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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Will Blacks Protest Blacks?

Will Blacks Protest Blacks?

"Here, in this place where the West held together, let us make a vow to our dead. Let us show them by our actions that we understand what they died for. Let our actions say to them the words for which [General] Matthew Ridgway listened: 'I will not fail thee nor forsake thee.' Strengthened by their courage and heartened by their valor and borne by their memory, let us continue to stand for the ideals for which they lived and died." — President Ronald Reagan, 40th anniversary of D-Day, Pointe du Hoc, Normandy, France, June 6, 1984

With this Memorial Day fading into history it’s once again time to take up the cudgels to attack the left in politics, culture and economics — a task that I take on with great enthusiasm and cheer.

There is a protest brewing against the NAACP. It is not a protest by white supremacist or KKK members. It’s not a protest by the Tea Party or the conservatives. And it’s not in Washington, D.C. The protest is in Harlem by Black citizens. MYFOXNY.COM reports:

“The NAACP has joined a lawsuit by the United Federation of Teachers against the Department of Education that threatens several charter schools in the Harlem area.

The suit calls for preventing several charter schools from opening, relocating or expanding.

Many charter school parents are shocked by the NAACP's position.

A rally is planning for 8:45 a.m. on 125th Street.

Good Day New York spoke with a parent of a child who attends the Harlem Success Academy.

Ny Whitaker whose nine-year old son has been a student at HSA for three years says the NAACP should be "fighting for them not against them."

The UFT lawsuit would also halt the closure of 22 public schools along with preventing 17 charter schools from opening, moving or expanding.

The union issued the following statement:

"It is outrageous that thousands of New York City children get a graphic lesson in inequality every day when they walk through the doors of their school buildings. These are students who attend co-located schools in buildings where a district school is housed alongside a charter school. In too many cases, there are smart boards, freshly painted walls and small class sizes in one school while in the other there are broken blackboards, crumbling facilities and overcrowded classrooms. Separate and unequal." — UFT President Michael Mulgrew.”

Would you believe we have Black parents protesting a Black activist organization? Perhaps the world is changing. These Black parents, like the ones in Compton, California, are more concerned with their children than they are with the politics and left-wing social agenda of the NAACP. They want their kids to get an education that will allow them to compete in the world they will one day have to face and they now the Charter School is the way to go.

They are disgusted with the public schools and bad teachers they are being offered. They are tired of the lack of security and run down conditions of the schools. They have had enough of the gangs, hip-hop, baggy pants and lack respect for the good students. They want a better life for their children and see the charter schools as a viable alternative.

On the other hand the teachers unions see the charter school as a threat to their power and the NAACP does not like the fact that some Black are ‘getting out of line” and making their own choices. They are no longer blindly following the dictates of the NAACP, Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. They are thinking for themselves — something that is long overdue.

Some claim that the charter schools do not have to teach to the same testing standards like the public schools. One pundit described it as teaching someone to shoot. If the standard was to get 90% of the shots in the target the charter school needs to only get 40% in the city of New York. In my opinion this is poppycock. With the implementation of No Child Left Behind all the public schools do today is teach to the test. If may want the marksman to hit the target 90% of the time. I would prefer he hit a moving target all of the time.

Rather than look at the test scores for K-12 public schools lets look at the moving targets of graduation rates, SAT scores and college entrance. Charter and private schools blow the urban public schools out of the water in these categories and parents know it. The unions hate it because it shows them as who they really are. They are much more concerned with the welfare of the teachers and the union than the children.

Now the NAACP has joined hands with the teachers unions to pay back the contributions they have made to the NAACP over the years. Like the unions the NAACP is not concerned with the black parents in Harlem, they are concerned with their power.

Another example of the corruption of the teachers unions is in New Jersey. Business Insider reports:

“NJEA (New Jersey Education Association) director Vince Giordano received $421,615 in salary and $128,508 in deferred compensation last year, according to tax filings released last spring.”

“NJEA president Barbara Keshishian earned $256,450 last year. VP Wendell Steinhauer and Secretary-Treasurer Marie Blistan were paid $170,974 each.”

Meanwhile, the governor earned a measly $175,000.

Christie's war with the union escalated earlier this summer when a union official suggested praying for the governor's death

This goes to show the power and corruption of these teachers unions. Recent events in Madison, Wisconsin also proved this point. As long as the unions control the public education system and the left control the unions we will have a failing public school system in the nation.

The Forgotten War

The Forgotten War

"Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude; American will never forget their sacrifice." — President Harry S. Truman

On this Memorial Day much is made of the sacrifices made by our soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen over the years in wars past and present. Much is said of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the TV is filled with movies about the Second World War. Very little is said or taught about the Korean War, the war that we have forgotten. The Korean War was a war where over 36,000 Americans died and many thousands more were wounded.

In the United States, the war was initially described by President Harry S. Truman as a "police action" as it was conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. Colloquially, it has been referred to in the United States as The Forgotten War or The Unknown War. The issues concerned were much less clear than in previous and subsequent conflicts, such as World War II and the Vietnam War. To a significant degree, the war has been "historically overshadowed by World War II and Vietnam".

On Sunday 25 June 1950 elements of the North Korean People’s Army (KPA)ks-map crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. The 38th parallel had been the dividing line between the two nations of North and South Korea. This line had been agreed upon by the U.S. and Soviet Union and formalized by the United Nations after the Second World War.

The invasion by the North took many people by surprise and soon the KPA had advanced all the way down to Korean Peninsula to the port city of Pusan where the United States Army established a defensive pocket.

President Harry Truman, with the sanctions of the United Nations order more troops sent to Korea to defend the feeble South Korean Army (ROK). Other nations like Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France and the Netherlands also sent troops to support the United States, but the main bulk of the fighting forces were Americans.

The Truman Administration was caught at a crossroads. Before the invasion, Korea was not included in the strategic Asian Defense Perimeter outlined by Secretary of State Acheson. Military strategists were more concerned with the security of Europe against the Soviet Union than East Asia. At the same time, the Administration was worried that a war in Korea could quickly widen into another world war should the Chinese or Soviets decide to get involved as well.

One facet of the changing attitude toward Korea and whether to get involved was Japan. Especially after the fall of China to the Communists, Japan itself increasingly appeared as the major East Asian prize to be protected. U.S. East Asian experts saw Japan as the critical counterweight to the Soviet Union and China in the region. While there was no United States policy that dealt with South Korea directly as a national interest, its proximity to Japan pushed South Korea to the fore. The recognition that the security of Japan required a non-hostile Korea led directly to President Truman’s decision to intervene. The essential point was that the American response to the North Korean attack stemmed from considerations of U.S. policy toward Japan. The United States wanted to shore up Japan to make it a viable counterweight against the Soviet Union and China, and Korea was seen as integral to that end.

