Posted: June 24, 2021 (5:00am)--- by Post Commander Christophersen
Quartermaster Thom Fermstad and I leave for the VFW Convention in Spokane in about 40 minutes. Thom is driving. This is the Dept of Washington Convention where the 2021-2022 Officers are elected and installed.
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Posted: June 19, 2021 --- by Post Commander Christophersen
James Madison was not only the author of the 1st draft of the U.S. Constitution, he, along with Alexander Hamilton, were the main promoters of ratifying it. Aside from the two of them being the main authors of "The Federalist Papers”, published at that time --- they also traveled the 13 States --- lecturing and persuading members of the State legislatures to vote "Yes” to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
It was not a given they would succeed. It is startling how close it was to not being ratified. Especially now, as we watch current events. Democracy is a fragile system. America did not have nearly the population in 1787 that it does now, but even back then, it was exceedingly difficult to get majority agreement on anything. Lying and dishonesty are not new. We know what Hitler did, using that technique, in Germany --- they were effective in promoting it --- along with finding & exploiting some particularly sensitive grievance in a gullible portion of the population.
Imagine what Hitler could have done with an unregulated social media, a myriad of channels like opposing web sites, opposing radio stations and opposing TV stations. It is a battle of whose propaganda is most effective. Madison was the 1st Founder to realize that "factions” (political parties) and "interests” (self-serving concerns) would play a part in the future of this country. Interesting insight!!
The section under "Members Only” on our web site www.vfw3348.org is a review of a book entitled "First Principles”. In the "Members Only” section, Parts 9-11 cover many of the considerations that were being discussed regarding what should be included--- and what resulted in being included in the U.S. Constitution --- and how close the vote was (a simple majority vote BTW) in some States. It was close. We barely achieved our democratic Republic --- as Benjamin Franklin said "A Republic, if you can keep it.”
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Posted: June 16, 2021 --- by Post Commander Christophersen
Somehow, I sprained my right wrist, so I put on a wrist brace that I keep. Then I decided to drive out to the VA Clinic in Edmonds to see if I can get an appointment --- because it is nearly impossible to call in to make an appointment. They are now up and running.
They still require face masks. The receptionist said that she could set up a phone consultation because due to COVID-19, they are limiting face-to-face appointments. This will also allow me to talk (at least) to what I assume will become my primary care provider.
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A note about a book that I just read: "Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers” by Marcus Brotherton. I picked up this book because the only thing I knew about the Band of Brothers was what I saw on that HBO Special. There were a few surprises. It starts out saying that the U.S. Army decided to try something different.
A Select division would stay together --- receive boot camp and paratrooper training in one place, at one time. This was before the U.S. Navy Seals (1962) or the U.S. Army Special Forces (1952) came into existence. It is about Company E (Easy Company), 3rd Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army. They became the elite fighting unit of WW II.
5,800 men volunteered; 1,948 made the 1st cut (the others were sent to other military branches); and finally, 140 made it through. A total of 366 men, over time, belonged to Easy Company due to transfers and (mostly) replacements. 49 men were KIA. Of those 366 men, 40 were known to be alive. Of the 40, 3 died during the writing of the book, 5 were not approached having written their own books, 12 declined to participate --- leaving 20 men who agreed to be interviewed.
The book is about those interviews. In 1942, Germany's Hitler was already at war in Europe. The beginning of the book is a synopsis of the interview with each of the 40 men --- a couple of the salient points to me were 1) the incredible eagerness these guys had to join the military and fight, and 2) the attack on Pearl Harbor is what caused most of them join --- while most of them had no clue where Pearl Harbor was other the somewhere in Hawaii.
The training was rigorous. Any fall offs, slacking. sarcasm or could not keep up --- you were out. Bang!! Most of them wanted to fight the Japs, so they were surprised when they learned they would be going to Europe for fight Hitler. After completing their initial training, they were ferried across the Atlantic to Northern Ireland. They talk of seeing other ships in their convoy hit and sunk by German U-boats --- killing everyone on those ships torpedoed --- not just soldiers but also sailors, doctors and nurses.
A particularly salient part deserves the actual (paraphrased) text.
"After landing in Northern Ireland, one of the officers came to the billets asking for anyone who spoke Polish. I could, along with 5 other guys. They sent the 5 of us to London. We were taken to #10 Downing St --- the residence of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the HQ of Britain’s Government. They introduced us to General Vladislovas Anders, head of the Polish Armed Forces. Anders had been imprisoned by the Russians when they invaded Poland in 1939. The Russians freed Anders and told him to re-create the Polish Army to fight alongside the Russian Army.”
