Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Blue Star Banner

The Blue Star Banner
(by R.P.Edwards)

Silent, pensive, star of blue
A love, a distance, a hero…true
Guarding, fighting…in our place
A nation’s hands, and freedom’s face
O turn and see the courage there
The banner hung with tender care
And then consider…the life you hold
Then pray for stars…of blue…and gold

I’ve seen them from time to time. A simple decoration. A modest testimony in the window. I had known (from somewhere) that they had to do with the military. But now my knowledge has increased…and my ignorance lessened (if ever so slightly). It’s called the Blue Star Service Banner, and it consists of a blue star in a field of white, enclosed by a red border. Birthed during World War I, this simply adorned cloth means that a member of the family is serving in the military. It means that a son or daughter, a father or mother, is in a most necessary--and often dangerous-- place for those of us who cherish freedom. It is a testimony of sacrifice. It is a representation of service, and selflessness, and a family surviving with a part of their very heart…beating on a distant shore.

As I was doing a little research on the “Blue Star” I happened upon an organization named, Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. Here was a group founded to connect and support the many who have seen son or daughter step into the shoes of heroes. But, more than just a support group, they also educate as to the meaning behind the deeds.

Further research brought me to a “silver star” group which honors those who have been wounded. And another, significant and heart wrenching population is the “Gold Star” community. These have actually lost a loved one in their country‘s service. I couldn’t stay too long on these pages, for the cost…of the loss, was hard to fathom, and difficult to dwell on. And yet…each of us…from the acerbic academic to the freedom loving patriot; we all owe so much to those represented by the “stars.” So, the next time you see one, pause for a moment and recognize the worth. It is the worth of a nation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Smoker

The Smoker

(by R.P.Edwards)

Treated as an outcast
Vile and leprous souls
Plagues that walk among us
Banished to their holes!
Yet these, who reek of nicotine
That outward, damning sin
Their righteousness exceeds our own
For we are foul…within.

In my wanderings…I see them. The outcasts. They slink into their cars and puff, banished from the house. I pass by and pity them. I go from dwelling to dwelling, leaving a gentle invitation and, looking down, their marks are unmistakable…the ash tray by the door, the used and crumpled butts on the lawn. And…I pity them. But I do not pity them for their habit. No, I pity them for their servitude. For these…these poor addicted souls, they are blasted and bled, prodded and preached at, teased, taxed and tormented. And why? Because they engage in an activity that is “unhealthy.” And since “we” cannot tolerate a desecration of our sacred temple…they are excommunicated. Oh, the hypocrisy! The utter duplicity! Oh, the vile fallacious oozing that comes from those who do not blink at the slaughter of the innocent; who think nothing of shredding the covenants that were written by the finger of God, but for the sake of a showing, for the sake of a political placating ploy…they gladly add the crushing weight to the backs…of the already broken. So…having spewed all this…am I an advocate for smoking? Of course not! But if we really want to eliminate tobacco, then outlaw it altogether! Enough of this shallow grandstanding.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when cigarettes parted the lips of nearly half the population. Tobacco was a part of life…and, consequently, a part of an early death. Yet, in those years of ignorance…in those times when little was known of all the intricacies and nuances of nutrition. In those dark and distant days there was a purity…a glowing health…an enduring strength that came from the ingestion, along with the smoke, of those elements that are so foreign today…honor, truth, integrity, respect, responsibility…and reverence. And so, the question: is it possible to hold to one, and reach back to the other? I dearly hope so. For the real health of this nation…I dearly hope so.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


(by R.P. Edwards)

Manhood is a lofty thing
Of strength, and courage, sure
To stand and speak and act the part
Convictions, deep and pure
But “fatherhood” is all of these
Yet more in height and scope
For in his leading of the young
The future comes…with hope

It is Saturday eve, and before I turn in afore the Sabbath’s many important doings, a few words about fathers. Now, I’ve been “one” since well before computers and cell phones took hold, yet I’ve, sadly, not mastered the art and, alas, my children are marching on in age all too quickly. Oh, I’ve still got a few in the “formative” years but, with so many signals invading their sponge-like brains, communication can be difficult and, of course, I have to push aside my own self-absorption. Yet, we co-exist, and I try to season their lives with some important interaction, and an occasional affirmation of concern and affection. If I were to grade myself, I’d put it somewhere between a F- and an A+. In other words…I don’t have a clue.

