I am many things to many people, but I am and will always be … ME.

Just enjoy your Freedom …

We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.

Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer. Barbecues sizzling. High school marching bands tooting out Stars and Stripes Forever. Red, white, and blue hanging in every city, far and wide and on TV, you will inevitably hear a recitation of Lt. Col. J. McCrae’s most popular and most quoted poems, “Flander’s Field”.:.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

As we navigate through this weekend toward Memorial Day, I want to take another opportunity, not only to remember another brave soul lost, but to tell you the story of his final journey home.
In the days and weeks leading up to every Memorial Day weekend, for the past several years, an ever-popular photo takes control as the most circulated photo, not only among members of the military and their families, but across the entire world. It can be found on blogs, various social media platforms, print publications and across the airwaves in many countries … it has been “shared”, “favorited”, “re-tweeted” and “liked” over and over, hundreds of thousands of times, since it’s emergence in 2007.
When 2nd Lt. James Cathey’s remains arrived at the Reno–Tahoe International Airport, several United States Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac next to the aircraft.
Major Steve Beck, 2nd Lt. Cathey’s military escort described the scene as one of the most powerful in the process. “See the people in the windows? They’ll sit right there in the plane, watching those Marines honor their brother. You have to wonder what is going through their minds … knowing that they are on the plane that brought him home for the final time.” “They’re going to remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They’re going to remember bringing that Marine home.”

Honor after the fall. USMC Major Steve Beck prepares to open the casket of 2nd Lt. James J. Cathey.
When his body arrived at the airport in Reno, USMS Major Steve Beck prepared for the final inspection of 2nd Lt. James J. Cathey’s remains, just days after notifying 2nd Lt. Cathey’s wife of the Marine’s death in Iraq.
Taken by the photographer Todd Heisler for The Rocky Mountain News series, “Jim Comes Home”, the story documents the journey home and burial of Second Lt. James Cathey.
The night before the burial, Katherine refused to leave his casket, asking to sleep next to her husband for the last time. The Marines standing guard made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop and played songs that reminded her of James and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept, to which she replied, “I think that’s what he would have wanted.”

When a soldier dies, everyone close to them gives their all as well.

While there are proponents on both sides of the “How to Honor/Celebrate/Remember/Pay Tribute To” Memorial Day … I have to agree with one of the BEST opinions in regard to this very topic … If I may quote a VERY wise man and an all-around great guy, whom I am Blessed enough to know (Nicholas Rahn)
“People have a lot of views on Memorial Day. Here are mine:
1. Dont feel guilty for hanging out with your family. 2. Have a few beers and hang out with your friends. 3. Dont shame people for having a BBQ on a day we remember the fallen. Everyone pays tribute in their own way. 4. Yes, I am a Veteran. No, don’t thank me for my service. This day is for the fallen, not those still around. 5. If you feel the need to visit a military cemetery, then do it, but dont feel obligated. 6. The folks who fought and died, did it for Freedom. It is your American right to do what ever the f**k you want on Memorial Day.
Have fun, drink a beer, hug your kids, dump a beer for your dead homies… just enjoy your Freedom.”

Just enjoy your Freedom.

Have a wonderful rest of your Saturday.

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Waiting on the World to Change

It’s Monday, and as we move headlong into this final week of April, a few bits to ponder …

The great Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

That quote, in my opinion, directly encourages trying new and/or different things. You don’t have to alter yourself and your ways completely, but understand that eventually you need to do things a bit different, if the things you are doing aren’t giving you the results you think you should have.

Similarly, it’s well known that persistence is the most common trait characterizing most things labeled a “SUCCESS”. Sometimes doing the same thing repeatedly when it hasn’t worked the first 100 times, is most certainly foolish. Sometimes it is also shrewd. Wisdom consists, in part, of knowing the difference.

Flexibility is a virtue. But in most matters, flexibility only rears its head when persistence has already been given a fair shake.

While it is good to keep all this information in the front of your mind, you need to remember that ultimately you only have control over yourself and your actions.

