Tag: Service

Who Was Marie Czernin of Austria?


I’d never heard of this beautiful woman until a story was posted about her recent death at the young age of 51 from cancer.  I was so moved by the post, however, because it described someone who was so full of peace and light as she approached death, that all who kept a vigil with her were astonished.  Their description of Marie was so moving and as I read, something unexpected happened to me.

I was only halfway through the post and paused for a minute to absorb the descriptions of her life and her writings, when a difficult problem that I have been trying to work out for a long time with not much success, popped into my mind.   I had not been thinking about it while reading at all, yet two answers, simple and very clear, came to me regarding my problem.

So I was not thinking about it, and there is no way the two answers I received would have ever entered my mind, as they were the opposite of what I had been thinking while working through on my own.  Things like this don’t happen to me. I have no explanation for it, but I felt an immense sense of relief and clarity that I had not had before, and it has stayed with me.

The Mission Isn’t Just Barbecue


We ate our first barbecue lunch last weekend at a Mission Barbecue restaurant. Upon entering, the positive charge in the atmosphere is 100% American.  The walls are covered with pictures of veteran missions, soldiers stepping off trains from World War II, greeted by their loved ones, and photos of all branches of the armed services are represented.

What wall space is left is covered with thousands of patches representing the military, law enforcement, firefighters, forestry, mixed with flags and hats of all those that serve.  The intoxicating scent of a properly seasoned and smoked feast fills the air while cheerful staff wearing ‘Honored to Serve’ t-shirts greet you with a smile.  Country and patriotic music plays over the speakers.

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Never Trump conservatives, having hoped for a Hillary Clinton win in 2016, were often subjected to “But Gorsuch” taunts from supporters of President Donald J. Trump, once he was, with the help of Mitch McConnell, able to fill the Supreme Court position left vacant by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. They quickly turned this […]

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Thanksgiving Serving Lines


Don't be Chikin Fill Red KettleAs November turns to December, I reflected on serving lines. I mean lines of food in trays, usually kept hot by a heat source underneath. Behind the serving line, stands a line of people, each poised to serve up a dollop, ladle, or tong full of good eating. Three things come to mind around this arrangement, two from military service and one from Christian service (the “faith community”).

It is a matter of many decades tradition for Army officers, especially commanders, and their “right arm,” their senior sergeant (company first sergeants and the command sergeants major at battalion and above) to appear in their dress blue uniforms, don aprons and serve their troops dinner. The uniform changes to camouflage in deployed areas or when long field exercises go through the holiday, but there is still a tradition, if the dining hall or mess trailer is not all contract workers, of serving your troops. In the largest land force, this is a small recognition of the officers’ dependence upon the enlisted for success. For good officers, this is not the only day of the year when they approach their duty with a servant-leader perspective.

Speaking of dining halls, a Thanksgiving feast, allegedly within the Index of Recipes of the Armed Forces Recipe System, comes to mind. It was 1989 and I had the additional duty of battalion mess officer. As a practical matter, this meant I reviewed and signed the books while an insanely competent E-7 battalion mess sergeant ran the show. And what a show it was that year!

Service-Gathering the Fragments


The Holocaust took place during World War II, and millions of Jews were put to death over the years of the War, in Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz, and in forests of Eastern Europe, and in their own towns and ghettos. Today, 75 years later, there are still Survivors alive to tell their inspiring stories. But soon, there will be no Survivors left. For many years, Yad Vashem in Israel, the great Holocaust Memorial, has been seeking and collecting memories; videos, audio records, photos, and other ephemera of Survivors. In the latest issue of Martyrdom and Resistance, the newsletter for American supporters of Yad Vashem, there was an article about the program they call Gathering the Fragments, describing their efforts to collect as many memories as they can from living Survivors and families of victims, to better document the lives of all who were affected by the Holocaust.

Service: A Character of the Finest Crystal


During a month devoted to Group Writing on service, it is fitting to speak of Witold Pilecki, of whom I briefly wrote once before on Ricochet, whose example of service to his country and to all humanity serves as an inspiration to all of us.

