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July Four

 

I spent July 4th this year in Romania and the year before that I spent it at work. I felt a little relief by being out of the country this year for it even though I really couldn’t escape the holiday. In Bucharest, they flew extra Romanian flags in honor of the Fourth of July.

I was asked what I thought of the particular holiday and I gave my honest response as always: “It’s a well developed commercialized long weekend for a lot of people. It’s all about camping, BBQing, fireworks and extra discount sales at retail stores. For a lot of people who have to work, it means getting up earlier for work or having to stay late resulting in lack of sleep or not being able to partake in the festivities.” And if you complain about it, the typical American response is “find a different job”.

Fireworks can be heard from about the middle of June to about a week after the actual holiday. It’s annoying. It’s obnoxious. The way I see things is: the Fourth of July has lost it’s meaning. No one really celebrates what they’re really supposed to be celebrating. And when you get down to the actual nuts and bolts of America, would you really want to celebrate that? People want to be patriotic and claim they love America and say that America is the greatest country in the entire world. I beg to differ.

I travel a lot. I’ve been to just about every major city in America and I’ve traveled to many countries abroad. I’ve been to combat, I’ve seen countries and cities that any normal person probably wouldn’t add to their bucket list of places to see. With all the places I’ve seen, I can already tell you that America isn’t the greatest. There are great things about America just like there are great things about other countries that make them great too. I’ll give you an example. I traveled to Romania recently and I experienced a country with little to no crime. Of course, when you get closer to the big cities like Bucharest, the crime rate increases, naturally. Just like here in America. But America has a huge crime problem. Every time I turn on the news or look at social media, there’s a murder, a rape, there’s drug use to epidemic proportions. When I worked in downtown Seattle, I saw hypodermic needles on just about every street corner. Either there’s a lot of diabetics running around dropping needles or there’s a serious problem with drugs.

In Japan I saw one homeless person. One. Granted, I was only there 12 days and secluded myself to the metropolitan area of Tokyo so maybe if I ventured out further I would have seen more. I can walk to the nearest city closest to my house and count ten homeless people right now. What’s so great about that? We have major schools closing down due to lack of budgeting and crooked politicians who lie and cheat their way into office and take our nation to a $7 trillion dollar war for 14 years based on lies and deceit. They spoon feed Americans this crap and we, as a nation, buy into it. I’m ranting, I know. But do you see my point? If America is so great why do we have people like Donald Trump running for president? Why isn’t Hillary Clinton facing some sort of criminal charges? Why are our schools closing and education suffering? Why do we put sports and Keeping up with the Kardashians as our top priorities over knowing the ingredients in our food and making sure corporations, money and greed don’t run this country? We are the people and the government should fear us! But they don’t because we are a nation of sheep.

The fourth of July is good for foreign countries because we buy all our commerce goods like those little plastic American flags from China. What’s patriotic about waving a little plastic American flag that’s manufactured in China? Why aren’t WE, as a nation, providing for ourselves and having solid trade relations with OUR goods to other countries? We have a lot of Toyotas driving around America. But does Japan have a lot of Fords and Chevrolets driving around their country? We allow our goods to be manufactured in other countries for cheaper labor so we have cheaper prices. Is that the end all to it? We stomp on other Americans, ship their jobs overseas and applaud when we get a good deal on a car? It’s disgusting to me. But we let them do it to us.

I don’t celebrate the Fourth of July anymore. I haven’t for years. As long as Americans continue to post pictures of their barbequed hamburgers and cheap (who knows what’s in it) hotdogs on Instagram and Twitter, and laughing and happy they’re getting “extra time off from work” instead of taking some time and thinking back on what this country was actually founded on…

The public school system does a great job of glorifying America. I spent some time in college and experienced some history lessons that some times I’d like to forget. But that’s what really happened. I encourage all to take some college history classes and find out the truth. But I digress.

In the end, what does it matter. People will always be people and we all will continue to live in our selfish, self-indulged bubble.

 

Memorial Day Weekend

I feel like every Memorial Day weekend is based on sales, BBQ-ing and long weekends for people to travel and do whatever.

Recently I attended a Veterans Memorial and the elected officials that attended made a very remarkable statement. The statement, which by the way I can not recall word for word, really hit home. It surrounded around the idea that Veterans in this nation have sort of been pushed to the way side. We name our streets and plants trees for Veterans and have Veterans Day and Memorial Day and all these special dates, times and events, but all I see on social media are “Memorial Day Sale” and “Veterans Day Sale” and barbeques on sale and travel times, etc.

I hope Veterans aren’t forgotten. I hope people actually have a memorable weekend and keep those who served in their thoughts and prayers and don’t succumb to the pressures of a capitalistic weekend brought to you by Macy’s, Sears and whoever else. It’s sad that days like these are surrounded by greed.

But I digress.

