Thursday, June 27, 2019

Captain Jack Helm -- Terror Behind A Badge

Badge of the Texas State Police
John Jackson "Jack" Helm was born in Missouri between 1836 and 1839. His parents were George Washington Helm and Ruth Mayo (Burnett) Helm. The Helm family relocated from Missouri to Texas in October of 1841. By February 7th, 1842, the Helm family settled on a 640 acre piece of land in Lamar County. 

On October 14, 1861, after the outbreak of the Civil War, Jack Helm who was in his twenties by then, enlisted for a twelve month stint with Company G of the Ninth Texas Cavalry commanded by Capt. Lorenzo D. King at Camp Reeves. He deserted on April 14th while in Des Ark, Arkansas. 

In 1862, though he was a Confederate deserter, Jack and his father were part of a group that tried and hanged five men for being Union sympathies. I couldn't find out if the hanging was stopped or went through.

There is some speculation that Jack Helm may have worked for Abel Head "Shanghai" Pierce as a cowboy at the end of the Civil War, but I was unable to confirm that. It is known that Jack Helm had married Margaret Virginia Crawford in DeWitt on December 28th, 1868. 

Let's not forget that Federal forces, the U.S. Army, was in control of Texas after the Civil War. Colonel Joseph Jones Reynolds took command of the Department of Texas, the 5th Military District, in Texas during the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War. Reynolds was originally from Kentucky. He was a West Point graduate and served with General Zachary Taylor's occupation army in Texas from 1845 to 1846. So it's believed that he was familiar with Texas.  

During the Civil War, Reynolds became a Colonel and was in command of Indiana's Camp Morton which was a muster encampment at Indianapolis. His 10th Indiana Volunteer regiment was sent to western Virginia, where his regiment is said to have played a decisive role in repulsing General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army at Cheat Mountain. 

Though by then a Brigadier General, Reynolds resigned in January 1862. But then he resumed training Indiana regiments at Camp Morton until November 1862. It's said that he did that without an official Army commission. While that may or may not have been the situation, as it seems strange that the Army would allow something like that to take place, that didn't last long because he was again pressed into service as a Colonel of the 75th Indiana volunteers. 

After that, he was again promoted to Brigadier General with orders to build a depot and field works in Carthage, Tennessee. Then he was promoted to Major General of U.S. volunteers and commanded a division of XIV Corps, Army of the Cumberland, at Hoover's Gap and Chickamauga. 

Later, General Reynolds was transferred to the Gulf of Mexico, where he led a division of XIX Corps which garrisoned in New Orleans, Louisiana. He then commanded XIX Corps, and then commanded VII Corps in Arkansas. 

After the Civil War, Reynolds remained in the Regular Army, but was reverted to Colonel which makes me think his General rank was a "brevet" promotion. A "brevet" officer was a military commission conferred on those who displayed outstanding service. It was an officer who was promoted to a higher rank without the corresponding pay. I believe it was a temporary promotion. 

As a Colonel of the 27th U.S. Infantry Regiment, he was assigned command of the Department of Arkansas. He was later transferred to take charge of the Department of Texas, 5th Military District, in Texas during the Reconstruction Era.

It's interesting to note that when military rule in Texas ended in 1870, Col. Reynolds was put in command of the 3rd United States Cavalry Regiment which was part of the Black Hills War from 1876 to 1877. In fact, he is said to have led the Big Horn Expedition out of Fort Fetterman, Wyoming Territory, on March 1st, 1876. That was the campaign in search of "hostiles" under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

On the morning of March 17th, 1876, Col. Reynolds led six companies of the 2nd and 3rd United States Cavalry Regiments to attack a village of Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Indians on the Powder River. What took place there would become known as the Battle of Powder River. 

Reynolds' soldiers attacked Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Indians camped on the west bank of the River in southeastern Montana Territory. But it was not a swift engagement and instead was a battle that lasted for five hours. Of his roughly 379 men, 4 of his men were killed and 6 were wounded, and 66 were said to have had frostbite. Though the loses seemed light, he withdrew his men from the battlefield and retreated south. 

Reynolds was subsequently court-martialed and was found guilty of all of the charges. He was sentenced to suspension of rank and forfeiture of pay for one year. Instead of staying in the army, Reynolds decided to resign from the United States Army on June 25th, 1877.

About now you're wondering what Col. Reynolds have to do with Jack Helm. Well, while still in charge of Texas during martial-law there, Col. Reynolds appointed Jack Helm as a "special officer," a deputy, to assist Capt. C. S. Bell during the Taylor-Sutton Feud. The Taylor-Sutton Feud is believed to be the longest running feud in Texas. Fact is, there's a good chance that it's also the bloodiest feud in the history of Texas .

Using his status as a "special officer," Jack Helm went to Austin and soon became the leading figure in the group of "special officers" known as "Regulators." During July and August of 1869, he and other Regulators carried out a reign of terror in Bee, San Patricio, Wilson, DeWitt, and Goliad counties. 

Describing the work of Helm and the other Regulators, The Galveston News reported that they "killed twenty-one persons in two months and turned over only ten to the civil authorities." 

Jack Helm parlayed his position as a Regulator to get himself elected sheriff of DeWitt County on December 3, 1869. He took his oath of office on April 27, 1870, but soon sought a second badge as well. That badge was one of a Texas State Police officer. That came about when on July 1st, 1870, Texas Governor Edmund J. Davis formed the Texas State Police to replace the Texas Rangers who Davis felt had too many former Confederates in their ranks. Helm saw the Texas State Police as a better opportunity and immediately joined the Texas State Police while still DeWitt County Sheriff. And to no one's surprise, Helm was appointed one of the four captains. 

