Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ave Atque Vale

Colonel John Herschel Glenn Jr., USMC
July 18, 1921 - December 8, 2016 
It is with sadness that I note the passing of a true American hero.







Sad that he is gone, yet grateful that our country had him for as long as we did. One of the men I truly looked up to as a kid. He reached for the stars.

Now he is there...

High Flight 
"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds -
and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of -
wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there I've chased the shouting wind along
and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.

"Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
and, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
put out my hand and touched the face of God."

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Godspeed Sir, we'll see you on the other side.

Faded Glory

I started off with an idea for a post. It is a good idea. But then something I read made me say, "Not today."

I am in the midst of reading Bernard Cornwell's "The Saxon Tales," I'm on the fourth volume of that series, Sword Song. The series follows a character named Uhtred, born a Saxon in Northumbria, but captured by the Danes after the death of his father, also named Uhtred. Confused yet?

If you are not familiar with the early history of the British Isles then you might not know what the heck I'm talking about. Aren't the Saxons German, and the Danes, you mean from Denmark, those guys? Well, yes and no. We are talking about Vikings, but not really. Not if you know what "viking" really means.

And there's a reason why the term "Anglo-Saxon" has the meaning it does. (But that's for another time perhaps.)

Early in its history Britain was populated by Britons, Picts, and Celts and no doubt other folk whom I cannot recall at the moment. King Arthur was a Briton, probably from somewhere in what we now call Wales. This bit from Wikipedia might give you some clues of what happened after the time of Arthur and when the Romans were getting ready to leave -
As the Roman occupation of Britain was coming to an end, Constantine III withdrew the remains of the army, in reaction to the barbarian invasion of Europe. The Romano-British leaders were faced with an increasing security problem from seaborne raids, particularly by Picts on the East coast of England. The expedient adopted by the Romano-British leaders was to enlist the help of Anglo-Saxon mercenaries (known as foederati), to whom they ceded territory. In about 442 the Anglo-Saxons mutinied, apparently because they had not been paid. The Romano-British responded by appealing to the Roman commander of the Western empire, Aëtius for help (a document known as the Groans of the Britons), even though Honorius, the Western Roman Emperor, had written to the British civitas in or about 410 telling them to look to their own defence. There then followed several years of fighting between the British and the Anglo-Saxons. The fighting continued until around 500, when, at the Battle of Mount Badon, the Britons inflicted a severe defeat on the Anglo-Saxons. (Source)
Well, rather than go on and on about this, let me get to my point. There is a paragraph on page 53 of Sword Song which is about the time Uhtred is arriving at the "palace" of Sigefrid, a Danish warlord in  Lundene (what we now call London). Part of it, the part which inspired this post, reads:
The great hall was lined with Roman pillars and its walls were of brick, but here and there patches of marble facing had somehow survived. I stared at the high masonry and marveled that men had ever been able to make such walls. We built in wood and thatch, and both rotted away, which meant we would leave nothing behind. The Romans had left marble and stone, brick and glory. Bernard Cornwell, "Sword Song"
That bit really struck me. Right after I read it, I thought of standing here -

Where is that you ask? The city of Rome, right outside the Flavian Amphitheater (what some call, inaccurately our lovely guide told us, the Coliseum). Those flagstones were laid down over 2,000 years ago. When Christ walked the hills of Galilee, Romans walked upon those stones. They are still there. Though what they surround is now in ruins.

What happened to that mighty empire? The empire which stretched from northern Britain (where Hadrian built his wall to keep my ancestors out) to the northern coast of the Persian Gulf. Which bordered the dark forests to the east of the Rhine down to the sands of the Sahara. Where did they go?

You can see the remains of their roads, their aqueducts, and buildings throughout Italy, western Europe, Africa, Spain, and the Middle East. It was a long lasting empire which lasted over 400 years, then, fragmented, it broke into a Western Empire and an Eastern Empire. The western portion lasted almost a hundred years after the collapse of the old empire. The Eastern Empire, what later scholars would call the Byzantine Empire, would last into the 15th Century. It died when the capital, Constantinople (modern Istanbul) fell to the invading Ottoman Empire. The Muslim Ottoman empire would last until after World War I, nearly 500 years after the fall of Constantinople.

