Saturday, May 29, 2004

Remarks by the President at National World War II Memorial Dedication
National World War II Memorial
Washington, D.C.

World War II Memorial Page

3:09 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. I'm honored to join with President Clinton, President Bush, Senator Dole and other distinguished guests on this day of remembrance and celebration. And, General Kelley, here in the company of the generation that won the war, I proudly accept the World War II Memorial on behalf of the people of the United States of America. (Applause.)

Raising up this Memorial took skill and vision and patience. Now the work is done, and it is a fitting tribute, open and expansive, like America; grand and enduring, like the achievements we honor. The years of World War II were a hard, heroic and gallant time in the life of our country. When it mattered most, an entire generation of Americans showed the finest qualities of our nation and of humanity. On this day, in their honor, we will raise the American flag over a monument that will stand as long as America itself.

In the history books, the Second World War can appear as a series of crises and conflicts, following an inevitable course -- from Pearl Harbor to the Coast of Normandy to the deck of the Missouri. Yet, on the day the war began, and on many hard days that followed, the outcome was far from certain.

There was a time, in the years before the war, when many earnest and educated people believed that democracy was finished. Men who considered themselves learned and civilized came to believe that free institutions must give way to the severe doctrines and stern discipline of a regimented society. Ideas first whispered in the secret councils of a remote empire, or shouted in the beer halls of Munich, became mass movements. And those movements became armies. And those armies moved mercilessly forward -- until the world saw Hitler strutting in Paris, and U.S. Navy ships burning in their own port. Across the world, from a hiding place in Holland to prison camps of Luzon, the captives awaited their liberators.

Those liberators would come, but the enterprise would require the commitment and effort of our entire nation. As World War II began, after a decade of economic depression, the United States was not a rich country. Far from being a great power, we had only the 17th largest army in the world. To fight and win on two fronts, Americans had to work and save and ration and sacrifice as never before. War production plants operated shifts around the clock. Across the country, families planted victory gardens -- 20 million of them, producing 40 percent of the nation's vegetables in backyards and on rooftops. Two out of every three citizens put money into war bonds. As Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby said, "This was a people's war, and everyone was in it."

As life changed in America, so did the way that Americans saw our own country and its place in the world. The bombs at Pearl Harbor destroyed the very idea that America could live in isolation from the plots of aggressive powers. The scenes of the concentration camps, the heaps of bodies and ghostly survivors, confirmed forever America's calling to oppose the ideologies of death.

As we defended our ideals, we began to see that America is stronger when those ideals are fully implemented. America gained strength because women labored for victory and factory jobs, cared for the wounded and wore the uniform, themselves. America gained strength because African Americans and Japanese Americans and others fought for their country, which wasn't always fair to them. In time, these contributions became expectations of equality, and the advances for justice in post-war America made us a better country.

With all our flaws, Americans at that time had never been more united. And together we began and completed the largest single task in our history. At the height of conflict, America would have ships on every ocean, and armies on five continents. And on the most crucial of days, would move the equivalent of a major city across the English Channel.

And all these vast movements of men and armor were directed by one man who could not walk on his own strength. President Roosevelt brought his own advantages to the job. His resolve was stronger than the will of any dictator. His belief in democracy was absolute. He possessed a daring that kept the enemy guessing. He spoke to Americans with an optimism that lightened their task. And one of the saddest days of the war came just as it was ending, when the casualty notice in the morning paper began with the name, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Commander-in-Chief.

Across the years, we still know his voice. And from his words, we know that he understood the character of the American people. Dictators and their generals had dismissed Americans as no match for a master race. FDR answered them. In one of his radio addresses, he said, "We have been described as a nation of weaklings, playboys. Let them tell that to General McArthur and his men. Let them tell that to the boys in the flying fortresses. Let them tell that to the Marines."

In all, more than 16 million Americans would put on the uniform of the soldier, the sailor, the airman, the Marine, the Coast Guardsman or the Merchant Mariner. They came from city streets and prairie towns, from public high schools and West Point. They were a modest bunch, and still are. The ranks were filled with men like Army Private Joe Sakato. In heavy fighting in France, he saw a good friend killed, and charged up a hill determined to shoot the ones who did it. Private Sakato ran straight into enemy fire, killing 12, wounding two, capturing four, and inspiring his whole unit to take the hill and destroy the enemy. (Applause.) Looking back on it 55 years later, Joe Sakato said, "I'm not a hero. Nowadays they call what I did 'road rage.'" (Laughter.)