The other important part of committing to intervention lay in speculation about Soviet action in the event that the United States intervene. The Truman administration was fretful that a war in Korea was a diversionary assault that would escalate to a general war in Europe once the U.S. committed in Korea. At the same time, there was no suggestion from anyone that the United Nations or the United States could back away from the conflict". In Truman’s mind, this aggression, if left unchecked, would start a chain reaction that would destroy the United Nations and give the go ahead to further Communist aggression elsewhere. Korea was where a stand had to be made, the difficult part was how. The UN Security council approved the use of force to help the South Koreans and the U.S. immediately began using air and naval forces in the area to that end. The Administration still refrained from committing on the ground because some advisors believed the North Koreans could be stopped by air and naval power alone. Also, it was still uncertain if this was a clever ploy by the Soviet Union to catch the U.S. unawares or just a test of U.S. resolve. The decision to commit ground troops and to intervene eventually became viable when a communiqué was received on June 27 from the Soviet Union that alluded it would not move against U.S. forces in Korea. This opened the way for the sending of American ground forces, for it now seemed less likely that a general war—with Korea as a preliminary diversion—was imminent". With the Soviet Union’s tacit agreement that this would not cause an escalation, the United States now could intervene with confidence that other commitments would not be jeopardized.

The overall commander was General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur soon realized that it would be difficult to fight back up the Peninsula and that the KPA forces had advanced so rapidly that they had over extended their supply lines. He ordered a landing at Inchon for September 15th, a landing that would cut off thousands KPA troops south of the capital of Seoul. The landing was successful and within days the 1st Calvary Division had reached Seoul and the U.S. Army and Marines began driving the KPA north across the 38th parallel.

On September 30, Defense Secretary George Marshall sent an eyes-only message to MacArthur: "We want you to feel unhampered tactically and strategically to proceed north of the 38th parallel." MacArthur’s drive northward did not stop at the 38th parallel but continued north to border with China at the Yalu River. By mid-October the U.S. Marines had reached a location close to the Chinese border known as the Chosin Reservoir.

kn-mapOn October 15th thousands of Chinese troops crossed the Yalu into Korea and began attacking the Marines. Outnumbered the Marines had to retreat back down the west side of the peninsula where they could be evacuated. This is probably the greatest retreat of the Marines in their history.

Once the Chinese entered the war by sending hundreds of thousands of “volunteers” over the border the war took a turn against the UN forces. At one point MacArthur wanted to use nuclear weapons to stop the advancing Chinese. The war had now turned to conflict where the two main combatants were the United States and China. This is when public support began to wane in the United States.

Eventually MacArthur was fired by Truman and replaced with General Ridgeway, a paratrooper and combat veteran of WWII. Ridgeway turned the U.S. Army around, increased their morale and stabilized the conflict. The war dragged on for two years while negotiations for cease fire were going on. Finally on July 27, 1953 an armistice was reached and the fighting stopped with the combatants right back at the 38th parallel where it all began. The war is considered to have ended at this point, even though there was no peace treaty.

I was 17 years old when the armistice was reached and very thankful for it. I would soon be eligible for the military draft and the possibility of being sent to Korea was real in my mind. Both never happened.

From June 1950 to July 1953 there was a dramatic change in the support forMarines_engage_during_the_Korean_War the Korean War within the United States. After the retreat of the Marines from the Chosin Reservoir and MacArthur’s comments on the use of the Atomic Bomb on the Chinese Americans were not only growing weary of the war there was a raising fear that it could produce a nuclear conflict.

When MacArthur returned to the United States, a country he had not stepped foot in for 16 years, he was met with cheering crowds in San Francisco. After his address to Congress there were calls for him to run for president on the Republican ticket. These calls and his popularity soon vanished after Congressional hearings on the war. It was the vastly more popular Eisenhower who captured the White House in 1954.

Unlike WWII there were no cheering throngs to greet them. There were no victory parades down Main Street. Alexander Haig, a young officer on MacArthur’s staff said; “when I returned to the United States and saw that people were living high with new cars, television and the latest products Madison Avenue could offer and they seemed not to care much about the sacrifice so many American soldiers had made I became disgusted and cynical for quite a while.” Was Haig simply forecasting what would happen to the American soldiers some 20 years later as they returned from Vietnam?

Why did this happen. The United States went into the Korean War with the good and honorable intentions thwarting the advances of the communist bloc and to protect the people of South Korea. Something we did even though the war ended in a stalemate. The American public, as General Patton once said; “love a winner”, and in their mind we had lost 36,000 Americans in a losing cause. They blamed the soldiers for this.

Some of this blame came from the reports of “turncoats”, men who were captured by the North Koreans or Chinese and “brainwashed” into betraying their country. This did not happen during WWII and the American people did not understand why American soldiers would betray their country when captured. This did not happen to many soldiers. The vast majority of captured American and British soldiers resisted severe and harsh treatment, including torture, at the hands of their captors. It was only a few who succumbed to the tactics of the communists. This subject was the theme of the 1962 movie “The Manchurian Candidate” starring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury. The film was remade in 2004 with an entirely different villain.

There is another reason for this turnaround that is more subtle, yet more destructive and enduring, and that is the coming of age of the Red Diaper Babies of the 20’s and 30’s. Historian Ronald Radosh, in his book Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left describes Red Diaper Babies as: “They were a subculture within a subculture: the proverbial hard Left of card-carrying Stalinists. Summers were spent at youth camps in the Catskills, where woodcraft took second place to ideological moulding, partly at the hands of the Red balladeer, Pete Seeger

It was the communists and their fellow travelers like Whittaker Chambers, Alger Hiss, Owen Lattimore , Woody Guthrie, Paul Robeson, the Rosenbergs, Henry Wallace and Dalton Trumbo who were influencing American culture with their writings, songs and films. They were anti-war and anti-American. They believed in the “one world” theory, except their one world would be led by Joe Stalin or Mao Zedong. They believed communism was for the people — a better way of life than the evils of Adam Smith or John Locke. They conveniently ignored millions who died in Stalin’s gulags or Mao’s purges.

These were the people who were beginning to shape public opinion in he United States. They did it with their films, books and songs. It was not until Joe McCarthy came along with his Senate hearings that the American people began to take note of the creeping communism within our government and culture. While “Tail Gunner Joe” was heavy handed in his tactics he was on the right track. History and the release of the Venona Papers after the collapse of the Soviet Union have proved him to be much more correct than he was given credit for.

All of this rising leftist and communist influence in our media and politics worked against the Korean War and the men who served so valiantly. It is now the children of these Red Diaper Babies that are the college professors that are teaching the next generation of Americans to be good little leftists with anti-American beliefs. It was our current president, Barack Obama, who studied at the knee of a RDB, Frank Marshal Davis.

To this day the veterans of the Korean War are largely forgotten. Recently a friend of mine passed away. He was a veteran of Korea and served as a Navy Corpsman with the Marines. He was decorated for his service with a Purple Heart. Jimmy Toler was a patriot who served his nation and his fellow Marines with honor and valor, yet he was one of those forgotten heroes of a war we fought 60 years ago.

