Monday, March 30, 2015

U.S. Army decides Fort Hood victims will receive Purple Heart

I know this is a little late, but I honestly thought I posted this here as a follow-up to my post regarding the Army denying the troops who were wounded during the Fort Hood terrorist attack Purple Hearts.

For some of you who don't know, I also take care of the blog/website for our local American Legion Post up here. 

Yes, I mistakenly posted this report there instead of here first. I want to thank you for writing in and asking about this.

It was announced on February 6th, 2015, that the Fort Hood victims will indeed receive Purple Hearts for their combat action against a Muslim terrorist.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced that victims of the 2009 Fort Hood terrorist attack will receive the Purple Heart.

This is an about-face for the military which initially went along with the Obama administration and described the attacks as "workplace violence."

The decision to award the Purple Heart was first reported by Fox News. 

The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed, while serving with the U.S. military. 

With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members.

The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington who was then the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army.

He authorized the Badge of Military Merit by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on August 7, 1782. 

Surpringly the Badge of Military Merit was only awarded to three soldiers during the Revolutionary War. From then on, as its legend grew; so did its appearance. 

Although never abolished, also surprising is the fact that the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I.

The most Purple Hearts awarded to a single individual is nine. Marine Sgt. Albert L. Ireland holds that distinction, being awarded five Purple Heart Medals in World War II and four more in the Korean War.

Seven soldiers, including two Medal of Honor recipients, were awarded eight Purple Hearts:
  • Robert T. Frederick: Eight awards, World War II
  • Richard J. Buck: Four awards, Korean War / Four awards, Vietnam War
  • David H. Hackworth: Three awards, Korean War / Five awards in the Vietnam War
  • Joe Hooper: Eight awards, Vietnam War
  • Robert L. Howard: Eight awards, Vietnam War
  • William Waugh: Eight awards, Vietnam War
While the award of the Purple Heart is considered automatic for all wounds received in combat, each award presentation must still be reviewed to ensure that the wounds received were as a result of enemy action. 

Modern day Purple Heart presentations are recorded in both hardcopy and electronic service records. The annotation of the Purple Heart is denoted both with the service member's parent command and at the headquarters of the military service department. 

An original citation and award certificate are presented to the service member and filed in their service record (personnel file).

During World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, the Purple Heart was often awarded on the spot, with occasional entries actually made into service records -- sometimes entries were never made at all. 

It is said that during periods of demobilization following each of America's major wars of the 20th century, it was a common occurrence for a unit's admin section to omit even a mention in a recipient's of a Purple Heart award from service records, personnel files. 

This occurred due to clerical errors, and became problematic once a service record was closed upon discharge. In terms of keeping accurate records, it was commonplace for some field commanders to engage in bedside presentations of the Purple Heart. 

This typically entailed one's Commanding Officer entering a hospital with a number of Purple Hearts and pinning them on the pillows of wounded service members, then departing with no official records kept of the visit, or the award of the Purple Heart given. 

Service members, themselves, complicated matters by unofficially leaving hospitals, hastily returning to their units to rejoin battle so as to not appear a malingerer. Yes, this happened more than most people realize.

In such cases, even if a service member had received actual wounds in combat, both the award of the Purple Heart and the Commanding Officer's visit to the hospital was unrecorded in their service record.

Yes, clerical errors are certainly not out of the ordinary as anyone in the military can swear to.

If a Purple Heart is denoted in military records but was simply omitted from a DD Form 214 (Report of Separation form), then a correction can be issued by way of a DD-215 document. These can be found on site at the National Personnel Records Center.

In a written statement, Army Secretary McHugh cited a recent change in the Purple Heart law that allowed the Army to proceed with the medals for those eligible as a result of the Fort Hood terrorist attack.

"The Purple Heart's strict eligibility criteria had prevented us from awarding it to victims of the horrific attack at Fort Hood," McHugh said in a statement.

"Now that Congress has changed the criteria, we believe there is sufficient reason to allow these men and women to be awarded and recognized" with either the Purple Heart or, for civilians, the Defense of Freedom medal.

"It's an appropriate recognition of their service and sacrifice," McHugh said.

Victims of the 2009 shooting and their families had been pressing the military to award the Purple Heart, and the benefits that come with it, for years.

They got a boost when the Republican controlled Congress passed recent funding legislation requiring the Defense Department to reconsider whether the victims qualify for the honor. 

The Army statement on Friday said the legislation expanded the eligibility criteria by broadening what can be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization.

The Army determined the shooting could be considered an attack because the shooter "was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack."

Texas Republican Rep. John Carter, who had pushed for the honor, hailed the announcement.

"This has been a long, hard fight," he said in a statement. "The victims of this attack have struggled, suffered and been abandoned by this Administration. No more. Today is a day of victory and I am honored to have fought on their behalf."

Fox News was first to report that the Islamic terrorist attack which was really a massacre with 13 killed and more than 30 wounded. 

The Muslim responsible for the attact was Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan. He opened fire after shouting "Allahu Akbar," but the Obama administration decided give Hasan a pass and classified the attack as mere "workplace violence."

Further evidence has steadily emerged since the attack that Hasan was motivated by his extreme religious views. In fact, Intelligence agencies intercepted emails between Hasan and the radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who, at the time, was a leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Awlaki was later killed in a drone strike in 2011.

Hasan was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to death by a general court martial. He is currently incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, awaiting appeal.

After his August 2013 conviction, Hasan told his lawyer, John Galligan, to release letters to Fox News in which Hasan pledged his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS -- the Islamic State.

Earlier this year, a lawyer for victims of the shooting and their families told Fox News that some victims are still so damaged physically and mentally they are unable to work five years after the massacre -- and the benefits that come with the Purple Heart would be a lifeline.

"No one will be the same," attorney Neal Sher told Fox News last month.

Mr Sher told Fox News in January there was stiff resistance to the new congressional language requiring a review of Purple Heart consideration.

"The [Obama] administration and the Pentagon," Mr Sher explained. "They lobbied hard against it. But we worked very hard and we were successful in garnering bi-partisan support for this."

As for me, since combat is combat and location has little to do with being in combat, I think it's about time that those in the terrorist attack at Fort Hood get the awards which they are entitled.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Veterans Choice Program May Get Fixed

About a month or so ago, I received a Veterans Choice Card in the mail. And as instructed, I called the VA to register.

The VA created the Veterans Choice Program to help reduce delays by scheduling appointments with private facilities when the VA couldn't provide treatment in a timely manner.

To qualify, Veterans must live more a 40-mile from a VA facility or are unable to schedule an appointment within 30 days.

After a lengthy conversation with the VA Choice representative on the phone, I came away thinking that was a waste of time and effort.

What took place was standard operating procedure when dealing with a big organization. 

First, I gave the VA rep my name, Social Security number, and then sat through a litany of questions pertaining to my health.

Second, I was told that the VA is not responsible for any emergency services administered at a local hospital unless first authorized by the VA. 

So yes, if I have a heart attack and need to get to a local hospital -- I should get pre-authorization from the VA.

Finally we got down to the reason for my call, I received a Veterans Choice Card in the mail instructing me to register with the VA before using it. 

When I told the VA rep what I was calling about, I was told that was "inaccurate." 

After I read the letter to her, she told me that I was being instructed to call to find out if I qualify for the VA's Veterams Choice Program of seeking medical assistance away from the VA. 

I asked if this could be used for emergenciesy? I was told no.

After giving her my address, she advised me that I am within the 40 mile limit and that I do not qualify for the Choice Program. 

She said the reason that I do not qualify is that her computer lists my residence as 29 miles from a VA hospital or clinic. She told me that a VA clinic in Sonora, California, is only 29 miles away. 

I laughed and told her that Sonora is 62 miles away. I also told her that VA clinic is another 4 or 5 miles on the other side of the actual town of Sonora, and that it is almost a hour and a twenty minute drive because of the mountain roads and such. 