This man's conduct that day gained him the Medal of Honor, one of 464 awarded for actions in World War II. Americans in uniform served bravely, fought fiercely and kept their honor -- even under the worst of conditions. Yet they were not warriors by nature. All they wanted was to finish the job and make it home. One soldier in the 58th Armor Field Artillery was known to have the best-kept rifle in the unit. He told his buddies he had plans for that weapon after the war. He said, "I want to take it home, cover it in salt, hang it on a wall in my living room so I can watch it rust."

These were the modest sons of a peaceful country, and millions of us are very proud to call them Dad. They gave the best years of their lives to the greatest mission their country ever accepted. (Applause.) They faced the most extreme danger, which took some and spared others, for reasons only known to God. And wherever they advanced or touched ground, they are remembered for their goodness and their decency. A Polish man recalls being marched through the German countryside in the last weeks of the war, when American forces suddenly appeared. He said, "Our two guards ran away. And this soldier with little blonde hair jumps off his tank. 'You're free,' he shouts at us. We started hugging each other, crying and screaming, 'God sent angels down to pick us up out of this hell place.'"

Well, our boys weren't exactly angels. They were flesh and blood, with all the limits and fears of flesh and blood. That only makes the achievement more remarkable -- the courage they showed, in a conflict that claimed more than 400,000 American lives, leaving so many orphans and widows and Gold Star Mothers.

The soldiers' story was best told by the great Ernie Pyle, who shared their lives and died among them. In his book, "Here Is Your War," he described World War II as many veterans now remember it. It is a picture, he wrote, "of tired and dirty soldiers, who are alive and don't want to die; of long, darkened convoys in the middle of the night; of shocked, silent men wandering back down the hill from battle; of Jeeps and petrol dumps and smelly bedding roles and C-rations; and blown bridges and dead mules and hospital tents and shirt collars greasy-black from months of wearing; and of laughter, too, and anger, and wine, and lovely flowers and constant cussing. All these, it is composed of; and of graves and graves and graves."

On this Memorial Day weekend, the graves will be visited, and decorated with flowers and flags. Men whose step has slowed are thinking of boys they knew when they were boys together. And women who watched the train leave, and the years pass, can still see the handsome face of their young sweetheart. America will not forget them, either.

At this place, at this Memorial, we acknowledge a debt of long-standing to an entire generation of Americans: those who died; those who fought and worked and grieved and went on. They saved our country, and thereby saved the liberty of mankind. And now I ask every man and woman who saw and lived World War II -- every member of that generation -- to please rise as you are able, and receive the thanks of our great nation.

May God bless you. (Applause.)

END 3:24 P.M. EDT

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Old Soldiers Never Die

As promised, my take on the ending of one of my favorite shows on television, Angel. After 5 seasons Angel Investigations/Wolfram & Hart's L.A. office heads (in season 5)said good-bye to fans everywhere with a very powerful series finale. The ex-watcher, Wesley, dead. Lorne, the demon night club owner killing a problem in a double cross. Harmony betraying Angel. Spike, the other re-souled vampire, Angel, Illyria (the demon possed shell of Winifred Burkle aka. Fred), and the mortally wounded Charles Gunn end the show cornered in an alley on a rainy night. The armies of evil charging them, and Angel saying "Personally, I want to slay the dragon." and "Let's get to work.". Our heroes shown rushing headlong into danger to save the world against the army of evil...fade to black.

Angel was a show of a different ilk than Buffy the Vampire Slayer, darker and edgier. In my opinion the superior show of the two. The show centered around Angel and his never ending quest to atone for the evil of his past, the most famous, most blood thirsty vampire ever seen, Angelus, before being cursed by a gypsy with his soul. An immortal with the blood of hundreds, perhaps thousands on his hands forced to carry the guilt and burden for eternity. Such a heaviness of spirit is unthinkable.

