Marines.Together We Served

Monday, February 20, 2017

Remember Iwo Jima?

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
20 February 2017

Remember Iwo Jima?

                It all started when I spoke to the family and friends of the JROTC unit at Riverbank High School last Thursday for their annual inspection. It always concludes with a pass-in-review, and a guest speaker. It has been my privilege to be the speaker the past two years.

          What I mean by “it all started” has to do with a portion of my talk which focused on the importance of 19 February 1945. I asked if anyone knew what this date represented. No one offered an answer. Well, all you have to do is ask any Marine and they’ll tell you it was the beginning of the invasion of the four-mile-long island known as Iwo Jima. During this five-week campaign some 6,800 Marines gave their lives so that allied forces would have an airfield to use in their attack on the Japanese mainland. It was also critical for our bombers to have a place to refuel, or land if they sustained damage from enemy anti-aircraft fire.

          As I concluded my remarks, I pointed to the cadets and told them, “Many of the young men who died on Iwo Jima were just your age – 17 and 18. They were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice so that you and I could enjoy liberty and freedom.”

          My final remark was to point out that when you take the oath upon entering the military (or law enforcement, or political office) you “Swear to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” I added, “It says nothing about defending a political party or even a certain president. That is irrelevant. You are to defend the Constitution! Period! It is from that document that you are guaranteed your rights and liberties. In fact, you don’t have to like the president. I began my military service under Richard Nixon and ended under George W. Bush. Did I like all the presidents I served under? No! But I love the Constitution, and was willing to defend it with my life.”

          So, today, after church Isaura and I picked up out friends, Elwood and Patricia Cooper, and drove to the American Legion Post 632 in Stockton. The Stockton Marine Corps Club was hosting a “Battle of Iwo Jima Remembrance” for its club members and friends. The ceremony focused on three Marines who had fought on Iwo Jima. One of our own members, Gunnery Sergeant Ted Salisbury, aged 93, brought the house down with his various stories. One story was how upon becoming a Marine he took up smoking cigars and has smoked them ever since. He says his grandkids called him “Grandpa Stinky!” Upon his return to the States due to serious wounds on Iwo Jima, he called his girlfriend, Pat. Her father answered the phone, and realizing it was Ted, said, “Stay right there! We’re on our way.” Pat and her whole family piled into their car. They even picked up his dad and a brother, I believe. When they arrived, Ted shook hands with all the men, and kissed all the ladies, but someone was missing. Where was Pat, the one person he wanted to see above all? It turns out she was in the car crying, so happy was she for his safe return. When she emerged from the car, Ted proposed to her on the spot. He further regaled us with a story about V-J Day (Victory over Japan), 2 September 1945. The word went out that the war had ended, so being stationed in San Diego at the time, he and Pat, along with thousands of others, converged on the downtown in riotous celebration. One sailor foolishly grabbed Pat and planted a celebratory kiss on her lips. Ted grabbed the ill-advised swab-jockey and decked him with one punch. “That’s my wife you’re kissing!” he shouted at the fallen violator. They were married 66 years!

          One of the other veterans of Iwo Jima was Major Bill White. This Marine did not speak of his exploits, but the write-up in our program highlighting his years in the Marine Corps is fantastic. It would not mean much to those who are not Marines or who are unfamiliar with Marine Corps history, but Bill White has served in places that became part of Marine Corps legend and lore. He enlisted in the Marines in 1934 at age 19. After some sea duty, he was assigned to Pearl Harbor from 1936-37, and then transferred to the 4th Marine Regiment in Shanghai, China, in what would be known as the “China Marines.” These Marines were the first to actually witness the might of the Japanese military when they attacked Shanghai in the 2nd Sino-Japanese War. In 1942 he was assigned to parachute school and then transferred to the 4th Parachute Battalion in Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. He was later sent to Parker Ranch in Hawaii, prepping for the invasion of Iwo Jima. He served on Iwo with the 1st Battalion, 28th Marines where he was wounded and medically returned to the United States. He retired from the Corps in 1964. He is 101 years old.

