From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Most Important Thing I Will Ever Post., Army Ethics

If you never follow another link on a computer, this is a site you should look at!!!

It has to do with the official development of professional ethics in the United States Army, and is based at West Point.

Sometime Back I Found a Significant Army Study about Leadership

At times I become so discouraged and jaded concerning the leadership of the Army that paranoia takes over completely and I begin to doubt that there is anyone anywhere near the top who can be counted as anything but military mafia heads.  I know that seems a strong and irresponsible statement, but in case you don't fully understand what I am saying, or think I am just another ranting lunatic, I mean in the silent moments of the darkness of night I lay awake praying the most urgent and pressing requests of my heart, that my husband stays safe from the enemy... and I am referring to "the enemy within."  I have found this enemy to be powerful beyond anything I could have imagined even five years ago, and so pervasive that in recent weeks I have considered divorcing the institution known as The United States Army, and pledging my loyalties solely to those honorable men and women, and their families who stand in the gap everyday for me and mine.   

If you serve, have served, or reap the benefits of those who serve, (of course that takes in every citizen in the world, ) I urge you to carefully read this material referenced, and I paste my own comment in response to having read the findings of this study, which I feel is the most critically important issues our country, and in fact the world faces today, the credibility of  The United States Military in reference to duty, honor, country....

Guest Blog

This blog was established to provide a forum where military personnel and civilians can publish posts that pertain to military affairs.

Provide Me Your Perspectives

In the past eight years plus our Army has transformed its organization, how it fights across the spectrum of conflict, and how we create and define mission success.  From where I sit, it has been an amazing performance, but I wonder about the long term impact persistent conflict is having on our Army, our shared values, and our professional military culture.

I am interested in gaining your perspectives on how eight years of war, modularity, decentralized operations, and ARFORGEN have affected our core leadership attributes. I believe that a professional dialogue is essential to clarifying the issues we need to address to ensure the future health of our Army.
GEN Pete Chiarelli, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army
Only published comments... Feb 08 2010, 07:45 PM by GEN Chiarelli Filed under: , ,

Debra LeCompte said:

