Tag Archives: Rees Lloyd

Rees Lloyd: Dec 7, 1941, Attack on Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Survivor S.J. Hemker Remembers: A Day of Infamy
December 7, 2015, Pearl Harbor Day, marks the 74th anniversary of the Japanese air attack on U.S. naval and air installations at Pearl Harbor, HI, at 7:53 a.m., Dec. 7, 1941, without a declaration of war. 
 
It was then the worst attack on American soil in history: Some 2,403 died, 2008 of them Navy personnel; another 1,178 were wounded. 
Photo: Wiki Commons
Photo: Wiki Commons
 
Eighteen Navy ships, including the U.S.S. Arizona, were sunk or damaged. Almost all the planes at the island bases were destroyed or damaged while still on the ground.
 
President Franklyn D. Roosevelt memorably called December 7, 1941, “a day which will live in infamy” in his dramatic speech to Congress, which then declared war on Japan. 
 
Only the sneak attack on America by radical Islamic terrorists on 9-11-2001 in New York resulted in more deaths. But for many Americans of this generation — and millions of immigrants, legal and illegal — the significance of Pearl Harbor is not fully known, or appreciated. 
 
One for whom it does “live in infamy,” is Pearl Harbor survivor S. J. Hemker, now 96, of Banning, California. A retired three-war combat Navy veteran, and an American Legionnaire, Hemker remembers Pearl Harbor up close and personal:
 
“Ordinarily, we would have been at sea. We were at Pearl Harbor because we had to repair an engine that had been sabotaged at the shipyard back in California. I was up on the fantail of our ship, the USS New Orleans, a heavy cruiser, with the Chief Master at Arms. The Quartermaster was there, getting ready to raise the flag,” Hemker recalls.
They were grinning at us as they went down toward Battle Ship Row. Grinning at me and the Chief. They were so close, you could have thrown something at them and hit them. A potato, maybe. 
 
“It was 7:53 a.m. when we saw the Japanese planes. They were flying so low I could see the pilots’ faces in the cockpit. They were grinning at us as they went down toward Battle Ship Row. Grinning at me and the Chief. They were so close, you could have thrown something at them and hit them. A potato, maybe. They were that close. Just skimming the top of the water. Torpedo planes. The pilots grinning at us,” Hemker reluctantly, but vividly recalls.
 
“The loudspeakers blared: ‘Man your battle stations – the Japs are attacking’. All hell broke loose.. It was terrible, horrible, …,” he says, pausing in his remembrance.
 
“I spent the next eight hours down in the magazine loading for our five-inch anti-aircraft guns. We fired everything. If we had been hit, that would have been it for us in the magazine. We would have been blown up. We had a big crane over the top of our ship. I think that’s what saved us,” he states matter-of-factly as to his own circumstance., then somberly relates:
 
“The Arizona capsized. Thirteen hundred men went down with her. Half the guys I was with in boot camp died on the Arizona. That’s where the Memorial is today. They say that oil still leaks out every day. Those guys…they’re still down there,” Hemker says quietly, his voice trailing off, as if physically turning away from a memory, and reality, which is still too painful to talk about.
Those guys…they’re still down there,” Hemker says quietly, his voice trailing off …
 
Getting Hemker to talk about it at all is no easy task. Like many of his fellow World War II veterans, he still doesn’t talk about his war experiences, never expects any thanks or gratitude, and never, ever boasts about it, despite the fact that after Pearl Harbor he served America in battles and combat zones for the duration of WWII, in the Korean War, and in Vietnam.
 
Hemker is a widower whose wife died more than 20 years ago. He has three sons. All served in the Vietnam War. Hempker, still roguishly handsome and possessed of a sly sense of humor, charms the ladies in the Legion Auxiliary with country gallantry. 
 
He is universally admired by his comrade veterans in the American Legion. “I’m not able to do what I used to do, but I do what I can,” he says.
 
Reflecting on Pearl Harbor seventy-four years after surviving it, Hemker, who has lost his eyesight but not his vision for America, observes: 
 
“We Americans should never forget. If we forget our past and those who died, we won’t have a future. A free one, anyway. Look at what happened on 9-11. More people were killed on that day then were killed at Pearl Harbor. It can happen again,” he warns.
 
“I don’t think people remember Pearl Harbor and what it means, the way they used to do,” Hemker concludes. “That’s too bad. A lot of us can’t forget. An awful lot of really good people died to keep America free. They shouldn’t be forgotten.”
 
(Rees Lloyd, a longtime California Civil Rights attorney and veterans activist, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.)

Rees Lloyd: Veterans Day 2015

“The cost of war is in two parts: The cost of the battle itself, which is immediate; and the cost of care for those sent to fight the battle. Since most of those fighting the battle are young, that cost can continue for seventy years, or even longer. But when the country needs veterans, it gets veterans; when it feels it no longer needs veterans, it forgets veterans.”

 

This piece was written by veteran@ReesLloydLaw for VictoriaTaft.com 2014
These are the poignant words of former U.S. Marine Terry Tracy, himself a 100% disabled combat veteran (Vietnam) and one of the most knowledgeable Americans concerning Veterans Affairs as the now retired Service Officer of The American Legion Department of California for almost twenty years in which literally tens of thousands of veterans were aided in VA health and pension claims.

The truth of Terry Tracy’s words should be remembered not only on Veterans Day but every day if we Americans are to “keep the faith” with all those veterans who have served and sacrificed in defense of American freedom, including the almost 1.4-million veterans who have given their lives for our freedom from the Revolutionary War against Monarchial tyranny to the present war against Islamic terrorist tyranny.

But, even today, as Veterans Day is observed while Americans once more must stand and fight to defend freedom from tyranny, many Americans, not only ordinary citizens but many politicians, office holders and policy makers — not to mention the estimated 11-million or more aliens illegally living in America while still bearing allegiance to and flying the flag of the countries of their origin — either do not remember or have never learned of the truth of the costs of war as expressed by Marine Terry Tracy, or even the history of why there is a “National Veterans Day.”

That history of the Veterans Day Holiday should be known, including being taught to school children of the rising generation (instead of being taught by progressive liberal government school teachers and bureaucrats such farcical multi-cultural concocted non-holidays as “Kwanza” [not in fact an African tradition] or “Cinco de Mayo”[not in fact a Mexican tradition] ), if the service and sacrifice of American veterans in defense of freedom, and the true dual costs of war – the costs of the battle, followed by years-long continuing costs of care for those who fought the battle — are not to be forgotten.

Veterans Day observances traditionally commence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, the anniversary of the date and time of the signing of the Armistice ending combat in World War I on November 11, 1918.

It was World War I, “The War To End War,” “The War To Make The World Safe For Democracy,” which gave birth to what was originally Armistice Day, to honor WWI veterans. It was thought then that WWI was so terrible that there could not be another such war. Only twenty years later, the even more terrible World War II began in Europe in Euope. By Act of Congress, WWI Armistice Day is now Veterans Day, honoring all veterans of all the wars.

It has to be remembered that WWI was a most terrible war, the horrors of which are difficult to comprehend. The spark which set off WWI was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the crown in Austria, and his wife, on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a Serbian nationalist. But scholars debate to this date who and what actually caused the war to escalate as it did into a world war, and why, in fact, it was fought. Each side blamed the other. Whatever the answer, a complex web of entangling alliances and mutual defense treaties set off what would become the most horrendous war in the history of the world.