I’m going to end this short blog entry with a message to a person who continues to leave comments. Or tries to. JHope@Yahoo.com, I’m sure you’ll read this and it’ll give you some sort of satisfaction that I acknowledged you. I even tried to email you but it says your email is invalid. You left a comment stating “I’m running away like a little bitch.” Yet, this is coming from a person who not only has an email specifically for trolling purposes, but won’t allow any incoming email. That to me says “coward”. I understand the internet is a fun place to go to harass people under an anonymous persona. You don’t have to take any responsibilities for the things you say and you can just disappear whenever you want.

This whole recruiting thing is in the past and forgotten about. It happened nearly ten years ago and I’ve let it all go and moved on. You seem to be thoroughly stuck on it like you want to squash some vendetta you have about the whole thing. Or maybe I’m just giving you too much credit. Who knows. I can’t even recall the First Sergeants name whom you’re speaking about; nor do I care what he’s doing or how he retired. If he retired with full benefits, good for him. Anyone who puts their time in no matter how great or poor of a leader they were, deserves such. Comparatively to the leaders in past units I served it, the ones I had in recruiting were extremely poor. When you have a Company Commander state that he hates recruiting and doesn’t want to be there, take a guess what that does to the morale. Recruiting is a tough gig all the way around. That’s all I need to say about that.

I’ve taken responsibility for the things that happened. And again, I was not kicked out of the service. I had a JAG lawyer and I signed a voluntary resignation and left the service under honorable conditions. Now I own a home, I have a good job and that’s that. If you’d like to open the lines of communication instead of hiding behind an email, I’m fine with that. You can also send me your address and we can talk face to face. I’m not hiding or running from anything.

You say you’re a Veteran, well, lets see.

Edit: JHope left another comment claiming he was in the same recruiting company I was in and insists I was “kicked out” of the Army. Yet, JHope continues to keep his emails blocked and won’t identify who he really is. He’s just “calling me out” on all my “lies” during my time in service. My time in service isn’t defined by 2 years and 8 months in recruiting but yet defined by my DD214 that says “General Discharge under Honorable Conditions”. That’s not being kicked out.

One day JHope will stop being so afraid and post his address along with allowing for emails because I have a pretty good idea who this JHope person really is.

 

Tamir Rice

As you’re reading this, you probably already know that 12 year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by officer Tim Loehmann, a rookie on the Cleveland police force. No criminal charges were filed against Loehmann leaving Cleveland and most of America frustrated, angry and sadden on this day.

I’m going to get straight to the point on this, guys. Guns and little boys go together like girls and Barbie dolls. They go together like old white dudes and capitalism. There are so many gun-related incidents in America, it’s pretty much expected at any given moment something will trend on social media like “Roosevelt High School” and as soon as you click the link it’s automatically a school shooting or someone has been shot. With that said, this does not surprise me in the least.

In Rice’s case, reports were of a black kid walking around some playground with a gun, pointing it at people. In the video it shows a police cruiser drive right up on Rice, the officer gets out and shoots Rice fatally killing him. Turns out the gun was fake. And according to everyone on Twitter, he was just “playing”. Well, guns (real or fake) are not toys. Toy guns usually come with an orange tip on the barrel of the gun to indicate that the firearm is fake. The gun that Rice had did not have any orange tip therefore in the police officer’s eyes (Loehmann) he can only assume that the gun is real. Do I think Loehmann could’ve handled things differently? Absolutely. On the other hand, maybe Rice could’ve left his “toy gun” at home.

I just don’t think it’s safe for kids to be walking around outside with toy guns anymore. I also think America has a sick obsession for guns and gun violence. Everyone seems to want a gun just to have one. My co-workers are always telling me the type of guns they want to buy and when I ask them why they want one the answer is always “I don’t know. Just to have it”. Don’t get me wrong about guns. I own two; one for hunting and one for home defense. I think if the country is going to have anywhere from 245 to 360 million guns around, I’m certainly not going to be left out.

The problem I see is too many Americans talk a big game when it comes to firearms. I’ve heard time and time again about how if someone broke into their home, they’d kill them with one shot like in the movies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Keeping a loaded gun in your dresser drawer all year and occasionally handling it to look cool in front of your friends won’t make you an expert marksman. At 2am when you’re dead asleep and someone comes through your window, and you’re groggy from sleep, it’s dark and you are unsure of what’s downstairs, your heart is racing and you’re shaking from adrenaline and fear…you honestly think you’ll go downstairs like a cowboy and blast the bad guy away? Without any proper training or significant time at the gun range, I seriously doubt it.

