258 December 7, 2018 “A terrible resolve…”

December 9th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 258

December 7, 2018

“A terrible resolve…”

I know that most of my readers expected my annual columns on Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving. In lieu of those, I held back to write this piece.

Today is the 77th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor. More than a date in history books (which, sadly, is omitted from modern edited texts in our schools — more about this later), it signaled a nation to respond to threat. Yes, the threat was afoot thousands of miles from our West Coast, but it was a threat that prompted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to declare that, since that unprovoked and deliberate attack, “…a state of war has existed between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan.”

Fences are nonexistent between our two nations today, but those of us who are children of the “greatest generation” remember all too well. The stories didn’t come from the veterans who returned after a bitter and costly conflict. No, those stories came from soft, hushed conservations at kitchen tables across the nation, conversations overheard by those of us tucked into our beds.

Almost to a man, those who fought and watched their comrades die, stayed silent. Accolades are overdue to veterans’ groups who sponsored videos from men and women well into their eighth decade. Among those is a treasured member of my family. His unit landed on the beaches of France on D-Day. He survived. Countless others died.

Even today, oil seeps up from the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor. Those of us who view the Arizona Memorial come away with a profound sense of respect and awe. My experience was perhaps a bit different from those of others. As I stood on the area that extends over the ship, I noticed an elderly couple. Side by side, they each held a wreath. Centered in each was a black and white portrait of a young man. After gently dropping his wreath into the water, he turned to take the second wreath from his wife. Clearly they lost two sons on December 7th. Losses were not ours alone.

Even though the attack exacted a terrible toll on the American Pacific Fleet, the consequences were all too clear in Japan. Instead of glory and victory, one of the Emperor’s most trusted military leaders had a sinking dread, one he only expressed in his personal writings.

Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor would reportedly write in his diary, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Wars exact a terrible price on a population, no matter whether aggressor or attacked. It is a sad commentary that people as a species have not learned the price of war. Those who wage war claim all manner of reasoning, but at the heart of it, greed tops needs. Power and privilege top everything else.

After World War I, “The war to end all wars,” no lesson was learned. As a people, Americans defended our friends and sacrificed mightily in that pursuit. Still today we attempt to spread liberty and freedom around the world; and, even as we see successes here and there, far too many leaders see nothing wrong with holding sway over their suffering, impoverished people. They strut about in uniforms, dispatch enforcers to ensure their “peace.”

We see a lot of this and it is not likely to end. The lure of power is inexhaustible. The push for control is a horrible master. The devil tempts and sways as he has for millennia.

Pearl Harbor underlines the importance of vigilance. Oceans do not protect us. We learned that all too well on 9/11. America does not ensure the spread of freedom by example. For all our good intentions, we need to remember how critical it is to remain on alert.

The armed services no long employ a draft. America’s military is made up of volunteers. They are due our respect. Today as we stop for a moment to remember those who fought and died in World War II, both in the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) and in the Pacific, it should be abundantly clear that we breathe free because others — most of whom were total strangers — sacrificed life and limb for us.

May God bless those who fought and died, their surviving family members, and the untold numbers of American men and women who toiled in the war plants, who volunteered at the USO sites, who cared for the injured, and who buried the dead whose families were fortunate enough to have their bodies returned to American soil.

We are who we are today because of the men and women who fought and won World War II. These people are not dubbed “The Greatest Generation” for nothing. They earned the moniker. They bequeathed our nation’s freedom and liberty to us. Do more than think about it. Thank every man and woman in uniform in person as you encounter him or her.

Remember Pearl Harbor.

257 “VICTIM”

September 29th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 257


I taught government and history. I loved both subjects, but my love of government rooted in my respect and admiration for the Founding Fathers who, in the wake of a revolution against a tyrannical and inflexible government, sought to form “a more perfect union” (their words).

I based my teaching on The Federalist Papers and The U. S. Constitution.
Although I had a keen appreciation for the Constitution from the time I had Advanced History with Mr. Ray Hinshaw at Shelbyville High School in the 1950s, an appreciation sharpened by Dr. Yu Long Ling of Franklin College. My Constitutional Law professor, Dr. Ling came from Taiwan. His family fled to Taiwan after the Communists took over China. He had been Attorney General of Taiwan and knew the value of freedom.

Dr. Ling had a profound influence on his students. I was privileged to listen to his lectures and I came to love my country even more under his tutelage.

Using this as background, I find it difficult to find words to express my angst and frustration at the happenings of the last two weeks. I remember watching as Justice Clarence Thomas was assailed with an accusation that sullied his name and besmirched the entire process of confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee.

I never expected to see that again. After what was done to Robert Bork, I held to the belief that any future hearings would be ultimately fair and unbiased. I was wrong. Thomas suffered mightily and equated what was done to him as a “high class lynching” (his words).

The whole specter of the Senate hearings sickens me, but there is an underpinning that disturbs me even more because it threatens the very core of American values.

I considered law school for a long time. Then Prosecutor Jim Lisher was a consummate professional and I learned a lot in the two years I volunteered in his office. Ultimately, I chose to teach instead of work as a lawyer. I never regretted the decision, but the background I gained in the prosecutor’s office instilled in me the fervor for the basis of our legal system: a defendant is innocent until proved guilty.

How on earth has it been turned on its head? As I listened to the charges, like many others, I questioned the timing. How was it that Senator Feinstein held this information for weeks before turning it over to the Senate Judicial Committee? Why was it not investigated properly and in good time?

We will never get an answer to those questions, but it does bear witness to the fact that it was declared within days of a final vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Set aside that he is a sitting judge on the second highest court in the land…. Set aside that he has a prep school and Ivy league background…. Consider this.

What if this were your husband, your son, your brother, your nephew, your friend? How would you feel if someone you loved or admired was accused of sexual assault? With no physical evidence, no corroboration of statements made, and a lapse of nearly forty years, how is it that this man has been vilified this way? I can’t help but think that had a case come before his bench with no basis in evidence, it would have been thrown out.

Yet, this man sits before a panel of twenty-one men and women, ten of whom are bent on denying him the Constitutionally backed nomination of the sitting president. He must deny the charges that have wracked havoc on his wife and children as well as his parents. His life’s work is on the line. What if this was someone you love and respect?

This is really a disgraceful situation. When the two newest women justices were nominated, there was no sideshow allied to their hearings. They were voted in along largely party lines, but no orchestrated opposition was launched from the minority party.

As if this were not bad enough, I see a much more dangerous situation brewing below the surface. More dangerous than this? Yes.

Over the last few years I have noticed with alarm the increasing gender-biased advertising and news coverage. There are very few commercials featuring strong male figures. Oh, I’ve seen a few ads with men rearing children alone, but the prevailing theme is women with children and no man present at all. There are ads with women as professionals and most emphasize the fact that they are out there doing it all alone.

A nation’s existence roots in two basic elements: language and faith. Both are under attack in America today. Go to a license branch or a Social Security Office. Language is the key ingredient here. Although I cannot cite precisely how many, forms and paperwork in these venues are printed in many different languages.

My question is, “Why?” If we want our children to learn another language, the best option is to send them to the country of choice where immersion is the key to learning. My paternal grandfather’s family came from France in 1895. Their first task was to learn English. English was their key to success.
No longer. “Inclusion” replaces common sense when it comes to English. There is no better way to divide a population than to lose a common tongue.

Language under attack? You bet it is. And faith? You would need to live under a rock not to see how faith is threatened today. We removed prayer from schools based on the objections of a tiny fraction of the population — by that, I mean the atheists.

It all goes back to the Bible. Even America’s founding. Read the words of the men who wrote our most critical documents. The word “creator” was not used lightly. Were the men perfect? No man is. The only perfect man died on a cross to redeem all our sins.

America was founded on Faith in God, yet the past decades witnessed a disintegration of respect for religion. Those who wish to dismantle our form of government fear a belief in something higher than self. They want to be in charge of our lives. That should worry all of us.

