Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hmong: The Secret and Forgotten Warriors

General Vang Pao and Troops-1961

The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group (numbering an estimated 4+ million) from the mountainous regions of Southeast Asia. Over 60,000 Hmong soldiers (mostly from Laos) were recruited by the CIA to fight a "Secret War" against the Pathet Lao and other communists who were using Laos as a base to support the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.

 While the Americans set up secret military camps in Northern Laos, the Hmong were put in charge of attacking Communist supply lines (Ho Chi Minh Trail) and rescuing downed U.S. pilots. As the Americans began to "deescalate" the war and withdraw from Southeast Asia (roughly 1973), the Pathet Lao sought revenge on the Hmong who had worked with the CIA. It is estimated that over 100,000 were "purged" in these attacks on Hmong villages.

1975 Hmong Refugees in Minnesota

Thousands of Hmong fled to Thailand seeking political, over 250,000 Hmong have settled in the United States...mostly in California and Minnesota (St. Paul has the largest Hmong community in the United States).

But unfortunately, thousands were unable to escape and an estimated 12,000+ remain in the mountains of Laos today, fighting for survival and hoping the United States will return to save them!

  In 2011, deep in the jungles of Laos, an embattled Hmong man holding a CIA issued gun pleads...

"The Americans gave us weapons and told us to shoot the enemy...then they left us and we’ve been slowly dying here ever since…When the Lao Army kills one of our men, they feel as though they’ve killed an American in revenge for us helping them during the war...we are human beings, so why does the world turn a deaf ear and blind eye to us?" 

Why has our government forgotten our persecuted allies and friends...these are "our veterans" too!!!

 Va Chang, a 60 year old "Vietnam Veteran"...

“We want America to give us a place to live...we w ant America to give us food and medicine...if the Americans don’t want to do that they should drop a big bomb on us and end our misery.”

 Hmong Vietnam War Memorial
Fresno, California

Friday, May 30, 2014

Col. Rick Rescorla: A Soldier Once...And Young


  • Fought against Communist-backed rebellions in Cyprus from 1957-1960, and in Rhodesia from 1960-1963 as a citizen of Great Britain.
  • Enlisted in the U.S. Army, so that he could go fight Communism in Vietnam...directing his men gallantly (and singing) during the Battle of Ia Drang.
  • Took a patrol through the battlefield on Day 2 of Ia Drang, destroying a machine gun nest while searching for American dead and wounded .
  • Jumped (with his men) 10 feet out of an evacuating helicopter to return to the battle.
Lieutenant Larry Gwin reminisced,

 “I saw Rick Rescorla come swaggering into our lines with a smile on his face, an M-79 on his shoulder, his M-16 in one hand, saying, ‘Good, good, good! I hope they hit us with everything they got tonight—we’ll wipe them up.’ His spirit was catching. The enemy must have thought an entire battalion was coming to help us, because of all our screaming and yelling.”
  • Was awarded a Purple Heart, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with oak-leaf cluster, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. 
  • Used his military educational benefits to study writing at the University of Oklahoma, and eventually earned a bachelor’s, a master’s in literature, and a law degree.
  • Taught criminal justice at the University of South Carolina for three years and spent hours writing books. 
  • Directed security at Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter from 1985-2001.

Rescorla’s office (on the 44th floor) at Morgan Stanley-Dean Witter was in the World Trade Center and occupied twenty-two floors in the South Tower. Rescorla's friend and fellow Vietnam Veteran (Capt. Dan Hill) was an expert in counter-terrorism and invited by Rescorla to evaluate security at the World Trade Center...

Hill recalled,

“He knew I could be an evil-minded bastard..we walked down an entrance ramp into a parking garage; there was no visible security, and no one stopped us...this is a soft touch...I’d drive a truck full of explosives in here, walk out, and light it off." 

Rescorla took their concerns to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which managed the buildings and was told to mind his own business...3 years later (February 1993), a truck bomb (followers of Omar Abdel Rahman) exploded in the basement of the World Trade Center. 

