*********************************************PAGE ON VIETNAM AND DEMOCRATS .******************************************

Monday, December 30, 2013

Words Mean a Lot

The young girl, probably a member of the staff, was given a significant role in being the first to address members of the Senate joined with members of the House at the opening of the spring legislative session in Hawaii some time ago. With great ceremony and a strong and vibrant voice she called out to this audience as well as a number of us sitting in the balcony “the agenda is laying on the table”.  She had the opportunity to say the very same thing several times. 

As I listened to her call, the uncomfortable feeling of embarrassment for this young lady grew within me as she repeated this call;  I had realized the error she had made in the use of the word “laying” as my memory had gravitated to the elementary school education I had long ago where, unlike today, we students were taught the proper usages of key words in the English language.

The statement should have been “the agenda is lying on the table”.  Some will say what difference does it make if somebody says laying instead of lying?; it makes a difference certainly to those who feel that rules in language are good and make language beautiful when used correctly, especially in important events like the legislative session described above.

What was going through my mind was: “What is the agenda laying on the table?” Naturally the answer “an egg” usually came to mind.

The situation is this. Without going into definitions and rules that won’t make sense to anyone who has not learned this in elementary and high school, lets try and get a feel for the use of lie and lay:

The word “lie” means, as an example, a person who reclines on a couch, or bed at the present time; the person in seen usually in a prone position.  It can exist in various forms:  
I like to lie down on my bed.  
George lies on the new bed
George is lying on the new bed.  
Matt has not yet lain on the new bed.  
I was so tired I had to lie down.

On the other hand the word “lay” has two meanings: 
(1) a person who reclined at a previous or past time.  
He was so tired he lay down for a long nap.  
He lay there sleeping as I left.
(2) a person taking a book and placing it on a table; so it means taking an object (not yourself) and doing something with it that results in the object being in a different place.  
He lay the book on the desk and walked away.  
Lay down your weapon.  
We saw him laying the pot on the ground.  

So “lay” either expresses reclining in the past or placing some object down on something.
I’m so tired now I hope this helps, but I must lie down.  After I have lain down for a while I’ll continue with more examples.  I have laid the groundwork for you to understand.  Lie down and lay your head on a pillow.  I found my keys lying on the counter but I had not laid them there.

P.S. I am not responsible for any errors made in the foregoing. 

That's a lie!  Oh Gosh, not another meaning for lie!  Well, that's the English language!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The True Meaning of Christmas

When we celebrate Christmas we think of the exchanging of gifts which many times entails the mad rush of people in stores to purchase gifts for those they care about. In addition we think of Christmas time as being a season of joy, of peace, and of love; when Christmas Day arrives children arise early to rush to the Christmas tree, bedecked with beautiful ornaments and lit with scores of lights intertwined among the branches, in order to open the packages from their parents, relatives and Santa Claus with expressions of glee that can only be evoked by children.   Then, in a Christian family, the parents and children may attend religious services to  celebrate the birth of a baby named Jesus in a manger 2000 years ago.   In a non-Christian family, just as in the Christian family, a Christmas party involving the celebration of friends and family with the exchanging of gifts is of great importance.

Many times, after Christmas has passed, there is a mix of feelings ranging from great satisfaction in having a successful Christmas celebration to a feeling that all the effort put into having a great celebration has been tiring and now it’s time to get on with other things that are of everyday concern and importance. In other words to some people Christmas is simply a time for celebration and not much thought of a deep nature is given the experience.  For some, Christmas  Is a time of sadness and pain because of dark thoughts of spiritual loss that cannot be compensated for by some great party of celebrants full of laughter while having a jolly time. It is said that not just a few commit suicide during this time because of the sadness in their hearts and minds.

Having a perspective on the true meaning and importance of Christmas can be a help in making the experience of celebrating Christmas more beneficial to the hearts and minds of those wanting a good experience of Christmas.   In the New Testament of the Bible the gospel of St. John the apostle, who walked with Jesus Christ during his public revelation to the Jews, wrote one of the four Gospels which are testaments of four writers who experienced Jesus Christ’s mission on earth. John’s gospel is a masterpiece of prose explaining events with much greater depth of thought and feeling than the other writers.

He begins in his prologue:
     In the beginning was the Word,
     And the Word was with God,
     And the Word was God,

(John uses Word to mean the Son of God and this verse is part of Christ’s revelation to his apostles, or followers, that He, Jesus Christ, is the second person of a three person God, but with only one Nature, meaning that He, Jesus, the Son of God the Father, is God just as His Father is God.  But their person hoods allow them to play different roles − just think of only one God being made up of three personalities, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; but only one God)

He continues:
     He was in the beginning with God,
(John means that the Son of God coexisted with the Father “for all eternity” which is the meaning of “in the beginning”)

     All things came to be through him,
     And without him nothing came to be.
(John reveals that the Son of God is the person of God responsible for all Creation)

Next he writes:
     What came to be through him was life,
     And this life was the light of the human race;    (“light” here means again the “Son of God”)
     The light shines in the darkness,
     And the darkness has not overcome it.

     A man named John (the Baptist) was sent from God.
     He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
     So that all might believe through him.

     He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.
     The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

(At this point the writer reveals that the Son of God is coming into the world.)

