Gratitude is a Gift where Hope Dwells

It has been a long time since I posted a blog–December 1, 2017. So much has happened. On  December 7, I was evacuated from my home to escape the path of the Lilac fire. As the fire was at the end of my driveway, I did not expect my home to survive. By the grace of God, I was able to return to my home. Several houses near me were in the path of the fire. These fires really do create their own climate, their own path. They are truly wild. They are a terror. I am grateful that our children were all evacuated safely and our schools escaped.

 

Christmas followed with the celebration of the greatest gift–the birth of Jesus Christ and the wonderful sounds and sights that herald Emmanuel. The knowledge that God is always with us. 

 

Hope and gratitude filled my heart when I saw Dr. Carson say a prayer at the beginning of President’s Trump’s Cabinet meeting. God and the idea of Divine Guidance at our founding and the necessity for it now are back in our public discourse. I am hopeful when I see more and more people willing to promote the values inherent in our Christian Heritage.

 

I am grateful and hopeful when I see and hear more support for our founding principles and founding documents. I am sad that disdain remains in the hearts and behavior of some. As a veteran and proud citizen patriot, I hope to see total respect for my flag and my national anthem, your flag and your national anthem. 

 

It is with great hope for my republic and the world that we are willing to talk about the exceptionality of America . In that exceptionality lies great good.

 

If you find an error that I missed editing in the blog, know that my macular degeneration continues to progress. Know too, that I am grateful for what I can see, rather than miserable about what I can’t. There is great hope in gratitude.   

 

 

America First, Again–Health Care

 At 95 years of age, I have lived with health care a long time. I have watched it in operation not only for myself, but for members of a large extended family, and for neighbors and friends. I have experienced people with and without health care. I have watched my mother pay our doctor bills with farm produce or whatever she gathered together. Everybody in our small town, including the doctor, loved my mother’s cottage cheese, garden vegetables, and berries.  Dr. John was a large affable man who was always available, whether or not you had money to pay the bill. Mother bartered for most of ours.

Never did I hear my mother complain or bitch about “our rights to health care.” Health care, along with everything else in our life, was built on opportunity, not entitlement. We had access with compassion, care with caution (when we went to the doctor, he knew mother had done everything that she could), and we lived with large doses of preventive health.

 Even the smallest towns had a doctor for medical care. And the doctors were all general practitioners. The Doctors Mayo were in Rochester, not far from my Iowa home. I knew there were hospitals in larger cities. I knew when I was a child that there was help in Iowa City for the really bad things that you couldn’t pay for . My mother went there once when I was a small child; I was very frightened. I had a severe grease burn on my leg; nothing could be done. Maybe that’s when I learned to endure pain. My first son was born when his father was overseas slated for the invasion of Japan; the four days of labor were barbaric by today’s standards or any standards.  But  I also learned then that there were greater forces than the medical profession determining that we would both live.

There was more faith and trust than tests and pills. No, I am not suggesting the good old days, but I do believe that the patient and the treatment have to be more closely connected–including the cost. There is no other way we can afford today’s health care. Neither can we afford to continue to dispense “medicine” at the rate that we are doing. Wanting a pill or a shot every time we feel a tinge or trace of something, does not allow for the amazing body we were given by our Creator to heal itself. The Great Physician needs to be on one side of that scale.  

 

 

 

Free College–A National Nightmare

There was a time when a college degree really meant something. There were great publications about the value of our investment in education. Many years ago the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had a great publication delineating clearly the return on an investment in higher education. It was clear to me as a young person making decisions about my future, that I had to “go to college” if I wanted to “better my circumstances and change the direction of my future.” You see, there were not too many opportunities in a small town in Northern Iowa.

So, off I went with enough borrowed money for tuition, very few clothes, and one pair of shoes. My American Dream was within  the walls of Iowa State Teachers College, my energy and will, and the angels along the way. The only thing free was the opportunity.

