Patriotism

Inspiration

The last couple of days have been days that were inspiring for me.  Inspiring in a couple of ways, lets start with Veterans Day.
Our High School held its first ever “Living History Day” on Wednesday.  This was a day in which the entire school honored Veterans from all era’s.  Inspiring because of the hard work and dedication the student body put into the event.  Along with a coordinator, the students of the largest high school in the state put on a class A event.  Veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the current campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan were invited and in attendance.  They decorated the school with massive American flags and lined the street leading to the high school with hundreds of flags.  A local military museum had an old WW I tank in display as well as a 1910 Taxi from France.  The National Guard had some displays of current equipment, but it was the student body that really highlighted the experience.
The culinary class put out a nice spread of coffee and baked goods and made a wonderful lunch.  The JROTC cadets provided escorts that lead Veterans into the classrooms for 2 hours to talk with and answer questions from the students.  The student body dressed in shirts and ties and the girls wore nice outfits in honor of the special guests.
I was extremely impressed with the questions asked in the classrooms that I had the pleasure of being invited to.  At the end of the school day they held an assembly.  Because the school is so large they can not get the entire student body in one place at the same time, plus all of the Veterans, so the Freshman met in the small gym and listened to speakers from a number of conflicts.  The sophomores met in the performing arts center with a Holocaust survivor.  This brave man made a great impression on the kids.  His story was that of perseverance and will.
The Juniors and Seniors met in the main gym with the bulk of the Veterans.  One of the Tuskegee Airman gave a speech on making your mark in the world and both challenged and inspired the students.  There were recognitions of the services and some of the individuals that were in the gym that truly left a mark with their service.  I appreciate all the hard work that the students put into this event.  I was told by one of my son’s friends that is on the student council that the student government as well as many clubs and sports teams spent the better part of a week preparing for the event.  The day and night before, they stayed at the school and many slept at the school until the final details were complete.
I am proud of these kids.
The second part of this weeks inspiration came on the Football field last night.  Now, if you follow this blog you know that I love football.  I think that every one should participate in some team sport.  I may into that at another time, but for the sake of this post, lets just say that team sports develop in young people values and ethics that when coupled with Scouting, round them out in their growth and make them better people.  The Reynolds Raider Football team has been a program that has struggled for many years.  They have gone season after season without a winning record, there has been little pride in the program and the student body has been patient, but not very supportive.  Last year the school hired a new head coach that brought not only a new and exciting offense to the team, but a new attitude to the team in which the team meant more than the individual.  It has been a real slow go and last year the team won only one game.  Which given the previous years was an accomplishment.
This year the team has been sparked by an enthusiastic group of underclassmen and a solid core of Seniors.  What they lacked in skills and strength, they made up for in heart and grit.  Game after game, they went out and never gave up.  They won two games in the regular season this year.  Yes, only two games, but they scored a lot of points and in the games they lost, the margin was very tight, loosing one game in overtime.  The Oregon Student Sports Association (OSAA) has a unique playoff system in which the top teams get an automatic bid into the playoffs while the bottom teams are given one chance to “make it” into the playoffs to fill the remaining spots in the bracket.  they call this a “Play in” game.  The Raiders played in one of these games last Friday.  With no time left on the clock and down by 7 points, they scored a touchdown.  The coach decided to test his young men.  It was win or lose and the ball was placed for the point after.  They were going for 2 to win the game or go home.
A quick pass in the corner of the end zone and the Reynolds Raiders entered the Play offs for the first time in seven years!
Last night was that first play off game.  Lined up against the number one team in the State the challenge was great.  This would test the team in more ways than just making plays.
The Lake Oswego Lakers are a great team.  They are undefeated and possess all the skill, team work, and an established program that keeps them at the top of the brackets year after year.  Surely a game that would be easy to give up on, but the Raiders took the field last night and stood toe to toe with the best.  They saw how the number one team could move the ball at will and how a team that is dedicated to winning could impose themselves on anyone that lined up.
But here is the inspiring part, did the Raiders quit?  Give up and allow themselves to be taken out of the game?  NO.  In fact, they came out and fought hard on the field.  They passed the ball with precision and pressured the Lakers and made them earn their points.  Mistakes were made and at the end of the game it was not close, but the Raiders kept their heads up and learned from the experience.  The Lakers knew that playing against a 3 and 7 team should not have been a challenge, but showed a lot of class and respect for our team.  This too was a great lesson for our team.  Winning with class and having respect for your opponent.
Heart and dedication is building a football program at our High School.  Next will be better, and the year after will be better yet because of these young men on the field.
<DAD MOMENT>
As you all are also aware, Josh my youngest son, is the Starting Quarterback for the varsity team.  He is only a Sophomore and had a great season.  Last night facing number one, he threw for a touchdown and ran for one.  Those were the Raiders only two scores in the game.  He finished his first Varsity season with many great accomplishments including throwing 22 touchdown passes and well over 2150 yards of passing.  He helped take his team to their first playoff game and is part of the core that will move the team to future success.
</DAD MOMENT>
The final inspiration of the week came on Thursday night when our oldest son met with the District Advancement chairman and his team with his Eagle packet.  His application is in, paperwork complete, and now waiting on his Board of Review.
An accomplishment that I never achieved as a kid.  His hard work, dynamic leadership, and will to finish has earned him the right to join the ranks of those we call Eagle Scouts.  I am so proud of him and inspired by his work.  He turns 18 on Tuesday and Monday starts his final season Wrestling for Reynolds High School.  His hard work in Scouting, School, and on the wrestling mat has brought him many success and set him up for success in the future.
This has been an inspirational week for me.  Inspiration from youth!  I am sure we will be in good hands in the future if what I saw this week and what I see almost everyday is any indication.
Be inspired.. take a look at the kids around you.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

…our sacred honor

The last line of the Declaration of Independence is often over shadowed by the rest of this powerful document.
As the Declaration begins, our founding Fathers set down a path that was treasonous to the crown.  As they, point by point outlined the reasons to declare Independence from the crown, they were driven deeper and deeper into certain trouble.  Knowing the committment that they had for the cause of freedom they write; And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” 
They knew full well that in the end this declaration was the nails that would seal their coffins.  They pledged their sacred Honor.
Well what does that mean?  Honor means to be fair, to be accountable, to maintain integrity in one’s beliefs and actions, to be a credit to.  Yes, by definition our founding Fathers demonstrated a great deal of honor.
When we pledge the Scout Oath, we start by saying “On my Honor”…  But do we have the same level of committment that our founding Fathers had.. at least intellectually?  When we make a promise, do we keep it?  When we say that “On my honor, I will do my best”.. do we?  Are we accountable for our actions, do we maintain integrity in our beliefs?  Are we a credit to our families, our organizations and our selves?  These are questions that I wonder if the founding Fathers contemplated as they sat and wrote the declaration.  I wonder if they had trust that each and every one of the signers understood and believed as they did.  Deep in my mind I think the answer is yes.  Another time and place maybe?  No, I don’t think so.  I think that Honor is just as alive today as it was on the 4th of July in 1776. 
What I do think is that we don’t hold each other as accountable in its practice.
When our Scouts raise that right hand and say the Scout Oath.. it’s not just words that get the meeting started, it is our sacred honor.  It is a promise, a pledge, an Oath that means something.
Have a Safe Independence Day Weekend!  Think about where we would have been had these brave men not pledged their Sacred Honor.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Memorial Day 2011

Memorial Day has always been a day that our family observed beyond the BBQ and long weekend event.  My Dad was a career soldier and served in Vietnam, and having lost many of his friends there, Memorial Day had special meaning.  My Grandfather served in World War II and honored that generation of American Warrior that gave so much for the cause of freedom.
But Memorial Day took on a new or at least a special meaning to me once I returned from Iraq… and more so once I retired from the Army.
It was a hot early morning 18 miles south of Baghdad, I was returning with a Patrol from B CO.  We had been patrolling a sector looking for insurgents that had been placing IED’s along MSR Tampa, the main supply route in and out of Baghdad.
We had turned the corner and were on the side road that led into our camp when all of a sudden the whole world came unglued.  An RPG hit the HUMMV in the lead of the convoy flipping it over.  The young soldier in the turret’s name is SPC Wright.  He was severely wounded.  The driver and co driver were shaken up pretty bad.  The patrol dismounted and returned fire, in what seemed like an hour (it was actually about 2 minutes) it was all over.  The insurgents fled.
Now this was not the first time we had engaged the enemy in and around our sector, but this day was the day that we really did not want to make contact.. we were heading home in a few days.  Specialist Wright lay on the ground surrounded by medics covered in blood and transmission fluid from the HUMMV.  I was looking down at the young man, he was only 20 at the time.  His eyes stared at me and he asked me if he was ok.  “You’ll be fine” I told him.  The medic handed me an IV bag and I held it up as they opened it up to a full drip.  “Am I going to die Sergeant Major?” he asked.  “Not today” I told him.  The Blackhawk with the big red cross on it arrived and we loaded him in.  As he flew away I thought that this day would be one I never forget.  I had seen death, destruction, and what the worst in human nature could do to other humans, but this was close.  When we got back to the states I saw Wright, he is alive a well.  He told me that all he could remember of that day was me standing over him telling him he would be ok.
Today we remember all of the men and women that paid in full for our Freedom.  I lost a dear friend, SSG Brad Lindsey in the fight against Global Terrorism.  He was a soldier in my company when I was a First Sergeant.  He was my radio operator.  On his second tour in the Global War on Terror he was killed in Action in Afghanistan.  It was a hurt that I will never forget.
We have all been touched by the loss of a service member.  So today, unfortunately is the one day that we all choose to remember.
So enjoy the BBQ, have a great day off… but some time today, look to the heavens (cause that’s where they are) and say thanks to those that paid the price for our freedom.

