As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, exhausted parents are trying to juggle work, joblessness, rambunctious children, the emotional needs of spouses, the safety of aging parents, and fear of infection from a virus that can ravage the lungs, leaving its victims sick for weeks at a time. While the war metaphor is often tossed about carelessly — a virus is not a living lifeform, let alone an “enemy” — to parallel the mental impact of this time to soldiers at war is useful.
The sense of fear and stress many are experiencing now is familiar for many families of military service members, as well as those who help them through crises. Faced with separation, dangerous deployments, and untimely deaths, parents and children can cope by practicing a resilient mindset. “We serve families who experience a loss, and put on resilience retreats for children, siblings, spouses, and others who have lost a service member. We are helping them learn to stay health in the face of grief and loss, ” says Mia Bartoletti, the clinical psychologist for the Navy SEAL Foundation and an expert on helping families navigate crises. Bartoletti acknowledges that the same process can help families navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Bartoletti frames it, resilience is a practice of acknowledging “normal reactions to extraordinary circumstances.” This means working to strengthen the attributes that make one “resilient” including hardiness, personal competence, tolerance of negative affect, acceptance of change, personal control, and spirituality, according to a review in PTSD Research Quarterly, a publication by the National Center for PTSD. These traits are “like a muscle,” says Mary Alvord, psychologist and the founder of Resilience Across Borders, a nonprofit program that teaches resilience to children, adolescents, and young adults in schools. “You just keep working it out and you can build it.”
Whether you’re a healthcare worker on the frontlines or a stay-at-home parent, having a strong reaction to the pandemic is to be expected. Bartoletti divides these reactions into three categories: Intrusive reactions, avoidance and withdrawal reactions, and physical arousal reactions. Intrusive reactions involve memories, dreams, nightmares, and flashbacks that take you back to the psychologically traumatizing situation after the fact. Avoidance and withdrawal can happen during and after a distressing event, causing you to repress emotions and even avoid people and places. Physical arousal reactions involve changes in the body itself, including trouble sleeping, irritable outbursts, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance.
All of these reactions are normal, as long as they remain acute. Are you dreaming about Genghis Khan stealing your wallet, or breaking into a co-workers house to steal their toilet paper? Those vivid, COVID dreams are an acute intrusive reaction. Are you finding the need to shut yourself in a room and cry? That’s acute withdrawal. Do you find the news about COVID-19 in your area rockets up your heartbeat and blood pressure? That’s an acute physiological reaction. “I think that anyone can be experiencing these things, depending on your own reaction to this pandemic situation, these are common reactions,” says Bartoletti. “We expect to see more of these in this time frame.”
What is not normal is when the acute reaction morphs into a long-term psychological problems.
If these symptoms persist, acute stress in the moment can morph into post-traumatic stress after the fact. That can mean intense physiological feelings of stress, avoidance and withdrawal behavior, or intrusive flashbacks that impede normal social and emotional functioning for days, weeks, or months even after the pandemic subsides.
How does one prevent this all from going down? As with so many things, it starts with communicating those reactions, grappling with them and forming them into verbal thoughts. “If you don’t acknowledge your emotional state, that’s a risk and puts you in jeopardy for adverse lasting consequences,” says Bartolleti. “If you engage in narrative sharing open and effective communication with kids and other selective resilience skills — these are mechanisms of resilience. We can strategically set these mechanisms in motion to enhance individual and family resilient adjustment during this time.”
In many ways, parents and children can practice resilience in similar ways—through dialogue, social connection, and focusing on self-care and controlling what they can and letting go of what they can’t. Of course, parents also act as aids and models for their children, helping their kids let go of negative thoughts, providing warmth and support, and helping them connect with friends while getting outside enough. Under non-pandemic circumstances, Alvord and her colleagues have found that the presence of a caring adult in a child’s life can really help that child overcome stressful or traumatic circumstances. In a pandemic, which affects everyone, parents need to remember to take care of themselves, too.
To foster resilience in kids, the first step is talking it out. “Dialogue is really healthy for kids and teens for actual brain development,” Bartoletti says. “Having conversations about workplace safety and hazards is a healthy thing.” It’s good to gauge what your children are thinking and experiencing, as well as explaining to them your role in this situation. You can set the record straight on anything they have misunderstood. You can offer calm and reassurance while explaining the actionable steps you are taking to cope with the situation. You can model a problem-solving mindset to help your children as they figure out how to manage their emotions.
For both children and parents, social connection will be crucial for staying emotionally healthy through this time, says Alvord. While we may be physically distant, we should still be socially connected. For parents of children old enough to have friends and social groups, this will mean helping those children connect with their friends via phone or video chat. If your children are older, it may mean encouraging and allowing time and space for your teen to spend time with their friends online. For parents, make time to stay connected to your normal group of friends and family. And if you don’t have a parent support group already, it’s a good idea to seek one out so you can share tips and tricks and commiserate about parenting in lockdown. And of course, take the time to connect as a family and make the most of being stuck together.
Self-care really is essential to overall well-being. Alvord recommends trying to get plenty of sleep and taking a break to be by yourself, even if that means getting in your car to get away from everyone in the house. Physical activity and getting outside helps too, says Alvord. Bartoletti cautions that you can overdo it on the exercise, however, and that becomes its own form of avoidance. Being resilient, “really means getting in tune with your own internal landscape,” she says.
Finally, Alvord says resilience means letting go of the things you can’t control and focusing on the things that you can. Taking initiative in one’s life is one of the primary characteristics of resilience, Alvord wrote in a 2005 study published in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. “Depression is hopelessness and helplessness and so resilience is the opposite,” she says. “No, you’re not helpless, you do have control over many aspects of your life.” For example, Alvord’s neighbors recently went out and bought a cheap pool for their backyard. If pools can’t open this summer, they have their own to keep their five children occupied. Recognizing you have agency in this situation — that’s resilience. “It’s action-oriented, as opposed to sitting back and letting things happen,” she says.
“Our mindset in this timeframe matters in terms of brain health and how we react in this experience,” says Bartoletti. Our bodies are primed with hormones to react to stressful situations. “We need to practice a mindset of challenging that at times,” she says.
Research shows it is possible to come out of a traumatic experience even stronger than before. And Bartoletti’s research in military families shows that these coping skills, taken together, can help families “become more cohesive and supportive and more resilient in the face of adversity.” Some days are still going to be challenging, and there will certainly be moments of grief and stress. But if parents and kids alike start to stretch and work that resilience muscle, they can get through this together.