There are many tales of valor and heroism told of the U.S. Marines. There is the raising of the flag on Mount Suribachi and the defense Khe Sanh, but the one that comes to the mind of most Marines is the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.

At the Chosin Reservoir, the 1st Marine Division found itself surrounded and outnumbered eight to one by the Chinese army. The worst weather in 50 years cut off air support and assaulted the Marines with snow, wind and temperatures of -40 degrees F.

Even so, the "Chosin Few," as they would come to be called, decimated 10 Chinese infantry divisions and fought their way back to the sea to rejoin the American forces.

No Marines have ever faced worse weather, terrain, or odds than those who fought at Chosin Reservoir. But to anyone familiar with the Marines’ spirit of determination, there was no doubt the 1st Marine Division would prevail. It was General Lewis "Chesty" Puller, commander of the 1st Marine Division who was quoted as saying of the retreat, “retreat hell, we’re just attacking in a different direction.” You will not find one Marine, former of serving, who is not aware of Chesty Puller’s leadership or his comment. Let us not forget the men who fought so courageously in Korea.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Battle that Saved the Union

“..that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln November 19, 1863

During this Memorial Day weekend there has been a continuous stream of war movies shown on the Turner Classic Movie Channel and documentaries on the Military Channel. After watching such classics like; Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, Destination Tokyo, Flying Leathernecks, and Objective Burma I decided to watch my DVD of the 1993 film Gettysburg. I felt it was most appropriate for the family to watch this great and accurate film about the battle that saved the Union.

Gettysburg depicts a battle that raged from July 1 through July 3, 1863 around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. A brief description of the battle is:

“The battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, it is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's invasion of the North.

After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863, Lee led his armyGettysburg_Campaign through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North—the Gettysburg Campaign. With his army in high spirits, Lee intended to shift the focus of the summer campaign from war-ravaged northern Virginia and hoped to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia. Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.

Elements of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there, his objective being to engage the Union army and destroy it. Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division under Brig. Gen. John Buford, and soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry. However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of town to the hills just to the south.

On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. In the late afternoon of July 2, Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.

On the third day of battle, July 3, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett's Charge. The charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great losses to the Confederate army. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle. That November, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.” [Source: Wikipedia]

While watching the movies my wife and daughter began asking questions like; What was the purpose of the battle, why were the men wearing so much facial hair, why was the language so polite and why the officers so melancholy over having to fight each other? These questions made me think of how much we really know of the War Between the States these days. Outside of the brilliant PBS documentary, The Civil War, by Ken Burns, and the film Glory there has not been many films of not about the Civil War.

Most K-12 textbooks devote little insight to the Civil War with the exception of the issue of slavery, and they do that with a biased and superficial manner. Unless you take advanced college history classes covering the period of the Civil War, read numerous books or tour the battlefields like; Antietam, Fredericksburg, Manassas or Gettysburg you will not learn much of our nations war to preserve the Union.

Fortunately I have had the opportunity to visit those battlefields with my brother. It was several years that my brother and I visited Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Manassas and a few years before that that my brother and his wife and me and my wife visited Gettysburg. While at Gettysburg we toured the entire battlefield, a national battlefield monument that is dotted with plaques and memorials to the men, both Union and Confederate, who fought and died there. There also was an interesting scene being played out while we there. There was a group of kids there under the tutelage of an instructor. The instructor had made the kids walk the entire mile across the field where General Picket had his men attack the Union forces on Cemetery Ridge. When the kids arrived at the stone wall where the Union forces were massed the teacher explained how the men must have felt after charging up this hill and how exhausted they must have been. Then he went on to explain what had happened during the battle. To me this must have been one great teacher.

146 years after the end of the Civil War we, as a nation, are still felling its effects especially as more and more people are concerned over the growing power of the federal government in Washington. People are beginning to read the Constitution and are learning the meaning of the Tenth Amendment.

To know the Civil War one must know the Constitution. This is necessary if you want to understand why so many military officers, graduates of West Point, joined the Confederacy. This is especially true for Virginians, people who believe they were loyal to the principles of the founders from Virginia.

It was Lincoln, the most reviled President in the history of this Republic, who knew that the Union must be preserved for if we fell back to a confederation of states the nation would eventually fall apart and be subject to domination from European powers. Preserving the Union was what the Civil War was about. While Lincoln was against slavery and was on record of opposing it he did not issue the Emancipation Proclamation until after the battle of Antietam when he was in dire need of recruits for the Union Army and to placate the radicals and abolitionists in the northern states.

The Union had been losing battles and generals up to July of 1863 when Lincoln appointed Meade in command of the Union Army. On the other side Lee was moving his army north and had crossed the Potomac into Pennsylvania with designs on reaching Washington with his armistice demands. This would have spelled disaster for the North. This did not happen due to Lee’s miscalculations and the heroic stand of Joshua Chamberlin and the 20th Maine at a place on the extreme right flank of the battle at a place called Little Round Top. It was the 20th Maine, an under staffed regiment, that repulsed attack after attack by Confederate troops trying to flank the Union lines and encircle General Hancock on Cemetery Ridge.

This stand by Chamberlin forced Lee to order Longstreet to mass over 15,000 CSA troops in the center of the battlefield to attempt a charge over one mile of open field towards the Union lines on Cemetery Ridge. The charge, under the command of General George Pickett was met with fierce artillery and musket fire killing or wounding almost 60% of Pickett’s men.

This charge was the high-water mark of the Confederate advance and while the war would go on for two more years the Lee’s troops never again threatened the Capitol. Lee’s forced would win some more battles but after Gettysburg the tide of war swung to the Union.

On November 19, 1863 Lincoln came to Gettysburg to dedicate the cemetery where many of the Union soldiers were buried. He gave one of the greatest speeches that any politician has ever given in this nation — The Gettysburg Address. This is Lincoln’s 268 word address:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

We need our schools to teach about the War Between the States with truth and accuracy — not with bias and political correctness. Our future citizens should have some fundamental knowledge of what caused the war, what it was about, how it was won and the aftermath of Reconstruction. They should learn something of the people who fought and died in the war. They should understand what it meant to this nation and how it has affected us to this day. When this happens perhaps we will not have people like Whoopi Goldberg screaming the states’ rights means a return to slavery.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Seventy-One Shots: The Death of Jose Guereña

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it. — Mark Twain

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik infamously railed in January of this year that Arizona is a “Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

One must wonder if the “prejudice and bigotry” he considers endemic to Arizona is to blame for the death of U.S. Marine veteran Jose Guereña, killed when Dupnik deputies gunned him down in his home. They fired 71 shots. They hit him 60 times. And then, as if this wasn’t enough, Dupnik’s deputies blocked paramedics for an hour and 14 minutes from approaching the scene, denying Guereña treatment until he was assuredly dead.

