My comments on Armed Forces Week

There’s nothing to stoke the ego quite like being interviewed for television. At an American Legion district meeting yesterday afternoon, I was asked to provide some comments for a reporter with one of the local television statements. I didn’t get to see the segment that was broadcast, but I was quoted online as saying:

Veteran Jeremy Blevins says, “I think its wonderful to see the City of Huntsville and the Tennessee Valley in general do for the veterans community and its active duty service members.”

 

Blevins does say while many attractions use this week to provide retired and active duty military free admission, that’s now what they look forward to when they choose to risk their lives for their country.

 

“Veterans are never asking for a handout, we always, we’d like to be recognized for our service to our country, but we didn’t serve our country to be recognized.” (Source: WAAY TV)

There’s nothing like stumbling through an interview that you haven’t prepared for. With my role in the Legion over the past couple years, I’ve had a couple opportunities to be in front of the camera, and the introvert inside me cringes every time it happens. I hope for the benefit of everyone who has to sit through watching me that I get better.

Imagine my surprise when another ABC affiliate in Florida posted the article to its website. Given that my commentary has now escaped the Tennessee Valley, I wish I hadn’t stumbled over the wording.

 

In praise of Sir Roderick Spode

I spent the past month or so watching the complete series of Jeeves and Wooster on Hulu, and I proudly proclaim that my favorite character was Sir Roderick Spode, 7th Earl of Sidcup.

John Turner as Roderick Spode

Nevermind the fact that the character was patterned after Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley; Lord Sidcup is an inspiration to all would-be benevolent meglomaniacs who want to make the world a better place. Unlike Bertie Wooster, that useless fop, Spode held himself with dignity and honor (except when Wooster was blackmailing him with the mere mention of “Eulalie”) and sought to restore national pride in Britain. He even almost let his civic pride and duty to nation overcome him when he nearly cast aside his place amongst the Lords to run for Parliament, only through the manipulations of Jeeves (for the benefit of Wooster)  to be pulled back to his senses.

First, his vision. He knew what he wanted and worked toward achieving it. Before his elevation to the peerage, he sought out influential friends (Sir Watkyn Bassett) and established a source of income that allowed him the freedom to think on such noble causes such as British-made bicycles and umbrellas for all citizens.

Second, his influence. The Black Shorts were devoted to the cause of Spode. They donned the uniform, attended the rallies, and even fought the Communists in defense of their great leader. Granted, their membership was mainly young unmarried men in need of a hobby, and older men whose wives determined they needed a hobby.

Finally, his determination. As evidenced in the “Eulalie” fiasco, Spode was willing to do what it took to see himself reach the success that he desired. Any man who could design women’s underwear AND lead a small army of fascists is a true man indeed.

So to all my fellow Walter Mittys out there, seeking a resolute and determined role model, let us learn from Roderick Spode and keep our heads high, even when the poo comes raining down.

Appeal to the Queen to Make Colonel (RCAF, ret.) Chris Hadfield a Knight

I am an advocate in the recognition of those who have made significant achievements of benefit, not only for their homelands, but globally.  Thusly, I support the effort to petition for knighthood on behalf of Astronaut Chris Hadfield. His contributions to space exploration supersede national boundaries.

Excerpted from the petition:

May it please Her Majesty to honour retired Astronaut Chris Hadfield, a true Canadian and Commonwealth icon, with a substantive knighthood for his extraordinary achievements in space.

A former Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, Colonel Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space. Hadfield has flown two space shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station.

During the mission he gained popularity by chronicling life aboard the space station and taking pictures of the earth and posting them through Twitter and Facebook to a large following of people around the world. From his perch in orbit, he was a guest on television news and talk shows and gained immense popularity by playing his guitar in space. His rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” is easily considered to be “one of the best videos of all time.”

As the first Commonwealth citizen to command the ISS, Astronaut Chris Hadfield inspired people the world over, especially the next-generation of scientists and engineers, and once again brought international popular attention to space expeditions — all while running the most productive science mission to date. His exceptional achievements in space have made him, in the words of one BBC commentator, “the most famous astronaut since the days of Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin.”

Given these outstanding contributions, we the undersigned believe a knighthood as something personal from the Queen, over and above any Canadian honours, would be highly appropriate to reflect the pride and gratitude of the whole Commonwealth family.

You can view the petition here:
Appeal to the Queen to Make Astronaut Chris Hadfield a Knight Petition | GoPetition

We don’t have quite as elaborate an honors system in America, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal being our highest honors, but I would argue that Colnel (RCAF, ret.) Hadfield’s international service would make him a candidate for them as well.

[UPDATE: 22 July 2013]
The author of this petition closed it on 15 July with the following statement:

Please disregard this petition. It was conceived with good intentions, but its author now believes that it is inadvisable to petition for Royal Honours.