1993 WTC Attack

After the 1993 attack, Rescorla anticipated another attack. This time he felt it would be an air attack, probably a cargo plane loaded with explosives or chemical/ biological weapons. Fearing that the WTC was a symbol of United States power and wealth and a target of terrorists...he tirelessly worked on evacuation plans for his 22 floors.

When the towers were hit (8:45 & 9:02) on September 11, 2001 Rescorala called his best friend Dan Hill...
"Are you watching TV...what do you think?”
Hill responded, "Hard to tell. It could have been an accident, but I can’t see a commercial airliner getting that far off.”
"I’m evacuating right now."
Hill could hear Rescorla issuing orders (and singing) through the bullhorn to help keep the evacuees calm.
Rescorla back on the phone with his wife Susan...

“I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”
As he kept encouraging his people and singing he said...

“Slow down, pace is a day to be proud to be an American.”

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Clara Gantt

Clara Gantt

Yesterday, President Obama gave a stirring address to a large crowd gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day. The most inspirational moment of his speech occurred when he acknowledged special guest, Clara Gantt...the wife of highly decorated (Bronze Star/ Purple Heart) WWII/ Korean War soldier Joseph Gantt.

President Obama's comments...

"We draw strength as well from the love of the spouses of the fallen. Sergeant First Class Joseph Gantt was a young man but already a veteran of World War II when he met Clara Edwards on a train headed to California.  He spent two years courting Clara before she finally agreed to marry him. Then, when Joseph deployed to Korea, he told his young wife to remarry if he didn't come back. She told him no.  He had a hard enough time getting her to say yes in the first place, she said. He had waited two years for her; she’d wait as long as it took for him to come home. 
When Joseph went missing in action, Clara waited -- she waited 63 years. Meanwhile, our country continued to work to bring home the missing from all our wars.  And then, last December -- last December -- his remains finally identified, Joseph returned home to be laid to rest. Clara never remarried during those 63 years. And now 96 years old, she was there to welcome him home. And we are honored to have Clara Gantt here with us today."

Clara's Final Goodbye...

Clara's love...

“I told him I missed him so much...and I expect him to come home and he didn't."

Joseph Gantt

Based on the shoddy treatment of our veterans at the hands of the U.S. government (latest VA scandal, unemployment, homelessness, etc.)...maybe it's not too late to put Clara in charge of Veterans Affairs!

"Dark and sad will be the hour to this nation when it forgets to pay grateful homage to its greatest benefactors. The offering we bring today is due alike to the patriot soldiers dead and their noble comrades who still live; for, whether living or dead, whether in time or eternity, the loyal soldiers who imperiled all for country and freedom are one and inseparable. 

                                                                      - Frederick Douglass (1871)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Agent Orange: Project AGILE

On this Memorial Day weekend, more than 250 U.S. veterans claim that Agent Orange was stored and used in Okinawa, Japan during the 1960's and 1970's. These veterans, Japanese officials, and others (unnamed military sources, Panamanian officials) allege that the Pentagon/ Department of Defense tested various defoliants on locations in Okinawa and the Panama Canal Zone in the early 1960's...Okinawa was also a training/ staging area for American troops preparing to fight the spread of communism in Vietnam.

Created in 1958, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency performs military research and development projects to expand the use of science, technology, and unconventional "methods" in warfare. In 1962, DARPA sponsored a project code named Project AGILE, a Defoliation Test Program intended to test the effectiveness of Dioxin (Agent Orange) on the jungles of Southeast Asia...Today, DARPA has over 200 active personnel and an annual $3B our veterans (and millions around the world) are hungry, homeless, unemployed, and suffer from health problems (cancer, birth defects, etc.) that our government created!

Hundreds of veterans (and some of their children) are sick and dying with illnesses identical to those suffered by Vietnamese, Japanese, Panamanian people exposed to Agent Orange.

Agent Orange in Japan...48 minute documentary


  • The word of U.S. veterans...shouldn't that be enough?!?
  • Veterans' photographs of Agent Orange barrels in Okinawa.
  • Japanese civilians who were employed on U.S. bases at the time...corroborate veteran accounts.
  • Military records document a stockpile of 25,000 Agent Orange barrels at Kadena Air Force Base in 1971.

