Category Archives: History

To Those Who Served – Salute!

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

Today, we stop and give thanks for all those who have served the nation in uniform, protecting the freedoms we hold so dear. Some gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives in order to ensure that we have the life we so proudly proclaim.

Their sacrifice is honored with each election where not by coup, but by ordinary Americans casting a ballot and choosing those who will lead and represent them. The power and authority of those officials are transferred from one elected official to the next, from the precinct level to the highest office in the land, the Presidency, without the need for troops in the streets because of those who answered the call to duty, honor and service.

The ability to vote, the ability to choose, the ability to speak our minds, the ability to worship or not worship, the ability to write these words without fear, the ability to work, to succeed, to fail, to rise above our circumstances, all of this we owe to those men and women who fought for peace, justice and freedom.

None of our liberties came without cost and thus we owe a debt to each of our veterans and to those who still serve.

On a more personal note:

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In those dark days following the sneak attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, four brothers from Nashville, Brown County, Indiana lined up at the recruiting office and joined the US Navy. These four brothers went off to save the world for democracy both in the European Theater and in the Pacific.

Three made it back home at the close of World War II. The one who didn’t return was my Uncle Homer. My grandfather and his other two brothers, Herman and Wesley, came home, but changed, never to be the same.

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My step-father, a fresh-faced kid from Sullivan County, Indiana didn’t wait to be drafted. He went to the recruiting office and signed up to be a soldier for Uncle Sam. He survived, though wounded once, three tours in Viet Nam. He remained in the US Army to retire after 20 years as an E-8 First Sergeant.

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My grandfather’s only son, my uncle, later followed in his father’s footsteps and sailed off on the ocean blue with the Navy. He served around the world, then came home.

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All of these veterans within my own family are now gone, but not forgotten.

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Their service made it possible for me to join the US Air Force in 1976. My time was spent at Grissom AFB, right here in the Cornfield.

It also allowed my step-brother, John Hollifield, a few years later to join the US Army. Unfortunately, we lost him in a drunk driving incident after he did his duty and was home.

The sacrifice of my grandfather, great-uncles and step-father also allowed all of us to still be living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

This is why I am always appreciative of those who choose to serve in our military. This is why I always have an empathy and a connection to the families left behind to keep the home fires burning to shine the light to lead our service members home.

Each November 11th, we celebrate, not just the veterans of that long ago war that was to be the war to end all wars, but the holiday has evolved to celebrate and to show appreciation for all who have served our great nation and those who continue to serve.

From the Cornfield, veterans, I salute you and thank you!

8 Years Ago Today!

A look at history.
A look at history.

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In Memory of Those We Lost! 9/11

A terrible day, 9/11.

Lest We Forget – 9/11/2001

From the Desert with feet planted firmly in the Cornfield

It seemed to be a quiet, sunny day in the dwindling hours of summer. People going about their business. Children rushed off to school. Flights of pleasure, business and fancy were seemingly soaring the skies peacefully.

Tranquility and a sense of safety were shattered in an instant as a commercial jetliner plowed into the World Trade Center (WTC). What first seemed to be nothing more than a tragic accident was quickly revealed to be more diabolic in nature.

The world watched horror-struck as a second jetliner in live airtime was shown deliberately crashing into the second tower of the WTC.

The unthinkable, that which seemed to only be comprehensible in a movie script, lifted from the page of fiction into the horrifying fact of reality. Life changed forever.

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I rolled over. Opened my eyes. With blurred vision, I looked at the clock. 10:48 a.m. I sprang out of bed, shaking my head, wondering why I had slept so late.

I grabbed my robe, moving between my loveseats to turn on the television. I made my way back around what I called, my loveseat, to make my morning coffee.

Strangely I heard the voices of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. In disbelief, disconcerted and shocked, I listened and learned about the attack on America.

Nearly spilling the water, I finished making my coffee. I stumbled back to my loveseat to watch and listen to the unfolding events.

I yelled at the troubled young man sleeping on my other loveseat, “Wake up! We’ve been attacked!

