Category Archives: Patriotism
By the way and just to say, the more I find out about my ancestry, the more interesting it gets. Lots of family were from nearby where I am now in WNC, even though I grew up about 1,000 miles away. I do have Scots-Irish in me as well on my dad’s side. That’s pretty much exclusively who’s here in these here mountains. So, I’m a local boy after all.
Analysts love declarations. There are certain declarations that are stand-alone, and which simply cannot be voiced unless you mean them in any and all contexts or regardless of any particular context whatsoever. They reveal a helluvalot about a person.
Here’s Peter Strzok declaring away to Tray Gowdy at 5’38″…
“The American electorate I respect in their decisions and their right to vote is absolutely a cornerstone of our democracy so at no time did I insult or call into question the judgment or the power of the American electorate.”
And he later repeats a version of that. It’s ingrained into him.
It’s all in the “so.” The “so” inescapably indicates that Peter Strzok believes that he, personally, is America. But this is not the Patriotism of which he thinks he is the definition. Instead, this is, for him, about his inability to do wrong. This, my friends, is as cynical as it gets. It’s a licence to kill. It’s a licence to betray one’s country as doing so could not possibly be considered betrayal by him: he IS America.
There are plenty of false patriots who say: “I love America and I’m the most patriotic person ever and I embody all that America is.” No. That doesn’t work.
It needs to be added instantaneously that there is an ever present possibility that we can fall short, we are able to betray. It is this honesty and humility which keeps one sharp, frosty, and, indeed, able to see ever so easily how it is that this or that person is at the verge of or has already betrayed America and is a danger.
Anyone who embodies the “so” principle of Peter Strzok cannot be trusted.
Do the analogy. The person who, in the spiritual life says to himself that he is doing just fine and is strong because he hasn’t killed anyone in a long time or ever and that makes him all good is a fraud. The person who by the grace of God is in humble thanksgiving before the Lord gets it, knowing that he could fall at any time into whatever lack. Holiness is about the Lord creating us as His friends: “I call you friends.” The trust is not in ourselves but in Jesus. Jesus I trust in you.
Thanks, Jeep, for that. Awesome National Anthem video. So, I’m even more sorry to say my Jeep Wangler Sport is for sale. The replacement title should be here from Raleigh any day. A tough call, that. Lots of memories. She’s a 1987 classic! 4.2 liter straight six Wrangler Sport which always strikes me as being twice the size of more recent Sports:
She’s in pretty rough shape. To be sold “AS IS.” You’ll have to make her a Trailer Queen till you work on her if you’re brave enough and good enough to get her back into action. You can leave offers in the comments (which comments won’t make it though moderation). Be sure to provide valid contact info. We’ll see what we can do. The tires themselves are worth something, right?
Jenny was my “woods truck.” I wasn’t too smart back in the day.
My neighbor made me a rack for out front so that I wouldn’t kill myself. Very kind of him. I’ll throw in the front rack. The lower log alone, green Red Oak that had tumbled down, surely weighed some 700 lbs. What a fright!
I needed that weight out front to get up the ridge without tumbling backwards! BTW, the right front tire isn’t flat, just down in the ditch a bit.
UPDATE: In response to a question, Jenny would need a tow-bar that you can rent at U-Haul, or a tow-truck with a winch to haul her up.
Another question as to the shifting. She’s got five forward and a reverse. Clutch! There’s another shifter from 4 wheel at low range to four wheel at high range, then also a 2 wheel high range. And a button-plunger gadget to assist in getting it to catch the gears. Hey! It’s 1987. Here’s a picture of that:
The great Beverly Elliott at Congressman Mark Meadows field office in Murphy NC was able to nudge the Navy guys in Millington TN sufficiently that dad’s list of medals and then the medals themselves were provided. I had been unsuccessful for decades, but she was able to do this straightaway. Ms Elliott didn’t like just giving them to me, so she offered to get hold of a guy in Waynesville NC who makes shadow boxes for medals of decorated veterans pro-bono, and then said that she’ll try to get Mark over so that these could be presented a bit more officially. I love that. Dad, post-mortem, will be able to encourage a bit of patriotism in these USA. We need that always and especially today.
