Tag Archives: Veterans

Honor A Local Veteran Today


These people are from Parsons Kansas, and are just a few veterans from my small town. I’m sure there are many more local veterans worth featuring. Parsons will always remember Cpl. Daniel Cox, killed in Afghanistan’s Wardak province in 2009.

Ron Phillips

Ron Phillips, 14th Air Force

My name is Ronald M. Phillips (Ron) and as I write this in Feb. 2012 I am within three months of turning 90. That means that I am a Veteran of WW-II, and I was drafted only a few months after the Pearl Harbor disaster at the age of 19. After my entry into the U.S. Military I managed to carefully observe the opportunities on the company bulletin board. By taking advantage of those opportunities I moved from Buck Private rank to that of “O” three, meaning–“Captain”, in the U.S. Air Corps. (which later became the U.S. Air Force.) After entering, and graduating, from the Airplane & Engine school in Glendale, CA, I entered the Aviation Cadet training center in San Antonio, TX and about a year later I graduated as a 2nd Lt. Fighter Pilot in Moore Field, McAllen TX. That put me into a ‘combat-ready’ status so I ended up being sent to China to join General Chennault’s 14th Air Force “Flying Tigers”. The “Tigers” by then, were known world-wide because of their record. In the nine months before Pearl Harbor they were known only as The A.V.G., or the “American Volunteer Group”. There were only one hundred of them to begin with. They were flying the previously used, beat-up old P-40 Warhawks, and had shot down 297 Japanese aircraft with a loss of only 12 of ours. I don’t believe that record was ever broken.

After Pearl Harbor the AVG became “The Fourteenth Air Force”, under the tutelage of Brig. Gen. Clair Lee Chennault, and that’s when I joined the Fourteenth Air Force, 23rd Fighter Group Flying Tigers. ~Ronald M. Phillips

Leon Crooks

Sgt. Leon Crooks (left) Rome, 1944

It took 66 years for Leon Crooks to be awarded a Bronze Star for his World War II service, including an act of heroism that saved the lives of around 30 soldiers.

Crooks served in Company B, Second Chemical Mortar Battalion, also known as the Red Dragon Battalion, which dates back to Aug. 17, 1917, in the first World War. It was the first chemical battalion in the U.S. ranks. Crooks had a total of 511 days in combat. This unit tied with one other unit for the number of days on the front line in the European theater of operations.

The Bronze Star award recognizes Crooks’ entire military service, from June 22, 1943, to Sept. 18, 1945, but focuses on an action on Feb. 12, 1944, after the end of the first Battle of Cassino in Italy against German and Italian forces.
The lull in fighting had provided the Allies and opportunity to relieve and replace war-weary troops, and First Sgt. Crooks and his driver, T/5 Herbert Aram were asked to move to the rear echelons to pick up replacements and bring back PFC Norman Gearhart and PFC James Egoff.

Leon Crooks receives the Bronze Star

The Germans opened up with 88mm guns, shelling members of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, whose gear had been loaded on a mule train.

“I was talking to my driver, and I said, ‘A lot of men are going to die out there today unless we do something’,” Crooks said. “The driver said, ‘If you get a truck, I’ll drive’.”

They got a 3/4 ton weapons carrier and, making three trips under German fire, transported the New Zealand soldiers to safety.

“We’d pull up, I’d get out and load the guys up, and when we got all we could handle, we’d drive back to the aid station, which was not too far behind us,” Crooks said. “Then we went back for our men.”

The driver was injured during the rescue. Crooks said that Aram didn’t even realize it at first.

“He said, ‘Sarge, I  think I’ve been hit,’ and a piece of shrapel had got him in the arm,” Crooks said. “I was pretty lucky, I never did get hit.”

David R. Larsen

Dave Larsen (Navy Cross) left
Charlie Vance (Bronze Star)

David Larsen is a Navy Cross Recipient, for extraordinary heroism on 2 August 1969.

