Living With the Past?

On this date fifty years ago, David Charles Marshall Jackson took his last breath. He was one of thirteen men who lost their lives on that nasty February night.1

For most of the country, they are a handful of names among the more than 58,000 inscribed on the Vietnam Memorial, soldiers only a few remember. For a few others, including this writer, they are more.

Those thirteen men included brothers, sons, friends, drinking buddies, and maybe fathers. The oldest was thirty-one, the youngest eighteen. It is certain they all looked forward to life after Vietnam.

Whether they looked forward to seeing loved ones, starting careers, a career in the Army, starting families, or just hanging out at the local bar having a cold one, they had dreams. Those dreams and the dreams of the those they left at home died that night. I know. David was my little brother.

David dreamed of coming home and starting a family. His mom dreamed of having her younger son back in the United States and not fearing every unexpected knock at the door.  I dreamed of getting to know the man my snot-nosed kid brother grew into after moving with our dad years before.

I am confident the others who died that night, as well as the ones they left behind, had similar dreams. However, this piece is not being written exclusively in memory of David, his fallen comrades, or the loss their families suffered. This piece is being written for the veterans who made it home and may still be dealing with the loss of the thirteen remembered here or some of the other 52,000 names on that wall.

Many of the names on the Vietnam memorial are little more than fading or faded memories. Friends have moved on, parents have died, siblings have allowed their memories to disappear because they are painful or were replaced by other losses and challenges.

For some, that is the only way to deal with the loss. They hide it or stuff it in the back of the mind to be remembered once a year, if that often. For others, those names and faces may never really fade. For them, a regular everyday activity may bring back the memory of a smiling face in a faded photograph hidden away in the attic. In some cases, those memories are a comfort. In others, they bring guilt, loss, or emptiness.

Over the years I have been honored to work with or know many combat veterans. Over that time, I have come to know their stories, their challenges, and the pain some carry with them decades later. I have written about this before, most recently in One Day at a Time, and today I feel the need to make one more point.

If David and many others on that wall, could talk to us today they would say something short and to the point. They would appreciate being remembered, but they might be concerned if their loss was still causing feelings of guilt and pain after all these years.

David and the others on the wall would tell friends and family to quit remembering what happened to them. Instead, remember them the way they were the last time they shared drinks, swapped lies, or made jokes about some hotshot young officer.

 


  1. For more about that night, see Lest We Forget and Run Silent, Run Deep

 

© OneOldCop.com – 2019

Posted in National Defense, Patriotism, Veterans, Vietnam | Tagged , , ,

Holy (sounding) Crap!

One of my former theology professors might take umbrage at the title of this piece. As I wrote some time ago, the professor had a problem with slang and euphemisms. Still, there are times when one needs to make a point, and this is one of those times.

Both of my writing personas are a bit put out with the pious, judgmental online finger pointing by some who call themselves Christian. To be specific, these are the folks who post or share memes, snarky comments, and outright criticism of other Christians who disagree with them over social and political issues. While this is in no way a new phenomenon, it is frustrating. In fact, I touched on this matter some years ago in a piece dealing with taxes.

That piece was inspired by people accusing Christians of being hypocrites or worse if they objected to the government taxing them to “help the poor and needy.” A later post, comparing Jesus to middle eastern refugees was inspired by similar attacks on Christians opposed to open borders, chain migration, and accepting asylum seekers who could not be vetted.

Today, some on the left are again attacking Christians who oppose the open borders philosophy being pushed by many so-called progressives. In this case, the critics are using the crisis caused by thousands of Central Americans attempting to force their way into the United States along our southern border. Those in favor of such uncontrolled immigration, or just opposed to anything one might consider conservative, are once again distorting scripture and casting stones at those who believe borders should be secure.

Usually, the best way to deal with such social media criticism is to ignore it. Or, as a last resort, quit following or unfriend the offending source. In this case, it seems ignoring the catcalls and derision is not an adequate way to address the issue.

To be clear, the Bible states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18, NIV) That can mean one should simply turn the other cheek to such attacks, simply walk away, or click the “unfriend” icon. In the cases inspiring this piece, that does not seem appropriate.

Many of those attacking opponents to open immigration are claiming to be Christian. Not only are they claiming to be, or implying they are, Christians, some are members of the clergy in one form or another. With that said, this writer has no problem with someone standing in his or her pulpit stating an opinion on an issue that might be considered political.

Pastors regularly stand up against abortion, and that, to much of the world, is a political or societal issue, not a religious issue. On the other hand, a pastor, lay or ordained, a priest, or theologian saying or posting remarks questioning another’s faith over a political issue such as immigration is a bit much. No! It is more than just a bit much. It is a bit of holy sounding crap.

