12-18-2015 1-27-36 PMIn November, I wrote about a wonderful and necessarily hush-hush operation simply known as the Nazarene Fund. It has many projects, including supporting our vets, helping to protect Israel, disaster response, and feeding the hungry. However, for obvious reasons the details had to be necessarily sketchy regarding the plan to rescue Iraqi Christians from extermination at the hands of ISIS.

I am so pleased to report that they have gotten out, they are safe, and they are profoundly grateful. The footage I have seen of their “homecoming” has been its own Christmas gift, and my prayer is that this will be the first of many “ops.”

And where did they land? Who took them in and put signs up in the airport that said, “Welcome Home?” The tiny nation of Slovakia. Now granted, the lion’s share of the 13 million dollars it took to get this first wave safely out of Iraq was donated by Americans, and everyone that was part of the American team said the experience was transformational. But it was Slovakia, which has certainly seen more than its fair share of war and oppression during its history, who chose to open its doors to strangers that are brothers and sisters in Christ.

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One woman, whose name is Ellen, had the following to say about how she was affected by the welcoming nation and those being welcomed:

“We have been rewarded beyond belief by being allowed to stay in Slovakia. Thank you for letting us be here to see the Iraqi Christian refugees come home. That is how things were greeted [sic] when they came to Slovakia, “Welcome Home.” This is one of the greatest times I have ever spent. Spiritual, uplifting, crushing, expanding! To witness these refugees who are willing to give up everything in life to gain everything eternal, is a miracle. I’m awed by the grace of the Slovakian people. I am inspired by the Slovakian government and their willingness to step up to the challenge other nations are turning a blind eye to. I am humbled and reborn by the strength of my Iraqi brothers and sisters. Today we are all one family in Christ. He loves and watches over us all. And expects us to watch over each other.”

I am going to resist the temptation to spend much time contrasting the response of the Slovakian government to that of our own, other than to say that several churches in America, who have the resources to sponsor families, have been turned down by our State Department.

And I won’t discuss at length the fact that ISIS has put threats in the mailboxes of Swedes that give them three choices: 1. Convert to Islam 2. Pay the “protection tax” 3. Or be beheaded in three days. This is Sweden, whose king stood firm against the Nazis during WWII, and providentially, the nation was not destroyed.

No, those rants will have to wait. For now, I am going to thank God the Iraqis are safe, and rejoice that in one tiny corner of a brave, tiny nation, there is peace on earth, and goodwill toward men. Merry Christmas, dear readers, and a Happy New Year! Keep on shining on.
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12-3-2015 10-02-16 AMThere were several things about our most recent Thanksgiving that were memorable, but for me, as a kid who grew up during the Cold War, one of them was the chance to learn about a hero from nearly 60 years ago that until recently, was nearly completely unknown. His name was Jim Dawson, and he was an insurance lawyer.

Mr. Dawson is portrayed by Academy Award winner Tom Hanks in the Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies, and while most folks who know me are aware that I am always in the corner of the ground pounder (Army soldier), or any member of our armed services that gives of themselves to keep us safe, there is another war that is sometimes fought through words that can be just as impressive, and deserves just as much gratitude.

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Such was the case in 1960 when a U-2 spy plane was shot down at 70,000 feet over Russia, and Gary Powers was taken prisoner. I was just a little girl, but I remember it well. Germany had been divided, Berlin had a wall that would stay up until the Reagan administration, and we lived under the continual threat of a mushroom shaped cloud.

Backing up, Jim Dawson was involved in prosecuting the Nazi command at the Nuremburg trials. It was his idea to make the harrowing footage of the kinds of things that went on in the concentration camp available as part of his prosecutorial strategy, and it sealed the doom of 12 of them for war crimes. It is said that up until the showing of the film of bulldozers pushing bodies into ditches, Goring was confident he would skate on the case. No such luck, thanks to Jim Dawson.

Jim was the brilliant, low-key negotiator who was asked to defend the top KGB agent in America, Rudolph Abel, who was arrested for espionage. He even argued a part of his case before the Supreme Court of the United States, and Mr. Dawson paid a big price for it. His family was threatened, and as a Naval Commander, he had to endure being called a Commie, which, back in that day, was like being called a pedophile or a member of ISIS.

