The Cost of Freedom – Letter to the Editor Pittsburgh Post Gazette 2

The Cost of Freedom

To the Editor

Pittsburgh has long been a source of the materials and equipment necessary for our national defense.

The propulsion equipment for submarines and aircraft carriers comes from manufacturers in the Steel Valley as it has for generations. A strong fleet ensures freedom of the seas and guarantees the level of commerce needed to ensure a robust economy.

In critical global areas, freedom is being challenged. China’s influence in the Southwester Pacific is already being felt by our trading partners. A resurgent Russian naval influence is the result of their leaders trying to regain what they lost at the end of the Cold War. The re-appearance of Russian surveillance ships near America’s submarine bases is definitely a concern for a Navy that is already resource strapped with existing obligations in the prolonged conflicts in the Middle East.

As Congress prepares its budgets, sensible but strong support for the re-building of our fleet must be supported by all citizens. Our submarine forces need new boats to answer the gap left by an aging fleet. Boats that were built in the 1980’s are being retired faster than our ability to build replacements. Even some of the mighty Ohio class submarines are older than thirty five years old. A replacement must be built as soon as possible to ensure our strategic abilities.

It is time for congress to act. I urge all Pittsburghers (and Americans ) to contact your Senators and Representatives and support the rebuilding of America’s sea services.

This is a critical time in our history and your support is needed now. This is the Cost of Freedom.

Robert “Bob” MacPherson

USNL Pittsburgh Council President (2017-2019)

Mister Mac

It was never easy 3

It was never easy

On the day I retired from the Navy, my crew presented me with a shadow box. That box sits on my desk and I look at it from time to time when I am not typing stories or checking out the latest on the Internet. It’s a nice box with beveled edges, a glass cover that has kept the dirt at bay for many years and a deep blue velvet background. The display is a chronology of my service from the time I enlisted until the day I retired. All of the achievements of my career are visible and each remind me about the one thing that all military people know and understand. It was never easy.

The Oath

I took my first oath at the age of seventeen with my proud parents standing by. Like my father before me and his father too, I chose the Navy. I wanted adventure and travel and the recruiter had promised me that and much more. The Navy would give me the chance to grow and learn many things. I would get to travel to exotic parts around the world and experience so many things that I would never find in the Monongahela Valley where I grew up. He said that many sailors found time to achieve a college degree and if they worked hard, they could someday be a leader and maybe even an officer. But he was an honest man and added this stern warning: “It won’t be easy”.

Taking the oath of enlistment at such an early age was actually very easy. I guess in retrospect, the oath was just a step you had to take on the journey to where you wanted to be. Up until the moment I took it, I will confess that I did not think about what I was doing too much. But in the moments leading up to raising my hand and repeating it, the gravity of it came over me. For the next six years, I was going to be committed to doing whatever it was the Officers and Chiefs appointed over me would tell me to do. There were no half measures in making that commitment. If I failed, I would disappoint my parents, my friends, and myself. I remember a small moment of panic as I realize that I didn’t really know what was ahead. What seemed like such a simple step became a really big thing in that moment.

They lined us up in that room in the Federal Building in Pittsburgh. Stand at attention and raise your right hand.

“I, (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

And just like that, I took an oath that would change my life forever.

On either side of the shadow box are little brass plaques that say when and where I was stationed. Looking at them now, they seem pretty cold and sterile. There are twelve of them that represent the twenty plus years of active and reserve service. Interestingly enough, one of my commands is missing. When I look at them, I see something more than just brass. I see the sacrifices, the endless days at sea, the loneliness and the danger that many of them represented. A number of training commands, five submarines, one drydock and one submarine tender. They all have one thing in common: none of them ended up being very easy.

The ranks and awards make up the middle section of the box. Candidly, some took longer to achieve than I would have liked. For the longest time, I was convinced that the Navy would come to its senses and do things my way. Then, after a series of faltering steps, a wise Chief let me know in no uncertain terms that the Navy had done quite well for over two hundred years and if I really learned to accept that, I might make progress a little faster.

Starting over is never easy

I am lucky that I was able to completely reboot my career but as I have probably already indicated, it wasn’t easy. I learned that the oath really meant what it said. I also learned that in addition to the oath, there needed to be a strong willingness to sacrifice. I looked at those around me and saw many people who were giving their all to the service they chose. Don’t get me wrong. There were others who bitched, moaned and whined (BMW) every field day and duty day. The difference was, I decided not to be one of them. I took ever collateral duty I could, worked more hours than ever before in my life, learned new skills and polished up the old ones. No challenge was too great and I humbled myself as much as I could to achieve them.