Without giving too much back story, Angel was chosen by the "Powers that Be", the closest either series in the Buffy-verse came to acknowledging the existence of God (yet somehow the presence of demons, evils and crosses and holy water never bothered anyone). Angel is destined to help the helpless as her attempts to make right the evil past he has with him. Joining Angel in season 5, was the other vampire with a soul, Spike..who regained his soul the old fashioned way by fighting for it to gain the favor of his love (and Angel's) Buffy. Both characters representing a macrocosm of the human condition.

Angel when stripped down to it's basics was a story about atonement, trying to make amends for past evils in a world dominated by evil trying to stop you at every turn. It was about the bondage of friendships and building trust. It was about the relationships of family and how even in the worst of times, the ties of family, though strained will not break. It reminded viewers that the chance for turning from evil and doing right never past and that even in death change could occur. It worked in basic levels, it worked on deeper levels that are still being revealed with repeated viewings. The series dealt with love and the sacrifices people will make to protect the ones they love.

The show was simply about life. It was set in a super-natural sci-fi universe, but that only amplified the emotions that it drew out in its story lines. Take away the super-natural, the writing alone would have carried a show, it was smart, witty, and poingant. At it's end, Angel sacrificed his chance to become human (ancient prophecy..he signed it away..he works for a supernatural, interdimensional law firm, he could do that) in order to save the world. Spike (who could still fulfill said prophecy because it only said the vampire with a soul will become human) had also come full circle. In their last moments, it was the two vampires trying atone for their pasts who were the most human of characters. Standing against the forces of evil to save the world, willing to lay down their immortal lives so the world would not be overrun with the evil and coming tide of darkness.

There was not last great fight, no comrades in arms celebrating the victory. All we were left with was the charge, the odds against the good guys and death seeming certain. The end came, not knowing if the evil won, the heroes conquered, if Angel slayed his dragon. Did Spike and or Angel become "real boys" and did Gunn make it? It doesn't matter because it summed up the show in that last moment...fighting evil to the bitter end against all odds. Win, lose, or draw it's better to fight it than to stand idly by and be consumed by it as it passes. The old soldiers who would not die, fighting to not fade away. As we were told anyway, "We don't live in a fairy-tale." In life, there is no happily ever after.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Well it has been awhile since I updated the blog. Don't worry faithful readers, reports of my demise were just vicious rumor. Seriously, work has been keeping me busy and then my mother visited the Lone Star State this weekend, so I really haven't had a lot of time.

Saw Shrek 2 last week, not as good as the orginal but worth the price of admission at the local theatre. A great parody scene from the Lord of the Rings and lots of great pop culture references. That and the montage of Shrek riding to the rescue to the song "Holding Out for a Hero" (which is one of the greatest songs ever) was pretty cool. Good job all around. Go see it, take a date if you can, there is a love story there we can all learn something from.

Anyway, last Wednesday night marked the end of an era, the last episode of Angel, the Buffy spin-off on the WB ended it's 5 year run. Look for a run down of that sometime by midweek. I am planning on watching the rerun of it Tuesday night, then I will be able to digest all of it and give a better writing on how the show ended and what I saw in it, besides good writing, Charisma Carpenter and Amy Acker.

Saturday is the 1100 mile day with the Indy 500 (the only open wheel race I watch each year) and the Coke 600. Robby Gordon goes for the double duty this year. Tony Stewart almost joined him at the last minute but something about his Nextel Cup contract and Chevy wouldn't allow him in A.J. Foyt's backup car with a Ford engine. Just let the guy race boys, he'll hit something and give you good exposure.

Now what you've all been waiting for another of edition of:

For What It's Worth

The Triple A All-Star Game is being held at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, the team I grew up watching almost every weekend they were home, saw the like of Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco, Chipper Jones, Scott Cooper, Aaron Sele, Jason Varitek, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, Tom Glavine, Ryan Klesko, Kevin Maas, Phil Plantier and others..some made it, some didn't.

The Army won't let Normandy vets jump into Normandy on D-day plus 60-years...someone tell the Pentagon these men earned the right to jump out a plane whenever they want to, even if they're senior citizens.

Agassi loses to who? Someone probably got a picture of it with a Cannon.