However, Jim had a hunch that someday an exchange of spies was going to be needed, and this would then insure that we would have leverage. It was actually to our advantage that the spy avoid the electric chair, because it gave us a bargaining chip should we need it, and we most certainly did. He then secured the exchange of Abel for Gary Powers, as well as another US spy. There was also an innocent econ student named Pryor, who was arrested by the East Germans for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Jim negotiated his release, too.

In fact, Jim was responsible for the rescue of close to 10,000 people in Cuba, managed to negotiate with Fidel Castro, and be an insurance lawyer (at least, that was his cover) while he worked for the CIA.

But, as amazing as all of that was, the guy was a genuine family man, who was able to maintain deep relationships with his kids, and who loved his wife. Jim never fired a shot, but he was a warrior. He managed to command the respect of Fidel Castro, John F Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy. As for me, in this season of gratitude, giving, and light, I am glad to be reminded once again of the prices that have been paid for my freedom, and the right to worship according to the dictates of my conscience is because of people like Jim Dawson.
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11-20-2015 2-11-24 PMWhen I came home from Iraq for the last time, my friend Rita Campbell flew over to Paris and met me. It was an absolutely extravagant way to experience re-entry from a combat zone, and it is a trip neither of us will ever forget. Together we explored Paris in the legendary month of April, as well as parts of Germany and Italy, and we were bathed in the beauty of it all, especially the museums.

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I had been made aware while still in Iraq that there were now whole sections of Paris that the police would not enter due to the presence of shariah-ists, if I may coin a term, and there were kids who sported T-shirts that said (in French), “2030, We Take Over.” These areas are known as “no-go zones,” and there are several of them in the city. While I was there, I was on high alert for the presence of backpack bombs, and I suppose a certain part of me will stay that way until Yeshua, and not the Madi, comes back and sets things straight.
Right across the street from the Louvre, there is a long row of shops that have probably been there nearly as long as the Louvre has, and they “witnessed” the dreadful occupation by the Germans beginning in 1940. While shopping for souvenirs, I happened to look to my right, and on the inside wall of an arch was a brass plaque that commemorated the arrest in 1944 of several members of the French Resistance. As I looked down the mall of the shops, there was a giant Nazi flag hanging because a WWII period film was being made in the same area. It gave me the creeps, and I thought of a song I heard often when I was growing up. It was the Oscar-winning number written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein, from the 1941 film entitled, “Lady Be Good,” and immortalized by Kate Smith, of “God Bless America” fame. The name of the song was “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” Some of the lyrics are as follows:

The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay
I heard the laughter of her heart in every street cafe
The last time I saw Paris, her trees were dressed for spring
And lovers walked beneath those trees and birds found songs to sing

The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay
No matter how they change her, I’ll remember her that way

The heart of Paris was ripped wide open on November 13th, 2015, when approximately 150 people were killed in several attacks. And while the worth of people does and will always outweigh the worth of things and buildings, please understand that it will be the intent of the “2030 crowd” to also destroy the contents of the museums, and possibly the buildings themselves. By contrast, the Nazis wanted the artwork for themselves, and expected to co-opt all of it for the Fuhrer. The great irony is that while the justification for destroying artwork is because it is idolatrous and an offense to Allah, often times it is sold in order to fund ISIS. This has already happened in Syria and Iraq, and I will be surprised if it doesn’t happen throughout Europe.

So, what do we do? Obviously, for people of faith, the first and most powerful option will be to pray, then to count the cost of being believer, and make our whole selves ready. We were told from the get go that in order to be a true Christian we are to consider our lives as not being our own. Furthermore, we are to be willing to literally lose them for the One we love. That One goes so far as to say,

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

A better translation is “be of good confidence and courage; I have conquered the world.”

I can say with conviction that the bad guys are counting on us being afraid, and that will be our greatest temptation. But if we can say, along with Paris, “our heart IS warm and gay,” then, “No matter what they do to US, we shall always be remembered that way.”

God bless you and your families this 2015 Thanksgiving, and please remember to thank a Vet for your freedom.
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11-6-2015 9-40-17 AMMaybe you have seen a somewhat Arabic-looking smiley face with a dot in the middle all over the Internet and social media, and had no idea what it was. The illustration contained here in Publisher’s Point will bring you up to speed, but hopefully, you won’t stop there. The Nazarene symbol, (the smiley face thingy), is used by ISIS much the same way that the yellow Star of David was used by the Nazis against the Jews: it means that ultimately you are marked for death. If you are a Christian in Iraq, you have already seen a veritable holocaust, and yet, hope is coming in some gutsy ways that I want to tell you about.

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When I was about 10 years old, several years before I became a Christian, I learned in Sunday School that in the early days of the Christian Church, believers would meet other people in the road, and draw with their sandal the top half of the fish symbol, the equivalent to the Arabic/Nazarene symbol in the time of the Roman Empire. If the other person were also a believer, they would complete the bottom half of symbol with their sandal, thus drawing a fish in the dust. Both people would know, (or at least hope), that the other was safe. I have never forgotten that story, and it is painful to know that while I live in freedom in the USA, others are being beheaded. Until recently, I did not feel able to do much more than pray.

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And while I don’t believe we are yet in the Great Tribulation as classically portrayed in the book of Revelation, it cannot be denied that there is “great tribulation” and bloody persecution of Christians all over the earth—in China, North Korea, and the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria. And, through the blessing of technology, there is something you can do to help Christians in Iraq and Syria.

11-6-2015 9-39-32 AMThere is a project that is called the Nazarene Fund, and it has raised millions of dollars to get Christians out of Iraq and Syria, and to safety. What has impressed me the most about this particular project is the use of lessons and questions learned and asked by the intelligence community when it comes to “screening” people to determine if they are authentic and genuine candidates for repatriation. This prevents dollars of well meaning people from being squandered, and does more to make sure that people are the “real deal,” and therefore veritable candidates to start a new life in a new land.

Right now there is a new airlift being organized, and like any good “op,” not much can be said about the details, other than the fact that a jet is being chartered, and another wave of people are going to make it out alive. We could not do much here in the States during WWII to save Jews, but I have heard the stories of many in Europe who risked their lives to get Jewish people to safety.
However, we as believers have a vetted opportunity to do what could not be done 75 years ago, and if that is something that would seem like a worthwhile way of expressing thanks and solidarity during this holiday season, you can go to www.now.mercuryone.org to find out more about what you can do. The Nazarene is being celebrated, and many of the Nazarenes in the Middle East can indeed be spared.
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10-17-2015 9-05-31 AMIn the summer of 1972, after I gave up a full scholarship to Oberlin College to attend Pacific School of Theology in Seattle, students from our college went to Dallas to attend a Billy Graham evangelistic event that was geared toward young people. It was called Explo ’72, and was held at the height of the Jesus People Movement. Close to 40,000 kids gathered in the hot sun to surrender to Christ, and the team came back with marvelous testimonies which will always be precious to me. But somewhere in that stadium was an unknown young man that you will have the chance to “meet” starting October 16th through the vehicle of the movie, Woodlawn.

The young man’s name was Hank Erwin, and a year after Explo, he ended up functioning as the chaplain of the Woodlawn High School football team in Birmingham. Integration had been mandated, racial tensions ran high, and it was not a time when the concept of “separation of church and state” equaled no religion on campus. Hank, who is played by Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings, told the team that they had the power to change what was going on around them, but it would only happen through surrender to Christ’s love. He challenged them to forgive each other and go a new way, and nearly the entire 40 member team did so.

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Enter African American Tony Nathan, who became Woodlawn’s star running back, and who was eventually recruited by Bear Bryant to play for Alabama. (Coach Bryant is played by Academy Award winner John Voight.) Tony was nicknamed “Touchdown Tony,” and the entire town, black and white, got behind him and went to see him play. He was quiet, humble, and not at all comfortable with the spotlight. But he and his team were the ones that proved that the love of God can heal offenses going back hundreds of years, and it was the testimony of the kids that drove their coach, Tandy Geralds, to accept Christ and be baptized.

The transformation of the team and the coach changed things in Birmingham. Tony Nathan went on to play for the Miami Dolphins and was in two Super Bowls. And the story might have faded permanently into quietness, if it weren’t for two special filmmakers, Jon and Andy Erwin. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because their dad is Hank Erwin, the young man that was at the same Billy Graham event as my friends.

Hank would tell the story of all that happened at Woodlawn to the boys as a bedtime story. He would act out all the parts, go leaping and running through the room while impersonating Tony Nathan, and it was one of their favorites. They knew the time had come to bring this remarkable story to the big screen, and while they were able to get such veteran actors as Astin and Voight to play the parts, the fact that they found 23 year old newcomer Caleb Castille, (who played for Nick Sabin at ‘Bama), to take on the role of Tony, was a true Godsend. Caleb is a strong believer, and get this: Caleb’s dad played with Touchdown Tony for Bear Bryant, too! Caleb grew up knowing all about what happened at Woodlawn.

So, why do I think Woodlawn will win our hearts? Because it’s well made, it’s about God’s love, it’s about football, and it’s about Alabama the Beautiful. To my mind, that’s all we need, and the time is now for the truth to triumph.
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10-2-2015 12-49-13 PMDr. Ben Carson has been one of my heroes for decades. I first became aware of him prior to 1987, before he performed the first legendary and landmark surgery on twins who were joined at the head. I was impressed by his faith, his unshakable belief in the American dream, and the fact that the man had learned to be content knowing that his hands are small, when the sports world says you have to be able to palm a basketball. Ben is content knowing that his “gifted hands” and the grace of God make it possible for him to get in there and do what he does, and he has made history more than once.

He has said and lived the following: “Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams.”

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His story is Hall of Fame kind of stuff, having been raised in Detroit by a single mom who insisted on drawing forth his greatness. She did not take any excuses, nor any prisoners, and the story of the Carsons was wonderfully portrayed in a 2009 film starring Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Kimberly Elise entitled Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.

When I heard that Ben Carson had decided to run for President, I was thrilled. After all, any guy who can assemble a team of over 25 surgeons and support staff, work for 24 hours straight to separate not one, but several sets of babies joined at the head, and have them thrive, ought to be able to handle the House and Senate of the United States, and maybe even the Supreme Court!
I still remain thrilled that he is in the race, even though I would like it if he were stronger when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, but that is a topic for another day. He is refreshingly not a part of the Washington DC political scene, and so far I don’t think he can be bought. He has solutions that are fiscally sound, and he wants to restore America to Americans, all of them, irrespective of their color.

So, why do some folks believe that he “deserves a special place in hell?” Because he exercised his 1st Amendment right to express himself, and stand up for his religious beliefs, which is what believers of all kinds do. Listen, if you are a Baptist, you are going to think you are right. If you are a Buddhist, you are going to think you are right. If you belong to the Church of Christ, you are going to think you are right. If you are Jewish, you are going to think you are right, and if you are an atheist, you are going to think you are right. That is what makes Americans be Americans, and most of the time, there is at least one good reason for why people think what they think. It is also completely American to voice disagreements over all kinds of things.

The late Dan Williams told a story about his childhood at the Storytelling Festival Amateur Night. He described what it was like to watch men dressed in their Sunday-go-to-meetin’ best verbally duking it out for hours on Saturday afternoons on the Courthouse steps in sizzling summer heat. The topic? Whether or not a person can go to heaven without being baptized. This is America, and this is what we do.

So, what has earned Ben “a special place in hell?” He dared suggest that Shariah law doesn’t square with the Constitution, nor does jihad, and that anyone who firmly subscribes to those two intimately related sets of beliefs may have a tough time doing their presidential duty of protecting and defending our Founders’ dream. Sounds like common sense to me, and may God bless Ben for having the courage to say so.
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9-18-2015 2-39-42 PMI make no attempt to downplay my 15-year love affair with the City of Athens. It is something that, God willing is going to do nothing but increase in its acuity, an affliction for which I am in great hope there is no cure. There are times, though, when the wonderfulness of our town just washes over me, and Saturday, September 12th was just one of those days. Beginning at 7 am, there were runners assembled at the Alabama Veterans’ Museum for the Heroes Run. The Heroes Run occurs each year on the Saturday the closest to 9/11, and its motto is, “Honor the fallen by challenging the living.” The purpose of the race’s sponsors, the Travis Manion Foundation, (named in honor of a young man who gave his life for us during his second deployment in Iraq,) is dedicated to support our veterans and their families, especially those who have served in the Desert Wars.

