Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Friday, September 03, 2010

God's Will

“Whatever you give away before death for the Lord's sake you give because you cannot take it with you.” Saint Lucia, 304 A.D.

There’s a crazy pastor in Gainesville, Fla., (and there’s no other word for the insanity he has in mind), who’s planning to burn the Koran on Sept. 11th. He’s told Rev. John Rankin (you can read the post on Fox News ( Rev. Jones ) that burning the Koran is “God’s will”, that God told him to do it.

Since Jesus came, God’s will has never been destructive. Jesus gained us God’s forgiveness for our sins. At least, He doesn’t want US to be destructive. Whatever chaos and mayhem is to be done, He wants us to leave it to Him. You might as well say that Sept. 11th was “God’s will.” I don’t believe it was; I believe God looked down on the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and Flight 93 and felt only sorrow and pity.

Building that Victory Mosque two blocks from Ground Zero is wrong. It’s a dishonor to those who died or were injured on 9/11, an affront to the surviving families, an act of defiance towards America, and sure sign of encouragement to terrorists around the world that they have succeeded.

We have a duty to protest this building, at least in this location, in a building damaged on Sept. 11th. We have a duty to censure those who gave the owners permission to build it and insist that they rescind the permit. We also have a duty to forebear from committing violence against it or those who choose to worship in it.

If Jesus were here in the flesh (my Christian tell me he is, indeed, alive in the spirit, that He never died), He’d walk into that mosque and peacefully convert its occupants. We’re not Jesus. We’re imperfect, flesh and blood human beings whom the Muslims will never be persuaded by, particularly if we go around bombing their mosques and burning their holy book, as Rev. Jones says in his column.

We do have a duty, though, to refute their claims of peacefulness and respect for other religions. The newspapers and the Media, history itself, are full of contradictory reports. Everywhere they’ve settled, the violent have followed them and forced the conversion, death, taxation, or flight of the subject population.

Ground Zero is the best evidence of that intention, here in America. That’s why I was always in favor of the Ground Zero reflecting pools. Rebuilding the Towers would be to whitewash what they did and that would be a mistake.

By the law, we can’t stop them from building that Victory Mosque, though Community Board One, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the City could have but didn’t. They can’t stop us, on the other hand, from peacefully protesting what they’re doing.

For our peaceful protests, we’re being called “haters” and “Islamophobes”. Islamophobes? Well, there’s good reason to fear them. There’s no good reason to commit violence, though. I don’t think Jesus would want us to do that. Not that I’m any great expert on Jesus. I’m just a common sinner, myself.

I do think He would expect us to resist their attempts to subjugate us, whether by overpopulating us or blowing up our building. The kind of resistance I suspect He would have in mind to peacefully refuse and refute their doctrine at their peril of our own sacrifice. Let the blood be on their hands, not ours.

That kind of sacrifice takes courage. Courage to refuse to pay their dhimmi (taxes) as the price of remaining Christians, to stand our ground here in America (really, where else is there left to go?), and to defy their threats of imprisonment, injury, and death. Saint Lucia had her eyes put out for refusing to deny her faith.

She consecrated her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan, and had her dowry distributed to the poor. Hearing that she’d given away her dowry (her payment to him to marry her), her would-be husband denounced her as a Christian to the governor of Syracuse, Sicily.

She was ordered to burn a sacrifice to the Roman emperor’s image; she refused. Unable to physically move her (even using a team of oxen, according to legend) or burn her, the guards gouged out her eyes with a fork prior to her execution. She is considered the Patron Saint of the Blind.

We know that the Muslims are blind (at least the Radicals are), though they would deny and take offense at such a suggestion. We know for certain that the Liberals are blind. Anyone who thinks acts of violence are the answer to the Muslim invasion is blind. This Gainesville, Fla., is amazingly blind for a preacher of the Gospel.

Even a sinner like myself knows that. Another infamous Rev. Jones urged his followers to suicide, a needless self-sacrifice that amounted to murder. Burning the Koran is an irresponsible act that will only inflame the unhinged radicals on their side, and lead what will surely amount to an act of unnecessary suicide on the part of many innocent Americans.