I am not a member of the military, but I have served and sacrificed.  My husband, Colonel Randy LeCompte, has served in the Army for the past 29 years and is currently deployed to Afghanistan.  One of my daughter's was in the Army for 8 years,  she currently works in the civilian sector, leaving the Army after 9/11 due to concern that both she and her husband would be deployed at the same time.  I have watched her and our two grand-daughters cope with multiple deployments, and in June their whole family will leave for a three year tour in Germany.  Our 16 year old son is seeking an appointment to the Air Force Academy.
We also have another son-in-law who was blown off a tank he was refueling and then shot in the shoulder; this happened in 2003 in Iraq.  He has a 45% disability and would give anything to be allowed to return to the Army today.
My husband had a difficult upbringing, coming from an abusive home without many resources.  He will tell anyone that the Lord used the United States Army to raise him and give him most of the opportunities of his life.  He received an appointment to West Point, and graduated in the top five percent of his class and is a graduate of the Army War College.  In his civilian position he serves as Program Manager for the Caimon, the second generation MRAP produced by BAE Systems.  My father served in World War II, and my grand-father in World War I.  I will tell anyone that life as a family in the military offers so many more positives than negatives.  What better principles are there to raise children by than those 7 Army Values?  What better model for successful family living can there be than that of the "Army Family."  My husband gives a recruitment speech where he advises that the Army can give and individual SIP, skills, identity, and purpose.  It can do the same for a family.  The Army provides resources and opportunities not only to the Soldier, but to the Soldier's entire family.  It also requires those sacrifices I mentioned before.
I have worked extensively in Family Readiness and have found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I have found it so because of the opportunity it afforded me to come to know so many uncommon men and women in service to this country.  Their families, when successful, and not all military families are, are made up of incredible men, women, and children.  I have had the opportunity to come to know them very well also. I  feel that the families of career Soldiers serve and sacrifice with the same measure that their Soldiers do.  It is not the same service and sacrifice, however it is of the same value.
As in all organizations and endeavors, there are those who serve always from a place of excellence, some middle grounders, and some who should not even be there.  However, I have found that those ratios are not the same as your ordinary civilian work place.  There is a much higher percentage of Soldiers who serve with a consistent excellence and the mind set of selfless commitment to honor and integrity.  Sadly, one of the rare, but still present, personality types drawn to military service is the "school yard bully" type.
I have noted that a good Soldier will perform any mission, anywhere, whether he/she is provided the resources with which to do it or not, and ask for only two things: leadership that they can confidently follow, and that their families be taken care of.
Even though I am not in the military, the transformation has affected my life profoundly.  I have some observations, life experiences actually, which I would like to pass on to you.
An effective, organized and continuous FRG can be make a huge impact on whether a military family is successful or not.  That kind of FRG only happens with the complete and total support and commitment of the commander.  I have seen commanders who hold FRG in little regard, with the attitude that it is a regulatory obligation that is a waste of time.  I make that statement from personal observation and from listening to the comment of hundreds of FRG leaders in training events across the nation.  I also make that statement from personal experience.  My daughter, who spent 8 years in the Army, is married to a Soldier, and has spent the last 14 yeas at Ft. Hood as a military family first heard of Military One Source from me, long after she should have.  In the three deployments her family has been through in the last 6 years, she has had little to no support from FRG or the rear detachment.  She has gotten her support from friends and our family, it has been a struggle, but their family has prevailed and come through stronger each time.  That is not always the case.  Go to facebook and the Army Wives group and listen to thousands of young Army wives and the situations and challenges they and their young families are facing.  The FRG model works... it is a tremendous tool for training these young families for successful living, even during deployments.  HOWEVER IT MUST HAVE THE COMPLETE SANCTION, AND SUPPORT OF THE COMMANDER, AND THE COMMANDER'S COMMITMENT TO ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE IN HIS/HER FRG ORGANIZATION.  IT MUST ALSO HAVE THE UNIT RESOURCES COVERED IN THE REGS, PLUS THE BEST LEADERSHIP THE COMMANDER CAN FIND.  A COMMANDERS ATTITUDE TOWARD FRG WILL GREATLY INFLUENCE THE LEVEL OF PARTICIPATION AND THE QUALITY OF THE FRG ORGANIZATION.
Soldiers, without exception come from families, and when their service is completed, if they still have one, they return to families.  Sometimes they return as the families sent them, and sometimes they return with wounds both visible and wounds of the heart, and sometimes a family makes that complete sacrifice, and they return borne on the shoulders of their brothers, a fallen hero.  A Soldier does not experience success and fulfillment unless his or her family is taken care of.
The other thing a Soldier must have is leadership that they know they can trust to lead them only from a place of honor, from a complete commitment to the Army Values.  They need to know them to be fair, honest, and trustworthy.  Again, the finest men and women I have known in my lifetime are numbered among Soldiers, and there are far more of them than the other kind.  But I have encountered, self serving, lying, and dangerous people, who will stop at nothing to gain their own agenda.  It has been my observation that those persons can be in extremely high positions of power and can make or break a Soldier, and wield their power in the most destructive ways.  They use the 15-6 process, because the process allows them to, in down right illegal ways.  In the past four years I have personally encountered 8 Soldiers who were suicidal.  In each of those persons, the claim was made of "bad command."  Two of them committed suicide.  I am a grain of sand in my connection to the Army... IN FOUR YEARS I HAVE ENCOUNTERED 8 SOLDIERS!  That is an average of 2 a year!  Soldiers seem to be able to withstand a girl friend running off with their money, the separations, the hardships of war... but if you add... "bad command," which causes them to question if the service and sacrifice has been made under the leadership of someone of less that honorable intent, they question everything, and sometimes come up with the wrong answer.  The thing that perpetuates "bad leadership" is the Army's reluctance to own up to a leader's failure.  In fear of embarrassing the Army, things get swept under the rug, no one wants to risk their career to stand in moral courage against this cancer.  It isn't a Soldier fighting against the Army, it is a Soldier fighting for the Army, for those values, for the honor of the Army, that builds the confidence of a Soldier to follow.  The system must be made less capable of misuse, and more accountable to itself.  The Army monitors it's own integrity, and leadership MUST give due diligence to this fundamental task in order to keep from discouraging those Soldiers of the caliber that are most desirable and keeping them from walking away.  If they do not, soon the bottom of the barrel folks will be the norm.
I can tell the story of a 19 year service Soldier sleeping on the floor of a jail in Garland, Texas, because of failed leadership.  I can tell the story of a friend's husband who questioned unethical behavior and found himself the subject of a 15-6 and death threats while serving in Afghanistan.  There are so many more.  One of these situations is too many.  That it has happened in front of me, with family members reaching out to me for help has given me pause.... I often wonder what feelings it caused in those Soldiers watching these events, in those family members experiencing this betrayal by the Army.  I do not know what the solution is, but I find the Army so good at being the emperor with no clothes.
Finally I would like to say to each of the men and women who have posted here, and to you Sir for being the leader I so readily see you being, thank you for your service.  Our country owes each of you a debt that cannot ever be paid in full.  Soldier on, for the sake of us all.

Then I had the nerve to post a second post... they posted that one to...

Debra LeCompte said:

Nate Nelsen.... you nailed it.  I would ask you to reconsider your decision.  You are the kind of man of moral courage who can make a difference.  The Army needs you, those Soldiers who will ruck-up and head off to war need you.  As the mother of a Soldier, the wife of a Soldier, I need to know men like you are on the job.  If men like you leave, we must trust those we love most to the leadership you speak of, and it doesn't stop at the company level.  If you won't stay and go the distance, who will?  I know too well the stress it brings, the risk it brings... but I will stand behind you personally, and I know others who will too.  They have called me in the middle of the night, and even I have been effective, and I'm a nobody.  Please reconsider, and what ever your decision, thank you so much for your service, I personally feel a debt I know the rest of the country shares.  We will forever be grateful for what you have already given.  Hoo-ah Sir!
February 26, 2010 12:46 AM 

Debra LeCompte said:

Bob King, I read the article you referenced in the Washington Post.  It conflicts me somewhat.  I have recognized, and in a couple of cases, experienced two distinct types of command failure.  Any human can make a mistake in judgment which causes tragic consequences, all of us fall in that category.  When it is found that a leader makes a mistake in judgment, when there was no way to judge what the outcome would be before a decision was made by that commander, how can the Army choose to act in discipline?  When that commander carefully gathered information, sought input from appropriate resources and experts, and sometimes time constraints make that almost impossible, and hesitation guarantees failure, and the that commander makes and carries out a decision, I believe they should have the full backing of the Army.  I just can't see if he or she makes a mistake in that decision process, that there be negative consequences invoked in the form of punishment from the Army, the investigation process itself will be punitive for any good Soldier.  The idea that he or she might have made a decision that harmed a Soldier, to a good commander is so painful that nothing the Army can do to them comes close to what their own mind does to them.
There is another kind of commander, the kind Nate Nelsen references in his comment above.  Much of the damage they do has nothing to do with being in a combat zone and under the gun.  When that type of "command failure" occurs it is the result of a power monger using his or her power to the detriment of the Army and all who serve.  Usually threat, implied or spoken is involved, and that threat is directed at an individual Soldier, but almost always other Soldiers are drawn in by "toxic command," in order to gain submission of the individual.  When there is a clear tolerance of the power monger, it takes moral courage that is of suicidal nature to stand against the power monger.  Facts and evidence do not matter, all involved understand what the outcome will be, and the targeted Soldier is often advised... just let it go, take your licks, don't risk your career.  Each time that happens in even the most insignificant situation... you feed the monster.  Junior officers hear the message, this is acceptable and tolerated behavior.  Everyone who has any knowledge of the situation sustains injury.  In a profession where those in charge have the job, power, and sanction of the Army and the country, to order the taking of a human life in the act of war, all who are subject to their authority, or can view their authority and how they use it, need to be absolutely certain that their character and honor are beyond question.  If that is the case, and mistakes are made that result in harm that could have been avoided, but the judgment of that leader whose character and honor are beyond question caused the harm... nothing will be gained by their punishment.  Every officer or leader worth anything knows the position they place themselves in and the risk of losing everything with a single wrong decision that exists.  It is that calculating, self serving, manipulative, career advancing "leader" who will malign, and yes, even for entertainment, deliberately cause harm to someone under, OR ABOVE him or her, for any reason, that causes good Soldiers to think to themselves... "I'm out of here before I am the next victim."
Sometimes, before a good Soldier can realize what is happening, they are trapped by one of these individuals, falsely accused, and to that Soldier it feels like the Army is betraying them.  That isn't the case, it is the toxic Soldier who doing so, causing them harm, and doing so deliberately for the cause of a personal agenda.  However, when the Army fails in the process of the "investigation" to do due diligence, and allows even the most minor abuse of power, there indeed is leadership failure.  Again, any time good Soldiers observe this type of behavior and failure of the "Army system" to REALLY explore facts and REALLY judge justly the situation, whether they are involved or not, many will leave, too disappointed and fearful of their own encounter with toxic leadership.
As I sit and type here and recall the look and words of Soldiers whom I have encountered who have experienced the shell shock of this type of leadership failure and assault by the "enemy within," a sadness and despair floods over me at remembering the broken men and women I have seen.  With one exception, they each admitted to suicidal thoughts.  There is a young man who haunts me, he took his life, and I can not prove why, but I know why.  I have tried to call legal attention to this death, and the refusal to investigate stands as irrefutable evidence to me of the deliberate tolerance of toxic leadership by the Army.  As the mother of a Soldier, as the daughter of a Soldier, as the grand-daughter of a Soldier, as the wife of a Soldier, this toxic leadership is intolerable.  The Army belongs to good Soldiers, those who bring honor and respect to the Army, and the FIRST obligation of the Army is for every Soldier who has authority over another to ensure that the rules are enforced without regard to WHO a Soldier is, but to WHAT they are.  Investigations should be conducted from the top down, not the bottom up when something has gone wrong, because the top always has the most power and authority to prevent wrong doing.  When a toxic leader exists... someone had a part in promoting them, it then is a case of accountability.  If my statements make this blog, it will be a clear indication things are moving in a right and honorable direction, and it will be due to the kind of leadership that can be trusted, that is honorable, accountable, and when followed, a Soldier is ensured of moving for the benefit of our country, our people, and the good of mankind, as well as it can be determined by the best of the best.  Mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children, and all who love Soldiers, can confidently loan them to the service of the Army, assured that if it cost us what we value most, it will have been a worthy act of valor that took the Soldier we love.  I love all that the Army stands for, I have the greatest admiration for those who take upon themselves the responsibility to lead the great men and women who stand in the defense of democracy and each of us, who sacrifice, and who are unable to do anything but the right thing. May God grant you wisdom, moral courage, and grace as you serve.
February 27, 2010 10:28 PM

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What I Need is a Good Command Sergeant Major, or Wildflowers of Soldiers Heart Ranch

This horse is always giving me so much trouble, and she is a ring leader when it comes to the other horses getting in trouble, she will lead them astray every time...  The whole group is out of control!  My kingdom for a good command sergeant major!

I have spent the last three days trying to keep the horses in the pasture.  Once Blue learns a new "horse joke," like shoving the entire T-post fence over , she just plays it over and over.  Because of the kind of soil we have, every hoof print they make must be filled in by hand or you flat can't mow the grass, it tears up even a Troy-Bilt!  Not t o mention that she finds it amusing to clip off the tops of all of my landscape lights, and the sewer system sprayers, plus she loves geraniums as an appetizer.  The wind is blowing like a hurricane here, there is so much work I want to do to have everything beautiful when my husband comes home, and everything is still gray, and I need a horse whisper or some sort of mail influence, as I seem to have spoiled every one of the littl e buggers. 

I came in and reviewed my spring wild flower pictures from last spring in order to calm my frazzled nerves, and give me inspiration to "Soldier on!"  Decided to share them here as well, so you can click on the first one and see a preview of spring too, I am about tired of everything being gray, I need some green!  At first I could not figure out how to make the needed repairs and actually keep the horses in while I was doing so without killing my back.  Sometimes things seem to small to bother God about in prayer, but I was awake all night long last night trying to figure out how to fix the fence so they could not get out, and I had to stay home from church to try and effect repairs before Blue and her "Band of Sisters," did some real damage. 

After talking with Randy from Iraq, it dawned on me a little prayer couldn't hurt.  I whined one to the Lord.  I walked out, immediately saw solutions I couldn't see before, and had them back in, and the fence fixed in 45 minutes...  I just smiled sheepishly and God, whispered thank You Father, and blew Him a kiss....   He smiled back while shaking His head.  Thought you too might enjoy a "pick-me-up" as we fight off the last of the cold weather and winter and enjoy looking at pictures of  His handiwork last year.

Another Good Quote From George Washinton

"Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all."  George Washington

Saturday, February 26, 2011

C. S. Lewis Quote

"You don't have a soul. 
You are a Soul. 
You have a body."  
C. S. Lewis

More Pictures With Lera's Story

Again the Photos are credited to Jill Mar shall, and she made them with her blackberry!  Amazing!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

George Washington Always Said It So Well

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained        without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national     morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  George Washington

Monday, February 21, 2011


I had an exchange with one of the Warriors I have come to know by way of facebook.  Always these men and women absolutely slay my mind with their deeds and the stand they make.  As you will see, these simple words of recognition of the obvious were appreciated, which underscores for me how important it is that we never miss the opportunity to acknowledge the obvious to each service person we encounter.  The job they do takes so much, and gives little in measurable personal gain.  Their reward, for them, lies within their souls, and is self sustaining, requiring nothing from the rest of the world.  The acknowledgment from each of us of who they are, what they do, and why they do it,  is more necessary for us to be able to sleep at night than for them to.  What follows is a spell checked version of what I wrote, then the validation that, for at least one Warrior, it was words of encouragement, and has paved the way for my fulfilling my own obligations.  Trust me, this Warrior took his first breath "willing," and would go on without a word of backing from anyone, I am the wife of such a man.  I have had the privilege of knowing so many Warriors, and their families, and I am one rich person because of it.  What a blessing I consider it to have encouraged one of them.  So if you know a Soldier, a Warrior from any branch, and you would value the overwhelming sense of humility and a pride that comes from fulfilling your own obligations to these heroes, there is a chance that in your passing these words on to them, you can have that feeling.  Here are my words, and then his, which are always expressed with a sense of humor, and for him that must be a tremendously powerful protective device in the war zone where he daily stands "willing."

There are some people who are born with a capacity to lay it all on the line that surpasses bravery. Any day of the week I can risk my life for one of my grand-children or children, my husband, parents, etc... There are people who, as their primary occupation, will risk their lives for perfect strangers, people of countries other than their own, and even a wounded enemy,  and not just in one moment of a short lived disaster or accident such as a house fire or car wreck, but they will wake up every day... "willing."  Deliberately they stand between threat and danger and me and mine, and for the rest of the world as well. On an ongoing basis, and they think of it as "just doing my job," they are "willing."

Their families are affected by their willingness, but in both positive and negative ways, and because of what they witness in the lives of "the willing," they are enriched in ways that only family members of "the willing" can be.  Their family members share their everyday lives with a living, breathing, genuine hero, and that impacts a person, empowers and inspires their loved ones. Because they are willing to do what the majority of people would never commit to, we all have the freedom to achieve the destiny we would select for ourselves... and inch by inch... the rest of the world is being affected by their stand. 

