Tag Archives: Vietnam

Join the 912 Project

The picture accompanying this story might look like a scene out of some late 1960’s, Gump-esque, anti-Vietnam War rally with counter-culture hippies, radicals, and others disenchanted with the actions and policies of their government protesting those actions and policies.

However, the picture, one that many of you likely have never seen because the former mainstream media does not want you to know about these events and thus fails to cover them or under-publicizes them, is not from the ‘Summer of Love’ but rather it is from the end of this very past summer. September 12th, 2009 to be exact.

The Americans in this counter-culture demonstration, the new generation of ‘radicals’, gathered in the National Mall between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument and all over Washington, D.C. to demand fundamental change.

You might have heard that before somewhere, the “Change” idea? The one word slogan was deftly used in last year’s U.S. presidential campaign by Barrack Hussein Obama. It was meant to galvanize those sitting on the fence in the election to support a change from the policies of the George W. Bush administration which had governed for the previous eight years.

But while Obama and his people sold that idea as a change from Bush policies to what they described as some new, more enlightened and peaceful era, what they were actually selling was a bill of goods. Their real motive was a change in the very fabric, culture, and traditional values of America.

During their first year with full control of the American political process since 1994 the Democratic Party has shown that it’s transformation from a centrist, populist party fighting for the middle class to one that is completely dominated by it’s fringe left and bent on massive social change is now complete.

Just since coming to power in January, Obama and his lock-step congress led by California congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Nevada senator Harry Reid have driven America further into debt than the combination of every political generation before them. And while risking financial catastrophe they have begun to risk our very safety and security with their weak foreign policy approach.

All the while, they and their supporters in the puppet media have begun to tear away at the very fabric of American spiritual and institutional culture, lurching it ever closer to collapse and their ultimate goal of a communist/socialist, totalitarian, government-run life for all.

Tens of millions of American did not vote for Obama or for much of any change in the last election, albeit as the lesser of two evils. Millions sat it out because they were not happy with the choices, even when they believed Obama was bad for America. And now millions more who did vote for that ‘Change’ have begun to realize that they were hoodwinked by these elitists masquerading as commoners.

In response to these mounting attacks on the American traditional way of life and value system, Americans from all walks of life, all races and social standings, began to mobilize at the grass-roots level, forming the beginnings of what has now grown into “The 912 Project” movement.

The movement began to organize with responses at a series of town hall meetings held by the Obama government meant to sell their socialist health-care program. Regular everyday people showed up and began to speak out against these policies.

Then the ‘Tea Party’ movement was born, taking its name from the famous ‘Boston Tea Party’ protest action during the run-up to the Revolutionary War. This all culminated with the massive rally on September 12th, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Popular radio and television commentator Glenn Beck, among others, devotes a great deal of time and effort to spreading the message.

The term ‘912’ or ‘9/12 mindset’ comes from the idea that in the immediate aftermath of the attacks against our nation by islamofascist terrorists on September 11th, 2001 (9/11) the entirety of the population was together. We all were wounded, outraged, mourned, grieved. We all demanded and sought retribution and we all clearly saw the enemy and the dangers which they posed beginning on 9/12, the day after the attacks.

Since the first months after the attacks, however, the continued passing of time has seen many Americans drift away into a state of passiveness and apparent forgetfulness. They seem to lack the knowledge that the enemies who attacked us then continue to look for further opportunities to attack us now, and on a grander scale.

There also are some Americans who have intentionally moved past that post-attack period and are happy that many others have forgotten. These are actual Americans who believe that we simply got what we had coming to us on that fateful day in September 2001. They want a version of what the terrorists want, a complete change in American ideals and culture.

Only these Americans want the opposite direction of change. Whereas the islamofascists want America to become an Islamic theocracy with the Koran as the basis of its laws and the ruling clerics as the interpreters of social and cultural doctrine, these liberals want an open, anything goes society. They want to force their version of equality and collective group-think, based on what the government believes is best for everyone. Both ways directly attack the very ideals that America was founded upon.

The organizers of ‘The 912 Project’ tapped into that feeling from the day after the 9/11 attacks, that remembrance that we are all one nation, that our freedom is unique and vital, and that the ideals which the Founding Fathers of our nation established are worth both fighting and dying for.

The project bases it’s organization on 9 principles and 12 values upon which it hopes to begin the process of refounding traditional America. The 12 values are: honesty, reverence, hope, thrift, humility, charity, sincerity, moderation, hard work, courage, personal responsibility, and gratitude. Pretty radical stuff, huh?