So why were the Texas State Police so hated by most folks in Texas? Well, the Texas State Police was a permanent force with the authority to overrule local law enforcement officials anywhere in the state. This created a great deal of problems as the Texas State Police used their authority to violate the rights of Texans. The Texas State Police was also disliked by a majority of Texans because a large portion of the force consisted of former slaves. Also, the force was used to put down demonstrations that opposed Reconstruction policies. Texans didn't like being treated like second class citizens, and the Texas State Police ran herd on the people in ways that Texans resented nor accepted. 

As for violating the rights of Texans? Here's an example of how bad things got down there. On August 26, 1870, Captain Jack Helm and his Texas State Police detachment arrested brothers Henry and William Kelly who sided with the Taylors during the Taylor-Sutton Feud. Their arrest was on trivial charges to begin with, but Helm didn't care and wanted to squeeze them for information. When they refused to give him any information, Helm had both of the brothers shot dead. 

Henry Kelly and his brother William were ranchers and farmers. They were assassinated while their mother, wives, and children looked on. The crime and outrage that followed were so much that even Governor Davis could not ignore it. He suspended Helm in October, and then fired Helm in December. 

His firing did not stop Jack Helm. Since he still wore the badge of the elected Sheriff of DeWitt County, Helm continued to use tactics just as infamous as the criminals that he was sworn to apprehend. And frankly, as a lawman, he was brutal as he ran roughshod the folks of DeWitt County. With the support of the Texas State Police who still supported their former Captain, he was known to be worse than any outlaw of the time. 

Things turned sour for Helm in April of 1873 when the Texas State Police was abolished and he lost his support. This made Helm give up being a lawman, and move to Albuquerque, Texas. 

There is a story that says Helm worked to perfect a cotton-worm destroyer. He supposedly received patent no. 139,062 on May 20th, 1873, for a new and improved version of the device. Even if that's true, he wouldn't live long enough to enjoy the royalties of his design.

In Albuquerque, Gonzales County, Texas, that same year, former sheriff Jack Helm was known as an inventor. He used John Bland’s blacksmith shop to work on his designs. Though he was a man with more enemies than most, Helm felt comfortable at Bland's blacksmith shop. He felt so comfortable there that he was known not wear a gun there. He carried a bowie knife, but not a gun.

A man with so many enemies should have never gotten so comfortable that he opted for a knife instead of a gun. On July 18th, 1873, Jim Taylor and John Wesley Hardin showed up in Albuguerque to pay him a visit. It was then that Captain Jack Helm was shot dead by Jim Taylor and John Wesley Hardin right there in Bland's blacksmith shop. Some say it was the one good thing that John Wesley Hardin ever did.

Helm was buried in McCracken Cemetery in Wilson County.

Tom Correa



Sunday, June 23, 2019

We Must Not Lose Hope In These Good Times


Dear Friends,

Since I've been asked to address the "bad times" we live in, let me say that I don't believe these are bad times at all. In fact, these are constructive days of actually doing things to resolve our problems. An attitude that's long overdue!

We have to keep in mind that our history shows us that we have weathered everything from an invasion to where our enemy had actually burned down Washington D.C., to the splitting of our nation during the Civil War and then re-unification of our nation during the horribly deadly days of the Reconstruction Era, the growing pains of Western expansion, the Industrial Revolution, the hardship of the Great Depression, two World Wars, the Civil Rights struggles, and the riots and chaos during the Vietnam War.

We’ve prevailed even though the Democratic Party fought against the Union during the Civil War, then created the Ku Klux Klan in 1865 and the White League in 1866 after the war to terrorize and murder Republicans and freed black slaves. Democrats created Jim Crow laws, Segregation, and Democrats fought viciously against the 1964 Civil Right Act, as well as fought against the Equal Rights Amendment for women as recently as the 1980s. In recent years the Democrats have created Occupy Wall Street and ANTIFA to terrorize and assault Trump supporters.

The history of the Democratic Party is that of a political party wanting control no differently than their slave owner past. The Democrats have proven in recent years that they want to repeal parts of our Bill of Rights and want to enslave Americans under the guise of Socialism. We will weather these threats as well.

While the problems that we have today seem insurmountable, they are not. In fact, I believe that fear is being injected into the nation by way of the Democrat controlled mainstream media which routinely amplifies our problems when a Republican president is in office while conversely downplays the same problems when a Democrat is in the White House.

When looking at our history, the times we live in today are better than even most Democrats want to admit they are. Have hope.

Tom Correa

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Town Line, New York -- A Surprising Story


Way up north at the eastern border of New York state sits the small town of 2,367 residents. At least that was the last count per the 2010 Census. It's name is Town Line. And from what I'm told, the small town is actually part of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area not too far from Canada.

Located in Erie County in the state of New York, it sits right on the boundary between the towns of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Alden. The Town Line Fire Department is located on the Lancaster side of the town. The department also serves parts of Lancaster and Alden.

There is another small community named Town Line Station about a mile north of Town Line.

So now you're asking, what could be so special about such a small town in upper New York state to merit being written about in my blog which usually deals with the Old West? Well, the town has bragging rights to be the last town to rejoin the Union after the Civil War. Yes, a town in New York state was the last holdout.

According to the information that was sent to me, the town did in fact secede from the United States in 1861. That was when 125 men attended a meeting in a schoolhouse there to put the question of secession to a vote. Why some voted to secede is a mystery that no one knows the answer to. But believe it or not, their vote for secession passed 85 to 40. And with that, a resolution to secede from the United States was passed.