Take for example one of the posts that was the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back and inspiring this piece. “Real Christians would be waiting for the caravan with food, water, clothing, and offering any help needed.” This post, by someone who apparently spends more time on social media than most people spend at their jobs, was shared over 100K times and garnered more than 800 comments. A sampling of the comments seemed to indicate most were just as mocking of Christians as the author intended. Funny though. None of the comments and nothing else one can find on social media suggests anyone in this gaggle of trolls packed up and headed to the border, with or without food and water.

My rather long-winded point is this. The author of this comment, the person who brought his post to my attention, and many others are quick to condemn anyone thinking open borders is a problem. If the person in favor of controlled immigration is a Christian, open border advocates are quick to label the Christian a hypocrite or worse. Yet, as far as it is possible to determine in this situation, they do little more than share inflammatory posts, push their particular view of Scripture, and look down their noses at anyone who disagrees with them.

© oneoldcop.com – 2019

Posted in Christianity, Civility, Daily Life, Politics, social media | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Seriously Folks?

Whether one agrees with terms such as fake news, alternative facts, liberal bias, left-wing propaganda, right-wing propaganda, or fair and balanced, most people capable of comprehending the English language realize journalistic standards are a thing of yesteryear. It is unlikely journalism was ever as fair and balanced or truly objective as some would like to think. There were, after all, human beings involved in reporting the news, and objectivity is not humanity’s strong-suit.

With that said, the half-time show for the prime-time example of team somnambulism, Super Bowl LIII, provided an outrageous example of the depths to which the media will descend in 2019. Before the event, I hate to call it a game, there was a constant barrage of “will they” or “won’t they” concerning half-time. After the event, reporters, pundits, and others hyped, twisted, and ranted about one facet or another of the matchup, musical performances, and the question of Tom Brady appearing to plant one on Robert Kraft’s lips.

About here, you might be saying to yourself, “What’s the big deal? The media always tries to turn an event into a circus if possible.” Of course, you would be correct in some ways, but in one way you may be missing a matter of concern. The United States, and possibly much of the world, is now occupied by human beings who are incapable of displaying one iota of common sense.

I know! That last sentence sounds a bit extreme. Still, I feel there is ample reason to believe it is indeed the case. Consider one of the hottest topics of discussion from the halftime show. That would be, of course, Adam Levine’s nipples.

Yes, if you fell asleep during the most boring Super Bowl in history and are finally waking up, Adam took off his shirt. In doing so, he created a stir and controversy the likes of which has not been heard since a past president swore he did not have sex with “that woman.”

After all, Adam intentionally removed his shirt, displaying his tats and breast for all to see. Poor Janet Jackson, according to one post, was “blackballed” for her “accidental” wardrobe malfunction during a half time show fourteen years ago. How could life, and the NFL, be so unfair and discriminatory!

According to multiple online news sources, social media “blew up” with outrage over Levine’s antics. I suppose that might be true if one considers a handful of tweets shared in the multiple posts citing one entertainment article covering the matter constitutes “blowing up.” Still, the very fact multiple sources repeated the story, and it was prominently displayed on various online news homepages means someone thought it was of significant interest.

In some ways, it is easy to see why people writing for the plethora of so-called news outlets competing for the browsing public’s attention would find the story newsworthy. What other story of the day would allow one to write copy mentioning, Adam Levine, Janet Jackson, the Super Bowl, and breasts in a few hundred words? Oh, yes! That piece would also allow the writer to express the outrage everyone should feel over the disparate treatment of public breast bearing by individuals based on their gender.

Seriously! It is easy to understand why someone would write an article or post of discussing Adam’s showcasing of this tats and his abs. Since he and Maroon 5 refused to turn their part of the half-time show into a political statement as many hoped, this gave writers something to say, which brings me to the alleged tweets and posts disparaging Levine for his actions.

Were those reported posts truly the spontaneous commentary of startled fans? If that is true, it says more about society than the state of journalism in the country today. One would hope these posts were more professional or volunteer trolls hoping to stir the pot to achieve fifteen seconds of internet fame or increase their followers.

It is possible some otherwise rational individuals would take offense at the acceptance of Adam’s topless performance due to some warped sense of equal rights. It is possible, but the idea that others would take those people seriously enough to repeat their comments is scary.

On the other hand, one has to hope the comment, “Now I have to explain to my children that adam levine [sic] has nipples,” was an attempt at satire. If that person was serious, parenthood is in more trouble than journalism. Unless of course, those children have never been to the beach, a swimming pool, or seen “The Jungle Book.”

© oneoldcop.com – 2019

Posted in Daily Life, Entertainment, Family Vaules, Journalism | Tagged , , , , ,

Blood, Sweat, and Beer: Revisited

A few of OneOldCop’s old rugby family were waxing nostalgic on Facebook the other day.  I toyed with the idea of posting something new about their musings, but in a day or two another post popped up from another old warrior.  When the third appeared, I decided something new was unnecessary and decided to update and share a piece I wrote some years ago.  

