All posts by mrossol

Married, 1st generation American, Christian, conservative, GCC parent, Agribusiness manager, long-time Mac-owner, in Ohio.

Memorial Day..

 

Memorial Day Remembrance by S. Michael Craven

Each year, high school baseball players across the country who are homeschooled compete for a few coveted spots in the Homeschool World Series. Our son’s team made it all the way to the national championship game two year’s ago—his senior year—in Pensacola, Florida.

It was a special end to a wonderful season in our life as a family. With the incredible growth of homeschooling, commensurate athletic programs have followed, providing homeschooled students an even richer educational experience. This is no “powder puff” program. The Homeschool World Series, which began in 2000, boasts an impressive alumni. Many former players have gone on to play at the collegiate level and some have even gone on to play in the Majors. However, there is one young man in particular, who stands above them all: Ryan Adam Miller from Pearland, Texas, a suburb of Houston.

Ryan played in the 2004 Homeschool World Series with the Houston Eagles. Unlike many former players, Ryan was unable to continue his baseball career because on his eighteenth birthday he entered the United States Marine Corps. Despite the fact that Ryan was eligible to play another year of high school baseball, he felt a strong need to graduate early so he could enlist in the Marines like his father and grandfather before him.

On September 14, 2006, Lance Corporal Ryan Adam Miller, age 19, was killed in action while serving near Barwanah, Iraq. The son of two retired Houston police officers, Ryan had planned on following his parents into police work upon discharge from the Marine Corps—another indication of Ryan’s sense of selfless duty and commitment. The brief memorial on the Homeschool World Series Web site reports that “Ryan and his squad were returning to base when an insurgent detonated an explosive device. Ryan was hit by shrapnel. He never cried out or said a word but continued to walk for another 5 meters, then collapsed, as he was already in the presence of the Lord.” While I did not know this young man personally, every report indicates that he was a man of sincere faith, strong convictions, and gallant courage.

For more than two centuries, America has produced generation after generation of extraordinary young men like Ryan Miller (and yes, some women) who have answered the call to defend freedom. Some, like Ryan, have paid the ultimate price. It is these that we honor on Memorial Day as we celebrate those loftier virtues that have secured some measure of peace and liberty in a fallen world.

Despite the growing number of their contemporaries who are so often narcissistic and careless in the cultivation of any virtue, we continue to produce remarkable young men and women like Ryan. They predominantly come from small towns and middle– to lower–working class families. In general, they have not been to college (yet), although they average higher scores than their civilian counterparts in both intelligence and aptitude tests. They average twenty years of age and remain generally idealistic about such things as duty, honor, and country. In many ways, they represent the very best of this nation.

I myself served alongside them in the United States Navy some twenty-seven years ago. I remember, even as a very young man, being deeply impressed by the dedication and character that was common to so many in the military. It was the first environment (and one of the few) in which I encountered idealism of a noble and selfless nature.

It is astounding to consider that the most powerful military force in the history of the world is comprised entirely of volunteers! These are men and women who have, by their own free choice, set aside their personal freedom and dedicated themselves to serving a higher purpose: justice and liberty.

It is this attitude of self-sacrifice for the greater good (or “other-centeredness”) that is absolutely essential to the strength and longevity of any society. If we as a nation continue to neglect the cultivation of true virtue among young people and instead immerse them in a culture that only encourages their most sensate and base desires, we will, in time, see such noble men and women disappear. Simply put, there will be none willing to risk the ultimate sacrifice in defense of anything so abstract as “ideals.” They will not care about such things because they weren’t taught to; and as a society we will lose something essential to our preservation, without which this nation will not endure.

I am awed by the conduct and commitment of our young people serving in the U.S. military today. (I am proud to say that our son currently serves among them in the Marine Corps).

Sure there have been a few “bad apples”—but this is inevitable given the hundreds of thousands of people represented, drawn from a society suffering moral decay. However, the overall conduct of American military forces is remarkable.

The juxtaposition of America’s overwhelming military might with her compassionate aid and the empathy of American servicemen is astonishing. This is not typical of military institutions throughout history or even those operating in the world today. This compassion is personal and individual within an institution that by its very definition exists to deliver brute lethal force. This remains one of the more obvious (yet often unrecognized) residual effects of the historical Christian influence on Western civilization.

(Military establishments outside the West do not invest billions of dollars creating “smart” bombs in order to minimize civilian casualties or operate under “rules of engagement.” Other cultures care little about such things and some intentionally target noncombatants as an acceptable tactic in warfare.)

This Memorial Day I encourage us all to pay homage to those who have given all they have for the unmerited benefit of so many. To give honor to whom honor is due. To Ryan Miller and so many others, we owe a great debt, a debt we can only pay in remembrance. One of the ways we remember them is to preserve the ideals and values they fought to defend and pass them along to our children. Secondly, we must teach our children to remember and honor those who have given so much for their benefit.

In the same way we also remember the One who gave of himself for the unmerited benefit of so many. We cannot pay our debt to him—so instead we surrender the entirety of our being to him and cast ourselves upon his redeeming work and amazing grace. If we truly honor Christ as Lord, then we will pass his ideals and values on to our children and teach them to remember his great sacrifice for them. The responsibility for transmitting truth and virtue from one generation to the next lies in the hands of the passing generation. May we be faithful in both instances!

© 2011 by S. Michael Craven

Michael’s commentary is published every Monday on Crosswalk.com, Christianity.com, and The Christian Post. You can also subscribe via email or RSS feed.

