Blessed

Today I was able to see and speak with each of my children. I was able to kiss my three youngest grandchildren, and tell them I loved them. I had supper with my wife of 46 years, and took the dogs out for a walk. I then took a 40 minute walk around town myself.

Sometimes I gripe about the way things are going in this country, and in this world, but I am so…so very lucky. If I make it one more day, or 30 more years, I am so very lucky.

I am not rich in terms of dollars and cents. As a matter of fact I live from month to month. But I have plenty to eat, and my barky dog located home is paid for. And if that’s all I have to endure, I am so very lucky.

I am not a refugee from war. I don’t live in a terribly repressive country, though some would make it that way if they could. I do my best to not let them because I am lucky enough to live where I am able to do so. I can still get in my car and drive pretty much anywhere I want without being bothered, unless I break a law.

I could, if I wanted to, go to any house of worship in this country and I would not be kept out.

I am so lucky to have been born where I was born. Yes, sometimes I gripe about the way things are going, because I want my grandchildren to feel lucky too when they grow up.

Now, I don’t have all the answers, but neither do any of you other people out there. Together we might be able to put something out there that’s gonna last. Together. With compromise, and compassion, and conversation….other than all this name calling stuff. It serves no purpose.

I am so lucky, and if you are reading this now, so are most of you.

Let’s try a little love. Start with your family tomorrow like I did with mine today. Work your way out from there and mean it!

If you are a Christian, remember Jesus said to love your neighbor….but he also said to love your enemy. The common word is love.

Diathetical Warfare

The power of diathetical (irregular)warfare increases as the means of mass communication expand. It is not limited to countries fighting each other, or to enemies of one another using it against each other.

This type of warfare indeed lends itself easily to the theatre of politics. T.E.Lawrence was one of the first commanders to realize: that “[t]he printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander.” This was in 1918. Lawrence of Arabia famously defeated the much stronger Turkish army by convincing them through non traditional means, that they HAD lost.

Lawrence realIzed that he really didn’t need to actually win the war, but instead: “He just needed to decide he had won and convince the world. The struggle was to change the definition of victory, to change the meaning of the events rather than the events themselves.”

Jump ahead almost 100 years to New York City in 2001. Another person…this time named Osama bin Laden used Diathetical warfare, when he attacked the World Trade Center. Using the vastly expanded technology of the internet, he staged an attack on the most powerful country in the world which resonated across the entire world, because of the media coverage of the event. He lost his men, eventually lost his organization and then his life. But he won the battle. The first battle of the technological era of communications warfare.

One person in New York City that day looked at the flames, at the coverage they got, at the fame gained by that event. He decided he could adopt the developing technology of the internet, and then had social media fall into his hands as one of the most powerful weapons ever invented. His name is Donald Trump, and he is a master of diathetical political warfare. He started a long time ago in terms of the life span of social media.

Don’t underestimate him. The Turks underestimated T.E. Lawrence and lost a war. America underestimated Osama bin Laden and lost 3000 lives. We cannot underestimate our current leader, because the freedom of our country hangs in the balance.

My Ancestors in the Civil War

I had at least three ancestors serving in this battle. My Great Grandfather Bowers was in the North Carolina 39th Regiment which helped drive Rosecrans from the field on the 19th of September during the battle. My Great-great Grandfather Garner Davenport was in the 65th Georgia Volunteers from Fannin County Georgia. My Great Grandfather Jeptha Locklear was in the Georgia 47th Infantry at this battle and was later taken Prisoner of war at the Battle of Atlanta. My other Great Grandfather Hulan Berg Davenport was in the 11th Georgia regiment which was part of Longstreet’s Division. He fought at Gettysburg, but I am not sure if the 11th was part of the Battle of Chickamauga. Can’t find anywhere where it says they were. Longstreet was at Chickamauga and had troops with him, however. My Great great Uncle Lt. Larkin German was also in the Georgia 65th, and had an article where he killed a sniper who had shot one of his Davenport cousins who was standing next to him at the Battle of Chattanooga. I knew as I child, whenever I went through this park, which was hundreds of times I had a feeling of awe I could not shake. The number of men who fought and died here….staggering in it’s scope and yet never knew that some of my ancestors were here, and thank God…survived the madness and death.

From 2014- Memories of Autumn, Which May be Gone

The baby whisper wind that blew through the early morning air at Trade day this morning reminded me that fall is coming. One more time, fall is coming. Change is in the air.

People were bringing in Halloween doodads to sell. Pumpkins and scarecrows, fall leaves and the horn of plenty. Everything had a hue of orange and yellow mixed with a little brown. Fall colors. It’s not too early to use them, because those holidays get here and pass by as fast as a New York subway headed to Harlem in a New York minute.

