Memorial Day Honors Men and Women Who Paid The Ultimate Price

Every year as Memorial Day approaches we’re all reminded through various media that we should remember what Memorial Day is really about. That we have this long weekend, not to kick off summer, but to honor those who gave all fighting for our country — and for those of us who haven’t served, on our behalf.

Very few Americans intentionally ignore that aspect of Memorial Day, the memorializing part. It’s likely more to do with the fact that the number of Americans who have lost someone they knew personally during wartime, particularly in the last generation, is a blessedly small number. But whether we knew them or not, this day is the one day a year we set aside to pay our respects to the men and women who died serving their country.

It is truly a blessing we live in a time when the true purpose of the holiday hasn’t touched home for so many of us. For those it has, one day of decoration and remembrance no doubt seems insufficient. Regardless, it is up to us to remember the countless Americans who died in battle, not to pick up more hot dog buns on the next beer run.

Every Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, I go with my mother and her first cousin, Sharon, and usually a handful of other relatives, to lay wreaths and flags at the headstones of family members who served in the military, all during wartime. Not to diminish their service, these men thankfully all made it home and raised families and lived their lives for several decades after returning from war.

I’ve walked through the rows at Woodlawn Cemetery in Ferndale, Washington for as long as I can remember. My sisters and I only ever knew our great grandparents in pictures and as the names on a headstone with “JOHNSON” taking up the entire upper half. Over the years, Edna and Melvin’s children have all buried nearby. A luxury Edna’s own grandparents knew they’d never have with their son, Henry.

Henry Christen was my last relative on either side of my family to die while serving in the military.


While both sides of my family have traceable roots in America to pre-Revolutionary War days, Henry was the son of German immigrants — not necessarily a desirable thing. His father, Charles, was forced to sign a “Declaration of Intent” in May of 1918, rejecting any allegiance or fidelity to “William II, German Emperor,” despite the fact that he’d immigrated 47 years prior.

Working with his family in the logging industry, Henry left the mountains enlisted in Bellingham, Washington, a month to the day after turning 28 in 1918. By August he was on the frontlines in France. I have yet to research all the details of where the 364th Infantry was fighting in October, but somewhere along the way, Henry was wounded. On October 21, he succumbed to his wounds and was buried 5,000 miles from home in the St. Mihiel American Cemetery in Thiaucourt, France. 

In 1929, his mother, Johanna, was asked by the Mother’s Pilgrimage if she would like to make the trip to her son’s grave. Apparently, at 74, my 4x great grandmother had decided one trip across the Atlantic in her lifetime was enough, as she declined.

These are the men and women we remember and honor today. While it’s human to ignore the things we’re removed from and propensity to relax and celebrate on holidays, that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook for appreciating the real reason we get to do so and those no longer here to relax with us.

There are men and women, like Henry, throughout American history and it’s only right to seek them out, learn their names, and honor them on Memorial Day.

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WATCH: Gov. Matt Bevin Gives The Media A Piece of His Mind (Video)

At a press conference on Friday, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) gave the media what they asked for and delivered a point by point rundown on why he, according to them, gives short shrift to news reporters.

Bevin addressed several issues he says the media is deliberately falsely reporting or simply not doing “a little homework” on before running the stories simply because they don’t agree with him politically. He points specifically to the “breaking” story that Bevin hadn’t paid his taxes yet.

What wasn’t reported was that Democratic Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher owed twice as much of the same tax and hadn’t paid his either. All of which was legal for both men, as Kentucky has three windows in which one may pay their owed taxes.

Local media have most recently fixated on the purchase price of his house. A story that Bevin claims has at least one reporter acting like “Peeping Tom.”

Bevin also mocked the characterization by the media of an appointment to the board of the chronically failing Kentucky Retirement System as a “reward.”

“Really? You think that’s a lottery pick? Do any of you want to sit on the worst-funded pension system in the state that has been ignored year after year after year?”

The entire 13-minute video is worth watching and available below:

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WWII Veteran Acts As Niece’s “Something Blue” On Her Wedding Day

World War II veteran Bill Lee Eblen, 92, recovered from a bout of pneumonia just in time to be his niece’s “something blue” at her wedding this month.

“When I first I got engaged I knew I wanted to include Uncle Bill in a special way,” Ferrell told Fox News. “My family always taught us to have a lot of respect for people in the armed forces. It just seemed like the perfect fit.”

According to his niece, Alison Ferrell, Eblen was a sergeant in the Marine Corps during WWII, and was later a sergeant in the Air Force Korean War.

Eblen dressed in his Marin Corps blues on the wedding day and carried a sign down the aisle saying, “I’m her something blue.”

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Foreign Policy Fixture Zbigniew Brzezinski Dies At 89

MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski, announced on Friday via Instagram that her father, Zbigniew Brzezinski has passed away.

My father passed away peacefully tonight. He was known to his friends as Zbig, to his grandchildren as Chief and to his wife as the enduring love of her life. I just knew [sic] his as the most inspiring, loving and devoted father any girl could have. I love you Dad #HailToTheChief

Zbigniew Brzezinski was born in Warsaw, Poland in March of 1928. After attending school and university in Canada, he came to the United States to attend Harvard.

