Friday, October 26, 2018

MY ADVICE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION


  This morning as I was preparing to leave for work I watched a reporter interview a young Honduran couple. They were part of the so-called caravan that is headed toward our southern border. The couple was pushing a two year old child in a stroller. Weariness was etched on their faces. For me as a father and grandfather it was heartbreaking realizing their plight. I could not imagine traveling that far in the stifling heat of Mexico under those conditions with a small child. Their options are very limited. Turn back and face the hell that they escaped from or go forward with no guarantee that they will be able to enter the United States. The third option is to seek asylum in Mexico. If I was in their shoes I would probably do the same thing they are doing. As an American, however; I realize that we simply can't allow illegal immigration to continue. We face the ultimate prospect of becoming what these people are escaping from at some point in our future. We must protect our sovereignty as a nation. If I could sit down and advise president Trump this is what I would suggest. My plan has room for improvement but I believe that it would work.

1. Place an electrical fence along our border. Build the wall at a distance behind it with razor wire along the top. Place as many resources and troops on the border as necessary until the wall is built.

2.. Meet with Juan Hernandez, the president of Honduras and other of the third world countries, including Mexico, that are allowing their people to be mistreated and starved. I would tell them in no uncertain terms that if they don't actively work to help their people and change their plight the United States will do whatever it takes short of a military invasion to overthrow their government. We will give financial aid and support to any opposition force that is willing to reform their country..

3. Build a series of Ellis Islands. I don't mean literal Islands off of our shores but processing centers where people can apply for entrance into our country. If their desire is to become American citizens they would go through a thorough vetting process like our Ellis Island ancestors. They would be checked for tuberculosis and other communicable diseases. The applicants would go through a criminal and security background check. Build comfortable compounds to house these applicants while they are going through the process and call on volunteer charities to help feed and care for them. Only those people who can better our society and contribute to it should be accepted. In other words people who are willing to go to work and not here to bleed our welfare system.

  Many times when I talk to people about illegal immigration I like to use the Titanic as an analogy. When the Titanic was sinking many of the lifeboats were allowed to be lowered with only a few people in them or not completely full. This problem reflected the problems of social class at that time. Far too many of the wealthy class survived as opposed to the lower class passengers. More importantly it exposed a lack of leadership from the Titanic crew. They should not have lowered any lifeboats until they were totally filled with passengers and a crew to manage them. In the movie Titanic there is the scene when Molly Brown pleads with a Titanic crewman to go back and try to pick up survivors flailing about in the ice cold water off in the distance. They can be heard screaming and pleading for help. A truly heart wrenching situation. When Molly persists in begging the crewman to turn the boat around he threatens to throw her overboard if she doesn't shut her pie hole. Hollywood makes the sailor appear to be totally heartless and this exchange may or may not have occurred. The sailor, however; was making a valid point. If he had guided the boat into the middle of these desperate people there is a good chance that their boat would have been swamped and everyone would have died. To me America is a huge lifeboat. Yes we have a lot of room available but we are in danger of being swamped. If this lifeboat sinks; we all drown.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

