The Military, Heroism and “Gold Star Families”

 

DFC                                    AirMedal

The current flap over Pakistani immigrant Khizr Khan’s appearance at the Democratic convention prompted me to write about something that’s been bugging me for a long time. There seems to be a belief that anyone who serves in the military is a hero, particularly those who’ve died, and some seem to think that family members of military members and of those who died while in military service are somehow deserving, although deserving of what I’m not sure.

In the summer of 1963 my dad signed a document granting permission for me to enlist in the United States Air Force. He – or my mother – had to sign it because my birthday is late in the year and I was still seventeen when I graduated from high school a few weeks before. Air Force regulations required that although seventeen-year olds could enlist, they had to have parental permission. My dad had been in the Army Air Corps during World War II – his brother had also and had remained in service for twenty years – and he had mixed emotions about my plans to join the Air Force. He would have preferred that I stay home and farm, or perhaps go to college. I had been accepted at several colleges but didn’t know where the money was going to come from. I would also be subject to the draft once I turned eighteen and as a single teenager, would have been prime meat. So, daddy signed. (I heard later that my maternal grandmother accused him of “signing Sam’s life away.” No one ever told me until after she was dead.) A few months later I turned 18 but by that time I was already in the Air Force and in the final weeks of training to become a jet aircraft mechanic.

When my dad signed the papers for me to join the Air Force, the United States was not at war, at least not officially. Yes, we had military personnel in some Asian country called Vietnam few Americans were even aware of it. I wasn’t expecting to go to war myself and certainly wasn’t expecting to see combat, although I wouldn’t have minded. As it turned out, I spent 12 years in the Air Force with a good chunk of it in Vietnam where I saw war up close and personal. However, it was MY service and my family didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. I collected quite a few medals and decorations during those 12 years but just because I’m a decorated combat veteran doesn’t make me a hero. Had I died, it would have been my death, not theirs, and while they would have grieved over me, they were deserving of a no particular status other than that of a family that had lost a son. It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d died wrapping my car around a tree, I’d have been dead just the same as if I’d been shot down on a mission over North Vietnam. Maybe my mother would have joined Gold Star Mothers but somehow I doubt it since she never joined the DAR even though she had ancestors who fought in the American Revolution. No member of my family has ever joined the DAR, the DOC, SAR or SOC. I’m a member of three veterans organizations, one which I had a role in founding, another I was coerced into joining and the DAV, which I joined because I’m a disabled veteran and I thought they’d be of help dealing with the VA (I was wrong, they’re not.)

In recent years – mainly since Reagan – an idea has developed that anyone who’s ever served in the military is some kind of hero. People like to greet veterans with “thank your for your service” or, if a veteran “welcome home.” Now, I don’t care for such bullshit. I do sometimes wear caps, one that says “C-130 Hercules Vietnam” and one with an emblem of the Distinguished Flying Cross on it but I don’t wear them to get recognition. I only wear them in hopes of attracting the attention of a fellow C-130 veteran so I can tell them about the organization I helped found. I don’t want anyone to thank me for my service because I didn’t do it for them and I don’t need to be welcomed home. I don’t want anyone to think me a hero because I’m not, even if I did fly some 1,500 combat sorties. My dad flew 30 missions over Germany and Occupied Europe during World War II and he didn’t think of himself as any kind of hero. He put his DFC and Air Medal lapel pins in the lapel of his suit but he hardly ever wore a suit. The fact is that just being in the military -and even being in combat – doesn’t make a person a hero, not even if they die while in service. To be a hero, a person has to do something heroic.

The modern perception of military service seems to be shaped largely on the service of the men who served during the period from World War II to Vietnam when military service was to a large extent compulsory, as it was in World War I and the Civil War. Young men were forced to serve in the military against their will, and their service was seen as sacrificial, particularly by politicians eager to get their vote after they returned to civilian life. But military service hasn’t been compulsory in the United States since early 1973 when the Department of Defense announced that there was no longer a need to draft men for military service. (The end of the draft came as the United States withdrew the last military personnel from South Vietnam.) Since that time, all men and women who have served or are serving in the military are there of their own free will. They are making no sacrifice as their fathers and grandfathers did who were drafted into interrupting their lives for a period of military service. They are compensated with a pay check, a pay check that is substantial for men and women in the modern military and often in excess of what they would likely be making in civilian life. This is true even of the lowest ranking enlisted men and women. Those who elect to stay in the military for a 20-year career draw 50% of their base pay; those who stay longer draw a higher percentage all the way up to 75%, which can amount to a considerable sum for senior officers and enlisted men and women.

Contrary to popular belief by those who’ve never served, military service isn’t particularly hard. New recruits must complete a period of basic training which consists primarily of physical conditioning and military training in regulations and such disciplinary skills as learning to march in formation and small arms training. Upon completion of basic training, a new recruit is sent on to additional training that may involve additional military training if they’re assigned to the infantry but may be classroom and practical training to learn a particular technical skill. Such courses consist of as little as a few weeks from some skills to as much as two years for skills such as nuclear reactor operators. Some new officers are sent to special courses such as military pilot training or submarine officer training. Once a young man or woman has completed their training, they are assigned to an operational unit, which may be a combat unit but could also be support. If they are assigned to a combat unit, they can expect to spend their time in continued training since combat units aren’t engaged unless they are actually in a combat zone. Military training in itself can be dangerous and hundreds of young men and women die each year in accidents, both while on duty and in vehicle accidents when off duty. In fact, accidental military deaths have exceeded deaths from hostile actions in many years since the beginning of the so-called “War on Terror” after the 9/11 attacks. This was true in the years 2002 and 2003 and has been true since 2008. In fact, in the years from 1980 to 1989, accidental deaths in the military exceeded 1,000 a year; the most hostile deaths in a year since 2002 is 847 in 2007. My point is that a military member is more likely to die due to accident than from hostile action. Military Deaths by Year, which brings me to my next point.

Just because a person serves in the military – or dies while on active duty – does not make them heroic. There have been men who truly were heroic in the military, starting with Sgt. Alvin C. York in World War I and continuing through such men as Lt. Audie Murphy, Major Edwin Dyess and Colonel Paul I. “Pappy” Gunn, but such men usually became heroes because of desperation. York decided to take matters in his own hands when he saw his buddies being mowed down by German machine guns, Murphy defended his men against a German attack, Dyess carried out attacks on Japanese ships in Subic Bay in one of the few remaining Air Corps fighters left in the Philippines and Gunn waged an essentially one-man war against the Japanese to free his family from captivity in Manila. Since then, military heroes tend to have been men who performed “selfless” acts such as jumping on hand grenades, acts that might be more correctly identified as thoughtless since they happened so quickly the individual didn’t have time to consider the ramifications of his actions.