Dupnik’s SWAT team initially claimed that Guereña fired at them while they were serving a warrant — as he slept. They claimed that his bullets hit the bulletproof shield that the entry team hid behind, and that the barrage of bullets they fired back was in self-defense.

Only, Guereña never fired his weapon. Awoken by his wife with screams that men with guns were invading his home and threatening his family, Jose Guereña armed himself with a AR-15 rifle and crouched in the hallway. The SWAT team unloaded upon Guereña on sight. He apparently recognized the home invaders as police. He took 60 rounds, but never — as the Pima County Sheriff’s Department was forced to admit — took off his weapon’s safety as he was being killed.

The Arizona Daily Star reports:

“The wife of a Tucson man killed in a Pima County SWAT raid May 5 pleaded for five minutes with 911 dispatchers to send an ambulance for her mortally wounded husband, audio records show.

Often through tears and sometimes in broken English, Vanessa Guereña, tells 911 operators that her husband had been shot by a "bunch of people" who opened the door of their southwest-side home and "just shoot him." Meanwhile, dispatchers worked to determine if she was calling from a house where the SWAT team was serving a search warrant, audio released Friday by Drexel Heights Fire Department reveals. It takes about an hour for waiting medics to know what happened, and the man is dead before fire crews are allowed into the home.

Jose Guereña, 26, a former Marine, was sleeping after the4dce1b919809d.preview-300 graveyard shift at Asarco Mission mine about 9:30 a.m. when his wife woke him saying she heard noises outside and a man was at their window. Guereña told his wife to hide in a closet with their 4-year-old son, his wife has said. He grabbed an AR-15 rifle and moments later was slumped in the kitchen, mortally wounded from a hail of gunfire.

For about five minutes after Guereña was shot, his wife stays on the phone trying to explain what happened and asking for an ambulance.

More than a week later, few details about the investigation that brought the SWAT team to the home Guereña shared with his wife and their two young sons are known. Details of the search warrant have not been made public and deputies would not comment on what was seized from the home.

The Pima County Sheriff's Department has provided no details about the investigation that prompted the raid and little information about the moments leading up to 71 gunshots being fired at Guereña, whose gun had the safety on. He was shot 60 times, doctors told the family. Initially the Sheriff's Department said Guereña fired at officers, but they retracted that this week. Drexel Heights provided audio of the 911 calls after the Star filed a public records request.

Vanessa Guereña, 27, continuously asks the operator to "please, please" send somebody to help her husband in a call in which she seems desperate, frustrated and panicked and says she could hear people talking outside.

About a minute into the 911 call a dispatcher who says she is with the Sheriff's Department comes on and asks if the SWAT team was at her house. Guereña sounds confused, and says her husband isn't talking to her anymore. She then talks over two operators who are trying to figure out if the house in the 7100 block of South Redwater Drive is among those targeted to be searched that morning as part of an investigation.

The operator asks again if there were law enforcement officers at her house and Guereña says yes, that they're outside. She then adds that they had come inside earlier, shot her husband and pointed a "big ol' gun" at her. She grabbed her son and worried she would be shot.”

It was, you’ll recall, a claim Dupnik made in the wake of Jared Loughner’s bloody rampage at a “Congress in your Corner” event at a Safeway supermarket in Tucson, where six were killed and 14 others were injured — including, gravely, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Dupnik was attempting to blame the conservative Tea Party movement for the shooting when he made the comment. And even after it was revealed that Loughner’s few known political views had been described as “quite liberal,” and were in fact muddled at best, he refused to retract his slur.

So when Dupnik’s teams attempted a complicated four-house raid of minority families looking for drugs, perhaps bigotry and prejudice really was in play.

Perhaps Dupnik’s officers assumed every Hispanic accused of being a drug dealer really was one, and perhaps they assumed that the tenant of a home protecting his loved ones must be a bloodthirsty cartel member waiting in ambush. Is that why they gunned down a tired, hard-working father sleeping off a night shift at the local copper mine? A Marine veteran of Iraq that had the discipline not to fire — a discipline that a trigger-happy SWAT team which has now killed three men in less than a year cannot itself exercise?

Not only has the Pima Sheriff’s Department tried to justify firing 71 shots at one man in a small hallway, hitting him (thankfully, just him) 60 times in a home where his wife and child were present. They’ve attempted to justify their refusal to let a team of paramedics treat Guereña, who was still miraculously alive after being sprayed mercilessly with bullets. It takes a competent SWAT team just a handful of minutes to “clear” a residential home during a raid. Dupnik’s SWAT team refused to declare the scene “clear” for an agonizing one hour and 14 minutes, and not until Jose Guereña had already died.

A cynic might be tempted to suggest Dupnik’s SWAT team was waiting for the only witness to their assault to die. Considering how the Sheriff’s Department has acted since they stormed the home, a rational person might be tempted to agree.

Not content to blame the victim for his own death, they attempted to insinuate he was a drug dealer, even though they were forced to admit under direct questioning that no drugs were found in his home, and that a clumsy cop falling down may have triggered the bloodbath.

Vanessa Guereña claims that neither she nor her husband heard the officers announce themselves as police. As anyone who has ever seen an episode of any popular police reality show knows, no entry team waits 15 seconds after announcing themselves to batter down a door and rush the inhabitants — as Pima County Lt. Michael O’Connor claims his SWAT team did. Identical scenes of immediate entry upon announcement (or after breaching), without giving those inside a chance to react, is a standard tactic captured again and again.

Why Lt. Michael O’Connor decided to tell a mistruth about a well-known, heavily documented, and highly standardized technique isn’t immediately clear. Perhaps it is because of the inevitable wrongful death lawsuit to be filed against the Pima County Sheriff’s Department on behalf of Vanessa Guereña and her two children. Or perhaps it is because of the possible DOJ civil rights investigation. Perhaps Dupnik’s employees simply are unable to act any more professionally after a raid than they do during one.

No-knock warrants are typically used to surprise the target of raids and keep them from disposing of evidence, with possible violence from the offender cited as justification for the military-style use of heavy armor and machine guns.

Jose Guereña’s death was entirely preventable. Over-armed, over-amped law enforcement is causing far more harm to the public than other tactics and techniques possibly could.

The over-militarization of law enforcement agencies and over-use of SWAT teams is an idea that needs to be revisited in a sane society. Too many good people have been traumatized, and too many killed, under the flimsiest of circumstances.

Guereña was a Tucson native and Flowing Wells High School graduate. He joined the Marines in 2002. He served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005 as part of the Yuma-based MWSS-173. After surviving two tours of duty in Iraq, only to lose his life in an encounter with Clarence Dupnik’s keystone cops, Jose Guereña was buried with full military honors.

The Guereña family has retained the services Christopher Scileppi to file a wrongful death suit against Pima County and Sheriff Dupnik. He has also requested the Justice Department to open an investigation into the shooting. Will Eric Holder do so or is only concerned about the Black Panthers? On the other hand where is NCIS when we need them.

