First Public Land Turkey Hunt.

Last year, my good buddy Ben and I applied and were drawn for spring turkey permits here in Illinois for a State Natural Area. We hunted it with no success for a few days, but the whole experience was an amazing time. Ben and I had lunch following the morning hunt of my last day available to hunt, and as I drove out of the parking lot of the restaurant we were at, I was already planning our trip this year. Ben hunted one day longer than me, without success, but the amount of walking we had done throughout our three days of hunting gave us the knowledge to try and hunt it again this year.

As luck would have it, we applied once again as a “party”, and once again drew the same SNA. So this spring we will be trekking through the woods looking for thunder chickens. As I impatiently wait for that weekend in April, I am reminded of how I even began this whole journey of public land turkey hunting.

In 2018 Ben and I applied for the first time for public land turkey permits. Ben had convinced me to apply to a few public hunting land areas he had deer hunted with other friends, since he knew the area. Well we applied but unfortunately Ben didn’t draw but I drew one for the Winston Tunnel State Natural Area. Now, we would have liked to have had hunted it together, but the parks are closed during the turkey seasons until 1pm to everyone except permitted hunters. So that meant he couldn’t go with me.

But Ben, a true good friend, offered to take me out there and show me around, to get a lay of the land and help me scout for turkeys. So at the end of March, we set out and spent the day wandering the woods. The terrain there was very hilly and wooded, and it definitely was going to be a challenge to hunt with gear on my back. But we looked around and came up with a game plan I could follow when I came out solo. We marked spots I could use for calling locations on my onX Hunt app on my phone, and even though we didn’t see any turkeys, we saw some sign that looked promising.
The time between our scouting trek and my season was passed by me getting my gear organized, and most importantly, working on my calling. In our turkey hunts of the past, Ben did the calling. Well when I learned I had drawn a permit and would have to hunt solo, I got some diaphragm calls and began (much to my neighbors’ dismay) practicing all the time.

My first day to hunt had to be cancelled because my wife, who never gets sick, got sick. So I had to stay home with the boys so she could recover. My next available day found me driving the two hours west from my house early in the morning. Between the podcast I had playing and running through my plan in my head, the two hours flew by.
There had been snow overnight, something I hadn’t thought would happen, but that’s what happens when you draw the first season. My anxiety level was a bit high, because I wondered if I was going to run into the other permitted hunter for the area. Your see, the quota for each season was two permitted hunters for that area. As I descended the big hill that at the bottom held the parking lot for the hunting area, I was unsure how exactly I would handle running into another hunter.

This was my first full on experience hunting public land, and from what I’ve learned in articles and on podcasts was that the interaction can be 50/50 at best. Some people can be abrasive, treating the land as if it was there’s alone, even though it belongs to everyone. My plan was that if someone else was in the parking lot getting ready, I would ask them what their plan was and where they were headed, and I would alter my strategy accordingly. I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, and from the scouting me and Ben did, I had a few spots picked out that would make adjusting possible. I didn’t want my first public land experience to be marked by confrontation.

As I reached the bottom of the hill and saw the reflective marker that marked the entrance to the parking lot, I turned in. My headlights hit an empty parking lot, and I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s not that I didn’t want to share this area, I was just glad to avoid the potential of conflict. I parked my truck, and noticed I had arrived a bit earlier than I had planned, and since no one else was here I was able to take my time getting ready. I took my camo face paint out, and applied it. I chose that route over a facemask because I am not a fan of using facemasks because I feel they can become a hassle. They obstruct my view and generally I don’t like using them.

Once I got my makeup on, I opened the door of my truck and stepped out. Remembering the lessons I had learned from my dad, who in his younger years was an avid turkey hunter, and from what I read and heard from podcasts about shock gobbling, I slammed my truck door. Now, shock gobbling is a term used to describe tom turkeys gobbling at any loud noise during the breeding season. The list of noises that can cause a shock gobble is endless, but one I witnessed in those hunts with my dad when I was young was the slamming of a vehicle door.

When my door slammed, it seemed the whole area around me came alive with gobbles. I was pleasantly surprised to hear it at all, given that it had snowed overnight. I thought that they would be silent, spending the night in the cold weather. Inspired by the shock gobbles, I opened my back driver’s side door and hurriedly got the rest of my gear ready. I uncased my shotgun, and, taking the box of turkey loads out of my pack, loaded three shells into it. I threw my pack over my back, grabbed the two decoys and slung them, and for good measure I slammed this door too.
Once again the surrounding area came alive with gobbles. One of the locations that I could make out where gobbling was coming from was north of me, and it sounded near a spot I had marked on my onX app as a potential location. The plan Ben and I had developed from our scouting mission called for me to climb a large hill that held the old now defunct train tracks and call from there trying to locate some turkeys. But the gobblers I was hearing were north of that and since I could make out where I thought they were, I hoofed it to that spot. The snow on the ground made everything a bit more slick, but I made good time and snuck into place, the toms gobbling here and there during my 15 minute walk. I placed my two decoys about 20 yards in front of me, and sat against a tree.

I figured sitting on a hill adjacent to the hill the turkeys were making all their ruckus from was a good plan as I could see the surrounding area well. Plus, the snow would help me spot the turkeys better.
The turkeys were gobbling on private property, and I was within 200 yards of the boundary between the public land and that private land. I sat there, listening to them gobble from their roost. My anticipation was high, as I expected with how vocal they were, they were surely looking for some companionship.

Well that anticipation soon dwindled, because I heard the toms fly down, and then followed their dwindling gobbles as they made their way along the ridge they were on and didn’t come towards me. Despite my plaintive calls, I caught a glimpse of the pair of toms once, on the same adjacent hill they gobbled from, following it to the east. They stopped gobbling after I saw them, so I climbed the hill I was on, trying to maybe head them off.

When I reached the other side of the hill I was sitting on, I gave up trying to cut them off. If I was to I climb down this hill, an even steeper snow covered hill still awaited me. There was no way I could beat them, and that was if they were even still headed that way. I hadn’t heard from them for a while, so they literally could have went anywhere.
The rest of my time there that day was spent looking for turkeys all over the State Natural Area. I saw some tracks in the snow, and tried to follow them, calling here and there. But other than the birds chirping and crows calling, the only bird I didn’t hear was a tom turkey. When 1 o’clock came around, which is closing time for turkey hunting in Illinois, I headed to my truck. On the drive home I decided to head straight where I had set up that morning in a few days when I could get out next.

Two days later I was back in the parking lot, which once again it had snowed overnight. I got ready in a similar fashion as before, and when I slammed my truck door, all that met my ears was silence. Well this isn’t a good sign, I thought as I walked from my truck to the path. I trudged along the path in the freshly fallen snow, and came upon a bobcat track that had to have happened in the last three hours, since that’s when the snow had fallen.

My first time seeing a bobcat track, and it was definitely a fresh one since the snow had started a few hours earlier.

I got set up back where I had been a few days before, this time working closer to the property boundary. My hope was that those same toms would be roosting in the same spot. I got my decoys set out, and backed myself into the base of a tree. I heard a few toms gobble from the roost, but nothing like the other morning.

Once the sun was fully up, I saw a turkey fly from the ridge across from me, headed right for me! My heart jumped thinking, damn it’s gonna land right on top of me! When it got close I could see it was a hen, which are off limits during the spring season. She landed up the hill behind me and looked at me and then made her way up and over the hill. I hoped that the toms saw where she went and decided to follow her.

Well, they didn’t. I sat for a few hours in this spot, and then began to wander around, exploring, looking and listening for turkeys. I would hear a random gobble here and there, and would head in that direction, but they seemed to always be sitting on private property. I hiked back up to finish my day on the train tracks, since it was a high spot I could call from and look around. I set up and called once, listened, then began walking down the tracks. I was checking the woods that dropped off each side of the tracks in that rough country, when a flurry of movement on the tracks ahead of me caught my eye.
It was a turkey! It was running away from me at about 50 yards! I could have taken a shot, but with it’s back to me I couldn’t tell if it was a hen or a tom. I hid in the brush along the tracks and tried to call. I peeked out and the turkey was gone. So I walked ahead and tried to pick up it’s tracks in the snow. I found them, and tried to follow them, constantly looking ahead to see if I could find the bird.

But it was long gone. And it was getting close to closing time again. So I began walking back to the parking lot, calling every so often in the off chance I stumbled upon another turkey.

One of the spots I set up. Since I didn’t have snow camo, I used the rock as a backdrop since my camouflage clothing blended with it better.

I got back to my truck, snapped some pictures of me with the park sign and my gear and loaded everything in the truck. While I didn’t bag a turkey, I had a great time in my two days I spent there. I got to enjoy our state public land, and had it all to myself. This experience is why Ben and I have now made it a tradition to hunt these lands in Jo Daviess County. Hopefully this year is the year that we will be successful, but it will be fun regardless, getting the chance to hunt Illinois public land.

Trophy Hunting

“In a civilized and cultivated country wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen. The excellent people who protest against all hunting, and consider sportsmen as enemies of wild life, are ignorant of the fact that in reality the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.”
Theodore Roosevelt (Outdoor Pastimes of An American Hunter)

Every few months, seemingly in a cycle, social media comes alive with pictures of well to do Americans and Europeans posing with an endangered species, and animal rights organizations as well as average citizens blast these people for “killing an endangered species and contributing to their reduction.” Calls of “how can they smile while they contribute to the destruction of a species?” combined with “rich white people killing off protected species for sport” are leveled online. These hunters end up getting death threats, wishes of harm towards them and their families, and just generally harassed to the point they have to almost go into hiding. They are treated as heartless criminals, and vilified online and in the media.

This is all done out of pure ignorance and propaganda on the behalf of anti hunting groups. If those that report and repost articles blasting these hunters took the time to educate themselves they would see that the actions of these hunters actually benefit not only the endangered or threatened species, but also the local populace. In our modern society however, research beyond headlines is more work than most deem necessary to become Facebook experts on subjects.

