Master Trooper Michael Greene – 20 Years ago

I meant to write about the 20th anniversary of Indiana State Police Master Trooper Michael Greene’s death at the hands of a man at the side of Interstate 65 just outside of Indianapolis back on February 5th, but life intervened.

Master Trooper Greene’s death was one of the first line of duty deaths that happened during my brief stint in law enforcement.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to find the fine column that was published in the Indianapolis Star the next day by one of their editors who was one of the first upon the scene and assisted first responders with Master Trooper Greene’s injuries. I have a hard copy but it’s packed away in preparation for my move.

He died shortly afterwards, leaving behind a wife and two children.

You can see his memorial today just north of Indianapolis on the southbound side of I-65.

IN HONORE CASORUM.

Christ has made us free

The Wall Street Journal has published their annual Christmas column:

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter’s star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Even to the end…

In mid 1941, Harry Hopkins was sent to the United Kingdom by President Roosevelt to take the temperature of our future British ally. After several days in the UK, there was a large dinner the day before Hopkins was to sail back to the United States.

At the dinner, Hopkins rose to gave the toast:

“I suppose you wish to know,” he began, “what I am going to say to President Roosevelt on my return.”

“Well, I’m going to quote you one verse from that Book of Books… ‘Wither you goest, I will go; and where thou lodgeth, I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.'”

Then, he quietly added, “Even to the end.”

Neptunus Lex, Departing…

When the calendar rolled over from 2011 into 2012, I had hoped to have a better year in terms of losing friends. As the page turned to March and I passed my birthday on the 5th, I had just reflected on how well I felt the year had gone.

Last night, I landed back in Minneapolis from a short trip to San Diego. I was just a few miles from home and was stuck in a brief bit of traffic when I happened to open Google Reader, thumb over to the “Friends” section, and noticed a new post at Lex’s blog.

I saw that the post was from Whisper, an occasional guest poster, and I gave it just a very brief skim – then my heart stopped when I read the words below accompanied by a photo of the missing man formation.

When Lex “left the keys in it” for me to be a guest blogger here about a year ago, we didn’t discuss what to do in this occasion. I am at a loss. I did feel the need to provide one place for your tributes and condolences to collect.

I knew then that one of two things had happened – either my friend Carroll or his son, a Naval Aviator himself, had perished. Lex had retired from the Navy as a Captain a few years ago and had only recently returned to flying as a civilian contractor flying the F-21 as an adversary aircraft at TOPGUN.

I quickly learned that it was the Captain himself who had died in an aircraft crash at Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada. I nearly drove off the road. I haven’t been right since.

Some perspective here is needed.

I began reading Neptunus Lex not long after he began blogging in 2003. If my memory serves me correctly, I learned about him from Lt. Smash, who sadly no longer blogs to my knowledge.

Over the years, we exchanged a number of e-mails and comments on each other’s blogs around a number of topics. We shared some interests in common – history, cycling, the Navy, technology, and blogging. He was one of the few bloggers that I read on a daily basis, and he rarely failed to entertaining or challenge my thinking with his prose.

Ironically, this week I was in San Diego for the first time in nearly a decade. I normally would have jumped at the chance to try to hoist a glass with Lex but knew that he was at Fallon during this week. I thought of him often as my hotel was just across from North Island where he used to serve when still on active duty.

I was sad that I wouldn’t get to connect with him on this trip – and figured that there would always be another time.

I should have learned when Mike passed away at age thirty eight in 2009 that you should count on there being another time. This is a lesson I’m afraid we’re all doomed to learn again and again in our lives.

There is a great tribute to Captain Carroll “Lex” Lefon, USN (Ret) by Chap over at the USNI Blog and an open thread on Neptunus Lex where you can leave a note for his family.

My heart breaks for his family.

Here are a few of my favorite writings from Lex:

Update – I had forgotten a few that the group at the wake reminded me of last night:

There are many others – such as his fabulous Rhythms series, about life on an Aircraft carrier.

His next to last post, Streamer, ended with these lines, which perhaps seems almost a premonition now:

It’s funny how quickly you can go from “comfort zone” to “wrestling snakes” in this business.

But even snake wrestling beats life in the cube, for me at least. In measured doses.

Last night, I hoisted a few fingers of Bushmills in his memory.. or as Lex would say: “For Strength”.

Fair winds & following seas, Captain. You will be missed.

My candlelight vigil against gun violence

The Brady Campaign, the folks who desire to limit your Second Amendment rights, are calling for a nationwide candlelight vigil this Sunday against gun violence. This is, of course, the one year anniversary of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona where Congresswoman Giffords was shot and seriously wounded. Several others were killed in this same shooting.

Now, I deplore gun violence – but I don’t believe at all that the method to minimize violence is to diminish the ability of law abiding citizens to own, carry, and use firearms in their own defense. That’s why, along with many others across the nation, I’m holding my own candlelight vigil to show that a handgun can do wonders to protect innocent lives from harm.

