Monday, August 1, 2011

Our Princess Is Getting Married

LANGHORNE, PENNSYLVANIA, USA.  This Saturday our daughter is getting married.  That is a BIG deal for us as I can imagine it is for any family when one of your children is getting married.

She and her John have just about everything already set up and ready to go.  So the normal thing of the family of the bride doing it all is not happening for us, as much as it normally would that is.  Tradition is that if any speeches need to be made they are given by the Best Man and the Maid of Honor.  So Dad does not even have to prepare a speech.  There are other things that Dad needs to do though.

Aside from most of the details going just fine, things do still happen, the unexpected that is.  They always do no matter how well you plan and take care of it all ahead of time.  So I have taken the week off from work.  Part of that is the annual vacation time.  I do need to get away from the job.  But primarily this week it is all about just being there for our Princess to take care of whatever happens to pop up.

Each morning this week will begin with writing something.  That is me. I write all the time even though you may not see that here in the world of blogs.  So I thought that this week I would focus a bit more on the blogs and share that writing about this week with you all.  I know I will do the same thing for our son AJ when he gets married.  But this week is her week, for our Princess and the love of her love John.

There will be something in each of the three blogs that I write.  So, expect something a little different in each one because each blog has a separate personality so to speak.  But the words will be focused on one thing, a wonderful wedding that is going to happen this Saturday, August 6th 2011 at 3 PM in a seventeenth century church northwest of Philadelphia, that kind of old church that has doors on the pews if you have ever seen one.

Old School Baptist Meeting House, Southampton, PA
(The above photo taken by ALW)

Pray for us please and give thanks.  We have been praying for this event for a long time and finally it is here and it is a wonderful, wonderful blessing from our Lord.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Week - Day One

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.  Today is the official calendar day in the United States for Father's Day.  Some of us may make it into a Father's Day Week. This is because some of us are great prograstinators and we wait until the very last day, the Saturday just past, to get a card and get it in the mail. Of course the card will never get there on time. So we change it all into a week of celebration so that we still have enough time to mail off the appropriate Hallmark card.

That is one of the wrong reasons for making it into a week. Maybe a better reason is so that for each day, for seven days, we can think about what the name Father means to us and then share that with others. Here is an example of what could be appropriate for the first day.

Our Father Who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into tempation.
But deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom,
And the power,
And the glory,
Forever, Amen.

I think about those words. Many of us have said them before for one reason or another, in one setting or another.  We learned them in church, or from our parents, or maybe our grandparents, or someone else who has been very influential in our lives.  They thought the Lord's Prayer was an important thing for us to learn, maybe because it had been taught to them by someone important in their lives.  It is something that could be called a Generational Truth, something that is just right and true and needs to be passed from generation to generation.

But...what about our Father in Heaven?  Do we say thank you to Him on Father's Day as well? 

I do not see my Father in Heaven as my a grandfather perhaps, but not a Dad. There is just a line of higher than normal respect that has been drawn and you do not cross that line. Does that explain it well enough to where the respect we may have for our Dads is not diminished at all as well?

Of course there may be some who do not have any respect for their Dad and circumstances may cause them to believe that that is okay.  But our Father in do not think so.  So, for this first day of Father's Days Week, let's think about Him...Who really did create us you know, right? :-)

Oh yes...I thought the following YouTube link might help us to think about Him today.  It is Andrea Bocelli, singing the Lord's Prayer with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City.

The Lord's Prayer - Andrea Bocelli

Happy Father's Day :-)


Monday, May 24, 2010

Leigh Irwin Listens to Guy Noir

BENSALEM, Pennsylvania, USA. "A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 12th floor of the Acme building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: Guy Noir, Private Eye." (MUSIC FADE) [27 Nov 2004 script]

For those that have not had the privilege yet, these are the words that you hear on the radio when you listen to a particular segment of a program called A Prairie Home Companion, old radio at its best created by Garrison Keillor and his great crew. I listen to it on the weekend when I am out and about in our car. The program is on National Public Radio (NPR) and the station I listen to is WHYY out of Philadelphia. You should really listen to it if you don't already. It has stirred my imagination for years.