From what I can tell, the vote really was not needed because Town Line was an unincorporated township and the vote had no legal effect on anything. In fact, since no one really knew where the 4.6 square mile town started or ended -- some think it was all nonsense. Besides, as for joining the Confederacy, that didn't happen because the Confederacy never did recognize the town's secession.

That's not to say that some of those townsfolk, who were as Yankee as the day is long, didn't cross the Mason–Dixon line and head south to enlist in the Army of Northern Virginia. Five residents did exactly that. Imagine the guys in that Southern Army unit finding out that five of their comrades were New York Yankees?

I can only wonder what their Sergeant was thinking when hearing their story about leaving New York and traveling to Virginia to fight their neighbors. Of course, it's said that several of the men who made up the German-American community in and around Town Line left for Canada. And while the five went to Virginia, twenty of Town Line's residents joined the Union Army.

So now, why are they the "last" town to rejoin the Union? Well, believe it or not, after the residents voted 90 to 23 to rescind the old resolution to secede, they officially "rejoined the Union" on January 24, 1946. Yes, 1946. At the end of World War II.

It was a big deal. It was in the newspapers. There was a lot of fanfare to the occasion. The town of Town Line held such a huge ceremony to "rejoin the Union," that it got a Hollywood celebrity to come out and oversee the vote. It's true. A-list Hollywood actor Cesar Romero was on hand for the celebration.

So now, that's the story of the last holdout of the Confederate States of America. Yes, the town of Town Line, New York, has the bragging rights for being the last of the last. That's especially true since they weren't officially "re-admitted" into the Union until 1946.

As for calling the folks there Yankees? Well, it depends who you're talking to. For example, Town Line resident Brandon Adkins has this to say about that, "One guy, he was calling me a Yankee. And I says, 'Excuse me, I’m from Town Line, I'm a Confederate. We were Confederates for the longest time.' He said, 'If that's true I'll kiss your rear end in front of everybody to see.' He looked it up and I guess he believes me now that we were the last of the Rebels."

No telling if that stranger ever kissed Adkins' rear end!

Though the town of Town Line is only a few miles from the Canadian border, there are folks there with "Confederate Pride." For example, it's said that the local fire station used to have their personnel wear patches that read "Last of the Rebels 1865–1946." With the Confederate flag and all.

I didn't go hunting for this information. As with some articles, big and small, I was sent the information pertaining to this town by a long time reader. The folks up there still display the Confederate flag and wear their Confederate gray uniforms on holidays like Memorial Day.

No one really knows the reason that the vote was taken in the first place, especially since Northerners overwhelmingly supported President Abraham Lincoln. Some say it could have been President Lincoln's call for 75,000 troops that provoked the vote. We do know that much of the German farming community refused to comply when the call went out for troops As stated before, some of them even left for Canada.

So why wait until 1946 to "officially re-join the Union"? Well, the United States, us, we Americans, just won World War II and there was a feeling of patriotism that accompanied our victory. Some believe that that's what pushed Town Line residents to join the team instead of sit on the bench.

Another thing could've had to do with pressure from returning troops who fought in World War II. Those returning veterans of that part of New York state must have felt a little upset over their town not wanting to be a part of the United States. Especially since some of those returning troops fought and lost limbs for the United States.

While I laughed when first reading about this, I have to say that I was surprised to find out that this was a big deal. This really turned into a big deal. So much so, that a special committee of townsfolk were formed and someone wrote President Harry Truman about the situation.

To everyone's surprise, President Truman responded, telling them, "Why don't you run down the fattest calf in Erie County, barbecue it and serve it with fix'ins, and sort out your problems."

That's what pushed the folks there to finally put it to a vote. So now you're saying that that must have been the end of it? Well, incredibly, the first vote held on December of 1945 came up short. It failed to get folks to leave the Confederacy which had not been around since 1865.

Then the situation became national news and the town became sort of an embarrassment. That's when the second vote passed on January 26, 1946. With that, the Confederate flag which had flown for 85 years over the fire station was lowered and local residents took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States while cameras snapped away.

For you asking how a small town in New York could still claim to be part of the Confederate States of America since the Confederate States of America no longer existed after 1865? I have a feeling that they all paid their taxes and lived their lives the same as other Americans. But let's be honest here, they were proud of being the last Confederate hold-outs even if the Confederacy was history.

Besides, since 23 of their residents still voted against rejoining the Union on the second vote, that tells me that maybe some folks there wanted to remain the last holdout because it made them different. Then again, I can't help but wonder if they voted against rejoining the Union because they saw the Confederacy as being a fight for individual and states rights. Of course, their votes against re-joining the Union may have simply been their rebel attitudes showing itself.

Just as with their vote to secede in 1861, no one will ever know why a few still voted against re-joining the Union in 1946. It'll forever be a mystery.

Tom Correa

Sunday, June 9, 2019

President Trump's 75th Commemoration of D-Day Speech


Below is the speech that President Trump gave on the 75th Commemoration of D-Day in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, at the Normandy American Cemetery. I listened to it. Then I read it. And then, I read it again. To me, it is a truly inspirational speech:

June 6, 2019

President Trump address on the 75th Commemoration of D-Day: 

President Macron, Mrs. Macron, and the people of France; to the First Lady of the United States and members of the United States Congress; to distinguished guests, veterans, and my fellow Americans:

We are gathered here on Freedom’s Altar. On these shores, on these bluffs, on this day 75 years ago, 10,000 men shed their blood, and thousands sacrificed their lives, for their brothers, for their countries, and for the survival of liberty.

