Standing Up…

Over the last several weeks our country and our neighbors have been ravaged by hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. Most of Puerto Rico has no water, no food, damaged homes, ravaged infrastructure. People in Florida have lost homes, neighborhoods, communities. First responders have come from all over the US to provide aid and comfort. Medical assistance is strained. Heat. Debris. Confusion. Death. Loss. Sorrow. Tears.

Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, Louisiana…Harvey, Irma, Maria… Where is the news coverage? Where is the attention of our president and our congress? Not on disaster recovery but on the flag. I wore a military uniform for many years, I stand for the flag, then and now. But, I wore the uniform to protect our right to NOT stand…to protect our right to speak, the right to care, and the right for justice. In totalitarian regimes, the citizens are required to stand for their flag or face imprisonment. I don’t want that here. I am heartened by the power of the flag, that it’s so important to the protesters that they choose the flag to demonstrate the depth of their passion.

Flag on the USCGC Eagle

Flag on the USCGC Eagle

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9-11

Sixteen years ago today America suffered a terrible terrorist attack. Please take a moment to remember those who perished and those who rushed into the chaos to help the survivors and stabilize the communities.

To everyone in Florida, my prayers are headed your way. Dollars, too, of course. Hard to imagine what you must be going through… Perhaps these two hurricane disasters can bring us together for a single purpose…to help our neighbors.

USCG Eagle

USCG Eagle

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Irma

Wow! What a hideous monster of a storm that’s hit part of America and is barreling towards Florida. We are anxiously awaiting word from our friends in Puerto Rico and we are sending prayers to all who have been so harshly hit by this massive storm. It was raining here in the DC area yesterday so not too many people were wandering about unless it had to do with their work. I took the opportunity to tour the USCG Eagle, a magnificent sailing ship, a “bark” that has docked in Alexandria for a few days. Originally a German ship, it was part of the WWII reparations package and has been part of the USCG training program for many years.  This is an “old fashioned” ship, with sails, block and tackle, climbing rigging. As I walked the wet, wooden decks, and looked up at the web of lines, masts, and sails, I thought of the men and women of the Coast Guard and what they must be doing during this unbelievable storm. I admire them and am very thankful for what they do! And that’s what I told them.

USCG The Eagle

USCG The Eagle

USCG The Eagle

USCG The Eagle

USCG The Eagle

USCG The Eagle

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My heart goes out to the flood victims

I ache for the flood victims, their families, and the land. I lived in Texas for many years and have great memories from that part of the world.  I didn’t live close to the coast, but in Austin, San Antonio, and Big Spring so I don’t know too much about the Houston and Corpus Christi area. The closest I got to the Gulf was when I flew an OV-10 into Harlingen, TX one looonnnggg weekend with a friend for a Commemorative Air Force air show and fly-in. We got to see some awesome WWII airplanes doing their stuff including P-51s & P-40s dogfighting and B-17s bombing the airfield. I met Pappy Boyington and got him to sign his book (I still have it). The coast was beautiful, the people were Texas friendly and we had a superb time. I can’t imagine the devastation and destruction they are suffering now. There are many organizations we can contribute to that will get the resources to the people in need. I suggest using the Red Cross but I know there are others. And… please send prayers.

This flower isn’t from Texas but it is from the west.

Desert Flower

Desert Flower

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Hate

Today I spent several hours walking through the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. I did not get to see all that there was to see and I’m sure that some of the things I saw…I need to see again. I felt a great sadness on many levels. As a friend said who introduced us to some of the exhibits, THIS is American history, a significant part of what we are today is captured in this museum. Our history is multidimensional, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-geographic…diverse. That’s America. And yet, a large number of us are afraid of that diversity and manifest that fear with hate.

I looked at the photos of black people going to school in Alabama surrounded by ‘normal’ looking white women and white men screaming at the blacks with hate and vitriol; same in Mississippi; same in Georgia; same in Arkansas; same in Minnesota. The same looks I saw in the marches last week on the faces of the white supremacists and nazis. Really scary that we are in the same place we were 50 years ago.

After the civil war, federal troops were deployed throughout the south to guarantee voting rights, ensure the safety of the freed slaves, and attempt to “normalize” the governing infrastructure. During the election of 1876 the election was very close and the electoral college was not allowed to decide a winner. The Republicans under Hayes, then the party of Lincoln, made a closed door deal…Hayes would be allowed to become president if he promised to pull all the troops from the south. Hayes became president and the troops were withdrawn. At that point, terrorist groups in the south, like the KKK, began a campaign of terror and horror for years and by the turn of the century, most black voters had been disenfranchised and could not vote. There’s been a flip over the years as Democrats have become a party of the diverse and the Republicans have become a party for the whites.

By passively supporting racism as he did last week and by pardoning Arpaio, trump will demonstrate that he is doing the 21 century equivalent of pulling the troops out of the South. There is no protection of law from the federal executive branch. If George Wallace was blocking the doors to colleges today in Alabama, that would probably be okay with trump.

As you pass through the exhibits in the Museum and you remember this week’s headlines, you could easily imagine that history is repeating itself…today, right now. We are apparently in the midst of an historic “do-over;”  we are re-doing the suppression of the “redeemer” south in the 1880s, the Jim Crow Laws and Black Codes from the 1870s to the 1960s.  We are doing it through gerrymandering and “enhanced” voter registration laws, as well as domestic terrorism. Normal people with faces filled with hate because a black person is doing a normal thing that a white person does.

But sometimes, the faces were hidden. Hidden because the haters wanted to remain anonymous and because they wanted to instill the fear of the unknown on their victims. The picture below is a KKK hood.

Smithsonian Hood of KKK

Smithsonian Hood of KKK

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