In truth, much of what is hailed as heroism is merely a military member doing the job they were trained to do, whatever it may be. Some medals – the Bronze Star in particular – are often awarded as commendations for routine performance of one’s administrative duties. In fact, the Bronze Star was originally authorized as a counterpart to the Air Medal, which was authorized in 1942 to recognize the role of airmen flying combat missions – often against great odds – at a time when ground forces had yet to enter combat. A colonel felt that infantrymen, in particular, should be awarded some kind of decoration to recognize that they had been in combat. No particular act of valor was required for award of the medal – any soldier who had qualified for the combat infantryman’s badge was eligible – and the award was also approved for administrative actions, such as maintaining files in an orderly room.  The Bronze Star It and the Air Medal were equal in prestige – until 1985 when military politics led to the elevation of the Purple Heart from a low-level award to prominence above the Meritorious Service Medal and dropped the Air Medal to the lowest precedence of any combat award and below the level of the MSM, which is only awarded for non-combat  service. (By doing so, the DOD robbed hundreds of Army Air Corps and pre-1985 USAF airmen of the recognition they so richly deserved for their meritorious service in aerial flight.)

Military medals are a story in themselves. Prior to the Civil War, there were no medals and even then, the Confederacy did not recognize its heroes with medals. The Medal of Honor was authorized during the war and was often awarded for such mediocre actions as reenlisting. (Hundreds of Medals of Honor were taken away when the criteria for the medal was changed in the early Twentieth Century.) The Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star were authorized just before World War I and the Purple Heart was authorized in 1932 for presentation primarily to men who had been wounded. The Distinguished Flying Cross was authorized in 1926; it was awarded to civilians such as the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart. The Air Medal and Bronze Star came along during World War II, along with the Legion of Merit, which is essentially an award for high-ranking officers. Since Vietnam, a veritable library of new awards have been authorized, to the point that it seems that the modern military man and woman gets medals just for showing up for chow! In short, most military medals today are meaningless.

This brings us to “gold star families,” a term little heard of before a Pakistani immigrant named Khizer Khan made a speech at the Democratic Convention. To begin with, there is no such thing as a “gold star family.” It’s a term that the Army has on its web site to refer to families of military members who lost their lives on active duty. However, there’s no official organization or recognition of such families even though the military was authorized to present lapel buttons to family members – parents, spouses, children, step-children, brother and sisters – of those who die while  on active duty starting in 1947. The lapel button carries no significance and no benefits to those to whom it is presented except recognition. It’s something for family members to have to remember their family member, the same as the flags used to drape coffins and which are then presented to the family, usually to either the wife or mother of the deceased. The design is different for those who died in a combat theater, regardless of the cause of death. There is no organization and they have no official standing.

There is, however, a formal organization for Gold Star Mothers, women whose son or daughter has died while on active military service. Gold Star Mothers was formally organized in 1928 when the mother of a US Army Air Services pilot who died during the war decided to start an organization for mothers of men who had died while in military service. They got their name from the gold-starred flags family members displayed in their windows during the recent war – families with men in uniform displayed a flag with a blue star and those whose sons were lost displayed gold stars. The blue and gold starred flags became prominent during World War II but they died out after the Korean War. They were not popular during the Vietnam War – in fact, they were hardly ever mentioned. They were resurrected in the 1990s and began attracting some attention from the media – and politicians. In September, 2012 Barrack Obama proclaimed the last day of September as “Gold Star Mothers and Families Day.” However, the memo must have got lost because no one seems to know anything about it.

Families of men and women who die while on active duty have recognition, but not status or standing, as members of the media proclaimed that Khizer Khan and his wife have. The Khans claimed they have made some kind of sacrifice because their son died in Iraq. In fact, they have made no sacrifice at all and whether their son’s death was a sacrifice is debatable. Captain Khan’s commander, Maj. General Dana Pittardi, (Gen. Pittard was Bill Clinton’s military aide 1996-1999), wrote a piece for the Washington Post but was very vague as to how the officer died. He says only that he was killed by a suicide bomber and that he “may” have been trying to prevent the death or injury of innocent Iraqis. The captain was awarded a Purple Heart, which is awarded to all military personnel who die as a result of enemy action, and a Bronze Star, which is basically a glorified commendation medal. If his actions had been seen as “heroic,” he would have been awarded at least a Silver Star and possibly a Distinguished Service Cross. In the Khan’s minds, their son died a hero but in reality he was the victim of a bomb. Regardless, their son’s death reflects solely on him, not on them.

Military valor reflects solely on the individual, not corporately on their family, regardless of how close. My actions while in the military reflect solely on me and if I’d died, while my family would have suffered loss, they would have made no sacrifice. Neither would I if my son’s submarine had gone to the bottom of the China Sea while they were playing cat and mouse with the Chinese navy. Several of my ancestors served in the Revolutionary War but I have never been a member of the Sons of the Revolution and no one in my family has ever joined the DAR (except my great-aunt.) At least two of my ancestors were Confederate soldiers but I’ve never joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans – and never will. My valor is my own and no one else’s. Similarly, while I’m proud of my father for flying 30 missions in B-24s over Europe, his service is no reflection on me, nor was it a reflection on his parents, brothers and sisters.

What I’m saying is that military service and any recognition for it only applies to the one who serves, not their mother, father, spouse, brother, sister, children, grandchildren or anyone else.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Despicable Clintons

I have just finished reading David Shippers’ account of his experiences as the Chief Investigative Counsel for the House Judiciary Committee prior to and during the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton in 1999. The book, called SELLOUT, is available from Amazon.com at this link – SELLOUT Considering that the wife of only the second US president to be impeached has just been nominated for the same office, it is important that Americans understand why her husband was impeached and realize that her character is just as lacking as his, or maybe more although she has never been publically accused of rape.

David Schippers was a Chicago lawyer and a lifelong Democrat who was asked by Congressman Henry Hyde to head up an investigative unit whose mission would be to investigate the US Department of Justice. Schippers had previously led the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Unit and had the experience. Although Hyde was a Republican, he wanted a Democrat to lead the new unit. When Schippers took the job, no action had been taken toward impeachment, although word of the sexual harassment suit against the president by one Paula Jones, a young Arkansas state employee, and his relationship with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky had hit the media. The first action taken by the new committee, which was made up of lawyers and law enforcement personnel, mostly from Chicago, that Schippers knew, was to look into White House interference with the Immigration and Naturalization Service in regard to rushing the citizenship process of an estimated 1 million immigrants so they would be eligible to vote in the 1996 election – presumably for Clinton. Both Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore were involved in the action, which was a flagrant abuse of power that resulted in the granting of citizenship to several hundred applicants with criminal records. (In order to expedite the process, the INS was forced to forego it’s normal vetting procedures.) They were also planning to investigate Janet Reno’s Justice Department. Before the unit could pursue action, they were handed the job of investigating the president’s actions in regard to the Paula Jones’ suit and other improper actions turned up by Independent Prosecutor Ken Starr. Specifically, they were to investigate the president’s actions in regard to his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and his possibly having committed perjury and other crimes and misdemeanors in his deposition in the Paula Jones case.