While it is vital to remain optimistic, the true reality is that you cannot change the course of a 🚢 cruise ship with a single wooden ore.

Keep striving for the best, remain optimistic and have a great week!

Being a lover of history, I am of course watching this program on PBS…it is so well done and as most programs about the Holocaust, extremely emotional and moving.

I personally process all information, recollections, testimonies and stories I experience about the Holocaust, not as mere history, but actual, individual human lives. Children, Women and Men, erased from existence due to the dark hatred of fellow human beings.

This is a very inspiring recalling of Jewish prisoners, who worked in the Death Camp and planned a well-organized and successful escape, saving many lives.

It is important for the world to know that many people of all religions, races, sexes, creeds, sexual orientations did fight back against the Nazi murderers and were triumphant in heir survival.

In this documentary, four of the survivors of the Sobibor Death Camp return to the place where they were held prisoners and their families killed. Now a country field with no sign of atrocities that went on within it’s fences, this is a testament to the witnesses of such vile, savage violence.

Even though it is very difficult for me to watch subject matter about the Holocaust, I strongly believe to honor all those souls who perished and celebrate all those who resisted and survived against all odds, all generations from here forward MUST know and bear witness to it all, so it never happens again to humanity.

We are such a cruel, vile, vindictive species.


The Sinking of the Unsinkable …

Today marks the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS TITANIC and we remain just as fascinated by the tragedy as the people were in 1912, when the event occurred.


Numerous tragic ship sinkings happened before Titanic and many occurred afterward, yet this is the one people research, write novels about and depict in blockbuster movies.


On 14 April 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg at 11:40 pm ship’s time. The glancing collision caused the ship’s hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard side and opened five of her sixteen watertight compartments to the sea; the ship gradually filled with water. Passengers and some crew members were evacuated in lifeboats, many of which were launched only partially loaded. A disproportionate number of men were left aboard because of a “women and children first” protocol followed by some of the officers loading the lifeboats. By 2:20 am, the mighty ship broke apart and foundered, with well over 1500 people still aboard.

The Deck and Deck Chairs on the
ca. 1912 — Passengers stroll past neatly arranged deck chairs on the deck of the . The struck and iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage on April 14-15, 1912.

History can be awful, yet truly inspiring, and has always fascinated and amazed me.

I love to learn, explore and share.

The Enduring Legacy of the RMS Titanic : 103 Years Later

After 103 years in absolute darkness, 12,500 feet beneath the ocean surface, a light is finally illuminating the ghostly bow of the lost ocean liner. Titanic’s tragic maiden voyage still captures the imagination of the world 100 years later. Many of the facts have become the foundations of a legend; that the ship hit the iceberg at around 11:40 on April 14th, of the insufficient number of lifeboats, and the story of the band who would continue to play, supposedly up until the last moment. At approximately 2:20am the ship perished, taking over 1,500 people into the water.

In the immediate aftermath the world was left shell shocked and wanted answers. The media went into a wild frenzy. Some survivors were applauded as heroes, but many were vilified. J. Bruce Ismay was condemned by the public for not going down with his ship or giving his place in a lifeboat to a woman or child. The huge loss of life left a world seeking someone to blame, and it seemed that the media was not short of culprits. Ranging from Captain Smith himself, to the lookout crew and the survivors in the lifeboats who refused to go back and attempt to rescue those who had been forced to surrender to the freezing water.

The grief stricken public was outraged. Both the U.S and British enquires into the disaster found that the lifeboats were not properly filled, ice warnings had not been adhered to and that the nearby SS Californian could have rescued many, if not all of the passengers. Many felt that the huge loss of life could have been avoided if it wasn’t for the greed driven and arrogant attitudes of the White Star Line and the British Board of Trade whose regulations meant the Titanic did not need to have enough lifeboats for all passengers. The protocol at the time expected that in the event of an accident ships only needed enough lifeboats to ferry passengers from the sinking vessel to a nearby rescue ship. Of course, in Titanic’s case, the only ship to answer the call, RMS Carpathia, did not reach it in time.