Today, we remember those who fell, and we honor all who fought right here in Normandy. They won back this ground for civilization.

To more than 170 veterans of the Second World War who join us today: You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You’re the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. (Applause.)

Here with you are over 60 veterans who landed on D-Day. Our debt to you is everlasting. Today, we express our undying gratitude.

When you were young, these men enlisted their lives in a Great Crusade — one of the greatest of all times. Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious, eternal struggle between good and evil.

On the 6th of June, 1944, they joined a liberation force of awesome power and breathtaking scale. After months of planning, the Allies had chosen this ancient coastline to mount their campaign to vanquish the wicked tyranny of the Nazi empire from the face of the Earth.

The battle began in the skies above us. In those first tense midnight hours, 1,000 aircraft roared overhead with 17,000 Allied airborne troops preparing to leap into the darkness beyond these trees.

Then came dawn. The enemy who had occupied these heights saw the largest naval armada in the history of the world. Just a few miles offshore were 7,000 vessels bearing 130,000 warriors. They were the citizens of free and independent nations, united by their duty to their compatriots and to millions yet unborn.

There were the British, whose nobility and fortitude saw them through the worst of Dunkirk and the London Blitz. The full violence of Nazi fury was no match for the full grandeur of British pride. Thank you. (Applause.)

There were the Canadians, whose robust sense of honor and loyalty compelled them to take up arms alongside Britain from the very, very beginning.

There were the fighting Poles, the tough Norwegians, and the intrepid Aussies. There were the gallant French commandos, soon to be met by thousands of their brave countrymen ready to write a new chapter in the long history of French valor. (Applause.)

And, finally, there were the Americans. They came from the farms of a vast heartland, the streets of glowing cities, and the forges of mighty industrial towns. Before the war, many had never ventured beyond their own community. Now they had come to offer their lives half a world from home.

This beach, codenamed Omaha, was defended by the Nazis with monstrous firepower, thousands and thousands of mines and spikes driven into the sand, so deeply. It was here that tens of thousands of the Americans came.

The GIs who boarded the landing craft that morning knew that they carried on their shoulders not just the pack of a soldier, but the fate of the world. Colonel George Taylor, whose 16th Infantry Regiment would join in the first wave, was asked: What would happen if the Germans stopped right then and there, cold on the beach — just stopped them? What would happen? 

This great American replied: “Why, the 18th Infantry is coming in right behind us. The 26th Infantry will come on too. Then there is the 2nd Infantry Division already afloat. And the 9th Division. And the 2nd Armored. And the 3rd Armored. And all the rest. Maybe the 16th won’t make it, but someone will.”

One of those men in Taylor’s 16th Regiment was Army medic Ray Lambert. Ray was only 23, but he had already earned three Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars fighting in North Africa and Sicily, where he and his brother Bill, no longer with us, served side by side.

In the early morning hours, the two brothers stood together on the deck of the USS Henrico, before boarding two separate Higgins landing craft. “If I don’t make it,” Bill said, “please, please take care of my family.” Ray asked his brother to do the same.

Of the 31 men on Ray’s landing craft, only Ray and 6 others made it to the beach. There were only a few of them left. They came to the sector right here below us. “Easy Red” it was called. Again and again, Ray ran back into the water. He dragged out one man after another. He was shot through the arm. His leg was ripped open by shrapnel. His back was broken. He nearly drowned.

He had been on the beach for hours, bleeding and saving lives, when he finally lost consciousness. He woke up the next day on a cot beside another badly wounded soldier. He looked over and saw his brother Bill. They made it. They made it. They made it.

At 98 years old, Ray is here with us today, with his fourth Purple Heart and his third Silver Star from Omaha. (Applause.) Ray, the free world salutes you. (Applause.) Thank you, Ray. (Applause.)

Nearly two hours in, unrelenting fire from these bluffs kept the Americans pinned down on the sand now red with our heroes’ blood. Then, just a few hundred yards from where I’m standing, a breakthrough came. The battle turned, and with it, history.

Down on the beach, Captain Joe Dawson, the son of a Texas preacher, led Company G through a minefield to a natural fold in the hillside, still here. Just beyond this path to my right, Captain Dawson snuck beneath an enemy machine gun perch and tossed his grenades. Soon, American troops were charging up “Dawson’s Draw.” What a job he did. What bravery he showed.

Lieutenant Spalding and the men from Company E moved on to crush the enemy strongpoint on the far side of this cemetery, and stop the slaughter on the beach below. Countless more Americans poured out across this ground all over the countryside. They joined fellow American warriors from Utah beach, and Allies from Juno, Sword, and Gold, along with the airborne and the French patriots.

Private First Class Russell Pickett, of the 29th Division’s famed 116th Infantry Regiment, had been wounded in the first wave that landed on Omaha Beach. At a hospital in England, Private Pickett vowed to return to battle. “I’m going to return,” he said. “I’m going to return.”

Six days after D-Day, he rejoined his company. Two thirds had been killed already; many had been wounded, within 15 minutes of the invasion. They’d lost 19 just from small town of Bedford, Virginia, alone. Before long, a grenade left Private Pickett again gravely wounded. So badly wounded. Again, he chose to return. He didn’t care; he had to be here.

He was then wounded a third time, and laid unconscious for 12 days. They thought he was gone. They thought he had no chance. Russell Pickett is the last known survivor of the legendary Company A. And, today, believe it or not, he has returned once more to these shores to be with his comrades. Private Pickett, you honor us all with your presence. (Applause.) Tough guy. (Laughter.)

