Places You’ve Known All Your Life

The fun part of being on vacation in an area in which you grew up is that you get to go to places you’ve known all your life. Unfortunately, I am discovering that there are very few places like that left in Crescent City.

The same can be said about the town I really grew up in, which is Klamath. There is Indian Gaming everywhere, or more to be politically correct, Native American Gaming.

But I have never been politically correct.

The things that I did discover that were the same where places like Howland Hill Road. I used to run that road when I was in high school.

It looked the same.

My son was impressed with the road and the way I drove it. I think he was more impressed with the fact that it was such a narrow road and so bumpy because of all the pot­ holes.

When the road came out on Highway 199, we discovered the pick-up had developed a squeaking noise. I forgot that Howland Hill Road could do stuff like that to a vehicle.

Since I also forgot that this town rolls up its sidewalks on holidays and Sundays (both on this day) there was not much for us to do like visit a restaurant or a movie theater.

Plus it has rained non-stop, so I took Kyle over to see where his great-great uncle Peter Darby is buried. That really impressed him because he had no idea that he had relatives that helped settle Del Norte County.

As for the weather, it rains here all the time, or so it seems . I was raised in the stuff and I remember how I did  not enjoy it then either.

I told Kyle how we used to have to do our chores in this sort of weather and he got a sudden appreciation for the snow and plain old cold of Reno and Sparks. This is coming from a kid, who I have a hard time getting to wear long pants in a blizzard .

Kyle did make note that the Park and Recreation building has a better paint job than the current Del Norte High School. The Park and Recreation building used to be the high school back when my mother was in school.  That was in the 50’s.

Finally, I had planned to post some photographs of the various places we have seen and been, including the beacon emanating from the old Point St. George Lighthouse, but

I’ve discovered I had the wrong cable with me. How frustrating that is!

Plus I e-mailed a couple of friends, hoping to possibly visit with them before heading back towards Nevada this Tuesday.

The Danger Between Horses and Rock-hopping

The sun broke through today and held its own for the majority of the time, at least long enough for Kyle and me to have a grand adventure between Crescent City and the town of Orick. That is where our travels started.

We happened upon a large herd of elk as they grazed and rested in an open field beside Highway 101.  I have always found it mighty strange how as a young man when hunting these creatures to put meat on the table, they were the most difficult animal to find, yet they know where protected ground is located.

That aside, I have always considered the elk to be a rather majestic looking beast, so I could not help myself when I saw them. I had to turn the pick-up around so Kyle could practice his photography for his upcoming Boy Scout merit badge.

I also had to play shutter-bug myself.

While I was working to create the perfect framing of two elk that I had selected to digitize, I suddenly heard my son’s panic voice calling to me, “Dad! Dad, help!”

I quickly looked over in his direction. There I found him in a frantic tug-of-war with a teenaged pony, which had a firm grip on his crotch. The horse was attempting to drag my kid through the barbed wire fence.

Luckily, the shorts Kyle was wearing were very loose in that region; else he would have been neutered for certain.

After racing over to save him by smacking the deranged pony in the beak, I could not help but laugh until I had to go pee. This was topped off by the fact that poor Kyle had to go behind a row of blackberry bushes to make certain everything was still attached.

It was.

We also did some beach combing. Kyle being a native-born son of Nevada has never grown tired of the ocean, even though it tried to kill him at Trinidad back in 2002 when a rogue wave caught him off guard.

This time we hung out at DeMartin’s Beach.

It was there that I discovered that I should have stayed in bed after all. Thank goodness for Kyle’s courage though because without it I’d still be sitting where I fell, sucking wind.

I made the giant boo-boo’ s of all boo-boo’s while ‘rock­ hopping.’  I looked up without looking to see where I was stepping.

And where I was stepping was a slope and nothing but air.  That led to a five and a half-foot fall, where I smashed my ribs into a rock and found it hard to take a deep breath.

When Kyle found me, I was still sitting there, shaking.

He helped me get up and climb back up on the rocks and towards the pick-up. He also made me laugh at myself, calling me, “Martini, shaken’ and not stirred.”

Death by Ignoring Civil Rights

My son and I are free-ranging this weekend along the north coast of California. We are staying in Crescent City at the Best Western across from the harbor.