My wife and I were making a Home Depot stop. The nozzle on our pull-out faucet had busted and we needed, obviously, a new one. While we walked the isles I saw the duo. The younger male was pushing a cart with some eight-foot sections of pvc and other plumbing supplies. The elder was conferring with the experts of the shop, even as he directed his young aid. The boy, probably elevenish, from the look on his face, seemed quite pleased to be helping his dad in this most important (whatever it was) task. A father, teaching a son. As important a job as any I can think of. I hope his leading extends beyond the pipes.

A final note. My father, John (88), gave (and gives) me a fine example to follow. Steady, sturdy, devout, determined, he’s been a positive influence in my life for quite some time. What a shame I was not so receptive when I was an “all knowing” teenager. Speedy recovery, “Pop,” I love you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Government Health Care

Government Health Care

(by R.P. Edwards)

The Government, plus Health Care
The China Shop, plus Bull
The intentions, yes, are noble
But the results…are dumpsters…full

It was decades ago. My wife and I, with our tiny tagalongs (2), were students (I, then she) at a college in California. Our income came from the G.I. Bill and loans and, as a result, health care was hard to come by. Well, as it turns out, there was a state program called Medi-Cal that had provisions for the near penniless and, as the youngsters needed a bit of attention…we sought it out. Sure enough, after the laborious task of baring our monetary souls…we were accepted and plugged into the system. Now, I’m not exactly sure why, but every contact with this state medical monster brought us ever lower (emotionally) until, feeling very much like the dirt on our shoes, we resolved, “The Lord’s just going to have to take care of us…we’re not going back!” And, we never did.

Government Run Healthcare…just the sound of it evokes images of the bread line. Understand, I certainly agree that the current situation needs attention. When I hear of people dropping thousands, THOUSANDS! for a couple nights stay in a hospital (with very little care)…something is terribly wrong. The thought of some poor soul losing his/her life's savings by just stepping into a care facility? Outrageous. And, I have no problem affirmatively nodding as experts boast of our excellent “docs” and their marvelous methods but, to many (perhaps most) these maestros and their ways are out of reach…and the cause is, of course…money. So, there must be a happy medium. A compassionate middle. But to think that cramming a Health Care behemoth down our collective throats with all the care and caution of the stimulus bill? That is a recipe…(ahem) prescription for disaster.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Single Issue

The Single Issue

(by R.P. Edwards)

Stubborn fools
With simple minds
Graceless hacks
The vilest kind
They walk with blinders
Thoughtless drones
They never vary
Their conviction…stone
O how they’re hated
We wish them dead
Their presence vexing
A constant dread
But because of these…
These annoying fiends
A child is born…and God is seen

“Jeremiah! Where are you going? Jeremiah!” [the voice, coming from a farmer by the name of Nathan. He, and his neighbor and long time friend (the aforementioned, Jeremiah) were attending a political rally at their local church when one stood, stormed out, and the other (with apologies) followed.] “Jeremiah, what is it?” continued the younger as he came upon the other (who, by this time, looked down upon his friend from his freshly mounted brown and black gelding, Truth). “Oh, don’t tell me…it’s that single issue again, isn’t it?”
The other, without answering…answered. “Jeremiah,” soothed his brother (gently, but firmly grasping the reins) “it doesn’t affect us. It’s out of our control. Heck! Even the pastor says it’s something we have to live with!” Jeremiah (who had been staring off blankly towards the lights of the distant town, at this latest word snapped his gaze to meet piercingly with his friend’s). “The pastor should know better. You…should know better,” he said through clenched teeth. “Jeremiah,” (continued the younger, kneeling to grab a clump of grass for the waiting work horse) “there are more issues than that. Important issues. Things that have to do with our taxes, our families, our livelihood, our rights.” “Rights!” nearly shouted the other. “That’s what this is all about! The right to be human, to be recognized as…human!” “Jeremiah, Jeremiah, calm down. Now listen, (Nathan placed his right hand on the others left to prevent the snap that would have ushered the gallop) Mr. Douglas is a good man, an honest man. He believes as you do…but he thinks each state should have the right to decide.” Jeremiah slowly pulled his hand from his friends reach and, as the moonlight revealed a silver line being slowly drawn down his cheek, he said “ If a man is wrong on the most fundamental of truths…his judgment cannot be trusted…in anything.” As Nathan looked at the lessening shadow (the clopping of hooves adding to the sounds of the night) he heard, from a distance, the parting shout of his friend, “I’m voting for Mr. Lincoln!”

