Now More Than Ever – a Strong Navy and Peace 5

The Navy League has been tireless in its mission to support the sea services throughout the last 116 years. From its founding in 1902, they have tried to always live the spirit that Theodore Roosevelt embodied when he said “A good Navy is not a provocative of war, it is the surest guarantee of peace.”

Three years after he said those fateful words, the world was changed forever on May 27, 1905 when a smaller Japanese fleet defeated the powerful Russian Navy in the Straits of Tsushima.

This unexpected naval battle set the tone for naval conflict for the next century. It showed that a willful and resourceful nation could project sea power and influence the course of history in a way that the world would have to notice. It clearly demonstrated that no country, no matter how small or limited in resources, should ever be taken for granted.

Despite that warning, America was not ready for the Great War that was to come. We had lulled ourselves into thinking that the vastness of the oceans surrounding us would keep us from harm. We were wrong. An entirely new menace called the submarine destroyed that perception of safety once and for all. 100 years ago today, fighting men and women would serve in a cause that should have been avoidable. But the oceans brought the threat to us.

As many countries did, we relied on the promise of peace through disarmament when that war completed. The navy was shrunk and a peace dividend was expected in its place. It never came. Instead, the Axis of Japan, Italy and Germany once more used the oceans to project their power. We were ill prepared for that war too, but the drive and determination of the American people carried the day once more.

The global situation is much the same today as it was before the major wars. Countries are once more expanding their forces and influence through sea power.

  • China is pushing the boundaries in the seas and islands around her country that once enjoyed freedom;
  • A resurging and aggressive Russian Navy has a global reach and an eye on returning to their once unlimited status
  • Rogue nations that are seeking to capitalize on technology are once more challenging freedom around the globe.

 

On Memorial Day, we honor the fallen. We remember their sacrifices. But we honor and remember them best when we remain ever ready and ever vigilant. We pay them the ultimate tribute when we are once more ready to defend that which they gave everything for.

The Navy League stands with all of our sea services in paying honor and tribute to our fallen. We stand for maintaining the strongest military on the face of the planet. America stands for freedom in this world. In the face of so many challenges, maintaining that strength is the only way to maintain our freedom. America needs to be alert now more than any time in history.

Mister Mac

Attention on Deck: Mare Island Naval Cemetery Needs Your Help Reply

It is fitting on Memorial Day weekend that we honor those who have died in service to our country.

Many of us also remember those who served on active duty in peace or war time and have passed on to the final muster.

This morning, I got an email from Nestor Aliga asking for help in spreading the word about a proposal that would honor the many men who are interred at the Mare Island Naval Cemetery that has been forgotten by the country.

I am including Nestor’s email and contact information (with his permission) so that you can help to make this dream a reality.

I hope you will consider joining me in this mission.

Mister Mac

 

Dear fellow Veterans, Service members, and Friends,

The Mare Island Naval Cemetery (MINC) is the oldest military cemetery on the west coast. It is the final resting place for over 800 of our country’s heroes who served since the War of 1812. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, three Congressional Medal of Honor recipients – James Cooney, William Halford, and Alexander Parker – are buried there.

PUBLIC LAW 93-43 dated June 18, 1973 mandated that jurisdiction over naval cemeteries – including MINC – must immediately be transferred from the Navy to the Veterans Affairs (VA). However, that law was somehow ignored by the Navy and the VA in 1973 and during the Base Realignment and Closure process in 1993. The federal government left MINC behind and did not provide any funding to restore it to honorable conditions nor any support for its immense ongoing maintenance.

On April 18, 2018, the City of Vallejo stated its willingness to relinquish control of MINC to the federal government. This letter was critical because it cleared a “critical path” for our Representative Mike Thompson (CA-05) to introduce H.R. 5588 on April 23, 2018 and for our Senator Dianne Feinstein to introduce S.2881 on May 17, 2018. Their bills direct the VA to seek an agreement with and for the City of Vallejo to transfer control of MINC to the VA. MINC would be under the VA National Cemetery Administration – whose mission is to maintain our Veterans’ cemeteries as national shrines.

