A Date That Still Lives in Infamy

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The words of Franklin D. Roosevelt with forever ring from the shocking silence on that day.

“December 7, 1941. A date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan…The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost…But always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory…With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.”

75 years ago today, slightly before 0800, hundreds of fighter planes from the Empire of Japan attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. Nearly 20 naval vessels and over 300 war planes were destroyed.

75 years ago today, in an attack that lasted less than two hours, over 2,000 American lives were lost. 2,008 were Sailors. 109 were Marines. 228 were Soldiers. 57 were civilians.

75 years ago today, at 0810, a 1,800 pound bomb smashed through the USS Arizona and landed in her forward ammunition magazine. The ship exploded and sank. Nearly 1,000 crewmen were still trapped inside. Torpedoes sliced into the USS Oklahoma causing the vessel to roll over, and nearly 400 men to go missing.

75 years ago today, every battleship on Pearl – USS Arizona, USS Oklahoma, USS West Virginia, USS Maryland, USS California, USS Nevada, USS Tennessee, and USS Pennsylvania all sustained damage. But the Pacific Fleet refused to stay cripple.

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75 years ago today, the Empire of Japan attacked the American spirit and awoke a sleeping giant. The attacks, seeking to dismantle the nation that had not yet officially joined the war, and have economic sanctions lifted, instead united the American people and the resolve of the Greatest Generation continued on.

The greatest mobilization of United States troops marched forward, both to avenge Pearl and defend the nation they so dearly loved. A brotherhood was created among these heroes. The kind of brotherhood thicker than blood, stronger than steel, and unable for anyone or anything to ever penetrate.

America was hurt but America moved forward. The nation was tried and the nation overcame.

To say uncommon valor become a common virtue at Pearl Harbor would be an understatement. Due to the attacks on Pearl, these medal were awarded, many of them presented posthumously:

  • 15 Medals of Honor
  • 5 Distinguished Service Crosses
  • 51 Navy Crosses
  • 1 Army Distinguished Service Medal
  • 69 Silver Stars
  • 3 Navy and Marine Corps Medals
  • 5 Legion of Merits
  • 33 Distinguished Flying Crosses
  • 6 Medals of Merit

75 years ago today, a beautiful Hawaiian day became a day known for pain and destruction.

75 years ago today, a horrid Hawaiian day also became known as a day of valor.

75 years later, the words of President Roosevelt continually echo truth. December 7 still lives in infamy.

To the Greatest Generation that fought such tyranny, to my own grandfather who fought at Okinawa on the USS Noble, thank you will never be enough. You are courage, you are commitment, you are integrity, you are tenacity, you are honor. These special warriors will never be forgotten.

You fought for me. I will honor you.

References:
The Washington Post
History.com

 

Veterans Day in Pictures

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They are are the ones who saw the silence of the night. They are the ones who heard the screams. They are the ones who have seen war. They are soldiers.

They fought for their country. They fought for their flag. They fought for each other. They are soldiers.

They are husbands, wives, sons, and daughters. They are brave. They are loving. They are soldiers.

Today, I had the privilege to take the day off and venture to downtown Fort Worth. I stood in line with hundreds of others as the city, VFW halls, and VA program honored our soldiers. We honored those who looked death in the face and marched forward with lion-heart courage. We honored the Gold and Blue Star families from Vietnam. We tipped our hats. We cried during Taps. We thanked our soldiers.

The whole experience was emotional. The last Veterans Day program I was able to attend was in jr. high, and I only got to go because I was singing the National Anthem. This time was different. My heart was filled with warmth. I saw the veterans and their loved ones around me and I felt at home.

I smiled and clapped during the C-130 flyover. I couldn’t stop the tears streaming down my face during Taps. I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Even better, I was able to capture it all on camera. While I took over 150 pictures, I won’t share all of them in order to spare you some time. But, here are some of my favorites.

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R.E.D. Friday’s. Until they all come home

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To the veterans – and active duty soldiers – your nation thanks you.

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And a special shoutout to my favorite veteran, my Poppie, for fighting tyranny in WWII. I am eternally grateful to the sacrifices made.