Trophy Hunting – What Does It Mean?

Theodore Roosevelt with a Cape Buffalo he killed on one of his many African Safaris. Photo credit: Harvard College Library.

“Trophy Hunting” has become a moniker that has been shunned by society and has led some in the hunting community to shy away from and omit from usage. The term conjures up images of white hunters in Africa shooting various animals only to bring back the heads to hang in their homes. It wrongly creates the image of “wanton waste”; where the hunter cuts the head off and leaves the rest of the animal to rot. The animal is seemingly only viewed as a decoration to the hunter, something to be taken for sport.

The average person who has zero context into hunting will hear the term “trophy hunting” and automatically have a negative opinion of it based on the image that is created from the examples above. Popular hunting media is rife with examples of “trophy class animals” seeming to be the focal point of every hunt. The hunting community has done this damage to ourselves but thankfully in the last few years there seems to have been a shift in that.

To a first time hunter that takes their first animal, that’s a trophy. It may not be the biggest animal, but to that hunter, it is a trophy. A parent who spends time in the field to get their child their first harvest may consider whatever animal their child takes as a trophy because of the experience.

Trophy is truly a relative term.
There are hunters that target bigger animals, because generally those animals are more mature, and thus tougher to hunt. For example, a bigger elk or deer got that way because they learned to survive and have thus gained experience at avoiding danger, more so than younger animals. They don’t take the same risks, and have an almost uncanny ability to avoid hunters, making them a challenge to target. These animals also have spread their good genetics throughout the population, and in some cases they are in the decline of their life span. Generally speaking, hunters targeting these types of animals have a respect for their survivability and do all they can to ensure the animal meets a quick death by their hands.

Untruths about Trophy Hunting.

Endangered Black Rhinos.

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, every few years there is perceived outrage as a rich hunter takes an endangered species in a hunt they paid top dollar to go on. If one doesn’t take the time to look beyond the surface and how things “appear”, this looks terrible. Hell, most ethical hunters would be vehemently against such action. But like most things on social media, the truth lies below what the popular narrative is. Anti hunting groups play on the fact that most people on social media will not take the time to research beyond the “information” that is presented.
The money that is spent for these well to do hunters to take one of these animals is used for conservation efforts for that and other species. Most African nations do not have the financial ability to carry on conservation programs to the degree that the United States does. Many species in Africa conflict with the indigenous population, which leads to killing. Then there is the poaching aspect, where certain animals are killed by profit seekers, who then take whatever commodity off of the animal (tusks, skins horns so on) and leave the rest of the animal to rot. These poachers know no bounds, they will pursue animals into protected parks and do horrible things to the animals because money and not the benefit of the animal is their main motivation.

African elephant killed by poachers for it’s tusks and left to rot. This is poaching, not to be confused with legal hunting. Photo credit:

Poachers are not hunters. They are not even part of the same social fabric, or have the same mindset as hunters. Sometimes people uneducated in hunting consider them one in the same, and that is just unfair and incorrect. Those trophy hunters who spend the money to pursue certain species know that their money is going to benefit the species.

The amount of money some of these hunters spend on these hunts is more than those same people who complain about it will make in their lives. This large sum is a benefit to the species, especially in places whose infrastructure cannot support the conservation efforts needed to help those species. In the case of the black rhino, which is a very endangered species, this money helps combat poaching. The animal selected for the harvest was an older male who no longer conducted breeding, but also chased off those who could. While it can be difficult to think this way, when an animal is a detriment to the overall health of the species, that individual needs to be removed from the population. This isn’t a case of spending a lot of money to get to shoot what you want, it is a case of paying high dollar to cull an animal, with the money spent going to further conservation efforts.

I tire of seeing people blast these hunters who are doing more for conservation and preservation for these animals than those who are complaining ever would in their whole lives. The fact that these animals are a revenue source for many nations that would otherwise not have any interest in protecting them is why “trophy hunting” is an important conservation effort. Hunting is not for everyone, however I urge those who have taken part in blasting hunters for these high price hunts to look past the emotionally driven headlines and see that in fact these actions are helping conservation efforts. This may be a hard thing to read, but those hunters who have the ability to spend money on high dollar hunts to pursue endangered species have done more to protect and preserve those species than those who sit in the comfort of their home and blast these hunters from behind a keyboard.

Trophy Hunting is a moniker that carries a negative connotation. In today’s instant gratification culture, it is very easy to push a narrative that trophy hunting is bad, that high dollar hunts are just another example of rich people doing what they want. It takes a willingness to look beyond this oversimplified version to see that in fact these types of hunts can, and in many cases do, benefit species that in many parts of the world would hold no value otherwise. This lack of value in many nations would lead to an unwillingness to protect these animals, which then leads to them disappearing from the landscape. Think of these simple facts the next time there is social media outrage over one of these hunts.

Korean War Series: 17 January 1950: Kim Seeks Invasion Approval.