But the Roman Empire left much behind. Its history, its traditions, a legacy of conquest, but also a legacy of strong government. The Romans were brilliant, practical engineers. They built things to last.

But the citizens of Rome became lazy and bored. They wanted free food, free entertainment, the well known "bread and circuses." They were too "civilized" to defend their empire, soon proper Romans couldn't even be convinced to join the Legions. Yes, in the Legion was hard service, battle, and the possibility of a brutal death on the borders of the Empire. But if one survived there was land to be had. Increasingly though, that land was on the borders.

Across those borders were hard-eyed men, they wanted what the Romans had. Land, prosperity. For many of those people outside of the Empire, other hard-eyed men were driving them from their ancestral lands. It was flee or die. One tribe would displace another, like dominoes those tribes pressed against Rome.

The Legions were weakening. Governors in the boundary areas began to take in some of those "barbarian" tribes. If they would serve in the Legions, if they would help protect Rome, they too could have land and perhaps even prosperity. So it happened.

But the Empire  was no longer governed by the Senate and the people of Rome. Now there were emperors, some good, some not so good, and some very bad indeed. But as things got worse and worse, things began to fall apart, the center could no longer hold.

And Rome fell.

Byzantium lasted longer. But she too was pressed from the south by the armies of militant Islam. Byzantium fell, the East was lost. The West had fragmented into petty kingdoms and warring overlords long before that.

I make no analogies to what is going on in these modern times. But I wonder some days.

Rome, so marvelously governed for so long. A prosperous and industrious people. What happened to them? Why did they lose all that they had?

Rome, in the ancient world, after the fall of the Greek democracies, the fall of the empire of Alexander, was civilization. Even more so than ancient Greece, even more so than Egypt with its god-kings and soaring architecture and science. Rome was a glimpse of the modern world to come, long centuries later.

Rome became Christian, allowing Christianity to spread and survive. Where would we be without that? I don't know.

But I often ponder, what became of the glory that was Rome?

I pray that the West is not fading as Rome faded...

Sic transit gloria mundi...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

In Memoriam

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Dec. 12, 2007) Medal of Honor recipient Lt. John Finn* (Ret.) pays his respects to the Sailors and Marines killed aboard USS Arizona during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Finn received the Medal of Honor in recognition of heroism and distinguished service during the Japanese attack. As of October 2007, at age 98, Finn is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient and is also the only living Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor recipient. A chief petty officer at the time, Finn was stationed at Naval Air Station Kaneohe Bay. During the first attack by the Japanese aircraft, Finn took control of a .50 caliber machine gun post and continued to fire on the attacking planes despite getting hit numerous times by enemy strafing fire. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist David Rush (Released)

* Sadly, Lieutenant Finn passed away on the 27th of May, 2010, at the age of 100. Gone to glory with his shipmates.

Seventy-Five Years Ago

Gorou saw the streaks of anti-aircraft tracer loft lazily past the nose of his Aichi D3A. His bomb had come away cleanly but he wasn't sure if he had hit anything with it.

"Hey Haruki-san," he yelled to his gunner through the voice tube, "did you see our bomb hit?"

"Hai Gorou-san! It hit just off the bow of, I think, the West Virginia. It was a good..."

Just then the aircraft shuddered and pitched up. Gorou quickly regained control, but his rudder pedals felt sloppy. Gently he nudged the nose of the aircraft towards the horizon, out there was the Shokaku. If he had any hope of returning home to Japan, he'd need to be very careful.

"Haruki-san, what happened?" Not receiving an answer, Gorou started to turn in his seat to try and get a glimpse of his gunner. Just then something hit the wing of the aircraft. Hard.

As Gorou looked to his right, he saw that the wing of his aircraft was engulfed in flame.

Seaman Bill Jackson was running to take cover when he heard the sound of an aircraft, very low. As he turned to look, his curiosity momentarily overriding his survival instincts, he saw a Japanese aircraft, it's wing on fire, trailing smoke, dipping towards the waters of Pearl Harbor. Before he continued to run, he saw the plane nose over and hit the water. Hard.

Slowly and painfully, the American forces were starting to respond to the attack. Men were moving now with grim purpose. Pulling undamaged equipment away from the flames. Tracer fire was starting to reach skyward for the aircraft painted with the rising sun.

