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Does Possessing Freedom Presuppose the Will to Fight?

If you want peace, prepare for war.

Reflections

What do you think about when you hear the wordwar?

You probably think of armed conflict, bloodshed, and death—and lots of it. That is the nature of warfare.It’s also why warpresents one of the most challenging issues to address from an ethical standpoint. Given this difficulty, most Christians have adopted just war theory, which requires engaging onlyin just wars and fighting those wars in a truly just manner. But such an ethical ideal takes great wisdom, courage, and dedicated moral discipline. Here are several brief thoughts to consider when someone asks whatyouthink of war.

“If You Want Peace, Prepare For War”

One of the hard lessons of the last century or so is that freedom requires the will to fight. In other words, to have a free society (democracy), that freedom will likely, if not inevitably, be challenged by totalitarian forces and will have to be…

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On Renaming Army Bases

I was doing a little research for a blog post on the 21st WI Infantry-a unit that fought in the American Civil War. I found out they were mustered in at Camp Bragg in Fond du Lac County. The name of the camp intrigued me since a fellow by the name of Braxton Bragg was a Confederate General (and not a very successful one). Fort Bragg in NC is home to the elite US Airborne Divisions and named for the Confederate General.

Although, I didn’t think the fort and the Civil War camp were named for the same guy the coincidence rang a bell as to how the US Army named their forts and camps in the first place. Camp Bragg in Wisconsin (which only existed during the Civil War) was named for a fellow named Edward Bragg. Edward was a northern “war Democrat” which meant he was in favor of suppressing the Southern Rebellion with force. He ended up a Brigadier General after serving in various Wisconsin regiments. In other words Edward was a local “somebody” who contributed a great deal to the cause. Edward also became a Republican later in his career which I found interesting. 

Braxton Bragg was from North Carolina. He was a graduate of West Point and served with distinction in the Mexican-American War. He was considered to be something of an expert in artillery because of the expert way he handled his battery in the Mexican War. In other words he was an up and comer in the US Army before siding with NC when it seceded.

Camp Bragg in NC (now Fort Bragg) was established well after the Civil War in 1918 for the training of the artillery arm of the US Army. See the connection?

The location was suitable and Bragg was an artillery officer (and trainer) in the US Army before he was a Confederate General.

It’s also worth noting that NC provided many soldiers to the Confederate cause as they believed they were fighting for their country. Some Army forts and camps were named for southerners in an effort to heal the nation after a war that cost 600,000 lives. Fort Hood in Texas for example, recognized John Bell Hood’s leadership of the famed Texas Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. 

We should be aware of this point. In 1918 the Civil War was still fresh in American minds. Naming a camp after a local “somebody” was a way to heal the rift between Americans.

This is very different from the Southern States that started flying the Confederate flag as a State flag during the Civil Rights era. The motive there was to intimidate blacks and preserve the hideous Jim Crow laws. 

Fort Bragg, as I mentioned earlier is the training ground for America’s elite Airborne warriors. It is home to the Army’s 82 and 101st Airborne Divisions. The fort switched from training the artillery arm to the airborne arm in 1942 during the Second World War. Perhaps it should be remained Fort Gavin for his contributions to the Airborne during World War Two?

Every time there is some sort of crisis the AB are among the first mobilized. I wonder how many of them, past or present, even know or care about the history of their fort\camp? I really do not have a dog in the particular fight to rename Army bases although I’m inclined to let it be and trust the Army to do what is best for the Army and the soldiers in their units.

I will say and say it again…history is nuanced and there aren’t any perfect people. Naming a camp or fort or ship usually had more to do with military contributions than anything else. Erasing history is not a good idea. Teach history fairly, warts and all and we will all be better off.

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A More Perfect Union


The Battle of Gettysburg ended on July 3rd, 1863. On July 4th, 1863 the river city fortress of Vicksburg fell to Union General US Grant. The loss of both battles meant the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Had Lee won at Gettysburg and Vicksburg held out longer it’s entirely possible that one of two things or both could have happened. The first is that France and England would have recognized the Confederacy as an independent nation. Among other things that could have meant the breaking of the Union blockade of Southern ports by the all powerful British Navy. (In 1863 the UK was the most powerful nation in the world and not necessary our pals.)

Confederate High Tide at Gettysburg

The second thing that is probable Lincoln would have lost the 1864 election in favor of Northern Democrats and Copperheads (a Copperhead opposed the war). If Lincoln was defeated it would have resulted in an independent Confederacy. The net result of an independent CSA would have meant a continuation of slavery-pure and simple. When news of the Union victories reached the North most realized it was the beginning of the end for the CSA although thousands more would die before the Confederates would surrender in the Spring of 1865. 