          The final Marine honored today was our guest speaker, Corporal Frank Wright. Frank told of lying about his age to join the Marines in January of 1942. He was 16. Later that year, while serving on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Southern California, he volunteered to help in the formation of the 4th Marine Raider Battalion, the precursor of today’s Marine Recon. The commander for this fledgling Raider Battalion was Major James Roosevelt, the eldest son of then President and Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Frank participated in several invasions with the Raiders up until they were disbanded in 1944. He was then assigned to the 21st Marines. During the July 1944 battle for the re-occupation of the Island of Guam, he was bayoneted in the stomach in hand-to-hand combat. Recovering from his wound, he once again joined the 21st Marines, this time on Iwo Jima. Here he was wounded by machine gun fire. He ended his time in the Corps serving as a drill instructor and a weapons expert.

          I shook hands with each of these Marines, but lingered to chat with Corporal Frank Wright. Hearing I had been a Navy chaplain he began a story about a favorite chaplain of the 21st Marines on Guam. A recently commissioned ship, the USS President Polk, sailed into the harbor. This was something of a luxury ship, replete with a piano in the dining room. The Marines decided Father Paul Redmond, a Catholic chaplain, needed a piano. They stole the piano off the ship, paying a bribe here and there, with the piano ending up in the officer’s tent covered by burlap. On Sunday morning with Father Redmond leaning on the covered piano conducting a service, the MPs arrived, explaining that they had reason to believe the chaplain was leaning on a stolen piano. When the burlap was removed in a flourish, Father Redmond declared in mock horror, “Why, how did that get there?”

          It was a great day, and truly an honor to be around these three Marines who helped cement Admiral Chester Nimitz’s iconic remark about the bravery of the Marines at Iwo Jima, “Uncommon valor was a common virtue!”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

For Such a Time

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
13 February 2017

For Such A Time

                Down through recorded history, the leaders we so often admire are the ones who lead their troops into battle. These leaders may be generals, princes, kings or any variety of similar titles. But one thing is certain: The leader is beloved by those who follow for one simple reason – the leader leads from the front. The leader is willing to face the slings and arrows along with his troops. The leader says, “Follow me!” Such leaders are warriors!

          One thing is certain when looking for leaders. From the President to the 100 members of the Senate to the 435 members of the House of Representatives to the nine Supreme Court Justices (currently eight), there are precious few among this cabal who are true leaders. Oh, they talk pretty, promising the moon with all their campaigning and fund-raising. It always comes across as so much empty talk.  

          For the past eight years, I have volunteered my time in serving the Republican Party in my area. I’m also a member of the Government Relations Committee of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. This has allowed me to meet a number of our elected representatives and candidates for office, both Democrat and Republican. Most are very nice, willing to “press the flesh” and smile. But what I have attempted to stress, when the occasion presents itself, is to look them in the eye and say, “Do the right thing!”

          Americans love strong, no nonsense leaders who will face the fire, be it in combat, or in the Halls of Congress. I believe this is why Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina has become a hero to many because of his dogged determination in pursuing the truth about Benghazi and other shady and highly questionable shenanigans perpetrated on the American people. If our political leaders simply told the truth, folks might think better of them. Instead, the embarrassing numbers of trust in Congress, which has gone on for decades, hovers in the single digits.

          As I have written before, I was no fan of Mr. Trump until late in the game when he surprisingly became the Republican nominee for president. Several things took place in mid-summer which had a profound effect on me. First was the promises he was making to the American people as to what he was going to do to make America great again once elected. His often crude and brash manner notwithstanding, he was addressing boldly those issues that mattered most to we the people. It resonated across the fruited plain, particularly in “flyover country”.