This past weekend we had, along with the normal inflo, a special little guest. Just four days old, as the world measures life, a beautiful newborn was carried into our midst in the loving arms of her proud (and pooped) mother. What a gem. What a doll. What a unique and wonderful gift. A blessing , to be sure. And, I dare say, that if any ne’er-do-well had stormed in to do this angel harm, they would have had to fight through the lot of us to even have a chance. Now consider, just five days before this, if the mother had been so inclined, the personhood of this precious being would have been ripped away (along with her arms and legs and very life) by those who peddle in such horrors. Here’s my point: So important is this “single issue” that I will not vote for those who are unclear on the subject. No, it’s not the only issue, but it’s a foundational issue. It’s a revealing issue. Frankly…it’s a God issue. And, I honestly believe, if a politician’s stand on this subject is mushy and malleable--or just plain wrong-- so is their judgment in all areas. May I suggest that, as this current troubling sifts us to our very core, that we discover anew what is truly important and, discovering…let us require it of those who would rule over us.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In Defense of Israel

If a Nation Desires Suicide

(by R.P. Edwards)

If a nation desires suicide
If a nation…wants to die
Then, by all means, hurt His children
The apple of His eye
You’ll find each blow you give them
Each hateful, cursing blast
Is returned one hundred fold…until
Your nation’s life…is past.

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, May my right hand forget her skill.
(Psalm 137:5)

You know, as I sit here (the air conditioner buzzing in my right ear and the voices of two of my children speaking an inaudible something in the distance) I feel a bit of a heaviness at the subject. Why is it necessary to even write about the defense…the support…the unflinching loyalty…to Israel? As I’ve said before and I will, most likely, repeat an indeterminate amount of times (your indulgence, please) there are foundations in my life that effect my actions and judgments. My marriage is one such support. The children, another. The duty to country, another. But the foundation below these…and everything else…is my faith. I really do believe that there is a God; that His benevolent hand makes a difference in my life and, I truly believe that His blessing or curse determines whether a nation prospers…or falls. And, one might ask--as far as nations go--what determines his blessing or curse? The answer is simple: deeds.

There’s a profound darkness in the land; a profound shallowness, and callousness…and sadness. For over half a century our society has been pruned, and primed, pulled and pummeled by those who would war against the knowledge of God. Denying, and even rewriting our heritage, they ascribe our greatness to the measure of man, the workings of flesh and, if some would dare cling to the notion of “one nation under God,” they are mercilessly maligned and belittled. And, bad enough that our society is reaping the harvest of the wretched seeds sown, now our curse is made even more sure by pressuring the very land and people whom God promised: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you.” Truly it is insanity. A death wish. A masochistic path born of ignorance and elitism. I don’t know about you, but when I see Israel squeezed and pricked and prodded by their so-called strongest ally…I fear. Yes, for Israel. But I fear even more for my own country. For, regardless of the boastings made by our self-anointed wise men, we must understand--if we are to survive--that our destiny is intertwined with that little plot of land between Egypt and Assyria. That little plot of land where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob once sojourned. That little plot of land where an almighty God took the form of a carpenter and, with blood and wood…built a bridge…to Himself. Yes, heaven help us if we abandon them. But if we do, rest assured…Heaven, surely, will not.