The Clinton impeachment was in 1999, two decades ago, and many of today’s voters are too young to have known what took place while others didn’t really understand it. Briefly, two things happened: The first was the Paula Jones case; the second was Monica Lewinsky.

Paula Jones filed her suit against the president for something that took place while he was governor of Arkansas and she was a state employee. Clinton saw the 25-year old woman and told one of his state trooper escorts to bring her to his room in the Excelsior Hotel. When Jones got there, Clinton pulled out his penis and told her to “kiss it.”  Jones Suit Against Clinton  Jones refused and fled the room. She didn’t say anything about what had happened until a story came out in a magazine about it. She was convinced to file suit, which she did on May 6, 1994. The case was initially dismissed but Jones appealed. Clinton’s lawyers claimed that a sitting president could not be sued and the case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that presidents are not above the law and are subject to the same legal actions as any citizen. Things got really hot for Clinton when the judge in the case decreed that Jones’ attorneys were free to interview other women Clinton had been sexually involved with or had made advances toward to show a pattern of sexual harassment. That’s where Clinton’s depravity came to light.

That Clinton has a reputation for philandering was well-known. He also has a strong tendency to lie. In 1992 during his presidential campaign, a woman in Little Rock named Gennifer Flowers came forward with the revelation that she and Clinton had been engaged in a 12-year affair. As Clintons are prone to do, Bill lied and said it wasn’t true – but in 1998 he admitted under oath that he had been sexually involved with Flowers. Schippers’ team wasn’t interested in Flowers but they were interested in other women who had been subpoenaed in the case, including – particularly – Lewinsky. However, it wasn’t the Lewinsky case that revealed Clinton’s depravity and ruthlessness.

The Jones team subpoenaed a number of women who had some kind of history with Clinton. When the Clinton legal team learned the women had been subpoenaed, The White House stepped in and contacted the women and sent them affidavits to sigh denying any kind of wrong-doing on the part of the president. Two in particular refused, and they both had sordid stories to tell. Schippers and members of his team interviewed them both extensively. Kathleen Wiley, a Virginia woman, had been pursued by Clinton even though she rejected his unwanted advances. On one occasion at a campaign event, he had groped her. Schippers and members of his team met with her and her attorney several times and believed she was telling the truth. Wiley and her attorney said that the White House put pressure on her to sign the affidavit Clinton’s legal team had drawn up, pressure that went to the point of intimidation. After her pet cat disappeared, she received threats insinuating that the cat had been taken. After she gave her deposition, a small animal skull appeared on her doorstep. She was accosted by strange men who advised her to sign the affidavit. Schippers and his team decided to have Wiley testify against Clinton in the impeachment trial.

The case of Juanita Broaddrick was different because her allegations stemmed from when Clinton was attorney general in Arkansas. Broaddrick was listed as a “Jane Doe” in the Paula Jones case who had filled an affidavit denying that Clinton had assaulted (raped) her. Because the focus of the case against Clinton was on witness intimidation and perjury, To interview her, Schippers sent Diana Woznicki, one of his staff members who had formerly worked for him as a legal assistant before she joined the Chicago PD, where she had risen to the rank of sergeant. She had a background in rape counseling. Schippers had previously found two files with FBI interviews of women who had claimed Clinton had sexually assaulted them. Starr’s staff had said they shouldn’t have been sent to the Judiciary Committee and asked that they be returned. After Broaddrick’s name resurfaced, Schippers called Bob Bittman on Starr’s staff. Bittman said that the Independent Counsel had determined that the accusations stemmed from before Clinton became president however, she had been subpoenaed by the Jones’ attorneys but had filed a motion to quash, a memorandum of law and a false affidavit. Schippers told Bittman they were conducting an impeachment investigation and to send the Broaddrick file back. He found that it consisted of several extensive interviews of her and a number of corroborating witnesses. Schippers sent Woznicki to talk to Broaddrick. Broaddrick admitted that the affidavit was false, over the protest of her attorney. However, Broaddrick later phoned Woznicki and told her the whole story. Woznicki told Schippers that “Juanita fits the pattern of the classic rape victim.”

In 1978, Juanita Broaddrick was a young married woman in Fort Smith who worked in the nursing home industry. She met Clinton when he was campaigning for governor. (I was living in Arkansas at the time.) Clinton told her to call him and visit his headquarters in Little Rock the next time she was in Little Rock and pick up campaign materials. When she was in Little Rock for a conference, she decided to call him. He wasn’t there so she left a message. A short while later, he called her back and suggested that he come to her hotel and meet her in the coffee shop to talk about his campaign. A few minutes later, he called back and said there were reporters in the coffee shop and suggested he come to her room. She had a roommate but the other woman was out and Broaddrick hestitated, but then thought “this is the attorney general; if I can’t trust him who can I trust?”

Broaddrick was alone in her room when Clinton arrived. They engaged in small talk then she ushered him to the window where a coffee service had been set up. Suddenly, Clinton began kissing her, she said “not forcefully at first.” But then he threw her on the bed and kept kissing her. She struggled to get away but he got on top of her and bit down on her lower lip – the pain was excruciating. Every time she struggled, he bit down harder. He pushed down his pants and forced her legs apart, then entered her and raped her. At one point while he was mating with her – over her protest – he said “Don’t worry about getting pregnant. I’m sterile. I had mumps as a kid.” (So did I, but I have four children!) When he finally finished, she thought the ordeal was over. Clinton rose up slightly and she thought he was going to pull out of her, but he said “My God, I can do it again!” He continued the attack.

The woman was close to collapse by the time Clinton was finished with her. She was sobbing uncontrollably and afraid he might do something else. She was in a panic but Clinton didn’t appear to even be fazed by having just raped a woman. He “cooly rose from the bed and went in the bathroom.” Broaddrick lay paralyzed on the bed, afraid to move. He came out after a few minutes and started to leave, then turned and said “You better do something about that lip. Get some ice on it”. He then put on his sunglasses and left.  She was still sobbing when her friend returned. She noticed her swollen lip and the rumpled bed and asked what happened. Broaddrick put a bag of ice to her lip and the two women got in their car and drove back to Fort Smith. During the drive. Broaddrick decided not to tell anyone else what had happened and told her friend to forget about it. A few weeks later, her husband told her they had been invited to a Clinton fund-raiser. She didn’t want to go and feigned illness but her husband talked her into going. She avoided Clinton but Hillary sought her out. She came over to her and said “I’ve heard so much about you, you’ve done so much for us!” Then she put her face close to Juanita’s and said “We appreciate everything you do.” Broaddrick thought it was a strange comment because she hadn ‘t done anything for the Clintons. She told Woznicki that she wondered if Hillary knew what had happened and was thanking her for keeping her mouth shut.

