Monday, October 29, 2012

Standing for Something

"Here rests in honored glory An American Soldier known but to God."

Some years ago, I was touring Arlington National Cemetery. A small crowd gathered at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I guessed - correctly - that the guard changing ceremony was about to begin.

An NCO, a sergeant, marched purposefully to the center of the viewing area. Six feet tall, trim and fit, his perfect uniform displayed the kinds of ribbons and insignia of a man who had been there and done that. Among his doodads was the Combat Infantryman Badge. He'd been in combat.

He spoke in a clear, commanding voice. When the ceremony began, he thundered, we would stand - silent and still. I had no doubt that the consequences of ignoring this man would be grave. Even his harsh glare might do permanent damage, to my soul if nothing else. I did as I was told, as did everyone around me.

Behind me among the crowd was a cluster of elderly, frail men. They bore a wreath. Plainly, they had come to pay respects and lay their token at the tomb. Their hats identified them as veterans from Ohio. At the conclusion of the ceremony the NCO made his way to this group.

"Don't worry about a thing, sir" the sergeant said to one of them, soft, calm and assuring voice visibly relaxing the men. "You just let me do all the work. We'll go at your pace."

Today, as a storm brews along the East Coast, soldiers guard The Tomb. They represent the best of America, epitomized by the young African-American sergeant who shepherded a group of old warriors on one last mission of valor.

Friday, October 26, 2012

"In The Company of Heroes"^

"I cherish the memory of a question my grandson asked me the other day, when he said, 'Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?' And Grandpa said, 'No, but I served in the company of heroes.'"*

Master Sergeant Gary Gordon
Gary Gordon
On October 3rd, 1993, American Rangers, Delta Force operatives and SEAL Team 6 members descended on a safe house in Mogadishu, Somalia. Their target was members of a warlord's command staff. In the course of the operation two helicopters were shot down. One of them,  a Blackhawk called "Super Six-Four" commanded by Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant, crashed in a hostile part of the city. She was descended upon by a crowd in the hundreds, many of them armed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romney Recommends Out of Ideas

Out on the campaign trail, Mitt Romney apparently uttered the words "out of ideas." Given the way politics has been conducted of late, I've decided to spin his comments my way. He meant, of course, to endorse my novel. It would be entirely appropriate for him to do so, inasmuch as it begins in Wisconsin and then travels to Florida - two critical states in his bid to replace Barack Obama.

Now, if I can only get him to publicly deny his endorsement (in fact, I'd venture to say he's never heard of my book, or me), decry my shameless bit of merchandising (athough, as an entrepeneur himself he might applaud my audacity) and then ask for a campaign contribution as attonement....

Anybody got his phone number?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

You're Killin' Me, Smalls

I've voted.

Last night, I repaired to the downstairs TV room to watch the San Francisco Giants. Since my beloved but dreadful Rockies are out (and have been since May) I'm rooting for SF against despised Matt Holliday and his Cardinals of St. Louis. I pour a Chardonnay, settle onto our overstuffed couch and flip on the big screen.

Two well-coiffed guys in five thousand dollar suits are standing nose to nose on a stage, speaking into microphones. It appears a rap competition has broken out at a conference of chief financial officers. "Yo, Yo, your incompetent ministrations have emboldened our enemies and cast consequential aspersions on our allies," says one. "Chill, Homey," the other replies. "I envision defenestration regarding your impolitic remarks." At least, that's what I think they said because, recognizing another political ad, I've muted the sound.


Alma mater Syracuse is playing Connecticut before the usual packed house at the Carrier Dome. Football, and the game appears lopsided, with the Orange on the correct side of the lop. We score another touchdown and the network goes to commercial.

Apparently, some guy I never heard of, running for an obscure political office, sells drugs to children. Or, he used to. I assume the point is that this is a disqualifier, even in Colorado.


