Sunday, November 11, 2018

Happy Armistice Day... aka Veteran's Day

Tonight my friends and I excercised what has become an annual tradition for us. For the past eight years we have dined out, usually with our friend Thomas (who is a USAF vet) for Veteran's Day. In my circle, two of us are vets, five are not.

It has been, for us, a way to celebrate AND to honor, not only Tom's and my service, but also to see the countless other veterans who have served for whatever reasons they hold dear... young, old (especially the old), we all gather in fellowship.

It is not for a free meal, but for us a way of reliving the cammaraderie we felt while serving.

This Veteran's Day is the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of the war to end all wars, World War I. None of our veterans of that great war survive today. The numbers of our World War II vets dwindle with each passing day as do our Korean War vets. I honor them each and all.

Today, I am heartened to see the many companies who go out of their way to honor us vets. It was not so long ago that many of our Vietnam War vets, who answered the call, came home to find a nation that dishonored (some of) them with utter hate, disrespect and even violence.

This is the month where many of us express for what we are most thankful. While many offer their thanks for our service to country, I want to counter that with my thanks for friends, family and for the opportunity millions of us have enjoyed: the honor was ours to have served a nation and a people we love.

Happy Veteran's Day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Monday, September 24, 2018

Sauce for the goose?

A Navy acquaintance wrote me this morning bitterly complaining about how unchristian the liberal left are treating the Brett Kavanaugh nomination and how he hopes God punishes them all.

Now mind you, my friend knows I am a card carrying bleeding heart liberal so I am not sure where he thought his diatribe would get him.

He feels they are embarrassing (the Democrats) themselves. I do not agree on his assertion, and I then pointed out to him the Republicans treated Merrick Garland no better, worse even. At least Kavanaugh was afforded the opportunity to be interviewed for consideration.

"Why are liberal/leftists/progressives afraid of a conservative jurist?" he asked. I threw the question back at him asking what are conservatives afraid of when it comes to a moderate or liberal jurist?


Changing the subject, he then mentioned that the courts have no right to override Mr. Trump's decisions. Sorry, but yes they do, and I am sure he applauded the courts when they overruled some of President Obama's decisions. 

He singled out the 9th Circuit Court overruling Mr. Trump's travel and immigration restrictions. Sorry, bud. I do not agree with Trump's xenophobic policies!

I told him I have disagreed with absolutely everything Mr. Trump has done... and that, it seems, was that. His went silent on me.

Like I said, I am not sure what my friend hoped to gain. He, for a long time, has sent me post after post with, I suppose, the intent and hope that I would repent and see the errors of my "ill-informed" and mistaken ways and embrace conservatism.

Sorry, but that is not going to happen. Not ever.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Happy birthday, sis of mine!

On this day in 1958, Teresa Ann Mappin (Tammy) was born at Logansport Memorial Hospital to Linda and Doug Mappin. I was but a year old so when it comes down to it, there has been no point in my life that I remember not having a sister and she, an older brother!

When we were kids, she was my pal, sometime partner in crime (grin) and as teens, we shared hours of laughter and a few fears and tears.

Teresa was the first of my siblings to whom I came out to, as we have been each other's confidant throughout our lives.

Some favorite memories: Mind you, I don't remember this but Mom has reminded us both of this event many-a-time. It appears in 1969 or '61, while Mom was busy doing laundry (Mom said she was busy washing Bryan's diapers). We pulled over our aluminum Christmas tree, smashed all the bulbs and smeared baby lotion on the tree. Good thing, I don't recall this, I suspect. As I am certain, we all got our bottoms "tanned."

When Teresa was four, Bryan was three, and I was five (I was, I am sure, the ringleader here), we snuck out of the house early one Sunday morning and climbed in Dad's beloved Chevy II Nova and lit up a cigarette (my first and last). When Dad awoke, he looked outside and saw a cloud of smoke in his car. The only thing I recall about this event was a car door opening, a hand appeared and yanked me out of the car... and again, getting our bottoms "tanned (as I said, partner in crime)."

Our many "adventures in space" when we kids built a spaceship in the windmill at our farmhouse and pretended we were on the Enterprise, on a deep mission space patrol. Fun!

