Happy 106th Birthday, Dad!

August 19, 2016 would have been my dad’s 106th birthday.  I truly miss him, yet the wisdom he imparted upon me and his place as my original role model still guide me to this very day!

Luis C. Campos was born in Maribojoc, Bohol in the Philippines in 1910.  He and some of his friends immigrated to the United States in 1931, right in the middle of the Great Depression.

During World War II, he served as part of the distinctive First Filipino Infantry Regiment, a United States Army unit formed for Filipino-Americans and immigrants from the Philippines who wanted to directly contribute to the efforts of the Allied forces in liberating the Philippines from Japanese invaders.

I found an interesting history of dad’s unit here:

 

California’s Filipino Infantry

by Alex S. Fabros

http://www.militarymuseum.org/Filipino.html

 

In one combat action, the regiment reported killing 1,572 Japanese soldiers while five of its men were killed in action.

These soldiers were clearly motivated to repel the Japanese from their ancestral homeland.  That I can believe, as my friends and I grew up hearing so many stories of the atrocities performed by many of the Japanese troops.

Having endured white America’s racism, these men knew how to adapt to rapidly changing situations. They relied upon one another for strength.

My dad was usually silent about many of the injustices and the rampant racism in America, but inevitably he would tell stories that serve to remind me of how far, yet how little our country has progressed since then.

Colonel Offley had a major dilemma on his hands. Even though his regimental chaplains were prepared to perform marriage ceremonies between the Filipino soldiers and their white girlfriends, the strict anti-miscegenation laws in California prevented the men from applying for marriage licenses. Colonel Offley solved this by sending his soldiers and their sweethearts to Gallup, New Mexico on chartered buses that soon came to be called the “honeymoon express.”

Before and during the war, Filipinos (and other ethnic groups) were forbidden from marrying whites.  Dad drove his friend Andy Pontillas and his white girlfriend Betty to Arizona to get married.  We used to go to their house during every Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday.

There are so many parallels between the MilitaryMuseum.org account and my dad’s stories.  I only wish I had more time to go into those.

On the other hand, I see some slight inconsistencies in Alex Fabros’ historical account, but while Dad’s stories were very consistent during the lifetime that he told them, one most certainly must consider that the memories of those contributing to this work and my father’s were also affected by the many years that have passed and the different perspectives that each has.   Both sources without a doubt give us insights into an aspect of modern American history that most people know nothing about.

With the increasing resurgence of bigotry and divisiveness in our nation today, stories like these must serve to remind us that we are one America, a nation of immigrants that has come together in the past to do great things and that the United States still has incredible potential to achieve so much, so long as we are indivisible.

 

 

 

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First They Came

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

 

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

 

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

– Pastor Martin Niemöller

Niemöller was a decorated German naval officer before becoming a prominent Lutheran pastor and theologian.  He initially supported Hitler, but was eventually imprisoned for “activities against the state” as a leader of the Confessional Church, which was a Protestant group opposing Nazi control.  His former concentration camp cellmate, Leo Stein wrote of when he asked Niemöller why he originally supported the Nazis:

I find myself wondering about that too. I wonder about it as much as I regret it. Still, it is true that Hitler betrayed me. I had an audience with him, as a representative of the Protestant Church, shortly before he became Chancellor, in 1932. Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews, assuring me as follows: “There will be restrictions against the Jews, but there will be no ghettos, no pogroms, in Germany.”

 

I really believed, given the widespread anti-Semitism in Germany, at that time—that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler’s assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while.

 

I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me.

Martin Niemöller created multiple versions of his “First They Came” speech.  Ironically, he interchanged different ethnic and political groups over the years.  Yet the sentiment remains the same:  People of good conscience will pay the the price if they passively ignore the persecution of those around them.

The poetic version quoted here is on display at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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Primary Day. Vote. For What Matters to YOU.

It’s Primary Day here in California!   Vote, because you CAN make a difference.  Vote for what is best for YOU and what you stand for.

Do not be swayed by useless rhetoric.  There seems to be a lot of that going around.  Do not vote because some party tells you to.  Do not vote because of what others are doing.

Consider what truly matters to YOU.  Look for candidates who support who and what you believe in.

And look beyond the words.   There are a lot of smooth talkers, some career politicians, some capitalizing on the fact that many are fed up with career politicians.   Just see what they are really doing.  With the internet that’s pretty easy.  I certainly had an interesting time with Google looking up all the state and local candidates last night.

But no matter what…never ever lose faith in the importance of your part in the political process.  It may not be perfect, but it is what we have and it is most certainly better than what much of the world has.  Many fought and died so you can vote today.  Many struggle in other lands, just to be able to go to the polls and make their choice.

Do not take Freedom for granted.  Do not let the rights won for you go to waste.

VOTE FOR WHAT MATTERS TO YOU!

 

 

Why Jar Jar?

So why am I using the image of Jar Jar Binks?  Well, any Star Wars fan will point out that it was Jar Jar’s speech to the Imperial Senate that convinced people who were supposed to be the best and brightest in the galaxy to hand over absolute rule to Chancellor Palpatine.  In short, appealing rhetoric led to an upheaval of political stability that led rise to an evil Empire and hurled thousands of worlds and billions of lives into darkness.

Am I addressing this towards anyone in particular?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Perhaps it is best I borrow from another science fiction franchise and say, “All this has happened before.  And will happen again.

Do not let history repeat itself.

Vote.

 

 

 

 

 

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Memorial Day: Remembering the Veterans of the Campos Family

Two generations of my family served the United States Army in 3 wars…without ever setting foot on U.S. soil.  I find it ironic that these men put their lives on the line for this country, while many here lose sight of the fact that the freedoms they enjoy are owed to so many who believed so strongly in America’s values.

We seem in danger of losing sight of the fact that this is an immigrant country where even the native Americans are descended from Asians who were brave enough to venture here.   Every one of us owes a debt to an ancestor who had the fortitude to endure the journey to this great land.

This is truly the home of the brave and the bravest of them all fought for our freedoms.

A Little About This Tribute

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The family memorial, from Sgt. Ian Gelig’s Celebration of Life.

Every Memorial Day, I would post a collage of the veterans in my family who were no longer with us.  This year, with this site up, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to go a little into their individual stories.  I should give credit where credit is due.  Much of these bios were written by my cousins in the Gelig family, for the first anniversary of Ian’s ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.  However, I have certainly written quite a bit about my nephew, even on this site.  And of course, I had written the obituary for my father, Luis Campos and posted about him on Facebook.  Pretty much everything about Saturnino Gelig comes from Tim Gelig and Paul Gelig.

I must thank Paul for taking the photo of our Grandfather, which dates back from the Spanish-American War. Lolo Augustine was so proud of his service, and his Army memorabilia hung proudly in the house he built for over a century.  Sadly, with the humid conditions in the Philippines, this photo is understandably fragile, so Paul dared not take it out of the original frame.  So many of our relatives, myself included have taken shots of the framed photograph as well, but someday I hope to be able to have it scanned and preserved digitally for all posterity.

Augustine Campos

Augustine-CamposPhilippine Scout
US Army
Spanish-American War-World War I

My Grandfather was one of the renowned Philippine Scouts, who helped guide US forces in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War.  He was so eager to serve America further that he also enlisted to serve in World War I.  He was actually quite disappointed when he could not ship out because the war had ended.  I can only imagine how his belief in the United States was so strong that he was willing to fight on foreign soil for a country he had never seen.  He may have never come here, but this certainly is the heart and soul of a true American.

PFC Luis C Campos

Luis-Campos1st Filipino Infantry Regiment
US Army
World War II
1910-2007

My father migrated to the United States in 1931 and by the time of his passing in 2007, he was the oldest Filipino American in Kern County.   During World War II, he served as part of the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment…a US Army unit put together from brave soldiers wanting to help liberate the land of their birth from Japanese invaders.  They got their opportunity as part of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s invasion force.  After the successful liberation of the Philippines, preparations were then made to invade Japan.  It was feared that the pattern of the Japanese fighting to the death at Iwo Jima and other island strongholds would be even more intense during an invasion of their homeland and the prospect of massive American casualties weighed heavily in the planning.

However, the use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki prompted the Japanese surrender.  The irony is certainly not lost upon me that my father could easily have perished in that cancelled invasion and that I may not even be here today if thousands of civilians had not been bombed out of existence.  Freedom and indeed life itself often comes at a great and terrible cost.

2nd Lt. Saturnino Gelig

Saturnino-GeligUnited States Armed Forces in the Far East
World War II

My uncle, Saturnino Gelig was the father of Tim and Paul Gelig.  He was part of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE).  This command was part of the US presence during the colonial period.  Gen. MacArthur led USAFFE when the Japanese invaded and these brave soldiers were most renowned for holding out during the siege of the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor Island.  Unfortunately, the Japanese forces were overwhelming and the last American stronghold in Southeast Asia soon fell.  Many Filipino and American prisoners of war were killed in the infamous Bataan Death March.

Again, I find myself greatly moved that Lt. Gelig and the valiant warriors of the USAFFE sacrificed so much for America and defending what was at the time American soil in the far east.

Sgt. Ian T.D. Gelig

29446_1378564817540_3530503_n82nd Airborne Division
US Army
Afghanistan
1984-2010

My nephew, Sgt. Ian Gelig made the ultimate sacrifice for his country when his convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber on a bridge in Kandahar, Afghanistan on March 1, 2010.  The explosion threw their armored vehicle off the bridge but everyone else in it escaped with only minor injuries.   But since he was manning the gunner position at the time, Ian was in exposed to the blast and died instantly.

Ian’s passing was a shock to all his friends and family.  He was so full of life and his brothers and sisters in arms always could count on him to cheer them up no matter what.

An Incomplete Story

There are certainly more stories to be told of these courageous men in their service to our nation.  There are also more men and women in my family who fought for freedom, particularly during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

Most notable, is Isaac Campos, second oldest in the family after my father.  I unfortunately have no information on where and how he served, since my father was already in America during those chaotic years.  I am assuming he was part of USAFFE.  I must appeal to my cousins for details and photos.  I personally only knew him as an older man who struck me as having the same kind heart and strong work ethic that runs in our family.

To my limited knowledge, no one in my mother’s side of the family was in USAFFE or the US Army proper, but I most assuredly am unaware.  I do know that Japan invaded the Philippines on my Mom’s 12th birthday, the day immediately after Pearl Harbor.   The family immediately had to flee to the mountains, presumably making it the worst birthday ever.  Her father and uncles did not serve officially in the military, but they did participate in guerrilla warfare against the invaders, so I must say with some degree of pride that this part of my family were freedom fighters.   As we all know, non-military combatants defending their homeland frequently are among the most valiant defenders, fighting under extreme circumstances under terrible odds.

I do hope to someday be able to tell all of their stories, but I definitely need a little help from family and friends!

 

 

 

 

 

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Rest in Peace, Merle Haggard

Sad to hear that local music legend Merle Haggard passed away today on his 79th birthday.  We usually get on the freeway from the street named after him, so it goes without saying that even outside of his musical accomplishments, he made a huge impact on our community.

I heard the news while working on a web page containing the following prayer, so I thought it would be fitting to post it here:

WORDS OF WISDOM

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If something has become deeply

united with your soul,

You should not only regard it as your

possession in this life,

But believe that it will accompany you

into the life to come.

If it is something good,

Rejoice and Give Thanks to God in your mind;

If it is something bad,

Grieve and Sigh,

And strive to free yourself from it

while you still in the body are.

– St. lsaac of Syria

Here’s where I got the news.  Note from the URL that the post was originally about his birthday.

http://www.turnto23.com/news/local-news/country-music-legend-merle-haggard-turned-79-years-old-wednesday

And here’s his music on Google Play (it’s on iTunes too, but I usually play music on an Android tablet when I’m working and using the iPad for other things):

https://play.google.com/music/preview/Axqs72unx45ghqldyhpuwismie4

 

 

 

 

By Jeremy Luke Roberts [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeremy Luke Roberts [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

He is Risen! Happy Easter!

Luke 24:5-7

” They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but he has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day.””

http://olivetree.com/b1/Luk.24.5-7.NABre

Happy Easter, everyone!

I used a photo of Christ the Redeemer that my mom took in Rio.  It was one of her last cruises before she passed on, with Msgr. Craig’s group from St. Francis on a South American cruise.   I made it a bit more sunny than the original.  Thanks, Mom.  Please thank Jesus in person for me.

 

 

 

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Good Friday: God So Loved the World

John 3:16

” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

http://olivetree.com/b1/Jn.3.16.NABre

These words of faith resonate with Christians of all denominations worldwide.  As we remember the momentous humility and sacrifice on the part of Jesus on this Good Friday, we must also contemplate that His message of LOVE guides us in our daily lives!

This gemstone painting was just completed by my friend, Jim Kuehne of JimsGems.org   – please check out his work.  It’s truly inspired!

Jim-Kuehne-Crucifixion-Gemstone-3

 

 

 

 

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Good Friday: Let Us LIVE to Make Men FREE

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic,
US Civil War Song

Many of us grew up singing Julia Ward Howe’s Battle Hymn of the Republic in school and we certainly sing this in church on patriotic holidays, like July 4th and Memorial Day.

This final verse has always inspired me.   I personally feel that it has more meaning now, with our country so ideologically divided, perhaps more so than at any time since the Civil War.

Let us learn to put aside our political and religious differences.  Let us recognize and put an end to our bigotry…racial, religious, and otherwise.

WE are America and our diversity is what has made us great, and strong, and free!

God so loved the world that he sent us this only Son.  May we Americans build on that sacrifice to bring freedom to all men, women, and children!

 

This gemstone painting was one of three just completed by my friend, Jim Kuehne of JimsGems.org   – please check out his work.  It’s truly inspired!

I picked this particular work for this post because the shape of the stone struck me as having a deeper meaning.  With it’s resemblance to an arrowhead, it symbolized the fight for freedom and American unity that the Battle Hymn represents.  More importantly, it also can be interpreted as a forward button, as in we as a nation and a people must move forward from division to unity.

Jim-Kuehne-Crucifixion-Gemstone-2

 

 

 

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Good Friday: Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, Lord, God of truth.

Psalms 31:6

From the New American Bible, Revised Edition notes:

Into your hands I commend my spirit: in Lk 23:46 Jesus breathes his last with this Psalm verse. Stephen in Acts 7:59 alludes to these words as he is attacked by enemies. The verse is used as an antiphon in the Divine Office at Compline, the last prayer of the day.

This gemstone painting was just completed by my friend, Jim Kuehne of JimsGems.org   – please check out his work.  It’s truly inspired!

Jim-Kuehne-Crucifixion-Gemstone-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holy Thursday: Called to Serve

So when he had washed their feet [and] put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.

John 13:12-17

 

 

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