      And the Word became flesh
      And made his dwelling among us,

(Here the writer calls attention to the Son of God being born − the First Christmas in Bethlehem.  The law, that is, the Commandments were given to human beings through Moses but Grace and Truth come to us through Jesus Christ.  John also reveals that Jesus Christ, the Son of God will empower with his grace, all those who accept Christ, to become children of God, that is, in a spiritual sense they will lead their lives in the love of God who in turn will bring them to Himself in paradise.)

Thus the birth of Christ in the first Christmas (and all Christmases thereafter) is the watershed between ancient times where only the law might be present and the birth of Christ where all manner of Grace, with the revelations and sacrifices of Christ, become our birthright and will ensure our successful passage through this life to eternal life with God.

Preparation for Christmas by thinking deeply on the great gift of God, God’s son, to us in the humanity of Jesus Christ allows us, no matter what our condition might be, to benefit from so great a gift as God giving himself to us, so great a love does God have for mankind.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The best Thanksgiving

My younger daughter and her husband had just finished putting the finishing touches on the sale of their condominium in Los Angeles which they had rented out for a number of years. With their four young children of ages one through seven, they now quickly packed for the trip to the Big Island of Hawaii to join my wife, myself and her older sister and new husband of one year arriving with our eleven year old granddaughter.   My older daughter and husband had just moved into their new home in Atlanta after renting her townhouse; they had hardly enough time to prepare for the trip to the big island preceded by a stay with us in Honolulu for a few days.

It was my hope that having sufficiently recuperated from my surgery to repair an aneurysm in my left leg, I would be strong enough to be able to take my granddaughter for a walk in the neighborhood as we had done many times before on previous visits, but the full healing process had not yet taken place so that her Stepdad along with her Mom took her on walks of 10 or 15 min. My limit was about 1 minute and perhaps 100 or so feet before I had to rest; It was a bit disappointing to me.  However, seeing her roughhousing with her Stepdad, which I realized I could no longer do myself as I had before, brought me joy and happiness to realize she was in a normal family setting; her Mom and she have been going through hard times with a narcissistic and vengeful ex-husband. 

My wife had been concerned that when they arrived they would just take off and do whatever they wanted without planning things with us first.   That did not happen and I made sure that they understood to always ask my wife what she might want to do. I was content to rest at home while the little family went to the beach each day and then took walks. My wife has been setting up, with a couple of real estate friends, their own real estate company so that had taken up a lot of her time; she was content to just go to dinner with my daughter’s family and I was able to go along too.  During one of these times at a restaurant my daughter expressed a lot of anger with her younger sister who had seemingly not expressed an interest in communicating with her older sibling and had expressed some things that were taken as being unfriendly. She also expressed resentment that her younger sister’s husband had not even acknowledged or conversed with her new husband.

Prayer seemed to me the only remedy in this case; misunderstandings in a family when dealt with through anger can destroy the harmony that ought to be present. I had visions of a possible worst case scenario where both families would do their own thing after squabbling and my wife would be very upset.  

We checked into one of two townhouses side-by-side, we with our older daughter’s family arriving a bit earlier taking one of the townhouses and our younger daughter’s family arriving later taking the other.   After a good night’s sleep, to my great happiness, early in the morning both of our young families went together to the local pool and had a good time swimming as my wife and I slept a little longer.   This was Thanksgiving day 2013. Next we all went together to a nearby shopping area to pick up a turkey ordered along with all the usual accoutrements like stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes vegetables, etc. We got a number of other things to supply our needs for the rest of the weekend we had planned.

We all came back to the townhouse, my wife and I were residing in, to prepare the dinner.  After some lunch everyone proceeded to chip in with lots of merriment and friendliness and cooperation.   All enjoyed each other’s company and even the two young husbands actually conversed with each other quite often; Amazing Grace.  There was no anger expressed, no resentment expressed; just good clean fun and good cooperative work to bring about a meal that everyone enjoyed.  The kids had fun playing games (and watching TV).  As usual I was given the job of saying Grace; in doing so I asked for the usual blessing of God on all of us and the food but felt I wanted to thank God for the grace that He had showered upon us to exhibit nothing but His peace working in all of us that day; I felt the tears rushing to my eyes in thanksgiving and could say no more.  We all just said Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Savior General of Japan

One of the most endearing stories of the latter part of the 1st half of the 20th century is the account encapsulated in a sterling book of William Manchester “American Caesar”.  Five-star General Douglas MacArthur was assigned the task as Supreme Commander of allied forces at the end of World War II in the Pacific to administer the affairs of the conquered nation of Japan.

Conducting the formal surrender of Japan on board the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay in September of 1945 he gave a speech mirroring the 2nd inaugural of Abraham Lincoln after the American Civil War that peace is to be sought and not punishment of an entire people for the wrongdoings of their government. The representatives on board the Missouri of the Allied nations could hardly keep from showing their bitterness and hatred for the cruelty and atrocities shown by the Japanese armies but General MacArthur impressed the representatives of Japan, signing the documents of unconditional surrender, with his compassion and understanding that peace would not be brought about through unjust treatment of a whole people; he understood that Japanese government propaganda had kept the horrific atrocities from the people.