During the impeachment, a Republican woman Congressman looked at the Broaddrick file. She told Schippers, “This is his MO.” She then told about her experience at a reception for pro-choice women Hillary had hosted. When her husband came in the room, Hillary froze, scowled and stalked out of the room. The president then walked around the room putting his arms around women. He singled out two young blonde women. She later found out that Clinton had called them both and invited them to meet with him – individually – in the Oval Office. The two women talked and were surprised to learn they had each received the same invitation. They declined.

(Article About NBC News Interview with Broaddrick)

The centerpiece of the Clinton impeachment was a young woman named Monica Lewinsky, a dark-haired Jewish beauty from California. Like Paula Jones, she is buxom. In 1995 she became an unpaid intern in the White House. Apparently, the young woman – she was 21 at the time – offered herself to Clinton and he accepted. They began an affair that lasted until December 1997 when Monica wrote Clinton a letter and ended it. They both claimed that they never had intercourse – which is doubtful – and confined their activities to oral sex. Clinton claimed he never had any kind of sex with her until it came to light that she had a blue dress with the president’s semen on it.

Now, Clinton supporters claim the impeachment was all about sex – it wasn’t  it was about perjury, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and abuse of power. Clinton and Lewinsky’s affair was consensual but it became a legal matter when they realized she was likely to be subpoenaed for the Jones case and came up with a plan to deny it. They already had a cover story for their affair; they would claim that Lewinsky’s visits to the Oval Office were to deliver “papers” or to see Betty Currie, the president’s secretary. They agreed to use the same story in her affidavit and later testimony to a grand jury. When news of the affair became public, Clinton’s actions were despicable – the White House planted news stories claiming that Lewinsky was “a stalker.” Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangle claimed “the child has serious emotional problems.” He went on to say “She’s fantasizing. And I haven’t heard that she played with a full deck in her other experiences.” Arkansas columnist Gene Lyons claimed “the President was, in a sense, the victim of someone like the woman who followed David Letterman around.” In short, the White House and Democrats launched a campaign of character assassination. They did the same thing with Paula Jones and Dolly Kyle Browning, a longtime Clinton friend and high school classmate with which he had a sexual affair until 1992 when he found out she was writing a novel based on their relationship. Clinton even went so far as launching air strikes against Iraq the night before the debate on the impeachment articles was to take place. The debate was postponed.

In the end, Schippers and his investigators determined that Clinton was guilty of no less than 15 separate felonious acts involving perjury, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and abuse of power. To make a long story short, the House impeached Clinton in a vote that included five Democrats voting in favor. However, the Senate refused to remove him from office for political reasons. Not a single Democratic Senator bothered to look at the evidence. They were determined to vote against removal of Clinton and the Republicans were afraid to due to public opinion. (Yes, the 1999 public is responsible for the Clintons!)

Even though William Jefferson Clinton was not removed from office (neither was Andrew Johnson, the only other president to be impeached), the investigation revealed that he is not only dishonorable, he is despicable, particularly for his treatment of women. Juanita Broaddrick is not the only woman to accuse him of sexual assault but she went further and accused him of rape. Had she brought charges against him at the time, he would have never been elected governor of Arkansas and Hillary Clinton would not be the current Democratic Party nominee for the office of President of the United States.

That Hillary is also despicable has been reinforced by her recent actions as Secretary of State as well as her actions during her husband’s impeachment, which she blamed on “a vast right-wing conspiracy” rather than his own actions. Even though her responsibility for the death of the ambassador to Libya and three others is debatable, there is no doubt she lied to the families about the reason for the attacks and that she and the White House lied to the American public, blaming the attacks on a You Tube video rather than on Libyan Islamic militants. She and her campaign lied to the American public about the (illegal) personal Internet server she had set up at her home in New York to use for government and personal communications so she wouldn’t be susceptible to NSA monitoring – although it turns out her server was susceptible to monitoring, not only by the NSA but by foreign intelligence services. She lied about the FBI counter-intelligence criminal investigation of her use of a personal server. She claimed it was a “review” rather than a criminal investigation. In fact, it has long been known that Hillary lies about everything, just as her husband does. She was branded a liar when she was still First Lady by conservative columnist William Safire, who said she was “a congenital liar.” Journalist Carl Bernstein said “Hillary and Truth rarely walk together.”

Hillary’s conduct regarding the army of women her husband has been involved with has been despicable. She often referred to them as “trailer trash” and called Monica Lewinsky a “bimbo.” When Clinton’s Arkansas opponents filed a suit claiming that he maintained a slush fund to maintain five women, Hillary got her buddies at the Rose Law Firm, where she worked, Vince Foster and Web Hubbell, to coerce the five women into signing affidavits claiming they had not slept with Clinton, a tactic White House lawyers used against the women subpoenaed for the Paula Jones case. One of those women was Gennifer Flowers, who signed the affidavit but who Bill Clinton later admitted had been his lover (he said “only once.”) (Hubbell was later convicted of wire fraud; he was indicted three times for various infractions of the law. Foster died of an apparent suicide – under mysterious circumstances – while White House Counsel. )

Hillary Clinton is now running for the office her slime-ball husband once occupied. If she wins the election, the disgraced politician who was impeached will be returning to the White House and the two most despicable people today will again have the power to rape, lie and steal.

Schippers’ House Broken Into

 

 

Trump

It’s been some time since I’ve written anything in my blog, mainly because I’ve been busy doing other stuff, such as writing books. That doesn’t mean I’ve not been keeping up with current events, particularly the presidential race. Now that Donald Trump has definitely been nominated and Hillary Clinton is the presumptive nominee for the Democrats, I might as well get into it.

Let me start this off by stating unequivocally that there’s no way I would ever vote for Hillary Clinton. Even before she was definitely revealed as a compulsive liar with no regard for the protection of classified information by the FBI, I knew she had violated Federal policy by establishing her own Email server rather than using government communications channels as she should have done when she was Secretary of State. She did it because she knows that the National Security Agency monitors all government phone lines and Email accounts to insure that no Federal employee discusses classified information on unsecure outlets. Why she did is obvious – she didn’t want someone else reading her Email. The reason should also be obvious; she wanted to be able to communicate with people she shouldn’t be communicating with, people who were going to pay large sums of money to her family foundation in order to gain favor. Hillary was revealed as corrupt and dishonest years ago; the FBI investigation confirmed it.

