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When will the owls cease to be Watchers?

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Owls have been known to perch among the branches—and have been accused of watching the world go by. While Truth has it that owls have been long sought out as birds of wisdom, so too does it tell that owls are tremendous observers.

And that the watchers of society need to heed the wisdom inherent in owls. For, although it is granted that owls do indeed see everything, they tend to be pictured as aloof—above the fray. And yet, in a turmoil-boiled world, comfort can be derived from the fact that owls are designated to observe, comment, and inspire.

Maybe, it’s not the owls’ aloofness that bothers watchers. But rather the owls’ ability to transform a moment of silence to a flutter of activity within a once tranquil sea of conformity.

Or maybe, it is the unknown quality behind those pictures of owls that seem to frighten people.

There seems to be a power gathering beneath the owls’ surface which will eventually be released—when the owls cease to be Watchers.

We are all Entrepreneurs

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Work vs Life
Work vs Life

Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a business executive, we are all running a small business, which is called our life.

Oprah Winfrey to be Keynote Speaker at U.S. Book Show

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Oprah Winfrey
Photo Credit: Harpo, Inc. Chris Craymer

Oprah Winfrey will be the opening keynote speaker at the U.S. Book Show, the virtual book publishing trade show presented by Publishers Weekly.

Oprah Winfrey will give the opening keynote speech on May 25, 2021 at 10:45 a.m. EDT. She will discuss her newest book, What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Healing, co-written with Bruce D. Perry, a child psychiatrist and neuroscientist. The book, released by Flatiron on April 27, discusses how people’s earliest personal experiences shape their entire lives. The book offers a new way to understand the way people behave. Winfrey, one of the biggest supporters of all members of the book industry, will also offer comments on her love for books and authors and offer her appreciation and encouragement for all those who support them.

Bound by Battle and Blood

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Bound by Battle and Blood
L-R: Don Zimmer, Rich Dorsey, Larry Taylor, Jon “Snag” Johnson, Jack Jeter, Tim Trainer*, Jerry Gast, Jim Eckel, Jesse Groves)

That unforgettable day is approaching.  No, it isn’t a milestone birthday or a wedding anniversary.  It isn’t the birthday of a first-born child.  It’s that other day.  The day Jack Jeter arrived in Vietnam fifty-four years ago in late September 1968.  He’s leaving on a jet plane, flying from Dallas to Chicago to spend a few days with guys he served with in his squad, his platoon.  They were in a rifle company.  They were grunts.  He’s going to spend a few days with guys who were and still are family albeit a different type of family.  He, like the others at this mini-reunion, was assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (B2-7).

Circumstances dictated that they become family.  These warriors were together 24/7.  They spent their days together walking in the heat and humidity of the jungles, they ate combat rations, they dug holes together at night, and they bathed together if the opportunity presented itself after days or weeks without doing so.  And, when necessary, they fought together to keep each other alive.  They bandaged each other’s wounds.  They carried each other to medivac helicopters.

When their tours of duty were done, whether because of wounds that required an early exit from the war zone or the end of the year-long tour of duty, they scattered around the United States.  The years immediately after discharge were about work and new, young families.  Most wanted to forget the war and the public’s reaction to the war, and its warriors were not conducive to talking about their part in the war.

Jack and several others began reuniting occasionally forty years ago.  As the years passed, these reunions became annual events.  Those that started the mini-reunions began hunting down their brothers in arms.  Eventually, computers and the internet made the search easier. 

The annual summer get-togethers were rudely interrupted by the Covid pandemic.  Since the suspension of reunions, the company-size reunion and the annual summer mini-reunions have been suspended. 

Getting together in 2022 is special.  There’s an understated urgency to meeting face-to-face.  The list of surviving men of B2-7 who fought together during the latter half of 1968 and into 1969 has decreased.  The combination of age and ill-health are beginning to take their toll.  All who have passed away are special to these B2-7 troopers.  Those who have passed away include Jack “Squirt” Miller, in December 2019.  Squirt was blinded by his wounds in March 1969, and for the rest of his life, his body expelled hundreds of pieces of shrapnel.  April 2020 saw the passing of the company’s First Sergeant who, despite being the oldest member of the company, was often along side his young troops in the jungle.