General MacArthur’s understanding of the Oriental mind through his 50 years of experience living in Asia led him to understand that he must respect everything good present in the structure of the Japanese government and culture through their centuries of history. He would not depose the Emperor who was seen as half divine and half human by the Japanese but would work through him in accomplishing his task of reforming the Japanese government into one of the world’s democracies. As it happened Emperor Hirohito understood well that his role as Emperor must change and conform to the legitimate proposals of the Supreme Commander.   As MacArthur saw it, the Emperor would freely come to him instead of being forced and that visit would break the aura of the divinity of the Emperor − and Hirohito did just that.

At his first place of residence in Tokyo, MacArthur’s refusal to have his food, prepared by his Japanese hosts, tasted for possible poison had a salutary effect on the Japanese people when they realized that he trusted them.   The 1st task he performed, after seeing the horrible conditions of a ruined Japan, and the people needing food, was to have the American military provide food for the Japanese to avoid starvation.

MacArthur wrote the Japanese constitution; free speech and many other freedoms similar to those in the United States Constitution were guaranteed.  He gave women the right to vote and disposed of feudal marriage contracts.  The feudal practice of all arable land owned by a few rich men and then rented out in parcels to tenant farmers who had no control over the use of their parcels was similarly abolished and parcels sold to individual farmers.  Japanese industries that served the war effort were converted to peaceful endeavors.  

MacArthur made it clear that he wanted the Japanese people to do as much as they could for themselves in freedom; when called for the U.S. Congress granted loans to fund the needs of the people to accomplish these tasks.  MacArthur provided American experts in many areas like the reform of education to teach the Japanese ways of doing things they had never done before.  He wanted to help them carry out the tasks they needed to do for themselves and the Japanese responded with great spirit and energy.  The General used no coercion in seeing that his reforms were carried out; all directives were approved by the emperor and the bicameral legislature and followed by the people.  Such was the respect for General MacArthur and his programs.

There are so many other accomplishments of MacArthur that brought Japan into the realm of democracies in the modern era.  The standard of living of Japan by the end of the five years of Douglas MacArthur’s administration was higher than before the war.  Japan was to become an economic power second only to the United States.  The foundation for this transformation was accomplished by a single man, General Douglas MacArthur, who became revered by the Japanese people as much as was the emperor.  He is looked upon by many as the greatest man who ever lived.  The book “American Caesar” should be read by everyone who is interested in the qualities of those who have helped others against the prevailing criticism of contemporaries.

Friday, November 8, 2013


A year of pain

Today, here in 2013, or my 78th year of age, started with some back pain in January which usually would last a week or a few days and then go away but it lingered the entire month..
In order to determine what might be the cause I sought the help of 2 doctors in February and March.
The 1st Dr. Thought it might be due to an infection so gave me an antibiotic which did not help.  
The 2nd Dr. Suggested I take physical therapy. I did so and this helped for a month or so.
After physical therapy no longer worked and that pain was getting more severe my doctor suggested I have an MRI. The MRI not only showed very little space for the nerves to get through L3 L4 in the lower back, it also showed the presence of an aneurysm (a weakness in the artery wall in my left leg which had grown to a size of 4.2 cm).  
My father-in-law had in 1972 an aneurysm near his kidney which burst on a weekend and he was not able to find a surgeon who could fix the problem, so he bled to death.
I made Surgery appointments for the elimination of the aneurysm as well as surgery on my back towards the end of this year. 
The aneurysm was taken care of this past Monday and the surgery was a success. The work was done from the inside of the artery so open surgery was avoided. I am recuperating but there is pain and I need to walk with a walker so I don’t fall.
I don’t know whether I’ll be in shape to get the back operations this year on December 2. Probably I will have to delay it.

From back pain and the aneurysm I have been in pain pretty much the whole year. But I listened to a pastor explaining on TV what we must do when we encounter sorrow, pain, losses, tending to make us feel sorry for ourselves. But he made clear what we must do when we are in these kinds of states. God is with us the whole time and we must offer to him ourselves as a living sacrifice to God who will lead us the proper way according to his plan; In doing this we follow the model of Jesus Christ Who suffered and died for each one of us to remove us from the stain of sin. This is what I wish to do and this is what I am doing so that my sacrifice might help others in need.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Battle of Our Time

Are there many worlds like ours in the universe?

In the early 20th century a physicist by the name of Enrico Fermi stated that there are in the universe many planets revolving around a star like our Sun that are able to support life as we know it. And yet, assuming that this is so, why are we unable to receive signals of communication from such planets; presumably, each of these other worlds would have reached a state where rational creatures would have reached a point like our civilization where we can now send signals out into space revealing to other worlds our presence. One possible reason given is that when such civilizations reach the point we have, they end up destroying themselves with nuclear weapons. We have reached such a point that our different cultures and governments might end life on earth due to their inability to deal with all the conflicts that arise because of our imperfect nature.

In this scenario certain assumptions have been made which need examination. The first assumption is that creatures on any one of these supposedly similar worlds have a nature similar to our own, which is a fallen human nature; that is, we are prone to both evil and good. No matter how we look at our nature we have to come to the realization that our human nature was meant to be perfect but that something happened in the beginning that brought us to an imperfect state. Many of our ancient civilizations wrestled with this problem; many of the Greek philosophers of 2500 years ago have much to say about this. But it is our Judeo-Christian tradition which gives the most plausible explanation for the origin of our imperfection as the sin of our original parents.