Of course I am old enough to remember when radio seemed like it was the only thing there was, along with going to the movies of course. The age of television was just beginning but vintage radio still kept our attention. My brother Warren and I would listen to shows like Dragnet, Gang Busters and Gunsmoke. You did not have a television screen in front of you. The screen was in your mind. You had to use your imagination. And oh what that screen could reveal! Garrison Keillor and his excellent crew are still very good at turning it on for me.

There was talk of him retiring this year. He is 67 now. They had some fun on the show doing segments where his "replacement" had come to take over. But the latest read on the website for the show from GK goes like this:

"We're discussing another Prairie Home cruise for 2011. I am working on a new Good Poems collection, and a memoir of 1966, a Guy Noir mystery, and have gotten a second wind on a Lake Wobegon screenplay. So life goes hurtling on." [A Note From GK About Retirement] He got some great comments back from fans about clearing up this question. You ought to read them. It will give you an idea of how much this show means to average people like you and me. [Comments 34]

So why all this about a radio show and who is Leigh Irwin anyways?

Back in the day when the family lived in or around Jamestown, New York my dad was on radio. It was the local station, WJOC [now WKSN] and he was an announcer of sorts. If I remember correctly he did short shows that had to do with local news and weather. Well, he chose as his radio name Leigh Irwin. Where did it come from? My middle name is Leigh and my brother Warren's middle name is Irwin. Dad loved his boys. He is 92 right now, by the way, and he's still kicking, down Tennessee way.

But there is something else here though, beside the fact that you shouldn't start a paragraph with the word "but." I have always wanted to write and the pen name that I've always wanted to use was Leigh Irwin. It fits. There is a little bit of me, a little bit of my brother, the love of our Dad for us, and surely a whole lot of Mom, God rest her soul. She's in Heaven now. She went Home in 2001.

So, in the future, be on the look out. Because you just might hear (or read) the following words:

"A dark night in a world that thinks it knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 1st floor of a small home, just north of Philadelphia, one man is still looking for the answers to many of life's persistent questions: Leigh Irwin, Investigative Reporter." (MUSIC FADE)

Hey, why not try an episode of Guy Noir on right here. Enjoy :-)

Beginning on May 25th, 2010 we have gone forward with the above idea by starting a new blog site called Leigh Irwin - Investigative Reporter: Where Fiction Meets Reality. The above article, with a few small changes, is the first article in that blog. Please join us at this location if you like. We would surely like to see you there. :-)

God bless ya'll,
Allan Leigh Winger

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Remember Your Leaders...Mr. Robie and High School English

Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Robie, one of my high school English teachers, died December 3rd.  He was 75. As I read the news, a drawer in my memory opened and the words inside begged me to say them out loud once more.

"She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word :
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time :
And all our yesterdays, have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle,
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing."
 (Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5, William Shakespeare)

We had been given an assignment in high school English.  We were to memorize something, basically anything (within reason of course), and then recite it in class in front of everyone.  The above words were what I chose.  I've never been able to forget them.  Oh, I may forget a word here and there, but most of the time they just flow off the top of my head at will.  I guess I chose them way back then because even in my limited experience of living in this world, they were very profound to me.  They still have not lost that profoundness.

It is only right that as I begin writing again on this blog that the first words should honor someone who taught me about words. Thank you Mr. Robie.  You made a difference in my life and I'm remembering you today.

Thank you Fitz for lettin' us know:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Listening to History on Flag Day 2007

06/10/2007 LANGHORNE, Penn. This morning as I listened to the pastor teach us about the meaning of prayer and what it means to pray in the will of God something very strong came to my heart and mind. It was the question, “What is God’s will for our country as it concerns the war in Iraq?” Then I remembered a phrase I often use, borrowed from someone many years ago, “History repeats itself. It has to. Nobody listens.” What history is repeating itself in Iraq that maybe God wants us to listen to that maybe we do not want to hear? Is it the history of the Vietnam War or is it a history much further back in time?