Daily there is criticism from the uninformed, the miss-informed, and the run of the mill idiots, it just rolls off their backs, and when the aforementioned get themselves in a jam... or the enemy is wounded .... in need of care... being who they are... 

There cannot be too many words of praise, there cannot be too frequent a mention of their deeds, there cannot be too much made of their loss from this world when one of them willingly makes the ultimate sacrifice. We will be utterly lost if we fail in this obligation, if we fail to be faithful to our own scared duty toward these men and women, and their families. For as we celebrate their lives and their willingness, and openly grieve at their separation from this world, we ensure that more men and women with the same heart will answer the call to be "willing."  There is no currency or budget line item that can purchase a willing heart, and the service of the man or woman who possesses it.  It can only be given.

Buzzy Sørensen
Debra, thank you again. Don't think I've ever seen that so well put of why we do what we do....I was gonna just be my usual smartass & say I do it cause chicks dig the uniform but this really hit home personally & it's one of those passages... that gets printed out, stuffed im my front vest pocket, maybe make a few copies for some buds that need encouragement some days & reread when I need to remind myself why we subject ourselves to the evil that would do us really need to publish this for everyone to see & ponder. Thanks.

30 minutes ago · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte Actually the chicks do dig the uniform... without a doubt...
4 minutes ago · LikeUnlike
Debra LeCompte I pray for you, and that bunch you run with every day...
3 minutes ago · Like

I Had Intended to Get More of Lera's Story Out This Morning....

I have observed this little guy out in the pasture before... he comes "visiting."  I don't know where he is from, but he managed to break all the horses out because I had tied the gate with a "hay tie."  They are yellow or orange, made out of  a fibrous plastic, and being the "green person" I am, I save and reuse them.  I repair fence with them, hang bird feeders, and since I never nail anything to a tree, attach things to trees with them.  They are as strong as chain... unless they have a little bit of left over hay stuck in them, and a visiting little black goat nibbles that and the plastic tie away.... So I will spend the morning rounding up and coaching all the horses back in the pasture, and repairing all the hoof print impressions so the lawn mower will run smoothly.  My first clue was the donkey peeking in the french door this morning.  Donkey had to climb 12 steps to get to that french door.  She seems to think I have nothing better to do than to come out and play.  Donkeys have some flawed ideas about life, just like some people I know. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

"When two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you've got two new people." — John Steinbeck

Lera Lane
Wildflowers at Lera's House, God Grows Them Here in Honor of Where She Shared So Much Love.
 Lera's House in the Snow

Pictures of Lera's Home

Whenever a Story is Told, the Beginning is Where to Start

Here for you to enjoy is the conversation I first had with my friend Jill Marshall when I discovered Lera's house as her profile picture.  Lera is her grand-mother, and she had a large part in raising Jill, and this remarkable woman still has the capacity to reach from heaven in love to her grand-daughter... and a perfect stranger too...  One note, all the photos with this series of blogs were made by Jill, WITH HER BLACKBERRY... I just can't get over that, A BLACKBERRY...the photos are beautiful, and will remind those of you who God has similarly smiled on of places from your own heart.  The first remarks are where I first saw the photo, after that they are marked with our names as we shared.
Oh, .... I know what I shall paint next! You must tell me what this house was like when it was lived in! About your Grand-mother... this house wants to tell her story... where was her flower bed, what did she grow.. how many children... her favorite color?

Debra LeCompte Look at that roof! I want to be painted by me, with raw sienna hues... and blues.... and shades of gray....