          Second, (and this is what sold me on Trump,) he selected Senator Mike Pence of Indiana as his VP running mate. Pence is a Christian who lives his faith and isn’t embarrassed to say so. He is quoted to have said, “I’m a Christian, a Conservative, and a Republican – in that order.” So is Kellyanne Conway, serving now as Counselor to the President. She makes no bones about her faith in Jesus. The same can be said about Dr. Ben Carson, the new Director of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Another strong Christian advising Mr. Trump throughout the campaign was former governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee. The President’s chief of staff, Reine Preibus, is “known as a principled, devout Christian.”

          The recently embattled nominee for Attorney General, and now confirmed, Jeff Sessions, has served in his church in numerous positions of responsibility throughout his life. Betsy DeVos, the newly appointed Secretary of Education, says she sees education as “one of the ways that God advances his kingdom.” Our new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is considered to be a devout Christian who attends church weekly and teaches Bible study.

          And on it goes with Scott Pruitt who now runs the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency); Mike Pompeo, head of the CIA; and Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations.

          Where President Trump stands regarding any personal faith in Jesus, I’m not sure that anyone knows. But he has chosen these folks to be in his cabinet and to serve in his administration.

          Now here’s the exciting part! I reflect back on the life of Queen Esther in the Bible, a Jewess whom God used to save her people, the Jews. While in exile in Persia under the rule of Xerxes the Great, the Jews found themselves being targeted for extinction with the blessings of Xerxes himself. Esther was unsure of what to do until her uncle, Mordecai, conveyed these immortal words to her. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

          The Bible records that Esther heroically approached King Xerxes who not only reversed his prior order to have the Jews wiped out, but that the Jews should be shown honor.

          For quite a number of years in America there has been a growing hostility toward Christians and Jews. With the advent of a president who claims no faith that we know of, he has clearly chosen many of his appointees who are ardently God-fearing Christians. President Trump has also said he will overturn the Johnson Amendment of 1954 which was used to muzzle pastors from speaking about political matters. Additionally, the President has chosen his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a Jew, to serve as his Senior Advisor. Mr. Trump is also having the American Embassy in Israel moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This is historic!

          Who knows but that God has allowed President Trump, a man of no particular religious faith, to be used to reinvigorate the godly heritage of our nation. And in so doing, God has strategically placed key men and women of faith who “have come to this royal position for such a time as this?”

          These next four years should be quite exhilarating! Is God about to do something really special? I, for one, certainly believe so!

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Don't Count the Score at Halftime

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
6 February 2017

Don’t Count the Score at Halftime

                Well, after Sunday’s Super Bowl game I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put in my two cents worth. Wow! What a game!

          In an attempt at full disclosure, I freely admit that I love sports. In particular, football sits at the top. My step father played football in the early 1930s at the University of Alabama. He actually played with Bear Bryant! That’s during the era when the players wore leather helmets! Fortunately, I came along in the 50s and 60s when we had transitioned to hard-shell polycarbonate helmets which also sported a single crossbar as a facemask, but eventually expanded to provide more protection for the face along with a rubber mouthpiece.

          I would have loved to have been a star football player. Alas! Twas not to be. I was a perennial benchwarmer. But it wasn’t for lack of effort. I played in 9th grade at Highland Park Junior High in Dallas, Texas, a geographic region in the country where football is a religion! In 11th grade I played on the JV Team at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts. In one game I really got my bells rung! The good news is I laid a good lick on the quarterback, tackling him for a loss. After the pile of players moved off, I stood up, weaving from side to side. A couple of guys directed me toward the sidelines where I promptly walked into the head coach. He grabbed me and sat me down on the bench. I was still out of it even after the bus ride back to school. I played again in my sophomore year at Azusa Pacific College (now University). I also played for two of my four years in the Marine Corps. One year I played for the squadron team at VMFA 531 at MCAS El Toro, and the next year I played with a combined Navy/Marine team at Naval Station, Subic Bay in the Philippines. Later as a Navy chaplain I coached the MAG 39 Marine Team at Camp Pendleton, California for two years. All told, I had a blast in and around the game of football. I often thought the best job in the world would be as an NFL coach.