Courage, not violence, is the answer.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Swallowing the Happy Pill of Islam

Endorphins ("endogenous morphine") are described by the entry on Wikipedia (note that Wikipedia entries must always be taken with a grain of salt) as endogenous opioid peptides that function as neurotransmitters. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia (inability to feel pain) and a feeling of well-being.

The term “endorphin” implies a pharmacological activity (analogous to the activity of the corticosteroid category of biochemicals) as opposed to a specific chemical formulation. It consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean “a morphine-like substance originating from within the body.”

The term “endorphin rush” has been adopted in popular speech to refer to feelings of exhilaration brought on by pain, danger, or other forms of stress supposedly due to the influence of endorphins. When a nerve impulse reaches the spinal cord, endorphins are released which prevent nerve cells from releasing more pain signals. Immediately after injury, endorphins allow animals to feel a sense of power and control over themselves that allows them to persist with activity for an extended time.

After 9/11, America went into a mourning period. In its grief and pain, patriotism became that analgesic. We imagined we were all one nation, on the same page where the words “liberty” and “freedom” were written. Some of us knew it wasn’t true. The Liberals knew it wasn’t true. They complained quietly about the “saccharine” dose of patriotism they were being forced to swallow. For pragmatic, political reasons, they went along with it.

They have studied the effect over the last nine years, in order that they might make use of it. They ought to know; they’re the experts – they introduced the Drug Culture to America. Now they’re trying to force us to swallow a similar pill in order to accept Islamic dominance.

We’re resisting this false peace they offer, especially among the Tea Party. Americans are now being told that the dangers of Islam are imaginary and paranoid. Anyone who tells you the Muslims are dangerous are nut-jobs. All those pictures of young girls with their noses cut off, of women deprived of their rights, of murdered Christian missionaries and so forth are mere hysteria over the actions of a minority of Muslims.

More than one media pundit is bidding Americans to open their arms and embrace the Muslims, that they’re totally peaceful.  And completely untrustworthy. Even if they are peaceful sheep, just what in the world will stop the murderous kind from coming here and doing the same thing? They’ve already been here. Sept. 11th is a tribute to that crime.  We haven't "won" anything because the battle has only just begun.

Peace and love should be our “weapons”, should they? Well, there’s love and then there’s self-love and the concomitant self-delusion. Shall we act in peace because the other extreme is unthinkable? Or because we can then pat ourselves on the back for promoting peace and love?

Shall we engage in a war to see who can claim to be more peaceful? Every war has its price, and the taille of this “war of peace’ will be our freedom and our liberty. That ought to have been obvious from the Sixties’ culture war. The result was God being expelled from our schools.

Yet now, the support of the erection of this Victory Mosque indicates we’ve returned to the Sixties’ playbook. It’s not just September 10th again – it’s September 10th, c.1968. We’re starting to fall for this nonsense of locking arms and singing kumbaya. That might have been all right for the Blacks of the Civil Rights era – the greatest thing Martin Luther King, Jr., did was to help get those Jim Crow laws abolished. They had reason to lock arms – they were being physically threatened by the KKK as were their rights as Americans.

This is a different threat, one in which America will perish, if we don’t resist those forces trying to destroy it. This is not a war of violence or “hatred”. Since when did it become “hateful” to love our country and want to protect our Constitution?  But throughout history, it's taken a few brave souls to defend the country while the meek stayed at home and waited and prayed.

We must be careful not to swallow the “happy pill”. We should no more swallow the happy pill than we should give into the violent effects of the “anger pill.” This is a war that will not be won on a field of battle but in the voting booth. We can do it peacefully without surrendering our integrity. But we cannot win if we remain silent or allow ourselves to be scolded into silence.

A friend asked me to post his extreme disappointment in Mayor Bloomberg, whom he admired up until this business with the Victory Mosque. A radio commentator noted that Bloomberg has had financial business transactions with foreign Muslim countries, which make his support of this mosque extremely suspect.

A number of pundits are proving themselves to be a disappointment, to say the least. Luckily, we can always just turn the TV or radio off and let them carry on as they will. Clearly, they’ve swallowed the endomorphic happy pill. While they’re busy congratulating themselves on their tolerant attitudes, our enemies are going about the quiet business of trying to conquer America.