Blood, Sweat, and Beer

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Prayer and Predation: Part 1

My alter ego, AnOldSinner, published “Prayer and Predation: Part 1” just after the new year. I am linking to it here as it should be of interest from a societal and law enforcement sense as well as a church or spiritual point of view.

It discusses what I feel is a sexual abuse problem in churches no one wants to address.

Prayer and Predation

 

Posted in Christianity, Daily Life, Law Enforcement, Morality, Police, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

Of Signs and Coincidences

Do you believe in signs? In times past, OneOldCop was not what you would call a big advocate of looking for signs from God, the universe, the stars, or other prophetic sources one might consult. I was convinced, as many are, that such phenomena are wishful thinking, random chance, or flat out lies. Then in the throes of a personal crisis many moons ago, I asked God for a sign. I have not asked for one since.

This was shortly after I found my way back to my Christian roots. One could argue I was swayed by my shift from hostile skeptic to someone seeking a closer relationship with Jesus or God if you prefer. While I accept that possibility, I do not believe it, this was too clear, too timely, and too convicting. Also, it was exactly what I did not want to hear. Yet, it turned out to be the sign I needed.

I do still ask for guidance at times. By that, I do not expect a hand to materialize and write on the wall, nor do I expect an angel to appear and tell me what to do. If you are hardcore skeptic about such things, think of it as a form of meditation or self-talk. Whatever it is, talking and praying to God over the years I have seen, heard, and felt things that led me to make solid decisions, feel confident I was on the right track, or change courses entirely.

The potentially disquieting aspect of signs, omens, portents, or prophetic occurrences is when they pop up on their own, so to speak. You know, what I mean.  You are driving down the road and something catches your eye. It might be something you’ve seen dozens of times, but suddenly it reminds you of a promise, obligation, task, or dirty job you successfully ignored or suppressed for some time.  I experienced such a moment this holiday season.

This little episode of what-is-going-on-here started in a relatively straightforward fashion. Our Austin family; daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren; came to spend a few days before Christmas. It was a pleasant surprise of sorts, as they normally came to see us after Christmas.  However, this year things were different.

Our son-in-law lost his father a few months ago. To make matters worse, he lost his mother the year before. Before the loss of his parents, the tradition was to spend Christmas at his family home and come to ours after Christmas.  It was an arrangement we completely understood.  Heck, we would have loved to spend Christmas with his folks at their home in the Texas Hill Country. So, having the Austin branch of our family with us at Christmas time was a mixed blessing for a couple of reasons.

The loss of his father resulted in a massive amount of work and trouble for our son-in-law and the rest of the family. His father and mother did a great job planning for the end that awaits us all.  Still, dealing with the matter was not easy, and the problems encountered led to a strange Christmas time meeting.  We spent a good deal of time the weekend before Christmas talking about End-of-Life issues. Sing Noel? Not!

Truthfully, our daughter and son-in-law’s concerns were understandable. If something happened to one of us, the other would likely need help, and they believed it was essential to make sure we understood the problems that could arise if the paperwork was incomplete, mistakes were made, proper planning was not done, etc. They were hoping to save the survivor, and themselves, as much effort as possible.

On the other hand, I’ve always thought the confusion and hassle one’s passing creates for his or her offspring is just a bit of payback for all the worry lines and gray hair they caused. Dubious efforts at wittiness aside, we had a decent discussion.

I am currently in the middle of duplicating numerous documents, directives, and records they will need if their mother or I should fail to wake up some morning. If that were the end of the story, you would not be reading this, which brings me to the question of signs and coincidences.

Checking email these days in my world is mostly a matter of deleting spam, offers from companies wanting to sell me something, have me sell something for them, help me increase my sales, keep my clients happy, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera! Two days after Christmas I took a break from scanning copies of wills, financials, insurance, and other miscellanies, to check email.  Almost immediately, two subject headings caught my eye.

One was from our Medicare Advantage program. The subject line read, “4 Smart Ways to Prepare for Your Own Funeral.” The other was from a senior citizen’s organization, and the subject line was, “Five Things You Should Know About Long-Term Care Insurance.” They were emailed within minutes of each other that morning.

I know! It is just a coincidence.  I am, after all, in that age range, and these entities must justify their existence by smothering clients, patients, and prospects with information. Receiving the emails at this time makes some sense, but the timing makes it hard to write off as serendipity. Our family decided to bring this subject up at Christmas of all times, and I have been immersed in this since Christmas Eve. Now, I have two emails discussing two topics we discussed in some detail over the last few days.

Is this a sign that my time is coming soon? Is it a matter of chance? Probably not either of those. Most likely, I was attuned to the topic. Instead of dumping these emails into their respective folders for future reference, I thought, “What does this mean?” Of course, perhaps the sign is my awareness of the possibility. Either way, it could be God, or the universal mind reminding me I am not immortal.

