Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No Minors Allowed!

Patriotism runs deep in most communities in this country, especially in our smaller towns and more rural areas. We don't always have the bucks to keep things in tip-top shape in many of these places.

Paint peels a bit, especially where the full sun shines all day long most days. The wood trim is often a bit dried out and cracked.

The red-white-blue is at home here under the blue of the sky, the white of the clouds and the frequent red sunsets.

Sometimes we take for granted the things in front of us. And we don't see them.

Like the fact that if you're a minor you can't go to the Vets Club in this town...

You can already have served a tour in Iraq, another in Afghanistan and been lucky enough to come home physically intact. Or not completely.

But you can't go to this club for a beer or a game of darts.

Then maybe we shouldn't have sent you to war either until you were 21.

But at least you can't smoke here. We're lookin' out for your health.

We got your back.

I hope.

I pray.



Saturday, September 11, 2010

Burn That Thing Down! Or not...

Lotsa folks wouldn't let anyone build this in their town. "Burn that thing down!" they'd say.

Or blow it up.

Sometimes we forget how time passes, how young and recent our experience and understanding of the world is, we Americans.

For us, like 1803, like the Louisiana Purchase, that's really... like... OLD! Practically the Stone Age.

And 1776, that hall with powdered wig guys and a hot, muggy day in Philly when it was barely more than a glorified cow town on the edge of the woods.... Paleolithic, Old Stone Age. Right?

This building with the four different minarets... It didn't always have them. It's the third church by its name on the site in modern day Istanbul, formerly Byzantium, Constantinople before that.

The name? Aya Sofia in Turkish. Hagia Sophia, transliterated from Greek. It's the Church of Holy Wisdom. The first church on the site was begun by Constantine himself and his son Constantius between 325 and 360 AD. Fire destroyed it in 404 AD. A second church was consecrated in 415 AD and destroyed during riots in 532 AD. 29 days later, Emperor Justinian ordered the construction of a new church that would surpass Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. It was consecrated December 27, 537. I've stood inside under its 55-meter dome, an absolute engineering marvel not only 1500 years ago, but even today.

It has suffered from earthquakes, fires and wars, has been repaired and rebuilt numerous times.

On May 27, 1453, Sultan Mehmet II entered the city after conquering the armies of the dying Byzantine Empire. Muslim worship and prayers were conducted here from then until 1935 when it was declared a museum of the Republic of Turkey after Kemal Ataturk ordered repairs between 1926 and 1930.

So, let's see... A Christian church for 916 years with already two centuries of Christian worship under its belt on that patch of land.

Then, a Muslim house of worship for 482 years.

Then a museum for the lifespan of the average American in the age of fast food and lack of exercise.

Nearly 1473 years old. 6.3 times as old as our independence from Great Britain if we use that '76 event in Philly as our starting date.

What is America's long-term role in the world? How will the events of September 11, 2001 be regarded 100, 200, 1473 years from now?

Way too soon to tell. Meanwhile, do we know our neighbors in this world?

Have we learned to love them as ourselves?

Have a blessed day in prayer for all who mourn and work for a better world on this day.



Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peace Is At Hand... Question is, whose hand?

First Day of Peace
(for our nation and all who mourn on the first day that US combat units have not been in Iraq since March 19, 2003.)

The first day of peace brought showers,
then a touch of sun, change of season
No sense of battle won, lives lost,
a mother's quiet tears,
child's dreams still folded
Like the flag in a wedge of stars
that will never fly.

The nation had already withdrawn its sense of urgency
and purpose
battle lines pawned in polls and surveys
No goals came to the surface more than once
per day.
Piece by piece they came undone
in threes like WMD, IED, MRE...
Up-armored Humvee's gave their place
to Strykers, MRAP's, Predator drones and more
Us and them. At war. Sort of...

Disappointment did not fall on the first day of peace.
It came early on and left soon after, numb
Passion should not fail us when our young lives are lost
sacrificed with seemingly no notice.

That could never happen in a war,
real war like The Good One!
Would never be allowed among us on these shores
Unless a demon in the cloak of pride
denied our knowing,
stole our seeing, our giving of a care
citizen share of duty, honor, country, cost
Courage of knowing why,
why not
And what is lost that cannot be won militarily.

What will these families, loved ones tell their children
someday, one day,
soor or late
About why this was, what this was
What winning does when it does not happen
on the first full day of peace?

Copyright 2010 by Roger D. Fuchs, all rights reserved.

From all I can tell, there is no way that US troops will be out of Afghanistan by next year. Or Iraq. Yet America has long since moved on in our minds because we never really moved into these wars. We rail against budget deficits while we leave the things that are really killing jobs here (the cost of health care and insurance) and our failure to have infrastucture and energy policy for a brighter future unattended, unresolved. And we seem incapable of doing the math of what these wars have cost financially and the calculus of what they are costing and will cost in the future by having changed the world in a way that moves it toward more violence, not peace.

I hope I'm wrong. God, let us all pledge our best efforts to make me out to be completely wrong on this one. Help us, Lord.