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Young conservatives at Washington & Lee

Editor: Fire up a group blog and you never know who may want in. A Denver businessman asked me if his daughter and her college pal could try out as contributors for us. Three minutes into the first meeting, after getting past the unnerving impression they were twins, I knew the conversation here would improve with Kari Ann and Corinne taking part. But what was to be the byline for this sister act? They've dubbed themselves "Roommates Rally," and here is their debut contribution: Everyone has heard...

...their fair share of college roommate horror stories. Thankfully, ours is not one of them. We are two conservative Christian college roommates that met at a small, private, liberal arts school in the small but quaint town of Lexington, Virginia. Our little slice of paradise is Washington and Lee University. During our first, very awkward, phone call, Kari Ann learned Corinne’s name isn’t pronounced “cream,” and Corinne began to stress about possibly having a Midwestern hippy for a roommate. However, now we both believe that it was God that brought us together. We feel so blessed not only to attend a great university, but also to have made such a strong, life-long friendship with each other. Since this will be our first blog entry here, we thought that we would introduce ourselves.

My name is Kari Ann Pfannenstein.

I am a Colorado native, and have lived in Littleton all my life. I am one of two daughters of John and Rama; my older sister is Amy. I am so grateful for my parents; they not only planted and nurtured my relationship with God, but also continue to provide me with the best advice and support. I attended Cherry Hills Christian School k-8 and transitioned to Heritage for my high school career. I was the drummer for an all-girls Christian rock band called “Forever’s Beginning,” but unfortunately my music career ended when all the older girls went off to college. I played four years of varsity basketball for Heritage, summers for the Colorado Hoopsters, and continue to play for W&L. Though I haven’t declared a major yet, I plan to be a Journalism and Mass Communications and English double major. Almost nightly dinner discussions and my daddy’s humorous, politically-charged e-mails first sparked my interest in politics. I am not a Midwestern hippy as my roommate once thought. My name is Corinne Smith...

...and I am the Southern counterpart of the Roommates’ Rally. I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC and attended a catholic elementary and middle school. I then transitioned to a large, public high school where I played soccer throughout my four years there. Once I got to college, I continued to play soccer, but I also broadened my horizons and got involved with the Catholic Campus Ministry as their service chair. I also serve on the Executive Committee at W&L as the student representative to the faculty. Right now, I plan to be a Politics and Business Administration major. I first became interested in politics after taking an inspiring AP Government class taught by a teacher whom I would consider one of my most influential. I hope to some day work with a political interest group in Washington, D.C. that caters to my conservative Christian background and beliefs.

Now that you know...

...a little more about us, we hope that you will continue to read as we tackle some of the current, debate-inducing topics.

'No Rest Elsewhere' relives Vietnam combat in 1968

Book Review by John Andrews [photopress:orcutt__cover.jpg,thumb,pp_image]

I'm honored to help an old friend, Allen Orcutt, bring out a little book of poems, prose, and pictures that explores how a year at war can change a man for life. And much for the better in this Marine pilot's case, searing as the ordeal was. No Rest Elsewhere: Vietnam Notes, 1968-2008, expands on a poetic collection initially published in 1973, just after Allen came home. It includes his account of reconciling war-shattered relationships in later years, climaxing with a trip back to Vietnam in 2007. You can order the book for $12.50 per copy, postpaid, by sending your check to Allen Orcutt at 737 Storm King Circle, New Castle CO 81647. Or email him at aorcutt@sopris.net, providing your postal address to which book(s) and invoice can be sent.

Below are the Table of Contents for "No Rest Elsewhere," the author's introduction, and my foreword. If you or a friend or family member served in Vietnam or any of America's wars, or if you just enjoy honest, thoughtful writing about life's deepest issues, I encourage you to get this book.

------------------------------------ NO REST ELSEWHERE Vietnam Notes, 1968-2008 By Allen Orcutt Introduction by the Author

My father and both of my grandfathers served their country during world War I and War II . Their portraits in Army and Marine Corps uniforms of the day hang on the wall behind my desk. Although they were awarded several medals including silver and bronze stars, not one of them shared their experiences.

I know that Allen Wood Orcutt, my father’s father, served proudly in WW I. However, all we have of his experiences were love letters sent to my grandmother. He died at age 35 from complications of a virus and mustard gas.

During that same war, my other grandfather, Harvey S. Brown , was a runner-messenger with the Marines in the trench warfare of Belleau Wood., France. He, among very few, survived that assignment. Yet, he never spoke of his experiences.

