Saturday, September 27, 2014

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!!! Find Out What It Means To Me!!!

I prefer not to post rants, but as the husband of one wife and the father of 4 daughters, the display of uncouth verbiage mentioned in the posted article to follow irritated a nerve that's been repeatedly touched over a course of years and I must release my angst. With all of the "political correctness" that characterizes our culture, we have lost our grip on basic respect, decorum & appropriateness. Our true sense of decency is most clearly seen in our professional comedic humor and musical entertainment, which know no bounds in their disrespect and vulgarity, especially in the area of sexual behavior and especially towards women. How can chivalry and respect for each other's abilities be maintained when our "after hours" humor and songs betray the basest level of disdain, contempt and disrespect for women? Even in the face of amazing accomplishments, the disrespect men are showing for women in the name of "fun" has only worsened as the broadcaster in question has displayed in his idiotic comments. This cannot be allowed to continue without condemnation. One day, I will depart this mortal life and leave behind at least 5 incredible women and perhaps future granddaughters as well. I never want Luz Bautista Jackson, Sittie Jackson-Cohodes, J Maris Bautista-Jackson Wallag, Joana Jackson, Victoria Jackson, other future descendants, the many outstanding women or the real men it has been my honor to know wondering where I stand.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hand Salute!

I have been saluting for a very long time – since my early childhood, in JROTC and beyond in the Active Army. President Obama’s “Latte Salute” has received much attention the last few days and has been the source of much debate. A less than stellar “Puppy Salute” by former President George W. Bush has also come under scrutiny. What’s the big deal? The US Army Quartermaster Center and School presents this fine summary on its website: “No one knows the precise origin of today’s hand salute. From earliest times and in many distant armies throughout history, the right hand (or "weapon hand") has been raised as a greeting of friendship. The idea may have been to show that you weren't ready to use a rock or other weapon. Courtesy required that the inferior make the gesture first. Certainly there is some connection between this old gesture and our present salute. One romantic legend has it that today’s military salute descended from the medieval knight's gesture of raising his visor to reveal his identity as a courtesy on the approach of a superior. Another even more fantastic version is that it symbolizes a knight's shielding his eyes from the dazzling beauty of some high-born lady sitting in the bleachers of the tournament. The military salute has in fact had many different forms over the centuries. At one time it was rendered with both hands! In old prints one may see left-handed salutes. In some instances the salute was rendered by lowering the saber with one hand and touching the cap visor with the other. The following explanation of the origin of the hand salute is perhaps closest to the truth: It was a long-established military custom for juniors to remove their headgear in the presence of superiors. In the British Army as late as the American Revolution a soldier saluted bv removing his hat. But with the advent of more cumbersome headgear in the 18th and 19th centuries, the act of removing one’s hat was gradually converted into the simpler gesture of grasping the visor, and issuing a courteous salutation. From there it finally became conventionalized into something resembling our modern hand salute. As early as 1745 (more than two-and-a-half centuries ago) a British order book states that: "The men are ordered not to pull off their hats when they pass an officer, or to speak to them, but only to clap up their hands to their hats and bow as they pass." Whatever the actual origin of today’s hand salute, clearly in the tradition of the US Army it has always been used to indicate a sign of RESPECT – further recognition that in the profession of arms military courtesy is both a right and a responsibility of every soldier.” AH… RESPECT. The hand salute is ultimately a sign of respect for the one who first offers a salute towards the one who returns it. It is generally offered as a courtesy to officers by enlisted personnel, by junior officers to officers of higher rank or in the performance of certain duties by an individual of lower rank to an individual of higher rank. Those who have earned the Congressional Medal of Honor merit a Hand Salute from all other uniformed individuals in the course of passing by when in uniform wearing the CMOH Award. As civilians, Presidents are not required to salute. In conversations to which I’ve been privy today, it has been noted that President Eisenhower did not salute during his presidency. Most didn’t until Ronald Reagan’s administration. President Reagan, known for his deep affection for the military began returning the salutes of those who served him as he disembarked Presidential Aircraft and in other situations as well. It was not required, but he executed the salutes properly, directing his full attention to those who sought to honor by acknowledging their required rendering of honor towards him in like fashion. Other presidents followed suit and have generally performed sufficiently with some exceptions. President George W. Bush received some backlash for saluting while trying to hold his pet and, of course, President Obama is receiving much criticism this week for saluting while holding a beverage in his hand. In a military setting, such an act might engender any number of responses, all negative. The point of the salute is to focus one’s attention on the person and the act. I describe what the two presidents have done in their less stellar moments as kissing one’s significant other while looking at one’s phone, watch or someone else. It’s not the unforgiveable sin, but it is significant and negative and it is likely to cause a stir that will lead to some serious negative interactions. So, let’s hope that our Commanders-In-Chief from this time forward will stay “in the moment.” Let’s encourage them to pay respect to whom respect is due, and to give those who themselves give so much one focused moment of attention, carrying on a simple and cherished act that represents the most honored and sacred traditions of the United States Military.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Learning the Beauty of Achieving a "High Zero!"

