Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | October 8, 2014

Life, Art, Life

Light and storm across The Bay, Summer 2014

Light and storm across The Bay, Summer 2014

This Summer a storm at sunset created such beauty before my eyes.  I was awestruck.  I’ve seen a lot of beautiful, fascinating places and people across the world – and I stood mouth agape at the beauty moving all around me – right where I live.  It would have been a spiritual climax were I a pagan.   Instead, it was a humbling moment of thanksgiving and gratitude to the one, only, true, living, triune God.  I was so happy to get to see what I saw.   And experience it from my dock – at my home here called ‘Sanctuary’.

The storm moved with power and grace.  Its beauty and strength was on the largest canvas a human can see – the space of air and water reaching to the horizon of eyesight.  Above the storm the light abounded.  It’s blazing purity washed the clouds in their brightest white.   The air rumbled and cracked.   The water fowl squawked.  The waves slapped hard.  The warm wind washed me.

The works of God were made manifest in the natural world all about.

My telephone camera pictures, as beautiful as they are, capture just part of the pageantry.  The pics are but a taste, not the meal.  Or, they freeze a scene in a moment, rather than performing the whole play.  A great picture is good, but not equal to what life presents.

Life is awesome.

My sister Sue's art.

My sister Sue’s art.

My sister, Sue, who lives near Bah-stin (Boston), loved the pics.  She painted what she saw and felt.  Her painting is – to overwork the word without rancor – awesome!  Her painting, like the pics, is not the whole experience.   Her art, like all art, has a narrative.  It tells a story.

Flash of the obvious from Captain Obvious, Master Obvious, Mr. Obvious – moi.  But, the obvious, like clichés, offers truth.

Good art tells the truth in a simple, powerful way that communicates clearly.   In my 30s I wrote that “Michener laid it all bare.”  James Michener’s formulaic, team-produced histories still spoke truth to me.  They swept aside the normal, busy, distracting everyday living to get at what matters in life.  What changes lives intimately and history ultimately.  I felt a sense of awe as I read.  That prose was art to me.

Of course, good prose is art.  All the visual, performing and decorative arts – poetry, sculpture, architecture, gardening, photography, dance, music, pottery, clothing, jewelry, furniture, prints, film, clothes, and literature are art.  Some say cooking can be art.  Maybe.  The artist creates his or her art to communicate.  My sister certainly does that with her art.  I try with my writing.

Creating a narrative from blank paper or empty canvas is more compulsion than challenge for many.  It is for me.  I must write, lest I burst.  I’ve written since I was a teenager.  Kept little that I wrote, but that little is board feet of scraps of paper.  Single lines that speak a whole poem to my mind.  A couplet that captures a thought I’d never had before.  And rambling rants record the torrents of words that sometimes come like a thunderstorm’s downpour.  Like the power of the storms on this post that I experienced, filmed and my sister painted  Whether it’s drivel or not, doesn’t matter.  It’s my art.

Got my first novel, Rosetta 6.2, out of my system after 17 years.  Got it done.  Started a series of 7 novels 14 years ago.  Need to get about finishing all 7 of them before I’m done.  Many stories to tell within those books.  The stories, which are totally made up in a sci fi setting, have to tell the truth.

Telling the truth about life ultimately talks about God.  God and man.  God and nature.  God and time.  God and life.  God and love.

The weakness of much of what passes for art today is the avoidance of God.  Pretending there is no Lord of Heaven and Earth.   Acting like this life is all there is.  Ha.  The majesty seen in this life points to far more to come.  So, it did when I saw the scene pictured below.  All alone on my dock – actually alone with the in-dwelling Holy Ghost – I could exult in life and life to come.  I could breath deeply and say, “Wow”, out loud.

I could say, “I love you, Nellie” to my late wife and breath the strong salt wind deeply again.  And over and over, “Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank You, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”

Let it rain.  Rainbow follows.

Let it rain. Rainbow follows.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 30, 2014

September Mourn

Nellie bought a print of September Morning, Paul Emile Chablas about 35 years ago.

