Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | December 10, 2014

One Year, Ten Schools

10 Elementary Schools in York County, VA will have friend benches - dedicated to Katherine Kyle Bowden

10 Elementary Schools in York County, VA will have friend benches – dedicated to Katherine Kyle Bowden

Today, “buddy benches” for 10 elementary schools in York County, VA were dedicated at my late wife’s school, Mt Vernon Elementary.  The teachers in the 3rd grade got the ball rolling, the counselors across the county picked it up and the school administration scored.  Former teachers, counselors, staff and parents attended the ceremony with our family.  The benches are a place for a child to sit and signal to all others the need for a friend.   My Nellie did that pairing of little hearts in the classroom, lunch room and playground.

In her last full year Nellie paired a significantly challenged girl with the two coolest girls, the princesses, of her grade.  She asked the cool kids to be a friend – and she followed up.  She was as happy for the lessons learned in lovingkindness for the popular children as the blessings of friendship and value for the struggling child.  She knew the girls went to church and told them to pray about doing what is right and good.  Consequently, the benches are the most fitting tribute possible for my Nellie’s work.

Colleague, mentor, friend - Mother Counselor

Colleague, mentor, friend – Mother Counselor

In my remarks I reminded the counselors, teachers, administrators and staff of the “Sisterhood”  how Nellie held their burdens and joys as their own.  I asked the kids if they loved Summer vacation.  I responded to their cheers with how much Mrs. Bowden did too.  And, she would not want to leave the pool on such hot days to come back to work.  But, on the first day she came home with the biggest grin and said, “I love those children!”  I said, again, how much she loved each one of them, knowing them by name, working for them and praying for them.

We, her family, are deeply grateful for the Principal – Mrs. Lugo – and everyone who made the ceremony so special for us.  It was very emotional for all of us.  We are deeply touched, humbled, and honored.

We remain deeply, profoundly touched, humbled, honored and blessed to have loved the ‘Mom’ of our family.  We miss her.  It’s been a year.

Her marker in Arlington National Cemetery

Her marker in Arlington National Cemetery

I visited her grave on Sunday.  I started crying as soon as I passed the Post Chapel and got inside the stone walls of Arlington National Cemetery.  I wept and wept more when I stood before her stone.  Reading her sweet name, saying it out loud, flooded me with memory upon memory, feelings chasing fleeting feelings, and joy swirling with such sorrow.

I caressed the smooth stone.  Cold as death.   Hard as the emptiness of not being here.  Unforgiving as all time without her.

I looked at the view.  I imagined a day when my family will come to put my body down by hers.  I smiled to myself.  I’ll never see the view from that perspective.  I’ll be gone.  Alive in another place.  Like Nellie.  Hopefully with Nellie – even if we aren’t married in Heaven – and close enough to see her respond to my love.

I prayed, of course.  It’s like breathing for me to share life with the Lord through the indwelling Holy Ghost.  I thanked Him for her.  I told Him the obvious – how sad it is to live without her.  How much I miss her.  How awful her loss is for us all.  And, of course I love, worship and praise You, Lord Jesus Christ.

I know it’s the way of the world that we live and die.  The Lord giveth and taketh away.  Praise be the name of the Lord.  But, I had no idea – even after the deaths of beloved parents – what it is like to lose your wife who is the desire of your heart for your whole adult life and you hers.  No clue.  Not an iota.

Now it’s been one year.  One awful year.

So, we must live.  Live as well as we can.  Live with as much courage as we can muster and joy we can share.

Here we are.  One small branch of our Clans.  The grown-ups smiling as best we can – with hearts broken for Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden.

Her husband and brood.

Her husband and brood.

God is good all the time.  No matter what.  NO MATTER WHAT.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This is what I wrote last year: 2013

Every day is a thanksgiving day.  Every Sunday is Easter.  There’s a connection between the two.  This Thanksgiving Day – the holiday – for 2013 carries too many thanks to list.  Yet, in the rhythm of the year the blessings that sing out should be heard.

