Monday, May 30, 2011


This is a repost of the article I wrote last July 4 about my father-in-law's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. I thought it an even more appropriate post for today. Remember a Vet; or better yet, thank one today.

It's been exactly one month to the day since our family traveled to Arlington, Virginia, to inter the ashes of my father-in-law, John Kelley, at Arlington National Cemetery.

John was Captain of all the Marines on the U.S.S Missouri in the Pacific Theater of WWII. He was in Tokyo Harbor when the peace treaty was signed by the Japanese on the deck of the Missouri, though he was on land that day securing the harbor and missed the ceremony. After the war, he moved his wife and daughter to Minnesota and began working in the family insurance business.

John and his wife had the awful, horrible misfortune of losing three of their daughters, all at separate times. The first daughter died while John was serving active duty, and she was buried at Arlington. The other two are buried there as well. We went to bring John's remains to rest next to his three daughters.

I'm writing about this on the Fourth of July because a funeral with full military honors conducted at Arlington National Cemetery is truly a thing to behold, a true testament to love of our country and the honor it is to serve her. This is the day we celebrate our Independence, and without people like John Kelley, we might not be celebrating at all. When one is at Arlington and beholds the vista of grave after grave covering rolling green hills as far as the eye can see, it drives home the enormity of the sacrifice our service men and women have given and the insoluble link between what they gave and the freedom we enjoy today in the United States of America.

There was a very large turnout for John's interment. Many of us came from Minnesota, and there was a large contingent of east-coast relatives. A granddaughter and her boyfriend came from Thailand for the service. A grandson came from Colorado with his wife and new daughter, born two days before John passed away.

On the day of the interment, we all gathered in a meeting room in a large marble-floored building to mingle with one another and talk about John. His widow was taken to another room to meet with the officiant for the service. On the tables peppered throughout the family reception room were photo albums of the cemetery--a view of things that would take hours to see in person.

Then we gathered for the procession to the grave site. We were in ours cars and drove up behind a horse-drawn caisson carrying a coffin draped in the U.S. flag with with a number of Honor Guard servicemen. Two of the Honor Guard, with precision and care that one would use if he were carrying a box containing the most important substance on earth, transferred the box of John's ashes to the larger flag-draped coffin being carried by the caisson. There was a small door in the back of the coffin, which they opened to place John's ashes inside.

This was when one of the most moving things occurred, at least in my opinion. From our car, we could see that as we drove through the winding roads to the grave site, there were people obviously dressed as tourists who stopped, stood at attention, took off their hats if they had them, and put their hands over their hearts. They had no idea who John Kelley was, but they gave him the respect he deserved because they knew by the trappings of the service that John had served his country. In what capacity these tourists didn't know, but they honored him anyway. I found that touching beyond words, and I'll always remember looking out of my backseat window and seeing these people stopped and standing at attention in respect for John. It gave me hope for America's future to see these civilians being so respectful. To be honest, the entire service gave me hope.

The grave site is also the grave site of John's three daughters. Their headstones were there. I had never seen them before; my son, on a choir trip to D.C., had very kindly been allowed to find his aunts' graves, on which he placed a guitar pick to let them know he had been there.

We gathered around the grave site, and there were about 15 chairs in three rows. The widow, John's brother and some of John's children sat in the front row, and I sat in the second row because of my walking and standing difficulties. Everyone else stood behind and around the chairs.

The service was officiated by a military pastor dressed in white. He was perfect in content and tone, and made us all feel proud of the man we called father, husband, grandfather, brother, and great-grandfather. We prayed and sang "Amazing Grace." Then came the military rituals.

I don't recall in which order they were done, but I do recall every one of them very well. The 21-gun salute, with gun shots so loud it was kind of startling. I've never been around guns much in my life, and I was surprised at how loud they are in person. The servicemen with the guns were somewhat away from us, on a gradually sloping hill. Then there was "Taps." If you can go to a military funeral without crying, you will only make it until "Taps." The trumpet, played by a serviceman on another hill, was so haunting and quiet and alone. It is the military equivalent of bagpipes at an Irish funeral. It's impossible to have a dry eye.

Then came two parts I will never forget. The folding of the flag, during which six Honor Guard officers meticulously, with every move practiced to a science, folded the flag that had draped John's casket, into a perfect triangle. I cannot explain how regimented and controlled their movements were as they folded the flag with the utmost care. A neighbor sent me an e-mail the other day containing the meaning behind the 13 traditional folds made in the American flag. I think it is important for us to know that every fold can have deep meaning. I urge you to take a moment to look at this link to help you understand that, though there are no "official" flag-folding symbols, everything done at this kind of military funeral has meaning behind it.

