Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Helping Our Kids

Here's a great way we can all support our young soldiers and Marines overseas and help keep their morale up. The USO, with the help of AT&T, is running a program whereby they provide phone cards for our servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan to enable them to make calls home.

Each card costs fifteen dollars (AT&T is not making any profit from the cards). We can purchase cards for donation (as many as we wish)to military personnel by dialing 1-877-522-7000 and charging the cost to our credit card. The USO will see that the cards are delivered.

It's the very least we can do.

Keeping Abreast of the War

Belmont Club, Strategy Page, The Fourth Rail, and Adventures of Chester continue to provide fascinating insight, reportage, and analysis of the current military situation in Iraq. A visit to any of these sites will produce a lot of very interesting and informative reading.

Uneducated Educators

Stories of bone-headed public school administrators are frequently in the news. Here's one at Captain's Quarters about an administrator in Maryland who will not permit any mention of the fundamental significance of Thanksgiving:

Young students across the state read stories about the Pilgrims and Native Americans, simulate Mayflower voyages, hold mock feasts and learn about the famous meal that temporarily allied two very different groups.

But what teachers don't mention when they describe the feast is that the Pilgrims not only thanked the Native Americans for their peaceful three-day indulgence, but repeatedly thanked God.

"We teach about Thanksgiving from a purely historical perspective, not from a religious perspective," said Charles Ridgell, St. Mary's County Public Schools curriculum and instruction director. School administrators statewide agree, saying religion never coincides with how they teach Thanksgiving to students.

Of course not. Why teach students that Thanksgiving was historically a religious observance? Why teach students that it began as an expression of thankfulness to God and was officially proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln to be a day of gratitude to God? We can't do this, these administrators are convinced, because that would be to graft a religious lesson onto a history lesson, and somehow, they intuit, that would be wrong.

Perhaps someone will inform these "educators" that by teaching about Thanksgiving "from a purely historical perspective" they are making nonsense of both the day and its history. Mr. Ridgell evidently thinks that one can isolate historical events from their context and still teach history, as if the events can be understood apart from the circumstances which cause them. Who or what does Mr. Ridgell think the pilgrims were thanking? How meaningful is any historical discussion of Thanksgiving apart from an accurate understanding of its purpose?

We wish we could say that Mr. Ridgell is in the minority among school administrators and bureaucrats, but we suspect he is not. There are, of course, many fine people in school administration, but too many of them, for all their degrees, are often among the least well-educated individuals on a school faculty. They are not infrequently people who originally went into education to coach, taught subjects which required minimal academic or scholarly preparation, found the demands of the classroom uncongenial, and when finished coaching settled upon a career in administration as an escape. They often read nothing of academic or intellectual merit beyond a few sterile education journals and many of them can scarcely write a coherent, grammatically correct paragraph. Their greatest concern is not to provide the best education possible for students but rather to keep their school boards and parents happy and to stay out of court.

It's little wonder, then, that administrators like Mr. Ridgell don't understand that the religious motivations and beliefs of the pilgrims are an essential aspect of the history of Thanksgiving and that ignoring these only distorts and corrupts history.

Incredible Young Men

Another account of yet another American hero is posted at Captain's Quarters:

Sgt. Rafael Peralta built a reputation as a man who always put his Marines' interests ahead of his own. He showed that again, when he made the ultimate sacrifice of his life Tuesday, by shielding his fellow Marines from a grenade blast....

One of the first Marines to enter the house, Peralta was wounded in the face by rifle fire from a room near the entry door, said Lance Cpl. Adam Morrison, 20, of Tacoma, who was in the house when Peralta was first wounded.

Moments later, an insurgent rolled a fragmentation grenade into the area where a wounded Peralta and the other Marines were seeking cover.

As Morrison and another Marine scrambled to escape the blast, pounding against a locked door, Peralta grabbed the grenade and cradled it into his body, Morrison said. While one Marine was badly wounded by shrapnel from the blast, the Marines said they believe more lives would have been lost if not for Peralta's selfless act.

"He saved half my fire team," said Cpl. Brannon Dyer, 27, of Blairsville, Ga.

There are so many incredible young men and women serving in our military. Our nation really doesn't deserve them. We elevate to celebrity status the worst elements in our society, the thugs and the aesthetes, we pay them millions of dollars to amuse us. We make heroes out of criminals, drug addicts, and porn stars. We very nearly worship them. And men like Rafael Peralta fight and die in obscurity defending us from the Islamists who see clearly the decadence of our culture, despise us for it, and yearn to purge the earth of our presence.

Their mistake is that they see a part, a substantial part to be sure, and assume it is the whole. They fail to discern that amidst a debased popular culture there is still much that is good and noble and excellent in America. They fail to recognize that we are still a nation that, in addition to all the superficiality, banality, and degeneracy of those who comprise our celebrity class, can still produce such as Rafael Peralta. As long as we are a nation which breeds such men the Islamist savages will not win.