THE FIRST MEDALS OF HONOR



  People my age may remember the Walt Disney movie The Great Locomotive Chase. If any historical event deserves a more in depth retelling by Hollywood it is this story. In the Spring of 1862 Union Brigadier General Ormsby Mitchell was camped with his army at Shelbyville Tennessee. Mitchell had his eye on capturing Chattanooga. The capture of Chattanooga would disrupt the Memphis and Charleston railroad and the fall of Chattanooga would open up the deep South to invasion. A black market trader named James Andrews devised a plan to go deep behind Confederate lines with a small group of volunteers. They would tear up and destroy the Western & Atlantic railroad along with the telegraph lines between Big Shanty Georgia and Chattanooga. If they could tear up the rails and bridges on the Western & Atlantic, along with cutting the telegraph lines, they could prevent the Confederate Army from shifting troops from Atlanta in order defend Chattanooga. Chattanooga would then be virtually defenseless and the Union Army could march right in. Ohio soldiers from Joshua Sills brigade were recruited for the mission. These were all volunteers who understood that they were about to travel two hundred miles behind enemy lines dressed in civilian clothes. They would pose as men from Kentucky wanting to join the Confederate Army. Their capture could mean certain death. Joshua Sill would be killed December 31, 1862 at Stones River. Fort Sill Oklahoma would be named for him by his friend Phillip Sheridan. Ultimately Andrews group would grow to twenty four. Twenty two soldiers and two civilians. Andrews directed his men to travel in small groups to Chattanooga. From there they would all travel together to Marietta Georgia. Early on the morning of April 12, 1862 twenty two of the men boarded a northbound train for Chattanooga. Two men overslept and missed the raid. This was just five days after the bloody battle of Shiloh and the one year anniversary of the beginning of the war. The locomotive pulling the raiders train was named the General and Andrews plan was to hijack the train just north of Marietta at Big Shanty. This is present day Kennesaw Georgia.  Big Shanty was chosen as the starting place because there was no telegraph there. Trains had no dining cars in those days so the passengers disembarked at the Big Shanty depot and walked next door to the Lacy hotel for breakfast. The raiders lingered behind and uncoupled the passenger cars from the rest of the train. William Knight became the engineer while most of the other men jumped into the three remaining boxcars. All that was left was the locomotive, tender, and three boxcars. Andrews gave the order to head north toward Chattanooga. All of this was accomplished with thousands of Confederate soldiers camped nearby. At that time the average speed of a train was about fifteen to twenty miles per hour. Northern Georgia is very hilly and even today trains average about forty miles per hour through that part of Georgia. The men going in believed that the most dangerous part of their plan was stealing the train. If they could pull that off without getting caught they would be home free. They didn't count on anyone chasing them. When the Generals conductor William Fuller saw the train pulling off without him he and two others began chasing it on foot.The three men came across a hand car and used this until they spotted a locomotive at Etowah Georgia. The Andrews Raiders managed to tear up the track two miles below Adairsville. Fuller and his comrades could not go forward and were forced to continue the chase on foot again. Andrews bluffed the crew of the southbound locomotive Texas into pulling off on a siding so the General could pass. When Fuller reached the Texas he commandeered the locomotive and resumed the chase running backwards with the tender pointed north. At Calhoun he picked up eleven Confederate soldiers. By this time Andrew's pursuers were so close that the raiders had no time to stop and destroy more track. Tearing up a railroad is a slow process and they had not brought along the proper tools. Because of recent rains they were unable to burn the bridges because the wood was too wet. The raiders hoped to block the railroad tunnel at Tunnel Hill Georgia near Dalton but were unsuccessful. They had been able to tear down the telegraph lines along the way and to this point nobody had been able to warn the Confederate Army in Chattanooga of what was happening. Just before the raiders cut the telegraph lines north of Dalton, however; the Confederates were able to get a message off warning Chattanooga of the approach of the General. Just 18 miles south of Chattanooga the General ran out of fuel and Andrews gave his men the order to scatter into nearby woods. Within two weeks all of the men were captured by the Confederates including the two men who overslept. The raiders were split into two groups and were imprisoned in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Atlanta at various times throughout the Spring of 1862.They were abused by hostile citizens, were given little food, tortured, and imprisoned under terrible conditions. One group of prisoners were placed in a jail cell so small that they named it the "Hell Hole". On May 31, 1862 James Andrews was sentenced to death without the benefit of a trial and was hung a week later. Seven more men were tried and sentenced to death. They were hung in Atlanta on June 18, 1862 in front of a jeering crowd. Fortunately no more raiders would die after that. Shortly after the eight men were hanged eight others escaped and made their way back to Union lines. The rest of the men would eventually be released through prisoner exchanges. Of the twenty four men who participated in the raid nineteen men were awarded the Medal of Honor. James Andrews and William Campbell were ineligible for the medal because they were civilians. Sam Llewellyn of the 10th Ohio Regiment refused the medal because he didn't think that he deserved it since he overslept in Marietta and missed the raid. Two of the men who were hung, Perry Shadrack and George Wilson were somehow overlooked and did not receive the Medal of Honor. This past June my wife and I took a vacation to Savannah and Charleston. On our way home we toured the tunnel at Tunnel Hill and the Chattanooga National Cemetery. This is where the eight executed raiders are buried. They are buried right behind the Andrews Raider monument. Five of the tombstones are etched in gold which means that they were awarded the Medal of Honor. Shadrack and Wilson's graves are not etched in gold. At the time I wondered why and after studying the Andrews Raid there is no valid reason why they didn't receive it. There has been a modern day effort to award these two men with the medal. Many people including descendants of the two men have tried to have the medal awarded to them over the years. Finally in 2008 the Department of Defense Authorization Bill requested that the president award the medal to them but it still hasn't happened. On March 25, 1863 Secretary of War Edwin Stanton asked the six raiders, who were released in the prisoner exchange, to come to the War Department. He was so inspired by their story that he awarded them all the Medal of Honor. These were the first Medals of Honor ever awarded and this is why March 25th is celebrated annually as National Medal Of Honor Day.
Connor, myself & Courtney visiting the General in Big Shanty Georgia