I’m a Vietnam veteran. Like in any war, we had moments of extreme, close encounters and moments of boredom. We came home to a political nightmare where we were hated, spit upon, and called names. I, like many that came home, suffered from survivor’s guilt and something that we’d never heard of at the time: PTSD.
We went to Vietnam as soldiers and came home as individuals, so I lost contact from my unit. I never contacted the VA; I had enough of the military. I was young, strong, and independent. I could deal with anything at the time. I went back to school, got a job, got married, began a family with two wonderful kids. I was living the dream but I had a secret that I kept from everyone.
As I aged, my PTSD turned into “flashbacks,” nightmares, and three suicide attempts. The last was the worst. I sat on our kitchen floor at midnight, mad and scared. That’s when I contacted the VA Suicide Hotline and was convinced to go to the VA Hospital. I snuck some clothes from our bedroom. I was going to sneak out, but my wife woke up and demanded to drive me.
I got the help I needed from VA through the Prolonged Exposure Therapy Program (PE). My family now knows everything. It’s been six years and counting with no flashbacks, nightmares, or suicide attempts. My life and my family’s lives have changed. I believe I came through all this hell for a reason, and that is to help other veterans who suffer. The suicide rate among all veterans absolutely scares me, but most troubling is those who were like me: the 70% who don’t have any contact with the VA.
Get the help you need. Do it.
Watch Dave, his family and his therapist explain how Prolonged Exposure Therapy brought him back to a full and happy life.
See how treatment helped Dave enjoy walking in the woods behind his house, something he’d been avoiding for decades.
Go to AboutFace to hear more about PTSD and PTSD Treatment from veterans who have been there.
This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.
China’s move to boost defense spending has sparked dismay among US officials in recent days, but it is Beijing’s efforts to gain influence that are more worrisome, the secretary of the US Navy said on March 7, 2018.
China’s finance ministry said this weekend that the country’s defense budget will rise 6% to 1.1 trillion yuan or $173 billion. It is the biggest increase in three years and makes China’s defense budget the world’s second-largest — behind only the US.
Chinese state media defended the new budget as proportionate and low. “If calculated in per capita terms, China’s military lags well behind other major countries,” official English-language newspaper China Daily said.
On March 6, 2018, US Navy Adm. Scott Swift, the head of US Pacific Fleet, said the military budget lacked transparency and that China’s “intent is not clearly understood.”
On March 7, 2018, US Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer — asked about Russian and Chinese activity in relation to the newest US National Security Strategy— echoed those concerns but pointed to a different kind of spending.
“When it comes to China, the bottom line there is the checkbook, to be very frank with you,” Spencer told members of the House Appropriations Committee. “Not only in the dollar and cents that they are writing to support their military expansion and their technological [research and development] work, but what they’re doing around the globe that I know you all are aware of, which is weaponizing capital, to be very frank with you.”
Spencer pointed to a summer 2017 deal China signed with Sri Lanka, the island nation just south of India, where Beijing agreed to a 99-year lease to operate the strategically located deep-water port of Hambantota, which is located near important shipping routes in the Indian Ocean.
“Going into Sri Lanka, redoing the port, putting an interest rate — not as aid, but as a total secured loan with a pretty hefty coupon — [the] debtor fails on that, and the asset owner comes and reclaims it and says, ‘These are now ours,'” Spencer told the committee of the deal. “They’re doing that around the globe. So their open checkbook keeps me up at night.”
Many Sri Lankans were themselves dismayed with the agreement, taking to the streets to protest what they saw as growing Chinese influence in their country. India, which has eyed Chinese infrastructure deals and military activity in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region warily, also objected.
“This is going to be a standing example for the other countries to watch, because China is not Father Christmas, handing out dollar bills. They want return on the money, and they want the money to come within a certain, certified period,” K.C. Singh, former secretary at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, said in July 2017.
“Is it a model then for future extension of the Chinese strategic footprint?” Singh added. “When … countries can’t return the money, then you grab territory?”
The port deal was a part of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, a project to link scores of countries in Asia, Oceania, Africa, and Europe through Chinese-backed railways, shipping routes, and infrastructure projects.
As a part of that effort, China has funded development projects in poorer countries, which it leverages for more advantageous relations or for regional access. The trend has also been called “debt-trap diplomacy.”
Hambantota is not the only port deal secured by the Chinese government or a Chinese state-owned company in recent years. Beijing has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to win over locals and develop a deep-water port in Gwadar, on Pakistan’s Indian Ocean coast.
The moves are a departure from China’s usual approach to such foreign projects, but the focus has concerned India and the US, which see Beijing’s investment in Gwadar as part of efforts to expand Chinese naval influence.
Chinese state firms are also growing their presence in Europe, buying up ports and cargo terminals on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts — including Spain, Italy, Greece, and Belgium.
Chinese state-owned enterprises now control about one-tenth of all European port capacity.
European leaders have become concerned Beijing plans to leverage its financial interests into political clout. Greece, where Chinese influence has grown in recent years, has blocked recent EU efforts to condemn China over its human-rights record and other policies.
US Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller, speaking alongside Spencer, voiced similar concerns about China.
“The Chinese are playing the long game. They are, as the secretary said, everywhere I go, they’re there,” Neller said. “They’re going and they’re buying airfields and ports to extend their reach … they want to win without fighting.”
Ever notice how some envelopes arrive to your deployed friends with the stamp upside down? Probably not, but oftentimes you’ll see it. Sometimes they’re also tilted at an angle. This is not an accident, it’s an antiquated but still-living little language in the placement of a stamp.
There’s no better way to tell someone in jail you love them.
An upside-down stamp means “I love you.” The stamp posted slightly off-kilter means “I miss you.” There’s a lot more crammed into the placement of one little square on a slightly larger square. It’s an old-timey easter egg, a way to make the letter more than a piece of paper, to personalize it and make even the envelope ones own, transmitting a little emotion along with their ancient text message.
The coded messages are more than a century old now, having their origins in the Victorian Era and have somehow survived the advent of modern texting, email, and other forms of communication that don’t require stamps.
Of course, there are variations to the language.
“Another military wife told me that her grandmother used to flip her stamps when writing her husband, who was deployed overseas,” Janie Bielefeldt, an ex-marine living in Jacksonville, N.C. told the New York Times. “It’s just something you hear about on the base.”
In those days, young lovers couldn’t exactly be as open with their emotions as we have come to be. The idea of sending nudes or a dick pic might actually cause someone to get hanged or burned at the stake back then. Of course, not so these days, where an entire subculture grew up around sending racy photos. For U.S. military members and their families, however, the practice of writing letters is alive and well, and with it is the language of stamps.