Thank You, Father God for creating the universe and all that is in it.  Thank You for creating Life.  And Love.

Thank You, Father God for putting part 0f You, Your Spirit, into a human, Jesus, birthing the Son of God.  Thank You, that Jesus, God-in-Man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross for all humankind’s sins, and bodily rose from the dead.  Thank You for walking out of the grave.

Thank You, Jesus, for sending another part of God, the Holy Spirit – Ghost – to be everywhere on earth at all times.  For physically being in the body of Christians.

Giving thanks at Thanksgiving and every day

Giving thanks at Thanksgiving and every day

Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, for the survival and recovery of my critically injured son-in-law.  Thank You for the many tender mercies given to him and his family by so many people.

Thank You for family.

Thank You for my 1 wife of 38 years, my 3 children, 2 in-law kids, 4 grandchildren.

Thank You for all my kin – living and those gone home.

Thank You for friends, classmates and comrades who are like family.  Like the Bible says, closer than a brother.

Thank You for faith.

Thank You for Your Grace and my free will to be saved by faith.  Thank You for my relationship with You – and knowing You through the Bible.  Thank You for right to the free exercise of my Christian faith and for my fellow citizens who are Christian and Jewish.

Thank You for your fellowship with Christians and Jews around the world.

Thank You for freedom.

Thank You for my unearned gift of being born American.  Thank You for my inheritance in freedom as an American, Southerner and Virginian.

Thank You for my time spent serving in the U.S. Army – and still serving as best I can – to preserve our Constitution and Country.  Thank You for all who serve the Nation now.

Thank You for the past, present, and future in Your perfect Will.

Thank You for the people I know and those I only met through writing, social networking, political activism – and even those I don’t know – who will fight and win for our families, faith and freedom.

Thank You for all of this and much, much, much more this Thanksgiving 2013.

Thank You and praise You, from rising to resting every day of life in this body.

Thank You for all things – good and bad – in Your Will.

For the crooked road, the cleansing tears, the pain and suffering unto brokenness, the hurts that healed and taught, the fear and despair, the failure and humiliation, the loss and grief, the dark depths of this life.

For the joy in the journey, the absolute thrill of living moment after moment of intense and sublime happiness, wonder, excitement, gratitude, pleasure, awe and satisfaction, the overwhelming, pulsing power of physical strength, courage, and passion, the beauty brought to every sense, the gentle quiet times, the recoveries, the next chances – new days and nights, for love of lovingkindness, and blessing upon blessing piled and stacked upon blessing wrapped in blessings abounding – undeserved, unmerited, unearned, yet gifted in UNCONDITIONAL love.

For all in all, more and more, from rising to resting – every day.  One day at a time.  Every day is a thanksgiving day.

God is good.  All the time.  No matter what.  NO MATTER WHAT!


The day after I wrote this above my wife had a stroke.  Nine days later she died.

I could write the same this year – by adding ‘late wife’ to my thanks for Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden.

God is good.  All the time.  No matter what.

God is good through a long night – many days and nights – of grieving.   Through a long soul season, crossing earthly seasons, of mourning.

In Nellie's hand in her well-worn Bible

In Nellie’s hand in her well-worn Bible

God is good for providing a new home of exquisite and constant beauty on The Bay – my Sanctuary.

Summer storm on The Bay

Summer storm on The Bay

Light above the dark storm below - a metaphor, too

Light above the dark storm below – a metaphor, too

Beauty when bright, cloudy, fog, storm, or under moon and stars

Beauty when bright, cloudy, fog, storm, or under moon and stars

Never a bad sunset.  Textured from glass to Oh my gosh!

Never a bad sunset. Textured from glass to Oh my gosh!

Sanctuary, the structure.

Sanctuary, the structure.

God is good for having me survive to serve in His Will for whatever He purposes for as long as He likes.   He had me endure what seemed unbearable.  He had me feel more pain than I thought possible, more loss than I ever could imagine, more sadness than I thought a heart could hold – because God is good, no matter what.  Today’s pain, loss and sadness aren’t yesterday’s.  Yesterday’s aren’t last week’s or last month’s and on and on and on.