Peace can mean just not committing violent acts while standing your ground. Or it can mean locking arms with your enemy. Or it can mean waving the white flag. That bridge the Muslims speak of, As-Sirat, is a one-way bridge – their way.

The true Christians out there must ask themselves how far they’re willing to carry their commitment to peace? The violent Muslims will accept nothing but outright surrender. The so-called “peaceful” Muslims will accept nothing but outright submission.

What will the faithful Christians do when they’re asked – politely – to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ? And when they refuse, and harsher methods of persuasion are employed against them, what will they do? What will they do if it does come to war, one in which America will be forced to yield in the name of peace? Given the choice of life or death, will they die for Christ? Or having surrendered their country and their freedom, will they then surrender their faith in the name of “peace”?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Trust Us

Glenn Beck seems to be under a misimpression: that the people in the Tea Party are afraid of the Media. We are not, for the most part. Maybe HE’S afraid of the Media. The GOP is afraid of the Media. The national Tea Party organizations are afraid of the Media. But the actual people in the Tea Parties are not afraid.

For fifty years, average Americans have allowed the press, and later, The Media, to dictate politics and culture to them. We are truly, what Pres. Nixon once called, "The Silent Majority." Glenn Beck can afford to take on a "warm and fuzzy" mantle of peace and love: he’s a wealthy man with his own microphone.

"Trust me," he says to us. But the Bible says we should trust no one but God. We're in a different situation than the black people of the Sixties. This problem preceded the Sixties by several decades. The government has grown incrementally since FDR's time, and no one has opposed it, until we now face a truly fearful behemoth.

Many Americans have sat for years in fear of the Media and the government, doing nothing and saying nothing, especially when God was expelled from school. The Progressives don't fear God; they don't even believe in Him. At his rally, Glenn was preaching to the choir. No one in the Tea Parties is talking about hurting anyone. But there are many people still hiding behind their doors, their televisions tuned in to the Liberal Media, thinking they don't have a voice. They feel the way we do, but they're afraid of coming out precisely because of the Media.

We are under siege. We must face them down and show them that we're not afraid to speak out. It's not the job of a single person to do; that is why we have no leader, no "heroes." It's just us. Americans. The people with the power of the vote and of freedom of speech. No one is going to do it for us, least of all Glenn, apparently. Nor should he. We must speak for ourselves.

Idealistic platitudes are all very nice, but peace and love aren't going to do it, though neither is violence. That's been the Progressive/Liberal mantra, if you'll recall. That's how they put Americans off their guard. Now Glenn is playing that same card, against the very people who follow him so faithfully.

We know the Media will attack us. They aim their cameras at us like cannons. But like the soldiers Glenn asked us to honor at his rally, we are not afraid to go into the breach. If a soldier in the Korean War could charge alone up a hill against murderous fire, if a Civil War soldier was able to capture an entrenchment of enemies with an empty rifle, if a World War II soldier, on Christmas Eve, could throw himself on a grenade to save the single life of his commanding officer, we have no cause to fear holding up our signs.

Glenn would have us lay down our signs. I ask again: Will he next have us lay down our flag? For I'm sure he couldn't help noticing the South Carolina Confederate flag off to his right at the rally. There will always be infiltrators. Infiltrators have been a presence in every war.

We're strong enough to overcome their influence. We respected Glenn enough not to bring the signs to his rally. He should respect us enough to trust that we know what we're doing and doing what we know we have to do.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No Time for Heroes

The Restoring Honor Rally was a pleasant event enough. What more could you ask for from a gathering than to pay homage to God and the troops who’ve risked, and sacrificed, their lives for freedom?

Much as I like him, however, Glenn Beck became a little overawed by his surroundings. The magnificence of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, the World War II, Korean, and Vietnam memorials are undeniable. But we mustn’t feel defeated by our own icons.

Our media hero got carried away by the prospect of future glory, of the prospect of parents whose children would have marble statues carved out in their honor. That’s all well and good, but we don’t have that much time.

We don’t have the time to wait for some future hero to graduate from Hero University, with a master’s degree in valor, Class of 2026. By that time, they’ll be erecting statues to Obama and Osama Bin Laden.

