Ode to the Fathers

This sunday people every where will celebrate a day that honors those men who do a often thankless but easily the most important job in the world: Fathers Day. This is a day where we get a chance to thank those men who perform the most important service in the world which is only equaled by the mothers of the world. In support of this day, I thought I would take a minute to talk about my father.

When I was very young (2 or 3 yrs), my mother and biological father seperated leaving my mom to raise 3 boys. When you start off with a sentence like this, most people will think how awful that is, and I'm sure that at the time it was awful for my mother. However, things have a way of working for the best, because that's when she met Larry Pike. After a normal courtship, she later married that man and he became the father of not only two boys of his own, but also a father to me and my brothers.

I call my step dad my father for a couple of reasons. One, he's the only dad I've ever really known. I know my biological father and he is a great friend, but Larry was the one that raised me, taught me right from wrong, and provided the foundation for me being who I am today. Second, Larry officially adopted me when I was eight years old and made what we both already knew legal, he was my dad.

One of the things that I find so amazing about this man is that he willing accepted the responsibility for raising 3 boys that were not his own, both emotionally and financially, and as far as I know, he never even balked at the idea. This man took the responsiblity for the livelihood of 5 boys and did a job raising us that any man should be proud of. I don't think that there are alot of men out there that would do this so willingly or put such an effort into doing it right. He never treated us (me and my brothers) any differently than his own sons and I think the reason for that was, that in his mind, we were no different. We were his sons. I consider this man my only father and I know that my brothers feel the same.

Recently I took a road trip with my father which is something that we had never done before. The purpose of this trip was to spread the ashes of my favorite uncle over the land where he and my father had grown up. It started off as fulfilling the final wishes of a beloved family member, but it ended up being so much more. While this trip was a short one of just a couple days, I learned alot about the man who was my father and gained an insight into how he became the man he is today.

The road trip stated off in Arkansas, where my parents now live, and ended in Sudan, Texas, at my father's childhood home. It was 10 hours one way of just my father, me, the radio and the open road. You have to understand that neither me or my father are that much for talking. Our phone conversations are short and to the point. We say what we have to say and we end it, but on this trip, the radio was played infrequently during that 10 hours as we spent that time just talking. I got to hear stories from my dad that I had to swear I would never share with anyone else, especially my mom. All those things that I use to catch hell for when I was kid, I found out that my dad had done as well, or in some cases, even worse. I guess that's how he knew I was headed for trouble and he got on to me, because he had already done those things and knew the outcome. However, the most important thing about those conversations, was that dad had trusted me enough to tell me. As most sons know, when conversations like these happen, you now know that you are a man in your father's eyes. Sure, you are are still his son, but you are also a man, an equal. A man who can be trusted to learn the secrets and inner workings of the man who has long been your hero. I can think of few things that can mean so much to son.

When we arrived in Sudan, it was something to watch the expressions on my dad's face as he looked at the house he was raised in. To most people, they would have just seen this place as a broken down home on a flat, dusty piece of land in a barren spot of Texas, but from the look in my dad's eyes, he was back home. To the right of the house, there was a old cotton gin where my grandfather worked, and where apparently, my father and uncle spent countless hours of play. Dad took the time to explain to me the workings of this decrepate cotton gin, even though it was little more than a junk yard of parts now, but in his explanation, this place was worked just as well as it did when he was a kid. He talked about the stucco work that my grandfather did on the house, how granddad went about it, and the amount of time it took him. I don't think Dad saw the same broken down house that I did that day. I think he saw the house exactly as he remembered it. A home that his father took pride in and in return, my dad had pride. Sure he made comments about how small the house looked to him now that he was grown, but I don't know that he believed that. He looked at house and dusty land the same way I look at my parents house every time I go home. It was a place of happy memories and love shared with family.