I helped remodel this place back in 1983 or ’84 and I used to go to sea from the docks across US 101. The rooms are quiet and clean.

Kyle and I agree that the shower is the best though  We also enjoy the fact they have an indoor pool, Jacuzzi and a steam room.

Anyway, being here in the area brings back memories of a childhood well spent and of my parents, especially the final years of Mom ‘s life and the last day I saw her . It is hard not to think of her and draw some parallels to the Terri Schiavo case in Florida.

Mom had a living will drawn up for her medical condition, which was  being HIV positive. She did not want ‘heroics’ performed in the event of her death whether it was sudden or slow.

‘Heroics’ she concluded meant CPR, rescue breathing, ambulance services, or defibrillation. The most she desired was medication to easy the pain, oxygen to help her breath as it became more labored and food and fluids.

When she did pass on, this is all she had.

My father was another case. He had no will at all and when I got that call, I hopped a plane to get to his bedside in Oklahoma the following day.

I helped my step-mom in making the decision to remove him from the ventilator which was the mechanical device breathing for him. This is something we both knew he would not have wanted.

This leads me to this thought; the difference between life and death in a hospital care situation is the mechanical devices place on or in  a patient to keep them alive.

Terry Schiavo is able to breathe on her own without the need of a respirator then that is God’s will. Withholding fluids and food is man’s will.

When her body is ready to die, it will. It doesn’t need any help from the courts or  guardians.

Starvation and dehydration is painful. It isn’t used by prisons as a form of punishment anymore because it’s cruel.

And I am certain that you have seen pictures of starving people, especially kids, bellies bloated like sick balloons from malnourishment.  That is starvation!

Not pleasant at all.

Finally, shame on those persons not brave enough to step up and step in for her. This includes the hospice workers, her doctors, and law enforcement officers, officers of the court , judges, legislators, the Governors, the President, you and, me.

The last time I checked the constitution says everyone has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  This should have included Terry!

A Day Along the Trinity River

For me words are hard to come by when it I see the Trinity River that flows beside Highway 299. The water is a translucent green in some places and then boiling and raging mad in others with breath-taking whitecaps.

This is framed by walls of rock covered in trees, brush and cascading torrents of’ mountain streams. Sounds like some sort of travelogue, I know, but even after having driven this road for years I love its twisting and turning .

I enjoy the view of a wild river caught in side its rocky banks and I can’t help but pull my pick-up off the side of the road to explore. Kyle and I don’t get to do very much of this anymore these days as have been laid up with this stupid back injury.

But today I am refusing to let the hurt interrupt the desire to see what is hidden just over the edge of the river bank.  I will pay for it tonight, but for now I am having fun.

The water is cold, very cold as I had expected. I only waded into my calves, but Kyle got as far as the bottom of his thighs before he decided it was time to get out.

We watched a group of rafters glide down the Trinity. Maybe next year we’ll do that.

Along the banks I point out the tracks of deer and a raccoon. It’s where they came to the river’s edge to get a drink.

I showed Kyle that something frightened the deer because it made a large turning movement with its hind end. The marks were deep in the sand.

Re wants to know how I can tell all of this. I spent a couple of minutes explaining.

On our return to the pick-up, Kyle decides to climb up a shale embankment. The rocks slide under his feet and without warning he tumbled down the 20-foot or so that he climbed.

He wasn’t hurt as he sat there, laughing and saying, “That was cool.”

Unfortunately, he ripped up his already half-dead sneakers. They no longer have a sole connected to the rest of the shoe.

It’s time we head on to our destination. We’ve had ourselves some fun today.

Where Did Christ Go When He Died?

With Easter time upon us I figured know would be a great time to bring this subject up. Here is a question that had bothered me for so many years — jus’ where did Christ go when He died?

Finally I decided to use my talent for research, analytical skills and a wish to seek the truth to find some solid answers. Let me share my biblical investigation with you.

In Luke 23:43, Christ was speaking to one of the two criminals who were crucified with Him. That criminal had asked Jesus to remember him when Christ entered into his kingdom.

Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (NIV)

Christ’s Spirit went to be with His Father in Heaven. But Christ’s body went to ‘the heart of the earth.’ It’s the wording of the scriptures in Matthew 12:40 that points to what happened, “ the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (NIV)

Jesus  did not go down to the ‘heart of the earth,’ as the Son of God, but rather as a man.

Jesus can do this as He is the both the Son of God and the Son of Man! This is not to imply that Christ did not suffer a separation from the Father.

Evidence supports the fact that the separation occurred at death and as being momentary but none the less agonizing as it reads in Matthew 27:50-51 (NIV) , “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of’ the temple was to:rn in two from top to bottom.”

The tearing of this curtain was God’s way of showing man that there is no longer a barrier between Himself and man. This also appears to be the point where Jesus’ godly existence was separated from his human existence so that he could join His Father and ‘escort’ the criminal into Paradise.

Now that I have presented this let me close with Luke 1:3-4, “Therefore , since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seems good also to me to write an orderly account for you…so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

A Biblical Worldview

Tonight, I attended a meeting about my son’s school which is called Legacy Christian. I ended up losing my temper and storming out of the meeting because of financial stupidity on the part of the parents.

The first thing I noted was the fact that the board of directors asked to change the wording of the schools mission statement. They used, ‘Biblical worldview,’ to open the first paragraph of the second part of this statement.

I pointed out how Paul wrote in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world , but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (NKJV).

Using the two words side-by-side is an oxymoron.  And I don’t care if other educational institutions use the same phrase or not.

A solid Christian school cannot be ‘biblical’ and have a ‘worldview’ at the same time. What I saw was the school board and parents wish to conform to some common model to help them benefit from the upcoming plans to have the school accredited.

This mission statement also included the direct idea that we as parents are the first educators in our children’s lives.  The school, meaning teachers and administrators are second in this equation.

This is something I have believed in for a very long time.

It is one of the reasons I think the public school system is failing as it is these days. That means I am actively participating in my son’s education.

However, with that said, I also wait to be asked for my help. I don’t like to just show up.

I helped with a gold panning class once and my son ‘s teacher asked me to grade papers one time. However, she got them done before school was out that day so my help wasn’t needed.

As for everything else, I help my son with his schoolwork as much as possible. This includes assisting him in researching reports and making dioramas. And I will admit that I am overwhelmed by his math .

So I do my very best when it comes to my child’s education therefore what happened next at this meeting was what really caused me to lose my cool . It was all over the idea of parents participating by volunteering in their children’s education.

The idea is that the Legacy board wants us to pay for the privilege of participating in our kid’s education.

The way it works is that if I don’t volunteer or take part, I have to pay a fee for not volunteering or participating. That’s on top of paying tuition of 39-hundred dollars a year for my boy (which is going up!)

What made matters worse is that while I stand-up to speak in public meetings, (the right way to conduct one’s self in such an arena) I was still standing when the moderator cut me off and started talking. I still had the floor!

This is the guy who said that the meeting was following the ‘rules of order.’ I guess that they were his rules.

His rudeness led me to my losing my temper because I found his overbearing and egotistical action too much to handle. No one was willing to call him on this. Nobody had the courage to tell him that he was wrong for interrupting me.

That was left to me!

Instead, I felt compelled to defend my right to free speech , my pocket-book and my son’s biblical education.

After being shouted down by other parents, some thinking that I should be speaking not only about my son but their kid’s as well, I walked out. I refuse to speak for others who are present but unwilling to speak for themselves.

I was absolutely livid from the very idea that these idiotic parents cannot see that this is simply another ploy to extort more money from them . My point is simply this; If we are to be more Christ like in our everyday living and we are the first and last educators in our children’s lives, we shouldn’t need a fee to get the job done.

I know I don’t need another one in my already stretched budget! I am sorry that I lost my temper; I just simply have little use for people who are willingly led like a ‘ox going to the slaughter.’ (Proverbs 7:22)

The ‘Front Porch’

First day of spring my aching arse, too! I slowly rolled out of bed this morning hoping to see a little extra sunshine than we had in the last couple of days, yet I was sorely disappointed.

It was snowing!