The obsession did not end with the enquiries. Post-cards were sold, commemorating the tragedy, depicting the sinking vessel alongside the poignant notes of the bands last song. Artwork, a musical and songs were inspired by the events of 14/15th April 1912. The tragedy has been depicted in film a number of times, most recently an ITV series and James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster ‘Titanic’. These recent portrayals are not a recent phenomenon, the earliest film was released a mere 29 days after the disaster involving 22 year old Dorothy Gibson, a survivor of the sinking. Whilst some condemned the film for being insensitive, it was still a success.

Within days the Titanic had become a legend. She represented a moral lesson, how nature will always triumph over greed and of the limitations of mankind. Its mythology has continued to capture the imaginations and hearts of so many generations. But that’s not why the tragedy of Titanic is so powerful. It is the human stories and the scale of human suffering, an episode in our history which shows the best, and the worst of our nature. People are fascinated with a tragedy which could have been averted. Titanic artist Ken Marschall stated that he felt that by painting the ship he could keep their memory alive. For him, and many others, it’s important to honour the memory of those who were aboard the ship. However, for others it’s the eerie broken body of the wreck, which fascinates them whilst they continue to look for answers, how and why did the Titanic sink? Who, if anyone, was to blame? What should we do with the site of the wreck itself?

Dr Ballard fervently believes the site should be left intact as a memorial to those who lost their lives, said he feared that the wreck would become a haven for treasure hunters. His fears were not unfounded; Ballard has argued that many parts of the ship have been damaged and stolen; the Crow’s Nest is amongst the missing. 

The centennial auction estimated the total worth of 5000 salvaged memorabilia items were worth around £117 million. Items included personal artefacts such as glasses and hats to parts of the ship itself. In 2008 a lifejacket believed to have been pulled from a frozen body in the ocean sold for £34,000. It had blood stains on it. Many salving operations were deemed by many of the remaining survivors as disgusting, the divers were called ‘thieves’ and ‘grave-robbers.’ But is it right to take things from the site or should it be treated as a mass grave? Whilst there is something unsettling and grotesque about selling such items to the highest bidder the sad fact is that without these salvage missions they will be lost forever. The ocean will not preserve them. Even the Titanic will one day be nothing more than a rust stain on the bottom of the Atlantic. Isn’t it better that they are conserved for future generations?

But amidst the on-going debates and controversies about salvaging the Titanic we should not allow ourselves to get lost in the irony of the tale which was heralded as a moral against greed and arrogance and has now become a billion dollar industry. Nor should we immerse ourselves merely in statistics and numbers. We should remember the horrors, not only of the night when the world seemed to stand still, but also of the days that followed. We should remember that on the 20th April 1912 Mrs Johanna Stunke aboard the Bremen reported seeing a hundred bodies floating on the icy surface of the water, one woman clasping her baby and another clasping her scruffy dog. It should never be forgotten that when seven year old Eva Hart said what would be her last goodbye to her father as she clambered into the lifeboat she was told she would be back on the ship to greet him in time for breakfast.


  • The RMS Titanic, built in Belfast and registered at Liverpool, was an Olympic class ocean liner and the biggest floating vessel on water at the time of her maiden voyage in 1912.
  • She collided with an iceberg at 11:40pm on 14th April and took 2hrs & 4o minutes to sink, taking 1,502 souls with her out of 2,224 passengers and crew.
  • Blame for the lack of sufficient lifeboats and the accident itself has been laid at White Star Line chairman J. Bruce Ismay, though others claim that he was made a scapegoat for larger failings in British shipping regulations.
  • The Titanic’s sinking has been immortalised since in numerous stories, songs, films and television programmes, forming almost an industry in itself today

The Celebration of Easter: Good Friday

Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover.

And so today begins the Easter Triduum.

Good Friday is what Lent has been building up to – Jesus’ death. It may seem strange to call a day someone died as ‘good’ but at the time it really meant ‘holy’. Christians remember how Jesus was flogged and taken, as he carried the cross, to the hillside where he was crucified with two criminals, even though he had done nothing wrong.

