Thursday, February 16, 2012

Don't be cheap Scott, chip in a $1.06 to help the troops

Forgive me, I try and, will continue to stay out of the political arena on this blog, but, I read an article that just pushed me over the edge. I will return to writing my views on life in general... and mine in particular..once I get this out of my system.

Scott Jenkins (R), Plain City, is the Utah State Senate majority leader. He recently was one of four senators to oppose creating a property tax break for Utah National Guard Members who are called to active duty for extended periods of time stating: "..Well, I’m saying enough. I don’t want to pay for my own taxes, let alone theirs..."  and this one: "..military members indeed sacrifice to serve, but they know that when they volunteer..."

Ya Scott, they volunteer, that's why we don't have a draft...Get it!!


Below is the link to the article and my email to him. If you agree with me, especially my Ogden friends, please re-post and join me in trying to encourage Mr. Jenkins to be more supportive of our troops.

The Story:

My email to to Sen. Jenkins, I have yet to recieve a response.

Dear Sir,

I am writing you in regard to your objection and votes against SJR8 and SB116 to grant a property tax exemption to Utah National Guardsmen’s activated for 200 consecutive days or 200 days in a calendar year.  It is my understanding that this measure will increase the average property tax by $1.06 on a $250,000 home.  This exemption must be applied for every affected year.

I see that you served for seven honorable years in the Utah National Guard (UNG) so first, I thank and salute you for you sacrifice and service to your state and country.  I also served eight years in the UNG and was proud to stand a post on a six month deployment with the 1457th Battalion (ENG) Bn. in Germany during Operation Desert Storm.

I find your rationale for opposing the bill very disappointing, especially since you, as a fellow former Guardsman, should be familiar with the sacrifices “We the people” ask of our all volunteer military.  I find your rationale to be quite naive and disappointing, especially from one who served and wore the uniform.

My activation was for 6 month (193 days).  Do you realize that, had this Bill been in place during my activation, I would not have received the Property tax exemption?  So clearly, it is geared toward the Guardsmen that are called upon to make an extraordinary sacrifice for the state and country.  Our state Scott. Our Country.

We as a nation need to have a serious discussion whether we truly value our pledge of “one nation, under god” or merely give it lip service.  Warm feel good words are meaningless unless our actions demonstrate our commitment to that pledge.  We are either in this journey together, as one nation providing for the common good, or on our own individually.  I say we are in it together.  You obviously embrace the other view.

Were you, as the owner of Great Western Supply, responsible for paying all the cost of the roads, power grid, sewer and other infrastructure put in place that directly benefits your business? You were not.  We the people, as a community, funded these services for the benefit of all, including your business.

Do you pay the full cost of Schools, Firemen, Paramedics and Police officers that educate and protect your children, home and place of business? You do not.  We, united as one, banded together and funded the services for all to protect and enhance our lives.  The list goes on and on.

We, as “one nation”, created the armed forces for one purpose, to protect and serve our country from all foes.  In short, war.  When “We the people” decide to go to war as one nation, we all should share the sacrifice. The military is not just a job.  It involves sacrifice. sacrifice from all, not just those individuals who put their lives on the line each day in foreign lands,   Sacrifice from all, whether they agree with the war or not.

What have, “We the people”, sacrificed to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?  I say to you, nothing.  Only our soldiers and their familes have. Perhaps if we all had shared more of that sacrifice, the wars would not have lasted 11 years and counting.  World War 2 was less than 4 years (our involvement was 44 months) long in part because the entire nation made huge sacrifices.

Come on Scott, don't be cheap.  Your selfishness not to sacrifice $1.06 (probably 75 cents, because you can itemize property taxes) to support the common good of our community is beyond the pale and you owe the citizens of Utah, especially our Guardsmen, an apology.

I live in Pleasant View will be placing this letter on my Facebook page, encouraging all in the Ogden Facebook community to join me in boycotting your business Great Western Supply until an apology is issued by you.  Perhaps the united voice of a community boycotting your business will make you feel more appreciative of the sacrifices made each and every day by our military and their families. 

Robert Fritch
Pleasant View,Utah

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rock Srings, Wyoming (Never Never Land)

I returned several years ago to my childhood home, Rock Springs, Wyoming.  Exiting the freeway, I was shocked at what a bleak spot of dirt the city had become. As the constant Wyoming wind blew dust on my face thru my rolled down window on that hot summer day, I started to doubt my reasons and sanity for returning to such a forlorn place.  However I had just spent 4 hours driving there, so, I pushed on, hesitant but determined to complete my quest. 