Saturday, October 13, 2012


"Writers write so readers can read."*

This blog is several years old. I've written about all manner of things - a helicopter ride, a cruise, a grandson. Some have been fun, others legalese and a few just a man alone with his laptop. I have mostly a small following and get 30-40 hits on each post. One offering, a piece about the Aurora cinema shooting, has received about 120 hits since July. When a small-time writer grows a following, he or she begins with a core of loyal readers and builds from there.

Last night, alone and terribly angry, I sat down to frame some thoughts about the Jessica Ridgeway case. I intended a warning but instead hope came out. Hope for the just conclusion to this sad case, brought into being, in large part, by the selfless dedication of professional men and women in law enforcement. Local cops, State officials and Federal officers, dispatchers, victim advocates, records specialists, criminalists.... It's what we do, and people like Jessica and her family for whom we do it.

To date, this post has received two hundred seventy hits in twenty four hours.

I am touched, beyond my meager ability to express. The greatest gift to a writer, writing from the heart, is to have someone read it.

To everyone who read, shared, commented or said a silent prayer for Jessica, I can only say thank you.

*William Forrester (Sean Connery), Finding Forrester, 2000

Friday, October 12, 2012

Justice for a Little Girl - UPDATED

Police announced today that the "body" found in an Arvada Colorado field was that of ten year old Jessica Ridgeway.

Police officers are often asked "How do you stand it? I couldn't do your job." This case is an example of why so many of us stick with it. An astonishing number of police officers are wherever they are, doing whatever they are doing and wanting to be the one who puts handcuffs on this little girl's killer. Not rough them up or meet street justice on them. No, that would make them a hero to some.

Handcuffs make a satisfying, distinct ripping sound when they are applied. Rendering all but the most agile and motivated arrestee relatively harmless, they signal control. Control over the arrestee by the forces for good, for justice. Control over our emotions, declaring the suspect satisfactorily restrained. Be it for a minor infraction or a stunning evil, to a cop handcuffs mean peace, victory.

How do we stand it? For the chance to be that guy, the one who puts handcuffs on a killer and thereby takes them off the street.


UPDATE - I'm sure there were high-fives today with the arrest of a suspect in Jessica Ridgeway's murder. There is so much more work to be done, so many more professionals who will have a hand in the final just outcome. The exceptional DA's Office in Jefferson County, working with the involved law enforcement jurisdictions, now gets down to the business of prosecuting. The realization that a serial offender, perhaps capable of many more such crimes, is sitting in a secure building is a huge relief to everyone, cops included. Prosecuted as an adult, spending the rest of his life behind bars? We'll see. But, I'll bet I know what the pros in Westy, Arvada and all of the other involved organizations will do when the day's paperwork is done, and the scenes are processed.

They'll go home and get some sleep. At least for the moment, this fellow will kill no one else's child. Thanks to them.

UPDATE - Two absolutely unsurprising developments in court this morning. The judge ordered the suspect held without bond (can you say "Continuing danger to the community"?) and Jeffco's DA will try him as an adult. While the defense made the usual argument of no criminal history, Scott Storey reminded the court - and us - that he has DNA and a confession. He probably has a whole lot more, but.... Arvada and Westminster have not released details that are called "investigative keys" for just the day someone wants to confess. Only the killer, and the cops, know them. If, in his confession, the suspect has these details, it's more likely than not that he's the right asshole. In addition, although the Supreme Court muddied the sentencing waters last term, a juvenile charged as an adult can still get a significantly more severe sentence. With luck, this fellow will never again be free.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No One Left to Lie To - UPDATED

"The truth? You can't handle the truth!"*

This morning, two former US Postal Cycling members confessed to doping. One of them, George Hincapie, rode beside Lance Armstrong for most of his 19 years as a professional cyclist. While not a big surprise, that the truth is finally surfacing is unsettling.

 Labeling "everyone did it" as trite masks a much more complicated situation. Through serial denials and cute comments ("What am I on? I'm on my bike, four hours a day.") Postal tried to convince everyone they were riding clean. During an era when many (most?) of the other riders had tested positive at one point or another during their career, the protestations sounded hollow. Many of Armstrong's friends do not believe him. Yet....