Consider these verses from Ephesians:
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church [a]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.”
I can hear the women’s liberation crowd screaming at these prophetic lines. They are paranoid about taking a back seat to any man. Forget that a strong, loving, fair father in the home is priceless.
I take a meaning from the Bible passage that is more allied to today than yesterday. Just as Jesus is the leader of the church, so, too is the man the leader of his household. It does not mean that the wife has no voice or importance. Quite the opposite. Each marriage partner values the another.
It worries me that today young women are exposed to a society that pushes equality among women, but not between men and women. Guilt should be based on fact. Guilt by accusation is the tactic of a totalitarian government. Try to defend yourself in a socialist or communist country. Good luck. No rule of law. No presumption of innocence. Guilty when charged.

The descriptor “circus” is interesting, although a circus has an element of entertainment. If this is entertainment, I can do without it. The protestations of Hollywood are lost on me. Why should I consider the opinions of people who make their livings pretending to be other people? Celebrity does not equate to anything close to wisdom. Celebrities simply have a platform that arms them with a lot of press. Don’t get me started on the press. That’s a sad enough story on its own.…

As the mother of three grown men, I shudder at the presently uncorroborated charges aimed at Appellate Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Without any facts, the charges tarnish any accusation backed by corroborative evidence. Sadly, they threaten to imperil victims who wait for justice.

It may be a rehash of the disgusting, worn, slanted question that has ripped apart many men’s lives over the years. While not applicable to every situation, its impact can ruin an innocent man. The question? “When did you stop beating your wife?” The mere accusation labels him forever. Good grief.

I am sickened to see all men being blamed for the crimes of a few. Reflecting on the current hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, realize what the word victim can mean given the current climate.


Think about it.

255 “De ja WHEW!”

September 17th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 255

September 17, 2018

“Deja WHEW!”

Let’s see, this is 2018. That means that 1938 was 80 years ago. In terms of history, 1938 saw a world that would change dramatically with the rising of The Third Reich and its leader, Adolf Hitler. The population of the United States was 129.82. (As of September 1, 2018, it stands as 328.48 million.)
The workforce was more “hands on” than “eyes on” (as in computer screens and cell phones, that is). People worked for a living and they worked hard.

Social issues of the day were understandable given that the recent Great Depression severely affected Americans coast to coast. Memories were fresh and the people desperately tried to rebuild the life they considered normal before “The Crash.” Rebuilding lives was the priority of the first order in1938.

Man can do wonderful things. Man can invent devices to make life easier, devise transportation modes to move us from place to place in comfort and with ever-greater speeds. Man can literally move mountains. No fantasy either…. Our determined forebears cut through The Cumberland Gap and open a way west. To be frank, it is unlikely that many of the major projects undertaken more than a hundred years ago could have been accomplished lately, given the government stranglehold on inventiveness and the business community instituted in the not-so-distant past. Thank goodness the current administration moved quickly to eliminate burdensome regulations, loosing industry to once again regain our firm foothold in the world economy.

With that background, let’s just take a look at what man cannot do. Man cannot affect or control the weather to any measurable degree. Oh, there are instances of cloud seeding; but aside from that, man remains at the mercy of a notable lady, Mother Nature. Not a new phenomena, either….

This was certainly the case in 1938, again eighty years ago. For many of us, the name Katherine Hepburn is instantly known. Linked with fellow actor and noted co-star Spencer Tracy, she played very challenging movie roles and made a lasting impact on moviegoers. The younger set would be wise to do a little research on this remarkable woman who swam in the Atlantic Ocean until she was well into her eighth decade. Sturdy New England stock is a mild way to describe her. Her life was colorful and unconventional for the time, but she was her own woman long before the onslaught of women’s liberation.
Let’s take a look at the shocking weather that battered New England 80 years ago. (Note the timing correlation to this year.)

The Smithsonian Institution:

A storm formed in the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands on September 4, 1938, and headed west. After 12 days, before it could reach the Bahamas, it turned northward, skimming the East Coast of the United States and picking up energy from the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. On September 21, it crashed into Long Island and continued its way north at a speed of 60 miles per hour, with the eye of the storm passing over New Haven, Connecticut. It didn’t dissipate until it reached Canada.

The winds were strong enough that modern scientists place the storm in Category 3 of the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The Blue Hill Observatory outside Boston measured sustained winds of 121 miles per hour and gusts as strong as 186 miles per hour. The winds blew down power lines, trees and crops and blew roofs off houses. Some downed power lines set off fires in Connecticut.
But it was the storm surge that caused the most damage. The storm came ashore at the time of the high tide, which added to the surge of water being pushed ahead by the hurricane. The water rose 14 to 18 feet along much of the Connecticut coast, and 18 to 25 feet from New London, Connecticut to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Seaside homes all along Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island were submerged under 12 to 15 feet of water, and Providence, Rhode Island was inundated with 20 feet. Whole communities were swept out to sea.
One of the homes that washed away was Katharine Hepburn’s beach house in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
Heed Hepburn’s description.
“It was something devastating—and unreal—like the beginning of the world—or the end of it—and I slogged or sloshed, crawled through ditches and hung on to keep going somehow—got drenched and bruised and scratched—completely bedraggled—finally got to where there was a working phone and called Dad. The minute he heard my voice he said, ‘how’s your mother?’—And I said—I mean I shouted—the storm was screaming so—’She’s all right. All right, Dad! But listen, the house—it’s gone—blown away into the sea!’ And he said, ‘I don’t suppose you had the brains enough to through a match into it before it went, did you? It’s insured against fire, but not against blowing away!— and how are you?’”
You can do a little web surfing and come up with a picture of Hepburn sitting in a bathtub among the scattered remnants strewn across the ravished lawn of Fenwick, her family home swept away by the storm. She had quite a sense of humor. She rebuilt the home and lived in it until her death at the age of 96.
The hurricane, one of the most destructive to ever hit New England, was followed by massive river flooding as the water dumped by the storm—10 to 17 inches fell on the Connecticut River basin—returned to the sea. By the time the devastation was over, 564 people were dead and more than 1,700 injured, 8,900 homes were completely gone as were 2,600 boats. Trees and buildings damaged by the storm could still be seen by the 1950s.
In the days and weeks following the storm, the federal government sent thousands of men from the Works Progress Administration to assist with the search for survivors and the huge effort to clear away the destruction. And in all the news coverage I read, there was no mention of climate change or the specter of global warming.
Remember please that 1980 saw those same people warning of a “coming ice age.” When that didn’t work, they morphed the message into global warming and the race was on — what race? — the race for those leading the charge (poor word considering the massive amounts of money they earn by peddling this garbage).
Turn back the clock three years. What about 1935? It saw another powerful storm. The Great Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 was so powerful that it sand-blasted clothing off of people who got caught in its vicious winds, destroyed nearly every structure in the Upper Keys and killed about 500 victims. The Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper describes it.
“People were picked up and thrown around like rag dolls,” said Brad Bertelli, curator of the Keys History & Discovery Center in Islamorada. “Bodies were blown all the way across Florida Bay to Cape Sable.”
This was the most intense Category 5 system ever to strike the U.S. coastline. It was stronger than Hurricane Camille, which clobbered Mississippi in August 1969, as well as Hurricane Andrew, which devastated south Miami-Dade County in August 1992 – both being the only other Category 5 storms in recorded history to hit the United States.
When it barreled across the Upper Keys on September 2, 1935, the Labor Day hurricane was packing sustained winds of 185 mph, the same destructive power as an EF4 tornado.
“It was tightly wound, like Andrew, with a swath of destruction about 40 miles wide,” Bertelli said. “Most of the damage was between Tavernier and Duck Key.” The system produced a storm surge of 18 to 20 feet above sea level, knocking down trees and buildings on Matecumbe, Islamorada and other nearby Keys. It also destroyed Henry Flagler’s railroad, which connected Key West to the mainland.
“That was the last day Henry Flagler’s train made the trip from Miami to
Key West,” Bertelli said. Many of the victims drowned when they were
swept by towering waves into either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic.
Among those who perished were 259 World War I veterans, who had
been building the Overseas Highway and were living in federal
rehabilitation camps.
A train had been dispatched to rescue them from the storm, but it arrived too late and was swept off its tracks by the storm surge. Of some consolation, Bertelli said, “none of the people on the train died.”
At the time, only about 600 to 700 people were living in the Upper Keys or the death toll would have been much higher, he said.
After roaring through the Keys, the hurricane curved north, paralleled Florida’s west coast and made a second landfall near Cedar Key as a Category 2 hurricane on Sept. 4.
At the time, only about 600 to 700 people were living in the Upper Keys or the death toll would have been much higher, he said. After roaring through the Keys, the hurricane curved north, paralleled Florida’s west coast and made a second landfall near Cedar Key as a Category 2 hurricane on Sept. 4.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, legendary author Ernest Hemingway traveled to the Keys to help with the recovery. He ended up writing an angry article entitled, “Who Killed the Vets?” for New Masses magazine.
In a letter to his editor, Max Perkins, Hemingway wrote, “We made five trips with provisions for survivors to different places but nothing but dead men to eat the grub.”
While it took years for the Keys to fully recover, residents started rebuilding almost immediately, and some area schools reopened in 1936, Bertelli said.
“Residents of that area were a hardy bunch,” he said.
The storm highlighted the need to evacuate the Keys well in advance of a threatening storm, because the two-lane highway – the only way in and out of the island chain – easily jams. A year after the hurricane, the 17-foot-tall Florida Keys Memorial was built on Upper Matecumbe Key in memory of the storm victims.
Don’t be taken in by the hype of elites who travel about in fuel-guzzling private jets telling you that you need to drive an electric car and adjust your lifestyle in bizarre ways.
I doubt if anyone in 1906, 1935 and 1938 attributed all the storm damage and loss of life to anything but the weather. I often joke with friends and say that the word needs a little adjusting. It should be “whether!”
Keep those in North and South Carolina in your prayers. They are at the mercy of Mother Nature and she is less than kind when handing out major storms. There will be fatalities, but no numbers rivaling those of past years. Modern forecasting, “hurricane hunter” planes and widespread access to weather reports coupled with ample warnings saves more lives than we can imagine. Yet, earth rules when it comes to catastrophes.
All it takes is for one major volcano to erupt violently and the weather around the planet could take a downturn that would be the projection that the global warming nuts seek to blame on the internal combustion engine and industry. Let’s hope Mount Rainier and Yellowstone stay quiet for centuries. We live in a world with a fiery core spawning volcanoes that could spell the end of the life as we know it.
Back to hurricanes….
Deja Few? Yes. Thankfully, hurricanes are few. It’s just that when hurricanes strike, damage lasts for decades..