My Dad, George H Orcutt, served in War II as a Scout with General Patton in France. Although he was highly decorated, his sense of duty made the bullet in his shoulder put there by a German sniper, a reminder to me that in combat, war’s rules and war’s memories remain deep within.

Before l departed for Vietnam, my friend and former WW II South Pacific Marine , David Rennie shared with me this message. He discovered it in a castle in Scotland. In Europe and Great Britain he saw plenty of armor mostly under glass and in pristine condition. There was one exception. It was of modest design with battle dents and heavy damage. On its breastplate was inscribed in Latin, “Nulla Quiat Alibi”. That is “No Rest Elsewhere” than to uphold the honor, camaraderie and trust shared by fellow warriors, in this case Marine Corps pilots.

For us there was No Rest Elsewhere when I began Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, in 1966, started flight school in Pensacola in 1967, or arrived in Vietnam in 1968, the twelve months after TET proved to be the worst for helicopters, pilots and air crews.

What you are about to read is not just my story. Rather, it’s a story about young men, the warrior elite, in war. It is also about their family and friends. Some who stood beside them, some who didn’t.

------------------------------------ NO REST ELSEWHERE Vietnam Notes, 1968-2008 By Allen Orcutt Table of Contents

Part One: In Country

1. Old-Fashioned War Poem 2. Strike 3. Fogged In 4. Strike Two 5. September 29, 1968 6. Zone Supposedly Secure 7. Delivered Again 8. The Climb 9. Medevac Inbound 10. In Memory of Tom Burton 11. What’s It All About? 12. Operation Meade River 13. Let’s Not 14. Fishing Resort? 15. In Memory of William T. Hale 16. Willy’s Last Day 17. Gold Star Mother 18. Fall of the Eagle 19. Midnight Mortartown 20. Away to Uncompahgre 21. Emergency Leave 22. Sandra, Arch, and the Colonel 23. And I Saw My Mountains Once More before Leaving 24. Linus’s Blanket 25. Kielhofer: All in a Day’s Work 26. Cloud Disguises 27. A Last Goodnight 28. Awareness

Part Two: Home Front

29. Through White into Blue 30. Citadel 31. Anybody Home? 32. Crossing over the Pond 33. At China Beach 34. Haikus for You 35. I’m Here 36. Against the Tide 37. Forgiveness Forgotten 38. Fierce Communion 39. Our Peniel 40. Still 41. Disorientation 41A. Resolution

Part Three: Long After

42. Despite the Rain 43. Shining Horizon 44. Tea with Mr. Houng 45. Glenwood Canyon 46. Smoke Signals on the Periphery 47. Petals of a Smile 48. Ho Chi Minh City, Formerly Saigon 49. Lumahai Beach, Kaui 50. Fallujah Echoes Danang 51. The River Wins 52. Condominium of Hope 53. Peace Rock 54. Before Moving On

------------------------------------

NO REST ELSEWHERE Vietnam Notes, 1968-2008 By Allen Orcutt Foreword by John Andrews

“Jacob would be proud.” (1) A Marine pilot in the war zone wrote that in a poem to his wife between attack missions one night 40 years ago. He had seen death that day and would see more tomorrow.

The hours of darkness were a short and uncertain respite; the airbase itself was often mortared. In the morning his number might come up and he’d never go home again. Home would soon mean something different anyway; their marriage was collapsing. The biblical wrestling image was doubly apt.

Yet he held on fiercely to duty and country, faith and hope. Part of what helped him hold on was the catharsis of scribbling such poems in a DOD logbook. In God’s good time that pilot came home, rebuilt his life, and kept writing. “I will teach my son all about peace,” he poetically promised another wife long after. (2)

Over the decades, Allen Orcutt kept that promise. He has taught his children – and is now beginning to teach their children – all he can about how peace and honor can transcend war and violence, how love and loyalty can transcend loss and sorrow. The teaching continues with this book of Vietnam sketches in poetry, prose, old maps and grainy combat photos.

Unlike the often-stoic veterans of our fathers’ and grandfathers’ generations, Allen has opened up his war memories for the life lessons they can provide the rest of us: comrades, friends, contemporaries, and descendants. I thank him. When you finish these pages, I believe you will too.

