A Tribute to a Brother


Last week I told you a little about Ken Kirk, a Korean War Veteran and survivor of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Ken has also written poetry and has graciously given me permission to share some of his poetry with you. So, without further ado.

~~~~~

7Th Infantry Division, Korea 1950

By Ken Kirk

An eternity in a far off land

I met a man that I called Dan

We grew so close me and this man

From Inchon to the frozen Hungnam

Duty called us both to go

To this forsaken inferno

The years fled by so fleetingly

Ole Dan these eyes once more would see

Time had changed us both it’s true

The youth from both of us had flew

We talked of days we both had seen

From memories dimmed, and not too keen

No enemy there, no frozen night

No blistering heat, no battle sight

With parting tears we said goodbye

My eyes were blurred I saw Dan cry

No closer friend under the sun

Than you ole pal, Harlan Danielson

~~~~~~

There is a bond between those who have served in the military together. But the strongest bonds are between those who have endured battle together … and survived. To say they are family does not quite explain the bond, though Ken does a better job explaining it in his tribute to his friend than I can. Thank you Ken.

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A Chosin Survivor


No I did not spell chosen wrong. I am talking about the battle of Chosin Reservoir (27 November to 13 December 1950). I know you probably have not heard of the battle. However, the US Marine Corp ranks this battle as one of the top three battles – one of the “finest hours.” The other three are the battle of Belleau Wood and the battle of Iwo Jima. The battles of Belleau Wood and Iwo Jima were victories, the enemy retreated. The battle of Chosin Reservoir was a retreat for our forces. At the battle of Chosin our forces were out number by any where from 2:1 to 10:1, and they were surrounded.

The battle of Chosin was fought by the 1st Marine Division and the 31st RCT (see below for an explanation of a RCT) of the 7th Infantry Division of the US Army. The American forces were surprised by 20 divisions of the People’s Republic of China. American forces were about thirty thousand men. The Chinese forces were estimated at between 60,000 and 200,000 (20 divisions at full strength), but was probably closer to about 100,000 to 120,000. These troops were not green troops has many proclaim. The Chinese troops had been fighting the Japanese in World War Two and in the Chinese Civil War, although they did not have enough equipment.

This past week I met and interviewed one of the surviving members of the 7th Army 31st regiment. This unit was tasked with protecting the right flank (right side of the end of the battle line) of the 1st Marine Division. They held for four days, until their unit was finally destroyed by overwhelming numbers of Chinese troops. The 31st RCT had 3,800 men assigned to it, though about 800 men of the regiment were not able to reach the main body of the regiment.

After the destruction of the 31st the few survivors walked and crawled across the frozen Chosin Reservoir to reach the marines. They were formed up into a combat unit and with the marines fought their way out. When these men finally escaped and reach the safety of the port of Hungnam, Korea. Before the battle began the 31st RCT had about 3,800 men assigned to it. About 800 tried repeatedly to reach the main body of the regiment, but met the Chinese forces that surrounded the 31st. These men continued to try and reach the main body of the regiment until they could no longer fight. When the 31st reached the port of Hungnam 900 men were left alive. Of those men, only three hundred could fight and most if not all of them were wounded.

In addition to the enemy forces the soldiers and marines had to fight the weather. The temperatures reach -35 degrees F (-34 C) with a wind-chill of -50. Many of the troops suffered severe frostbite. Some of the troops acutually were kept from freezing to death as their own blood froze on their skin and kept them from bleeding to death.

One of the survivors of the 31st RCT was Ken Kirk. I spent over three hours with Ken and he wants to tell me more of his experiences in Korea. It was an honor to meet Ken, and I will do my best to accurately get his story down in writing. The war still haunts Ken, but he believes it was worth it, he believes they won the Korean War. And when you look at the quality of life of the South Koreans and the North Koreans it is hard to argue with him. I personally believe many of the wars fought are wars that should have never been fought. But, Korea was an important war that needed to be fought. The South Korean people to this day are grateful for the sacrifice of the UN troops who defended them. Today, in 2014, school teachers still take their classes to the American military cemeteries to tend the graves of the fallen men who defended them and their country. I think that says it all right there.