Please consider one fact. Weather is cyclical. Otherwise no explanation exists for the icy cold that gripped Europe and North America — a cold that blanketed Europe in smoke. Why? People were freezing, desperate. They cut down every available tree to heat their homes. According to Resources.org “The Little Ice Age” spanned from about 1300 to 1870 during which Europe and North America were subjected to much colder winters than during the 20th century. The period can be divided in two phases, the first beginning around 1300 and continuing until the late 1400s.
So, we haven’t seen a cold wave or anything like this since just after the Civil War. Will it happen again? Who knows? Other than being prepared for anything, there is nothing we can do.
And as for storms such as Florence, she won’t be the last. She may not be the worst. Even one life is too much to lose, but compare the current fatalities to those at a time when warnings were all but nonexistent and you will realize how much we owe contemporary meteorologists. And as for those in the path of these storms? They evacuate or ride the storms out. Grim as they are, these are their own two choices.
Really…. Don’t blame man. Man is, and always has been, at the mercy of the weather.
Think about it.

254 – “Repeated”

August 27th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 254 “History repeated?”

August 27, 2018

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve “heard it all,” so to speak. Then I listen to the latest in what has all the hallmarks of a poor B movie. Anger and envy has no bounds. Add to that the loss of what some believed to be a foregone conclusion in the 2016 presidential election and the scene is set for far more than better luck next time. We have what has morphed into more than what our president calls a “witch hunt.” We have all the hallmarks of a contest that is legend in the Bible.

The characters here are not one on one. Far from it….. They are one against many. Years ago when I taught at the college level I was a solitary figure among liberal faculty. I had sat on the opposite side of their desks for years as an adult undergraduate student, but my upbringing and maturity insulated me from pointed comments and socialist spin that had a far greater effect on the young people who were my classmates.

I really wanted to attain the next level above and secure a job at the college, but that was not to be. Looking back, it’s probably just as well; but that’s another story altogether.

Considering the ongoing current events, I recalled a statement that I often made to my students. I explained that, as voters, they had reason to question anyone in public office. After all, once out on their own, my students needed to understand that they were — in fact and in truth — those public servants’ employers. We don’t consider that often enough, do we? Oh, enthusiasm spikes at election time, but for most of us, the heightened interest ends at the voting booth.

I’ve seen those whom I wanted in office lose contests before, but the results didn’t determine my actions for months and years to come. Not so for the Democratic Party and its loss in 2016.

The decision to nominate Jeff Sessions for Attorney General may have rooted in his Senate experience and the fact that he was an early supporter of Trump. Trump’s firm belief in the “swamp” among the D.C. politicians was far more accurate that he could have imagined. Had he appointed a man or woman without campaign ties we would witness a starkly different situation today.

The crux of today’s bleak picture comes down to the fact that for the last fifty or sixty years our top elected officials had no business background. Oh, there are scads of lawyers and a smattering of other professions represented in the Congress, but people with deep business credentials were sorely lacking. What we have now is the fruits of that mix of people.

What was to have been a Social Security nest egg was cracked and scrambled into the “general fund” long ago. Lobbyists are a rich resource for information needed to assess pending or proposed legislation. After all, no elected official can be expected to be knowledgeable on every subject out there. Unfortunately, the core value of lobbyists blurred into a money-driven system of favors that exponentially wrecked objectivity among legislators.

When Donald J. Trump won the 2016 election, the cookie jar shook in terror. It’s lid — long off — was about to slam shut. Anyone who has owned or managed a business, met payroll, faced downturns in the economy, and struggled against regulations knows that you cannot operate at a loss. Yet, we not only operate at a loss, if we (the United States) were a business, we are way beyond bankruptcy. We are insolvent.

Everybody runs on about the “national debt,” and that is important. But that figure pales when compared to the unfunded liabilities this nation will face in the future. Couple that with the dumbing down of education, and we have a recipe for disaster. That is, if we don’t get our house in order.

Enter a man who knows how to manage a bottom line, who understands the value of law enforcement, who recognizes that no nation exists without a strong border, and who doesn’t owe any large donors a dime. The elites now face someone without fear. They face someone who puts the country first. They face exposure of inaction.

Interjecting a bit on sports, the NFL Commissioner should issue a firm rule. “You don’t stand? You don’t play.” They will scream like smashed cats for a while, but if they want to make all that money they can either stand for the national anthem and play or walk out. I doubt if their shoes will hit the pavement. There are, among the NFL players, men who return to the inner cities to help young people. Their actions speak volumes and make the disrespectful display of kneeling during “The Star Spangled Banner” look juvenile and foolish.

Inequality? Does it exist? Certainly it does, but that has been true throughout history. Inequality won’t evaporate because grown men refuse to respect the flag that guarantees freedom. If they want to move for change, then they need to take their actions to the neighborhoods desperate for male role models. Kneeling does nothing to assuage inequality.

President Trump knows inequality exists. He stood before inner city audiences and asked, “What do you have to lose?” Assessment of his popularity among minority communities continues to soar. If you take a critical look at the most impoverished and crime-ridden areas of the country, you will find — by and large — people who have lived under Democratic rule for decades. Promised progress and change with every election, they voted in hopes of attaining just that. But they only saw more of the same.

Patriotism is the heart of America. In the 1800s boys as young as twelve had to take over families when parents died. In the early 1900s children worked in factories, on ranches and farms, and ran errands in large cities to help support their families. When wars came, teenage boys lined up to volunteer to defend America.

Those boys were made of strong stuff. They knew how to work — and work hard — from an early age. I shudder to think what would what would happen if we required that kind of response today. What was commonplace for youngsters of my grandparents’ and parents’ generations is rare. That goes for my generation, too. In my mid-70s, I began to work at age 12. I’ve never been afraid of hard work and I’ve done jobs that a woman never should have attempted.

The link from this subject to the situation faced by the Trump family is not obscure. President Trump’s father took him out of the construction sites when he was very young. He learned to run heavy equipment and witnessed the day-to-day work it took to construct buildings. He continued this with his own children. They know how to work and maintain respect from their employees. Now Trump turns his considerable energies to rescuing this nation from decades of mismanagement.