Nellie bought a print of September Morning by Paul Emile Chablas about 35 years ago.

My late wife, Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden, put this print, September Morning, in our guest bathroom wherever we lived.  Today is her birthday.  She would have been 66 here.  Instead, she is eternal in Heaven.  The beauty of this print speaks to who she was here.

Look at the beauty and innocence.  Consider the gentleness of Nature and girl.  The appealing serenity of surroundings and sexuality of the young woman.  September Morning struck a chord with Nellie.  Nellie played every chord I have.

So, it’s September mourning for me and mine.  We miss her terribly.  Continually.  It’s been 10 months since her stroke.  It feels like 10 years or 10 minutes depending on which feeling we recall.

The first birthday I shared with Nellie was in 1972 in Columbus, GA.  We had meet a couple of weeks earlier at a party a girlfriend of hers begged her to attend as ‘wingman’.  That first night she told me it was almost her birthday.  She lied about her age – as part of her shtick.  She said she would be 21.  I believed her.  She was turning 24.  She fessed up on our first date.  I laughed and liked her more.  We kept laughing together in private until she died.  I loved her crooked smile.

Life followed. All of it with her.

I’m so grateful that last year our daughters threw such a wonderful surprise birthday for her 65th.  Who knew she would be struck down in 2 months?  She didn’t.  She never would have let us do it, if she had known about the party.  But, she deeply appreciated the outpouring of love she got.  Love she had given.  Loving returned which she deeply deserved.  God is good in timing that gift.

This year she was going to retire.  We were going to start a new phase of life together.  Not to be.

As grateful as I am for all that I have to be grateful with her, and I truly am grateful, I must say her absence is simply awful.  It’s terrible.  Death sucks.

There is too much more on my heart to say.  Better to let pictures tell a tale.  The vimeo that Kathy Guild made so beautifully tells a narrative.  It can’t tell the whole story of Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden.  Mama.  Mom (Her grandma name).  Sis or Kacey.  Kathy. Mrs. Bowden.  It tells enough.

Look at her smile.  Her eyes.  The way we look at each other in the last song – which I sang to her many, many times.

It’s 32 minutes of your life to know hers in part.

This September has been our September Mourn.  And God makes all things new.

Happy Birthday, Darlin’ Nellie.  I love you.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 29, 2014

Class of 72 Memorial Service

My daughter, Maggie,  put the program together

My daughter, Maggie, put the program together

822 men graduated from the United States Military Academy on June 7th, 1972.   54 graduates and 3 ex-cadets are deceased.   Our dead are less than 10% of our class.  That’s changing, of course.

Regardless of how many are gone, each man matters.  It isn’t easy to explain the bonds of four years in a total institution at the age when boys become men.  Followed by 5 years or more service in the same intense work.   Our identity includes our Class.  We are the Class and the Class is us.  The death of a classmate diminishes us all, because it is a loss to the Class.  (Not sure that I’m communicating well.)

A classmate once spoke of the splendid isolation of our time at West Point.   Guys knew guys in their regiment, by activities, or for a very few by corps-wide reputation.  So, any fellow probably knows 300 out 822 guys by name, voice and some shared experiences.   Yet, when some guy we can’t remember goes, it’s a loss.  When it’s a guy you know, it hits hard.  You shared a lot of intense times together.  Our classmate, Joel Harris, made that his message today.   It’s about remembering.

Joel is a retired US Army chaplain.   Currently, he is the Chaplain at The Citadel.  Interestingly, another classmate, Jim Parks, is the Chaplain at Virginia Military Institute.

Joel planned and lead a beautiful service for our dead at the Wren Chapel, The Wren Building, on the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA

Deceased classmates and order of worship

Deceased classmates and order of worship

Joel asked me to lead the reading of the Cadet Prayer.   When I was a cadet, during the times made for cynicism by the bizarre world of West Point and the brutal waste of the Vietnam War, I deemed this prayer quite elitist and pretentious.  I recant that conclusion.  The prayer sets a high bar goal.  Even if it is unattainable by fallen, sinful men, it’s worthy of the reach.   While reaching the cadets and, later, Army officers will live better, serve better, lead better and be better men.