The tears still come swiftly.  They’re impossible to stop.  Yet, they stanch more quickly.

God is good through the tragedies and trials that happen in many families – even when it’s our childrens’ challenges.

God is good with so many prayers of well-being and love from so many people who love Nellie Katherine and her family.  Abundant thoughtful kindnesses.

Today last year was the last full day Nellie and I had together before she couldn’t talk.  It was the last night of our marriage bed.  That milestone is profoundly sad – that all of our life here ended.  Psalm 30:5.  Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Come joy, come.

Psalm 30:11.  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me in gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Come dancing and gladness, come.  I praise already.  I praise God at rising and resting every day – and through the day.

I give thanks this Thanksgiving.  Happy Thanksgiving 2014.

Giving thanks in 2014.  CHRISTmas pic shot.

Giving thanks in 2014. CHRISTmas pic shot.




Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 19, 2014


November 18th, 1950

November 18th, 1950

Usually, I know what I am to write.  Not what I want to write, but what I am supposed to write.  The themes develop over a few days or come full force, with all the words, in a sudden burst.  Not this birthday blog, except for this memory.

On November 18th, 1972 my girl friend, Nellie Katherine Kyle, made me a chocolate cake.  She put little toy soldiers – the green guys from Toy Story movies – on top.  I was in jump school at Ft. Benning, GA.  My classmate, companymate, roomate, Gary Micheau said in his inimitable sarcastic voice, “Hey, Bubba, you’re going to marry this girl.”  I said, “No way.”  We’re just dating.  All the time.  Every free moment.  Constantly.

This birthday was the first in my adult life that Nellie wasn’t sharing life – and my birthday – with me.  Even the ones I missed not being home.

So, that’s what my birthday is all about.  Not me.  Her.  My late wife.  Nellie.  Wife over 38 years.  Passionate desire for my whole adult life.  Her absence is my 64th birthday.

My grown kids, other family, friends were sensitive and sweet about today.

My connections – almost all are on-line at Facebook or other networking, were kind.  I know several hundred of the kin, classmates, old Army buddies, church family, friends from work and all venues, and Virginia political comrades.  The remainder of the 5k are un-indicted co-conspirators in Christ, the Constitution, Conservativism, Confederate heritage, or Western Civilization.  I’ll respond to every kind birthday wish – it’ll take time.

Thank you.  One and all.

A year ago I put together a collage of icons that told my story.  They don’t say who I am, but what I’m from and a bit of what I’ve done.  One life.

Bottom half is family.  Top half, left to right, is my path.

Bottom half is family. Top half, left to right, is my path.

This year, I don’t have the energy for any such thing.  Just marshalling the energy to endure these two months to New Year’s 2015.  Coming up is Thanksgiving, my youngest daughter’s first birthday without Mom (and it’s her big 30th), first anniversary of Nellie’s stroke, death, and memorial service, and finally CHRISTmas – her glorious holiday.

The first year without Nellie will be over.  There is the rub indeed.  The end of the first year means there will be more without her.

So, 64 is close to a crack in time for one man.  The new normal is about to begin.  Nellie told me all about this second year – she was an expert on death and grieving as a counselor.

I’m deeply grateful for every kindness today.  I’m deeply devout, not priggish pious, in my broken, humble thanks, worship and love for the Lord God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost for this birthday – and every day to do His Will to the best of my ability.   And, I miss her.

A crack in my time on earth

A crack in my time on earth

This is the first birthday since 1972, that she didn’t ask me what I wanted for my birthday.  Which, of course, was all that mattered.  (Of course I coveted and cherished cards from family.  However, their cards and her question were quite different to my heart.)

I’m up for as many healthy birthdays the Good Lord wants me to live.  Psalm 30.  Thy Will be done.