“The people of the southern portion of Korea trust me and rely on our armed might. Partisans will not decide the question. The people of the south know that we have a good army. Lately I do not sleep at night, thinking about how to resolve the question of the unification of the whole country. If the matter of the liberation of the people of the southern portion of Korea and the unification of the country is drawn out, then I can lose the trust of the people of Korea.”
Kim Il Sung 1950

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Leader Kim Il Sung.

On 17 January 1950, during a luncheon with Soviet and Chinese officials in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Il Sung spoke of reunification of the Korean Peninsula. This luncheon was hosted as a farewell to Ri Ju-yeon, a DPRK ambassador who was heading to the Chinese People’s Republic. We have accounts of what took place during this luncheon from a Soviet diplomat who was in attendance who sent a telegram to the Soviet government two days later detailing the conversations had.

The description of the overall feeling of the luncheon was one of a friendly atmosphere by those in attendance. Kim spoke highly of Joseph Stalin, who he credited with the liberation of the Korean people from the Japanese. Keep in mind, the Soviets declared war on Japan on August 9th 1945, shortly after the first atomic bomb was dropped. They rushed into the north of Korea to accept the surrender of the Japanese there while the Americans did the same in the southern portion. To the Communist mind of Kim Il Sung, however, the Soviets truly liberated the “real” Korea. Turning to the Chinese trade delegate in attendance, Kim discussed the victory of the Chinese Communists over the Nationalists in October. Using it as an opportunity to push his own agenda, Kim discussed the “liberation” of his own nation. He stated that with China liberated, it was time to liberate the south of Korea. Obviously emboldened by the United States Secretary of State not listing Korea as part of America’s Pacific Perimeter during the 12 January speech at the National Press Club, (covered in a previous blog) he told those in attendance the following:
“The people of the southern portion of Korea trust me and rely on our armed might. Partisans will not decide the question. The people of the south know that we have a good army. Lately I do not sleep at night, thinking about how to resolve the question of the unification of the whole country. If the matter of the liberation of the people of the southern portion of Korea and the unification of the country is drawn out, then I can lose the trust of the people of Korea.”

Soviet Union Leader Joseph Stalin.
South Korean President Syngmann Rhee.

Kim told the Soviet officials that Stalin had told him in order to attack the South Korean forces, Syngmann Rhee would have to have been the aggressor. Kim further explained that he knew his forces were stronger than Rhee’s, so an attack from Rhee was not likely. Kim expressed that he felt he would lose the support of the Koreans in the southern portion of the peninsula if he continued to wait for Rhee to attack. He wanted to liberate the south the same way Mao’s forces had liberated China. Kim felt that he needed to go back to the Soviet Union and meet with Stalin again to gain approval for the liberation. An interesting aspect of this was Kim’s declaration to the Soviet delegates that since he was a communist and a disciplined person, he would not act unless Stalin gave the go ahead. He solidified his idea by stating if he couldn’t meet with Stalin, then he would meet with Mao, securing at least Mao’s approval in lieu of Stalin’s.

Chairman Mao Zedong of the People’s Republic of China.

The two Soviet delegates tried to shift the conversation but Kim was persistent. He proposed attacking the Ongjin Peninsula, on the western portion of Korea, a short distance from the South Korean capital of Seoul. Kim stated that his forces could take the peninsula easily and secure Seoul in three days. The Soviet delegates advised against this, citing the need to seek counsel from Stalin first. The delegates told Kim that they would secure a meeting with Stalin for Kim in which they could discuss Kim’s plan. This seemed to please Kim and to the Soviet delegates it seemed he had been formulating this conversation for quite some time.

This was the first open discussion of Kim Il Sung’s plan of “liberating” all of Korea to foreign officials. This conversation thus became the starting point of weeks of telegrams and messages between Kim and the Soviet and Chinese leadership concerning a North Korean invasion of the South. Kim would persist, wanting to use the might of his Soviet trained and equipped military to bring all Koreans under the flag of Communism. By early spring 1950, Kim had secured support from Stalin and Mao for his plan of liberating South Koreans.

Void the FOID: House Bill 4067

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

– 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution

A line of people waiting for their turn to purchase legal recreational marijuana in Chicago, Illinois. Photo credit: Chicago Sun-Times.

In this state (People’s Republic of Illinois) we have seen the legalization of recreational marijuana usage (despite the continued federal prohibition on it) and it was celebrated by many. I’ve seen this first hand both on my social media feed and also by seeing the long lines outside of local dispensaries.

Also in this state, we are required by the state to posses a Firearms Owner Identification card (FOID) to own or purchase firearms and ammunition. In order to exercise a constitutional right; one protected from infringement by the government by our founders when they crafted our constitution, we have to pay money and possess a piece of plastic. If you understand the purpose behind the second amendment, this should strike you as extremely absurd, flying in the face of it’s intended purpose.

The FOID system is broken. The state of Illinois has 5, yes FIVE individuals handling FOID applications as well as conceal carry applications in Springfield. Wait times for renewals for each of those have gone over what lawmakers promised us it would take. I know a few coworkers who have applied for their cards and have waited close to 120 days for their new card.