I tried to place the medals in order of precedence. Note the double issuance of the first two medals as signified by the stars on the ribbons, and the triple issuance of the last medal as signified by the two stars on the ribbon of that medal. I’ve written of the first three medals in generalities:
- Dad’s medals: honor of circumstances – U.S. Navy Distinguished Service Medal
- Dad’s medals Distinguished Flying Cross Fascinating title for the propeller
- Dad’s Combat Wounded Purple Heart: understanding honor and patriotism
Ms Elliott said that she’s going to try to get the stories of the particular circumstances for the issuance of the first number of medals as recommended by the POTUS of the day.
The above medals are issued by these USA. There are three other medals issued by the Philippines, Korea and even the United Nations – Hey! – the back-in-the-day-U.N.!
Patriotism is a virtue of the natural law and is blessed by God. Speaking of God, my best memory of dad is when I was only a few years old and was able to walk up the aisle of the Cathedral church to kneel at the linen-covered altar rail with him at Communion time. I’ve written of this before:
My favorite memory of him was back in the Autumn of 1962, when I was just 2 1/2 years old. I’d walk up in the Communion line next to him with the rest of the family behind us. This was at the Cathedral with its gorgeous altar rail with the linens flipped over the top. I was always impressed by the linens getting flipped over the top, just as I was with kneeling there beside my dad, reaching up as high as I could to put my hands under the linens like he was doing. I was pretty small. I was filled with such wonder and awe and reverence as the priest and altar boy with paten would make it over to us. They would start on the Epistle side. We were always on the Gospel side. Everything worked together to instill reverence.
It was good be on my knees with dad before the Lord Jesus. Very good.
Why mention that in this post on the medals of a highly decorated war hero? Because here we have a warrior on his knees, in reverence, before The Warrior, Jesus, in the epic battle of good over evil, God over Satan. And dad is with Jesus. I love that.
“The Navy Distinguished Service Medal was originally senior to the Navy Cross [just below the Medal of Honor], until August 1942 when the precedence of the two decorations was reversed. Currently [dad’s time], it is worn after the Defense Distinguished Service Medal [after the Navy Cross] and before the Silver Star Medal.”
“The Navy Distinguished Service Medal is bestowed upon members of the Navy or Marine Corps who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the United States government in a duty of great responsibility. To justify this decoration, exceptional performance of duty must be clearly above that normally expected, and contributes to the success of a major command or project. Generally, the Distinguished Service Medal is awarded to officers in principal commands at sea, or in the field, whose service is of a manner to justify the award. However, this does not preclude the award of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal to any individual who meets the service requirements. The term “great responsibility” implies senior military responsibility, and the decoration is normally only bestowed to senior Navy flag officers and Marine Corps general officers, or extremely senior enlisted positions such as the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy or the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. In rare instances, it has also been awarded to Navy captains and Marine Corps colonels, typically those in positions of significant responsibility in direct support of senior flag and general officers, and then only by exception.”
This is “and only then by exception” presentation, twice.
Dad was USMC, but that’s still part of the Department of the Navy, and at this level, the award is from the Navy. I don’t have the citation for the description of the “great responsibility” in its particularities of circumstance – just the fact of it from the archives in Millington, TN.
Here’s the deal: Even though there are particularities of circumstance that point to the actions of one particular individual, any medal, this one in particular, is dependent on the the brotherhood in which one finds oneself, that brotherhood setting up the structure, the circumstances in which any one guy might well shine, just doing what he had to do in all those unrepeatable particularities. Thus, even for the Medal of Honor, the guy receiving it unfailingly says that he’s receiving the medal for everyone who was there, as they were all depending on one another, and if they happened to be singled out in a particular nanosecond to do the necessary, that’s where the always repeated statement comes in: “I only did what any one of the guys would do.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not reducing all medals to “participation awards” that dumb down competition and a striving for excellence among our youngsters in our now ultra-liberal NEA public schools. Just the opposite. For guys in battle, a medal like this, whoever wears it later, speaks for all, inviting one to be put before that which is much bigger than any individual, a common love of God and Country, Pro Deo et Patria.