This column’s title does not portend that we are bound to repeat history. Oh, no, it has a far different meaning from that.

This president unabashedly thanks God for this nation and asks that Americans pray for His blessing. Bite by bite, in nearly all media, we see faith labeled as a weakness. Christianity is under attack from all sides. Even the Amish are not immune. Ads now tout a new series that features these modest communities as drug dealers. Egad! Is there no shame among producers today? Evidently not….

Christianity and Judaism underwent a reformation. Both groups benefited from the adjustments. We are urged to be tolerant of Islam, yet it is the only one of three great religions of the world not to have undergone a reformation. When President Trump extols faith, the media attack him viciously. Despite the fact that he fulfills more campaign promises than anyone in memory, he is the scapegoat for all manner of ills.

Since Democrats cannot counter him on facts, they attack him personally. They attack his wife, his adult children, his friends, and now they use the Southern District of New York to target his business. They salivate at the prospect of finding some way to get rid of him.

Many swamp dwellers have little in common with the workingmen and women of America. Trump does. Democrats scream, “resist.” They squawk, “impeachment.” They are but the tip of the iceberg of the establishment that now faces a man they cannot control.

An uninformed, misinformed public is easily controlled. Liberals laid the groundwork for just this scenario and have nurtured it for decades. They have dumbed down education and polluted our youth with their pie in the sky descriptions of socialism. They have decimated humor. Political correctness emasculated men and robbed us of the joys of laughing at ourselves and others. Oh, yes, they did a good job. But, thankfully, the job isn’t finished. Why?

All of a sudden, the plan fails. All of a sudden emerges a man who threatens what they view as their destiny — total control. The word surprise doesn’t begin to describe their rabid reaction. They are frantic and it’s getting worse. Nothing is too despicable for them.

And the history I cited in the title? With a slight change of name, it is not David. It’s Donald. Donald and the opposition that seeks to destroy all he holds dear. Donald and the bloated, out of control government – the haughty behemoth throwing its dark shadow over the nation and looming as an existential threat.

It’s not a new story. But it has different characters. It’s not David, but Donald. It’s not a giant human. It’s a giant government.

Donald and Goliath. Let’s hope we get the same result. Donald wins. Think about it.

253 – Taming of The Not So Few

July 23rd, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 253

July 23, 2018

“Taming Of The Not So Few…”

Begging pardon from the bard (a/k/a William Shakespeare), I see a current movement beginning to lure in America’s impressionable youth with promises of something for (literally) nothing.

We are fortunate to have someone in the White House who owes nothing to lobbyists, wealthy donors, Wall Street or the Business Round Table. Well, as Dana Carvey’s character (The Church Lady) would have said, “Well, isn’t THAT special?” Yes, indeed it is, and more so than most people know.

Talk about David and Goliath…. It’s what we see today, and you should be scared of its consequences.

A “Ditto Head,” a Rush Limbaugh listener since the 1980s, I am proudly claim the moniker of a continual and dedicated student of the Limbaugh Institute for Conservative Studies. Boiling down what seems to most as an ugly stew of “news,” Rush brings not only wisdom, but also brevity, to complex situations. Using his experience as a consummate student of our storied and exemplary history, Rush gives his audience a clear view of current events and changes in American society as a whole.

Looking back over recent presidential elections, I note a distinct change in media coverage. News should be facts. Anchors, reporters and columnists should inform the public of the facts and let the public come to a conclusion. Not so today. What once was factual news has morphed into commentary. Facts have been eclipsed by “feelings.” Try defending feelings in court.

What this does is disenfranchise every American of his or her ability to judge a situation for itself. Critical thinking is nearly extinct. Unlike the dinosaurs, it cannot be resurrected as entertainment.

A continual liberal push insinuates that Donald Trump and his staff colluded (not a crime incidentally, according to Alan Derschowitz) with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election and propel the GOP to victory.

Where were critics when Obama and his cohorts meddled with Israeli elections? Widely known, it was tolerated and not exposed for what it was. Why? Well, Democrats rarely defend Israel. Instead, they take the side of the Palestinians (thugs as they are) and refuse to support our greatest ally in the Middle East. How many times have you heard a Democrat come to the defense of Netanyahu?

It is not new that countries attempt to subvert the political process of an adversary in order to gain ground. This has gone on since Biblical times. To spout all the current garbage as if this is the first time in history that the United States has tried to undermine a despotic or abusive government in order to spread freedom is ludicrous. It is standard operating procedure for intelligence agencies around the world.

Do we do it as a nation? You bet we do, and it is routine. Business as usual, as it were. Have the Russians adopted this as a new tactic? That’s laughable. Russia interjects itself here in America, not only in elections, but also in other ways that continue to go unnoticed by the general public.

If you doubt that this is the first time that Russia has tried to spread its disruptive influence the United States, just consider these examples. The first focuses on fiction, spawned by real life.

Richard Carlson starred in a popular TV series that aired from 1953 to 1956. I was only 9 when it began, but I remember it well. “I Led Three Lives” recounted real life. Citizen, Communist, Counterspy is its base. The book is Herbert Philbrick’s classic memoir of his life in espionage.

Once a Boston-area advertising executive, Philbrick accepted the FBI’s overture to infiltrate the Communist Party in the United States. What’s more, Carlson portrayed the spy with his actual name, Herbert Philbrick. Grounded in truth, that series — sixty years ago — exposed what we have witnessed in the United States over the last few decades.

Sometimes, truth is really stranger than fiction.

Viewers were privy to the challenges Philbrick faced maintaining those same three distinct identities — counterspy, citizen and Communist. Awash with intrigue, it kept its audience on the edge of their seats for three full years. It is interesting that the series premiered only a few years after Senator Joseph McCarthy initiated his famous hearings in Washington, D.C. How did they come about?

At a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9, 1950, McCarthy proclaimed that he was aware of 205 card-carrying members of the Communist Party who worked for the United States Department of State. This speech set off an era of paranoia and accusation and propelled McCarthy into the national spotlight. (ushistory.org) But, those hearings are another story….

Communism is not new. It is an old, and crippling ideology dating to the 1890s in which only the elite exert power and hold resources while the populace at large is left with a life robbed of freedom, ambition, or dreams of personal success.

In the words of Karl Marx, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” So, if you work, you do not reap the rewards of your labor. Instead, your effort and largess go to someone who “needs” it more than you do. So much for the work ethic….

Socialism is one step down, but on the fast track to Communism. To this date 42 candidates for office at the local, state and federal level are endorsed by the American Socialist Party. These elected “wanna bes” stand on the shoulders of others among us. You see, purveyors of Communism remain alive and well and dwell among us — happily tenured among the faculties of institutions of higher learning from coast to coast. Now their “blatherings” have earned a platform that endangers us all.

Oh, they are the classic “snake oil salesmen (or women, if you are into the gender specific language) of the day. They promise free tuition to public universities, free Medicare for all, etc. They promise….

Sounds good to someone educated to believe that America stands at fault for other countries’ poor living conditions. America at fault? Oh, yes. Untold numbers of our young people have little or no respect for America. Never mind that millions of our men and women sacrificed their lives to free people around the world. Those bits of history are viewed inconvenient to them.

Never mind that America stands as the bastion of freedom for the world. Never mind that in the midst of any major natural disaster, Americans are first to respond. Never mind America’s history of hard work and innovation. Never mind the truth….

And if you think that the influence stops with academia, you need to think again. From their inception in the 1920s, unique men produced Hollywood movies. Studio moguls, to a man, were either immigrants or children of immigrants. These men knew the value of freedom and used their films to further the message of Americans as heroes… of faith as the anchor to life… the rewards of hard work… the value of compassion and sharing… of America as the best place on earth….

Once these men were dead and gone, it didn’t take long until studio ownership fell to people with an agenda. Suddenly, gratuitous violence replaced implied violence. Blood and gore became the order of the day. As a result, children were desensitized to violence in its harshest form. Cheating, glorified, disappeared as “wrong,” and became just another way to get ahead.