The hats worn represent pride of service and sacrifice.  This is a special family with special bonds and with the passage of time. Each year’s reunion becomes ever more precious.  And, as the years pass, it becomes even more important to see more of the surviving B2-7 troopers attend.        

Bound by Battle and Blood

Though I did not serve in Vietnam with these warriors, it is a privilege to be able to spend time with these B2-7 soldiers.  They contributed mightily to my father’s survival and return home from his second combat tour of duty in Vietnam.  Every opportunity to be here with them and other B2-7 troopers is a gift.

More Pictures from the Reunion

Trainer, Groves, Dorsey, Gast
Taylor, Trainer, Eckel
Jesse, Jack, Fred Reunion

Timothy Trainer did not serve in Vietnam with those pictured.  He served in the Army from July 1972-July 1975.  He authored The Fortunate Son: Top, Through the Eyes of Others, published in 2017 (Joshua Tree Publishing).  His father fought in Korea and was wounded in January 1951 and continued his Army career, serving two combat tours in Vietnam. 

The China Factor

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Relationship conflict between USA and China

The New York Times published a guest essay on September 14, 2022, entitled “China is Running Covert Operations That Could Seriously Overwhelm Us.”  The essay addresses the challenges presented by China’s covert intelligence collection efforts to obtain military and national security related information.  This should not surprise anyone who has been involved with China in recent years.

Whether militarily or economically, China’s industrial capacity, combined with its advantageous numbers in population, are enough to raise concerns for any country.  It is best to look at and consider China’s covert activities through a wide lens.  Aside from the size and capabilities of its military, China has become the second largest economy in the world in a relatively short period of time. 

One aspect of U.S.-China competition is commercial trade.  Within the commercial trade context, U.S. industry has been confronted by the eagerness of creative Chinese entrepreneurs to steal U.S. intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, patents, designs, and trade secrets).  Once U.S. companies moved production to China, imaginative Chinese entrepreneurs began churning out inexpensive fake and substandard versions of the real thing.  It became much easier to access authentic products to replicate and copy when the original product is made either down the road or in a neighboring town instead of traveling long distances.

In the 1990s, U.S. companies complained to the U.S. Government about counterfeit auto parts, batteries, electrical products as well as the usual fake items found on big-city streets.  The tension arising from China’s production of counterfeit goods resulted in U.S. threats of trade sanctions in the mid-1990s until China committed to taking steps to reduce production of counterfeit items and protect U.S. owned intellectual property that was protectible in China.

The years of official statements, written agreements, and increased enforcement have not translated into a major decrease in production of counterfeit (fake) goods that are exported to the United States and the rest of the world.  One might observe that China’s efforts to access U.S. intellectual property simply moved up the food chain to obtain more advanced technologies.

While the Times essay focuses on China’s military and national security espionage activity, we should not ignore the challenges posed by economic espionage.  There have been numerous documented efforts describing economic espionage activities in the U.S.  Specifically, there have been FBI investigations and other government investigations that have resulted in successful U.S. criminal prosecutions and imprisonment of Chinese nationals.  Those caught and prosecuted for engaging in trade secrets theft, i.e., economic espionage, have attempted to steal secrets across a wide spectrum of industries such as circuit board designs for autonomous vehicles, agricultural seeds, aviation technology, and cancer fighting pharmaceutical products.

In addition to criminal prosecution under U.S. law, the U.S. Government has worked to impose obligations on trading partners to enact stronger legal protections to protect trade secrets.  The 2020 U.S.-China Economic and Trade Agreement included commitments for raising the level of protection for trade secrets in China.  The “new” NAFTA (U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement) that went into force in 2020 included requirements for the protection of trade secrets, which was not covered in the original NAFTA.  The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that the U.S. helped negotiate but did not become a party to, also includes trade secrets protections.