The counter argument from the state is that “as long as you applied prior to your expiration date you are fine as long as you have the documentation proving you did so.” The state requires us to have FOID, yet their system is broken and behind, oh and money that was generated for the FOID act has been diverted by our beloved elected officials in Springfield for “other uses”. I cannot use the excuse that I left my FOID card at home, yet the state can take as long as they want issuing one.

We are supposed to take it seriously, yet they abuse and misuse the funds, have long wait times and use the FOID as a punishment to gun owners. The whole FOID Act has become a joke at best, at worst it is an unfair hurdle for people to exercise gun rights in Illinois. The long wait times negate the whole purpose (and I use the term purpose loosely) is to ensure that people who shouldn’t have guns can’t get them. Law makers have threatened to up the cost, promising things will change with FOID. These are lies.

State Representative John Cabello of the 68th District, author of House Bill 4067. Photo credit: 23 WIFR.

So my rant ends like this; legalization of recreational marijuana was seen as a shining moment in the People’s Republic of Illinois, celebrated by most. There is a bill to be presented to the Illinois house (House Bill 4067) to remove the FOID card from existence. It should have never been created in the first place; it is a revenue stream for the state paid by people looking to exercise a constitutional right.

The system is broken and abused by the very same lawmakers that celebrated circumventing federal laws prohibiting the use of marijuana. If this doesn’t strike anyone as hypocritical, I can’t help you. You are either willingly blind or willfully ignorant. It is time to contact your representatives and tell them to support the repeal of the FOID Act, with the same passion many did with supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana. I’ve contacted my representatives, telling them I will be watching how they vote on this piece of legislation.Constitutional Rights should NOT be only available to those who can afford them.

Korean War Series: 12 January 1950 “Pacific Perimeter”.

“So far as the military security of other areas in the Pacific is concerned, it must be clear that no person can guarantee these areas against military attack.”
Secretary of State Dean Acheson

Secretary of State Dean Acheson delivers his speech to the National Press Club 12 January 1950. Photo Credit: Teaching American History.

A speech delivered to explain America’s foreign policy in combating the spread of Communism has come to be seen as a tipping point in North Korea’s decision to invade the South. During a speech on 12 January 1950 to the National Press Club, Secretary of State Dean Acheson was asked about America’s Asian policy. Keep in mind, America and the Soviet Union had both withdrawn much of their forces from the Korean Peninsula by this time. The “two Koreas” each felt their form of government, the Communist version of North Korea and the Democratic version in South Korea, were the legitimate government of all of Korea. When asked about America’s defensive posture in the Pacific region, Acheson gave an outline of it, which included Japan and the Philippines. He left our Korea, however, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by North Korea. Acheson stated, “So far as the military security of other areas in the Pacific is concerned, it must be clear that no person can guarantee these areas against military attack.”

Historians and critics of Acheson’s speech point out that his exclusion of Korea in the American Pacific perimeter gave North Korean leader Kim Il Sung the “green light” to invade the south six months later. Kim didn’t need any such go ahead from American policy, he had wanted to invade and conquer the south since the establishment of the DPRK. He just needed to convince Stalin and Mao that America would not intervene. This portion of Acheson’s speech seemed to prove that.

Critics look past the rest of Acheson’s speech, seemingly to only focus on the Pacific Perimeter portion. Later in the speech, Acheson mentioned continued administrative and economic support for the South Korean government, to socially combat the spread of Communism. In Acheson’s and President Truman’s view, the spread of Communism arose only out of economic hardship in target nations. By supporting South Korea economically, helping them firmly establish a democracy, the United States would not have to support the South Koreans militarily. This was the Truman administration’s answer to the post war world and the rise of the threat of Communism. While a good idea to avoid open conflict with the Soviet Union, only time would tell if this strategy would pay off on the Korean Peninsula.

Impeachment; What it Truly Means.

“Which is better, to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away or three thousand tyrants one mile away?” Mather Byles.

Impeachment passes the house (Democrat Majority). Not surprised.

Impeachment has little chance of passing the Senate (Republican Majority). Not surprised.

What did this accomplish?

Those that think Trump is the worst president in history, is literally Hitler and should be out of office will still think that way.

Those who think Trump is the second coming of George Washington and think he can do no wrong, that the Democrats are out to get him, will still think that way.

So it will ultimately accomplish nothing.

Well actually it will accomplish something beyond the removal or validation of a president.

How I feel the founders look right now while watching us destroy what they created because we are a lazy society.

Those same career politicians on both sides of the aisle who sat on television and said they voted the way they did for “the good of the country” and in the “defense of the Constitution” could give a shit less about either. Hell, those articles of impeachment are but the first part of a LAUNDRY LIST of things members of Congress have been guilty of their entire career.

We have members of Congress from both sides of the aisle who have been in office LONGER THAN I HAVE BEEN ALIVE. Some of them are running for president! If that doesn’t bother you then you are part of the problem.

If you believe either side is looking out for the best interest of the country and Constitution, you are either foolish or lying to yourself. Members of Congress abuse their power all the time, using it to line their pockets and further their party’s cause. They also obstruct Congress all the time, because they are constantly fighting amongst themselves, trying to sell to the American people how “evil” the other side is, while doing NOTHING to actually help the nation.