GMG3 Larsen was serving as a gunner’s mater mate aboard PBR 775 which was part of a two-boat night waterborne guard post stationed on the upper Saigon River. Operating in conjunction with the patrol, a six-man ambush team, which was providing bank security for the guard post, engaged four enemy soldiers who were part of an estimated 35 to 50-man force that returned the contact with accurate rocker fire, killing or critically wounding all but one member of the six-man ambush team. One man from the team managed to call for the PBR crewmen’s help. Armed with a machine gun and several ammunition belts, Larsen hastened to the assistance of the ambush team. As he led his small force ashore, he saw three enemy soldiers about to overrun the friendly position. He immediately rushed toward them, firing his machine gun, and single-handedly tu rned back the enemy assault, killing at least one of the enemy. Larsen then maintained a one-man perimeter defensive position and, although under continuous enemy fire, succeeded in discouraging further enemy attacks until additional help arrived. Later, armed with three different weapons, Larsen was the first man to take his post on the perimeter established to provide security for the medical evacuation helicopter. By his extremely courageous one-man assault in the face of direct enemy fire, Larsen was responsible for saving the lives of three fellow servicemen, and for protecting his shipmates as they administered aid to the wounded. His valiant and inspiring efforts reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

Charlie Vance of Portland, Ore., was there that August night, and earned a Bronze Star.

“I brought out ammo and helped bring the wounded back,” said Vance, a former petty officer.

He said Larsen was an unlikely candidate for heroics, but he rose to the occasion.

“He was just a quiet old farm boy and he took in an M-60, and he was the first one off the boat,” Vance said of Larsen. “He actually saved lives.”

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Antique Postcards ~ Fatherless Children of France, World War One


This card is dated 1918, and World War 1 had created approximately 3 million widows and 10 million orphans. Europe was in ruins, but the United States homeland remained completely unaffected, with a booming economy and the good times of the roaring twenties on the way. Obviously, this card is sent to let someone know that you donated to a charity for French orphans, in their name. What a wonderful gift!

Any Parsonions related to Mrs. Stella Lynd, 2718 Main?

For more about The Fatherless Children Of France; http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=940DEFDD133FE433A25755C0A9679C946996D6CF 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click the photo below to read the entire book of letters from orphans to their American benefactors. The book is ‘public domain’ from google.

The book above is priceless. Sweet, cute, and heartbreaking all wrapped up in one.

The true spririt of Christmas, COMPASSION.

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The Largest Robbery …..IN HISTORY!


Ok, here’s the short version for all us slow readers (Kansans): After George HW, Cheney, Rummy and the gang declared MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, they had some plane-loads of money sent over to Iraq. Some 12 BILLION dollars sent there in fact. Cash, 100’s, 50’s…..CASH! Friggin pallets of bills stuffed into giant C-130 cargo planes.

The money was meant for reconstruction efforts, since we had bombed their cities to rubble. It never happened, and it seems that some 6.6 Billion has vanished. No records, nothing. Just gone. We know it was happening, it’s not been a secret. Now for the first time, the Pentagon has ‘fessed up and admitted they can make no case as to where the money went. From The L.A. Times:

For the first time, federal auditors are suggesting that some or all of the cash may have been stolen, not just mislaid in an accounting error. Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, an office created by Congress, said the missing $6.6 billion may be “the largest theft of funds in national history.”
The mystery is a growing embarrassment to the Pentagon, and an irritant to Washington’s relations with Baghdad. Iraqi officials are threatening to go to court to reclaim the money, which came from Iraqi oil sales, seized Iraqi assets and surplus funds from the United Nations’ oil-for-food program.

It’s fair to say that Congress, which has already shelled out $61 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for similar reconstruction and development projects in Iraq, is none too thrilled either.

[….] Theft of such a staggering sum might seem unlikely, but U.S. officials aren’t ruling it out. Some U.S. contractors were accused of siphoning off tens of millions in kickbacks and graft during the post-invasion period, especially in its chaotic early days. But Iraqi officials were viewed as prime offenders.

[….] But U.S. officials often didn’t have time or staff to keep strict financial controls. Millions of dollars were stuffed in gunnysacks and hauled on pickups to Iraqi agencies or contractors, officials have testified.

House Government Reform Committee investigators charged in 2005 that U.S. officials “used virtually no financial controls to account for these enormous cash withdrawals once they arrived in Iraq, and there is evidence of substantial waste, fraud and abuse in the actual spending and disbursement of the Iraqi funds.”