The Good People of Joplin Missouri

“Now you go through St. Louie Joplin, Missouri Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty…” — From “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”, Bobby Troupe.

On Sunday, May 22, 2011, a massive storm system and tornado devastated the town Joplin, Missouri — population 49,000. The same storm system devastated the small town of El Reno in Canadian County, Oklahoma.

The tornado, which struck around dinner time, crushed nearly a third of the20110524Tornado_big-slide-0IHU-jumbo city. It pounded about 2,000 buildings, knocked out power and cellphone service for many, and damaged water treatment and sewage plants. The tangled remains of cars and trucks were overturned and thrown against buildings and trees. Some blocks were jagged mounds of debris, while others were stripped to utter emptiness: just foundations of homes and tree trunks — no leaves, no branches, no bark.

The tornado did catastrophic damage to a Wal-Mart, a high school and a nursing home apartment building, and ripped through the places that exist to respond to emergencies, like a fire station, where a brick wall was crumbled over a fire truck, and the hospital, whose sign was reported to have been spotted miles from Joplin.

It was the deadliest single tornado in more than half a century, and it adds to a season of particularly deadly tornadoes. Storms in the Midwest and South have killed hundreds of people in the last two months, and left millions of dollars of damage behind. As of this writing the officials in Joplin have confirmed 200 people died in the storms. El Reno got off easier with only 6 reported dead.

The latest tornado was part of a weather system in which cold and warm fronts crashed together throughout the middle of the country, creating conditions that can spawn “supercell” thunderstorms like the one here. Click here for an interactive map of the supercells.

His story is not about supercells or storms. It’s not about devastation and the power of nature. It’s about the people of Joplin and El Reno, towns I have been in.

Three years ago while driving from Chicago to Los Angeles on Historic Route 66 I passed through both towns. They were typical Midwestern towns that had once been on the “mother road” so glorified in Bobby Troupe’s song. They had old buildings, old houses, old streets and a history of once being stop-overs on Route 66. They also had Wal-Marts, Walgreens fast food restaurants and small cafes. They were Americana. After the construction of Interstate 44 these towns saw little growth and the businesses and cafes were only visited by locals and history buffs, like me, traveling Route 66.

I recall the Sunday my wife and I were passing through Joplin on our way toThe Café on the Route and the Little Brick Inn on Route 66, Baxter Springs, Kansas. our bed and breakfast hotel (the Café on the Route) in Baxter Springs, Kansas, just over the border with Missouri. I received a cell on my cell phone from the owner of the hotel informing that they were in Joplin for the day and would not be there to greet us at the hotel. She told us not to worry about registration as she had our credit card reservation and gave us our room number. She said the key would be in the mail box by the front door.

When we arrived at the hotel it was closed and dark, but sure enough the key was where she said it would be and we found our room all made up for us. This is known as Midwestern trust, something you will not find in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles of San Francisco.

These people know their neighbors and take care of themselves. They don’t look to Washington for handouts and help. When an emergency arises act as neighbors. In spite of the devastation we saw no pictures of looting or people carrying TV sets out of the wrecked Wal-Mart as we have seen in so many examples of disastrous in cities like New Orleans or Detroit.

20110524Tornado_big-slide-B7EY-jumboWe saw neighbors comforting and helping their neighbors. There we no cries of “where’s FEMA or where’s the President. People from states like Texas, Kansas, Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas to help their neighbors who were in trouble. There were no pictures of people standing in six inches of water waiting to be rescued. Their neighbors took care of them. That’s the way real Americans are.

On one video clip I saw a man with one arm helping load food stuffs and medical supplies for the victims. I saw people hugging one another and holding babies. I saw hospitals with broken windows still functioning. And I saw people searching for loved ones and their pets in the debris.

I saw churches that had been severely damaged acting as rescue centers and aid stations. It mattered not if you were a member of the church or not.

During the Japanese earthquake and tsunami we were amazed at the cooperation and discipline exhibited by the Japanese. Commenters made remarks on how well the Japanese were behaving during their tragedy and how we do not see this in America. Well, I suggest they take a good Joplin, Missouri. They might be pleasantly surprised. There is another America in fly-over country, an America of people who believe in each other.

Afghanistan: A Lost Cause

“There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.” — Sun Tzu

As Memorial Day approaches the deaths in Afghanistan continue to mount with no end in sight. The latest U.S. Combat causality was Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibodeau, 28, of Chesterland, Ohio, who died May 26 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas. Thibodeau’s death brings the total U.S. deaths to 1,595 (967 under Obama’s watch) and the total for the coalition to 2,487.

Where is the outrage in the media? Where are the images of flag-draped coffins arriving at Andrews AFB? Where are the critics of Obama’s policies? Where is Code Pink protesting Obama as they did George W. Bush over Iraq? Of course you know where they are — they are silent. After all this is the anointed one’s war as is the escalation in Libya and the left-wing press will not criticize him on his failed Afghanistan policies.

“Afghanization. Vietnamization. Surge. Gradual escalation. Corrupt dictators. Internal dissension. The war follows a familiar script.” POLITICO

Despite proclamations of victory by the Administration of President Barack Obama, the death of Osama bin Laden is not like the fall of Berlin in 1945. In itself, killing bin Laden brings no peace. It does ask many unsettling questions about America’s No. 1 ally in the War on Terror, Pakistan. It also puts into question America’s ability to even win the war in Afghanistan.

When Obama took office, he got this advice from Vice President Joe Biden: “If you don’t get Pakistan right, you can’t win.”

The reason was and remains simple. The enemy, the Taliban, is using Pakistan as a base to operate hit-and-run missions against American troops the way North Vietnam used Cambodia to strike GIs four decades ago. The key difference is former President Richard Nixon launched attacks into Cambodia. Obama’s Cambodia is Pakistan, a Muslim nation with 100 nuclear weapons in its inventory.

If you think the nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan has a lot of similarities with Vietnam, you are not alone. The New York Times reports the recently deceased Ambassador Richard Holbrooke had to shut up regarding how badly the war in Afghanistan was going.

“There are structural similarities between Afghanistan and Vietnam,” Holbrooke noted, in ruminations now in the hands of his widow, Kati Marton.

“He thought that this could become Obama’s Vietnam,” Marton recalled. “Some of the conversations in the Situation Room reminded him of conversations in the (Lyndon B.) Johnson White House. When he raised that, Obama didn’t want to hear it.”

The Times indicated if Holbrooke were still alive, he would be shuttling frantically between Islamabad, Pakistan, and Kabul, Afghanistan, trying to take advantage of bin Laden’s killing to lay the groundwork for a peace process.

Johnson was a guns-and-butter Democrat who sat in the Oval Office during the Vietnam War. The undoing of the nation was not solely over his vision of the Great Society, but rather America’s defeat in Vietnam.

Even LBJ finally understood that Vietnam was a lost cause, but not before tens of thousands of Americans died.

Johnson drawled: “Light at the end of the tunnel? We don’t even have a tunnel; we don’t even know where the tunnel is.”