State Senator Bill Dodd and Assembly member Tim Grayson – co-authors of California (CA) Senate Joint Resolution #26 which urges all of CA’s federally elected officials to support the transfer of MINC to the VA – fully support H.R.5588 and S.2881. The CA State Commanders Veterans Council – sanctioned by CA Military and Veterans Code Sect. 73.4 and the official voice of CA’s 1.8 million Veterans – also endorses H.R.5588 and S.2881.

So what are the next critical steps and how can you our fellow Americans assist with a fast-break?

Go to this Navy League website:

http://cqrcengage.com/navyleague/app/onestep-write-a-letter?2&engagementId=476893

Then write this message:

Please co-sponsor H.R.5588 and/or S.2881 today so they can be hotlined and passed in 2018.

OR go to:

https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

https://www.house.gov/representatives

Select your elected officials, then write this message:

Please co-sponsor H.R.5588 and/or S.2881 today so they can be hotlined and passed in 2018.

We ardently believe that this legislation can be done in 2018 like what happened with the Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines – which was abandoned in 1991. In 2012, H.R.4168 “Caring for the Fallen Act” and S.2320 “Remembering America’s Forgotten Veterans Cemetery Act of 2012” were introduced, voted before the year-end recess, and Public Law 112-260 was signed in 2013. That cemetery is back to national shrine conditions.

Don’t our American Veterans buried in the oldest military cemetery on the west coast deserve as much respect as our Veterans buried in the Philippines or in Europe or at our national cemeteries?

We Americans are certainly capable of flexing our muscle to “make right a historic wrong.” I urge all of us to urgently act and “show-of-force” our own American power!

Very Respectfully,

Nestor Aliga

Nestor.Aliga@comcast.net 

707-853-0062

The Line 13

As Memorial Day approaches, I know that all of us will be busy with tributes, ceremonies and parades of honor. At least I hope that we all would be so engaged. The truth is that many will be more focused on picnics and pools, parties and getaways, sales and sports. How far away from our own heritage have we drifted.

I will have the honor of participating in the Elizabeth Parade and Ceremony in Elizabeth PA. The ceremony goes back as far as anyone can remember and has been a regular part of my families tradition for nearly as long. I hope to be able to introduce a new poem written today for the occasion.

This poem is a reflection based on a vision I had about sailors today. I have copywrited the work so if you feel the desire to share, please contact me directly.

The Line

Mister Mac

“My child is a submariner… I’ll sleep when they come home” 5

I will never forget that day in June 1972 when my parents came to Pittsburgh International Airport to see me off on my way to Boot Camp. I was not the first in my family to leave home (big brother went to a nearby college three years earlier) but I was the first to go into the military. Dad had proudly served in World War 2 and I did not want to miss the adventure that I knew lay ahead of me.

Back in those days, the families could go to the gate with no problems and Mom, Dad, and my high school sweetheart all came to see me leave to go to the faraway land of Lincoln where the Navy had one of its three Boot Camps. (I had asked for Orlando and San Diego so of course was sent to Great Lakes outside of Chicago IL.) There were a lot of hugs and a few kisses and then it was up the ramp. I turned just before I went through the door and saw them all standing there. The girlfriend was sobbing, Dad had his arm around Mom, and Mom just had this sad look on her face. One of her children was leaving forever and he would never be the same again.

The next six months were fast and filled with all kinds of new adventures. Boot Camp, Machinist Mate A school, and temporary duty when I failed to make the needed requirements for Nuc school. Somewhere in the whirlwind of activity, someone sat down with me and placed a pile of paperwork in front of me. Since I was no longer going to nuclear power training, there were some forms to sign and the need to refocus on a different path. One of the options was to volunteer to undergo submarine training and ultimately serve on a boat. I will freely admit that I didn’t give it much thought at the time. The idea of making an additional fifty five dollars a month seemed to be the biggest motivator at the time. The decision to volunteer would change my life. And it would change my Mom’s life, too.

I will freely admit that I have never been a Mom of a submariner. But I did have a Mom that had two boys on board submarines who would eventually serve for over twenty years. For nearly four of those years, my brother Tom was on the same boat with me.