I would LOVE to see/own a painting of my Grandma's house!! My paternal Grandmother was like a mother to me! She passed away in 1988. My paternal Grandfather passed away in 1976. My Grandmother's name was Lera Edith Carter Marshall and this was her Great Grandparent's house. Great Great Grandfather Carter was in the 42nd NC Infantry, CSA. He was a prison guard at the Confederate Prison in Salisbury, NC when he was 16 years old. Grandma's father grew up in this house, also.- William Thomas Carter married Great Grandma Adelia Cecil Haneline Carter and she passed away fairly young so my Grandmother pretty much raised her siblings and took care of her father. After Grandma married my Grandfather, Thomas Kitchin Marshall, he moved in the house with her and her father. They worked the farm as had generations before them dating back to 1750. Great Grandpa Carter passed away in late 1964 when I was a baby, so I always knew this as my "Grandparent's house". My father is the 4th of 10 children and he was raised in this house also. When I was younger we lived in the woods behind this house and in 1974 my daddy bought a house about a mile away, so essentially I grew up on this farm. We would walk through the woods from our new house to come be with Grandma. We had many gardens, fruit trees and animals. I remember working in the garden as a child and seeing my Grandfather plow behind a mule. We slopped the hogs, got up eggs, canned and froze veggies and NOBODY cooked as good as my Grandma! There were tiger lilies, irises, lilacs, hydrangeas, rose bushes, buttercups, peonies and many more. We had apple, cherry and pear trees, as well as grapes, blackberries and strawberries. There are many out buildings on the property that were functional when I was little. A pig pen, chicken house/coop, barn, corn crib, smoke house and of course an out house with a crescent moon in the door! There is what we call "The Old House" still standing that was built in 1750. We had horses, mules, donkeys, hogs, goats, chickens, peacocks, guineas, cats and dogs. This place was ALIVE! There was a Sycamore tree that my daddy climbed in once to keep from going to school and my Grandmother sat at the bottom of the tree with a switch waiting on him to come down! We had a well that we could actually unroll a bucket down into and draw fresh well water. Oh the memories you have brought back, Debra!! My father's oldest brother and first child came home from the Korean War with epilepsy and my Grandmother took care of him until the day she died. He continued to live in the house until he died about a year later. After Frank passed away the land was divided into 10 equal parts and split between Grandma's 10 children. About 10 years ago my father built a road back to his part of the land and named it Lera Lane. =) It runs parallel to Grandma's house. After my father retired from RJ Reynold's Tobacco Company, he sold the house I grew up in and built a new house back here on his land. My sister and I live beside my Daddy. Several of my uncles have built houses on their part of the land as well. When my Grandma's father passed away, the land was divided into four parts and Grandma got the part with the farm and house on it because she had taken care of their father and the 3 younger girls. The baby girl, Laura Lee married and built a house down the road a bit, and the two other sisters Ruby and Audrey married brothers from Davidson County and moved down there, but their heirs still own their share of the land. Everything was so alive and beautiful until Grandma passed away and it's almost as if the flowers died with her. My father still has a small garden every year, but all the flowers by Grandma's house have died out except for the hydrangea bushes and a few buttercups. I SOOOO want to restore this house and live in it, but my daddy says it will take about 100K to restore it! I could go on and on!! What great memories I have!! I moved back home 3 weeks ago and it's like my soul is finally at peace! I am where I belong!

Jill Marshall Grandma never mentioned a favorite color, but she was a wise woman and I learned a lot from her! A part of me died with her. I'm thankful that I had the wisdom to appreciate her, ask questions and listen to her stories!!

Grandma never drove a car, but she was hilarious when she rode in one! I remember buying a new Toyota Supra and taking Grandma for a ride in it and she almost stomped a hole in the floor applying her imaginary brakes. LOL My grandfather would hook up his mules, Kate and Tony and take us for wagon rides when we were little. Grandpa also liked his liquor, but Grandma wouldn't allow such things in her house, so he would hide it throughout the property. When we found it, we would go tell Grandma and she would pour it out. I remember her finding my uncle Frank's porno magazines and Grandma standing out by the trash barrel trying to burn them while bits of pictures of tits and asses flew about and I recall Grandma saying, "Hell fire! Damned thangs won't even burn!" LMAO! Grandma was FASCINATED withy television and I recall watching all about the Vietnam War and Watergate with her. She loved President Nixon and every time something was said during the hearings that Grandma didn't like, she would mumble, "Ahh, shit!" and then cover her mouth and sheepishly look at us kids. On Sundays Grandma went to church with us and then all daddy's sisters, brothers and the grandchildren would gather at Grandma's for Sunday Dinner which was the noon meal. They had breakfast, dinner and supper. I recall that Grandma wouldn't eat until she saw that everyone had eaten what they wanted. She would tell us she wasn't hungry because she had nibbled while cooking, but as an adult I now know that she waited until everyone was fed before she ate because she wanted to make sure there was enough food to go around. My Grandma spent her entire life raising siblings, children, neices, nephews, grandchildren, great grandchildren and taking care of people. I can only wish to be half the woman she was!

Jill Marshall Did I mention we also had peach trees?? LOL·

Debra LeCompte Isn't it funny how one look and I knew this house had a story...

Debra LeCompte Those are just the flowers I would have thought of... heck, that house doesn't have a "story" It has a book! Thank you so much for sharing that.... do you have a picture of your grand mother I can use to work from to put her in the painting somewhere? And more views of the house I can use to work from?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Story of Lera, or Where Love Resides

I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible."
— John Steinbeck (East of Eden)

I have written a series of blogs about a woman I met recently, she lived in this house, and died in 1988.  As I scrolled my facebook page, I saw the photo of this little house as a profile picture for a friend, and it is difficult for me to describe how the image impacted me.  I paint in oils, self expression being one of the driving forces of my make-up, and I immediately knew I had to paint a work depicting this house.  It struck me as so full of warmth and love... and when I say "struck me," I mean a physical experience that felt a bit overwhelming.  I immediately began to ask questions of my friend Jill concerning whose house it was, what the person was like, how many children they had... because I knew instantly the woman who lived in this house had many children...  I asked about the flowers that she grew, because I knew that she had, and many other questions, and so that day I met Lera for the first time.  There is much to tell of Lera, but the most important part is that she loved, and loved deeply and unconditionally.