Of course I have been in Nevada over twenty-years now and I know that I should expect nothing less than the strangest of weather—when it comes to weather. I can recall enjoying a 90 degree afternoon in July 1986 when the weather suddenly turned.

Before 1500 hours, the Reno and Sparks areas were blanketed in over an inch of snow. Fortunately by 0800 hours this morning, the snow had stopped falling and the sun was struggling to find its way from behind the cloud layer that hangs over our end of the Truckee Meadows.

Still I felt that uneasy surprise snow falling on this, the first day of spring. Then I decided I had better pull myself together and get ready for church.

It is also Palm Sunday after all. I usually attend two separate churches each Sunday because I like both of them.

Sparks Christian Fellowship is the first church I attend starting at 0900 hours. That way by the time services are finished I can make it over to the Journey for services there.

Now since nothing started out right this morning I should have been aware things were not going to go as planned.

At SCF, I sat down in the back row and was treated to a nice presentation about a new ministry that the church is offering. It’s called ‘The Front Porch.’ I was blown out of my seat for a few seconds just because of the name of this newsletter and their new ministry.

I could hardly wait to talk to Quentin, the pastor who presented it because I felt I was finally in the right place at the right time.

We have exchanged e-mail addresses and I also gave him the address to this site. When I left I felt extremely happy.

It was at the Journey where things really took a strange twist. Our worship leader Bo and his wife Carol just had a baby last week and due to some medical issues were unable to make it to church this morning.

That left Jim and Sue scrambling to put together a last-minute worship team. Pastor Jerry asked if I would join in and I hesitantly said yes because I can hardly sing in the shower let alone in public.

Yet that is what we did, screeching and off-key, we sang our songs of worship making a joyful noise unto the Lord. None of us have been struck down and therefore I believe that though we were terribly off pitch, God was pleased with our attempt.

The rocks of Jerusalem couldn’t do any worse, believe me.

The Black Confederate

The Reno Gazette-Journal ran a story about a local Civil War reenactor’s group educating grade school students. In the article, one of the reenactor’s made the comment that there were no African-American’s fighting for the Confederacy during that war.

Knowing this to be inaccurate, I penned a letter-to-the-editor pointing out this mistaken belief. I truly believe that if a person forgets their personal history, their collective history will soon be lost and then, humanities history is doomed to the same loss.

Contrary to popular historical education, there is much evidence that African-American’s served their country not only in the Union army but also in the Confederate army and navy. This evidence is found in the diaries, journals, newspaper articles and documents written by soldiers, officers and politicians.

Many institutions have set about to dismantle these findings by declaring them as ‘revisionist,’ however the proof that these written accounts exist at all shows that slaves were present in the service of their state and country.

It was the commanders in the field who saw the greatest potential in the use of the African-American slave long before the politicians would admit their value.  On January 2nd, 1864 Major General Patrick Cleburne of the Army of Tennessee, circulated a petition among several officers calling for the enrolling and arming of slaves into the Southern Army.

The petition read in part, “As between the loss of independence and the loss of slavery, we assume that every patriot will freely give up the latter — give up the Negro slaves rather than become a slave himself.”  It was signed by three other generals, four colonels, three majors, one captain, and two lieutenants.

Politicians were horrified by the idea.  Confederate Major General and political advisor to Jefferson Davis, Howell Cobb pointed out, “If slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong.”  Davis had Cleburne’s petition suppressed, yet the idea would not go away.

In February 1865, General Robert E. Lee wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis requesting authorization to fill his ranks with slaves, saying that they were already physically fit, and mentally conditioned to be well-disciplined.  In March, the Confederated Congress passed a bill that when to Davis’ desk.

While it was awaiting his signature General Lee wrote the President again, “I do not know whether the law authorizing the use of Negro troops has received your sanction, but I respectfully recommend the measures be taken to carry it into effect as soon as practicable.”

It was signed on March 13th and by the first of April, Colonel Otey, 11th Virginia Infantry, was assigned to duty in Lynchburg, VA, to recruit, muster and organize black units for the Confederate army.

Although this unit saw no action according to official accounts other records indicate they were drilling and standing by to defend the city.  There are also historical documents indicating that thousands of slaves served in the Southern army as non-combatants in roles like cooks, teamsters and musicians.

