Lest we forget–Memorial Day 2017

Guest contribution by our very own poet laureate, Captain George S. Harris:



It is just a few days past the day our own Civil War ended on May 9,1865-151 years ago.  On that day, two great armies and two great leaders met at Appomattox, Virginia to begin the process of bringing our nation back together again. They were there to salve the wounds that four years of war had inflicted on its participants.  Some 640,000 men, 2% of our population, were lost; the worst war we have ever been engaged in.  A war that saw fathers against sons and brothers against brothers in a fight to the death.  It was the hope of these two great leaders, General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee, that at last we would once again seek the path to the “perfect union” our founders sought some seventy-eight years earlier during several muggy weeks in the spring and fall of 1787 in Phildelphia.

Some who read this may remember when Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day.  It is a day set aside to decorate the graves of those military folks who lost their lives in service to our Nation.  “Decoration Day or, if you prefer, Memorial Day, began shortly after our Civil War. There are several claims as to just when it began but decorating the graves of warriors has been around for many decades or perhaps centuries.

More than a million Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice and almost all of them in two wars-our own Civil War and World War II.  While we are now engaged in the longest war we have ever known, there are fewer deaths but many more have sustained what are often euphemistically referred to as “life alternating injuries”.  These injuries run from simple wounds to multiple limb loss, paralysis, traumatic brain injury and what we now know as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This latter disorder has had many names in the past but it ultimately means the terrible impact war has on the minds and souls of our military personnel.

No one goes to war who doesn’t come back changed.  It is not always easily recognized but for me and others who read these words, we know because we live with it every day of our lives.  This is not some made up psycho-babble, it is a real, palpable thing.  Most of us continue to live and work and carry out normal lives but others do not even to the point of destroying themselves by suicide.

We have to ask ourselves, “Will the day ever come when we will no longer have any new graves to decorate on Memorial Day?  When will we have peace?” In a speech at American University on June 10, 1963, only a few months before his death by assassination, President John F. Kennedy said this about peace.

“I am talking about genuine peace, the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living, the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and to build a better life for their children–not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women–not merely peace in our time but peace for all time.”

This Memorial Day, more than 1,000 soldiers will place flags at more than 300,000 graves in the annual “Flags In” ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.  Lest we forget, this is the price of freedom for our great Nation.


God bless all those who have gone before and God bless the Untied States of America on this Memorial Day.

“Hymn to the Fallen” by John Williams featured.

Joseph George: Still Learning the Prince William County Political Landscape

Guest contributor Joseph George shares his thoughts about the political landscape in Prince William County.  Joseph ran unendorsed for the school board seat in the Neabsco District in the last election.  We hope he continues his county involvement.


Still Learning the Prince William County Political Landscape


As a person who is still new to the political landscape of PWC, many of the current situations remind me of a circumstance that I became a part of during a leadership training class that I attended:

Two people were having a disagreement.  One person stated that this house had four windows and two doors, where as the other believed the house in question had five windows and one door.  Each side presented diagrams and provided downloads of city permits to validate their perspectives.  When neither side was willing to concede, insults were thrown, challenges of the other’s level of intelligence were made, and conspiracies of a bigger scheme were made.  I decided to intercede by asking what the address of the house in question was.  Upon hearing of the location, I informed them they were both correct, which caused both combatants to look confused.  One was referring to the front side of the house, while the other was referring to the backside of the house.


I feel that many of the political conversations over the past several months in PWC have been doing the same thing, defending someone’s perspective, without considering the other’s viewpoint, even becoming venomous in their justification.  The next three situations are solely from my experiences and background.


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Captain George S. Harris: Memorial Day 2016


Captain George Harris:  Memorial Day 2016

As Memorial Day approaches once again, I have been thinking about it more and more.  Perhaps it is because I have been reading more books about the war, the latest being “With the Old Breed” by E.B. Sledge who was a Marine mortar man In K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division during the battles of Pelilieu and Okinawa.

As we know, Memorial Day, is a day when we, as Nation, remember those who died in the service of our Nation.  Those of us of a “certain age” remember this day as Decoration Day, which was established shortly after the Civil War.  And we have many Americans to remember because more than a million Americans have died in all the wars we have fought from the Revolutionary War to our present 15 year war in the Middle East.

Some 2,400 years ago, Plato said, “The dead have seen the end of war.”  They lie silently in military cemeteries all over our Nation from our National Cemetery at Arlington, Virginia to cemeteries in every state of the union and in cemeteries overseas.  These cemeteries bear  witness to the cost of war.  Headstones and monuments, including our Tomb of the Unknowns, stand as silent sentries over those who have given the last full measure of devotion.

