Memorial Day

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Memorial Day 2011

It occurred to me yesterday that a story about my Grandfather may never have been written. In honor and memory of him and other family members that served the country, I’ll share the short stories as I remember them being passed on.

Chris Schlensker, my maternal Grandfather, served during World War II in the Army Air Force (USAAF). He operated the main turret of a B-17 Flying Fortress, protecting the aircraft against enemy fighters during bombing missions. His bomber completed all it’s assigned missions across Europe, dropping bombs on Axis power military targets.

The most memorable story he shared was of a ‘close call’ during one mission. While flying through anti aircraft fire, Grandpa left his turret to get a replacement oxygen tank. Upon his return to the turret, he discovered a large piece of shrapnel embedded in his seat. It had exploded and broken through the turret bubble during the few minutes he wasn’t there… Turns out, had timing been different – I may not have existed!

There are a number of fond memories about Grandpa Schlensker from my childhood. He passed away when I was ten or eleven, suffering a fatal heart attack. While a young boy, he taught me how to hold and fire a rifle. We would shoot crows and targets at his small vegetable garden. He would also pass out loose change from his pockets during family parties, always a hit with my siblings and I.

Grandmother, Doris Schlensker, also did her part during the war. Upon cleaning her house after moving her into a nursing home, we discovered a cache of hand written correspondence with a number of military men. She wrote as a ‘pen pal’, reminding them of the things they are fighting for.

Thanks to all that serve the country, fighting and doing their part to preserve the freedom we enjoy every day here in the United States of America.

Why Don’t We Fight to Win?

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Believe me, I’m far from anti-war. I am, however, against the pathetic version of modern ‘international conflict’ or whatever we call WAR these days. My understanding of war has always been simple – Destroy the enemy. Once the mission is accomplished, get the boys home and move on. When war is waged in this manner, the outcome is certain. The more determined, technologically advanced, more powerful force will win. Without a doubt, the U.S. Armed Forces has been that power for the last one hundred years.

So, what is the problem with Iraq and Afghanistan? There is no question we took down Saddam within weeks and had his army on their knees, controlling the landscape within the first few months. The same circumstances exist in Afghanistan, Al Queda was toppled quickly and could no longer organize there. Despite effectively ‘winning’, we are still maintaining an enormous presence in both countries. Why?

The canned answers are clear: rebuild them, install ‘friendly’ Governments, promote democracy… I get all that. Haven’t we done all that before with countries like Lebanon, Iran/Iraq, and even Afghanistan? If so, why do we need to do it again? The frank truth is that the people of these countries cannot govern themselves, they require a constant policing. I’m reminded of that goofy satirical marionette movie – Team America: World Police. Unfortunately, it’s no joke any more.

The sad truth is that the Islamic societies of the world either can not or choose not to rise up against radicalism within their communities. As long as those radical members have homes and families, who know full well of their brothers and sons involvement in such movements, but continue to shelter and support them – they have nothing to fear. These radicals can terrorize, keep the fight going, and at the end of the day hide with the women and children of their communal family lifestyle.

The fact is that our rules of engagement protect them. Americans carry with us a value for humanity unlike any other part of the world. It is this compassion for life and fellow mankind that both compels us to help and ruins our efforts to destroy the evil of the world. Americans also know that advanced societies are lands with laws, and those laws must be enforced.

Let me pose the question: If you have a family member that you know has robbed a bank, murdered a police officer, and is now knocking on your door… will you provide them asylum and protection? Only the most uncivilized and worst among us would consider helping this person, family or not.

This decision is more affected by principles than it is by fear, as we know even hardened criminals won’t turn their weapons on their own family. Further, we know and understand that by agreeing to provide protection we are also GUILTY of a crime and taking a risk.

It is my opinion that these terrorists (radical Muslims) must be made to live in fear of the long arm of the law. They can be safe nowhere, protected by no one. They must cower in caves and roam the streets, absconded by their own society that rejects their choices of action. Those that provide protection and asylum, they know who they are. These enablers should not be surprised when we knock down their door and enforce the law, and they won’t if we make it the rule.

Is it reasonable for us, Americans, to call on the supposed peaceful Islamic communities to begin policing their own? If people are truly for peace and don’t support radicalism or terrorism, they should take a stand against such behavior and help the cause. Without such action of the masses or changes of the rules of engagement, we will not be able to accomplish the mission and destroy the enemy completely.

With the cooperation and help of peace loving Muslims, we will rid the world of such terrible and destructive people. Either we wait for Islam to help or begin fighting to win, those are the choices.