Category Archives: Flag

Production Control – Review and Renew your plans…


USS Essex 2018 Deployment

US Navy Photo:  MV-22 Osprey maintenance on the USS Essex flight deck

Just put most of my books onto the bookshelves at home.  It’s been a long year, moving into a new place 1000 miles from the last one and this is the second-last task to accomplish. (the garage awaits…)

Standard operating procedure at the end of the calendar year and quarter is a reassessment of goals, policies, and procedures, and mounting my mentorship onto the shelves has given me an opportunity to look and see where I can review.

Stephen Covey stands out with a CD set of his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, next to the book, next to the hardback The 8th Habit.  This effort I’m sharing is the 7th and 8th combined; Production Control and Leadership.

Competing with Dr. Covey is Napoleon Hill.  Think and Grow Rich has been a staple of principles since my father introduced me to it in 1978.  I always like how Hill’s “conceive, believe, and achieve” reflects the Christian Gospel’s “ask, seek, and find”.  Also, the fact that Hill was working for the wealthiest man in the country in 1932 – 34, Andrew Carnegie, and that Carnegie adopted Hill’s suggestions should impress anyone in business to the importance of the work nearly 90 years later.

And since I brought up Carnegie, how about the ‘other’ one.  Dale Carnegie’s tenacity is at first the example of any beginning entrepreneur.  Standing outside a hotel in New York City and pulling people in off the street to fill his seminars astounds me.  One might think it folklore, until we learn the power of the ideas he put together.  Pathways to Success is the work I acquired going through the Carnegie program, but again, I was introduced to the man by my father in the late ‘70’s.

There are other leaders’ works on my bookshelves.  For actionable lessons, I like Failure is Not an Option, by Gene Krantz of Apollo/NASA fame.  Gene was raised in Toledo OH, close to where I grew up as well.  The philosophies from the farmland bolster what the American Dream is.  Rudi Giuliani’s Leadership, George W. Bush’s Decision Points, and a lesser known work The Leadership Lessons of Jesus, all beckon my attention.

It all began, though, with reading the Gospel of Mark when I was working toward a Cub Scout religious award, and The Boy Scout Handbook.  I still live by “On My Honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my Country…” and “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal…”

As the date of this writing is December 7th, let’s recall that these authors all write about the principles necessary for the realization of the American Dream, a dream that came under attack on this date, and was then defended by the Greatest Generation.  Let us thank them by continuing to support and build and TEACH that dream to all we meet.

What’s your plan for production control?  What ‘covenant’ will you keep with your foundational philosophies, and what new voices will you listen to as you prepare to move into the next year?!

Forward!  Into the Future!!


Americans vs. the Immigrants

No automatic alt text available.Friend of mine posted this meme on Facebook;  The humor is appreciated, though we have different takes.  Her point was what that white man himself is an immigrant population.  I took the view of ‘yes, and look what happened to them’, implying the Sioux’s and other nations’ lack of ability to control their territories was their downfall.  The argument could fill volumes of books,…er…meme frames,  …whatever.

Organized into brigades, the U.S. Army stands 1500 to 3200 soldiers per brigade.  Looking at this caravan of migrants walking towards our southern border, we may view this as two large brigades heading toward us.  Guatemala and Mexico haven’t stopped them per international treaty (offer asylum at the first border one arrives).  No, the migrants didn’t even ask.  They want to come to the U.S.  How will we handle it?  The only certainty is there will be a refugee camp on one or the other side of the U.S. – Mexican border sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The President’s action to support I.C.E. isn’t getting vocal support from the media nor his opponents.

And one question not asked by either the media or the opponents?  How did this start?  This is no trail of individual families trickling up or pouring forth looking for a ‘better life’.  This is a semi-organized mass of people that left Honduras in-mass and has ebbed and waned from 3000 people to as many as 7500.  What was the sudden motivation for this to occur?

News reports are sketchy, and biased all around, but the most sound reason I read (and lost track of) is the idea that this was started by Honduran and Salvadoran politicos looking to ‘clean house’ within their own borders, urging those unhappy with they way those countries are being managed to leave and go north.  Then again, perhaps we can follow ‘popular’ myths and claim the Russians have moved past just telling false stories on the Internet and forged a physical catastrophe on us to further destabilize our political system.  Who knows?  We may never, because no one in the media is asking the questions.  They are only working to show how these poor, defenseless, and indigent these people are.  It’s the only story they tell.