After we left the house, we went drove by dad's old high school to let him relive those days. In doing this, we found the office of the local newpaper. On a whim, we walked thru the door and asked the man behind the counter how far back they kept archives of the newpapers. Turns out, they had newspapers all the way back to dad's high school days. We spent the next hour or so looking thru these old, yellowing copies of news for clips about my father and uncle. Dad has always told us boys about his glory days of football, but for the most part, we thought he was full of it. I come to find out that day that dad wasn't as full of s*&t as I thought he was. He never lied to us about his athletic skills, though he may have exaggerated a bit. :) It was nice to watch dad read those newspaper articles about his high school football days and relive that time in his mind. A several points, dad would point out an exceptional journalistic byline of some distant game that documented my dad's football skills and make me promise to remember the wording so I could tell the rest of the boys about how he was "the man" in his day. I wish I could have taken each and every one of those articles home for him just to see him smile the same way he did that day.

I know this story may not be that important to most people out there, but this was the greatest trip I ever took. I think it's important for children to know where their parents come from and the way they lived. I now know why my father believes in hard work and fought to instill that in me. He was raised that way. Hard work was just a matter of survival in his day. They didn't have the luxuries that I had growing up, but you could tell through his stories and expressions, that they made the best out of what they had. Yet another lesson my dad taught to all us boys. Crying about what you don't have never does any good, you have fight and work for what you want.

So take the time this sunday to find about the man you call your father. Ask him about his childhood and sit back and listen to the stories he has to tell you. Those stories will give you insight into yourself. As the old saying goes, "To know where you are going, you have to know where you came from." I now know what that saying means after this trip. You guys can have your Caribbean cruises and European holidays, I will take a trip back to a dried out, sagebrush filled, tumbleweed infested plot of land smelling of cow manure with my old man any day!


Repost: Support our troops

I was asked to republish a rant that I posted on another forum back some time ago. Please keep in mind that this was originally posted approximately three months ago and was the catalyst that got me started on this whole blogging thing. Even though it was written months ago, the relevance is still there today, if not more so.

WARNING – Tone, attitude, and language in this rant might not appeal to all people. It is a long read and was done more so to get things off my chest. If you don’t read it, I understand, but if you do, you might just agree.

Last night I went and had dinner at a place called the Japan Ginger Teriyaki restaurant in Issaquah. When walking in, I noticed that there were two army sergeants in fatigues sitting at a table talking as friends do. After ordering my meal, I walked over to their table and after excusing myself for interrupting their meal, asked if I could shake their hands and buy their meal for them tonight as a show of my appreciation for them being in the military. After about 15 – 20 seconds of stunned looks from the both of them, they said there was no need to buy their meal, but would I please come join them.

Of course I accepted and a conversation started that took the better part of two and half hours. They wouldn’t stop thanking me for just taking the time to say thank you to them, much less offering to buy their meal. They went on to tell me how rare it was for someone to do that in this part of the country. The things we talked about during that 2 ½ hours really got the fighting side of me riled up. I simply couldn’t believe some of the stories they were telling about how they’ve been treated up here in the “great” northwest.

One of the guys was 30 years old and had been in the Army about 8 years. He was married and had been for about 4 years with a newborn baby not even a year old yet. The other guy was a bit older and said he had been with the army going on his 18th year. He was also married and had 2 kids, one fixing to start high school and the other just starting college.

The younger guy told be about how he had just come home from Afghanistan about 4 months ago and was hurt by the way his wife had been living. Apparently, she hadn’t gone off base for nearly most 8 month deployment. Seems that she refuses to take off a pin that she received from USO when he left that says, “I’m a proud army wife of a deployed soldier”. Well shortly after he left, she went out shopping at the Tacoma mall and was verbally abused by some of the people with the mall when they saw her pin, berating her for being proud of a man who was participating in an illegal war and killing innocents. I didn’t here specifics of what was said to her, but you could see that this soldier wasn’t happy about the things his wife had told him. After that incident, his wife stayed on base for the rest of his deployment. Luckily, these bases are small cities and she could get everything she needed right there. He went on to tell me, that while patriotism was high in the areas immediately around Ft. Lewis, if you got out past the base, he too felt some of the sentiments of the people who hated the war and him for “participating”.