Note this quote from the preamble of Constitution of the USA:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Former President Barack OBama used the line, ” a more perfect Union” in a famous speech that spoke of race relations. The central idea of the preamble and presumably Obama’s speech was that the US keep striving for that more perfect Union. 

US History is full of warts and injustice but we have always striven to be that more perfect Union and fix what we can. There was a time when people of good will on both sides of the aisle recognized the common goal of striving for that more perfect Union. I truly fear that time has passed and that our country is in more trouble than it was in April of 1861. When one party refuses to condemn mob justice and violence and openly seeks socialistic Marxism we no longer have any kind of unity worthy of the name. It is not out of the question that a second Civil War is brewing and that would be tragic.

So what is the Christian to do? First we are mandated to pray for those in power no matter how distasteful that may be. After all, Paul’s instructions to do so involved the despot Nero. The question is how to pray for them. The most common answer to that question is that we are supposed to pray for wisdom. IMO, the wisdom to be prayed for is biblical wisdom that leads to practical application derived from the inalienable rights derived from our Creator.

The framers, for all their faults recognized this when formulating the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Therefore, it seems to me praying that those in power uphold the Constitution rather than treating it like silly putty would be the pathway to striving for that more perfect Union. That is my prayer.

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U. S. Grant and N. B. Forrest

One of the more disturbing aspects of the woke Cancel Culture is judging people (and history) of the past by contemporary woke social justice standards.

This is troubling because as Victor Davis Hansen puts it;

Once a cultural revolution gets going, there can be no contextualization of the past, no allowance for human frailty, no consideration of weighing evil vs. good.

https://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2020/06/18/how-cultural-revolutions-die–or-not-n2570836

This all relates to the war on historical statues and in particular to the statue of Union General U.S. Grant and Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest.

This is noteworthy because Grant was the general who finally ended the Civil War and was instrumental in breaking the bonds of slavery. Forrest fought for the Confederacy. He was a slave owner and an early supporter of the KKK. Yet both have had their monuments torn down thus proving it’s not really about slavery, but rather a Marxist ideology that seeks to destroy everything about American history. It’s worth quoting Hansen again:

Once a cultural revolution gets going, there can be no contextualization of the past, no allowance for human frailty, no consideration of weighing evil vs. good.

https://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2020/06/18/how-cultural-revolutions-die–or-not-n2570836
U.S. Grant

I wish to deal with Hansen’s observations one at a time starting with contextualization.

The American Civil War has a historical context. The United States struggled to deal with the slavery issue since the country’s founding. The split between north and south was based on votes in congress. When a state was added would it be a free state or a slave state? In other words it was about power politics. When Lincoln, a Republican whose base was at least partially abolitionist was elected, South Carolina led the way to break away from the Union fearing the loss of power (and slavery). The Civil War was on. Slavery and the election of Abraham Lincoln were the catalysts that ignited the fire that would take the lives of over 600,000 soldiers, both north and south.

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Grant was not an abolitionist, although his father certainly was. Grant later married into a family that was a slave holding family from Missouri. He later freed his slave who was given to him by his wife’s family). During the Civil War Grant became a friend of what were called contrabands, blacks who took refuge within the Union armies as they invaded the south. Grant was also for the enlisting of African Americans in the Union Army remarking that in an initial engagement, even though under trained and ill equipped they performed heroically. As President, Grant did even more for African Americans, a fact he is rarely given credit for. Grant’s context changed over time and he evolved so-to-speak; yet his statue had to come down as if he invented slavery rather than being a major factor in destroying it.

Forrest on the other hand is remembered as a brilliant general of Confederate cavalry. W.T. Sherman referred to Forrest as “that devil Forrest” as a left-handed compliment because Forrest was a natural born soldier who gave Sherman a lot of grief.

Forrest was also slave owner and the first leader of the KKK. Few people know or care that Forrest changed, quitting the KKK and breaking with the racists that continued the movement-all southern Democrats I might add. For this, Forrest was scorned by southern racists for being soft on the recently emancipated blacks. After the Civil War Forrest’s context changed and he changed for the better with it.

This leads to the second observation of Hansen’s; that of human frailty.

The woke social justice mob are in fact arrogant, self-righteous bigots who judge others by a standard that they would never judge themselves. They are incapable of introspection and blinded by what they believe is the moral high ground; even though they are largely ignorant of history. Many have been indoctrinated by an education system that is Marxist and as good little Marxists feel free to judge others by standards they never apply to themselves.