An estimated 10-million combatants were killed in that war; an estimated 22-million were wounded. It was a war in which almost 100,000 died from poison gas, use of which has since then been banned as a war crime. It was a war fought on the model of earlier “trench warfare” in which waves of soldiers charged across fields to combat the enemy in an opposing trench often in bayonet and hand-to-hand combat. The difference was that in WWI it was not soldiers with rifles and bayonets in the opposing trench; it was a trench armed with machine guns which did not exist in the earlier wars. Troops were slaughtered in those fields by the tens of thousands in single days of fighting in the new reality of WWI, while their generals drew battle plans based on outdated tactics of the last war.

For but one example, the battle of Verdun, regarded as the most momentous battle of WWI, began in mid-February, 1916, when the Germans launched an offensive. By mid-March, more than 90,000 French troops had been killed in that one month. The battle of Verdun went on for seven (7) months in which more than 700,000 troops died, a hundred thousand dead soldiers per month.

The United States did not enter the war until 1917. President Woodrow Wilson, a Princeton academic progressive liberal politician who believed the U.S. Constitution was outdated, ran for re-election in 1916 as the Democrat Party candidate in a campaign based on the slogan, “He Kept Us Out Of War.”

Wilson was sworn in on March 4, 1917. Only a month later, his deceitful campaign slogan no longer needed, Wilson called on Congress to declare war on Germany, which it did on April 6, 1917. The first of some 4-million Americans who would serve in that war began arriving in France in June, 1917.

There is no doubt that the Allies defeated the Central Powers – Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Muslim Ottoman Empire –because of the American sacrifice. Prior to the entrance of the U.S. into the war, Germany was victorious and advancing on three fronts. By 1915, Great Britain so feared defeat that it established a naval blockade in an attempt to literally starve Germany into surrender. In response to the starvation blockade, which is today generally regarded as a violation of international law by scholars, the Germans declared all the seas around Great Berlin and Ireland to be a “war zone” and all shipping subject to German submarine U-Boat attack. Wilson, after his re-election, cited the submarine threat to American shipping as the reason to declare war on Germany. The tide of war turned when the Americans arrived, and not before.

The first Americans to die were three soldiers who were killed in combat on Nov. 3, 1917. By the time the Armistice was signed a year later, on Nov. 11, 1918, some 117,000 Americans, almost 10,000 per month of combat, had given their lives in service.

The horror of WWI, side-by-side with the honor of those Americans and allied forces who served, fought, and died, is expressed most profoundly by the poem, “Flanders Fields, written by then-Major John McCrae, MD, a surgeon in the Canadian Army who was born in 1872 and would die in 1918, the year that terrible war ended.

IN FLANDERS FIELDS
By Lt. Col. John McCrae, Army of Canada, WWIflanders field poem

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scare heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be it yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

Although “Flanders Fields” was written by a grieving Dr. McCrae in the devastation of the battle of Yres in WWI, days after his best comrade had been killed, his words reach across the more than a century to bring home the reality of all the wars, and of the service and sacrifice of all those Americans who have served when our country has called, believing that the defense of freedom was why they were serving, and was worth dying for if necessary. It is a poem which calls on us not to “break faith” with those who gave their lives so that we might be free.

May God bless all of them, all the veterans who have served in defense of our freedom in all the wars, and may the country whose freedom they preserved honor them on Veterans Day and on every day. They kept the faith with us; and, as expressed in the haunting words of “Flanders Field,” we must not “break faith” with them.
[Rees Lloyd a veteran and longtime California civil rights attorney, now resides in Portland and is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.]

Rees Lloyd’s Liberty Milestone: Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial — Saved ‘As it is, Where it is”!

Great news: The Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial in La Jolla, CA, has been purchased — and hopefully thereby saved …

Charles LiMandri and author Rees Lloyd  Photo: Victoria Taft
Charles LiMandri and author Rees Lloyd
Photo: Victoria Taft
…  “as it is, where it is,” with Cross intact, for generations of Americans to come —  by the non-profit Mt. Soledad Memorial Association from the federal Department of Defense.
 
The Memorial Association announced on Monday, July 21, 2015, that its purchase of the Memorial for $1.4-million was finalized on July 17. This effectively transferred ownership of the memorial site honoring veterans from “public land” under federal ownership to “private land” of the Association, a non-governmental, non-profit, private organization. The Association has maintained the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial since its founding in 1954 in conjunction with  wartime veterans of American Legion La Jolla Post  275.
 
Originally established to honor Korean War Veterans, it was expanded to honor all veterans, especially those who gave their lives in defense of American freedom. The Memorial is on land originally owned by the City of San Diego, which was transferred to the federal DOD in 2006. It now has some 3,500 plaques on tiered walls beneath a 29-foot cross honoring all veterans atop Mt. Soledad. (See, www.soledadmemorial.com.)
Photo: Victoria Taft
Photo: Victoria Taft
Photo: Victoria Taft
Photo: Victoria Taft
 
The secular extremist American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been suing for some twenty-six (26) years now to destroy the Mt. Soledad Memorial on the basis that the Cross honoring veterans there has been on “public land” and, therefore, violates the Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment. However, it is now on “private land.” That has an enormous impact on the ACLU’s lawsuit, which is again  pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
 
The DOD was authorized to sell the Memorial to the  Association by the National Defense Act of 2015,  adopted by House and Senate and signed by President of Obama last December.
 
That legislation was the result of a bill initiated by Congressman Duncan Hunter, former U.S. Marine combat veteran who represents the District  and who has led the effort in Congress to save the memorial.
Photo: Politico
Photo: Politico
 
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the ACLU  in the similar case of Buono vs. Salazar, commonly known as the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross Case. There, the ACLU sued in 2002  to destroy a veterans memorial established by VFW members to honor WWI veterans in 1934. ACLU sued because it included a cross on a rock outcrop on federal land in the remote Mojave Desert Preserve. ACLU sued even though there was no complaint in some 70 years, and the Cross was twelve miles off the highway and a person had to drive to it to be offended by it. 
Photo: Cafe Press
Photo: Cafe Press
 
After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal ordered the the Mojave Cross had to be destroyed, Congress voted to exchange that one-acre site for five acres of private land donated by Henry and Wanda Sandoz, who had cared for the memorial for decades. Since the Cross was now on private land, the Supreme Court nullified the 9th Circuit decision that the Establishment Clause was violated and remanded the case. ACLU finally surrendered on remand in 2012, announcing in court it  would cease attempting to destroy the cross.
 
While there is no way to know to a certainty whether the ACLU will finally cease its quarter-century of litigation to destroy the Mt. Soledad Memorial now that it is on private land, the Association, and those public interest law firms who have been representing veterans against the ACLU’s lawsuits, have hailed implementation of Duncan Hunter’s land-transfer legislation as signaling that the memorial will at last remain “as it is, where it is” without further successful litigation molestation by the ACLU.
 
Bruce Bailey, President and CEO of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association board of trustees, said:
“I am honored to be leading our Association at this most significant time in our Memorial’s history. It marks for the first time where our membership can manage the Memorial’s affairs from a place of ownership and accountability for the property, which is a new and welcomed step for the Association.”
 