Then, one of the Honor Guard took the flag, got down on one knee in front of John's widow, and presented it to her. He removed his pristine white glove and shook her hand, and told her how it represents the country's thanks for his service. Another Honor Guard member approached her, got down on one knee and presented her with a pouch containing the spent shells from the gun salute. He removed his white glove and shook her hand. Then came the last Honor Guard member, who got down on his knee, removed his glove, and took her hand while he thanked her for her service to our country, by being a military wife and raising children alone for a while (John didn't see his daughter, Tina, until she was six months old) and all the other sacrifices a military wife makes.

What struck me most about these three young men--beautiful in their military dress uniforms, with rows of medals across their chests--was their eyes. I was sitting directly behind John's widow, so I saw how each man looked into her eyes as he spoke to her. Sincerity and reverence were just glowing from their eyes as they spoke to her, and I truly believed that it was an honor for them to be participating in the interment of the remains of a WWII Marine Captain. Sadly, we are losing our WWII heroes at a very fast pace now. The "greatest generation" is dwindling.

I came away from the service with this thought: Sometimes it seems, especially as a conservative blogger and columnist, that the country is extremely divided, and it is in danger of being lost. While those things still exist and are absolutely true, being at the service made me also believe we are still a great country, and there is still respect, honor and sacrifice going on for her sake. We are still steeped in tradition, ritual and reverence in honor of those who fought for liberty.

My daughter commented that it was awe inspiring to see all the people who were lost fighting for our liberty. I told her this: They were not lost. Their lives were given. For the most part, these fighting men and women give their lives--they don't lose them--for freedom. It is a gift they have given to our country, the ultimate sacrifice.

And they are not lost today. We carry these individuals in our hearts and our memories, and they will live on forever; in John's case, as a member of America's greatest generation. He will never be forgotten.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dayton Vetoes Voter I.D. Bill

Okay, here we go. I'm about to embark on a blog post about a subject nearly every conservative Minnesota blogger has undertaken. Mark Dayton has vetoed the bill that was delivered to his desk (located in a closet), commonly known as the Voter ID Bill.

This bill would have required Minnesota voters to show identification at the polls before voting. Republicans wanted this because of the massive voter fraud alleged in the Coleman/Franken race (including felonious and dead voters) and in the election that put Dayton himself in the governor's closet.

The dems repeat the example that only a "handful of convicted felons were caught voting illegally." That handful was in the low hundreds--about enough to turn around an election such as Coleman/Franken. They also state the Voter ID law wouldn't identify felons because their ID doesn't show their status as a felon or non felon. But they are missing the point. It would catch the huge amounts of other fraudulent acts perpetrated at Minnesota polls during every election due to our ridiculous, 19th-century "vouching" system, in which a "neighbor" can "vouch" for up to 15 people, and the polls have to let them vote based on that reliable information.

Dayton has laughably given an executive order to appoint a task force to look into voter fraud in Minnesota. The fraud the dems have repeatedly said doesn't exist. Does any thinking person believe this task force is going to uncover anything?

I'm not surprised by this at all. Well, just a little bit. This veto is probably the first time I've seen a democrat decline to bite the hand that feeds him, as they advocate Americans do all the time by being anti capitalist and regulating and taxing businesses to the point where they leave the state/country. But I digress.

Thank God the Republicans have in their back pocket a Constitutional amendment to require voter ID, which would not require Dayton's approval. Go with that, Republicans. Please.

There isn't much more to say about Dayton's veto except that he may as well wear a T-shirt that reads, "I Heart Voter Fraud."

I'm too disgusted to write more about this predictable move by an illegally elected governor.

I think I need a Kombucha.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Reality Show About Young Veterans Using Their Skills in the Private Sector

This is worth supporting, I think, because it's important for Americans to see what life can be like for young vets coming home from our current wars, and to see them using what they learned in our military to protect and serve individuals in the homeland.

This is a sample video of the reality show. Reality TV gets a lot of flack, but if we support more quality programming, that's what we'll get. (And for the love of God, if you are a fan of The Jersey Shore, just stop. Stop it. Now. You are a drain on America's collective IQ.)

Support our young vets and support reality TV that uplifts, not downgrades, the United States of America.

Here's the show's description, ripped from YouTube:

Premise: "Dog the Bounty Hunter" meets "Jersey Shore," "Miami Ink" and "Real World." The lives of Blue Diamond's "A" team (comprised of former combat Marines and Special Operations veterans, and a former Navy Seaman, political and business minded recent college grads, and even a few single parents) are showcased in their professional lives starting and running a premier executive protection company, Blue Diamond Strategies, along with a glimpse into their personal lives. See these characters during their journey starting a business, seeking celebrities and other high-profile clients from the entertainment, political and business world, training (gun range, gym, board meetings, etc.,), their development as a team, trying to become the best in the industry, and going out on their off time because these characters work hard and play harder. Since many of Blue Diamonds principal players are emigrating from outside Minnesota, we will get a group house for a handful of the guys to showcase the camaraderie, drama and everyday lives of some of America's highest trained warriors... It's the Real World—only with a bunch of guns, black SUV's and testosterone... Blue Diamond already has the ability to work outside Minnesota in California, and Baja California, so the action is fresh and fast paced.