One of my favorite books is East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, and there is a favorite quote of mine from that book that perfectly fits Lera;   "I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”

That quote is so true of Lera, I have found that though she left this world long ago, she had so much love that she remains "indestructible."  She resides in another house now, but her heart was so filled with love it could not all be taken with her, and the left overs are scattered all over North Carolina, and probably the world, but this little house is one of the repositories of her love.  My husband has asked me where I would like to go for a vacation when he comes home, he loves me so, and wishes to provide for me something special as he returns home from two years of deployment in the Middle East, he suggested Costa Rica, Disneyworld, and other places, but I know where I want to go.

So watch my blog, Jill had all kinds of pictures of Lera and things connected to her, and for the next two weeks Jill and I are going to take the time to introduce you to Lera, ... you will never be the same.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Never Throw the Word Hero Around

Let's Talk About Motive Here...

I've spent some time in the learning curve on social media now.  I had just considered it a "for fun" thing, but in the light of a revolution organizing on twitter and facebook, the realities have hit me.  That brings up for me that perhaps we should all carefully consider the credibility and motivations of some individuals I have noted declaring themselves whistle blowers and loudly blogging to the whole world about corruption that,  according to them, they are the only ones noting.   Some of these folks have not officially declared themselves whistle blowers, they insinuate they are just keeping an eye on everything for the rest of us on topics everywhere from "which toilet paper really is best," to "who should be running the government and why."  Many of these watch dog individuals seem to be motivated by passionate hearts concerning what they write about, and bringing about honor and integrity in the organizations they criticize, and others, not so much so .

I have also noted that there are some who, tweet, blog, write, and pontificate on subjects they feel draw an audience, and their motivations seem to come from personal gain.  One of my in-laws pointed out a site to me that I visited and found full of criticism for private contractors and the military as they are involved in the War on Terror.  I am not naive enough to think that corruption isn't rampant, however, some of these bloggers seem to be more into making a dollar than making things better.  Many writers, some without any immediate ties to the military, or other entities or organizations they criticise, that I can discern, seem to take up criticism as a profession.  

When I begin to question their motives for certain is when they post methods in which you can electronically send them money in support of their work at monitoring whatever they have taken up as their cause.  One such blogger that I really find a questionable champion is Ms. Sparky.  Her site can be found at this link:

She describes herself as a "stay at home grandma, who is homeschooling her grand-son," and also describes herself as a "licensed journeyman electrician who spent time working in the green zone in Baghdad," as she documents while giving her work history.  Then she describes her blog in these words...

"As for my blog….I blog about whatever I choose. It could be something cute my grandson did one day, complaining about the deer eating my roses the next, crying over electrocuted soldiers and ranting about and the Pentagon the next. In the last year or so it has been more ranting about the DoD and their contractors than anything! My blog has no agenda other than sharing the things I am passionate about with my family, friends and dedicated readers.

My blog is not one of those rainbow and butterflies blogs. I say what I mean and I mean what I say and the comments on my posts are every bit as interesting as the post itself. Feel free to leave comments."

Her posted motto is,

"I strive to live my life in such a way that when my feet hit the floor in the morning corrupt defense contractors shudder and say 'OH SHIT...SHE'S AWAKE!'" ~ Ms Sparky

This statement seems to be in direct conflict with the previous statement where she says,  "My blog has no agenda other than sharing the things I am passionate about with my family, friends and dedicated readers."  That certainly sounds like the clear expression of an agenda to me.

Far be it from me to criticize anyone who claims to champion those who serve in the military, the American tax payer, and the average guy who is just trying to earn a living and must deal with corrupt big companies who exploit people, or corruption amid the leadership of our country or the military, however, something seems to be not quite right here.

For instance, there is a box where, as I mentioned earlier, you can choose a payment method to "support OUR fight."  Somewhere in there she began using the terms, we, our, etc...  That doesn't quite fit in with that description I find under, "Meet Ms. Sparky," and the stay at home grand-ma thing.

I have known some true "whistle blowers," and generally speaking, the things that define them as whistle blowers are that they stand to "lose" something by "blowing the whistle," and they aren't asking for donations.  They are acting with moral courage to reveal corruption, and doing so results in negative things in their lives, not donations or any other personal gain, to include fame.  Another sign for me that the motivation of an individual probably isn't completely altruistic, is when their writings ignore all positive reports, you won't find much of a positive note in her blog, could it be that deliberately ignoring positive things benefits her in some way?  Ms. Sparky is extremely critical of military personnel who take jobs in the defense industry, which appears to me to be closely associated with people who blog and ask for donations when they retire as a "journeyman electrician" to be a stay at home grand-ma and blog for a living about contractors and the military in the current war effort... maybe it's just me.

I'll be the first to admit, I've known, and do know some generals who aren't worth a plug nickle in a collection of a dozen, but when I type that, nothing nice happens to me.  When I blog about corruption in military leadership, or power mongering, my motive is the young men and women who are serving with honor, those contractors who are doing the same, and the consequences that self-centered service brings to these patriots and their families.  I don't get a pay check, or ask for "a donation for our work."  I suspect she isn't speaking of a donation for an organized 501-C entity, so there probably will be no tax break coming for any donation one might make. 