Imposing trade secret protection and enforcement in trade agreements are a step forward.  The existence of these obligations in a trade agreement is separate and apart from actual steps being taken to enforce and protect trade secrets.  Once enacted into law in foreign countries, the relevant police, prosecutors, and courts must be committed to implementing the law.

Ultimately, preventing trade secrets theft requires government agencies, business enterprises, research, and other institutions to adopt strict protocols for protecting trade secrets.  Strict protocols, however, are meaningless without a commitment to enforce government, business, institutional protocols to protect valuable trade secret assets. 

In the end, it will be up to the entities that develop and own the trade secrets to be vigilant in protecting these economic assets.  The owners of these secrets are the first line of defense by adopting and implementing strict access procedures, working with law enforcement, and ensuring that our trading partners are living up to their obligations to provide trade secret protection to deter and prevent theft.   

U.S. businesses that develop new technologies must be committed to protecting their advantages regardless of where they operate in the world.  Economic espionage has always existed.  Efforts to protect trade secrets have trailed the pace of increased protection and enforcement of trademarks, copyrights, and patents.  Given the economic potential of trade secrets and the impetus for growth they can have, greater attention to preventing their theft is critical to success.

Timothy Trainer has participated in U.S.-China bilateral intellectual property consultations as a federal government attorney.  As a private sector attorney, he has conducted training for Chinese customs officials and represented clients in intellectual property disputes.

A Moment in Time: Cherish It

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Moments in Time
Credit vectorpocket Adobe Stock

We all have moments in time that we can pull from our memories instantly. Those moments of extreme emotions that range from pure joy to devastating loss.

I bought a sign a few years ago that reads, “We remember moments, not days.” It’s a common sign at gift shops and online as well. We say it in conversations when we’re at events or talking of the past.

It has turned out to be a true statement. The mundane order of days on end of work, school, chores, whatever it is that drives your daily routine, can all blend in. Until there is a “moment.”

Whatever that Moment is, we log it in our memory bank and look back at those moments that pivot our lives in different directions. Whether it’s “good” or “bad.”

Sometimes we reach for those memories of Moments when we are feeling lonely and sad. Moments that brought happiness and laughter that help lift our spirits again.

Other times, the Moments that we recall, can have us blistering in frustration and anger. Moments where we have felt wronged, hurt, betrayed, or unheard. Those Moments can have 20/20 hindsight with “coulda,” “shoulda,” “woulda” replays. How is it in a serious discussion, you come up with better responses long after it’s over!

Many times, we don’t realize a moment is a Moment, until it’s gone from our grasp and over. Remembering them later, we then learn to cherish them in our hearts.

Lately in my family, we have had Moments with our daughter Rachel. Her past four years of college have flown by, as they do.

Two weeks ago, she graduated with a Master of Arts Degree in the field of Philanthropic Studies. There were several Moments that scattered memories of her past graduations and school years across my mind. The years have slid by so quickly, and yet, her journey to help the world in the nonprofit sector is just beginning.

This is the season of graduation from preschool to college. I know so many of us have children, or even ourselves, who are graduating from schools of all kinds. Be sure in the hustle to get to the ceremonies on time, dressed in the appropriate robe, mortarboards on correctly, to look around. Take in the joy the other families are experiencing with their loved one who’s marching up the aisle to Pomp and Circumstance, or whatever music might be playing. Smile at everyone around you. Congratulate and clap for each individual who has achieved this difficult goal. School is challenging to us all on one level or another. Be respectful and proud of those who are making the world a better place.

Last weekend was filled again with once in a lifetime Moments for our family when Rachel married her one and only, Kyle Hettinger. I looked forward with anticipation of the joining of their lives. I was excited for the moments of the ceremony, the first dance, and all the details that have been so carefully planned. I hope to LIVE in all the Moments and not rush it too quickly!

There is much reflection and savored memories that richly frame my life. There are Moments in the every day, and I implore you to seek them out, so when there are bigger Moments, you’ll recognize them.

Congratulations to all those who are graduating now in 2022! Follow your goals and live your lives to the fullest.

Author Victoria Kamar Olivett North Chicago Library 9/17/22

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Author Victoria Kamar Olivett will be participating in a Local Author’s Book Fair September 17, 2022, at North Chicago Library located at 2100 Argonne Drive North Chicago, Illinois. 60064. It is from 10:30 until 3 p.m. For more information, go to:

Authors Lisa & Hans Scheller at South Bend Chocolate Café 9/16/22

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To all those that are struggling or have struggled through alcoholism. We were you, and we know God has you covered with his own plan. Our family is so thankful to our community of family and friends who have walked our journey with us. Those who were there without judgment or expectations, who loved us unconditionally and gave us grace.

An Evening with Author Victoria Kamar Olivett

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I am very proud to announce that on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, I will present my historical novel, The Adventures of Francie Fitzgerald, at the beautiful Waukegan Public Library (128 N County St, Waukegan, IL 60885) from 5:30 until 6:30 p.m. You can register on the library’s website for this free event.

I look forward to seeing all of those who will be able to attend.

There will be a question and answer period for the audience as well. I will be talking about the writing process and the scientific advances in 1885. You will enjoy hearing about the Fitzgerald family and all their exciting adventures.

I look forward to seeing all of those who will be able to attend. Follow this link to register for my talk: https://calendar.waukeganpl.org/event/9102093

Master or Slave? The Choice is Yours!

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Insight Master or Slave

Across the world, there is mounting chaos. With recent ostentatious displays of disharmony, greed, and war, we see a world in turmoil. I wonder what lies ahead for mankind…and this planet we call Earth.

Will technology greet us with a new enlightenment…or will we actually find ourselves further enslaved to our own technology? Will the computer’s drive for us to be more efficient and productive be the vehicle to our freedom…or our enslavement? Enslaved to a mechanism which takes no breaks…a mechanism which does not take the time to share the humanness we all share with one another.

Will we master this new technology…or will it master us? The answer waits in the future. But our actions today will determine the future we bring.

Slavery or Salvation. Masters or Slaves. Freedom or Constriction

Each day we choose our Path. We make decisions which affect our own lives…and the lives of others…with the choices we make.

What will be your choice today? Will you empower yourself…and those with whom you work? Or will you continue to exploit a hierarchical scheme in which empowerment has a much different meaning?

We are the Masters of our Future. Will you be your own master…or have you given your power to another? So they may rule your future. Be aware of the gifts the future brings…and be wary of those bearing gifts. For you may be a pawn in a larger Scheme. You…through your actions…must decide whose Scheme you will participate in.

For there are many houses in My Mansion. It is up to you to decide which room you will occupy. Will it be the servants’ quarters…or will it be as the Master of the House? And, if it is as Master of the House, how will you rule? How will you guide others so they too may advance to become the Master of the House? Or will you use your position to keep them in their place…so you can remain their Master.

And yet, life is so fleeting. It quickly moves on…ever changing…constantly flowing…never waiting…while you decide what type of Master you will be. Choose now…but being ever so careful. For the world is filled with many people who believe they are Masters…only to discover they are really Servants to the Chosen. So choose wisely…but choose.

For the river flows on endlessly…always picking up the drops and carrying them downstream. Never wary…never hesitant…for the river knows it must flow. That it must keep moving…lest it evaporate into thin air. Only to start the cycle again…when it will become a drop again…in the endless flow…of the river we call Life. Don’t stop the river by not choosing the right path.

Rather join the flow…and return to the Source of all that ever was.

Will the U.S. Democracy Survive?

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USA background of waving American flag

Are you willing to stand up to power and personal threats to save our country, the United States of America? To tell the Truth no matter the personal consequences? To have you and your family’s life threatened in an attempt to persuade you not to tell the Truth?

I remember thirty years ago a member of an elite fraternal order told me about how his economic development department’s boss was taking bribes from developers, including a new house, to approve a development in a suburban community. He had evidence. A paper trail. Legal proof.