Reacting to the news of the transfer to the Association of the Mt. Soledad Memorial originally founded by the local American Legion La Jolla Post 275 more than a half-century ago,  American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm said he hoped it would end the litigation attacks of the ACLU:
 
“Frankly, it shouldn’t have been necessary for the government to sell the land to a private group in order to preserve a memorial that is deeply significant to so many people. The American Legion believes in ‘God and Country.’ Unfortunately, some courts don’t always see it that way. “
(For the full response of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, see http://www.legion.org/news/229284/legion-praises-mt-soledad-memorial-association-saving-cross#sthash.NJwI7zy1.dpuf
Liberty Institute, based in Texas, represents the Memorial Association against the ACLU in the present Mt. Soledad case pending in the 9th Circuit. LI issued a statement that “after a 25-year legal battle, the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial is finally saved…[it] ends a legal dispute regarding the constitutionality of the memorial on government land.”
Photo: Liberty Institute
Photo: Liberty Institute
 
Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute’s Deputy Chief Counsel, said:
“The Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross has stood since 1954 as a symbol of the selfless sacrifice of our nation’s veterans. Such a sacred memorial should receive our highest honor and protection. Today’s actions will ensure that the memorial will continue to stand in honor of our veterans for decades to come. This is a great victory for the veterans who originally placed this memorial and the Korean War veterans the memorial honors. We thank our lead counsel, Allyson Ho, and her team at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, who worked tirelessly to defend the memorial, leading to this ultimate victory.”
(For more information, www.LibertyInstitute.org.)
 
Charles S. LiMandri, President and Chief Counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), has actively participated in efforts to maintain the Memorial Cross “as it is, where it is” since 2004.  The FCDF, along with Attorney Peter Lepiscopo, represents Congressman Duncan Hunter. 
 
LiMandri, who has been credited with doing more than any other single person to save the Mt. Soledad Cross,  said of the Memorial’s transfer to the Association:
“We are delighted that the longest running religious liberty case is coming to a successful conclusion after 26 years.  Any future legal challenge to the transfer of the Memorial property from the federal government to the Memorial Association is likely to fail in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Salazar v. Buono, 559 U.S. 700 (2010), which approved trade of federal property to private ownership for the purpose of preserving the Mojave Memorial Cross. The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund extends its hearty congratulations to the Memorial Association and its counsel.”
(For more on FCDF, see www.ConscienceDefense.org.)
 
Joseph Infranco is Senior Counsel of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and co-founder, with me, of the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project of The American Legion Dept. of California and the Alliance Defending Freedom. 
 
Charles LiMandri and author Rees Lloyd  Photo: Victoria Taft
Charles LiMandri and author Rees Lloyd
Photo: Victoria Taft
He said of the transfer of Mt. Soledad to the Memorial Association:
“Monuments that honor the very people who have fought and died to protect our freedoms should be preserved in the best possible way. Though perhaps understandable, it’s unfortunate that Congress felt forced to take the safe route of a land transfer to protect this cherished memorial. Memorial crosses on government land honoring those who served and died are not an establishment of religion any more than the memorial crosses that grace Arlington National Cemetery. Nonetheless, all should take some comfort that the Mount Soledad Memorial will be  well cared for and free from the illegitimate attacks of those who have sought to uproot it.  We trust that this move will allow the memorial and its cross to be enjoyed and revered for generations to come.”
(For more on ADF, see www.adflegal.com)
 
Our Defense of Veterans Memorials Project was created, and first became involved in litigation combatting the ACLU in 2006 when a U.S. District Court ordered the City of San Diego to destroy the Mt. Soledad Cross within 90-days or it would impose a fine of $5,000 per day. We entered the litigation to support Attorney Chuck LiMandri who at the time was carrying the legal battle against ACLU almost alone. 
Mt Soledad Freedom Isnt Free
 
To the shock of most in the legal community, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay order preventing destruction of the Cross after the Ninth Circuit had denied a stay order pending appeal. 
 
The Memorial was saved at the time by passage of the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial Protection Act of 2006, which transferred Mt. Soledad from the City of San Diego to the federal DOD. This effectively nullified the U.S. District Court’s destruction order, since that case was tried under the California Constitution, not the U.S. Constitution. That Mt. Soledad Protection Act passed the House overwhelmingly, and the U.S. Senate without objection, including no objection by then Sen. Barack Obama. 
 
Then-President George W. Bush signed the Mt. Soledad Protection Act into law. Attorney Charles LiMandri, because of his singular and remarkable pro bono efforts to save the Cross was invited by President Bush to attend the signing ceremony.
 
Now, with the Mt. Soledad Memorial again facing destruction by the ACLU’s lawsuit, Rep. Duncan Hunter, a combat Marine, has led the effort in Congress to authorize a transfer of Mt. Soledad by sale into the private hands of the Memorial Association, as Congress did in the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross case (Buono vs.Salazar).
 
This may or may not deter the ACLU in its secular-cleansing, cross-destroying fanaticism, even to the point of attacking veterans memorials. If it does not, those who have fought to preserve Mt. Soledad will continue to fight, as long as it takes, to prevent the desecration of it or any veterans memorials by intolerant extremists epitomized by the ACLU, which, in my opinion, has become the Taliban of American liberal secularism.
Photo: Victoria Taft
Photo: Victoria Taft
 
As co-founder with Joe Infranco of the Defense of Veterans Memorials Project, I thank Joe Infranco and all at ADF; Hiram Sasser, Kelly Schackleford, and all at Liberty Institute; Chuck LiMandri and all at Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund; Attorney Pete Lepiscopo; Congressman Duncan Hunter; and all of who have fought so long and so hard to save Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial “as it is, where it is,” and as it was intended to be by the American veterans who founded it to honor their comrade veterans.
 
This thanks includes American Legionnaires in California who have continued to fight against the ACLU. They have, among other things, established plaques at Mt. Soledad honoring Maj. General Patrick H. Brady (USA, ret., Medal of Honor, Vietnam); Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton (USN, ret.; Navy Cross, POW for seven years/seven months in Vietnam); Legendary Legionnaires Leo Burke (USMC, WWII), and Robert J. “Uncle Bobby” Castillo (USN, WWII); and, on February 3, 2014, the Immortal Four Chaplains. (See, attached photo of California Legionnaires at Four Chaplains ceremonies beneath the Cross at Mt. Soledad, joined by former Navy Seal Larry Wilske (ret.), now Executive Secretary of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association.)
Photo: Free Republic
Photo: Free Republic

 

I thank them all for fighting as Patton taught—“Audacity, Audacity, Always Audacity;” and staying the course as Churchill taught:
“Never give up. Never, never, never give up.”
 
As veterans, and as patriots, we must not, we will not, allow desecration  of memorials honoring veterans, no matter how offensive those memorials may be to enemies of America, foreign or domestic.
 
(Rees Lloyd, a longtime California civil rights attorney and veterans activist, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce)

Rees Lloyd On Memorial Day 2015: Can We Live In Freedom, If We Don’t Die For It?

Memorial Day is a day to remember what should be remembered every day–the more than 1.3-million American veterans who gave their lives in war so that they, and we, their posterity, might live as free Americans.

 

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The questions are raised: Should remembrance of the price of freedom be limited to one Memorial Day a year? And, can we Americans live in freedom if we are no longer willing to die for it?

Each of us owes a debt  to all those Americans who came before us and sacrificed their lives for freedom. We pay that debt by what we do to preserve freedom for all those Americans who will come after us.

While many Americans, unfortunately, do not even know what Memorial Day represents, many millions of others do. Among them, of course, are veterans. All across America, veterans of The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans,and other veterans, gather at their Posts, or at National or State Veterans Cemeteries, or at community events, to remember the high price of freedom, paid by those veterans who purchased and preserved our freedom with their lives.

For example, one of those American Legion Posts is Riverside Post 79, in Riverside, CA, of which I am partisan as a Life Member. It was founded in 1921 by WWI veterans, only  two years after the founding of The American Legion in 1919 by WWI GI’s in Paris, France, awaiting repatriation home after winning WWI. (For this long and proud history, see www.Legion.org; or www.CaLegion.org.)

