"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." The Statue of Liberty (P.S. Please be so kind as to enter through the proper channels and in an orderly fashion)

Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

Remember. Commemorate. Celebrate.


Blogger Phelonius said...

My grandmother lost two brothers in the great war. She told me for a long time that she was angry at the US for that war. Then we began, as a family, to accumulate the old pictures, medals, and even a film from my great uncle's "tent-mate" while he was on Tarawa. I told her that the later generations understood her loss to a point (how can you lose siblings that you love without great pain?) but that me and mine understood her loss as heroes that had given their all to keep our country and our freedoms whole?

To those heroes and to all that they represent no matter what war they fought in: Huzzah! A toast to the free and the brave!

3:29 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...

OK, sorry about the discontinuity, she had one brother that died as an aviator, and the other died in Patton's army in Germany.

To end the story, she finally agreed that while she had to deal with the loss, she was happy that others can see them something other than a loss. I had a fellow who was a Korean vet as a seargant in the Marines fix up uncle Billy's flag (the private in Patton's army). As he fixed that flag up, he wept the whole time. In the end he did not want to charge me a dime, because my sons and myself had done a "military job" of folding up his burial flag. Compared to what he had put up with I was humbled and speechless. He had evidently served in the valley of Cho-sen. I had done nothing like that. In turn, we both cried and I thanked him for his service, and finally he accepted a small check because I told him that my grandmother would have wanted me to.
She later told me that I had done the right thing. Even in her grief.

There can be nothing greater than to lay down your life for those in your country. I am too old now, but for those of us left behind, remember, and if you are young enough to volunteer, remember.

3:53 PM  
Blogger John said...

Amen, James.

3:54 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...


6:14 PM  
Blogger John said...

James, you said:

"Cogent to this discussion is that the ideals of Zoroastrianism far pre-date the greek philosophers, as they practically came out of the stone ages by our time-scale."

That brings to mind an ancient discussion I had with your Libertarian colleague J. (Joe Richie?) at Gothamimage.

I used "Zoroastrian" to loosely describe the foundational cosmology of Judeo/Christianity (the Light/Dark conflict).

I say "loosely" because, as I've said here before, Persian, Zoroastrian dualism is not the same as Judeo-Christian monotheism despite the dualistic elements therein, so it was a speculative adjective referring to theological origins based on chronology (exegetical academia--for what it's worth-- tend to agree that the Old Testament as is was a cobbling together of old mythologies of Sumerian origin (i.e. J text) and redacted by a post-exilic priestly class (P text), which premises that when the post-exilic King Josiah found "The Book" among the ruins of the Temple (as narrated in Kings), that was a lie to cover-up what was actually a new edition produced by them and claimed to have been "found" (to give it the authority of precedent).

Other academics have posited that those priestly redactors that forged the "final edition" of what is now the Old Testament imported a lot of their theology from Persia--as influenced by Zoroastrianism.

Others say that any similarities between Light/Dark Zoroastrian dualism and the Light/Dark elements in Judeo-Christianity came about because it was Zoroaster who picked up stuff from the exiled Israelites, and not vice-versa, leading to a chicken or the egg question.

ANYWAY, J. thought that the proper descriptive for the theological nature of Judeo-Christianity was "Manichaean"--when that word was all the rage during Bush's "Good vs. Evil" spiels.

I argued on behalf of chronological precedents (Manichaeanism was developed in 3rd Century A.D. Babylon, and was influenced BY Judeo-Christianity, not vice-versa--and denounced as heresy).

Although the adjective "Manichaean" is loosely applicable in describing any dualistic religion/philosophy, I argued with J. that my use of "Zoroastrian" was equally legitimate in describing the dualistic elements in Judeo-Christianity--if not moreso, because of the chronology.

Glad to hear you agree with me on that one. :)

12:50 AM  
Blogger John said...

P.P.S. I understand your grandmother's grief--and anger.

The Great War was a great disillusionment for many, and led to what Gertrude Stein told Ernest Hemingway was "a lost generation."

The American soldier for WWI harbored the romantic illusions of war, that they brought out valor and were fought with honor and the duty of the patriot.

It was not too long before that the nation was regalled by President TR's Rough-Riders and the glory of San Juan Hill, and America had begun its evolution towards world-power preeminence.

But that all changed with the poison-gassed trenches and the impersonal weaponry which didn't care about any of that.

You can equate the cynicism and bitterness that followed in the wake of WWI with the cynicism and bitterness that followed the war in Vietnam.