Monday, June 8, 2009


In Flanders Fields
Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I’ve been a bit thoughtful of late concerning veterans, memorials, battles and banners. I’ve had this disposition for a while, but with the posting of the video (The Stone) and my perception of a Republic drifting off course (my opinion); well…I’ve been thoughtful. Over the last couple of weeks I have become somewhat familiar with two veteran organizations; these being the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and The American Legion. Although I do have the “veteran” tag, my time of service disqualifies me from these bodies…and rightly so. They have the distinction of catering to those who have served in time of conflict. Anyway, in my studies and correspondence I have learned the meaning of the little red “poppies” that are handed out by these groups (usually stationing themselves by storefronts) after a donation of any size, at certain times of the year. It seems that in the Belgium battlefields of World War I, red poppies would grow…even amidst the carnage. An officer in the Canadian forces, a Lt. Col. John McCrea, in 1915 (the United States not yet in the fight) penned the poem, “In Flanders Fields.” It speaks of handing the torch…to the living. Well, the “poppy” has become a symbol of remembrance and reminder. It should help us remember the sacrifice given, and a reminder that each bloom is touched by a veteran (disabled, or in some other way impaired) and that one hundred percent of the donation goes for the help of these.

I was driving my old GMC Vandura down a back street when I saw him. There, seated in a metal folding chair, a graying veteran with a red coffee can in one hand, and red poppies in the other. I didn’t need anything at the drug store that day, but I had a “need” to be thankful. So I stopped, walked up to him (he was busy with another) placed a buck in the bucket and asked, “American Legion?” “VFW,” he replied. I shook his hand, said, “Thank you, for your service.” And then I walked away. The little red poppy is now attached to my tool pouch. And there it will stay until it falls off…or it is replaced by another.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Symbol


(by R.P. Edwards)

Symbols without meaning
Are like words…without the truth
Like a ring…without fidelity
And a child…without youth
They then become of evil
The manipulator’s tool
To reach a vile ending
Each stepping stone…a fool

The middle-aged veteran stood at attention. Before him…fluttering in the fragrant spring breeze and bathed in the warming rays of an overhead sun…the symbol. All around the slightly overweight “old man,” children laughed and played--dashing out into the street at irregular intervals to gather trinkets and treats thrown at them by the parade participants--and joyously oblivious to the silent, solemn man, who had just the beginnings of a tear welling in his eye. This gentleman, a plumber by trade, on any other day he might smile, or jest, or offer a wave of greeting but…with the viewing of the symbol…with a viewing of the “life”…a rushing cascade of memories and emotions, images and imaginings--all these enhanced by the maturing appreciation of worth, well, there would be no distraction, no loss of focus, no division of devotion and, as finally a gentle drop escaped the rim, ran down the age-born channels of his face, leapt from his chin and fell towards the pavement below, before it reached the lifeless stone…it softly alighted on the silky-soft hand of a child who had awkwardly reached for a piece of bubblegum that had nestled next to the man’s worn, black, left shoe. She, an auburn-haired waif of barely four, paused, curiously looked up to the sky and then, seeing no moisture laden clouds, she lowered her gaze until she saw, at last, the glistening eyes of the man. And, turning slowing to follow his gaze…she saw, approaching from afar--like the marching of the stars across a night of blue…the flag. And, looking again at the elder, she slowly arose (for a moment grasping his hand for balance) and then, standing alongside this “stranger” she put her eyes upon the symbol…and then purposely placed her delicate right hand…over her heart.