The older guy told a similar tale of how, when he goes out with his family, he always wears a baseball cap to cover up obvious military haircut for much the same reason. He went on to say that he didn’t do it because he was ashamed to be in the military, or that he was afraid of being attacked by the liberal minds in the area. He did it so as not to subject his wife and youngest son to the sentiments of “people who obviously don’t appreciate the freedom he helps provide.” His words, not mine! He didn’t want his son to see and hear people that thought being in the military, serving your country, and being patriotic was a bad thing.

Needless to say, I bought their meals and wished them the best after apologizing profusely for the attitudes of people I couldn’t influence. I went on to tell them that I knew many people that not only supported them, but prayed for them nightly. I wished them safety in their future deployments and again expressed my gratitude for them doing a thankless job. After another handshake and round of heartfelt thank you’s from the soldiers, they went on their way.

When I got home that night, I thought more about the stories they had told me. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. I don’t mean figuratively mad, I mean actually so mad that I wanted to put my fist thru my living room wall. These guys are placing their lives on the line to ensure that we have the freedom and prosperity and they are being treated like 2nd class citizens. These men and women place the freedoms and safety of strangers before their own and that of their families, and they are berated for doing it.

Who is to blame for this? Is it the Liberal media that takes every opportunity to point out the slightest mistake of the military? The same media that sensationalized the “tragedy” at Abu Garhib? Please! Tragedy my a$$. They put panties on their heads and made them stand in a naked pyramid. Was it wrong? Maybe, but certainly not worth the price the military paid for it. No other country has more oversight or regulation in the treatment of prisoners of war than the US. With all the countries out there that deploy actual torture methods like the breaking of fingers, legs, etc to retrieve information, our military is condemned for doing something that caused no physical harm to any prisoner. When the enemy is beheading and sending the video out for the world to see, our media chooses to concentrate on the fact that there were detainees with women’s underwear on their heads. What about the guy that they made stand on a box with electrical leads attached to his testicles saying that if he came of the box he would get shocked? THE LEADS WEREN’T ATTACHED TO ANYTHING! It was a psychological ploy. It’s not any different than a police officer telling a suspect that he is going to jail for life if he doesn’t cooperate. If attaching electrical leads to the enemy’s testicles brings just one of our boys home safe, then by god, I say, red is positive and black is negative. Light him up!

We have a soldier now on trial for murder. A soldier at war on trial for killing the enemy, now someone please explain that to me! This soldier, just the day before, watched 2 of his comrades die, and he himself wounded, at the hands of an insurgent pretending to be dead then releasing a grenade in a room. Did the soldier bow out of the fight after being wounded? No, he was back at his duty the next day. A day that may for ever change his life for the worse. When entering the room, an insurgent was found pretending to be dead. I don’t blame the soldier for killing him. They had just got out of a firefight, there was no way to know if the guy was armed and prepared to do harm. Let us not forget, these are the same people that will walk into a crowded restaurant or bus and blow themselves up to injure and kill others. It’s an honor to them to die in that manner. So god bless that soldier for helping this insurgent be “honored” by his peers. However, there was a journalist imbedded in the unit that happened to get video of this insurgent being shot. That journalist released the footage and I’ll be damned if the liberal America didn’t jump on it and begin to systematically smear this soldiers reputation. How easy it is to judge when you aren’t there! Who really knows if the actions of that soldier didn’t save a life that day? I say to the soldiers still over there, if you happen to be in that circumstance, 2 in the chest and 1 in the head!