Fast Forward! Now we have many college students saddled with enormous debt and no prospect for decent jobs because they have majored in a curriculum that is almost or totally “careerless.”  As long as students can borrow more and more to stay in the womb of our colleges and universities, they will do so. It’s a great place to spend wonderful years. But the money they “invest” in their future is not theirs. There is no thought about whether one class is more valuable than another to them personally. There are all kinds of values that we gain from our college experiences, but how it fits into the mix of how we finance our futures ought to be among them somewhere.

I can guarantee you that when you work two or three jobs to get through college, you even question those “required.” You come to understand the “fight of the disciplines” in our educational system, particularly in higher education. I have listened to it and participated in these discussions ad nauseum–how much of what creates “an educated person.” They are usually devoid of the question, “What will help me get a job?”

It makes me sad and sick when I hear the words “free college.” They are the words of the transformers, those folks who want to change our great nation from one of freedom to slavish dependency. Free college would allow unneeded and not useful courses,  disciplines, majors, etc.,  to prey on young minds as they entice, indoctrinate, preach and sell their wares. We will have more unprepared young people leaving our colleges and universities; they just won’t have to carry and be responsible for the debt they created; we will.

Why should they care. It’s not on their credit card. Free college is a horrible idea for our nation and a destructive idea for our youth.

Proud Label–Made in the USA

 

        My label, Made in the USA, will always be worn with pride. I am the daughter of a long line of proud Americans. I rest on the backs of all of those who braved the storms of oceans and those who assembled around St. Louis to prepare their wagons for the long trip west.

My label reads: Made in the USA

                                    Fabric is tough, but soft

                            Made with American products only

                            Made with all new materials

                            Crafted from old truths

                            Made with love

                            Wear with pride

                            Keep clean for best results      

            I rest on the firm foundation of the great heritage of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I rest on the struggles of those who fought and died to attain the freedom with which I was born. To be born in America is a blessing I will always be willing to talk about and share, not with envy but with gratefulness. I will always want to help others understand how it feels to be free to worship, free to have an opinion and be able to express it, free to write my blogs and say what I believe, and free to pursue my dreams.

            I was taught that work is honorable. Working was the way to get  what I needed and wanted; it was expected. I was taught to use the talents I was given. I felt the joy and exhilaration of accomplishment. To expect others to do my work was not acceptable. The dignity and honor of work are in my fabric. I wear the label proudly: Made in the USA.

            My growing days were spent exploring, finding the limits of who I was,  gaining strength in the things that I could do well, and discovering ways to learn new things. It was a time spent learning problem solving. The threads of self-reliance and personal responsibility are woven into my fabric. I wear the label proudly: Made in the USA.

            I learned to respect and love all people. I lived in rural Iowa, but I had the good fortune of growing up with wonderful diversity–black, Native American, disabled, disadvantaged, Christian and Jewish, and almost any professional person you might name. And the diversity has continued throughout my life. Tolerance, acceptance, compassion, and love add strength to my fabric. I wear the label proudly: Made in the USA.

            It has been my pleasure to travel to many places in the world. I have always believed in the exceptionalism of this great republic. No matter where I have gone, I have always carried gifts of American flag lapel pins with me. I have been told on occasion that American flags were not a smart gift. I have not been able to find anything better to share with new friends. It represents who I am because of where I was born and, a land founded with Divine Guidance and exceptional people at the helm of our founding. No one has ever refused my gift of a flag. Why would they? I always gave it with love and pride. I wear the label of patriot with pride: Made only with American materials.

            The threads of love, integrity, honesty, generosity, and gratitude are woven into the fabric of my being. The golden thread of faith was given to me by my Creator at my birth. The threads of service were as varied as the colors of a magnificent sunset; they changed with the same rapidity. I had to be aware, lest I miss the opportunity to make the fabric stronger. I am proud to wear the label–all threads of this product made in America.