Worthy goals

Worthy goals

Joel’s music selection was superb.  Read the words.  How fitting in these times.  The singing was so uplifting.  The small Anglican chapel made the predominately men’s voices of about 50 folks resonate.  It reminded me of when we had mandatory chapel the first Summer and about 800 Protestant young men sang in the bowl at Trophy Point.  The male voices rumbled.  We, Catholics and Protestants, did so again this morning.

Great words for these times and all times

Great words for these times and all times

Joel digressed from his prepared sermon.  He spoke about “why” we get together at reunion.  To remember.   We remember our classmates and God remembers all of us.  His message, given in such lovingkindness, was spot on.

Our classmate Wayne Boy is the director for all the facilities at the College of William and Mary.  Like their Post Engineer.  He arranged to have the Wren Chapel for us.  He got help to play the vimeo of our classmates – which I can’t figure out how to upload here, yet.  He arranged for a gifted organist to play beautifully.

He arranged to have the Wren Cross taken from its silly, Progressive plastic cage.

I gave the sermon to a meeting of the Save the Wren Cross friends a few years ago.  I provided this story to update my classmates on our role in the Great U.S. Culture War.

Back story on our chapel location

Back story on our chapel location

Thank you Joel, Wayne and helpers.  Thank you, Maggie, for the graphics and Kathy Guild for the vimeo.

Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, for my classmates – living and dead – and not forgotten by we who draw breath.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 28, 2014

My Invocation at the Mini-Reunion

Good evening with great guys and wives

Good evening with great guys and wives

I was asked to give the invocation at our Supper.   Here is what I prayed:

“A prayer of blessing and thanksgiving.

Dear Lord, please bless this food to keep us healthy to serve You well.

Dear Lord, I thank You for my classmates, my band of brothers, from the bottom of my heart.

And we thank You for our wives, our children, our grandchildren, family, and friends of our Class. We thank You for letting us serve West Point, the United States Army and the United States of America.

Please protect our Servicemen serving at home and overseas, especially those in mortal danger.

Thank You for the promise Chaplain James Ford gave us in his sermon the first evening of Beast Barracks. He told us “This too shall pass.” He preached truth. That day passed. Graduation passed. Army life passed. And we will pass. Until even our memory has passed. But You are eternal. Unchanging. Overflowing in mercy and love. Giving Grace.

The passing of our time into eternity is part of your plan. It is good, even as we miss and mourn our departed classmates and loved ones. Even though every gathering of the class is diminished if Charlie Frost can’t ask the last question.

Thank You for our time. From young lions to old bulls.

So, I ask Your blessing and give You thanks in the name of my Savior, Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. “

I meant every word.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 24, 2014

First Funny at Mini-Reunion

Proud "Bottom of the Barrel Class"

Proud “Bottom of the Barrel Class”

Today was the meet and greet for Class of 1972, United States Military Academy, at our Mini-Reunion in Williamsburg, VA. At past reunions I’ve laughed so much, my cheeks hurt. First funny was fired tonight.

One of my classmate’s wives came up to chat about “how I’m doing.” She knew my wife in Germany and associated gatherings for years. Visited her in the hospital. Went to her funeral. She was as caring and kind as any strong Christian woman can be – which she is.

Then, she told me that I am still young and I needed to get out. I need to marry again. Katherine would want me to be happy. But, don’t marry someone too young. “We” wouldn’t like that.

“We.”

(Pause) “We!”

I wish I could share this with my late wife Nellie. She would laugh her butt off – and she would agree that “We” wouldn’t like it.   She wouldn’t either. She was part of the We.  “We” are the first wives of about 30 to 42 years of marriage to classmates.