Remember when the James Bond films had maniacal foreigners as adversaries? Remember when power-seeking bad guys tried to take over the world? Remember how England’s “007” foiled their plans? Remember those movies? Well, consider the recent Bond plots….

Now, the villain genre is capitalism. Business is evil. Any idea how that has warped the wordsmith’s intent? Ian’s Fleming’s James Bond character actually roots in a proficient spy working for Winston Churchill. That man was F.F.E. ‘Tommy’ Yeo-Thomas GC, codenamed “The White Rabbit.” Think that Churchill could have been lured or persuaded by Communism? Hardly.

Yet, subtleties of the films extend the Communist reach to one more area: entertainment. They inch their way into the corporate psyche. Now, we have education and entertainment linked in what I consider a perverted effort to undermine America as my generation knows it. And what defines my America? As Clark Kent would say, “Truth, Justice and the American Way.”

Our great-grandparents’ generation fought the Civil War. Our grandparent’s generation fought World War I — The War to end all wars! Our parents’ peers fought World War II and Korea. My generation fought Viet Nam. Current military stationed worldwide stand ready to defend each of us — to a person — including all those hell-bent on spreading Socialism in America today.

Who are the wealthy entertainers who push to take away our guns? How about taking guns from their bodyguards? And those who try to push electric cars with limited range? Owners of private jets that consume huge amounts of fuel.

Carbon footprint? You bet. But that is not the only dirt left in their wake. An old adage claims “the wages of sin are death.” Well, the wages of socialism and communism are enslavement and despair.

Double standard? Yeah, but what else can we expect? Nothing is more important to the would-be socialists than political success. These people are persistent, but thankfully they are few. It is up to each of us to counter their false messages and prevent them from gaining a firm foothold among the voting public.

As we approach the 2018 mid-term elections, be mindful of why America remains the envy of the world. We are free. We value truth. We defend our friends and prove to be very dangerous to our enemies.

This president stands up for America. This president leads through strength. Only this president’s resolve and our military stand between us and peril. This must prevail. Donald Trump faces the few. They are determined to destroy him. Who are his defenders? We are!

Can the few be tamed? Ah, yes. But only with effort. Our goal is “The Taming of the Few.” Are you up to it? Think about it.

252 “A sad truth…”

July 6th, 2018

By Hetty Gray


July 6, 2018

It is with angst that I space my columns out over time. Often, my spark dims with the current news. I feel as if I am living in “The Twilight Zone,” but Rod Serling is nowhere to be found.

I revel in national holidays. Celebrating America is first on my list, so when I view someone climbing the pedestal of The Statue of Liberty — sparking a response by National Park Service personnel (at their own peril), I am a loss for words. What this woman did was rob countless men, women and children from visiting one of our most iconic sites on the 4th of July. Good timing with her mindset, absurd from those of us who love our country.

My faith sustains me, and not in a small way, as I reflect on the happenings that continue to grow in the United States. The very freedoms that set us apart from the rest of the world are used in ways that defy reason.

It is not simply a case of glass half full or half empty, either. Freedom of speech is sacrosanct for us. Our military defends the rights of the most misled and uninformed to say what they will. Aside from screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater, these folks and their warped ideals try the collective patience of our people.

Perhaps just as worrisome as watching the officers pluck the aforementioned woman from a fragile (yes, the copper is thin and subject to damage) statue was a series of interviews with young people asked if they were proud to be an American.

Had that question been asked when I was a young person (granted, that was a half century ago), a negative reply would have been unthinkable. Ah, yes, the systematic mantra of leftist teachers and textbooks has done its job. We now have untold numbers of our young people who have no appreciation for American exceptionalism or of the history of our people.

I made it a point to give my students a little advice as I taught both in high school and college. I emphasized that history is not a litany of names, dates and places. History stands as a series of warning signs for us.

If we do not heed history, we risk repeating it. No nation is faultless. Human, we remain, one and all. When I was a young person, there were subtle differences between the two major political parties. However, few people questioned love of country. The Democratic Party did stand more for the working population than the Republican Party. Today, tables have turned. We now see a Democratic Party that triumphs entitlement options, illegal immigration (yes, illegal), and gender identification.

Please. You are born with certain parts. They define gender. Choice may be legitimate in the drive-through lane, but not in the delivery room. The proverbial pendulum has swung so far askew that it defies explanation.

Socialism sounds wonderful. Everybody is equal. It harkens back to Orwell’s thesis that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

That we have a growing segment of our young people considering Socialism a positive lifestyle is not only scary, it is extremely dangerous. If elites can convince them that government control bests individual freedom of choice in the workplace, we are in for a very rough ride. America was built on the blood, sweat and tears of forebears who didn’t expect a free ride. They made their own way and what a way they bestowed on us!

Control, for those who push socialism, is far easier if their audience is blind to the horrible effects socialism can have. For a contemporary example, look no further than Venezuela! What a sad state of affairs that is!

Consider the current happenings in San Francisco, a beautiful city founded as a major port of working people, a city that endeared itself to Americans with its stunning vistas and cable cars.

Today, the “city by the bay” loses major conventions because of the homeless, opioid community and the violence that plagues its streets. Some workers even pay to ride to work less than a block of two from their homes. It is really that bad.

Throw in the “sanctuary city” status coupled with tolerance for criminals to roam the streets and you have a toxic mix. And what of leadership? The holier than thou politicians who spout how they “care” about the poor — in fact — do little to remedy the situation. Where do they live? How do they travel? Security? You bet. Yet, they clamor to disarm the general population. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.

The would-be car jacker who encountered an armed mom as he tried to flee a gas station with her two small children in her car learned the hard way. Licensed to carry, she reached into the console and shot him in the face. He stopped yards away. Hers is the face of self-defense. She is a hero.

Violence seems to the order of the day when the minority party moves ever closer to November, and not just the venomous words they hurl with abandon. A California Congresswoman repeatedly calls for attacks against anyone who works closely with or lends support to our president. Where on earth is putting country before self? Where is the common root of America — patriotism? It is not dead, but it is in peril.

To my chagrin, the beauty of American federal government that I explained to my students has morphed into a puzzle that seems to have no solution. It’s a game of “us against them.” Sad? Yes, but more than sad, it’s very dangerous.

Certain ingredients define a country. Four are critical: One: Secure, defined borders — without borders, there IS no country. Two: Law — without rule of law, there is no order or safety for the people. Three: Language, without a common tongue, the country lacks the glue that holds it together. (Remember, worldwide, all airline pilots speak English.) Four: Military strength — without a strong military, the country is at high risk.

We now witness the fraying of the first three with the full support of the Democratic Party. This should scare the socks off each one of us. If, as some critics claim, Democrats that oppose enforcing current laws governing immigration harbor an underlying motive — an influx in high numbers of new voters dependent upon the government programs of which they are so fond, then they are beneath contempt. If a strong country is a healthy country, how is America today?

When you add in the specter of leadership that scorns those of us who believe in God and view faith as a weakness, you compound the problem with a fatal flaw that could doom the American dream.

Misled and uninformed youth will follow the lead of a “pied piper.” The old slogan of hippies “Never true anyone over forty” needs updating. Those who protested and cursed their parents and grandparents now serve in positions of leadership. Scary? You bet it is. So long as our schools and universities continue to allow teachers to rail against America and turn out graduates with no respect for country, the risk to each of us grows exponentially.

If you seek a real challenge, try to convince a young person who has become an “America hater” that he or she is wrong. Good luck. In an ironic twist, it reminds me of how shocked I was to see small Chinese children taught to kill Americans or Palestinian children taught that all Israelis are pigs to slaughter.
Seeds planted with purpose can bring forth a bitter harvest.

It is not a problem easily solved or in short order. The first step will be the hardest, reforming education to be just that — not indoctrination. Teaching should root in facts, not feelings. Teaching should extol patriotism, not alienation. And God should not be off limits in any school setting.

Armed with visceral hatred for any modicum of control, these progeny of the ’60s generation place law enforcement in their crosshairs and systematically instill attitudes to dispirit and enrage their followers — often with deadly consequences. When respect for authority dies, so does a society.

Is it hopeless? No. I remain confident that if enough Americans stand for what is right and move against the ranting and raving of the left, we can turn this around.