By the fourth week of August, Paris was liberated. (Applause.) Some who landed here pushed all the way to the center of Germany. Some threw open the gates of Nazi concentration camps to liberate Jews who had suffered the bottomless horrors of the Holocaust. And some warriors fell on other fields of battle, returning to rest on this soil for eternity.

Before this place was consecrated to history, the land was owned by a French farmer, a member of the French resistance. These were great people. These were strong and tough people. His terrified wife waited out D-Day in a nearby house, holding tight to their little baby girl. The next day, a soldier appeared. “I’m an American,” he said. “I’m here to help.” The French woman was overcome with emotion and cried. Days later, she laid flowers on fresh American graves.

Today, her granddaughter, Stefanie, serves as a guide at this cemetery. This week, Stefanie led 92-year-old Marian Wynn of California to see the grave of her brother Don for the very first time.

Marian and Stefanie are both with us today. And we thank you for keeping alive the memories of our precious heroes. Thank you. (Applause.)

9,388 young Americans rest beneath the white crosses and Stars of David arrayed on these beautiful grounds. Each one has been adopted by a French family that thinks of him as their own. They come from all over France to look after our boys. They kneel. They cry. They pray. They place flowers. And they never forget. Today, America embraces the French people and thanks you for honoring our beloved dead. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.

To all of our friends and partners: Our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war, and proven in the blessings of peace. Our bond is unbreakable.

From across the Earth, Americans are drawn to this place as though it were a part of our very soul. We come not only because of what they did here. We come because of who they were.

They were young men with their entire lives before them. They were husbands who said goodbye to their young brides and took their duty as their fate. They were fathers who would never meet their infant sons and daughters because they had a job to do. And with God as their witness, they were going to get it done. They came wave after wave, without question, without hesitation, and without complaint.

More powerful than the strength of American arms was the strength of American hearts.

These men ran through the fires of hell moved by a force no weapon could destroy: the fierce patriotism of a free, proud, and sovereign people. (Applause.) They battled not for control and domination, but for liberty, democracy, and self-rule.

They pressed on for love in home and country — the Main Streets, the schoolyards, the churches and neighbors, the families and communities that gave us men such as these.

They were sustained by the confidence that America can do anything because we are a noble nation, with a virtuous people, praying to a righteous God.

The exceptional might came from a truly exceptional spirit. The abundance of courage came from an abundance of faith. The great deeds of an Army came from the great depths of their love.

As they confronted their fate, the Americans and the Allies placed themselves into the palm of God’s hand.

The men behind me will tell you that they are just the lucky ones. As one of them recently put it, “All the heroes are buried here.” But we know what these men did. We knew how brave they were. They came here and saved freedom, and then, they went home and showed us all what freedom is all about.

The American sons and daughters who saw us to victory were no less extraordinary in peace. They built families. They built industries. They built a national culture that inspired the entire world. In the decades that followed, America defeated communism, secured civil rights, revolutionized science, launched a man to the moon, and then kept on pushing to new frontiers. And, today, America is stronger than ever before. (Applause.)

Seven decades ago, the warriors of D-Day fought a sinister enemy who spoke of a thousand-year empire. In defeating that evil, they left a legacy that will last not only for a thousand years, but for all time — for as long as the soul knows of duty and honor; for as long as freedom keeps its hold on the human heart.

To the men who sit behind me, and to the boys who rest in the field before me, your example will never, ever grow old. (Applause.) Your legend will never tire. Your spirit — brave, unyielding, and true — will never die.

The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made, did not just win a battle. It did not just win a war. Those who fought here won a future for our nation. They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come.

Today, as we stand together upon this sacred Earth, we pledge that our nations will forever be strong and united. We will forever be together. Our people will forever be bold. Our hearts will forever be loyal. And our children, and their children, will forever and always be free.

May God bless our great veterans. May God bless our Allies. May God bless the heroes of D-Day. And may God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much.

-- End of President Trump's remarks on the 75th Commemoration of D-Day.

This has been reposted here from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-75th-commemoration-d-day/

God Bless President Trump.

Tom Correa

Friday, June 7, 2019

They Selflessly Fought For Freedom

Last year, I had to attend a meeting that was held in the city of Milpitas which is located just north of San Jose. While there, I decided to take a look at an old Western Pacific Railroad repair yard there. I actually wanted to show my wife where I once worked as a railroad-carman back in 1978.

For the record, I love ghost towns because of the stories that were played out in those places but today are lost to time. When my wife and I arrived at the rail yard, I was struck how empty and deserted it was. The tracks were still there, along with the tool shed, the truck barn, and weeds everywhere. There was no mistaking the broken glass widows, the boarded up doors, and the downed telephone wires of what once the old yard office, the carmen's shack, and my old boss's office. 

It was eerie because it was once a busy place. But on that day, the day that I wanted to show my wife where I worked as a young "car toad," the wind whipped through the emptiness and only amplified the desolation.

It had become rundown, deserted, bleak, and sad. Sad because I once worked there. I punched a clock there. I had beans there. I met Mr. Medit there.  

I had been out of the Marine Corps for a little over a year when a friend sent me to Western Pacific Railroad head office in San Francisco. I was looking for a job in the worse economy since the Great Depression. And no, that's not an exaggeration. There were double digit interest rates, inflation, and unemployment. People today are either ignorant of simply forget how those bad old days really were. Those truly were hard times. I haven't forgotten simply because I did whatever I could to make a living. Yes, including take whatever job I could get. 

In those days, I remember being told to lie on job applications because there were job interviewers who were extremely anti-military and would refuse someone a job just because we served and they didn't. The anti-military feeling in the 1970s was horrible. Between that and businesses closing down, I was pretty leery of leads for jobs when I did get on. 