Post 79 members conducted Memorial Day Ceremonies at Evergreen Cemetery  at 9 a.m., after earlier affixing flags to the headstones of veterans there. Honors ceremonies were conducted also at noon outside Post 79, immediately across from the WWI Pershing Tank which is located at the edge of the lake at Fairmount Park, daily reminding Post members of the sacrifices made in WWI. 

The ceremonies were led by Commander Deno Blankenship (Army, Vietnam), assisted by acting Chaplain Marcos Enriquez (USAF, Desert Storm-Iraq -and Afghanistan).They each followed in the footsteps of past Post 79 Commanders and officers in what is now a ninety-five year Legion Post 79 tradition of remembering and honoring fallen comrades in Memorial Day ceremonies. 

The solemn ceremonies of morning and noon, with the Flag first lowered to half-staff then raised again, were followed by a “Family Day” at the Post. Hamburgers, hotdogs, beverages, and “Pot Luck,”  were provided to Legion families. The afternoon was one of camaraderie of families of those who have served, amidst the joyous laughter on Memorial Day of their children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren  — who, in their turn, may one day be called to serve to preserve the nation’s freedom.

The earlier honors ceremonies included tribute rifle volleys and the playing of Taps by the Robert J. “Uncle Bobby” Castillo Honor Detail, Team 12, named for its late founder, a D-Day WWII Purple Heart survivor, Past Post 79 Commander, and  a beloved legendary California American Legionnaire. The Post 79 Honor Detail, too, crosses generational lines. Its  current members range from veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Post 79’s MHD Team 12 is one of some 29 Memorial Honor Details of volunteer veterans who provide dignified military services for fallen comrades at Riverside National Cemetery. Team 12 members perform military services at usually from six to ten funerals at RNC on the first and third Tuesday of each month, and the fifthTuesday when there is one. The Team also provides Honor Details on call at community events, schools, universities, government installations, funerals for veterans at cemeteries other than RNC. 

Post 79’s military honors ceremonies at Evergreen Cemetery were carried out in front of the rough-cut stone Cross at Evergreen Cemetery which was established in 1924 by Auxiliary Unit 79 of the Riverside Post to honor WWI veterans who gave their lives. The current Auxiliary Unit 79 President Judy Benzala, following the tradition of Auxiliary Presidents for some nine decades, placed a wreath at the foot of the Cross to  honor  all veterans who have given their lives in all of the wars in defense of American freedom. 

Fortunately, that tradition continues, as, to date, that Cross established by the patriotic women of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 79 of the WWI generation to honor Americans who died in that and all wars, has not yet been targeted for destruction by litigation by the intolerant secular extremists of the ACLU, which has become the Taliban of American liberal secularism. 

In contrast to the respectful honors ceremonies by veterans and other patriots on Memorial Day and every day, the ACLU sued for ten years to destroy the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross until finally forced to surrender in 2012, and is now in its 46th year of litigation to destroy the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Cross which honors the service of all veterans there, as a universally recognized symbol of selfless giving of one’s life for others. (For more information on the ACLU’s anti-Cross jihadism, see www.Legion.org, www.CaLegion.org,) 

The Post 79 honors ceremonies cited here are but one example of veterans-honoring-veterans — in ways, words, and symbols veterans choose, exercising their “right to choose” — in ceremonies large and small on Memorial Day, in the some 14,000 American Legion Posts, VFW, DAV, other veterans service organizations Posts, as well as in community observances throughout the nation.

That is good. But the question is raised:  Should those who have given their lives for our freedom be remembered only on Memorial Day?

The California Legislature last year adopted a statute  based on the “21-Second Rembrance Resolution written by former Marine and Riverside Post 79 Sgt.-At-Arms Ray Trosper,  and adopted by the 2014 California Legion Convention. The statute, like the Legion Resolution, calls on California citizens not to honor veterans only on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, but by observing 21-seconds of silent remembrance on the 21st day of every month, in emulation of the honor of the traditional 21-gun salute, or the 21-steps of the honor detail members guarding the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.

USMC Veteran and Legionnaire Ray Trosper who authored the Legion 21-Second Remembrance Resolution which is now codified in California statutes, states the matter concisely: “Those Americans who died in service gave their lives for us. We should be willing to at least remember them for 21-second moments of silence, one time a month, on the 21st day of each month. ” (For more information on the “21-Second Remembrance,”  see www.21SecondsNow.com.)

Times change, but fundamental truths do not. One of those truths is that freedom is not free, and those unwilling to fight and die for freedom will soon no longer be able to live free. As former President Ronald Reagan, who volunteered for service in WWII, said, liberty has to be defended by every generation if it is to be preserved.

Memorial-Day-Date-2015-Whens-History-First-Facts-Origin-Meaning

More than 1.3-million Americans have died in war that we might be free. (See, data attached below on all those who have given their lives in war through the generations, from the Revolutionary War to the War Against Islamic Terrorism today.)

Also, on this 100th year anniversary of its writing by Canadian Major John McCrae, a physician in military service in the battle of Ypres in WWI, we do well to remember the words of the  immortal war poem, “In Flanders Fields.” It is as moving, meaningful,  and applicable to the wars and veterans of this day, as it was when written in May, 1915, in WWI. (“Flanders Fields” is attached below in full.)

The challenge we Americans and American freedom face today is from Islamic jihadist fanaticism — which openly seeks the death of freedom, and proclaims that Islamic jihadism will defeat and conquer America, destroy the Contstiution, and impose Sharia Law on Americans “because you [Americans] believe in life, and we [Islamic jihadists] believe in death.” I

In short, they exude confidence that they will defeat us and destroy freedom because they are willing, even eager to die, defending their cause in “holy war” (sic),  no matter how misbegotten, and we, they believe, are no longer willing to die for freedom.

There can be no doubt that Muslim jihadist terrorism is as great a threat, if not greater, than was the threat to freedom of the totalitarian National Socialism (Fascism) of Adolph Hiter in WWII or the totalitarian International Communism of Lenin-Stalin-Mao-Ho Chi Minh-or Pol Pot in the Vietnam-era, which like Muslim jihadism sought world domination—the actual end of freedom, while proclaiming to provide “social justice” and “equality.”

Thus, another question raised by Memorial Day 2015 remembrance of those who gave their lives for our freedom is simply this: Can American freedom long survive if we, the heirs to the freedom preserved for us by those American veterans who came before us and gave their lives defending freedom, are no longer willing to fight — and to die, if necessary — to preserve freedom for those Americans who will come after us? 

Will those American children at play on Memorial Day Holiday 2015, and their children, live in freedom tomorrow, if we are not willing to not pay the price for their freedom as did our American patriot ancestors to preserve our freedom?   

May the sacrifice of each American who gave his or her life in defense of American freedom always be remembered, honored, and willingly emulated if the freedom for which they died is to endure.

 

FREEDOM IS NOT FREE   —   REMEMBER  THE  AMERICANS 

WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN WAR THAT WE MIGHT BE FREE:

American Wars: Killed In Action

Revolutionary War………………………….  25,324

War of 1812…………………………………      2,260

Mexican War………………………………..  13,283

Civil War……………………………………. 650,000

Spanish American War…………………….    7,166

World War I………………………………… 116,708

World War II…………………………………408,206

Korean War…………………………………   54,246

Vietnam War………………………………..   58,223

Persian Gul War……………………………        363

Afghanistan…………………………………     2,215

Iraq…………………………………………..      4,212

     TOTAL KIA:             1,342,206

     TOTAL MISSING IN ACTION:    83,126

flanders field

In Flanders Fields

by Major John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

[For the full story on Flanders Fields and the Poppy tradition,

see: http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm]

FOR GOD AND COUNTRY FOREVER; SURRENDER TO TYRANNY–NEVER! 

(Rees Lloyd is a longtime California civil rights lawyer, veterans activist, and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.) 

Liberty Milestones: George Washington’s Birthday, February 22, 1732


Rees Lloyd—Liberty Milestones: George Washington’s Birthday, Feb. 22, 1732

George-Washington-001

 

February 22, 2015 — Anniversary of the birth in 1732 of George Washington, the Greatest American, the Father Of Our Country, the First President of a free America because he was, as Revolutionary War hero Gen. “Light Horse” Harry Lee memorably said, “First in war. First in peace. First in the hearts of his countrymen.”

Can that be said today, when Washington’s Birthday is no longer a National Holiday, and the nation’s children learn more in progressive liberal, politically correct, cultural relativist government schools about “the life of Mohammad” than the life of George Washington, and celebrate such farcical concocted “holidays” as “Kwanzaa” and “Cinco de Mayo” while George Washington’s Birthday Holiday is no more?

George Washington, first, last, and always a soldier serving God and Country, was heralded in his time as the “Apostle of Liberty,” the “Indispensable Man,” having with his ragtag band of American citizen-soldiers of the Revolutionary Army defeated the most powerful military nation in the world in eight years of war to establish our American independence, our freedom.

He did not seek the Presidency–it sought him. He was elected unanimously –twice. He was offered the Presidency for life. But he stunned the world when he refused a third term and even monarchial rule, and, instead walked away from power to return to his home as citizen. He was, is, our American “Cincinatus,” who, like the Fifth Century (BC), Roman general, fought the battles of the nation, held unequaled power, but did not covet it, and instead returned to his farm. So was Washington satisfied to be a citizen of a free America, rather than its ruler.

When Washington did that, walked away from ultimate power, even England’s King George III, whom Washington had defeated, hailed Washington “as the greatest man of his era.”

John Adams, his successor as President, said of him: “If we look over the catalogue of the first magistrates of nations, whether they have been denominated Presidents or Consuls, Kings or Princes, where shall we find one whose commanding talents and virtues, whose overruling good fortune, have so completely united all hearts and voices in his favor?…His example is complete; and it will teach wisdom and virtue to Magistrates, Citizens, and Men, not only in the present age, but in future generations.”

Thomas Jefferson, father of the Declaration of Independence and our third president, said of Washington that he was:”The only man in the United States who possessed the confidence of all. There was no other one who was considered as anything more than a party leader….And it may be truly said that never did nature and fortune combine more perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance.”

Even the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who admitted his love of power and yielded to no man a claim of greater glory than he himself possessed, spoke of his admiration of Washington: “This great man fought against tyranny: he established the liberty of his country. His memory will always be dear to the French people, as it will be to all freemen.”

Are those words still true to this generation of Americans? Those words of Adams, Jefferson, Gen. Harry Lee, the English King George III and the French Emperor Napoleon, all speaking with awe at the example of Washington’s life as one which would be taught “not only in the present age, but in future generations,” as John Adams said, and his memory “held dear..to all freemen” as Napoleon said? Is Washington still “First in war. First in peace. First in the hearts of his countrymen,” as Gen. “Light Horse” Harry Lee said of him?

If not, why not? Are we Americans better for it, as a people, a nation, when we honor no longer the one American who was so universally acknowledged in his time — and up to this generation of transformed Americans — as the Greatest American, the Father Of Our Country? He who defeated tyranny, held ultimate power by acclamation and then walked away from it to preserve the freedom he had created as a soldier? He who lived his life for God and Country?

Are the children of a nation, like the children of a family, really better off, better people, by forgetting their father, being without their father, forgetting the virtues their father taught, being orphaned?

We Americans today, whatever our ages, whatever our ancestry, ethnicity, or race, as Americans, are the children of the American Founding Fathers, including in the particular, George Washington, whom the Founding Fathers proclaimed the greatest among them, the Father Of Our Country.

May both the God that George Washington so faithfully served bless and keep him; may the Country he so loyally served always remember and honor him; and may the lessons of his life be learned in this and every generation so that the freedom he fought for and created may not wither and weaken, to be destroyed by enemies foreign, or domestic.

FOR GOD AND COUNTRY FOREVER; SURRENDER TO TYRANNY–NEVER!
(Rees Lloyd is a longtime California civil rights lawyer, veterans activist, and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.)

Rees Lloyd: February 3rd is Four Chaplains Day. Will America Remember?

This is the yearly reminder from Blogforce member Rees Lloyd

four chaplains

February 3 every year is ““Four Chaplains Day” in America by the unanimous resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1988, although millions of Americans are unaware of that fact, or unaware entirely of the “Four Immortal Chaplains,” whose extraordinary courage, self-sacrifice, and heroism, and should resonate, and be honored, through generations of Americans.
Will they be remembered on Four Chaplains Day 2009? Will the media report their inspiring story? Will teachers charged with educating our young allow them to learn of these great, humble, American heroes, men of faith who gave their lives so others might live?

On February 3, 1943, during World War II, the U.S.S. Dorchester, a converted luxury cruise ship, was transporting Army troops to Greenland  On board were some 900 troops, and four chaplains, of different faiths, but common dedication.
The four Chaplains are:Rev. George Fox (Methodist); Father John Washington (Roman Catholic); Jewish Rabbi Alexander Goode; and Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed).
At approximately 12:55 a.m., in the dead of a freezing night, the Dorchester was hit by a torpedo fired by German U-boat 233 in an area so infested with German submarines it was known as “Torpedo Junction.”
The blast ripped a hole in the ship from below the waterline to the top deck.
Many troops were scalded to death below decks; others leaped into the freezing waters to save themselves. More than two-thirds of the troops died; many who survived, had lifelong disabilities from their time in the freezing waters.
In the chaos, the Four Chaplains worked together to aid the troops, and then made the ultimate sacrifice. As one survivor testified: “I saw all four chaplains take off their life belts and give them to soldiers who had none.”
Another soldier testified: “The ship started sinking…I looked back and saw the chaplains with their hands clasped, praying for the boys. They never made any attempt to save themselves, but they did try to save the others. I think their names should be on the list of ‘The Greatest Heroes’ of this war.”
The Four Chaplains went to their deaths together, their arms linked, praying together, singing hymns together, giving their lives for God, country, and the troops they served, setting an example of heroism and self-sacrifices for the ages.
On February 7, 1954, as author William J. Federer records in his book, “America’s God And Country; Encyclopedia of Quotations” (and see his www.AmericanMinute.com), President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had been Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, remarked: 

“And we remember that, only a decade ago, aboard the transport Dorchester, four chaplains of four faiths together willingly sacrificed their lives so that four others might live. In the three centuries that separate the Pilgrims of the Mayflower from the chaplains of the Dorchester, America’s freedom, her courage, her strength, and her progress have had their foundation in faith. Today as then, there is need for positive acts of renewed recognition that faith is our surest strength, our greatest resource.”

May we Americans remember and honor these American heroes, and their exemplary sacrifice, on this and every February 3, “Four Chaplains Day.”
Rees Lloyd is a civil rights attorney, Veterans activist, American Legionnaire and a member of the VictoriaTaft.com Blogforce.

NYC Garner Case: Why No Focus On Black Supervisor Overseeing Arrest?

Rees Lloyd’s Caustic Commentaries: Where did “Equality” go?

Black sergeant

Why is there so little attention given in the Garner case in New York by the media, and in remarks by government officials from Obama on down, all of whom are otherwise so exercised about racial inequality,  about the fact that the supervising sergeant at the Garner take-down was a black female, a key fact which is  rarely even mentioned let alone focused upon despite its essentiality?