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Praise be the name of the Lord.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | November 2, 2014

Two Months to Dread

Nellie's grave in Arlington graced with flowers from her beloved sister, Pookie.

Nellie’s grave in Arlington graced with flowers from her beloved sister, Pookie.

I dread November and December 2014.  These months are the last of the first times without my wife, Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden.  November is a full year since her stroke.  December is the first anniversary of the death of her body.   The full year of living without her will be done.  Gone.  Over.  I hate this time with a cold passion.  My warmed tears course my hot red checks, but my hatred is cold.  I hate few things in life.  Very, very few.  I hate her absence.

Oddly so, this hate, because I love the first few weeks of November when we have Indian Summer in Tidewater, Virginia.  It’s my favorite time of the year.  Since I love every season, Indian Summer is the extra love placed on top of love – rejoicing with great joy in every warm day surrounded by such glorious colors.  It’s also my annual time of assessment – right before my birthday.  The assessment I make with the Lord God in prayer is more than the usual observation, introspection, and thoughts of a man who is always alive and engaged in his own head.  Like the fall festivals of the Hebrews, it’s about accountability.

I dread looking at all the accounts of life without my wife to factor in every calculation.  I know she is in Heaven.  Her absence brings such sadness and loss to life.  I don’t want to feel how a full year without her feels.  I don’t even want to think about it.  But, I must.

I didn’t go to our local fall festival for the first time in 25 years.  I’ve made myself do other things – to be normal and go through the grieving process.  But, I dodged this one.  Last year I worked the Republican booth as usual and we took our oldest daughter and her kids to the Poquoson Seafood Festival.

October 2013.  Funnel cake with Nellie. Her hand is on my back.

October 2013. Funnel cake with Nellie. Her hand is on my back.

We had no clue what would happen in a month.  No idea.  She wasn’t feeling well, but soldiered on.   We had fun that day .  She touched me then like she did over 30 years before.

Nellie's hand on my back - back then.

Nellie’s hand on my back – back then.

And holding my arm.

And holding my arm.

I hate it that Nellie is gone.  I’m not angry.  Especially not angry with her or God.   Myself or anyone.  Just hate her absence.  I’m grateful for every day here at Sanctuary for my duties as Father and Grandfather, Brother, Cousin, Friend, Believer, Patriot, etc. Yet, I hate having to live without my wife.  My Nellie.  I hate that it’s been a whole year without her.

No more birthdays to celebrate her.

Nellie is overwhelmed at seeing a whole restaurant full of people on her last birthday.

Nellie is overwhelmed at seeing a whole restaurant full of people on her last birthday.

No more time to share our deep desire for one another.

1977.  Pregnant with our first child.

1977. Pregnant with our first child.

No more growing old together.

Our time together ended.

Our time together ended.

I know to be grateful for a love so dear.  I know to praise God for Nellie.  I know to be grateful for a desire that defined a love more broadly and deeply for the way we were together.  I got it.  I know it is the way of the world that one would pass before the other.  Understand.  I know that God can expand the human heart to love more anew.  Believe it.

I dread these two months for what they mean this year.  Not for all time I have left on earth.  I dread what they mean now.

Every week the steel bands that were so tightly constricting my head and chest – my whole body encased in a pain I felt upon rising – are loosened.  I feel much healthier and stronger.  I laugh and smile.  I’m living life as it is.

I dread what must be done these two months.  My first birthday without her – since 1972.  Thanksgiving.  Her stroke.  My youngest daughter’s 30th birthday.  Her death.  Her memorial service.  CHRISTmas where we’ll be aware instead of overwhelmed by emotion.  I’ll be more engaged, not just trying to survive – and not stroke out as BP spiked.

God is good.  All the time.  No matter what.  NO MATTER WHAT.  Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ.

The night before we wed.

The night before we wed.

My wife, my Nellie.

My wife, my Nellie.

Ok, November and December 2014, let’s go through you two.  I won’t be alone.  Just missing her so.

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.


(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.


Shak Hill
Centreville, Virginia

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