But what of those who have given less that the last full measure?  In the last 15 years, more than a million young men and women have had their lives altered forever.  Some have had “million dollar wounds” but many have lost one or more limbs while others have suffered traumatic brain injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  Across our nation, 22 veterans die by their own hand every day.  That’s one every 65 minutes.  And our Veterans Administration health care system is overwhelmed.  Just as we owe those who have fallen for their sacrifice, we also owe those remain among us.

So today, when you pause to remember those who have died in the service of our Nation, I ask that you take a few moments to remember those who served and came home to live among us to remind us that, as John Steinbeck said, “All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.

Thank you, George, for your words of honor again this year.  For those who don’t know, George Harris is our honorary poet laureate of Moonhowlings.  George began his military career  as a young kid, age 18, in the Navy.  He served as a corpsman in Korea and in Vietnam.  He has certainly seen more than his fair share of mayhem and destruction of the human soul.

Thanks again, George, for guiding us in the right direction on this day.


Morris Davis: Where is justice for the men still abandoned in Guantánamo Bay


Colonel Morris Davis:


Where is justice for the men still abandoned in Guantánamo Bay


“I will be back soon,” I said, as we stood up and shook hands. Then I turned and walked a few steps to the gate, and waited for the guard to unlock it so I could leave. Those were the last words I said to Mohamedou Ould Slahi after I met him in the tiny compound he shared with Tariq al-Sawah in the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay. That was seven and a half years ago. I have never been inside the camp again. Slahi has never been out.

I didn’t know, that afternoon in the summer of 2007, that in a few weeks I would send an email to the US deputy secretary of defence, Gordon England, saying I could no longer in good conscience serve as chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions. I reached that decision after receiving a written order placing Brigadier-General Tom Hartmann over me and the Pentagon general counsel, Jim Haynes, over Hartmann.

Hartmann had chastised me for refusing to use evidence obtained by “enhanced” interrogation techniques, saying: “President Bush said we don’t torture, so who are you to say we do?” Haynes authored the “torture memo” that the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, signed in April 2003 approving interrogation techniques that were not authorised by military regulations – the memo where Rumsfeld scribbled in the margin: “I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing [for detainees during interrogations] limited to 4 hours?” Rather than face a Hobson’s choice when they directed me to go into court with torture-derived evidence, I chose to quit before they had the chance.

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Military commissions for terrorism suspects are a proven failure

by @ColMorrisDavis

On Veterans Day, 2009, I published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that said President Barack Obama was making a mistake prosecuting some terrorism suspects in federal courts in the United States and others in military commissions at Guantánamo Bay. I got fired from my federal government job for criticizing the president, and I have spent the past five years in court in a protracted First Amendment battle with the Justice Department that is likely to go on for several more years.

It is five Veterans Days later, and Obama’s mistake continues. It has not gotten better with age.

Fourteen high-value detainees arrived at Guantánamo from Central Intelligence Agency black sites in September 2006. Since then, only one has been convicted and sentenced: Ahmed Ghailani got life without parole for his part in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people, including 12 Americans. Ghailani, the only Guantánamo detainee ever transferred to the United States, was convicted in November 2010 in federal court in New York City. He is serving his sentence in the Supermax prison in Colorado.
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Michael Stafford responds to the Alabama immigration law

The following is the opinion of the poster and does not necessarily represent the views of moonhowlings.net administration.



Guest c0ntributor:  Michael Stafford, author of An Upward Calling: Politics for the Common Good.


At present, America has between 10 and 12 million (or more) unauthorized immigrants. This is roughly the equivalent of the population of Ohio, Pennsylvania, or Illinois. The question of what to do with this enormous population is one of the most complicated, and emotionally charged, public policy issues facing us today. In particular, immigration policy is inextricably linked with demographic change and the diversification of America. It demands a sensitive and sophisticated approach.

On Thursday, June 2, 2011, Alabama’s state legislature passed an Arizona-style immigration enforcement bill. This comes after two unsuccessful efforts at comprehensive reform at the national level under President Bush — and last year with the Graham-Schumer proposal — against the backdrop of an increasingly poisonous debate.

The immigration debate, both in its substantive content and in terms of its tone and tenor, has profound implications for the future of our nation. Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has articulated this nexus with particular clarity. Land perceives the danger posed to all of us by the poisoned debate over immigration reform. He has warned that the failure to pass comprehensive reform could “rend the fabric of our society.” In his eyes, “[t]his is a moral issue. It’s an issue that … must be dealt with or it’s going to lead to deep fissures in our society.”1

With the embrace of Arizona’s S.B. 1070 as a cause célèbre by many on the Right, the passage of similar statutes in other states, and the rise of a virulent form of political nativism, the cracks that could, potentially, turn into those deep, society-rending fissures, are already visible.  Avoiding this outcome, and securing a better future for our nation is one of the most critical tasks facing us today. 

