Friday, October 21, 2011

Twenty years ago today...and I remember

20 years ago today…I remember the hour; and the minute...the location and the moment you came into the world! You were a breath of fresh air for all of us…and every day since then has been the same. I remember the Boy Scouts; the hockey games; towing you behind the car in snow storms at Ft. Bragg; thinking about you learning to drive at 9 years of age! I remember when you broke your elbow playing roller hockey; riding the 4 wheeler; your first day on skis; your second day on a snowboard; the times with Renegade and Ranger; the loss of Rusty; Sherman and Liz…and a host of other animals like Luther! I remember that day you became an Eagle Scout…and completed that part of life’s journey...and then like now...thinking how very proud of you…for being you.
I remember when you would fall asleep in my lap; and hold my hand at the mall…I remember your first goal on the ice; our undefeated season…and your first lacrosse game. I remember watching you with animals and remarking how proud I was at your compassion in how you handled them…and the maturity you showed in meeting new people as you moved through your teen years. I remember the travels; the people whose life you touched…and how they touched yours...the day you became a brother...and a mentor... 
I remember so much about the past 20 years my son…and all of it has made me proud. Twenty years is a long time but you have so much more to do…and so much more to give to this world…to make change and contribute where others will not...enjoy this day…and all that it brings you…for you are my son….and I am nothing less than a very proud father.
Thank you Jake…for these past twenty years...I am and will always be grateful...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Saying Goodbye

There are many things that can be gleamed from the tragic loss of life that was Steve Jobs; dignity; integrity and an overwhelming sense that no matter who we are or how rich we have the end...we all are destined to pass on.
I was taken aback by the many press releases I had read on the man and had followed his career with some sense of wonderment and many others have as well...but it was not till I read some of the words that he extolled in his last days prior to his death that my respect for him soared. See I was never and Apple or a MAC convert...the boys...yes...and oh did I pay the monetary price (literally) for it...but I was happy with my IPOD and just running down the street oblivious to the world around me...but the man from Apple who knew he was going to die had some very well written versus that I could relate to over time.
“I once asked him if he was glad that he had kids, and he said, ‘It’s 10,000 times better than anything I’ve ever done.”  When a father looks back on his life he sees many things; mistakes, gains; losses and of course loves...but there is no greater gift then holding a child and watching him (or her) grow up and become an active participant in life. As of the writing of this passage, I just received a phone call from Ian...and we had a discussion about hockey...and he could tell that he made my day by just by calling. Jake did the same thing this A.M. as he discussed his upcoming time was so good to catch up with them...and much needed... today of all days. Steve Jobs was correct in that everything associated with kids has been a miracle for me and carried me through some very tough spots...even if it meant shelling out major dollars for all those Apple was money well spent.   
“It was all about living life on his own terms and not wasting a moment with things he didn’t think were important. He was aware that his time on earth was limited”. I recently had a major argument with my father...albeit for many reasons...I don’t think he would ever get my choices; my motivations; my rationale for what made me tick. At this point in my life it was about giving to those that could not do for themselves and for helping those in need. I never sought the refuge in family that many others have and yet my own children are the basis for what drives me to do what is right...that to me is what is important. The ideals that Steve Jobs laid out in securing Apple as a global giant came from a dream of giving; giving to others and keeping the ones that matter close...that was a gift from Apple that very few will ever be able to see...I am glad I have.  
 “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”  Again...when I look back on what my father and others have said...I have the moral conviction to do what is right...and know that those decisions help others. In the construct of my own life I have had the successes and failures that make one stand back and take notice...and matters of the heart I am devastated. It is in these matters that I wish I had had the intuition to follow my heart...and to ensure that was never without the one I not only loved but ultimately needed...and yet here I am again...alone...and all by my own choosing.
Steve Jobs did not choose to die...he choose to live a life that was predicated upon the belief in providing for those that mattered most to him ...and he did this his whole life. He was not a philanthropist...he was something more important...he was a husband and a father...who put his family first...and all the other things second only to that. It is lesson from the man synonymous with Apple that many of us should learn...before we have no time left.
Thank you Steve .and may God keep you close

In the World We Live

Good Morning...came across this poster yesterday after a discussion with an NGO representative. In the end people who work in this field have some very good intentions...but it is not them that you have to worry's about the bad guys who just wont give you a break...and so that is why we are here!