When I asked him if he was going to turn his boss in to the authorities, he simply replied, “No.” I looked at him dumbfounded, and then he gave me a litany of reasons. He could not afford to lose his job. He could not risk his teenage daughter’s education hopes. He simply needed to go along. Look the other way.

That answer always stuck with me. Would I have the courage to tell the Truth, report on the facts if I was the person in the room who witnessed illegal activity.

These past weeks we have witnessed several men and women answer that challenge in the affirmative. They have been willing to tell the world what they saw and heard during an attempt to overthrow our Democracy.

The reason why they were compelled to tell the Truth? They were in the room. Unlike you and I, and the news media, they were present. They knew the Truth—and were not intimidated by the ones who were trying to subvert our Democracy.

This courage is what makes our experiment in Democracy sacred. No one is above the law. We are a Nation of Laws.

As you fret over the cost of your hot dog buns and the cost of gas, consider how life would be if we did not remain vigilant to protect our country from within.

This Fourth of July remember this is an experiment. There is no reason to believe it will continue unless men and women, including you and I, are willing to stand up for Truth.

Veterans and Legacy

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Veterans

Money, power, fame and fan adulation appear to be important to politicians, sports figures, television personalities, and online influencers among others.  Given all the headline attention that some of the people in those fields receive, it is no surprise that a combination of big bank accounts, influence, and the spotlight follow.

Veterans, the thousands of anonymous men and women who are asked to be constantly ready for the worst things that might happen the country, do their work for modest pay, no “power” beyond the power that comes with their rank and respect from their fellow men and women in uniform.  Their “business” is done outside the limelight and make headlines when something happens that many would rather not see.  No one gets rich while serving in uniform and the few that may have any fan following get it after some horrific events have occurred.

The unfortunate historical development of the past fifty-five years is that we demonized our combat veterans of the Vietnam era.  Society’s reaction to those who met the call and served in Vietnam caused them to go “underground” in the sense that many who served their two or three-year commitments left the military and attempted to bury that experience and hide it for decades after their service. 

Veterans of the Vietnam era were the last to confront something that the majority of Americans today may not comprehend—conscription, or more commonly referred to as the “draft.”  Unlike today’s volunteer military, tens of thousands of young American men waited for the draft board to send them their notices, or facing the inevitable, some signed up with the knowledge that it was only a matter of time till they would be called upon to serve.  Drafting manpower to fight in Vietnam invested more of U.S. society into following what the Government was doing and that resulted in the pressures to find a way out of an unpopular war.    

During the past twenty years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we seemed to have made a deliberate effort to make a distinction between the politicians and their decisions about wars and those who have volunteered to serve and fight the wars.  In recent years, on the streets, on television, on social media platforms, and elsewhere, we often hear or see notes expressing, “Thank you for your service.” 

It is hard to determine if expressing that sentiment allays the bitterness that some of our Vietnam veterans have felt for decades.  Whether it does or not, what is evident is that we do see more and more of our Vietnam combat veterans and other Vietnam era veterans wearing hats or shirts that signify their past service. 

While the vast majority of the veterans of our most recent wars are still relatively young, we should remind ourselves that as the few remaining World War II veterans pass away, the youngest of our two other wars (Korea and Vietnam) are now at least seventy years old.  Our Korean War veterans are well into their eighties.  With the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Vietnam in 1972, the youngest of those veterans are nearing seventy years old with the vast majority having already passed that milestone.

From the veterans of our most unpopular war, there is a great legacy being left to us by our Vietnam veterans.  The greatest legacy is the one they have given each other . . . life.  When a group of these old warriors reunite with men from their old units, they may shake hands, they may give their buddies a squeeze on the shoulder or a healthy slap on the back, but many embrace each other, embracing the life they gave each other for these additional fifty-plus years. 

That gift of life to each other has led to spouses, children, and grandchildren.  They provided each other a return home to see parents and siblings, living decades that were denied their fellow warriors who fell in battle.  Reunions are a time when each of these old warriors can see the legacy of generations that they gave each other. 