During all of that time and ever since, I learned something about the men and women I served with. They all took the same oath. They learned what sacrifice was and learned to work together to achieve common goals. These are my brothers and sisters who share a devotion to their country and to the promises they made. Some fell along the way and some could not live up to their pledge. But on the whole, the people who I look back on now in my life with the most respect are the ones who discovered that even though it was not easy, you lived up to your oath. Even when the storms at sea knocked you about, you stayed the course. Even when it meant a ton of self-sacrifice, you honored your promise.

It is fitting that shadow box reflects the ranks in an ascending order to show the progression of growth. The ribbons are not as plentiful as some I have seen on current sailors and officers chests. But each one is a testament to the teamwork and shared sacrifices of my many shipmates. The dolphins represent membership in a unique brotherhood (that now includes a sisterhood).

The most dominant feature is the folded flag at the base.

This particular flag flew on a summer’s day over my last ship, the USS Hunley. If any of my previous commands had ever given me a hope that this one would be easy, that hope was dashed immediately. But with the help of my many shipmates (Chiefs, Officers and Sailors), we overcame some very large challenges together.

The flag at the base is a constant reminder that when you take that oath, there is something much bigger at stake than the temporary loss of some of your personal freedoms. It is the flag we all sailed under, protected with our service, and still honor today. I see the world around me now and worry that many people do not understand what it means to be counted upon. I see people too easily taking oaths or promises and just walking away with little to no remorse. I watch people who don’t get their way rioting in the street and refusing to commit any form of self-sacrifice.

But there is still time. We as a country can still turn the ship around. There are still many young men and women who have already raised their hands and taken that same oath. They need our prayers and our support. If you are not already a member of one of the many organizations that veterans have open to them, time to step up and do so.

I would just offer one word of advice:

It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.

Mister Mac

America as a leader – Truman’s April 16 1945 Address to the Nation Reply

On April 16, 1945, Harry S. Truman, newly appointed President of the United States gave an address to a Joint session of Congress and to the American people via a radio address at 1PM.

The speech was designed to let the people of this country and the world know that the legacy of leadership that evolved during the years of the second World War were not to be interrupted with the recent passing of President Roosevelt.

I would predict with no hesitation that this speech would never be given by the existing leader of the American people. In its simplicity, the speech reminds America and the world that this country is not only an exceptional country but one that has a destiny to lead others around the world that seek freedom. Rather than shunning our responsibility, he embraces it. Rather than attacking his country for the mistakes it had made in the past, he emphasizes what good we can bring to leading the world in the future.

I have never read the speech before today. I am glad it came onto my radar screen as I was writing my daily story for

It will give me a lot to think about as I ponder what direction this country must go in to restore some of that leadership role once 2017 arrives.

Here is a small part of the speech that I feel best captures what we were about in Harry’s eyes:

Today, America has become one of the most powerful forces for good on earth. We must keep it so. We have achieved a world leadership which does not depend solely upon our military and naval might.

We have learned to fight with other nations in common defense of our freedom. We must now learn to live with other nations for our mutual good. We must learn to trade more with other nations so that there may be-for our mutual advantage-increased product ion, increased employment and better standards of living throughout the world.

May we Americans all live up to our glorious heritage.

In that way, America may well lead the world to peace and prosperity.

At this moment, I have in my heart a prayer. As I have assumed my heavy duties, I humbly pray Almighty God, in the words of King Solomon:

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”

I ask only to be a good and faithful servant of my Lord and my people.

I hope and pray we will regain a leadership role and truly lead as we once did.

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

Remembering those who waited at home – Gold Star Mothers Reply


The joy of giving birth to a brand new life has been described as one of the most significant moments in a woman’s life. For the following months and years, she feeds and clothes and nurtures that child until one day comes and the child becomes a man or a woman and goes off on her own.


Throughout our countries history, challenges to our freedom and liberty have forced some of those children to take up arms in its defense. Often times in the last few centuries, those challenges have come on foreign shores and the threats to freedom came to others that were unable to protect themselves. During those times, brave men and women stepped forward or were called to do the unthinkable and pay an ominous price. We humbly try and pay a small homage to them on Memorial Day to try and remember their sacrifices and gift of freedom to people who they had never known.

But there is one other group who pay homage to their memories every day. The mothers who gave them their life.