She said that she was "not concerned about my driving issues" and that the VA only care about the distance "as the crow flies".

I told her that the "crow flies" over 3 mountain ranges, two rivers and a lake to get to Sonora, but I'm not a crow. 

I said thanks for you assistance and I figured that I would simply throw the Choice Card away. 

Was I frustrated, disappointed, angry? No, none of the above.

While the VA has provided me with great medical coverage, I frankly have come to accept this sort of thing from the Obama Administration who has a real problem with supporting Veterans. 

If you remember, back in 2009, a few months after taking office, the Obama administration advised America that the biggest threat to our National Security came from Veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. 

It's true, in 2009, Obama's Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano endorsed a DHS report which classifies returning US Veterans as "potential terrorist threats." And no, the administration has never gone back on that report.

As for the VA Choice Program, I see the program as "damage control" after the VA in various locations across the nations were caught putting Vets on extended waiting lists and refusing treatment. 

The Choice Program was supposedly going to stop the waiting lists and the treatment delays, but reports started to surface of how the VA administration was fighting the new program because it would take the focus of treatment elsewhere instead of only at VA hospitals and clinic locations. 

The Choice Program has been a failure and the Democrats in Washington DC have stated that Vets are not interested in using the program -- that is a lie!

Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA, now claims the Veterans Choice is not being used and in February there was a proposal by President Obama to divert funds from the program into other areas such as his amnesty program.

Given the program is just a couples months old, one has to ask why the hurry to defund it? Why the push to divert funds?

Why try to gut it? Most veterans of the 8.6 million veterans received their Veterans Choice Cards in the past couple months.

Fact is, Obama's VA has tried to discourage Vets like myself from using the program by saying we are close to a hospital or clinic "as the "crow flies." 

It is not a matter of Vets not wanting to use the program. 

It is about the VA rigging the system to make it appear as though Vets don't want to use it -- when in reality it is the VA who has been telling Vets they do not qualify because of distance. 

To give an example of how the VA discouraged Vets from using the Veterans Choice program, it is believed that 80% of the Vets who thought they qualified for the outside care options were rejected by the VA because of the "as the crow flies" standard.

While that it pathetic on the part of the VA, now a new development is taking place. 

On March 24th, 2015, just a few days ago, it was reported that the VA Choice program's distance rule may get a fix. 

After much debate over how the VA has chose to define the 40-mile distance rule for Vets seeking access the new VA Choice Program, the VA has announced that it's changing the definition.

Rather than using the "as the crow flies" measure of 40 miles, the VA will now rely on driving distance from a VA medical facility as the qualifier to use Veterans Choice.

The program lets Veterans see a civilian health care provider if they live in a remote area or can't get an appointment at a VA facility.

Under the VA Access, Choice and Accountability Act passed by Congress last year, veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility were supposed to have access to the Choice Card program.

The days of the VA's strict "as the crow flies" straight-line interpretation may be numbered. And yes, Vets with lengthy drives because of geographic obstacles or convoluted roadway routes may find help in the future.

The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee had a hearing scheduled on March 24th regarding the 40-mile rule. Earlier this month, 41 Senators petitioned VA to relax its interpretation.

House lawmakers also have pressed VA Secretary Robert McDonald for a change, sending him a letter on March 3rd signed by 53 House Representatives.

McDonald says VA decided to make the change after receiving "constructive feedback."

"We've determined that changing the distance calculation will help ensure more veterans have access to care when and where they want it," McDonald said.

According to the VA, the policy change will be made through "regulatory action in the coming weeks."

It seems they are getting it together, but we will still have to wait and see.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Friday, March 27, 2015

Did Wyatt Earp arrest Ben Thompson

When people talk about a gunman, a gunslinger, a gunfighter, a true man-killer, who really was a legend in their own time, few back in the Old West actually filled the bill. In reality, there were only a few out there who were little more than regionally known. Ben Thompson was a known gunman. He had a well founded reputation as being a man-killer.

In the late 1920s, Wyatt Earp made the claim that he arrested the legendary Ben Thompson back in 1873. Since his claim came by way of Earp's biographer Stuart Lake, who related the tale in "Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal" in 1931, many have asked, "Did Wyatt Earp really arrest Ben Thompson?"

By 1873, Ben Thompson was already a notorious well known Texas gunman with a deadly reputation. He was a bad hombre'. He was a Confederate soldier, who became a mercenary, a gunman, gambler, lawman, and was actually a legend in his time.

On August 15th, 1873, Ben's younger brother, Billy is said to have "accidentally" killed their friend Sheriff Chauncey Whitney in Ellsworth, Kansas. Immediately after the shooting, Ben Thompson urged his brother, who was drunk, to leave town on a fast horse. If not, friends of the popular sheriff may have wanted to put a hangman's noose around his neck.

Billy got on his horse, but it's said that even to the dismay of older brother Ben, Billy slowly left Ellsworth. As Billy left town, Ben Thompson, who was already considered a notorious man at the time, held the town at bay for an hour armed with a Henry rifle. Of course he did have a few other Texas cowboys to back him up during his standoff.

So 50 plus years later in the mid 1920s, Wyatt Earp claimed that he was the man who arrested Ben Thompson on that August day in 1873. Was this true or just another of Earp's claim to fame? Was it another Earp tall tale?

In the case of Wyatt Earp's supposed arrest of the very well-known gunman Ben Thompson, the case against Earp's fanciful tale is overwhelming. The reason that the case against Earp's fanciful tale is so solid is that there is absolutely no evidence putting him there, nevertheless him making the arrest of some well known gunman.

Where was Wyatt Earp at the time? Well, we know Wyatt Earp is listed in court records as being arrested and in jail off and on in Peoria, Illinois, in 1872 and in 1873. We also know that Earp claimed that he was buffalo hunting in 1872 when in fact he was arrested as a pimp in Illinois. In the same situation as for Wyatt Earp's claimed he was taking down famous gunman Ben Thompson when he was arrested in Illinois about the same time, I don't think that even the most ardent Wyatt Earps fan would have the nerve to say that Wyatt Earp can be in two places at the same time. Yes, especially hundreds of miles away with the slow modes of travel that existed at the time.

Writer's have portrayed him as a buffalo hunter for years, either accepting the myth that while he was actually in jails in Illinois that he would also able to be thousands of miles away at the same time buffalo hunting, or simply ignoring the fact all together to give credence to his buffalo claims. 

As for Ellsworth Kansas, there is no reference to anyone by the name of Wyatt Earp in the newspaper there, The Ellsworth Reporter.

No, there is not a single mention of Wyatt Earp in The Ellsworth Reporter's accounts of what took place in the record of Judge Osborne's police court, or in Dr. Duck's coroner's report, or in the coroner's inquest on Sheriff Whitney, or in the testimony at Billy Thompson's trial for the murder of Whitney in 1877, or in Ben Thompson's authorized biography by Col.Walton, or in any other source of record. In fact, there appears to be absolutely no published reference to Wyatt Earp's role in the Thompson arrest anywhere. That is until Wyatt Earp fabricated the story for his own biography to boost his own claim to this fame in 1931.

Remember, whether we want to admit it or not, people documented all sorts of things back then. Whether it was in a local newspaper, a diary, a journal, in letters, or in records of all sorts, people wrote everything down. Even in the tiny outlined areas of the California Gold Country where I live, where there were only small mining camps, the county archives are full of the smallest details of how people lived on a daily basis up here. 

Call it gossip or keeping a record for posterity, many people wrote who, what, when, where, and how things took place. This is the reason that we know what took place back in the day. It's true.

Even in this remote part of what was known as the Far West, over a hundred and fifty years later, we know who fell into what mine shaft, who lost their wagon load coming down what steep grade near a certain spot in the road going to town, who it was who found that old Indian sitting dead on the side of a road frozen to death, how a woman "answering nature's call" lifted her skirt to pee in a bush and found gold which led to one of the biggest mines in the Gold Country, and whether or not a small town in Northern California documented many more killings than Tombstone ever did. In fact, it is because of the documentation about that town near this area, that we know it made the town of Tombstone look like a retirement community in comparison if we look at what took place during the height of their perspective booms.