Since ancient times, warriors have gathered around the fire to recall battles fought with comrades over flagons of strong ale. Today, we keep this same tradition — except the storytelling usually happens in a smoke pit or dingy bar.
If you’ve been part of one of these age-old circles, then you know there’s a specific set of mannerisms that’s shared by service members, from NCOs to junior enlisted. The way veterans tell their stories is a time-honored tradition that’s more important than the little details therein — and whether those details are true or not. Not every piece of a veteran’s tale is guaranteed to be accurate, but the following attributes will tell you that it’s legit enough.
Just hear them out. Either out of politeness or apathy — your choice.
Beginning the story with “No sh*t, there I was…”
No good story begins without this phrase. It draws the reader in and prepares them to accept the implausible. How else are you going to believe their story about their reasonably flimsy military vehicle rolling over?
It’s become so much of an on-running trope in veteran storytelling that it’s basically our version of “once upon a time.”
But sometimes, you just have to tell the new guy that everything they just signed up for f*cking sucks.
Going into extreme (and pointless) detail
Whenever a veteran begins story time for a civilian, they’ll recall the little details about where they were deployed, like the heat and the smell.
Now, we’re not saying these facts are completely irrelevant, but the stage-setting can get a bit gratuitous.
If your story is about your time as a boot, everyone will just believe you… likely because your story is too boring to fact check.
(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)
Constantly reminding the listener that they can look it up
The military has paperwork for literally everything. Let’s say you’re telling the story of how you were the platoon guidon bearer back in basic training. If you tried hard enough, you could probably find a document somewhere to back that statement up.
As outlandish as some claims may be, nobody is actually to put in the work to fact-check a story — especially when you’re just drinking beers at the bar.
Maybe it was because I was boring, but I never understood why people felt the need to go overboard with hiding people in the trunk. Just say, “they left their ID in the barracks.”
(Photo by Senior Airman Ryan Zeski)
Citing someone that may or may not exist as a source
Among troops and veterans, it’s easy for most of us forget that people also have first names. This is why so many of our stories refer to someone named of ‘Johnson,’ ‘Brown,’ or ‘Smith.’ It’s up to you whether you want to believe this person actually exists.
If they start getting into the stories that will make grandma blush, fewer nudges are required.
(U.S. Army photo)
Tapping the listener’s arm if they lose interest
Military stories tend to drag on forever. Now, this isn’t because they’re boring, but rather because the storyteller vividly remembers nearly every detail.
Sometimes, those telling the story feel the need to check in on the listener to make they’re absorbing it all. Most vets do with this a little nudge.
Basically how it works.
(Comic by Broken and Unreadable)
Filling in the blanks with “because, you know… Army”
It’s hard to nail down every minute detail of military culture, like how 15 minute priors really work.
Some things can only be explained with a hand wave and a simple, “because, you know, that’s how it was in the service.”
Or they could just be full of sh*t. But who cares? If it’s a fun story, it’s a fun story.
(Meme via Pop Smoke)
Finishing the story in a way that fosters one-upsmanship
Veterans’ stories aren’t intended to over-glorify past actions — even if that’s how it sounds to listeners. Generations upon generations of squads have told military stories as a way of a team-building, not as a way for one person to win a non-existent p*ssing contest.
Whether the storyteller knows it or not, they often finish up a tale by signaling to the listener that it’s now their turn to tell an even better story. Just like their squad leader did for them all those years ago.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has raised the possibility of conflict between his army and U.S. forces in Syria if they do not withdraw from the country soon — prompting a warning from the Pentagon.
In an interview with Russia’s RT television on May 31, 2018, Assad asserted that he is willing to negotiate with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that are allied with and embedded with U.S. forces and currently hold about one-quarter of Syria’s territory.
But he said he will reclaim their territory by force, if necessary.
“The only problem left in Syria is the SDF,” Assad told RT, adding he sees “two options” for solving the “problem.”
“The first one: We started now opening doors for negotiations. Because the majority of them are Syrians, supposedly they like their country. They don’t like to be puppets to any foreigners,” Assad said in English.
“We have one option: to live with each other as Syrians. If not, we’re going to resort…to liberating those areas by force.”
Assad added that “the Americans should leave.” He said Washington should learn a “lesson” from its experience in Iraq.
“People will not accept foreigners in this region anymore,” he said.
Assad’s threat to use force against U.S. allies in Syria and about 2,000 American troops providing them with air support and training prompted a warning from the Pentagon.
“Any interested party in Syria should understand that attacking U.S. forces or our coalition partners will be a bad policy,” Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, said at a press conference in Washington on May 31, 2018.
The U.S. State Department also said that while Washington is not seeking conflict with Syria, it would use “necessary and proportionate force” to defend U.S. and partner forces, which have teamed up to fight Islamic State militants in the region.
In the RT interview, Assad responded sharply to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent description of him as an “animal,” saying, “What you say is what you are.”
Backed by Russian air power and Iranian and Hizbullah militias on the ground, Assad’s forces have gained significant ground in recent months in the seven-year civil war that has killed an estimated half a million people and driven another 5 million abroad as refugees.
After regaining control of Syria’s two largest cities — Aleppo and Damascus — Assad this spring set his sights on areas in the country that remain outside his control and in rebel hands.
The Kurdish militia group SDF that is backed by the United States holds the largest area of Syrian territory outside government control, but it has tried to avoid direct clashes with the government during the multisided war.
Kino Gabriel, a spokesman for the SDF, said in response to Assad’s comments that a military solution would “lead to more losses and destruction and difficulties for the Syrian people.”
The SDF wants a “democratic system based on diversity, equality, freedom, and justice” for all the country’s ethnic and religious groups, he said in a voice message to Reuters.
Assad in the RT interview also sought to minimize the extent of Iran’s presence in Syria. Israel, which is alarmed by what it claims is a growing Iranian military presence in Syria, has recently destroyed dozens of military sites that it claimed were occupied and used by Iranian forces and Hizbullah militias.
But Assad said Iran’s presence in Syria has been limited to officers assisting the army. Apparently referring to a May 10, 2018 air strike by Israel, Assad said: “We had tens of Syrian martyrs and wounded soldiers, not a single Iranian casualty.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an independent Britain-based war-monitoring group, has said at least 68 Iranians and pro-Iranian forces have been killed in Israeli air strikes since April 2018.
Despite spending the past 20 years focused on counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations in the Middle East, the US military still outmatches its Chinese and Russian competitors. The US is the only country that can effectively respond to a military contingency anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.