Another assumption is that in these many worlds God has created many humanlike natures which must have been subject to a fall of some kind resulting in their nature being imperfect, thus giving their nature an imperfection such as our own; one would then be forced to assume that, as in our own case, God’s son would have sacrificed himself in the same way as in our own history. This matter of God creating many rational peoples subject to the same history as our own seems quite implausible.

The only really plausible answer is that our world is unique in the universe. It seems to me that a more plausible scenario is that God created the universe, including our planet Earth, making it, in a sense, the center of our universe. Our world is so far from any closest similar planet to Earth, in space and time, as to make it absolutely impossible for us to ever reach such a planet; even if we were to supposedly receive a signal from such a planet, the nature of time and the enormity of the distance of separation involved would take such a signal an unbelievable amount of time to reach us. It is more likely that God made the universe for our speculation on the mightiness and goodness of God who created such a thing. God has created a universe which cannot be penetrated, it is so vast, but it can be inspected and speculated upon.

Should we come to this belief and understanding, then all of the theology of our Judeo-Christian tradition coupled with the wisdom of the ancient Greeks, will bring us to an understanding that there will be a time when our world comes to an end, not necessarily due to our own doing with the creations of war, but with the implementation God’s plan for all humanity involving the creation of a new world, or a new universe, where there will be perfection in our humanity, were there will be peace, where there will be freedom, genuine pure love of God which will be reciprocated by him to us in a paradise never to end. Along with this eternal paradise will also be an eternal place of darkness and pain for those who have rejected God’s plan for them.

If we can accept this plan of God for all of humanity then what we are seeing today with so much conflict and death, a war to the end between the forces of good who have accepted God’s plan, and the forces of evil who have rejected it. We can see the battle in the rejection of God taken to the point of wanting to destroy Israel and Christianity all over the world and replace it with a world government of people who believe only in their erroneously conceived ability to control the world and all its people in a man-made peace. We have to take sides in this battle and hopefully most of us choose the side of good and the plan that God has made for us. We either side with Christ or with those who become the Antichrist, not necessarily a single person, but certainly a group who are against Christ and God’s plan for all of us.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Self Evaluation - Military Years

On my 21st birthday I gave myself a present of joining the Army for three years with the an assignment in the Army Security Agency. A friend of mine had assured me that this would be better service than just being in the infantry and he was correct in more ways than one; being at a juncture where I was not sure of what I wanted to do, joining up in a branch of the service that would afford me the best learning experience seemed a good thing to do.
After finishing my basic training learning to handle the M1 rifle, dodging bullets overhead and learning how to properly handle hand grenades, Next to Fort Devens Massachusetts to find out what the Army security agency had to offer. Learning a foreign language! This intrigued me. After taking a sort of Esperanto exam I scored high enough to be included among those who were given choices of languages to take. At that time they offered Polish, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian and Russian; all these languages but Russian were one-year courses in Monterey, California at the Army Language School. So Russian was out as a choice for me; they called out names in some sort of order which gave me an opportunity to see what others were choosing 1st. I would’ve liked to take Polish but that was a favorite for everybody; 2nd was Czechoslovakian, so that left me Hungarian to make as a 1st choice. I got my 1st choice and thinking that Hungarian would be somewhat like German since I knew about the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Boy, was I wrong! Hungarian is not related to any of the other languages in Europe (except experts think there is perhaps some connection with finish or Estonian).

We shipped out to Monterey looking forward to my 1st class in Hungarian. The technique used in teaching this language was full immersion.  The teacher would point at an object and say: Mi ez; then he would say: pohar.   He repeated this formula for a number of objects around the room. There were a dozen of us and it took us a full hour to figure out he was asking a question: What is this?  Coming back to the first object with response: pohar − we learned this meant meant: This is a glass.  Notice Hungarian uses fewer words.

We finally got the idea that the grammatical structure of Hungarian is quite different from English.  I learned the grammar with ease but found that speaking the language was difficult.  It was a challenge to be sure for the rest of the year.  During the weekends a friend of mine and I went to my home in S.F. and learned from a plumber how to replace all the old plumbing with copper − that turned out to be a useful talent later.  At an early point in Monterey I received sad news that a woman committed suicide by jumping out of an Aeronca I had bought after I soloed and sold before basic training. 

We all did well enough to pass the course and found ourselves eventually shipped to Germany the following year.  Before being shipped to Germany, however, an event occurred during the Fall of that first year in Monterey which was to completely change the course of my life − The 1956 Hungarian Revolution against Soviet domination!  After the Soviets crushed the rebellion more than 100,000 Hungarian refugees came to the United States; many came to San Francisco.  Through connections with the Hungarian teachers at Monterey I was introduced to a number of refugees whom I now tried to teach English. Some of them became friends with whom I was able to communicate for a number of years, even after I was discharged from the Army.

At the end of the Hungarian course at Monterey, we students were sent to Frankfurt am Main in Germany.  We were housed in a former German barracks, or Kaserne, in the center of the city. We were given the duty of translating intercepted telexes between Communist Hungary and Germany.  Our duty station was a huge building taken over from the I.G. Farben Company which, during the war, produced poison gases used to exterminate the Jews, Christians and other “useless eaters” in the Nazi death camps.

Traveling to many countries in Europe was possible which were not behind the Iron Curtain.  In France I was shocked when communicating in German in the flea-market of Paris was easier than English.  In Italy I visited Venice (where I remember listening to a World Series game between New York and Minnesota?) and Rome with many beautiful and interesting sites. I even got an opportunity to visit West Berlin, behind the Iron Curtain, when I was given the task of carrying military documents as an armed military messenger. I remember exchanging glances with Soviet soldiers behind the damaged Reichstag which was a bit scary. 

Visiting England and Scotland was the most enjoyable visiting relatives of my father,  Going to Mass back in Frankfurt one Sunday  I was shocked to hear the priest condemn American soldiers who, being far from home, engaged in debauchery they would never do at home; I kept thinking that he would’ve done great service to us soldiers by giving positive encouragement to do things that did not dishonor themselves and others. Instead he said he would rather be back home in a nice parish where people didn’t do such things. I wish I had gone to him to try to advise him to be helpful for those of us who were in trouble but I didn’t.  I never missed Sunday Mass while stationed in Europe and I wanted to encourage him to advise all of us soldiers never to miss mass and to give encouragement to always do the right thing.

On my return home to the States, the experience of crossing the North Atlantic in a troopship during a raging storm was an experience I will never forget; just think of huge mountains surrounding you as those mountains wax and wane in size and shape as if ready to swallow the ship at any moment.  A few days after being discharged in New York I met my brother and we went cross country stopping at the Grand Canyon to hike down to the Colorado River and back up and recuperate at the top for 3 days, such was the tiredness that we felt. When we got back to San Francisco I started the spring semester of my sophomore year at the University of San Francisco. This marked the ending of my military days in January of 1959.

I had learned a lot. German and Hungarian languages. Travel experiences. An opportunity to read a lot. Finding out that not practicing mathematics during this time put me in a position where I had forgotten so much that my brother had to help me with math whereas before I’d always helped him. No regrets though, it didn’t take too long to get my math abilities back. Most of all being able to retain my faith in God against many odds presented to a soldier far away from home was to me the most important gain in my life.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Self Evaluation − First Stage

There are many times in our lives in which we sit down with ourselves and ruminate about how our lives have progressed up to that point. Most of us start to form a base on which we can plot our course through life in a manner that brings about the most degree of happiness. My mother, having put my brother and myself into a Catholic school starting in first grade, was instrumental in the formulation of a Christian basis for our lives. We became Catholics at the end of our grammar school years.
Born on the first day of the year in which James Braddock defeated Max Baer to become world boxing champion; in the city of St. Francis; in the 49er state, my playground was the Palace of Fine Arts kept intact from the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition; we fed the ducks and swans and learned to climb to the top of every small tree by the pond. My transportation was my English bike, and the streetcars and cable cars which took me everywhere before they ripped up the rails and replaced them with buses.  

Attending high school meant traveling a longer distance so by this time we managed to have our own jalopies; they were not new and mine was a red Ford which had been burned out on the inside by a lighted cigarette falling on fabric, so a friend of mine and I had to replace enough of the insides to get the car running. It was a frightening experience for a number of dates I had when they discovered there were no indoor handles to open the door; you had to pull a bar.  I loved baseball and I wanted to be a pitcher but when I joined the baseball team I sat on the bench for most of the season until I realized I couldn’t pitch; so I took up tennis with a bit more measure of success. 

College took me to Notre Dame University in Indiana where I learned that a year had four seasons: Autumn with it’s beautiful greens turning into red, orange, yellow and brown mixtures before turning into bare trees of Winter with snow and ice and drab grey and black.  When ice formed on the sidewalks after a storm, my classmates could tell I was from California when I could not help slipping and when they asked me from what city, they declared I was from San Francisco from my accent!  Spring was a delightful contrast to Winter as I watched with eagerness each new bud and leaf turn into such luscious green as one can only experience then, before Summer appears with its heat and it’s time to go home.

Home to San Rafael airport north of S.F. where my friend, fellow interior car designer, and I were going to learn to fly.  The plane was an Aeronca, a high wing, single engine, two seater with one behind the other,  It had two main forward wheels with a small tail wheel.  It was small with a 65 H.P. engine.  $7.50/hr for instruction; it took me 11 and a half hours before my instructor got out from the back seat and told me to take it up!  Solo!  With mounting fear I taxied along the 800 foot runway, got onto the end of the runway having cleared myself for takeoff. I thought of just taxiing back but I knew I wouldn’t be able to face others if I did that much less myself. So I pushed the throttle forward and felt the plane lift off the ground and made my right turn so I wouldn’t hit the power lines and was just thinking of making a little trip over San Francisco but then I remembered the hardest part of flying is LANDING! So I quickly turned right again and entered the rectangular pattern for landing and brought the plane down just off the ground, pulled the stick to make it stall and there I was on the ground, safe and sound. I taxied to the end of the runway, pulled up to the office and cut the engine. “Aren’t you going up again” asked my instructor. I was so nervous and shaking I had to relax inside the office. 

A gentleman in the office who had been watching my landing dared me to take it up again and see if I could land it as perfectly as I did the 1st time. The congratulations of my having made a perfect three-point landing encouraged me to go up again. He was right!  My 2nd landing was sloppy, but I went around the pattern and landed a total of 7 times with another 14 times just touch and go because I was not in a good position to land. 7 near perfect landings out of 21 and I was still alive made me feel great! 