The time is now. The fight is now. We only have – what is it? - 9 short weeks until the mid-term elections. Certainly, we must pray. But this is no time to lay down the only weapons we have – our signs – on the only ground we can call our own – the Tea Party rallies.

I was listening to Glenn brag this morning about he ‘got us to lay down our signs.’ Furious, I shut the radio off, then went to my favorite lake to contemplate, read, have a little talk with God, and think about what to write here (I’m on vacation from work this week). When some kids started throwing stones at the geese and ducks, I left. I have to learn to go to the lake earlier in the morning, before the miscreants arrive.

There were no signs at the Restoring Honor Rally, though there were a few people (including myself) wearing Tea Party tee shirts. I was going to wear a regular tee shirt (one from Alaska, in honor of Sarah Palin), but then I realized – I’m a leader, or at least a bus captain. My passengers had to know where I stood.

I have three – a red one that reads “Silent Majority”, a white one listing the Tea Party events, and a gold one, with the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on the back. It’s the least favorite of my Tea Party tee shirts, but the easiest to spot, so that’s what I chose.

It’s the least favorite of The Media’s as well. What in the world have they got against that Don’t Tread on Me flag? What gets them so worked up over it? If it makes them that angry, I think I’m going to order some more of them and give them to my family to wear.

Glenn Beck said he didn’t want us to carry signs because The Media would make fun of us. Well, excuse me; if they don’t like our signs, so much the better. I discouraged signs out of courtesy to the host, to the military, and to God, to whom we were supposed to be paying tribute. This rally wasn't the place to be calling attention to ourselves.

But that doesn’t mean that we should lay down our signs permanently. There is no law that says we must obey Glenn Beck’s every command, either, although this rally was his party.

If he thinks we shouldn't carry signs because some infiltrator might sneak in with an embarrassing sign, then at the next rally, we shouldn’t carry American flags, either. Because there at Glenn’s rally, near the Lincoln Memorial where he couldn’t possibly have missed it, was some nutcase bearing a HUGE, red, South Carolina state Confederate/secessionist flag.

In all the video television coverage, I noticed that the cameras studiously avoided it. The mainstream media made absolutely no note of it at all, as far as I can tell. I wondered where their outrage was. Surely, there couldn’t be anything more outrageous than someone waving a version of the Confederate flag in front of the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech?

Still, I’m grateful to that idiot. Whatever that individual’s intention, it certainly made the point about freedom of speech. Shall we now be afraid to wave American flags because some nutjob shows up with the stars and bars? Maybe the Media didn’t recognize it (they’re not big on history). I spotted it immediately. I knew it wasn’t the official Confederate flag, which forms an X, not a cross, but those were surely the same stars.

I snapped a picture of it, then googled the Confederate flag. Sho’ ‘nough, it was South Carolina.

On the radio this morning, Glenn sounded like he was starting to go over to the “other side.” It happens. There has never been an instance of a violent, unruly Tea Party. The signs the Tea Partiers have carried were legitimate. “Common sense” will tell you that if you criticize someone, they’re going to be offended. And isn’t that just too darned bad?

The Media could have used that South Carolina flag against Glenn Beck. Why they didn’t I don’t know, except that they probably just didn’t recognize it. You can’t be afraid of what the Media is going to say. But the GOP is worried about “The Moderates” and media stars like Glenn are worried about ratings and criticism. They want us to lay down our signs like sheep and go “Baaah! Baaah! Baaah!”

What rubbish. There’s a story in the Medal of Honors web site that tells a tale of a charge. During the counter-attack, the men on our side panicked, threw down their weapons, and ran. The charge only succeeded because the Medal of Honor winner called them back and rallied them on. They won the field.

We don’t have time to wait around for a general to show up in a fancy uniform to tell us what to do, to lead us on. If there is such a person, they haven’t stepped forward yet and aren’t likely to. Therefore, we’re going to have to make shift for ourselves.

Those signs are important because they’re the only way we can be sure our voices are heard. Every voice counts. They’re our weapons. If the Progressive Media criticizes and attacks us, we must hold our ground and not break ranks and run.