Our first wives are in the 50s and 60s

Our first wives are in their 50s and 60s

 

How true.  The first wives paid a lot of dues.  They were there through thick and thin.  They lived very similar lives for as many years as peers stayed in the Army, then split to the four winds of free, different life.  They were 5, 10, 20, 30 and 35 year vets like their husbands.  Some who are divorced feel a huge sense of loss for their sisterhood of Classmates’ wives and the overall purpose and bonds of our band of brothers.

PS: I told several of the first wives at my wife’s funeral how much I didn’t want to see them. I knew I’d cry as soon as they said hello. And I did. Because they knew her well. They knew about our life together. They shared so much of it. It was like seeing a different her in each of them. I’ll try to not cry when they talk to me this weekend. So far, so good. In public.

We were the bottom of the barrel class.  The only class in West Point history where every qualified candidate was admitted.  It was 1968.  We thought we were going to Vietnam in 4 years.  It wasn’t cool to be in the Army.

West Point and the Army didn’t care.   Our time was brutal.  Now we joke about it.  A lot.  It was brutal on purpose.   It worked.  Most of us went into the Army with a fire in our belly.  The war was called off.  So, we took the armed mob that came out of Vietnam and made it into the victorious Army of Grenada, Panama, Operation Desert Storm, and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

We could coach the Army on how to handle being screwed by the politicians and bureaucrats in the coming cuts.  We know what has to be done with the remnant to build a winning Army.  I hear, dunno if true, that our class had more Generals than any other class than the Class of 1915 – which ran WW II.

Ah, well.

The first funny was fired.  Loved it.  “”We” wouldn’t like it.”

More laughs to come.

Old Corps.  Last class to brace.

Old Corps. Last class to brace.

 

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 12, 2014

Shak Hill 2014

Could be a champion for Virginia

Could be a champion for Virginia

I supported Shak Hill when he ran for the Republican nomination to the US Senate. His 40% against Mr. Establishment Insider, Fast Eddie Gillespie – because he was unknown outside his Congressional District – was super. But, it was a loss. He “ain’t” dead yet.

These words set the stage what must be done – and what he should help do.

Restore America

The future for your family, faith and freedom is threatened by bad government. We, The People, can fix government. We can get it right. We can restore America. It starts in Virginia. It starts now!

Virginians must replace career politicians until we get elected officials who will restore America. Hire public servants who will restore the balance between moral limited government and our inalienable rights. Elect men and women who will selflessly and loyally support both the state and federal Constitution – the very Constitutions they swear to uphold and defend.

Bad Government

Bad government is the abuse of power at every level by officials uninhibited by Constitutions, laws or common sense. Our Constitutions create limited governments with checks and balances against the abuse of power. Yet, like a snowball rolling downhill, the abuses of power grow greater and greater because elected officials won’t uphold their oath to Constitutional limits. Democrats and Republicans alike are at fault, because politics for both parties is about influence and power. Elections are about power and money, money and power, not public service. No longer is the government’s main purpose for the good of the people, but rather for themselves and special interests.

Everything the Federal government does outside of its few Constitutional duties, it does incorrectly, expensively and poorly. From running hospitals for veterans, to keeping the poor on welfare, to indoctrinating children through education, to regulating the economy, to trying to change the climate, to continuing the Ponzi scheme of Social Security, to crippling growth with taxes, to spending our children’s’ money creating deficits that bankrupt the Nation, to creating price controls on wages and to not producing energy – today, the Federal government is bad government.

Meanwhile, judges, appointed for life, write laws from the bench – directly violating the Constitutions. None fear impeachment. For example, two judges recently ruled the Constitution of Virginia is un-Constitutional because the Constitution, approved by the people, says marriage is between one man and one woman. They ruled despite the truth that marriage in Virginia is always, and only, between one man and one woman. Marriage in Virginia comes from the fundamental truths of our Christian culture. Time-tested truths are self-evident.
The abuse of power ranges far beyond the definition of marriage – and the foundation of families – to inevitably and directly threaten your family, faith and freedom. Governments will soon dictate to you what you can do, say and believe. And what you can’t do, say or believe. Political Correctness is just a hint of what is already coming.