The General



Entering the tunnel






An alcove inside the tunnel to protect workers as the trains passed

The raiders view of  the southern entrance of the tunnel 

The southern entrance of the tunnel
   



The eight Andrews Raiders that were hung









Sunday, October 7, 2018

THE SEARCH FOR JUSTICE

  I know that many of you are as tired of hearing about Judge Kavanaugh. Especially now that he has been confirmed by the Senate. The fight is not over, however. If the Democrats win the House and Senate in November they will try to impeach him along with president Trump. There is no one who believes in justice more than I do. No matter who you are nobody is above the law. If Kavanaugh had been brought before a criminal court for the crime of attempted rape, which could still happen, he could not be convicted without evidence proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. With the lack of hard evidence this case would not even have made it to a Grand Jury. I know a little something about sexual assault. As the parent of a seven year old child who was sexually assaulted by a thirty three year old man there is no way that I want to see a person guilty of such a crime go free. In our case the justice system failed us. The man plead guilty and instead of killing him I put my trust in the judicial system. After two years of prosecution the man received a sentence of thirty days in jail to be served on weekends at his convenience. This is all he got for robbing a seven year old girl of her precious innocence. This predator has molested multiple children since. Some children came forward and some didn't. As a result he has spent some time in prison but a man like this should never again see the light of day. This is where the justice system fails us as a society. In January 1986 I was called for jury duty in Rutherford County Tennessee. I mostly sat on civil trials and two criminal trials. On one trial involving an attempted murder I was an alternate. The other was  rape trial and we were sequestered. Which basically means that we were under house arrest for three long tiring days. They put us up in a hotel room. When we traveled it was either in the back of a patrol car or a paddy wagon. A sheriff deputy guarded us when we ate in a restaurant because we were not allowed to speak to anyone that wasn't on the jury. Our jury consisted of ten men and two women. I shared a hotel room with a juror who I had been friends with for years. During the jury selection process I never expected to be chosen as a juror because of what had happened to my daughter. They initially asked the pool of jurors if any of us had personally been affected by a rape or sexual assault. I had to tell them about my daughters experience. The lawyer representing the accused asked me many personal and intense questions about what had happened to my daughter. It was one of the most grueling experiences that I have ever endured and I thought that it would never end. The lawyer kept repeating the same question over and over toward the end. Are you capable of giving this man a fair trial? I finally looked him straight in the eye and told him that I would not send an innocent man to prison. This seemed to satisfy him and he ended the questioning. I was shocked when I found out that I had been chosen to sit on this jury. For three solid days beginning early in the morning until late at night I heard the District Attorney for Rutherford County present the states evidence against the accused. The state admitted from the start that all of it's evidence was circumstantial. Circumstantial evidence, however; can be used to convict a criminal as long as the evidence is overwhelming. You cannot convict a suspect of a crime in a criminal trial unless you are sure beyond a reasonable doubt. The suspect was a White male and he was a large fellow and was somewhat overweight. As I heard the details of the rape I wanted whoever was guilty of this crime to go to prison for a long time. A young woman had been brutally raped. The rapist entered her trailer while she lay sleeping on a couch. The woman was terrified as she woke up feeling the weight of a strange man pressing heavily down on her body. He then anally raped her repeatedly. After each time that he raped her he would force her to perform oral sex on him. He had a weapon but I can't remember if it was gun or a knife.The trailer was dark and the woman admitted that she never saw his face. There were