Neither can we allow mitigating voices to deter us from our duty, make us doubt ourselves, or turn us from the path we know we must follow. The cavalry isn’t going to show up to save us. This is our fight, ours and ours alone. No one can do it for us.

We can’t wait for the next generation, or leave our duty to their posterity. There won’t be a next generation of Americans. We must pick up our signs and our flags and lead the way ourselves, party machine politicians, progressive infiltrators, and media stars notwithstanding.

There’s no time left for heroes. They’re not coming. We’re on our own – and we can do it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Fly-Over

Thank you for the food we eat; Thank you for the world so sweet; Thank you for the birds that sing; Thank you, God, for everything.

The time read 9:59 a.m. on Saturday morning. I was situated on the south side of the Reflecting Pool, somewhere around the middle, just under the shade of the trees. The size of the crowd was impressive and still more people were streaming in. It was just a gorgeous day.

We were all looking forward, literally and figuratively, to the show about to begin on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Suddenly, from the east end of the pool, there was a shout, “Hey, look!” and then there was a rumbling roar from the crowd that swept down the pool. All heads turned.

“What?” I thought in amusement. “Is Glenn Beck making a grand entrance in a boat down the Reflecting Pool to the Memorial, past the throngs of admirers?” But the people were looking up at the sky not down at the pool.

A flock of geese came flying down the reflecting pool in a perfect V formation, straight down the center towards the Memorial. There was such a roar of cheering, clapping, shouting, and whooping. God had cued the geese just in time to start the show.

The Media missed it, though. Our family and friends waiting back home missed it because the Media missed it. Even Glenn Beck himself missed it. I wasn’t ready with my camera, but some prescient person was and the photo is on Glenn Beck’s rally photos website.

The lead goose, it looked to me, gave a worried whew! as he flew on by. I know how he felt. But what a sight! It was so inspiring. All of us there knew it was God’s handiwork. Skeptics will probably try to claim that Glenn Beck staged it or something. Other skeptics will call it a coincidence (one minute before the show was to start).

I’m not what you would call a “religious” person. I don’t read my Bible on a daily basis, though I do poke my nose into it once awhile to make sure God and I are on the same page. I don’t go to church regularly. I used to, as part of a church’s band. But we stopped going (much to my consternation – God was good to me in that church – I had a brand new xylophone, a beautiful set of orchestra bells, a student vibraphone, and electronic chimes: what more could a bell player want?).

I’m a die-hard Tea Partier. I love the rallies. I love the signs. I love the cheering crowds. But Beck wanted this to be about God, and that was okay by me. I might have preferred the tea partyish 9/12 rally instead, but my schedule simply wouldn’t allow it.

If I was going to be part of any big scene, this Restoring Honor Rally was it. He billed it as a tribute to the military and gave hints that it would also have a spiritual element. Asking for God’s help; I was cool with that.

When he spoke about getting right with God again, I looked over the massive crowd, most of hidden by the trees, though anyone on the ground could easily see the great number of people gathered together.

A moment of justice had arrived and I was glad to be part of it. This was for all the school boards who stopped school choirs and bands from playing Christmas carols. This was for all the municipal boards who forced the Nativity scene to be removed from public squares. This was for all the military chaplains forced to perform rites against their faith. This was for all the high school football coaches who could no longer lead their young teams in prayer.

This was for the milk and cookies prayer ban.

When I was five, in kindergarten, we had a daily ritual at milk and cookies time. Our teacher would lead us in a simple little prayer to give thanks for our blessing of milk and cookies. Once a week, a student was allowed to lead the prayer. The students were chosen alphabetically; it took a long time for my turn to come around.

Finally, the week came. I practiced and practiced and memorized and memorized. I was so excited; this was such an honor, that I wanted to make sure I got every word right. My father, an agnostic who’d been ex-communicated from the Catholic church for marrying a Lutheran woman who refused to raise us in the Catholic faith, helped me.

At milk and cookies time, I stood up, ready to do the honors. Instead, the teacher told me to sit down; that there would be no prayer that day.

“But today’s my turn!” I protested. “I’ve been practicing and practicing all week!”