Watch and listen to the messages before the coming mid-term elections. The left will concentrate on hate and fear, labeling the GOP as “phobes” of every kind. Winning at any cost is at the heart of their campaigning and the possibility that work will win out over welfare and that the economy will thrive fuels their insatiable quest for power.

I applaud the efforts of the Trump administration to revive American pride and praise the exceptionalism admired worldwide. You don’t see people surging to immigrate (legally or illegally) to socialism countries. There is a good reason for it. Socialism does not work.

Today, politicians of the ilk of Bernie Sanders, praise Socialism as the “end all, be all” of life. It’s far from it. Socialism stifles entrepreneurship, dampens ambition, and collapses the stable order of society.

Free education, guaranteed housing, everybody has a job…. It may sound good, but there is not one instance of it having worked — anywhere, ever!
Border security also needs to stop the flow of drugs into this country. We are losing young people to drugs at an alarming rate — those among us who should have the burning desire to succeed.

There is no better way to weaken this country than to cripple a large segment of its youth. So far, the cartels are doing a bang up job. Evidently, they have the cover of very powerful forces. Someone, somewhere, is making what (to omit a perfect term) a ____ load of money off the drug trade. The question is just who are they?

So, where are we? We are at a crossroads. I refuse to give up on America. We all need to pray that things turn around and America regains her treasured, strong relationship with her people — true to its motto, E Pluribus Unum. One of many, one….

In truth, I cannot imagine what our Founding Fathers would think of today’s state of affairs. They were men in their 30s. Together, after much discussion and prayer (Yes, prayer!), they crafted documents that would forge a government that positioned America as the beacon for the world — a government truly of, by and for the people. I believe that America is that “shining city on a hill” that President Reagan described.

The Founders would never understand the mindset of many young people today. My question is just what kind of young people are we turning out today? Critical to our survival is the answer. Think about it.

251 – Closed Minds or Open Mines

April 29th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

April 27, 2018

# 251

“Closed Minds, Open Mines”

Accustomed to writing a column once a week for decades, I find myself writing when a topic strikes me as particularly germane. Not one to shy away from politics given my background as a history and government teacher, determination tops reticence when the situation demands it.

I have friends from West Virginia. I remember when coalmines splashed across the front pages of widely read newspapers (nearly extinct) to cover a mine disaster. Lives cut short deep underground and the anguished waiting as families gathered to learn if their loved ones were dead or alive. Banner headlines and broadcast news reports kept the public up to speed on the turn of events.

Mining is a hazardous business. I can appreciate that because my husband is a farmer and farming ranks high among dangerous occupations. Although mining losses come in high numbers when a disaster strikes, farm deaths continue to mount one by one over time. More often than not, one can chalk many of the deaths up to inattention. The old saying that a “careless farmer is a dead farmer” rings true yet today. Safety, you see, is job one.

There is a gentle charisma among miners. Loretta Lynn brought the close family life to America in her poignant ballad, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” With technology front and center on the job front, younger Americans have lost the respect for hard work. Hard work. Dirty work. Needed work. Families are close. Families cling to faith. Never take electricity for granted. Miners began the wattage you use. They move the gears of this country. Far too often, we fail to remember that.

The industry cites a great supply and the federal government affirms it. The U.S. Energy Information Association gives the following facts. “Based on U.S. coal production in 2016 of about 0.73 billion short tons, the recoverable coal reserves would last about 348 years, and recoverable reserves at producing mines would last about 23 years. The actual number of years that those reserves will last depends on changes in production and reserves estimates.” The map that follows illustrates just where those reserves are.

Yet, it was not so long ago that one of the most contentious political discussions in the 2016 presidential campaign hinged on coal. One candidate pledged to “put coal companies out of business.” And, as if that were not enough, the public was encouraged to believe that coal was the worst possible source for power. Clamoring for renewable sources is fine, but there are drawbacks. Remember, please, that wind is highly subsidized. Without subsidies, wind would not be affordable.

We evolve. With every generation we see great strides in energy. Just consider energy early in the 20th century and compare that to what we use today. Even with all the computer savvy jobs, the nation requires affordable transportation and electricity.

Enter a president who understands business and resources. Donald Trump followed through on his campaign promise to remember the coal miners. He recognized the importance of coal production.

Once hobbled by government regulations and restrictions, the clean coal industry (yes, clean!) is once again working away below ground to claim the fuel to generate the electricity that fuels our economy. The widely dispersed comments masked a hidden political goal — government-run lives. A public without choice is crippled.

Our government holds the reins to the economy, and when it unleashes the ingenuity and determination of the American worker, literally nothing is impossible. In the 1970s some began to issue warnings about “global cooling.” Few bought the line, so their tactic changed. “Global warming” became the mantra.

Odd situation. You see, those who push the dangers of fossil fuel fly around on jets but want us to drive electric cars. Nice logic, huh? They pocket huge sums of money and solicit donations from the public convinced that we are fueling our own demise. With hundreds of years in supply and better and better mining techniques, their message should fall on deaf ears. But it doesn’t. Reminds me a bit of the snake oil salesman in the 1800s American West.

It will be interesting to see what happens in West Virginia this year. Their democratic senator is up for election. Yet his party is the one that threatened mine closures. Coal remains a mainstay for his state.

Will this be the triumph of closed minds over open mines? It is hard to predict the effect that all the anti-coal press could have on national voting, so the West Virginia vote might not give us an accurate picture. What we need is solid education based on fact not emotion, based on accurate assessment and not on assumption.

Senator Joe Manchin voted with President Trump to block regulations that would have killed coalmining jobs. So, too, did Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, plus West Virginia’s other senator, Shelley Moore Capito. In November, Manchin faces a competitor. Just who it is will remain up in the air until voters go to the polls on May 8th. I doubt if they will reflect mainstream media and its minions. It is easy to see that both coasts constitute the bulwark of rampant liberalism. These liberals consider those of us in “fly over country” rubes and hillbillies. Well, we common folk make this country run. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the West Virginia elections this year.

Americans who yearn to see a government run like a business — not operating in the red — shudder to think that poor civics education given our youth might sway power back to the poor management seen in the last administration. Sacrifice is never popular. The men and women who won World War II are disappearing daily. With each succeeding generation, we seem to have lost the importance of loyalty to country and faith in God. If it continues at a rapid pace, it could be our undoing.

It took decades for us to pile up the national debt. It will take decades to get back to solvency. Sadly, today’s young people seem to think everything happens quickly. The one worry many of us have is that too many among us are impatient. They have been taught that government is the answer to everything. It is not. Oh, my, it is not….

Consider the wisdom of President Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” That still holds true today. Humor is the soul of wit. Reagan exuded both. I close with another Reagan quote.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

As I see it, there is no better way for this nation to lose its freedom than to keep the public uneducated and dependent. We are well on our way to both. Think about it.

250 – Culture Change

April 29th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 250

February 15, 2018

“Cultural Change: Deadly”

It’s a given. I am a senior citizen. As such, on many occasions I have seen more of life than I needed to see.

Yesterday is a prime example. I remember Columbine. All of us do. I remember the Hoosier native, a teacher, who gave his life to protect his students. I remember it all.

Since that time, we have witnessed twenty-four more school shootings. How has this happened? It is a question many of us ask.

Well, turn back the clock — culturally. I am a child of the 1940s. Our parents’ generation fought and won World War II. Our grandparents endured World War I. The world they bequeathed to us gave my generation a stable start in life. Their sacrifice and hard work rubbed off on us. They knew the value of human life. They had seen too much of it destroyed. We learned respect for our elders, a strong work ethic, and the value of a good education, whether in the trades or via a college or university.

Our main entertainment was radio, and even today Radio Spirits, and similar companies, broadcast the old shows much to my delight. Movies featured violence, but it was quick and far less vivid than today. True, Edward G. Robinson was a gangster and his movies had guns involved; but there was a difference. The good won out over the bad. Bad was seen as bad.

And then there were the westerns, or “oaters.” Directors like legendary John Ford captivated America with his western movies. We watched Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Tom Mix, Allen “Rocky” Lane, Andy Devine, and Chill Wills. One handsome actor reminded me of our neighbor across the street, local surgeon Norm Richard. That actor? Swashbuckling Glenn Ford.