Halloween screams by you, then Thanksgiving flies through like a Turkey, almost ignored in the anticipation of “Black Friday” and what I now call “the spending season” known to some as Christmas. (And Hanukah, and Kwanza too!) Then slipping right on in behind those quickly passing holidays, on tip toes in new cotton socks comes New Years. 2015 this go round.

The birthday fairy comes for me in October, and I will be seeing my 64th fall. Although I can’t remember the first few, since I have been able to remember, I have found it’s my favorite season and the most beautiful time of the year. I’ve had the privilege of living through some amazing autumns. I’ve had the luck of living in the best of times.

The first frosts will probably fall in October. That’s usually the case here in Georgia. I can’t wait for that first heavy one, and to be able to go outside and take deep breaths of that apple crispy air. Can’t wait for someone to fire up their fireplace somewhere nearby so I can smell the wood fire burning. The mosquitoes and ants will go bye-bye, the snakes will hibernate, and I can take a walk out in the woods somewhere without slathering myself in bug gunk and being scared of stepping on a rattlesnake. I’d really like to walk a little on that Pinhoti trail this year.

A person never knows when one of these glorious Autumn days will roll around and others will be enjoying it, but you won’t. The uncertainty of life being ever present, tempers our anticipation of seasons to come. So, the best thing we do is to enjoy the baby whisper breezes as they come. And so I’ll leave you with the lyrics to my favorite Fall song by the great Johnny Mercer:

The falling leaves

Drift by my window

The autumn leaves

Of red and gold

I see your lips

The summer kisses

The sunburned hands

I used to hold

Since you went away

The days grow long

And soon I’ll hear

Old winter’s song

But I miss you most of all

My darling

When autumn leaves

Start to fall

My Granny

My Grandmother Laura (Locklear) Bowers, never had a sunburn in all of her life. At least that is what she told me. I have no reason to doubt her word either. I remember as a child seeing Granny in the summertime turn a dark, dark brown. “It’s the Indian blood” she would say.

She told me of her childhood, and how she had been put out into the cotton fields as a child with a burlap sack and told to pick cotton. And so she did, all the day long. It was not something which was out of the ordinary in the early 1900’s for a child to work those long days in the sun. In the aftermath of the Civil war, “The Reconstruction” had left the South broken and divided. Families had to “do the best they could do” said Granny, in order to get by.

So from that childhood of hard work in the field, and “never getting a sunburn” she went to an early marriage to a man who was old enough to be her Father. A man who was actually a friend of her Father’s. There was only three years difference in my Grandfather Bowers and my Great Grandfather Locklear. My Grandmother was 23 years younger.

She married young and had a lot of children.

My Grandfather had lost most of his first family and obviously was a man who believed in having children. Granny had 19 children. Many of them died in childbirth or as infants. Eight of them lived to see adulthood. Those years were in the deep center of the Great Depression. My Dad was born in 1928. Dirt poor in a mill town. All the kids started to work as children in the mill. All the money was needed to buy food and a few clothes. “Living hand to mouth” I remember Granny saying.

I don’t remember my Grandpa Bowers, as he died in 1952 and I was only two years old. I had been living with my Mother’s family for those first two years in Blue Ridge and probably didn’t have much time with my Grandfather. I have never seen a photo of my Grandfather and me at the same time. I don’t know if one exists or not. I have a number of them with my Granny and me in the same photo. In a lot of them, there was some kind of work going on. Cooking, washing clothes, hanging clothes, gardening. Work to be done, and not much time for play.

Granny married again sometime in the late 50’s. A Kansas man named Arthur Knox. I remember much more of him than I can go into right now. He was good to Grandma. He died in 1964 and she was alone again. Much of her life after that revolved around where she was going to stay, which child she was going to live with, where to go. She went from place to place, staying for the longest time with my oldest Aunt, Addie.

She always seemed to be there for all the important things. High School graduations, weddings, funerals. She lived a hard life and died at age 92 back in 1988. I had been married for almost 20 years by then and had three children. My wife and I were busy raising our little ones.

I know I speak often and tenderly of my other Grandparents. My Mom’s folks. But Granny Bowers played a big part in my childhood. I was out at the old Trion cemetery the other day and thought about her, and her favorite meal of pinto beans, taters and cornbread. I think I must have inherited her tastes because it’s also my favorite. You can’t beat simplicity. I believe Granny lived that philosophy.

From 2014- It’s Up to the Coming Generation

The newscaster made the comment this week about a “world in crisis” with all the wars, disease, killings and just generally depressing things going on around the earth. Some are looking for the second coming, while others are stockpiling for the coming breakdown of society, and the anarchy which will follow.