He would go on to advise President Lyndon Johnson and later serve as Pres. Carter’s National Security Advisor. His work in the field of political science and foreign policy — particularly his work in undermining Soviet influence in satellite countries — for better or worse, made him a notable figure for over five decades.

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House GOP Open Internal Review Over Leaked Audio of Private Meeting

Republican leadership in the House have launched an internal review to find out who recorded audio of a private meeting between four GOP leaders — Speaker Paul Ryan (Wisc.), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) — and a handful of top aides. The recording of the June 2016 meeting was subsequently leaked to The Washington Post.

Among comments made during the meeting that’s been an uncomfortable situation for Republicans are discussions of Russia and the Ukraine.

“Russia is trying to turn Ukraine against itself,” Ryan told the group.

“Yes,” McMorris Rodgers agreed, “and that’s  … it’s sophisticated and it’s, uh—”

“Maniacal,” Ryan chimed in.

As well as a “bad attempt at a” joke about then-candidate Donald Trump from McCarthy,

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” Mr. McCarthy said. Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, is known as Mr. Putin’s most vigorous defender in Congress.

A spokesman for Ryan denied the report that the exchange had happened until made aware that The Post had a recording.

The person leadership is apparently most suspicious of is former CIA officer and then-policy aide to McMorris Rodgers, Evan McMullin. In the months after the meeting, McMullin launched an independent bid for president. Since the election he has been an outspoken, reflexive anti-Trump figure, and has said he’s considering running for Utah’s Sen. Orrin Hatch or Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s seats. The McMullin camp has reiterated the fact that there is no proof that McMullin was the one who recorded or leaked the audio.

Regardless, whether McMullin made the recording or not, GOP leadership reportedly consider him a likely suspect.

No matter who made the recording, the culprit would face no criminal charges as D.C.’s wiretapping laws require only one party’s consent. Political and social punishment might have to be considered good enough.

“When someone deliberately and maliciously records someone to undermine them out of context, then I think that person should be ostracized and socially rejected,” Franks said.

“There should be a political price and a social price to pay. People should have the right to speak off-hand and joke among their friends without worrying that they are going to bring down the Western world.”

The other issue at hand is to find out whether the leaker sent the audio to a foreign agent or government as the transcript had a Kiev, Ukraine dateline — Ryan had just met with Ukrainian officials before the recorded meeting. However, the scenario of the Ukrainians planting a recording device in Ryan’s office has been deemed unlikely as Capitol offices are regularly swept for such things.

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Christians Massacred As ISIS Affiliated Insurgents Ravage Southern Philippine Island

Nine people were reportedly tied up and shot dead on Wednesday in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao where ISIS-affiliated group, Maute, has established a stronghold of terror this week.

According to local media reports, Maute terrorists forced a truck filled with civilians off the road and murdered them when they were identified as Christian. The Philippines is majority Roman Catholic.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte — a controversial leader in his own right — said that a police officer was beheaded by the group after being pulled off the road as well.

President Duterte has arrived back in The Philippines since cutting his trip to Moscow short after declaring martial law in the island nation amid the Maute groups uprising in Marawi City on its second largest southern island.

So far at least 21 people have been reported to be murdered by the Islamist Maute group.

President Duterte has deployed 100 U.S.-trained special forces to the area to put down the Maute group and stop its terrorizing and attempted takeover of the island.

The Philippines is the only Christian country in Asia, so it is unsurprising that an ISIS-linked group would set its sights on the islands.

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Newspapers Pulling Support From Montana GOP Candidate After Assaulting Reporter

Since Republicans took control of both elected branches of government in 2016 the Democrats have been searching for their toe-hold…anywhere. They may have found it unwittingly in Montana on Wednesday.

As Jay Caruso reported previously, Montana Republican candidate for congress, Greg Gianforte, reportedly “body slammed” The Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, so hard his glasses were broken. Fox News later reported Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck before taking him down to the floor.

Gianforte has since been charged with misdemeanor assault and issued a citation. The altercation now possibly puts the election on the line for Republicans in a heretofore considered safe seat. Newspapers in the state that previously endorsed the candidate have swiftly pulled their support.

The Billings Gazette and The Missoulian have so far pulled their endorsements at this time.

According to The Missoulian:

The Republican candidate for Congress not only lost the endorsement of this newspaper Wednesday night when, according to witnesses, he put his hands around the throat of a reporter asking him about his health care stance, threw him to the ground and punched him — he should lose the confidence of all Montanans.

Three weeks ago, the Missoulian endorsed Gianforte because we took him at his word that he would set aside his personal beliefs, listen to Montanans and be their voice in the House.

Our editorial said Gianforte “has the education, experience, brains and abilities to be successful in Congress. But only if he holds firm to his promise to set aside his own personal ideology whenever necessary in order to uphold Montana values.

“…  Gianforte repeatedly assured the Missoulian editorial board that he can and will do just that. The people of Montana must hold him to that pledge.’’

Gianforte violated that pledge when he attacked a reporter for doing his job Wednesday night.