 Why this apparent “unequal”  treatment, compared with how the supervising officer, Sgt. Stacy Keen, was treated in the infamous  Rodney King case in Los Angeles?

That is, I remember being interviewed years ago during the Rodney King case and riots in Los Angeles by the late broadcast legend  George Putnam on his Original Talkback Show in L.A. (now hosted by his longtime producer and sidekick, Chuck Wilder). I was interviewed as a civil rights attorney  about the vilification of Sgt. Stacy Keen by the media, and demands by liberals, race hustlers, and rioters for Keen to be criminally prosecuted, all apparently happy to toss away his and other cops’ presumption of innocence in the name, hypocritically, of “equality.”

The contrast between the treatment of Sgt. Stacy Keen, white male supervising officer at the scene in the Rodney King case,  and Sgt. Kizzy Adoni, the black female supervising officer at the scene in the Garner case, is as manifestly unequal as, for instance,  “black and white.”

Sgt. Stacy Keen was vilified although he never punched, kicked, or clubbed King. Keen in fact  used a  “taser” on the  out-of-control King rather than beat him down or shoot him. 

However, the taser had no effect on King, which is some indication of what the cops were dealing with when trying to arrest out-of-control convicted felon Rodney King. So Sgt. Keen tried a second taser before resorting to batons and “swarming” the huge Rodney King as officers are trained to do.

Again, the second taser didn’t stop King, who was desperate not to be arrested because of his criminal record, which might mean a return to prison. It was only after that failure of the second taser to stop King that  Keen instructed  subordinates to  swarm King and use their batons to control King. 

The famous video showing batons being used on Rodney King were edited by the media to show the beating, but not the preceding conduct of King that necessitated the use of those batons. Television news edited the tape to eliminate King’s conduct; Spike Lee did the same, beginning his movie on Black Muslim Malcolm X with the video–stripped of King’s acts prior to use of the batons. 

The world was informed by the media through the video that out-of-control white cops were furiously beating with clubs a black man concerning a traffic offense. 

Rodney King was thereafter sanctified as innocent black victim of white racism. Sgt. Stacy Keen was simultaneously vilified in the media as a white racist cop, including for tasering King, although the same media, black hustlers, white revolutionists, and self-righteous rioters today wail that Garner should have been tasered rather than taken down physically.

Sgt. Keen, despite trying to control King by taser, twice, was criminally prosecuted, as were his subordinates. In fact, Keen was held out as the most guilty because he was the senior officer at the scene.

However, the jury — which considered all of the evidence, including all of the video showing not just King being beaten with batons but the actual beginning of the video showing the out-of-control actions of King which brought on the use of batons — acquitted all the officers of criminal charges, including Sgt. Keen.

That brought on the Rodney King riots.  Fifty-three people would be killed in the Rodney King Riots by rioters, mostly blacks and Hispanics, aided and abetted by white  self-declared “revolutionists.” Those people died in vain. To the best of my knowledge, there was not a single prosecution, let alone conviction,  for murder, in any degree. The apparent reason for non-prosecution was not to disturb a black community so easily moved to riot to get its way, and not to be subject to equal application of the rule of law, while demanding equal application.

Meanwhile,  Rodney King was elevated  from his well-earned status as a lowlife black habitual criminal, wife and woman beater, later arrested aficianado of  alley-love with transvestite male prostitutes,  into a sainted icon of innocent black victimization by white racist cops. This same elevation to iconic black “victim” status — in complete defiance of all facts and evidence to the contrary —  has been similarly accorded in the contemporary “post-racial” (sic)  presidency of Barack Obama first to Trayvon Martin; then to Brown in Ferguson;  and now to Garner in New York. 

After Sgt. Keen’s acquittal in the criminal prosecution, the federal government in the Rodney King case, desperate to avoid even more rioting,  then brought  the second prosecution of Sgt. Keen and the other white officers in federal court for violations of Rodney King’s “civil rights.” That jury found Keen and all but one of the others guilty, and King was awarded some $3-million dollars, proving crime does pay.

The career of Sgt. Keen, branded an evil white racist, was, like that of officer Wilson in Ferguson in the Brown Case,  ruined–despite Keen’s  outstanding record as law enforcement officer.

There is a little publicly known fact about Sgt. Stacy Keen that should convince even the most diehard black race hustler, e.g., Sharpton, Jackson, Farrakhan, or self-righteous white progressive liberal, e.g., Obama, DeBlassio, Pelosi, or “revolutionists,” that Stacy Keen was no racist. I was interviewed by George Putnam about that fact years ago during the Rodney King case–but the other media somehow did not find it important to print or broadcast.

That fact is this: There was in the Ramparts Division, one of the worst in L.A., a frequently arrested, lowlife black career petty criminal who was known to be infected with AIDs, which didn’t stop him from engaging in various criminal acts but was wasting him away on the way to killing him. One day, as he was brought in on yet another arrest, he fell to the floor writhing in convulsions. One cop, who knew  well he was infected with AIDS, rushed over to him, and saved his life by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. That white cop was Stacy Keen.

Now, consider: Would a “white racist” really act immediately to render mouth-to-mouth resuscitation knowing the the recipient was Aids-ridden criminal on a death track from Aids? That was what Sgt. Stacy Keen, alleged “racist white cop,” did to save a black criminal dying of Aids. Not to put too fine a point on it–would you?

Not withstanding that evidence that Keen was definitely not a racist,  Keen was the supervising officer at the scene in the Rodney King case, and, must therefore be branded as a white racist cop.  Although Rodney King was not killed, and had no permanent injuries from being batoned, Sgt. Keen  was vilified in the media as a racist white cop doing harm to a black victim, Rodney King, out of racist animus.Sgt. Keen, therefore, had to be  criminally prosecuted, and, when the liberal California government couldn’t convict him on criminal charges, the feds had  prosecute him a second time in federal court for violating Rodney King’s civil rights because King is “black.” The “black community” would stand for no less, equal application of the law notwithstanding.

Now, comes another Rodney King-type case, the Garner case in NY. The NY York police are branded as white racist cops just as in the Rodney King case. Now, however, the supervising officer in the Garner case in New York is a black female sergeant. 

Now what? Well, what is happening is that the role of the supervising officer is not treated as it was in the case of Sgt. Stacy Keen in the Rodney King case. Instead, the black female supervising officer is hardly even mentioned as playing a role in the Garner case. Is this “equality” as defined in practice by progressive liberal media and government? 

Although Sgt. Kizzy Adoni didn’t try to taser Garner when he resisted arrest, and although she never ordered the officers at any time to stop doing what they were doing, and although there are riots, and although the “post-racial” (sic) First Black President has gravely intoned what we, meaning America, must act to deal with the problem of unequal treatment of blacks who are being killed by  racist white cops, which Obama informs has been going on for generations, no one is accusing the black female Sgt. Kizzy Adoni of being at fault in the Garner case; no one is holding her responsible, vilifying her, calling for her termination, or prosecution. Indeed, she is hardly mentioned at all in media reports, or in the spouting of government or other officers, television talking heads or print media pundits.

Why not? If it is all about treating blacks equally with whites, then why is there hardly a mention in the media that thesupervising officer in the Garner case, equal to Sgt. Stacy Keen in the Rodney King Case, is a black female, Sgt. Kizzy Adoni? Is she to be held to a lesser standard? Is holding blacks to a lesser stand not racism? 

I am not at all suggesting that black female Sgt. Kizzy Adoni  in the Garner case should be treated equally with the way that white male Sgt. Stacy Keen was treated in the Rodney King case–because what happened to Sgt. Stacy Keen was a manifest injustice that should not be inflicted on anyone, white or black.