Thank you Ken. For myself and my daughter – thank you. You truly are a hero. I wish I could take from you the pain that still haunts you today. It is because of men like you that millions of men, women, and children live in freedom.

~~~~

An RCT is a Regimental Combat Team. It is an infantry regiment that is augmented with smaller units of tank, artillery, combat engineers and other units to enable a regiment to operate by itself as an independent unit.

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Thirteen Years Later – Do YOU Feel Safer?


Do you feel safer? Fifty years ago we started a War on Poverty; we have more poor today than we did fifty years ago. We started a War on Drugs and more people use drugs today than when the war started. The Patriot Act was a bad idea when it was first proposed and it still is today. America’s cities with the most restrictive gun laws, designed to keep guns from the hands of criminals; also lead the nation in gun violence (Chicago, Detroit, Washington D.C. just to name three).

We pass laws which make parents criminals for disciplining their children in an attempt to stop child abuse. We have more child abuse, and more out of control children. Anthony Pasquale’s daughter was brutally murdered for her bicycle and he is going to sue the murder’s parent for raising a murder. But the boy’s mother blames the “system” for not providing him with the help he needs.

We increase the numbers of law enforcement to deal with rising crime. Yet, today an officer pulled over my “Big Sister” to give her a ticket for talking on her cell phone while driving. Yes, that is the reason he told her he pulled her over. When she told him she does not own a cell phone, he replied, “Have a nice day ma’am.” Yet on the same day an officer in West Virginia was “fishing for dollars for city coffers,” an officer in Pennsylvania was gunned down in the line of duty. Another dad who will never live to see his children graduate from school.

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The list goes on. We are always passing laws to end this or curb that, only to see the opposite happen. We have increased security to the point of being ridicules in some areas, and yet it is even easier than ever before to get into this country.

Do you feel safer? I do not. I feel more controlled, more restricted; I feel we live in a time where citizens are encouraged to “spy on” each other. Hey, if you report someone for something you don’t like or that can be twisted into something “suspicious” you can end up on the news and get your “15 minutes of fame” that Andy Warhol talked about.

The NSA has all your texts, cell phone conversations, e-mails, and on-line activities, but they still can’t seem to stop the terrorists. You can’t take a bottle of water on a plane because it might be a bomb, but you can throw it out in that trash can by the TSA desk. Do I feel safer? No, if anything I feel more threatened.

I believe the one bright spot in the War on Terror is that after thirteen years, we finally discovered we are better off supplying support to the Kurds and others who are fighting our enemies. They need weapons, training, supplies, and air support, and we are providing these things. When we put our own men and women in the field of battle we give them Rules of Engagement that more harmful to our own troops than to the enemy; and then we are appalled at the body count of our own troops. Fortunately, the Kurds do not operate under Rules of Engagement that are more dangerous to their own people than to the enemy. The Kurds are fighting for their homeland and their very lives. They will meet ISIL head-on and they will fight to defeat ISIL. The Kurds are not worried about “bad press,” they are worried about their wives and children being safe – they fight to survive.

Are we safer today than on September 11, 2001? I do not believe we are, I do not feel safer. But, there is hope. We did finally learn how to use our military in the War on Terror. Now, if the rest of our government could get their act together, we might actually be safer – in another thirteen years.

This article is a little bit more negative than I usually write, but I think it is time we “step up to the plate.” Just passing laws does not make anyone safer, ask the families of people who had protection orders against the persons who eventually murdered them. I do want to end this morning on a more positive note, so without further adu here are Jeannette Bellesfield’s words on September 11.

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You Are Surrounded, and You Don’t Even Know it.


