The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Category: Heroes

Thinking about this last Guy Fawkes Day

 

I originally planned to post this on Guy Fawkes Day, but life got in the way and it did not happen.

Before you comment on this post with the obligatory explanations of what GFD is really about, I need to tell you… I already know.

I fully understand what GFD was, and still is to others.   I am many things, but historically illiterate is not one of them.  Add to this that I would see no way the Gunpowder Plot would have inspired me now, being that I am Jewish.   I also, in no way shape or form, support the deposition of any political official through means of assassination.

All this being humbly submitted to you, I now divert your attention to the meaning that has been assigned to this day through the movie “V for Vendetta”.  A movie that was based on a comic character.   This movie is about, for lack of a better term, a man who, through his own trying experiences with an oppressive government, turns to sedition.  As a catalyst for this, he chooses to use another icon from English history as his avatar… Guy Fawkes.

So… understanding the differences between the HISTORIC and the recently creates Pop-Culture versions of Guy Fawkes, I think I can now explain why I think the new version is something that we can all find something to identify with.

When I first saw the movie, I was very pleased with it.  While I understood that we were not looking at a modern retelling of the Gunpowder Plot or of a person that was TRYING to be Fawkes, I did understand that there was a strong message in the movie that was more than just the neat fighting scenes and the special effects.  Something even beyond the main story line that the screen play was trying to convey.

Face it.  Today, with all of our electronics and toys, the collective population of the world has a pretty short attention span.  We have to have everything now… now… now.  This also, unfortunately, applies to movies as well.   People do not want a movie that drags a point out over a two and a half hour period of time.  They want instant satisfaction.  They want the movie to tell them who to like, who not to like and explain everything to them.  If you put together a movie that takes a long time to build up the plot, then only satisfies you in the last few minutes… there are a lot of people that would have walked out.    Personally, however, I find that these are the movies I like the most.  A good example of a movie like this would be M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense.”  If you have not seen that, do not worry, I will not tell you the twist… but it WILL cause you to watch the movie all over again.

Now… to the point.   This movie sent a message to me, as I am sure that it must have to others as well.   This is that if people become too complacent, to lazy, that they run the risk of letting their governments walk all over them.

It tells you that there is a point when you have to make sure that you remind the government that it is there to work for you, not you for it.   That when a government begins to trod on the rights of those it is supposed to protect, then it is the inherent right of the people to stand against the government.  Whether that be in the form of a vote, a recall, or just marching on Congress, the White House, Parliament, Red Square, etc… you pick the iconic center of your respective government.  As long at this protest or march is PEACEFUL, then I support that type of action 100%.

In the movie, “V”, the main character that was played by Hugo Weaving, advertised that to the people of England, though he, himself, was quite violent and taking care of the people that had done him wrong.  So he does not really practice what he preaches, so to say.

But now, today, you see the Guy Fawkes persona being used by many groups and their patron saint of rising up against something.   Some of these things I support, like the group Anonymous and SOME of their actions.  But there are others out there that I do not and think that they are using the character reference in a manner that in not befitting the new meaning that has grown around it.  People like the Occupy Wallstreet folks.

I firmly believe that there is a time when it is perfectly acceptable to rise up and voice your discontent with an issue or problem… or even a government.  Sometimes it is necessary to get ones point across by becoming vocal and turning some heads.  This is what GFD had become in my mind.  A Reminder that the “Vox Populi” is a powerful thing and that, as “V” so eloquently put it in the movie… “Government should be afraid of their people, not the people of their government.”

Ten Years Later

 

Can you believe that is has been ten years already?

So much has happened in that time, and yet it still seems like it was not that long ago.  Children have been born or become adults, growing up with a hole in their lives where a parent used to be.  Husbands and Wives moved on with their lives, yet never stopped thinking about the one that they lost in one of the airplanes or buildings.

So many people that might have gone on to greatness, been the next Nobel Laureate, the next great doctor or mathematician.  Souls that might have gone on to create the next great idea, invent the next medicine that would have saved millions, wrote the next great book, been a great father or mother, grandfather or grandmother… lost.

Hands that will never hold a child, a lover, a sister, brother or other family member again. voices that we will never hear speak our names or be there to listen to others speak theirs. Lost chances of friendships, apologies, loves and dreams come true.  Promises made that will never be fulfilled, someone making a trip to propose to someone they love… gone.

Then there is the hate that this has caused.  Like the world needed one more thing to divide it’s people from one another, this has opened yet another rift.  Not only creating a paranoia of anyone that looks like they might be middle-eastern, but also a hatred for anyone that is openly Muslim.  I have lost track of how many times I have heard comments like, “Any Muslim is a terrorist.”, or various versions of the same.  I have no delusions that it was Islamic Extremists that caused this, but I also do not believe that every person that practices Islam is an extremist or a terrorist.

My heart goes out to all those innocent lives that were lost on 11 September 2001.  Further, my heart and best wishes go out to all those that survived or were survived by on that unfortunate day.  The only thing that we can truly understand is that life will go on, the pain will lessen with time, but the scars and loss will remain.  We cannot bring back those that were lost, but we can honor their memories by being better people in their honor.

For my September 11th, I am not going to mourn those lost, but celebrate life in the memory of those lost.  I think that they would appreciate that more than feeling sorrow of their loss.

I am not turning this into a political debate… If anyone posts anything turning this into one, I will delete that post.  I do not do that often… so take heed.