Additional comment available here

Distinguished Warfare Medal, part II

The article below isn’t new news, but a welcome development in the drama around the

Ranking of new “cyber-medal” comes under scrutiny: Two Republican members of Congress who are also military veterans have introduced a bill that would lower the rating of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal, which can be given to drone pilots and cyber warriors. The legislation would prohibit the medal See all stories on this topic »

I wrote about this last year when I first heard about the idea being floated, and I  still loath the notion of
a “Distinguished Warfare Medal” with such a high order of precedence given the low risk in obtaining it.  I am not the only veteran outraged by this, and the media has caught on:

The medal itself is not the issue: the precedence is. It is an insult to those who risk their lives in combat, and though I do not fall into that category, I hold those who did in too high a regard to allow this to remain silent. As I stated previously, the medal needs to be demoted significantly.

I think this sums it up pretty well:

http://www.brecorder.com/images/wall/2013/02/thumb/distinguished-warfare-medal-328×280.jpg

Here is a link to Representative Hunter’s comments.

[Update: 6 March 2013]
Another link:
http://soldiersystems.net/2013/02/13/the-distinguished-warfare-medal-the-times-they-are-changin/

Also, in a meeting of the Tennessee Valley Chapter of the National Defense Industry Association, I heard this decoration referred to by the name that I will hereafter call it: the Fobbit Medal.

[Update: 12 March 2013]

Ten Commandments of Chivalry

If you follow any of the major blogs in the “Manosphere“, you might have noticed recently a bit of back and forth over the concept of Chivalry in the modern world. I’ll stay neutral on that discussion, but I want to take a moment to comment on the ten commandments of Chivalry:

  1. Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches and shalt observe all its directions.
    Claiming no creed nor doctrine outside that practiced by the first century Christians, I believe in the Gospel and the epistles, with their “primitive” form of Christianity that can be seen from the examples as recorded in the books that have been passed to us as the New Testament. I strive to “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent“.
  2. Thou shalt defend the Church.
    The church to which I belong (and by extension, the congregation I worship with) claims no central authority other than Christ, thus the simple naming convention of claiming to be His church in a particular locale. Since my faith is spiritual, my battle is likewise, though I may face adversaries on the physical plane. This doesn’t mean that one sits idly by to allow others to slander the Christian faith, but it also doesn’t necessitate physical violence against the offender. Paul details our weapons is :

    10
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. – Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)

    These are the weapons with which I defend Christ’s church.

  3. Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
    I must be understanding of others’ shortcomings, as I hope they will be of mine. 
  4. Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
    This one is not very difficult for me. I have served in my Nation’s military and I uphold the principles of its Constitution. No matter where I may find myself in life, I will always love my homeland, where the Lord has blessed me so richly. 
  5. Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
    Looking back to verse 12 above, I see that my enemy is Satan. I must stand firm against him and those who serve him.
  6. Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.
    I see no call to a physical holy war in the teaching of Christ, though I find many examples of it in the conquest of Caanan in the Torah. YHWH commanded His people to commit violence against a people He had proscribed for their sins, and when the Israelites carried this out as commanded, they were blessed. When they showed mercy upon those to whom no mercy had been commanded, they were punished.

    Bearing in mind the historical context of the Crusades, I know where this command was directed, but there are may “infidels” that a Christian faces today. Given the spiritual nature of Christianity, this means, to me, in engaging in intellectual warfare against doctrines contrary to those I hold as matters of faith. Following the physical example from the Old Testament, I cannot show mercy to a doctrine that is not of the Lord.

  7. Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
    My circumstances to not place me as a vassal with feudal duties, but as a free citizen, I have certain obligations I must meet. I registered for the draft at eighteen. I pay my taxes. I obey the laws passed by those elected to office. I do not pledge featly to a president, I uphold the portion of my oath of enlistment that still applies to me: that I affirmed “that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same… So help me God.” As long as my Country does not require me to do that which is against the will of the Lord, I will obey.
  8. Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
    This one is simple to understand, yet so difficult sometimes to follow. We live in a time of low expectations, where one’s word often doesn’t mean a whole lot, and pages and pages of contracts have to be spelled out to do what a spoken word or handshake used to seal.
  9. Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
    This is one that I, and I suppose many in the western world struggle with. It is very easy to pass this responsibility off to the “government” since we are taxed to pay for social programs. The scriptures are clear that each of us has some responsibility to care for the less fortunate.
  10. Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.
    In our world of moral relativism, this one might be the most maligned. No good deed goes unpunished. One must reject this abomination. A Parable of Christ makes this clear:
    24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
This is what the ten commandments of chivalry mean to me. It’s not holding doors for ladies, though if a lady is to be found, that would be in line with the type of kindness that a chivalrous gentleman would do. Bear in mind that a female is not always a lady, nor is a male always a gentleman. Those designations are earned and should not be flouted about willy-nilly based on some egalitarian claptrap that passes for civility nowadays. Chivalry is an honor code to be followed by those who act honorably, and extended to those worthy of honor.