Good guys wore white hats. They valued liberty and stood for truth. They used their guns to defend the weak and enforce the law. The bad guys, attired in dark colors, earned their names: bad guys.

My memories of those days flash vividly. We watched the “shoot ‘em up” films, but none of us took them too seriously. But, then again, we were not bombarded with violence from every corner. Our games were Monopoly, card games, and checkers. A few of our brighter peers played chess.

Guns were a fact of life for rural kids. Townspeople kept guns at home. In fact, it was not unusual to see guns in the back windows of pickup trucks in high school parking lots. In the 1930s high schools had shooting clubs around the state. Students brought their rifles to school and kept them in their lockers until they went to the shooting range with an instructor.

Yes, our high school experience was far different from today, but a gentler one in many ways. The occasional fight might break out among a few crude teenagers, but those were very rare. Discipline was not questioned. It was reality.

When Principal Jim Sharp walked down the hall of our high school, he parted the students like Moses did the waters. A swish and a clunk in the hallway meant that a cantankerous student was held, feet off the floor, up against a locker. He had rules. He enforced them. None of us got angry and went home for a gun either. And plenty of our houses had guns. I know mine did.

I graduated in 1961 before the hippie era. Our generation saw no drugs. We only read about “opium dens,” and that was in world history. We didn’t see illegal drugs or anyone that might have frequented them. We took drugs (medicines) only when we were sick. To do otherwise was unknown.

Once the specter of drugs, love children, and open sexuality hit the streets, the game was all but over. The transformation of entertainment nailed the coffin of American teenage innocence shut with a bang — no gun pun intended. When our youth became obsessed with games lionizing death and crime, seeds were sown more widely than a thunderstorm dumping Canadian thistle on an Indiana cornfield — easily sown, a constant battle to eradicate.

The evolution of movies from wholesome to insulting only added to the problem. Thugs wreaking havoc and carnage on city streets replaced strong male role models in actors like Robert Young, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, and Joseph Cotton. The number of youngsters living in single-family homes began to skyrocket. None of us is better for that.

In the wake of Broward County Florida’s terrible events of Valentine’s Day, some will scream “gun control!” Well, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. A gun left alone in a room is harmless. In the hands of an evil person, a gun is a weapon of unimaginable damage. And so what do we do? Well, why not adopt the Israeli system?

Israel’s schools remain secure. Building security is high, and unidentified teachers carry concealed weapons. Despite the Palestinian rocket attacks on innocents that have gone on for decades, no school is Israel recorded a live shooting incident. True, Israel is a tiny country, and their culture is homogeneous; but their basic plan is solid.

Try to get into a courthouse or federal building in the United States. If you carry legally, your weapon will remain at the entrance under guard. You may be frisked or go through a metal detector. If we keep political and administrative offices safe, shouldn’t we do the same for our schools?

Just how much are our kids’ lives worth anyway? Are they worth a secure building with only limited entry? Are they worth anonymous conceal carry teachers? It’s only common sense, but — then again — that is nearly nonexistent today. Would that it were different….

I do not speak without experience. A 73-year-old grandmother with a lifetime permit to carry, I received my gun training at the FOP firing range by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department when I worked for then Prosecuting Attorney Jim Lisher in the early 1980s. Once in a great while mainstream news will air a story of a person carrying a gun who thwarts a robbery or worse or a mother who defends her home, but — sadly — the news usually concentrates on gun criminals, not citizens defending themselves.

The five million plus members of the NRA stand for personal protection guaranteed by the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment is sacrosanct to them, and to me. It should be to you, too.

The Florida school shooting will bring out slings and arrows from both sides of the gun control issue. However, we do need to remember that the once widespread system of mental health hospitals so common in the United States was dismantled decades ago. Moreover, child rearing became a sporting event for litigious parents who threatened lawsuit if a child was reprimanded.

Once a strong social triangle existed, and it forged an important relationship key to a child’s success. As you know the triangle is the strongest form in geometry. The best example is a pyramid. Think Egypt….

That once strong triangle consisted of the school and the parents for the child. It has morphed, much to society’s loss, to the parent and the child against the school. With the school leg gone, the triangle collapsed — and with it the once strong bond that held the whole relationship together.

However, we cannot ignore the violence to which our children have been exposed. I shudder to calculate the number of murders and violent scenes today’s elementary school children have seen. Now extrapolate those numbers they have seen by the time they reach high school. Constant exposure to violence desensitizes. Empathy and sympathy evaporate. Jaded attitudes reign. Reality falls by the wayside. Everything begins again after the lights go up in the theatre or the commercial ends the episode on TV.

And what of the responsibility legitimately shouldered by video game manufacturers and Hollywood? Oh, celebrities are right up there on their pedestals when it comes to telling us how to live; yet, their medium erodes the very foundation upon which this nation was founded.

Oh, dear. God is the first in line here.

Talk show hosts and anchors mock faith in God as a weakness or as if it is a dread disease. Far from it, faith anchors your life when all else around you collapses. Trace the school violence back to the time when we took God out of the schools.

Exposure breeds mimicry. Undoubtedly, superhero movies will remain popular, but they are pure fantasy. In contrast, gang movies and gratuitous violence offer absolutely no redeeming social value.

Without moral guidance and authority, anarchy looms. When you add the problem of edited textbooks and leftist instructors who paint America as the pariah of the world, the recipe is nothing short of disaster. We teeter on the edge of just such a disaster today.

Prayerfully remember the families of students and staff murdered on February 14th. Each of the murdered went to school yesterday morning expecting to go home. They did not. Each of you has a local school board. Make your concerns known. Insist on security. Every school, large or small, is at risk. Big cities are not alone in their vulnerability. Sad, but true….

Think about Israel. Israelis are determined to keep their freedom and they are prepared to defend it. They safeguard their children and tell them the truth about the world around them. We sugarcoat it here. While it does take away a part of innocence that should be inherent in growing up, informing children about dangers around them is critical.

Every technology has within it an element of danger. The Internet we view as a wonderful tool, the criminal sees as a fast method of communicating evil. For all its good points, it harbors evil within.

Leadership does not end in the home. It extends to the federal level, or one would hope…. I fear that we have become a nation without moral clarity and respect for law. Cities and states that refuse to obey the law are criminal entities and should be treated as such. This bent view of authority must be nipped in the bud, to quote Deputy Barney Fife. Press your elected officials to support federal law. Don’t just sit in the kitchen and complain about it to one another. Voters have impact. Make yours known.

How much are 17 lives worth? Locked doors? Full time security guards? Contrast these costs with school athletic budgets. Today, speaking to a group of Sheriffs from around the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this statement: “The right to remain safe is the number one right of every American and the responsibility of every one of you.” (Audience was made up of law enforcement officials.) He is right.

A lack of safety costs precious lives, lives to be forever unfulfilled, we must face a sobering fact. School safety is the seminal issue of our time. As a parent and grandparent, I want to see something done to assure that children are safe. Do you? Think about it.

Well, not today. Don’t just think about it. Find a way to do something about it. All politics is local. Every locality has a school. Starting small is still a start.

249 – “Kicking the CAN” – January 24, 2018

February 20th, 2018

By Hetty Gray


“Kicking the CAN”

January 24, 2018

If you have any background in American lingo, then you recognize the phrase
“kicking the can.” While this is most often used to describe putting off an essential element of planning or action, it also has a more dangerous slant — one that bodes ill for our future.

To cite contemporary examples you have only to consider one of a number of commercials currently aired on national television. Pay close attention to the dialogue. The ad features two teenage boys at the side of a road at night. They have a flat tire. After a discussion of what is covered and which company has roadside assistance 24/7 (It’s an insurance company ad.), one replies to is father, “Of course I know what a lug wrench is…” Obviously, he has no idea and neither does his friend. Boys who don’t know a lug wrench? Ouch! That never would have happened when I was a teenager.

Those of us who grew up at a time when our fathers knew a head was not only a body part attached by one’s neck but also a critical component in the internal combustion engine. People my age find the whole scene laughable. However, funny as it is, the ad only showcases the disappointing fact that uncounted numbers of today’s teens and young adults have no idea how to fix anything.