This truth applies to Obama, who still won’t admit it. Without Pakistan as a reliable partner, the United States cannot win peace in Afghanistan. And Pakistan is moving away from the U.S. faster than a bootlegger from the cops.

Last week, the Toronto Sun wrote: “The Pakistani government isGillani_2008 embarrassed that bin Laden was found living in relative comfort, but there’s little in their reaction that indicates shame. Rather, they are miffed that the American SEAL team went in without telling them. Parliamentarians even cheered Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani when he warned of dire consequences if the U.S. ever again sent troops into Pakistan without permission.”

Gilani declared that Pakistani intelligence services were neither complicit nor incompetent and that the discovery of bin Laden living in plain sight of Pakistan’s military academy was not Pakistan’s fault. He insisted China is Pakistan’s “all-weather friend” and implied the U.S. is an unfaithful ally.

Can you imagine Winston Churchill warning America about coming on British soil to hunt Nazis during World War II? Of course not, but Pakistan is not a real ally. It is a Muslim nation in which key members of the government and its intelligence service (Inter-Services Intelligence) covertly plan American deaths in Afghanistan while cheering on a war that is exhausting both America’s financial resources and the nation’s psyche.

But there are no Churchills in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Asif_Ali_Zardari_-_2009The President of Pakistan is Asif Ali Zardari. His own people call him “Mr. 10 Percent” because of all the kickbacks he took during the premiership of his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated when she again ran for office in 2007. Not only is Zardari corrupt, but he is weak against the Muslim mob which grows angrier each month.

The other key ally in America’s war on terror is Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who is also corrupt, perhaps delusional and, most likely, a drug addict. The U.N. envoy to Afghanistan even questioned the “mental stability” of Karzai and suggested the Afghan president may be using drugs.

In an interview on MSNBC, Peter Galbraith described Karzai as “off-balance” and “emotional.” Galbraith went so far as to call for Obama to limit Karzai’s power to appoint officials within Afghanistan until he proves himself a reliable partner.

“He’s prone to tirades. He can be very emotional, act impulsively. In fact, some of the palace insiders say that he has a certain fondness for some of Afghanistan’s most profitable exports,” said Galbraith, in reference to heroin.

When asked straight out if Karzai is a drug addict, Galbraith responded: “There are reports to that effect. But whatever the cause is, he can be very emotional.”

You can see where this is going. In World War II America had Churchill and Charles de Gaulle on our side. In this war we have Zardari and Karzai, two leaders that make South Vietnam’s dictator Ngô Đình Diệm look like Thomas Jefferson.

There is a lot of money being made in these Arab wars, at least for U.S. military contractors. Fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq has cost more than$1 trillion. Yet some neoconservatives just can’t get enough, as was evident earlier this year when Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) wanted to put boots on the ground in Libya. McCain declared the Libyan “rebels” are true heroes and represent American democracy. Either the Senator has seen Star Wars one too many times, or he has forgotten that Americans are still dying because Washington armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

It is true that Presidents and generals never get credit for battles they never fought. In this way President George H.W. Bush never got credit for not invading Iraq in 1991 and for letting the Communist bloc determine their destiny without American interference.

Furthermore, the success in killing bin Laden shows that surgical operations, whether lead by SEAL teams or pinpoint bombing, can knock out America’s enemies and not at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

But I don’t expect Obama to declare victory and bring the troops home anytime soon. There is still an election to win, so I expect the President to give his “Peace with Honor” speech just before Americans go to the polls.

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Griswold’s in Europe

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.” — Albert Camus

In 1985 there was a very funny movie called “European Vacation.” The film starred Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo and was about the misadventures of middle-class family from Chicago traveling to Europe. One of the funnier scenes was where Clark Griswold got stuck in a round-a-bout in London for several hours and kept passing Big Ben. For anyone who has traveled to the United Kingdom and had problems navigating he numerous round-a-bouts the scene was hilarious.

Last week while Benjamin Netanyahu was making a hit addressing a joint session of Congress the Obama’s were off to Ireland, Britain and France on their version of European Vacation.

They started off in Ireland where Obama was in search of his roots at a pub in Moneygall where he drank Guinness, told jokes and attempted to speak in an Irish brog. After gulping down a mouthful of the black Irish stout that left a foam mustache on his face he looked more the character on the box of Uncle Ben’s Rice. As for the brog and his roots I won’t touch that one with a 10 foot pole.

His next stop was at the United States Embassy in Dublin where his Cadillac armored limousine got stuck on the driveway approach to the embassy. The limo known as the “beast” due to its weight was pulling out of the embassy and the undercarriage got hung up on the steep approach. An intern in civil engineering could have told his brilliant staff that the grade of the approach was too severe for the car to clear the apex of the driveway. This was just another embarrassment for the people who plan his events.

His next faux pas was when he toasted the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Not being briefed on the time allowed for his laborious toast he rambled on as the orchestra began to play “God Save the Queen.” Not was his toast an embarrassment his wife was decked out in a white sleeveless dress that looked like she bought it at Ross Dress for Less. A real beauty at the table. She looked like she was dressed more for an appearance on Oprah than a state dinner.

If all of this was not enough the mayor of London announced that the president’s motorcade and his limo “The Beast” would have to pay a “congestion charge.” A 2003 allows the mayor to levy the fine for excessive traffic since the streets were technically closed during the president’s visit.

The London Evening Standard reported:

“The Mayor told the Standard each car in the President’s motorcade will be billed for £10 – including the bomb-proof Cadillac. Mayor Johnson also said he had a discussion with Obama about the U.S. embassy’s refusal to pay £5.3 million in congestion-charge (C-charge) fines.

But the embassy said its position on not paying the C-charge was “wholly in accordance” with a convention on taxing diplomats. Johnson said: “Our roads were not closed during the President’s visit so his motorcade will pay. The Beast will pay the charge, I’m delighted to say.

“We didn’t charge the Pope when he was here because all the roads were closed, so the Popemobile was exempt. But this was different.”

Mayor Johnson raised the issue of the U.S. embassy’s unpaid C-charge bill with the President during a state banquet at Buckingham Palace. He said: “We had a very friendly conversation. Suffice to say discussions will be ongoing.”

A spokesman for the Mayor later said: “They already owe £5.3 million so it is probable the bill for the motorcade will just go on top of that.”

A number of embassies in the capital insist the congestion charge is a tax giving them immunity from it.”

For the record, one British pound sterling equals about $1.64 U.S. That means each car will have to pay $16.41, and that the embassy’s total bill equals a whopping $8,698,360.00.

But a source told the Evening Standard the president and the embassy have no intention of paying the fines:

“We conscientiously abide by all UK laws, including paying fines for all traffic violations, such as parking and speeding violations.

Our position on the congestion charge is based on the 1960 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which prohibits the imposition of this sort of tax on diplomatic missions.”

I’m sure that will continue to strengthen the “special relationship.”