I knew from the first minute I told them that Mom was worried. As a kid growing up, we were not allowed to have guns or motorcycles since they were too dangerous. She would wait up for me to come home from dates to make sure I was safe and no harm would come to me. I suppose that is what normal mothers do.

Mom used to worry, I am sure, but despite serving on a combined total of nine submarines, we both came home each and every time. The boats we served on had the highest level of quality of any that had ever been built. The training is and has been the finest in the entire world. Between Tom and I, I am sure that we went to over a hundred different schools and classes. The mission could be a bit dicey from time to time but the emphasis was always on safety.

Communications were not always easy back in the day. There was no internet and phone calls were pretty expensive. So we wrote a lot and called when we absolutely needed to. The infrequent visits home would be celebrations that we survived another mission. But I know now that the times for her had to be pretty hard. She was always enough of a patriot that she never complained about the life we had chosen. Like our wives, she was as much a part of the service as those of us that wore the uniforms.

So how did my Mom handle things?

While we were deployed, Mom worked with the veterans groups in the community and did her best to support active duty men and women with her volunteer work, contributions and activism. She focused on the things around her and remembered every day that her boys were volunteers that did so twice: once to become a United States Navy sailor and once to become a volunteer in the submarine force.

I pray for all of the sons and daughters who go to sea in submarines and ships.

There are no guarantees. But know that we have the finest Navy and submarine force anywhere in the world and their main focus is and should be on the mission to protect this country. But I also pray for all the Moms who sit at home and wait for their child to return safely home. When they do, you may notice they are a little different from when they were younger. That can’t be helped. They have seen and done things they will never be able to fully explain. But in their hearts, they are still your children and still love you for all of your sacrifices that allowed them to be who they are today.

Thanks Mom.

Mister Mac

Rights come with Responsibilities – Or Do They? 3

Memorial Day has been a special event in my family’s life ever since Great Grandfather Mac donned his Grand Army of the Republic Uniform and marched in his first parade.

The men who returned from the War Between the States felt it was their duty and honor to remember the sacrifices of so many men who had died in that horrific war. For those who were fortunate, death came swiftly. For those less fortunate, long suffering in primitive medical conditions, agony lasted months and even years. The men who escaped injury felt that honoring the sacrifice was a continuation of their duty.

Their sons were later called to action for a larger war overseas and within another generation yet another World War. Rach of those wars and the many conflicts since have one thing in common. All of them have helped to preserve an idea called America and the freedom promised by the Constitution. The framers wanted to set up a document that would give structure to that idea. The branches of the government and the responsibilities for each branch were set up to achieve a balance of power. The country was formed in the shadow of a King and unresponsive parliament which unfairly taxed and oppressed the fledgling colonies. This document would make sure that none of the three branches could usurp the powers of the others.

What is sometimes lost in that attempt for balance is the fear that many of the founders first felt about any such document. The Constitution after all was not written to grant anyone rights. Those were judged by nearly all of the founders to be God given and inalienable. The real purpose was to limit the power of government over men’s lives. The Bill of Rights was an afterthought and to this day remains a subject of many legal battles. The men who opposed it did so not because of the “rights” included but that they presupposed that we did not have every right to live life in a way that was of our choosing.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads, in part, “Congress shall make no law… abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the press.”.

Some will argue that the Constitution is a flawed document in many ways. There are some really good reasons for those arguments. I would only add this. The founders write the document with a Bill of Rights, but failed to balance it with a Bill of Responsibilities. Most of the laws written in the past several hundred years are designed to set boundaries or limits on what we can and cannot do. The original document was written with some very wide open statements such as the commerce clause. But the real third rail hidden in the law is the statement about the press. More than one national leader has discovered the power of an unhindered press along the way.

Mark Twain once wrote “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”

While this made sense to politicians in the early days, it has become magnified by a million fold with the advent of modern communications. With each advance in communication through radio, television and the internet (in addition to the growth of the old style press industry), an unfettered press has grown to be the gargantuan power in the world. Its not hard ot imagine the power all of these methods contain to influence and change people’s minds and opinions. Imagine what could happen if the same people controlled the message and the messengers with unbridled power.