This factors into Hansen’s observation about evil versus good.

The Cancel Culture believes it has the moral high ground and as Marxists they either are atheists or at least practical atheists who have no concern for the God of the Bible who sets moral standards with absolute authority. Without the higher authority of a sovereign God they are free to reconstruct morality in their own image. And so they have.

What can be done about this? I’m not certain since anyone that objects is shamed and called a racist. The Cancel Culture shuts down debate from their lofty perchs on what they believe is the moral high ground. The majority who love their country, warts and all, are thus far cowed into silence. Few Republican leaders seem willing to push back and push back hard. Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas seems to be the exception to what should be the rule.

The country is probably more divided than at any other time and that includes the nation just prior to the Civil War. The Civil War was a war of irreconcilable differences as north and south had two very different visions for the country. So it is now. I hope saner heads prevail, but I confess to not being optimistic. God help us.

I wish to give credit where credit is due although I am fairly well read regarding the American Civil War. Three sources came together to help me form my thoughts for this blog entry. I’ve cited Victor Davis Hansen as the first. The others are the History Channel’s recent three part series on Grant. I highly recommend it. The other is a column by Scott Morefield from Townhall. In the column Morefield documents why Forrest’s bust has not yet been removed from Tennessee’s capitol building (while his statues have come down elsewhere).

History is complicated. It’s important we do not ignore it or erase it.

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Edward “Butch” O’Hare

Did you ever wonder how the big airport in Chicago got its name?

Pacific Paratrooper

Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, Feb. 1942

On Feb. 20, 1942, the flattop Lexington was steaming toward the Japanese base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, when it was approached by two enemy flying boats. Their crews managed to signal its coordinates before American fighters flamed the planes, and the Japanese immediately launched an attack against Lexington.

That chance encounter had dire implications for the U.S., which couldn’t afford the loss of a single ship and certainly not a carrier.

American radar picked up two waves of Japanese aircraft. Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty” bombers—good planes with experienced pilots.

Six American fighters led by legendary pilot Jimmy Thach intercepted one formation, breaking it up and downing most of the Bettys.

The second wave, however, approached from another direction almost unopposed.

Almost.

Two American fighters were close enough to intercept the second flight of eight bombers. The Navy pilots flew Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats, which like…

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Perryville, The Civil War Most Obscure Battle 2

Maney’s Brigade at Perryville

In September of 2019 my wife and I traveled to South Carolina to visit her sister. While there we took in some Civil War sites which included  Fort Sumter. On the way home we stopped in Kentucky to visit the largest Civil War battlefield in the state, Perryville.

I plan to discuss the visit to Perryville along with the excellent book that I purchased and then read about the battle on my other blog. The book is Kenneth W. Noe’s,  Perryville-The Grand Havoc of Battle. I also purchased from the visitor center at Perryville, Stuart W. Sandler’s, Maney’s Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Perryville.


Sandler’s book is a in-depth study of one Confederate brigade at the Battle of Perryville. It’s a Civil War nerd’s dream of detail and research crammed into 170 pages or so. It’s especially valuable to the war-gamer who wishes to focus on a single brigade’s contributions in a particular battle.

An excellent map from Civil War Trust showing the movements of the armies that ended up in mid-state Kentucky.

I tried to reproduce the effect of the terrain on my 4′ by 4′ game board. The rules we used were Rebels and Patriots. To reproduce the actions of a little more than a brigade on a side in a small space I had to fudge the scale while using the rules pretty much as is.

In this game a unit represented a regiment. As you can see from the OB all infantry units had either 18 figures or 12 figures. The rules feature units for 6 figure units but I didn’t include any. I also use two gun models for a battery for looks purposes, It does not have any effect on a gun’s profile meaning two models fire as one gun. It seemed to work fine.


I gave each side officers that improved discipline within 12″. I did not use the honor system in the rules.


Close order and first fire were eliminated from the game since the battle was well in progress by the time Maney’s brigade reached this point the action. Range was also restricted to 6″ for close 12″ for long. The artillery had a 24″ range. Part of the reason for this is the side of the game board but the other reason is the broken ground of North America.


Civil War re-enactors often do “impressions” of a real person. This is my impression of the role Maney’s Brigade played in the battle. It is not exact-only an impression and it was a lot of fun. Only the discipline modifiers were used from the unit profiles.

