Tag Archives: War


A3November 11th is Remembrance Day in Commonwealth countries—Veterans Day in the United States. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is observed, not just to reflect on the time in 1918 when armistice was signed to end the First World War, but to honor sacrifices made by so many military personnel—ensuring the survival of democracy. This story from a little classroom teaches you an eye-opening lesson about freedom that you’ll never forget.

A1Martha Cothren is a social studies teacher at Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. On the first day of school in September of 2005, Ms. Cothren did something to be remembered. With permission from the principal and school superintendent, she removed all the desks in her classroom.

When the first-period kids entered the room, they were shocked to find no desks.

“Ms. Cothren, where’s our desks?”

She replied, “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.”

They answered, “Well, maybe it’s our grades.”

“No,” she said.

“Maybe it’s our behavior.”

She told them, “No, it’s not even your behavior.”

A2And so, they came and went. The first period. Second period. Third period. Still no desks in the classroom. Kids called their parents to tell them what was happening and by early afternoon a television news crew gathered to report about this crazy school teacher who’d taken all the desks out of her room.

The day’s final period arrived and, as puzzled students found seats on the floor of the desk-less classroom, Martha Cothren said, “Throughout the day, no one’s been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I’m going to tell you.”

Martha Cothren went over and opened her classroom door.

A6Twenty-seven Veterans, all in uniform, walked into that classroom—each carrying a school desk. The Vets began placing the desks in rows, then walked over and stood against the wall. By the time the last soldier placed the final desk, those kids started to understand—perhaps for the first time in their lives—just how the right to sit at their desks had been earned.

Martha said, “You didn’t earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have. Now, it’s up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don’t ever forget it.”

I think Martha Cothren taught us all a lesson about freedom in that Little Rock classroom. And I think her lesson needs to be shared.

A13Over my six decades of enjoying freedom, I’ve attended every Remembrance Day ceremony as far back as I can remember—two of those decades marching in the parade wearing the red serge uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

But I didn’t earn the freedom to march in my police uniform. That was earned by people like my father, Alan Rodgers, a World War Two air-gunner who served in a Lancaster bomber crew flying over Nazi Germany, and my mother, Lillian (Wegenast) Rodgers, who proudly served in an equally-important uniform as a Royal Canadian Air Force air traffic controller.

Alan JumpAnd today, I proudly watch as my twenty-five-year-old son (yes, also Alan Rodgers) marches in the uniform of the Canadian Army, with his earned paratrooper jump wings.

I proudly wore a peace officer uniform for a lot of years, but what I did in helping to maintain local law and order was nothing—absolutely nothing—compared to what Veterans of the Great War, World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan did for our society.

And now we have ISIL/ISIS to face. Selfishly, I hope my son never has to use the skills he’s been taught. Alan’s skills are to employ the harsh tools of war needed to protect our freedom.

Freedom is not free. It’s earned at a tremendous cost. Many paid the ultimate price to give us freedom—like the freedom Martha Cothren had to educate her kids in that desk-less classroom.

Lest we forget.


I was sent this piece from an author wishing to remain anonymous. From knowing soldiers who served in Afghanistan and hearing first-hand of their experiences with that country and its people, I think it’s a very realistic look at a destitute situation.

Af1I’m a Reconnaissance Marine in Afghanistan writing from the Sand Pit. I’m freezing my balls off here – sitting on hard, cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains, along the Dar’yoi Pamir River, and watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.

I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another scorpion sting. I’ve actually given up battling the chiggers and sand fleas, but the scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard. The antidote tastes like transmission fluid, but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.

Af2The one ugly truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water. That requires couriers and that’s where a bounty hunter like me comes in handy.

I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, and shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware. We bash some heads for a while, and then I track and record the new movement. It’s all about intelligence.

Af3AWe haven’t even brought in the snipers yet. These scurrying rats have no idea what they’re in for. We are but days away from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin. But you know – I’m a romantic. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This country blows, man. It’s not even a country.

There are no roads, there’s no infrastructure, there’s no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit shit hole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs. Afghanistan offers only two ways for a man to support his family; join the opium trade or join the army. That’s it. Those are your options.

Af4Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach flu, if that’s your idea of a party. But the smell alone of those ‘tent cities of the walking dead‘ is enough to hurl you into the poppy fields to cheerfully scrape bulbs for eighteen hours a day.

I’ve been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks, and Turkmen and even a couple of Pashtus for over a month-and-a-half now, and this much I can say for sure: These guys, are Huns….actual, living Huns. They LIVE to fight. It’s what they do. It’s ALL they do. They have no respect for anything, not for their families, nor for each other, nor for themselves.

Af5They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor. Huns, roaming packs of savage, heartless beasts who feed on each other’s barbarism. Cavemen with AK-47’s. Then again, maybe I’m just a cranky bastard.

I’m freezing my ass off on this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice, and I can’t recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours.

Oh yeah! You like writing, Garry. Do me a favor. Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban ‘smart’.

They are not smart.

Af6I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is “cunning.” The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless, and when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else.

Smart! Bullshit! Yeah, they’re real smart, they’ve spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil! They’re still figuring out how to work a Bic lighter.

Af7Talking to a Taliban warrior about improving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen. Eventually, he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it.

OK, enough. Snuffle will be up soon, so I have to get back to my hole. Covering my tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice, but I’m good at it.

Please, I ask you to tell my fellow Americans, and the rest of the civilized world, to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives. The story line you’re getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth, but rather to keep you glued to the screen so you will watch the commercials.

Af8CThe worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we’re doing over here, because you have no fucking idea what we’re doing and, really, you don’t want to know. We are your military, and we are only doing what you sent us here to do.

“Semper Fi” – Freedom is not free, but the U.S. Marine Corps will pay most of your share.