Court records, witness statements, newspaper accounts, hotel registers, journals, sales receipts, order slips, all play a role in proving or disproving the claims of people. Granted, there are things that aren't witnessed and that we can only go on trust to believe that it took place. But in the case of the arrest of the notorious Ben Thompson in 1873, while he held off the entire town at bay, there were all sorts of eye-witnesses and records of what took place there that day.

The most damaging words in the whole public record of the affair in regards to making Wyatt Earp look like a fraud, are the words from Ben Thompson himself.

Ben Thompson made the case that he had worked everything out with Mayor Miller prior to surrendering his arms. Thompson said Deputy Sheriff Hogue arrived on the scene late and unarmed.

Here is Ben Thompson's account: 

"The mayor, Mr. Miller, appeared. He had been given an exaggerated account of the circumstances, and was disposed to go right over me, but the Henry rifle soon brought him to his senses, and he stood along by the side of Hogue and others. I then said to him: 'Mr. Mayor, I respect, you and am inclined to surrender to you, but before doing so, must have your word of honor that no mob shall in any way interfere with me, and besides Happy Jack and Hogue must be disarmed, or rather the first must be disarmed, and the other not permitted to resume his....If you will go and disarm Happy Jack, and declare to me that Hogue shall not again be armed, until the law has dealt with me, I will surrender.' He at once agreed to this proposition, and Larkin [see below for more comments about Larkin, the manager of the Grand Central Hotel]satisfying the mayor that I would stand, and at an agreed moment surrender, they went off together to disarm Happy Jack. Hogue and his two cubs in the meantime being in a sort of 'pound' which I surrounded with my Henry rifle. . . .When he [the mayor]gave the assurances I required I willingly surrendered, knowing that the law could not and would not touch me, so far as the death of Sheriff Whitney was concerned."

Thompson makes no further mention of the deputy until he describes Hogue's attack on his attorney at the hearing which followed. And no, he makes no mention of some unknown transient hero doing what Earp claimed. And no, there is nothing to justify that it happened like it did in the film Wyatt Earp starring actor Kevin Costner.

The newspaper, The Ellsworth Reporter, did not say that Deputy Hogue "disarmed" Ben Thompson or that Thompson had surrendered his arms to the deputy. The paper only states that Deputy Sheriff Hogue "received the arms" of Ben Thompson. The paper does not specify where the arms come from, but only that Ben Thompson stated that he turned them over to the Mayor.

According to Wyatt Earp's biographer Stuart Lake, Wyatt was given a badge on the spur of the moment, that Earp refused to take a job as police officer so supposedly there was no reason for Earp's name to appear in any of these records since Miller's offer was not a part of the council's proceedings and since Earp refused the appointment. But frankly, that makes no sense.

Besides, that's not how it worked with so many people documenting the happenings of things back then, and in especially since that would have been news and a great story for the local papers. Can anyone imagine The Ellsworth Reporter or any paper refusing to print the story of a lone unknown transient hero doing what Earp claimed or turning down the job as offered to him?

The whole idea of his refusing a job as a police officer is absurd when you consider that he sought the position of police officer in one way or another for years both in Illinois and the Mid-West. Remember, when Earp moved to Wichita, Kansas, in early 1874, he was a pimp. But then in 1875, after he helped a police officer in Wichita track down a wagon thief, Wyatt Earp joined that city’s police force. 

As for those who say that Earp wasn't mentioned in The Ellsworth Reporter is because supposedly the town decided to "play down" their violence, that goes against what newspapers at the time did to sell papers. Newspaper have always been about selling papers, look at the way the grabbed onto any sensational event and ran with them. Newspapers run with those stories knowing that people like to read about the sensational and will buy papers that keep their interest.

Friends, that's what made the Police Gazette so popular at the time. And there's another point, the Police Gazette would have loved to print that story in 1873. That is, if it were real.

The National Police Gazette, simply known as the Police Gazette, was an American magazine founded in 1845. Under publisher Richard K. Fox, it was a men's magazine that illustrated sports weekly, pin ups, a celebrity gossip column, Guinness World Records-style competitions, and modern tabloid/sensational journalism. It began as a way to chronicle crime and criminals, and exploits of the law. 

Fact is, as we know from newspapers of the times, they and dime-novels and magazines like the Police Gazette would have jumped all over the story if it really happened as Earp said it did. If Wyatt Earp's account was factual as told to his biographer, then there is no doubt that it would have been newsworthy. They would have jumped at the story and ran it on the national wire service.

To believe some sort of half-baked notion that an American newspaper would ignore a newsworthy story about an extremely heroic action on the part of a transient to resolve a violent crisis in the street against a notorious gunman is idiotic. The whole notion that we should somehow accept the notion that Ellsworth was "a powder keg" that summer, and that the Ira Lloyd diary is very specific in describing the tensions between the townsfolk and the Texans, and that somehow kept a newspaper form publishing a great story about a hero, is asinine. It simply doesn't hold water.

The notion that anything can keep a newspaper from publishing a great story about a hero who pops out of nowhere is ludicrous. Can you imagine a newspaper saying a heroic act should not be reported because it will stir tensions? No, I can't either!

And please, give me a break with this notion that newspapers of that period had not yet adopted the theory of putting local news first and sometimes saw no point in telling a story that everyone already knew about. We know that's not true as the shootout at the OK Corral proves. While we know that that was really just a local story, some of the wire services at the time did in fact carry the news of that small gunfight.

Friends, even today, local papers live and die on how they cover local news. National events did not get much notice until wire services came about. And even after that national stories still didn't get a mention until communications became faster and more accurate. And frankly, there are volumes of local papers that print all sorts of local news even though "everyone already knew about" the subject. Papers don't care about that, never have.

If papers didn't run stories because they thought that "everyone already knew about" such and such doing this and that, they'd be out of business because people would not look to them for the facts. Yes, as people do even today.

If the concept of "why print it because everyone already knows about it" were true, than not one paper in America would report one more article about corruption in government, or crime in the streets, or how corrupt some local police department is or isn't.

Because the main story was the death of Sheriff Whitney, which was certainly reported on, some have made the excuse that that's why Earp's name not being found anywhere in the papers. They would have us believe that Earp's name was not mentioned because his supposed actions were linked to the actions on the part of Ben Thompson after the fact. Does that make sense? No. And by the way, the last time that I read the newspaper, multiple articles ran at the same time. That means that the death of Sheriff Whitney's article and the heroics of a lone stranger could have run on the same front page in different articles.

But friends, even if that were the case, references to Ben Thompson's actions are found in his deposition of July 10th, 1877: 

"I waited fully an hour at the Grand Central Hotel after my brother left Ellsworth for the purpose of surrendering myself to the mayor as soon as he could have Happy Jack, Sterling, and others disarmed."

So where is Wyatt Earp's name in Ben Thompson's deposition? No where. It is not found in any court records because Wyatt Earp was not there and had nothing to do with it. And also, if he did do some heroic act, why didn't Wyatt Earp stick around and bath in its afterglow? That was his modus operandi.

On a legal note, where is the report of his making the arrest of Ben Thompson, of being made Marshal on the spot as he said he was, or being subpoenaed to testify what he did or didn't do to effect an arrest? The reason is because Wyatt Earp did not make the arrest. He did not make a Citizens Arrest or by being deputized on the spur of the moment as he stated.

Wyatt Earp is known to have been in Wichita in 1874, so it was possible to find "the hero of Ellsworth" if officials wanted to subpoena him. But they didn't need to simply because he had nothing to do with Thompson. Wyatt Earp was not subpoenaed because he was not a witness, did not make an arrest, and had no involvement in the affair which meant he had no relevant information to give the court.

