Friday, May 30, 2008

GI’s, Guts, Golf …

November 10, 2004, on a routine pre-dawn patrol less than a thousand yards from his base, Sgt. Dan Nevins’ Humvee was struck by an IED. The vehicle, armored on the sides but not on the floor was ripped from underneath and took the life of the driver, Nevin’s best friend, Sgt. Mike Ottolini. Evacuated to a nearby hospital Nevins lost one leg and the doctors made their best effort to save the other. Complicated by severe shrapnel wounds the remaining leg developed a series of painful infections. Last November he elected to give up the right leg as well.

In 2005, PGA Tour Executive, David Pillsbury met Nevins at Walter Reed Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. He had gone to hand out some hats and lend encouragement. He freely admits he went to “make them all feel a little bit better.” In contrast, he said after the experience, “The exact opposite occurs. By the time you leave, you feel so energized by their outlook, by their positive outlook.” That first day, he met Dan Nevins and found him, a former golfer, using the game as rehabilitation. He also learned that he was working as a pharmaceutical salesman in Jacksonville, Fla., near tour headquarters. Impressed with his outlook and “bubbly” personality, he arranged to play a fund raising tournament with him, for the benefit of injured soldiers at the TPC Avenel in Potomac. Md.

Pillsbury, getting tired and uncomfortable in the heat, after about 15 or 16 holes, found himself thinking, “You’re such a wimp. You’re playing with this guy using a prosthesis, and you’re tired?” He decided to have a beer and Dan said, “I think I’ll have something too.” He pulled out a lollipop. He pointed out it was not ordinary but rather a narcotic to alleviate the pain in his remaining ankle. He remarked that the pain had been excruciating since the first hole. When asked “How bad on a scale of one to ten?” Dan reported a “ten.” Pillsbury left the experience with the conclusion he had just played with a “special guy.”

They stayed in touch, and later the tour became more interested in participating in programs of support for the 39,000 other injured vets of both Iraq and Afghanistan and its own program, Birdies for the Brave. It became obvious that coordination was becoming a fulltime job. Pillsbury offered the job to Nevins, and despite taking a pay cut he took it without hesitation.

The November 2007 amputation of Nevins remaining leg freed him from the near constant pain of the previous three years. Two months later, he was back at Olney Park, now on two prosthetic legs under the tutelage of Jim Estes. Estes has a well earned reputation as a former tour pro who can bring the game within the grasp of just about any sufferer of any injury not matter how grotesque. A key feature of the rehabilitation is the emotional high received common to ablebodied golfers; to watch that ball soar down the fairway the way it was planned and executed.

Estes was working for the non-profit Salute to Military Golf Association. They worked in concert with other groups to secure reduced or free fees at courses, raise funds, gain access to private facilities and locate specialized equipment such as clubs and carts to fit the specific needs of individual wounded veterans.

Although Walter Reed and other military hospitals perform a work and a wonder for the vets, recovery is often a long and tiresome process. For many, having the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and having folks interested in providing enjoyment of the game within the range of each individuals level of ability is a welcome treat.

Less than four months after his second amputation, Dan Nevins has a solid 16 handicap, who often scores in the mid-eighties, and can punch one down the fairway 275 yards. After a 39 on front nine at a 6,300 yd. track in Northern Virginia recently he harbored the hope of breaking eighty. Just like many other golfers, he found two double bogeys on the back nine to wash away that hope.

I have personally found God unreceptive to prayer on the golf course. In Dan’s case I don’t think it would be out of line to pray for his approach shots to hold and for his putts to always find the “line.” A prayer of thanksgiving for men like Pillsbury and Estes who recognize the needs of others would be in order as well.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Arbeit Macht Frei

In yet another in a continuing series of gaffes by presidential contenders, we have Barack Hussein Obama claiming that his uncle, no, make that a great uncle, helped to liberate Auschwitz back at the close of WWII. There is no question that his great uncle did indeed bravely serve and managed to survive to tell the tale. What is in doubt is Obama’s claim that the uncle he mentioned was part of the liberation of Auschwitz-Burkenau. This particular infamous concentration camp with an alleged 1.1 million deaths of mostly Jews is located in Poland, not Germany. It was liberated by the Soviet Army on January 27, 1945.

The first camp liberated by American led troops was Buchenwald on April 8, 1945. Actually, one of the outlying yet connected camps was overrun by the 83rd Infantry at Langenstein. The camp itself was freed by the Sixth Armored Cavalry, an element of the U.S. Third Army. About the same time the notorious Dachau was entered by the 42nd Infantry Division, part of the U.S. 7th Army.

Those who have no sense of history or have been deprived of the educational advantages of a decent high school, a reputable college and an Ivy League advanced degree might be excused for misrepresenting details of one of the most significant event of the twentieth century. To enjoy these benefits and still make this bonehead mistake is very telling. Obviously, this tall tale was offered to enhance the candidate through association and verify his family’s contribution to our freedoms. The amazing thing is that this was offered the first time in a speech given in 2002! Ah yes, our wonderful press, ever vigilant and alert for misstatement and equally unaware of their history, let it slide.

In that speech, Obama claimed that his great uncle learned of Pearl Harbor and enlisted the next day. It appears that in addition to not showing up for classes on American History he also missed some basic English. “Next” implies the following day, not six months later which happened to be the truth of the matter. We have previously pointed out that in this day and age, everything is recorded, archived and immediately available to trip up the most accomplished glib lipped, slick tongued presenter of untruth no matter how messianic.