Johnny Cash's music will be popular even after I am dead and gone.

I need to find a frame for my degree, any suggestions?

I ran into C-Web at the baseball game Sunday, it was a nice surpise and happy to see she wore maroon depsite being a PhD. canidate at that other school. Like old times.

So my kid brother is leaning toward voting for Kerry...poor kid is confused, very confused. Must be the radiation on those subs.

TBN, it's like a bad car wreck you want to keep going, but sometimes you stop and stare in horror.

Since when is an infield fly called after the fact? When it's at an Aggie vs. UT baseball game.

The Aggies are seeded 5th in the Big XII tourney, good showing in Arlington and we host a Regional as a #2 seed, because we put fans in the stands.

So the Raiders signed Kerry Collins, funny he just doesn't strike me as being a Rader type, but then again neither did Rich Gannon.

Trot's coming back and so is Nomar, look out American League.

Roger Clemens is beginning to come back to earth, but he's still the best 41 year old arm in baseball.

The American public never asked for an end date, a time frame to leave conquered nations, and complained of casualties during WWII.

Speaking of World War II, we need more Generals like Patton and MacArthur in today's military.

Dear Canada, return the desserters, or we will be forced to take away hockey and the Blue Jays and leave you with the Expos.

As we get closer to June 30th, things in the Middle East should get interesting.

3 day weekends are the bomb DOT COM! Yeah baby!

Where's our apology for 9-11?

Where's our apology for the 4 people that got burned and drug thru the streets of Fallujah?

Where's our apology for blowing up construction workers trying to rebuild your country?

Where's our apology for dancing in the streets after the killing of Marines bringing food and supplies to you? Where is it?

Till next time... I'm as mad Bobby Knight with a chair in his hand taking a half court jumper!

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Well by now everyone who is not living under a rock or under a mountain must know about the execution of Nick Berg, a private citizen of the United States, this past week in Iraq.

I will not say much cause most of what I feel has already been said, but something that has struck me based on the still photos and video I have seen (I have not watched the full video). The barbaric animals who carried out this act of brutality wore masks. None dared to show their face. Now, they might think they're being smart about it, not giving away their identity, but this is a common trend amongst all militants Islamists. Time and again we see these folks on TV hurling grenades, shooting guns and acting pretty much like an untrained rabble, all while covering their faces. Maybe it's western thought here, but if I am going to kill someone and declare war on an entire culture, I'm not going to be afraid to show my face. It's not sneaky, it's not a champions way of promoting thier religion, it's not anything. Hiding one's face while supposedly saying you're fighting for a god to go to paradise strikes me as being ashamed of that god. It also strikes me as cowardly. Cowardly by not having the, let's call it testicular fortitude, to not only hide one's face, but to hide behind women, children and innocents. These men are not martyrs nor heros, they are cowards.

Now I support the Bush administration in this, I don't agree with everything they are doing, but I know President Bush is not going to back down and go running to the pantywaists at the UN cause things get a little tough. What I will disagree on is our fighting with the gloves on. We know this al-Sadr character is using a holy mosque to arm his militia and carry out attacks. The Geneva convention is clear, we can blow the thing up if want to. We can also use all the fire power we have, but I understand restraint is needed.

Iraq is like an abbused child, beaten and locked in the closet for over 20 years. When it finally let out, it does not know how to function in a civilized society. It is human society in it's most primal, evil nature. Again it falls to the U.S. to shine light into a dark corner of the world. When it came time to fight Japan, Nazi Germany and later North Korea and China, it was not easy and many young men died. Lives snuffed out before they began, but the result was worth the sacrifice. Too many folks argue about the casualties we are taking, but this is a war against a foe we have never seen. It is a foe of idealology which crosses borders, cultures, and classes with complete nut jobs who think they are going to make the whole world tremble before them cause they can strike fear into people.

The killing of Nick Berg was supposed to strike fear, all it did was strike resolve. The suicide bombers are supposed to scare the troops away. The kidnappings to force troops to leave. All this does is strengthen the resolve, it entrenches the beliefs that evil must be faced and conquered. Sorry boys, you're not making us run. You're just digging your own graves, which will be soaked in pigs blood if I had my way, along with the bullets of troops.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Well, it is now offcial. This morning I officially became a former student at Texas A&M and received my Master of Engineering Degree in Civil Engineering at the commencement ceremonies this morning. No family was there, a few friends of mine who were also graduating this morning were pretty much the only folks who I think were there that I knew and spend anytime with. Speakng of which: Congratulations Jay! Congratulations Wendy, everything worked out! Anyway, it was awesome. In a small way it made leaving Rhode Island and the only place I had ever called home and moving here to Texas a bit more valid, though I wouldn't trade anything for the friends I've made here...that in and of itself has made it worth it.

I'm the first in my family to receive a Master's Degree, just as I was the first to receive a Bachelor's degree. It was only 4 years and 1 day between them too! Honestly, today was more special, just because of the ups and downs I've been through over the last 4 years and just looking back at how much I've changed and how my outlook on life has changed since. For those who don't know the story, I was working in the Boston area with an engineering firm that I thought was pretty good until I got deeper and deeper into the know there. I'm not going to name the firm and a lot of what they had employees doing, but some of it was not above the board. That kind of cutthroat culture kills a person slowly if you stay in to long. So grad school started looking better and better, thanks to an old friend (yeah Stephie Sue that's you) and her stories of undergrad days at A&M I put A&M on my short list of schools. Then September 11 happen and changed the world and out country. The following week, I turn on the TV for college football and who is on, the Aggies. The camera just panned the stadium in the opening shots and there is was "Red, White, and Blue Out". Let's just say, it made an impression which helped when I got my acceptance letter in the mail. I thought about for all of a split second and decided I was moving to Texas. It just two weeks to let me family in on the news until I got some other news from other schools I could laugh at for their financial offers.

So here I moved, not knowing anyone here and never having seen the town. It was love at first site and I quickly settled into Aggieland. It has been such a wonderful experience since..if I were to write it all it would take up a lot of room.

I just need to thank so many...first and foremost I need to thank God because I certainly am not capable to getting through anything without His grace. My family for being so supportive of everything, wish y'all could have been here. Of course, my friends near and far who are quite simply the best bunch of friends anyone could ask for, somehow you put up with me. Well it's a bit past 1 central time which means it's lunch time...I'll do that, relax a bit and then get ready for a night of Aggie Baseball and flaming Dr. Peppers.

The Flaming Dr. Pepper

3/4 shot Amaretto Almond Liqueur
1/4 oz 151 Proof Rum
1/2 glass Beer

1. Fill a shot glass about 3/4 full with amaretto and top it off with enough 151 proof rum to be able to burn.

2. Place the shot glass in another glass and fill the outer glass with beer (right up to the level of the shot glass).

3. Ignite the amaretto/151 and let it burn for a while. Blow it out (or leave it burning if you're brave - not recommended) and slam it. Tastes just like Dr. Pepper.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

From a headline story today on

BASRA, Iraq — A senior aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr told worshippers during a Friday sermon in southern Iraq that anyone capturing a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.

If there is any doubt that those who are opposing the democratic process in Iraq are nothing more than mere barbarians, modern day Huns and Visigoths, let the above statement be a testament to ultimate evil we now find ourselves opposing.

When I fist read this article, I was shocked, numb and without words to even begin to express my utter disgust and revulsion at this mindset. I have no doubt that this also applies to American women soldiers as well. I am not one who favors women in combat ready positions in the armed forces, however, that is how it is so I will not discuss that issue further at the moment.

This cleric, al-Sadr, is nothing more than a thug and warlord. He has shown his desire to consolidate power and become the defacto religious ruler in Iraq, and we all know how well it worked out for old Iran. Al-Sadr wants nothing more than to be the religious ruler of Iraq and the head of the government. He speaks to impressionable young men focusing on the words of the Koran and telling what they must do to enter paradise if they are true Muslims and followers of Allah. Quite frankly, Islam ranks right up there with some of the wackiest cults in history, it's not a religion, it's a cult, pieced together by a man who heard stories from Jews and Christians and locals and pieced together a so called theology and then went out and slaughtered his enemies in a bid for power in the ancient Middle East. Consolidating power, killing off enemies...the secret recipe for brutal governments through out the history of mankind. Anyone see a pattern?

Al-Sadr has no idea what kind of can of worms he is getting into by promoting the forced slavery of female POW's. If you really want to hack off a country, start harming their women. Al-Sadr does not know his history or else he would realize the folly. Helen of Troy launched 1000 ships, how many honorable men with guns would be launched today? Right now the U.S., Brits, and our other allies are playing nice in the realm of combat, I tend to favor total war to scare the snot out of the locals to keep them in line, but then I'm not making policy so my opinion is worthless on that subject. However, back to the topic at hand, al-Sadr must realize that to harm the women [and don't think slavery doesn't include beatings (lot's of them), rape (lot's of that too), and more beating, cause it does] he would unleash fury and hell on earth against any resistance. Those women are someone's sister, daughter, friends, fiancé, and mother. If I was to find out that a woman in my life had been taken as a slave, I could only hope the troops found the poor S.O.B. before I did because I could easily be very creative with ways to make that person suffer and unfortunately..I probably wouldn't care about the consequences.

It just sickens me to no end that al-Sadr has been hiding behind mosques and militia to spread his message. Yes, the Geneva Convention says house of worship are not to be attacked unless they are being used for military purposes. Well, allow me to interpret this. If a mosque is being used by a man in charge of the militia, if it is being used to issue military orders, if those military order are going to harm our troops, if our troops will die as a result of that harm, and the man doing the speaking is doing so holding an assault is a military use, so blow it up! We're trying to be boy scouts and we can't be. A war can not be won if we try to fight it in a PC manner. Take the gloves off!

If none of this works, let's put Saddam back in power and tell those ungrateful Iraqis that they had their chance, but to now deal with the consequences (The Vastine came up with that one!). Or better yet, let's put Hillary in charge over there!

Saturday, May 01, 2004

For What it's Worth

So Pedro doesn't want to talk about his contract, he wants to become a free agent at the end of the year. Last I looked he's an awfully expensive #2 starter anyway.

There is no truth the rumor that Nomar had a better April than Jeter.

Band of Brothers, a story of men in combat, should be mandatory for everyone protesting our involvement overseas.

Speaking of which, it's a shame some bad apples have damaged our reputation because they were stupid and cruel to prisoner's.

Then again, what the world say if it was our POWs...probably that we deserved it.

The U.N. is obsolete, let's take our money and call it a game, then kick them out of NYC.

Tampa Bay outfielder Rocco Baldelli and Texas A&M cathcer Craig Stinson were high school teamates, but I still like seeing Hawks get porked!

John Kerry is more boring than Al Gore on Prozac.

What's up with kids these days, I don't need to be hearing how dope your new car is...makes me think you are a drug dealer.

The next girl I hear say men are stupid, dumb, etc., gets an ear full.

When your friends start getting married, you start feeling old.

Speaking of marriage, it is all about "twue wuv"

Yeah Chief, when you can quote The Princess Bride and get blank stares, you know the next generation lost out.

Speaking of generations, I went in Toys R Us today just for fun, they had old school Transformers..I'm talking the orginal Rodimus Prime, Prowl, Smokescreen, Hoist, etc... and old school GI Joe's. Everything old is new again.

Which means Vanilla Ice should be going on tour any day now.

Christina cancelled her tour...I think the old bear in the woods analogy fits here.

Does anyone care what Dems have to say?

Am I the only one who sees it as disrespectful for 2 9-11 commission members to leave the Oval Office early for other engagements. It just proves that the left has lost respect for the office, which started when Billary entered there in 1992 and turned into a trailer park Jerry Springer show.

Speaking of Hillary....someone tell the witch to shut up already. It takes a keep her from opening her mouth and revealing she is the village idiot.

Speaking of which, before the internet, village idiots usually stayed in their own village.

The purpose of marriage is to raise a family and bring up the kids. Does that make the purpose of gay marriage tha ability for them to divorce an claim 50%?

DEI on plate tracks is poetry.

The Red Sox took 6 of 7 from the Yankees, in need to print up World Series tickets yet. If we do in October, then even I'm figuring out how to get to Fenway for this one.