My topic in this blog is not Hillary but Donald, or The Donald, as the media often refers to him. When he first announced he was running for president, like most everyone else, I thought he’d bomb out early in the campaign like he did in 2012. I’ve never been a huge Trump fan but at the same time, I did not see him as a joke as many have tried to imply he is. They like to refer to him as a “birther” without acknowledging that the idea that Barrack Obama was born in Kenya didn’t originate with him – in fact, it originated several years before Trump took up the issue. (My personal opinion about Barack Obama’s birth can be found at www.sammcgowan.com/obama.html.) As for Ted Cruz, his birth is beyond doubt – he was born in Calgary, Alberta to a Cuban father and an American mother and lived there until he was at least four years old. Although he was entitled to citizenship by virtue of his mother’s birth, he is not a natural born citizen – he’s a citizen because his mother at some point reported his birth to a US consulate or the INS and he received citizenship papers. Those who make fun of Trump as “a birther” have got rocks in their heads. The birthplaces of both Obama and Cruz are a definite matter for discussion. Criticisms of Trump for questioning their birth is not only invalid, anyone who offers it is showing their ignorance of the matter and the US Constitution.

Now, I did not watch the GOP debates and. As far as I’m concerned, debates are worthless because they do not show whether the candidate is actually capable of occupying the office for which they are running. Much has been made of Trump’s “lack of qualification” for the office of president of the United States but the Constitutional requirements for a president are really quite simple – he/she must be a natural born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years old and a resident of the US for the fourteen years prior to assuming office. Trump meets those qualifications, as does Hillary Clinton and all of the GOP candidates with the exception of Ted Cruz, who is not a natural born citizen. That Trump has never been a professional politician means nothing. In fact, it’s more of an asset than a liability. Professional politicians have been running this country for the past fifty-six years and they’ve made a mess of it. (Every president since Dwight Eisenhower has been a professional politician.)

Trump is often castigated for things he didn’t say, such as the claim that he’s against Mexican immigration. What he actually said is that we need to stop ILLEGAL immigration through Mexico. Yes, he said that Mexico sends us their lowlifes, which is not entirely without merit. Crime among Mexican immigrants is common – I live in the Houston, Texas area where there are a lot of illegals from Mexico and every evening there is something on TV about crimes committed by people of Mexican origin and many of them are illegal. Trump has not said he would curtail Mexican immigration – he has said he would curtail ILLEGAL immigration. That’s why he wants to build a wall along the Mexican border – to make it harder for illegals to cross into the United States. As for Muslims, it should be obvious to anyone who watches the news that there are problems in the world – and in the US – caused by radical Islamists. To let Muslim immigrants into the US without extensive vetting is folly.

Trump won the nomination not so much because of his stand on immigration, but on his concern over trade agreements that have led to the export of millions of American jobs overseas. I grew up in West Tennessee and returned there to live for a few years after I got out of the Air Force then lived in Arkansas for a few months and back to West West Tennessee. I then moved to Virginia, the home of my first wife, and from there to Kentucky and finally to the Houston area. I was transferred back to Kentucky then to Ohio where I retired and moved back to Houston. As a corporate pilot, I traveled all over the United States, parts of Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. What I saw – and what politicians and political pundits who spend their lives in Northern Virginia and journalists from the Northeast and West Coast don’t see – is that the America I grew up in no longer exists. Even as recently as the late 1970s when I lived in West Tennessee, there were still garment factories all over the area along with factories that made automotive parts. The garment factories are gone now, moved to Mexico or overseas, and the automotive parts factories have shut their doors. A large Goodyear plant that employed thousands shut its doors a few years ago. When I lived in Virginia, I saw how a local foundry that dated back to the nineteenth century was suffering. In Kentucky and nearby West Virginia and Ohio, it was the railroad yards and foundries. For a time, I worked for a company owned by the holding company that used to be US Steel – it now makes very little steel. What happened to all of these companies? Some have gone out of business but in many cases it was because they moved their manufacturing out of the country. This is particularly true of the garment industry, which used to have factories all over the South where cotton is produced.

Now, I don’t know if Trump will be able to make good completely on his promise to “make America great,” but there’s one thing for certain – he’s got a much better chance of following through than Hillary Clinton, who has yet to even mention any plans for government. All she does it talk about how she’s going to help special interests. She has no plan at all for the country – Donald Trump does.

A Waste of Time

Tonight is the first of what will undoubtedly be dozens of political debates between now and the November 2016 presidential elections. I will not be watching; debates are a major waste of time.

The role of the President of the United States is not to debate, it is to govern. Yes, there is debating in the Congress but that’s where it belongs, not on TV screens where people who don’t have a clue about the real qualifications of the candidates to govern can watch and think they are seeing how capable the person is to perform the Constitutional duties of the chief executive officer of the US government. Debating was not a part of the presidential election process until the 1970s when the television networks saw them as an avenue to attract viewers. The first presidential debate was between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy in 1960 but there were no more debates until 1976 when Jimmy Carter debated President Gerald Ford. There had been debates before, but they were not presidential debates with the exception of the 1958 Democratic candidate debate between Adlai Stephenson and Senator Estes Kefauver.

It is commonly known that Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence and is considered one of the Founding Fathers, was no debater. In fact, he was so bad at debating that he gave up the practice of law and became a politician. Even after he was elected to the Continental Congress, he generally kept his mouth shut. His opinions became well known, but only because he was gifted at expressing himself in writing. Jefferson was elected as the third president of the United States and founded the Democratic-Republican Party, which was known as the Republican Party, but he expressed his opinions through pamphlets and in the newspapers of the day. Even after he was elected president, Jefferson made very few public speeches.

The problem with debating is that it gives a false picture of a candidate’s true abilities. Debating is arguing, which may be appropriate in a court room and in a state house, but it has little to do with actual governing and executing, which is what the chief executive is actually supposed to do once he or she takes office. Remember that debating is considered to be essentially a sport, and high schools and colleges have debating teams who participate in contests with other schools. The debater doesn’t even have to know his or her subject; they just have to be able argue their point in such a manner as to “defeat” their opponent. The observer may not even be aware of their knowledge or lack of it; all they see is the candidate’s ability to present themselves, not their position. A more effective means of determining a candidate’s abilities is by scrutinizing their record in government, and I’m not referring to how a member of Congress voted because legislating is not governing. There’s a good reason the US government is divided into three separate but equal branches, one to make laws, one to interpret them and one to execute them. The Executive Branch neither makes or interprets legislation (other than determining how to follow it) but to carry it out. One of the reasons the Obama Administration is ineffective is because the White House basically ignores legislation and writes its own laws through presidential decree.

No doubt a lot of people will tune in to watch the Republican candidates argue but I won’t be one of them. I’m interested in ability to govern, not argue.

