Archive for February, 2015

209 – “Step in Time”

Friday, February 20th, 2015


By Hetty Gray

February 20, 2015

# 209

“Step in time…”


No, not Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in a rollicking melody from “Mary Poppins”…. Far from it, sadly.


People seldom consider that the passing days of their lives are also pages in the history of the world. For more than a thousand years, fury and war have raged among the peoples of the Middle East. The same differences that sparked the earliest conflicts continue to fuel those we see today.


Some paid attention to the gathering storm a few years ago; but, for the most part, world governments simply ignored the spreading furor — thinking that the volatile Middle East would define the physical limits of its battlefield.


Not so. The specter of a worldwide caliphate was not possible in the centuries preceding ours. Now, with technology connecting people easily, no area of our world is truly safe from the ongoing threat of ISIS and other like groups. Most of us might not think about existential threats, but those threats really do exist.


The late 1930s saw the pacifists who sought to appease Hitler drown out those recognizing the menacing threat of the Third Reich looming over Europe. Hitler’s appetite for conquest and control of his neighbors was not to be satiated. Neither concession nor promises of non-involvement swayed him from his heinous plot.


History is our greatest teacher, but the White House ignores the events and refuses to name the enemy for what it is. If, in fact, every administration is a virtual “step in time,” then we must have stepped into a warp curve of Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone.”


For the first time in our history, a non-governmental entity seeks to inflict terrible carnage and barbarism upon innocent people, including not only Muslims who will not comply with their view of Islam, but Jews and Christians.

More over, their plans are not bound to Europe and the Middle East. They have us in their crosshairs.  One comment from Libya’s shores last week said it clearly, “Next stop, Rome!” The Pope sees the threat. He names it.


While Popes rarely come forth with profound political statements, his words on Islamic terrorists says it bluntly and without reservation. The Pope preaches love between and among people with the core of that love a family.


Contrast, if you will, the difference between an American mother who purposefully tries to steer her twelve-year-old son into an interest that could lead to a good job with the fanatical Muslim mother who urges her son to become a suicide bomber. Stark? Yes. Alien to Western culture? Definitely. Real? Yes, real and growing — a deadly threat to each and every one of us.


Every freedom we have in this country puts us at risk in some way or another. However, our porous borders and our refusal to monitor illegal immigrants is further complicated by the lax, dismissive attitude at the White House that puts Americans at the highest risk since our founding. Add to that the military communications office that divulges ISIS battle plans to its enemy months ahead of time and the result is a situation that not only defies logic, but also begs redress.


Pray that someone turns the tide. Pray that someone takes that one first step to face the exploding, relentless spread of militant Islamic terrorists. To date, several presidents have died in office and one has resigned. The U.S. Constitution includes the mechanism to remove a president, but “High crimes and misdemeanors” is an objective and ambiguous. We have become so acceptance of deceit and ineptitude, I do not look for a groundswell of protest from the population at large to challenge decisions being made with reference to our military strategy and delivery.


So, in the end, we are left with a painful dilemma. For me, as an American, it spawns a question I never expected.   How can America defend herself if those entrusted to do so will not? Think about it.



208 – Accurate Description

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015


By Hetty Gray


# 208

“Accurate Description”


February 3, 2015


We throw the term “World War” out there with ease. Going back to 1914 and springing forward to 1941, these terms resonate with generations of Americans. In fact, these wars did not involve the whole world, but were relegated to Europe, North Africa and the Pacific Rim. True, they did involve nations far-flung from the actual battlefields. More specifically, Australia sent her armed forces fought the Imperial Japanese to secure peace in her region.


Today, the terrorist fight occupies nearly every continent. Beginning with North America and 9/11, we move to North Africa that includes not only the USS Kohl but also Benghazi. Add to that the kidnappings of women and young girls and the wholesale slaughter of innocents at the hands of Boko Haram. Moving again to the United Kingdom, consider the bus bombings that killed indiscriminately in July of 2005. Threatened beheadings in Australia raised the hackles of its government and moved it to protect its citizenry.


Charlie Hebdo is a stark reminder that nobody is safe — even at the workplace. The terrorists have no respect for human life. They view death as a martyrdom and fear nothing as they take innocent lives with abandon. Now we witness the barbaric burning alive of a Jordanian pilot.   Why Jordan, you ask? Well, ISIS leaders aren’t about to launch against Saudi Arabia or UAE. Jordan is stable and more than anything else politically, they seek instability in the region.


This is the first time in my lifetime (70 years and adding another) that the term “world war” actually applies. The question now is will the world, as a whole, respond?


Historically, the United States has stepped forward to defend their world neighbors. Sarajevo’s aftermath of World War I showcased the loyalties of untold numbers of Americans still holding strong emotional ties to Europe. Understandable, since the majority of Americans at that time had emigrated from Europe. World War II came home with Pearl Harbor. Sadly, few of our children learn about December 7, 1941. That Sunday morning forged a go get ‘em mentality that carried through to defeating the Axis and Japan. We are not so unified in spirit today.


Now we are so diverse in population that there exists no firm loyalty or visceral link to any one area of the world. All that taken in context, remember that there are American military bases scattered throughout the world proving our commitment to freedom and our continued concern for its spread around the globe.


The core of the situation sparks the critical question. Just how much are the Arab countries directly adjacent to Iraq and Syria willing to do to stop the terrorists? After all, their countries surround the main contingent of the ISIS fighters. How much would it take for strong Arab leadership to arise and go against it? We may see, since the Jordanian pilot was burned alive.

Nothing we have seen comes close to this horrific execution.


Add to this the fact that we cannot discount the probability that these terrorists will attack on American soil and we find ourselves seriously threatened. This movement will not be assuaged until totally defeated and exposed as what it is: unrelenting murderers without conscience.


Yes, worldwide media are covering the pilot’s death. And, yes, the film will not only inspire vengeance but also terrorist recruitment. It presents itself, in essence, as a “catch 22.”


I conclude with some of the final dialogue from William Wyler’s 1942 film “Mrs. Miniver.” The congregation of a small British church listens as the minister speaks against the backdrop of a shattered stained glass window. “This is the people’s war…” He went on to proclaim that they would fight it in every village across the land. His fervor is palpable and his emotion powerful. His words echo what everyone in that congregation was feeling. Righteous anger. Determination. Resolve.


A portion of the review of this magnificent movie on “The Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear” website says it all.


“ ‘Mrs. Miniver’ is just one of the numerous Best Picture* winners to be largely forgotten. But it remains a triumphant work of art for those who are willing to look for it. For although it was made explicitly for World War Two audiences, its heart, its soul, its message is one that will resound for ages.


If the world does not judge this a “world war” soon, it will more than have earned the term without anyone having applied it. World war? Yes. World response? Existentially needed, but will it arise? Back to Greer Garson and Water Pidgeon in “Mrs. Miniver.” We need to ignite that British grit across the globe. Pray for that.





* Oscars won: Best Picture — Best Writing, Screenplay — Best Director (William Wyler) — Best Cinematography, Black-and-White — Best Actress in a Leading Role (Greer Garson) — Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Teresa Wright).