The 9 principles are even more radical, depending on whether you share the Obama-led view that government is the boss, knows best, has all the answers, is unaccountable, and that you should just shut up if you disagree. These 9 principles are:

1) America is good
2) I believe in God and He is the center of my life
3) I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday
4) The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
5) If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
6) I have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
7) I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
8) It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion
9) The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

While admitting that I agree with the vast majority of these principles and values, I have not always lived up to some of them. That is going to change. I am looking forward to dedicating myself completely to these basic foundational ideals in my life, and a fight to return them to their rightful place at the center of American culture, society, and law.

If you share the belief that America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, that God has blessed America, and that we are supposed to be a nation of the people, for the people, and by the people then you need to look into ‘The 912 Project’ more deeply and consider dedication yourself in some way.

NOTE: As always, the title of this entry is a link to further information on the subject, in this instance taking you directly to ‘The 912 Project’ website.

Movie Vets Help the Rest of Us Appreciate

Like most Americans, I have never experienced the honor of wearing the uniform of one of our brave military branches in service to my country. I have heard it from many who are my same age. We turned 18 years of age in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

There was no war raging at that time, unless you count the Cold War. Sadly, in many homes the tradition of military service was not passed along.

I have always felt it missing from my own set of life experiences and from my professional resume. An opportunity to experience that sense of duty and honor, and of service to my country and community, is certainly one of the many reasons that I joined the Philadelphia Police Department almost two decades ago now.

If I didn’t make the choice as a kid to put on the uniform of my country, then at least I could put on a uniform here and help protect our homeland.

Still, it would be hard for most of us to ever appreciate what real soldiers, sailors, and pilots have experienced as they have defended both our nation directly and the cause of freedom around the world.

While television news presents missiles being launched and far away explosions, they rarely, if ever, show the truth of close, intense combat situations and the split-second decisions that can mean the difference between life and death.

What was it really like to climb inside the cockpit of a fighter plane in World War II and engage in a mission over enemy lines, perhaps in combat with Nazi or Japanese pilots?

What was it really like to crawl inside of a tank and head out into the deserts of Iraq?

What was it really like to trudge through a swamp in the jungles of Vietnam?

What was it really like to charge on to a battle field in the Civil War?

What was it like to cross the Delaware River in a small boat, freezing and shivering in the cold with General Washington in the Revolutionary War?

For all of it’s many faults, one of the things that Hollywood has managed to do best is to portray those military heroes well.
They bring us close to the battles and often inside the very heads of the individuals involved. Whether those men and women were fighting in combat in war time or protecting our nation and it’s interests in peace time, motion pictures have given us the opportunity to get close to the action.

In 1998, Steven Spielberg took us right out on to Omaha Beach with it’s horror and death during the D-Day invasion of World War II. Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Paul Giamatti, Matt Damon, Dennis Farina and the rest of the stellar cast of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ took us into the heads, hearts, and minds of the heroes who rescued humanity from Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.

In 1994, Hanks had joined with director Robert Zemeckis and fellow actors Gary Sinise and Mykelti Williamson to explore the Vietnam War and it’s participants from some unusual angles in ‘Forrest Gump’.

Back in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola had given us a look into the jungle battles with starring turns from Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Sam Bottoms, and Dennis Hopper in ‘Apocalypse Now’.

In 1986, Oliver Stone’s ‘Platoon’ with Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Kevin Dillon, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe, and Charlie Sheen took us back to the ‘Nam.

While World War II and Vietnam have been the focus of some of the best war movies in motion picture history, many other conflicts around the world have shone a light on the struggles and accomplishments of America’s fighting heroes.

From 1935’s ‘Gone With the Wind’ visiting the Civil War to 2005’s ‘Jarhead’ taking us inside Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm we have seen American troops rise to defend their nation, democracy, and freedom.

So while few of us have had or ever will have that experience, we get at least a small taste of the hardships, the horrors, and the sacrifices that men and women make when they join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and other military service groups thanks to the best of these Hollywood productions. Still, while it gives us a taste, it will never compare to real life.

Those men and women represented by these Hollywood characters and caricatures, by this retelling of history, and by the drama of fiction within a historical construct are the real heroes who we must always thank and never forget.