And when called upon they would fight alongside ‘freemen’ who served in such outstanding state-militias like the 1st Louisiana Native Guard; Company  A and F, 14th Mississippi Confederate Calvary; Company D, 35th Texas Calvary;  or the 1,150 black sailors who served in the Confederate navy.

Finally, the first military monument in the US Capitol which honors African-American soldiers is the Confederate monument, erected in 1914.  It depicts “a black Confederate soldier marching in step with white Confederate soldiers.”  Also shown is a white soldier giving his child to a black woman for safety.

We may never understand everything about those five remarkable years, but we cannot ever stop trying.  And it is time to realize that the historical record has been obscured to the truth on the part of the African-American’s role in the Southern Army as a soldier and to bring these facts to light as both a matter of pride and education.

Broken Oath

The entire camp alerted once the initial radio call was made, “Taking incoming fire, one possible KIA, need assistance.”

It was a 30 man patrol that had left the general safety of the concertina wired compound the night before. They had maintained the two-hour report schedule, until they encountered an ambush. The attack was less than a click from the camp, so it was a complete surprise to the men in the field.

“Saddle up,” ordered the Major as Doc’s unit moved into the staging area.

It was obvious that there would be a rescue affected to repel the enemy and to bring the ambushed troops back to the camp. Quickly and quietly Company ‘C’ formed, each man carrying his Alice-pack on his shoulders and his rifle un-slung and ready to engage the enemy in the coming life and death battle.

The sun was starting to set as the unit picked its way through the high desert. Each Marine knew that behind each rock or every dip in the landscape could hold the possibility of another ambush.

It was within the hour that they made contact with the scouting party. The patrol had remained pinned down on a slight rise. They appeared to be surrounded by still higher rises that prevented movement from their location.

Several men were wounded and supplies from the Hospital Corpsman assigned to the patrol had long been extinguished. It was obvious to the major that it would be up to the relief patrol that they would have to send up medical aid.

He directed Doc to move to his position near the base of the rise. It was also the place that the major has selected as his command point. The Major was never one willing to send others to face the

danger of dying, unless he was presenting himself with the same danger.

“Okay, Sarge,” he said. “We’ll lay down cover fire but it’s up to you to pick your route.”

Doc looked up the hillside and realized that he might not survive as he selected which direction to proceed. He also knew that the men trapped up top without medical help might not survive if he didn’t try.

“Straight up,” Doc replied to the officer.

There had been enough time for the relief troops to spread out around the base of the hill. They had received fire, but proved to be the better marksmen. For each shot fired on them, they returned with five or six shots into the position from which they were attacked.

Doc lifted the three packs of first aid materials and draped them across his body. He left his M-16 at the CP and chose instead to arm himself with his 45 caliber.

“Hooyah,” he shouted to help steel his courage and evoke an adrenalin rush as he jumped over the boulder that led up the hill.

Several voices cried back, “Semper Fi!”

Behind him he heard those same men open up on every known position that surrounded him, laying down the cover fire promised by the Major. Doc didn’t dare look back; instead he pumped his legs as hard as he could up the sandy rise.

It was a matter of seconds before he discovered the first of the pinned down unit. All three men were wounded, having been shot close to where they now lay waiting for help. Doc stopped to provide each man with a personal first aid pack.

Now that he stopped, his cover fire ceased. Doc had to move in a crawl from rock to crag to avoid becoming a hard target for a sniper. The going was very slow.

It was less than a minute later that he realized he was being lined up for a clear shot from the hill rise to his left. The sand erupted near his face as he slipped between two large rocks.

Doc flicked two shots back in the direction from where the sniper had fired. He knew that there wasn’t a prayer in Hades that he’d hit the shooter, but rather he wanted to get the message across to the sniper that he wouldn’t go down without a fight.

The medic sprang up from his position of concealment and raced up the hill. He was approaching the summit when he heard a shout from his right side.

“Over here,” cried the voice.

It was the Hospital Corpsman. He was shot through the middle of his right calf and had managed to find shelter in a small cliff of rocks. Doc turned hard as if to avoid an oncoming tackler in a football game. He dove hard against the corpsman’s body seeking safety too.