The American Gold Star Mothers Inc. was formed in the United States shortly after World War I to provide support for mothers who lost sons or daughters in the war. The name came from the custom of families of servicemen hanging a banner called a Service Flag in the window of their homes. The Service Flag had a star for each family member in the United States Armed Forces. Living servicemen were represented by a blue star, and those who had lost their lives were represented by a gold star. Membership in the Gold Star Mothers is open to any American woman who has lost a son or daughter in service to the United States.

The Elizabeth Boro PA Memorial Day Committee honors local Gold Star Mothers

each year at our Riverfront Ceremony

Gold Star Mother Banner 150px-Gold_Star_Service_Banner_svg thGYWFLLNB

Sometimes I weep for my country… then I vow to fight on 2

Elizabeth PA Memorial Day through the years 019

Like many others, I spend a lot of personal time and resources preparing for the Memorial Day observance in my home town. It is not a celebration since the day was designed to decorate the graves of the fallen soldiers and sailors of the Civil War. It is not a party because the honorees made the ultimate sacrifice to defend their brothers and sisters in arms and ensure freedom could survive in the face of evil.

Ever since I was a kid, I have seen the crowds grow smaller and the number of children diminish. I grew up during the Vietnam war so this is not too surprising. The anti-war crowd used the tool of Anti-Americanism as one of their tools. Their work was done well.

This video is a clear demonstration of how far we have gone:


But I am not deterred. Seeing it makes me weep and laugh at the same time. Then I get more determined than ever.

What are you doing Memorial Day? If you live under the banner of freedom, you have a debt to those who paid the price to keep that banner flying. Teach the children. The schools probably no longer do. Take them to a service and teach them about reverence. You will have the whole summer to picnic and party. Do something remarkable this year:

Make Memorial Day a Priority

Mister Mac

MEB38B~1 Memorial Day Elizabeth PA 1988 005

The Politics of Chicken 3

We left the house earlier this afternoon in an attempt to beat the dinner rush. So did a lot of other apparently very hungry people. Truthfully, I did not know where the restaurant was located other than some very vague description on the company website. We drove around for twenty minutes once we got in the general area and finally figured out that the location was in a mall we kept passing.

There were tons of cars outside. When we got into the mall, the line stretched all the way around the corner. It never slowed down and as we were leaving at the end of our meal, it was almost twice as long as when we first arrived. The people in the line were nice, polite and engaging. Many were anxious to talk about what brought them there. The common theme: Freedom. Freedom from elected officials condemning other people’s right to freely express their beliefs and convictions. Freedom from being bullied by an incredibly small minority with an incredibly big voice in the main stream media.

Some interesting observations:

  • It seemed pretty spontaneous and unorganized, yet everybody came for the same reasons. Why else would you stand for an hour or more in line for a sandwich?
  • There was no main stream media press present. I wonder how many will come to the planned protest on Friday to record the “Kiss In” meant to be disruptive to people’s livelihoods.
  • Everybody was polite and patient. Some were heard to say that even if they ran out of chicken, they would buy napkins to show their support.
  • At our location, there were signs and security guards that refused people permission to take pictures. If you got caught, you would first be asked to stop and second be escorted out. After a few hours, more security guards showed up to help.
  • The food was good and even on a day when I think we surprised the heck out of them, they did a great job keeping up. No short cuts, no smaller portions, just good plain honest food.

I already liked Chick-fil-A for the great comfort food they offer at a nice price. When I travel, I always keep an eye out for them. I will make it a point to use their website now when I do. Nice people with a great product. It doesn’t get much more American than that.

Back in the dark days of the first Depression, politicians that wanted people’s votes used to promise a chicken in every pot. I suppose the idea was that people were so hungry for a decent meal, they would vote for someone who gave them something to eat. Obama and his folks have been promising the equivalent gesture for three and a half years without telling you that it was your neighbor’s chicken you were being promised.

My vote this year involves chicken too.

I will vote for anyone who ensures that people who make a decent chicken sandwich have the freedom to openly compete for my business with honest food at a reasonable price without fear of some government hack threatening their ability to do so. In some ways, it seems sort of queer that in a time where jobs are scarce and the economy is barely holding on by a thread anyone would threaten a business owner for having a personal belief. We live near the country where large chicken farms provide food for some and work for others. On very hot summer days when we ride through the country near those farms, the smell reminds me of politicians that do that as I roll my window up as fast as I am able.

As we left the mall, I yelled out “God Bless America”. Lots of folks clapped.

Mister Mac

Note to the White House: There were a lot of people waiting to exercise their rights without government interference… I would suggest ya’ll sharpen up your resumes. Not a single person there had a good thing to say about the current administration.