Especially today, on Veteran’s Day here in the United States, we must all join together in supporting and thanking the military veterans who fight for our nation, and in some cases who are injured and even die for the cause of our freedom and liberty.

From the Halls of Montezuma

The United States Marine Corps today celebrates the 234th birthday for the American fighting force that has spearheaded victories in battles from Mexico’s ‘Halls of Montezuma’ to Africa’s ‘shores of Tripoli’ and thousands of locales in between.

Whether in the Middle East today, or in the pre-Vietnam War days when my father, Matthew Veasey, served in the Corps, or in the World War II days, when my father-in-law, Robert Marshall, served in the Corps in the Pacific theatre, Americans have served their country in this elite group of warriors and marksmen.

On November 10th, 1775, at the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the 2nd Continental Congress resolved that a military group be formed to be known as the Continental Marines. The group would eventually consist of 131 officers and approximately 2,000 enlisted Marines.

Five days earlier, the Congress had commissioned Samuel Nicholas of Philadelphia as a ‘Captain of Marines’, the first officer commissioned for the group. He would become accepted in tradition as the first ‘Commandant of the Marine Corps’, the highest ranking officer.

Tradition also holds that much of the recruitment efforts for the group were held at Philadelphia’s Tun Tavern. The tavern was a nearly century old gathering place at Water and Tun Streets, with a restaurant having been added a few decades earlier. The proprietor during the Revolutionary period, Robert Mullen, became the chief Marine recruiter.

The primary service of this Marine force would be to serve as on-board security for naval Captains and their officers. They would also position Marine sharpshooters at the tops of the ships’ masts during naval battles with the assignment of taking out the opposition officers and other important ship personnel.

The first group, consisting of 5 companies with 300 Marines, met up with the Navy in the Caribbean in December of 1775, and under Nicholas they joined the Navy operations quickly undertaken in the Bahamas. Eventually, Marines would fight with George Washington’s troops at Trenton and would participate in many other Revolutionary War actions.

At the war’s conclusion, both the Navy and the Marines were disbanded in June of 1785. It would be 13 years before the now U.S. Congress finally permanently created the United States Marine Corps in 1798 as it prepared the military for a naval war with France. During these early years of re-establishment, the Corps took part in it’s famous effort to capture ‘the shores of Tripoli’ during the First Barbary War against the African Barbary pirates.

During the War of 1812, the Marines were pivotal in what was largely a water-based series of battles with the British empire in the Atlantic Ocean off the American east coast and along the nation’s inner rivers and other waterways. Particularly significant were their efforts to slow the British march to the nation’s new capitol at Washington, D.C. and in the defense of New Orleans.

The Marines next fought in the Seminole Wars, particularly in the 2nd Seminole War of 1835-1842, when the U.S. was battling Native Americans for control of Florida. It was during their next efforts in the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 that the Corps battled into those storied ‘halls of Montezuma’ as the United States took control of the territory of Texas.

The Civil War in America from 1861-1865 saw the Marines do little but participate in blockades as many of their ranks split between the two battling sides of the temporarily split nation. In the decade following the Civil War, the Marine Corps emblem and the famous ‘hymn’ were each developed. Then in 1883 the Corps adopted it’s famous motto of Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, now frequently shortened to the famous cry of “Semper Fi!”

In 1898, the Marines played another significant role in the Spanish-American War, particularly in seizing a military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba which remains American territory to this day. During the early years of the 20th century the Corps saw action as far afield as the Boxer Rebellion in China and the Banana Wars in Haiti and Nicaragua.

It was during World War I that the Marines began to gain their modern reputation. Here the Marine Corps fought bravely at Belleau Wood near Paris, France during the German spring offensive in 1918. It became legend that the Germans so respected the Marines fighting spirit that they took to calling them Teufel Hunden, or Devil Dogs. The nickname stuck and has been a point of pride ever since.

The Marines did not go into hiding between the two massive World Wars, but instead saw the coming 2nd conflict and took numerous measures to study amphibious warfare and prepare for what they believed was a coming war with Japan. When the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor and the conflict in the Pacific broke out, the Marines were ready. It was during the WWII battle at Iwo Jima that the iconic image of ‘Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima’ captured 5 Marines and a Navy man raising the American flag over that hard-fought island.

Through both Korea and Vietnam, the Marines fought valiantly in defense of freedom around the world. As peacekeepers in Beirut, Lebanon during the early years of Islamic fundamentalism rising up, a bomb ripped through their headquarters building, killing 220 Marines and 21 other service members in what was the worst loss of life during formal peacetime in the Corps history.