As the first wave flew away, the sounds were deafening, explosions, the crackle of flames, the screams of the wounded and the dying. But slowly, surely, the officers and non-coms were getting control of the situation. The wounded were being treated, weapons lockers were opened, ammunition was being issued. Just in case. Most though, hoped, no prayed, that it was over.

Then the second wave arrived. The bombs fell, the torpedoes dropped, but this time the tracer fire from the ground was heavier. The blossoms of exploding anti-aircraft shells were starting to appear amongst the attackers. Japanese planes were being hit, now it was not only Americans who were dying but Japanese as well.

Seventy-five years ago today, on a quiet Sunday morning, on the island of Oahu, the morning calm was shattered by the drone of 183 aircraft of the Japanese Imperial Navy. Within minutes, the bombs fell, the torpedoes dropped and men began to die.

The United States of America was at war.

We often think of the American lives lost, the ships sunk or damaged. Some tend to think that Americans were victims, victims of a ferocious attack by a relentless foreign empire determined on a path of conquest. But those men at Pearl and the other bases under attack didn't think of themselves as victims. Almost immediately they began to fight back. Certainly though, at first their efforts were weak and uncoordinated.

The first wave of Japanese attackers only lost nine aircraft. As the battleships burned, that seemed scant payback for the damage inflicted.

Then a second wave of 167 aircraft arrived over the island. The defenders were better prepared this time. Twenty of those aircraft never returned to their carriers. Their aircrew never returned to Japan.

The ferocity of the defense may have deterred a third wave. Commander Fuchida Mitsuo, leader of the first attack wave and one of the planners of the attack, and Captain Genda Minoru, a key planner, both urged the commander of the carrier task force, Admiral Nagumo Chuichi, to launch a third wave. There were still ample targets of value: fuel and torpedo storage areas, maintenance facilities and dry docks. However Nagumo, because of the increased losses in the second wave, and the fact that his force was at the very limits of his logistical support, decided against it. Fuchida and Genda were furious. Nagumo commanded, his was the responsibility.

Some sources indicate that a third wave had not been planned. Getting the aircraft of the first two waves recovered, refueled, repaired, and re-armed would take time. To launch a third wave would probably require recovering the aircraft returning from the strike after dark. The flight deck and air crews had not trained for that.

One other thing that all the reports had mentioned was that the American carriers were not in port. Their empty berths at Pearl were somewhat ominous. Nagumo must have been uneasy, wondering where were Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga? Were they even now stalking his force? Which was oh so far from home. So the decision was made, set course for Japan.

As the six Japanese carriers and their escorts turned their bows to the West, they left eight American battleships, one target/training ship, three cruisers, three destroyers, and three auxiliary ships destroyed or damaged. 188 aircraft were destroyed on the ground, 159 aircraft were damaged. The palls of smoke hung heavy over the beauty of Oahu.

Under that smoke lay 2,403 dead American sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines, and civilians, 1,178 more lay wounded. A pall of sorrow and disaster hung over the country for days. But Americans were not quitters in those days, they didn't weep, or wail to the skies over why this had happened.

They buried their dead. They repaired what could be repaired, built new equipment to replace that which was lost. More men and women trained. In essence, America rolled up her sleeves and pitched into the fight. The Japanese would live to regret the 7th of December 1941.

Three years, eight months and twenty-six days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, representatives of the Empire of Japan signed the instrument of surrender aboard the mighty USS Missouri, anchored in Tokyo Bay, surrounded by her consorts as hundreds of Allied aircraft droned overhead. Not attacking, but as a symbol of the might and power which Japan drew down upon herself on that December morning in 1941.

That very ship is now tied up alongside Ford Island, on Battleship Row. The very same place where her older sisters were attacked, destroyed, and damaged 75 years ago. Not far from her bow lie the remains of the mighty USS Arizona and much of her crew, destroyed in that attack. On the 7th of December, 1941.

We might forgive, but we do not forget.

Sow the wind and verily, ye shall reap the whirlwind.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

And So It Begins...

Monday, 05 December 2016, 0710 EST
Woke up yesterday with that whole "sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, feverish" thing going on. Time for some DayQuil™, thinks I, not NyQuil™, as daylight is not far off. While it is still oh-dark-thirty, Mister Alarm will be singing the song of his people in just a few minutes. But first, the feline staff were requesting my presence in the kitchen, as they are wont to do upon my arising.