There was a time when symbols meant something. There was a time when the outward “show” reflected an inner iron. There was a time when truth was absolute…and clever chicanery was reserved for scoundrels and thieves. But now, in our redefined age of enlightenment; in our time when actors are acclaimed and the media-mouths…exalted, our symbols, like these…have become tainted, twisted, defiled. And so, what once had meaning, is now just a means to an end. Whether it be the Christ, or the Flag, or the Constitution, or the sacred covenants once thought immovable…these are grievously used to the sickening advantage of those who know precious little of honor, or virtue…or truth. And so, in this time of phoniness and Pharisees, are there none who will stand? Are there none who will acknowledge and bow before the Creator? Are there none who will reverently fold the flag and acknowledge that it’s sacred essence is born of Patriot’s blood? Are there none who would shout down the self-proclaimers and remind them, and all, that our inherited blessings come not from the children…but rather from the fathers? If there are any. If there are…any. Then perhaps the symbols…and the nation…can be restored.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Belief" equals "Actions"

Wiser Men
(by R.P.Edwards)

Some would say
We’re nothing more
Than molecules, gone mad
Environment, the only cause
For making good…or bad
“If you can’t see it…it’s not there!”
The atheist decrees
But wiser men seek something more
And finding… bend the knee

And so…a fairly recent convert to Islam…drives by a recruiting station in Little Rock, and shoots two soldiers, one fatally. It was the result of his politics and “ideology,” say the “experts.” Do tell. How amazing to suggest that what a person “believes” effects how he acts. Of course, these commentators conclude that he was on the “fringe“…a zealot. However, I heard one fellow, a former “extremist,“ say something like --concerning another with a similar mindset--“No, he was merely devout.”

Yes, it comes down to what you believe. Years ago, when the word “values” was used, it was often prefixed by the phrase “Judeo-Christian.” These words implied an acknowledgment of God…a Supreme Being who defined right and wrong by a Biblical standard and, when these “rules” were transgressed…a punishment was due…often by the state. In fact, to “not” punish, was to invite “His” displeasure….a condition we could ill afford. Now, since we have become reeducated and enlightened…our “values” are secular. Actions that were punishable just a few years ago, are now championed, celebrated, extolled. And the result on society…well…you decide. But--to the point--we need to understand that there are individuals (many, MANY individuals) who think they are doing a great good by killing us. This is their “belief system,” and it is a strong one. And to pretend that these are just a few slightly off balanced individuals…is naive. A naivete that just might destroy us.

The conclusion: we need to become anchored in what we know works. We need to acknowledge that the “new” morality--the destructive, self-centered, new morality-- is espoused by individuals who have had nothing to do with our inherited blessing (nor the defending of it). And we need to, quite frankly, return to the God of our fathers. Political Correctness--the bludgeoning tool of the elite--would have us believe that all faiths are grounded in sand. But the reality is, that there “is” a foundational truth, a once known truth, that, when built upon, is an enduring bedrock on which a nation can securely stand. I suggest we start digging until we find it…again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Worm Roll Call

Worm Roll Call

(by R.P.Edwards)

The worms stood at attention
The commander's face was stern
So many names he’d bellowed
Only silence in return
The early worms were missing
And “later” worms…undone
Only “party” worms…
Now in their bunks
Had found the battle…won

By farmer standards…I was a slacker. It was 7:30ish and I was meandering through the kitchen--shuffling along in that barely-awake state when your movements are on autopilot--when I decided, before reaching for the go-juice (“the best part of waking up…”) to slowly lift the dark green shade from the over-the-sink window and look out upon the day. Now, I know the early risers among us will tell me that the morning was half gone. More than once even I have told my children (when they have, after hours on the couch--game controls in their hands--molded themselves to the furniture) “If I was a farmer I’d have you out doing chores before daybreak!” Anyway, it was approaching the eight o’clock hour and there, on my neighbor’s lawn, was an industrious robin, yanking on a hapless worm. So, I think to myself… “This must be one lazy bird! Imagine, going to work a good two hours after sunrise (or is it three?).” And yet, this red-breasted harvester was giving that spineless fellow the tugging of his life. And, as I watched (like the lecherous roman citizen in the Colosseum) this feathered gladiator finally yanked that worm free, upended him (or her? It?) and down the gullet it went. I could only imagine that there would be some chewing and regurgitating as baby birds clamored, with open mouths, for mommies equivalent of “Little Caesar’s” take-out. And so, my knowledge increased, I felt a little better about getting up later than the many industrious souls among us. Did I mention that I had gone to bed at 2:30 a.m.?