The Marines have continued to fight on, leading the way in America’s military battles against the forces of Middle East despotism and radical Islam from the Gulf War through to the ongoing War on Terror theatres in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

From those “Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli”, the Devil Dogs of the United States Marine Corps have fought our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea. They fight for right and freedom, to keep their honor clean, in every clime and place where they could take a gun. Here’s to their health and to their Corps. Happy Birthday, Marines!

The Good Old Days

Do you know that weird sensation of connection to your roots that you often feel when you see an old family member, friend, lover, teammate, or co-worker for the first time in years, maybe even decades?

Depending on the circumstances of your meet, it sometimes doesn’t hit you until later. But almost always we go through that exercise in mental nostalgia which carries us back to those younger days and the experiences that we shared with this individual.

The innocent memories of childhood. The fun times of high school or college. The struggles and amusement involved in our early work years. The thrills of victory and the agonies of defeat on sporting fields.

The life, death, and love of family. Sometimes that person is linked to another person, or a group of others, and our memories will branch off towards those folks.

Well these types of memories and feelings have been happening to me more and more lately thanks to the social networking website called Facebook. I have stumbled across more family members and old friends on the internet thanks to this popular behemoth than I could ever have imagined.

People who I worked with years ago. Those who I hung out with on the corners of South Philly as a youth. Some who I played ball with as an adult. And being a police officer for the past 19 years there are cops, both old and new acquaintances. Lots of cops. The site allows you to mentally catch-up with these people.

We share small biographies of what we’ve been up to, photos of our family members and friends, videos of some of our life experiences, music and other media that we enjoy, and conversations with one another and each other.

These meetings of late have also driven home another point to me as well. My own memories of what is classically referred to as ‘the good old days’ are truly long gone.

For me those days would take me back to my childhood and teenage years growing up in the 2nd Street neighborhood of South Philly during the 1960’s and particularly the 1970’s.

‘Two Street’, as some know it, is a stretch of south 2nd Street beginning around Washington Avenue and continuing south to Oregon Avenue. This is approximately a twenty block stretch bordered on the east by the homes on and around Front Street and on the west arguably by somewhere around 4th or 5th Street, depending on how far south you are.

The area is a Mummers kingdom, the home to these merry men and women who star in Philly’s iconic New Year’s Day parade. Many of the clubs have their headquarters on 2nd Street or just off it, and you can’t walk a half block without tripping over any number of residents who participate in the parade in some way.

The times when I grew up there were the days of Vietnam, Woodstock, Watergate, Apollo, SNL, Nixon, Ford, Carter, disco, gasoline rationing, and the ever-looming threat of a nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Russia that was known as ‘The Cold War’.

But when your age is still in the single digits, and even into your pre-teen and early teen years, most of these big stories are simply not affecting your life as you know it. Your life at those ages is filled with things like family and school, sports teams and friends, movies and music. Eventually as we emerge into puberty we become preoccupied with the opposite sex.

In my life, family was big, and there was a simple reason for it: geography. My grandparents were all raised in South Philly, and in those days you pretty much settled and raised your families in the same neighborhood where you started. Thus my parents and their siblings, my aunts and uncles, were all raised there as well.

Most of that living and raising took place in a small stretch of no more than a half mile. Within those five blocks or so lived my own little family of myself, my younger brother Mike, my mom Marie, and my dad Matthew.

We lived on the tiny 2300 block of south American Street, which would serve decades later as the backdrop for a scene in the film ‘Invincible’ about former Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale.

Those scenes where Papale plays a rough version of schoolyard lot football? They were real. I can’t tell you how many dozens if not hundreds of such football games that I participated in over the years on the school yards, playgrounds and rec centers around Two Street. From ‘touch’ football to ‘rough touch’ and even tackle football on grass or when it snowed heavily.

My dad had two sisters, and my mom had one brother, and they and their families also lived in South Philly. The LoBiondo family of my Aunt Bobbie lived just two blocks away. The Piernock family of my Aunt Pat lived about five blocks away.

The Gilmore family of my Uncle Ray lived a bit further away but still in South Philly. My Uncle Ray Gilmore, my mom’s brother, was a DJ with the old AM radio king WIBG which was known in those days as simply ‘Wibbage’.