Most of us do not wish to contemplate the inevitable. We would rather have it be a surprise, and possibly go out with a smile on our face thinking about the mess we left for the kids to clean up. The reality is none of us are guaranteed the next breath, much less tomorrow. Failure to plan for our absence is not something any of us should strive to achieve. Preferably, at any age, we need to understand we have a responsibility to those we may leave behind at any minute.

We should make satisfying that responsibility a New Year’s resolution. One we keep!

© oneoldcop.com – 2019

Posted in Daily Life, Family Vaules, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Of Murder and Politics

Thankfully I had just parked my car when DFW radio talker Mark Davis began interviewing Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson concerning the indictment of former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger in the death of Botham Jean a few days ago. Had I been driving, I might have wrecked when she began trying to justify the indictment of Ms. Guyger for murder.

To be clear, as a former police chief, police instructor, firearms instructor, and experienced investigator, I have many questions about the death of Mr. Jean. It seems extremely unlikely Ms. Guyger’s actions can be justified. With that said, this piece is not about the shooting itself. Instead, this is about the indictment, and what that indictment might mean for others in the future. The piece also questions the reasoning an allegedly qualified, conservative district attorney used to justify the indictment.

Specifically, Ms. Johnson stated the indictment was justified because of the definition of murder. For the record, the definition to which she alluded is when someone “intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual.” [TPC § 19.02 (b) (1)] Ms. Johnson paraphrased the definition, but her statement was close enough for government work.

At this point, I am tempted to veer off a bit into a technical discussion of murder and other forms of homicide. In this case, that would be akin to carrying sand to the beach. The local media and others on social media have thoroughly explored the options available in this matter. Besides, the concern here is not other possible charges. Instead, the concern here is that the current DA is establishing a precedent the incoming DA may continue or exploit.

Ms. Johnson clearly stated in her defense of the Grand Jury decision that anyone intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another can be true billed on a murder charge in Dallas County. The problem is this. If someone breaks into your home and you defend yourself with deadly force, you may knowingly and intentionally cause the death of another. Yes, you can protect yourself with deadly force under those circumstances, but doing so still places you in jeopardy.

Some may be thinking, “Jeopardy? Not in Texas! Texas has the castle doctrine, and Texans have a right to defend their families and their property.” Yes, they do, but there are limitations, restrictions, and consequences if one makes a mistake in such a situation. Consider a slightly different scenario in the Amber Guyger case.

Suppose former officer Guyger had just come home from her extra long work day and was in her apartment. Due to the double shifts, overtime work, just not getting enough rest or whatever, she fails to close and latch her door.

A short time later, Mr. Jean accidentally parks on the wrong floor, enters the building, walks to what he thinks is his apartment, pushes open the door, and confronts Ms. Guyger in the darkened apartment. Or in other words, made the same mistake Ms. Guyger allegedly made on the night of Mr. Jean’s death.  A confrontation ensues, and Mr. Jean is killed.

Given the world in which we live today, does anyone really believe the outcome would be any different? Technically, if Ms. Guyger were in her residence and felt threatened or thought Mr. Jean was there to rob her, she would probably be within her rights to use deadly force. Still, under the definition of murder in the penal code, and as stated by the current DA, she could be indicted for murder.

Some might scoff at the hypothetical scenario and outcome above. The idea that someone might be charged, indicted, and tried for shooting an intruder in their home seems ludicrous in Texas. While that might have been true in our parents’ Texas, things are different today. Between the racial component of this case and social media, it is likely the aftermath of the hypothetical situation would be the same as what the officer faces today. There is just too much pressure on elected and appointed officials, including prosecuting attorneys and judges for them to stand up to accusations such as they encounter in 2018.

As of this moment, no one knows the eventual outcome of this case. Perhaps there is evidence of misconduct beyond poor judgment and overreaction on the part of the officer. If such evidence exists a conviction on a murder charge or a lesser criminal offense is possible. Whether there is or not, the former officer might plead to a lesser charge, which will bring more public outcry, but avoid a possibly messy trail and the resulting public response.

Whatever the outcome of the criminal proceedings, Ms. Guyger’s life is ruined. Whether she is convicted or not is to some degree a moot point. The only difference between a conviction and acquittal in a case such as this is how one serves his or her time. Conviction means prison time, but guilty or not guilty Guyger has nothing pleasant in her future. She faces being a pawn in a civil court battle that could include more public scrutiny, substantial legal bills, and other personal consequences beyond what one can easily imagine.1


1. For more on the consequences of using deadly force, check out: Option, Saga, Question

© OneOldCop.com – 2018

Posted in Law Enforcement, Police, Politics, Self Protection | Tagged , , , , , , , ,