Only the inner circle of battlefield comrades can know the full meaning of what is here. But from the next circle, as a lifelong friend, I have known a good part of it. Allen and I were close as brothers in school, fellow volunteers for officer training, business partners and political allies later on, soulmates to this day. Submarine duty gave me few credentials to comment on the harrowing combat journal you’ll read here. What I can do, though, is stand character witness for the author. Absolute integrity is on every line. Blood and tears are in the ink.

This volume grows out of a smaller collection of poems published by Allen Orcutt in 1973, under the title Before Moving On. (3) At that time the war was still going on, he was back to civilian life working for my father, and I had become a presidential speechwriter, from which vantage point Allen asked me to write a foreword. I described the book as “the story of thirteen months in a man’s life, battle episodes sharing the stage with family scenes, introspection, friendship, tragedy.”

The present book, you will find, is all of that and something more. Now enriched by the perspective of a generation, and expanded with additional detail from the helicopter squadron in 1968-69 as well as from the author’s trip back to Vietnam in 2007, No Rest Elsewhere gets at deeper questions the previous edition didn’t anticipate. How can a year at war shape a lifetime of seven decades? How does a man finally become the man he is? It may even hold up a mirror for any reader to ask himself: What fires forged me into the person I am?

Three sections, “In Country,” “Home Front,” and “Long After,” unfold the narrative. We meet Allen’s fellow pilots including the fallen Willy Hale; the Vietnamese Mr. Houng who witnessed Hale’s death; college sweetheart Sandra who abruptly fled the Orcutts’ wartime marriage; and Barbara, Allen’s wife today. Andre and Georgia, his children with Barbara, as well as Amy and Ashley, his children with second wife Nancy, are sensed as a presence in the story though never introduced.

Another unseen presence here is the author’s fight with Parkinson’s disease for the past dozen years. Since the condition is known to Allen’s friends, I asked his permission to mention it. Does the high incidence of this and similar illnesses among veterans stem from their exposure to Agent Orange, the dangerous chemical defoliant? That’s uncertain. But the possibility heightens the book’s theme of what war can cost those who fight it – how it may forever change even those who survive. Courage may be demanded from the warrior, and from his loved ones, long after the shooting stops.

To vow at 25 that you are “determined to be the rock I say I am” amidst war and heartbreak, two storms at once, is character under pressure.(4) To look back at 65 and take inventory of how well you did – and print the results for review – to me that’s character of a higher order still. “Counting years is ugly work,” the younger Allen wrote when things seemed darkest.(5) “I’m so grateful… fare thee well,” the older Allen writes now. (6) Back then his pledge and prayer was to be “able to kiss a tormented sea.” (7) It seems he’s gotten there. The struggle was long, but rest finally came.

This brings us to the title of the new collection, “No Rest Elsewhere.” David Rennie, cited in the author’s introduction as a retired Marine, was also a Bible teacher. I suspect that his motto from a knight’s breastplate, given to Orcutt by Rennie as a talisman for battle, held scriptural overtones for the older man. A secret refuge in the Almighty and a table safe from enemies are mentioned by David the Psalmist. A rest like no other is Jesus’ promise to the weary and beleaguered. Such thoughts are not explicit here, for my friend isn’t one to sermonize. But listen closely and you’ll hear them in the poems.

When he says that “awareness is the constant path of my being,” it’s spiritual reliance that is meant, not just military vigilance.(8) The rest referred to is not found in escape or avoidance, but in keeping faith, hanging on and pushing through, wrestling to the limit of endurance like the patriarch in Genesis. In the Jacob poem quoted earlier, Allen speaks of “our Peniel,” the crucible of love and war.(9) It seems to me that Jacob would have approved the poet-pilot’s tenacity back then in wartime – and that he’d be prouder still today at the way this aging wrestler (Orcutt’s sport in high school, come to think of it) has yet to relinquish his grip.

Politics does not enter into any of this, then or now, even with America’s difficult experience in Iraq replaying the Vietnam agony in some ways. There is only the glancing reference in “Fallujah Echoes Danang” to enduring issues of savagery and civility in combat – more a military concern than a political one anyway. “Condominium of Hope” was prophetically titled in light of all the hopes riding on President Obama, yet the poem’s civic yearnings from 1969 seem no closer to realization in 2009.