Understanding that they are conventionally overpowered, China and Russia have been using irregular warfare to achieve their goals without matching the US military’s might. And they have been quite successful.
In Africa, China has been handing out development aid and infrastructure loans like candy, with the dual purpose of securing geopolitical influence and resources for its growing economy. In Asia, Beijing has been bullying its neighbors on its way toward regional supremacy.
Russia has used social media to influence election outcomes in the US and Europe. Moscow has also been using private military companies, such as the infamous Wagner Group, to achieve strategic goals in Ukraine, Libya, and Syria, among other places.
Both countries understand that in an era of renewed great-power competition — a race between the US and Russia and China for geopolitical influence, economic advantages, and resources — irregular warfare is the ideal strategy against the US.
Now the US Department of Defense is trying to counter that threat by investing in and expanding its own irregular-warfare capabilities.
The Pentagon heralded this shift with its recent decisions to turn the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office into the Irregular Warfare Technical Support Directorate and to release the irregular-warfare annex to the National Defense Strategy.
The creation of the directorate was included in a November memorandum signed by acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, which elevated the Pentagon’s civilian official overseeing special operations to the same level as a military service chief. The annex was released in October.
Struggle in the gray zone
The US military defines irregular warfare as a “violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant population(s).”
Irregular warfare doesn’t necessarily mean open warfare, but it can take place in the gray zone between competition that’s below the level of armed conflict and a war that’s formally declared. It can affect all traditional and non-traditional realms of geopolitical struggle, such as the economic, diplomatic, military, intelligence, law enforcement, and cyber domains.
The difference between irregular warfare and counterterrorism is that the former is a strategy that aims to defend US global supremacy against state and non-actors, whereas the latter is a mix of activities and operations against terrorist groups and state-sponsored terrorism.
Same game, different name
Irregular warfare isn’t new to the US military. Indeed, the US campaign against terrorist organizations over the last two decades has included elements of it. But now, the irregular warfare “target deck” has been officially updated to include near-peer adversaries, such as Russia and China.
Irregular warfare against a near-peer adversary isn’t new either, but now the Pentagon recognizes that the strategy’s utility isn’t seasonal but enduring. Previously, the US would use irregular warfare against an adversary, such as the Soviets in Afghanistan, but would then let the capability and resources dedicated to it atrophy.
The US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) already has potent irregular-warfare capabilities. Army special operations, in particular, take the lead on that front.
The Army’s Green Berets specialize in foreign internal defense, which means training local troops, and in unconventional warfare, which consists of creating and leading guerrilla campaigns. Both are squarely within the gray zone of irregular warfare.
Additionally, the Army’s Civil Affairs teams help create the necessary civil and political conditions for US diplomacy and political influence to be more effective. The Army’s Psychological Operations teams also help shape the geopolitical environment to favor the US.
Other special-operations units, such as the Marine Raiders or Navy SEALs, can contribute to an irregular-warfare campaign but perhaps not as effectively as their Army counterparts.
But to ensure a robust and effective irregular-warfare capability, US military has to understand and embrace it as a whole.
The conventional side of irregular warfare
Policymakers have relied on special-operations forces for almost everything for years, but conventional forces also play a big role in irregular warfare.
For example, if a US aircraft carrier cruises through the South China Sea, it sends a message to China by physically contradicting Beijing’s territorial claims in the disputed region.
Similarly, when an Army mechanized brigade deploys in Eastern Europe and trains with local forces, it sends a dual message: A psychological one to the US partners and allies about American commitment in the region, and a geopolitical one to Russia, illustrating the US’s reach and influence.
Ironically, it is the conventional might of the US military that encourages adversaries to invest more in their own ability to wage irregular warfare.
Retired Marine Johnny “Joey” Jones, who lost both his legs after stepping on an IED while deployed, was asked to exit a ride at Six Flags Over Georgia; since then, the story has appeared in multiple news outlets and sparked a heated conversation.
The Washington Post reported that Jones was “concerned with the way the park’s policy was presented to him” and that “the policy is too restrictive to accommodate people with disabilities.”
But there’s a good reason for roller coaster parks to be restrictive.
Hackemer had been wounded in 2008 by an armor-penetrating warhead that caused the loss of his left leg and most of his right. He, like Jones, wore prosthetic limbs. After an investigation, a reportedly seven-figure settlement was reached between the lawyers for Darien Lake Theme Park and Resort and Hackemer’s family.
Jones didn’t see the handicapped sign for the ride when he climbed in with his 8 year-old son — but the ride operator noticed Jones’ prosthetics. Jones told The Washington Post that he wasn’t upset about being asked to leave the ride, but rather that the employees didn’t seem trained to properly accommodate his condition.
“We apologize to Mr. Jones for any inconvenience; however, to ensure safety, guests with certain disabilities are restricted from riding certain rides and attractions,” Six Flags said in a statement to Fox News. “Our accessibility policy includes ride safety guidelines and the requirements of the federal American Disabilities Act. Our policies are customized by ride and developed for the safety of all our guests. Our policies and procedures are reviewed and adjusted on a regular basis to ensure we continue to accommodate the needs of our guests while simultaneously maintaining a safe environment for everyone.”
Nonetheless, Jones took to Twitter to call out the park:
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide legal advice. These drone laws & regulations are continually changing, and you should not rely solely on the lists herein. Please look up your state’s current laws and/or contact an attorney to determine what, if any, legal requirements or restrictions apply to the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems in your area.
Recreational vs. Commercial Drone Regulations
One of the biggest hurdles to mass adoption of drones is the numerous regulations that restrict what drone owners and operators can do. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has several regulations that have hindered drone market growth.
The most prevalent of these restrictions is the one colloquially known as the “line of sight rule,” which mandates that drone operators keep the unmanned aircraft within eye shot at all times. This clearly removes any potential application for drones in the delivery space, as the need to keep a drone in line of sight at all times defeats the purpose of sending off a drone to drop off a product at a consumer’s home.
But there are different FAA drone rules for commercial use and for recreational use. Recreational drone laws are in some ways more lax than commercial ones, but the line of sight remains pivotal (more on these laws later).
Drone Pilot License and FAA Laws & Regulations
“Do I need a license to fly a drone?” “Do I need to register my drone?” These are two of the most common questions prospective drone owners ask.
As of a law passed on January 3, 2018, a recreational drone user must register their drone with the FAA, mark the outside of the drone with the registration number, and carry proof of registration when flying. Furthermore, the pilot must fly only for recreational purposes.
This next portion is crucial: The pilot must keep the drone below 400 feet in uncontrolled or “Class G” airspace. This simply refers to airspace where the FAA is not controlling manned air traffic, which means it is safe to fly your drone there. Fortunately, most drones and their accompanying mobile apps provide guidelines to help identify appropriate airspace and height.
The FAA has a full list of drone rules and guidelines here.
The FAA’s online registration system went into effect on Dec. 21, 2015. This required all UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds to be registered.
Since then, the number of drones registered in the U.S. has been increasing. More than 900,000 owners had already registered by the end of 2018, and monthly owner registration averaged between 8,000-9,000 during the full year 2018, according to the FAA.
As of December 10, 2019, there were 1,509,617 drones registered with the FAA. This includes 1,085,392 recreational drones and 420,340 commercial drones, as well as 160,748 remote pilots certified.
State and Local Laws & Regulations
In addition the federal laws, several states have enacted drone regulations of their own. Here’s a breakdown of drone regulations by state:
Alaska state law HB 255 passed in 2014 places limits on how law enforcement can use drones in their operations, which includes but is not limited to how and whether they can save images and video captured by drone.
SB 1449 passed in 2016 is quite robust, and includes the following regulations:
Drones cannot interfere with police, firefighters, or manned aircraft.
Flying a drone in what is considered “dangerous proximity” to a person or property is deemed Disorderly Conduct.
Drones must stay a minimum of 500 feet horizontally or 250 feet vertically of any “critical facility.” These include but are not limited to courthouses, hospitals, military installations, water treatment and oil and gas facilities, and power plants.
Any city or town in Arizona with more than one park must permit the usage of drones in at least one of those parks.
Cities and towns in Arizona may not craft their own drone laws.
Arkansas has several state laws regarding drones. Act 293 forbids the use of drones to invade privacy and commit video voyeurism. Act 1019 forbids the use of drones for surveillance of “critical infrastructure.” And am Arkansas State Park Regulation passed in 2018 forbids the operation of drones in any Arkansas State Park without first acquiring a Special Use Permit from the Office of the Director.
The most populous state in the union has three laws regarding drones. Civil Code Section 1708.8 forbids the use of drones to record another person without their consent. SB 807 grants immunity for first responders who damage any unmanned vehicle that interferes with first responders during emergency services. Related, AB 1680 makes it a misdemeanor for drones to interfere with the activities of first responders during an emergency.
HB 1070 passed in 2017 requires the Center of Excellence within the Division of Fire Prevention and Control within the Department of Public Safety to conduct a study on the integration of drones within state and local government operations that relate to certain public safety functions. The law also created a pilot program to facilitate this goal.
Meanwhile, Colorado State Parks Regulation #100-c.24 in 2018 forbids the operation of drones in Colorado State Parks with the exception of designated areas.
SB 975 prohibits municipalities within the state from regulating drones with the exception of municipalities that are also water companies, which can regulate or forbid the use of drones over said municipality’s public water supply and land.
DEEP 23-4-1 prohibits the use of drones at Connecticut State Parks, State Forests or other lands under the control of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, with the exception of those specifically authorized by the Commissioner through a Special Use License.
HB 195 forbids flying a drone over any event with an attendance greater than 5,000 people (such as concerts, sporting events, auto races, and festivals), as well as any critical infrastructure (such as government buildings, power plants, water treatment facilities, military installations, oil and gas refineries). Lastly, the law forbids cities and towns in Delaware from crafting their own drone laws.
Criminal Code Section 934.50 forbids the use of drones for surveillance that violates another person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. This includes law enforcement, however police can use drones with a valid search warrant, if there is a terrorist threat, or “swift action” is needed to prevent loss of life or to find a missing person, per SB 92. That same law also allows someone harmed by the inappropriate use of a drone to pursue civil action.
HB 1027 forbids local regulation of drones, but does allow for local legislatures to craft some drone laws related to “nuisances, voyeurism, harassment, reckless endangerment, property damage, or other illegal acts.” It also forbids also the use of drones over or near critical infrastructure in most situations, and bans the possession or use of a weaponized drone.
Finally, Florida Administrative Code 5l-4.003 forbids the usage of drones on managed lands (such as Florida state parks and forests) with the exception of runways or helispots and only with authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
HB 481 preempts Georgia’s local governments from creating drone regulations after April 1, 2017. This law also permits state and local governments in Georgia to regulate the launch or landing of drones on public property.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources also has rules and regulations that forbid the use of drones in Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites, with some exceptions for waivers for professional commercial projects that could help generate revenue or promote those sites. Prior authorization is required for such exceptions.
Act 208 created a drone test site advisory board, along with a chief operating officer to oversee the site.
Idaho Code 36-1101 forbids the use of drones to hunt, molest, or locate game animals, game birds, or fur-bearing animals. Idaho Code 21-213 mandates warrants for law enforcement to use drones, creates guidelines for drone use by private citizens, and outlines civil penalties for damage caused by improper use of drones.
Illinois has one of the more thorough sets of state drone laws in the nation.
20 ILCS 5065 created the Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force Act charged with regulating commercial and private drones. These regulations include landowners’ rights, operational safety, and privacy rights.
HB 1652 prohibits the use of drones to interfere with the activities of hunters or fishermen.
SB 1587 permits the use of drones by law enforcement with a warrant for counterterrorism, to prevent harm, or to thwart the impending escape of a suspect. If used, law enforcement agencies must destroy all information gathered by the drone within 30 days, with exceptions made if the information contains reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
SB 2937 relaxes regulations on drone usage by law enforcement during a disaster or public health emergency, and creates rules for how law enforcement can acquire and use information gathered from a private party’s use of drones.
Finally, SB 3291 forbids cities, towns, and other municipalities from enacting regulations or restrictions on the drone use, with the exception of municipalities with more than one million residents.
Indiana has multiple state drone laws, starting with HB 1009, which created warrant guidelines for law enforcement use of drones and other real-time geolocation tracking devices. The law also created a Class A misdemeanor called “Unlawful Photography and Surveillance on Private Property,” in which a person intentionally conducts electronic surveillance of another’s private property without permission.
HB 1013 permits drone use to photograph or video a traffic crash site, while HB 1246 forbids drone use to locate game during hunting season.
SB 299 created two Class A misdemeanors tied to drone use. The first is “sex offender unmanned aerial vehicle offense,” in which a sex offender uses a drone to follow, contact, or surveil another person under conditions that prohibit said offender from doing so. The second is “public safety remote aerial interference offense,” in which a person uses a drone in a manner that obstructs or interferes with a public safety official performing his or her duties. Both offenses become level 6 felonies if the guilty party has a prior conviction under the same section.