Boldly Trust in the Truth

As a former U.S. Air Force combat pilot, I know to trust my instruments. The aircraft instruments tell the truth. They’re based on proven science and technology – subject to immutable laws of nature. Pilots, who fly by the seat of their pants soon regret those laws of nature. So, too, will a great Commonwealth and Nation.

The most wonderful, incredible experiment in democracy, freedom and economic opportunity the World has ever known – based on the Rule of Law – is at risk. Persons and powers are limited by specifically written Constitutions with necessary checks and balances. Our social contract is for one and all to be equal under the Law. There are no group rights and privileges. We, The People, are the Sovereign of the State. It’s time to act like it.

A Commonwealth and Country based on key truths – the laws of nature and of nature’s God, the nature of humans for good and evil, and the protection of Creator-given inalienable rights – must be restored by people who believe in these truths. Virginians must elect public servants to boldly trust in these truths – and speak them to power. Fearlessly do their duty.

Let’s start by replacing career politicians who no longer represent us. And keep electing new challengers until We, The People are represented by selfless public servants. Patriots, not politicians, will restore America to greatness. I trust in the people, not in the government. We must start here, now, until we’ve elected enough officials to boldly trust in the truth. Only then will we restore America.

Respectfully,

Shak Hill
Centreville, Virginia
703-425-2554
http://www.FriendsofShakHill.com

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 11, 2014

9-11’s Sword of Damocles

Islam is the Sword of Damocles for many, many years to come

Islam is the Sword of Damocles for many, many years to come

I wrote this in the days after 9-11-01.

One Front: Two Wars

The first front of the World War against International Terrorism (WW-T), our American Homeland, is remarkably united – today. Getting nine out of ten Americans to agree to anything is heady stuff. Yet, the adrenaline cocktail of shock, fear and anger intoxicates only for a season. Someday soon enough Americans will awaken with headaches and ask themselves ‘Why’.

Will the hangover of a patriotic binge be worth it if war and its consequences become a daily, lifelong addiction? Or, will the glum awakening, even on the brightest of mornings, be the residue of restless nights worrying over our resolve? Our America shall have many, many nights of anguish as we struggle with the ‘war questions’ Americans always ask – during a war of ever changing dimensions, consequences and demands for commitment.

Americans will speak to the dark hours of legitimate doubt with characteristic straightforwardness:
•Who are we fighting?
•Why? What are we defending?
•What will be victory?
•How much, how long, what risk will war cost?
•What must I do?

The answers to these questions over time will result in two wars being waged for our Homeland Defense. The first, the WW-T, will lead to another, but different, Civil War in the U.S. Prayerfully, hopefully, the severity of both wars- the consequence management – will be minimized. Regardless, the nature of both conflicts merits the name – war – and will be fought to the ultimate ends of any and every war – peace through victory or defeat.

When WW-T expands beyond the destruction of one species of terrorist vipers – the Al Qaida organization – the coalition will devolve. The best efforts and high purpose of the magnificently experienced and talented Bush team can not stop shifting tectonic plates of history, culture and the clash of civilizations. Sooner or later, WW-T will be the West and its shifting Moslem Allies vs. Raging Islam.

Then, Americans will realize some fuzzy, global, generic, secular human ‘freedom’ is not under attack, but the West – Western Civilization – is the enemy of the resurgent Islam that breeds radicals and rage. What is the American Civilization worth defending for long decades? What must be preserved at all costs? Who will bear any price for what liberty? These questions will split the unity of our nation along the fault lines of our American Culture War.

Americans with different worldviews will seek alternatives for peace. Some will be happy to defeat one group of terrorists and pretend there are no more until another bright September morning explodes in a new terror attack. Some will shake in fear and shout ‘stop’ when an Islamic country turns on us as we pursue the next den of snakes or when a radical Islamic coup topples some friendly despot. Some will stay the course to defeat the enemy, and their means of attacking the West, everywhere and suppress their successors’ ability to attack ever again – for decades and succeeding generations to come. The nation will divide between those who seek peace at any price – because they don’t see the ultimate destruction of America and the West – and those who know that a hostile ideology – a vigorous, aggressive theology – must be defeated utterly and completely.