Go out and buy yourself a map of Iraq. They sell them in the bookstores. There is always at least one in stock. Then start looking at the towns and cities and especially the historical sites. Not too far from the Persian Gulf , about a third of the way up the road from Basrah to Baghdad is the city of An Nasiriyah. You have heard of this place in the news. If you have a map that shows historical sites, look just southwest of the city. You will find Ur. This is the same Ur of the Chaldees where Abraham from the Bible was called by God to go to the promised land that we know as Israel.

Now go further up the road, closer to Baghdad. You will find three towns. An Najaf is the southern most one of the three. Then there is Al Hillah, and west of that town is Karbala. Among coalition forces, the area between them has acquired the name, “Triangle of Death.” There have been many Iraqi deaths in this area, especially in Al Hillah. But also this area is where two American soldiers were kidnapped in May of 2006 and were later found dead and mutilated. Also, on May 12th of this year, a month ago, three American soldiers were taken captive. One was found dead and the other two are still missing.

Look at your map. Just north of Al Hillah is where the city of Babylon once stood. If you remember your Sunday school lessons, this is where Daniel was in the lions den. It is also where Shadrach, Mishack, and Abednego were put into the fiery furnace and came out without even the smell of smoke on their clothes.

Now go way up the road from Baghdad to the northern city of Mosul. This is one of the main cities for the Kurdish part of Iraq. Remember, there are three major people groups in Iraq. The Kurds are in the north. The Shia are in the southeast. The Sunni are in the southwest. Now look just north of Mosul on your map. You will find what is left of Ninevah. In the Bible, Jonah was told by God to go to Ninevah and tell the people to repent. Jonah went the opposite direction and ended up in the belly of a whale. Then when Jonah repented and God saved him from the whale, he went to Ninevah and did what God told him to do. The people repented.

In the context of these stories from the Bible, how important do you think the country of Iraq is to God? What does God want us to learn from this history and the history that is unfolding even now with our military in harms way? Are we to run like Jonah did, only to come back later and do what we were supposed to do in the first place? Also, what will be our whale if we go in the opposite direction. Who should we fear more, the God of Abraham Who sent us His Son Jesus Christ to die for us, or the terrorists who would like to see us all dead? Do we fear more the lions of our age or the God Who created them as well as the sheep of His pasture? Do we fear more the fiery furnace, the burning caldron of war, or do we listen to the God who promised never to leave us nor forsake us?

Does speaking about the war in this way mean that this writer is a war monger? General Douglas MacArthur once said of those who wear the uniform, “This does not mean that you are war mongers. On the contrary, the soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our minds ring the ominous words of Plato: ‘Only the dead have seen the end of war.’”

There are more difficult days ahead for our country, and especially those who wear the uniform which includes their families as well. But what are we to do? When peace came in World War II there were those in uniform who stayed in Europe and in the Far East to maintain that peace. After the armistice was signed in Korea there were those in uniform who stayed to maintain that peace. The military unit that my Uncle Lou served with in that war is still doing duty in South Korea and part of that unit is also serving in Iraq. It seems therefore that once the peace has been established leaving Americans there maintains that peace. But when we leave, as we did in Vietnam, disaster strikes for the people groups that are left to take care of themselves. Thus we had the Killing Fields of Cambodia where two million people were killed by those in power after the war. There were also many who were killed by Saddam Hussein after the first Iraq War. We tend to forget that.

Let me close by going back to the beginning of these few words written today. The words came because the pastor today was teaches us the importance of praying in the will of God. We need to pray about this war on a daily basis. We need to honestly seek the will of God. Even those who do not practice some kind of religion pray in certain circumstances. Should not we who do practice religion pray even more, especially about this situation? Please keep this in mind as you celebrate Flag Day this June 14th.

God Bless Ya'll real good,

Sunday, May 6, 2007

When Heroes Speak...Who Will Listen?