The flag is down but what does it change?

http://www.constitution.org/csa/ordinances_secession.htm#South%20Carolina

South Carolina politicians have spoken (the people had nothing to do with it. If they were intended to have a voice, there would have been a referendum.) Pundits and activists are claiming that now that South Carolina’s Sikh governor has had her way, the world will be a better place. (Sikhs are members of an Indian religious group. Although Haley says she’s a Methodist and is a board member of her husband’s Methodist church, she attends Sikh services. Her full name is Nimrata Nikki Randhawa.) Don’t bet on it. None of these “earth-shaking” events ever amount to anything. Personally, I could care less whether a Confederate flag ever flies over anything, including over the cemeteries containing the remains of Confederate soldiers and/or veterans, but I am deeply concerned about how the media and politicians are so damned concerned about symbols. I am most concerned about how northern historians are coming out of the woodwork claiming once again that the South seceded over slavery and that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. Neither assertion is true. The above link shows the articles of secession of each of the eleven states of the Confederacy and the two other states that also voted to secede but remained in the Union (after Lincoln declared martial law and sent troops to occupy them and suspended habeas corpus.)Yes, some of the Southern states seceded because they feared that New England abolitionists were going to force Congress to pass laws abolishing slavery nationally (states in the North had abolished slavery with state laws, not national laws) but that was only part of the reason. The states that seceded before Fort Sumter did so because they believed that the non-slave states were ignoring the Constitution and Federal laws and no longer wanted to be part of an organization with them.

Although slavery was a factor in secession, the Civil War was initiated by the United States after South Carolina troops fired on Fort Sumter – after Lincoln refused to withdraw its garrison as requested by the South Carolina governor – in an attempt to force the seceded states back into the Union. In spite of claims by northern academics, this is well-documented. In fact, five of the states that joined the Confederacy plus Kentucky and Missouri only voted to secede after Lincoln demanded troops to “put down the rebellion.” Lincoln chose Virginian Robert E. Lee to command his army. When Lee refused and stated that his loyalties were to Virginia, the irate Lincoln proclaimed that Lee’s wife’s ancestral home would be turned into a cemetery. He used subterfuge to take possession of the estate for non-payment of taxes even though Lee’s wife had sent the payments by an agent. (In 1884 the US Supreme Court ruled that Lincoln’s actions were illegal and returned possession to Lee’s son. However, the property had been turned into a graveyard and he was forced to sell the land to the United States.) Lincoln’s object in going to war was NOT to destroy slavery, but to force the seceded states to return to the Union. This is evident by the US Army’s actions regarding slaves during the first two years of the war. Instead of freeing slaves in areas they came to control, they left them where they were. Those slaves who sought to follow after them, were considered as contraband and while some of the men were used as laborers, the rest and the women and children were placed in contraband camps.

In September 1862, Lincoln announced that if the seceded states didn’t return to the Union by the end of they year, he was going to order his commanders to free all slaves in areas that came under Union control. The order did NOT emancipate slaves, as is commonly believed. Slaves in Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, which were part of the Union, were not affected. Neither were slaves in Tennessee, much of which was under Union control due to the Confederate strategy of withdrawing south into Alabama and Mississippi. No forethought was given as to what do with freed slaves once they had been emancipated. They were left confused and wondering what to do. Lincoln seized on the opportunity to use freed slaves to alleviate a shortage of manpower and authorized the raising of colored regiments in addition to the labor battalions he had already authorized. The families of the new colored troops followed after them and set up camps near the army camps. (This was also true of white soldiers.) Hundreds of young black women became prostitutes. Nashville alone had over 1,500 prostitutes and many of them were black. In the spring of 1864 Union cavalry made an excursion from Memphis into Mississippi, freeing thousands of slaves along the way. Confederate cavalry under Gen. N.B. Forrest defeated the Federals and drove them back to Memphis. The just-freed blacks panicked and fled into Alabama headed for Georgia until they found their way blocked by a river after Federal troops destroyed the bridge. Many rushed into the river and drowned. Lincoln’s proclamation didn’t work. The war continued for almost two and a half years. Yet even though the North eventually defeated the South, slavery wasn’t officially abolished until December 1865 when the Georgia legislature (made up of Unionists and blacks because anyone who had supported secession was forbidden from voting) ratified the Thirteenth Amendment.

With the war over, the writing of history began. Northern educators knew that they couldn’t justify the northern invasion of the South on the basis of it being to “preserve the Union” so they made it a noble cause by claiming the war was fought “to free the slaves.” It made for a better story.

The Civil War has been over for just over 150 years and the painful era of “reconstruction” that followed has been over for almost 140 years. Not a single Southerner has owned a slave since 1865.  Reconstruction was made painful because of the efforts of “radical” Republicans in both North and South who sat out to punish the South, not only for the rebellion but also for its institution of slavery. They conveniently forgot that slavery was practiced in the North as well until only a few decades before the war broke out. They also forgot that the New England states had come close to seceding in protest of the War of 1812. For that matter, they also forgot that their predecessors had rebelled against the British Crown a century before. Now it seems that the descendants of those radical Republican reconstructionists are once again among us. They quickly seized on the presence of a Confederate flag flying over a memorial on the South Carolina capitol grounds as symbol of the unreconstructed South. Even though Charleston shooter Dylann Roof was not carrying a Confederate flag at the time of the shooting and made no mention of the Confedracy in his “manifesto,” neoreconstructionists quickly seized on the flag as something that had to come down, and while at it, get ride of all of those monuments around the South – and elsewhere in the country – as well. “It will promote racial healing,” they claim. Writer after writer associated the Confederate flag with the KKK; never mind that the KKK has it’s own flag and the flag they most identify with at rallies has long been the United States flag. Yes, Klan members sometimes carry Confederate flags but they also carry the US flag right beside it and in a more prominent position.(In the Cohen Brothers movie “O Brother Where Art Thou,” no US flag is shown even though that was the flag the KKK of the period used. Instead, they feature the Confederate flag.)

If anything, the lowering of the Confederate flag in South Carolina has made a lot of people madder than they already were. In the news accounts that I saw, the crowd assembled to watch the lowering of the flag was made up mostly of blacks. All of those I saw interviewed, with one exception, were blacks. One South Carolina Democratic Senator gave an example of “white racism” in his speech during the debate before the vote. He said that a white woman told him that “all you care about are blacks and Mexicans.” Add feminists, LGBTs and labor unions to that and it pretty well sums up the Democratic Party, which, by the way, owes its very existence to the men who fought under that Confederate flag and the KKK that came along after the war. After all, the stated goal of the post-war KKK was to “support the Democratic Party.” Without the klan and its nightriders, there would have been no Democratic party in the South.

Nikki Haley may have felt like a “huge weight was lifted off of my state” when the flag came down but nothing has really changed.