"General Anders was pleased with our command of the Polish language, so we were sent 30 miles outside London for 3 weeks of specialized training. In one training exercise, they put us in a room blindfolded and taught us to take apart and reassemble both German and Russian machine guns. We did it over and over and over. Our stated mission was to train the Polish underground to fight the enemy --- yet exactly which enemy it was --- became clear over time --- it was the Russians.”
"The Russians were trying to get as much territory as possible. At the same time, they were pursuing the Germans, they were trying to kill as many Americans as possible. You need to know that even though Stalin was our ally, he was never in love with us. Stalin had raped Poland. He hated Americans. For this mission, the 5 of us were made members of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the wartime intelligence agency that eventually became the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).”
It goes into D-Day; watching from their own plane, other U.S. planes shot down killing everyone on board. Up to the Battle of the Bulge. Boots that did not fit and putting on 3 pairs of socks and wrapping their feet with burlap in place of boots. Huddling together in fox holes to prevent freezing to death as they could not light fires since is attracted mortar fire. On and On.
At the end, there were dozens or personal accounts of what happened when they first found the various concentration camps. U.S. Soldiers were throwing up, crying, sobbing, etc. to see other human being so skinny you could see their bones. It was horrible. Some live prisoners were lying in a cramped space next to dead prisoners. U.S. Soldiers were so mad, that if they captured a German, they would summarily blow his brains out on the spot.
Many came home with what is now called PTSD. Some could not adjust and reenlisted – which oddly enough, in a lot of cases, resolved enough of their personal terror, that they could survive and move ahead. Others didn’t do so well.
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Posted: June 8, 2021 --- by Post Commander Christophersen
Calling their phone number (206) 716-5858 put me in line as #19 to get a human. So, I drove out to the VA clinic in Edmonds. I parked (amply parking). I went there to see if they were in place and if they were open. The address is 21616 76th Ave in Edmonds. I walked to Room 112 and entered. The 2 receptionists greeted me and one of them told me that they would up and running next week.
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This is just for members of VFW Post 3348. Under the "Login” menu on our web site www.vfw3348.org you will see the option "Members Only”. That option requires you to enter your VFW Member ID and a password --- which is your last name. In there you can read several things e.g., Minutes for the last 3 months, Newsletters for the last 3 months, etc. An addition to that reading list, that I have just added, is a 14-part series about the beginnings of our country --- it revolves around the first 4 U.S. Presidents:
· George Washington
· John Adams
· Thomas Jefferson, and
· James Madison
I made an attempt to keep each of the 14 parts short (about 3 screens). I have gone through it several times to cleanse out any unnecessary data about what these 4 Founders accomplished and/or researched.
The source is a book entitled "First Principles” by Thomas E. Ricks. He found actual letters and/or notes, etc. that allowed him to capture various quotes directly from these Founders --- so you get a feel for what they were experiencing, thinking, confronting and resolving. All done without all the modern conveniences of 2021. Things were a tad different in the years around the 1776 era.
There is an amazing resemblance to some of our current events --- as it delves into what transpired leading up to the acceptance of the Constitution of the United States of America. Why is Congress made up of 2 bodies: Senate and the House of Representatives? Where did the concept of a judicial system, with a Supreme Court, come from? Why do we have a President and not a King? How was the precedent set that there can be a peaceful transfer of power from a defeated President to a legitimately elected President?
It is convenient that you can move from one part to another, simply by scrolling back up and selecting it from the list. Also there is a "Table of Contents" that has a snapshot of each of the 14 parts to help you get oriented.
Posted: April 15, 2021 --- by VFW Post 3348 Quartermaster, Thom Fermstad
The themes for the VFW National essay contests for 2021-2022 have been posted on our web site: www.vfw3348.org; "Programs”; option: "Youth Essay Contests”. The entry forms are linked at the bottom of that page.
The Voice of Democracy (VOD) essay contest is for young adults in Grades 8-12 --- the top prize is $30,000 but they pay down to 5th place. Local VFW Posts usually pay a little something to any qualified person who sends their essay submission, prior to the October 31, 2021 deadline, to our Post:
Blackburn-Aurora VFW Post 3348
PO Box 55164
Seattle, WA 98155
The Patriot’s Pen essay contest is for children in Grades 6-8 --- top prize is $5,000. Same rules.
Our programs support our service members while they are on the front line, as they are being discharged and long after they return. Your tax-deductible donation will be immediately directed to the VFW programs where your support is most urgently needed.