Last June, the Pentagon/ Department of Defense continued to deny allegations that Agent Orange was present on Okinawa, Panama, etc.  It also denies help (they don't want to be monetarily or morally  responsible) to the veterans/ veteran families and millions around the world whose lives were destroyed by Agent Orange.

On behalf of the Kill the Jellyfish Blog (and gutless government liars)...I hope one day that justice will be served for all those who suffer and died from Agent Orange.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Brown" v. Board of Education

Today is the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education!
On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court issued its famous ruling in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. The court declared that racially segregated public schools were inherently unequal. The decision overturned the 1896 Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the court egregiously ruled that "Jim Crow Laws" were constitutional if equal facilities were provided to whites and blacks. One year later, in a seperate case that became known as Brown II...the court ruled that school districts in the 17 states that required segregation and the four that allowed it (including Kansas) must integrate their school systems “with all deliberate speed"...this phrase provided enough ambiguity to allow these states to resist integration for over a decade.  But, now the rest of the story...

 Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez

Before (in 1947) Brown v. Board of Education, Gonzalo and Felicitas Mendez, were fighting for school  integration in California. The Mendezes and 4 other Mexican-American families, (Estrada, Guzman, Palomino, and Ramirez) challenged the practice of school segregation in Orange County, California schools on behalf of over 5,000 Latino students based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

In Mendez v. Westminster, the California Courts ultimately decided to desegregate the schools in those districts and then desegregate the entire state of California in regard to housing, restaurants, swimming pools, etc. and helped provide legal precedent and hope for Brown v. BOE in 1954.

Listen to Sylvia and Gonzalo Mendez share their experience... (3:44)

"I went to court every single day not knowing what they were fighting for...I was only 9 years old...I just thought my parents wanted us to go to the nice-looking school."

Unfortunately, school segregation is still widespread in American public schools...African-American and Latino students are more likely to attend "segregated" schools. In New York, California and Texas, more than half of Latino students are enrolled in schools that are 90% minority or more. In New York, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan, more than half of African-American students attend schools where 90% or more are minority...and recently a local story commented on the highly segregated schools in Minnesota....

Sylvia Mendez laments...

 "We're more segregated in schools today than we were in 1947." 

Although it seems as though we have given up on each choosing self-imposed Defacto Segregation...I hope we never give up on pursuing the "better angels of our nature."


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Robert F. Williams: Memories of A Child

Robert F. Williams

In 1936, Robert F. Williams witnessed the beating of an African-American woman by a white policeman in Monroe, North Carolina. Watered by hate and love...bitterness and empathy...anger and good will...the seeds of a grassroots revolution sprouted...Robert was only 11 years old. The policeman, "infamous" Jesse Alexander Helms (and father of racist Sen. Jesse Helms), was an intimidating brute of a man who "had the sharpest shoes in town and didn't mind using them."

Monroe, NC Protest

Robert describes the scene:

 "He beat her, dragged her off to the nearby jailhouse, her dress up over her head, the same way that a cave man would club and drag his sexual prey...her tortured screams as her flesh was ground away from the friction of the concrete..the emasculated black men hung their heads in shame and hurried silently from the cruelly bizarre sight."

Seared into his memory, Robert Williams grew out of the racist soil of Monroe, North Carolina to become one of the most influential, radical, and marginalized Civil Rights leaders of the era. "We" have perfectly and purposely forgotten him in "our" selective narrative/ positive memories of Civil Rights. But, hopefully we know better...if we truly study history, we will realize that the Civil Rights Movement was always alive in the heart of the rural south, the industrialized north, the classroom, the church, the "colored section", the sweet innocence of a child...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Eavesdropping on History...

"I Have A Dream"...
4 Years of Skipping...Texting...Sleeping...Mediocre Effort

Recently in class, we have been studying the Civil Rights Era. "Of course" everybody "knows about" Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, The Montgomery Bus Boycott, The Freedom Rides, The March on Washington, etc...but, this is a trap of poor teaching and understanding! The teaching of the Civil Rights Movement (and most USH teaching) has become nothing more than an imbalanced "famous leaders unit" with only minimal lip-service to the local grassroots organizations. How depressing that many students don't even care about learning the "Greatest Hits" let alone digging deeper into a true understanding of the topic.