Frightened, not knowing what to do, how to react, what to say, the young man took off on his bike. Running, trying to find comfort, peace and some sense of what was happening.

I stayed glued to the TV.

Not only had two commercial planes been used as guided missiles exploding into the WTC, but another had been fatally directed at the Pentagon.

But, this was not the end.

The news revealed a fourth jetliner, its objective still unknown, was deflected from further mass destruction by the heroics of passengers. Passengers, who followed the highest law of Love.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV)

The unthinkable had become a deliberate, thought-out scheme of murder, destruction, mayhem, pain and suffering.

What had happened to America’s tranquility and safety?

Gone in moments.

What were and are we to do?

What could and can our leaders do?

What was and is America to do?

Life changed forever.

From the Cornfield, we pause, as we do each year, and remember the lives lost, the heroes, the resolve of a nation to not back down, to rise from the ashes and press on for a better day filled with peace, liberty and justice for all.

We will never forget.

We will never crumble.

We will stand tall.

We will cross any valley, climb any mountain, ford any stream and remain forever that shining city on a hill to which the world looks to find light in the darkness of ignorance, fear, intolerance and injustice.

Ran Out of Gas!

Morning Mark!
Right now in Rochester it’s 80 degrees and the humidity is 56 percent. Another hot one, yuck! All across the country we’ve been dealing with this heat wave and not much relief in sight.
And true to tradition people are running to the beach.
Yesterday while on the road I came across a family en route to the beach and they ran out of gas. (Old Chevy picture) But they called their Old Uncle Hank and he saved the day. He picked the family up and got them to the beach. (Old Caddy picture)
Old Chevy.

Old Caddy

Watching History

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark
Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

While I will not be casting a vote for Hillary Clinton this fall, I did watch intently and with enthusiasm on Tuesday as history was made.

As both a political and history buff, seeing the first woman nominated by a major political party as the presidential candidate was exciting.

It was not on the same level as a different feeling of anguish watching the assassination of President John F. Kennedy or Dr. Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy, but still a rush of sorts.

It was not the solemnity of history playing out as JFK’s casket on a horse-drawn carriage making the slow trek through the streets of the capitol.

It was not the rush and pride of watching that July night in 1969 when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon.

It was not the historic dread watching the Cuban missile crisis, when the world rocked on the brink of nuclear war.

Yet, the historic moment was something to see as Clinton became the Democratic presidential nominee.

So many historic moments in my six decades to have been able to have seen, now another.

That historic moment can be viewed in Tuesday’s Kernels From the Cornfield. You can also view it on my YouTube page.

Now the question becomes if history will once more be made come November 8 when America votes on who will sit in the Oval Office for the next four years.

That’s the way it is in Mark’s Den.

And how is your midweek going?

Memories of Yesteryear

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Before retiring last night and after I rose this morning, I have not been able to stop the memories of yesteryear from flooding my mind.

It was the summer of 1968, prior to my returning to school for my freshman year of high school. We were living in Aurora, Illinois at the time.

It was a summer of unrest. Riots and demonstrations in the streets flooded the nightly newscasts on all three of the only networks of the time – ABC, CBS and NBC.

I was already something of a history and political buff. So I watched intently to the scenes playing out on our color television.

The images were much more real than what they were that other July night watching on a black-and-white screen as President John F. Kennedy warned the nation about the Red Scare 70 miles off our coast, which I had watched as a second grader living in Anderson, Indiana.

Come to think of it – it had been a decade of unrest.

The standoff with the USSR, the assassination of President Kennedy, the social upheaval of the hippies and flower children, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the marches of those seeking civil rights for all, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, the burning of bras and draft cards, the running away to Canada, the protests against the Viet Nam War, Woodstock – all were part of this decade.

Now in July of 1968, transfixed I watched the National Guard on the streets of Chicago a mere 60 miles away. I saw mounted police trampling on protesters. I saw the barricades, the smoke from tear gas, from Molotov cocktails, bloodied faces outside the Democratic National Convention.

