Saturday, May 27, 2017

Memorial Day- Cost-less = Thought-less

This weekend millions of Americans will be celebrating the Memorial Day Holiday. The sad truth is this: the meaning is lost to millions. For many Americans this weekend kicks off the summer recreational season. Good folks will head to their favorite campground, fishing hole, relatives house, or other spot for relaxation. On Monday afternoon I plan on cooking outside. The grand-kids will come over and we will spend precious time together. Friends will be at the nearby campground where I might eat my once a year Smore. The campfire will rekindle memories, images, and smells of past campfires and family members passed on.

As a kid Memorial Day was also know by another name, Decoration Day. A drive past any cemetery on Memorial Day would have been filled with sights of hundreds of small American flags placed by the grave of every service member.  Memorial Day 1970 was one that is still very vivid. The military honor guard was gathered at the grave site of my brother. There were some words, long forgotten but sincere, and then the salutes. What will never be forgotten is the gun fire and the lonely for-lone sound of, Day is done, gone the sun. (Taps)

My personal freedom didn't cost me a red cent. I was born an American. Born in the land of freedom and opportunity. I was taught that my freedom was a gift. My freedom was given to me, I didn't earn it. I listened to stories of the men who fought for "my unearned freedom." My father and uncles fought against a global tyranny that threatened to suck the free breath from every soul. I began to have a sense of the cost to them. My "unearned freedom" was costly. During that time of terror nearly 14 million American men and women put on a uniform and pledged their lives for us, you and me.

I am greatly dismayed by what is happening today. Millions of young adults are expecting to receive at no cost. And, this is not American freedom that I refer too. The entitlement mindset is spreading like a wildfire. Kids get their drivers license and expect a car. There are more cell phones used by kids in school than any other age group. I do not mean to bad talk everybody. Many young people pay for their own cell phone, car, and other expenses. But, they are fast becoming the minority. Now, a free college education is being demanded and may come to pass.

What cost-less to us means less. What is cost-less soon becomes thought-less. Those words are very dangerous to all of us. The men and women from the Greatest Generation are soon to be gone. Their wisdom, experience, and spirit will just become words of lore and memory. The boys that were 18 and 19 that stormed the red beaches of Normandy will be soon laid to rest. The Honor Guard will fire and Taps will play, they may soon be forgotten.

We must remember that Cost-less can equal Thought-less. God help us this Memorial Day to remember the cost and demand that respect be given to those who gave us our undeserved freedom.

Tedd A Galloway

Monday, May 22, 2017

Thoughts on Freedom

In the city of Riverview there is a cemetery out on Sibley Road. It is like thousands of plots of land given to bury the dead and bring friends and family to remember the lost. The earth that covers the resting place of the thousands does not recognize the entombed as those who walk above do. The earth knows nothing about status, money, crime, goodness, philanthropy or greed. The size, or lack of, a monument or simple stone is not recognized either. Walking around a cemetery a person would probable have no idea of who might be underfoot. Unless of course, you were familiar with the area where you were walking.

The cemetery in Riverview, Ferndale Cemetery, is no different to countless thousands. It is different to people who have loved ones at rest there. It is different for me and my family. Some very special people in my life have Ferndale earth as a blanket. Ferndale earth is a blanket for a sister in-law, uncle, brother, mother and father. Even though it has been a few years I can walk directly to the monuments that mark their graves. I can't see the monuments from the two-track, due to cemetery rules all markers are now level to the ground for ease of mowing.

In a couple of weeks cemeteries across America, and foreign fields, will stand out as American flags, stapled to small round wood rods, give testimony to what makes America great. Monumental flags will point people to the resting places of the brave who served from Lexington-Concord to the mountains and desolation of Afghanistan. When taps are played many will shed tears. When the rifles fire in perfectly disciplined unison the scene sensitive still shudder or twitch. I know from first hand experience, tears from taps and shuddering from the rifles.

Brave men and women across the land and the ages were willing to face danger and death so the dream of real freedom would live on. That freedom, to think, talk, gather, worship, elect government, is so precious that the cost is blood. My brother Tag served in the Marines during the Viet Nam War, he died in December of 1969 from leukemia. Many of my friends will remember that ordeal he went through. My father served in World War II, in the jungles of the Philippines and New Guinea. He witnessed what was never talked about and carried in his body the reminders of malaria and jungle rot. I will always seek to honor them and the sacrifice they made.

Today it seems that patriotism is not in vogue. I can't pinpoint any particular reason, I suspect there are many. The evidence is obvious, attend any sporting event and count the number of people who do not take off their hats, talk and laugh and seem oblivious to what is happening. How about singing the National Anthem, even a superstar screws it up. There is even an alternate for people who do not like the original. How many of us even know that there are four verses to the anthem ? The fourth verse is quite militant in word and image, "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto, "In God is our trust" And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

For a period of time I lived in a land that was ruled by a single party socialist government. The common people had no voice, yes they voted, for the only person running for president. They lived at the mercy of a corrupt government and a military that was as bad. While we lived there an attempted coup took place and the dead lay in the street around the government building to remind people of the cost. This country of ours in not perfect, far from it. But, it is the best form of government on the planet today.

Now, many people will not like a very personal opinion of mine in regards to our country. My opinion is this: If you don't appreciate freedom, if all you can do is complain and moan, if the sight of our flag and our brave men and women in uniform bothers you then, MOVE OUT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Lesson Learned too Late

The old man is lying on a dirty old metal bed, the sheets unchanged for weeks.
He lies on his side with his knees drawn up, like he did 80 years ago.
The gray on his head is matched by the gray of his life.
He has been alone now for years, abandoned by all, left to his bed and bitterness.
Life is hard and that is exactly what he taught everybody around him.
His wife, stoop shouldered by the burdens and his words, crumbled under his care.
For years she tried to please him, her efforts only gained more scorn and weight on her shoulders.
Children now gone, haven't seen the old man in years.

His son, his namesake, pledged to never see or speak to him, never to enter the house until it was funeral time.
A daughter, broken by suspicion and cursing, still lives broken, trying to make her daddy happy, five or six times since she saw him last.
He knew they needed to know that the world is cruel and the best a man could do was to work all of his waking hours.
Home, he expected all to understand his life and be content that he put food on the table and a roof over their heads.
His words, never from a warm spirit, only the ones that needed to be said, the food is cold, the chores are undone, the wood needs carrin-in.
He expects respect and obedience, cares not to know what troubles live in his home.
All homes have trouble, life is hard and you just put up with it.

On his bed his hands are shriveling and gnarled, evidence of years of toil, toil he thought so unappreciated, work ignored, sweat unnoticed.
Unaware of the words of a mother to her children, words of work by their father, toil to provide food and shelter, long hard days spent on the end of a shovel.
He looks down at his hands and realizes his heart and soul is just as bent and gnarled as they are.
He mumbles in a voice no one can understand, words that seem garbled, "God what did I do wrong?" Life is hard and they had to learn, the world is cruel and unloving. I did what was best.
A message begins to move deep in his soul, he feels uncomfortable, struggles on the hard rusted metal frame bed.

His stomach churns and his legs move to curb the pain.
A voice very clearly and quietly speaks it's message of unwelcome truth.
Today you are alone, alone on your bed, waiting to die, where are your children?
You are choking on the weeds you planted most of your life.
It is now time for you to realize what you have done, and live and die with it.
Even though you lie here abandoned and scared, yes I will be with you.
I will try and help them understand your life and keep them from your pain.
If only you would have tried to reach me, tried a small amount of kindness.
Soon all your pain and ugliness will end.