Personal crises and victories are really the subject matter here. While the “endless surrender in disguise” may be a double reference to the no-win war as well as the author’s troubled marriage, the drama of the book ultimately turns on his emergence from the inward hell where “a very dead man screams in my ear.” (10) In two of the earlier poems, the rock seems to signify a solid place of rest. (11) In a later one about the Orcutts’ home in Glenwood Canyon, however, Allen suggests that was a false certainty: “Only a patient river wins the battle with the vertical rock [and] brings confidence to our mutual search for our souls.” (12) The ugliness encountered “when time freezes over” has given way at last to the beauty experienced as time flows on. (13)

As the weary pilot’s combat tour of duty ended, he felt sure “the problems I will face will never again be so consistently great, so persistently antagonistic, so emotionally bereft, so human.” (14) In some ways that has probably proved true. Yet for this “Colorado comet with an Oklahoma soul,” life after Vietnam was not going to be a mere postscript to war. (15) New challenges would keep forcing him back to the fields of honor and the fortress of faith. He would keep accepting those challenges in the simple belief that there was no rest elsewhere.

“You got to know how to hold a dream,” says Allen Orcutt in a latter-day meditation on what all the years, all the battles, all the sorrows and joys have meant. (16) He has held his with grit and grace, it seems to me after reading these writings.

-------------------------------------- References: 1. “Our Peniel” 2. “Peace Rock” 3. From the poem of that name 4. “Citadel” 5. “Forgiveness Forgotten” 6. “Resolution” 7. “At China Beach” 8. “Awareness” 9. “Our Peniel 10. “What’s It All About?” 11. “Peace Rock” and “Citadel” 12. “The River Wins” 13. “Forgiveness Forgotten” 14. “Before Moving On” 15. “Citadel” 16. “Despite the Rain”

'Mr. Main Street' mourned in Evergreen

Ted LaMontagne, a longtime pillar of the idyllic mountain community of Evergreen, Colorado, passed away this week. With his business and civic activities, neighborly warmth, and devout faith, Ted epitomized all the best qualities we associate with Main Street America. We thought of ourselves as brothers-in-law for the past decade, after his marriage to Kay D'Evelyn, the widow of Donna's late brother David. I never knew a more gentle and greathearted man. Services will be held on Sunday, June 7, at noon at the Evergreen Lake House. Here is the statement his family gave out to newspapers:

TED LAMONTAGNE 1939-2009

Ted LaMontagne, a leading citizen and businessman in Evergreen for over 35 years, passed away at home on May 27. He was 70.

The Hardware, which Ted had owned and operated since 1973, was the town’s second oldest business when it closed in 2005. Mountain Home, his award-winning furniture store that began as a department of The Hardware, now operates at the same location in the historic Hiwan Barn, which he renovated for that purpose.

Ted was long active in the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce, serving on its board in the 1980s. He helped found the Evergreen Music Festival and the National Repertory Orchestra, as well as Evergreen Bootstraps and the Evergreen Scholarships. Over the years he employed many special needs students from Evergreen High School at his stores.

He was a board member of Art for the Mountain Community and was himself a devoted sculptor and art collector. He served on the community review and planning committees for both the Evergreen Lake House and Buchanan Park. He was a longtime member and officer of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Evergreen, and a board member for Wide Horizon, the Christian Science care facility in Wheat Ridge.

Edward W. LaMontagne was born January 11, 1939, to American parents in Mexico City, remaining there for his early education until returning to Texas for high school. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1961 with a BA in history, he was an officer in the US Navy.

He is survived by his wife, the former Kay D’Evelyn, who continues as the proprietor of Mountain Home; his son and daughter by a previous marriage, Evan LaMontagne and Kendall Peterson, both of Denver; and his stepson and stepdaughter, Melanie D’Evelyn of Washington, DC, and Kenny D’Evelyn of Elsah, IL, as well as five grandchildren.

A memorial service for Ted will be held on Sunday, June 7, at 12:00 noon at the Evergreen Lake House.

The Aussie & the atheist

What some people won't say about themselves with bumper stickers or tee shirts. I saw a charming one and an infuriating one this week. "Good grammar costs nothing," said the Asian girl's shirt in line behind me to board a flight. Such exhibitionists either want or deserve remarks from strangers, so I asked her what it meant. Standing up for the English language when most people no longer bother, she replied in a thick Aussie accent. My sentiments exactly, I said. Los Angeles would be her last stop homebound after six weeks of travel in Europe and America. In the worst economy since the 1930s to hear some people tell it, mind you.