There is a doctrine in our history where one President told the European powers to stay out of Western Hemisphere politics.  Maybe it’s time to raise and modify the Monroe Doctrine.  We could reaffirm our interests in keeping foreign powers out of our ‘neighborhood’.  We could also expand it, and exercise some ‘imperial’ power to halt such ventures as the Caravan presents.  Perhaps it’s time to exercise sovereign controls in Central America for a couple decades, to bring those countries’ rule of law and economic prosperity on par with our own, giving no reason for their people to come to the United States in the first place.

Ruthless?  Maybe.  What is the balance of the cost of human and economic wealth of continuing such a weak immigration policy against our own ‘Caravan’ of military and civil powers?  How much more money will we spend in housing, releasing, then policing an undocumented immigrant (illegal alien) population vs. putting a few brigades on the ground in a neighboring land and doing some ‘nation-building’ where it will directly benefit us?  As we extract ourselves from Southwest Asia, perhaps the energy should be pressed into Central America.  We’ve allowed Rome’s methods of local control to fail, just as they did for Rome.  Procurators and governors backed by troops is what history has shown is necessary to subdue a tempest.

We kneel and we Stand

We stand to honor the Star-Spangled Banner. We stand to honor it because it represents us,…all of us. The Stars-and-Bars represent the best of what we are, what we hope for, what we dream for.
We also kneel to pay tribute to some things, to recognize those things that are greater than ourselves. We kneel in the face of the Divine, holding to a faith that the Divine is so powerful, so perfect, that we have such great fearful respect so as to have it force us by the weight of the encounter we humans are forced to our knees. We kneel in churches and temples, in prayer and in awe.
When the music starts, when the proclamation of the ideal, the greatness, the power of unity calls to us, … then we stand. So kneel if you wish to protest your perceptions of anger and frustration, the reality of life that says, though we are created equal in stature, our own abilities and capabilities determine so much of who and what we become. Be angry and frustrated.
But stand when the time comes, when the music begins, to honor the effort to work toward the ideal, to chose to be interdependent and accomplish together what we cannot accomplish individually. It is in this action, with this principle, that we stand and honor the flag of the United States of America.  We stand to honor ideals and dreams.Bergen County Register
photo credit Bergen County Register
Firefighters find the flagstaff of the World Trade Center after 9-11, raising a flag in the middle of the rubble.

Memorial Day 2017 – A link to the past, a link to the future

I’ve been away awhile.  Academic pursuits demanded my writing time.  Today, though, it seems appropriate to remember.  It will be enough, to just remember.

He was a grizzled fellow, as if he’d been at sea his entire life.  He walked like Popeye, but lacked the character’s bulky forearms.  Still, this ancient mariner strode confidently off the bus in crisp cracker-jacks with his first-class machinist’s rating badge and across the parking lot toward the cemetery grounds.  He was one of many thousands returning to Normandy for the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, or rather, as the French say, the Liberation of France.

I was there as part of a joint military honor-guard.  We were the ‘visible’ sign of a modern military presence and ‘security force’, meant to respond to the needs of the veterans visiting.  Off shore lay a joint fleet of NATO allies, thirty-some ships centered around the USS Eisenhower.  President Reagan was coming, along with a dozen other world leaders.

There was a familiarization session at the Omaha Beach Cemetery and Pointe du Hoc the day before.  We spread out to look over the several acres of memorials and the walkways down to the beach.  We were looking for obvious points of concern that would cause physical difficulties for the returning veterans.  This 40th anniversary was likely to be the largest crowd ever for the event; most old enough to want to come back before they were too frail to do so.

visiting Omaha Cemetery   This day, I happened upon two men traveling together.  I walked with them down toward the stone stairs that went to the beach.  They began recounting the routine; who they were, what their ratings were, what the tasks were for that infamous day so long ago.  That five minutes was a gift to me and only a warm-up for them.  When they began recounting who they were with, the larger of the two men broke into tears.  It wasn’t long before he was in full on remorse and remembrance.  His friend could not console him.  They were back at D-Day.  I said a simple thank you and stopped walking.

