January 25, 2023

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It may have been the most defining moment in a generation - the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Most of us were marked indelibly by just watching it on television. My friend Mark lived it. It was his first visit to New York, and his business took him high up in one of the Twin Towers. After the attacks, there was still great confusion as to whether to evacuate or stay in the building, Mark disregarded the announcement to "return to your office." That decision saved his life.

January 5, 2023

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In the movie Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks portrays this Army captain whose unit is assigned to find a private named Ryan in the dangerous aftermath of the D-Day Invasion. Ryan's brothers have both been killed in combat, and, unbeknownst to him, he is his mother's only surviving son. The mission involves the captain's unit in some brutal battles with the Germans. But Private Ryan is located and his life is saved by his captain who dies in the process. As Private Ryan attends to his mortally wounded rescuer, the captain speaks his last words in a hoarse whisper, "Earn this." The camera morphs from the young private's face to the face of an old man, standing by a white cross in the cemetery at Normandy. It is Ryan many years later, near the end of his life. He kneels by his captain's grave and he says, "Every day of my life, I've thought about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I've done my best. I hope at least in your eyes that I've lived up to all that you gave for me."

January 3, 2023

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It was one of those early spring days when we look out the window and see all kinds of beautiful birds. I saw this one that was actually pretty funny to watch. I'm not sure it was really funny for him. I think it was a bluebird and he was hovering near a rear window on our car, just fluttering back and forth, running into the glass over and over again. Now, he was obviously confused and disoriented. He was going nowhere, just fluttering, chattering, and crashing into the window. My wife said, "You know, I'll bet he sees himself in the glass, and that's what's got him acting crazy."

November 3, 2022

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Your first clue that something unusual ahead is a sign on the Interstate announcing what they call "the biggest cross in the Western Hemisphere." And, sure enough, as you approach that spot in Texas, you begin to see this huge white cross on the horizon. Actually, it doesn't look all that large from a distance. But then, as you drive that direction, it looks more and more impressive. Until you are coming up on it; (or especially when you do what I did), you stop and you stand at the foot of it - that cross is huge!

October 27, 2022

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Because I've had the wonderful opportunity to have a lot of Native American friends, and brothers and sisters, and be on many reservations with our On Eagles' Wings team, I've gotten to hear some of the very colorful ways that Native Americans express themselves. One of them I heard when we were with tribes in the Northeast. And it's really stuck with me, because it sounds like something Jesus said. They were talking about the choice historically that their people had to make between the world of the white people and the world of the Native people. And the elders would say, "No man can stand in two canoes." That's a pretty funny picture if you think about it. The guy trying to stand in two canoes as they drift apart. You know what? You had to choose your canoe.

October 21, 2022

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I knew about lighthouses. I never knew about lightships though, until I visited Nantucket, that charming old island that's about 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. In the harbor there. You now can tour the retired Lightship Nantucket. But before the development of modern navigational technology, the work of that ship actually saved a lot of lives. See, there are deadly shoals that extend south of Nantucket, and the main shipping lanes to New York City run right along the outer edge in what's called the Ambrose Channel. Now, for many decades, the Lightship Nantucket was stationed at the eastern approach to the channel - at what was called the "Times Square of the Atlantic." Well, she dared not leave her position there - because all ship navigation was fixed on that lightship. If the lightship moved, every ship would follow her - possibly to disaster.

September 28, 2022

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I think we all have awful memories of the painful scenes at Ground Zero in the rubble of the World Trade Center after September 11. I was kind of close to that because of our years in the New York area and even the people we knew in that building. And the firemen, policemen, emergency personnel, combing through the wreckage for their fallen brothers and sisters. You can remember. They would pause for a moment of silent tribute as the remains of one of them would be carried out. But at a time when there was talk of reducing the number of workers at the site, I saw a scene that was painful in a different way. Tempers flaring in the raw emotions of that moment, and some of those firefighters and police who had been fighting together to save or find people in the rescue and recovery effort were suddenly fighting with one another at Ground Zero.

August 15, 2022

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Our friend's horse was in a jam. She had accidentally stepped into a small feeder that's usually used to hold a mineral block. It was so bitter cold that the bottom cracked when the mare stepped on it and her hoof went all the way through. Of course, that created something like a plastic bracelet around her hoof and she couldn't get it off. Visiting relatives saw the mare just standing there like a statue; traumatized and paralyzed by this thing that wouldn't come off her foot. So, they went out there to help. One of them calmed the horse while the other worked on setting her free. This is interesting because usually this horse would balk at letting strangers get near her. Not this time. She stood perfectly still, somehow realizing that these people had come to help her out of her jam. And they did.

August 11, 2022

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Many Civil War scholars would consider the Battle of Gettysburg as the turning point - or certainly one of the turning points - of that bloody war. And Civil War buffs have discussed for decades what factors actually decided the outcome of the battle that may have decided the outcome of the war. One key factor happened before the real battle actually began those three days in July of 1863. Soldiers from both North and South were on the move as General Lee's troops launched an invasion of Union territory. Union General Buford unintentionally encountered some of the advance Confederate forces. Well, he sized up the terrain around Gettysburg, and he decided that the ground called Cemetery Ridge would be the decisive high ground when the forces of Blue and Gray finally came to blows. And he determined to keep the advanced southern troops from having that ground, and he succeeded. In so doing, he secured for the North, ground that would indeed help decide the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg.

July 29, 2022

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I knew this guy who, several times a week, would suddenly make this announcement, "Attitude check!" That never meant much to me until I began to have some friends who are private pilots. Up to that point, the only pilot I knew was, you know, Pontius. But that word "attitude" can be a life-or-death word for a pilot. One of my friends described a plane's attitude to me as its position relative to the ground, and to the horizon - or, as he says, your angle of attack. After decades of flying, including landing on aircraft carriers, he summarized the importance of a plane's attitude this way, "Right attitude, you keep flying. Wrong attitude, you stop flying."

            

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