A Celebration of Treason

Many of the articles written in the current furor over symbols of the Confederacy claim that the men (many of them were boys) who fought for the South were guilty of treason. Never mind that although the United States imprisoned Jefferson Davis and held him for two years, he was released because the government realized it would be unable to convict him. Threats of indictment for treason were made against other Southern officials, including high ranking  officers like Robert E. Lee, but they all came to naught although they were prohibited from holding elected Federal office by the Fourteenth Amendment. Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis were restored to full citizenship in the 1970s, Davis during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. http://news.yahoo.com/pardon-jefferson-davis-14th-amendment-163609181.html

What those who hold these views are forgetting is that the nation from which eleven of the fifteen Southern states seceded (two others proposed secession articles which didn’t pass) and which we ourselves are citizens of was in fact founded as a result of treason. Tomorrow we celebrate an act that was, under the laws of the day, an act of high treason against the British Crown. John Hancock affixed his name to a document branding him a traitor to the country of which he was a citizen. “Taxation without representation” is one of the reasons given for the decision made by some colonial leaders to rebel against the king to whom they owed allegiance and the nation whose citizenship the enjoyed. (The taxes were actually low, but colonists were upset because they had no representation in Parliament.) Thomas Jefferson rattled off of a list of grievances against King George, grievances some of which seem almost petty in today’s world –

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these states

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Bear in mind that while Thomas Jefferson’s words are written as if they are directed at a king from his subjects, they only applied to the subjects in the American colonies, not including those in what became Canada. Nor did they apply to Australia and New Zealand, where England also had colonies, or the British colonies in Central America and the Caribbean. In his words, Jefferson was attempting to justify what he, as a lawyer, knew was an act of treason against the king to whom he was subject. Furthermore, Jefferson was writing in 1776, a decade after American colonists had first rebelled against their king although the rebellion didn’t become openly hostile until 1775 when Massachusetts was declared to be in open rebellion after locals fired on British troops at Concord and Lexington. Later that year, colonial troops invaded Quebec although the invasion was unsuccessful. The Continental Congress appealed to the British parliament to end the conflict but the king refused to read the appeal. He then declared certain colonies in rebellion and branded those involved in the rebellion as traitors.

It is important to remember that the thirteen colonies only existed by permission of the Crown. Each colony was established under a charter obtained from the British government by individuals and corporations. By 1776, most of the colonies had been in existence for well over a century. Their inhabitants were subjects of the king. By declaring the colonies independent, Jefferson and those who signed the declaration were committing high treason – and they knew it. Although they called themselves “patriots,” they were actually rebels and were key figures in a rebellion that had started in 1765 when colonists declared that the Crown had no right to tax them and eventually escalated to armed conflict. The war we now call the Revolutionary War went back and forth until the new government formed an alliance with France which was joined by Spain. With a wider war on their hands, the British reduced the number of troops in the colonies and started recruiting Loyalists and slaves.

We have been led to believe that everyone in the America colonies shared the feelings of those who rebelled against the authority of King George and the British government. In fact, large numbers of colonists were not in sympathy with the revolution that started in the 1760s in protest of British taxes, which the colonists called tyranny. Historians estimate that those who remained loyal to England accounted for approximately 20% of the population. This estimate is probably conservative. There were also large numbers of colonists who didn’t really care whether they were under the Crown or not. This group was the largest of the factions in the colonies. Patriots are estimated to have only accounted for some 45% of the white colonists. At best, Patriots had a bare majority. The war finally ended when the British fleet bringing troops to Yorktown found itself facing the French Navy and retreated to New York. Cornwallis’ army at Yorktown was then defeated in a battle fought primarily by French artillerists. Cornwallis surrendered and even though King George wanted to continue the war, Parliament wasn’t willing to support him. In 1783 the Treaty of Paris brought an end to hostilities and Britain withdrew its remaining troops from its former colonies. The treaty gave the former rebels control of all of North America south of the Great Lakes and east of the Mississippi River except Florida. (The Indian tribes who controlled the region west of the Appalachians were not consulted and did not sign the treaty.) Britain ceded Florida back to Spain in a separate treaty.

Of course, all of that happened almost 250 years ago. The second American rebellion, which we now call the Civil War, ended 150 years ago. Those who remained in the Union called those who voted to withdraw “traitors” and accused them of treason, just as King George had done regarding their ancestors a century before. Now, we are all Americans and the British are our best friends (and some consider the French as our enemies.) However, it would do us well to remember tomorrow when we celebrate the birth of our nation that we are actually celebrating treason.

A Southern Country Graveyard

CartersChapel

I’ve been considering what to make my first post about, and decided that since many are refighting the Civil War, or the Southern War of Independence, War of Secession or whatever you want to call it, a proper subject would be my ancestral graveyard in West Tennessee. My great-great grandfather, Jesse H. Carter migrated from Fishing Creek in South Carolina to West Tennessee sometime around 1830 or perhaps possibly earlier. He and a couple of his brothers and cousins their families settled in Carroll County. Jesse became a wealthy landowner who is believed to have owned several hundred, if not thousands, acres of land in and around the Obion River bottom south of McLemoresville. The Carters and their McKinney cousins were devout Methodists but there were no Methodist congregations (or congregations of any kind) in the vicinity. They started meeting in a brush arbor on my great-great-grandfather’s land and eventually erected a church and graveyard on land he donated. Carters Chapel Methodist Church is still an active  congregation and the cemetery is still in use. Many of my ancestors and relatives are buried there although my parents are buried in another cemetery a few miles to the south in the community where they lived.

A number of years ago my wife, then my girlfriend, and I visited the cemetery and spent an hour or so looking around. We had just stopped at Fort Harrod in Kentucky on our way down to Tennessee. I noticed some graves marked with sandstone in the same manner as the graves at the fort. I suspect they are the graves of the early settlers although my family claims they are graves of slaves. That’s not what this post is about. I also noticed a number of graves in the cemetery with white markings identifying the person whose remains are buried beneath them as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of veterans of the Civil War. Some, if not all, of them identify the person as a veteran of the 7th Tennessee Cavalry. At the time, I didn’t know that the 7th Tennessee was a Union regiment (I probably knew but had forgotten.) There are also graves in the cemetery of men who were on the other side, although their graves aren’t marked to identify them as having been Confederate veterans.

Americans today think that the Civil War was between North and South. In reality, it was between those who supported the Union and those who supported the right of the Southern states to secede. Yes, slavery was part of it but Abraham Lincoln didn’t raise an army to send south to free the slaves. His intent was to repress what he saw as a rebellion. After all, Confederates were called rebels. The Union Army included Southerners, large numbers of them, like the men buried in those graves. These particular veterans were men who enlisted in a regiment organized by Isaac Hawkins, a lawyer and slave owner from nearby Huntingdon, the county seat. Hawkins’ cousin was an officer in a Tennessee regiment serving under the legendary Nathan Bedford Forrest. In fact, the 7th Tennessee Cavalry (CSA) captured the entire 7th Tennessee Cavalry (USA) at Union City. After Union officers refused a prisoner exchange, the West Tennessee  Union men went to Southern prisons, particularly one at the tiny Georgia town of Andersonville where many of them died of disease aggravated by malnutrition. It was hard to feed prisoners since Sherman’s men had stripped the region of all food a few months before. Some of the 7th Tenn. (USA) veterans are my relatives although not all of them were still in the regiment when it was captured. One of my relatives, John Carter, spent a year in the 7th Tennessee but got out at the end of his one-year enlistment. He, like the rest of the 7th Tennessee (USA) was captured at Trenton. That time, the prisoners were exchanged.