Pentagon officials have contended for the last six years that they could account for the money if given enough time to track down the records. But repeated attempts to find the documentation, or better yet the cash, were fruitless. [….]

~~~~Wow. I wonder if truckloads of money disappeared with the WMDs? How convenient, all the former Bush regime has to do is put up a “Fog of War” type, half assed excuse, and we are not even going to pursue this. Even more ironic, we are too broke to spend our money putting people in prison. Really. I’m not kidding, they are saying that. Read the full article from the link above.

This is something I’ve said from the beginning would happen. This truly is a repeat of what happened in VietNam. Of course, the whole thinking was that we had to provide for the common people, in order to “win hearts and minds”; un-spin that, and it basically means buy the people away from the “insurgents”.

Whenever we send money overseas to further our interests, especially in open war, it will always end up in the hands of the people we supposedly are fighting. That’s just the way it works. We give a local money, he gets squeezed by the VietCong, Taliban, Al Queda, on and on. This whole process was driven home with a story from Neil Sheehan’s “A Bright Shining Lie – John Paul Vann in VietNam”. It goes something like this: The Army sets up some of our Vietnamese “allies” in a secured area. They get a couple of M60 machine guns, a bunker, lookout tower and lots of neat toys. We leave them there with 20,000 rounds of ammunition. They call a few days later needing ammunition. Seems they got into this huge shootout with the bad guys and need more bullets. Vann is in charge by this time, so he goes for a look-see and gets the truth. Truth is, they are selling the ammo and other supplies to the enemy. Their corrupt leaders haven’t payed them and they have families.

Well, you get the picture. Enjoy this info while the new congress continues to kill off the middle class and subsidize these fiascos overseas.  ~sekanblogger

Now they’re planning the crime of the century
Well what will it be?
Read all about their schemes and adventuring
It’s well worth a fee
So roll up and see
And they rape the universe
How they’ve gone from bad to worse
Who are these men of lust, greed, and glory?
Rip off the masks and let’s see.
But that’s no right – oh no, what’s the story?
There’s you and there’s me
That can’t be right

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Filed under Crime, History, Music, NEWS, Politics, Rock and Roll, WAR

Vonnegut’s Blues for America – by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


Editor’s note: This was written during Geroge W. Bush’s Presidency (2006). We will never know what Kurt would have written about our current administration, or especially the global depression caused by the greed and selfishness of America’s ‘ruling class’. Sadly, Kurt passed away on April 11, 2007. Though he was a dissident to the end, Vonnegut held a bleak view on the power of artists to effect change. “During the Vietnam War,” he told an interviewer in 2003, “every respectable artist in this country was against the war. It was like a laser beam. We were all aimed in the same direction. The power of this weapon turns out to be that of a custard pie dropped from a stepladder six feet high.” ~~~~~~~~

No matter how corrupt, greedy, and heartless our government, our corporations, our media, and our religious and charitable institutions may become, the music will still be wonderful.  

Drawing by Vonnegut

If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:

THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED

FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

WAS MUSIC

Now, during our catastrophically idiotic war in Vietnam, the music kept getting better and better and better. We lost that war, by the way. Order couldn’t be restored in Indochina until the people kicked us out.  

That war only made billionaires out of millionaires. Today’s war is making trillionaires out of billionaires. Now I call that progress.  

And how come the people in countries we invade can’t fight like ladies and gentlemen, in uniform and with tanks and helicopter gunships?  

Back to music. It makes practically everybody fonder of life than he or she would be without it. Even military bands, although I am a pacifist, always cheer me up. And I really like Strauss and Mozart and all that, but the priceless gift that African Americans gave the whole world when they were still in slavery was a gift so great that it is now almost the only reason many foreigners still like us at least a little bit. That specific remedy for the worldwide epidemic of depression is a gift called the blues. All pop music today – jazz, swing, be-bop, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones, rock-and-roll, hip-hop, and on and on – is derived from the blues.

A gift to the world? One of the best rhythm-and-blues combos I ever heard was three guys and a girl from Finland playing in a club in Krakow, Poland.  

The wonderful writer Albert Murray, who is a jazz historian and a friend of mine among other things, told me that during the era of slavery in this country – an atrocity from which we can never fully recover – the suicide rate per capita among slave owners was much higher than the suicide rate among slaves.  