To be continued……

An Upward Calling: Politics for the Common Good  is available at Amazon.com and is also formatted for Kindle. 



The Party of Lincoln needs to look in the mirror

Guest contibutor Camillus has returned. 

The following is the opinion of the poster and does not necessarily represent the views of moonhowlings.net administration.


The Party of Lincoln needs to look in the mirror

by Camillus

 Several weeks ago, a tape of NPR’s head fundraiser, Ron Schiller, making remarks critical of the GOP and the Tea Party surfaced.   In the tape, Schiller referred to the Republican Party as “anti-intellectual” and described the Tea Party as “racist,” “Islamophobic,” and “xenophobic.”  He went on to opine that “Jews” control America’s major newspapers.

 Schiller’s bizarre and conspiratorial anti-semitic remarks are disturbing and offensive.  His remarks about the GOP and the Tea Party, though, warrant further analysis for a simple reason:  they are perceptions widely shared in our society.

 Conservatives reacted to Schiller’s comments with anger.  In their eyes, it was just one more example of a liberal establishment standing ever-ready to portray Republicans and conservatives as ignorant racists and bigots.  

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“Manning Up”? Speaking the truth with courage and conviction

“Manning Up”? Speaking the truth with courage and conviction

Guest post byCamillus

Camillus, a former Republican Party officer in his home state in the Northeastern United States who was involved in campaigns at both the local, state, and federal levels during the 2010 elections.

Disclaimer: All guest posts are the opinion of the poster and do not necessarily represent the views of moonhowlings.net administration. M-H


Joe Scarborough, a former Congressman who is now a conservative television host on MSNBC, recently called on national Republicans to “man up” and confront Sarah Palin. I want to propose something rather different. The real need is for people of good will across the political spectrum to “man up” and speak honestly about the movement that supports and sustains both Palin and other similar politicians such as Carl Paladino and Sharron Angle- the Tea Party- and the broader cultural forces that have given rise to it and that continue to fuel it today.

Although I agree with some positions held by the Tea Party movement, and share many of its concerns regarding the direction of the country, I am convinced that its emergence represents a real danger to our common future. Indeed, I am persuaded that its course runs inevitably to a dystopian tomorrow.

Why? Because it is marked by anti-intellectualism, hostility to established institutions, resentment, and, most significantly, fear and anger. This fear is inchoate, but ever-present. At its base, I think it is a fear of the future- of the economic, demographic, and cultural changes sweeping both our nation and the globe. In other words, it is a fear of the unknown. And being fearful, it is brittle. As a result, it is intolerant of dissent and the open discussion and debate of ideas. This intolerance is expressed in naked hostility towards opponents- they are not merely wrong, they must be demonized. Above all else, it is marked by the utter absence of love, by which I mean that love of brother- agape- that is for me always truth’s handmaiden.

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Morris Davis: A Terrorist Gets What He Deserves


The following Op-Ed by Colonel Morris Davis appeared in the NY Times on the Ghailani Trial on Friday, November 19, 2010.


A Terrorist Gets What He Deserves



CRITICS of President Obama’s decision to prosecute Guantánamo Bay detainees in federal courts have seized on the verdict in the Ahmed Ghailani case as proof that federal trials are a disastrous failure. After the jury on Wednesday found Mr. Ghailani guilty of only one charge in the 1998 African embassy bombings, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, called on the administration to “admit it was wrong and assure us just as confidently that terrorists will be tried from now on in the military commission system.”

The verdict — in which Mr. Ghailani was found guilty of conspiring to blow up United States government buildings and not guilty on 284 other counts — came as a surprise to many, but the outcome does not justify allowing political rhetoric like Senator McConnell’s to trump reality.Read More

Reflections from the Council Meeting….

Guest Post by Cindy Brookshire.

Cindy was one of the speakers at citizen time last night in the City of Manassas. She shares her reflections.

Disclaimer: All guest posts are the opinion of the poster and do not necessarily represent the views of moonhowlings.net administration. M-H

I was there for the full time of citizen comment. I was in the minority – only four of us spoke in defense of this shop owner: the attorney for KK Temptations, a patron of the MVC store near Kindercare on Mathis Ave, the owner of the Manassas Junction Bed & Breakfast and me, another woman-owned small business owner in the City of Manassas. I was the only one of the four who stayed for the whole 3+ hours.