For God & Country.

Where Were You?

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Where were you?

September 11, 2001. Where were you when the world stopped turning? Do you remember what was happening? Do you remember who you were with? Do you remember the first time you heard the news, saw the TV footage, and felt your heart stop?

With a tear on your face and a lump in your throat, do you remember seeing the black smoke fill the sky as you stood in shock and felt the pain pierce your heart on that cold September day?

Where were you?

It was less than a month after I had turned seven. I was in the second grade at Little Cypress-Elementary, a student of Mrs. Sonnier’s class.

The day started normally for me, as it did for everyone else. Perhaps I was oblivious, perhaps time has blocked out painful memories, but by 10:28 a.m. I wasn’t aware the face of my nation had changed forever.

It was a Tuesday. Tuesday’s were ballet days. I had gone to dance per my normal routine schedule, yet something was different. The teachers were acting different. The parents were acting different. I danced my heart out as usual, but something about that ballet class was simply different.

I honestly don’t remember who picked me up from dance, whether it was my mom or my dad, but that doesn’t matter. I got home from dance that evening, walked from the garage down the back hallway of our house, and straight into the living room.

I stood, frozen, next to my dad’s chair as Fox News displayed the most horrific images I had ever seen in my life.

I walked a little further into my living room. My dad turned to me with a solemn look in his eyes and said “I need to explain something to you.”

Where were you?

I sat down at the foot of our couch, my usual spot, and kept staring. I kept trying to wrap my mind around what was happening. My small, seven-year-old mind kept trying to figure out if what I saw was truly a reality.

My dark hazel eyes quickly turned red as they swelled with tears. My heart kept stopping. It was real. It had happened. My world shattered.

Where were you?

On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda coordinated four terrorist attacks on the United States.

Between the hours of 8:46 a.m. and 10:28 a.m., United Airlines flight 11 and American Airlines flight 175 crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. The fourth plane, United Airlines flight 93, was headed for Washington D.C., but instead crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.

A total of 19 hijackers used mace, pepper spray, tear gas, and weapons to overcome the flight crew and passengers. Chilling records report people calling home with the words “We’re not going to make it. I love you.”

At the Twin Towers, people called 911 stating the rooms were filling with smoke, asking if first responders were going to make it in time, and if they were going to die.

2,996 people were killed, over 6,000 injured.

Nearly all were civilians. 343 were firefighters. 72 were law enforcement. 55 were military personnel. The terrorist organization successfully caused the largest attack on first responders in United States history.

The United States was hit in the heart.

A searing pain I can only imagine resembled that of Pearl Harbor, the United States would never be the same.

Where were you?

On September 12 I woke up, still in shock, and pulled out a white t-shirt with a small American flag in the middle of it and the words “Proud to be an American” printed under it. Somehow I inherently knew I had to wear it that day.

Everything was different. Mrs. Sonnier was filled with both compassion and caution as her class of seven and eight year olds attempted to wrap the events of the previous day their little minds. One student, James Williams, said he heard President Bush was going to declare 9/11 as Patriot’s Day in the United States. I sat in my desk quietly thinking “Good. This is a day no one should ever forget.”

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Where were you?

As with the rest of the nation, and most of the world, I was filled with emotion to this day I cannot fully comprehend. I was upset. I was angry. I was heart-broken. I was filled with patriotism. I wanted to make a difference.

For weeks after, it was always the little things I did that seemed to have a profound meaning behind them. I distinctly remember one day getting ready to leave for gymnastics. I came out of my room and my dad stood still, staring at the TV. The word Baghdad was printed in large letters on a map of Iraq, I’m sure surrounded by other cities such as Mosul, Basrah, and Ramadi, but I only remember Baghdad.

I looked up my dad and said “Look daddy, I wore my red leotard and blue shorts today with my red scruncci today. I’m doing it in support of our nation, in support of Uncle Jimmy. People need to know I back our government.”

My dad looked down at me and smiled. I knew he was proud of me, but in that moment, I was more focused on showing the world that what mattered to me was God, family, country.

Where were you?