Murray says he thinks this was because slaves had a way of dealing with depression, which their white owners did not: They could shoo away Old Man Suicide by playing and singing the Blues. He says something else which also sounds right to me. He says the blues can’t drive depression clear out of a house, but can drive it into the corners of any room where it’s being played. So please remember that.  

Foreigners love us for our jazz. And they don’t hate us for our purported liberty and justice for all. They hate us now for our arrogance.  

When I went to grade school in Indian apolis, the James Whitcomb Riley School #43, we used to draw pictures of houses of tomorrow, boats of tomorrow, airplanes of tomorrow, and there were all these dreams for the future. Of course at that time everything had come to a stop. The factories had stopped, the Great Depression was on, and the magic word was Prosperity. Sometime Prosperity will come. We were preparing for it. We were dreaming of the sorts of houses human beings should inhabit – ideal dwellings, ideal forms of transportation.  

What is radically new today is that my daughter, Lily, who has just turned 21, finds herself, as do your children, as does George W Bush, himself a kid, and Saddam Hussein and on and on, heir to a shockingly recent history of human slavery, to an Aids epidemic, and to nuclear submarines slumbering on the floors of fjords in Iceland and elsewhere, crews prepared at a moment’s notice to turn industrial quantities of men, women, and children into radioactive soot and bone meal by means of rockets and H-bomb warheads. Our children have inherited technologies whose by-products, whether in war or peace, are rapidly destroying the whole planet as a breathable, drinkable system for supporting life of any kind.  

Anyone who has studied science and talks to scientists notices that we are in terrible danger now. Human beings, past and present, have trashed the joint.  

The biggest truth to face now – what is probably making me unfunny now for the remainder of my life – is that I don’t think people give a damn whether the planet goes on or not. It seems to me as if everyone is living as members of Alcoholics Anonymous do, day by day. And a few more days will be enough. I know of very few people who are dreaming of a world for their grandchildren.  

Many years ago I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the second world war, when there was no peace.  

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts us absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many lifeless bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.  

Human beings have had to guess about almost everything for the past million years or so. The leading characters in our history books have been our most enthralling, and sometimes our most terrifying, guessers.

May I name two of them? Aristotle and Hitler.

One good guesser and one bad one.

And the masses of humanity through the ages, feeling inadequately educated just like we do now, and rightly so, have had little choice but to believe this guesser or that one.  

Russians who didn’t think much of the guesses of Ivan the Terrible, for example, were likely to have their hats nailed to their heads.  

We must acknowledge that persuasive guessers, even Ivan the Terrible, now a hero in the Soviet Union, have sometimes given us the courage to endure extraordinary ordeals which we had no way of understanding. Crop failures, plagues, eruptions of volcanoes, babies being born dead – the guessers often gave us the illusion that bad luck and good luck were understandable and could somehow be dealt with intelligently and effectively. Without that illusion, we all might have surrendered long ago.  

But the guessers, in fact, knew no more than the common people and sometimes less, even when, or especially when, they gave us the illusion that we were in control of our destinies.  

Persuasive guessing has been at the core of leadership far so long, for all of human experience so far, that it is wholly unsurprising that most of the leaders of this planet, in spite of all the information that is suddenly ours, want the guessing to go on. It is now their turn to guess and guess and be listened to. Some of the loudest, most proudly ignorant guessing in the world is going on in Washington today. Our leaders are sick of all the solid information that has been dumped on humanity by research and scholarship and investigative reporting. They think that the whole country is sick of it, and they could be right. It isn’t the gold standard that they want to put us back on. They want something even more basic. They want to put us back on the snake-oil standard.  

Loaded pistols are good for everyone except inmates in prisons or lunatic asylums.

Kurt Vonnegut