I watched protesters dragged out of the convention. I saw the inability of nominee Hubert Humphrey to quell the unrest.

It was total chaos. A couple of weeks later, I remember Everett Dirksen, our own Senator, take control at the Republican National Convention. I watched as if in a trance as Dirksen had the hall on its feet reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

But it was still a summer, a decade of unrest.

Over the past week, once more I have been transfixed seeing reminders of that summer nearly 50 years ago.

The killings.

The marches in the streets.

Presidential nominating conventions in the wings.

The saying goes that history repeats itself.

We are also admonished to learn from the past so as not to make the same mistakes.

Have we learned nothing?

From the Cornfield, America the Beautiful, God shed His grace on Thee.

Happy Birthday, US of A!

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On Monday, the US of A celebrates its 240th birthday.

It was, like with any birth, one that was born out of travail, crying, shouts of glee, bloodshed and even death. Truly the continent was in heavy labor as the push and screams of thousands were heard around the world.

That sorrow and agony gave way, however, to jubilation as the nation emerged covered with the scars and trappings of nativity. But as difficult as that birth was, the struggle was not over.

There would be growing pains, illnesses and diseases to overcome. There would be those who would attempt to reclaim and to destroy that life which was born out of a pledge to devote honor, lives and fortunes to see this epic birth come to be and last through all time.

Through the years, as with any baby maturing to toddler to child to teen to adult, this great nation of states joined to form a “more perfect union” had to go through its share of perils, tests and trials. In each instance, in the end, the US of A emerged on the other side a better nation.

The most trying time is undisputed, which is what occurred during what I would call the teenage years, puberty, when literally brother was pitted against brother, sister against sister, sons and daughters against mothers and fathers. The greatest and most costly toll of lives and bloodshed threatened to tear the nation apart. Yet through the trauma of the Civil War, the War Between the States, a united and stronger country came of age.

Dark days still lay ahead, but it seemed the worst had passed.

Through more battles and more wars, we find ourselves today celebrating the nation we’ve become and feeling the pain of the mistakes we have made. We honor the lives who gave their all to keep this nation the home of the brave and the land of the free.

Now, we look forward to the days and years ahead.

We are traveling the rough and choppy sea of economic uncertainty, but which seems to be slowly recovering.

The ship of state must traverse the gulf as the skipper maneuvers the ship to avoid crashing on the rocks of lost hope, despair, keeping an eye on the course and the port of serenity which lies in the distance.

The tides of global unrest threaten to engulf us. We must stay resolute and strong. Together we can ride the waves and dock in safe harbor.

Many have lost hope.

Many no longer aspire to the American Dream.

Many wonder if the flag will still wave for much longer.

But we are Americans.

We will survive.

From the Cornfield, America, may she always be that shining city on a hill to which others seek to aspire.

Happy Independence Day!

Antique excavating Grader!

Yesterday while on a run I discovered this relic. An antique grader, note there is no engine. This was a towed one. It’s age speaks for itself. 🙂
Antique
The days of yesterday!

Remembering D-Day

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Today, June 6th, 2016 is dedicated the memory of all those who gave their lives on Omaha Beach, Normandy, France 68 years ago in what proved to be the drive that led to the fall of the Nazi regime and brought peace to a world torn by war.

My grandfather and great uncles were among those who served. One of my great uncles, Hobart Powell, did not return from that war. Though I never was given the pleasure of knowing him, he is still alive in our hearts and memories.

Of those who assaulted the beach that day, some came home, but many were left dying or dead in the sand. As the Nazi forces tried to beat back the coalition forces of Allied powers, the German High Command failed to understand the resolve of these brave soldiers to make the world safe, to end the scourge of the Nazi atrocities and to bring peace to a troubled people.

Those efforts, those deaths were not in vain. The comrades of those who had been killed kept pressing on until they marched into Berlin and put an end to the tyranny.

From the Cornfield, pause with me now to remember and to salute those who gave their lives and all of those whom Tom Brokaw rightly labeled, “The Greatest Generation“.