            No, I have not forgotten that my ancestors came from Germany and Luxemburg. It is because they chose to come to this country, that I can proudly say: Made in the USA. 

                  

                  

Barach Obama and George Washington–A Comparison

          It is both interesting and alarming when you compare the first President of the United States of America with the current President. After the Revolutionary War, George Washington was so popular that he could have been king of the new country that was created as a result of independence. This new country was so appreciative of George Washington’s efforts in the War, that he would have been an acceptable monarch. But aren’t we fortunate that he did not want to be king? He did not want a monarch for this new land. He wanted it to be free of the tyranny or potential tyranny of a monarch. He wanted this new land to be the bastion of freedom that he fought for. He knew that for religious freedom to exist, there had to be political freedom. He chose to be President, an office with limited powers.

         On the other hand, our current President, Barach Obama, was elected President, but seems to prefer monarch status. Every day there are indications that he has decided to create new law with an edict. He has been true to his promise that he would use his pen and phone when the lawmakers, the Congress, failed to enact his agenda. He seems to think that he is exempt from Constitutional restraint that the President is to faithfully execute the laws of the land. When he picks up his pen and signs an executive order that changes a law passed by Congress, he is in fact, creating new law. When he, or his departments, write regulations that change or alter existing laws, they are in fact creating new laws.

         George Washington, who could have been King, just wanted to be President. Aren’t we grateful that he created that legacy for us.

         Barach Obama is President, and it seems he wants to be King. This is unfortunate for us and our children and grandchildren. Freedom eroded is not easily made to shine again. Dim lights on the “shining city on the hill” are not the heritage we want to leave our children; it is not good to dim the beacon that has meant freedom for so many in the world.

         George Washington wanted a free people with as little ?government as possible; he wanted the citizens to understand and participate in their government to make certain that it always served the people and not the opposite. He and the other Founders believed you should be able to keep what you earn, and taxes should be limited to the amounts necessary to do what the federal government needed to do under the Constitution. Decisions were made to keep the people free, independent, and self-reliant.

         President Obama has increased dependency of our people on the government to staggering heights that many are frightened for the future. Food stamp recipients , numbers of disabled receiving aid, Medicaid, college loans, welfare payments, free phones, and so many other entitlements have increased to such proportions that the fabric of our entire society is changing. Some laugh at those who continue to work hard. Many believe it is their “right” to get free stuff from their government. Many believe it is proper to take from those who have much and give it to those who have little even if they choose or refuse to work or help themselves. These are all attitudes and behaviors contrary to those that made us the exceptional nation we grew to be. Even exceptionalism has become a negative concept to some.

         It doesn’t matter what your political party. Freedom or serfdom does not pick sides. When each exists, it covers us all. It covers the just and the unjust, Republicans and Democrats, and yes, the Independents. When shackles come, they come to all but the few who hold the keys, the few who built the chains of serfdom a link at a time.

         We still have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights. They require a President, not a monarch in the President’s office.

Food Stamps–A Blessing or a Curse

          Could it be both?

          Like so many issues, we are not willing to sort out the issues to answer that question. Political views focus on the politics of the situation, rather than the problem.

          It is easy to see the blessing for those who are truly in need. We all can advocate for the mother who needs food for her children; we can empathize with those who have lost their jobs. We know people who experience temporary misfortune. There are those who are not able to make to the end of the month. There are folks who need help. But I think when we reach the level of one of every five families receiving food stamps, it is truly necessary to “find the problem.” We must ask what is happening in our America.

          We all have seen the frauds, those who are happy to take the government aid whether or not they need it. There are those who see others getting a food stamps so they want to get theirs. And then there are the politicians who profit politically from the subsidies and aid that they can secure. I worry most about the insidious nature of those who believe that the folks who become dependent and believe that it is their right to be given  “free” stuff; will create a permanent voting block and therefore, give them control.