  That’s correct.  Millions spent on public health are inflationary.  That’s correct.  Billions spent on weapons will bring inflation down.  That’s correct.  Dictatorships to the right are much closer to American ideals than dictatorships to the left.  That’s correct.  The more hydrogen bomb warheads we have, all set to go off at a moment’s notice, the safer humanity is and the better off the world will be that our grandchildren will inherit.  That’s correct.  Industrial wastes, and especially those that are radioactive, hardly ever hurt anybody, so everybody should shut up about them.  That’s correct.  Industries should be allowed to do whatever they want to do: bribe, wreck the environment just a little, fix prices, screw dumb customers, put a stop to competition, and raid the Treasury when they go broke.  That’s correct.  That’s free enterprise.  And that’s correct.  The poor have done something very wrong or they wouldn’t be poor, so their children should pay the consequences.  That’s correct.  The United States of America cannot be expected to look after its own people.  That’s correct.  The free market will do that.  That’s correct.  The free market is an automatic system of justice.  That’s correct.  

I’m kidding.

And if you actually are an educated, thinking person, you will not be welcome in Washington, DC. I know a couple of bright seventh graders who would not be welcome in Washington, DC. Do you remember those doctors a few months back who got together and announced that it was a simple, clear medical fact that we could not survive even a moderate attack by hydrogen bombs? They were not welcome in Washington, DC.  Even if we fired the first salvo of hydrogen weapons and the enemy never fired back, the poisons released would probably kill the whole planet by and by.  What is the response in Washington? They guess otherwise. What good is an education? The boisterous guessers are still in charge – the haters of information. And the guessers are almost all highly educated people. Think of that. They have had to throw away their educations, even Harvard or Yale educations.  If they didn’t do that, there is no way their uninhibited guessing could go on and on and on. Please, don’t you do that. But if you make use of the vast fund of knowledge now available to educated persons, you are going to be lonesome as hell. The guessers outnumber you – and now I have to guess – about 10 to one.  I’m going to tell you some news.  No, I am not running for President, although I do know that a sentence, if it is to be complete, must have both a subject and a verb.  Nor will I confess that I sleep with children. I will say this, though: My wife is by far the oldest person I ever slept with.  Here’s the news: I am going to sue the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company, manufacturers of Pall Mall cigarettes, for a billion bucks! Starting when I was only 12 years old, I have never chain-smoked anything but unfiltered Pall Malls. And for many years now, right on the package, Brown and Williamson have promised to kill me.  But I am now 82. Thanks a lot, you dirty rats. The last thing I ever wanted was to be alive when the three most powerful people on the whole planet would be named Bush, Dick and Colon.  Our government’s got a war on drugs. That’s certainly a lot better than no drugs at all. That’s what was said about prohibition. Do you realise that from 1919 to 1933 it was absolutely against the law to manufacture, transport, or sell alcoholic beverages, and the Indiana newspaper humourist Ken Hubbard said: “Prohibition is better than no liquor at all.”  But get this: The two most widely abused and addictive and destructive of all substances are both perfectly legal.  One, of course, is ethyl alcohol. And President George W Bush, no less, and by his own admission, was smashed, or tiddley-poo, or four sheets to the wind a good deal of the time from when he was 16 until he was 40. When he was 41, he says, Jesus appeared to him and made him knock off the sauce, stop gargling nose paint.  Other drunks have seen pink elephants.  About my own history of foreign substance abuse, I’ve been a coward about heroin and cocaine, LSD and so on, afraid they might put me over the edge. I did smoke a joint of marijuana one time with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, just to be sociable. It didn’t seem to do anything to me one way or the other, so I never did it again. And by the grace of God, or whatever, I am not an alcoholic, largely a matter of genes. I take a couple of drinks now and then and will do it again tonight. But two is my limit. No problem.  I am, of course, notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.  But I’ll tell you one thing: I once had a high that not even crack cocaine could match. That was when I got my first driver’s licence – look out, world, here comes Kurt Vonnegut!  And my car back then, a Studebaker as I recall, was powered, as are almost all means of transportation and other machinery today, and electric power plants and furnaces, by the most abused, addictive, and destructive drugs of all: fossil fuels.  When you got here, even when I got here, the industrialised world was already hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels, and very soon now there won’t be any left. Cold turkey.  Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t the TV news is it? Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on.  I turned 82 on November 11, 2004. What’s it like to be this old? I can’t parallel park worth a damn any more, so please don’t watch while I try to do it. And gravity has become a lot less friendly and manageable than it used to be.  When you get to my age, if you get to my age, and if you have reproduced, you will find yourself asking your own children, who are themselves middle-aged: “What is life all about?’” I have seven kids, three of them orphaned nephews.  I put my big question about life to my son the pediatrician. Dr Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: “Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”Extracted from –  A Man Without A Country: A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush’s America.