Supposedly when the old Grand Central Hotel caught fire in 1958, a local historian is said to have "rushed into the smoke and flames to rescue the old guest registers." Those hotel registers are said to include the signature of the Thompsons and other frontier notables. Supposedly Earp stayed at the Grand Central Hotel. The old registers are now housed at the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka, and no where is Wyatt Earp's name. Wyatt Earp's signature does not appear in the registers anywhere.

Was the now famous Wyatt Earp in Ellsworth on August 18, 1873? Who knows. Did he witness the events that day? Who knows. Can anybody put him there that day? No.

It is said that Wyatt Earp did have knowledge of a bullet hole in a door jam. Some say that that in itself is enough proof for them to say that he was there. Fact is, knowledge itself of a bullet hole does not confirm that he was there anymore than it proves that I was there.

As for Stuart Lake hearing the story of Wyatt Earp being there from Bat Masterson? While Earp's biographer Stuart Lake credited Masterson as the source of the Thompson story. But Masterson states he wasn't there either, so how could it come from Masterson? 

In fact, it is believed that Bat Masterson actually heard the Ben Thompson arrest story from Wyatt Earp. And frankly, we don't know if Stuart Lake was telling the truth in that he heard it from Masterson or not. It is believed that Lake fabricated a great deal of the Earp biography. So how much is from Earp and how much is the work of Lake's imagination is up for grabs.

We do know that Wyatt Earp, in at least two letters, indicated that he alone had arrested Ben Thompson. But then again, he also claimed to do many things that were just tall tales including killing Johnny Ringo.

Since I started this article after being asked if I thought Wyatt Earp really did in fact arrest the famous gunfighter Ben Thompson, my answer is no. No, I don't believe Wyatt Earp had anything to do with the arrest of the very notorious Ben Thompson because there is no evidence putting him there.

There are no witnesses, no court records, no arrest records, no depositions, not a single news story about the heroism of a young stranger, nothing!

And by the way, some researchers actually try to spin things around to say that the absence of a reference to Wyatt Earp in relevant court, county, and city records is explained simply by the fact that he was not acting in an official capacity. But remember, according to Earp, he was acting as the town marshal since he was handed the badge and deputized by the mayor on the spot.

And while I believe that that alone should get a huge mention somewhere, those same people say that there was no reason to mention him in the documents even though he supposedly made the arrest. Make sense to you? Me neither! And no, it doesn't stop there! 

Believe it or not, there are some who say that even though there is absolutely no record, no witness, nothing, no note in any article mentioning the name Wyatt Earp, that that does not mean that he couldn't have done it. Of course, that's a hard spin of logic. 

Yes, as incredible as that sounds, there are those who will spin the facts and evidence just to confirm a tale that no one witnessed, that there is no record of, even though there were all sorts of folks present there that day who witnessed the incident taking place. Yes, it was an incident very well documented from the vantage point of a number of witnesses.

So what sort of standards of historical research should we be demanding?To me, as with a crime scene, standards of historical research should be so that we can confirm the truth of what took place. That is the least that we should do before accepting something.

I do not agree with the statement by one historian who stated, "the absence of evidence is never proof that something did not happen." It's that sort of twisted logic that drives me nuts when reading what some so-called "unbiased" historian comes up with. Imagine the craziness behind such a statement.

Friends, like it or not, the absence of evidence is proof that something did not happen. If it's only up to someone's word, then anything goes. If we agree with that sort of twisted logic that says that an event doesn't have to be witnessed and recorded or attests to, that there is no evidence at all that something even took place, how can anyone prove what is fact or just bullshit? 

And yes, I am amazed at how many people believe in supposed historical events that no one's ever witnessed and is only claimed to have been done by those with questionable character. 

For example, there isn't a stitch of evidence to support John Wesley Hardin's claim that he out drew and then drew down on Wild Bill Hickok. So how can anyone take the word of psychopath John Wesley Hardin who tried to become even more famous by writing that very thing in his prison cell memoirs. Why would anyone accept the lie that he supposedly outdrew the legend Wild Bill Hickok, even though it was something no one witnessed or noted?

Hardin made his claim after Hickok was dead, and no one witnessed it take place. But, believe it or not, there are historians who believe it really happened. Why? On what grounds? Who knows.

It is the same fraud of saying that some young stranger named Wyatt Earp became the hero of the day and arrested the gunman Ben Thompson, yet no one saw it happen. No one noted it, or even celebrated such an extraordinary feat of bravery.

If we allow those sorts of folks to determine what really took place in history, well Lord help us. Imagine it for a moment if we can come up with anything we want, and call it real because we don't need evidence to back it up. Thankfully that's not the case and that we do require evidence to prove what has taken place in history. 

To me, until someone shows me something to disprove it, I believe that this was just one more Wyatt Earp story that is not true. And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

U.S. Army Charges Bowe Bergdahl with Desertion

Clockwise from top left: Sgt. Michael Murphrey, age 25, was killed in an IED blast on Sept. 5, 2009; Private First Class Morris Walker, age 23, and Staff Sgt. Clayton Bowen, age 29 were killed in an IED explosion on Aug. 18, 2009. Staff Sergeant Kurt Curtiss, age 27, died in a firefight on Aug. 26, 2009. Second Lt. Darryn Andrews, age 34, and Private First class Matthew Michael Martinek, age 20 died after an RPG ambush on Sept. 4, 2009.
We Must Never Forget

Above are the faces of those killed while looking for Bergdahl in the days following his desertion.

We must never forget the six U.S. Army soldiers who were killed as a result of soldier Bowe Bergdahl deserting and joining the enemy in Afghanistan.

Now that Bowe Bergdahl is being charged with desertion, maybe now families of the soldiers killed looking for Bergdahl can get closure.

Yes, we must never forget that six soldiers killed looking for Bergdahl after he "walked off" and deserted while in Afghanistan.

The families of these troops know very well how they died while looking for Bergdahl. Like many others, they believe there should be justice for the needless deaths of their family members.

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl deserted and joined the Taliban after abandoning his post in Afghanistan.

He was then freed five years later in exchange for five Guantanamo detainees in a deal hailed by the White House but blasted by his fellow soldiers for deserting.

Today, March 25th, 2015, it was announced the U.S. Army will charge Bowe Bergdahl with desertion.

The development comes 10 months after his May 2014 release -- which initially was a joyous occasion, with his parents joining President Obama in celebrating the news in the Rose Garden.

Bob Bergdahl, who actually made contact with the Taliban and studied Islam during his son's captivity, appeared with Obama with a full beard and read a Muslim prayer while Bergdahl's wife Jani embraced the president.

But that euphoria quickly gave way to controversy in Washington as Bergdahl was accused of walking away from his post and putting his fellow soldiers in danger.

The trade of hardened Taliban fighters for his freedom raised deep concerns on Capitol Hill that the administration struck an unbalanced and possibly illegal deal.

Bergdahl will be specifically charged with desertion and misbehavior toward the enemy. A senior U.S. official said he will face a court martial and trial.

Gen. Mark Milley, head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, has been reviewing the massive case files and had a broad range of legal options, including various degrees of desertion charges.

A major consideration was whether military officials would be able to prove that Bergdahl had no intention of returning to his unit -- a key element in the more serious desertion charges.

The announcement marks a sharp turnaround for the administration's narrative of Bergdahl's service and release.

After the swap last year, National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Bergdahl served with "honor and distinction."

But as Bergdahl faced criticism from fellow troops for his actions, the administration faced heated complaints from Congress over the Taliban trade itself.

"This fundamental shift in U.S. policy signals to terrorists around the world a greater incentive to take U.S. hostages," said former Rep. Mike Rogers, (R-Mich.), then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Bergdahl disappeared from his base in the eastern Afghanistan province of Paktika on June 30, 2009. A private first class at the time, he had three days earlier emailed his parents expressing disillusionment with the war.

"The future is too good to waste on lies," Bergdahl wrote, according to the late Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. "And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be American."

Bob Bergdahl, his father, a former UPS delivery driver in Sun Valley Idaho, replied with a message bearing the subject line, "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!"