She apologized. She explained it wasn’t anything that I’d done wrong. A court had ruled that prayers in schools were unconstitutional – illegal – against the law. I’d heard something about it on the radio that morning, but only being five, I didn’t really understand. I thought it just meant that preachers couldn’t come into schools with their Bibles. I didn’t think it meant that little children couldn’t say a little prayer of thanksgiving over their milk and cookies.

Being five, I wept bitterly. I was so disappointed. Not just became I’d done all that work for nothing, but because I regarded God as my friend. He looked after all of us, I was taught. You could trust Him, in a way you couldn’t trust anyone else. If He wasn’t there to protect us, who would? I was angry and swore an oath that I would never memorize anything again.

Glenn Beck gave God an invitation to his rally on Aug. 28th and God accepted. The geese were his messengers, acknowledging the invitation.

Thank you for the flowering valley; Thank you for the Glenn Beck Rally; Thank you for the flying geese; Thank you, God, for restoring peace!

Restoring Honor - and Courage

“What makes the pyramids of Egypt the seventh wonder?
What makes the dawn come up like thunder?
Who put the “ape” in apricot?
What have they got that I haven’t got?”

“Courage.” The Wizard of Oz

Rome wasn’t built in a day, goes the old cliché. I suppose we’re not going to restore honor to America all in one day, or put God in His proper place, or convince Progressives that when we say we intend to “take America back” we don’t mean back in time; we mean from them.

I couldn’t help myself at Glenn Beck’s rally. He was talking about being surrounded by giants on The Mall in D.C. – the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial across the pond – he said that once upon a time they were average people just like us. Glenn then asked the question, what did they have that we haven’t got? I just couldn’t help it – I was instantly reminded of the scene from the Wizard Oz, and the response – “Courage.”

If we’d had courage, we wouldn’t be in this predicament. For the last fifty years or so, our courage has taken a nose-dive. We’re still too timid. We’re still too afraid of The Media, of the Progressives, and of our authoritarian politicians. My courage failed me in the end. But only at the very end.

I was one of five bus “czars” – captains. Our responsibilities only pertained to our own buses. For my part, I kept my bus and passengers in ship-shape order. I kept them fully informed of what they could expect, when the bus would leave, what would, or wouldn’t happen when we got there, what kind of problems we might run into (in the end, none).

One of the other czars convinced me to stop at a rest area on I-95 so we could all gather together, go into D.C. as a caravan. I didn’t it was likely to work once we got into the city, with all its traffic lights. I was surrounded by a cadre of experienced bus drivers who knew the same thing – and said so. Still, I wasn’t opposed to us keeping together.

But I had informed my passengers very early on that we wouldn’t be stopping. When we pulled I told them, we were only stopping to rally, not to go in. We couldn’t afford the time. I had to get off myself because we were next to a diesel truck. When I got the other czar on the phone, it turns out he was already in the restaurant with his passengers.

I told him we would not be joining him, that my passengers were anxious to get on the road; that they hadn’t intended to stop and neither had I. Then I hung up on him and ran back to my bus. We were in tandem with another bus that had left the same location we had. I’d failed to tell my colleague not to let her passengers off. About half her passengers were gone.

Since it was my fault, I told her I would go in and chase them again, and I did. I circled the building, calling out the group’s name, my flag in my hand. Some were on the restroom line. “Get back to your bus! You can use the lavatory there!” Others were on the coffee line. If their order wasn’t being processed, I told them to get on their way. They gave me raspberries. But by the time I got back out to the bus, they were hustling along. Within ten minutes, my colleague’s passengers were all back (one of mine had disappeared, too, but he was back shortly.) The other bus was now ready to go but the driver had vanished to get some coffee.

With an assurance from our driver that the other guy knew the way (better, in fact, than he did), we got back under way.  Even with some delays at the start, waiting for the other bus to load and the unfortunate delay at the rest area, we still arrived in D.C. by 9 a.m. and were unloading before 9:30.

So far my courage hadn’t failed me. During the trip, I was in charge of entertainment. I brought along some of the best war films in my DVD collection. At first my passengers balked. “Oh great, The Longest Day, a movie we’ve all seen,” one groused. It was to remind them that we were honoring the courage of our military, that this wasn’t a political rally. I had Saving Private Ryan, too, but I considered it somewhat negative and way too gorey.