  • CSA OB
  • Maney’s Brigade
  • 41st GA, 18 models, Discipline=0,
  • 21st TN, 18 models, Discipline=+1,
  • 6th TN, 18 models, Discipline =+1,
  • 9th TN, 18 models, Discipline =+1,
  • 1st TN, 18 models, Discipline=+1
  • Turner’s Battery, Discipline=+1
  • Elements of Stewart’s adjacent brigade assigned to support Maney
  • 15th TN, 12 models, Discipline =0,
  • 38th TN, 12 models, Discipline=0


In my scenario the focus was on Maney’s brigade which faced elements from at least two Union brigades. The OB represents elements from those two brigades.

  • Union OB
  • 80th IL, 18 models, Discipline =-1,
  • 105th OH, 18 models, Discipline=-1,
  • 21st WI, 18 models, Discipline =-1
  • 123rd IL, 18 models, Discipline=0,
  • 79th PA, 18 models, Discipline =+1,
  • 1st WI, 12 models, Discipline =+1
  • Parson’s Battery, Discipline =+1, Stone’s Battery, Discipline =+1


Maney’s Brigade came very close to being the instrument that nearly rolled up an entire Union Corps. At this point in the battle some Union regiments were already tired and falling back. The discipline factor above reflects those units. Some Union regiments could not move until a certain turn was reached (activated). In another case Stone’s Battery would have to withdraw if certain Union regiments were routed. This was unknown to the Confederate player. The 15th and 38th TN from Stewart’s Brigade must align with Maney’s brigade and must attempt to pace them. In addition to that they could stray farther than 12″ from the board edge on which they placed. These fog of war rules for the scenario.

I used one of my colorful Zoauve units although no Union Zouaves were present.  The figures are Musket Miniatures. (painted as the 14th Brooklyn)
This unit is a combination of Irregular and Musket Miniatures. It could not activate until turn 3.
Airfix crews with Musket Miniatures guns.
Each unit had a unit ID as shown here.
This unit represented the 41st GA the only non Tennessee unit in Maney’s Brigade. It was a new unit to the brigade designed to bring the brigade up to strength. Most of these figures are 20mm Irregular Miniatures
Turner’s battery the background  giving cover fire to one go Maney’s TN Regiments. (Musket Miniatures for the infantry)
Turner’s Battery. The crewmen are from Irregular Miniatures (20mm) and the guns are again Musket Miniatures. They made a fine line of ACW artillery.
Turner’s Battery caisson with Airfix crew.
Bring up another gun!
Another one of Maney’s TN regiments. The figures are Musket Miniatures with an admixture of Revell poses. I like the standard with the Perryville battle honor!
Overview of the Union center and left flank at the start of the game. The units in the large field could not activate until turn 3.
The Union right flank.
The Confederate left flank and part of the center.
The Confederate right flank. The two units on the far left of the picture are represent the units from Stewart’s Brigade.
The 1st Wisconsin. The figures are from the excellent ACW Strelets sets.
The figures here are from the Strelets Confederates skirmishing set. Excellent figures! 
Division commander Cheatham giving Maney his orders.
I just enjoy these two vignettes.
Nice close up of Turner’s Battery
Rally boys, rally! The center figure is from the Strelets Union Staff set and the other two are Musket Minaitures.
A Union regiment consisting of Musket Miniatures. They were marketed as 22mm. It was an excellent and exhaustive line. The line was sold and the new owner has put them back on the market and then took them down repeating the process at least twice for some reason. I’ve only found some on eBay as of late.
Three os the TN regiments of Maney’s Brigade. Excuse the South Caroline flag. The figures are classic Airfix and part of my Hampton’s Legion impression.
Most of my infantry units for Rebels and Patriots have 18 figures. It’s easy enough to reduce them to 12 figures if needed. The rules are glorified skirmish rules built around “a company.” The authors suggest that scale does not matter much so call your units what you will and it will not affect game play. I admit I find this a little awkward but in this case it worked very well. 
An IMEX vignette-guns to the front!
Another Union Infantry Regiment-mostly Musket Miniatures with a few Irregular. My interest in 20mm (1/72nd) figures dates mack to my earliest days of wargaming when all we had were Airfix figures and Roco Minitanks.
Another pregame picture. I use the same figures for other sets of rules and a three model battery is a possibility in some sets.
The figures are mostly Irregular but there a few Waterloo figures as well. Irregular and Waterloo figures are close to 20mm and mix well.
The carpet squares represent farm fields. They had an affect on visibility. Having walked the actual battlefield it’s hard to minimize the effect of terrain. A rifled musket might be effective out to 300-400 yards but if you can’t see more than 100 yards in front of you it doesn’t matter much.
The Union position looked intimidating to the Confederate player and indeed it was since two Union batteries over looked portions of the battle field. The Confederate player did not realize that 1\2 of the Union infantry were already fragile and that if some routed at leas tone battery would limber up and move away.
One of my two Newline 20mm CSA regiments. Excellent figures, a bit chunkier than most 20mm but look great in their own units.
Stone’s Battery awaits the Confederate advance.
Portions of the 1st Wisconsin-my home state!
The two units represented portions of Stewart’s Brigade assigned to align with Maney. They had limited flexibility. As it turned out they both survived nicely and were critical is a very narrow Confederate victory.
Maney’s Brigade would carry the day but by a slender thread. The unit in the back is the 1st Tennessee of Company H fame. Atkins is quoted in the book.
Almost a ground level view of the beginning go the Confederate assault.
Here they come boys!
The Union Regiments in the field were exhausted already and had poor discipline to start the game.The 21st Wisconsin posted in the back of the field could not even see what was going on. By the time they could move the Confederates were on top of them and they routed just as their historical counterparts did.
The 123rd IL would virtually destroy the 41st GA with help of Parson’s Battery.
The 41st GA begins their advance.
Across a deadly field.
It looks bad here for the Rebs and it kind of was. However, the 1st WI is at 1\2 strength and would soon rout thus forcing the withdrawal of Stone’s battery. The Union left then collapsed saving the day for the south.
The Union right held firm but would have to withdraw best they could.
This is a pretty good aerial shot of the initial set up. The fields were all high grass or corn and did provide cover.
The view from the Union side.
2lb Napoleon stands guard today on one of hills at the Perryville State Park