I miss you...more than you could ever realize


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making a Diference...One Mission at a Time

And so we begin....In the daily effort to keep everyone up to date on our activities…I am filing this report…suffice to say the Life On Point Team is working hard. Besides keeping a close watch for narcotics in this jungle environment, we are monitoring the flow of boats along the river in our operational area looking for a different type of illegal merchandise -- women and girls being trafficked into a thriving sex industry from Burma.
On a recent evening, several of the boats inched their way down the river. We established a checkpoint and immediately boarded the boats looking for those whose only chance at freedom was if we were able to identify them and wrestle them from these criminals. Our team consists of an American, a Burmese interpreter and several well paid Karen rebels hell bent on securing freedom for these women and girls. The trafficking networks in this area are well organized; after a series of discussions punctuated with the threat of violence and a thorough search of the vessel we found communications equipment that rivaled anything I had seen or used in the last 20 years in the military. Our check point just across the border from Thailand was paying off. We stopped a total of 10 vessels over a 24 hour period and secured weapons, drugs and other materials…but no women or young girls. I was told that riverine pirates were bringing in illegal immigrants as sex slaves through these channels but as on this evening we found nothing other then illegal equipment. If nothing else taking it and dropping it in the river eliminates threats later that we might have to deal with.
24 Hours Later... On a very dark night with no illumination very deep in the jungle, we made a breakthrough. We were able to “capture” four Burmese pirates who were in the process of taking 4 women from the village close to our camp. Had they made it to the boat these women would have disappeared forever..and the "legal system took over...after conferring with the village elder the rebels assigned to our team took the traffickers deep into the jungle – I never saw them again…nor did I care to ask “what happened?” …for you see…here in Burma you know the answer before the question is even asked. The challenge is daunting for the Life On Point Team…there are way too many points to cover where this type of activity takes place...but it does...way to often. 
You never know…
The jungle invites many mysteries and stories. I was recently alerted that an “American woman” was in the area and approaching the village. When we finally met her she was stunned to see these “advisors” working so deep in this area. She stated she worked for an American charity and that she too had illegally entered the country. Then she told us about what she had seen in the villages just to the north…systematic rape and torture…and so now she was on the run. We made sure that she got back across to safety…a sort of “American’s helping American’s” in a far off land.
After her travel back to Bangkok our office received an email stating she was home…and a sincere “thank you” for getting her home to her family. The end of the story…no…she states she will be back helping those that suffered the most in that brutal attack. I did not have the heart to tell her that those women who were so brutally rape were subsequently taken across the border a couple of weeks ago. As of this writing...we missed them and the opportunity to bring them home…and yet for every success there are countless failures predicated upon the size of the problem.
The area we are located in southern Burma has a catapulted to the frontlines in the battle against trafficking primarily because of its proximity to rural Thailand that our intelligence has identified as supplying women and girls to the regional trafficking networks. On a daily basis  of entry along the Thai-Burmese border and miles upon miles along the rivers where it is easy to steal human life and sell it for whatever purpose.  
I see women not just from Burma but also Laos and even southern China as they transit on foot to the flesh markets in Bangkok or other Asian capitals. It is a travesty to see these women as young as 14 on their way to a life that makes most of us sick. In the end our efforts to date have rescued 51 women (girls) over the past several months but such numbers are only a fraction of the poor and economically vulnerable women and girls trafficked into the sex trade across this jungle. There are reports that over two million women and children are trapped in the global child-sex trade.
In the End...
I hope these figures are incorrect…if not…then we have an inordinate amount of work left to do. Sometimes violence, or the threat of such is the only way to get things done…here in the jungle…it is the law by which we operate…and continue to make a difference.
I miss you...and love you always!