There are many crazy things going on in the world today. People can’t seem to get along, politicians seem to be oblivious, the latest jobs report says that job growth has stalled; everywhere we turn we hear bad news. Not a day goes by that we are not confronted by arrogant, self-centered, self-serving people. Yet, there are people who still give us inspiration. You just need to look with open eyes and an open heart; you never know where you will see them. Believe me when you do see them and you watch as they put others first, try to do a good job, and quietly go about their work (with an integrity many of us thought was gone) it will put a smile back on your face and encourage you to do the same. I want to tell you about three people I witnessed this week.

The first was an elderly lady (cane and all) who was leaving a store. After she went through the door and it closed behind her, she spotted a young woman with an arm load of boxes. She went back to the door, waited on the young woman, and opened the door for her.

A couple of days after that, I pulled into McDonald’s for a cup of coffee. Across the street was a man sitting on the grass by the sidewalk. He wasn’t bothering anyone; he wasn’t asking for change or anything. He was just sitting there with a bag that looked like it held all his worldly possessions, and his dog. The man who walked out of the McDonald’s ahead of me had two bags and two soft drink cups. I watched as he set one bag and one drink on the roof of a car, and headed across the street with the other bag and drink. When he reached the man sitting on the grass he held it out for him. The man stood up to shake his hand, and said something too him. The clean cut Good Samaritan in his business suit waved him off, shook his hand, and walked back across the street. I waited to tell him I thought that was a nice thing he did. He replied, “Oh it was nothing, just fries a burger and something to wash it down with.” Then he was gone. He may have felt like it was nothing, but who knows when the last time was that man and his dog had a meal.

The third guy works at Home Depot in Gahanna, his name is Mike. I heard a husband and wife who were customers of his say, “Mike thought of everything. My husband went to pick out a grill cover for the grill we just bought, but Mike had even thought of that too. Then he stayed after his shift to finish putting it together for us so we could take it home, even though others could have finished it for him.” But, that’s nothing new for Mike, thinking ahead and going that extra step for his customers is what he does every day, for every person who walks in the store. To Mike, it’s just part of his job; and you would never hear him say anything about it. But, we all know too many people who are clock watchers. Too many people do just what the job requires, and little if any more. Too many people willing to attack other people before they even know the whole story. No Mike it’s not “just part of the job,” and though you may not hear it enough, you are appreciated for your efforts.

Each of these people thought nothing of what they did, but it made such a difference to the people they helped. You pass people like this every day, people who put others first and take the extra step. So, stop listening to the news, ignore the negative people. The elderly woman, the suit guy and Mike, if you look you will see them. They will wave you off and say they were just doing their job or they’ll say it was nothing, but don’t let them do that. It is not just part of their job and it is something to the people they help. Tell them you appreciate what they do, and then emulate them. These people set a good example for all of us. Follow that example, pass it on, do something nice just because you see the need; and we can all make this a better neighborhood to live in.

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The Lost Ark of the Covenant (Lost Treasures Part 6)


Moses and Joshua bowing before the Ark, painting by James Jacques Joseph Tissot, c. 1900

Moses and Joshua bowing before the Ark, painting by James Jacques Joseph Tissot, c. 1900

A Concise History of the Ark.

The Ark of the Covenant like the Holy Grail has no direct physical evidence to support its existence. However, unlike the Holy Grail, there is much circumstantial evidence to support its existence. This circumstantial evidence does not come from the bible, but comes (mostly) from Egypt.

Tradition says that Moses went up on Mount Sinai where God gave Moses the instructions on how the ark was to be constructed. Israel then carried the ark with them on their trek through the wilderness. The ark was kept in a tabernacle which was a tent used as the House of God. Then King Solomon built the Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. Sometime after the death of King Solomon, and most likely before the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians in 597 BC, the ark disappeared. To this day no one knows where it is, but there are many theories.

So, there you have it a concise history of the ark. Now we will look at the circumstantial evidence that exists outside of the Islamic, Christian, and Jewish Holy books.

Moses.