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First Kansas Colored Infantry


colored infantry  We all know the story of where the Civil War supposedly started right? Well maybe we should take into account the border wars between Missouri and Kansas prior to the 1861 statehood of Kansas.

Pro and anti-slavery forces clashed regularly along the border, with cold blooded murders, armed encampments and even the repeated burning of the city of Lawrence Kansas by Quantrell’s Raiders.

John Brown’s forces had traveled to the state for the explicit reason of seeing that pro-slavery forces did not settle there.

 At the time, the United States was split equally on this issue and Kansas was to be the deciding vote. The way this was set up made all of this bloodshed inevitable. When Kansas gained Statehood, there was to be a popular vote of the residents that were already there, and that vote would determine if slavery would be legal there. The ensuing rush to the Kansas territory by both sides led to the “Bleeding Kansas” moniker.

 As a proud Kansan, I believe the Civil War started right here. I also believe that the Kansas “Buffalo Soldier” has been overlooked in most popular history. In 1989 the Oscar winning movie ‘GLORY’ captivated the public with the heroism of the 54th Massachusetts, the African American regiment depicted in the movie.

 This film incorrectly billed the story as”America’s first black soldiers during the Civil War.” In reality, that distinction should be given to the First Regiment Kansas Colored Infantry which first saw action in the fall of 1862 and, in less than a year, distinguished itself by fighting at Honey Springs, Indian Territory. They would be the first African Americans recruited in the Northern states for service in the Civil War; the first to see battle, and the first to die in action.

Their recruiter was U. S. Senator James Henry Lane, a prominent figure in Kansas since 1855, who was deeply involved in the turmoil in bringing Kansas into the Union as a free state. His effort to raise black troops was based on his interpretation of an order to recruit regiments. His counterparts in other northern states did not agree with him and insisted it was illegal!

 Most Kansans advocated the use of black troops early on, and during the fall of 1862, a portion of the regiment engaged in battle with a rebel force at Butler, Missouri, thus gaining distinction as the first “colored soldiers in the Union army” tested in battle. “The blacks behaved nobly,” reported the Lawrence Republican, “and have demonstrated that they can and will fight.” According to the Republican’s correspondent, Lieutenant W. H. Smallwood, “the battle of Toothman’s Mound [also Island Mound],” October 29, proved “that black men can fight,” and they were “now prepared to scour this country thoroughly, and not leave a place where a traitor can find refuge.” On October 28, 1862, a detachment of 225 men faced 500 Confederates at Island Mound in Bates County, Missouri. Ten were killed and 12 wounded, but the Confederates were driven off. 

 They were the fourth African American unit to be mustered into the federal army, 13 days ahead of the 54th Massachusetts and three months after Island Mound.

The First Kansas Colored was stationed at Baxter Springs, a former Osage Indian village, and during the spring of 1863 were assigned to escort duty in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). At Cabin Creek on July 2, 1863, blacks fought alongside whites for the first time and drove away Confederate troops. It is recorded that the white officers and men allowed no prejudice to interfere in their duty.

Fifteen days later, on July 17, at Honey Springs the First Kansas Colored had perhaps its best day of the war. Here the soldiers held the federal center against attack, effectively ending any doubts about the abilities of black soldiers. After an all-night march, Union troops under command of Major General James G. Blunt came upon a strong rebel force under General Douglas Cooper and after a “sharp and bloody engagement of two hours’ duration” forced Cooper’s command to flee the field. During the fight the Negro regiment, which held the Union center, moved up under fire to within 50 paces of the Confederate line and there, still under fire, halted and exchanged volley fire for some 20 minutes before the rebels broke and ran. The First Kansas captured the colors of a Texas regiment. “I never saw such fighting done as was done by the negro regiment,” Major Blunt wrote in a letter published in the Cincinnati Daily Commercial on August 12, 1863. “They fought like veterans, with a coolness and valor that is unsurpassed. They preserved their line perfect throughout the whole engagement and, although in the hottest of the fight, they never once faltered. Too much praise can not be awarded them for their gallantry.”