And despite that, it didn’t have the feel of a pitchfork and torches event. I knew a good many people in the room – longtime residents of the City, parishioners of local churches, parents involved in their schools. There were counselors and doctors and those with careers in law enforcement. There were business owners in Old Town. There were people from my neighborhood watch, and the Chief of Police, Doug Keen.

I found many of the comments very eloquent – one elderly man spoke so beautifully about the love between a man and a woman, and he addressed the gathering more than to the council, that when Mayor Parrish had to interrupt him to tell him he was going over time, we didn’t want him to stop. Another young man got up and spoke and anyone would have been proud of him.

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Eric Byler Weighs in on the Past, Present and Future of Immigration Reform

Guest contributor Eric Byler weighs in on the Immigration Resolution, the tragic fatal wreck, and comprehensive immigration reform. He has been out in Phoenix as well as other areas, watching the immigration issue unfold before his eyes. He has talked to many people and heard a variety of opinions in his travels.

Any statements and opinions by guest contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the administrators of moonhowlings.net.


The fact that this drunk driver was turned over to ICE in 2008, after the
“Immigration Resolution” was put into effect, brings up some real
questions about the wisdom of expensive policies at the local level
that redirect the time and resources of local law enforcement toward a
focus on immigration status rather than public safety. For 2 months
in the spring of 2008, the policy in Prince William County was very
similar to that proposed in Arizona’s SB 1070. But we corrected our
course on April 29, 2008 so that we check the status of ALL
individuals who are arrested for an underlying crime, rather than
people out on the streets who have not committed underlying crimes but
fit a “probable cause” standard. Just about everyone in our county
agrees that the repeal of the “probable cause” mandate made for a more
effective, more fiscally responsible, and more legally defensible
policy. Still it did not prevent this tragedy.

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Colonel Morris Davis: Perfecting a More Perfect Union

Colonel Morris Davis published some of his thoughts on being an American and and what it takes to nourish our country:

My father was a 100 percent disabled veteran of World War II. He left home a healthy man in the prime of life and returned seriously disabled by a broken back during a training accident. My earliest memories are of him going to the Bowman-Gray Hospital at Wake Forest University for multiple surgeries, spending weeks at home in bed in a full-body plaster cast, his back and leg braces and crutches, and the hand-controls that let him drive without using the gas or brake pedals. Like many of his generation – and like many of the men and women I see now at Walter Reed Army Medical Center – there was never a word of bitterness over what he lost, only pride in his country and a bond with others who served in defense of democracy.

Robert Hutchins, former Dean of the Yale Law School and Chancellor of the University of Chicago, said “The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.”

I believe that living in a democracy is a privilege, not a right, and each citizen has a duty to do his or her part to ensure the privilege isn’t lost to future generations. That was a lesson I learned from my father at an early age. I joined the Air Force a few months after he died and served for 25 years, in part because of his example.

Volunteers for military service aren’t apathetic or indifferent about democracy. They pledge to support and defend the Constitution, and many make the ultimate sacrifice; I saw proof every morning when I drove by the white stone markers aligned in rows at Arlington National Cemetery on my way to work. We owe them a duty to do more than just passively surrender to the challenges we face; we have an obligation to participate in working towards solutions.

It says something when we cast nearly as many votes to select the next American Idol as we do to select the next American president, when more can name the “Plus Eight” that belong to Jon and Kate than the eight members of the Supreme Court remaining when Justice John Paul Stevens (Navy veteran) retires, and when Tiger Woods wrecking his marriage and his SUV is the lead story on the national news. Too many of us are too absorbed with the superficial world of celebrities and the schadenfreude of their calamitous lives.

The most basic duty of citizenship is participation, something Americans do less than citizens of most other countries. Almost all eligible voters in Australia – about 95 percent – cast ballots in national elections; typically a little more than half of eligible voters in the U.S. do the same. That’s a sad fact. There is no excuse for being uninformed on issues and there is no excuse for not voting. In my view, you forfeit the right to pontificate if you’re too lazy to participate.

I’m involved in the Coffee Party, a group that promotes civil discussion about issues and greater public participation in the political process. I don’t believe any political party or any group along the ideological spectrum has a monopoly on good ideas, and I believe we should be able to discuss issues and ideas without hurling insults and threats. We seem to lose sight of the fact that we’re all in this together.

We have the power and the ability to prove Hutchins wrong and to advance the ideal the Founding Fathers envisioned – continuing to perfect the union, doing justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and passing these privileges along to those that follow – if we just have the will.

Colonel Davis seems to have great hope for America. Will the ideals envisioned by Colonel Davis win in the end or will apathy indifference and a slow extinction become our fate?