Memorial Day Show

Once again I find myself reflecting upon this very special Monday and wondering just how many of my fellow Americans are doing the same. Indeed, we should start every day with a brief review of all we have to be thankful for and our freedom should be right up with the top five selections. But this Monday has been set apart as ‘the’ holiday to honor our vets and all they have done for us. While the focus of the holiday is on those vets who gave their all for this country and its people I prefer to include all our vets in my reminiscing. As a country we can never hope to adequately thank our vets for all their incredible effort on behalf of not just Americans but so many people around the world.  Most of us have no real feel for the level of sacrifice these brave men and women put forth on a regular basis to ensure our comfortable and free lifestyle.

Yet we are a country divided; one in which a large faction seems intent upon destroying the very liberties and freedom we hold so dear. There is a fringe liberal movement that would shame us into weakness by holding that we are an imperial power bent solely on dominating the world at any cost and as such we are evil. Tell this to the survivors of the Nazi concentration camps or those who endured natural disasters around the world across the past 15 years and are alive today only because of the generosity of the American people coupled with the power and strength of our military who selflessly were almost immediately on scene to provide assistance, supplies and comfort.

We elected a president who believes we should no longer be a major player on the international stage; that we have for far too long meddled in other country’s business simply for our own gain. And he and his dysfunctional administration have sought to ‘lead from behind’ – the very phrase is idiocy personified – while slowly eroding our military power. As a result we now live in times that are actually more dangerous than those of the Cold War days when it was the USSR and the USA at odds. During such times each super power had too much to lose to ignite a full blown conflict; nowadays with the likes of al Qaeda and ISIS bloodying the news we are all vulnerable to terrorism from savages with no moral compasses. While nuclear Armageddon hardly felt ‘safe’ as someone who lived through those dark days it was preferable to the specter of nuclear, biological and/or chemical terrorism initiated by fanatics with nothing to lose.

I fear for my country yet I cannot deny ‘we the people’ allowed this situation to grow and fester through inattention and an unwillingness to understand what was happening within our government. Decades of preferring TV and video games to becoming involved in the political process has left us with a bitter legacy which has poisoned so many people’s outlooks on this once great country. Fringe elements on both ends of the political spectrum utilize the fallout from this poisoning to recruit new ‘believers’ in the war for the country’s soul while so many of us are forced into inaction because we can see no way to reverse this trend.

Against all this I cannot help but wonder what all our veterans would think of this country; the same they spilled blood to support and often gave their very lives? Would they be proud of their efforts and sacrifices? Or would they just be befuddled and confused regarding what has happened to ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’? Sadly I believe it would be the latter and that is a disgrace upon their collective honor, one they shouldn’t have to bear.

On this most poignant of national holidays I fear for my country yet I also have hope because of the legacy our veterans have given us; that of commitment to cause, dedication to principle and a willingness to sacrifice everything to perpetuate the dream of a free, proud and strong America. They have done, and do, so much for us and ask so little in return. Yet the debt we owe them is immeasurable and we can never hope to even begin to adequately repay them for their service. Across my years I’ve purchased and stuffed packages with ‘comfort’ items going to troops overseas, I’ve written letters to many service men, I’ve assisted in cleaning local veteran’s cemeteries and I give as much as I can to support organizations like the ‘Wounded Warrior Foundation’ and ‘The Snowball Express’. But in the end it all seems so meager, so little in the face of their sacrifice. Yet I will continue to do what I can because our vets deserve it…and so much more!

Tonight, if tuning into 88.9 KTNA Talkeetna or listening on ‘’ I will once again make a very humble offering in the form of:

“Good Evening, you are listening to KTNA broadcasting at a frequency of 88.9 MHz on your FM dial and streaming live via our website –  It is now 20:00 on a Monday evening and that means it is time to ‘Take A Little Trip Back…’ Tonight is a special program as once again we find ourselves celebrating Memorial Day; as such this is the day we take time to remember all those who gave their lives to ensure this country would remain free. Indeed, this is something we should reflect upon each and every day because as this holiday so poignantly reminds us:  ‘Freedom isn’t free!’ I’m dedicating this entire to show to all our service women and men, whether still with us today or deceased, Thank You All for your dedication, your courage and your sacrifice!! You embody the very best this country has to offer and ‘we the people’ owe you all a debt we can never hope to adequately repay. With the greatest of respect I dedicate the next hour to our vets…”

Wonderful Gentleman

During a brief break in the almost continual rain of late I managed to get the dogs out for 75 minutes of walking.  In this case we walked east on East Barge Drive then north on Riven,across East Birch Creek Drive and on north on Lewis & Clark.  Its very sparsely populated along Lewis & Clark so its a great place to let the dogs really wander.  I made it as far as the sharp bend to the Easy when to my surprise I heard a car approaching so I corralled the dogs to await its passage.  As is the case up here we waved at each other but then the gentleman driving stopped his vehicle to say “Hi”; I of course responded in like and we struck up a conversation.  I told him I was newly moved into the area and living my dream of retiring to ‘The Last Frontier’.  He asked me where I’d moved from and I told him SE Michigan.  At this point his eyes lit up and he shut off his car; come to find out he’d been born and raised on a farm just to the east of Leslie, Michigan which is a bit north of Jackson!  He was pleased I knew where the small burgh of Leslie is in the state; because I knew of it I guessed his farm was dairy in nature which he confirmed along with pigs.  I discovered he’d left the farm at 18, joined the Marines, went into the infantry and did two tours in Viet Nam.  I thanked him for his service; then he showed me his left arm which has a prosthesis from the elbow down.  He was shot in his left elbow which completely tore up the joint such that it was not going to recover.  He told me his uncle had served in the Corps as well and had actually survived the landing on Okinawa.  He appreciated the fact I knew of this battle along with many others in the Pacific during WW II and understood it was a major feat just to have survived that terrible battle.

He had a wonderful Black Lab named ‘Black Jack’ who was a real teddy bear; we of course hit it off right away and he also appreciated the fact that I was a dog person.  We formally introduced ourselves and I discovered his name is Ron Taylor and he lives at Mile 92 of the Parks Highway.  He’s lived in Alaska since 1966 and has seen huge changes take place in the last thirty years.  I was impressed because he lived up here before the Parks Highway was put through to Fairbanks.  The more we talked the more I realized here was a man who embodied all that’s made this country great!  He grew up farming, went into the service, served his country, was severely wounded, recovered and has worked right up until retiring a few years back.  He had no regrets for anything he’s endured and is just glad to have the chance to visit friends up here and talk walks with his beloved Black Jack.  Although he wouldn’t realize it he’s quite an amazing man and someone this country needs many more of especially in these trying times.  When we finally ended our conversation we invited each other to stop over some time; I told him I’d wave to him when I aw him and maybe we could get together again.  I’d love to really hear of his experiences in depth!  Such men are becoming fewer and fewer with time and that’s truly a shame…