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I was a timer for the race, and my post was at the intersection of Houston and Pryor. As the runners came by, I called out their times and yelled at them to “step it up,” something I did numerous times at the races our department ran for soldiers and civilians while I was in Iraq. There was a 9-year-old, and seasoned runners, including State Senator Bill Holtzclaw. There are no words, by the way, to have one’s job, if only for a moment, to be able to yell at someone in government. I say this tongue in cheek, but to be able to holler out, “C’mon Marine, let’s move, let’s move, let’s move” was one of the highlights of the day.

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9-18-2015 2-40-06 PMThere were teams of runners, and groups of walkers. The cross country team from Elkmont was out in force. Members of the support staff for the City of Athens walked the 5K. However, what brought tears to my eyes every time they went by was the sight of the fire fighters in their “full battle rattle” jogging down the street. I thought of the 300+ FDNY firefighters who gave their lives on 9/11. I thought of the firefighters who came from the States to Iraq to fight fire in a combat zone. Fire fighting is dangerous enough, but add combat and 130-degree weather, and you have, pardon the pun, a “whole different smoke.”

But it was the sign of 74-year-old Ann Nash walking her very first 5K that did me in. She had been training for the event by walking, and although she was the last one to finish, she received a hero’s welcome. I had been considering doing a 5K on some level myself, either walking, running, or both, and now I have no excuse. It’s on for next year!
As if that wasn’t enough, just down the road at Big Spring Park, the Superheroes invaded our town. Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man, Captain America, Superman, they were all there to let children who are battling cancer, or have beaten it, know that they were in their corner. Both events are part of national movements and organizations, but the unique flavor that came to the events due to the “specialness” of our town made it a day I will never forget. I just want to remind you, we have heroes and superheroes in our midst, and we are indeed blessed to be Athenians.
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9-7-2015 9-01-00 AMA little over 15 years ago, there was a school of psychological thought born that was called “Positivity Psychology,” and its most famous proponents were part of the teaching staff at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, when I say, “positivity psychology,” I am not talking about anything you’d find in a greeting card aisle, or on a sappy motivational calendar. This stuff was practical, not particularly emotional, and the result of years of research, using real people with real problems. Those studied had found a way to deal with difficulty in a way that is markedly different from most folks, and the good news is, it is a skill that everyone can learn. The bad news is, because you were not designed by your Maker to be a grump, indulging your negative self has been really hard on your grey matter. Learning a new way, or “growing a new brain,” is some of the hardest work you’ll ever do. However, it is also some of the most rewarding.

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My first “slap in the face” back then was encountering a book written by one of the U Penn profs by the name of Dr. Martin Seligman, and his book was entitled Learned Optimism. I went skipping through the test, expecting to pass with flying colors and be designated as a positive person. I had to eat a lot of humble pie when I discovered that I was a secret grump, with a whole lot of victimization in my thinking.

My second slap was learning of the work of Dr. Paul Pearsall, who had done some fascinating work with Holocaust survivors, and found several things. First, the endorphins or “feel good” chemicals in the brain were highly addictive in a good way. By contrast, the chemicals produced by being sour were similar to anesthesia, which is also horribly addictive. Pearsall’s patients had found a way to re-frame what had happened to them, bathed their brain and heart literally in the chemical of forgiveness, and found that in spite of what they had been through, they could live in a basic state of joy. In addition, it was clinically determined that not one was in a state of denial or repressed memory. They had just worked really hard, followed Biblical principles, and were reaping the benefits.

Recently I came across another study, (a long term one), that was conducted simultaneously at the University of California, and on the other coast at the University of Miami, and it corroborated what even mainstream medical folks have known for a long time: people who proactively live in an intentional “attitude of gratitude” are just better off; physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Ancient wisdom from Proverbs says it best: “A merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” However, the study went on to say that there was something else that had, in a way, been missed by the “positivity people,” and that was “reflexive gratitude.”

9-7-2015 9-01-47 AMMany people are determined to send their gratitude out, either vertically or horizontally. Most of us understand the spiritual power of praise, as well as saying thank you to the people around us. But did you know there is an extra layer of effect when, in the process of expressing gratitude, you tell yourself what the impact has had?

Let me give you an example: You get off the phone with your kids and you had an especially satisfying conversation. You tell yourself, “I needed that, and boy, did he/she make my day! I am so blessed to have him/her in my life.” This intensifies the impact, and it is as simple as doing something we all do secretly anyway, and that is, talk to ourselves! Yes, it is ok to just think it, but saying it out loud is even better, even if nobody is there in the room with you. Either way, you are lobbing “grenades of gratitude,” with the result being an explosion that is good for everyone except the dark side.

Try it, and tell me what you think. And if you catch me being sour, I give you permission to bust me!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

8-23-2015 11-42-54 AMMy husband Steve has now officially been on Facebook for a year, and has sent me all manner of memes and videos. Some are funny, some are zany, some are aggravating, some are touching and some are truly inspiring. This week he sent me one that was so inspiring that I watched it 5 times in a row. It is entitled Boat Lift, and is only 11 minutes long. It is about the biggest boat lift in human history, the one that occurred on September 11, 2001.

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I have several family members who live in New York City, and to say that the day we now refer to as 9/11 changed them forever is a great understatement. My sister heard the first plane go into the tower, and she saw the second one. As such, because I had people who were “boots on the ground” that day, I thought I had a pretty good handle on what happened. I have been in a live audience to hear Rudy Giuliani talk about the challenges he faced that day as a leader. In Iraq, I was around several members of the Fighting 69th National Guard Unit who were activated that day, one whose post was on the corner where my sister lives. However, it was not until last week that I learned about Boat Lift, and I have told everyone in my life about it.

When the Twin Towers were hit, people became aware for the first time in a long time that Manhattan is indeed an island, and they wanted off. They ran down to shore, and some jumped into the water in their panic. And then, the Towers collapsed, and it seemed that the shore was now lined with dust covered zombies. A call went out from the Coast Guard for all boats in the area to please come to the shore in order to rescue these people. The smoke from the tower made it look like a “pea soup fog,” and they headed into what they knew not.

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There was a yacht owner who told his wife he had to go, and she called him “a maniac,” but she understood. Ferry boat captains and crews, tug boat captains and crews, and innumerable private small vessels came and went over the space of 9 hours. Some hung sheets on the rail of their vessels spray painted with destinations such as “Hoboken.” A woman in a wheel chair was lifted, (while still in her chair) over a fence as though she was in a mosh pit, and was carried to safety. At the end of the day, they successfully lifted 500,000 people off the island. By comparison, when Allied soldiers were rescued at Dunkirk, it took 9 days, and the numbers were somewhere near 350,000.

As you see these “old salts” recall that day, several get misty-eyed, and for good reason. For one, it went off without a hitch, and without a pre-established emergency management plan. While I have been in a situation where I had to do mass casualty training, and am thankful for those who design contingency plans, the fact that it was essentially an organic event made it all the more remarkable.

On every level, it was extraordinary, and was America at its finest. While I hope that in my lifetime there is no reprise of September 11, I know the chances are good that we will face similar things once more. However, as we have seen in Alabama when there have deadly twisters, most often it brings out the best in us, as it did that day for the citizens of New York. Boat Lift can be seen online for free, and is narrated by Tom Hanks. It is 11 minutes well spent, in my view, and I hope it encourages all who take the time to view it.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
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8-7-2015 1-38-34 PMI have decided to share my Publisher’s Point spot with Buzz Estes, life long resident of Athens, and it was not an easy decision to make. The reason for my struggle is that as a youth I came to believe that the Con- federate Flag was the obvious and undisputed symbol for racism in America, and I have spent my whole life fighting racism. However, when someone bothers to set forth irrefutable facts that may fly in the face of what is commonly believed, they deserve to be heard, even if it ruffles some feathers. I often say, when it comes to controversy, “Let the story be the story,” and it will balance itself out. May this serve to bring people of all colors together around the truth that most often is not as simple as it seems, and may Truth itself set us free and heal the divide in our land.