The paper went on to note that questions specifically about the CBO report on the American Health Care Act was a question Gianforte had said he wouldn’t answer until the report was available. On Wednesday, the report came out, hence Jacobs’ questioning.

As readers of the Missoulian know, Gianforte had repeatedly dodged questions about whether he would support the House plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act because he wanted to wait for the Congressional Budget Office to assess its impact.

Wednesday afternoon, the CBO issued its report, showing that millions of people across the United States — and thousands here in Montana — would lose health care coverage under the GOP plan.

The Missoulian went on to ultimately say that, “He showed Wednesday night that he lacks the experience, brains and abilities to effectively represent Montana in any elected office.”

And went on to say, “if [the assault] doesn’t land him in jail, also shouldn’t land him in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Despite Gianforte’s physical handling of a respected political reporter, the die may already be cast for him to win Thursday night as 65-70 percent of the vote has already come in, according to Brandon Finnigan at the DecisionDeskHQ.

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BREAKING: Montana GOP Candidate Charged With Misdemeanor Assault of Reporter; Not Arrested

Montana GOP candidate for U.S. Congress, Greg Gianforte, has been charged with misdemeanor assault.

The Republican candidate “body slammed,” and according to Fox News “grabbed by the neck with both hands” a reporter from British news outlet, The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs.

The altercation took place at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Bozeman, Montana, the night before the state’s special election.

Ben Jacobs, a political reporter for the Guardian, said he had been asking Gianforte about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate “body slammed” him and began shouting, “Get the hell out of here.”

Gianforte has been officially charged but will not be arrested. There is some speculation that it has to do with the sheriff, Brian Gootkin, being a donor to Gianforte’s campaign.

According to Gootkin’s statement, Gianforte has been issued a citation and will appear in court by June 7th.

“Following multiple interviews and an investigation by the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office it was determined there was probable cause to issue a citation to Greg Gianforte for misdemeanor assault (MCA 45-5-201).  The nature of the injuries did not meet the statutory elements of felony assault.  Greg Gianforte received a citation on Wednesday night and is scheduled to appear in Gallatin County Justice Court between now and June 7, 2017.”

This story is ongoing and will be updated as events unfold.

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Montana GOP Candidate Grabbed Reporter By The Neck In Altercation

As was reported earlier, The Guardian reporter, Ben Jacobs, said on Twitter Wednesday evening that Montana GOP candidate, Greg Gianforte, had “body slammed” him and broke his glasses.

A Fox News crew was in the room and reportedly witnessed the altercation and says that Jacobs was not just body-slammed but grabbed by the neck first.

According to Fox reporter Alicia Acuna,

As the time for the interview neared, Gianforte came into the room. We exchanged pleasantries and made small talk about restaurants and Bozeman.

During that conversation, another man — who we now know is Ben Jacobs of The Guardian — walked into the room with a voice recorder, put it up to Gianforte’s face and began asking if he had a response to the newly released Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. Gianforte told him he would get to him later. Jacobs persisted with his question. Gianforte told him to talk to his press guy, Shane Scanlon.

At that point, Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”

Gianforte was selected as the Republican candidate at a party convention. How Thursday’s election turns out is surely up in the air by now.

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Church Shooter Dylann Roof’s Truly Nutso Reason To Exhaust Appeals

After murdering nine churchgoers in June 2015, no one thought self-avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof was a rational human being. His latest antics with his appeals since being sentenced to death confirm it.

Roof, after a lengthy period of to determine his mental competency to be tried in court, represented himself during his murder trial. An act that attorneys tried to talk him out of, but he nonetheless persevered and currently resides on death row at a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

Roof, for all intents and purposes, seemed bound and determined to be put to death for his crimes.

Now, we find out that the evil little cretin plans to exhaust his appeals. Has he seemingly found a love for his life and is sorry he murdered nine innocent Christians? Nope.

He believes that given enough time, his crimes will ultimately be the thing that will put him in a position of power when white supremacists take over the United States in the coming years.

From ABC News:

According to recently released transcripts of hearings to determine his competency to stand trial, Roof told his lawyers that he’d go through the appellate process to drag his case out as long as he could.

With the passage of time, Roof said, he expected white supremacists to take over the U.S. within several years, pardon him for the killings and make him governor of South Carolina.

“He has no intention of waiving his appeals because this will give enough time for the world to turn upside down,” defense attorney David Bruck said, according to a court transcript.

Roof’s reasons for killing a peaceful group of black churchgoers always seemed fairly grandiose and delusional. Now we know why. Because they are. They’re also evil and truly depraved.

Roof’s initial appeal was given short shrift by the federal appeals court.

Roof argued that his crime didn’t fit the definition of interstate commerce needed to make a federal case because he bought the gun and bullets in South Carolina and did not travel out-of-state to the church.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that Roof had used a telephone to call the church, GPS to find it and that the bullets and gun were manufactured in a different state.

As an American citizen, Roof is entitled to his appeals like everyone else. And while a lot of Americans argue back and forth with others and themselves over whether the death penalty ought to be legal (myself included), it is legal. And who is the death penalty meant for if not confessed, cold-blooded murderers who have no remorse?

That being said, one can only hope he blows through his appeals quickly.

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