 

Heroes Month – Maj. James F Baier (USMC)

When I was young, my mother started working for the Department of Health and Human services here in our home town of Bakersfield, Ca.  We had spent a couple years on Welfare when we moved to Bakersfield, but we actually used it for what it was meant for, and that was to help you get back on your feet.

When my mother started with the County, she made made friends right off the bat.  She was just that kind of person, and over time, one of those friends was James Baier, or Jim as he liked to be called.

Jim had a way of letting everyone know that he had everything under control.  That as long as he was in the mix, there was little that would or could go wrong.  You see… Jim was a former Marine.  Not just that, he was, in my opinion, a “Marine’s Marine”.  When I think of the attitude that Jim exuded, I always think of a line from the movie “Heartbreak Ridge”…  “Be advised. I’m mean, nasty and tired. I eat concertina wire and piss napalm and I can put a round in a flea’s ass at 200 meters. So why don’t you go hump somebody elses leg, mutt face, before I push yours in.”

It would be hard for me to say that Jim was sweet, kind or gentle… I am sure he was to the right people.  But at the point where he came into my life, I think that he understood that this was not something I needed.  He saw that I was just on the verge of going in the wrong direction and needed my ass kicked a few times a week to get it back in line.  This was something that my mother was no longer able to do.  Though she tried, it was just not having the correct affect on me.  I think that he saw this and took action.

At the age of 16, and on my own, with no real direction from my mother or father (when he made the rare appearance) decided to join the Marine Corps.  Once Jim learned of this, it was all over.  He pressed me, pushed me and drilled me every time he came by the house.  It got to the point that, on a few occasions, I made sure I was not there when he came by.  Not that I did not like him, just that I did not want to be ordered around.

At the time, I did not see what he was doing to me.  I did not understand then, as is usually the case, that what he was doing was simply getting me ready for that which I needed to learn in the real world.  That which I would soon be subjected to when I climbed off that van at MCRD in San Diego.

Jim was, from my memory, not without his problems.  Like my father, he drank too much and he swore a little too much, even for me.  I always thought of him as being a little on the self destructive side and there was always something about him that seemed lonely.  That being said, there was never a better person to have on your side if you needed help or emotional support.  There was also never a worse person to have as an enemy should you discover the place to his bad side.

I was always a little jelealous of his family.  While they were people I knew, and I went to school with both of his children, I never “knew” them until later.  In the short period of time that Jim was part of my life, he made a huge impression on me and my life.  There is very little that I do today that does not occasionally cause me to think of him.

Jim passed away in, I think, 1996.  With his passing, I feel that everyone that knew him or whose path he had crossed, had lost something special.  There are even a couple people I know that did not like him, that felt a loss when he had died.

Because of the positive influence that Jim had on me, the lessons that he taught me, both directly and indirectly, and the effect he had on my family.  For that, he is included in my list of personal heroes.

Thank you Jim…  Godspeed and Sempre Fi!

 

Note:  If you are reading this, and you are one of Jim’s family members, you are more than welcome to email me.  I would love to talk to you.

 

Heroes Month – Carl Sagan

Let’s start the month out with a bang.  Or, as may be the case here, a BIG BANG.

Aside from seeing the occasional image of this goofy looking man with the big ears and bad hair standing next to various probes that NASA sent out during the 1970s, I did not put much to Carl Sagan.  He was just, from my young point of view, another one of the guys that made the things go up and take pictures.

Image courtesy of Fanpix.net

 

Then, on one quiet evening in September, 1980… my world was rocked.  PBS had started a new series called COSMOS, with it’s host… none other than Dr. Carl Sagan.  The first episode was Shores of the Cosmic Ocean.

It was not the fact that he was hosting it or the show by itself.  It was the WAY he spoke to me, and when you watched the show, you actually did feel like he was speaking to you, personally.  He shared not only the facts and the information, but he imparted his love for science in every show.

So… every new episode I would sit, riveted to the TV hanging on every word he uttered and absorbing every fact that he shared.  And thus my love… no, my LUST for science was born.  I could no longer look at the world and take everything for granted…  I had to know why things were the way they were.  I had to understand everything.

There were not enough books that I could read or articles to examine by Carl for me.  Every time he gave a speech, I would find a way to hear it.  Any time there was an article in a paper, I was at the library trying to find it so that I could read it.  What makes these especially a challenge, for those of you who do not recall a time before the internet, is that when I was doing this, I had to go to the library and look much of this up on cards or in magazines or on, dare I say… the dreaded microfiche.  It was not as easy as it is today to simply pull up Google and do a search.

It was, in part, because of Carl Sagan that I… and yes, it is one of the few things I am embarrassed to admit, took part in a March Against Nuclear Arms.  Somewhere there is a picture of me, carrying a sign in downtown Bakersfield, trying to abolish nuclear weapons.  I guess you could say that I was there and then, officially, a hippie.

But the most important thing I learned from him was the science.  From that one stepping point, I expanded into other areas.  Things made more sense to me and I was able to start applying the thing that I had learned as a result of Carl, to other parts of my life.

As with all good things, this too had to end, and in 1996, Carl Edward Sagan passed away.  Having followed his career for most of my life.  Been addicted to his speeches, appearances and writings and mesmerized with his personality…  it was like losing a close family member.  To be honest, I cried harder when he passed away than when my own father died.  It was that important to me.

So this is why I include Carl Sagan among my personal heroes.

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