Independence Day 2014

HaPpY BiRtHDaY to the United States of America!

Independence Day, also known as “National Day,” is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of the United States of America. During the American Revolution, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from the oppressing Great Britain occurred on July 2, 1776. On that day the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence. After voting for independence, Congress worked on the Declaration of Independence. Congress debated and revised the wording of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration, approving it on July 4, 1776.

The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence might just be the most famous sentence in the English language:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This is America’s moral standard. It is our clear understanding of how we try to lead our lives. “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” sums it up for me. This is what the United States of America stands for in my eyes. And I try to convey that to my friends and family. Daily, I strive to pass this message on to my children in the hopes that they too shall carry that message to their children.

Now that my history lesson is over, let’s talk about why I really called you all here today. Not sure why, but it seems like lately (more than ever before) our country and it’s citizens have been beating each other up. To me (and some of this could be me just getting older), there is more-and-more separation between political parties and the way people think of their rights. We bash each other constantly pointing out and picking on our beliefs and feelings. That seems to be an acid in the belly of our great nation.

Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t too self-centered and caught up in making sure we get ours. These days it feels like many of US need to make sure that folks are listening to US, that folks are respecting US, and that folks are giving US what we deserve.

That is horseshit!

What happened to JFK’s statement: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” We use to cheer when we heard that statement. We use to stand up and chant agreement. These days I see people with their hands out. Saying, “What about me?” I see a bunch of sheep and bums wanting to line up and get what they think they deserve.

There was a time (not too long ago) when you actually had to work for what you got. When a day’s labor equaled a day’s wages. Many of US have forgotten what it was like to work our fingers to the bone just to put food on the table.

I purposefully capitalized US throughout that last section. Because when I think of us, I think of the U.S. US is the United States of America – aka US. We need to stand united. We must stand together and fight for our country. Not separate bitching about what we aren’t getting.

Stop sitting on your ass and whining about how bad the country is getting. Instead stand up and do something to make it better. In my opinion, you do not deserve to whine about the state of the nation, unless you are willing to participate in making it better.

*climbs down off his soap box*

Sorry for the rant, but I’m tired of hearing the complaints. I love my nation. I love my neighbors. I love life.

Unless you want an earful, don’t cry to me about how bad America is.

Today is a special day. It encapsulates everything America is and will be. It marks the birth of our great nation. We may not have utopia here, but I believe this is the greatest nation on Earth. Now, ever, and forever!

Join me in being grateful for a free country where we can post articles like this without fear of having our doors kicked in.

Please comment and let me know your true feelings.

This article was posted with sincere and caring beliefs.

-Vaughn “the patriot” Ripley

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Flag Day 2014

Today is Flag Day for the United States America. Flag Day officially occurs each year on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened on that day in 1777. June 14th is also the birthday of the United States Army. Happy birthday! Hoo-ah!

Proper care of a U.S. flag is of utmost importance. For those of you who fly a flag you might not be aware that there is actually a formal way to properly retire and dispose of an old and worn flag. I will discuss what the Ripley family does for this procedure. There are several options, including bringing your old flag to a local American Legion or VFW office. However, we choose to burn the flag in our back yard. Any of these ways are valid.

We start by buying a high quality flag which will last for a year before it really starts to show signs of being worn and ready for disposal. On Flag Day (June 14th) we dispose of last year’s flag. I picked this date, because it’s a great time to explain the importance of the flag to the children, and we can do so while going through our family ceremony.

Here’s our personal retirement ceremony in a nutshell:

1. While the flag is still hanging, call the group to attention, salute, place your hand over your heart, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States (originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892)

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

 

2. The leader says, “This flag has served its nation and our family well. It is worn to a condition which is not fit to be used to represent the United States of America. We are grateful for its symbolizing our great nation and we pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered. We will now fold and dispose of this flag.”

3. Take the flag down and then properly fold it.

4. Move to the prepared fire and everyone salutes the flag one last time. The group holds their salute until the leader places it on the fire and then they all finish the salute with the leader’s final salute. The group remains standing reverently until the flag is completely consumed.

May you have a wonderful Flag Day!

-Vaughn “the patriot” Ripley

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Memorial Day 2014

More than 1,280,000 Americans have died in war since the American Revolutionary War. Memorial Day is a time to remember not only these soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines, but also ALL American military personnel who have died while in service of their country.