He was nailed to the cross there and left to die. This is why a cross is used as a symbol of the Christian faith.


Today millions of Christians worldwide observe the somber holy day of Good Friday, which commemorates the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus.

The faithful often act it out by carrying a large wooden cross and crown of thorns symbolic of the suffering of Christ.

In the streets of Jerusalem, and even in the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, people will be carrying wooden crosses to remember Jesus carrying his cross to his own crucifixion.

Why is it Good?

At first glance, Good Friday seems like the ultimate misnomer. If Jesus suffered and died on this day, then why is it called Good Friday?

On one level, the answer is about the meaning of words.

The term “Good” as applied to Good Friday is an Old English expression meaning holy. It’s often called Holy Friday also.

But in another sense, Good Friday is always tied to Easter Sunday, which is a joyful celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. He could not have been resurrected if he had not died first.

Have a very special Easter Celebration.

The Celebration of Easter: Maundy Thursday

EASTER is just around the corner – and millions of people around the world are gearing up to celebrate the annual festival.
Numerous different events mark the Christian calendar during lent, including Maundy Thursday, but what exactly is it, how is it celebrated and how did the Christian holy day begin?
Maundy Thursday is also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries.
It is the Christian holy day that falls on the Thursday before Easter and marks three days of Easter celebration.
It honours the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles and is followed by Good Friday.

Dad’s Heart: Chapter Four

It has definitely been a whirlwind of a weekend, and so much happened today, so quickly … you are getting this update, post “Operation Run Forrest, Run!”

I’ll get to the important stuff, but first … I wanted to share a few things I heard whilst waiting and walking the VA hallways over the past few days … It might have been stress, but I found it HILARIOUS!

Nurse to Female Patient: “How do you feel today?  
Female Patient:  “I feel fantastic.  I want you to send me home with a couple dozen of them depositories.”

An older gentleman was brought into the room next to my dad and I heard him talking to the nurse who was doing his intake.  It went a little something like this: “I went to the ER for chest pain.  I tried putting “one of them nuclear explosions under my tongue and that helped some.”   I assume he meant nitroglycerine. 

I heard a female patient tell the nurse she had the “prostrate cancer.”

… and probably my favorite: a female patient who complained to the nurse about ” fireballs in her Eucharist”.

It has been a great experience from the standpoint that the physicians and nurses have been excellent.  With all of the negative press the VA Healthcare System has received in recent years, my dad has received some of the best, most kind and caring care while here the past few days … and this isn’t his first rodeo.


So anyway, on to the good stuff.

Dr. McFalls (Chief of Cardiology) came to Dad’s room to give us the good news. He started by stating that while they did see the past damage that led to the 4 Vessel Bypass in 1995, they do now see another abnormality on his scan that is located near a cusp or connecting point for the ventricular chamber walls and the fact that 1 or more of his bypass vessels may now be occluded.

He talked about the risks and benefits of doing an angioplasty to blocked vessels and placing stents, and he talked extensively about the very real risks associated with Dad’s history with MRSA and the fact that has the VERY real threat of any surgical site becoming infected, which  could grow to a bigger problem.

Alas, after much discussion, the “experts” (4 cardiology specialists and dad) have decided they will closely monitor this for now, and adjust his medications as necessary.  They have determined that since he has been asymptomatic for greater than 24 hrs, he can be discharged to home and they will see him in a few weeks for follow-up tests.

Dad and Mom are okay with that, the doctors are okay with that, Shell and Rob are okay with that and so am I.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts and prayers over the weekend.  We are so very Blessed to have such wonderful, caring, supportive friends and family.

This probably won’t be the last medical scare for this team, but we’re prepared and rollin’ with the punches.

I can’t thank the staff at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center enough, as well as the staff at Fairview Lakes Medical Center (Wyoming, MN) and North Memorial Ambulance Service.

So … now the BEST news yet … Dad gets to go home.   Have a great night.


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