On the heels of Obama flubbing a toast to the queen (and talking over the British national anthem), it seems only appropriate to bring you what one British reporter has dubbed Obama’s “top 10” insults against Britain.

The Telegraph’s Nile Gardiner compiled the list, something he’s done in the past. But, he says, since then a lot has happened.

“In honor of President Obama’s state visit to Britain this week, here’s an updated and revised list, as a reminder to readers of the president’s less than stellar track record when it comes to US-British relations,” he writes. “The US president will no doubt be careful not to offend his hosts when he travels to London, and he will receive a warm welcome from the Queen and the Prime Minister, as any American president would. But the prospect of an embarrassing diplomatic gaffe or insensitive remark cannot be ruled out from a world leader whose administration has all too often specialized in them.”

It‘s important to note that Gardiner’s piece was written before the now-infamous toast and the Westminster Abbey guest-book signing. So that he would say “the prospect of an embarrassing diplomatic gaffe or insensitive remark cannot be ruled out” is not only prophetic but also sad — sad that it would seem so easy to predict.

  1. Siding with Argentina over the Falklands
  2. Calling France America’s strongest ally
  3. Downgrading the Special Relationship
  4. Supporting a federal Europe and undercutting British sovereignty
  5. Betraying Britain to appease Moscow over the New START Treaty
  6. Placing a “boot on the throat” of BP
  7. Throwing Churchill out of the Oval Office
  8. DVDs for the Prime Minister
  9. Insulting words from the State Department
  10. Undermining British influence in NATO

You can see a more detailed version of Gardner’s list in the Telegraph by clicking here.

Clark Griswold and Barack Obama have two things in common. One is that they are both from Chicago and the second is that they have no sense of travel outside of the United States. I guess I can’t expect too much from a community organizer when it comes to etiquette and decorum. After all how can a guy who spent most of his years chucking and jiving on the streets of Chicago know how to toast a queen.

The Meaning of Memorial Day

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” — Mark Twain

With Memorial Day Just around the corner I would like to comment on the meaning of the day. I begin with the question; What is Memorial Day? Is it:

  1. The unofficial kick-off of Summer
  2. A great weekend to find deals on just about everything
  3. The Indianapolis 500
  4. Time to honor the men and women who gave their lives serving our country
  5. All of the above

Sadly, ‘All of the above’ is the correct answer, with numbers 1, 2, & 3 obscuring the most important meaning of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day (originally known as “Decoration Day”) traces its roots back to the middle of the 19th century when General John Logan issued General Order #1 on May 5, 1868, stating;

“Gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime. Let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude,–the soldier‘s and sailor’s widow and orphan.”

Memorial Day became a three-day weekend event back in 1971 when 1968′sSONY DSC Uniform Holidays law took effect, mandating the move of three holiday observances to the closest Mondays. This did make for long weekends, but some say, the move diluted the real meaning of Memorial Day, putting the focus on recreation and relaxation instead of the sacrifice of our military.

How should you mark Memorial Day? The folks at US Memorial Day offer some tips;

  • By visiting cemeteries and placing flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes.
  • By visiting memorials.
  • By flying the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon.
  • By flying the ‘POW/MIA Flag’ as well (Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act).
  • By participating in a “National Moment of Remembrance“: at 3 p.m. to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day, and for Taps to be played.
  • By renewing a pledge to aid the widows, widowers, and orphans of our fallen dead, and to aid the disabled veterans.

For the families and friends of those who died in service to America, every single day is Memorial Day, as they are forced to carry on without a loved one. The least we can do is pause at 3pm on Monday for a Moment of Remembrance.

Many will say that we have forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day and perhaps in some regions or cities of the country they may be right, but not in Riverside County, California. Last year, while returning home from dropping my daughter at the Ontario Airport, my wife and I attempted to stop by the Medal of Honor Cemetery in Riverside. It was around 10:00 am and as we approached the off ramp from the 210 freeway to Van Buren Street the traffic slowed to a crawl. The cars were lined up for a mile or more waiting to get into the memorial. In that I had been there before an written an article about my visit we decided not to join the crowd entering the Memorial.

As we passed the cemetery we could see that each grave was marked with an American Flag. It was quite site.

Riverside National Cemetery is the third-largest cemetery managed by the _FHP5101National Cemetery Administration, and since 2000 has been the most active in the system based on the number of interments. It was established in 1976 through the transfer of 740 acres from March Air Force Base. The cemetery was dedicated and opened for burials Nov. 11, 1978. An additional 181 acres was transferred by the Air Force in 2003. The dramatic, meandering landscape features a central boulevard (LeMay Blvd.) with memorial circles, lakes, indigenous-styled committal shelters, and the Medal of Honor Memorial.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor.

On December 9, 1861 Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced SB. No. 82 in the United States Senate, a bill designed to "promote the efficiency of the Navy" by authorizing the production and distribution of   "medals of honor". On December 21st the bill was passed, authorizing 200 such medals be produced "which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War)." President Lincoln signed the bill and the (Navy) Medal of Honor was born.

Soon afterwards the Army followed suite and eventually all military personnel, including spies would be eligible for the Medal. On February 13, 1861 Army Assistant Surgeon Bernard J.D. Irwin rescued 60 soldiers of 2nd Lieutenant George Bascom's unit at Apache Pass, AZ. Though the Medal of Honor had not yet been proposed in Congress (and actually wouldn't even be presented to Irwin until 1894), it was the first heroic act for which the Medal of Honor would be awarded). On May 24, 1861, in Alexandria, VA Army Private Francis Edwin Brownell performed the first action of the Civil War to merit the Medal of Honor.

During the Civil War there were 1,520 Medals of Honor awarded including: 11 for actions at the first battle of Manassas (Bull Run), 20 for Antietam, 19, at Fredericksburg, 96 for Vicksburg, 52 at Petersburg, and 58 at Gettysburg. Other actions where the Medal was awarded are: 24 for actions at the Little Big Horn (1876), 109 sailors and Marines aboard the Battleship Maine in Manila Harbor (Feb 15, 1898), and 29 for the Boxer Rebellion (June 20, 1900). On May 3, 1919 Sergeant Alvin C. York was awarded the MOH six months after the end of WWI. This would mark a milestone in the history of the Medal. It and its recipients would now be made celebrities by the press and films.

Only one Coastguardsman was ever awarded the Medal. Canadian born Douglas Munro received the Medal for his actions on Guadalcanal on September 27, 1942. For all of their heroic actions in World War II Japanese-Americans fighting with the 442nd Infantry Regiment received only Medal. PFC Sadao S. Munemori became the only Japanese-American of the war to earn his Nation's highest honor. His Medal of Honor, presented posthumously to his mother, is on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

It is an awe-inspiring experience to walk through the Memorial and ponder on some of the engraved names realizing that each name has a story attached01-Michael-Monsoor to it. That story is the citation that goes with the Medal. One of the latest recipients is Master-at Arms, Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL. He received his Medal for actions in Ramadi, Iraq. His citation reads thusly:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. “

Recently the Navy has launched the USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) to be the second ship of the Zumwalt class of guided missile destroyers.