In the grander scheme of things, my wearing red, white, and blue to gymnastics did not make a difference, but to me it was important.

However, there were those who answered the call. There were those who sought to make the difference. There are the big names we know who sought to answer the call – Pat Tillman and Chris Kyle. There were those, like my uncle, who were apart of Desert Storm and continued to answer the call. But then there are those lesser known people. The one’s we know only in our towns who became filled that act of valor.

Those like Lance Cpl Shane Lee Goldman and Private First Class (posthumously promoted to Lance Cpl) Chance Phelps who enlisted and paid the ultimate sacrifice in the Anbar Province of Iraq just four days apart.

The story of Goldman is one I’ll never forget. For a reason I have yet to understand, it has always stuck with me, always impacted me. His sister was one of my dance teachers. It was his dream to be a Marine. He said he never wanted to let his family down. He didn’t.

Goldman and Phelps are not alone. They stand with a band of brothers and sisters who all answered the call and served. Uncommon valor became a common virtue among these Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines alike.

Where were you?

15 years ago on that cold September day, the world stopped turning.

15 years ago, 9/11 became a day that changed the face of this world and the way many choose to see it today.

15 years ago, America was struck, America was reminded freedom isn’t free, and America became stronger.

Where were you?

To those who fell, and to those who carry on, we will never forget.

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23 Years Ago Today

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Y’all, I’m a Rangers fan. Therefore, I had to share (as did everyone else…)

There are certain sports moments that can never go away, especially when you’re a diehard Rangers fan like myself (cough cough, game six of the 2011 World Series).

Now, I have to point out – this specific incident happened in 1993. I was not born yet. HOWEVER, I have grown up hearing the story it’s as if I was there.

After all, my parents went to the Rangers game the following day (August 5th).

So, that’s a lot of words to say 23 years ago today, baseball saw possibly one of the greatest moments ever when Nolan Ryan beat the crap out of Robin Ventura.

The video is shown all the time at the ballpark in Arlington so I have it memorized.

Here’s how it goes:

  • Ryan hits Ventura with a pitch
  • Ventura charges the mound
  • Ryan places Ventura in a headlock and goes at it
  • Ventura can never live this down

Definitely one of the most infamous bench-clearing brawls in baseball. And because I’m sure you’re curious – yes, the Rangers won the game 5-2. And no, Ryan was not ejected.

Don’t mess with Texas, y’all.

Happy anniversary, Robin.

P.S. If Ryan wasn’t enough…Bautista learned his lesson this year too.

I mean seriously…don’t mess with Texas.

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Rangers forever.

IN CONGRESS, 4 July 1776

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.– –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Penned by Thomas Jefferson, these would became the greatest words he ever wrote. These words would inspire men and women alike to honor the call, to make the sacrifice, and to begin a movement that would inspire nations to embark on the objective of freedom.

Dated 4 July 1776, it has been 240 years since The Continental Congress released the “unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America,” and still these words continue to ring true today.

The patriots of the Revolution understood the price of what would become the Revolution.

Vexed by the oppression of the British monarch and finding inspiration from Enlightenment idealists, words began to circulate calling for a separated of the colonies from the British Crown.

In his famous “Liberty or Death” speech from 1775, Patrick Henry would say he sees the past of the British monarch and the storm could no longer be adverted. He recognized the colonies were weak in comparison to the strength of the British military, but the time was to act now. “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” Henry called his fellow countrymen to fight because retreat was no longer an option.

Likewise, about six months after the speech by Henry, Jefferson would go on to say “Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America.”

The colonies bid to stand and fight for all they believed in. The Declaration became the founding document for American political tradition. It articulates a legitimate government is based on the consent of the government. Therefore, the government must secure the rights of their people.

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Beyond declaring separation from the Crown, the Declaration became a truly revolutionary document. The Declaration of Independence based political legitimacy in the sovereignty of the people. Intrinsically, the meaning of the Declaration would become one to transcend both time and circumstance.

Although the war had begun more than a year before the document was penned, the resolution of Richard Henry Lee began the process of appointing a committee survey the ideas, possibilities, and value of independence from the Crown. Congress would then vote for independence on 2 July, and two days later unanimously approve of Jefferson’s document.