We have a navy seal commander also on trial for “abusing” prisoners. This seal commander has been recognized by his peers and commanders as an exceptional leader and soldier. The report that got him in hot water, that he was observed “punching an insurgent in the arm”. For craps sake, I got hit like that in middle school, but none of those bullies were placed on trial. The person that made the report was a seal member that was kicked out of the service for stealing and “underhanded personality”. Yet the media took the story and again used it as a stick with which to beat our military.

I sometimes wonder what side our media is on. With the exception for Fox news, I don’t trust any media outlet, and I’ve even questioned Fox news from time to time. CBS? Man what an appropriate name for that network because I definitely SEE BS every time I turn it on. Newsweek magazine has become nothing more than an anti-American rag. I don’t know when journalism became synonymous with Anti-patriotic, but it is. Our problem is that, as a country, we are too honest and open. We air our dirty laundry for the world to see and our media outlets take that and use it to beat our fellow country men to a bloody pulp. They don’t focus on what we are fighting, they focus on any little thing they can find to demoralize our public. Terror attacks against our people abroad get a small blurb on the back page of the news, but a soldier punching someone in the arm takes front page for weeks. The media keeps a running tab of the soldiers killed in action, not to honor the fallen or express sympathy for the families, but to demoralize the John Q Public. Where is the running tab of the innocents that were taken?

I’m not saying you have to support the war or President Bush for that matter, but for god’s sake support the men and women who are risking their lives so that we can sleep safe at night. Take the time to say thank you to a service member if you see one. Buy them a beer, I guarantee you will get a good story in return. Give them hope that they are fighting for a people that appreciate their sacrifices. Let’s try to make the anti-patriotic in this country the minority. Support your troops cause the life they give, they give unselfishly for you! Take time to write the media outlets and let them know that you, for one, support our military and are PROUD of them. We can’t sit idly by and let only the liberals and anti-military post replies. Our children learn from what they read and see. If we don’t take action and make the other side heard, all they will see is anti-American sentiment, and make no mistake, I see anyone that posts negatively against our troops as anti-American. I see every war protestor that is at an airport or outside a military base as anti-American. We need to take our support out into the public, not just those areas around Military bases. The louder our voice, the more that will hear and be influenced. It’s time we not just take a stand in support of our troops, but rather, get mad at the fact that they are not treated like the heroes they are!

God bless each of you in the military. God speed and safe return to each of you. Look me up when you get here; I will have a cold beer and a handshake for each of you I see!


Call to arms: We must not forget!

Today I was forwarded an article from the Opinion Journal written by Debra Burlingame about the plans of the International Freedom Center (IFC) to turn the 9/11 World Trade Center memorial into a “high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man, from Native American genocide to the lynchings and cross-burnings of the Jim Crow South, from the Third Reich's Final Solution to the Soviet gulags and beyond.” I will not go into the full details of what the IFC has planned for the WTC memorial, as Ms. Burlingame explains it far better than I ever could. To learn about it, please go read her telling article here: The Great Ground Zero Heist. What I want to talk about is why this poorly disguised propaganda machine should not be allowed on this site and that any attempts to continue with this disgrace should be twarted by all means.

9/11 is my generation’s version of the Kennedy assassination or Space Shuttle Columbia in that it is a frozen moment in time for people. It is an event that everyone will remember, but not a comparison of the gravity of the events. It is the worst attack against American soil in history and everyone I know can tell you in great detail where they were and what they were doing on the morning of 9/11. I was sitting in my truck waiting for a local golf course to open so I could get a round in before work when news of the first airplane strike came across the radio. At first, I thought this was just a horrible accident, but when news of the 2nd plane came in, I knew that someone had waged an attack on us. I also remember being crammed into that small golf clubhouse gathered around a TV watching the news unfold with about 20 other fellow golfers. I remember the angst that I felt and calling my mother just to check in on her and ensure she was safe, even though I knew she was thousands of miles away from this tragedy. I remember an old man breaking down in tears saying that this reminded him of Pearl Harbor in so many ways and how the thought of it was almost too much for him to bare. All of these memories are permanently burned into my mind and I know that I will never lose them. These memories are as much a part of me as my right arm, and just as important.