          Since I was born and raised in New England, and my step father was from the Boston area, we rooted for all the professional sports teams from Boston. The Red Sox, the Celtics, and of course the Boston Patriots (later renamed the New England Patriots). California has pretty much been home for me since 1965, so I’ve always rooted for a local team. I have been a San Francisco 49ers fan for the last 30 years. However, with Colin Kaepernick’s disrespectful behavior toward our flag this past season, I have taken a leave of absence from the Niners.

          Ah, but I have always followed the Patriots! And ever since Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady teamed up around the turn of the century, it has been an amazing run of victories culminating in what was their 5th Super Bowl victory on Sunday. The game was, dare I say, one for the ages! One of the monikers attributed to Tom Brady is “Tom Terrific”. This has been well earned because of his ability to will his team to win when things were just not going their way. This last Sunday’s Super Bowl was no exception.

          The young, fresh, upstart Atlanta Falcons had arrived at the Super Bowl having easily vanquished opponents with a frightening ease, bearing a confidence that was palatable. But this bunch had never been in a Super Bowl game before. In fact, only four players on the Falcons had ever played in the Big Game. On the other hand, the Patriots had 22 players who had been to the “Big Dance”. Two years ago they had won their fourth Super Bowl in a squeaker. Now they’re back for another try.

          The buildup to this clash between these two titans of the pigskin had the adversaries trading body blows, scoring somewhat at will, believing the team in possession of the ball in the final minutes of the game would win.

          Well, some of that prediction was realized. But no one could have foreseen this Hollywood movie ending. Both teams remained scoreless at the end of the first quarter, all the while testing each other for weaknesses. The second quarter was a disaster for the Patriots, and a boon for the Falcons. In uncharacteristic fashion, the Patriots committed not one, but several egregious errors which the Falcons pounced on, gaining what appeared to be an insurmountable lead of 21-3 at the end of the first half. The tree points the Patriots managed to get was at the very end of the half, appearing more cosmetic than surmounting any sort of scoring threat promised in the second half. The 21-3 halftime score was grim for New England. But this game was far from over!

          The start of the second half didn’t seem to go any better for the Patriots. Instead, the Falcons marched down the field, easily scoring a touchdown, boosting the score to 28-3. Any reasonable person would have said, “This game is over”. But I’ve watched Tom Brady too many years to ever count him out. The Patriots finally scored their first touchdown at the end of the third quarter, but missed the extra point kick. Score: 28-9. The fourth quarter was another story altogether. The Patriots, under Brady’s steady command, began a comeback that will be discussed, dissected and debated for years to come. The Falcons at this point still had an apparently insurmountable lead. But little mistakes crept into their nearly flawless game to that point. The Patriots made them pay with touchdowns, finally scoring the tying score with less than one minute left on the clock.

          Regulation play ended in a tie at 28 apiece. This was now the first ever overtime period in the 51-year history of the Super Bowl. After the coin toss, the Patriots elected to receive the ball. You could sense this was it. Tom Brady led his team down the field with a touchdown to end the game and secure a fifth Super Bowl victory and set all kinds of records on a career that is nothing short of amazing. The Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit, the most in Super Bowl history.

          Often during the years we were raising our daughters, when they seemed to drift from what we had taught them, I would say to my wife, “Don’t count the score at halftime”.

So, let me ask you, “What are you going through at this time?” Whatever it is, “Never give up!” Because it’s never over until God says it’s over.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Agreeing to Disagree

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
30 January 2017

Agreeing to Disagree

                When I was a kid, my parents had very close friends that they played bridge with either in our home or theirs a couple of times a month. Pop and Ted played golf regularly as well. I learned a great lesson in life from watching these four friends interact with each other. I am in their debt.