A life story so dramatic and improbable as to sound like fiction (perhaps lifted from an Alan Furst novel). A Pole who fought against Russians, Germans, Nazis and Communists, a man who volunteered for imprisonment in Auschwitz, organized resistance cells, who escaped from the camp to alert his fellow Poles and the Western Allies about the mass murder of the Jews and urge them (unsuccessfully) to destroy Auschwitz and liberate its captives. Murdered by communists, for 40 years his surviving family suffered, his deeds, and even existence, extinguished in his homeland and little known elsewhere.

Born in 1901 in the remote Karelian region of northern Russia where his family was relocated after participating in the unsuccessful Polish uprising of 1863-4 against Czarist Russia (his father spent seven years in Siberia for his role), Pilecki was raised as a Polish patriot. After the 1917 Russian Revolution, young Witold made his way to what was then German-occupied Poland. With the collapse of Germany and amid Russia’s turmoil at the end of the war, Poland regained the independence it lost in 1795. For the next two years, Poland and the new Soviet Union fought a war in which advantage swung wildly; at one point Polish forces entering Kiev, and later the Soviets on the verge of taking Warsaw. The Poles eventually prevailed, preserving their independence. Witold fought throughout, twice receiving the Cross of Valour for bravery.

Hey Big Tipper


Any discussion of service should eventually consider the subject of tipping. Is the act of leaving a tip for a service employee a form of tax or is it a moment of altruism? Do you as a buyer of services expect to find a linear relationship between the size of your tip and the amount of service delivered or do you just automatically do the math in your head and write it on the bill?

As a lifelong student at the School of Hard Knocks- College of Food Service I can tell you that it is a subject of much discussion, infinite aggravation and a huge component of overall income earned. Of course, tipping is utilized in many service industries besides food service. Taxicabs, hotels, hairdressers and tour guides come to mind. Since my experience is most with food service, I will confine this discussion to one topic: Why don’t we just eliminate tipping and add the full cost of running the business and paying a living wage to the menu prices?

Quirky Service and Other Hazards of Shopping Local


My 2004 Subaru interior needed cleaning—badly. And since I was looking to start a new job where I would be driving my car, I needed to get it done soon. I did a quick Facebook search and found a local car detailing business. The reviews were glowing. But besides the votes of confidence, it was hard to get much in the way of crucial information from what the page offered. A bead on the location would have been helpful. I called the number and the proprietor said he charged $150. I would need to leave the car all of Monday. Later, when I had questions, a couple of my text queries went unanswered.

It was a pain dropping the vehicle off. Other detailing businesses I’d seen offered to come to you with their supplies. And it complicated things that the detailing business lacked clear signage. “Across the street from the Toyota dealership” wasn’t helping me. I pulled into a body shop that seemed close to the description of where I was to turn and asked the woman behind the desk whether anyone recognized the name of the business I was looking for. No, they’d never heard of it. Customers seated against the walls of the cramped pre-fab office regarded me with interest. I pulled back out onto the busy highway and finally found the establishment behind a car wash.

Group Writing 2019: VBS


Too often my posts have seemed to meander to my boyhood days here in the Appalachians. Before long, I’ll start to hear Earl Hamner’s voice in my head as I write up these recollections (“Good night, John Boy…”). Still, it’s difficult not to recall formative events or people primarily during the 1970s. Swinging away from the Viet Nam trauma and psychedelic counter-culture; a boy had to navigate the world with little information. Our only source of news was Walter Cronkite every night and a smattering of articles from the Bristol Herald Courier.

Summers were filled with mowing lawns and baling hay. At least the hay came later when I was old enough and big enough to wrangle a bale. I imagine that old farmers whined about boys having it easy with square bales vs. loose hay as they do now about round bales vs. square. Technology has made life easier for boys at a time when they really don’t need it easier.