A few days ago, my friend Chip Armstrong, the absolute master of intriguing social media comment strings, drew many of us with West Point ties into a discussion of our “Delightful Days” as cadets by mentioning some of the challenged levied against us by the “Department with a Heart – The Department of Physical Education”! At West Point, PE is never a “get over experience. The course work is extremely challenging and grading is exacting and merciless. According to DPE, the best person gets an “A”. In boxing, that means the world champions in their respective divisions have done “A-level work.” Everybody else works down from that level. You can get an instant “A” by knocking somebody out, but that means they get an “F” and have to take the class over – during summer leave! One of the particularly satisfying experiences one could have in DPE was the joy of being told you had achieved a “High Zero!” Seriously. Achieving a “High Zero” meant that the Instructor acknowledged that a maximum effort had been expended, but it was also an acknowledgement that NO skill had been demonstrated! Those High Zeros were somewhat of a consolation and reminded me of the answer Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson offered to the question, “Sir, what’s your opinion of West Point Boxing?” Almost choking with laughter, the Champ offered n the midst of a hearty chuckle, “Well, Ya’ got heart!!!” With a few years behind me, and the experience of many ups and downs of logged in, I now see that issue of “heart” as of much value as any victories I may have enjoyed. I have learned that it is the ability to understand one’s shortcomings and to recover to face them again that builds character. It is the determination to rise up after being flattened, to get up after falling on one’s face and to return to the fray after suffering humiliating setbacks that forges the character that leads one to truly overcome. I believe the Lord uses our tough times in a similar way to shape us, mold us and create the type of character within us that allows us to lead and serve with understanding, wisdom and determination. He can mold the character within us that recognizes that we have limitations, while developing the faith that produces the resolve, patience and endurance we need to continue to press on regardless of the circumstances. I believe this development of character is part of what James had in mind for those who follow Christ when he said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” If we are not forced to face challenges beyond our means, we can never develop faith beyond our dreams! For that reason, I am thankful. I am thankful for my classmate Phil, whose right cross sent me to the canvas knocking me onto my already separated shoulder, twisting it completely out of socket. His excellence led to a chain of events that brought out untapped excellence in me and showed me I could live the Cadet experience with one arm for a month! That experience for me served as the furnace to forge steely character as did the “High Zero’s” the “D-minuses” and vast variety of other experiences I and others enjoyed during those formative years. It continues to give me perspective to this day, that God can transform my failures and limitations into growth opportunities that prepare me for greater victories ahead! My friends, it is my hope for you, that our experiences with West Point’s DPE will serve as an encouragement to you, and will help you not to wallow in your failures, but rather cause you to stand them up, inspect them, and to consider how you might realign them as building blocks in your life to assist you in your growth, maturity and effectiveness as a human being in this amazing experience we know as Life! Get Up! Press on! Keep doing your best! You can grow from it towards your good and for the benefit of others who walk alongside you as well!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Has Life Knocked You Down? Get Back Up!

Have you ever been cruising through life; hitting on all cylinders; on top of the world, only to be way-laid by one of life's sneaky left hooks? You suddenly find that what seems so together is now coming apart at the seams and becoming a monstrous mass of chaos you just can't manage! What do you do? In 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 7-10, the Apostle Paul gives instructions to help us battle on when life sets us back from our original plans. The passage states: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body." When life overwhelms people of faith, it presents an opportunity for the power of God to be prominently displayed in our weakest moments and gives us the further opportunity to express hope and courage that comes from knowing that God is worthy of our trust. For that reason, we don't wail and whine when hard times come, but we rather live with joyful resolve that God can give us the strength we need to endure and to overcome! Pastor Stuart Briscoe describes what our mindset should be in this way. He says that we are, "Stretched but not snapped - Blitzed but not sacked - Knocked down but not counted out!" Pastor Tony Evans paraphrases Mighty Mick of Rocky Fame to describe what we should do when we've been knocked down a few pegs. Dr. Evans states that we should "Get up! Get UP!! GET UP YA BUMS BECAUSE JESUS LOVES YA!!!" The love of Jesus compels us to press on when we've been deeply hurt and to get up when we've been savagely beaten up by the tough times of life. Therefore, if you find yourself under siege by life's difficulties, realize you're in a great position to see God's hand at work in your life! It's time to sit up, shake the cobwebs out and get up and fight because God loves you and will give you the strength to fight another day!