In fact, my husband, who has worked very hard for the last two years in the area that Ms. Sparky speaks with such authority about, and has actually done things about corruption and the misuse of people and resources, just has a harder time when I write such things.  Let's just say, these words are not going to enhance his career or ability to earn a living anywhere.  I adore my husband, no woman has ever loved any man more, and never would I bring anything negative to his life.  However, I know him, his work, his moral courage, and the personal stand he makes everyday.  He is a colonel, a honor graduate of West Point and The Army War College, an expert in his field, and he and thousands of his counter parts and peers work every day to make things right.  They make visits to FOBs, talk with contractors, the big companies, probe, question, and listen to those serving with the Coalition forces, how does Ms. Sparky think those investigational committees get their information?  It is always in part, provided by honorable leadership in the United States Military, who have nothing to gain, and definitely something to lose.  I know that my husband never backs down because he stands to lose... he just suffers the loss.  That is a far cry in my mind from what Ms. Sparky is doing.  It seems to me that Ms. Sparky is just using people and situations for personal gain.

Of course my husband's 30 years of service, and that of his true "band of brothers," has been spent specifically in part to protect Ms. Sparky's right to blog anything she wants, for any reward she chooses.  Her's is not the only blog I found that made me go ... "Hmmmm," but somehow, her's really struck me in a negative way, probably it was that donation thing....

Perhaps I shall take up a blog that reviews the blogs of the cottage industry bloggers who criticize the military. I think it would be interesting to explore their motives and intentions.  For the most part, the significant part, the military puts their money where their mouth is, not their mouth where their money is...

As for those corrupt generals and big companies, as I often point out, God finds special favor in Soldiers, my theory is their willingness to lay it all on the line is what compels the heart of God, just as He willing laid all on the line.  Again, as I often point out, no other example other than David is required, who never feared giants.  He was a "man after God's own heart," and by the way, apparently a "blogger."  There was a corrupt general in his life for almost the entire time he stood as a Warrior.  When the prophet first came to anoint Saul, he was so shy and humble, he hid in a basket.  By the end of his life, he was so consumed with power that he was erecting statues to himself everywhere, and had spent a great deal of his life trying to hunt down and kill David out of jealousy.  David was a man who was so devoted to Saul, he once stole into the camp where he was sleeping, cut a piece of his garment off to prove he had been there, had opportunity to kill him, and didn't.  When David heard he and his life long friend, and the son of Saul, Jonathan, had been killed in battle, David mourned deeply.  David never lost his loyalty to his general, good Soldiers don't, no matter how flawed their generals  are, it is out of respect to the office, and the strain of responsibilities they know generals bear.  Generals, both men and probably some women, because power mongering is gender neutral,  are powerful people, and sometimes they  and large corporations get by, or so it seems, with terrible things.  However, God always has the final say in judging all lives, contractors, generals, Soldiers, army wives, grand-mothers, and everyone else.  He promises complete justice, and no one stands more powerful than He.  He always delivers, and anyone who gets by in this life, will not in the next, for God sees the hearts of men and women, and by the way Ms. Sparky, He never sleeps.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

It Takes Strength

Sometimes  it is difficult to get a gift for a Soldier, I always think very hard about what to get mine.  For Christmas I got him a little canoe.  When he was a kid he would  go fishing with his dad in a little row boat, his dad has been gone many years now, but he still talks about fishing in that boat with his dad.  Now it is time for Valentine's and I decided that carefully  chosen words of admiration and love were fitting,  I wasn't going to share them with anyone but him, but when he read them, he felt they might speak to others as well... and so here for every Soldier, and everyone who loves a Soldier, words from my heart.  To my beloved, Happy Valentine's Day!


If there stood before me 1000 men,
Each of whose lives I had observed again and again.

If I had watched them closely at command,
Of Soldiers, equipment, and resources try to meet war’s great demands.

If I knew their lives, credentials, and previous work,
How they handled things, and I were privy to each little quirk.

If the fate of personal liberty, the freedom of us all,
Hung in the balance, and without the right leadership would forever fall.

If there would be before us, only one chance,
To meet in battle some terrible foe, and the art of war to dance.

If by the wisdom and expertise of only one man,
The defenses of our country would fail or stand.

If you, my love, stood among those men in their rows,
The one whom no other I have ever loved so.

If somehow it were my duty the right decision to deliver,
My mind could easily make the choice, but my heart would quiver.

If I knew the man I chose would never come home,
Could I give what it cost, the most valuable thing I own?

If in my decision, would the moral courage by which I have watched you live,
Empower me to do the right thing, and the sacrifice to give.

If as I considered all that lay in the balance, to me you would clearly state,
What your own choice would be and how you would face your fate.

If, as I know would happen, I knew who stood above the rest.
Could I, in selfishness, select the one who was second best?

If there stood before me 1000 men,
This I pray before God, that I never will know how it ends.