Finally, IAC 312 8-2-8 (i) forbids drone use on Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) property, which includes state parks; however, the DNR can grant licenses to use drones at its discretion.
The Hawkeye State’s lone drone law, HB 2289, forbids any state agency from using drones to enforce traffic laws and insists upon a warrant or other lawful measure to use any information obtained by drones in any civil or criminal court proceedings.
SB 319 expands the definition of harassment in the state’s existing Protection from Stalking Act to include particular drone uses.
HB 540 permits commercial airports to design their own drone facility maps and forbids drone use in certain areas designated by said maps.
HB 1029 created the crime of unlawful drone use, defined as the intentional use of a drone to surveil a location without the owner’s prior written consent.
SB 183 regulates drone use for agricultural commercial operations, while SB 141 clarifies that some drone surveillance constitutes criminal trespass.
HB 635 added drones under the crimes of voyeurism and video voyeurism, and HB 335 authorized the establishment of registration and licensing fees for drones in Louisiana at a $100 limit.
HB 19 forbids drone use to surveil school rounds or correctional facilities, while SB 73 expands the definition of obstructing an officer to include intentionally crossing a police barrier with a drone. SB 73 also permits law enforcement and the fire department to disable drones if they endanger the safety of the public or an officer.
Lastly, SB 69 insists that only the state, not local governments, can regulate drone use.
Sec. 1. 25 MRSA Pt. 12 mandates that law enforcement agencies obtain approval before acquiring drones and lays out other rules for police use, such as warrant requirements.
Section 14-301 establishes the state’s power over local authorities to create laws that regulate drone operation.
Furthermore, SB 992 outlines several prohibitions for drones, all of which classify as misdemeanors. First, local governments cannot regulate drones except if the drone belongs to the locality. Second, the law allows commercial drone operation provided the FAA has authorized the user to do so commercially, and allows recreational use under federal law compliance.
Third, SB 992 forbids drone use that interferes with emergency personnel, to harass any individual, to violate restraining orders, or to capture photo or video that invades a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Finally, the law forbids sex offenders from using drones to photograph, follow, or make contact with an individual they are forbidden to contact.
Minnesota Statute 360.60 mandates that all recreational and commercial drone operators register their drone with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Commercial operators must have drone insurance per the requirements set forth under Minnesota Statute 360.59. Furthermore, all commercial operators must pay a licensing fee for a Commercial Operations License, according to the Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Rules Chapter 8800.
In the Big Sky State, SB 196 outlines that information gained from drone use is only admissible in court when obtained with a search warrant or through some other exception recognized by the courts.
HB 644 forbids drone use that interferes with efforts to suppress wildfires.
Amendments 362, 640, and 746 officially define drones as aircraft, which regulates drone operations. This law also prohibits weapons on drones and forbids the use of drones within a certain distance of airports and other “critical” facilities. Finally, it places restrictions on drone use by law enforcement.
SB 3370 is a robust law that establishes several guidelines for drone use:
Permits drone use in accordance with federal law
Classifies drone use in a way that endangers the life or property of another as a disorderly person offense.
Establishes that is a fourth-degree crime if an individual “knowingly or intentionally creates or maintains a condition which endangers the safety or security of a correctional facility by operating an unmanned aircraft system on the premises of or in close proximity to that facility”
Outlines that using a drone to interfere with a first responder is a criminal offense
Allows drone owners of critical infrastructure to apply to the FAA to forbid or limit drone use near said infrastructure
Classifies operating a drone under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater as a disorderly person offense
Forbids local governments from regulating drone use in any way that conflicts with this law
Appropriately, the state that was “First in Flight” was also one of the first to adopt a truly detailed set of drone laws, starting with SB 744 in 2014, which established requirements for recreational, commercial, and government drone use.
SB 446 gives North Carolina’s Chief Information Officer the power to approve drone use by state agencies, mandates tests for drone operations, and establishes a permit process for commercial drones.
HB 128 forbids drone use near a correctional facility, with the exception of certain official use or other prior authorization.
HB 337 permits drone use for emergency management activities. It also makes adjustments to align the state law with federal law, and exempts model aircraft from the state’s training and permitting requirements for drones.
Finally, NCAC 13B.1204 forbids drones to take off or ascend at any state park area without a special permit from the park.
North Dakota Code Sec. 29-29.4-01 restricts drone use to surveillance, crime investigation, and other law enforcement uses. It also mandates law enforcement have a warrant to do so.
HB 2559 forbids drone use within 400 feet of any critical infrastructure facility.
HB 2710 established quite a few drone regulations, including:
Creating new crimes and civil penalties for mounting weapons on drones, as well as interfering with or obtaining unauthorized access to public drones
Allowing a law enforcement agency to use a drone with a warrant and for exceptions such as training
Requiring any drone operated by a public body to be registered with the Oregon Department of Aviation (DOA)
Allowing a landowner under certain conditions to take action against an individual operating a drone lower than 400 feet over their property
SB 5702 set the fees for registering a public drone. HB 4066 clarified and modified some drone definitions and made it a class A misdemeanor to operate a weaponized drone. It also regulated public drone use and mandated policies and procedures for data retention.
HB 3047 adjusted the law forbidding weaponizing drones by making it a class C felony to fire a bullet or projectile from such a device. It also prohibits drone use over private property in any way that intentionally or recklessly harasses or agitates the property’s owner or occupant. Finally, it allows law enforcement to use drones to reconstruct accident scenes.
Lastly, The State Fish and Wildlife Commission forbids the use of drones to hunt, fish, or trap animals and prohibits using drones to interfere with hunters.
Title 18 Section 3505 forbids drone use to intentionally surveil other people in a private place, to use a drone in a way that puts another person in reasonable fear of injury, or to operate a drone to handle contraband.
Title 53 of Section 305 builds upon this law by having Title 18 Section 3505 preempt any laws or resolutions of other municipalities. Furthermore, municipalities cannot regulate ownership and operation of drones unless authorized by statute.
HB 7511 provides exclusive regulatory power over drone use to the state and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, in accordance with federal law. It also prevents local governments from crafting their own drone laws.
Title 250 of Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations forbids drone use at any Rhode Island state park without a special use permit, typically issued for professional filming and media companies. Furthermore, the law also bans drone use to harass or disturb individuals, wildlife, or natural resources at a state park.