It is good to have events which serve to remind us of the horrors of such as Auschwitz-Burkenau, Buchenwald and Dachau. These travesties can only be avoided by having the will and the resources to recognize tyrants and evil leaders early on. Over the gate at Auschwitz are the words, “Arbeit Macht Frei.” It roughly translates to “work makes (one) free.” The paradox lies in the fact that much work was performed by the inmates because they were in effect, slaves. Slavery, being the antithesis of freedom, whether in response to a gun, an oppressive government or a series of nebulous promises is still slavery. I heartily disagree that “work makes one free;” only God makes us truly free.

At least the senator didn’t have to dodge sniper fire while he made these outrageous claims.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday Morning Rant 39

I have long questioned the use of the word “celebrate” as it pertains to the Holiday formerly known as “Decoration Day." Celebration conjures up a vision of raucous partying, gaiety, and a general letdown of one’s hair. Hardly the response one would anticipate for the commemoration of the war dead who gave their all to preserve our liberties. On the more serious side of the definition it requires serious introspection concerning the origin of the day and offering a measure of gratitude.

In fact, the use of “celebration” is probably made more relevant by the fact most of the working folks don’t have to report to the grind. If they do have to go in (firefighters, nurses, cops, waitresses, etc.) there is at least time and half compensation in the paycheck to sweeten the loss. Many federally recognized holidays have now become more an occasion for a day off with their original purpose lost or at least clouded in the picnics, get togethers, games, races, and other non-pertinent activity. I strongly encourage the use of the time as an excuse for a gathering of the family. If the family has the additional bonus of having a crazy old uncle there sitting quietly reviewing in his mind the terrors of storming the beach at Normandy and losing some of his best friends, more’s the better. I pray that he elects to share some of his inner memories if he can.

We are reminded by the Associated Press that for the celebrants the day will be dampened by an increase in the price of hot dogs. They report $4.99 for an eight pack and steadily on the rise. Summer will come; Memorial Day will announce its arrival and the AP will constantly assert that the economy is in a shambles. Where in the world do these people shop for hotdogs, Tiffany’s? Our local rip-off super market – not Wal-Mart—had a deal on dogs in six-packs at 2 for $1.

Every sane person knows that hot dogs are made from those parts of various animals which are otherwise unidentifiable and absolutely unmarketable in separate packaging. We used to joke when the kids were young that they were made from teeth, hair and eyes. People who have any concern for the origin of their food stuffs do not include hot dogs in their daily diet. The rest of us just burn them to a crisp; slather them with condiments, relish, onions, sauerkraut and try not to think about the process.

I am employed part time by a local golf course and my responsibilities include both the pro shop and the snack bar. A constant topic of conversation concerns the issue of why a hot dog at the turn is one of nature’s perfect foods. It’s not just our club but it is generally acknowledged that it is a fact on any course, any where. They are always properly heated and the buns are steamed. There are nine separate items on the condiment tray and many golfers treat them as they would a salad bar. Our golfing butcher, who supplies the dogs, also has been observed eating them, which verifies their safety in my mind.

H.L. Mencken once observed that a hotdog is: “a cartridge filled with the sweepings of the abattoir.” Don’t think too much about it: just enjoy them.

A Reckless Comparison

She has managed again to get her foot in her mouth. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for a woman her age. This past week she opined that she has to stay in the race until the conclusion because one never knows what “might” happen. She then makes a comparison to the campaign which found Bobby Kennedy as the heir apparent to the nomination for president who was assassinated. Nearly every one implied from those observations that she feared for the life of her opponent, Mr. Barack Hussein Obama. After her experience dodging sniper fire in Bosnia, she is probably especially aware of the dangers.

Unfortunately, as passions of various causes run high, this is a possibility with any candidate. It is exacerbated by the additional factors presented by the two sub-groups which have their own adherents. Feminists and blacks both have a poor track record when it comes to violence. When you mix in extremely strong emotions it does call for some caution. Pitting sexism versus racism actually makes her remarks appropriate.

After the highly predictable fallout from her remarks, she offered an “apology.” I put that in quotes because a careful reading will reveal the use of the word “if.” Given uncertainty about the damage one creates really does undermine the sincerity of any apology. If you don’t mean it, then don’t say it. If she did mean it, wouldn’t it be better to offer to loan her opponent a couple of extra security guards or perhaps a food taster?

When all is said and done I guess this means there will be no Obama/Clinton ticket in the fall. If it were to happen, --- oh never mind!

Personal Thoughts

Despite ice storms, floods, high winds, excessive rains and everything else the weather dishes out, the forest has recovered. Isn’t God’s world a wonderful place? Once again, no light is visible from here on the ridge in the Ozarks at night. Those big fat oak leaves are doing their job insuring our privacy.

My only conflict now is whether to see the place as an animal shelter or a full blown nursery for dozens of day lilies, rock gardens, planted tractor tires, and rows of new border plantings along the four acres of grass.

Our buzzard flock has increased to about thirteen (counting soaring birds is unreliable at best) and they keep things well tidied up. Consistent with varying migration patterns the variety of other birds is ever changing and mostly colorful. It is amazing what one can have in this temporary setting if you turn it over to the Almighty and let Him lead and take your proper role as a follower.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Get off the internet and take some time for remembrance. Take some time to be with the family. Take this opportunity to offer thanks to God for the blessings of liberty and thanks to Him for those who have been willing make the supreme sacrifice.

Come back tomorrow and I promise to give a full-throated rant about the irritations which populate our lives.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon