How Did the Unranked Pittsburg Panthers Beat Number Two Clemson?

November 12, 2022

On this date in 2016 the unranked Pittsburg Panthers, under Coach Pat Narduzzi, beat the number two Clemson Tigers with a forty-eight-yard field goal by kicker Chris Blewitt. There were just six seconds left on the clock. The Panthers fought hard the whole game and were just two points behind near the end. Were it not for Chris Blewitt, who early in the game missed a point after touchdown subsequent to Pitt’s first score, the Panthers would not have won. And, perhaps, without Coach Narduzzi’s compassionate consolation after that missed point after, Blewitt would not have come through in the end.

The Coach’s Kiss

The Panthers took on the Tigers.
Clemson was ranked number two.
No one gave them very much hope
To do what Pitt had to do.

The Panthers drew the first blood
When they pulled off the first TD score.
Then came the extra point kick
To add on one point more.

It’s pretty much taken for granted
‘Cause that’s what most kickers do.
But something went terribly wrong.
The football just wouldn’t go through.

The kicker was stunned and embarrassed.
Points after should never be missed.
But the coach put his arm around him
And consoled him with a kiss.

The Panthers fought hard the whole game.
Near the end they were two points behind.
Pitt’s kicker took to the field
With only one thing on his mind.

Six seconds left on the clock.
There’d be no time for reprieve.
It was all left up to him.
Was it something that he could achieve?

Forty-eight long yards away,
An attainment he wanted the most.
He could win the football game
By kicking the ball through the posts.

The center hiked back the ball.
The holder held it just right.
The kicker drilled it cleanly through
And defeated Clemson that night.

What changed that crucial dynamic
After the earlier miss?
Was it skill? Was it fate?
Or was it the coach’s kiss?

Yugoslavia, a Distant Bad Dream

October 3, 2022

On this date in 1929, Yugoslavia became the official name of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. On 7 April 1963, the nation changed its official name to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Marshal Josip Broz Tito was named President for life. He ruled with powerful authority until his death on 4 May1980. Ethnic tensions began to grow after his death and Yugoslavia began to break up as a nation in the early 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The last vestiges of Yugoslavia disappeared with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia being renamed Serbia and Montenegro in 2003.

Where Did Yugoslavia Go?

To Yugoslavia I took a trip.
I went to see a cousin.
But by the time that I got there,
Yugoslavia wasn’t.

Where did Yugoslavia go?
It’s no longer on the map.
Did it sink into the earth
Or meet a like mishap?

Where the heck is Tito’s land?
Where in the world did it go?
What do you see where it once was?
Serbia and Montenegro.

I wonder what became of it.
It’s fate, one can be hopeful,
That it’s happy in a has-been land
With Persia and Constantinople.

I think I know what happened there;
Democracy came along.
I see the smiles on people’s lips.
I’m really glad it’s gone.

Source: “Yugoslavia”, Wikipedia.
Note: For more historic events in meter and rhyme, see “Patriotic Poems” by Lee Austin, available through Amazon.

Happy Anniversary to Us!

September 10, 2022

Today is our 62d wedding anniversary. We have had a plethora of blessings. There are many things I love about Sue.  One of her enduring qualities to me is her tendency to tear up when she relates stories of her personal past, whether they be happy or sad. The family teases her a lot about it but I think it reveals a deep passion within her. This poem explains.

My Love’s Tears

My love freely sheds her tears.
Not about some pain today,
Some boorish, crude abuse,
Or aspersions one might say.
Or tears from current mirth or joy,
That flow from happiness or glee
That appear in circumstance
Of a companion’s comedy.

Her tears flow from memories
Of joy or pain of the past,
From events that happened long ago,
But whose memories still last.

When she recounts days of yore,
That some listeners don’t know,
And recollections overwhelm,
Her tears begin to flow.

We tend to laugh and tease
When she starts to shed her tears,
Thinking about special things
Through oh so many years.

But I think it reveals
A quality consistency
Of her compassion for
Interpersonal history,
A deep connection with the past,
Of people, places and things,
Of ardent life and circumstance,
And all that memory brings.

So when she sheds a tear,
Current, it is not.
It’s about connections
That I long ago forgot.

So I don’t tease her any more
For passion in her soul.
The empathy for things gone by
Is the part that makes her whole.

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

August 8, 2022

On 7 August 1964, Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, giving President Johnson authority “to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression” by the communist government of North Vietnam. The resolution launched America’s full-scale involvement in the Vietnam War.

For 25 years, America had supported the South Vietnamese in their efforts to remain free (the first US advisors went there in 1950), with massive military support beginning in 1965. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, America had grown sick of the war and its heavy US casualties. The anti-war movement was beginning to have an impact on Congress. The Case-Church amendment, a congressional gift to the anti-war movement, prohibited direct U.S. military involvement without congressional authorization after 12 August, 1973. In January 1973, the US officially ceased active involvement in the war but continued to provide financial support to the South Vietnamese. The elections of 1974 brought a Congress determined to end US involvement in Vietnam, both military and fiscal. They immediately voted funding restrictions to be phased in through 1975. As the North Vietnamese regular forces moved south toward Saigon, President Ford tried to convince Congress to appropriate funding to support the South Vietnamese in their efforts to preserve their country. He failed. Without continued US financial support, the South was doomed.

By the time Saigon fell, the US had evacuated over 2,000 orphans as well as over 110,000 other South Vietnamese, clamoring to escape the brutal life, or death, facing them if they stayed. On 30 April 1975, the South surrendered to the communists. Subsequently, an estimated 1 million people were imprisoned without formal charges or trials. Over 200,000 South Vietnamese government officials, military officers, and soldiers were sent to “re-education camps” where, in addition to the humiliation of defeat, they suffered torture, disease and malnutrition. An estimated 165,000 people died in Vietnam’s re-education camps. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese fled, many in over-crowded, unsafe boats. It is unknown how many perished on the high seas.

The war had cost over 58,000 U.S. service men and women their lives. More than 150,000 were wounded, and at least 21,000 were permanently disabled. Between 1965 and 1975, the US spent $111 billion on the Vietnamese war. Beyond those terrible costs, the US lost its position in the world as the defender of freedom.

This poem describes some of the scenes witnessed on the day Saigon fell by hundreds of millions of people around the world and subsequent events in the months that followed.

 The Day Saigon Fell

It all remains so crystal clear;
Humanity struggling to be near
The vertical lift into the air
Not to be left desperate there.

The frantic mothers running along
Beside the plane, determined, strong
And with plaintive, crying shout
Toss their babies on the last plane out.

The helicopters in the drink;
Frustrated sailors watch them sink.
Vietnamese airmen safe aboard;
Confused families thank the Lord.

The scores of people in many a boat
Trying to keep their hopes afloat
As they flee the red regime
In pursuit of freedom’s dream.

Propaganda camps soon to be
To re-educate the Vietnamese.
And if they don’t re-educate?
Murder is their certain fate.

In spite of promise, solemn made,
The Congress stopped financial aid.
After that betrayal done
The South had lost; the North had won.

The young republic now the past;
Betrayed, brave people to the last.
They’re not the ones to earn the blame.
We’re to blame. America’s shame!

Sources: History; Wikipedia; and The History Place.

Note: For more stories about historic events in meter and rhyme, see Patriotic Poems by Lee Austin, available through Amazon.

The Ballad of Captain Benjamin Salomon

July 7, 2022

Captain Benjamin Salomon was an Army dentist on Saipan in 1944 when the regimental surgeon was wounded. Benjamin stepped up to take the surgeon’s place. On this date 78 years ago, his unit was overrun by enemy forces. This is the story of his actions that day.

The Combat Dentist


It was blazing hot on Saipan in July forty-four.
Ben Salomon, a dentist, was doing a doctor’s chore.
The surgeon had been injured, so Benjamin took his place
And cared for wounded soldiers in the combat medics’ space.
It wasn’t much of an operating room, just a crowded tent,
But he cared for all the soldiers that the front-line medics sent.

The seventh of July brought a crushing foe attack.
Though soldiers fought valiantly, they were driven back.
About thirty wounded fighters made it to the tent.
Ben cared for every one, though supplies were nearly spent.
The aid station was exposed, defenses overrun.
Ben knew it was time for him to grab a gun.

Just outside the tent, a foe attacked a hurt G. I.
His rifle at the ready, Ben fired and killed the guy.
He went back to care for wounds, as was his job to do.
Suddenly through the entrance came another hostile two,
And four more Japanese were crawling under the tent wall.
With gun, bayonet and rifle butt, the dentist killed them all.

Benjamin told the injured to make their way to the rear. 
He would hold the enemy off ‘til they were in the clear.
He took over a machine gun after its crew was killed.
Many foe died from the blood the deadly weapon spilled.
They found Ben’s body later, after the attack was done,
And ninety-eight enemy soldiers dead before his gun.

How did an Army dentist fight with such esprit?
Before Medical Corps, he was in the Infantry.
He wanted to stay with the troops, be a fighter in the war,
But the Army wouldn’t let him, they needed dentists more.
Still, in the afternoons, after his patients were through,
He trained with the infantry, honed combat skills he knew.
He was awarded the Medal of Honor, albeit 50 years late.
The delay was due to an error. He wouldn’t have minded the wait,
For he loved being a soldier and excelled in every way.
That’s how the dentist became a hero on that July day.

Source: “One Tough Dentist” by James Freeman, Wall Street Journal, Opinion, May 27, 2022.
Note: Thanks to my friend, Ted Gebhard, for bringing this story to my attention.
Note: For more stories about American heroes in meter and rhyme, see Patriotic Poems by Lee Austin, available through Amazon.
 

Thoughts in My Sleep

June 15, 2022

In the wee hours of the morning the day before yesterday, I was awakened by rhyming verse going through my brain. I could not make them go away, try as I might. I finally realized that the only way I could go back to sleep was to get up and write them down. Here is the result.

Times of the Past


I wish I had times to live over.
Times to live them again.
Times to seize opportunity.
Times to avoid some sin.

Times to lift someone’s spirit.
Times to avoid a fall.
Times I should have kept quiet.
Times to give someone a call.

Times to make her feel better.
Times to avoid a slight.
Times when I should have done nothing.
Times to do something right.

You can’t go back to relive them.
Apologies seem so mundane.
Missteps weigh on one’s heart.
It’s best to avoid the pain.

For the times of the past are forever.
They will not return back to me.
We live with our instant decisions.
Our reactions to now is the key.

Note: For more verse in meter and rhyme, see Poetry That Rhymes by Lee Austin, available through Amazon.

Chinese Communist Massacre Students in Tiananmen Square on this Date 33 Years Ago

June 4, 2022

On June 4th, 1989, the Chinese Communist government crushed a seven-week protest led by students for more freedom in China. The Peoples’ Liberation Army used tanks and armed troops to end the protests. It is not known how many protesters died that day. Estimates range from several hundred to thousands. There has been no serious challenge to Chinese Communist tyranny since.

 Freedom Died in Tiananmen Square

Students defied Chinese tanks.
Stern-faced soldiers in the ranks
There to put down Freedom’s try.
Thousands protest, hundreds die.
The world watched that bloody day
As China’s hope was blown away,
Crushed by evil tyrants there.
The smell of cordite in the air
Instead of Freedom’s noble scent.
China’s best chance came—and went.

The Wisdom of the Founding Fathers

May 25, 2022

On this date in 1787, the Constitutional Convention began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By the time the delegates finished on September 17th, after much debate and compromise, they had developed one of the most important documents in the history of the world. The Founding Fathers knew that governments tend to grow in power until they become tyrannies. In order to preclude that happening in the United States, they established a republic in which the government had limited, enumerated powers. They asserted that governments don’t bestow rights on its citizens, but the people grant governments certain limited powers in order to provide for the general welfare of their citizens. The Founders enumerated the limited powers granted to Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. The functions of the Federal government today bear scant resemblance to those limited powers granted to the government by the people in that document developed during the Constitutional Convention and ratified on June 21, 1788. This poem attempts to capture those powers in rhyme.

Limited, Enumerated Powers

You know our Founding Fathers,
Afraid of tyranny,
Wrote the Constitution
To ensure our liberty.

They knew that governments
Tend to grow over time
And the more that they do,
The less will freedom shine.

So they gave to us a government
Limited in powers,
But we’ll have to keep it so,
If freedom’s to be ours.

Here is what they said
Our government may do.
Pay attention to me now.
I’ll tell it all to you.

The government has the power
To take money to exist
And to pay its debts.
(No reason to resist.)
Duties they impose
Must be uniform
Throughout all the states.
That will be the norm.

They have the obligation
To provide for our defense
And also for our welfare,
(As long as that makes sense.)

They can borrow money,
Coin and print it, too;
Punish those who counterfeit,
(If that is what they do.)

Make rules to manage immigrants,
(From which we mostly came.
I think integration
Was their primary aim.)

To regulate commerce
With nations and ‘tween states,
And with Indian nations, too.
Fix measurements and weights,
And control bankruptcies,
Set up offices and roads
To ensure delivery
Of our postal loads.

Grant patents and copyrights
For science and the arts.
Establish lower Federal courts
(So they can do their parts.)

To define and punish felons
For high crimes upon the sea.
Make rules for captured prisoners
(Wherever they may be.)
Letters of Marque and Reprisal
May be granted any day
To someone who has been wronged
By a nation far away.

To raise and support armies.
The most is just two years
That money can be set aside
(To allay Founders’ fears
That power concentrated there
Might be abused one day,
And if that should happen here,
Liberty would pay.)

To provide for a navy
And make rules to govern both
The Army and the Navy
And those who swore their oath.

Organize and arm militia;
And discipline them, too,
Reserving to the states
The things that they can do
Like appointing officers,
And training as their goal,
Except when troops are federalized.
Then states lose control.

To mobilize militia
To execute the laws,
Suppress insurrections
And stand up for the cause
Of repelling all invasions
And to keep this country free.
(A citizen militia
Will ensure liberty.)

And as if to emphasize
What governments are for,
The Founding Fathers made it clear
Only Congress can make war.

To make laws for the District
Of Columbia (D.C.)
And any forts and arsenals
That may come to be.

To make all necessary laws
To carry out each task
Enumerated here,
From the first one to the last.

Powers not listed here
Belong to you and me
And to all the sovereign states.
(That’s how it should be!)

Sybil Ludington, Female Paul Revere

April 18, 2022

Most Americans know of Paul Revere’s ride on this date in 1775, immortalized by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, when he alerted the colonial militia of the British approach prior to the battles of Concord and Lexington, but how many of you have ever heard of Sybil Ludington?  On 26 April 1777, about two years after Paul Revere’s famous ride, a 2,000-man British force entered Danbury, Connecticut in search of hidden Continental Army supplies. In the process they set fire to storehouses and homes. The 150-man detachment of Rebel defenders was no match for the Red Coats. A rider was dispatched to the home of Colonel Henry Ludington, a commander of the colonial militia.  He arrived around 9 PM on a dark and stormy night with the message for Colonel Ludington to mobilize his men and drive the British off. Colonel Ludington’s men had been released to tend to spring planting and were scattered on farms around the countryside. Someone had to sound the alarm but the messenger was exhausted and didn’t know the area. Colonel Ludington couldn’t go because he had to prepare for battle. His daughter, Sybil, who had just turned 16, volunteered. She set out on that dark, stormy night, mounted on her father’s favorite horse, Star, with a large stick to bang on doors and protect herself. She rode on a man’s saddle and guided Star with a hempen halter, avoiding Red Coats, Tories and skinners* along the way. She rode 40 miles that night, over three times the distance of Paul Revere’s famous ride, arriving back home at dawn. She was responsible for the muster of 400 men. They arrived too late to save Danbury but joined other American forces at the Battle of Ridgefield where they were able to drive the British to Long Island Sound where the Red Coats boarded ships for New York.

Sybil Ludington’s Patriotic Ride

Sybil Ludington was lying in bed,
Contemplating war.
She had spun home-grown wool and spurned British tea,
But she wanted to do so much more.
She heard horse hoofs pounding on stones.
She recognized the sound.
A messenger had been riding hard,
“They’re burning Danbury down.”

He had come to tell the colonel
Of the local militia there,
The Red Coats were in Danbury.
Flames were everywhere.

Danbury was where Rebel stores
Were hidden in home and inn.
The colonel knew what he had to do
Was mobilize his men,
But his men were on their scattered farms
Across the countryside.
He needed someone to alert the men.
He needed someone to ride.

The messenger was exhausted now
And a stranger to town and farm.
The colonel had his tasks to do.
Who would sound the alarm?
Sybil Ludington came down the stairs
And to the colonel did say,
“I’ll go, Father. I am strong.
And I know the way.”

Sybil saddled her father’s horse,
A filly by the name of Star.
Her father helped her on the steed
And said, “How brave you are.
Beware of Red Coats on the road
And Tories and skinners too.
Ride hard and muster the militia men.
May the good Lord look out for you.”

She rode like the wind on that stormy night,
Into the rain’s piercing chill.
“The British are burning Danbury town.
Muster at Ludington’s Mill.”

She galloped to Carmel and Mahopac Falls,
Then on to Stormville she rode.
She mustered that night four-hundred men.
Star never stumbled nor slowed.

She rode forty miles from home to Stormville
And all the farms in between.
She mustered the men who answered the call,
And she was only sixteen.

* Outlaws without allegiance to either side.

Note: This and 54 other poems about Patriots and patriotic events can be found in Patriotic Poems by Lee Austin, available through Amazon.com.

Ukraine Fights Russian Aggression with the Admiration of the Free World

March 4, 2022

As most of the world looks on in horror, Russia continues her unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. Although Putin will, no doubt, ultimately realize his evil objective, we view with admiration the courage and tenacity of the Ukrainian people, particularly those patriots who oppose Russia with everything they have. This poem is dedicated to them.

A Tribute to the Ukrainian Patriot

You can covet my land,
Send in your tanks,
But you cannot conquer me.
I have to live free!

Spill my blood in the sand,
Cross my grand river banks,
But I will not flee.
I have to live free!

Destroy my cities,
Kill young and kill old,
Seize power by decree,
But I’ll always live free!

Install ruling committees,
Pass statutes untold,
Reject global plea
That you let me live free.

Invest vile, evil men
To rule my land,
Drive away my family,
But I’ll stay and live free!

Live where I’ve been,
Do all that you can,
But you will not crush me.
I’ll always live free!

For I’ve savored the taste
Of freedom’s sauterne.
Sovereign, I always will be.
I have to live free!

Lay my country to waste,
Leave my home to burn,
Indulge your offensive spree.
But I’ve tasted sweet liberty.

I’ll resist all I can
And will not obey.
I’ll not take a knee,
For I have to live free!

I’ll stand firm to a man
And you’ll find one day,
Amid your abhorrent debris,
That once more, I will live free!

Note: For more poems about patriotism, see Patriotic Poems by Lee Austin, available through Amazon.