When I walked into the Western Pacific Railroad office in San Francisco, I immediately saw a sign on the receptionist's desk that said "No Applications." I figured it was a wild goose chase and started to leave when the receptionist stopped me to ask my name. I told her and she pulled open a desk drawer. She needed to check to see if my name was on a list. Yes, it was all about who you knew and I was on that list.  

She told me to follow her and we proceeded through a door into another office. A man there said that I came recommended and asked if I had a strong back. He then told me that I can fill out the needed paperwork later, but first I had to get a back x-ray. He sent me to Oakland to get the x-ray.

About ten minutes after the x-ray was taken, a doctor came into where I was waiting and handed me a card with an address. He told me to go to Milpitas and see Mr. Harold Medit. He said that he's put me to work. 

I drove south to Milpitas and found the rail yard. It was booming. All of the storage lines were almost full. Most were empty just waiting to be pushed into the Ford plant next door. They made trucks and cars for the nation. On the repair tracks, rail cars were being repaired and refurbished. The repair tracks were full and men were doing a number of jobs from welding to cutting to replacing drawbars and wheels. If memory serves me right, there were about a dozen men on the day shift. Half as many men worked on the swing shift, and four men worked the graveyard shift.  

I walked into the yard office and met a secretary who was expecting me. She walked me over to Mr' Medit's office and introduced me. He was expecting me and told me what my job would be, how much I would be making, what I can expect from him, and when to start. He wanted me to start work the next day and stay on the day shift for a couple of weeks. After that, then he'd put me to the graveyard shift. 

Before turning me loose to fill out some paper work, he asked if I were ever in the service? I hesitated, but then told him that I had left active duty about six months earlier. I also told him that was thinking of staying in the reserves. He told me that he served in the Army during World War II. He then proudly pointed to a collage of his ribbons and such hanging on his office wall. 

I can still remember looking at his assembled ribbons, medals, enlisted stripes, Captain's bars, and jump wings. Besides his collage, there was a picture of a town with an 82nd Airborne patch attached to it. He said that he was part of the 82nd Airborne Division who jumped into Sainte-Mère-Eglise on D-Day, June 6th, 1944. 

During my short time with Western Pacific Railroad, I had the opportunity to talk with my boss about his experiences liberating France. He knew that I had a great deal of respect what he went through, for what he did. Frankly, I think liked that someone was interested in hearing about what took place -- especially on D-Day. 

Mr. Medit had good reason to be proud about his experiences in World War II. He started out as an enlisted man and later receiving an officer's commission. That's not done everyday. And even though D-Day had been 34 years earlier at that point, he remembered it as if it were yesterday. 

He told me that the town was occupied by the German troops that spring. The town was important to for American forces to take and hold because it was where several roads converged in its center. Sainte-Mère-Eglise was in the heart of the jump zones of the 82nd Airborne. I remember him telling me that there was a house fire in the town very late on the night before D-Day. He remembered that the fire was used by our pilots as a reference point in the black of the night. He said that with all of the chaos that night, that blaze was a God send for finding their drop zone.

But, as he recalled, one of his fellow paratroopers was unlucky because he actually fell directly into the house as it was burning. And no, he said he couldn't remember if that soldier made it out okay or not. 

I told him that I saw the movie version of the D-Day jump and that soldier who was hung up on the church steeple. He told me that two paratroopers had actually landed on the church. One got himself free while the other remained hanging on the bell tower for almost an hour before being taken prisoner by the Germans.

The preparation for D-Day was done on a giant scale. There was nothing small about it by any stretch of the imagination. The common goal was to liberate France and push back the Germans. On the night of June 5th, he and others boarded to make their jump. He said it was before 1a.m. on June 6th when they got to their target and stepped off. He was proud of the fact that his unit wasn't as scattered as others. He said the only thing that he wasn't prepared for came on his very first days in France. He was part of a detail tasked with trying to locate the bodies of the others in his unit who were killed.   

On June 6th, eighteen residents of the town of Sainte-Mère-Eglise were killed. For them, D-Day was a day to flee their homes and the fighting. It was American soldiers like my old boss Harold Medit who made their town safe enough, and free enough, for them to return. 

As with many World War II veterans who I've known, he was proud of what he could add to the bigger picture of things. He knew he was needed even if he were just one of hundreds of thousands others who were there. He didn't shirk his duty and did his small part in liberating France and defeating Nazi Germany.

It's too bad that too many today can't understand the importance of not forgetting what they did. They selflessly fought for freedom. They did not do it out of servitude to the state. Nor was it done expecting to be cared for by the government, or because of some sort of monetary gain or reward. They did their duty because they saw that doing one's part in the bigger picture of wiping out Nazi tyranny was what had to be done. Fact is, they knew that failing to stop the evil that was Nazi Germany was simply not an option if their children and grandchildren were to have freedom and liberty. 

Tom Correa


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The New Orleans Massacre of 1866


While it was also known as the New Orleans Race Riot, the New Orleans Massacre of 1866 took place on July 30th of that year. What became a massacre took place when white Democrats attacked Republicans outside the Mechanics Institute in New Orleans. The Democrats were made up of former Confederate soldiers, and members of the local police and fire department, as well as others. The Republicans were whites, but mostly "freedmen" -- that is freed black men and former slaves.

It started when the Republicans in Louisiana called for a state constitutional convention because they were angry over the Democrat controlled state legislature enacting Black Codes. Among other things, Black Codes enabled state officials to refuse black men the ability to vote.  through their .