Even more than the images of that day, I will forever remember my feelings the days, weeks, and months afterwards. I was angry and wanted to re-enlist in the military. I wanted to take up arms in defense of my country and make those responsible pay for their crimes. I felt extreme pride and sadness at the same time for the heroic members of the FDNY and NYPD who walked into burning, crumbling buildings to try and ensure that those still alive were able to go home to their families. I wanted to go to New York and lend those heroes, who were working 20+ hours a day searching for and saving the survivors, a hand, if only to allow them 20 minutes more rest during thier toil. I wanted to do something, but I just wasn’t sure what should be done. I never did do either one of those things, and that is something I know I will always regret. I did nothing when my country was hurt and needing me. I could have provided help and relief, but I did nothing. I still feel ashamed every time I think about it and that embarassment is something that will haunt me forever.

This is why I so look forward to the completion of the 9/11 WTC memorial. It will provide me a place to go and pay my respects to those that we lost that day. However, more important to me, it will allow me to go and offer my apologies for not doing more when I had the opportunity. I know that not everyone feels the same way I do, and that everyone will have different reasons for wanting to attend the memorial, but for me, it will serve, in some small way, as my penance for letting my country and its fallen children down during its hour of need. I want to see the names of our dead and ask for their forgiveness for not doing my part to ease their suffering and the suffering of their families. I do not want to go to the memorial and be confronted by the political ideologues from either the left or the right. I just want to pay my respects to the lost and honor their memories as I see fit. I do not want a history lesson in all of humankind’s failures, I just want to remember that day and see the names of those heroes that gave the ultimate sacrifice to their country and its citizens. I want to meet other people that are attending the same day as me and listen to the stories of their loved ones as they remember them, not be present during a speech that decries the political policies of the country on that day.

Let us keep the memorial for its true purpose: A place of remembrance for one of our countries greatest losses. Let us keep this as a place for families to go and visit the souls of their loved ones in peace and to remember them in their hearts. If the IFC gets their way, the World Trade Center memorial will be turned into a visual political billboard that showcases ideologies that needn’t be present. When members of the board of IFC make a comparison between 9/11 and the Abu Ghraib scandal, then we have a clear picture of the road that the IFC’s board intends to head down with this so called museum. If you must have a showcase of this sort, so be it, but pick an appropriate location. To place this on the location where so many of America’s mothers, sons, fathers, and daughters lost their lives is a disgrace. America shouldn’t disrespect our lost in this way, we should honor their memories, and the IFC has no intention of doing that.

If you feel as I do, then visit the Take Back the Memorial website. They have provide many links in which you can write the media and our government to voice your outrage at this horrendous disrespect of our loved ones, and I hope you use do use your voice. This is not about politics; it’s about the absence of politics where they have no place. I stood idly by on 9/11 when this site was under attack, I will not do it again. Please do not be mistaken, this is a second attack on the WTC. Maybe it’s not a physical attack, but it is an attack on the memory of what happened there, and an attack on the people who died as well as their families. Do not allow IFC to disgrace their memories. Take a stand and let IFC know that we will not allow them to disrespect our dead by using them as a vessel to push an agenda.


How to steal an election and get paid for it

Hey everyone! I know it's been a while since I posted anything, but I'm back for now. What can I say? Work has a tendency to take up a lot of my time and when I get home I just want to relax. :) Now on to today's topic (a few days overdue) which is basically a political text book case on "How to steal an election and make money at the same time."