"Religion stops a thinking mind," scolded the tee on a dumpy fat guy at the pizza parlor last night. It was illustrated by one of those stat-line medical monitor waves. Him I didn't accost because A, I didn't trust myself to be civil, and B, his childish plea for attention merits nothing so much as cold silence.

After a moment I realized the slogan was someone's oh-so-clever twist on "Abortion stops a beating heart." I wanted to ask his rejoinder to that undeniable fact, and to pile on with the additional facts that abortion really does stop (or forestall) a thinking mind as well as extinguish (or divert from this world) a feeling soul.

I wanted to challenge him for examples of societies where God is ignored or banned but free and noble thought flourishes -- or to refute the conclusive truth that thought has risen highest in those societies where God is lifted highest.

But it would have been a waste of breath, so I just ate my pizza and reflected on the late George Roche's mordant comment, "The world is full of slobs." Yet not quite full of them, for there is still room for the occasional grammatically idealistic Aussie Asian girl. And thank heaven for such as she!

Prairie family memories for Christmas

Americans typically are very thoughtful this time of year. We have retrospective thoughts about the past year and we ponder the future as to what the coming months will bring. We wish each other blessings at the celebration of the Christ Child, and glad tidings for the New Year. Our wishes include good health, happiness and prosperity. With prominent people from Illinois taking up a lot of the air time these days, my thoughts revert back in time to the folks in the Land of Lincoln that shaped my life and gave me the tools necessary to be a productive, law-abiding citizen. This year, prosperity and the lack thereof, are foremost in our minds. Yet, when I remember my parents and grandparents that weathered the Great Depression, I know our current economic climate is still a better place to be than where they were a few days before Christmas during the early 1930's. By example, they taught me what courage, sacrifice, and hard work are really about. There was a humbleness to those generations. There was no giving up; there was no thought of throwing in the towel and sitting on a street corner with tin cup in hand. They knew by instinct that within themselves they had the tools necessary to survive and make a better future for their families. Hard times had befallen them, but better days were within their power. It was their responsibility to make it happen. When stock markets crashed and torrid heat and relentless wind sucked the life and productivity from farm land, basically everything besides their faith and trust in God, the roof over their heads and their determination were taken from them. From scratch, they started over again. There was no time to complain or bemoan their fate. There was work to be done. Maybe there was a temporary WPA job to help keep the family fed, and some fortunate souls had a family member with a little more excess than average and that person shared a little to help sustain life.

It is important to remember that few families did not come back out of those hard times. It took varying amounts of time, but my ancestors--hard-working, frugal Germans--got busy and made good things happen in their lives. Some gave up along the way and some fell prey to illness and lack of food and medical care. Many infants and young children did not survive the Great Depression, but the will of most people could not be destroyed. Today, no matter how poor any of us are, we still have the blessing of being able to walk into any hospital in this country and receive emergency medical care, regardless of ability to pay.

My parents, born in 1927 and 1928, grew up in large families. They slept, 4 and 5 to a bed in unheated upstairs bedrooms of old farmhouses. Wood and coal stoves worked 24/7 to try and heat non-insulated wood frame structures. My grandmothers used every scrap of cloth they could find, including feed and grain sacks, to sew quilts and clothing for their many children. Not a scrap of food was wasted and had both of my grandfathers not known how to hunt, their families would have surely starved. Back then, gun control and gun rights were unheard of social issues. A loaded gun hanging on wooden pegs on the back porch meant the difference between having some form of protein to put into your children's stomachs and watching them try to survive on boiled potatoes. At age 5, my father was given the responsibility of keeping wood cut and chopped to fit the kitchen stove. He apparently was so accomplished at it that he was given the same job at the one-room country school were he received his entire formal education---8 years.

As did other young farm boys of his generation, he knew that his life's work was already determined. After volunteering to serve his country during WWII, he returned to the black loamy soil where he would live his entire life to embark on his career. He would be a servant and steward of God's fertile Illinois farmland until his death. He accepted his pre-ordained calling with pride and enthusiasm. He never failed at his work. He endured drought, flood, crop failures caused by insects and blight, and yet, many years he watched in renewed awe as bumper crops of golden grain flowed from the combine auger. During profitable years, break-even years, and years of loss, he always kept his eyes focused on the Heavens above, from which he knew all his blessings flowed and from whence his help came. His work was never done and the tremendous productivity of just his pair of hands always amazed me. He fed untold numbers of people throughout his career which ended at age 65. Thousands of head of cattle and hogs were raised and sent to market as a result of his efforts. He worked tirelessly, starting every morning at 4:00 a.m. Baby pigs came during the coldest months, Dec-Feb. He and my mother sat up many a night in a bitter cold farrowing house assisting little pigs into the world and getting them quickly under the heat lamp. When calves came in the Spring, he endured biting winds and sleet, walking the pastures to check to see if any of his herd needed shelter, a shot of penicillin or other attention. His calloused hands broke up ice in livestock watering tanks with the claw end of hammer several times during sub-zero nights. I remember those very coldest nights, he couldn't sleep because he worried about the livestock and would bundle up several times and go out to check on all of them.