          There are so many pieces to the puzzle, and the more who get food stamps, the bigger the puzzle becomes. We nibble at the edges to put the easiest pieces in place much like we start with a jig-saw puzzle.  The larger the puzzle, the more difficult it is to sort out the pieces, but we can find those pieces if we are willing to identify what fits together. We take identifying colors or shapes or hints of similarity and create a manageable situation.

          We can do the same with the food stamps puzzle. We surely must know that not one in five families should be receiving food stamps. We surely know when we make it easier and easier and easier to get food stamps, more people will do so.

           We have plenty of evidence that feeling comfortable with one lie, one fraud, makes the second easier. We know that the farther from the source of the money received, the less personal it is and the easier to accept; it’s that big government pot–that rainbow of government gold.

          So what do we do? ”Tune in tomorrow.”

 

Proud to Be a Veteran

 Every one is a veteran of something because you have done it for some time, but being a Veteran because  you have raised your right hand to serve your country, uphold its Constitution, and protect it from enemies from within and without, is quite a different matter. You are allowed to wear that uniform that sets you apart and requires much of you.

        Military service was not on my planned life’s journey itinerary. That is, until a young female naval officer came to talk to the girls in her former high school in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Those girls just happened to be in my physical education and biology classes. These kids were among those I taught in my first teaching job.

        I was a mere 21. She talked of the War, the Navy, the opportunity, but most of all the duty. It was early 1943; Pearl Harbor was still a raw subject. The War in the Pacific was horrific. The War in Europe was difficult. The young naval officer was not a recruiter; she was just a citizen turned patriot. She was going to do whatever she could to help those brave men aboard the ships, the planes, and the landing barges that carried the men to islands in the Pacific that became infamous and those that sometimes weren’t even named on the maps of the world.

        The Navy needed physical education instructors to work with the physical fitness of the WAVES, the women in the Navy, she said. I could do that; I could serve my country. After I enlisted, I was sent to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for my physical. During my interview, the officer suggested that I was too young to be an officer. In my youth, I became enraged and gave a lecture to her on the lack of relationship between age and maturity. She was not pleased, decided to rid herself of the upstart, and sent me to take the physical. Having been blessed with good health coupled with my attention to my fitness, the physical was a breeze.

I raised my right hand, repeated the words of the oath, and I was in the Navy. I thought that I would be able to finish out the school year, but that was not to be. I was called to my first duty base in May, 1943.

        Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, was like a foreign country to this small town girl from Iowa and the pheasant filled prairies of South Dakota. It is a beautiful and elite women’s college. The town was definitely a cultural adventure for me. We ate at the famous Inn in the city. I came to understand that the food was extraordinary. But then I only knew lobsters existed because I studied Biology in college. I came to relish the new things to explore. It did not take long to appreciate the fine cuisine at the Inn.

        I came also to understand the uniqueness of the women with whom I served. I was one of very few with just a bachelors degree; most had masters and doctorates. It was amazing to learn what people had left to raise their right hand. So many left very prestigious positions. It truly was an interesting, diverse mix of women who had accomplished much in their civilian lives; I did not truly understand how much until after the War when I came to understand fully the glass ceiling.

        As the training came to a close, we all eagerly awaited our “orders.” Mine took me to the Naval Air Technical Training Center at Millington, Tennessee, not far from Memphis. It was a huge base with a Naval Air Station across the street and a Naval Hospital just down the street. The military during the War was a great melting pot and equalizer. The uniform of the United States Navy or Marine Corps was the same for celebrity, teacher, farmer, business executive, movie star, football coaches and football stars, famous chefs and photographers, holders of gold medals, the college grad, or the kid who dropped out of school. Insignia told you what they were doing, but most certainly not where they were from. But we all took the same oath.

Yes, I am proud to be a veteran. I have been able to speak of my pride when folks express surprise that I was in the Navy. Some seem to think that women in the armed services were quite different from those that I knew. My children know that I am proud; I know they are, too. My grandchildren know that I am proud; I know they are, too. My friends know, my colleagues know, and any shipmates I meet certainly know. The sports guy who wants to stop playing the national anthem at sports events will never know or understand my pride. Too bad. His loss.