I first discovered how far we are down that road nearly fifty years ago. At the age of 13, I was a news junky. It was 1967 and I was alive with a thirst to understand what was going on around the world. Vietnam occupied center stage and I wanted to see as much as I could see for what was shaping into my generations war. Using the money I had earned cutting grass, I got a set of subscriptions to Time and Newsweek magazines. We didn’t live close to a library so this seemed like a good place to start collecting all that was news. They normally arrived within a day of each other and I would go through them from front to back. It wasn’t long before I made my first major discovery. They were nearly the same in content and flavor. The articles were the same and it erally felt like I was seeing more of an opinion than a fact.

The TV at that time was not much better. The three major channels and PBS all carried the exact same stories and the same opinions as well. Sometimes they even used the same phrases and pictures. Over the course of the next year, the pubic reacted just as if they were all programmed to follow the same script. Protests that turned to violence and of course the infamous Tet offensive where Walter wearily informed us that we had lost the war. It wasn’t until many years later that we found out that we had actually won a great victory.

The unelected press brought a nation to its knees. An unelected press has done so much evil to the modern world that we may never recover. Even today, they relentlessly attack the President and his programs because of their own opposing ideology. Lazy stories filled with unnamed sources and innuendo have no place in a responsible press. Journalists who make up facts without sources just to fit their own narrative are the worst offenders of the lot. Real journalists should call them out and castigate them publicly before taking way their credentials.

They have their rights because of the men and women that gave their lives to protect their freedom to spew any garbage they want no matter how devoid that garbage is from truth. There is no one to hold them accountable except for the public which makes the ultimate choice to decide what is right and what is wrong. When good men and women of character stand up for the truth with their money and their personal commitment to truth, evil and manipulation will be put in check.

Whether you are left, right or center, a free press is important to maintaining a series of checks and balances to government that has become unresponsive. But as responsible citizens, we owe it to the memory of those who have given everything for our freedoms to hold that press responsible for the truth.

 

  1. Mister Mac

Memorial Day – Planting a New Seed 5

Planting a new Seed

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This was a different kind of Memorial Day for our family. Our recorded history of participation in services goes back to right after the Civil War when communities all across the nation were still trying to adjust to the shocking death toll brought on by the late war. Unlike the wars that followed, there were no instant reports of most individual casualties, only telegraphed reports about large groups of dead, wounded and missing. For four years, in places with strange sounding names, men on both sides of the conflict fell victim to mechanized war on a scale never before seen on this continent.

When the guns fell silent, the grieving process began. Graves were decorated in loving memory in both the North and the South as families adjusted to their new realities. The conflict wasn’t the end of war, it was just a brutal reminder of what wars cost.

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The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) was the veteran’s organization that carried the banner of remembrance in the northern states. While they were no longer on active duty, the posts were ruled by General Orders and had men of rank and responsibility. My Great Grandfather John Culbert McPherson was such a man. A private in the Union Army, he carried the traditions of the proudly all the way up until his death (and apparently a little beyond). He is listed in the Memorial Day 1927 Bulletin as the Acting Adjutant (even though he had passed away five months earlier in January 1927).

Great Grandfather was a first generation American. His family had come from Northern Ireland and he was the first of the children born in America. His love for this country were probably the inspiration for both of his sons serving in the Army and Navy during World War 1, a grandson in the Navy during World War 2, two more great grandsons serving as sailors from the Vietnam Conflict to the end of the Cold War and most recently a great great grandson serving as a submariner during the Global War on Terror.

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Memorial Day is in our blood. From the time you are old enough to put on a Cub Scout or Brownie uniform, you are taught the lessons of this important day. I can’t tell you when my first one was but I can tell you where it was. Mt. Vernon Cemetery in Elizabeth Township near McKeesport Pennsylvania. This is the place where John Culbert McPherson’s remains are interred just a few hundred feet from the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial. Many of my other deceased relatives are there as well and I can remember as a kid rushing with my bundle of flags trying to be the first one to their graves.

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The services in Mt. Vernon go back to at least 1925.