And yet, an account of what actually took place in all the unrepeatable historical circumstances is inspiring. We’re not just souls, but we also have bodies in particular places. To see what someone else has gone through when put before a decision of honor is surely inspiring. I wish I could get my hands on the accounts for the medals…
Little kid that I was, I didn’t understand when dad showed me his medals, the one and only time, and only very briefly, but very nostalgically. Not understanding what he was showing me, I forgot, idiot little kid that I was. But his demeanor went into my heart and soul deeper than I suspected. Only now, a half-century later, does the memory flood back, since Rep. Mark Meadows (R., NC) had the Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee send out the list of medals received. The Purple Heart was awarded in the newly restricted years for the combat wounded only. I dare say I have a bit more understanding now than when I was a little kid.
From what I can gather of all my memories of dad, his aspirations for service to God and country, thinking about becoming a priest in the early years, then a politician in later years (as back in the day as a combat fighter attack USMC Corsair pilot he saw how much politics affected geo-political everything), then settling on following up on his JAG training at Georgetown to be an attorney because, he said instantaneously when I asked, this was his way to be of service to help people who were in trouble… from what I can gather, the last thing a purple heart like this was about for him was self-aggrandizement. He knew too many of his buddies who had given all, laying down their lives for God and Country.
He spoke only extremely rarely about war stuff, as is the case with so many veterans. I am surely speaking out of turn, but I dare say that the reason for this is the immediacy of being in life and death situations in service of that which is much greater than one’s own life, namely, the individual and common good of peoples, the service of God, Author of life, and the service of country, the national family to which one belongs.
One is drawn by this love before the epic magnificence of it all, to be in reverence before God and country, and when one is in a state of reverence, it is not that one is reduced to silence but rather lifted up into an appreciation of that for which words fail to express anything comprehensible to anyone so naive as myself as a little kid. It’s this reverence before God and country with the immediacy of life and death that makes for a brotherhood, but not an inward looking, self-congratulatory, closed society of brothers, but rather a brotherhood which encourages all to know that honor and patriotism is not about heroes, but rather about all of us striving to have the same reverence before God and Country, the same immediacy of service in the midst of life and death for God and Country.
Thanks, dad, for understanding honor and patriotism from the inside out, so that I, so that we all could be encouraged to live the same service of God and Country whatever life and death brings to us.
I’ve never met the Honorable Mark Meadows or Beverly, but they are now family as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been trying to get something about dad’s wartime years for decades, it all having disappeared in the vicissitudes of life. No one could get anything, not even friends of friends working the archives. But Rep. Meadows and Bev were successful. The first notification, the listing of medals, came in just now. I hope there is more available. Obviously, I don’t know the half of it. My patriotism is confirmed again.
I am overwhelmed. This is all quite the revelation to me. I’d like to write some posts about those medals against the backdrop of the man I knew as dad. But below is just my first overall reaction to my dad, the hero. He didn’t get the Medal of Honor, but on multiple other occasions he almost did with another four medals just below the Medal of Honor a couple of which are exceedingly rare for field officers who are not Generals. He didn’t get a medal for a record number of planes shot down as a fighter-attack pilot, but some of the missions he was given were obviously freakishly important, with the success of some part of the war effort, in no small part, riding on whether he would be successful. He got a Battle-Wounded Purple Heart. And, I only find out now, he was also in the Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign. I had thought he was all Pacific based. What special mission did they spirit him away to do way outside of his normal theater of operations, and then back again?
Part I: the spirituality of integrity, of being a hero
- On the one hand, my dad wasn’t perfect. I know that. I’ve seen him at his worst. I’m his son. Have any of us seen ourselves at our own worst, admitting that, dealing with it, coming around, being the best because of depending on our Lord, because of knowing we can’t depend on ourselves?
- So, on the other hand, I’ve also seen dad at his best, when he learned, successfully, to depend only on our Lord. He’s always been the hero in my eyes because of victory in his personal life. In that way, he’s my example of integrity. I still remember going to the 1962 Mass with him in the early 1960s: he would smack his heart with his fist at the Confiteor: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
Part II: The instruction about my dad, the hero
Top Brass and politicians were often over to my dad’s house, George Byers Jr. There I would be, the little boy naive to the warring ways of the world. More times than I can count, they would take me aside, have me sit down, and have “The Talk” with me. “The Talk” consisted of seriously looking me in the eye and then, when I was paying serious attention, they would instruct me about my dad being a great hero, that there were a lot of things which for a thousand reasons could not be told, but I had to know that my dad was a great, great hero, and that it was an honor for me to be his son.