So, first I hit the medicine cabinet for a shot of DayQuil™, and was sore tempted to return to my slumbers, but both cats were waiting expectantly upon the stairs, eyeing me with this aura of "don't you dare go back to bed, we know it's Monday."

Well, they seem to know when I have to work and somehow they have gotten into my pay accounts and know that I am out of Paid Time Off (PTO) for the year. Whoa, unto me, for that is true (though I have salted away two and a half hours so I can leave early on the 22nd of December). So after the DayQuil™, I provided the feline staff with their rations, then stumbled back upstairs to gird my loins, er, get ready for work. (I've been asked to leave my loins out of polite conversation, which I include the blog as being. Sort of.)

As I stumbled through my morning ablutions, I kept thinking of how crappy I felt. Then I started thinking of the tasks which lay before me that day and felt a little better. Though work can be a bother at times, my work right now is rather interesting and piques my curiosity on a nearly daily basis. (A long winded way of saying "every day," I know, but there it is. It always irks me when people say "on a daily basis," but I will use it from time to time just to increase the word count. Yes, that phrase does make its way into the documentation I am occasionally called upon to produce for my employer. And no, I don't get paid by the word. If that were the case I would ever have a thesaurus by my side.)

Um, I thought you were called Tyrannosaurus Rex?

Now where were we?

Oh yes, moving right along. After getting all ready for work, feeling a bit better thanks to Mister DayQuil™, I threw open the curtains and what to my wondering eyes did appear?

Alas no, but close, very close, you're in the right stanza at any rate.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer. (Source)
Yup, that stuff seen in the opening photo, new-fallen snow. Though there was a sliver of moon the night before, she was long gone by the time I awakened and noticed the white stuff scattered about the neighborhood. (And all over my car, which required brushing off, sigh, times to come...)

Still and all, the sight of snow, and less than three weeks to Christmas, put me in a holiday mood, regardless of how crappy I felt due to that whole "sniffling, sneezing, aching, coughing, stuffy-head, feverish" thing. Which Mister DayQuil™ was helping to alleviate. Though I think seeing the snow helped too.

Which puts me in mind of this. (Sean, Mike you can sing along!)

Ah yes, 'tis the season!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Act like a Child!

It was in late '86, and I was driving to Luke AFB to begin a four month TDY to get checked out in the most successful Air to Air Fighter in the world (so far). 

Needless to say, I was enthused.  The assignment to a 4th generation fighter had looked for a time like it wouldn't happen, as I was married to an Air Force Offiecr (still married to the Lady but neither she nor I are in the Air Force any longer) and joint assignments took effort.  However, thanks to the intervention of an outstanding boss, I was headed to Kadena AB Japan where my wife and son would be joining me the following summer.  For now, I had to learn as much as I could about the Eagle and its tactics.

But, as anyone who's driven in the Southwest USA knows, there are long stretches of straight roads with some very beautiful vistas that you can ponder for extended periods of time (i.e. the drive can get boring).  

I'm driving along and pondering life in general, and mine in specific.  One of the topics of the multi-voiced discussion inside my head concerned my son.  Little Juvat had just turned two and was going through all the phases that "Two" means to a parent.  Tantrums were a fact of life, but also the fact that he was beginning to have a notable personality, that I enjoyed interacting with.

So, the voices in my head were discussing what characteristics in life did I want to impart on him, why, and how did I intend to do that?  It was an interesting discussion.  (I wish I could have recorded it.)

My intention was to write it down and give it to him at some point.  However....Much like many good ideas and intention, life gets in the way of actual execution.  


It's been raining since Thursday.

The Christmas Present has been sanded and stained and awaiting final approval of the stain color.

Mrs Juvat is at work.

I've told myself that if I get this posted, I'll allow myself a nap. (ed. Didn't happen!)

So, Here goes.  As Sarge is wont to qualify his observations, YMMV.

I think there are 5 personal characteristics or traits that are crucial to living in this world.  None are 100% attainable or sustainable, but all should be kept in your field of vision as you progress through this life.

They are: Courage, Honor, Integrity, Loyalty and Discipline.

As I participated in that town hall meeting in my head, I realized that the order they were discussed is important, as they represent layers of protection for the most important of the five.  Integrity.

