1954 ~ Quite a Year!

…concerning the brutal murder of Syrian civilians, including children and infants by Sarin gas, President Obama said, “I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage.” According to sources, immediately he and VP Joe Biden headed directly to Fort Belvoir…

For the very first time, January 1st 1954 the Rose Bowl and the Cotton Bowl were broadcast in color and two more television stations signed on the air with the CBS call sign. On January 20th the NNN grew to 40 – that is the National Negro Network now had 40 radio stations and, in the category of some things never change, President Eisenhower announced on February 2nd the detonation of the first H-bomb. (The detonation had occurred in 1952, two years earlier!) That same month President Eisenhower warned the U.S. people against getting involved in trouble in a small nation named Vietnam.

And the list goes on, all through the year… new happenings in the world of invention and particularly electronics, steps backward at times particularly in areas of humanity. A bloody revolution in Syria and a ‘peaceful’ change of government in Egypt where 36-year-old Abdul Nasser appointed Egyptian Premier. (He was assassinated twenty-six years later). Ruth Thompson, a Congressman from Michigan, authored a bill against the lewd, lasciviousness of Rock and Roll music. Yes, she was a Republican and Elvis Presley paid $4.00 to get the rights to two of his songs back from a producer in Nashville.

An active shooter incident in the Capital – 4 Puerto Ricans open fire injuring four Congressmen. Eisenhower warned of the ‘Domino-Effect’ in SE Asia. A rookie playing in an Exhibition Game hit a home run, his first as a professional baseball player – none other than Henry (Hank) Aaron, later that month would come his first of the 755. In April, the USAF flew a French battalion of soldiers to Vietnam… later that month the very first American injured in Vietnam, a civilian pilot.

While Disneyland is being built and the MLB sports franchise was born, on July 20th an Armistice officially separated Vietnam into North and South… one year and one week exactly from when an Armistice ended the Korean War leaving it divided North and South. Russia was denied entry into NATO – the Cold War begins to heat up, Senator McCarthy on full boil. The Tasmanian Devil debuts in a Warner Brothers cartoon!

In October, after the last French pull out of Vietnam, a Communist Revolutionary enters Hanoi by the name of Ho Chi Minh. The leader of the Muslim ‘brothership’, Hassan el Hodieby arrested in Egypt. The Giants sweep the Cleveland Indians taking the World Series in four games. Texas Instruments announced the first “Transistor Radio.” Dr. Albert Schweitzer and Ernest Hemingway received Nobel prizes in Peace and in Literature. In entertainment, the television show ‘Disneyland’ began as did ‘Father Knows Best’ – on the silver screen ‘A Star is Born’ with Judy Garland and Steve Allen begins the Tonight Show. In crime and entertainment – Dr. Sam Shepherd’s wife murdered in Cleveland Ohio – it became the back story for the iconic story of ‘The Fugitive’ and his relentless pursuit of the ‘one-armed man.’

Yes, 1954 was quite a year. An amendment to allow 18 year olds the right to vote was defeated. The population of the United States was 2,723,726,367. President Eisenhower signed a bill adding “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Almost sixty years later the population is more than two and a half times that at 7,207,459,699.

But, with all of the amazing memories listed here for 1954 there is one record that is more important to us now in 2013 than perhaps any of these others…

Under the watch of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessor Hilary Clinton and the Commander-in-Chief Barrack Hussein Obama, through sequestration and the President’s own promises to the Russian Vladimir Putin, the U.S. nuclear arsenal will be as low or lower than our arsenal in 1954; our troop strength will be as low or lower than our troop strength than at any time since 1954; our ability to have a nuclear umbrella protecting CONUS will be lost.

Dr. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy warns that the Syria debacle is “but a harbinger of what is to come as reckless U.S. national security policies and postures meet the hard reality of determined adversaries emboldened by our perceived weakness.”[i]

The U.S. Army could drop from 535,000 soldiers to as few as 380,000; Marines 182,000 to 150,000, and the Navy from 11 Carrier Task Forces to just 8. Already from the 11, one is in long-term dry dock for repairs, another is also in the Navy Yard for repairs, two are on the West Coast, one in the Sea of Japan and only one is anywhere near the Mediterranean – does that sounds like combat readiness?!