WW-T will be waged on the terms of the old Roman Empire. Our enemies will fight us for generations – even centuries – until they change their way of thinking or are conquered or we are defeated from within. Our America, as the leader of the West, has imperial responsibilities without imperial ambitions. Moreover, our nation faces its greatest test since the American Civil War (ACW I). Can a nation so powerful, so rich, so hated remain a Republic with the protected individual freedoms endowed by our Creator? The American Culture War will become ACW II.

WW-T and ACW II will be fought on the same front – our American Homeland.

The distinctions between today’s liberals and conservatives will change as WW-T progresses. When ACW II heats up – may it be a war of words and battles at the ballot boxes only – the two primary sides of the conflict will shape up in new alignments of allies, perhaps with new political labels.

One side will be soldiered largely by citizens who know that since 1776 America is the country where it is safe to be a believing, practicing, proselytizing Christian and Jew. Their troops will advocate the big ideas, the worldview supporting American Civilization and the West, namely, Judeo-Christian thought. This side will show tolerance for the Moslems, the pagans, the atheists among us, but not cede the nation to their hyphenated ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

America faces a long, long perilous WW-T and ACW II indeed. May the God of America’s Founders, the God of Jesus Christ and Abraham, have mercy on us all. May God Bless America. In God We Trust.

James Atticus Bowden
—————————————————————————————————
Barry Soetero doesn’t understand the nature of war or the campaigns in the misnamed “War on Terror”. How unfortunate for America and the World that he is President of the United States. Barry arrogantly claims the ISIS barbarians aren’t Muslims. He says ISIS doesn’t represent Islam.

Islam has been against Western Civilization and everyone who isn’t subjected to their totalitarian ideology and identity since 622 AD. Islam was a direct – invading, killing, raping, robbing, enslaving, pillaging, burning, conquering – threat until their high watermark and defeat at the Gates of Vienna in 1683.

Western Civilization dominated the backward world of Islam in the centuries that followed. The Muslims weren’t much of threat – with exceptions like the Barbary Pirates engaged by Americans in the early 1800s. The situation changed after WW II.

The wars against Israel and the rise of militant Sunni and Shia Islamists motivated at least 10% of the world’s Muslims to be the active enemies of the U.S. and the West. The immigrant invasion of Muslims in Europe and their population bomb means Europe will have a Muslim majority population by 2100 – unless things change dramatically.

Islam is the Sword of Damocles hanging over every President’s head until Islam has a Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment and a few Great Awakenings, or Muslims are deported back and contained in Muslim countries, or converted in sufficient numbers to Christianity, or suppressed.

Islam is the problem. Anytime Muslims read, believe and act on the Koran as it’s written – they are violent enemies of Western Civilization. Every generation of Muslims produced murderous Jihadists since 627 AD.

Islam is barbaric compared to the Christianity. Islamic Civilizations are 800 years behind the West. The Visigoths who sacked Rome were about 600 years behind. Those barbarians, comparatively, were less barbaric to the Romans than Islam is to us today.

America is slowing waking up to the real history and current threat of Islam. Painfully slowly.

At the same time the domestic enemies of the U.S. Constitution, American Liberals/Progressives/Socialists/ Communists/Human Secularists/Democrats engaged in the third American Civil War – the second war on one front, work tirelessly to spread Islam’s lies, apologies, excuses, and taquiya.

This Muslim Sword of Damocles will be over the head of every President for years and decades to come.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 10, 2014

Life Is Too Short

The Emperor has no clothes.

The Emperor has no clothes.

Life is too short to listen to Barry Soetero.

In the unavoidable chatter that follows, I hear about the problem of scale for any military operation. And, ugh, how ISIS isn’t Islam and we shouldn’t whisper it is so, lest we lose the moderate Muslim support.