I was late getting back to the bus and the Army sergeant in charge and the Embassy officer in charge were none too happy with me.  My ‘punishment’ was to be assigned to the Pointe du Hoc location the next day.  Well, sometimes ‘punishment’ is a gift.  That evening, in the nearby French village in Saint Pierre du Mont, my Air Force roommates and I had the pleasure of the company of Rangers who assaulted the Pointe on D-Day.  Sixty-seven of the two-hundred men that came ashore that day returned to honor their brothers.  They wore uniforms close to what their class ‘A’s were in 1944; khaki trousers and ‘blouses’, with the unit insignia on the shoulders.  They wore long, narrow caps with ‘Ranger’ on the side and their VFW/American Legion insignias on the other.  They were survivors, and they were there to meet with their French civilian count parts who also survived.  What an honor to be there with them! It wasn’t the only one I’d be part of that weekend.




Walter Cronkite was a war correspondent during WWII and he was imbedded with the troops on D-Day.  He was flying in the nose of a B-17 observing the landings. On this 40th Anniversary, he was broadcasting for CBS from the bluff above the English Channel at Pointe du Hoc.  After the festivities and a mock rush of an old blown out bunker, I was able to make my way over to the tables where he and others were wrapping up their equipment.  Shaking Mr. Cronkite’s hand was an unexpected honor.


I have one more person from WWII to remember each Memorial Day. My Uncle George was an aviation flight crew chief.  After the war ended, shuffling the fleet of planes became routine work for the air corps and the Navy was no different.  George was crew chief on a cross-country route from Norfolk to San Diego, ferrying a patrol observation plane from one coast to another.  Corpus Cristi TX provided a refueling stop for the crew and the bird.  The pilot took on an extra two passengers the morning of launch for the second part of their trip.  He, his passengers, and my great Uncle died that morning when a malfunction occurred and the plane crashes after lifting off.  Uncle George was our family’s military hero.


Before my own service, I learned of Korea in history books and I watched Vietnam on the television news from Mr. Cronkite.  My own service saw shipmates and associate crewmen die on active duty.  Just after I retired from the Navy, the United States suffered the 9-11 tragedies and entered the Second Gulf War.  My son, nieces, and nephews have accomplished their service.  They’ve lost their comrades.  We each are links to the past and the future, with our chain of memories of family, friends, and shipmates to remember and to honor.


Will you join us, this Memorial Day?  Before the picnics, before splashing the boats or starting out on the project for the camping trip, before striking the BBQ grill, will you pause with your own family and friends, perhaps visit the military memorial in your local cemetery, or join the parade, or go to church, will you stop for a moment and pray the souls who have gone before us, having given themselves to service for our country, will enjoy the blessings of heaven and support us as we continue defending our nation’s people.  Please.

May the Grace and Blessings of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be carried to each of them, and to all of you, by the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


The Star-‘Tangled’ Banner

Fort McHenry crowd
There are a lot of comments going about due to the flag burning at an exclusive college, concerning why the administration will no longer fly any flag on campus. “Isn’t it disrespectful to the veterans?” asked a FoxNews reporter. Yes, it is. And it is disrespectful to those who exercised their ‘free speech’ rights, and to those who’s labor builds the roads and buildings of our nation, and to those who defend it at home against fires, crime, medical emergencies… and to the great financiers as well as the ‘average Joes’ walking to their small business every day. It’s disrespectful to all of us because the stars and bars represent us all, every one of us. It is the banner of these ‘United States’, each of us doing our part to continue to work and live under the Constitution dedicated to “We, the People…”
So when protesters exercise their free speech and burn the flag, they denigrate us all, including themselves. When the college administration refuses to fly the flag, it denigrates all of us, making use of the federal taxes it receives for students’ tuition without acknowledging who provided those tax dollars.
So please, fly the flag, and carry it in your protests. Honor it as you would honor yourselves and your causes. It is your face, your lives that are reflected in it, not just the veterans who defend it, nor any of those others who proudly stand by it and build under it.

Dear Mr. Trump, Restore the Basic Plan

November 20, 2016

Dear Mr. Trump,

First, congratulations!

I am writing to suggest a small piece of the puzzle in making America great again, maybe just a reminder since I learned of your secondary education in military school at NYMA.  There is a need for a common belief in core values.  There is a need to return to schools, public and private, the Pledge of Allegiance and the like to our routines.