I am sure they were there earlier but that is the first of a series of bulletins I have from the many services that occurred over the last 91 years. My brothers and sister played roles many times as kids along with the Boy Scouts of Mt. Vernon and the Girl Scouts too. There was always music, speeches (that always seemed too long) and prayers. In the early years, we also liked the firing squad. If you were a quick and clever boy or girl, you would be able to gather up the brass after each volley. I still have a few empties from those days.

Somehow along the way, the service changed and eventually moved. My Dad was the Commander of the American Legion nonstop for over twenty five years and he saw the dwindling crowds. The Vietnam conflict created so much hostility to all things military and some years the service was just barely kept alive. But Dad persevered and saw his best chance to revitalize it in nearby Elizabeth. He was relentless and enlisted the help of any and all who he could convince or cajole. He boldly approached Admirals and Generals about coming to our small town knowing that in those days they would bring resources. Resources like staff, troops and sailors, equipment and boats.

In another time, I will publish the stories of the longest running Memorial Day in the Mon Valley. But not this year. This year was a bit different. This year was actually pretty painful. But it has a happy ending at least.

When I returned home to the area a few years ago, I dove head first into the VFW and Legion activities. Because of my military and civilian careers, we have lived many places around the world. Coming home was a chance to pay back the community that I had grown up in many years before. I love helping vets and children and I saw a great big hole. Both the VFW and American Legion posts are collocated (have been for years) and it seemed like there was some room for growth. While the Memorial Day program that my Dad created was going along as before, no new things were happening. Like many posts, without new members, they die. So I helped to bring back a number of programs including Speech and Writing Contests at both the VFW and Legion. These contests awarded scholarships and have been around for years but no one was doing anything to work with the local schools. So we raised funds, held the contests and got the schools back on board.

After rising in the “ranks” of the VFW for three years, I helped on a number of other programs and even obtained a grant from a large company to help modernize the post building. This is when I found out about small group politics. One of the older members began to lobby to use the grant money in ways it was not designed to be used for. Since I was the person who signed for the grant and was responsible for the audit to come, I knew that there could be a problem in the future.

So I pushed back hard. At the end of the mess, I was forced out by people who in retrospect must have been pretending to be old family friends. At one point in the conversation, I pointed out my forty years of membership in veterans’ organizations and was told that I hadn’t done it here so it didn’t count. I was also told very bluntly that I just didn’t know how things were done here so I should resign.

I think they were surprised that the “new kid” turned the grant money back into the big corporation. I will not be forced or coerced to do anything unethical. I have higher powers to answer to than small town political hacks. A little disclaimer: There are many great men and women in the Posts who have served well and faithfully over the years. The decisions of the leadership should not be a reflection on them and I wish them all well in the future.

Back to Memorial Day. What do you do when the place where your father worked so hard to grow suddenly rejects you?

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First, you remember that there was a first Memorial Day. Then you remember the struggles during the years when the public just didn’t want to be involved. Then you remember that it is about honoring those who gave everything so that we could live in freedom. So my family joined me graveside this morning of one of the best men I ever knew. We erected one of his old “trophy flags” and held a small quiet service that meant more to me than any in recent history. We walked from grave to grave where our family lays and we honored the tragic loss of so many others.

It felt clean and good. I think a new seed was planted today. All things considered, it might have been just about the right time for that. A very special thank you to my family for helping to honor the sacrifices of those brave men and women. I think it was one of the best services we ever had.

Mister Mac

Listen… that is the sound of freedom you hear 1

I have many heroes and men that I admire. The swaggering sailor in the middle is my favorite. He was also the epitome of how we should recognize Memorial Day.

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I will be thinking about him a lot over the next two days as we visit the quiet and secluded graveyards along the Monongahela in the hills and valleys of Elizabeth Boro, Elizabeth Township, and Forward Township. We will be alone in most of those visits. But we are not doing it for the living. We fire our volleys for the ones who are at rest. Men who gave their all in the many ways through this countries history.

While you are at your soccer games or sleeping in on a day of rest, listen for the sounds of those rifles being fired. The three volleys comes from an old battlefield custom. The two warring sides would cease hostilities to clear their dead from the battlefield, and the firing of three volleys meant that the dead had been properly cared for and the side was ready to resume the battle. When we salute our fallen heroes, we once again resume our battle for freedom. We do it every day when we fight for the rights and promises of a free nation. We honor them by spiritually taking up the fight even as the sound of the last volley fades into the wooded hills and valleys they will never see again.