Service…As in: When I’m Dead, Use this Music at My Service


I’ve been to many funerals in my life. Some were a celebration held after a long life. Some were a remembrance of a loved one gone too soon, but thankfully relieved from a vicious period of suffering. Some were really painful because the loved one was taken in a sudden tragic way. But, the highlight of every one of these services was the music. Music at a funeral is critical because one’s soul is touched by music in an incomparable way.

Mr. CowGirl and I have (jokingly) (…well, maybe not “jokingly”) told our children that the only thing that matters at our funerals IS the music. We keep compiling lists of songs that our talented children will be required to perform. There won’t necessarily be time left for eulogies or sermons because, the older we get, the more music we keep finding that defines our lives.

A Contrast In Customer Service


One of the downsides of living without a car is that you rely on delivery services or ride sharing to obtain groceries.

I decided to make use of the Walmart delivery service, which uses Doordash. When my order arrived, it was entirely wrong. All of the diet soda was regular soda, not even one of the frozen items was the correct variety. I did not want to sign for the delivery, since it was not what I requested. The driver was apologetic (he had not picked the order) and he contacted Doordash customer service.

Forgotten Service


This month, we are reflecting on service of all sorts. This weekend marks the auspicious dates of Veterans/Remembrance Day, Global Victims of Communism Day, the fall of the Berlin Wall (effectively ending the Cold War), and the Marine Corps birthday. Let us turn, then to reflect on largely forgotten service, by Buffalo Soldiers, the frozen chosen, Polar Bears, and “the man who would be khan.” Each of us can look around our own communities and circles to refresh memories of those who served with honor.

Buffalo Soldiers:

Earlier this month, the service of Henry Lafayette Dodge was called to our attention. I invite you now to consider the Buffalo Soldiers. While the term was first given to the 10th Cavalry, by the tribes facing them, the term stretched to apply to all four black regiments, with white officers, sent off to do the dirty, thankless jobs on the American frontier after the Civil War. These were the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments and the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments. While the 7th Cavalry, “Garryowen,” as Custer’s regiment, gets the most recognition to this day, there were seven other white cavalry regiments and the two black cavalry regiments, all having their share of the grueling years of policing, garrisoning, and fighting in the American West.

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As a child, I was always intrigued by the fact that while Christ was dying on the cross, he managed to have conversations with the two thieves who were being crucified along with Him. Despite his massive suffering, he reassured Dismas, the good thief to let him know that He would help him achieve a […]

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Group Writing: Cowgirl Band Serves Others


They came tumbling into the building pape and plastic bags strewn along the hallway, guitars under their arms, and energy to spare; they were close to the same ages as the patients they would be entertaining. I didn’t realize at the time that they were going where I was going, to the Memory Unit. I was going for my weekly visit to see my hospice patient whom I’d been seeing for several months; they were going to entertain the patients with their musical act.

As musicians and singers go, they were not the most talented bunch. But they made up for their lack of skills with enthusiasm and joy. They were dressed in cowboy hats and boots. They’d brought colorful Halloween leis for every person in attendance. They weren’t always sure of the words of their songs, or the chords they intended to play on their two guitars, so they had small poster boards filled with the lyrics to help them along the way.

President Trump to Attend New York City Veterans Day Parade


The Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced on Friday that President Trump would be the first president in United States history to attend the New York City Veterans Day parade on Monday. This will be the centennial of the annual commemorations on this date, starting as Armistice Day, then changing during World War II to Veterans Day in the US, and Remembrance Day in the British Commonwealth. New York City reportedly hosts the largest Veterans Day parade in the country.

It will be interesting to see if the left shows up to disrupt with their usual violent street theater. Do the mayor and governor have to show up and make nice? It would be nice to just look forward to great pictures and video of the parade participants and appreciative crowds focused on honoring our veterans.

And what about that press conference? The Q&A is informative, as the Secretary blows through the opening hostile questions and works on to substantive questions with great historical and organizational knowledge. Who knew that the Army started tracking suicide during the administration of Benjamin Harrison, concerned about our frontier army? Who knew that the suicide rates around World War I were highest among non-deployers?