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Take Your Green Back

Professors to Koch Brothers: Take Your Green Back – WSJ.com.

This “political correctness” happens not just in Universities, although it seems to find very welcoming arms there, but in both the public and private “marketplace”.  E.g. companies frown on, at best, expressions of support for the free enterprise system.

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Times are tough for state-funded colleges like Florida State University. After four years of budget trimming, FSU now faces an additional $19 million in cuts and a $40 million deficit. So it’s an inopportune moment to raise a stink over private donations of $1.5 million made three years ago.

But that’s just what two FSU professors—Ray Bellamy of the College of Medicine and Kent Miller, professor emeritus of psychology—did earlier this month in an op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat, arguing that the donations are “seriously damaging to academic freedom.”  [What a bunch of …] The piece set off a firestorm of warring newspaper editorials, blog posts and online petitions.

What’s the beef? Like many large private gifts, the $1.5 million to FSU was given to endow programs in a designated subject specified by the donors. The professors’ problem in this case is the subject, the strings attached, and, most important, who the donors are.

The subject being endowed, as described by the two protesting professors, is the “political ideology of free markets and diminished government regulation.” That’s an inflammatory way to describe a program which, according to its founding documents, is to study “the foundations of prosperity, social progress, and human well-being.” Such a program would seem to fit right into its home at FSU’s Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education, which was founded in 1988.

Then there’s the donors. One of the donors, according to the two professors, is known for his “efforts to influence public policy, elections, taxes, environmental issues, unions, regulations, etc.”

Whom might they be referring to? Certainly not George Soros—there’s never an objection to that billionaire’s donations, which always tend toward the political left. No, it’s Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries. With revenue estimated at about $100 billion, the energy and chemicals conglomerate is America’s second-largest privately held company. The Koch brothers tend to give to right-leaning and libertarian causes. Koch money was instrumental, for example, in founding the Cato Institute and the Libertarian Party.

As for the strings attached, there’s really only one of any substance. An advisory board, selected by the Koch brothers’ charitable foundation in consultation with the FSU economics department, reviews and approves professors chosen for the program before funding is released.

A story two weeks ago in the St. Petersburg Times claimed that “Koch rejected nearly 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions” in the first round of hiring in 2009. But according to FSU President Eric Barron in a subsequent op-ed for the same newspaper, what really happened was that the board—two of whose three members are themselves FSU faculty—approved for further interviews 16 out of 50 faculty suggestions, which had been culled by faculty from 500 applicants. Neither of the two professors ultimately hired was from among the 16, and the board was fine with that.

But the left won’t be satisfied as long as the Kochs are involved. An editorial in last weeks’ St. Petersburg Times called FSU “For Sale University.” Progress Florida, a leftist online organizing group opposing the Koch-funded program, is pushing a petition claiming that FSU has agreed to “sell off the hiring decisions of the university’s economics department to a radical ideologue.” The ultimate aim, according to Progress Florida? To turn it into an “incubator for extremist propaganda.”

Good academic results won’t change their minds. The two professors who started all this complained in their op-ed that “George Mason University received over $23 million from Koch brothers foundations to hire seven libertarian professors,” as though “libertarian” were a term of opprobrium. David Rasmussen, dean of FSU’s College of Social Sciences, in a letter to the Tallahassee Democrat, countered that “these ‘libertarian’ professors are among the nation’s leading experimental economists. The research group’s leader, Professor Vernon Smith, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics while at George Mason.”

No matter. Succumbing to the pressure from organizations like Progress Florida with their petition to “Stop the Koch Brothers,” FSU President Barron announced this week that the Koch gift would be reviewed. He also said that processes would be put in place to allow faculty to vet gifts that might impinge on academic freedom.

The issue at FSU isn’t that the university has bargained away its academic freedom. The problem is that FSU has exercised its academic freedom in a way that the political left disapproves of. As Mr. Rasmussen put it to the St. Petersburg Times: “If somebody says, ‘We’re willing to help support your students and faculty by giving you money, but we’d like you to read this book,’ that doesn’t strike me as a big sin. What is a big sin is saying that certain ideas cannot be discussed.”

Mr. Luskin is chief investment officer at Trend Macrolytics LLC and the co-author with Andrew Greta of “I Am John Galt,” just published by Wiley & Sons.

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Israel, or Should we say Palestinians?

Notable & Quotable – WSJ.com.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor speaking to the AIPAC conference, May 22:

The following story illustrates Israel’s dilemma. A Palestinian woman from Gaza arrives at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for lifesaving skin treatment for burns over half her body. After the conclusion of her extensive treatment, the woman is invited back for follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic. One day she is caught at the border crossing wearing a suicide belt. Her intention? To blow herself up at the same clinic that saved her life.

What kind of culture leads one to do that? Sadly, it is a culture infused with resentment and hatred. It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians’ and the broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not about the ’67 lines.

And until Israel’s enemies come to terms with this reality, a true peace will be impossible.

And the reality, as we say in Hebrew, is “Ahm Yisrael Chai: The people of Israel live. And what they want is to live in peace. If the Palestinians want to live in peace in a state of their own, they must demonstrate that they are worthy of a state.

To Mr. Abbas, I say: Stop the incitement in your media and your schools. Stop naming public squares and athletic teams after suicide bombers. And come to the negotiating table when you have prepared your people to forego hatred and renounce terrorism—and Israel will embrace you. Until that day, there can be no peace with Hamas. Peace at any price isn’t peace; it’s surrender. For the survival of Israel, for the security of America and peace of the world, now is that time and right here is the place to begin.

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