Eagle Veteran

The photo below and the link to the news article is self-explanatory.  Let’s remember what Independence Day is really about and how we’ve had to fight to retain it.

(H/T to Mobius.)

Frank Glick took this photo at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. When he recorded the shot, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to the widow of the World War II veteran buried there.

It was a crow that first caught Frank Glick’s attention. It was flying around erratically, so Glick got out his Nikon camera and followed it. It was around 6 a.m. on a hazy spring day and he was driving through Fort Snelling National Cemetery because he was early for a training meeting at Delta Airlines, where he works.

Glick is an amateur photographer, but he always carries his camera, just in case. So he followed the crow, in some cultures a symbol of good luck and magic, until he saw it: a huge eagle perched on a tombstone, its eyes alert, its head craned, looking for prey. In the foreground, dew glistened on the grass.

He didn’t think too much about the photo, until he showed it to a co-worker, Tom Ryan, who e-mailed it to his brother, Paul.

Paul wondered whether a relative of the soldier might want a copy. The tail of the eagle partially covered the man’s name, but Paul did some research and looked up the soldier’s name in newspaper obituaries. The eagle had landed on the grave of Sgt. Maurice Ruch, who had been a member of the St. Anthony Kiwanis Club, the obituary said.

Paul called the club, and it put him in touch with Jack Kiefner, Ruch’s best friend. When Glick took his photo, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to Kiefner and Ruch’s widow, Vivian.

One day this week, I met with Kiefner and Vivian Ruch in her St. Anthony condo. The actual print would be delivered later that day, but Vivian held a copy of the statuesque photo and her voice broke as she talked about Maurie, his nickname, who died from a form of Parkinson’s in 2008 at age 86.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “This is very emotional for me.”

Maurie graduated from college in mechanical engineering in December of 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Known for his keen eye, he became a rifle marksman and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. He served four years in the military and earned a bronze star.

To those who knew Maurie, he was a calm and deliberate giant. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with broad shoulders, but he was also unassuming and unpretentious.

“Used to call him Mr. Precise,” because of his love of order and knack for fixing things, said Vivian. The Ruches had a rotary telephone long after they became obsolete because Maurie scavenged parts and kept the phone working.

Go here for the complete article.

Spend a moment in Remembrance

Today is, officially, Memorial Day. I ask that each of you spend a few moments in Remembrance of those who have fallen in defense of our country.

Spend a moment in Remembrance

Today is, officially, Memorial Day. I ask that each of you spend a few moments in Remembrance of those who have fallen in defense of our country.

On the wings of Eagles…

A friend of mine sent me the link to this video. It is about the P-51 fighter, the men who piloted them and those remaining still today. It is a story about Jim Brooks, a Double Ace, and his Grandkids.

I know someone like Jim, who, by coincidence is also named Jim. My friend flew B-17s in Europe, completed his tour and then flew B-29s on missions over Japan. A few years later, he flew B-29s over North Korea—a time where the life expectancy of a B-29 was measured in single digit missions.

Follow this link to the video about the Gray Eagles. It a bit long but worth it. It’s in HD and if you have a broadband connection, watch it in full screen (check the little box with a rising arrow.)

The Gray Eagles. Enjoy and remember them.

Christmastime during war

Just after the Japanese attacked, Winston Churchill visited Washington. Germany and Ital, the other Axis partners had declared war on the United States and Churchill was visiting to cement an alliance between Britain and the US. During this visit, Churchill was given the opportunity to address both houses of Congress in a unified session on Christmas Eve. It is as timely and pertinent today as it was then.From the Washington Times, reprinted in editorial and a tip of the hat to Rick Shay…

EDITORIAL: Christmastime during war

Winston Churchill’s Christmas Eve address, Washington, 1941

Fellow workers in the cause of freedom: I have the honor to add a pendant to the necklace of that Christmas goodwill and kindliness with which my illustrious friend the president has encircled the homes and families of the United States by his message of Christmas Eve, which he just delivered.

I spend this anniversary and festival far from my country, far from my family, and yet I cannot truthfully say that I feel far from home, whether it be by the ties of blood on my mother’s side, or the friendships I have developed here over many years of active life, or the commanding sentiment of comradeship in the common cause of great peoples who speak the same language, who kneel at the same altars, and to a very large extent pursue the same ideals. Whichever it may be, for all of them together I cannot feel myself a stranger here in the center and at the summit of the United States.

I feel a sense of unity and fraternal association, which added to the kindliness of your welcome, convinces me that I have a right to sit at your fireside and share your Christmas joys.

Fellow workers, fellow soldiers in the cause, this is a strange Christmas Eve. Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle. Armed with the most terrible weapons which science can devise, the nations advance upon each other. Ill would it be for us this Christmastime if we were not sure that no greed for the lands of wealth of any other people, no vulgar ambition, no morbid lust for material gain at the expense of others had led us to the field. Ill would it be for us if that were so.

Here in the midst of war raging and roaring over all the lands and seas creeping nearer to our hearts and homes. Here, amid all these horrors we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart. Therefore, we may cast aside, for this night at least, the cares and dangers which beset us, and make for the children an evening of happiness in a world of storm.

Here then, for one night only, each home throughout the English-speaking world should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace. Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern tasks and formidable year that lie before us. Resolved that by our sacrifice and daring these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.

And so, in God’s mercy, a happy Christmas to you all.

Christmastime during war

Just after the Japanese attacked, Winston Churchill visited Washington. Germany and Ital, the other Axis partners had declared war on the United States and Churchill was visiting to cement an alliance between Britain and the US. During this visit, Churchill was given the opportunity to address both houses of Congress in a unified session on Christmas Eve. It is as timely and pertinent today as it was then.From the Washington Times, reprinted in editorial and a tip of the hat to Rick Shay…

EDITORIAL: Christmastime during war

Winston Churchill’s Christmas Eve address, Washington, 1941

Fellow workers in the cause of freedom: I have the honor to add a pendant to the necklace of that Christmas goodwill and kindliness with which my illustrious friend the president has encircled the homes and families of the United States by his message of Christmas Eve, which he just delivered.

I spend this anniversary and festival far from my country, far from my family, and yet I cannot truthfully say that I feel far from home, whether it be by the ties of blood on my mother’s side, or the friendships I have developed here over many years of active life, or the commanding sentiment of comradeship in the common cause of great peoples who speak the same language, who kneel at the same altars, and to a very large extent pursue the same ideals. Whichever it may be, for all of them together I cannot feel myself a stranger here in the center and at the summit of the United States.

I feel a sense of unity and fraternal association, which added to the kindliness of your welcome, convinces me that I have a right to sit at your fireside and share your Christmas joys.

Fellow workers, fellow soldiers in the cause, this is a strange Christmas Eve. Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle. Armed with the most terrible weapons which science can devise, the nations advance upon each other. Ill would it be for us this Christmastime if we were not sure that no greed for the lands of wealth of any other people, no vulgar ambition, no morbid lust for material gain at the expense of others had led us to the field. Ill would it be for us if that were so.

Here in the midst of war raging and roaring over all the lands and seas creeping nearer to our hearts and homes. Here, amid all these horrors we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous heart. Therefore, we may cast aside, for this night at least, the cares and dangers which beset us, and make for the children an evening of happiness in a world of storm.

Here then, for one night only, each home throughout the English-speaking world should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace. Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern tasks and formidable year that lie before us. Resolved that by our sacrifice and daring these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.

And so, in God’s mercy, a happy Christmas to you all.

In Remembrance…

Today is Armistice Day in the US. Remembrance Day in Canada.

Let us remember our veterans past, present and future.

And more, for our veterans past…