My friend soloed after me after only 8 ½ hours of instruction but unfortunately on his last attempt he nosed over and his solo attempt was a failure. He flew with me on many many occasions afterwards and I had him fly and land the plane; he did perfectly but he would not go up by himself, so great was the trauma he experienced.

Aeronautical engineering was my major at Notre Dame but having felt rather homesick I decided to stay in California and went to Santa Clara, registering in their engineering department. A friend of mine, Duncan, at Santa Clara was an actor who asked me if I would like to go to an audition at a girls high school nearby; It seemed an interesting idea and I was sure that any part I got would be only minor; but my failed solo friend and I had played around with accents and I love to play the accent of a Chinese man. Using that accent at the audition gained me the 2nd to the star role played by my new friend Duncan. I was so frightened of getting on stage and not being able to remember my lines that I not only thoroughly memorized my lines but also Duncan's lines so that I could not possibly miss a cue; it’s good that I did because Duncan memorized the essence of his lines but not word for word. But I could pick up the cues anyway. Well I won great applause for my acting the role of Chang in Lost Horizons but my grades went down the tubes. I not only flunked most of my courses but when called in by a professor of engineering whose exam I had taken, I was told that never had he ever experienced anyone getting a flat 0 in any of his exams. I felt very little chagrin because success at something like acting on the stage was just like soloing in an airplane; such events are unique in a person’s life.

During the next semester I went to the University of San Francisco and majored in history because I like history; but disaster again looked me straight in the eye and I quit that semester and went into the Army because I realized that new experiences were what I needed to outgrow our a shyness and a self absorption that I needed to correct in order to accomplish what I felt God wanted me to. Relating this military experience will be for another time as the post is long enough already. Suffice it to say, during this period before I joined the Army I had experienced events that would change the course of my life and more was to come. I never forgot that it was my trust and Faith in God that had put me through these new experiences to bring me to a better place of getting outside of myself and being challenged with difficult tasks and, with his help, succeeding!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Saving Faith

Searching for films by genre on Netflix has lead me to some great movies.  Movies with a moral and spiritual content I like the most.  Such a film is Saving Faith, Cast: Spencer Scott, J.R. Cruz, Nikki Love, Mark Ridley, E'Mari Creech, Joey Holland, Ethan Drake, Stephanie Mathis, Liliana Montenegro, Lauren Lina; produced 2010.

The film begins with the audio of a discussion between father and daughter. The daughter, Rochelle, tells her father, Malcolm, that she is almost finished with her picture that she wants to give her mother, Gloria. Malcolm promises he will not till his wife about the picture. Suddenly there is the sound of a car crash after Rochelle tells her daddy “look out!”.

Six months later it becomes clear that Malcolm is greatly disturbed about losing his daughter in the car crash; things are not going well at a construction site where he is in charge of a team of 5 or 6 workers.   His boss Bob, with whom he has worked a number of years on many projects, tells Malcolm that he is behind schedule and the job will not be completed in time unless he shapes up.  Bob becomes aware Malcolm is not able to focus on his job because of his inability to let go of the loss of his daughter.

Malcolm has become separated from his wife Gloria because of his inability to properly function as a husband for the same reason, his loss of his daughter Rochelle. Their Pastor tries to help and finally suggests attending a group of people who have had similar losses; when he encourages Malcolm to go he gives Malcolm the picture Gloria said was from Rochelle. Malcolm and Gloria both go to the meeting and Malcolm speaks up revealing that he believes he could’ve unbuckled the seatbelt of his daughter so that she would live even if it meant he were to die; instead, with a real struggle releasing his seatbelt, he saves himself instead.

He thus believes he has murdered his daughter and that God would never forgive him for that. He believes this in spite of being told that rescuers received second degree burns just helping him out of the car and to reach his daughter was impossible.  

In anger he fires 2 of his workers for fighting but is told by Bob, his boss, to rehire them. One of the workers Jose is a member of a gang. The gang had brutalized a former member who wanted to quit; Jose wants to quit the gang because he has a family he wants to take care of but the remaining members of the gang convince Jose to beat up Malcolm who fired him. 

During the beating of Malcolm, Jose is told by Malcolm he is to be rehired; Jose puts an end to the beating and Malcolm, who has been receiving mysterious images that indicate God is helping him, seeks out Gloria with whom he promises to renew their life together because he senses God’s forgiveness. 

If one were to relate this to the story of Job, we could fashion God’s answer to Malcolm as: “Do you think, Malcolm, you are greater than God, who can forgive any sin, any wrong doing, and indeed has already forgiven all your sins through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross?”  Just like Job, Malcolm had not lost his faith in God but we human beings are so frail that sometimes it may take even a beating to remind us that the key to living life well, even when we have to suffer such losses, is to love and to forgive; that is the way that God treats us.