Black Codes were laws passed by former Confederate states in 1865 and 1866. The intent of the Black Codes was to restrict the freedoms of blacks, while forcing newly "freedmen" to work in low wage labor jobs that were akin to "slave labor."

Black Codes were part the overall plan used by Democrats to suppress the freedmen. It was an effort to limit the new found freedom of emancipated slaves. On the overall, the Black Codes essentially replaced the Slave Codes that were used to control and limit the freedom of blacks in the South.

But please, don't think that Black Codes were limited to the South. Fact is, Black Codes were also enacted in states in the North during the Civil War. It's true. Since many states believed that the end of slavery in the South would send a flood of blacks into Northern states, states such as Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and others enacted Black Codes to discourage black freedmen from settling in those states. 

So no, the Black Codes were not purely a product of Southern Democrats. Northern states, by way of Northern Democrats, were responsible for attempting to deny freed blacks the right to bear arms, to vote, to equal rights, to public educations, to gather in groups for worship, to learning to read and write, and to equal treatment under the law. 

Let's make no mistake about it, the mission of those laws were to preserve slavery. And there is no mistaking by what took place at the time, that the desire to curtail the freedoms of blacks was something that Democrats did with a viciousness. 

The Black Codes, which were simply an extension of earlier Slave Codes, was created with the purpose of controlling the free movement of freed blacks. As with the Slave Codes, the Black Codes were enacted to restrict the freedoms of freed blacks. Yes, it was an attempt to extent the laws which governed blacks during slavery. 

Democrats believed that one way of doing that was to strengthen the vagrancy laws which allowed local authorities to arrest freed black for minor infractions. Once arrested, the freedmen were assigned to involuntary labor. That period was the start of what was "convict lease system" -- which was just another type of slavery.

During the opening months of the Civil War, Union forced realized the strategic importance of New Orleans and immediately set about efforts to capture that port city from the Confederates. The capture of New Orleans took place on May 1st, 1862. For the next four years, the Union Army imposed martial law to keep control of the city.

On May 12, 1866, Federal forces turned over the city to civil authorities. John T. Monroe was its city mayor in 1862 and was reinstated as acting mayor in 1866. Monroe was a hardcore supporter of the Confederacy and was very open about his dislike for the whole idea of blacks being equal to whites. 

So given the situation with the Black Codes, and the refusal to allow civil rights to freed blacks, and the reinstatement of Monroe, the Republicans there organized a state constitutional convention in an effort to re-write the state's constitution so to guarantee blacks rights that up to then were only reserved for whites.  

Convention organizers elected Judge R. K. Howell as their convention chairman with the hopes of getting more people to show up. It was hoped that Howell's standing in the community would help enlist more people to participate in the convention. The site chosen for the reconvened Louisiana State Constitutional Convention was the Mechanics Institute right there in New Orleans.

Folks knew there was going to be trouble since Democrats considered the reconvened convention to be illegal. They claimed Republicans were using the freed blacks as pawns in an attempt to increase their political power in the state. Democrats were content that the state constitutional convention held in 1864 which had already given greater civil rights to blacks in Louisiana. 

The 1864 convention did not address the unresolved problem of not providing for voting rights for people of color, both mixed race and freedmen. For New Orleans, people of color who were mixed-race were already seen as free and an important asset to the city. That's the way it was there for over a hundred years. Many of the mixed race people of color, known as "Creole," were very educated and owned property. 

Creole refers more to the city people of New Orleans than anywhere else in Louisiana. Literally, the word means "mixed." Creoles are a blend of many different cultures and backgrounds. For the most part, they are the descendants of colonial Louisiana. Yes, those from Europe, as well as Africa and the Caribbean. What they couldn't do in Louisiana was vote -- and that's what the convention was attempting to rectify in 1866.

To try to stop the convention, among other things including threats of violence, Democrats used a few legal technicalities such as saying that the convention chairman Judge Howell was not authorized to be chairman. Neither threat of violence or legal maneuvering could stop the convention from talking place. Since none of their efforts bore fruit, the convention was called to order on July 30th, 1866. 

A few days earlier, a large group of freed blacks, mostly made of about 200 black Union Army veterans, met outside on the steps of the Mechanics Institute. They prayed aloud, and then speaker after speaker came forward. Many were slavery abolitionist, including a former governor of Louisiana, and all spoke about the importance of freedom, assimilation, suffrage and the right to vote in political elections. But mostly, the theme was that all people need to be fully vested as Americans if they are to be Americans. 

On July 30th, the convention had a rocky start. Inside, delegates who were prepared to start at noon had to wait until 1:30pm for things to begin. As the preliminaries went on inside, outside the going on was a different story. Speakers over the last few days came and went, and there was still a couple of hundred supporters present. All simply gathered on the steps to show their support of the democratic process. 

Someone, it's believed he may have been a black Union veteran, suggested holding a parade to show support for attaining equal rights. With that, it's said that about 150 freed blacks marched behind an American flag around the Mechanics Institute.

On the corner of Common and Dryades Streets, across from the Mechanics Institute, an armed group led by New Orleans Mayor John T. Monroe waited. Their mission was to disrupt the convention. As they saw it, the Republican Party was the party of the freed slave, the black man, and the convention was a threat to Democrat power in the state legislature. They saw it their duty to stop the threat of the increasing political and economic power of black men, but more so of Republicans in Louisiana. 

Monroe's group was composed of Democrats who opposed abolition, former Confederate troops, and members of the New Orleans Police Department. They carried pistols, rifles, shotguns, clubs, knives, and were known to have even used bricks in their attack. At the Mechanics Institute, the group attacked the marchers with a hatred that should be reserved for enemies of war. 