05/06/2007 LANGHORNE, Penn. May 4th was my fifty-ninth birthday this year. It was also the twenty-seventh anniversary of when the picture to the right was captured for all time as the symbol of the anti-Vietnam War movement. The tragedy of the Kent State Massacre in 1970 lives on in our collective memory of how things can really go wrong, and even more wrong after that.

History records that the demonstration that May 4th was specifically against the invasion of Cambodia that President Nixon had launched on April 25th. If that is the case then I know exactly where I was personally on the day of that invasion.

It was a Saturday, and for some reason I had the day off from my work as a machinist in a maintenance company stationed at Ankhe in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. I awoke that morning to the sound of moving vehicles, lots of moving vehicles. Our company was near the front gate of the base camp that had a twenty-two mile perimeter with Hong Kong Mountain in the middle. When I saw that the line of vehicles was not stopping, I got my camera and sat with a friend on the roof of the barracks.

It was the whole Fourth Infantry Division moving out to somewhere. Later I would find out that it had been Cambodia. There were gun trucks, armored personnel carriers (APCs), artillery pieces towed behind other vehicles, everything you can imagine when an Army division gets ordered into battle. Our company, thank God, was not part of the Fourth ID. So I stayed where I was that day. I didn't have to go. Later, they would come back, but Camp Radcliffe was pretty much like a ghost town without them.

It was September of that year that I finished my eighteen months, went back to the States, and got out of the military, not knowing that three years later, almost to the day, I would be in the military again, this time as a Military Policeman who stayed in as a career. It was sometime after that that I read about Kent State. The hairs on the back of my head raised up and a tingling sensation went down my back when I read that it had happened on my birthday while I was in Vietnam. Woodstock also happened while I was gone. That I knew about because I had accumulated quite a large record collection over there.

But this May 4th, in the year 2007, was different for me. When I went for my birthday breakfast at the local diner, the headlines of the Bucks County Courier Times read, "Bucks Marine's Casket Arrives At Willow Grove." There was the family picture, similar to the one on the right, with his brother-in-law, his sister, the mother, and the father in the full dress uniform of a Marine Reserve colonel. Willow Grove is the local Naval Air Station where he was brought in by military helicopter with full honors. Saturday he was laid to rest with more than 600 in attendance at the funeral.

First Lieutenant Travis Manion graduated from the La Salle College High School in 1999. He lettered in wrestling, football, and lacrosse. He had a 3.7 GPA and a commission to the Naval Academy. The Lieutenant graduated from Annapolis in 2004 and was a preseason national top 20 wrestler that year.

Lieutenant Manion, 26, was serving his second tour in Iraq. He was embedded with an Iraqi Army unit that he was leading and training. During a patrol mission on Sunday, April 29th in Anbar province, his unit came under sniper fire and the young Manion was shot and killed. Here are two things in particular that he wrote while over there, one to family and friends, and the second to a local newspaper.

"As far as the job is going, the area is not good right now - but it's getting better, and to be honest, I'm amazed at the ability and dedication of some of these Iraq Army soldiers. ...The AI's in this battalion are very eager to fight and to take control of this city. ...It was at times frustrating the first time I was here and it will and has been this time, but as in anything in life, true success does not come from battles won easily.

"There are many different views on our mission here. However, all I can say with certainty is that there are thousands of Americans over here working hard towards a positive outcome in Iraq. ...I am not sure the average American sees the positives these servicemen and women accomplish or even understand the sacrifices of their efforts. However, whatever course of action our leadership decides upon, there are those in waiting, ready to carry out the mission in support of our country and in defense of its people and their freedoms."

When heroes speak...who will listen? Who will act upon what they have heard and will rally to their cause in some form or fashion? There is much more involved in supporting our troops than putting on the uniform and joining them. For me, at my age for instance, first and foremost is prayer. Second is to make it a topic of discussion among family, friends and co-workers. Third, but certainly not last, is the ballot box. We all hate war, especially the soldiers and their families. We wish that we could come home and put war behind us. The problem is that our enemies will not allow us to do that. On top of that they have brought the war to American soil.

So I pray. I talk about the mission and the men and women in uniform that believe in that mission. They are the heroes. Then I write to you, my family, friends, and co-workers. And when it is time for the ballot box, I will be there too, an old soldier who still believes in the mission of freedom, no matter whether it is in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, or right here in my own backyard.

Rest in peace Lieutenant Manion. Semper Fi Sir! We who salute you have heard you loud and clear. We know the mission and we will not let you down.

Allan L. Winger
Staff Sergeant
U. S. Army Retired

(Links to the source stories for this blog as well as credit for the photographs utilized are in the Blog Spot Resource Center listed in the sidebar to the right.)

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Honor - What Are You Doing This Easter?

04/04/2007 LANGHORNE, Penn. Today was another one of those days where I woke up early and couldn’t get back to sleep. After I got up and started thinking about the day, I remembered some words that are very important to me and I began to repeat them several times:

“Honor your father and your mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.” (Ephesians 6:2-3 quoting Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16)

Another is something that my mother taught my family when she lived with us for a short time. In her younger years she had been a nanny for a Jewish family in Baltimore and she was to make sure that the children recited the following every night before they climbed into bed:

“Sha-ma Is-ray-el. A-do-nie El-a-hay-nu, A-do-nie a-hud” which translated means, “Hear O Israel. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) In Jewish tradition this is called “The Great Sha-ma.”

A couple of blogs ago the word “Honor” was used in a context where you might think that it was only related to one’s service to their country. But that word has a meaning that includes much more than that. I had the privilege of serving in Vietnam . I am also married to a wonderful lady who was born in South Korea . Our last duty station overseas was as a family for two years in that same country. My brother Warren worked for two years in Japan for a large company. So we Wingers know a little bit about the oriental culture.

We here in the West to a large part think in terms of “Right” and “Wrong.” If you’ve ever wondered why you couldn’t understand maybe the Eastern culture, it’s because they don’t necessarily think and live in the framework of those Western words. Their culture is all about “Shame” and “Honor.” Think about that for a minute. There’s a whole lot more involved in those words than in ours, isn’t there, especially when you think about family and the whole social structure thing.

But getting back to those words above, who are those that you honor in your life? Who in your life are those that you hope each day you will never bring to shame? Is it your father and mother? Is it other relatives or friends? Think about the ones with which you spend Thanksgiving. For many that holiday is spent with the most important people in our lives – family or some version of it.

Yesterday was the Jewish Passover. The day after tomorrow is Good Friday. Sunday is Easter. It’s Holy Week. It’s a time where most of the nation honors God in some way – God our Heavenly Father. Back in the day when my brother and I were kids, we were in church on Good Friday and on Easter morning. Even if we didn’t want to go, we were there. Mom and Dad said so – end of story. Solomon wrote to all of his children who would someday be parents:

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 6:22

Maybe you needed to have confirmed today that being in church is still the right thing for you and your family on Easter morning. Maybe you only go to church once a year and Easter is it. It still is the right day to go. Maybe you haven’t been to church in a long time and because it’s been so long you just don’t think you should do it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It’s never too late to try church on Easter. Maybe you’re older and your kids are all grown up and out of the house now and you many not know what they’re doing this week. Call them up. Remind them that being in church is still the right thing to do this Sunday.

Shame and Honor – Right and Wrong – there is a whole bunch of meaning inside those words. But maybe your definitions have gotten blurred of late. Maybe you are only seeing them through a glass darkly. Go to church on Easter. You might just find the definitions for which you’ve been looking or of which you need to be reminded. Oh yeah - and after the service, drop someone a line who may have taught you that being in church on Easter morning was a good thing to do. Tell them how it went. Be a blessing. Honor them, and through that experience, honor the God they serve, the same God Who loves you and has a plan for your life.

Happy Easter :-)