Today, the men and women who served decades ago in that most unpopular war are proud of their service.  Many proudly wear hats or shirts that signify their service.  These warriors, having their service and sacrifice disparaged for many years, have aged with the knowledge that, in the eyes of those who matter—their brothers in arms, they served with honor.  They had each other’s back.  They gave each other the legacy of life, allowing them to raise their families.  As individuals, they may not have fame or fortune, but the gift they gave each other is priceless.

American Soldier: His Final Rest

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Arlington National Cemetery

The gently sloping hills of Arlington National Cemetery overlook the nation’s capital.  From this vantage point, thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines look across the Potomac River in formation.  It is as if in their passing, they continue to look over us and the country because it is their legacy. 

Here, colonels are among corporals and privates among generals.  Alas, they have come together for their final rest.  Some served for a short time while others did so for a lifetime.  But now, time is irrelevant as we salute them, pay respect to their deeds forever as they have arrived for their final rest. 

Overwhelmingly, those who rest here are unknown but to their loved ones and the brothers and sisters in arms with whom they served.  Often, their heroic actions are unknown to their parents, spouses, children, and grandchildren.  For the family, the only way they may know is through a written citation that accompanies the awarding of a medal.  Or, if they have met those with whom their loved one served.  Those heroic deeds are known only to those who, in their most life-threatening moments, served at their side to keep each other alive to see another dawn.

Today, March 5, my father’s ashes will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery for his final rest.  Officially, the documents inform us that Emerson “Top” Trainer retired from the Army after over 21 years of active duty.  Those years spanned the period from November 1949 to March 1971.  He was seventeen when he enlisted and found himself in Korea a few months after his eighteenth birthday and just weeks after the outbreak of the Korean War.  He was seriously wounded in January 1951. 

He kept re-enlisting.  He knew the risks, but he had also found a “home”.  While he didn’t excel in school, he was very good at soldiering.  From the ice and cold of Korea in the 1950s, the heat and humidity of Vietnam greeted him in the 1960s.  As he rose through the ranks to become a First Sergeant in a rifle company in Vietnam, his experience and contribution to the lives of his young soldiers were not unnoticed.

Retired General McCaffrey, my father’s company commander in 1968, wrote in the Foreword of The Fortunate Son: Top, Through the Eyes of Others that “He gave a sense of being the ‘father’ of these young soldiers. Absolutely fearless. Quiet. Dignified. A teacher. Very gentle way of dealing with people. He was a natural leader. He expected to be obeyed.”  As a young captain and company commander, General McCaffrey added that “I considered him to be the co-commander of the company. He was a rock. The soldiers loved him. He was one of them.” 

After two combat tours of duty in Vietnam and another Purple Heart, the Army was clear that its losses of combat-experienced senior non-commissioned officers dictated that he be placed back on orders for Vietnam after recuperating from burns he suffered.  He reluctantly retired from his Army family.   

Though he no longer wore the uniform, he was never anything but a soldier in mind and spirit.  As the years passed, the young soldiers he had helped get through their combat tours in Vietnam sought him out, and he relished being with them at reunions and other gatherings.  He liked being with other soldiers.  He was in his element.  He understood them, and they understood him.  He made life-long bonds as evidenced by the fact that half a century after serving together in Vietnam, he regularly attended reunions, weekend gatherings, and spoke often to his former soldiers.

For him and so many who are at eternal rest in Arlington, so much about who they were and what kind of soldiers they were is told by what appears on the uniform they wore.  Luckily for my family, there is a group of men who wanted to express their respect for their “Top” (their First Sergeant).  In The Fortunate Son, they described publicly their Vietnam experience and the impact that Top had on their lives so that he would know what he meant to them. 

We are fortunate.  Over the years, we have spent time with many of the men who served with our soldier.  While tears may be shed on this day that he is interred, we celebrate his life and the many positive effects he had on the lives of his brothers in arms and their families.    

If you find yourself in the nation’s capital, look west across the national mall to the rolling hills beyond the Lincoln Memorial.  You may see those who have watched over the country still in perfect formation and wonder if we continue to be worthy of their service and sacrifice.