But what if he was not a Hostage and simply Joined the Enemy?

The Army said Bergdahl was "captured" by the Taliban after abandoning his post in Afghanistan. And yes, people keep talking about his "captivity".

But what if he was never "captured" and was never a "captive?" Can this be the truth?
This are legitimate questions since Bergdahl did in fact leave a note in his tent that said he was leaving to start a new life and renounced his citizenship. 

For the next five years, Bergdahl is believed to have been helped the Taliban and Pakistan's infamous Haqqani network.

In one of several hostage videos released during his absence, he said he was "captured when he fell behind a patrol."

But fellow soldiers who knew the truth of what took place were outraged after the trade was made with the Taliban, and have accused him of deserting.

Along with this, we know that the lives of American troops were lost while looking for him -- and some troops from his unit in Afghanistan assert that other American lives were put at risk in the hunt for Bergdahl as well.

Bergdahl was freed on May 31, 2014, after the White House agreed to trade five high value Taliban operatives held at Guantanamo Bay for him.

He was turned over to Delta Force operatives in eastern Afghanistan, near the border village of Khost, while the Taliban members were handed over to authorities in Qatar, which helped broker the swap.

The trade was blasted by critics who said it violated America’s longstanding tradition of not negotiating with terrorists, and from Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers, many of whom view him as a traitor.

There were also concerns – which would prove well-founded – that the Taliban members would return to the fight against the West.

Of the five, Mohammad Fazl, the former Taliban army chief of staff; Khairullah Khairkhwa, a Taliban intelligence official; Abdul Haq Wasiq, a former Taliban government official; and Norullah Noori and Mohammad Nabi Omari, at least three have attempted to rejoin their old comrades, sources told Fox News.

Then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Bergdahl was a “prisoner of war,” and that the deal did not amount to negotiating with terrorists. He also said concerns about Bergdahl’s deteriorating condition made it imperative that the U.S. move quickly to make the trade.

A Pentagon probe concluded in 2010 that Bergdahl had "walked away" from his base, but stopped short of accusing him of desertion, reopening the probe after his return.

Bergdhal was promoted to sergeant while in captivity, and had accrued more than $200,000 in back pay by the time he was traded for the Taliban Five.

He was assigned to duty at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, after his return.

Now that Bergdahl is being charged with desertion, families will see if Bergdahl will truly be held responsible for the deaths of their loved ones who risked everything to find him -- when he did not want to be found.

And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let's Talk About The "Stars & Bars" -- The Confederate Battle Flag

One of my first posts as a blogger was a short piece titled George Washington Banned From NAACP Rally.

In the article, I stated how the NAACP had instructed a box to be built around a statue of George Washington. This was an effort on their part to hide the statue from view during a Martin Luther King Jr. observance.

The NAACP felt that Washington's statue offended people attending the event. That particular Martin Luther King Jr. observance took place in Columbia, South Carolina, on the north side steps of the Statehouse on January 17th, 2011

When the NAACP had the event planners build a box around the statue of George Washington because the mere sight of Washington was seen as offensive, I knew then and there that we as a people are now in big trouble.

Why? Because, as sure as the sun rises each day, there is always going to be something in our world that will most definitely offend someone. 

You don't have to be my age to understand that people are offended by all sorts of things. You don't have to be college educated or a skilled craftsman to know that there is someone out there who will find offense with something which most others are not offended by. 

And yes, you do not have to be a brain surgeon to understand that there is going to be some person who has a problem with the United States of America, who will not like American patriotism, American history, symbols of America's greatness, of our past, or our freedoms as set fourth in the Bill of Rights.

Ever wonder about how we see the Confederate battle flag today? Is it racist? Is it just a representation of the Rebel spirit? Or frankly, is it an expression of one's Freedom of Speech rights?

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear an argument regarding free speech and the use of the Confederate battle flag on license plates in Texas. 

The Confederate battle flag, the "stars and bars," as my friends down South like to refer to it, has enjoyed a popularity of sorts as it has become a symbol of Southern pride. 

During World War II some U.S. military units with Southern nicknames, or made up largely of Southerners, made the flag their unofficial emblem. 

The USS Columbia flew a Confederate Navy Ensign as a battle flag throughout combat in the South Pacific in World War II. This was done in honor of Columbia, the ship's namesake and the capital city of South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union. 

Some soldiers carried Confederate flags into battle. After the Battle of Okinawa a Confederate battle flag was raised over Shuri Castle by a Marine from the self-styled "Rebel Company" which at the time was Company A of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. 

Believe it or not, it is said that it was visible for miles and was taken down after three days on the orders of General Simon B. Buckner, Jr., who was a son of Confederate General Simon Buckner, Sr.. 

Marine General Buckner Jr. stated that it was inappropriate as "Americans from all over are involved in this battle". It was replaced with the regulation, 48-star flag of the United States.

The 1979-1985 American television series The Dukes of Hazzard, set in a fictional Georgia county, featured the General Lee stock car with a prominently displayed Confederate battle flag on its roof throughout the series' run. 

Today, the Confederate battle flag can be found almost anywhere. From bumper stickers, to car windows, to flag poles at homes, the Confederate flag is actually all over the place. It is extremely accurate to say that the Confederate flag that one sees today has absolutely nothing to do with slavery or some sort of supposed support for slavery.

It may have everything to do with Southern pride, or even Redneck pride, but it certainly does not represent the 1.6% of the population in the South who actually owned slaves in 1865. 

I can swear to the fact that in all of my travels in the South, the Confederate flag is used as a symbol of Southern Pride. It is a symbol of Southern ancestry and heritage, as well as representing a distinct and independent cultural tradition.

I have read where some believe the flag represents an era of state sovereignty, but frankly that's a stretch. It is a symbol of the South but also of those who consider themselves "rebels" in one way or another. Because of my seeing the Confederate battle flag in places like California, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and even Washington state, all in recent years, I don't believe the Confederate flag has anything to do with the Civil War or primarily the South anymore.

From what I can tell, Americans use the "Rebel Flag" to show that they are independent or are non-conformists in some way. The whole, "I'm a rebel" thing is embodied in the "stars and bars."

Of course the first "rebel" flag presented to symbolize dissatisfaction with the government was the "stars and strips" -- the American flag.
Yes, just the mere possession of an American flag during the Revolutionary War was enough for one to be jailed for treason.

Free speech? There was no such thing as Free Speech when we were a Colony. If one tried to wave an "American flag" to show displeasure with the British Crown, they would be in deep trouble with the government.

Yes, "Old Glory" was seen as the symbol of "rebels" -- but that's for another article later. The Confederate battle flag is seen in that way today -- to note a free spirit.

Yes, we can thank our forefathers for our having the ability to wave it from our home, put it on album covers, make it into bumper stickers, stick it on a windshield, sew it on a shirt or jacket or vest, or make it into a swimsuit -- and not be censored or arrested for doing so.

No, it is not out of the ordinary to see the Confederate battle flag at sporting events and even at political rallies.

It is said that some historical societies such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy also use the flag as part of their symbols. 

Yesterday, March 23rd, 2015, the Supreme Court wrestled with the Confederate battle flag to answer the question:

Does the state of Texas have to produce license plates bearing the flag revered by the Sons of Confederate Veterans as a symbol of Southern heritage while some see it as a symbol of racism and oppression?

Texas commemorates the Confederacy in many ways, from an annual celebration of Confederate Heroes Day each January to monuments on the grounds of the state Capitol in Austin. Among the memorials is one that has stood for more than a century, bearing an image of the Confederate battle flag etched in marble.

If you think the Left, Liberal Democrats, have the tolerance they preach about, guess again. Take the story of this good man below who really received the wrath of the Left for thinking for himself.

Mr H. K. Edgerton is an African-American activist for Southern heritage and an African-American member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. 

He is a former president of the Asheville, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), he is on the board of the Southern Legal Resource Center.

It's true, the man in the picture above, at one time worked for improving racial issues through the Asheville chapter of the NAACP -- where he was elected as president. 

Mr Edgerton advocates sharing the true history of Southern heritage and attended rallies supporting the display of the Confederate flag. He is fully aware that Confederate flag historically represented dissension to government authority.

Because of his stand of recognizing the historical significance of the Confederate flag role in American history, in December of 1998, Mr Edgerton was suspended from the NAACP.  By 2000, Mr Edgerton was appointed the chairman of the board of directors of the Southern Legal Resource Center.

Now the Supreme Court will decide whether the state of Texas can refuse to issue a license plate featuring the battle flag without violating the free-speech rights of Texans who want one -- or offending others. 

The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued over the state's decision not to authorize its proposed license plate with its logo bearing the battle flag, similar to plates issued by eight other states -- seven which were members of the Confederacy.

And yes, among the eight includes the state of Maryland which had absolutely nothing to do the Confederacy but recognized that people see the "rebel flag" as a sign of independence.

A state motor vehicle board rejected the Sons of Confederate Veterans application because of concerns it would offend many Texans who believe the flag is a racially charged symbol of repression.

Before moving on to how hypocritical the board really is, let's remember that there have been a lot of stories in the news lately about how "Old Glory" is offending people because there are some ignorant bastqrds out there who see the American flag as being a racially charged symbol of oppression.

We live in an era when an Iraq War veteran is asked to remove his American flag to avoid offending someone, and where a school can order students to remove U.S. flag-themed articles of clothing because other students celebrating Mexico’s Cinco de Mayo could be upset by the image of Old Glory.

As sad a situation it is, this is the reality of today's Politically Correct world. As for "is there a little hypocrisy here?" You bet there is!

The board proved their hypocrisy on the same day that they rejected the Sons of Confederate Veterans request. They did so when the board unanimously approved a plate honoring the nation's first black Army units, the Buffalo Soldiers.

They approved it despite huge objections from Native Americans over the units' roles in the slaughter of American Indian tribes in the West in the late 1800s.

A panel of federal appeals court judges ruled that the board's decision violated the group's First Amendment rights.

"We understand that some members of the public find the Confederate flag offensive. But that fact does justify the board's decision," Judge Edward Prado of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans wrote.

Texas' main argument to the Supreme Court is that the license plate is not like a bumper sticker slapped on the car by its driver. Instead, the state said, license plates are government property, and so what appears on them is not private individuals' speech but the government's.

They say the First Amendment applies when governments try to regulate the speech of others, but not when governments are doing the talking. So what the state of Texas Department of Motor Vehicles is saying is that the state, meaning the government, can say anything it wants -- but Americans do not have the same right.

Friends, they should check the Constitution because the law applies to all and not just selected races, religions, groups, institutions, persons, government entities, or political parties. Federal appeals courts around the country have come to differing conclusions on the issue, in part because there are few Supreme Court cases to guide them.

In 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that people can't be compelled to display license plates that carry messages to which they object. The ruling in the Wooley v. Maynard case concerned New Hampshire residents who disagreed with the state's "Live Free or Die" motto.

Yes, from that challenge, we know there is at least one Liberal in New Hampshire who would prefer the motto "Be a Slave and Live."

And yes, New Hampshire is among 11 states that are supporting Texas because they fear that a ruling against the state would call into question license plates that promote national and state pride and specific positions on such issues as American pride or the 2nd Amendment. Issues which some in power is as controversial political issues.

A decision in Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, 14-144, is expected by late June. So now, why wouldn't the Supreme Court be in favor of the Sons of Confederate Veterans request?

I believe the only thing stopping this is Political Correctness, and how far the PC police want to go in trying to govern the ungovernable.

Why do I say ungovernable? Because frankly, whether the Supreme Court says no to the Sons of Confederate Veterans or not, people will continue flying the Confederate flag. It is our Freedom of Speech right to do so!

Besides, it's just what Rebels do. And yes, that's just the way I see it.

Tom Correa

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Native American Folklore & Our Connection With Eagles

I love animal symbolism. I've always been fascinated with the link we make connecting ourselves to the traits, abilities, and characteristics of animals. 

As for eagles, the eagle has been a symbol of power and strength for thousands of years. 

Eagles are known for their sharp vision, a keen sense of perception, powers of intuition,  Eagles represent action, resolve, and grace.

Eagles figure prominently in the mythology of nearly every Native American tribe. 

In most Native cultures, eagles are considered medicine birds with impressive magical powers, and play a major role in the religious ceremonies of many tribes.

Native American Indians saw the Eagle as a symbol for great strength, leadership and vision. 

Bald Eagles are a sacred bird in most Native American cultures, and its feathers, like those of the Golden Eagle, are central to many religious and spiritual customs among Native Americans. 

On the overall, eagles are considered spiritual messengers between gods and humans by most Native American cultures.

Some Native American cultures represent the eagle with the "thunderbird." The "thunderbird" was a mythical super eagle responsible for creating thunder and lightning by beating its wings. Some believed that its feathers carry prayers to the sun. 

Eagle totems appear to inspire us to reach higher and become more than we think we are capable of. 

The "thunderbird" symbol is atop traditional totem poles of the Pacific Northwest Coast in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, and in British Columbia.

In the sacred circles of wisdom among these Northwest coastal tribes, the "thunderbird" is said to be perched regally atop totem poles to denote ultimate status of an emblem of power. 

The 'thunderbird" is said to be the supreme chief among the Native pantheon of natural spirit energies. 

Totem poles are traditionally made from the cedar tree, as the cedar tree is considered sacred to the "thunderbird."

For the tribes of the Northwest, legend states the "thunderbird" dwells in regal solitude in mystic cedar forests where no human is allowed.

Believe it or not, the Northwest tribes' legend also says the "thunderbird" smokes tobacco from cedar pipes. Yes, we have to remember that legends are just legends.

In some Northwest Coast tribes, the floor used to be dusted with eagle down at potlatches and other ceremonies as a symbol of peace and hospitality.

In the mythology of some tribes, the eagle plays a leadership role either as king of the birds, or as a chief who humans interact with. In other legends, the eagle serves as a messenger between humans and the Creator.

Many pow wow dancers use the eagle claw as part of their regalia as well. Eagle feathers are often used in traditional ceremonies, particularly in the construction of regalia worn and as a part of fans, bustles and head dresses.

The golden eagle, also known as the "war eagle," is particularly associated with warriors and courage in battle, and it is golden eagle feathers that were earned by Plains Indian men as war honors and worn in their feather headdresses.

In some tribes, this practice continues to this day, and eagle feathers are still given to soldiers returning from war or people who have achieved a great accomplishment.

As for the Native American Indian "warbonnet" headdress -- full eagle-feather warbonnet like that worn by the Lakota Sioux or Cheyenne? 

Believe it or not, from what I've read, most American Indian tribes never used eagle feather headdresses. 

Feathered warbonnets may be the best-known American Indian headdresses, but they were not the most commonly used.
As far as taboos, because the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle are considered such a powerful medicine animal, the hunting or killing of eagles was restricted by many taboos.

Eating eagle meat was forbidden in many tribes. It is said that in some legends, a person who eats eagle meat is transformed into a monster.

In Southeastern tribes, only men with special eagle medicine, known as Eagle-Killers were permitted to kill eagles.

In the Cherokee tribe, even Eagle-Killers were only permitted to kill eagles during wintertime.

In some Plains Indian tribes, feathers were required to be plucked from a live eagle so as to avoid killing them. To accomplish this, eagles were trapped in a net and released.

The Lakota give an eagle feather as a symbol of honor to someone who achieves a task. In modern times, it may be given on an event such as a graduation from college.

The Choctaw considered the Bald Eagle, who has direct contact with the upper world of the sun, as a symbol of peace.

The eagle plays a crucial role in the sun dance of the Plains Indians, and symbolizes the sun in the rites of some of the Southwestern tribes.