Your expertise as a builder and developer gives you insight about the importance of an exact set of drawings, plans, and schematics to drawing a team of engineers and contractors to the start, continuing effort, and completion of a project.  Every ribbon cutting you’ve participated in is a testament to this as fact.  I suggest it is a fundamental Truth of success in building.

Certain factions of our populace have been changing the fundamental plans of our national project, and they have used our courts to do it instead of the voting booths across the nation.  First prayer fell, then the Pledge of Allegiance, and along the way our songs also fell.  God Bless America, America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee), and America, The Beautiful are only a few of such pages of the plan that have been set aside.  All this began during the celebration of our Bicentennial.

These simple songs and words provide a basis of thought for what is the American dream.  Upon this foundation, the stories of the struggles of pioneers from Roanoke Island, and Jamestown, Plymouth Rock, opening the Ohio Valley, the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, and clipper ships to California frame the dream in the passions, struggles, failures, and successes of the People, of “We, the People”.

Some among us have changed the blueprints.  They argue the plans are flawed because of errors that were made.  The argue that genocide was committed in the name of Manifest Destiny and this makes the basic plan flawed.  They see no value in the plan.  They replaced the plan, rather than modify it, singularly focusing it on individual groups, creating divisive cracks in the foundation of the American dream.  The argument made is one based on a freedom ‘from’ religion, rather than an appropriate freedom ‘of’ religion.

I suggest these words and songs mentioned represent the American Civil Religion, the basis for a common belief in the American dream and necessary to the survival of this grand project called The United States.  Robert N. Bellah wrote (from Berkeley) in 1966;

“I think it should be clear from the text that I conceive of the central tradition of the American civil religion not as a form of national self-worship but as the subordination of the nation to ethical principles that transcend it in terms of which it should be judged.” 1

Mr. President, as you work to Make America Great Again, may I humbly suggest that you use “The Midas Touch” to renew the plans for this nation’s future, to correct the misuse of the original blueprints, and restore the ethical principles to the People.  Find within your routine and build within your team the means to restore the teachings of the Pledge of Allegiance, America, and America The Beautiful to our national fabric.  Those wandering in the streets protesting today were never taught that purple shadows on mountains can be majestic, that amber waves of grain feed the world, that it is pilgrims’ feats of blood, sweat, and tears which build alabaster cities, no matter what station in life they start their journey from.

With great respect and awe, I am your loyal servant,

John L. Zoll

  1. Bellah, Robert N. “Civil Religion in America”. Daedalus, Journal of the American Arts and Sciences, Winter 1967 Vol 96 No 1 pp 1-21.

Siphoned Off

It’s been three years since I began a formal program of study in theology.  The longer I have engaged in it, of course, the deeper and more involved the work has become.  It’s not that I’ve written less, rather my concentration and activity have been drawn away from the whimsy and self-expression of this web log to more detailed and directed works.  Some of those I posted here early on, however I have been sparing any followers from the fifteen- and twenty-page theological works of the last couple of years.  The reading for these alone has stretched my mind to limits I didn’t know I had and coming closer to completion (in May ’17, with some hard work) these limits are being pushed back further and further.  All this reading and research precedes that which will accompany an eighty-page thesis.

Sailing ‘Lifeline’ on Alum Creek Lake has also been affected.  Classes have been held on Wednesday evenings at the same time the boat club races are held.  As I’ve been attending school year ’round it has meant missing race night for the second year running.  And this year, I haven’t trailer’d ‘Lifeline’ out of the lake to the larger venue of Lake Erie.

All this to say the experiences that have driven half of my essays on have been siphoned off to other efforts and for the foreseeable future will continue in the same manner.

That’s not to say I haven’t been writing, just posting shorter works on other venues.  If you’re interested, you’ll find professional commentary in a series of fifty essays at where I’ve been sharing both industrial notes and managerial content.  Also, By-Dawn’s-Early-Light at is a site dedicated to the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner.  The recent posts there include comments on the controversy of whether our National Anthem is a racist poem, with links to CNN stories concerning the same.

(photo credit to the author.  1812 National Ensign is signed by the National Park Ranger who hoisted it over Ft. McHenry in June 2014.  Signal flags are Charlie Mike and Bravo Zulu, welcoming grandchildren to our annual summer camp)