On September 4, 2013 the Undersecretary for the Department of Defense, Frank Kendall spoke before the National Press Club. “This is a bizarre situation for the United States…We are seeing growing national security threats but we are unilaterally disarming because of concerns about the deficit and the national debt. This is a very unusual situation for us.”[ii]

Beyond the loss of military capability, there also comes the loss of credibility. In September 2013 during a Rose Garden press conference concerning the brutal murder of Syrian civilians, including children and infants by Sarin gas, President Obama said, “I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage.” According to sources, immediately he and VP Joe Biden headed directly to Fort Belvoir, a U.S. Army installation in Fairfax County Virginia. Upon arrival at the fort, they went straight to 18 holes of golf; while, well, you know…

Ft Belvoir CC

… in Damascus Syria  

SYRIA-DAMASCUS_2673500b   

 

 

       


[i] “Shrinking U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Worries Experts too” US NEWS, October 2013

[ii] Can We Trim $1 Trillion in Defense Spending and Still Draw Red Lines?” US NEWS, October 2013

   Facts for 1954 courtesy of HistoryOrb.com

Those who cannot remember…

It had been a lush grass field on the outskirts of Gdansk before the war and then it became nearly one square mile of human suffering, mud, blood and shoes.

George Santayana wrote a first volume titled Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason and in it he made a statement that has been quoted and misquoted (more the latter than the former) since he penned it around the turn of the 20th Century. Santayana was born in Spain during the American Civil War and lived in America through the ‘Great War’  and WWII and died while the Korean War was raging. It is a curiosity as to how he would have sided in the Spanish-American War in 1898.

In his book, on page 284 in fact, is the quote: “Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Perhaps it is appropriate that it is so often misquoted, since Santayana himself turned the phrase of Edmund Burke, a British philosopher who would have been about fifty years old at the time of the American Revolution. Burke was first to write: “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” There is a slight turn of phrase, not remembering the past as compared to not knowing history. I don’t think the two are inter-changeable particularly in this instance. Not knowing seems to indicate and ignorance of or indifference toward history. Not remembering the past has different  variables such as physically being unable to recall or being negligent in initially retaining the information.

Memories can be fickle things; clear one moment and as a wisp of air, gone the next. We can come to a point where we are not sure if our memories are actual records of events as they were or as we think they might have been. They may even be simply as we were told they were so repeatedly. I prefer to know something rather than remember it. One is solid the other vapor. Often, as I have left places, particularly in the Balkans or Eastern Europe; I have prayed that God would not permit me to forget what I have seen. I took to writing a travel log of sorts for my Balkan memories. It helps me to know my history there.

My very first visit to a “Concentration Camp”, better understood as Death Camps, this one,  Stutthof, is in Gdańsk Poland and was run by Hitler’s SS (secret police) rather than like the prisoner of war camps run by the Luftwaffe (air force). Each was horrific in their own ways. This, the first camp built outside of Germany was near the town of Skopje where Hitler kept a residence in the early part of the war following the Blitzkrieg of Poland. It was first run by the local chief of police from 1937 to 39 when in September it was transformed to a deportation center and  a re-education camp by the SS. Eventually, Stutthof  had some of the most brutal female guards in Third Reich (perhaps world) history.

There is mostly pristine grass fields and woodlands there now, just a couple of buildings and a gate to let you know where you are. A small memorial stands solemnly to the victims of this Satan’s lair. I trust I will not forget the shoes of Skopje. Taken from prisoners after their death, they are all sizes; many of them are women’s and children’s shoes, even tiny pinkish slippers the size for a toddler. One building houses nothing but the largest pile of discarded shoes I ever expect to see. Other than a small area for visitors to stand, the pile of shoes fills the building. In the center of the long building, the pile of shoes stands as a silent memorial from the floor to the ceiling. Estimates of the number murdered there are around 100,000 but most historians believe that to be a low number because those sent during the  final solution for immediate execution were never registered. Two things stand out in my mind. The first the most horrific, I think, that a small factory near the camp made soap from human bodies. How can one human being do that to another? The other is this solitary hangman’s post. The center of the camp as it is today in the background, the image is stark against the quiet backdrop. But not so in the days of Stutthof. Graphic images from the days of its liberation in May 1945 should be viewed by those determined not to forget, but to know history so we do not repeat it. Hangman's noose Stutthof Nazi Death Camp Gdansk Poland

On the door frame of my home is a small olive wood box from Jerusalem with an inscription on the front depicting Romans 11. The passage describes new believers as grafted in to the tree that began as the Nation of Israel. Inside the small box is a scroll on which is the Shema passage that God instructed the Israelites to know and to pass down to the generations that followed them. They were to place them on their door posts and speak of them in their goings and comings, in their sitting down and rising up. Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength. I do not keep it there because of the commandment given to the Israelites in the days of Moses; I keep it there so I will not only remember, I will know. As I go out and as I come in, I am reminded again who is the reason for my hope.