Even the most basic chores are alien to them. I follow young girls in the checkout lines of grocery stores and see nothing but boxes of prepared food. Oh, there might be a jug of milk and juice, but traditional ingredients for getting a family meal are visibly absent.

Computer jobs beckon many of our young students, yet I wonder how many of them can conceive the mental ability it took to design the first one. I was not quite seven years in 1951 when the first huge computer was dedicated. Univac took up an entire room — a far cry from the tiny devices we carry in our purses and pockets today.

Sixty years seems to have flown by in the wink of an eye, reflective of comments I heard from my grandparents at about my age. Yet, the tactile and problem-solving skills of sixty years ago are most concentrated in those of us who were young at that time. With each succeeding generation, except for youngsters reared by do-it-yourselfers or those who grew up on a working farm, those skills rapidly disappeared.

How many of our grandchildren are prepared to take care of themselves in case of a major disaster? A hundred and fifty years ago it was not an uncommon site to see a twelve-year-old boy take over his family after one or both parents died. The base line here is that the parents taught their children to be self-sufficient.

While there are parents who still expose their children to basic tasks and how to do them, they are becoming more and more rare. I do not mean to shortchange in any way those youngsters who can work circles around me in terms of fixing things, but it worries me when I see how little many of them are able to do without calling someone else.

I task schools to reinstitute the “trades” classes. Dropping shop and home economics in favor or weight rooms and computer labs may appeal to the modern curricula directors, but it is very shortsighted.

We cannot continue to teach technology and ignore basics. People need to know how to fix things. People need to know how things work. That is the beauty of physics and science. A teacher can actually show students how things operate. Simple gears can be fascinating to young children, especially is they are allowed to put together the mechanism themselves.

For more than a decade my husband and I sat at the symphony with a retired Allison engineer and his wife. Both Gene and Mildred Dent volunteered at the Children’s Museum. Gene designed and built the simple devices that showed children the wonder of machinery. Every child should have that kind of an opportunity. Who knows the budding talent that could bloom as a result?

Today we have the wherewithal to transform education into something more than reading, writing (don’t get me started on eliminating cursive!), and arithmetic. Incorporating manufacturing techniques into a curriculum surely could not hurt.

Introduce children to the magic of electricity, the power of water and hydraulics, the importance of repairing something instead of purchasing new. In the end, the entire society will benefit. It’s not a lost cause — yet!

Working with one’s hands positions itself to be an invaluable talent considering the number of us able to do little or nothing. Entertainment and empty video games have taken the place of learning at the feet of a parent or grandparent.

We need more learning within the family and a focus on careers that are timeless — those of the building trades and home repair. Robots may be the future of factory floors, but they do not install floor joists, studs, and trusses. Men and women do that, and with considerable talent.

A lover of all things Apple (computer, phone, etc.), the simple lower case “i” preceding a product line is a dead giveaway to the manufacturer — iMac, iPod, iPhone…. That is a good thing, however, I suggest another twist on that nomenclature.

Kicking the “CAN” is what we have done for decades. Since its founding, this nation has been known as a people with a tenacious approach to learning, be it with hands or heads. I dream that the time will reappear — a time when the ages-old reply to a query, “Who can do this?” is a chorus of young voices shouting “iCAN.”

Would that it were so…. Think about it.

247 – “Ill Eagle”

February 20th, 2018

By Hetty Gray

# 248

January 20, 2018

“Ill Eagle”

After watching and listening to the blathering coming out our nation’s capital, I ponder just what this country is becoming. Once the bastion of individual accomplishment and the one place on earth where a person could start with nothing and end up with unimaginable wealth, we have morphed into a near nanny state where illegals are valued more than our veteran homeless. Yes, look among our cities and you will find military veterans living in squalid conditions while those who come across our borders without permission — illegally — qualify for all manner of federal and state aid. The monetary impact of “English as a second language” is immense, and insulting.

Someone needs to explain to me why one word is no cavalierly ignored. The word is illegal. In other words, it is a practice that is against the law. The persons of this ilk make statements that fly in the face of those beliefs upon which this nation is founded. They want everything we have to offer and have absolutely no right to do so.

When we get to the place where able-bodied people do not work and rely on the largess of those who do, we are in real trouble. Well, folks, we are there. Welfare to work is the path to self-reliance. There is dignity in work. There is no dignity in waiting around for a check in the mail.

The trouble is that we are on a third generation of children who may never have seen a father in the home. Many fathers work, but there are untold numbers of children who may never have seen their father go to work. How sad for the children, for the family, and for the nation as a whole.

Look back in our history to the time when thousands upon thousands of immigrants made their way to the United States via Ellis Island. Were they profiled? You bet they were. Health problems were sorted out and those who failed the medical exams were sent packing back to their countries of origin. Those who did make it through all the inspections and exams were determined to find work.

In the case of my grandfather’s family who came through New York City in 1895, my French forebears were tasked with learning English and finding work. Mastering the language was paramount, even though native tongues continued to be spoken among family members. It was not unusual to find ethnic areas in our large cities. The languages spoken at home were not English, but English was the path to success. Immigrants knew that.

Germans and Italians were just two among the many nationalities that thrived in our inner cities. Today, their restaurants, grocery stores and churches remain a bastion of their heritage. The term “Little Italy” was understood immediately. Good food, entertainment and hospitality ruled.

Lamentably, today’s American inner cities are better known for crime and gang violence than for ethnic flavor. That is not a good thing. A lot of this falls on the widespread problem that occurs when gangs take the place of the family unit. A fractured family is at high risk to fail its children. And when government steps in to provide what a family needs, the picture worsens.

We need to teach the value money and the dignity of work beginning in kindergarten. Children should feel the exhilaration of success in mock business ventures. They should internalize the old saying that “there is no free lunch.” They should understand both economics and saving by the time they are in middle school. If this were true, our national economic health would have a well-deserved shot in the arm.

Dreaming of starting one’s own business or achieving success in a chosen career should top a student’s list. We do every American child a disservice when we fail to train him or her to succeed in life.

What ever happened to math for living? I have met young people in their early twenties who do not understand interest, the danger of credit card debt, and the basics of borrowing money. A mortgage or car payment is not exactly clear in their minds either. This isn’t just sad. This is perilous.

It’s fine to enjoy entertainment and leisure time, but focus should be on achievement and earning a good living. We have shoved the trades to the side in favor of computers, but I haven’t seen an electrician or a plumber at the street corner with a sign “work for food.” There is dignity in every job. Pride is not something to ignore. It is something to encourage.

Our American eagle is sick. It sees English ignored as the nation’s language. Try going to a foreign country to live and work without mastering the native tongue. I am sick of going into major retail stores and seeing signs in two or more languages. For Pete’s sake, if people want to come to America, let them come legally, learn the language, and embrace the common values of hard work that built this country.

There is nothing wrong of being proud of one’s heritage, even if it is from a far-flung place. Celebrations and ethnic fairs can showcase the wide variety of backgrounds that underlie our population. However, if we allow a large group of people who came here illegally the same status that legal immigrants earn over years of effort, we set a terrible example and give rise to the reputation that our laws are made to be broken.

What an image to give to the rest of the world…. We can put a stop to this, but it will take work on behalf of every voter to demand that officials reflect the voters in the last election. Working Americans and “fly over country” spoke. Will they be ignored? I hope not, but if history teaches us anything it does teach us that nations that put extraordinary money into entitlements go broke. Look back as far as The Roman Empire. Too much government money given out to the masses brought down one of the most powerful entities of all time. It can and will happen again. My hope is that we are not the next example.

Focus on work. Focus on faith. It never hurts to know that there is an entity greater than self. Focus on fidelity, loyalty and love of country and of family. If we are no stronger than our weakest link, we are in trouble.

The federal system of government gives the ultimate power to the federal with the compliance of the member states. Sanctuary cities and states? Give me oxygen. If it weren’t so pitiful it would be laughable.

Yes, the national bird is an “ill eagle,” and that “play on words” says it all. We are in the midst of a government shut down forced by those on the left that value illegals more than American citizens. If you work hard and pay your taxes, do you want someone who does not work and is not an American to benefit from your labor? Well, that is happening every day coast to coast. Respect for law is shrinking and excuses abound for those who break our laws. This is your country. It’s time the elected are held to account for their votes. Think about it.