The things which are happening on a global scale, I have no power to change. The only change I can accomplish is on a one to one basis. I do what I can for those whom I can do for. I don’t post it on Facebook, unless it involves having to use that medium to accomplish what needs to be done. I have given more this year than any year in my life. I hope to do more next year. In most cases the things are small in and of themselves, but bring hope to another human being. That is, in my opinion, the only way we can change the world.

Politicians can’t do it. They all lie like dogs. They put on political ads with other people’s money trying to see which one can top the other for the biggest misleading spot of the campaign. We can’t depend on hardly any of them.

The super rich people, the billionaires, they aren’t going to do it. Most of them want to keep every red cent they can get their hands on, and even the ones who do give away a lot of money have their own “pet” causes they support. If a hungry man wrote them a letter asking for money for groceries, chances are they’d never see it. Some aide, or assistant would waylay it.

Most Churches ain’t going to do it. Got a letter today saying as to how a church needed a LARGE amount of money to renovate the building. It was an amount that’s big enough to buy many a homeless person a meal, or an old person their medicine. I’ll send these folks some money though.

Most of this stuff doesn’t give people hope. Seeing that another person cares about you as a human being is what will do it. Treating the least of your fellow humans as equals will do it. Ask them to do the same when they are able, and most will.

I’ve got to believe that the coming generation of humans are going to be able to find a way to live together in peace. One day in the not too distant future they will figure out that killing each other for the petty, insignificant things we are doing it for now is not productive. They are going to wonder why their forefathers ever argued over if they should care for the old and sick, or whether or not to feed and house needy people. It’s a no brainer really. The coming generation is going to be a lot smarter than we are now.

That’s my hope, and if you are at all human, it should be your hope too.

Ode to Armstrong’s Barbecue-2017

I read where Armstrong’s Barbecue restaurant had closed, and was sad.

As a young man returning to Trion in 1974, and trying to make ends meet on a very tight budget, Armstrong’s was one of the few places that Paula and I, and our little family, could afford to occasionally visit. They served a great meal for a very reasonable price.

As our family grew, on through the eighties and into the nineties, we continued to go regularly, once a week and either eat in, or get take out…depending on how things were shaping up. I stood at that outside “take out” window for many a night, and with ten or twelve dollars I could feed my family. I remember Mr. J.D., but mostly Johnny and Linda running the place. They put long hours and a lot of sweat and blood into that business.

I never got tired of that wonderful Barbecue sauce…never.

As the nineties came to an end, and our family grew up and became different family units, we kind of just quit going to Armstrong’s, except very occasionally. Their food was still good, but we seemed to always be going in different directions, finding it hard to all come together at one time in one place for a meal.

I think the last time I ate there was sometime around 2003 or so, and I think it was me and Dad and Ted. I can’t remember for sure, but I have this mental image of us sitting back in their “new” room together. I could be wrong.

Wish I’d had a way to take some photos back in those old days there. Things come and go…and even good things slip away with time. I guess that goes for people, memories and Barbecue restaurants too.

Freedom Ain’t Free

Seeing people flee their countries in order to try and save themselves and their families is distressing to put it mildly. It is a human tragedy not witnessed in this generation. Many, many of them are dying. Men, women and babies drowning at sea. All taking that uncertain risk, in order to escape an almost certain death.

Most of them are Muslim, although many are Christian…seeing as how the Christian churches in this area of the world, which had been under the protection of the strong man dictatorships in Iraq and Egypt, are now totally unprotected.

I was reading through some comments on posts today where someone was expressing regret over the death of so many babies and children…no matter if they were Muslim. Another person commented in that same post with a reply which I knew well, and which I consider the most repugnant and vulgar line ever uttered by a human being. He said he didn’t care about the death of these babies and young children because: “nits make lice” That line makes my skin crawl with rage.

It was first uttered by an ex preacher turned militia leader named John Milton Chivington. He was the Colorado militia leader who said, concerning the Indians in that territory during 1864: “Damn any man who is a sympathizer with the Indians. I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right under God’s heaven to use any means to kill Indians. Kill and scalp all, big and little. Nits make lice.”

So at Sand Creek, in November of 1864, he and 700 men slaughtered, raped, mutilated and desecrated an estimated 200 or more Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, two thirds of whom were woman and children, who were there supposedly under “protection” of the government with Chief Black Kettle, a peace chief as their leader. Nothing was ever done to punish Chivington for his leadership and participation in this heinous act against people whose sole sin was ownership of land which other men coveted, and a difference in beliefs and customs. When I first read this account in Michener’s “Centennial” many years ago, I thought it was fiction. Research showed it was not.