The Iroquois tell of Keneu, the golden eagle, and of Oshadagea, the giant eagle with a lake of dew on his back who lives in the western sky.

The Pawnee believed eagles to be a symbol of fertility because they build large nests high off the ground and valiantly protect their young. They honored the eagle with songs, chants, and dance.

The Comanche's myth of eagle creation began when the young son of a chief died and was turned into the first eagle as an answer to his father's prayers. The Comanche eagle dance celebrates this legend.

The Pueblo Indians associated the eagle with the energies of the sun, both physical and spiritual, as well as symbols of greater sight and perception.

The Zunis carve stone eagle fetishes for protection, ascribing to them both healing and hunting powers, and the Eagle Dance is one of the most important traditional dances held by the Hopi and other Pueblo tribes.

The Navajo Indians have a myth that says eagles originated when a warrior, Nayenezgani, slayed a monster who lived at Wing Rock. Afterwards, he turned to the beast's offspring, who were now alone in their nest. Rather than have them grow up evil, he turned the youngest into an owl and the oldest into an eagle, who would be a source for feathers for rites and bones for whistles.

Eagles are also one of the most widespread clan animals used by Native American cultures.

Tribes with Eagle Clans include the Chippewa whose Bald Eagle Clan and its totem are called Migizi, while the Golden Eagle Clan is called Giniw, the Hopi whose Eagle Clan is called Kwaangyam or Qua-wungwa, the Zuni whose Eagle Clan name is K'yak'yali-kwe, and other Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, Plains tribes like the Caddo and Osage, and Northwest Coast tribes like the Haida, Kwakiutl, Tsimshian, and Tlingit.

The eagle was an important Clan crest on the Northwest Coast, and eagle designs can often be found carved on totem poles, ceremonial staffs, and other traditional Northwestern art. And many eastern tribes, such as the Cherokee, also have an Eagle Dance among their tribal dance traditions.

While eagle legends vary from tribe to tribe throughout the United States and Canada, most Native American legends agree that when an eagle appears to you, it means that you are being put on notice. 

The sight of an eagle is said to be telling us to be courageous, and to dream of a flying eagle or one who is perched high signifies good fortune or victory coming your way. 

It is also said that if it scares you or attacks you, it means there are some self-imposed limitations you need to get through.

But please, don't think the Native Americans had a corner on how humans perceive eagles.

Across our Southern border, among the ancient Aztec, legend says how during the creation of the present world, the eagle and the jaguar fought over who would have the honor of becoming the sun. 

The Aztecs say the eagle settled the matter by flying into a fire and becoming the sun. The jaguar, following close behind, settled for becoming the moon, with the spots on his coat showing that he had been only partially burned. 

The Aztecs also believed that their chief god told people to settle at a place where they found an eagle perched on a cactus eating a snake. Legend says that place is Mexico City. 

And yes, the eagle has been used as a "banner" by many of the great empires throughout history, from Babylon to Egypt, through to Rome and even the United States. 

In ancient Greece, Zeus changed into the form of an eagle to help himself control thunder and lightning. Greeks regarded eagles as the sacred emblem of Zeus 

Believe it or not, in early Christianity, the eagle was seen as a symbol of hope and strength, representing salvation. The eagle appears twice in the book of Revelation, both times in a context that suggests it is on the side of God. 

Not surprisingly, for Muslims, eagles represent war and ferocity and dominance.

Long before mohammed who died around 632 AD, and even longer than before the birth of Christ, the eagle was a strong emblem in the Roman Empire.

Besides believing in human sacrifice, among other things, eagles were once revered as a symbol of wisdom and power by the ancient Druids in Ireland.

For the Norse, legend has it that the eagle is associated with their god Odin because of its wisdom and light. 

It may not be coincidence that such different cultures across thousands of years have adopted the same symbol. For those fighting for freedom, the Eagle's ability to fly high to the tops of mountains and silently into valleys, makes it associated to a free spirit.

The Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States of America.

On June 20, 1782, the Continental Congress adopted the still-current design for the Great Seal of the United States including a bald eagle grasping 13 arrows and a 13-leaf olive branch with its talons.

The Bald Eagle appears on most official seals of the U.S. government, including the presidential seal, the presidential flag, and in the logos of many U.S. federal agencies.

During the days following the cowardice Muslim attack on 9/11/2001, the American Bald Eagle played a role in uniting our nation with the circulation of pictures like these seen here.


While I have read the popular legend, supposedly there is no evidence that Benjamin Franklin ever publicly supported the wild turkey rather than the Bald Eagle as a symbol of the United States. 

While many might not realize it, Golden Eagles typically have larger bodies and shorter wingspans compared to Bald Eagles. 

As most of us know, adult Bald Eagles are easily identified by their brilliant white heads and tail feathers and black bodies and wings. They have black talons and yellow eyes, beaks and feet. 

In contrast, Golden Eagles have shorter, darker bills and dark feathers with a pale golden cast in the area around the neck. 

Some confuse Golden Eagles for young Bald Eagles because young Bald Eagles do not obtain their adult colors until they are about five years old.

In captivity, bald eagles have a life expectancy of up to 50 years, but almost all in nature die before reaching maturity because of environmental hazards and stresses.

An eagle's eyes are up to eight times sharper than that of humans and are much more more color-sensitive. Located on the side of the head, their eyes provide a wide field of view. 

Bald eagles have large wings compared to other birds, allowing them to soar and hunt vast areas with a minimum of effort. During migration they can travel 400 to 500 miles a day. 

Bald Eagles have large, sharp talons and strong feet which they use to catch their prey.

All of these traits can be viewed symbolically as ideas to assist humans to be more successful within their own lives. Even with the eagle's magnificent ability to fly, it stays connected to the earth. 

So how far back in man's history can we trace the idea that we must keep ourselves grounded and lay a solid foundation for ourselves? 

The talons - meant to grasp and hunt - reflect the need to utilize the things of the earth but also have been the symbol of power and strength. 

It appears eagles have represented power far longer than we suspect. A recent report speaks to the connection mankind has with eagles. 

On March 14th, 2015, it was reported that Neanderthals wore eagle talons as jewelry 130,000 years ago.

The eight eagle talons from Krapina arranged with an eagle phalanx that was also found at the site.

Long before they shared the landscape with modern humans, Neanderthals in Europe wore eagle talons.

Researchers identified eight talons from white-tailed eagles -- including four that had distinct notches and cut marks -- from a 130,000-year-old Neanderthal cave in Croatia. 

They suspect the claws were once strung together as part of a necklace or bracelet.

The talons were first excavated more than 100 years ago at a famous sandstone rock-shelter site called Krapina in Croatia. There, archaeologists found more than 900 Neanderthal bones dating back to a relatively warm, interglacial period about 120,000 to 130,000 years ago. 

They also found Mousterian stone tools, a sign of Neanderthal occupation, a hearth and the bones of rhinos and cave bears, but no signs of modern human occupation. 

Homo sapiens didn't spread into Europe until about 40,000 years ago. The eagle talons were all found in the same archaeological layer, 

The talons had been studied a few times before, but no one noticed the cut marks until last year when the curator of the Croatian Natural History Museum was reassessing some of the Krapina objects in the collection.

The researchers don't know exactly how the talons would have been assembled into "jewelry", but some facets on the claws look quite polished -- perhaps made smooth from being wrapped in some kind of fiber, or from rubbing against the surface of the other talons. There were also nicks in three of the talons that wouldn't have been created during an eagle's life some 130,000 years ago,

Now extinct, Neanderthals were the closest known relatives of modern humans. They lived in Eurasia from about 200,000 to 30,000 years ago. 

Recent research has uncovered evidence that Neanderthals may have engaged in some familiar behaviors, such as burying their dead, adorning themselves with feathers, and even making art and jewelry.

While the report said that scientists debate the extent to which Neanderthals were capable of abstract thinking, their ability to deliberately make and wear jewelry suggest that they could be wrong.