First, Moses, (if he existed as stated in the bible) was an adopted son of the pharaoh of Egypt. As an adopted son he could not inherit the throne of Egypt. He was also the youngest son, so even if he had been a direct descendent of the pharaoh he would have been at the end of a long list of heirs to the throne. (For more on Moses I recommend reading the books of Genesis and Exodus in the Bible). In Egypt, other sons in similar situations to Moses became religious priests, and it is very probable that Moses was trained as a priest. Also, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, was a priest as well.

Similarities Between Egyptian & Israeli Religion.

Moses training as an Egyptian priest would account for similarities in religious rituals established by Moses for the new religion, and some religious rituals of Egyptian religion. The Egyptian god Aten translates into Hebrew as Adon and means Lord. The religion of Aten was a monotheistic religion, unlike the other Egyptian religions. The first recorded monotheistic religion of people. There are many more similarities between the two religions, including circumcision. The practice of circumcising males is of Egyptian origin and predates the Jewish tradition of circumcision.

The Ark.

Even more telling is the description of the ark itself. An object common in Egypt at that time, arks can be seen in Egyptian art and have been found in tombs as well. At the opening of King Tutankhamen’s tomb by Howard Carter arks of similar dimensions and design can clearly be seen in the photographs taken at that time. The Egyptians also had portable thrones for the pharaoh of similar dimensions with winged entities on them. To the Israelites the Ark of the Covenant was a throne for God and the holding place of the Ten Commandments (along with other objects important to the Israelis), the lid for the ark was called the Mercy Seat, and God was said to meet the priests between the winged cherubim above the Mercy Seat.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the instructions to build the Ark of the Covenant, he had instructions for an ark that was Egyptian in its size, design, and appearance. He gave those instructions to men, Bezalel and Oholiab, who were familiar with building similar arks for Egyptians when they lived in Egypt.

At the very least it would appear the story of Moses was adopted from Egypt. But, there was no need to just copy the story. The ark was a common and familiar item in Egypt and would have been familiar to the Israelis. The ark would have been easy to build by skilled craftsmen. There would be no reason to make up a story about the ark when it would have been so easy to build. As the Israelis were already used to seeing arks in Egypt, and used to them being associated with the pharaoh and with Egyptian religions, the Israelis would have readily accepted the Ark of the Covenant.

Islam and the Ark.

The Ark is mentioned in the Islamic holy books just as with the Israelis and Christians. But, even more than that there is an indentation on the surface of the Foundation Stone of the World which is the same dimensions as the Ark of the Covenant. The Foundation Stone of the World is the large stone which rests under the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is the third holiest site in Islam. Though the exact location of the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple is not know, it is commonly believed that the Foundation Stone of the World was in the Holy of Holies, and that the Ark rested upon that stone.

"The rock of the Dome of the Rock Corrected". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“The rock of the Dome of the Rock Corrected”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -

The Israeli Temples.

No archeological evidence exists to support the existence of Solomon’s Temple. It was Solomon’s Temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians in 597 BC. The Temple of Herod was supposedly built on top of the original site of Solomon’s Temple. The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is the last remnants of the second Temple. The Wailing Wall is what had been the exterior western wall of Herod’s Temple. Herod’s Temple was built after Solomon’s Temple was destroyed and the Ark disappeared. The second Temple was destroyed by the Roman’s during the Jewish Revolt in 70 AD. So, there is physical evidence for the second Temple (the Wailing Wall), but it does not provide evidence of the first Temple (Solomon’s Temple) or of the Ark of the Covenant.

What Happened to the Ark?

According to 2 Maccabees chapter 2 verses 4 – 10, the ark was hidden on Mount Nebo. 2 Maccabees is a book which appears in the Catholic bible, but is not in the Protestant bible.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims the Ark of the Covenant is kept in Axum in the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. A view also held by Graham Hancock, which is the topic of his book The Sign and the Seal.