I am suggesting, however, that  it should be explained by the media, Obama, DiBlassio and other spouters of platitudes of equality, why so little attention is being paid to the fact that it was a black female sergeant who was supervising the officers who took Garner down, and who did nothing to order otherwise. 

It is, however, indisputable that if  black female supervising Sgt. Kizzy Adoni is not guilty of “racism” in what happened to Garner, then no officer is. Perhaps that  is an “inconvenient truth,” so to speak, that the media and the government under the progressive liberal racialist rule of Obama nationally and DiBlassio in NY would rather the public not know about.

Indeed. The media, and Obama as President, Holder as Attorney General, DiBlassio as Mayor of New York, and all those self-righteous rioters, race-hustlers, and self-defined white “revolutionists” are once again proving they have no real interest in “equal treatment,” or “justice,”  or “an honest dialogue about race,” and that what they are doing is once more providing clear and convincing evidence of their hypocrisy,  lack of integrity, and unfitness to govern.

(Rees Lloyd is a longtime California civil rights attorney, a veterans activist, and a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.)

 

Rees Lloyd: ‘The Great Man’, In Honor of Pearl Harbor Day

Where Did Victoria Taft Go?

I’ve been writing day after day after day at Independent Journal Review which leaves less time for my own site, but I’ll cross post with IJR and continue to write longer length pieces and  continue to include posts by Bruce McCain, Rees Lloyd, Bernie Giusto, Scott  St. Clair and Pete the Banker over here and continue my site specific items.

 

Presidential Amnesty, Work Permits in Cross Hairs of American Legion

Today the American Legion issued a statement on the President’s planned amnesty. Read it. Bet you’ll agree. H/T Rees Lloyd\

Ah, it’s good to be King. 

 
“The head of the nation’s largest veterans service organization today questioned the wisdom of the White House putting politics above national security if it carries through with its plan to give amnesty to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants through an executive order.
“At a time when ISIS, al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations are killing innocent Americans, it makes no sense to let our guard down and send a message that the United States is an open, soft target,” American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm said. “A message was sent during the recent elections, and it clearly wasn’t that Americans want amnesty. The American Legion urges the president in the strongest possible terms to put our security, and our citizens’ interests and wishes, ahead of providing amnesty for millions of immigrants here illegally.”
Helm – who is on a Far East tour that includes Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines – was just as adamant in stating that The American Legion fully supports legal immigration.  “The United States has benefited enormously from citizens who have obeyed the law in the journey to becoming Americans,” he said. “There have been many prominent Legionnaires who legally migrated from other countries, including one of my recent predecessors, Fang Wong. I just visited with a new American citizen who is the wife of an American government official working in Laos. Her first husband was killed by communists in a re-education camp. She is one of the most patriotic Americans that I have met. My sister-in-law is a U.S. citizen from Panama.
 
“These patriotic Americans help make our country great. One common characteristic is that they have earned their citizenship the legal way. In fact, we have reached out to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to offer our help in bringing immigrants to full citizenship. Rewarding illegal immigration is a slap in the face to those who have obeyed the law and patiently went through the process.”

Rees Lloyd: Veterans Day 2014—KeepingThe Faith With America’s Veterans

Veterans Day 2014

“The cost of war is in two parts: The cost of the battle itself, which is immediate; and the cost of care for those sent to fight the battle. Since most of those fighting the battle are young, that cost can continue for seventy years, or even longer. But when the country needs veterans, it gets veterans; when it feels it no longer needs veterans, it forgets veterans.”

 

Continue reading Rees Lloyd: Veterans Day 2014—KeepingThe Faith With America’s Veterans

Rees Lloyd on Veterans Day: Why Everyone–Not Just Veterans–Should Remember Flanders Field

This piece on Veterans Day by Rees Lloyd first appeared at VictoriaTaft.com on 11/11/11

On Veterans Day, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, on the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice ending combat in World War I on November 11, 1918, we Americans, or many of us, remember and honor all those Americans to whom we owe our freedom –- American veterans, those who have served when our country called, the one percent who have kept the ninety-nine percent free. 

flanders field poem

Veterans, that less than one percent whose service has secured and secures today the freedom that the more than ninety-nine percent enjoy, are more often forgotten than remembered, more often ignored, secretly regarded as not quite smart enough to avoid military service, or openly vilified, rather than honored. 

That is evidenced dramatically in these times when media and government devote enormous time and attention indulgently providing tender loving care to a tiny and self-righteous motley crew of “occupiers” who have never served to defend the nation but narcissistically set themselves up as representing “the 99%.” That ungrateful gaggle, whose acts and antics preoccupy media and government as wondrous to behold, exploit the freedom that veterans have preserved for them by demanding, in an arrogant attitude of ingratitude, special “rights” not accorded to other Americans, and demanding national resources be devoted to such of their priorities as “forgiveness of [their] student loans.” Right. This while thousands risk their lives and limbs defending America in war zones, and tens of thousands of other veterans are in need of full funding for the medical care they need and were promised in serving the nation, not parasitically feeding off it. 

The media will perforce acknowledge the nation’s veterans on Veterans Day, before returning to indulgently if not breathlessly reporting on those so much like themselves, the “occupiers.” That is, like the “occupiers,” not even “1%” of today’s media darlings have served a day in defense of the nation, and admit in confidential polls that they are in fact liberal “progressives” who voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, one of only two American presidents of the modern era who did not deign to serve. The other is, of course William Clinton, Vietnam-era draft dodger who evidenced his regard for veterans as President by discussing military matters with a Congressman by phone while being fellated in the White House by a 21-year-old intern, Monica Lewinsky. Liberal Progressive Noblesse oblige. 

Notwithstanding, many of the “1%” and the “99%” who the “occupiers” do not in fact represent, will pause at 11-11-11 to honor and remember America’s veterans, all who have served, including specially the more than 1,350,000 Americans who have sacrificed their lives for American freedom in all the wars. 
World War I, which gave birth to Armistice Day, now Veterans Day, was a most terrible war the horrors of which are difficult to comprehend. The spark which set off WWI was the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the crown in Austria, and his wife, on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, by a Serbian nationalist. But scholars debate to this date who and what actually caused the war to escalate as it did into a world war, and why, in fact, it was fought. Each side blamed the other. Whatever the answer, a complex web of entangling alliances and mutual defense treaties set off what would become the most horrendous war in the history of the world. 

An estimated 10-million combatants were killed in that war; an estimated 22-million were wounded. It was a war in which almost 100,000 died from poison gas, use of which has since then been banned as a war crime. It was a war fought on the model of earlier “trench warfare” in which waves of soldiers charged across fields to the enemy in an opposing trench. The difference was that in WWI it was not soldiers with rifles and bayonets in the opposing trench who ran out to fight them, it was a trench armed with machine guns which did no exist in the earlier wars. Troops were slaughtered in those fields by the tens of thousands in single days fighting that WWI, while their generals fought the last war. 

For but one example, the battle of Verdun, regarded as the most momentous battle of WWI, began in mid-February, 1916, when the Germans launched an offensive. By mid-March, more than 90,000 French troops had been killed in that one month. The battle of Verdun went on for seven (7) months in which more than 700,000 troops died, a hundred thousand dead soldiers per month. 
The United States did not enter the war until 1917. President Woodrow Wilson ran for re-election in 1916 as the Democrat Party candidate in a campaign based on the slogan, “He Kept Us Out Of War.” He was sworn in on March 4, 1917. A month later, Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany, which it did on April 6, 1917. The first of some 4-million Americans who would serve in that war began arriving in France in June, 1917. 

