When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home. Tecumseh


Judging from reports that superhero movies generate billions of dollars of sales around the world, people hunger for heroes, heroic actions, and feel-good-that-bad-guys-lose stories. As much as I loved watching the Avengers MCU franchise, I do not think of the big green guy, an Asgardian with a big hammer, or an Elon Musk -on-steroids, Iron Man, when I picture a “hero”.

Kendrick Castillo

A hero is the eighteen year old Kendrick Castillo who charged the murderous punks at the STEM school in Colorado, protecting his classmates at the sacrifice of his life. Let’s not forget his classmates, Jackson Gregory and Lucas Albertoni, who also rushed the shooters. I would hope the media and history books will immortalize them and not dwell on the perpetrators. It is that latter attention that inspires damaged people to commit other heinous crimes.

Oscar Stewart

Dwell instead on those like Oscar Stewart, the Army veteran attending services who instinctively chased after the murdering coward in the Chabad synagogue in Poway, California. Honor also Lori Kaye who died defending her rabbi. They wore no armor, and doubtless, had any plans to defend their fellow worshippers that day from a hail of bullets.

A superhero is someone who, at some point or in some way, inspires hope or is the enemy of cynicism. Mark Waid Read

Lori Kaye

In a world that is always at the mercy of violent men (and women), we can be forgiven for indulging in fantasy where evil may triumph for a time. Thankfully, fictional heroes figure out a way to defeat it and save the universe.

In tragedy, unlikely people emerge as heroes, defending family, friends or strangers from evildoers. In troubled times, there is always a need for heroes, but not magic stones to combat wrongs.

a day for heroic mothers

pexels-photo-225744.jpegHappy Mothers’ Day, 2018!       Whether your momma is alive  or living in your memory,  hug her today!

My own mother passed away seven years ago but I have others to celebrate.  My daughter-in-law is expecting our grandchild in August.  My wife has three now-grown sons – she did all the work as I married into the family when they were pre-teens.     But I have a mother to call today, whom I still refer to as “Ma”.   There’s others whom our family has had as ‘second-moms’.     My elder maternal aunt is someone I would have chosen, if that was a thing,  to be my mom.

When I studied Russian in college and then had a opportunity to visit the country ages ago,  I remember how the old Soviet regime had an award for moms: Мать-героиня    or Mother-Heroine.

pexels-photo-302083.jpegWhether you have one whirlwind of a boy, a  seven brides for seven brothers family, or like my wife,  three men- all radically different, celebrate the day.   Give your mom a hug, a phone call, some flowers, and treat her to brunch.    Love you, Mom!


heroes aren’t like in the movies, part 2

File created with CoreGraphicsRest in Peace, Adam West

The heroes of my childhood were black and white.   Well, they were.  We did not get a color TV in my home until I was in 7th or 8th Grade.   As a child of the 1960s, I watched Batman and Robin, with Adam West and Burt Ward.  It was a campy good versus evil, solving the crisis that befell Gotham in thirty minutes or less Continue reading

Freedom is not free- Remembering September 11th 2001

My shipmate and mentor, CDR Dan Shanower died at the Pentagon on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I served with him on the Staff of COMMANDER THIRD FLEET in San Diego until 2000, when I left Active Duty for the Navy Reserve. At start of the work day, we used to greet each other with “Greetings, Warrior”, and some small talk before delving into the issues of the day. When I joined the Reserve in 2000 soon after leaving Active Duty, I was more interested in preserving my investment of 14 years service. Over the next several months I met Chiefs and Officers serving in the Reserve who were no less professionals in uniform than in civilian life. These Chiefs became my mentors. In the last 8 years, many of the Sailors they mentored left their jobs and families to serve in this Global War on Terror. Across the nation, while some cowered and some capitulated, others decided this nation is worth defending.

From the beginning, when our men and women in uniform went into harms way – they did so with the knowledge that preserving freedom comes with a price. Politicians, pundits, “journalists”, anarchists, the homeless as well as the best that America has produced, are all protected by the Warriors: our military, police, and emergency responders. In times of crisis, the best of people offset the worst that people are capable of. Thank you, Warriors, for your service. And in my opinion, if there is anyone who has the right to be critical of , or to be praising this nation’s policies and culture, it is the Warrior. Hail, Warrior, Rest in Peace. Your Brothers and Sisters Stand the Watch.

Read the full text of CDR Shanower’s essay published in Proceedings.