But note that the antiwar zeitgeist that followed WWI--and the rejection of the reality of human nature and an embracing of Pollyannaish wishful thinking-- contributed to the Nazi's unchecked aggression, and only delayed our inevitable duty to stop it.

Likewise, the antiwar mentality following Vietnam not only politically undermined successive administration's efforts to keep the Soviets in check, but now still fails to see the sagacity of Middle Eastern military intervention.

On this Memorial Day, there are many of that antiwar bent who consider the duty of the fallen soldier as one that is tragically carried out by chumps at the service of imperialistic whims.

To others:

"To those heroes and to all that they represent no matter what war they fought in: Huzzah! A toast to the free and the brave!"

Ditto. And I hope your grandmother's pain was assuaged by the proper pride.

2:45 AM  
Blogger Phelonius said...


It may well be that the Hebrews brought back a good part of the Iranian religion. If Zarathustra were a real person (who knows?) his activity had to have been between 1000 and 600 B.C.The pantheon around Auhura Mazda was a remnamt of the Aryan invaders, but under Mazdaism they had developed similar concepts to the Hebrews, such as the idea of linear time, having a positive eschatology, the idea of a saviour and the ultimate triumph of Good. Perhaps they borrowed back and forth?
I think the reason J. sticks to manicheanism as the name for the iranian influence is the nature and extent of the manichaen/boghomil/catharist type of heresies so pouplar in the "high middle ages." (That term is losing its meaning but is still useful as a calendar marker.) There is still a lot of christian thought out there that reflects influences from that struggle, all the way from real dualisms to, for example, the image of Christ as "God in a Man Suit." The high Christology of the Gnostics leant itself to this kind of interpretation as well. The underlying theme of all matter being bad and all spirit being good, though, could just as easily be called Zoroastrian as much as it could be called manichean I think.
These are interesting topics.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Phelonius said,
"There is still a lot of christian thought out there that reflects influences from that struggle, all the way from real dualisms to, for example, the image of Christ as "God in a Man Suit." The high Christology of the Gnostics leant itself to this kind of interpretation as well. The underlying theme of all matter being bad and all spirit being good, though, could just as easily be called Zoroastrian as much as it could be called manichean I think."

This brings me to the Christian notion that the flesh is week but the spirit is strong.

Perhaps also, in all this is the idea that they ALL come from the same source. At the time of the tower of babel in Old Testament verse all spoke the same language with the same background.

"...let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
...So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
...Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the blanguage of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."

And took with them the ideas from before...but not having the same language many of their ideas (like in the game of gossip) changed from their origin to something unrecognizable to one another.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I typed something wrong.


My faith teaches...

"Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the

"Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. "

The problem is that over time ideas get changed from their origin. the Meanings of words get changed and without a record of what they knew the passage of ideas from one person to the next loses much in the translation.

Loook, for instance, at the word "Gay" in our language. What did it use to mean? What does it mean today? Does one even have anything to do with the other.

9:35 AM  
Blogger John said...

I can understand the morphing from gay/happy to gay/homosexual.

How would you describe the mood of the stereotypically prancing, flamboyant, and sexually-active homosexual?

I'd describe it as being very gay.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

It still doens't mean the same thing.

If someone says, "so n so is gay." You do not think "happy". You think "homoesexual". The origin of the latter meaning is derived from the former. But in reality they are not the same.

12:43 PM  
Blogger John said...

Right. I understand the origin.

7:19 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

John, I know that you knew the origin...I was just empasizing the distinction.

My point was that the meanings of words change over time.

It's like what my teen ager says..."only in America does 'cool' mean 'hot'.

This is part of how ideas change over time. Unless you have some constant that allows those words or ideas to remain. This is why we have books. This is why we encourage our youth to read the classics....because we want to carry on the ideas held in those books.

Civilizations once had to carry ideas from person to person...from the speaker to the hearer.

But books only take you so far...they must be read.

It is interesting how the comments in this blog entry have evolved over the course of 12 or 13 comments. What started out as a tribute to fallen heroes has reached a discussion on words.

12:39 AM  
Blogger John said...

That's fine.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Phelonius said...


The influece from the manichean heresy, for example, is a bit more dramatic than the etmogy of terms. The Cathars, for example, really did believe that there were two "Gods," one evil and one good. The evil one created the earth, universe and all matter in order to trap souls in matter. The "spirit" God did not send a son to earth to be born into matter, because the whole idea was silly to them. In fact, eating any kind of meat other than fish was avoided, sex was considered, at best, a necessary evil only performed by the weak. In other words, the flesh was not just weak or succeptible to sin, it was in fact evil.