My family has been in what is now the United States since the earliest days of the European immigration. Although my branch of the Carter family can only be traced back to the 1700s in Virginia, they are most likely descended from the Carters who established a plantation at Jamestown then spread out of from there. Jesse Carter’s wife Betsy, my great-great-grandmother, was descended from a German Anabaptist who immigrated to Pennsylvania then moved south to the Carolinas and from a Scottish immigrant who also settled on Fishing Creek. My McGowan ancestor was born in London but his father was a Scottish Baptist preacher who had settled in England after fighting with Bonnie Prince Charley at Culloden. (My maternal ancestors are not part of this particular narrative.) However, it wasn’t until late in the 19th century that my McGowan great-grandfather came to West Tennessee and pastored Carters Chapel, and his son met and married my grandmother.) I honestly don’t know if the Carters and McKinneys owned slaves or not. There’s no doubt that their ancestor, Alexander Carter, owned slaves in South Carolina. For years I didn’t think they did primarily because one elderly Carter woman who wrote a narrative about them said they were Union men and later Republicans. I think the latter is true but I’m not sure that all of the Carters supported the Union. I know my grandfather was a strong Republican but, then again, his father came from Middle Tennessee (and his grandfather was probably a Confederate soldier, although he never knew him.) I’m not sure about my grandmother. The 1860 slave census shows very few slaves in that part of Carroll County.

I was born in 1945 and grew up in the 1950s and early 1960s. There really was very little talk about the Civil War at either of the two schools I attended, Lavinia Elementary and Trezevant High School. There were kids whose families were strong Democrats but whether or not it was because they were descended from Confederates or whether they had become Democrats during the New Deal is unclear. No doubt, many were both. Tennessee was largely under control of the Democrats but that was largely because of the influence of “Boss” Crump, a Memphis politician who ran the Democratic party in Tennessee and was able to control the vote in Memphis, which accounted (and still does) for 25% of the votes in the entire state. There were no Confederate flags to be seen except in parks, particularly the Shiloh National Battlefield Park in the southeast corner of West Tennessee. I went there one time as a child. I don’t remember if it was a family outing or a school trip. There was probably one in Forrest Park in Memphis, since it was established in honor of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, who is buried there along with his wife. (The black mayor of Memphis wants to move them. They already changed the name of the park.) I’m not sure that I’ve ever been to the park. My family usually made a trip to Memphis every summer but it was to go to the zoo in Overton Park. My parents and grandparents knew men who had fought during the war. One of my great-uncles told me stories and sometimes mentioned veterans but he never said anything about the war itself. The men in the community socialized after the war, as did men who were on opposing sides in other communities.(There was a lot of postwar strife but it was due to outlaw bands that roamed the countryside immediately after the war.)

The Civil War centennial started while I was in high school but I don’t remember there being any attention paid to it. A famous battle was fought only about 10-12 miles from where I grew up, but although there’s a park there now, it wasn’t established until recently. If any of my classmates’ fathers were members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, I never heard about it. If there were any Klan members around, they stayed hidden. (One of my maternal great-grandfathers was active with the Klan in the early Twentieth Century but I was in my 50s before I ever heard anything about it. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother but she never said anything about it.) I was stationed in North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina but except for Charleston, where Civil War cannon overlook the harbor in Battery Park, there was very little homage paid to the war. I knew no one who displayed the Confederate flag, not even the guys, most of whom were from  the north, who weren’t particularly fond of blacks.

Back to Carters Chapel – the people who lie buried in that cemetery are Southerners, Yet many of those who were alive at the time who lie in that graveyard supported the Union. Others didn’t. After the war, there was some animosity among the men who went to Andersonville but within a generation, families were intermingling. I have friends whose families lie in that cemetery who were staunch Democrats but I have more friends who were from Republican families. None of them wave the Confederate battle flag.

As for myself, I have never owned a Confederate flag of any kind. My first wife was from Virginia and while her mother was from New Jersey and the granddaughter of a Union naval officer, her father was a Virginia native. They had a Confederate flag that had belonged to an ancestor. If I remember correctly, it hung in the sunroom. My homosexual VMI graduate brother-in-law got it and later sold it. My wife’s grandmother’s house in New Jersey had two .45 revolvers and her (or her late husband’s) sabre in the sun room. Yet even though I have no particularly affection for the  flat of the Army of Northern Virginia, I am very disturbed by the big flap raised by political activists, the media and the Indian governor of South Carolina who has no connection to the heritage of the state she was elected to govern.

A Presidential Proclamation – #3382 Civil War Centennial Dec. 7, 1960

The years 1961 to 1965 will mark the one-hundredth anniversary of the American Civil War.

That war was America’s most tragic experience. But like most truly great tragedies, it carries with it an enduring lesson and a profound inspiration. It was a demonstration of heroism and sacrifice by men and women of both sides who valued principle above life itself and whose devotion to duty is a part of our Nation’s noblest tradition.

Both sections of our now magnificently reunited country sent into their armies men who became soldiers as good as any who ever fought under any flag. Military history records nothing finer than the courage and spirit displayed at such battles as Chickamauga, Antietam, Kennesaw Mountain, and Gettysburg. That America could produce men so valiant and so enduring is a matter for deep and abiding pride.

The same spirit on the part of the people at home supported and strengthened those soldiers through four years of great trial. That a Nation which contained hardly more than thirty million people, North and South together, could sustain six hundred thousand deaths without faltering is a lasting testimonial to something unconquerable in the American spirit. And that a transcending sense of unity and larger common purpose could, in the end, cause the men and women who had suffered so greatly to close ranks once the contest ended and to go on together to build a greater, freer, and happier America must be a source of inspiration as long as our country may last.

By a joint resolution approved on September 7, 1957 (71 Stat. 626), the Congress established the Civil War Centennial Commission to prepare plans and programs for the nationwide observances of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Civil War, and requested the President to issue proclamations inviting the people of the United States to participate in those observances.

Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby invite all of the people of our country to take a direct and active part in the Centennial of the Civil War.

I request all units and agencies of government–Federal, State, and local–and their officials to encourage, foster, and participate in Centennial observances. And I especially urge our Nation’s schools and colleges, its libraries and museums, its churches and religious bodies, its civic, service, and patriotic organizations, its learned and professional societies, its arts, sciences, and industries, and its informational media, to plan and carry out their own appropriate Centennial observances during the years 1961 to 1965; all to the end of enriching our knowledge and appreciation of this momentous chapter in our Nation’s history and of making this memorable period truly a Centennial for all Americans.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this sixth day of December in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-fifth.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 34th President (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969