Memorial Days–Past and Present

As a little girl, it was Decoration Day. Mother took us out to pick what flowers might have ventured out in the spring. There were snowballs, bridle wreath, peonies, and sometimes we would walk in the hills to pick wild flowers. Lilies of the Valley were a favorite, but they were not very suitable for bouquets for the cemetery. It seemed that everyone celebrated the day. There was music and speeches and reminders. We saw all the flags and knew what they meant.

When I started to play an instrument,  Memorial Day was a day of participation.  Our school band marched from the high school to the cemetery to play for the ceremonies. It only seemed far when it was hot. We complained a little, but we were proud to participate. There were speeches about remembering the price paid by those who laid in the graves under the flags. We were admonished to  remember they paid the price for our freedom.   

During college days I was finished with the quarter and was home for Memorial Day. Didn’t have to play in the band, but the rest of the activities were much the same as prior years. The graves were decorated, the flags flew proudly on the graves of the veterans. and we were taught to never walk on a grave.

By Memorial Day in 1943, I had joined the Navy. You didn’t need much reminding; you were becoming a veteran. We were busy adjusting to military life. No parade for the new recruits except on the parade ground. The next year, 1944, I participated in parades as a proud officer in the United States Navy.

There was great respect for those of us in uniform. But I remember other Memorial Days when veterans were despised and ridiculed for fighting in an unpopular War. There were patriotic voices who continued to remember, but the voices of the antagonists were loud and nasty. Many young people, and others, were caught between what they were taught at home and the terrible scenario playing out in our culture. My sons lived that battle. The draft lottery loomed above the heads of all the young men. These were difficult Memorial Days.

And today, 2014, I can listen to local celebrations. I can hear the President or various dignitaries give “laud and honor” to our veterans while the constant reminders of the scandals occupy the news. Those of us who raised our hands and pledged to serve our country find the pledges of those who do the promising are not bound by the same honor. They can make their speeches and walk away to forget what is really happening in the places designated  “to take care of us.” Even the President can make all kinds of pledges, promises, and show consternation about the problems, but he doesn’t face a captain’s mast or a court martial if he doesn’t keep his pledges. Veterans did and those who serve still do. The President can make a quick trip to the “front.” It’s a great photo op to stand in front of troops who are actually fighting and pledge to give them all they need to do battle and all they have earned when they come home. In the meantime, the lists go on, the monopolistic civil service health care system for veterans continues.

          This Memorial Day there are waiting lists, secret lists, and I can’t even get on a list because I didn’t get into the system before the Iraq War when they instituted a “means” test. Sounds fair, but talk to the veterans who can’t meet the crazy gross income means test. Nobody asked what my gross income was when I joined the service. Nobody told me when I joined the veterans ranks  that I better not works hard, or be too successful if I wanted to collect my veteran health benefits.

Interesting Memorial Day, this one in 2014. We are still sort of at War. The indignation at what is happening to veterans is greater than I have ever seen. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs is under rapid fire; he has been in all kinds of fights before. But this General had people who pledged to serve their country in his command. Should they forget their pledge, he had the tools of military justice handy. He has no tools; he has civil service. People can mismanage, commit fraud, disregard their duty, deny access to those they are supposed to serve, be lazy, treat their charges with disrespect and callous, and get a bonus.             ;’

I hope by next Memorial Day that whoever is in charge of watching out for our veterans will have the tools to get rid of those who don’t care, who are protected no matter what they do, and those who just plain forget.

Transgender–Political Blackmail

An edict from the federal government that dfemands that I, as a member of a local School Board, must allow children in my District to wake up in the morning and decide which bathroom they choose to use for the day, is as welcome In my community as a wildfire. It may well be just as destructive to public education as a California wildfire is in a pristine redwood forest.

The transgender issue edict from the feds is a huge political battleground, and I think that they mean it to be just that. But what about those of us who serve on school boards and find ourselves with a situation that will have no winners. Last night I had my monthly school board meeting. We have plenty on our plate, believe me. This morning I wake up and find that we have a new federal mandate. I believe it is written in a way that the feds and those factions that they are representing do not want it to be solvable. We could have facilities in our schools that would serve the needs of a transgender student and not impinge upon the rights of virtually all the other students. We solve problems every day that involve the rights of a few. But I think Title 9 has taken a lot of hits; the use of the legislation to encompass this situation is horrible.

Would I have wanted high school boys to come into the locker room and showers with my high school gym students? Would I have wanted grade 8 boys to be able to use the girls bath room with lower grade girls and vice versa? When I was playing sports, would I have wanted men in my locker room? Would I want these gender mixes for my children? What would I want for my grandchildren?

What would you want? What would your answer be to the parents and students in your district if you were serving on a school board? This is a big, hot, political lunge into the rights of others. But it seems to me that we are respecting the rights of 3 jtenths of one percent of the population at the expense of all the others. Our tolerance has gone amuck.

Of course, the edict comes to your community and to min with the usual federal blackmail–if you don’t do this, we will cut your funding. Federal funding has made us dependent public entities just as “free stuff” has made many of our citizens dependent and lacking the freedom that this great nation offers.

When will we see a federal edict that protects the rights of the over ninety nine per cent? When will the majority start to cry “Discrimination”? When will the majority demand “the least restrictive environment” for their children in the public schools?

This, I predict will have far-reaching j consequences for the public schools. I believe there will be divisive consequences unimagined. It would have been so different and so easy to allow us to solve the problem if it arose in the same manner that we solve large and small problems every day. School people are problem solvers. It is the nature of our work as we strive to provide the very best for each child in our care.


America First, Again


These are words on many lips these days. They are very important words. So many have come to believe that being first means being arrogant. So many have come to apologize for America. So many have come to think that the world would be better off if America were at the level of other countries. So many have forgotten what America has done and can do when she is first.

When America is first in research, it can help the millions who could benefit from the incredible medical and health, in safety, in technology, in every corner of our life and the lives of those we can serve. When we are first in our preparedness to defend our freedoms, we are the safety valve for peace. When we are first in food production, we help to feed the world. When America is first in any category, our values and founding principles teach us to be first with humility. Being first requires such high levels of responsibility that there is no time for arrogance.

We are not first in many areas anymore because we have not held true to the things that made us first in such a short time. Our Founders were clear about our founding documents that have been the rudder for our ship of state. The gifts of our freedoms allowed each citizen to reach for the stars as they pursued their God-given talents. Our Founders were clear about the Divine Guidance that instructed their paths.

We have lost our will to be first. Many desire not to be first because they have been taught that America needs to be more like other places in the world. They have been taught that to be first means you think that you are better than others. They have been taught history that depicts our Constitution as an outdated, irrelevant document, not suited for these times. Our heroes are denigrated, and new heroes are given to them. Patriotism is bad. Multiculturalism is the vogue and oftentimes morphed into disdain and sometimes even hatred for America.

America First, Again. These are important words for the future of our republic. The important words if we are to take our country back. They are words that I chose for the title of a book that I wrote five years ago. I believe if we are to be First Again, we must teach history from original documents, we must teach our children about our Christian Heritage, force our universities to allow freedom of speech and thought, instill in our citizens the values that made us first, do away with the “free stuff” that creates a dependency on the government, and turn the lights on in all of the “shining city on the hill.”