Rock Springs is a tiny speck of a town that, seen through adult eyes, would be considered  the armpit of America.  Sagebrush, sand and wind are the memories most people take with them as they pass thru on the I-80, usually stopping only for gas.  I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder because to my childhood eyes, it was paradise on earth.  My early childhood memories from there are of happier, carefree days exploring the hills of my backyard, chasing horned toads, lizards and scorpions.

As I slowly drove around Bell View drive, the neighborhood I grew up in, much remained the same...other than it was considerably smaller than what I remembered.  The tiny, sturdy, two bedroom homes haven't changed much.  It’s hard to imagine that seven of us lived happily in one of those 600 Sq. ft. boxes.  Yet we did.  Not thinking, I parked my truck in front of my old home and immediately started to the hills through the backyard of the house. 

No one stopped me, or questioned why I was trespassing through their yard.  "I guess the old Fritch residence must still be the gateway to the neighborhood play ground" I thought to myself as I walked confidently through the yard. Did I notice a little more spring in my step as I started up the hill?

Initial Rock, a large sandstone boulder at the back of the old yard stood as the entrance to the hills.  It still had the initials from the neighborhoods original children.  Searching, I found the initials of my old playmates carved meticulouslyin the soft sandstone rock.  The thousands of new initials from subsequent children made my task more difficult, but, somehow more satisfying, knowing the neighborhood registry was still being filled by new children eager to leave their mark on the world.  

 I wandered the valley of the dry wash that always filled with water and turned into a raging river when the cloud bursts came. An army of kids always rushed there after the storms.  Armed with shovels, we built huge dams that always broke and flooded the homes below. No matter what new engineering experiments we tried. I wondered how many new dams had been attempted in the many years that followed my departure at age 7.  Did any of their dams survive the raging water?

My brother Carl received an 8mm camera for Christmas one year.  Several action thrillers starring the neighborhood kids were made in those days...he spent hours using a needle and magnifying glass to scratch Laser blasts and explosions in each individual slide of film....A testament to the genius of childhood...Who needs photo shop and computers when you have imagination.

My eye spied a tiny body half buried in the sand.  Digging my hand into the dirt, I pulled out the 30 year old remains of a plastic army man, an MIA soldier of countless wars fought so long ago.  Finally reunited, I stuff him my pocket and continue on past the still littered battlefields of a childhood gone.

The wind increased its intensity as I walked by the cactus pit below a sandstone cliff constructed by "bright" young minds so many years ago. Doesn't every young child think he can fly?  Being young, but stubborn, I insisted I could jump off the ledge and clear the pit.   My brothers reluctantly let me try to pass this important neighborhood rite of passage.  I almost cleared it landing on the far side.  However, my momentum did not carry me forward and I fell back into the pit.  I still smart when I think of my mother pulling the hundreds of needles out of my back and butt, one by one. 

Before I realize it, I take a few steps back and I AM flying over the pit.  I smile as I clear it. The last rite of passage completed.  My head swells with pride as I hike to and perch on top the remains of Fort Protection. The ruins of the castle where many battles had been fought still stand. Was that a new rock wall? I didn't remember that being there. Oh well, some childhood memories do fade.

I feel like a king, returning from a long crusade after finally completing his quest.  After many years and stormy seas, I was once again home.

My solitude is broken by a rock flying by my head, hitting the wall of the fort... I lean down, take the stone in hand and think “who dares to intrude on my kingdom?"   I look down the hill and a young 8 year old usurper, is challenging me for rule of the kingdom.  "Well let the war begin" I unconsciously think as I cock my arm to return fire. 

Before I release the stone, my senses return, and smiling, I beat a hasty retreat down the hill to the safe neutral zone of the neighborhood.  The new king still honors the age old law and wanders back up the hill to his fort.

I jump in the truck and begin the long drive home.  Baptized by the ever present Rock Springs sand that permeates every pore of my body, I am warm and content.   I realize, childhood doesn't ever really end.  Each new generation keeps it alive. Even in the age of Wii and Xbox.

Guard the kingdom well my young brother.  "Second star to the right and straight on till morning."