Am I too hard on my students? 

Are my expectations too high? 

Is thinking critically about our past really that important?

So here is my Mother's Day Story...

Yesterday, my family and I were eating out at a local restaurant with my Mom & Dad to celebrate Mother's Day...what a great meal. During the meal, I found myself eavesdropping on a conversation at a nearby table.

Grandma: "Susie (changed the name to protect the innocent!) what have you been learning about in school this past week?"

Susie (about 8 years old): "Harriet Tubman!"

Dad (totally serious): "Who is Harriet Tubman? I have never heard of her?"

Grandma: "Are you serious?"

Dad: "Yes..."

Grandma (totally flabbergasted that her son is so ignorant): "Harriet Tubman was a fugitive slave who became a conductor on The Underground Railroad...she made 19 trips back to the South and escorted over 300 slaves to freedom...including her children and many relatives. Now that is the love of a mother!"

Dad: "That's amazing...I wonder why I have never heard that story before?"

Susie: "Geez Dad!"

I should know better than to eavesdrop...I almost lost my appetite!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Steps to the Mountaintop...

March on Washington Leaders
August 1963

This week in class we considered the following question:

Does the leader make the movement or the movement make the leader?

The "correct answer" is probably a little of both...but, if forced to choose I would strongly lean toward the grassroots "making" the leader. 

The common or ordinary people...especially as contrasted with 
the leadership or "elites" of a political party, social organization, etc.

One of my all time heroes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., didn't develop out of the ether and suddenly land on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or give his "Mountaintop Speech" in Memphis, did Dr. King get to the Mountaintop?!?

I believe he was swept up to the podium by decades of by the hope of a better tomorrow!


Swept up those 98 steps from the Reflecting Pool to the top of the Lincoln Memorial...swept up by 98 years (since the end of the Civil War) of of ordinary people believing in extraordinary things.

Civil Rights Movement - Examples of The Grassroots
  • The NAACP
  • WWI Vets
  • Harlem Renaissance Artists
  • Labor Unions
  • Sharecroppers
  • African-American Newspapers
  • African-American Women
  • WWII Vets
  • CORE
  • The Black Church
  • SCLC
  • SNCC
  • Teachers
  • The Black Power Movement
  • The Communist Party of America

Watch "Mountaintop"excerpt...

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop....And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But, I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But, I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight...I'm not worried about anything....I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Day

Today is May Day! 

May 1st has long been known as a "celebration of spring" in many Northern Hemisphere cultures...when I was a little boy my mother always helped us make "Construction Paper" May Baskets. The baskets were usually filled with plastic "Easter Grass" and several varieties of homemade candy. We would then clandestinely hang the baskets on our neighbors and loved ones door knobs, knock loudly on the door, and run away to hide in the bushes (while we watched the joyful reaction of the recipient). But, if the recipient of the basket "caught" us hanging the basket or running away, a kiss would be exchanged! Sometimes, you better make sure to "run like hell" because some of the older ladies gave (in the eyes of a little boy) wet and gross kisses! What a great way to celebrate "Tanz in den Mai!"...German for "Dance into May!"

Dancing into May!!!

May Day also coincides with International Workers Day...a remembrance of the Haymarket Square Riot/ Massacre of 1886 in Chicago. During the Cold War, these "celebrations" and marches were thought to symbolize one's support of and association with socialist/ communist organizations. Therefore, May Day became very politically unacceptable, and many traditions were "forgotten" due to the fear of being labeled as a "Red" or a radical.

May 1 - Communist Holiday

Today, for the first time since 1991, over 100,000 gathered in Moscow to help revive the traditional May Day Parade/ Assemblies that used to be held in Red Square and America escalated their Pro-Ukraine rhetoric...I think I'll just "mentally deliver" a May Day basket to Putin and Obama!