Courage.  This article (I know, Psychology Today, but hey, it fits) describes Courage situationally.  I think it's apt.  First, is "Fealing Fear yet Choosing to Act".  This is the aspect I think most of us first think of when discussing Courage.  Most Military members aspire to this and experience it at some level or another.  I think it is a fundamental part of life in the Military, and crucial to the mission.  

Another aspect "Standing up for what is right"  I liked this quote from the article.  "Sometimes standing against evil is more important than defeating it. The greatest heroes stand because it is right to do so, not because they believe they will walk away with their lives. Such selfless courage is a victory in itself. "  There have been times when I didn't do that, and regretted it immediately and still.  There were other times when I did and won.  But, you never win those.  You just get your way, there is always a cost. My Dad, after commissioning me, told me "You've only got one sword to fall on, make it for a good cause." 

The final aspect in the article that I find relevant is  is "Perservering in the Face of Adversity".  Lance Sijan and Bud Day certainly exhibited this characteristic.  I like the Emerson quote the article cites. "A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but his is braver 5 minutes longer."  Or to use my favorite quote "Never Give Up!, Never Surrender!"  Things may not go your way, but if you let difficulty cause you to give up, you lose part of yourself in the process and become weaker in standing up to the next adversity.  The hard part of this, of course, is deciding just when that extra 5 minutes is up.  I believe the answer to that is given to you by your opponent.

I witnessed a fine example of this today at Church.  The Cantor is a guy about my age, who in the past few years had been singing as a duet with his daughter.  The daughter carried the show.  She has graduated and is now away at college.  The Dad has been singing occasionally at the early service.  Since, I am not willing to sing myself, I'm not going to criticize.  The pianist does help though.  Today, however, the pianist was sick and I think he got the word late, as in just before the priest came down the aisle.  He proceeds to do his job a cappella.  You could tell he was scared to death, but he hung in there and got it done.  Interestingly, before long, the congregation was also singing.  Not just humming or mumbling the words, but singing.  Hanging in there and singing took courage. (Larry, if you're reading this, Well Done!)

So, in my mind, Courage buttresses the left side.  Honor is the next layer of defense.

I found a simple definition of honor that serves as a starting point for discussion. "Honor is, in part, based on how one performs his duty."

I found this link a couple of weeks ago on Maggie's Farm. The post does a good job, I think of describing honor.  One of the key points is that Honor is NOT the same as Integrity.  I agree.  It also talks about the demise of honor in large sections of Western Civilization, exceptions being the Military, Fire Departments (I would also assume Police Departments to an extent) and interestingly, criminal gangs.  Finally it lays out the required elements for honor to exist.  

First there must be a "code of honor", the standards or rules that describe what it takes to gain honor.  There also had to be an "Honor Group", the group of individuals that have "committed to live the code of honor".  These groups must be exclusive and tight-knit.  Finally. there is Shame.  Failure to live up to the code must have a penalty.  Without shame, honor loses it's ability to encourage one to do his duty to the very best.

Oh, my Lord!  If that doesn't describe life in a Excellent Fighter Squadron, I don't know what does.  I've been in several Squadrons, most very good, two outstanding (the name of one of those, I use as my callsign) and one not so good.  Most of the time, the "code of honor" wasn't written down.  But it was well known.  As a wingman, it meant, being where you were supposed to be no matter what.  If lead flew into the ground, there would be two holes.  Mission debriefs were merciless.  It didn't matter if the Wing Commander was your wingman.  If he was out of formation, didn't follow the briefed targeting plan, and you didn't call him on it (Politely, of course. Using terminology like "Stupid SOB" was likely to have ramifications, although I was called that quite a few times as a LT), you might not be a flight lead much longer.  Similarly, if you were the flight lead or instructor, and the LT bent the aircraft due to an error on your part, similar things would befall you.  