          The lesson I learned is that folks who are the best of friends can vehemently disagree and not have it adversely affect their friendship. My step father (Pop) was a classic New England Democrat. Don’t confuse the Democrats of today with the Democrats from the 1950s. In fact, today’s Democrats have shifted so far to the left that they have embraced socialism over a democratic republic. Pop was a strong patriot who at age 31 enlisted in the Marine Corps during WWII. When it came to social issues, Pop tended to lean more to the left. My mother was the same even though she was born and raised in Texas. Their friends were also Democrats but much more liberal in their views across the board. When it came to child discipline, they were miles apart. My folks practiced “old school” discipline, whereas their friends had bought into Dr. Benjamin Spock’s philosophy.

          I remember hearing them have heated discussions about this policy, or that Supreme Court decision quite frequently. Yet at the end of the evening, they remained the best of friends. This made a big impact on me. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me that you could have differences of opinion and remain friends.

          As I moved from childhood to being an adult my world views were growing apart from my parents. We returned from three years in Europe in 1963, just a few months from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That singular tragedy affected me and my generation that simply has no comparison, even 9/11. I was drawn more toward conservative thinking by life events; not any one person. Pop, mom and I would periodically have heated debates        over a myriad of things. Even though we rarely came to an agreement, whenever the conversation ended, or mom had dinner ready, it was over. We loved each other and nothing was going to get in the way of that. When Pop passed away in 1992, Ted’s son, Steve, flew from his home in Connecticut to attend the funeral in Fresno, California. In turn, when Ted passed away many years later, sister Joy and I traveled to New Jersey to pay our respects. A few years ago my mother passed away. Steve again made the journey west to attend the funeral. We were all friends and we loved each other.

          Today is a far cry from what I experienced growing up. The pervading attitude seems to be, “If you don’t agree with me, then you’re my enemy!” How did we descend into this type of thinking?

          Watching the news on TV this past week has been somewhat unnerving. Groups who are opposed to the Trump Administration are marching in protest carrying signs and placards spewing the vilest and most vulgar of words. The speakers commandeering the microphone were impossibly mendacious, revealing a hatred for anyone who did not agree with them that bordered on mental derangement. Then there was the school teacher who, in front of her students, took a water gun and squirted it at an image of President Trump flashed on the chalk board, screaming “Die! Die!”

          And what of the mentally retarded young man accosted by some black thugs who terrorized him simply for being a Trump supporter, all the while recording the event and posting it on the Internet. These are not isolated incidents. A cursory glance at the news is quite telling with terrible stories of hatred and violence.

          We need to be very careful of such activity. In 1930s Germany, the problems and failures of the nation, following a humiliating defeat in WWI and a plummeting economy, were laid on the backs of specific people groups. Jews were an early target, with gypsies, mongoloids, and any other easy target added to the list. People who once had been neighbors, now were enemies, all occurring virtually overnight. You don’t think it could happen here in America? Think again! When people become fearful, a target, an enemy, is easy to create and blame. The history of the world is replete with such heinous activity when people are frightened.

          Are Americans fearful today? You bet they are! One of the easiest ways to determine this is the sale of firearms. Personal safety, and the safety of one’s family, has caused countless citizens of all races and backgrounds to apply for a CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon) license. There is an ever-growing mistrust of our neighbor. And residents know the police cannot always respond quickly enough to prevent criminal activity. Cities and counties across America are terribly backlogged in processing the voluminous surge in requests for CCWs.

          The arguments and debates of yesteryear seem as nothing compared to what we are facing in the world today. Can we as Americans trust each other again even if we don’t agree on everything? I sure hope so.

          I’m reminded that Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But did he mean for us to love only those who agreed with us? No, this is not what he meant. What does “love your neighbor” mean? The challenge to each of us is, “Am I willing to live God’s way?” Well, are you?