Listen for those sounds. Those are the sounds of freedom. If the day ever comes that they are silenced, it will mean the very freedom they represent.

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Mister Mac

Silent Service: Submarine Warfare in WW2 2

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As Memorial Day 2015 approaches, I am once again reminded that submarine sailors paid a heavy price during the second World War in a way that is vastly more expensive that nearly any other type of war fighting based on a per capita measurement.

This video certainly captures many of the issues they faced.

New Years Day 2015 3

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Thanks for dropping by.

We got up a little late this morning since we tried to see the New Year in last night. Then we had a short meal, a few quiet moments writing in the new “Journal”, and some very sincere praying. The journal was a gift from a family member and asks you to respond to new a question each day. The two of us then write in our thoughts. I believe it will help us to grow our foundation a little stronger. Today’s question was “Love is …?”

Last year was pretty full with work and projects. The picture at the top of the page was from a recent visit to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh. I found my Great Grandfather’s name on his Regimental Plaque – the Fifth Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery during the Civil War. We also found a picture of one of their reunions that I had never seen before. He was still alive when this was taken but I do not know if he was in the picture.

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2015

This will be a very busy year I think.

The work situation is a giant question mark as always. Hoping for a stable year but not so sure that will be in the cards. I asked God this morning to give us the guidance we need, the patience to wait for His work to unfold, and the vision to see the path as it opens up before us.

My submarine veteran’s world will be very busy with a San Francisco Homecoming and USSVI Convention in Pittsburgh PA in September.

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http://www.ussviconventionsteelcity2015.org/

There seems to be enough interest to launch a new organization for USS San Francisco SSN 711 Veterans so more will be coming this year as we achieve our NPO status. The San Francisco itself is scheduled to become a permanent training facility in Charleston so we will be looking for partnerships with them.

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I am in line to be elected as Vice President of Education for the Pittsburgh Navy League and I am very excited about seeing ways to help the organization grow. We have been supporting the USS Pittsburgh crews and one of the long term goals is to prepare for the sad day when she is retired from the fleet. If the fates allow and we do our homework, the plan is to someday have a permanent exhibit to honor the boat by the placement of her sail in an appropriate place.

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The VFW and Legion Children and Youth programs last year were very successful. Our work with the Middle School and High School in four different contests resulted in some very competitive entries. Our Patriot’s Pen entry placed Second in the District and our posts learned a lot to help us in the coming contests for 2015-16.

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Memorial Day is always a big part of our life. Both Debbie and I are on the committee for our small community and we will begin having meetings very soon. The Remembrance Ceremony in Elizabeth Pennsylvania is one of the longest continuing programs in the Mon Valley and has had many dignitaries from both the military and government over the years (including a Vice President). I have been a part of the program for over fifty years in one way or another and it is something worth seeing.

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It wasn’t all about the Navy and Veterans this year. I have been called to help support the ministry at the Church we have been attending. I had already been preaching there on occasion but now will fill the pulpit once a month on a regular basis. It is a small Church but I can feel God’s presence working there. It is a good place to achieve a meaningful balance in the complexities of our lives.

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Thanks again for stopping by.

The blog has over 199,000 hits as of this morning. There was a part of me that had hoped for a New Year’s miracle of 200,000 but all in all, 199K is still pretty cool. For the year, we hit about 107K for this year alone which is more than all of the previous years combined. I am working on a long term project on pre-WW2 submarines that is very time consuming (for the little time I have left after work and other commitments). But I am convinced it is a great story and has never been done exactly like the way I am working on this one. Stay tuned.

I hope your New Year is filled with joy and adventure.

Mister Mac

 

 

Remembering the Missing … Until they all come home Reply

How we remember our fallen says a lot about us.

The same can be said about how we never forget those left behind.

No matter where you are this Memorial Day, at 3:00 PM, stop what you are doing and pray for those who never made it home.

Then pray for peace for the families that still wait for their return.

POW Snip