Let’s start by clearly defining what Memorial Day is. I’ve heard many versions of what it is… I’ve even heard it confused with Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day is an American holiday used to remember the men and women who died while serving, while Veteran’s Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead. Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday during the month of May. Originating after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers (both sides!) who died during the Civil War, it was originally called Decoration Day. Traditionally folks put flowers and other decorations on soldiers’ graves. This was the start of Decoration Day.

Over time, the name changed from Decoration to Memorial. Then in 1967 it was officially changed to Memorial Day and also extended to recognize and honor all military men and women who died while serving (instead of just the Civil War). The holiday was celebrated on May 30th, but in 1968 Congress passed the “Uniform Monday Holiday Act,” and Memorial Day was one of the holidays moved from its traditional date to a specified Monday. This was done to make convenient three-day weekends.

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. That said, the absolute definition seems to include anyone who dies during military service.

Because Memorial Day is the beginning of Summer, and most of the flag related holidays come after it, my family replaces our flag on the night before Memorial Day. Each year, we pull down and properly retire/dispose of our old flag and replace it with a brand new one. This way we will have a pretty flag for Memorial Day, Flag Day, Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day…

Proper care of a U.S. flag is of utmost importance. For those of you who fly a flag, maybe you already know this part… Some of you may not be aware that there is actually a formal way to properly retire and dispose of an old and worn flag. I will discuss what the Ripley family does for this procedure. There are several options, including bringing your old flag to a local Boy Scout Troop, American Legion, or VFW office. However, we choose to burn the flag in our back yard. Any of these ways are valid. The one thing you MUST NEVER do is simply throw an old flag in the garbage!

We start by buying a high quality flag which will last for a year before it really starts to show signs of being worn and ready for disposal. On the evening before Memorial Day we dispose of last year’s flag. I picked this date, because it’s a great time to explain the importance of the flag to the children, and we can do so while going through our family ceremony.

Here’s our personal retirement ceremony in a nutshell:

1. While the flag is still hanging, call the group to attention, salute, place your hand over your heart, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States (originally composed by Francis Bellamy in 1892)

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

 

2. The leader says, “This flag has served its nation and our family well. It is worn to a condition which is not fit to be used to represent the United States of America. We are grateful for its symbolizing our great nation and we pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered. We will now fold and dispose of this flag.”

3. Take the flag down and then properly fold it.

4. Move to the prepared fire and everyone salutes the flag one last time. The group holds their salute until the leader places it on the fire and then they all finish the salute with the leader’s final salute. The group remains standing reverently until the flag is completely consumed.

The last thought is… Remember that today is a special day and we should honor our fallen brothers and sisters. Spend at least a minute today to reflect quietly and feel sincere gratitude for all that our military has done in our name. Thank you for reading this, and thank you for listening to this patriot rant. I love you all.

-Vaughn “the patriot” Ripley

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Veterans Day 2013

Today’s article is about my father, George Borden… Well, actually it’s about Veterans Day and all of the people who have served in the United States armed forces also known as “veterans.” However, I’m going to dedicate it to someone that I’m very proud of and honored to call “father.”

First off, let’s define what Veterans Day is:

It’s a federal holiday that is observed on November 11; which also marks the anniversary of the end of World War I. The major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.

Now back to the star of our story… George was in Vietnam from July 15, 1968 until July 15, 1969. His unit was “A” Battery 1st of the 30th Artillery 1st Air Cavalry. During his tour in Vietnam, George served in I, II, III, and IV Corps. His radio handle was “Hard Charger 24” and his battery received numerous commendation ribbons, medals, and citations.

George is not really a superstitious man, but on Friday the 13th, June 13th, 1969 he walked out of his tent and it took a direct artillery hit moments later. Unfortunately these kind of things happen on a regular basis during war, and George faced these types of things repeatedly.

On one occasion, George ran into a burning building that contained several 50-gallon drums of fuel. He did this because an injured soldier was trapped in the building. When he realized he could not get the man out, he quickly rolled the 50-gallon drums out of the fire; which allowed others to help save the man’s life. For this heroic act, George was awarded the Bronze Star (this medal is the fourth-highest individual military award) for acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone.

The medal is obviously something I’m proud of, but that is not the extent of my feelings about George. War is hell and he served despite this. For that, I am not only proud, but also eternally grateful. I love my father with all of my heart and his military service is only one small piece of the things that make me proud and honored to be his son.

I told my children that this article was about their “Granddaddy” and they both asked to say something…

Xander, my five year old son, said, “I’m proud of my Granddaddy because he protected us in the war.”

Trinity, my eight year old daughter, said, “Granddaddy always reads ‘Goodnight Little Mouse’ to us, and I love being with him on holidays. He’s my hero.”

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919. In proclaiming the holiday, he said:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

 

In 1945, World War II veteran, Raymond Weeks, had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans (not just those who died in World War I). General Dwight Eisenhower, who supported the idea of a National Veterans Day, agreed. Weeks led the first national celebration in 1947 in Alabama and annually until his death in 1985. Also, in 1982, President Reagan honored Weeks at the White House with the Presidential Citizenship Medal and named him as the driving force for the national holiday. To this day, Weeks is known as the “Father of Veterans Day.”

I’d like to take this time to thank all of the people in my life who have served in the U.S. military. I can’t possibly remember everyone, but I am eternally grateful to all. A few key people who have directly impacted my life are, Scean Ripley, Kim Ripley, Laine Ripley, Dano Christensen, Paul Ostrowski, Solomon Roller, Ben “slow poke” Srigley, Sadiki “WTJHAND” Harriott, Dan Bennett, Jack Breazeale, Jim Zak, David Crosby, Chuck Underwood, Robert “Mike” Johnson, Alan “William” Altizer, Richard Myers, Dan “Uncle Dan” McNally, Chris “what bone should I break next?” Marra, and Carl “Chuck Norris” Wright. Thank you very much for your service

And, I’d like to give a shout-out to all who have served… Thank you for your past, present, and future service!

Finally, I will close with a special thank you to the man of the day, my father, George Borden. Thank you, Dad!

Please take a moment and think of all of the people you know who have or are serving our country in the military. Close your eyes and think gratefully about all military personnel.

Thank you for listening (reading). Hugs and peace to all…

-Vaughn

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I Will Always Remember

It is now the twelfth anniversary of this heinous terrorist attack… Looking around at the world, I fear that we are already forgetting… Already putting our pain, fear, and suffering behind us. While I believe it’s important to heal mentally and physically, it is also my belief that we need to remember nine-eleven. It’s entirely possible that we will attack Syria in the next day or three and I must admit that I’m not on top of everything there. But, I have heard and read that there are ties to Al Qaeda in the Syrian rebel forces… If this is true than we are literally supporting the terrorists who killed 3,000 people on the very day (or within a few days) of the 911 anniversary. Does anyone else find this repulsive??

Enough politics and chatter… Let’s get on with my memorial article!

I will always remember where I was and what I was doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. For my generation it is akin to what our parents said about the Kennedy assassination. We will always remember it. ALWAYS! The funny thing is that I clearly remember a country that came together. That loved and cared for one another. A country that stood together to fight tyranny and terror. A country that no other would want to face in open battle. For a brief period, democrats hugged republicans and vice versa. Over the years our wounds have healed and we seem to be that same old complacent group of people who say thing like, “I remember” but not all of us truly do remember. I challenge you to take a moment today and sit in silence and remember. I mean really dig into your emotional depths and remember what you felt when you first heard about the 9/11/01 attacks.

Take a moment now… Look at the photo at the beginning of this article and go back to that moment… Close your eyes, and let those emotions come back…

911 Attacks

I have been called a violent soul at times. I prefer to call myself a sheepdog (see my post a few weeks ago – Sheepdog In Sheep’s Clothing). I am not violent, people. I am a protector. I am a lover. I am a father. I am a husband. I m a patriot. And, I am a friend. Ally with me and I will ALWAYS have your back. If the wolves come prowling around my backdoor (or the door of my friends), they will get two warning shots fired into their chest. I stand tall and strong for my family, my friends, and my country. I sincerely believe in loving one another… But, I also believe that it is my DUTY to protect my family and friends.

I say, “Nay” to those who would call me violent. Instead, think of me as a realist in a dangerous world. Another way to put it is, I am an American.

Standing at 1,776 feet, One World Trade Center is America’s tallest building. It was designed by David M. Childs. Here is a neat time-lapsed photography video that shows the building as it was created:

I have heard people say that we are merely building an idol by replacing the twin towers with the new World Trade Center… Are you kidding me? Do you know what we are doing? We are picking up our broken hearts, dusting ourselves off, and rebuilding, bitches! This is how we roll in America. You can knock us down, but you better damn well understand that we will get up again, and we will stand strong and united.

And, for those who would try to bring fear and terror into America, I have a bit of information for you… We will not cower. We will not fear. We will sing our death song, fighting to the last! I often find myself remembering the famous words spoken by Ronald Reagan about Libya, “They counted on America to be passive. They counted wrong.”

Despite your religious beliefs. In spite of your political views. Regardless of your feelings toward this post. Hopefully, we can all agree that America is our country, our land of the free, our safe haven, and our home. And today is a day to hold each other and remember.

Where were you on the morning of 9/11/01?

I for one will ALWAYS remember!

Your faithful protector and sheepdog,
Vaughn

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Is World War III Coming

Let’s kick this discussion off by revealing that I normally do not post about political situations. That said, I believe that we are about to go to war with another country (Syria), which in turn will potentially put us at war with a number of other countries. And, because I believe that war affects us in countless ways (including health, wealth, lifestyle, mental attitude, and so on) it’s high time to tackle this tough subject…

You should all know (this is my disclaimer of sorts) that I am an armchair philosopher who gets much of his information from the media; which we all know is biased in one direction or another (sometimes multiple directions at the same time). This post is merely based on my opinion, thoughts, and observations. Don’t expect that any of my predictions hold weight, let alone have a chance of coming true. I’m merely pointing out a few things based on my calculations.

One thing is fairly certain… We are going to attack Syria in retaliation for the deaths of more than 100,000 citizens. Many of those deaths occurred recently and were allegedly caused by chemical weapons. The Syrian Arab Republic is 71,500 square miles (roughly the size of Washington State) with a population of ~20 million (give or take 2 million, considering the refugees who are fleeing the country as you read this article). The current border of Syria was created back in circa 1920s after World War I.

Syria has been in a civil war for more than two years now. Essentially, protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad (whose family has held the presidency in Syria since 1971) and the Syrian Army was deployed to “control” the protesters. During these two plus years of rebel verses government fighting, more than 100,000 people have been killed. Along with the deaths, there are also reports of widespread torture, rape, and tens of thousands of missing people.

Russia and Iran are both supporting the Syrian government. And, this year Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian army. That conglomeration speaks volumes to me!!!

It is believe that Syria has the third-largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world. During last month, they allegedly attacked the civilian population and killed more than 1,400 people with this latest chemical attack (more than 400 of them children). The U.S. government claims to have witnessed the entire attack and by intercepting communications. Also, U.N. inspectors corroborate the reports after returning from a recent inspection.

At this stage, President Obama has said that with congressional backing (which he appears to be getting at this time), he will attack Syria. It is assumed that the attacks will begin in three or four days. I’m wondering if some of the countries who have promised to retaliate on behalf of Syria are going to follow through with their threats. Among the front of these aggressors are Russia and Iran. Iran has plainly stated that they will attack Israel if the U.S. does anything to Syria, and they have revealed war ships to emphasize their point.

Who (what countries) would be involved if this police action becomes war? This is by no means a full listing of every country involved, but it does contain many of the key players. In my opinion most (if not all) of the following countries would become involved within a very short period of time… United Kingdom, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Russia, and China. I dunno about you, but that is some serious world power in that list… And, it scares me to think about this many opposing views and angles mixed up in this little skirmish.

Another question I have is: Will Canada, Tunisia, India, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, North Korea, Japan, and Germany also be involved in this “war?” If even a small number of these countries join in, I feel we will be headed directly into World War III.

Finally, while all of this stuff is going on, who’s watching Mexico? Clearly while we (the United States) are spreading ourselves so thinly around the world a big problem is amassing in Mexico! Am I the only one who thinks that Mexico is primed for a U.S. invasion? I mean these guys look worse than Vietnam to me! Mexican drug cartels and gangs are having war-ish battles with the government and sometimes they appear to be winning… I feel it is simply a matter of time before we determine that a Mexico invasion is our only option. On top of that, the Mexican government might even ask us to invade!!!

Wow! That was quite a tangent…

Well, today’s article got a bit around the entire world. And, hopefully it was interesting. Sorry for the tirade… I am not only curious, but also worried about the current state of affairs.

In my opinion the common denominator here (and possible root cause) is the world’s failing economy and horrendous lack of strong (good) politicians. Are our morals going out the window??

What do you believe? And, what do you think will happen over the next ten years around the world?

Thanks for listening, and now please comment!

-Vaughn

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