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Mattis Model of Leadership

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
23 January 2017

The Mattis Model of Leadership

          The first person to be approved in President Trump’s administration is the cabinet position of Secretary of Defense. To better understand the value and function of the Department of Defense, we need to go back to the years immediately following World War II. Up to that time, presidents were advised about the matters of war by the Secretary of War who had oversight of the War Department. It was done this way for 200 years, and it pertained to use of the Army. The Navy, the Coast Guard and the Marine Corps were not included. The Air Force was not yet established.

          During WWII, the War Department was divided into three groups: the Army Ground Forces; the Army Air Forces; and the Services of Supply (later renamed the Army Service Forces). After the War, the Department of Defense was created to include all the branches of service, creating the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Air Force, causing the War Department to be abandoned and reinvented as the Department of the Army. As for the Marine Corps and Coast Guard, they are generally placed under the Department of the Navy structurally, though the Coast Guard is bounced around at times.

          Retired Marine Corps General Jim Mattis is the new Secretary of Defense. General Mattis has a moniker that, no doubt, is causing some folks to squirm. The General is better known to his Marines as, “Mad Dog” Mattis. Mattis was retired early by President Obama three years ago. President Trump has chosen him to be on his cabinet, requiring an exemption from the seven-year minimum authorized by Congress once released from the military.

          There are Americans who are troubled that a man like Mattis is in charge of our nation’s defense simply because he is career military, is a Marine (Gasp!), and is called Mad Dog. Personally, I like him for all three of those reasons. He’s a leader, and he takes care of his Marines.

          In 2002, I was called up from the Reserve to serve in the Iraq War. I was the Deputy Command Chaplain for the I MEF (I Marine Expeditionary Force) at Camp Pendleton. Part of the I MEF is the 1st Marine Division, which Mattis commanded at the start of the Iraq War. Though I never met the General, there were plenty of stories about him making the rounds.

          Allow me to share two stories that exemplify Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, our new Defense Secretary.

          The first story was told by General Charles Krulak (Ret), former Commandant of the Marine Corps.

          “Let me tell you a Jim Mattis story,” General Krulak said. When he was Commandant of the Marine Corps, every year, starting about a week before Christmas, he and his wife would bake hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Christmas cookies. They would package them in small bundles.

Then on Christmas day, he would load his vehicle. At about 4 a.m., General Krulak would drive himself to every Marine guard post in the Washington-Annapolis-Baltimore area and deliver a small package of Christmas cookies to whatever Marines were pulling guard duty that day. He said that one year, he had gone down to Quantico as one of his stops to deliver Christmas cookies to the Marines on guard duty. He went to the command center and gave a package to the lance corporal who was on duty.

He asked, “Who’s the officer of the day?” The lance corporal said, “Sir, it’s Brigadier General Mattis.” And General Krulak said, “No, no, no. I know who General Mattis is. I mean, who’s the officer of the day today, Christmas day?” The lance corporal, feeling a little anxious, said, “Sir, it is Brigadier General Mattis.”

General Krulak said that, about that time, he spotted in the back room a cot, or a daybed. He said, “No, Lance Corporal. Who slept in that bed last night?” The lance corporal said, “Sir, it was Brigadier General Mattis.”

About that time, General Krulak said that General Mattis came in, in a duty uniform with a sword, and General Krulak said, “Jim, what are you doing here on Christmas day? Why do you have duty?” General Mattis told him that the young officer who was scheduled to have duty on Christmas day had a family, and General Mattis decided it was better for the young officer to spend Christmas Day with his family, and so he chose to have duty on Christmas Day.

General Krulak said, “That’s the kind of officer that Jim Mattis is.”

          The second story is a letter General Mattis just wrote to the men and women in the Defense Department.

          “It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.

Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.

Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.

I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary.


          Folks, rest assured, the Department of Defense is in the hands of a man who is strong, capable and committed.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Day of Celebration

Roots in Ripon
Chuck Roots
16 January 2017

Day of Celebration

          Regardless of where you fall out in the political machinations of our nation’s exercise of Constitutional privileges, January 20th every four years is a time to celebrate!

          There is a plethora of reasons why a voter may not like a particular candidate. Or in the case of the most recent presidential election, the voter may not have liked either of the major party candidates all that much. But the election is over. The clear winner is Donald J. Trump, and he will be inaugurated this Friday as our 45th President. This is as it should be. If Hillary R. Clinton had won, I would say the same thing. At this point, whether my candidate won or lost becomes moot.

          It is ridiculous for liberals and Democrats to refuse to attend this peaceful, time-honored transition of power. Such petulance belittles the blood-bought right of every American voter. Our rights as outlined in the Constitution are provided by both God and man. I think of all the young men and women who have given their lives in service to our country, sacrificing the last full measure of devotion in some far-off village you and I are likely incapable of pronouncing. It has been my solemn honor and privilege to have laid a number of these patriots to rest. These are the eighteen, nineteen, and twenty-year-old’s who would have loved to have returned home to their families and continued to participate in the cherished freedoms we celebrate as Americans. But such was not the case for them. It falls upon us to carry the torch of freedom by exercising our blessed rights. By so doing we honor the memory of these brave warriors.

          Let me further say that if I were the one directing the Inauguration Day events, Hollywood’s elite would be waiting a very long time for an invitation to perform. There are a few who are honorable, but most of the rest can sit around their multi-million dollar mansions in Beverly Hills sipping lattes, and having their personal chefs prepare them their favorite comfort foods. In the meantime, the rest of America will celebrate this special day, and then get back to work!

          Instead, if I were directing the Inauguration Day events, I would search far and wide across the fruited plain for the latent talent that resides in every town and berg in these 50 states. I would invite folks who have a special talent, but more importantly, I would invite those who love America.

I was delighted to see that one of the first people invited to perform was Jackie Evancho. This 16-year-old classical vocalist performed on America’s Got Talent (AGT) when she was 11 and absolutely blew everyone away. She finished in 2nd place, but her career took off. She has recorded several albums and is in constant demand. When the Trump Team asked her to perform, she agreed right away. This immediately put her in the cross-hairs of the liberals who hate Trump. They ridiculed Jackie because she didn’t come in 1st place on AGT. They said Trump was using wanna-be performers. I had to laugh. If you’ve ever heard her sing you know what I’m talking about. Her voice and talent are heavenly. Plus, after she was denigrated by the media, her record/CD sales went through the roof! I love Americans!

          The primary reason we as Americans should be celebrating the inauguration is it marks us as a people who recognize and respect the Rule of Law and that we play by the rules. I believe the Founding Fathers had this in mind when they crafted our Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. I yet marvel at the prescience of these patriots who dreamed of a land where power was in the hands of the people. Nowhere else did such a country or nation exist at that time, and that enjoyed such an abundance of freedom. It was just such freedoms that caused the Founders to wonder if the United States would survive. When a lady approached Benjamin Franklin after the Constitutional Convention had agreed on the Constitution, she asked him, “What sort of government are we to have, Mr. Franklin?” His reply: “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

          Throughout human history peaceful transitions of power is virtually unheard of. Kings, monarchs, despots, potentates, emperors, sovereigns, dictators and the like used the power of their position to rule and keep order. Nothing like the United States with its power vested in the people, has ever occurred before. Those who ruled in other nations typically viewed the people they governed as “unwashed rabble.” Many of the Founding Fathers were men of strong Christian faith. Others at least respected the those of Christian character. This is why the precious documents of our nation focus on a strong belief in God, and particularly the God of the Bible. A study of the Constitution will quickly reveal that such a document of law only works with a people who acknowledge the Divine.

          It falls upon us, then, to do everything in our power to preserve our freedoms and our way of life.

          Every military person, and every elected official takes an oath swearing (or promising) to protect and defend the Constitution against anyone who would attempt to destroy it.

          My prayer is that God will continue to raise up patriots who will serve Him and us.

          Fly your American flag proudly! And may God bless America!

Psalm for the Day