       America, feel my pride.   I am just one among so many. But I am ONE. As long as I have voice and pen, I will tell you about my  pride.  Do not ignore those who would silence the pride of those who know it. And above all, preserve the voice of those who served and paid the price of the silent voice. They rest with pride; we must be their voice, too.

 

President Obama–CEO of the Transformers

President Obama has said on several occasions that he intends to transform this country. He has many followers and many who have preceded him who helped to lay the foundation for the entitlement society that has evolved over the past several decades. The transformers have taken the love of liberty away from our people, particularly the new immigrants that they want to control, yes own. They have replaced this love of liberty with license. They have gradually convinced more and more people that it is OK to accept government hand-outs. They have convinced so many with free stuff that welfare is a right, and there is nothing wrong with welfare even when you’re able to work.

Government programs are in place to break down the “stubborn pride” of people who want to make their own way, who don’t want to accept government charity just because it is available with a program the government is promoting. Food stamps are a good example. When people feel responsible as individuals, the transformers try to convince them that it is foolish, stubborn, senseless pride not to accept something free that will “help them.” These programs are here to help you, the government says. Your friends and neighbors are taking advantage of this marvelous program, the government spokesperson proclaims.

Soon you have created a culture of folks as well trained as Pavlov’s dogs to feel justified in taking what others have earned, to believe the government is an endless pot of money. The transformers are committed to the destruction of freedom as we know it and as our founders knew it, fought for it, and devised a system of government to assure and sustain God given rights.

The transformers have broken our “melting pot.” They speak the words with derision. They convince us that “losing our identity” is a very bad thing. They devised the term “multiculturalism.”  They use multiculturalism to advance their cause while destroying what our Founders gave us, freedom. We become a part of the diatribe about how bad our country is, how selfish our people are, and how arrogant and boastful we are. All the while, they accept our generosity and continue to condemn us.

As the transformers continue to extinguish the founding lights of “the shining city on the hill.” we must turn them back on. We the People have the switch to turn them back on. But we must switch it back on at every level. We must make certain that our elementary and high schools teach our real history and founding values; we must send these well prepared kids to our colleges and university to stun their liberal professors with those founding values and truths. We must send these well-prepared young people to our state legislatures where they become citizen legislators. And we must send people to our federal government and Congress where they, too, are citizen legislators and servants of the people. The switch to the lights for “shining city on the hill” is in our hands. It’s up to us to flip that switch. _

Anerica First–Status of Our Ship of State

 America First  was published in 1916 by the American Book Company. It was written by Jasper L. McBrien, who at the time of the writing was School Extension Specialist for the United States Bureau of Education, and a former Superintendent of Public Instruction of Nebraska.

McBrien writes in the Foreward:

The rising generation, both native-born and foreign, to get the full meaning of this slogan (America First) in its far-reaching significance, must have time for study and reflection along patriotic lines. There must be the right material on which the American youth may settle their thoughts for a definite end in patriotism if our country is to have a new birth of freedom and if ‘this government of the people, by the people, and for the people is not to perish from the earth.’ The prime and vital service of amalgamating into one homogenous body the children alike of those ho are born here and of those who come here from so many different lands must be rendered this Republic by the school teachers of America.  

Brien continues: The purpose of this book is to furnish the teachers and pupils of our country, material with which the idea of true Americanism may be developed until ‘America First’ shall become the slogan of every man, woman, and child in the United States.

 I cannot say it better.

I have lived most of the years since this book was published. I have lived the changes. I believe that we need a large dose of patriotism now more than ever before. In my 92 years, I have seen our ship of state on so many different courses. Sometimes we seem rudderless; this always seems so tragic when we have been given by our Founders the greatest set of maps, our founding documents, ever devised for any people with which to keep a ship of state on course. They were carefully designed to make certain that the government was of the people, by the people, and for the people.