Elizabeth Home-coming Centennial Celebration ~ July 1, 1934 Reply

The first day of the Elizabeth Centennial Celebration in 1934 started the same way as the previous days had … hot. The entire country had been sweltering in an unseasonable hot weather pattern and the people in Elizabeth were not exempt.

The four day program began on July 1 with an 8:00PM Union religious service at the High School Athletic Field. The program denotes that all events will be held using Daylight Savings Time. I thought it rather odd that the program would need to identify the use of daylight savings time until I did a little research.

DSTActPassageThumb           DSTEnd1918Thumb

Daylight Savings Time on a national basis had been passed in 1918 during the First World War but was rejected by the American Congress due to its unpopularity (1919).

President Wilson’s veto was overridden and apparently it became a local option to use that method for adjusting time. Reinstatement did not occur until World War 2 so the importance of telling people which time standard you were using was a necessity. (Note: the uncertainty returned after 1946. States and local areas were once again able to make local decisions for years to come).

The temperature leading up to the 1st of July included a few spikes into the 100’s. Of course air conditioning back then was not as available as it is now. The heat wave extended all across the area for the entire week of celebrations. Knowing the formality of fashions in that day, can you even imagine being dressed in a full wool suit, hat and spats for men and long length dresses for the proper women of Elizabeth. Now add 93 degree sweltering heat (even at 8PM DST) and you can imagine how daunting it must have been.

Sabbath services were held by: Rev. Dr. R.H. Kirk (Presiding Minister), Rev H.G. Howell, Rev. R.C. Rogers, Rev. M. C. Brubaker, Rev. M.A. Leen, Rev. J Jordan

An address was given by Dr. Gaius G. Slosser Professor of History, Western Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh. Music led by a community chorus, directed by Thomas Grenfell Sr.

Note: In case of unfavorable weather the services will be held in High School Auditorium.

Today’s entry is courtesy of:

The Elizabeth Printing Company

“Printing Worth While”

formerly “The Herald” Job rooms, established 1871…

F.C. McGinley and P.R. Ashton

See Alex Paxton for “Good things to eat” and George A. Lewis for all of your REAL ESTATE ~ INSURANCE ~ AND NOTARY PUBLIC NEEDS (Second floor Masonic Bldg.)

The heat wave of 1934 was the hottest on record up to that time. Continued dry weather and heat would contribute to the hottest North American heat wave ever which was recorded in 1936 and coincided with the Great Dust Bowl.

I can’t find a record of how many people actually attended services. In my heart, I want to believe it is anyone who was physically able to come. The times almost demanded extraordinary behaviors and I am sure the good people of Elizabeth Borough heeded the calls from their various Ministers and Priests.

As we close out today’s program, here are some interesting facts about what it costs in 1934:

  • Bottle of Pepsi 10c
  • Average income $1,601.00
  • New car $625.00
  • New House $5,972.00
  • Loaf of Bread 8c
  • Gallon of Gas 10c
  • Gallon of milk 45c
  • Gold per ounce $20.67
  • Silver per ounce .38
  • Dow Jones Average .98

Tomorrow will be day two of the Elizabeth Home-coming Centennial Celebration. Don’t forget, quoit matches and mush ball elimination begin promptly at 9:00 A.M. at the Rockwell Garage and the Safe Factory ground respectively.

I had no idea what a quoit was but apparently these folks are quite familiar with them:

Steamboat inspection at the docks is also available from 9:00 A.M. but all visitors must be clear before the 1:00 P.M. Parade.

See you at the river!

Mister Mac

A more complete history of the event is contained here:

On Wisconsin (bring on the fall!) Reply

Just a short message this week to the

Followers of the New Freedom Underground

Deep disappointment for the dirty dogs of war… David Ax-man denied

In the dying days of democracy dozens of devious democrats demanded debilitating deals while denying the details of its descendant direction. Decadency caused by deleterious debutants disguised as “lawyers” who sought to divide the denizens of a once proud land. First they denied the Deity. Then they destroyed decency. Finally they declared dictatorship by unilaterally demanding a strict denial of self-determination.

Let the dirge begin…


Or let the flags of freedom once more fly.

With fealty to no man or party, let us frame our freedom and fan the fires of liberty. Fill your lungs with the first breath of emancipation and liberate those who would have been forced into modern day slavery. Fall approaches… Rise up and be counted.

Freedom first, Freedom last, Freedom always

Denial to the dividers and their debasing decisions and direction

Mister Mac