Did the Neanderthals connect with the eagles spiritually like say the Native Americans or other cultures did in later? Did they use their talons as a sign of status in their clans or tribes? Did others see a wearer of eagle talons as someone in the same vain as an Indian warrior?

No one knows the answers to those questions.

And of course if this find is simply about talons being used as an adornment, this is still significant because it's more proof of how long humans have tried to associate themselves with eagles for one reason or another.

And yes, that's just the way I see it. 

Tom Correa

Cattle Breed -- The Texas Longhorn

Survivor of the Past - Bright Promise for the Future

by Dr. Stewart H. Fowler, PhD

Cattlemen caught in a devastating cost-price squeeze are now taking a serious second look at the old Texas Longhorn. Doubly stunned by the inflation of all cost factors and the recession of cattle prices, cattlemen are actively seeking new "profit genes" for their beef herds.

The quest has broadened to an international search for "new" genes that might boost productivity and profits. In this process, many have tended to overlook a promising gene source close to home. I refer to the Texas Longhorn.

An almost forgotten reservoir of unique genetic material, the Longhorn is literally an old source of new genes! In fact, the Texas Longhorn may prove to be a real "genetic gold-mine" in the future of our beef industry.

Foundation stock

What is so unique about the Texas Longhorn? What makes it different from the multitude of other breeds now available in North America?

Simply this: The Texas Longhorn was fashioned entirely by nature right here in North America.

Stemming from ancestors that were the first cattle to set foot on American soil almost 500 years ago, it became the sound end product of "survival of the fittest".

Shaped by a combination of natural selection and adaptation to the environment, the Texas Longhorn is the only cattle breed in America which - without aid from man - is truly adapted to America.

In his book The Longhorns, J. Frank Dobie states this situation well: "Had they been registered and regulated, restrained and provided for by man, they would not have been what they were."

Hardy, aggressive, and adaptable, the Texas Longhorns were well suited to the rigors of life on the ranges of the southwestern United States.

They survived as a primitive animal on the most primitive of ranges and became the foundation stock of that region's great cattle industry.

With the destruction of the buffalo following the Civil War, the Longhorns were rushed in to occupy the Great Plains, a vast empire of grass vacated by the buffalo.

Cattlemen brought their breeding herds north to run on the rich grazing lands of western Nebraska, Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Montana. Thus, the Great Plains became stocked largely with these "bovine citizens" from the Southwest. And, the Texas Longhorns adapted well to their expanding world.

They had reached their historical heyday, dominating the beef scene of North America like no other cattle breed has done since.

However, the romantic Longhorn era came to an end when their range was fenced in and plowed under and imported cattle with quick maturing characteristics were brought in to "improve" beef qualities.

Intensive crossbreeding had nearly erased the true typical Longhorn by 1900.

Rescue from extinction

Fortunately, beginning in 1927, the Texas Longhorn was preserved by the United States Government on wildlife refuges in Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Also, a few southwestern cattlemen, convinced of the Longhorn's value as a genetic link and concerned for their preservation, maintained small herds through the years.

The Texas Longhorn has been perpetuated further by members of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America, which was formed in 1964. Thus, the Texas Longhorn was rescued from extinction.

It was unfortunate for today's beef industry, however, that most of the continuing interest in the Texas Longhorn was in its historic and academic aspects.

The Longhorn's genetic prospects and economic potential were almost completely overlooked for many years.

Genetic diversity

After seven years of closely observing and studying Texas Longhorns, I am convinced that these cattle may prove to be a real genetic goldmine. Preserving the Texas Longhorn has maintained a substantial amount of unique biological variation which was accumulated over some 400 years in these nature-made cattle.

This genetic goldmine provides insurance against genetic erosion that stems from genetic uniformity in our modern cattle breeds. Such genetic erosion could make it almost impossible for cattlemen of today and tomorrow to meet emerging new needs.

The reservoir of unique genes of the Texas Longhorn can provide some of the genetic variation and flexibility needed to meet the emerging and future needs of the beef industry.

At the same time, the Texas Longhorn maintains genetic diversity capable of maximizing hybrid vigor for man's current needs.

Thus, the reservoir of genetic material in the Texas Longhorn represents a valuable natural resource. This genetic reservoir grows more valuable as our rapidly-changing economy forces new needs, handicaps, and demands on our cattle industry.

It becomes increasingly valuable as our human population bites off increasing amounts of our more productive land, as our grain supply moves into international trade, and as farm and ranch labor becomes less available.

This is why the Texas Longhorn is rapidly becoming "the old breed with the new future."

Profit-building trails

By utilizing the Texas Longhorn's unique genetic potential, several of the physical and economic problems confronting the rancher and feeder can be solved or greatly eased.

This genetic potential includes genes for high fertility, easy calving, disease and parasite resistance, hardiness, longevity, and the ability to utilize the browse and coarse forage material on marginal range lands more efficiently than most other cattle breeds.

Under the harsh environmental conditions of many areas of North America, the existence of these traits, which have been strongly fixed by nature's culling in the Texas Longhorn, spell the difference between a comfortable profit and the cattle enterprise becoming a "story written in red ink!"

High fertility is the most important economic trait in the beef industry. Without a live calf with which to work, all other traits are purely academic!

Unfortunately, many of the European breeds of beef cattle are not noted for high fertility, and several are plagued with real difficulties at calving.

During a long period of survival of the fittest, however, a Texas Longhorn strain evolved which virtually assures that every healthy cow will present a new addition to the herd each year.

This extremely high fertility, which is built into the Longhorn, could perhaps boost the low calf crop percentage found in many beef herds.

Cattle Breed - Corriente

The Corriente can be traced back to the first cattle brought to the new world by the Spanish as early as 1493.

These cattle were hardy breeds chosen especially to withstand the ocean crossing and adapt to their new land.

They were brought to the West Indies and south Florida, as well as to Central and South America.

Over the centuries the descendants of these cattle bred for different purposes - milk, meat and draft animals. They also adapted through natural selection to the various regions in which they lived.

Eventually, their descendants spread across the southern U.S. and up the coast of California.

In the early 1800's, European and other breeds were introduced to the new world, and by the 1900's many ranchers in the Americas were upgrading their herds with modern beef cattle.

Nearly pure descendants of the original Spanish cattle almost disappeared, but some managed to survive with little human care or intervention in remote areas of Central and South America, and in very limited numbers in some areas of the southern U.S.

Today there is evidence of a worldwide growing interest in preserving various strains of these hardy, native cattle.

Cattle associations in Spain, South America and Florida are making efforts similar to the N.A.C.A.'s to recognize their attributes, though few actually support registries.

John E. Rouse, in his book, World Cattle, Vol. III, Cattle of North America, explains the names used in Mexico.

"Descendants of the original Spanish cattle, little influenced by modern breeds, are now seen only in the remote parts of the country. These are generally known as Criollo cattle, although in the state of Sonora the term Corriente is more common, and in Baja California the word Chinampo is used. All these terms, meaning "common cattle" or "cattle of the country" are applied to more or less pure descendants of the Spanish cattle, as well as to the indiscriminate mixtures of these and more recently introduced breeds.

In Florida, the few remaining small, native cattle - cousins of the Mexican Corriente are called Scrub cattle or Cracker cattle, and similar cattle in Louisiana are called Swamp cattle.

Regardless of the name, the N.A.C.A. has made great inroads toward defining, describing and preserving these cattle as a specific breed.

The Name "Corriente": In Central and South America, the various descendants of the early Spanish cattle are generally referred to as "Criollo."

In parts of northern Mexico, they are often called "Corriente," although this term is frequently used for any small cattle of indiscriminate breeding and not just for the type of cattle recognized by the N.A.C.A.

"Corriente" became the most common term used at the border to refer to the cattle purchased for rodeo use.

Consequently, most American cattlemen, ropers and bulldoggers know this name, and it was chosen by the founders of the N.A.C.A. to be used for that registry.

Yes, most stock contractors use Corrientes for rodeos.