yet, here it is.

I'm going to try to take a Zen approach to the election. I want to find my "chi" and just go with the flow instead of fighting my way upstream. Regardless of who wins the White House, the sky will not fall. We've survived eight years of George W. Bush and his open house border policy. No Democrat is going to finish building the fence, so that will remain status quo. I can save some energy with that realization.

Replacing Supreme Court justices is like playing Vegas. Reagan appointed Sandra Day O'Connor, and Bush (41) appointed David Souter. Both of those justices turned out to be full of surprises in their decisions, so I've decided to eschew excessive handwringing over the Court. More energy conserved on that one.

In the event of another terrorist attack on American soil, the force of public reaction alone would render it impossible for whoever is president to take no action in response. After the economic fallout is factored in, we'd probably have too much action being taken. There's nothing like a stock market crash to knock the allure out of diplomacy. ("Change? Yes we can! Tomahawk incoming!")

Government-sponsored health care? President Whoever will have at least half the country furious about the way it's being handled, no matter what he-or-she does. So I've decided not to stress over that one, either. A few more personal watts saved.

My bottom line is, the choices for the next chief executive are appalling. A cranky septagenarian who views Mexico as the 51st state, a pompous empty suit with a Marxist wife, and a screeching know-it-all with enough baggage to sink the Titanic all over again. No matter who wins, we're all going to need our energy just to survive the next four years.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Dogs of War

A dog owns nothing, yet is seldom dissatisfied.
~ Irish proverb

Many of our U.S. troops are finding solace in the company of man's best friend in Iraq.

Last week I read the story of Nubs, a dog abused by Iraqis that found a Marine to care for him. After the troop was redeployed 70 miles away, Nubs followed him and won a San Diego home along with his Marine's heart.

Now seven young pups are coming home to San Diego, adopted by Marines who will soon return to Camp Pendleton and reclaim their canine companions.

The first soldier I adopted with Soldiers' Angels had a pet dog in his camp, named Maisy. The Sgt. sent me a photo of her and mentioned her several times in his letters to me. When he came home, he wrote me that Maisy stayed on with the replacement troops that had taken over his platoon's assignment.

Speaking as a dog lover and owner, I know the vital role that our pets play in our sense of well-being and connection to nature. There is an irresistable quality in the unconditional loyalty and devotion of a dog that must render it especially precious near the battlefield. It's heartwarming to know that our troops, living in the midst of constant danger, have the chance to find joy in the company of their adopted dogs.