Guns are everywhere in America. Movies, video games, laying around on the book shelf, in glove compartments of cars, under floor mats and in the closet accessible by anyone. It should come as no surprise that Tamir Rice was walking around outside with what appeared to be a real gun and was shot by police. It really shouldn’t come as a shocker. This country is founded on a constitution that says we should all have a gun in our homes. We have that right. With that right comes a lot of responsibility. Guns are not a novelty item. They aren’t toys. They require proper training, knowledge and intelligence to use in a safe manner to avoid shooting yourself or someone else. This idea that guns are “cool” and I just want one because I can has got to change.

Concealed Weapons Permits should be given out to be people who can demonstrate the need for a firearm while outside of their home and can also demonstrate responsibility while having that firearm. Many people on social media have already put that argument out there that Ohio is an “open carry” state and Tamir Rice should’ve been left alone. The police have a responsibility to respond to any call regarding a firearm. Ohio may be an open carry state but open carry doesn’t allow anyone to walk around town pointing guns at people.

We’ve created this gun-crazed society in which we live in, people. And sadly, we as a country, are unwilling to change it. How many more school shootings do we have to hear about before change happens? How many kids are going to be gunned down by cops for carrying around a toy gun because the parents are either too lazy or too inept to understand the severity of pointing toy guns at people? Where’s the “guns are not a toy” talks these days? When are we going to break this obsession we have as a nation over guns? Probably never. So as long as America continues to obsess and want guns, sadly, the more deaths we must accept.

 

 

Baltimore Riots

The details are murky. Baltimore is in shambles. Police are on high alert and the local government has deemed a state of emergency. Baseball games have been cancelled, police have been injured and hospitalized, local businesses have been burned and looted and there’s not much anyone can do about the ensuing chaos.

The media portrays a bunch of black people running around destroying the city. Throwing rocks at cops, smashing police cars, fighting innocent people; savages and thugs as some might call them. It’s a hard situation to decipher. Whichever side you land on, you’ll be met with ridicule and hatred.

People defending the cops continue to say. “well, if you don’t want your ass beat, don’t break the law!”

People defending the blacks continue to say, “who cares about his rap sheet! He shouldn’t have been killed while in custody!”

Both sides are genuinely correct.

The police have a responsibility to the people. Just because someone is a hardened street thug or common criminal, does not give the right for police officers to treat anyone like a sub-human piece of trash. The three major cases that have been in the spot light are the Michael Brown (Ferguson) case, the Eric Garner (New York) case and now the Freddy Gray case in Baltimore. Each case is unique and of course we can not predict how a law enforcement officer handles his every day responsibilities. We empower these people to uphold the law, keep our communities safe and help people who are in need. To be a police officer, one must exercise good judgment, common sense and be professional at all times. These people are not robots. They’re human beings with emotions. Obviously the job is not for everyone.

The shocking thing to me is; the American culture likes to protest about a lot of things that aren’t conducive to a healthy society. Lately, it’s been about police brutality and defending criminals. I understand that the Eric Garners and the Freddy Grays were sons and fathers. I understand that they have brothers and sisters and mothers who love them. What I don’t understand is how the black community can blatantly disregard their way of life that might lead to police contact. I’m not saying the police weren’t out of line. I’m simply saying their actions might be the reason for their situation. To not put that on the forefront is irresponsible.

We, as a human race, have a responsibility to get along. We have laws that we must protect and abide by. When we don’t play by the rules, we have to face consequences. On both sides.

But the social media responses are shocking…

“Can’t we all just get along?”

American Sniper

I saw American Sniper in the movie theatre last night with my girlfriend. This was her third time seeing it. I was a little uneasy about the whole experience because I heard so much political hogwash about the movie and so many people were turning it into a media/political fiasco.

The movie is simply about a Navy SEAL: Chris Kyle. Whether you think he’s a hero or a monster is irrelevant. It’s his story. Being a combat veteran myself, I can relate to a lot of the non-combat scenes where he’s at home just staring blankly at the television or when he has a couple bouts with extreme anger. It’s unsettling but it’s reality.

The part that really hit home for me was when Kyle had returned home from his fifth tour and he’s sitting in the bar having a beer. His wife calls and finds out he’s been stateside for some time but hasn’t quite reached the front door yet. He Kyle breaks down and says, “I just needed a minute.” He’s such a strong, prideful man and doesn’t want to show weakness. But we all have our breaking points. I couldn’t imagine going to combat and shooting over 200 armed combatants and then being “okay” when I come home.

Kyle wasn’t concerned with the amount of enemies he laid down. He was more concerned with how many of his men he couldn’t save. It’s hard to sit at home knowing you could’ve done more for the man on your right and the man on your left.

I just wish America could leave the politics out of this.

Gun-Crazed America

I’ve been thinking about this topic for weeks. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since the Ferguson situation went down. I’m not taking a particular side on that; mainly because I don’t have a side to take. I do, however have an opinion about Ferguson.