I fear the shoals, the rocks, the reefs, and horrific storms ahead. The folks in Washington, D.C. the past few weeks have managed to keep the ship afloat for a short period of time, but the ship of state has taken on much water and I believe is listing badly. And the captain of the ship was missing from the helm. This morning, October 17, 2013, he broadcast a message to the passengers of the ship. Mr. President, if you would do what you asked the passengers and the crew to do, our ship would be whole again. Please listen to what you so aptly preached this morning. However, your words during the past weeks,”I will not negotiate,” are words that will certainly land our ship on more rocks. And as our ship takes on the water of partisanship, derision, hate, and acute political nastiness, our nation, this incredible experiment in government, will no longer be the shining city on a hill. We will no longer be the America that has been free, a nation composed of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and others, who were first Americans. We will be searching for the light of freedom. We will no longer be the America that was first in science, technology, invention, compassion, aid to others, opportunity, freedom of choice, individual responsibility, freedom of religion, speech, and assembly.

America needs to be first, not in pride, but in humility and gratefulness. O captain, o captain! Where are you steering my beloved ship?

World War II Memorials–Hostage to Political Games

This morning I watched the news as  U.S. veterans of  World War II stood outside the locked gates of the Normandy Beach Memorial in France. A couple days ago, I watched veterans in front of barricades at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The sign posted told them it was closed due to the “shutdown of the government.” In France, some walked the hallowed beaches where thousands of American military men died. Perhaps they could find another way to storm the Memorial. In our nation’s capital, I watched World War II veterans in wheel chairs and some walking with canes, and others still walking tall, stand in front of specially erected barricades in front of their monument.   If this does not tug at the pangs of reason, anger,  and sadness at this sight,  not much will.

This monstrous act of pettiness and politics is beyond comprehension. This is about the next election. The game is: Who can we hurt the most? Who will shoulder the most  blame? What nasty things can we conjure up about the other political party? What can we close that will get us the most news coverage? It is political calculation at its worst.

I do know one thing: The Commander in Chief could honor his troops and veterans by keeping their places of honor open. He is skilled at issuing executive orders. This would be a good one to issue. Or perhaps hecould rescind any order from the administration to close these hallowed places where the echoes of the sacrifices of those who lie there fill the air or the names on the marble cry out for the justice and honor they deserve.

The election is more than a year away. Veterans stand at these gates and memorial sites every day. I am a veteran of World War II. I lived with the news of the cost of the island battles in the Pacific. I had friends who flew the fighters and bombers over Europe. I lived with the fear of my husband battling in the Pacific. I know first-hand from a friend what he experienced on the Bataan death march. I know first-hand from a friend who flew flight after flight in a B-17 over Europe what it was like to come home “on a wing and a prayer.”

What do veterans feel while standing in front of a memorial built in their honor that is closed? Particularly one that has no gate and special barriers had to be erected to keep them out.. I want to take an Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial. It better not be closed because those who are elected to serve us are playing political games.

France may seem as distant as the next election. The honor earned by those who lie there is not distant. The pictures of the thousands storming the beaches and the pictures of those who died there live in our hearts and in our memories. You cannot lock those gates or erect barriers to remove the acts of bravery, sacrifice, selflessness, and the willingness to give all for freedom that these dead voices proclaim.

A family member just returned from one of the Honor Flights to visit the World War II Memorial. As he stood at the site that names the battles in the Pacific Islands, his daughter who accompanied him, learned of the battles in which he fought. Island after island after island. Yes, she said, “Many cried.” They could still name the comrades they had lost. We are all old now. But we remember. We ask you to remember. These sites are worthy of the honor they deserve for the very high price these veterans paid. The spirits of those who earned these honors rest in peace when honored, and writhe in agony when used for political games.