And something I forgot: When Malcomb finds his grandfather's bible, stored away and hidden for many years by his uncle, he finds a copy of Rochelle's picture!  Another sign of God's caring.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Great Influenza and its Impact on American History

Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States for two terms from 1912 until 1920. He was a Progressive and a believer in government, and big government, to be the way that America should be governed.   Wilson won reelection in 1916 based on his having kept America out of the first world war raging in Europe.   On April 2, 1917 Wilson delivered his statement for war to Congress following Germany’s announcement to initiate unrestricted submarine warfare against all merchant vessels, in addition to the revelation of the Zimmerman note in which Germany tried to involve Mexico against the Southwestern United States. Wilson was determined to carry on total war until victory was achieved.
Not during the Civil War, nor World War II nor the Korean War had any chief executive taken control of every facet of government which impacted every citizen. He was an organizational genius and created a host of government institutions to assist in winning this war as if it were a crusade. (1) By the spring of 1918 a strong strain of influenza started hitting the troops in numerous camps that had been established; the flu caused numerous deaths among the troops and continued wreaking its havoc on troop ships sent to France with many of the troops arriving sick. American troops were involved in the final stages of the war for only a few months; the peace conference started in Paris in December of 1918.

There were many participants from many nations but it was the Big Four: President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Great Britain, Premier Georges Clemenceau of France, and, of least importance, Italian Premier Minister Vittorio Orlando. who were responsible for the drafting of the peace treaty. Wilson’s 14 points and his determination to accomplish “A peace without victory” fell on the deaf ears of Georges Clemenceau who wanted to humiliate Germany by dismembering parts of Germany and giving them to other nations, by stationing occupation forces in Germany for 15 years as well as demanding reparations that would stifle Germany’s economy; Lloyd George feared this humiliation of Germany would do more harm than good in achieving a permanent peace; but because he won his position of Prime Minister by promising to be tough with Germany, he failed to heed what he knew to be right and sided with Clemenceau. The Italian representative was only interested in what Italy could get out of the peace treaty and uninterested in anything else.

In March of 1919 Wilson’s wife and Gary Grayson, Wilson’s personal White House physician, came down with influenza. Clemenceau and George both cane down with a moderate influenza.  In the meantime Wilson’s sessions with Clemenceau and George were brutal, Wilson fighting against a humiliation of Germany.  Wilson continued to fight insisting, “The only principle I recognize is that of the consent of the governed.” On April 2 after the negotiations for the day finished, he called the French “damnable”–for him, a deeply religious man, an extreme epithet. He told his press spokesman “We’ve got to make peace on the principles laid down and accepted or not make it at all.” (2)  Wilson was prepared to leave the conference with no treaty at all rather than concede to the French position. But in the evening of April 3 Wilson was hit with a serious attack of influenza, probably caught from Clemenceau.

Wilson had coughing so severe that it interfered with his breathing; he had profuse diarrhoea and a temperature of over 103 degrees.  A young aide in the American delegation got the flu at the same time as Wilson and died 4 days later at age 25. After 4 days in bed he got up and renewed his threat to leave the conference, even having a ship readied for departure. On April 8 Wilson insisted on continuing the conferences at his sickbed, but he was not the same man. (3)

After a matter of days Wilson suddenly agreed to all the demands of Clemenceau as well as demands of other countries such as Italy, China and Japan, abandoning all his principles.  The influenza had put him in deep depression, affecting his mind, and was unable to think or reason as he had before the attack of influenza. (4), (5) On May 7 Germany was presented the treaty, complaining bitterly that Wilson had violated all his principles designed to bring about true peace.  Four months later, after his return home to Washington, Wilson suffered a massive stroke, which incapacitated him to such an extent that Grayson and Wilson’s wife effectively took over the reigns of government until the next election in 1920.

One cannot absolutely say for sure that had President Wilson not been struck by such a debilitating bout of influenza, that he would have stuck to his principles, even carrying out his threat to leave the conference unless there was agreement on his desire to see peace without victory, instead of the virtual dismemberment of opposing nations in the war. Those who knew him well and his fighting spirit felt certain that he would have left the conference rather than give in to the demands of Clemenceau and Lloyd George. Had this been so, with Wilson either winning over their demands or leaving for home without a treaty, how history would have been changed without the specter of another world war only 20 years after the ratification of the treaty!.

But the great influenza of 1918 had so damaged the mind of the president that he was unable to accomplish his peace without victory. The American people should now be cognizant of the great pandemic of 1918 which brought about the demise of the mental capacities of President Wilson, but such is not the case. By the 1920s people had forgotten the horrific number of deaths due to influenza as well as the effect on one of the most powerful people of the time, President Wilson. All the great writers of the 20s and 30s make no mention of the great pandemic of 1918. No historians make mention of the great pandemic except Alfred Crosby. Most historians mention President Wilson having a small stroke prior to the peace treaty instead of influenza and a major stroke later which totally incapacitated him. Look in any history book and you will not see any mention of the 1918 pandemic and the 550,000 deaths of American civilians and military (a conservative estimate) due to influenza.  Compare this number with the combined battle deaths of U.S. Armed Forces in WWI, WWII, the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts of 423,000. The worldwide estimate of deaths due to this pandemic are a conservative 20 million. (6)

It was not a small stroke that brought about a bad peace treaty in 1919; it was the great pandemic of influenza between 1918 and 1919.  The only comforting result is Wilson’s inability to carry out his plan for the complete domination of American life through a strong, all powerful federal government.

(1) The Great Influenza by John M. Barry, Penguin Books 2005, pp. 120 - 129
(2) ibid, p 383
(3) ibid, pp. 384, 385
(4) ibid, pp. 385, 386
(5) America’s Forgotten Pandemic by Alfred W. Crosby,     Cambridge University Press,......New York 2003,   p194
(6) Ibid, pp. 206, 207

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Smear that Failed

An introduction to this post seems to be in order considering my post on George VI in March of this year, 2013 was based on my having seen "The King's Speech" many times on a DVD and also having found an English review of the King’s Speech that helped me understand some of the historical background. However, it was only after finding the history of the Kindertransport that I ran into the smear involving criticism of the film itself and George VI in particular which happened more than 2 years ago in 2011. 