This one or that would write a book. This one or that would recount war stories. But they would never ask my dad for the same. They already knew his story as these things get around by witnesses who survived to tell the tale. They knew he could never say a word with any non-combatant like me around, little boy that I was.
What I don’t have…
While the generic description of why any medal is what it is is widely available, there is also a story recounted for specific medals given to specific individuals for specific actions, especially ones which are recommended only by the President of these USA. I don’t have the stories. I wish I did…
Paying it forward, I got a 4’x6′ American flag for my neighbor. We put it up together and folded the old one, getting it ready for respectful retirement by fire. I threw in my old and tattered papal flag. Patriotism and well reasoned loyalty (is that nuanced enough?) are always appropriate, even when bad actors are afoot.
Don’t worry. No forest fire at the hermitage. Unlike those in California who have to deal with environmentalist terror and dry conditions, WNC forests, 90% of the time, are soaked through and through with often double the rainfall of an average rain forest.
President Trump to the widow of one of the Veterans of our parish.
This brought her to tears. She says that she’s lacking in Patriotism, not because she is lacking, but because she is so patriotic that she feels the magnificence of it dwarfs her. She’s the one who has all verses of Taps memorized.
I like this. I like this a lot.
The surest sign that there is a lack of patriotism in a country is when people jump up to ensure that we make a distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the one being for the dead and the other for the living.
Here’s the deal: the living Vets thoughts and prayers on this Veterans Day go to their brothers who died in battle.
Lest we forget.
Avoiding the chaos on Super Tuesday, I went down to the election commission at the courthouse annex in Murphy, NC, and voted early. Fortunately, this is not one of the counties in North Carolina which has trouble in sending out ballots to active Military personnel and citizens overseas; their votes count. I made sure to ask if these early votes here in the county are counted, as it were, instead of just being thrown into the box for use only upon court adjudication after a contested election. They’re counted in an ongoing fashion, I was told, so that they are the first votes in a continuum. Great!
I think voting is important, so I put up the “I Voted Today!” red-white-and-blue sticker given the election commission to those who vote just after voting on the back window of Sassy the Subaru. Just because the sticker has a USA flag motif doesn’t make this a partisan move on the part of the election commission. And although I am an official representative on a local level of a mainstream church, and retain the right to express my private political opinions in the public square, I don’t have anything partisan displayed anywhere, not on my person, not on my vehicle, not at the rectory, well, unless the USA flag, the Vatican flag at the rectory, and some USMC pride on Sassy the Subaru are partisan. They shouldn’t be.
You can’t be too patriotic. Either you’re patriotic or you’re not. It’s a virtue. “For God and Country” – Pro Deo et Patria, or, as my license plate reads: [4G0D4ALL]. If you’re exaggerated either way (and you can be, either way) it’s no longer about the family of one’s fatherland, so to speak, respecting others, helping others, but instead it’s all just about yourself at the cost of others, at the cost of one’s patria, one’s fatherland. Thus, we have a suspect bomber guy, now assisting with interrogations, as it should be.
Ironically, the best way to be a good citizen of one’s patria, fatherland, here on earth is to know that we are all in exile upon this earth, away as we are from our heavenly homeland, where Jesus will bring us face to face with our dearest Heavenly Father.
We call to mind something written waaaay back in the day, some say the first century, some say later, the letter to Diognetus (here with chapters 5 and 6):
CHAPTER 5 — 5:1 For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. 5:2 For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practise an extraordinary kind of life. 5:3 Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. 5:4 But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. 5:5 They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. 5:6 They marry like all other men and they beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring. 5:7 They have their meals in common, but not their wives. 5:8 They find themselves in the flesh, and yet they live not after the flesh. 5:9 Their existence is on earth, but their
citizenship is in heaven. 5:10 They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. 5:11 They love all men, and they are persecuted by all. 5:12 They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. 5:13 They are in beggary, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. 5:14 They are dishonoured, and yet they are glorified in their dishonour. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. 5:15 They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. 5:16 Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened by life. 5:17 War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason of their hostility.