What to do: Punitive Expedition. 6 months to 2 years. See http://jatticus.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/how-to-fight-isis/

Moderate Muslims, how long the war has been since 9-11, etc.: The longest war in American history was the war between the English-speaking peoples of Western Civilization against the indigenous AmerIndians. 1608-1890. We, Americans, were always able to find Indians willing to support the fight against other Indians. Moderate Muslims will do likewise for their own self-interests.

The fight between raging Islam and Western Civilization began with Moe’s first genocide in 627 AD against a Jewish tribe. That’s the long, long war we are in. This is a new phase with the “Islamists”.

Life is too short to listen to blather. Way too short to take it seriously. But, when powerful people spout such, we have to endure the folly, pray hard, keep calm and carry on.  Take action as best we can for right and wise actions.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | September 6, 2014

On Being Grandmother Bobby

Great Grandmother Robert Malvina Holland League, 1862-1948

Great Grandmother Robert Malvina Holland League, 1862-1948

Of course, no one can be Grandmother Bobby.  My great-grandmother was a force majeure.  She was named “Robert” to honor her uncle who was killed at the Battle of Seven Pines.  Her earliest memory – age 3 – was being lowered into the well with the family silver wrapped in a cloth.  She had to put the silver – their only valuable possession left – on a ledge deep in the well.  She was terrified of the spiders.  And of falling out of the bucket to drown.  Bobby’s Mother made her do it.  The Yankee soldiers were stealing everything.

Later that year, her father walked home after the surrender (2 SC, Kershaw’s Brigade, McLaw’s Division, Longstreet’s Corps).  She and her siblings ran home telling the Mother a “negro man” was coming up the road.  They didn’t recognize their father – who had been living outside for over 3 years.  He walked from Greensboro, NC to Greenville, SC.   Her Mother burned his uniform and washed the lice off him with lye soap before she let him in the farmhouse.

This background sets the stage for her life.  Her childhood was forged in the furnace of fires of war.  Her whole life was the long recovery from all paper wealth taken to zero and an economy shattered by war and vengeful Reconstruction.  Everyone was poor – materially – and everyone worked very, very hard.

Then, in 1930 her daughter’s husband died from a heart attack at age 37.  Bad heart valve.  My grandmother, Irene, had 4 kids ranging from 16 to 6.  The insurance money equaled a year’s income.  Irene and her 4 children moved to the farm to live with Grandmother Bobby.  She was 68.  My Mother, Edith, was 12.

Today, Irene would have been treated for depression and a nervous background. Back then, Grandmother Bobby stepped up and took charge.  The farm didn’t have electricity.  Bobby was widowed years before – and running everything on her own.  A Black family lived and worked on the property.  They weren’t former slaves, as it was so many places, because the Hollands believed slavery was a sin against God – when all 4 boys went to war to defend their home state.

Through the Great Depression they had little money, but plenty of food.  The farm was self-sufficient.  The big house was filled as Bobby’s several dozens of grandchildren visited often.  She was the matriarch of the League-Holland Clan of Simpsonville, SC.  She was tall and statuesque.  My Mother respected and adored her.  She wanted be like Bobby.

Bobby insisted they read a chapter from the Bible before every supper at the great table.  Her daddy had taught piano, as well as farming, – so she played and sang.  There were books.  There were stories – turmoil in England, fear of pirates, persecution in France, and from the frontier in Virginia followed by frontier South Carolina.  And, of course, The War.  The teenagers created home made plays and musicals – and took many pictures.  During the Second World War, Army soldiers were welcomed and fed.  The young Yankees were welcomed and lectured.

Obviously, I’m not Bobby.  I’m a 63 year old widower.  But, when my daughter and her 3 kids moved into my house – the one I call “Sanctuary” – I thought about being Bobby.

It’s a lot easier to clean up after kids than walk behind a mule and plow.  I’ve got air conditioning.  Yet, I’m on duty as Grandpa – Papa – from 6 am to 7:30 and from about 4 until 9 pm.  Then, there’s the rest of the clean up to finish.