I had never run into information about this smear until about one month ago when I felt it necessary to give the history of this smear attempt and show that it was unwarranted and unfair. The fact that I never ran into this information about the smear of the film and the King probably speaks for itself in showing that the smear was indeed a failure. Now I will return to the start of my post published only yesterday and hope that this introduction will answer any questions about the tardiness of the smear in relation to my posting of the story of George VI and “The King’s Speech” earlier this year.

A short time before the Oscars were to be presented for movies of the year 2011, an e-mail of unknown source was directed to Scott Feinberg, a Hollywood commentator. The e-mail accused the directors and producers of “The King’s Speech” of covering over history by not revealing German sympathies of King George VI and accused the King of anti-semitism by assisting in preventing Jewish refugees to emigrate to Palestine before the outbreak of war with Germany. 

As to the charge of German sympathies before the war, the King had supported appeasement of the Germans by the then Prime Minister of England Neville Chamberlain with the hope of forestalling involvement of England in a war with Germany which the king believed would be so devastating. Winston Churchill on the other hand knew that Hitler was a tyrant and that inevitably war with Germany would come. George VI, having had thought of appeasement as a way of avoiding war did not support Winston Churchill for prime minister in the election of 1940 because he mistakenly thought of Churchill as wanting war.  

As a result, in the beginning of Winston Churchill’s tenure as prime minister, the King and Churchill did not get along; but this was of short duration as war had already been declared by England against Germany and the king now realized his duty was to join the fight against the declared enemy of England. He and Churchill worked closely together in fighting Germany; the king was privy to all British and Allied strategy which Churchill shared with the king during the entire war.

As to the charge that the king was anti-Semitic because he approved the prevention of Jews emigrating to Palestine prior to the war, it is pointed out that this was British policy because of Arab sympathies with Germany; it was thought by the British government that allowing Jewish emigration to Palestine at that time would have complicated the attempt by Britain to avoid war with Germany. 

The historian, Andrew Roberts, pointed out that George VI was just supporting British policy at that time, and to conclude from this that the king was therefore anti-semantic, was ludicrous.  In fact the British allowed 70,000 Jews to emigrate to England prior to the opening of war with Germany including 10,000 mostly Jewish children in the

Parliament passed a law in December of 1938 allowing the immigration of 10,000 Jewish children under the age of 18. This movement of so many children with the assistance of many jewish and non-jewish humanitarian agencies was called the Kindertransport. The king is always involved with laws that are passed by Parliament so one must presume the king was in support of the Kindertransport.   When war broke out with Germany these mostly German Jewish children were labeled as “enemy aliens”. But very quickly these children announced their loyalty to King George VI and were designated as “the King’s most loyal enemy aliens”.  Most of the older children joined the British Army and fought the Germans. 

There is a memorial plaque in Parliament thanking Parliament and the British people for rescuing these children; much to the disgrace of the United States and other large nations there was no such transport of Jewish children before the opening of the war in December of 1939, to save them from the Holocaust where two and a half million children perished, one and a half million of them Jewish.

A Jewish woman, Irene Coffee, born Brann, living in Britain with her mother, out of fear of being captured by the Germans, were Germany to invade England and deport Jews to death camps, attempted suicide along with her mother, by swallowing poison, in October 1941; Irene survived while her mother died; since suicide was against the law as well as assisting in a suicide, Irene was sentenced to death in an English court. 

Appeal was made to King George VI who commuted her sentence and within 3 months sympathetic people and officials saw to it that she was released from prison. Her words of praise and thanks to this compassionate King were in glowing terms.

Many in the entertainment industry pointed out that all films, especially involving war, are produced with the best of intentions to relate events that are truthful; however many liberties are taken to make the film more entertaining by not including events that are not really necessary to the plot. Most people took this point of view; as a result, “The King’s Speech” won the Academy Award for best picture of 2011.  Colin Firth, who played George VI won best actor, Tom Hooper won best director and best original screen play was won by David Seidler, a Jewish writer whose grandparents died in the Holocaust according to the British newspaper, The Guardian. 

“The smear failed and “The King’s Speech” is now recognized as one of the film industry’s finest films; and more importantly, the reputation of King George VI had been restored to it’s rightful place: King George VI is one of England’s best kings, if not the best.

References: 'Nazi' smears on George VI threatens Colin Firth's Oscar hopes 
By John Bingham 10:54PM GMT 16 Jan 2011

The King's Most Loyal Enemy Aliens: Germans Who Fought for Britain in the Second World War  Fry, Helen. Sutton Publishing, Great Britain, 2007

London Evening Standard  The King’s Mercy: How George VI saved a refugee’s life  By ALLAN HALL  UPDATED: 19:28 EST, 8 March 2011

THE WRAP  Covering Hollywood
Forget the Critics; Here’s Why Oscar’s Voters Liked ‘King’s Speech’ Best

London Evening Standard  Judge The King's Speech as a film, not as history  
by SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE  Published: 21 January 2011

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 By wmw_admin on January 24, 2011