It’s easy for the electorate to sit back and pick sides in this impeachment show because there is ZERO accountability for us. The president is one man, his power is limited (BY DESIGN) and ultimately he can do very little to impact your life. The ones who can and do, continually ensure the divide between average Americans remains strong to take light away from their ineptitude and corruption. They do this with fervor in the run up to elections. This impeachment hearing, show, circus whatever you want to call it, is proving that. It’s like a magic trick, hey look at this hand, never mind what the other hand is doing.

The same founding fathers both sides cite in this debate are collectively screaming from the afterlife at what we have allowed to happen. They never meant for this system to become what it has. They never meant for political office to be a lifetime career. They never meant for us to just vote for someone based solely on if they have an R or a D by their name. We have allowed the parties to divide us so they don’t have to answer for what they do.

At the end of the day, the impeachment means nothing because it will not change anything. It will be a date in the history books, but one that had little impact. We as the electorate should be ashamed we have allowed our nation to become what it is. Ultimately the failures of our nation is our fault, because we were too ignorant and lazy to care to change it.

Establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

“A drama begins with a prologue but the prologue is not the climax. The Chinese Revolution is great – but the road after the revolution will be longer, the work greater and more arduous.”
Mao Zedong, 1949

Mao Zedong declares the establishment of The People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949. Photo Credit: History Today.

China had been embroiled in a Civil war intermittently between 1927 and 1949. The two sides, the Nationalist Party of China, and the Communist Party of China, fought each other for control of the nation, but put aside their differences (for the most part) during the Second Sino-Japanese War between 1937-1945 to resist the Japanese occupation of their nation.

Once the Japanese surrendered in 1945, fighting resumed between the two sides. Thousands of North Koreans fought in the People’s Liberation Army, the name of the communist forces of China. Additionally, the North Koreans also sent thousands of railway cars worth of supplies to help the Communist cause in China. This support would not be forgotten by Mao in the future. Nor would the US support of the Nationalists forces during the civil war.

By 1949, the Nationalist Forces had fled to the island of Taiwan, with the Communist forces controlling the mainland. On 30 September 1949 Mao Zedong was elected the Chairman of the Central People’s Government. All major facets of Chinese society transformed to control under the Communist Party. The Party declared an end to imperialism in the nation, and transforming it from an agricultural economy to an industrial one.

The next day, 1 October 1949, from the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Tiananmen Square, Mao Zedong formally declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. 250,000 people gathered to hear the new leader speak of the changes to come. The landed gentry and landlords of the nation would have their lands taken and redistributed to the peasant class. This drastically reduced economic inequality. In addition to this redistribution, millions of former landlords and land holders were executed, with their lands being given to the former landless peasants. To Mao and the Communist, class struggle could be solved worldwide with socialism.

With the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, communist North Korea had an ideologically similar northern neighbor. Additionally, Communist China had a communist buffer state between their border and American allied South Korea. These relationships would create a situation that in about a year would have dire consequences for all the parties involved. Thousands of Korean veterans of the People’s Liberation Army were sent back to Korea, and these veterans would play a crucial role in the North Korean Army.

The Chinese forces that would be sent to fight in Korea in the fall and winter of 1950 would include thousands of captured Nationalists pressed into communist service. These Chinese soldiers had been sent to the infamous Communist “reeducation camps”, and preached to about the class struggle that the Communist ideology would “fix”. Whether or not the reeducation stuck or not was up to the individual former Nationalist. What wasn’t up to the individual was crossing the Yalu river into North Korea in October 1950 to fight the UN forces closing in on the Chinese border. But that is a blog to be written in the future.

First raising of the Chinese national flag during the celebration of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949.


“I miss 9/12. I would never want another 9/11, but I miss the America of 9/12. Stores ran out of flags to sell because they were being flown everywhere. People were Americans before they were upper/lower class, Jewish/Christian, Republican/Democrat. We hugged people without caring of they ate Chic-Fil-A or wore Nikes.

On 9/12, what mattered more to us was what united us, not what divided us.”

Elizabeth S. Gray.

You talk to anyone who was old enough on September 11th 2001 to have a memory from that day and I guarantee they can recite where they were when it happened. The terror attacks that took place on that day altered the history of not only the United States but the world.

A simple date, 9/11, became a synonym for terror. There would be attacks after that fateful date around the world that would be refered to as a country’s “own 9/11.” Even up to this day, pundits and terror experts alike ask themselves if there could be “another 9/11”.

The world changed on that fateful day. While the attacks were targeted at the United States, the repercussions were felt around the world. Air travel is drastically different now than prior to the attacks. Law enforcement now has procedures and response in how to deal with terror attacks. Our intelligence community seemingly works on a continuous basis identifying the next threatening terror cell. We work with partner nations that have terror cells operating within their borders, helping teach them tactics to deal with them.

American soldiers conducting a foot patrol in Afghanistan.