Ron Wyatt claimed to have found the Ark in an underground cave in Jerusalem.

According to the Lemba tribe of South Africa and Zimbabwe, the Ark was taken to Africa by way of Yemen. The Ark, according to their oral tradition, self-destructed and the priests made a replica from the remains. That replica is now in the Museum of Human Science in Harare.

Ah, now the Knights Templar. You knew they would make an appearance. According to French author Louis Charpentier the Knights Templar took the Ark to Chartres Cathedral.

Still others believe the Ark was taken to the village of Rennes-le-Chateau in France, and then to the United States by Freemasons at the beginning of World War One.

Several places in Israel, Rome, England, Ireland and even Egypt have been named as the final resting place for the Ark of the Covenant. There are some who believe the ark discovered in Tutankhamen’s tomb is not just similar to the Ark of the Covenant, but IS the Ark of the Covenant.

1922 photograph of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Photograph by Harry Burton (1879-1940)

1922 photograph of the tomb of Tutankhamun. Photograph by Harry Burton (1879-1940)

An entire library would be needed to hold all the books that claim to know what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. But, the bottom line is no one has ever been able to produce the Ark of the Covenant.

If found, the Ark of the Covenant would be the greatest archeological discovery of the century and maybe of the millennium, and could possibly start a new wave of Holy Wars involving Muslims, Christians, and Israelis. The best evidence for the existence of the Ark is circumstantial, but even circumstantial evidence fails to provide any support for the existence of the ark today.

Wrap Up.

There are two groups of people who will strongly disagree with this article. The first group is those who believe that the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions are myths or fairy tales. Many of these people deny any physical evidence that supports Jewish people in the Middle East before the 20th century. The second group is some of those who are members of these three great religions. They will take offense at my comparisons to the Egyptian Cult of the sun god Aten.

I understand the concerns of these two groups of people. However, this article was not written to debunk religion or to support religion. This article was written to take a look at the Ark of the Covenant as a physical, real, object made from common materials (gold and wood) by men. I have searched for evidence, physical or circumstantial, to support its existence in antiquity and today. I have found no hard physical evidence to support the ark ever existed. I have found considerable circumstantial evidence to support the ark did exist in antiquity. A very small amount of that circumstantial evidence has been presented in this article. And though many of the theories of what happened to the Ark are very interesting, none of them provide verifiable, hard, physical evidence to support the theory that the Ark exists today in the 21st century.

Of the many theories on the disappearance of the Ark, I find Graham Hancock’s theory in The Sign and the Seal, to be the most intriguing.

If the Ark of the Covenant does exist today, I believe it is within walking distance of the Dome of the Rock which is situated on the Temple Mount. No one knows when or how the Ark disappeared, it was just suddenly missing. I believe this supports the idea that the Ark was secretly taken from the Temple in the dead of night. This would explain the mystery. For the priests to be able to take the Ark without anyone being aware the Ark was missing, they would have had to take it at night, and would have had to been back before daylight. If it was known at the time when the Ark was taken, but the authorities had been unable to get the priests to tell where, then the record would be able to give us a date for the disappearance. But, it is a total mystery, which indicates that the only people who knew the Ark had been moved were the priests who moved it.

The covered ark with golden staves carried by the priests, and seven priests with rams' horns, at the Battle of Jericho, in an eighteenth-century artist's depiction.

The covered ark with golden staves carried by the priests, and seven priests with rams’ horns, at the Battle of Jericho, in an eighteenth-century artist’s depiction.

This means they would have had to have returned before they would be missed. So, my conclusion is the Ark is within a short walking distance of the Temple Mount. If it does still exist, and is ever found, I hope for the sake of peace, the Ark is found only after Christians, Muslims, and Israelis learn how to peacefully live side-by-side.

 

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