A while back, I saw a picture that still bothers me. It was a photo of an American soldier in Iraq. He was exhausted, grimy, and dead on his feet. He appeared not to have slept for days. He was slouched in the 120-degree Iraq sun, sitting wearily in the sand, leaned up against a disabled tank track. The caption read,  “If you slept safely in a warm, cozy bed last night . . . thank those who didn’t.”  God go with you, soldier boy.

John McCain, unsuccessful candidate for president, was decorated military personnel, and a former prisoner of war. He tells of a tall, lanky, midwestern lad who was a prisoner of war in the same concentration camp where McCain was incarcerated.

Unknown to his captors, this midwestern boy had gathered different colored fibers and, with a splinter of bamboo that he used for a needle, he was embroidering an American flag on the inside of his flimsy, threadbare jacket.

One day his captors noticed it. They drug him out to where all the prisoners could watch and beat him senseless, only a hair’s breadth from death. Yet, just a few days later, McCain watched as this same midwestern boy, jaw swollen to the size of a watermelon, head lopsided like a rag doll, and with numerous cracked and broken ribs, again collecting colored fibers.

With another splinter of bamboo, he was once again embroidering an American flag on the inside flap of his threadbare jacket. McCain and soldier boy, God go with you.

Please, love our military. They are the only thing standing between us, and the damnation suffered by almost every country on the face of this earth.

Love our veterans. They have already paid the price. Even God knew there was a time and place when you must defend yourself. That time is now. We look at the world and we immediately know the question. Our beloved military is the answer.

I was just a boy during World War II, but coming up in a highly patriotic family, I, myself, grew up believing that a military man was next only to God. Even John Wayne, whom I worshipped, played second banana to a soldier. In a way, I still believe it.

During those dark days of the war, a very plump lady named Kate Smith sang “God Bless America” over the airways in such a way that it made my eyes water and caused goose bumps to run up and down my spine. No matter where I was, I stood up . . . just like it was the National Anthem.

Only once since that time have I had such a feeling . . . this was when a baritone fireman, who served at the fall of the Twin Towers, sang it in his rich, deep, baritone voice. Again my eyes watered and goose bumps ran up and down my spine.

Kate Smith, long since deceased, I love you. God bless you wherever you are.

God Bless America

While the storm clouds     gather

Far across the sea,

Let us pledge allegiance

To a land that’s free.

Let us all be grateful

For a land so fair,

As we raise our voices

In a solemn prayer.

God bless America,

Land that I love,

Stand beside her

And guide her

Through the night

With the light from above.       

From the mountains to the prairies

To the ocean white with foam,

God bless America,

My home sweet home.

Yes . . . God bless America!

Saturday, February 14, was a cold, windy day in Fredonia. In a setting of frozen grass and patches of snow, Post 69 laid Robert Brush to rest in the quietness of the Fredonia Cemetery. He has gone to bivouac at a farther tenting ground.

Brush was a veteran of the Korean War and served his country with the quiet decency that he displayed in the years beyond the hell of war. Rest in God’s pocket, Bob, until we again meet under fairer skies.

.. an added note. The Babe’s and my grandson, Colby Barlocker, took the 160-pound wrestling crown at the State Finals for his second state title. Colby, both you and your grandmother, the Babe, are meaner than a junkyard dog!