The person that designed those heavy denim bib overalls had a man like my father in mind. Every little pocket and loop was re-loaded each morning with the tools of his trade--pliers, nuts, bolts, nails, a little spool of electric fencing wire, a little baling twine, electrical tape, a small livestock syringe and bottle of some type of medication, tape measure, book of matches, carpenter's pencil and more items I cannot remember now. He could predict the weather by the look of the moon or the sunrise or sunset, knew when a cow was about to calf, for the most part, could repair all his farm machinery himself, had a brilliant mathematical mind, being good at predicting the markets and knowing when was the right time to sell grain. He was a man of many talents, gaining all his training from hands-on experience. He was a woodsmen, chemist, vet, hunter, teacher, patriot, devoted grandfather, and a father I will always admire. He was a loyal neighbor, always willing to put his own work aside when a friend needed a helping hand. He could be counted upon, no matter what. He was shrewd and practical and frugal, but his heart was as generous and giving as the wide open spaces he dearly loved. He taught me to count the rings in a fallen tree stump to determine the tree's age. Riding shotgun with him in the pickup to go pick up feed in town or taking a ride to check all the rain gauges he had installed on fence posts at intervals around his fields after a shower, he'd point out wildlife and where to always look for them. He was smart, he was tough and he was a survivor. From my parents and grandparents in east-central Illinois, I never saw corruption and I never saw success taint a person's future. Instead, success was the result of hard work and a kindly nod from God above and certainly nothing to brag about, but rather, count your blessings and be grateful because hard times will come again.

Our country is seeing some hard times now. Sometimes I can't decipher between what is really horrific and what is media hype. My world, and that of my immediate family is secure for now. For that, I am humbly and greatly appreciative. I know there are struggles this Christmas for some families, but I know that is the case each year. Whether a lot of people are hurting or a few, the fact remains suffering and want never go away. That is the result of an imperfect world. Those that came before us knew the true definition of worry about tomorrow. They knew what it was like to put sick children to bed that needed a doctor but there was no money for that luxury. They used gasoline sparingly, and for many children of those generations, a truly wonderful Christmas would be the gift of a new pair of socks or maybe an apple or an orange. I was born in the 1950's when prosperity was abundant. In my lifetime, I've taken for granted much that my parents and grandparents would have considered absolute luxury. Some among us are giving things up now and it is painful. We aren't accustomed to a feeling of want, and we should be grateful to our ancestors for the bounty we enjoy. We should also look to ourselves to make straight our individual courses and make better choices if we have failed to do so.

There's a lot of talk right now about corruption in Illinois, and other places, for that matter. Power and prestige does that to people. A young governor from my home state comes to mind, along with John Edwards, a man that admitted to not having the fortitude to keep his personal life in check. He was lured into bad behavior as a result of a cult following that made him believe he was special and invincible. We have a new president coming in that is someone that has seen unprecedented laud and honor and glory showered upon him. Before even taking the Oath of Office, expectations run high that he will cure every ill around the world. Every problem that inflicts pain upon Mankind will somehow be reduced or eliminated. Two thousand and some years ago, a Child was born that filled the world with hope and the promise of change. To be lumped into that category must be very frightening.

Whatever 2009 brings to us as a nation, it is my hope for the coming year that our readers here, and Americans across this great land, stop once in awhile and think about how we got here and who in our lives allowed us to stand on their shoulders in order that we may prosper and thrive. In every life, someone came before that sacrificed and did without so that this nation would go forward by the grace of God, yet another year. Whatever challenges come, and come they will, as a united people, we will weather the storms of change and with God's help, the hopes of our Founding Fathers and the remarkable documents they authored with which we govern ourselves will prevail. God bless each of you at this Merry Christmas time, and may your prayers unite with mine that God will continue to bless these United States in the New Year.