Sis, do you remember the time we build a ramp in the stairway and we then took big sheets of cardboard to slide down the stairs? It is a wonder we didn't get killed when hit the ramp and it collapsed. We went tumbling down the stairs, leaving us bruised and battered.

I am still, to this day, amazed that we survived our childhood!

One summer, Mom had to work on a Saturday morning (her working days at Hart, Schaffner, and Marx). Teresa and I were instructed to get the house cleaned up while she was gone. When she returned, she promised, we would go out to a movie. 
We four (Bryan and Mike) frittered the entire morning away instead of cleaning. When Mom got home, she was not amused the least bit. In a bit of punishment, Mom took Bryan and Mike to see the movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and Teresa and I left behind to clean. I remember Teresa and I bawled as they left us behind. In more recent years after having seen that horrible movie on TV, I have decided Mom did us a favor by NOT taking us!

When we were students at Argos High School, sis and I shared a study hall together. One day, Mrs. Heishman (the woman who inspired me to become a teacher) walked up to us both and asked us, "Did I seat you two together here in study hall?" We nodded our heads and said, "Yes. She stood there momentarily a little befuddled before saying, "But you two are brother and sister, and.... you like each other?

Yes, yes we did... and still do.

I loved the time when I was a junior in high school, Teresa a sophomore and we sat in her bedroom playing records. Teresa loved the song 'Gimme Dat Ding" and we played it over and over. I also regaled her with my rendition of Cheech and Chong's 'Sister Mary Elephant.' I did a pretty good " Attention, class! Shaaat up!"

Teresa probably won't remember this as amusingly as I, but the time she brought home a guy to meet Dad and our Stepmom. Teresa was 17 or 18, the guy... much much older.... did I say older? When the guy called Dad "dad," I thought he was going to swallow his tongue (in horror). Thankfully, that guy was history rather quickly (sorry Sis, for telling that one)   

Anyone who knows my sister knows there has never been a time in her house that there was not a rocking chair. A few months after Phyllis and I had split up, I went to Teresa's home with the plan of coming out. So as I hemmed and hawed, trying to find the words. Teresa sat there rocking away. At one point, Sis asked, "What's wrong?" I struggled to find the words, and she suddenly arrived at THE question and her rocker stopped dead. "Did you get a girl pregnant?" Um... "No," I said. "Sis, that will never happen. I'm gay." She started rocking again as if nothing happened and said, "Oh"... and that was that.

We had good times as kids! And some less fun ones too. We had a shared love of music, our years in 4-H, moving from school to school, chores galore, our artwork, making friends here and making friends there, high school choir, and school plays (we both had minor bit parts in our school's production of "Bye Bye Birdie").

Teresa is a fantastic sister, a great Mommy, and an even better 
'Nana, and a great friend.

We don't see each other often enough, says me.

Love you, Sis! Happy birthday!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Where have all the flowers gone?

Ten years ago I was stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan for 13 months where I served as the NCOIC (Non-commissioned officer in charge) at CSTC-A's public affairs unit. 

Over the course of the past few months (and in the coming days), I have been posting some favorite photos that I shot during my tour of duty on my Facebook page.

On this particular day (photo above), I was assigned to cover the dedication of a new community water well. 

Freshwater was (and is) at a premium for Kabul's citizens. This water well was located centrally in one of the provinces so that the local population had relatively easy access to fresh clean water.

The lifespan of an Afghan is ridiculously short compared to citizens of other nations. One child in four dies before the age of five years due to poor sanitary conditions and a lack of access to fresh clean drinking water.

This water project was a concerted effort to make a change for the better for the citizens in the immediate locale.

During the dedication ceremony, more than 200 locals, mostly men (village elders), some women and lots of children, gathered. Security that day was provided by members of the Afghan National Army.

In my Navy career (for 21 years) I was blessed with many opportunities. I served two back-to-back tours in Kuwait and one tour in Afghanistan. 
This dream assignment gave me the opportunity to serve as editor (and so much more) and lead news writer for The Enduring Ledger, our command monthly magazine.

Two old Navy campaign promised to "See the world" and "It's not just a job, it's an adventure." I can excitedly tell my readers it's all true. The Navy exposed unremarkable me to a world I could only dream about.

As always, I wonder where these wonderful, beautiful people are a decade later.