Background: While serving in Iraq in the Marine Corps, David thought of taking what he did in Iraq (Personal Security Detail) and doing the same in back stateside. While thinking about how he would run the business, he decided on the name Blue Diamond Strategies. The concept was simple, instead of having run of the mill old bodyguards in a 1 man security detail, why not put a highly trained team detail (2-4 agents +) who have millions of dollars of US Military training, coupled with needy clients, to provide them high end, elite team security. Through David's three tours of duty he become close friends—brothers, with his fellow Marines and decided to bring these same friends who had fought side by side with David in the Battles of Fallujah and Ramadi-- as well as gun fights in Al Asad, Hit and Baghdad..

Monday, May 16, 2011

Voting Rights Issue Minnesotans Should Act on NOW

I found a very important article from Sheila Kihne at The Activist Next Door. Her article is titled, '"Look that Way!" While the Republicans pass National Popular Vote.'

It concerns the bill HF495, which was passed in committee but has yet to reach the House floor. It is considered likely to pass. The bill will give all of Minnesota's electoral votes in presidential elections to the candidate who got the most popular votes nationwide.

I believe this bill seeks to take away the power of Minnesotan's votes by giving them to whomever the rest of the country voted for, no matter how Minnesotan's really voted. It's a sneaky way to circumvent the true intent of the electoral college.

Anyway, Sheila writes it much more thoroughly on her blog, so visit the article, and contact your legislators immediately to tell them to vote against this bill. The legislative session is about to end, so don't wait!

Raising the Debt Ceiling: It Just Makes Sense...

Lazy blog. Fun video.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Obama shows true colors--turns his back on 9/11 family member

note: I had originally posted most of this on facebook, but I felt it was important enough for a blog post.

I have been supporting Obama throughout the entire bin Laden incident, but this made me sick. I just can't believe he did this. He can't intelligently defend his own actions to a 9/11 family member? He is the President of the United States. He should be able to speak "off the cuff" to a 9/11 family member who is questioning his administration's policies. If anyone has the right to question his policies about this, it's someone who lost a loved one on 9/11.

I am really saddened by this. I thought we would be able to uplift this man for once, but it was apparently very fleeting. I'm so sad for those of us who disagree with our president about many things but want so badly to agree with him about the issues surrounding the historic capture of bin Laden. I would bet everything I own that President Bush wouldn't have turned his back on this woman:

Debra Burlingame, the sister of Charles "Chic" Burlingame (pilot of the plane that crashed into the Pentagon) met with President Obama today, along with other families who were victims of 9/11. Burlingame said she confronted Obama about Attorney General Eric Holder prosecuting the men who interrogated KSM, which may have produced intelligence leading us to bin Laden.

Burlingame describes the encounter with Obama: "As a former attorney I know you can't tell the Attorney General what to do, he said, 'No, I can't.' But I said 'we -- that shouldn't stop you from giving your opinion. We wouldn't be here today if they hadn't done their jobs. Can't you at least give them your opinion.' And he said 'no I won't,' and he turned around and walked away."

I had hoped to put my faith in our Commander-In-Chief, even if I don't agree with him on most things, but it's not to be. Why am I surprised? I shouldn't be.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Joy Behar proposes U.S. "pay off" terrorists for information

On Tuesday's episode of The View, Joy Behar, who rivals Rosie O'Donnell for liberal idiocy, proposed that instead of using enhanced interrogation techniques to get information out of terrorists, the United States should, "offer them a six million dollar book deal, or just pay them off."

That's right. Pay terrorists for information. What an idea! I'm sure we'd get extremely accurate and helpful information out of them that way. And, we'd be killing two birds with one stone by getting our "information," while simultaneously funding the very terrorist organizations who have put a target on the back of every American man, woman and child anywhere in the world. It takes a great mind to think up ideas like this.

Here's the clip:

At minute 1:14 in the video is where she spouts her innovative idea. The entire discussion is worth watching, because Elizabeth Hasselback has some good points and Sherri Shephard does as well.

But their common-sense arguments, to me, were overshadowed by Behar's comments that revealed her stupidity so well that she might as well go around with a blinking neon sign over her her head that says, "I'm stupid."

I know she's a comedian, but the way she delivered this, I don't think she was joking. Watch and tell me what you think.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Father of 9/11 Victim reacts to Bin Laden's death

"They say they buried this monster at sea. They could have buried him in the tears of the people that were shed over these ten years. There would have been enough--believe me. - Earnest Strada, Father of 9/11 Victim

If you watch nothing else about the death of Usama Bin Laden, please watch this. It's an interview with the father of a 9/11 victim. He speaks so eloquently about how this feels to him, the families, and to our nation. Please watch the whole thing. I was sobbing by the end--remembering.