The following April found troops of the First Kansas Colored engaged in fierce combat at Poison Springs, Arkansas, where on April 18, 1864, they suffered heavy casualties—117 died and 65 were wounded. The death toll was aggravated by the execution of the captured and wounded men left on the field. For black soldiers in the West, “Remember Poison Springs!” became a battle cry. “This was the most important battle in the regiment’s entire history,” according to Cornish, and, along with the 54th Massachusetts’ gallantry at Fort Wagner on July 18, “set to rest a great deal of criticism of the use of Negroes as soldiers.” (for more info see the Kansas State Historical Society)

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The Osage In The Neosho Valley, pre-Civil War


 When the European explorers first encountered the Osage Indians (Wa-Zha-Zhe), in the mid 1600’s the Osage were the most powerful nation in North America, and had been so for centuries. In an 1808 treaty, the Osage ceded most of their land in Missouri and all in northern Arkansas. They were subsequently moved to the new “Indian territory”, Kansas.

 Pahuska (White Hair), descendant of the old Chief Pahuska, established the Great Osage Village near the present town of Shaw in Neosho County, while the Little Osage made their village just west of Chanute, Kansas. In the early Kansas days, there was no Neosho or Labette county. These two counties were one, known as Dorn county, named after a government Indian “Agent”. The official reservation in Kansas was 50 miles wide, bordering present Oklahoma on the north, and extending west to the 100th meridian from a north-south line, 25 miles west of the Missouri line. All of their villages existed in the eastern part of this reservation, primarily along the banks of the Neosho and Verdigris rivers.

 When the Osage signed the treaty of 1825 at St. Louis, they ceded all their lands to the United States, all of Oklahoma north of the Arkasas and Canadian Rivers, northwestern Arkansas, western Missouri and nearly half of Kansas.

The Osage at this time became part of the history of Kansas. It was during this period that father John Shoemaker (Schonmaker) established the Osage Mission, at the present site of St. Paul, Kansas in Neosho County. It became one of the most influential Roman Catholic Schools in the west. It was attended by many Osage boys and girls as well as children from other Indian tribes. There were also villages at Oswego (Heart Stays), Chetopa (Four Lodges), Baxter Springs, Coffeyville and Independence, as well as all along the Big Hill creek. In fact The Big Hills are one of the traditional 12 Osage bands, or clans.

 As the “War in Kansas”, as the pre-Civil War era was characterized began, all of southeast Kansas was embroiled in the border wars. The Osage suffered greatly as intruders invaded the area in preparation for the pro or anti-slavery settlers invaded by the thousands and fought each other. When the Civil War started, both the Big Osage and Little Osage signed treaties with the Confederacy, due to the fact that the U.S. government never offered any treaty of war with the Osage. In actual practice, more of the Osage fought with, and assisted the North.

 Southeast Kansas during the Civil War was of vital importance to both sides. The Confederacy hoped to use this area as a corridor to the north, and deployed spies and other agents to that end. This fact is best illustrated by an incident from May, 1863.

 In 1863, the Claremore ‘Big Hills’ and the Little Osage Bands were all settled on the Verdigris near present day Independence Kansas, then known as Hay Town. There was an illegal settlement of 40 white settlers who lived in grass houses. This is also the area settled by a group of Quakers, as well as the original “little house on the prarie”, now immortalized by the Laura Ingalls book.

 The incident mentioned above happened on May 15, when ‘Hard Rope’ and 8 of his men had left the Big Hill village after a visit. They intended to travel to the mission of Father Schonmaker, but encountered a group of 22 white men, near Drum Creek, south of Independence. Hard Rope approached the men, inquiring who they might be. The men told the Indian group that they were a detachment of Union soldiers from Fort Humboldt, on the upper Neosho. Hard rope replied that he knew every one of the Union soldiers from that fort, and he did not recognize any of them! Hard Rope then requested that they go to Fort Humboldt (now Humboldt, Kansas) to be identified. They ignored the request, and a shooting match ensued, killing one Osage.

 Wisely, Hard Rope retreated and sent a runner to the nearby Big Hill village to request more warriors. When the reinforcements arrived, a running battle ensued. Had the white men known enough about Indian warfare to stay out on the open prarie, they may have survived this battle. Not knowing any better, they retreated to the woodlands lining the Verdigris, thus sealing their fate. Forced out onto a gravel bar, they were picked off, one at a time, while the Osage attacked from the shelter of the woods.

 Twenty bodies of the white intruders were recovered, apparently two wounded men had escaped. The twenty bodies were soon beheaded and the heads proudly displayed on wooden poles. A search of the bodies discovered their intentions. They were actually Confederates who were sent to travel to the northern Kansas tribes (Kaw, Pawnee), to incite war against the United States. Thus, the Osage had most likely saved many white settlers in the northern parts  of Kansas.  Later in the War, 5 Osage scouts tracked and killed 2 Confederate soldiers in Southeastern Colorado on the very same type of mission.