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Home Front – Wartime Recipes (5)

This is one of my favorite blogs. It deals with WW2 mostly. During WW2 our parents and grandparents endured rationing so the troops would get first dibs on supplies. A lot of people planted what were called Victory Gardens. They turned yards and parks into gardens to grow veggies. It was a huge success. They also had to get creative with recipes. The gal mentioned in the blog has apparently compiled a book on wartime recipes. Here’s the link..

Pacific Paratrooper

 

Please thank Carolyn on her website for putting these delicious meals on-line! We often discuss the food our parents and grandparents dined on, despite rationing and wartime, they ate quite well – here are some of the recipes you might want to try out.

Now – you can even download her cookbook for free by clicking Right Here!!

Recipe 131: Kale and Bean Stew

Recipe 132: Pea and Potato Stew

Recipe 133: Baked Chips with Thyme

Recipe 134: Homity Pie

Recipe 135: Vegetable Au Gratin

Recipe 136: Kale and Potato Soup

Recipe 137: Trench Stew

Recipe 138: Irish Potato Pancakes

Recipe 139: Vegetable Soup

Recipe 140: Canadian Bake

Recipe 141: Savoury Meat Pie

Recipe 142: Potatoes in Curry Sauce

Recipe 143: Padded Pudding with Mock Cream + VIDEO RECIPE

Recipe 144: Bread…

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Psalm 91: Confidence for the Believer in Times of Trouble

Psalm 91 has a lot to say about the current virus crisis to the person who trusts in Christ alone. It also has a military history connection since it is sometimes called the Soldier’s Psalm.

My Take

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This morning I was reminded of Psalm 91 and how the Psalm functions in order to give hope and confidence to the believer in times of trouble.

As a certified biblical counselor I am always interested in helping people to counsel themselves by using the Bible and their knowledge of Scripture in general. Paul himself encourages the Roman Christians to counsel one another through the Word of God. He states:

14 I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 15:14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Toward that end of trying to help people counsel one another during this time of uncertainly, I will use nothing more than the study notes from the MacArthur Study Bible and the ESV Study Bible for my comments. The point…

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There are Things Worse Than a Virus

Historic Christianity from my other blog. It’s a good time to consider the claims of Christ.

My Take

The apostle Paul wrote:

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Co. 15:26, ESV)

Then, as now, mankind’s greatest fear is not a virus from Wuhan but the possibility of death that the virus represents. Viruses and diseases are scary especially when the recipient knows that treatments and vaccines either do not exist or are not necessarily all that effective.

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When we are sick we instinctively think in terms of cure and rely on the doctors and scientists to provide that cure and when they have little to offer at the moment we tend to panic.

Why? Because the specter of death looms large in our minds and death is to be feared above all else. A virus serves as a symbol of sorts that predicts possible doom.

Most people do not want to die. Most believe they have something to live for. The exceptions to that are…

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Christmas poems for our military (1)

Some military poetry from one of my favorite blogs

Pacific Paratrooper

Sailor Santa

“A Different Christmas Poem”

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And…

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