Shame was also a part of the system.  Friday nights at the Kunsan O'Club would involve pre-dinner drinks at the bar where gun camera highlights would be shown for the week.  I got my first flight at the Kun (I hadn't flown in 6 weeks)on a Friday.  To say I was behind the Aircraft on takeoff would be an extraordinary understatement.  I'm airborne, trying to find the gear handle, when my IP says "Need to be looking....".  I think, "I am looking, where is the gear handle?", when an F-4 comes roaring over the top of me and climbs off into the distance.  Later that night, I'm treated to the sight of an F-4, gear and flaps hanging with a pipper dead steady on the front cockpit as the radar range goes through the entire gun envelope.  It was the Wing Commander!  He comes up to me, buys me a drink and says "Son, I don't get to do that very often, but if you're going to be flying in my Wing, you've GOT to be looking."  A very important lesson was learned, not in the flight debrief, although it was mentioned.  No, it was in the bar, with the people I aspired to become, but was shamed by my actions.  Highly effective, if a bit hard on the ego.

As I said, the great squadrons had these aspects in place, in spades.  The good ones also had them.  The Not So Good Squadron, kinda went along to get along.  I was glad to have that squadron in my rear view mirror.  So were most of the IPs.

Those two articles, are part of two series and I'm looking forward to reading the next installments.

Let's skip the next  aspect for the time being and discuss loyalty.

Wikipedia (AKA "The Source of all Knowledge, vetted or unvetted), says Loyalty is devotion and faithfulness to a cause, country, group or person.

One of my favorite Christmas Traditions is watching White Christmas.  I love that movie, even it's errors.  But there are several scenes that really resonate with me.  The first is the Sergeant in the first scene who is told to "take the short cut."  Knowing he's going to get busted, but by delaying the incoming General, the others in the unit are going to get some down time instead of bureaucratic make work.  Loyalty is devotion to a group. 

Then, of course, the scene when General Waverly walks out into the room and his troops, although no longer under his command, are there and come to attention.  Loyalty is devotion to a person.  But Loyalty works the other way also.

As most know, I wasn't a big fan of the Republican nominee for President, but I LOATH the democrat. (I have been in a meeting with her and seen her without her newsie protectors. It's an ugly thing, use any definition you feel appropriate for that pronoun.)  I will confess, that my opinion of the democrat is at best unchanged, but the actions of members of that party are getting worse.  However, I am feeling more confident in the President Elect, mostly because of the people he's selected for his cabinet.  General Mattis, in particular.  If he's a tenth as good as his actions and words seem to indicate, he'll be outstanding.

But we were discussing loyalty.

Earlier this week, I read an article that talked about the Commandant of the Marine Corps visiting Quantico on Christmas when General Mattis was assigned there.  General Mattis was performing as the Officer of the Day.  When asked why by the Commandant, he said it was " better for the young officer scheduled for the duty to spend Christmas Day with his family", and so General Mattis chose to take the duty on Christmas Day.  Loyalty downward to a group and a person.

Let's move to the outer defense layer. Discipline.  According to the source of all knowledge, vetted or unvetted, discipline is the "suppression of base desires and is usually understood to be synonymous with restraint and self control".  Ok, so not 40 lashes then? 

 In another section of the same source, Self control " aspect of inhibitory control, is the ability to control one's emotions and behavior in the face of temptations and impulses. As an executive function, self-control is a cognitive process that is necessary for regulating one's behavior in order to achieve goals."  That's much more along the lines I'm interested in.  Sort of "There's no I in Team" kinda thing.

Discipline to me, is in the planning phase, bring your best to the table, make your points, defend them as well as they need to be with whatever ammunition you have, and then when the boss says "This is the way we're going to go..." respond "Yes, sir!" and give it your best effort even if it wasn't your idea.  Don't look for ways to subvert the decision.  Don't look for ways to say "I told you so."  Do your best to support the plan.

That's a tough one for most people.  They invest themselves in a view point, spending a great deal of time and resources coming up with an idea only to have it not used.  It's tough, but you've got a choice.  Either follow the plan or leave.   Sometimes, the other attributes I've talked about will come in to play.  

And that's where we get to...Integrity.  

Every one of the attributes discussed so far have direct connections to Integrity.  Integrity, to me, is your entire being.  The dictionary even talks about that.  Definitions 2 & 3 in the dictionary  talk about "an unimpared condition" and the "quality or state of being complete or undivided".  Obviously, those are pointed at physical objects, "the integrity of a ship's hull".  But it also refers to the integrity of your soul, being, life.  "Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values".  Integrity is a hard one to attain, an easy one to lose, and an almost impossible one to regain once lost.

Integrity is buttressed on one side by Courage and Honor and on the other by Loyalty and Discipline.  Each provides distinct support to insure the "unimpared condition" or  "quality or state of being complete or undivided".  Losing even one endangers the center, the whole.  

I loved this quote about Integrity from Will Rogers "Lead your life so you wouldn't be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip."

Well, Little Juvat, it's been 30 years since I took that drive, but I finally got it done.  Looks to me that you're dead on target with the attributes I never directly addressed, I appreciate your perception and I couldn't be prouder of you.  

Love, Dad

Sunday, December 4, 2016

New Beginnings

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: 
    “A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
    ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.’” 
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. Matthew 3:1-6
When I was a baby, my parents, as was the custom of their church, had me baptized. I don't remember anything about it. I do remember my youngest brother being baptized in the same church. I remember it because he threw up on the pastor. At least that's how I remember it, I was only six.

Years later, when I was a teenager, I was asked if I was going to "join" the church. I was puzzled. I had assumed that I had always belonged to the church, why would I have to "join" it? Well, I was a teenager, head strong and (like teens everywhere) I knew everything there was to know. So I declined.

When I was old enough to make my own decisions, even if they were bad decisions, I stopped going to church. My mother didn't like that at all, neither did my Dad. He was pretty adamant, declaring that I would do as my mother wished and go to church. When I asked him why he didn't go, except at Christmas and Easter, the argument was over.

Many, many years later (and I have told this story before), The Missus Herself was out and about in our wee town by the bay and came across a small stone chapel adjacent to the Town Common. (Yes, we have one of those, the town retains some of its Colonial charm.)

She sat on the front steps for a while, then came to a decision. Checking the board out front for the time of Sunday services, she went home. When I came home from work, she informed me that we would, as a family, be attending church that Sunday. That was back in 1999 I think, though it might have been 2000 as well. I don't remember all of the details of that time as I was still adjusting to the civilian world.

Did I protest her decision? Of course I did. Did I eventually shut the heck up and do as she bid me? Of course I did.

We went, as a family. The Naviguessor was off at college, but The Nuke and The WSO were still at home. They too did as their mother commanded.

A few years went by, our pastor, Fred, a dear friend, retired and a new fellow took over. One day after church I casually mentioned that we'd like to join the church. (The circle now being complete I guess.)

He asked us if we wished to be baptized, I, thinking of that baptism I had had as an infant, started to answer, "No." That's when the love of my life jumped in and indicated that, "Yes, we wish to be baptized. Both of us."

"We do?" I asked, somewhat puzzled.

"Yes, we do." spake the lady of the house, giving me "The Look."

"Um, yes, Pastor, yes, we'd both like to be baptized."

And so we were. On the 2nd of February in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Three. Now have I mentioned that the church we joined is a Baptist Church? No? Well, it is. And one thing that Baptists fully believe is necessary is a full-immersion baptism. Not a simple cleansing of one's brow, oh no. For us it's into the water. All the way into, and under, the water.

Now this was February. A cold February as I recall. The place of our baptism would be inside the church itself, we have a baptismal font (a rather small pool really) underneath where the choir sits. We can even fill it with warm water, which is a nice thing to have.

Now our baptism was held in the evening, another couple, and the pastor's wife were also being baptized. So on a dark and cold evening in February, The Missus Herself and I went forth to be baptized.

It was an amazing experience, the flickering candles, the words of the Scripture, and the presence of my family all made it a nearly overwhelming experience. (All of the progeny were there, along with The Naviguessor's lady of that time, my Mom and Dad, and both of my brothers as I recall.)

So in I went, something of a barbarian, and out I came, newly washed. Spiritually at any rate. Though the water was nice and warm, the air inside that old stone chapel (built in 1814) was not warm at all. In fact, it was pretty chilly.

Down the stairs behind the baptismal font I went to what was the pastor's office at the time. I don't think I have ever dried off and gotten dressed as fast as that night. Not before and certainly not since.

I still marvel at that evening. There was something in the air that night. I want to say the Holy Spirit was present, perhaps, perhaps not. But I felt, something.

And that is the story I share with you on this second Sunday of Advent.

I have been ever grateful for that new beginning. Perhaps the country might experience that as well. It is time to return to God.

Have a Blessed Sunday.

Let nothing ye dismay...