The other buses had been given “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” A fine movie that had nothing to do with saluting the military or getting back on the same page wit God. At the stop, the other bus’s passengers were complaining about. I’d anticipated that problem and brought some extra movies for the other bus – Glory and The Patriot.

The Longest Day is also the longest movie. There wasn’t time going down to D.C. for a double feature, so I filled in the time with a reading of The Gettysburg Address and a little talk about the Medal of Honor winners.

We weren’t sure our buses would be able to pick us up in the same place, but they did. It would be the only time we were all together. My bus filled up first. My passengers evidently took the movie seriously considered themselves soldiers, bound to keep to the schedule. We were waiting on one last passenger. As I was about to tell them another story to keep them amused when my cell phone rang. It was a passenger from one of our buses and another location. Someone directed him to RFK stadium, which was not where our buses picked us up.

I told him there was still time and to get on the Metro right away, and told him where we were. But he was upset and not listening. I asked him what bus he’d been on and he told me. My passengers didn’t want me to leave, but as our last passenger still hadn’t arrived (a husband and wife who got separated), I jumped out and ran back to the bus with the passengers’ name and phone number.

I won’t tell you what he said for the sake of inside politics. But he wanted me to repeat that message to the passenger. I refused. I told him it was his passenger; he would have to call him and give him that message.

I stormed back to my bus. I looked helplessly at my own bus. My passengers were all board. It was a matter of going straight down Independence Avenue, finding this lost passenger (I had extra seats) and then getting on I-95.

That would have been the brave thing to do. But not necessarily the right thing. It was still the other bus czar’s responsibility. I didn’t know whether he would really give the passenger the callous answer he gave me, or give the guy a break and wait for him. My responsibility to my own passengers was to get the bus on the road; they were all on board.

My passengers knew what happened, and they had pretty much the same attitude as that other bus captain. That never would have happened on this bus, I told them. They weren’t happy to hear that, but didn’t really protest since we were on our way. Still I had the feeling we weren’t doing the right thing. And yet, we just had to hope for the best.

I’d forgotten to bring my lunch; my sandwich was home in my refrigerator, and I had left the snacks I brought on the bus. Out on The Mall, all I had was water and tiny Diet Cokes. By the time I got back to the bus and got us underway, I was starving.

I figured, except for any emergencies, my duty was done, and I set to eating. Then my phone rang again. I expected it was one of the other captains with some notion of stopping for dinner, which to my relief, my own passengers negatived. They just wanted to get home and so did I. My cell phone which I had kept handy until that point, fell into my snack bag and I just left it there.

The first time it rang, I was so tired and annoyed, that I ignored. Sometime later, much farther up the road, it rang again and a little voice told me that it might be a good idea to answer it this time. It had stopped ringing, but I found the received calls section and when I pressed the number, it rang (I generally haven’t much use for cell phones except in emergencies, so I’m not totally in tune with how they operate).

To my dismay, the first missed call was the stranded passenger. The second call was an unknown area code and the caller never identified herself. The reverse call-back, I found later, revealed some location in Sykesville, Maryland… They wanted to know if my passenger had arrived safely.

“We put your passenger on a bus back to The Mall as soon as we could. Did he arrive?”

I didn’t know, I told her because we left immediately after that. I explained that he was a passenger on another bus belonging to another location, that I had notified the captain on that bus, but didn’t know anything further. At first, she was remonstrative but realized it was out of my hands. I told her that bus was only half filled when I left and that they were still waiting and it’s possible he did make it. It was four p.m. when I returned her call and she said they’d sent him back and an hour and a half earlier, which meant
2:30 p.m.

I wondered if I hadn’t made a mistake. That I should have called the president of our organization, as I usually did. I did early on in the process for another passenger who wanted to ride on my bus. But that was days before the trip when managing the matter was much easier. I couldn’t even understand how someone who wasn’t my passenger got my number. Why didn’t he call the person in charge of his own bus?

Did he get the same answer I heard? Why didn’t he listen to me and get on the Metro right away like I told him to? He would have had enough time. In any case, why was that captain as well as my passengers (and probably his own) so retributive? Who knows why he listened to the wrong directions – probably from some transit official or organizer. It was irrelevant – he was stranded, and rather stubborn, I thought.