I can sympathize with the emotional trauma that a community might be feeling after one of their own is gunned down. I feel similar grief having been to combat and losing friends in the war. Although, the two don’t really go hand-in-hand. I do feel like there are some similarities between the two. Violence is apart of our American culture. Violence is apart of our very existence. From the beginning of time.

America, specifically, has this obsessed attitude that everyone should have a gun. And not just one gun. Many guns. Our favorite video games are first-person shooters. Our favorite actors are gun-totting mad men blowing up buildings and mowing down countless third rate rent-a-thugs. Children grow up playing with toy guns and then their parents buy them a BB gun when they turn 13 and a hunting rifle when they turn 18 and then they go get their concealed weapons permit as soon as they turn 21 because they can. For no other reason other than because they can. Or want to. It’s an obsession.

I want you to understand something, though. This isn’t some liberal rant against guns. I’m sure by now most of you are rolling your eyes thinking that very thought. This is going to be an educational, informative piece and probably the longest blog entry I’ll ever write. Please. Indulge yourself and read on.

The Bill of Rights state, and I quote, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Over time there have been laws that dictate and regulate who actually gets to carry a firearm. This done so in a manner as to not to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. For example: if you commit a strong-armed robbery with a firearm and the police catch up with you, you will no longer be able to carry a firearm. These laws are implemented for the greater good of society because we don’t want unhealthy people carrying weapons that can harm others. I think we can all agree on that.

One thing I’m truly against are law-makers making up laws that make absolutely no sense. I’m also against police agencies trying to govern my life and I’m really against big government trying to tell me what I can and can not do. There is no such thing as gun sense in this country because everyone wants a gun and no one wants to take responsibility when something bad happens with it. So the governments answer to that is to make up laws that really don’t extinguish the problem. What we need is firearm education and firearm training.

Example Number One: You want a firearm for home defense. That means you’ll be engaging potential targets at close range, close quarters with little to no visibility. What is your training regime for that? Do you know the laws concerning firearms and defending yourself, family and personal property? Are you a Castle Doctrine state? Are you a Stand Your Ground state? Do you even know what those things are? When’s the last time you cleaned your firearm and when’s the last time you went to a shooting range? Lastly, someone breaks into your house at 2am, you’re woken up from a dead sleep. How fast can you gain your bearings and get to your firearm before something goes down? Do you keep your firearms in a safe with a combo lock or key to keep the kids out? Would you be able to open the safe up in time? Do you train to these scenarios? If not, you have no business owning a firearm to protect your house hold. Stick to a baseball bat.

Example Number Two: You are going grocery shopping and someone comes in to the grocery store with a gun to rob the cashier. You have a concealed weapons permit and you have your 9mm strapped to your side. Consider your options: do nothing or attempt to defuse the situation. Without proper training, your best bet is to call 911 and stay out of the way.

I’m not in any way trying to tell people not to own firearms or that firearms only belong in the hands of cops and members of the Armed Forces. All I’m trying to point out is that America looks at firearms as a type of novelty and people buy guns without any real form of education or training. Guns get into the wrong hands. Kids get them and shoot other kids. Teenagers bring them to school and kill other students. There are plenty of reasons (and valid ones) to strengthen our gun laws. The most important thing, though, is education and training. If you own a firearm and you think you might become a victim of a violent crime one day, get some formal training. Talk with a lawyer about your states gun laws. Know your capabilities and know your limitations.

This isn’t Hollywood and you aren’t Bruce Willis. A guy breaks into your house, you won’t be able to just shoot his leg out and that be the end of your nightmare. Make sure you understand the judicial system, understand that you aren’t safe from civil lawsuits and have a clear understanding that once you decide to pull that trigger, there is no turning back.

Veterans Day

I wish I could write up a piece and have it go viral like what I wrote about it my latest entry.

I’m not interested in being in the spotlight when it comes to Veterans Day. Hell, I don’t even really ask for this day off from work. I’m hoping my employers will simply identify me as a Veteran and schedule me off out of courtesy. Not because I feel like I’m entitled to this day off from work or because I feel like I’ve earned this day off. It’s simply because I don’t want to be apart of what America has turned into: a capitalistic fat pig.

Every retailer in the United States has some kind of “Veterans Day sale” going on. Whether it’s today or last weekend, they have something happening. People head out in droves to spend money on today’s sale instead of just staying at home and remembering the ones who have given up their lives during combat operations. Veteran’s Day isn’t about you or me. It’s about them. The ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice. The ones who never returned home from duty. The ones who have left children and wives and close relatives behind. The ones who now reside on Fiddler’s Green.

I’m not a veteran because I want a free coffee from Starbucks or a free meal from Applebees. I’m a veteran because I felt like serving. Not for hand shakes and “thank yous” or for prestigious medals and awards. I served to serve. Nothing more, nothing less.

Today is not a celebration but a day of remembrance. It is not “happy Veterans Day” because there is nothing happy about going to war and watching your friends get killed in combat.