I know that everything I do and fail to do will be watched by little eyes.  They’re likely to be here a couple of years.

So, I dare not presume to be Bobby, but I claim the connection to my better kin.  She never quit.  She never whined, complained, sniveled or lived less exuberant a life than she possibly could.  Proud before man, humble before God.  A Southern lady who worked hard.  Loyalty and love for family, family, family.

I want to be like Bobby.  I want be worthy of Bobby.

And, I’d really, really like to live like Caleb and be “fit for war” at age 85.  Means I need to get in better shape soon. Although, when I helped my daughter move, she commented that I was “old man strong”.

My Mother doesn't look like she will die in 15 months.  She died at the age - 68 - Bobby took her family in.

My Mother doesn’t look like she will die in 15 months. She died at the age – 68 – Bobby took her family in.

My duties don’t compare to Bobby’s.

Visiting Jamestown isn't like plowing a field with a mule.

Visiting Jamestown isn’t like plowing a field with a mule.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | August 13, 2014

How To Fight ISIS

US Army's Punitive Expedition in Mexico - The Pershing Expedition

US Army’s Punitive Expedition in Mexico – The Pershing Expedition

The US and NATO could fight ISIS and win.  ISIS is the Muslim group setting up an Islamic Caliphate across their conquered territory in Iraq and Syria.  They are committing horrific crimes against humanity – specifically inflecting atrocities against Christians.   Including beheading children.  The Islamist barbarians behead Christian children.  America and the West should hunt down and kill all of these barbarians.

But, President Barry Soetero, the ruling Democrats and chattering class are terrified about putting the Army – boots on the ground – back in Iraq.  They worry about having a third Iraq War.  Except, the US doesn’t have to have another war, just a very effective campaign.  Conduct a “Punitive Expedition.”

The US could drop in the 82nd Airborne, motor up the Mechanized brigade sitting in Kuwait, and flow in the 6 brigades or so needed to defeat ISIS in detail – even if it is 15,000 barbarians – and provide wide area security across hundreds of miles.

Boots on the ground for a long march deep into Mexico in 1916.

Boots on the ground for a long march deep into Mexico in 1916.

The mission could include turning over all the wounded and surrendering barbarians to local tribes – or putative authorities for a quick trial according to their customs and certain capital punishment.  It keeps the US from having to house or execute the enemy – as long as the justice is certain.

A Punitive Expedition takes months or a couple of years, but it ends.  It isn’t a Occupation  – the mission Rumsfeld and Bush II screwed up from the start in 2003.   It’s what Great Powers do to punish enemies with a purpose.  A SuperPower, like the US, can do it – if there is a Will.

In the late 90s when I was the developer and advisor of the Red Forces for the Army After Next Wargames, all the old soldiers got a briefing on the latest Army Operations Manual – good old FM 100-5.   When then-COL David Fastabend asked for questions, I made the comment that the Army should include Punitive Expeditions as a form of Operational Maneuver.  I wish he had included it.

The ISIS Expedition is within the capabilities of the US global reach.

The ISIS Expedition is within the capabilities of the US global reach.

The US Army learned many lessons during the Pershing Expedition. The Army applied the learning in WW I. Such an expedition against ISIS would provide continuing improvements in US capabilities.

The Army as an institution learns from every experience.  Each conflict creates hard, new lessons.

The Army as an institution learns from every experience. Each conflict creates hard, new lessons.

Moreover, a Punitive Expedition would give a lesson to other barbarians. As President Reagan said, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” The US and NATO should send this message to the all the barbarians. Let none escape. Let the land the Islamist barbarians conquered and stained with their crimes become their graveyard.

Would that we could – do a Punitive Expedition against ISIS.

My family oral history includes my Grandfather Atticus's stories of meeting Pancho Villa on friendly terms - twice.

My family oral history includes my Grandfather Atticus’s stories of meeting Pancho Villa on friendly terms – twice.

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