As many people know, there has been a major battle in Washington state over the Governors seat that is now held by Christine Gregoire. This battle stems over the fact that many feel that this election was stolen by the Democratic party thru the practice of fraudulent votes and political meanderings. The backline of this story is that Dino Rossi won this election, but the Democrats demanded a recount due to the small margin of victory held by Rossi. After the second recount, Rossi won yet again, but still the Democrats weren't happy and demanded a third recount and ponied up approximately $730,000 dollars to ensure they got it. During this third recount, scores of votes miraculously appeared, mostly in King county, which largely supported Gregoire. In addition, this third recount was a hand recount which is statistically less accurate than a machine count, and it was this third recount that finally showed Gregoire as the winner. By state law, this meant that Gregoire was the winner, as there is no provision for more than 2 recounts, however, Rossi decided to take the battle to the courtroom (rightfully so) arguing that it was fraudulent votes and gross negligence in the Washington state voting process that finally determined Gregoire the winner.

Personally, I don't understand this whole battle and truth be told, this whole ordeal has left a sour taste in my mouth over the "political" process present here in the US. How is it that a person who wins an election twice, loses the seat to a person that won once? I guess this whole situation is proof positive that if you count something enough, you will finally get the results that you want. How is it that votes that are found "in a desk drawer" are allowed to get counted in an election that has already been finalized? The voters of Washington state made their voice heard not once, but twice in this election, only to have their voice discarded by the political measures of one party. Washington state has long been a strong hold of the Democratic party and I guess they couldn't bear the thought that the residents of this state were ready for a change.

Where I am really amazed is that the republicans of this state expected any sort of justice by taking this battle to courtroom. I predicted the outcome of the trial before a lawyer ever filed a brief. I knew that the judge would rule in favor of the Democratic party before a single person ever stepped in front of the judge. How did I know this you ask? I knew it because of my extreme distrust in the legal system that is currently in existence in America. Our legal system has become extremely left leaning in the last decade and I no longer trust the ruling that come from a majority of the benches across the country, but I digress. The legal system is not the topic of today.

Now, to top it all off, the Democrats are demanding that the $730,000 be paid back to them with interest at the rate of 12%. According to state law, the party demanding and paying for the recount should be reimbursed should the outcome of that recount change the election results. So whether the recount was based on fraudulent votes or not, by state law, they are owed that money. However, to be demanding an interest return of 12% is asinine in my opinion. Not only did they win the state government by losing an election 2 to 1, now they are wishing to make money on this fiasco. When is the last time any average citizen gained a 12% return on any investment that they have made? Come on Dems, you stole an election by "finding" lost votes, by accepting votes from beyond the grave, and by allowing felons a voice when they have no right to such a voice. Can't you just be happy with that? Why must you further screw the people of Washington state by forcing us to pay you this exhorbant amount of money that is NOT owed to you. Is this the Democratic party's way of making the voters of Washington state pay for the fact that we voted them out of office? Is this their way of chastising us for making them go thru the indignation of having to manufacture results in order let them hold their political power?

To me, the Democrats are now doing nothing more than political extortion. We are in power, and we will get our money from you one way or another. It really makes me question my right to vote. Why bother with voting if the results can be overturned in such a way? Does my voice really count? This whole ordeal leads me to believe that it doesn't. A friend of mine told me, when I stated the above, a quote that says, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." There is also redneck logic that states "If you bang your head against a wall enough, you will eventually hurt your head". :) So I'm in a quandary. Do I give up on the process or do I refocus my efforts to try and ensure that nothing like this happens again. While I'm inclined to concede, that's not how my parents raised me. I was taught to stand up and fight for what I feel is right, even if it comes to my detriment. So I imagine I will do just that. I will fight to ensure that the Democrats don't get a paycheck for stealing an election. I will fight to shove the Democrats gas tax back down their throats, and I will fight to ensure that Christine Gregoire gets kicked out the Governors office so hard next term that she will never even consider trying to run for public office again.

So for all of you dishearten people like me, it's time to start preparing. Go to your closet and brush off the steel toed boots of the American Voter and start perfecting your kick. If we start preparing now, we can ensure that we boot them so hard that their asses will be far too sore for them to even consider stealing an election from us twice.