His career opportunities in radio eventually saw him become one of the first to leave the old neighborhood, first for the New York area, and then eventually on to Boston. But my mom stilled had many other family members, aunts, uncles and cousins, living all along 2nd Street.

One of the regular joys in those days was on New Years Day, when most of the parade groups returned to their clubhouses along Two Street and would parade down the length, serenading their fans and family members.

The tradition remains today as a mini version of the full-scale parade that took place along Broad Street, and has a ‘Mardi Gras’ feel with costumed revelers jamming the streets.

In my own good old days we had two family spots along the parade route that gave us a front row seat to these festivities. My mom’s Uncle Bill and Aunt Helen lived right on 3rd Street at Cantrell, where the parade came right past their front door, and my dad’s sister Bobbie lived just off 3rd & Jackson.

Both families always had open house parties on those days, and we got to enjoy the parade, family reunions, and good food and drink. These gatherings were like familial glue in my youth, allowing my dad’s family at Jackson Street and my mom’s family at Cantrell Street to be together in a fun setting year after year.

My brother Mike and I would jockey back and forth between the two houses, saying the requisite hello’s to our aunts and uncles and then hanging out with our cousins. This was the essence of Two Street: sitting on the front porches and stoops, hanging on the corners, family, friends, Mummers, and all of it made possible, or at least far easier, by the simple geography of proximity.

Real American Hero: Jon E. Swanson

Former American President Harry S. Truman once said that he would rather be a Medal of Honor recipient than be the Commander-in-Chief.

More than speaking to how difficult was his role as the nation’s top military commander, Truman was paying homage to the people who are honored with the Medal, people who are referred to here at the website as ‘Real American Heroes’. You can read stories of some of them by simply clicking into the label by that title at the bottom of this piece.

On the morning of February 26th, 1971, the Osmonds had the #1 song in America with “One Bad Apple“, and 28-year old U.S. Army helicopter pilot Captain Jon E. Swanson most certainly had his young wife Sandee back home in Denver with his two small daughters, Holly and Brigid, on his mind.

After all, besides his calling to the American military, they were his life. A life that none of them realized was seeing its final sunrise.

On that morning, Captain Swanson prepared for his role in a military mission that was going to take place that day in the Kingdom of Cambodia, which itself was directly related to the war going on in Vietnam.

The military guerillas of the Viet Cong used areas of neighboring Cambodia for their home base, and this frequently drew Cambodian territory into the conflict. Swanson’s job that day was to fly an OH-6A aircraft in support of the ARVN Task Force III, which was tasked with taking out two well-equiped enemy regiments in the area.

Swanson was to pilot his craft and pinpoint the exact positions of the enemy. To accomplish this, Swanson had to fly the aircraft low over the tree tops at slow speeds, making him a highly vulnerable target.

As the ARVN unit that he was supporting advanced, they came under heavy enemy fire. It was reported that Swanson “immediately engaged the enemy bunkers with concussion grenades and machine gun fire”, destroying five bunkers as he dodged heavy ground-to-air fire.

He then observed a strong .51 caliber gun position, but had used up all of his heavy weaponry in destroying the bunkers. So he flew over it and marked its position with a smoke grenade, and another aircraft swooped in to destroy it.

However, Swanson noticed that the weapon had survived the attack, and also observed an enemy soldier crawling towards it in order to man it and use it against the Task Force. Swanson engaged and killed this male, but his Scout helicopter was hit mulitple times by fire from yet another .51 caliber weapon.

Again Swanson flew over this weapon, marked it, and it was destroyed by an American Cobra gun ship. With his ship low on ammo and damaged by enemy gunfire, Swanson could have stayed on the ground. But he had spotted more enemy .51 caliber machine guns that he knew presented danger to American forces, and so he went back up to mark them.

In preparing to mark another big enemy gun, his craft exploded in mid-air and crashed to the ground. Captain Swanson was killed, but his actions had directly led to the deaths of eight enemy combatants and the destruction of three high caliber weapons, and countless American lives saved.

Swanson’s body was not recovered, and he was listed for decades as ‘Missing in Action’. However, remains were recovered eventually, and Swanson’s surviving family received his Medal of Honor posthumously from President George W. Bush on May 1st, 2002.

Captain Jon E. Swanson died in service to his country, and particularly so that many of his fellow soldiers could live. For his actions, Jon E. Swanson is remembered here as a Real American Hero, and again, you can read all such stories of those similarly honored by clicking into that below label.