8-7-2015 1-38-47 PMOne of the main factors in the extreme dislike, even hatred, of the Confederate Battle Flag is due to one of the most successful propaganda programs in history: that the War for Southern Independence (popularly known as the “Civil War”), was ALL AND ONLY about slavery.

No war was ever all only about one thing. The idea that the Trojan War was only about Helen of Troy is a great romantic myth. The War for Southern Independence was, like most wars, over economics. Very simply, the Southern states were furnishing 75 – 80% of the money for the Federal Government through tariffs and taxes with less than 40% of the population and getting nothing in return. The South had lost its political clout and could not prevent the U.S. government from imposing higher and higher taxes and/or tariffs.

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It was very similar to the cause of the revolutionary war. The Federal Government refused to officially acknowledge the Confederacy, but had unofficially promised that the Federal troops would be removed from Ft. Sumter while secretly dispatching a convoy of men, supplies, and weapons to reinforce it. The “First Shot” fired in Charleston was not the first shot of the war. Federal Forces had fired at Ft. Pickens prior to that, but that was not reported by the newspapers like Ft. Sumter.

The Battle of Ft. Sumter began 12 April, 1861. If the freeing of the slaves was the main issue, why was the Emancipation Proclamation not issued earlier? The North was losing its will to fight as the deaths and casualties mounted, higher and faster than anyone thought possible. In the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) 16 July, 1861, the North’s casualties were 2,950 and the North lost. In the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) 30 August, 1862, the North’s casualties were 13,830, and again the North lost. In the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg), 16 September, 1862, the North’s casualties were estimated at 22,000 and most historians called it a tie.

Is it a coincidence that the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued the week after that? Carefully read a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, and it states that it is a WAR measure which was intended to weaken the South’s economy and possibly strengthen the Northern Army. If it were only a great humanitarian gesture, as many want to believe, why did it exclude the northern slave holding states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri? Why did it also exclude 14 parishes in Louisiana? By this time in the war, most of Kentucky and all of Louisiana were under Union control. Why was it not as important for those states to free their slaves?

The point is that the war was NOT to free the slaves, although thankfully that was one of the results of the war. It was done because it let the North claim the moral high ground, and thus take attention away from the plundering and pillaging that accompanied their army everywhere they went. After cities like Atlanta and Charleston were evacuated, officers would escort their wives through some of the vacated homes so they could pick out the furniture that they wanted shipped home. Gen. Butler evicted people from their home in New Orleans because he wanted to use it for his home and headquarters. When he finally left, he packed up much of their furniture and shipped it to his home. According to the 3rd Amendment of the Constitution, this kind of action was entirely illegal.

The hypocritical charade of these “Christian Soldiers fighting to free the slaves” is being continued today, and even expanded upon. It is the major reason for the HATE projected on the Confederate Battle Flag. The Federal Government reinforces this attitude with their placards on National Park Service Civil War Battlefield Visitor’s Centers that state “From Civil War to Civil Rights.”

Yes, there definitely have been racists who have illegally usurped our flag for their use, but that could not be prevented any more than average Americans who were angered at illegal aliens burning, spitting upon, and stomping Old Glory on national T.V. But did you notice that in the BIG 1928 K.K.K. demonstration in Washington they were carrying several hundred Stars and Stripes? No Confederate Battle flags were to be seen. No slave trading ship ever flew the Confederate Battle Flag, but many flew the Stars and Stripes. In 1991, a national racist organization passed a resolution at their National Convention to “get rid” of the Confederate Battle Flag because they decided it “offends” them.

Knowing that, it is much easier to understand how that horrible slaughter in June of the 9 people in Charleston by an obviously deranged man could create such an instant firestorm of protest against any Confederate symbol. Their network of professional agitators was connected, loaded, capped, and ready to fire. All they were waiting for was the command to “FIRE!” This group may have had a reason to protest several years or decades ago, but in my opinion, now all they are really doing is driving a wedge between blacks and whites in this country. Karl Marx would be very proud of them.
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