Old Patriot's Pen

Personal pontifications of an old geezer born 200 years too late.

NOTE The views I express on this site are mine and mine alone. Nothing I say should be construed as being "official" or the views of any group, whether I've been a member of that group or not. The advertisings on this page are from Google, and do not constitute an endorsement on my part.

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Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

I've been everywhere That was the title of a hit country-and-western song from the late 1950's, originally sung by Hank Snow, and made famous by Johnny Cash. I resemble that! My 26-year career in the Air Force took me to more than sixty nations on five continents - sometimes only for a few minutes, other times for as long as four years at a time. In all that travel, I also managed to find the perfect partner, help rear three children, earn more than 200 hours of college credit, write more than 3000 reports, papers, documents, pamphlets, and even a handful of novels, take about 10,000 photographs, and met a huge crowd of interesting people. I use this weblog and my personal website here to document my life, and discuss my views on subjects I find interesting.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Tragedy, Disaster, Danger and Triumph

The bomb explosion in the mess tent near Mosul was truly a tragedy, especially for the 24 people killed and dozens of wounded. It was also a tragedy for their families and friends. No one likes to hear of anything bad happening to their friends and neighbors, especially not just a few days before Christmas. Yet there is triumph, even in this major attack. The words of Chaplain Lewis at Training For Eternity, both just after the explosion and again on Christmas Day, reflect how blessed we are to have men and women like those in our armed services. The military today is still staffed with the quality of men that stopped the German army at Bastogne at Christmastime in 1944 and totally disrupted the Battle of the Bulge.

The 9.0-strength earthquake that struck just west of Sumatra on December 26th also caused enormous damage throughout South Asia. Tidal waves, called tsunami, struck Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldive Islands, and even reached the east coast of Africa, killing people in Somalia. One of the best sources for hard information about earthquakes anywhere in the world is the US Geological Survey. The site lists 45 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5 or higher for the last week. The majority of them are aftershocks from the main earthquake that hit the day after Christmas.

Tim Blair has some good information, plus some links to others in the area - well worth checking out. If you're looking for places to donate to help the survivors, Tim has several links. So do Hugh Hewitt (WorldVision), Scrappleface (Southern Baptist Convention), and dozens of others.

In addition to the Red Cross, WorldVision, and several other charities linked to from the above sites, you can also donate to the International Salvation Army, who says they already have people in the major disaster areas, rendering assistance. This blog provides the most comprehensive list of links to aid groups, information, and commentary on the earthquake and its aftermath.

There are some interesting facts about the Sumatra earthquake, including one report that said the entire island of Sumatra, all 187,000 square miles (larger than California), moved 100 feet because of it. The fault line that runs southwest of Sumatra also extends up toward the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a chain of islands belonging to India. There have been many reports of damage on the Indian subcontinent, but I've heard nothing about the conditions on these islands. With several large aftershocks in the 5.0-7.3 range shaking them, I'm sure the damage has been pretty severe.

Nor is the danger over. One geophysicist I know says that the magnitude of this earthquake will likely trigger others in the general area. In fact, there have been modest quakes in the Philippines and in the Papua New Guinea area since the Sumatra quake. There's also the possibility that the quake will trigger additional volcanic activity in the active volcanos scattered around the area, from Sumatra through the Philippines and even into the central Pacific. It will probably take months for the area to quieten down again as the changes in stress patterns across the many faults there stabilize.

Between the bombing in Mosul and the earthquake in Sumatra, several billion people celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, God born as man. Jesus's birth and life bring us hope and the promise of peace - not necessarily peace on Earth, but peace in our own hearts, and in our own families. If enough of us accept that promise of peace and live it every day, perhaps the possibility of peace on Earth will become a reality.


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