The marchers were beaten on the spot. Soon shots rang out as the marchers where shot in cold blood. Yes, some attempting to flee. The ones who fled were chased and beaten and killed. Some of the marchers made it inside the building. Yes, they made it inside the building thinking there would be safety in the building.

Then the unthinkable happened. Monroe's group surrounded the Institute and immediately opened fire on those in the building. Shooting into the windows at anyone they could see, the attackers then rushed into the building. Once inside, the Democrat attackers kept firing into the crowd of Republican delegates. They unleashed such a barrage of gunfire on those in there that they literally ran out of ammunition.

Out of ammunition, they were soon beaten back by the delegates. While the Republican delegates thought the worst was over, it wasn't. The Democrats ran out away from the building, but little did those inside know that they simply regrouped, rearmed, found more ammunition, and returned. This time they broke down the doors, only to again resume shooting the mostly unarmed Republican delegates inside.

It's said that when the shooting first started, some of the delegates actually attempted to surrender. Most of those who surrendered were blacks, and they were summarily shot and killed on the spot. Others fled in panic and the Democrats actually chased them down to kill them. That's the reason that the killings were spread over a several block area around the Institute. Victims were being chased down the streets. That's how innocent blacks were shot and killed even though they were not connected to the convention. Blacks were shot on the street, and they were pulled off of streetcars, and from hiding places to be beaten or killed. 

By the end of the massacre, it's said that the inside the Mechanics Institute looked like a bloody slaughterhouse. Thick blood made the floors slick. Since most all of the delegates were unarmed, it's said that it was indeed a massacre. 

To stop the ongoing carnage, the governor declared martial law and called for assistance from Federal troops who responded quickly. Many of the Monroe's Democrats, those former Confederate troops, and the city policemen, who took part in the killings were jailed. But frankly, I couldn't find any evidence of anyone ever being charged or punished for the deaths of those killed -- both black and white. 

Depending on what sources one uses when looking into this, the numbers of killed varies. When the Democrats finally ran out of ammunition, it is believed that at least 50 people lay dead in the building. Most were black Republicans, but some were white. 

Some sources say that there were anywhere from 150 to 200 casualties, either beaten with clubs and bricks and such. Some say 44 blacks and 12 whites were killed there as Republican delegates at the convention. Of course, there are sources that say altogether, counting everyone that was found dead in and out of the building and scattered around the several block area, then it's possible that more than 130 people were killed in that massacre. 

As a result of the New Orleans Massacre of 1866, anger and resentment against the Democratic Party over what took place was clear. So much so that in the 1866 nation election for the House of Representatives and Senate, because of what took place in New Orleans, Republicans won in a landslide and gained 77% of the seats in Congress.

Louisiana Republicans wanted to extend the suffrage, the right to vote, to freedmen and completely eliminate the Black Codes. In the end, they reconvened the convention and succeeded in achieving their goals -- but at a price.

The massacre was one of two such tragedies that changed the Reconstruction Era strategy in so far as placing trust in civil officials  who were known to be sympathetic to the Confederacy or were openly against abolishing slavery. In fact, by early 1867, the First Reconstruction Act was passed to provide for more federal troops to control what was taking place in the South -- especially with the rise of the Democratic Party's militant wing which included such groups as the Ku Klux Klan, the White League, and the Red Shirts.  

Because of the fear of such a massacre taking place again, Federal authorities established military districts and implemented strict policies in dealing with the civilian population in the South. One of the policies included placed heavy restrictions on former Confederate troops. Many of those former Confederates were temporarily disenfranchised and loss many of their liberties, including the right to bear arms, freedom of association, and freedom of movement. Ironically, those former Confederates were deprived of many of the liberties that were in fact being sought for freedmen. 

Taking away the freedoms and liberties of those former Confederates did not serve its purpose well at all. Instead of inspiring a sense of safety, curtailing their personal liberties created years of resentment against the Federal government. Frankly, the animosity felt by Southerners is very understandable since no one wants to be treated without the full measure of citizenship without just cause. As we all know, no one should lose their liberties because of the actions of a relatively small group such as in this case Monroe's Democrat attackers.

Remember, there were hundreds of thousands of peaceful law abiding former Confederate soldiers and sailors who lose many of their civil rights after the war. Most all were needlessly penalized by the Federal government because of the actions of a very small percentage of Southerners who wanted to carrying on the war in one way or another. And that leads me to my final point. 

What was the massacre all about? Well later, Mayor Monroe would claim his group was there to put down any unrest that may be a result of the convention and that the Republicans started the riot. Monroe never addressed the fact that his group opened fire on unarmed men outside the hall and then attempted to slaughter all of those in the hall.

Everyone there knew that his real reason for his group being there was to intimidate and prevent the black delegates from entering the building. Monroe's excuses for what happened there didn't hold water.

No one accepted the slaughter as being justified or some sort of fait accompli. It did not need to happen. No one accepted the excuse of it being a matter of fate. No one bought the line that such carnage was destined to take place and there was no option. Everyone knew it did not need to happen. No one other then the attackers themselves who accepted the lie that it was right to do what was done.

Fact is, it was about politics, political power, race, a deep seated hatred for Republicans and freedmen during the early days of Reconstruction. But most of all, I believe that the massacre was about the Civil War itself. Since most of the combatants on both sides were Confederate veterans and Union Army veterans, it's a safe bet to say that what took place on July 30th, 1866, in New Orleans, was simply a continuation of the Civil War. And sadly, it was a seen that would be played out again because the continuation of that war would not end for years to come. 

Tom Correa