SB 80 mandates that drone operation complies with appropriate FAA requirements. It also classifies drone use over military and correctional facilities as a class 1 misdemeanor. Delivering contraband or drugs by drone to a correctional facility is a class 6 felony under this law. Finally, it amends the crime of unlawful surveillance to include intentional drone use to observe or record an individual in a way that violates their reasonable expectation of privacy, and forbids landing a drone on someone’s property without consent. Unlawful surveillance is a class 1 misdemeanor.
The much simpler SB 22 grants exemptions from aircraft registration requirements for drones that weigh less than 55 pounds.
The Volunteer State has six drone laws to consider. SB 796 permits law enforcement to use drones with a search warrant in cases of high-risk terrorist attacks or if quick action is necessary to prevent clear and present danger to life. Any evidence obtained in violation of this law cannot be admitted in state criminal prosecutions, and the law creates opportunities for those wronged by such evidence to take civil action.
SB 1892 classifies intentional drone surveillance of an individual or property, and possessing images from said surveillance, as Class C misdemeanors. Distribution or use of those images is a Class B misdemeanor.
On a similar note, SB 1777 makes it a Class C misdemeanor for any private entity to use a drone to conduct video surveillance of someone who is hunting or fishing without their consent.
HB 153 forbids drone use to capture footage above open-air events and fireworks displays. HB 2376 clarifies that individuals can use drones on behalf of both public and private institutions of higher education.
Finally, SB2106 makes it illegal to operate a drone within 250 feet of a critical infrastructure facility in order to surveil or gather information about said facility.
HB 912 detailed 19 lawful uses for drones and also created two new crimes: illegal use of drones to capture images, and the offense of possessing or distributing said images.
HB 1481 classifies drone use over a critical infrastructure facility if the drone is not more than 400 feet off the ground as a Class B misdemeanor. Meanwhile, HB 2167 allows individuals in certain professions to capture images for use in those professions via drone as long as no individual can be identified in the images.
HB 1643 forbids local governments from regulating drones with the exception of special events and when the drone is used by the locality. HB 1424 forbids drone use over correctional and detention facilities. It does the same for sports venues, with some exceptions.
SB 840 allows telecom companies to use drones to capture images. Furthermore, it clarifies that only law enforcement can use drones to capture images of property within 25 miles of the U.S. border for border security reasons. Lastly, it permits insurance companies to use drones to capture images for certain insurance purposes, according to FAA regulations.
Finally, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Policy bans drones in Texas State Parks without a permit, with the exception of Lake Whitney and San Angelo. Individuals can also request permits for drone use at state parks.
SB 196 mandates that law enforcement obtain a warrant before using drones in any location where an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Related, SB 167 regulates drone use by the government and establishes that law enforcement must have a warrant to obtain, receive, or use any data from drone use.
HB 296 permits law enforcement to use drones to capture footage at testing sites, or to find a lost or missing person in an area in which a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy.
HB 217 forbids individuals from using drones to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly harm, actively disturb, or chase livestock.
Finally, SB 111 established several regulations for drones:
Creates cases for law enforcement to use drones for purposes not related to a criminal investigation
Mandates law enforcement create an official record of drone use to provide information on that use and any data acquired from it
Preempts local regulation of drones and exempts drones from aircraft registration in Utah
Classifies flying a drone with a weapon attached or carried on it as a class B misdemeanor
Modifies the offense of criminal trespass to include drones entering and remaining unlawfully over property with specified intent
States that a person is not guilty of what would otherwise be a privacy violation if the person is using a drone for some legitimate commercial or educational purpose under FAA law. It further amends the offense of voyeurism (a class B misdemeanor) to include the use of any technology, including drones, to secretly capture video of an individual under certain circumstances
SB 155 mandates that law enforcement report annually on drone use by the department, regulates said use, and forbids weaponizing drones.
In 2013, HB 2012 forbade drone use by any state agency “having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement or regulatory violations,” as well as units of local law enforcement, until July 1, 2015.
HB 2125 mandates that law enforcement agencies obtain a warrant before using a drone for any purpose, with a few exceptions. Meanwhile, HB 412 forbids local government regulation of drones.
SB 873 specifies that the fire chief or other ranking officer at a fire department has the authority to maintain order at an emergency site, which includes the immediate airspace where drones might fly.
Finally, HB 2350 classifies using a drone to trespass on another’s property to peep or spy on them as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The Washington State Legislature allows drone use in any state park area with written permission, wherein the director or designee can set restrictions. The operator must have said permission on them when using the drone.
HB 2515 forbids hunting, taking, or killing wild animals with drones. HB 4607 mandates that operators have permission from the State Park Superintendent to fly drones in any of West Virginia’s state parks.
SB 338 bans drone use to interfere with hunting, trapping, or fishing, while AB 670 forbids drone use over correctional facilities.
SF 170 requires the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission to craft rules and regulations for where drones can take off and land. The commission can also develop reasonable rules for drone use through coordination with the drone industry and local governments. Importantly, the law clarifies that the commission cannot regulate drone use in navigable airspace, and makes it illegal to land a drone on another’s property; however, operators can fly drones over their own property.
On September 20, 1958, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. arrived at the Blumstein’s department store in Harlem, New York for a book signing. His new book “Stride Toward Freedom” chronicled the Montgomery bus boycott that began when Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on a public bus to a white passenger. The boycott had come to a close in December of 1956, when the Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of public buses was indeed unconstitutional. It was a watershed moment for both the Civil Rights movement and for America itself.
As a crowd formed in the shoe section of Blumstein’s, King took his seat behind a roped-off section of the store. Soon, eager readers were lining up to catch a moment of the influential figure’s time and his signature for their book. He exchanged brief pleasantries with each person as they approached the table, and as a 42-year-old woman in a stylish outfit and sequined cat’s eye-glasses took her turn, King’s demeanor was no different.
“Are you Martin Luther King?” The woman reportedly asked through a notable southern accent.
“Yes,” King replied, but before he could go on any further, the seemingly ordinary woman threw herself at the table and the man behind it, plunging a seven-inch pen knife into King’s chest.
Bystanders responded by pulling the woman away from King and pinning her on the floor as she shouted, “I’ve been after him for six years. I’m glad I done it!”
King, a man who was no stranger to threats, seemed somehow stoically calm, despite the serious bleeding from his chest. As his fans and supporters surrounded him, ushering him toward medical help, he was heard counseling them, soothing their collective anxieties as though he knew everything was going to be okay.
“That’s all right. Everything is going to be all right,” King was heard saying.
