Pray for Ukraine

3A-Pray-for-Ukraine-pic-24-pwide-bw

Taken in October 2014, this photo appeared in the Lawton Constitution newspaper.  It depicts Snyder, Oklahoma residents Gerald Schulz and Erick Speck after having returned from a trip to the Ukraine.

Today on my way back from prison (at the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, OK) I saw the sign across from the gas station on the north end of Snyder.  I don’t often go that route, but today I did and I needed to stop for gas.  As you can see, the sign is not overly large.  Not that the sign is not visible, but I can say that I did not see it until after I had already stopped across Highway 183.

More recently, Erick Speck returned to the Ukraine delivering knives to help the people of Ukraine to aid in their current struggle with Russia.  Mr. Speck even delivered a custom made knife from Texas to the President of the Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko in Kiev.  This knife carried an inscription from Winston Churchill which read:  “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

For me, the sign carries the subtle reminder that we need to continue to pray for people around the world in great turmoil,  including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Nigeria…..and safety for those deployed.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

There is a saying:  “Pray as if everything depends on God. Act as if everything depends on you.”   It is attributed to Augustine of Hippo (“Saint Augustine”) but it also appears in Reform Judaism’s Gates of Prayer siddur.  Clearly this adage cuts across faith groups.

So, Pray….and Act.  Whether bringing knives to Ukraine’s gunfight is enough to help, I don’t know.  But, it is a symbolic gesture….an act of Solidarity.

Solidarnosc

May be you blessed in your prayers and acts.

Decoration Day

Colonel_FeltsMemorial Day, when those who gave their “last full measure” are to be remembered.
Some history from VA.gov:
“Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
“The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
“The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.”
To recap, the day started as “Decoration Day,” and was about remembering and decorating the graves of those who had died in the Civil War (widely known south of the Mason-Dixon Line as “the War Between the States” or “the War of Northern Aggression”). It was to be a day of remembrance.
I met then Lieutenant Colonel Tom Felts, Sr., when he was the chief of the III Corps Analysis and Control Element (ACE) at Fort Hood, Texas. He was a very patient man, eager to make every moment as teachable as possible. He also went out of his way to make sure that subordinate units (like mine) were as completely integrated as could be, and that we knew precisely what was expected. He welcomed us to the team completely. I never met his family, and I pretty much only saw him “behind the green door” or in an expando van. Yet, he was a great mentor, and it was also clear to me that whichever room he was in…..he was the smartest guy in the room.
I moved on to a different unit, and I lost track of him.
I didn’t find out until 2007 that he was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Iraq on 14 November 2006. Colonel Felts had volunteered to deploy to Iraq as a Military Transition Team (MiTT) leader, a senior advisor to the Iraqi military, and had been in country since January 2006. When he and his driver were killed by an IED on the streets of Baghdad, he became one of the most senior leaders to be killed during the conflict. He is obviously still missed by his family, but he is also still missed by those whom he mentored.
In memory of Colonel Thomas H. Felts.

The Moscow Victory Parade

SS27 Mod 2

Dateline Moscow, 9 May 2015. Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) rumble through the streets of Moscow as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) soldiers march in the parade.
Did you see that the SS-27 Mod 2 (aka RS-24 Yars) ICBMs were prominent in the World War II Victory Parade held earlier this month in Moscow? They are hard to miss. These are the second in the SS-27 series that are replacing older Soviet-era systems. Some unclassified estimates say that by the end of next year, fully half of the old systems will be retired and replaced by the SS-27 series (fully complete by 2024ish). Unlike the SS-27 Mod 1’s, the SS-27 Mod 2’s are Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) capable.
If one hadn’t guessed it already with the occupation of Crimea and the continual push to isolate and ultimately re-conquer the Ukraine, Russia is not content to let the United States be the only world power. The systematic modernization of the Russian long range nuclear arsenal should give one pause, of nothing else — pause to ponder about what escalation could possibly bring. Would Europe and the United States go to *that* threshold to keep Ukraine free?

Chinese troops in Moscow
The PRC’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers look quite impressive during the parade. There are Youtube videos of them online, as well as quite a few photographs. The presidents of China, India, Egypt, South Africa and a number of former Soviet Socialist Republics (including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Azerbaijan) were present for the occasion. American and European leadership was absent, primarily as a protest over the Ukraine.

Aleksandr_Dugin
Interestingly, this division fits in well with Russian political theorist Aleksandr Dugin’s Neo-Eurasianism and his “4th Political Theory.” While there is not really the space today for a deeper analysis, nor for presenting evidence to show the importance of Mr. Dugin (described as “Putin’s Brain” by Foreign Affairs magazine), Neo-Eurasianism hopes to unite those opposed to what they describe as “the US and its unipolar hegemony” over the world. Dugin predicts that the 21st century will be one of conflict between Eurasianists and Atlanticists (i.e. the USA and its allies around the world). The Neo-Eurasianists hold that only a strong Russia, working together with its allies, can prevail against the Atlanticists.
The World War II victory parade in Moscow may be one more data point towards proving out Mr. Dugin’s prediction.
More to follow……….