For the curious: Springfield Armory TRP 1911, Sideguard leather, Wilson Combat magazines, Federal HST ammunition (.45), & Chris Reeves small Sebenza knife.

You can learn more about the intellectual underpinnings of the other side over at places like Common Gunsense.

“One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that ‘violence begets violence.’ I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure (and in some cases I have) that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.”

Col. Jeff Cooper, “Cooper vs. Terrorism”, Guns & Ammo Annual, 1975

Stand fast!

The Wall Street Journal has published their annual Christmas column:

But it came to pass for a while in divers places that the truth did set man free, although the men of darkness were offended and they tried to put out the light. The voice said, Haste ye. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you, for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

Along the road to Damascus the light shone brightly. But afterward Paul of Tarsus, too, was sore afraid. He feared that other Caesars, other prophets, might one day persuade men that man was nothing save a servant unto them, that men might yield up their birthright from God for pottage and walk no more in freedom.

Then might it come to pass that darkness would settle again over the lands and there would be a burning of books and men would think only of what they should eat and what they should wear, and would give heed only to new Caesars and to false prophets. Then might it come to pass that men would not look upward to see even a winter’s star in the East, and once more, there would be no light at all in the darkness.

And so Paul, the apostle of the Son of Man, spoke to his brethren, the Galatians, the words he would have us remember afterward in each of the years of his Lord:

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Memories of September 11th

I stand by my stance that I said everything that I wanted to say about September 11th in my post on the 3rd anniversary back in 2004.

Perhaps it’s because I remember what James Lileks wrote 3 years after 9/11:

I have less to say on the fourth anniversary, because I’m not sure what needs to be said. You get it or you don’t, and if the passage of time has made the lessons indistinct, a picture of that September morning will look as remote as a screen grab from “Tora Tora Tora.”

[...]

I wish they’d build it again. The same two towers. Because we can. Because they can’t.

Other memories still persist:

I remember the Eulogy of FDNY Captain Francis J. Callahan:

I’ve been told Frank enjoyed a practical joke. We never joked together. Rarely laughed. We never sought out each other’s company on days off. We never went golfing or fishing. We never went for a hike in the Shawangunk Mountains together. We were often happier apart than we ever were together because we shared the nightmares of command.

We shared problems. We shared stress. We shared dark thoughts that are now front-page news. Incredulous at the failures of leadership that have borne fruit. We shared the proposition of a time and place where few would dare to go. He went there because it was his turn. He called his wife, Angie, before he received his orders to respond. He told her what was going on. He told her things didn’t look good; he told her he loved her.

[...]

I know what you all did, you got your gear on, found a tool, wrote your name or Social Security number in felt tip pen on your arm or a leg, a crisis tattoo in case you got found.

We went down there knowing things could go badly. We stayed until we were exhausted, got three hours sleep and went back again, and again. That’s what comrades do. Only luck and circumstance separate us from them.

I remember what James Lileks posted in 2003, on the 2nd anniversary of 9/11:

Two years ago today I was convinced that every presumption I had about the future was wrong. This war, I feared, would be horrible, total, and long.

Two years later I take a certain grim comfort in some people’s disinterest in the war; if you’d told me two years ago that people would be piling on the President and bitching about slow progress in Iraq, I would have known in a second that the nation hadn’t suffered another attack. When the precise location of Madonna’s tongue is big news, you can bet the hospitals aren’t full of smallpox victims.

I remember watching people jump from the top floors of the World Trade Center – because they were faced with certain death, and chose to end their lives in their own way.

I remember my first visit to Ground Zero three months after the attack – seeing the devastation, seeing and smelling the fire and smoke, and trying to understand how that happened.

I remember my first visit to the Pentagon, standing amid the rebuilt section in the temporary chapel (before the current 9/11 memorial was built), at the point where the plane had entered the building – an incredibly quiet and somber place.

And I remember FDNY Lt. Ray Murphy.

I’ll always remember.

I saw…

Then I saw what was wrong with the world, I saw what destroyed men and nations, and where the battle for life had to be fought.

I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality—and that my sanction was its only power. I saw that evil was impotent—that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real—and that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it.

Just as the parasites around me were proclaiming their helpless dependence on my mind and were expecting me voluntarily to accept a slavery they had no power to enforce, just as they were counting on my self-immolation to provide them with the means of their plan—so throughout the world and throughout men’s history, in every version and form, from the extortions of loafing relatives to the atrocities of collectivized countries, it is the good, the able, the men of reason, who act as their own destroyers, who transfuse to evil the blood of their virtue and let evil transmit to them the poison of destruction, thus gaining for evil the power of survival, and for their own values—the impotence of death.

I saw that there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win—and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent.

I saw that I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my mind.

I pronounced it.

The word was “No.”

— John Galt, Atlas Shrugged