April, recalled

In terms of American history, this month gives us lots to remember each year. Most important, of course, is April 19th, 1775 — the birth of our nation, the “shot heard ’round the world,” the courage of “embattled farmers” at Lexington and Concord.

If not for the actions of Patriots on that 19th of April, we wouldn’t celebrate every 4th of July. But not everything worth remembering is worth celebrating.

On April 5th, 1933, FDR issued an unconstitutional executive order demanding that born-free Americans surrender their gold coins, gold bullion and gold certificates to the Federal Reserve. It was the largest single State seizure of private assets in our history.

When it came to propaganda, Goebbels had nothin’ on FDR, and most citizens complied. Many who didn’t were imprisoned. It remained illegal for individual Americans to own gold until Ford repealed it in 1974..

(Anyone who still insists that government would never dare seize a whole class of lawfully owned property under the guise of a “buyback” — firearms, in particular — might want to study FDR’s gold grab.)

In 1968, MLK was murdered on April 4th and LBJ signed the civil rights act on the 11th. Oklahoma City in 1995, on the 19th. Columbine in 1999, on the 20th. Virginia Tech in 2007, on the 16th.

On April 19th, 1993, I was between jobs. I was home in front of the TV to watch the fiery end of the 51-day federal siege of a religious sect’s compound near Waco, Texas.

Four officers had been killed during an initial raid in February, and six Branch Davidians were murdered that day defending the Mount Carmel Center. In the conflagration that destroyed the complex on April 19th, David Koresh and 75 more of his followers (28 of them children) perished.

For the last few years, Deb has watched several documentaries and credible dramatizations of the Waco massacre. She and I recently have returned to those, as well as new productions, as we approach the 30th anniversary of events that claimed 82 innocent lives.

We want to remember and we want to know. We want to learn. We take the lessons, in the context of the principles and self-evident truths we hold.

Waco demonstrated the dangers of both religious zealotry and a tyrannical State. Looking at the character and actions of each side, however, it’s clear that government and its armed agents are primarily responsible for the massacre.

Koresh has been portrayed in news and entertainment media as a combination of Charlie Manson and Jim Jones. He wasn’t — he led a strange, long-standing and apocalyptic sect of Christianity for which I have no affection. He and his followers believed what they chose to believe and worshipped as they chose to worship, their birthright to do so protected by the First Amendment.

From what I’ve learned about Koresh, I don’t like him. What I know about the Branch Davidians’ doctrine and practices I find disturbing. I also know that my approval or disapproval is irrelevant to my fellow citizens’ free exercise of religion.

The sect and its members owned firearms — virtually all of them “legal,” allegedly some of them “illegal” according to unconstitutional statutes. It was the latter that ATF, a federal agency created for the sole purpose of violating the Second Amendment, used as the pretext for their assault.

Let’s pause here to recall that on April 19th, 1775, General Thomas Gage deployed a massive and militarily superior force on a secret raid on Concord, with orders to seize and destroy arms and supplies and put an end to Patriots’ preparations for war. On February 28th, 1993, hundreds of armed agents of the United States government executed a surprise raid on Mount Carmel, ordered to search for and seize privately owned arms and ammunition.

I’ll leave that there for your consideration.

Ultimately, the Waco siege was a calculated, orchestrated show of force — emphasis on “show” — designed to convince Congress that the ATF and the FBI deserved more funding for plans to militarize their civilian law-enforcement efforts. As cattle trailers loaded with tactical units rolled up to Mount Carmel for the February raid, the radio command from the ATF agent-in-charge called for “Showtime!” Common cop-speak, maybe, but in hindsight ironic.

Memory of the agencies’ performance during the debacle at Ruby Ridge, which had gone down less than a year earlier, had to be erased and their institutional “reputation” redeemed. It’s no coincidence that many of the same commanders were present at both deadly scenes.

Certainly, we shouldn’t paint all law-enforcement professionals with that broad brush. Koresh and his followers can’t be absolved completely, either, for the deaths and destruction.

But I say — I say — that more than anything else, it was the actions at Waco of the federal government, in the form of agents and command, that lit the fuse for a nutjob to murder 168 people (including 19 children) in Oklahoma City on April 19th two years later. They own that.

People, we have to learn from this. Let’s take the month of April to do that.

There was an outside chance that we’d spend both days this weekend on The Mountain. An intentionally leisurely start this morning, however, shortened the day and kept us here. We’ll take Easter Sunday over there, for sure.

We made our Saturday productive and enjoyable. First was a stop at Thompson’s Ace Hardware in Harrison, a classic old store which also offers UPS services and includes an actual gun shop. (Read that again — a local hardware sells guns and ammo.) From there we drove to a quirky indoor flea market housed in a run-down industrial building, where Deb bought a whole cookbook for one recipe.

I decided to surprise my missus with lunch at a place we hadn’t been before. Retracing part of a recent Sunday drive, we headed south on Arkansas Route 7 through greening pasture land, an area where Crooked Creek is still a babbling brook. Just past the Route 206 crossroads is Daisy Queen (not a typo) — an old-school diner/drive-in that’s been serving up burgers, shakes and Southern cookin’ since 1966.

Deb had a quarter-pound cheeseburger with crinkle-cut fries and a tall glass of proper sweet tea. I ordered the half-pound “Hi-Boy” with cheese, a side of homemade pinto beans and a chocolate milkshake. Deb enjoyed a soft-serve twist cone for dessert, while I kept working on my shake.

It was all amazing, a real throwback meal, all-American food the way it oughta be.

Back at the campground, our hosts had been mowing all day, first time this year. We re-set our outdoor living space (which we’d cleared to make way for the mowers), brought the dogs out, kicked back in our recliners and got busy lovin’ life.

It’s what we do. And we’ll definitely be doin’ that again tomorrow.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB