November 2010

Veterans Day

I wanted to make something for Veterans Day. I am not a veteran but I am proud to say I am the son of a veteran. A very proud veteran, I might add and rightfully so. Our country has no greater possession than our young people who demonstrate such a sense of sacrifice and such valor that moves us, or should move us, to tears. Valor is a very special thing. It is the ultimate expression of love. “A man has no greater love than to lay down his life for another”. It is impossible for anyone who has not served in the military to completely understand this. Valor requires a complete surrender of self for another. There is, in my opinion, no greater human act. Considering that our country has a volunteer service makes this sacrifice all the more poignant.

MacArtheu Plaque

I often confuse my friends and family with my views on this. They say, “But George, you are always the first to speak for peace!”. You disdain war and are usually among the first to shout ‘Bring them Home!”. “Yet you also go on and on about your admiration of veterans and the military. How can this be?”

These are good questions and does seem to be an apparent contradiction. I think it is because I so admire valor. This most precious commodity and sense of sacrifice is so precious and so valuable that it should never be wasted. The sacrifice of the best of us, should always be most heavily questioned, least it become ill spent. Valor should never be for some ill conceived enterprise, or vague political motive and certainly not on spotty intelligence or hasty decisions. If one is to spend the lives of those whose love and higher sense of sacrifice are willing, then this should be only after all other options have failed. Those of us who came of age during the Viet Nam war struggled with this question. The wasted valor and ill fated use of our brave young men during that time haunts me still. However, I could never help but admire those who, when called, stepped up. I will probably go on being a contradiction.

I am reminded of the words from the movie “The Karate Kid” who when asked why train to fight the answer was “So I do not have to fight.” One should not confuse respect for the military with a love of war. By like token, one should not confuse the love of peace with lack of courage or disdain for the sacrifice made by others. I will continue to urge our leaders to weigh carefully the sacrifice asked, because brave young Americans will, God bless them, never hesitate to make it.

I selected these words from the farewell address of General MacArthur, given at West Point. I have always found this a most moving speech and should be considered, along with the Gettysburg address, as one of the great speeches in American lore. The seal is a deeply carved Seal of the United States Army. This is a tribute to all of our Veterans from a lover of peace. To all who stand on a wall or drive the bomb laden roads or gallantly rush into whatever gore may be required, I have only the highest admiration and gratitude. To those who serve and have served, Thank you, God Bless You and your families and God Bless the United States of America.


G’day Mate

It has been a challenge and great fun for me to make so many personalized plaques this year. Some are funny, some are touching, all are intensely personal. We have just added a new page to the website under the new tab “Personalized Plaques” where you can view a few of the many custom plaques I have made. The wonder of the world wide web is that I get to correspond with people from all over the world. I have shipped to Canada and Ireland and Great Britain. Recently, I received a request from Australia.

My customer wanted a plaque that stated “David’s cooking, as always, can be mystifying!”. I do not know if this is a good comment on the cooking skills of David or ill, however I thought it interesting. The problem was going to be shipping. This is just about as far as I can ship an item. Any further and it would be coming back! Shipping to Australia via UPS or Fed Ex would cost so much, the shipping would far exceed the value of the plaque. I inquired about sending it via the U.S. International mail. This was going to be about $16. So we decided to give it a go. The plaque was made and packaged and I faithfully took it to the Post Office to fill out the customs paperwork. They informed me this would take about 10 days.

Twenty days later, I received an email from my customer stating that he had not received his plaque. “Rats!” I thought. I went to the Post Office to inquire, fearing they had dropped it somewhere in the Pacific. The nice lady at the Post Office informed me that it had been delivered to Australian Customs 10 days ago and she advised that I call them. I did. It seems many packages get held up in Customs these days. The recent terrorist activity combined with the economic cut backs has really stressed these already over burdened agencies. I started wondering if the terrorist’s real plan is simply to bankrupt us. Making it so expensive to defend against them that we will just give up. If so, I think they are sadly mistaken. Of course, they are crazy anyway.I resigned myself to thinking, “Oh well, I can just refund the purchase and say I tried.” After all, I would only be out the $25 it took to make it and the $15 in shipping. This would not be the end of the world.

Yesterday, I received a happy email from Australia! My customer received their plaque and like it a lot! “Whew”, I thought. I never really intended to become an international man of mystery, involved in the intrigue of international customs laws and security, but here I am. One never knows where a journey will lead. Now I have a new friend in Brisbane.