Of course, King couldn’t know it would be all right. Maybe it was just in his nature to ease the burden on others. With the knife still in his chest, King was lifted in his chair and carried out to an ambulance that would rush him to Harlem Hospital. Shortly thereafter, the police would march the same dangerous woman back into King’s company. This time there were no books to sign. The police wanted him to confirm that the women they had in custody was indeed his attacker. When they’d placed her under arrest, they also recovered a loaded .25 caliber pistol from her bra.
Despite the terrible attack, King was lucky. The seven-inch knife had punctured his chest just a fraction of an inch away from his aorta, or the main artery that carried blood from his heart to the rest of his body. King, who remained conscious and soothing throughout the ordeal, had only narrowly escaped death, but the risk hadn’t passed. He was rushed into surgery, where he had two ribs removed from his side to allow the knife to be pulled out without causing further damage.
“The X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge of my aorta, the main artery,” Dr. King later said in his famed ‘I’ve been to the mountaintop’ speech.
“And once that’s punctured, you’re drowned in your own blood — that’s the end of you.”
He would leave the hospital days later with a new scar in the shape of a cross over his heart. Despite the brutal attack, he was resolute when questioned by the press: He bore no ill will toward the woman who had stabbed him and reaffirmed his position that non-violence is the only way to manifest the type of positive change he sought for his country.
The attacker, whose name was Izola Curry, didn’t look like the sort of person most would expect to attack Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Curry was a fashionable middle-aged Black woman, but beneath her polished exterior laid a turbulent and troubled mind. Curry was a paranoid schizophrenic who had struggled with her mental health for years. In her confused state, she’d grown convinced that King and the NAACP were conspiring with communists against her. To King, however, the attack was a symptom of a greater illness than even Curry’s schizophrenia.
“A climate of hatred and bitterness so permeates areas of our nation that inevitably deeds of extreme violence must erupt,” he said at the time.
“The experience of these last few days has deepened my faith in the relevance of the spirit of nonviolence, if necessary social change is peacefully to take place.”
King would continue to change the world for another decade, before yet another act of violence would rob him of the remainder of his life. It could be argued that, as of that fateful day in 1958, he was acutely aware of the risk his efforts posed to his safety. If he did feel fear somewhere beneath the obvious empathy he felt for the woman who attacked him, however, it never showed. King did not shy away from his work, nor his beliefs, no matter the risk.
Now, as we prepare to honor the memory and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. some 63-years after his death, the story of the near fatal attack offers some uncomfortable parallels with today’s America. As rhetoric about race, mental illness, and the danger of radicalized beliefs permeate our national discourse today just as it did in 1958, we could all learn something from King’s ability to find a catalyst for positive change in even the darkest of places.
In King’s final public speech, he recalled the 1958 attack and how close he came to death… but even amid telling the story, King’s focus was not on his own mortality, but rather on the goodness he found in others as a result of the experience, and the progress he envisioned for America to come.
He told the story of a 9-year-old white girl who wrote to him to say that she’d read that if he had sneezed while the blade was in his chest, he almost certainly would have died.
“And I’m simply writing you to say that I’m so happy that you didn’t sneeze,” King recounted.
King went on to echo the young girl’s sentiment, using it to remind the audience about the important steps the Civil Rights movement had made in the years that followed. King didn’t recount these events like he was listing his own victories, but there was an air of pride about his statements. King, like so many great Americans before him, saw each victory and failure as another part of the struggle that has defined America since its very inception. America, he knew, has always been defined by the aspiration for a better tomorrow, the drive to become a more perfect union.
“If I had sneezed — If I had sneezed I wouldn’t have been here in 1963, when the black people of Birmingham, Alabama, aroused the conscience of this nation, and brought into being the Civil Rights Bill.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama, to see the great Movement there.
If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been in Memphis to see a community rally around those brothers and sisters who are suffering.
I’m so happy that I didn’t sneeze.”
For all of his philosophical wisdom, King was, at his heart, a pragmatic man. He saw the complexity, the hate, the love, the anger, and the joy all woven into the fabric of his nation. He knew his goals were grander than one man, no matter his eloquence and empathy. He knew that the progress he helped usher in was delicate, and that the fight for our nation’s soul was far from over. King knew America would never be perfect… but importantly, he knew that it was in the effort, in the aspiration, that America’s true greatness had always, and will always, lie.
In a way, it’s deeply tragic that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to look out over the crowd of supporters that had gathered on that April day in 1968 and know that he wouldn’t be there to see America embrace the equality he longed for… but King was a great American. Like our Founding Fathers, King knew that a society grows great when men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Progress, like a tree, needs time to take root.
Today, our nation continues to struggle with some of the same issues it faced during King’s days of fighting for equality, as well as daunting new ones that stretch beyond the horizon. America has always been imperfect, but our greatness doesn’t lie in what we are. The real America has always been found in what we, its people, strive to become.
“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!”
The Russian Navy plans to test missiles in international waters off Norway’s coast, Norwegian and NATO officials say, as the Western military alliance conducts its largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Oct. 29, 2018, the alliance was informed last week about the planned tests.
“Russia has a sizable presence in the north, also off Norway,” Stoltenberg told the Norwegian news agency NTB.
“Large [Russian] forces take part in maneuvers and they practice regularly,” he added.
Russian officials did not immediately comment on the planned missile tests, which come amid persistent tension between NATO and Russia, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatists in an ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine but accuses the alliance of provocative behavior near its borders.
A spokesman for Avinor, which operates Norwegian airports and air-navigation services, said Russia had informed them about the tests in a so-called NOTAM, a notice to pilots about potential hazards along a flight route.
The spokesman, Erik Lodding, told the dpa news agency that it was “a routine message.”
The tests are to take place from Nov. 1-3, 2018, west of the coastal cities of Kristiansund, Molde, and Alesund.
“There is nothing dramatic about this. We have noted it and will follow the Russian maneuvers,” Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen said.
On Oct. 25, 2018, NATO launched its Trident Juncture exercise, which Stoltenberg has called a “strong display” of its capability, unity, and resolve at a time of growing danger in Europe.The live-field exercise is set to run to Nov. 7, 2018.
It involves around 50,000 soldiers, 10,000 vehicles, and more than 300 aircraft and ships from all 29 NATO allies, plus partners Finland and Sweden.
The aim of the drills stretching from the North Atlantic to the Baltic Sea is to practice the alliance’s response to an attack on one of its members.
Russia held large military exercises called Zapad-2017 (West-2017) in September 2017 in its western regions jointly with Belarus, which also borders several NATO countries, and last month conducted massive drills across its central and eastern regions.