Colonel John Ritchie

Colonel John Ritchie

 One Battalion of Osage did serve the Confederacy under Stand Watie. Far more Osage served the U.S. under Colonel John Ritchie’s Second Indian Regiment in Kansas. Ritchie was an Abolitionist, woman’s rights supporter, teetotaler and general advocate for reform, who looked “eagerly and earnestly for the ultimate redemption of mankind from all oppressions, abuses and vices, of whatever nature and kind.” He was actively engaged in the cause of the Union throughout the Civil War, holding commands in both the Fifth Kansas Cavalry and the Indian “Home Guard”.

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A Pittance Of Time on Veteran’s Day


SOMETIMES, people say “everything happens for a reason”.  I say Bollocks!. This week, at Ft. Hood Texas, brave soldiers died FOR NO GOOD REASON. I hope that those surrounding those soldier’s friends and families have the good sense to NOT SAY “everything happens for a reason”.  Some things, very awful things like mass killings, wars, accidents and disease just happen.

Saying that everything has a reason implies some sort of  divine plan working it’s way in these awful events. I refuse to believe that. I am not one to evangelize openly, but if you’ve been reading here, you know my opinions are freely shared. My opinion is that the world is not a pre-ordained, set in stone series of happenings sending us into the “end-times”. My opinion is that God is not there to prevent these things, only there to help us get through him. I’m not suggesting that intervention never happens, for that is un unprovable hyposthesis. And plainly, I don’t have the answers!

SOMETIMES, things happen by chance that just seem to make sense. 

Earlier this week as I was hearing and reading the news of mass killings among our military, I opened an email from a dear “blog friend” and regular here at Kansas Mediocrity; Ann, a Scottish lady who has lived in Ausrtralia for quite some time. In that email was this wonderful song, “A Pittance Of Time”. Thanks Ann, very touching. Please take a pittance of time to enjoy the video.

I end my commentary with the shortest verse in the Bible; John 11:35……JESUS WEPT.

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On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a Shoppers Drug Mart store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the store’s PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.

Terry was impressed with the store’s leadership role in adopting the Legion’s “two minutes of silence” initiative. He felt that the store’s contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.

When eleven o’clock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the “two minutes of silence” to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.

Terry’s anger towards the father for trying to engage the store’s clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was later channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, “A Pittance of Time”. Terry later recorded “A Pittance of Time” and included it on his full-length music CD, “The Power of the Dream”.

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AD ASTRA PER ASPERA a poem by Ironquill


ironquill

"Ironquill"

 A motto appears 

On the seal of a State —
     Of a State that was born
     While the terror was brewing;
A motto defying
The edicts of fate;
     A motto of daring,
     A legend of doing.

A perilous past
And a cavernous gloom
     Had enshrouded the State
     In its humble beginning;
But courage of soul,
In repelling the doom,
     Of failure made hope,
     And of losing made winning.

Through scars to the stars,
Through the pall of the past,
     Through the gloom to the gleam
     Rose the State from the peril;
Then gleam became gloom,
And the laurels at last
     Were scattered in ashes
     Repugnant and sterile.

But Kansas shall shine
In the stories and songs
     That are told and are sung
     Of undaunted reliance.
Tile gloom yet will gleam,
And the evils and wrongs
     Will shrivel and crisp
     In the blaze of defiance.

The future shall bury
The now — as the woe
     On the field of a battle
     By verdure is hidden;
And hope will return
Like the harvests that grow
     Where cannon have plowed
     And the cavalry ridden.

ABOUT “IRONQUILL” Continue reading

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Military Industrial War Machine


 America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America’s leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment. [….]

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. [….] 

But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Road

 As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow. [….]

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war — as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years — I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Painting by Wayne Wildcat

Painting by Wayne Wildcat

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love. ~ Dwight Eisenhower

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