Whatever the case, hadn’t they been listening to what Glenn Beck said about charity? That it’s not just about giving money to some “charitable” cause, but demonstrating charity (as in forgiveness)? That it’s not about judging people or “teaching them lessons?”

But maybe God was testing us and we all failed. I failed the test in courage, the other captain in charity, and the stranded passenger in faith and hope (as in he put faith in the wrong directions). Actually, Glenn didn’t talk about courage, his words are faith, hope and charity. But I did and found I couldn’t live up to my own words. I didn’t have the courage to withstand my own mutinous passengers and direct my bus driver down to that stadium to pick up the stray passenger (goodness knows how I would have gotten him back to his own location back home).

Then again, this was my first experience leading this particular kind of group. I had 18 years of experience with the band, but there I was an officer with formal authority. Here, I was just a sort of deputy. If I’d had any authority, I would overridden the other captain’s authority and ordered that bus driver to either wait or go over to the stadium and pick the passenger up.

Meanwhile, I played two more movies for my passengers on the way back: Memphis Belle and Casablanca. Memphis Belle is a terrific movie that got panned by the Liberal critics. It was too positive for them, I guess. There was a critical point in the movie I wanted my passengers to take note of: when the Belle’s captain has to make a crucial decision, drop the bombs through the cloud cover, possibly missing their target and hitting civilian targets instead, abandon the mission altogether, or go around again, which his crew regards as suicide.

He thinks it over while precious minutes are passing. To his crew’s dismay, he orders them to go around again. If they don’t, some other crew will only have to come back again another day and risk their lives to do the job they failed to do. “It’s our job; ours, and no one else’s,” he says. It also helped that the song Amazing Grace, which we’d heard at the rally, was one of the movie’s two theme songs.

But Casablanca, the second movie, was the miracle movie. Within five minutes, the sound on the disk (not the system) failed. The passengers were unhappy with the selection anyway. They’d seen it a hundred times, they said. “It was just on the another night.” Yes, I countered, but there are two scenes (actually three) that are critical to the day’s theme, I said.

When the sound went out, I thought, well, there goes the object lesson. But just when all seemed lost, the sound burst back into operation just as the French police raid Rick’s Americain Café and try to arrest Ugarte, who had murdered the couriers carrying the transit papers. Ugarte begs Rick to help him, but Rick tells him tough luck. “I stick my neck out for no one.” Selfish? It’s the answer you get when you commit a dishonorable act (even if the couriers were Nazis).

The passengers were startled when the sound came back on, because in order to hear anything, I had to have the driver turn the volume all the way up. He lowered it immediately. Then the sound went out again for quite awhile, and the driver turned the volume up again.

Everyone was chatting and dozing off. I saw the second scene coming that I’d wanted my passengers to note, when Viktor Lazlo has the band play the French anthem. I sighed and thought “Oh well.” The sound came back on just as the trumpets blared. My passengers nearly jumped out of their seats, and again, the driver was forced to lower the volume.

After the scene ended, the sound went out yet again. I thought, “Well, now they’re going to miss the third point.” I watched as a silent Rick tells a tearful but now silent Ilsa why she has to get on the plane. Just as Viktor returns, the sound came back on as he was asking her if she was ready to go. She goes to his side and tells Rick quietly, though it boomed over the speaker system, “God Bless You.”

Then the sound cut out again as the plane was leaving, though it came back just as the finale music played. I had yet another movie I could have played for them, “Executive Decision” but I asked them if they were all movied-out and they said, “Yes, but thank you for asking us.” Instead of inflicting it on them.

Glenn Beck said that we need real life heroes. But often we don’t recognize heroes until it’s far too late to acknowledge them and their stories have to be retold in books and movies. He presented his own badges of merit to three people the audience barely knew anything about, one for faith, one for hope, and one for charity.

Even with the stuff of legends, books and movies, our eyes tend to glaze over and we become inattentive to their import. It takes an Almighty God indeed, to take away our sight and our sound, and then restore it at a crucial moment to make us more appreciative of miracles like courage, honor, charity, and self-sacrifice.