Independence Day does not only symbolize and celebrate the American pursuit and act of independence, but also the public principle behind the fact.

As John Adams would state:

I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure it will cost us to maintain this declaration and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom I see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth all the means. This is our day of deliverance.

Because of these men, America could truly become the land of the free because of the brave for when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.

For God & Country.

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Grand Old Flag

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You’re a grand old flag,
You’re a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You’re the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev’ry heart beats true
‘neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

When I was a third grader at Little Cypress Elementary, I learned and performed this song for a school event to commemorate the one year anniversary of 9/11.

Perhaps it’s the catchy tune, or perhaps I saw something more in the song, either way this song has stuck with me for the past 14 years.

On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted what would become the flag of the United States. (Fun fact: it’s also the birthday of the US Army, originated in 1775).

Originally the idea came in 1885, BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for his students to observe June 14 as the flag’s birthday. By 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher from New York City planned appropriate ceremonies for his students. His idea was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. After this, multiple celebrations ranging from the Betsy Ross House and the New York Sons of the Revolution would celebrate Flag Day.

In 1893, Colonel J Granville Leach suggested the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority, along with private citizens, should display the flag of June 14. Shortly after, the Board of Managers for the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution would endorse these actions. On June 14, 1893, all public schools of Philadelphia held Flag Day exercises in Independent Square. School children were assembled, each carrying a small flag, and Patriotic songs were sung with addresses delivered.

Over the next three decades, state and local governments would begin to celebrate Flag Day. One hundred years ago (1916), Woodrow Wilson formally recognized June 14 as Flag Day. By 1949 National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.

Secretary of Interior, Franklin K. Lane, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address which said “I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself.”

Flag Day is a day to commemorate our nation. Some wake up in the morning, stretch, and remember the flag. Others wake up in the morning, stretch, and defend the flag. No matter what, there is no better day than Flag Day to keep your eye on the grand old flag.

Lexington & Concord

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April 19, 1775. In the area of Middlesex County in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, the first engagements of the American Revolutionary War were fought. Minor as they may have seemed at the time, the battles marked the outbreak of open armed conflict between the Kingdom of Great Britain and the thirteen colonies on the British American mainland.

After the Boston Tea Party and a “rebel” government rising in British-controlled Boston, the British government declared Massachusetts to be in a state of rebellion in February 1775.

In Boston, British army regulars were given orders to capture and destroy supplies held by the Massachusetts militia in Concord. The night before the attacks, the Patriots received firm notifications of the British plans. Rapidly racing against the British, Paul Revere & William Dawes (poor William, always forgotten) rode from Charleston to Lexington to warn of the coming of the regulars. Colonial militia men prepared to intercept the Redcoat column.

As the sun was rising in Lexington, the first shots were fired, beginning the unleashing of volleys from the British and the chaos which would then ensue for the battles. At the end of Lexington, eight militiamen lay dead and one Redcoat wounded.

After the first phase of fighting, the British then marched on toward Concord in search of the hidden militia arms. However, thanks to Revere’s famous midnight ride, many of these arms had already been hidden. What the Redcoats were able to find, they burned.

The militiamen hustled to Concord’s North Bridge to meet the British army, which was already being defended by the soldiers. Once meeting at the bridge, a shot rang out, which has now become immortalized as “the shot heard ’round the world.” 

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After failing to find more weapons in Concord, the British then marched to Boston. By this time, minutemen from surrounding areas had arrived on the scene, and began firing at the Redcoats from behind trees, walls, and houses. The British began abandoning clothes and weapons in order to retreat faster.

At the end of the day, only about 250 Redcoats were wounded or killed (compared to the 700 plus troops that had arrived on scene that morning). Nevertheless, the spirit of the American patriot began. The militiamen proved they could and were willing to stand up the most powerful army in the world.

By May 28, news of the battle had reached London. By the summer, the full-scale war of independence had broken out, shaping the face of world history forevermore.

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Supplemental Information:
History.com
US History