various forms of evidence collected at the scene by police but the case hinged on two things. The woman claimed that the man had a large scar next to his navel and he was wearing a blue fleece lined denim jacket. I sat and listened as the woman and several police officers stated under oath that the suspect had a large scar right next to his navel. There was a drawing of the scar and it's location on a chalkboard. When each person was asked to point out the location of the scar they all confirmed that the location of the scar on the chalkboard was correct. The defense called the suspect to the front of the courtroom and asked him to raise his shirt. There was no scar. The lawyer then asked him to lower his pants. He had a scar but it was on his hip and not on his stomach. The defense then produced the blue denim jacket and asked the man to put it on. In the mug shot taken on the day he was arrested the suspect was obviously much bigger at the time. He had lost a lot of weight since then. When the man tried on the coat it was way too small on him. The suspect testified on the stand that the coat belonged to his brother who was much smaller. At the end of the second day the prosecution and defense rested. The case was then turned over to us for deliberation. After much deliberation eight jurors wanted to convict the man of rape. One of which was my roommate and friend. Four of us voted to acquit. Besides myself there was a C-130 pilot who had horrible burn scars on one whole side of his face. I never asked him how he got the scars but I assumed that he had been a crash. He also told me how he had successfully landed a C-130 at Pope AFB in North Carolina after three of his four engines shut down in a violent thunderstorm. This is the only known instance where a C-130 was able to stay in the air for any length of time on one engine and make a successful landing. The only two women on the jury also voted to acquit. One was the mother of a friend to my son Robbie. We wanted someone to be held accountable for this crime but the state was not able to convince the four of us beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury became hopelessly deadlocked and tempers flared. We finally approached the judge and informed him that we could not come to a decision. He called a recess for the night and we were transported back to our rooms. My roommate was so angry at me that he asked to be moved out of my room. We never spoke much after that trial. The next morning a mistrial was declared and the suspect went free. As myself and one of the women walked into the judges chamber the judge was sitting at his desk. He asked why we voted to acquit. I told him that we thought the states case was weak. He said that the state did not even know that the man had a brother. The brother it was discovered had a long criminal record while the accused had no criminal record at all. With this information I felt vindicated. The moral of this story is that I hate criminals that get off too lightly or are not forced to suffer the consequences of their crimes. People like Hillary and Bill Clinton, Eric Holder, Susan Rice. Barack Obama, and Ted Kennedy just to name a few. I hate injustice of any kind and it angers me when an innocent person is wrongly charged or convicted. I don't care if that person is White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, rich, poor, Democrat, Republican, homosexual or whatever. Everyone deserves justice. If you are guilty you should be held accountable but a person should be innocent until proven guilty. The Kavanaugh accusers in most cases are the same people that treated the Bill Clinton accusers like whores during the 1990's. If the Democrats had stood up for these women then I would be more sympathetic to the # Me Too movement now. I believe with all my heart that the ultimate target of all of this activity we are seeing today is Donald Trump. The Democrats are so determined to get Trump that they are willing to sacrifice a few of their own in the process. Such as Les Moonves of CBS news, Harvey Weinstein, Morgan Freeman, Tom Brokaw, Stan Lee of Marvel Comics, James Levine of the Metropolitan Opera, Matt Lauer of NBC news and Al Franken. They see Trump as vulnerable in the area of sexual assault and the # Me Too movement is a strategy to bring about his downfall. I am for justice but being able to destroy someone based on a charge that cannot be backed up with hard evidence is nothing but mob rule.