The conflict in Afghanistan, which started as a response to the 9/11 attacks, will hit it’s 18th anniversary this October. That means that there are individuals entering the military and potentially going to Afghanistan who were born the year 9/11 happened. They grew up in a post 9/11 world, they know no different. They are going to serve in a war that is as old as they are. That is truly jaw dropping, and shows the breadth of fighting Islamic Radicals.

I was a sophomore in high school when the attacks happened. I remember hearing about the “bombings in New York”. Classes that day were suspended, as we listened to radio reports and watched news reports covering it. When I went home, it was silent outside. No aircraft passing overhead. Everyone seemed to be staying home, huddled around the television watching the coverage. The feeling permeating the area was one of sadness. Everything seemed still and quiet.

I went into our garage because I remembered we had some small flags left over from Memorial Day when the American Legion Post put them out. I grabbed them and the flag we had for the hook on the front of our house. I hung the big flag up and placed the small flags in our yard along the roadway. I felt I had to do something, and this was my contribution. After I finished that, I noticed other houses hanging their flags as well. Soon the whole street had houses with flags hanging off of them.

Aside from the violence of the day, this is the other major memory I have. The flood of patriotism that swept the nation after the attacks is something I am happy to have witnessed in my life. It seemed like everyone was friendly to each other, neighbors looking out for neighbors. I would never want the horrors of that day, however the patriotism that swept through the nation is something I wish we could experience again. I haven’t seen anything like it since, given all that has happened in this country.

We as a people have lost our sense of patriotism and pride in our nation. For some reason, being prideful of our nation is looked down upon. Maybe it is war weariness, however our society as a whole has been removed from war and it’s effects. Our military has carried the load for that, carrying that burden on behalf of the American people. Our society has broken up into groups, identifying more with their group than as Americans.

9/11 has faded into memory, seemingly not as impactful as it once had been. I wonder if the Greatest Generation felt the same way 18 years after Pearl Harbor. Granted we were not still involved in the war that resulted from Pearl Harbor, but I wonder if the generation that fought that war noticed the lack of patriotism and understanding of the events of that day like I feel about 9/11 today. Our way of life was attacked, and still is under attack by those that loath everything that makes America what it is. I hope the lessons we have learned in the last 18 years, the sacrifices made by those who gave their lives and those whose loved ones died were not given up in vain. As Americans we should always remember what it felt like to have our nation rocked by such violence. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Korean War Series

“Funny thing is, I didn’t see any police where I was at.”

– Corporal Morris Kiefer. B Battery 955th Field Artillery Battalion.

My late Grandfather, Morris Kiefer, was a Korean War veteran. He was drafted and sent over to the peninsula to serve in a war that wasn’t declared a war and was instead called a “police action.” He would scoff at that and say, “Funny thing is I didn’t see any police where I was at.”

He didn’t speak much about his experience over there, and what he did share you could tell it troubled him. What stood out to me the most was what he said happened when he came home. He told me when he came back, people acted like he hadn’t been gone that long, (even though he was deployed for a year), and he was told to “get back to work”. This is a stark contrast to the ticker tape parades of the returning veterans of World War Two who returned home just five years prior to the start of the conflict in Korea.

There is an entire generation of veterans who now are disappearing, who’s stories are going to be lost. They are the veterans of a conflict that was stuck between the infamous battles of World War Two and the divisive aspects and implications of the Vietnam War. Go on Netflix or Amazon Prime and you can find a plethora of World War Two and Vietnam War films. Search any book seller and you will find the same. But a conflict that had its own heroics, that affected a generation no different than the war before or after it, is largely forgotten. No generation of veterans should ever be forgotten, but Korea had the moniker of being America’s “Forgotten War”. This should not be a thing, but sadly it is.

Given the ebb and flow of tension with North Korea making headlines recently, many people who will no doubt share their opinion online or on one of the various media outlets probably could not without the aid of Google tell you any of the major battles of the Korean War. They couldn’t tell you the nations involved in that conflict, or the leaders who sent them there. They couldn’t tell you how the nation of Korea came to be divided between a Communist North and Democratic South. More importantly, understanding the conflict and honoring those who served in a war that had global implications is necessary to ensure the veterans of this conflict get the honor and thank you long overdue. That is the plan with my upcoming series.

2020 will mark the 70 year anniversary of the start of the war. With this blog series, I will publish an “on this date” post covering significant events. I urge anyone who reads them to share it, and help spread the word of the conflict. My ultimate goal is to attract as much attention to it as possible, to try and get it on the same footing as World War Two or Vietnam. I need your help in doing so.

In order to get the message right, I must set the stage so to speak with the events that led up to the opening days of the Forgotten War.

Japanese Occupation of Korea

Following the signing of the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Russia had to accept that Japan had vested interest in Korea. On 22 August 1910, Japan officially annexed Korea as a protectorate of the Japanese Empire.