I go back then to the current situation of these Syrian and Iraqis refugees whose homes have been destroyed, who are being herded into camps with little or nothing to eat, no hygienic facilities, no dignity and little hope for a good future. I see the clips of their women and children…the innocent children. They are being displaced mostly because of their beliefs and customs, and because someone else covets their property.

It infuriates me about the comparison to the 19th century Native Americans. Is a massacre of these current refugees imminent if something isn’t done? Are there more John Chivingtons out there, both overseas and here in America? Of course there are. The fact that someone would use Chivington’s words prove it.

I hope if I have any Facebook friends out there who feel like a John Chivington, they will just go ahead and unfriend me after they read this. I don’t need them.

Understanding our current situation

The power of diathetical (irregular)warfare increases as the means of mass communication expand. It is not limited to countries fighting each other, or to enemies of one another using it against each other.

This type of warfare indeed lends itself easily to the theatre of politics. T.E.Lawrence was one of the first commanders to realize: that “[t]he printing press is the greatest weapon in the armoury of the modern commander.” This was in 1918. Lawrence of Arabia famously defeated the much stronger Turkish army by convincing them through non traditional means, that they HAD lost.

Lawrence realIzed that he really didn’t need to actually win the war, but instead: “He just needed to decide he had won and convince the world. The struggle was to change the definition of victory, to change the meaning of the events rather than the events themselves.”

Jump ahead almost 100 years to New York City in 2001. Another person…this time named Osama bin Laden used Diathetical warfare, when he attacked the World Trade Center. Using the vastly expanded technology of the internet, he staged an attack on the most powerful country in the world which resonated across the entire world, because of the media coverage of the event. He lost his men, eventually lost his organization and then his life. But he won the battle. The first battle of the technological era of communications warfare.

One person in New York City that day looked at the flames, at the coverage they got, at the fame gained by that event. He decide he could adopt the developing technology of the internet, and then had social media fall into his hands as one of the most powerful weapons ever invented. His name is Donald Trump, and he is a master of diathetical political warfare. He started a long time ago in terms of the life span of social media.

Don’t underestimate him. The Turks underestimated T.E. Lawrence and lost a war. America underestimated Osama bin Laden and lost 3000 lives. We cannot underestimate our current leader, because the freedom of our country hangs in the balance.

Echoes of 911

So 911 is almost over. The names of the dead have been read aloud again. The innocent people who died there that day.

I personally think they died in order to entangle our country in an endless war. Not a war against a country or a group of people, but a war against an idea. A war against a word. How do you win that kind of war? How do you know when you have won? We certainly haven’t been doing much winning since that day. It’ll take a miracle to put this country back to the way it was on September 10th 2001. I don’t know if it will ever happen.

Americans have lost much of their privacy and personal freedoms since that day. We all know about the Patriot act, but there were and are many, many other changes to our Civil liberties which have been promulgated since that day. Enough to fill a book, many books really. Our freedoms took an extreme hit that day those innocent people died.

Presidents gained the power to practically wage unlimited war, through the AUMF…the Authorization for the use of Military Force. Originally passed to use against Al Qaeda, the Bush administration used it, along with puffed up UN sanctions in order to go to war in Iraq. Millions died.

The Obama administration took it to a whole new level by using it as a basis to drone kill practically ever person they considered a “prominent ” member of any terror related group, including U.S. Citizens. Hundreds or thousands of innocent people have died as collateral damage. Thousands of lawyers are employed to insure the killings are legal under the AUMF.

I’d hate to be Bush or Obama if there is Universal justice for the deaths of innocents.

So in the ensuing fifteen years your life has changed drastically and probably forever, though many don’t realize it, because they don’t feel it….yet.

Look to those who have profited since the day those innocent people died. Follow the money, as one of my friends says, and you will draw closer to the purveyors and the people movers who may have actually wanted this eternal war to happen, or at the least, saw it as a way to line their pockets, and swell their bank accounts. I haven’t got time tonight to make a list of the dirty bastards. You can Google them if you are interested. It’s not hard to find.

Another 911 anniversary today. The fifteenth. I sincerely pray for the lives of those innocent people killed that day, and those who have died since then because of the effects of that day.

They didn’t know when they went to work that day, or got on a plane that morning, that they would end up being sacrifices on the altar of the need for eternal war, greed and the need for a reduction in freedom for America and the entire world in general.

Others look at what happened that day, and based on what they heard on the news media….or what they thought the news media was giving them, have drawn a totally different conclusion than what I have drawn. And that’s OK. It’s fine.

Everything is opinion, and perception is always going to be reality.