Last Thursday, the Scouts of my Troop, and the Scouts of the entire Thunderbird District placed a Flag on every head stone at the Willamette National Cemetery.  A few hours of our Scouts showing that they really care and an opportunity to reinforce in this next generation the idea that freedom has a price and someone has to pay it.
I hope to God that none of the Scouts of my Troop ever have to go off to war.  But I never want them to forget the men and women that did.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

September 11th… No reminder needed.

Its been seven years now since our Nation was attacked. By whom and what for really does not matter any more. But the fact that on the morning of September 11th 2001 our Nation.. our World changed forever, and with that change came changes in all of us. For me it was the signal that I would be entering a phase of my life that took me 18 years to see. For me it meant that all the dollars, the time, the energy of preparing for war was about to become a reality.
Yes, September the 11th is a day that I saw our Nation for the first time in my life and hopefully the last get punched in the eye. We were hit and hit hard and then we hit back.
Sixteen months of my life spent in the desert, a result of the attacks of September 11th 2001.
I proudly served and have no regrets. I will never forget the way I felt that awful day in our Nation.
As we mark this day, say a prayer, pause a moment, reflect on something other than that latte grande or high power meeting you will bore yourself in. Remember what it felt like that day.

The patriotic side of me said to post this poem. Written by Johnny Cash, I am sure you have all heard it before, but it is such a telling example of the punches we have taken, the scars we bare, and the resolve we have as we look at our ragged old Flag.

That Ragged Old Flag
By Johnny Cash

I walked through a county courthouse square
On a park bench, an old man was sittin there.
I said, “Your court house is kinda run down,
He said, “No, it will do for our little town”.
I said “your old flag pole kinda leaned a little bit,
And that’s a ragged old flag you got hanging on it”.
He said “have a seat”, so I sat down,
He said, “is this your first visit to our little town”
I said, “I think it is”
He said “I don’t like to brag, but we’re kinda proud of
“That Ragged Old Flag”
“You see, we got a little hole in that flag there,
When Washington took it across the Delaware.
It got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it, writing
“Oh Say Can You See”
It got a rip in New Orleans, with Packingham & Jackson
tugging at its seams.
It almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag,
But she waved on tho.
It got cut with a sword in Chancellorsville,
Got cut again at Shiloh Hill.
There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,
And the south wind blew hard on
“That Ragged Old Flag”
On Flanders Field in World War I,
She took a bad hit from a Bertha Gun,
She turned blood red in World War II
She hung limp and low by the time that one was through,
She was in Korea, Vietnam, She went where she was sent
by her Uncle Sam.
The Native Americans, The Black, Yellow and White
All shed red blood for the Stars and Stripes.
And here in her own good land,
She’s been abused, burned, dishonored, denied and refused,
And the very government for which she stands
Has been scandalized throughout out the land.
And she’s getting thread bare, and she’s wearing kinda thin,
But she’s in pretty good shape, for the shape she’s in.
Cause she’s been through the fire before
and she can take a whole lot more.
So we raise her up every morning
And we bring her down slow every night,
We don’t let her touch the ground,
And we fold her up right.
On second thoughtI do like to brag
Cause I’m mighty proud of
“That Ragged Old Flag”


Me too!
Have a Great Scouting Day!