The two medics quickly exchanged information and Doc removed one of the bags of first aid packets, giving it to the wounded sailor. He told Doc that he would distribute the first aid kits to the positions he knew about.

“Take care of yourself, first,” the Sergeant directed the corpsman as he rolled out of the low out cropping of rocks.

Doc was back on his feet and heading to the position where the majority of the unit had been pinned down and shot up. He only made 15 or 16 steps before he found what he was looking for; eighteen Marines, all wounded and dug in for a lengthy fire-fight.

He distributed the first aid supplies among the wounded and gave aid to those who were the most seriously injured. He quietly drew the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of three youths who had left the fight, fighting back.

“What the hell happened here?” Doc asked a Lance Corporal.

“The Gunny is on the other side of the hill, shot to shit and we’ve been trying to get to him,” the Lance Corporal answered.

Doc understood immediately the call to recover a fallen Marine. He felt certain that all branches of the military had the same standing order to not leave a man down, but he had never failed to see the Marine’s fight to the death over a body of any servicemen. The thought momentarily choked him as he asked for direction to the body.

“What, do you think you can get to him when we couldn’t?” one of the wounded men asked.

“Either that or die trying,” replied Doc.

Doc picked up a rifle and filled an empty ammo pouch with as many magazines of ammo as it would hold. He slipped the pack over his head and slid out of the communal fighting hole towards the other side of the hill.

The rise was less than 30 feet from where he had lain and then fell sharply away. He peeked between two large rocks and down the hillside. The Gunnery Sergeant’s body was no farther than 10 feet from him.

Further down the hill though Doc caught the faint hint of movement. It was an enemy shooter all set up to snipe any movement towards the body.

Doc rolled over on his back and double checked the M-16 he was holding. He then rolled back onto his stomach and slipped the muzzle of the rifle out from between the two rocks.

Slowly and methodically he lined up the sniper over the end of his weapon. Doc waited for the sniper to expose himself again. The wait was less than two minutes, yet felt like a life time to the Sergeant.

Then it happened, the target showed himself. Doc squeezed the trigger and the rifle let lose three rounds. There was a sudden pink mist that filled the air where the enemy had been positioned.

Doc could see movement as the sniper was suddenly dragged from his emplacement. In this instant Doc squeezed the trigger again. And once again there was a mist of pink, showing that he had hit an enemy defender.

He took advantage of the momentary confusion that he hoped the enemy was feeling, to jump up from where he had been laying and rushed to the body of the Marine. He grabbed the fallen man’s Alice webbing and hauled on him as hard as he could. The body jerked loose from the rocky ground it had fallen into.

The surrounding earth erupted around Doc as he struggled to lift the Marine over the rocks that he had used as a place of concealment. The dead man’s body exploded from the impact of bullets as the enemy tried to kill Doc.

He dropped the dead Marine and retreated back over the same rocks that held him up from recovering the man’s body. Doc realized his surprise attack had worn off and the enemy’s confusion was now refocused on him.

The fire-fight continued long after the sun had set as Doc moved from place to place firing into the half-dozen enemy positions. He was soon joined by four members of his own company. Doc directed their fire into the enemy.

It didn’t take long for Doc to take advantage of the added fire power. He moved around the outside right of the rocks that had prevented his success in the initial recovery of the dead man.

He quickly lifted the man up and over his shoulder and packed him back over the ridge to the site where the 15 surviving Marines had holed up in defense of their own lives. He laid the Gunny next to the three men who had died earlier in the ambush.

Doc wasn’t certain as too what he had expected when he returned to the surviving Marines, but the jubilation he had felt was short lived as the men looked on the body of the dead sergeant with a sadness he had never witnessed before. He stopped long enough to look to their wounds, then return to the defensive position he had just left.

Then to the east and north the rocky hills exploded as artillery shells dropped from 13 miles away. The bright flashes left Doc blinded momentarily, yet he proceeded to the two rocks he had used to defend the body of the Marine sergeant.

It was quickly realized that the enemy, who had held them at bay for nearly 18 hours, had melted into the darkness. Unfortunately for them, they were forced to leave behind the bodies of their fallen.