There is no doubt that the Allies defeated the Central Powers – Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Muslim Ottoman Empire –because of the American sacrifice. Prior to the entrance of the U.S. into the war, Germany was victorious and advancing on three fronts. By 1915, Great Britain so feared defeat that it established a naval blockade in an attempt to literally starve Germany into surrender. In response to the starvation blockade, which is today generally regarded as a violation of international law by scholars, the Germans declared all the seas around Great Berlin and Ireland to be a “war zone” and shipping subject its submarine U-Boat attack. Wilson, after his re-election, cited the submarine threat to American shipping as the reason to declare war on Germany. The tide of war turned when the Americans arrived, and not before

 The first Americans to die were three soldiers who were killed in combat on Nov. 3, 1917. By the time the Armistice was signed a year later, on Nov. 11, 1918, some 117,000 Americans, almost 10,000 per month of combat, had given their lives in service. 
The horror of WWI, side-by-side with the honor of those Americans who served, fought, and died believing, rightly or wrongly, that it was a war “To Make The World Safe For Democracy,” is expressed most profoundly by a poem, “Flanders Fields, written by then-Major John McCrae, MD, a surgeon in the Canadian Army who was born in 1872 and would die in 1918, the year that terrible war ended. 

Although “Flanders Fields” was written by a grieving Dr. McCrae in the devastation of the battle of Yres in WWI, days after his best comrade had been killed, his words reach across the more than a century to bring home the reality of all the wars, and of the service and sacrifice of all those Americans who have served when our country has called, believing that the defense of freedom was why they were serving, and was worth dying for if necessary. They kept the faith for us; we must keep the faith with them. 
May God bless all of them, and may their country honor them, on Veterans Day, and on every day. 

[Rees Lloyd a veteran and longtime California civil rights attorney, now resides in Portland and is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.] 

Rees Lloyd: Send Vets to Congress–It Makes a Difference

The first of Rees Lloyd’s Caustic Commentaries

Wonder why America has been transformed from world leader to its present degraded state in the progressive liberal Era of Obama? Military. com reports: 

“Veterans In Congress Could Fall To The Lowest Level Since Word War II.” 

Photo: Aletia
Photo: Aletia

Veterans and other patriotic Americans are witnessing the devolutionary “transformation” of America sought by a progressive liberal President and Commander-in-Chief, Barack Hussein Obama, His Great Incompetence,  who never served a day in military service and who, confronted with war by Muslim terrorists and tyrants, has been “leading with his behind” from one feckless policy 

It is a “transformative” decline wrought by Obama in a period in which  patriotic veterans who were once numerous in House and Senate have been replaced by elitist non-veteram progressive liberals who consider themselves “citizens of the world,” as does Obama, himself. While paying rhetorical  “lip service” to “our veterans,” these elitist progressive liberals sneer privately and sometimes even publicly at  veterans and other American patriots — “clinging to their guns and religion,” as Obama infamously put it — and, indeed, smugly sneer at the very ideas of “patriotism” and of American exceptionalism in the 21st Century.

As the progressive liberal policies of Obama have been negatively transforming America, only 106 veterans are presently serving in the 535-member Congress. Now, Military. com points out that “[t]he number of veterans serving in Congress could fall to the lowest level since World War II depending on the results of [the Nov. 4] election.” 

The decrease in the number of veterans in Congress has been dramatic since the 1970’s. “During that time,” Military.com reports,”Congress was made up of many members who had served in any of three wars — World War II, Korea and Vietnam. There were 80 veterans in the [100-member] Senate from 1973 to 1975, and 347 in the [435-member] House from 1977 to 1978. The highest number of veterans recorded was during the 95th Congress in 1977-1978 during which 77 percent of the members had served in the military, according to the Pew Research Center.”

“Today, there are 18 veterans in the Senate and 88 veterans in the House of Representatives,” Military.com reports, “and there are fewer than 200 veteran candidates for Congress in the upcoming election.”

“What difference does it make,” if veterans and not progressive liberals are serving in Congress?” as might be asked by self-declared progressive liberal Hillary Clinton who seeks to follow Obama as President and Commander-in-Chief in 2016.

Military.com notes: “The declining number [of veterans in Congress] is significant as fierce debates in Congress continue over the size of the military, the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), mitigating sexual assault, and reducing military suicide rates.”

And what about the VA and its scandalous failure to properly provide to veterans the benefits veterans haveearned? Can any veteran, or any honest American, for that matter, doubt that it would have made a difference in acting swiftly and effectively to remedy  the appalling scandals of the Veterans Administration bureaucrats in the six years of the Obama regime if it had been veterans serving in House and Senate instead of progressive liberals sharing Obama’s progressive liberal agenda and priorities, which do not include veterans, as is proven by Obama’s deeds in office, not his occasional lip-service to veterans? 

It must be remembered that a central promise Obama made in campaigning for the Presidency in 2008 was that he would remedy the failures of the VA which he at that time acknowledged as scandalous.   Once elected, Obama not only did nothing to oversee the VA and remedy those bureaucratic wrongs, he pretended he didn’t even know about the VA’s failures until he read or heard about it from the news media in 2013, after his election to a second term in 2012.

The lip-service to “our veterans” of Obama, Harry Reid in the Senate and  Nancy Pelosi in the House, and the progressive liberals who elected them to leadership in Congress, are manifestly belied by their deeds, most inescapably in the VA scandals — which must be remedied as more and more veterans are coming home with the wounds of war. 

When they need veterans, they get veterans; when they don’t need veterans, they forget veterans,”   as has been sagely stated by former Vietnam  combat Marine Terry Tracy of Los Angeles, based on his almost twenty-years experience as former American Legion Department  of California Service Officer leading efforts to have America’s promises to its veterans for their military service actually performed and fulfilled, not rhetorically noted and forgotten.

More broadly, the difference it has made to have fewer veterans in House and Senate and more self-declared progressive liberals, is the difference between an America as the world’s leading and most powerful nation and an America in rapid decline. 

That difference is exemplified by the choice presented in the race in the 50th Congressional District in So. Cal (San Diego).  It is, ironically, a District which is heavily military, but, through apathy or otherwise,  has sent a progressive liberal to Congress for multiple terms. 

Thus, the 50th California Congressional District incumbent is a non-veteran,  certified progressive liberal who has lemming-like followed the failed polices of progressive liberal Barack Obama, and is guaranteed to continue to do so if re-elected. 

But she is  challenged this year not by another career politician making empty promises, but by a genuine combat veteran and proven patriot, Larry Wilske, a 30-year, now retired U.S. Navy SEAL.

Which one is likely to defend America and not aid-and-abet in America’s continuing decline and devolutionary “transformation” at home and internationally?  The certified  progressive-liberal politician, or the proven patriot protector of America, the veteran, the 30-year Navy SEAL, Larry Wilske?  

The same question is relevant in Congressional elections all across the country: Given the record of devolutionary “transformation” of America sought and wrought by Obama in the White House and his fellow progressive liberals in Congress, which candidate in the 2014 Congressional elections is likely to defend veterans, the American nation, and freedom — progressive liberal politicians, or veterans whose willingness to sacrifice to defend veterans, America, and freedom,  has been proven not by mouthing liberal platitudes, but by their military service?

It is an important question; and the answer on November 4 will most definitely make a difference.

(For more information on SEAL Larry Wilske see www.WilskeForCongress.com, and other proven patriotic combat veterans  endorsed by the Combat Veterans For Congress, with commentary by CVFC founder Capt. Joseph R. John (USN, ret.), see www.combatveteransforcongress.org.)

(Rees Lloyd, a veteran and longtime California civil rights attorney, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.)