Japanese forces during their occupation of Korea. Picture Credit:

Japanese migrants had moved to Korea to help ease overcrowding in Japan. The Japanese treated the Koreans as second rate citizens. They created a Feudal state in Korea, where Japanese citizens owned the land and the Koreans worked the fields and paid their landlords from these efforts. There were a few attempted uprisings by the Koreans against the Japanese, however these were harshly put down by the Japanese.

Following their manpower shortages during the massive buildup of the military, Japanese authorities first recruited and then conscripted Korean laborers to work in Japanese factories to support the war effort. In addition to working in Japanese factories, Korean civilians were forced to work in abhorrent conditions in Korean mines to support the Japanese war effort. Total Korean forced labor deaths during the occupation is estimated at between 270,000 and 810,000.

The Dividing of Korea

American soldiers disarm Japanese soldiers in Korea following the Japanese surrender. Picture Credit:

Japanese occupation of Korea abruptly ended with the Japanese surrender following the dropping of the atomic bombs on mainland Japan in August 1945. On September 8th 1945 Lieutenant General John Hodge arrived in Korea and accepted the surrender of the Japanese forces there.

Soldiers of the Soviet Union’s 25th Army advancing into Northern Korea during their Manchuria Offensive in October 1945. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Following an agreement among the Allies towards the end of the war, the Soviet Union took part in offensive operations against the Japanese. They invaded Korea from Manchuria and headquartered themselves in Pyongyang. US and Soviet leadership settled on a dividing line for their joint occupation of Korea, similar to what they did with Germany. The two sides settled on the 38th parallel as this dividing line.

As the two former allies began to enter what would be called the Cold War, Korea became two separate countries. The North, being aided and supported by the Soviets became a Communist country. The Soviets trained and supplied their military, to include creating an Air Force. In the South, the United States and other Western capitalist allies supported and supplied those Koreans. The peninsula, which had been under harsh Japanese rule, now was divided between two ideologies locked in a struggle to spread their own influence while restricting their opponent’s.

As the Cold War heated up, instead of a strictly administrative division between two allies with the ultimate goal of a reunification of the Korean peninsula, in 1948 each of the now “two Korea’s” declared themselves as seperate nations. In the South, the Republic of Korea (ROK) elects Syngman Rhee, a 70 year old Korean expatriate supported by the United States, as their first president. In the Soviet supported North, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is formed with Kim Il Sung at its head. Each of the two sides considered themselves as the head of a unified Korea, and did not recognize the government of the other side. They viewed the 38th parallel as a temporary issue.

Syngman Rhee, president of the newly formed Republic of Korea. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Syngman Rhee’s tenure as the president of the ROK would be tainted by corruption and abuses of power. He would use his fledgling military and police force during the first few years of power to violently put down protests and crack down on those he deemed a threat to South Korea.

Kim Il Sung, the Great Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Kim Il Sung fought against the Japanese in guerilla warfare during their occupation of Korea. This fact would give rise to the belief in North Korea, fueled by propaganda that he alone drove the Japanese from the peninsula. He was trained and cultivated by the Soviet Union who noticed him and his political alliance to the Communist party. He was selected by the Soviets to head the DPRK and he set about a path to reunify the peninsula under Communism.

There are a lot more smaller details during the lead up to the Korean War, but I feel this is a good start in laying the background of the Korean War. Since it is 2019, I will spend the rest of the year covering the events of 1949, the year before the war kicked off. Major changes in the region, most notably in China, would have MAJOR implications in Korea. I hope you enjoyed this blog and found it interesting. From this point forward, it will cover what happened “on this date.” I am excited to work on this and hope you enjoy reading it.

Father’s Day

Nothing in this world prepares you for being a father. There is no class you can take, book you can read, or experience you can call on to prepare yourself for it. For nine months you watch your wife carry around the child and understand that she will always share a bond with the child you will never know. Nor should you. However, when you hold that child for the first time, the weight of the responsibility you now are undertaking hits you. You are now responsible for the life of another person in a way so foreign it is hard to explain. Yet in the same moment, you seem to flash forward to all the memories you want to make with them. It’s as if you have seen it before, as if it had already happened. You embark on the challenges of fatherhood feeling nervous yet ready.

There are two things that fathers are responsible for, and one compliments the other. You have to raise your children in a way that will lead to them being good, successful, happy people, and you have to do so in a way that is kind, compassionate yet stern. One cannot happen without the other. It is a balancing act that I at times fail at. Mothers are naturals in the ways of raising children, fathers have to learn by their example. My two boys have taught me more in their short time here on Earth than I had learned leading up to their arrival. They are different people, have different needs and personalities that are unique to them. They have taught me patience in the ways only children can. They have taught me a different level of love I hadn’t even known existed. And they have taught me that the material things I have now do not matter, rather it is what I leave behind with them, memories and experiences with them that matter. It is the lessons I taught them of how to treat others that counts. It is the lessons I taught them of opening the doors for their mother, giving her flowers just because, that will hopefully make them loving and honorable spouses.

I hope that when they get to be my age and think of me on Father’s Day, they remember me in a way that makes them smile. I hope they remember me in a way that they say to themselves, dad did right by us, he helped shape who we are. That is the legacy I would like to leave behind. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.