Tag Archives: 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.)

Rees Lloyd: Supreme Court denies expedited review of Mt Soledad case

The case goes back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. LiMandri: Cross stays put till then.

Rees Lloyd addressing dignitaries at the dedication of the plaque commemorating the Four Chaplains at Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial
Author Rees Lloyd addressing dignitaries at the dedication of the plaque commemorating the Four Chaplains at Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial

The Supreme Court on Monday, June 30, 2014, issued an order denying a petition for expedited review of the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Cross Case (Mt. Soledad Memorial Assn. v. Steve Trunk, et al, USSC NO. 13-061.)

The petition filed by the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association requested the Court to grant review, by-passing the appeal pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. The Court declined without an opinion.
Justice Alito published a separate statement explaining that denial of the petition does not represent a final decision on whether the Supreme Court will ultimately grant review.

Rather, Justice Alito noted that because the Ninth Circuit has not ruled on the appeal from the U.S. District Court decision ordering the Cross destroyed, there is “no final judgment” on which the Supreme Court to Rule.
Further, he pointed out that because the U.S. District Court ordered a stay pending appeal, the Cross will not be destroyed as the appeal process continues in the Ninth Circuit.

Veteran overlooking the Pacific Ocean from atop Mt. Soledad, home of the Veterans Memorial.
Veteran overlooking the Pacific Ocean from atop Mt. Soledad, home of the Veterans Memorial.

Justice Alito, in issuing his statement clarifying that the denial of expedited review is not a final decision on whether to grant Supreme Court review, noted again that the “ ‘Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence is undoubtedly in need of clarity.” Few constitutional law practitioners would disagree.

Justice Alito’s statement is published at 53 U.S. ____(2014), and is below in its entirety for convenience.

San Diego Attorney Charles S. LiMandri, founder and chief legal counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), who is credited with doing more to save the Mt. Soledad Cross than any other single person, said in response to the Supreme Court’s denial of expedited review:

“It is an unfortunate delay. It means going through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal processes. This is what the Supreme Court wants, and what the government wanted. So, instead of a delay of perhaps one year, we may be waiting two or three years.
“But it is not ‘bad news.” They are not saying they won’t take the case ultimately; just not now,” LiMandri said.
“The good news is that the stay is in effect pending appeal. So the Cross isn’t going anywhere, and we believe we will ultimately prevail based on statements made by the Justices and rulings in other cases,” LiMandri concluded.

There is also a possibility of legislative action to preserve the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial “where it is, as it is,” with the Cross intact.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a combat veteran and former Marine, has a bill pending to preserve all veterans memorials.

Further, the legislative solution reached which saved the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial may be a precedent for saving the Mt. Soledad National Memorial.

That is, the ACLU sued for ten years to destroy the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross, established in the remote desert in 1934 by WWI Veterans of Foreign Wars members to honor their fallen WWI comrades. When the ACLU obtained an order from the U.S. District Court in Riverside, CA, to destroy the Cross in 2002, then-Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) sponsored legislation in which Congress authorized a land swap in which the one-acre Mojave memorial site was exchanged for five acres of land donated by private citizens, Henry and Wanda Sanchez.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that that land exchange did not violate the Constitution. Although the ACLU continued to sue for two more years, claiming that the Act of Congress was itself unconstitutional, the ACLU ultimately surrendered in 2012.

The Mt. Soledad Cross was established in 1954 to honor Korean War Veterans. Later, it became a memorial honoring all veterans. There are now more than 3,000 plaques, many bearing crosses or Stars of David, on the walls of the memorial beneath the 29-foot Cross honoring all veterans.

photo-9

The extremists of the ACLU, which has become the Taliban of American liberal secularism, have been suing to destroy the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross for 25 years now.

In 2006, a U.S. District Judge in San Diego ordered the City of San Diego to tear down the Cross in 90 days or he would impose a fine of $5,000 per day. Congress responded by passing the Mt. Soledad National War Memorial Act, which transferred the memorial from the City of San Diego to the federal Department of Defense. Because the ACLU had sued to destroy the Cross in federal Court but under the California Constitution, that transfer nullified the cross destruction order.

ACLU sued to destroy the Cross again, this time under the U.S. Constitution. A different U.S. District Judge in San Diego ruled that the Mt. Soledad Cross was constitutional as a reasonable person would understand that the Cross was part of a war memorial intended to honor veterans, not to advance religion or any particular religion.
The Ninth Circuit overruled the District Court and remanded the case for a remedy to be ordered. The District Court stated it continued to believe the Mt. Soledad Cross is constitutional, but had no choice but to order it destroyed due to the Ninth Circuit ruling. The Mt. Soledad Memorial Association appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and petitioned the Supreme Court to expedite resolution by granting immediate review. That was declined.
Many believe the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Cross Case is the most important pending Establishment of Religion Clause case. Final decision by the Supreme Court will set a precedent affecting this and future generations of Americans.

What is at stake is whether 300-million Americans will continue to be able to honor their war dead and other veterans as they choose, using symbols of our American history and heritage, including the cross and other symbols with a religious aspect; or whether atheists, agnostics, and intolerant secular extremists epitomized by the ACLU will have a veto power over those decisions because they are “offended” by the sight of the cross.
For now, the Mt. Soledad Cross will remain protected due to the stay order until the appeals process is complete. A legislative solution could be enacted in the meantime.

However, experience has shown that in order for effective action to be taken by Congress, or the White House, veterans and other American patriots have to rise up and fight for it, or little or nothing will be done.

FOR GOD AND COUNTRY FOREVER; SURRENDER TO THE ACLU—NEVER.
(Rees Lloyd, a longtime California civil rights lawyer and veterans activist, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.)
______________________________________________________________________________________________
Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014)
Statement of ALITO, J.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
MOUNT SOLEDAD MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION v. STEVE TRUNK, ET AL.
ON PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI BEFORE JUDGMENT TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
No. 13–1061. Decided June 30, 2014
The petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment isdenied.
Statement of JUSTICE ALITO respecting the denial of the petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment.
This case came before us two years ago, see 567 U. S.___ (2012), and at that time I issued a statement respect­ing the denial of certiorari. I noted that although the“Court’s Establishment Clause jurisprudence is undoubt­edly in need of clarity,” certiorari was not yet warranted inthis case “[b]ecause no final judgment has been rendered and it remains unclear precisely what action the FederalGovernment will be required to take.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 2, 3).
Since that time, the District Court has issued an order requiring the memorial to be removed, but it has stayed that order pending appeal. The Court of Appeals has not yet reviewed that order on appeal. Seeking to bypass that step, petitioner seeks certiorari before judgment. In my view, it has not met the very demanding standard werequire in order to grant certiorari at that stage. In lightof the stay, any review by this Court can await the deci­sion of the Court of Appeals. I therefore agree with the Court’s decision to deny the petition.