Now, your point of etymology does have a place from time to time in later European theology for sure. The gnostic heresy has had quite an influence down into today, and can be seen in the high christology of some of the evangelistic movements. Whereas the true gnostic would never have belived that Jesus was really a man, modern theologies along that line have softened that to mean that Jesus was *almost* not a real man. The meaning of the verb "born" was called into question. What did it really mean that God had been "born" to a woman. Some have claimed that Mary was born herself without original sin so that this could happen. Then others wanted to know how she was born without original sin, so it must have meant that HER mother had been somehow born pure. This line of inductive thinking ran into trouble when they concluded that since ALL women are a direct decedent of Eve, so why weren't ALL women born without original sin?

One of the things that make the middle ages fun is this kind of "angels dancing on a pin" type of exegesis.

I do not think that W. Bush is really manichean by any stretch. He was making a rhetorical point The only point I would concede to his detractors is that it *IS* a rather inflammatory statement to say the those who are not with us are against us. On the other hand, perhaps inflammatory is what he wanted and needed at the time.....

8:06 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Phelonius, you said,

"The influece from the manichean heresy, for example, is a bit more dramatic than the etmogy of terms."

I was using words/ideas as an example of what happens over time. When you separate a people with little or no interaction for 1000 years not much is going to be recognizable as far as culture, beliefs, or language.

You also said,

"The only point I would concede to his detractors is that it *IS* a rather inflammatory statement to say the those who are not with us are against us. On the other hand, perhaps inflammatory is what he wanted and needed at the time....."

Didn't Christ say, "if you are not with me you are against me"? But at another time he said, "if you are not against me you are for me."

I thnk that W. Bush has a very good point with that. In today's climate if you aren't with him you in fact help the cause of his foes.

Those countries who sat on the sidelines as neutral during WWII did a lot to help Hitler's cause by not fighting against him. By their silence they gave permission for his atrocities. Thus by their silence they were against the Allied forces.

Ya, it's imflammatory.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I left some of my thoughts hanging...

I said, "Ya, It's inflammatory."

Yet, necesary.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful pictures. That really says it all.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Phelonius said...


As far as my grandmother goes, only now, at the age of 92, does she consider patriotism as any kind of justification for the brothers she lost. Her Dad, during WWII, had been very bitter about the war.

I think that what makes it possible for her to now grasp what I have been telling her is that she wants people to remember what her brothers died for. That was hard for her, as she had raised uncle Billy and T.E. from diapers. She was young when they died. She has since then given me their pictures and war memorabilia because she KNOWS that my children honor them as heroes that cannot be replaced. It is harder for me to remember Vietnam in a more positive light because of the circumstances that surrounded that police action. My Uncle Mike will never be the same, as he served as a medic in that war. Maybe it is that we in the US have never been able to put a price on life. I know that now he is bitter about George W., and while we have talked all he can remember is putting bodies together that never could have lived in the first place. I did tell him that I went to the Vietnam Memorial in DC and while I was there we all said a prayer for the fallen and those that are still falling to that conflict.

As a man with children at the right age for fighting, all I can really say is by God, we had better be right. We had better be right.

4:21 PM  
Blogger John said...

Dana: Yes.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Jeff Bargholz said...

This last Memorial Day, I made it a point to remember, commemorate and honor the soldiers who died fighting to impose order and a veneer of civilization on the genocidal muslims in the Middle East.

911 happened because we tolerated those vermin for decades. If the "War on Terror" is abandoned, we'll have future terrorist attacks that eclipse 911. The longer we tolerate a cancer like islam, the more tombstones we're going to plant.

When I see a soldier's tombstone, I see the faces of my family and friends. They're the ones who've benefited from the military defense of this country and its ideals. Them, and people just like them--all around the world.

Someone needs to remind John Murtha, Jim McDermott, John Kerry, et al. of these ideals the next time they're up for re-election. Along with the rest of the America-last left, they use Memorial Day as a weapon against our soldiers for their own political gain.

Think of our fallen veterans when you go to the polling booths this year.

7:43 PM  
Blogger John said...

I think of our veterans every night at 11:00 PM sharp when I hear the bugle playing taps wafting over from Arlington Cemetery.

2:28 AM  

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