CHAPTER 6 — 6:1 In a word, what the soul is in a body, this the Christians are in the world. 6:2 The soul is spread through all the members of the body, and Christians through the divers cities of the world. 6:3 The soul hath its abode in the body, and yet it is not of the body. So Christians have their abode in the world, and yet they are not of the world. 6:4 The soul which is invisible is guarded in the body which is visible: so Christians are recognised as being in the world, and yet their religion remaineth
invisible. 6:5 The flesh hateth the soul and wageth war with it, though it receiveth no wrong, because it is forbidden to indulge in pleasures; so the world hateth Christians, though it receiveth no wrong from them, because they set themselves against its pleasures. 6:6 The soul loveth the flesh which hateth it, and the members: so Christians love those that hate them. 6:7 The soul is enclosed in the body, and yet itself holdeth the body together; so Christians are kept in the world as in a prison-house, and yet they themselves hold the world together. 6:8 The soul though itself immortal dwelleth in a mortal tabernacle; so Christians sojourn amidst perishable things, while they look for the imperishability which is in the heavens. 6:9 The soul when hardly treated in the matter of meats and drinks is improved; and so Christians when punished increase more and more daily. 6:10 So great is the office for which God hathappointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.
- This will have decades of most positive ramifications for the USA and the world.
- God bless Justice Brett Michael Kavanaugh.
I was cheering at the justifiable emotion of Senator Lindsey Graham:
The absolute best round of questioning came from Republican John Neely Kennedy of Louisiana, very short, very sweet. This was the very last closing session of questioning:
So, let’s see, I’m guessing that within the next six years, we might well see the resignation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. After all, she’s going on 86 right now. Trying to hang on would put her well into her 90s. Her placement would, of course, be another woman, right? I’m thinking of Amy Coney Barrett. Aren’t you?
As you can tell, I’m still in celebration mode. I’m a Catholic priest. But even if you’re an “atheist” but also a promoter of natural law, you should also be in celebration mode. You are, aren’t you?
President Donald Trump just wrote the other day to one of our elderly widows in the parish. Her husband, a WWII vet, died recently. I’ve mentioned previously that this widow presents herself as being UN-patriotic, not because she’s unpatriotic, but because she feels inadequate before the magnificence of all that which is patriotism. I mean, she has all the verses of TAPS memorized. Her least unpatriotic moment is more patriotic than the most patriotism others can muster.
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.
Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.
Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.
While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.
Meanwhile, the old flag out front of the church had sun damage and was replaced at the private cost of some individual parishioners. “No problem,” they said, “because we have a dozen flags ready all the time.”
These guys pass by the rectory. They’ve been geared up in these patriotic days. Alloy wheels aren’t quite the old wooden models, but – Hey! – you do what you can do. These are mules out front, with the body of a horse and the ears of a donkey. Donkey wannabees.
Update: I passed by the wagon train in Andrews NC some months ago. I remember locking eyes with one particular gentleman. I remember being distressed for him. No reason that I knew about. Meanwhile, the guy who fixed my tire the other day told me about this guy who was riding the wagon train as the last thing on his bucket list before dying of cancer.
Having gone through so much, so very much, for me there is only one question remaining for which I demand an answer, and it is urgent, and I want verification. My end of the world question is this, and I will put money up for whatever the answer is:
“What is the favorite beer of *Justice* Kavanaugh?”
I would like to offer him the all time favorite toast of my own father:’
“May the most that you wish for be the least that you get.”
If you’ve had more than one beer, you might have to think about that, but that’s what makes it a great toast.
This tree, estimated to top out at a whopping 150 feet, as a double, was threatening both our social hall and classrooms-church buildings. I employed this most capable off-the-charts-skill-sets black ops guy while he was stateside for communications with the State Department for some days not only because he had all the equipment and know how and insurance, but because of who he employs and the conditions he sets for employment.
He gets young men coming from impossibly horrifically broken families and puts them to work to get them away from bad influences and requires that they are always enrolled in a class or classes to get their GEDs. As a result of his fatherly influence in their lives, they are awesome young men.
We spoke quite a bit about situational awareness, and, I must say, this bit about bettering those around him is the best way to go about situational awareness. It’s like a teacher engaging the most troublesome of troublemakers, making them leaders of their classes. Very cool, all of that, very cool indeed.
And then, off he goes in the blackest of black ops land, you know, the darkest of existential peripheries. I am honored to have met this guy. An inspiration. I think it’s good for priests to have lots of laity that they learn from in all sorts of ways.