If you live near the Riverside Medal of Honor Cemetery it is well worth you time to pay respect to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country. But, get there early if you want to get in to the cemetery, its always crowded. There is also the alternative of going the day before or the day after Memorial Day. The flags will be there and you can still pay your respects.

After you pay your respects to those that have sacrificed for this nation and you return home to gather with family and friends I offer the following tip for making the best hamburger you will ever eat.

First of all I love hamburgers — they are truly American. the French have their crepes, the Germans have their bratwurst, the Italians have their pizza and spaghetti, the Japanese have their sushi, and the Mexicans have their tacos. The Americans have the best possible food treat of all — the hamburger. It’s as American as apple pie, if not more so, even if Michelle Obama doesn’t think so. But, who cares what Michelle Obama thinks.

Raymond Sokolov, the food critic for the Wall Street Journal, says, and I agree, that the world’s best burger is made with ground chuck. Forget the fancier grades of meat. Ground sirloin is unnecessary; ground Kobe just a foolish extravagance. Sokolov says chuck has “the Goldilocks amount of fat.” It’s not too fat and not too lean. In short, it’s just right. The patty should be thick enough that you can char the outside and the meat will remain moist on the inside. And we both like ours medium rare — hot enough to melt the fat, rare enough so you get the full flavor of the beef.

Another food critic says the only way to get the perfect burger is to grind your own hamburger, from meat you have carefully selected from the butcher’s counter. He even gave instructions on how to pulse it properly in a food processor, but that sounds like a prescription for disaster to me. If you’re going to be this authentic (which certainly isn’t necessary), why not go all the way and buy an old-fashioned grinder with a hand-turned crank, like your grandma used? Does anyone anywhere do this at home?

Grill or griddle? Ah, there’s a division that could keep strong men arguing for weeks. It seems to be a truism in America that if it’s cooked on a stove, the women do it. And if it’s cooked outdoors, that’s a guy’s job. I don’t mean to be sexist here; I’m just passing on an observation I’ve heard many others make.

So I was surprised to learn that all of Sokolov’s favorites were cooked on a griddle — and most of the time (but not at his No. 1 choice) by a man. Maybe there is something special about the taste from a griddle that hasn’t been cleaned in years. (Scraped, sure. But washed — with soap, water, and a wire brush? — never!) This is how my Hungarian grandmother used to make me pork chops, something I have never been able to duplicate. I can still taste those flavorful, moist chops to this day.

Cook and critic David Rosengarten says he comes close to duplicating the magical flavor of a well-seasoned grill at home. What’s his secret? He keeps some beef fat in his refrigerator for just such occasions. And don’t worry if it’s been in there a while. He says it won’t go bad. In fact, he insists a little age is good for it.

“Just get that pan a little shiny with melted fat,” he says. When you’re done, “put your fat treasure back in the fridge. You will have made a major advance toward the ravishing taste of griddledom.”

Personally, I think a red-hot grill seals in the flavors in a way no griddle can. In the past, I didn’t care if the flame came from propane or charcoal. That’s a view that would be considered heresy by all of my barbecue buddies. I I have a natural gas grill in the yard and I think it works just fine.

There’s just something special about a burger that’s seared on a grill. Slap a piece of cheddar or American cheese on top, close the lid and let the cheese melt while the burger steams. The result will transport you to hamburger heaven.

What about the bun?

I have heard there are places where hamburgers are served on toasted white bread, but I have never seen such apostasy with my own eyes. There are many ways to serve hamburgers that are wrong. Kaiser rolls, for one. But as far as I’m concerned, only one way is right. Go to your local supermarket and get yourself some plain hamburger buns. Not bagels or buns covered with sesame seeds. Not pretzel twists or other weird concoctions. Just plain buns. Nothing does a better job holding everything together while it keeps your fingers clean.

Slice them in half and, when your burgers are almost done, lay them cut-side down on the back of the grill. Keep them there for no more than two minutes. If your timing is right, your lightly toasted buns will be ready when your hamburgers are.

What else do you put on it?

If you think there’s disagreement about where the world’s best burger is cooked, wait until you ask a few folks what should go on it when it’s done. Or, in the case of cheese, just before it’s done.

I’m perfectly fine with turning a hamburger into a cheeseburger. I’m not even all that fussy about what kind of cheese is used. Those single slices of processed something by Kraft are OK by me, but many critics will turn up their distinguished noses at anything but hand-sliced pieces of the finest cheddar. They are just hamburger snobs.

Pickle slices? Not for me. But I’ll have them handy if someone else wants eco-friendly-organic-garden-beefsteak-tomatoesthem. Lettuce and tomato? Absolutely!. But make sure to use fresh, crisp iceberg lettuce (not romaine or that stuff that passes for lettuce that grows along the shoulder of the highway that is served in fancy restaurants). As for the tomatoes, try to get a fresh, red, beefsteak not one of those anemic ones that are imported from Mexico. I also like a spoonful of Thousand Island dressing. Crushed corn flakes? I’d never heard of such a thing until I read Sokolov’s column. That still strikes me as a bit weird.

Some people can go for a nice slice or two of bacon on top of the cheese. But please don’t overcook it. It should be a little bit chewy, not dry and crunchy. And please note: If you’re going to put bacon on your burger, you must lay down a slice of cheese first. As Frank Sinatra used to sing, you can’t have one without the other. I personally eschew the bacon as overpowers the taste of everything else. If you want bacon try a BLT.

What about onions? Most of the time I skip them — I tend to taste them forred_onion the rest of the day.. Some people prefer a, medium-thick slice of a Vidalia onion. Others feel the same way about Bermudas. Raw is fine. Sautéed until they’re slightly caramelized is even better. But don’t expect that when I’m cooking; that’s too much extra work for me. If you really want a mild and tasty onion try the Red onion — to me they are the best.

And if you want someone to sauté onions and mushrooms together for your burger, I’ve got news for you, buddy. You don’t want a hamburger; you want a Salisbury steak.

Now, are you ready for the shocker? Somewhere on his cross-country odyssey, Sokolov was persuaded that mustard is better on a burger than ketchup. How did this happen? Who got to him? I can’t prove it, but I suspect that money from the Mustard Council may have changed hands. Mustard is for hot dogs, not hamburgers.

Where’s the best burger joint?

Now you know all there is to know about making the world’s best burger at home. (Or at least start a mighty good argument about how to do it.) But where can you find the, tastiest commercial version? I’m very proud to announce that the best burger you can buy at a commercial establishment is at Bob’s Big Boy.

I hope you and your friends enjoy some fabulous cookouts this summer. I promise I’ll be following my own recommendations: ground chuck cooked medium rare, with cheese and some other accoutrements on top. If I’ve done it right, the bun will be lightly toasted. And the applause will be gratifying.