We, as a people and particularly as Americans, need to know our history. We need to be reminded of why this country was founded and upon what and who it was founded. Do not ever say that what happened beginning in Gdańsk, Poland can never happen here. Remember, the first kommandant was the chief of police of the city whose full name was The Free City of GdańskI do not believe that on one day the chief of police just woke up and said, ‘today I will start imprisoning my friends and neighbors.’  Records indicate that, before the camp began in 1937, that since at least 1936 the SS had been secretly creating dossiers on the locals. They gathered information on political enemies of the government. We must also remember that Adolf Hitler was elected to office. 

Look past the hangman’s post and see the fresh grass growing green and new. It had been a lush grass field on the outskirts of Gdańsk before the war and then it became nearly one square mile of human suffering, mud, blood and shoes. Then, it became fresh, green and growing grass again. Gdańsk did not have to endure that interlude. Somewhere in the line of events, someone, some one, could have stood up and said No! Once it began, many tried to say, No, and they paid for it with their lives. But before that power was in place, somebody had the chance to say No! but they didn’t.

Sociologists and historians give us lots of reasons that Hitler was able to be elected and able to change his job title from Reich Chancellor of Germany  to Führer (father). We do know that a group of conservatives who understood the threats Hitler posed were loyal to President-for life Hindenburg. One, a vice-chancellor (Franz Von Papen) almost convinced Hindenburg to return the country to a constitutional monarchy. Hindenburg himself, dying at the age of 87 told Von Papen “…things are going badly, see what you can do.” Von Papen urged Hindenburg to put the declaration in his will that the country was to be returned to a constitutionally based monarchy. Rather than put it in his will, Hindenburg put the decree in a personal letter to Adolf Hitler. I wonder what Santayana thought.

I will leave you with this: first, there is hope… His Name is Jesus. Second, those who are unable to remember history must know history and be prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our society from repeating it.

 

He… Shall Laugh

However, there is a concern that Kim has backed himself into a fool’s corner by his determination for arbitrament by the sword and may be required to, as the colloquial saying explains it, ‘put up or shut up.’

Psalm 2:1-5 “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us. He that sits in the heavens shall laugh and shall have them in derision. Then shall He speak to them in His wrath and vex them in His sore displeasure.”

Kim Un Jong declares State of War March 2013

(http://news.msn.com/world/n-korea-says-it-has-entered-state-of-war-against-s-korea?ocid=ansnews11)

The passage from Psalm 2 is perhaps the most appropriate caption for this picture of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un who ordered his country’s missiles to be aimed at Hawaii, Los Angeles, Austin Texas and Washington D.C. and in the next instance on March 29th declared that North Korea was in a State of War with South Korea. In part, the statement itself is redundant since North and South Korea have been only on a ‘cease fire’ or armistice since July 29, 1953. There never was a ‘winner’ in the Korean War however, Kim’s statement yesterday indicates his willingness to reconmmence hostilities. During the war in the 1950’s United Nations troops from across the world battled not only North Korean forces but Communist Chinese as well. Millions of Chinese troops did what the North Koreans could not and that was to hold the advance of the U.N. troops, led by the United States from entering and controlling North Korea. One must wonder whether China, although belligerent and at war with the U.S. already in a ‘cyber-warfare’ that is costing billions of dollars in losses; would be willing to enter into a shooting war with the U.S. and South Korea along with othe U.N. forces that may be required to fulfill their obligation under the armistice to protect South Korea from renewed military offensives.

The United States has maintained troops in South Korea specifically at the Demilitarized Zone since the armistice began. The 38th parallel has been the enforced ‘no-man’s land’ for 60 years as of July 27th of this year. The bellicose Kim appears once again to be ‘blowing smoke’ as far as his declaration that the missiles aimed at the U.S. would be “merciless” in their attack against the American people and his threats to reinvade South Korea. However, there is a concern that Kim has backed himself into a fool’s corner by his determination for arbitrament by the sword and may be required to, as the colloquial saying explains it,  ‘put up or shut up.’ To save face, he may very well act foolishly.

A large concern will be whether the Chinese once again come to the aid of their Communist neighbor and secondly, will Kim flex his nuclear muscle and bring with him his minion from Iran, Ahmadinejad?

Yesterday, B2 bombers based in Missouri flexed a little of the U.S. might as “the strategic stealth bombers flew from Whiteman Air Force Base in the U.S. state of Missouri to drop inert munitions on an island off the southwestern coast of the Korean peninsula before heading back to their home base – a 20,000 kilometer non-stop trip.”1

B-2 Spirit
B-2 Spirit

One can be certain that as tensions mount around Israel, as Syria continues to implode with all of the consequences that will bring for Israel; the fact that Christ is coming again soon is more obvious than ever. An exciting time to be about the Lord’s work as no doubt He will be calling many to Himself in these last days and Satan will be battling strong for every single soul. May we all geared up as Paul admonishes in Ephesians chapter 6 and best we all be ‘prayed up’ ready for battle. “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah 6:8 – Let us answer with Isaiah, “Here I am Lord, Send Me!”

1 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2013/03/mil-130328-voa01.htm?_m=3n%2e002a%2e765%2exb0ao042ml%2ep3p

Dit Dit Dit Dah…

     True North Ministries              Rev. Ross L. Riggs D. Min.        Riggs Ministry Minute: For when there’s only a minute for ministry

www.docriggs.com

11 March 2012

The Longest Day, a movie based on the history of D-Day, the June 6, 1944 Allied Invasion of Europe at Normandy, as recalled in a novel of the same title by Cornelius Ryan in 1959; begins with an ominous timpani playing a Morse  code ‘V’ for victory dit-dit-dit-dah. Though it reminds one of something by Schubert or Handel, perhaps Beethoven, the deep Germanic sound of the drum inspires the Ally’s drive for victory; a victory that was at all times sure, but never certain.  The rhythmic combination of dits and dahs (or dashes) resemble the  code tapped out on a basic  code key that interrupts a continuous signal so that each interruption can be timed to make the sound of a dit (very short) or a dash (a bit longer) and it was done at amazing speeds. The draw I have toward this now, nearly obsolete, form of communication; although still utilized in high speed telemetry in a similar fashion, comes at me through two veterans of that wonderful, horrid war. But if I linger too long on the war, you will leave me before my point is made. Bear with me I beseech you!

The first of the two men is my father. During the war, he was Seaman Ralph L. Riggs, Radioman Second Class, USNR, assigned the Patrol Craft, PC-1261. My father was receiving Morse code over headphones in the radio room mid-ship of the 1261 as it approached the Normandy beaches 35 minutes before H-hour which was 0600 hours GMT. The ship hit by either a torpedo or shore battery, immediately listed to one side and began to take on water. The table and heavy typewriter used to record the code being received slammed into my father’s leg leaving him a lasting remembrance, as if he needed one more. The PC1261 was soon to be at the bottom of the English Channel and is probably still there to this day. My father, thankfully, was among the survivors.

The second veteran of WWII that is forever linked to me and secured with a lock whose only key does not open anything, (the Morse  code key of course), is my Uncle Vernon Clarke. He was not a radioman like my father, but would spend the rest of his life following WWII and Korea, enjoying a hobby of Amateur (Ham) Radio.

A very rapid Morse code key that has its speed accentuated by a series of light weights balanced on the suspended key armature is, in the vernacular, a ‘bug.’ With Uncle Vernon teaching me Morse code on a regular basis as an excuse for me to stay up to all hours of the night to listen and watch him enjoying Ham radio, I caught the bug. I especially enjoyed ‘rag-chewing’ which is the strangely, yet appropriately named pastime simply meaning to have a long talk with someone on the other end of the electronic signal by way of radio waves bounced off the ionosphere. Often, these talks would be interrupted by someone in a far distant land, perhaps a missionary or assigned military personnel; trying to reach their homes in the U.S. when it was impossible to access a phone. My uncle would run phone-patch traffic. This is where the two ‘Ham’ operators, one with the missionary in the Amazon River delta perhaps and my uncle in the U.S., would arrange to meet at a time when the radio signal would supposedly be of good enough quality that Vernon could call the home of the missionary and patch that phone call through the radio to the other ‘Ham’ radio station.

With today’s instant cellular, Skype, internet, texting and messaging; I am sure this sounds like something from the stone-age. The analogy is not far wrong… well, not exactly. In those earliest days, Hams did not always have VFO’s or Variable Frequency Oscillators which would allow them to move their radio frequencies anywhere in the bandwidth. Instead, they had crystals. These were not something that scattered light and brought one to a faith healing utopia but were simply a crystal set that was exactly the right thickness so that when it oscillated, it would put the radio on a specific frequency. Those crystals were, in the vernacular, called ‘rocks’ and if you had no access to a VFO you were ‘rock-bound.’ Hence the stone-age hyperbole!

I have had the honor to have a part in the funerals of both Ralph Riggs and Vernon Clarke. I have the joy of knowing that both are in heaven today because of their personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  I will someday join them, not because of anything I have done to earn a place; but rather, that I acted by faith alone. Even that faith was given to me by the Holy Spirit who opened my eyes so that I could see my guilt and my need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. I accepted His gift of salvation and now I know that heaven is my home.

This has been a long circuitous route, you say, from The Longest Day to our hope for today; but that, as good as it is to talk about, is not my reason for writing. Go back with me to the “V.”  dit-dit-dit-dah, dit-dit-dit-dah… What is it that stirs a memory for you? Some say it’s a great (or not so great) smell. There is the certain sound of a creaking screen door that puts me on the back porch of my grandparents’ home in Delbarton, W.Va. Tonight, it was the ‘V.’ A rush of synapse electrical impulses reminded me of my Uncle Vernon. Sure, in WWII and in the movie, ‘V’ is for victory but when I hear, dit-dit-dit-dah, ‘V’ is for Vernon. He was one of these two great men who loved me, guided me, protected me; (probably in more ways than I will ever know) and he went home to be with his Lord just a couple of short months ago. In fact, it was two months ago on the 9th that Vernon entered glory and Tuesday, March 13th will be two months since his funeral. Perhaps that is why he is so much on my mind this evening (early morning now I believe) or maybe it is because his daughter, Deb; my first cousin, is on my heart that stirs me to write this much longer than normal ‘Ministry Minute.’ I trust you have stayed with me on my long travels from The Longest Day, through my father’s D-Day crisis which from the English Channel’s icy waters God brought him, and to Vernon’s joy of sharing Ham radio with his so very young nephew. Perhaps this month, in QST, the American Radio Relay League’s magazine for ‘Ham’ radio enthusiasts; ‘W8TJS’ will be honored as a “SILENT KEY.”

QST is Morse code shorthand for ‘stopping transmissions.’ Vernon’s  code key has been silent now for some time. His call sign will remain unassigned for the foreseeable future, unless perhaps my cousin Debbie picks it up, or someone else has a specific use for the call to memorialize Vernon’s achievements and his life. You see, Vernon was the epitome of a ‘Ham’ radio operator because he cared deeply for his faith, his family, his country and his community. Doing a hundred and one volunteer services, Vernon was a ‘volunteer’ before it was the chic thing to do on a Wednesday afternoon when the press is around. Vernon was a middle of the Xenia tornado relief when there are no bathrooms or shelters or hot meals kind of volunteer.  Vernon was the freezing cold winter nights out with a fire department, trying to film the scene to help them train better in the future volunteer. He was the stay way past 11:00 at night working on the electrical display for the high school band even though he had to be at work at 6 the next morning type of volunteer. Vernon was the volunteer chaperone staying in “rustic” cabins on horrible cots with ice cold showers, to watch over a hundred band kids at camp in the middle of August and taking personal vacation time from work to do it kind of guy. When it came to figuring out how to fix something without the right tools or materials; Rube Goldberg would have come to Vernon for advice, if he could have.

I hope that perhaps some group of ‘Hams’ somewhere picks up on the idea that Rag-chewing and DX’ing on the low bands is worth hanging on to, but, more importantly that unabashed love of God and country and caring for your fellowman through community service is something worth hanging on to too; and they ask the FCC to allow their club to carry his moniker. Nothing would have pleased Vernon more, particularly if it meant reaching out to young people to teach them the joy of radio. Believe me, I know that there are a lot of clubs out there that do a ton of community service and I know that Amateur Radio has been blessed with many such people over the years; but this one could be uniquely a personification of just such a man.

Thank you for coming with me on my trip to spend a little time with my uncle.  As we Christians go about doing good in the Name of Christ, a Name that is above all names; I hope that when our ‘keys’ go silent, if someone could go back and somehow replay all of the transmissions those keys made throughout our lives, that they will be as selfless, as giving, as non-judgmental and forbearing as W8TJS. May God bless you richly throughout this new season and throughout the year.

And as we say, “farewell” in ‘Ham’ radio “VERNacular” – 73’s