The following day, after the area with its hilly terrain was secured, it was found that 27 enemy soldiers had been killed while attempting to retrieve the dead Marine’s body; 23 had died in the area of the sniper’s nest. Four Marines had lost their lives in the ambush and 25 had been wounded. Only one Marine, a corporal had fought through the ambush without physical harm.

It was also the first time that Doc had picked up a weapon against the enemy. However it would not be the last time. He had broken the oath of the Gorpsman and he couldn’t go back.

The Truth has a Limit

My wife handed me the Reno-Sparks section of the Gazette-Journal on Friday, February 18th. She directed my attention to an article about a Civil War reenactor giving a living history presentation to a home school co-op.

I thought it was a good article, except the part where the fellow giving the presentation was misquoted. I happen to be involved in Civil War reenactment and I love history, so when I saw the misquote I had to write a letter to the editor to correct the mistake.

What I wrote I felt was a very thought provoking piece correcting their mis-quote. With my name, address, telephone number and such the letter was over 380 words. After all of this, I received a letter back from the editorial desk: “Thank you for writing. However, your letter exceeds the 200-word limit. If you could reduce it to that length, we would be happy to consider it for publication.”

Personally, I felt this to be a bit of an insult so I shot off a reply to the editorial desk. I don’t like to mix my words up when I get nasty with someone, yet I fear that the person sitting on the desk reading the letters hasn’t the understanding of a common house fly.

Anyway this is the letter I returned, “It is a sad state of affairs when the voice of the common person is limited to a standard of two-hundred words. Obviously your editorial review board maintains a liberal bias that is akin to a wolf hiding in sheep’s skin. So much for redressing an error, especially one that reflects as it does during Black History Month. Shame on you.”

Surprisingly, I received a response. Whoever wrote this letter attempted to explain to me that “one size fits all” so everything is fair and equal.

“The rule is in place to simply allow more writers an opportunity to have their voices heard, not to stifle anyone. Space is limited, unfortunately, and your 400-word letter would knock someone else’s letter out. Since all writers are subject to the same limitations, it is difficult to understand how that constitutes bias, either liberal or conservative.”

Now I am not one to buy into the “one size fits all” theory. If the theory worked properly then I should be able to go to the newspaper right now and not be able to find an opinion written into what should be a hard-news story.

The Reno Gazette-Journal has writers on staff that gets to say whatever they want as long as it fits into the mold that the paper has set forth. The idea smacks of socialism in my mind but I didn’t go that far in my letter to the person on the other end of my terminal.

“It is not that simple. You have an article that clearly states the facts incorrectly during Black History Month. I wrote a nice piece correcting that misquote with facts and I backed them up. Rarely do I see your staff or readers backing their pieces up with historical quotes or facts and documentation that can be easily researched. That in my mind places your paper in the position of being liberally biased. Your paper is willing to accept a piece that appears factual as long as it fits neatly into a set of ‘rules.”

What I have written is of importance to all Americans in my humble opinion. The debate still rages on as to which side was right in the Civil War.

People still stand up and shout at each other because their Great-grand pappy fought for this side or that side. Men died and some never have received credit for their sacrifice.

So my op-ed bumps a letter or two, aren’t the historical facts worth the space? If not, it really is a shame.

“American role was to the Southern army. Still shame on the newspaper for making you stick to these petty rules on such an important issue especially during Black History Month.”

My last letter to the editor’s desk must have done something, because all of a sudden I received an invite to increase my wordage and resubmit for a column. Talk about being surprised.

“You are more than welcome to submit a ‘Your Turn’ column on the subject, if you’d like. To fit our format the length must be approximately 550 words. At 357 words, your original submission is in no-man’s-land, too long for a letter but too short for a column. If you would prefer to do that, you may submit the revised piece directly to me and I will take care of it.”

I wish someone would have offered that to me in the beginning as I hate eating crow, for being so nasty.

So I sat down and rewrote my piece and I came away with exactly the word count asked for. I really don’t expect to see it in the Reno Gazette-Journal after the way I treated this editor. Maybe one day I will learn not to be so arrogant.

Oops, I’ve exceeded my word limit.