Friday, May 30, 2008

Real Patriotism

Memorial Day 2008 came and went, and as you can tell from my post below, for our family it was a time of joy and celebration because my son came home. But for a lot of other families, it was a time to remember and grieve. It was a time to reflect and renew. It was a time to gather and rededicate. Even as our family celebrated the return of our Marine from the crucible of the Long War, we did understand that it was Memorial Day and we did take time to give thanks and recognize those who have given all in our prayers and in discussions. It was also something to see everyone at the National’s Ballpark stand in absolute silence for a National Moment of Remembrance. I know that these things are minor and that our family’s focus was on celebrating our reunion with our son; but we didn’t forget. Lest you think I sound defensive, I don’t regret a minute of our celebration (although I’m still recovering). I do want to comment on something Garrison Keillor wrote about the Rolling Thunder Memorial Day weekend.

You remember who Garrison Keillor is, don’t you. He’s the guy from NPR famous for the mellow voice and the “down home” stories from the “Prairie Home Companion.” Anyway, this guy wrote an editorial published in a couple of places called “The Roar of Hollow Patriotism.” (Check it out here and here.) I agree with Yankee Mom (the blogger from whom I “appropriated” the idea for this post), you just have to go to one of these links and read the whole thing and “behold elitist liberal intellectual snobbery in all it’s glory.”

Once you read the editorial, you realize that Mr. Keillor’s problem is not so much with the Rolling Thunder Rally, or with the idea of celebrating Memorial Day. His problem is that he wanted to go to the Art Museum to look at paintings (I guess that’s something the intellectual elite do to exercise their patriotic love of country and to honor the sacrifice of those who have given their lives for their country . . . stare at paintings of people in rowboats) and he had to wait for three-hundred thousand bikers to finish their flag-waving, horn honking, engine-revving parade before he could cross the street. Poor Mr. Keillor. Fortunately, a gap developed after about 20 minutes, so he and a “mob” of other pedestrians could literally stop the parade so they could re-enter civilization and leave the madding hoards of motorcycle-riding barbarians behind them. Mr. Keillor slams those motorcycle-riding barbarians as seemingly uncaring about our war dead, and more interested in being seen and playing soldier, saying they were more interested in “making a great hullaballoo without exposing themselves to danger, other than getting drunk and falling off a bike.” He says they could learn more about our war dead by reading books.

Sorry Mr. Keillor. I would imagine that many of those motorcycle-riding barbarians know, personally, more about war and our war dead than anyone could gain from reading bland words on bland paper or even from watching movies made in Hollywood. Many of those barbarians are war veterans, with real-life experience with war and our war dead. They know, personally, what bland words on bland paper cannot, and will never, convey. They understand, in a way, Mr. Keillor, that you do not. What you also do not understand, Mr. Keillor, is that in the act of coming together to recognize shared experiences; like service and sacrifice, these men (these barbarians) remember. And in remembering they honor.

We should, in turn, recognize and honor them rather than belittle them as barbarians. We should follow the example of SSgt Tim Chambers, the lone Marine, who stands in his dress blues, at attention, at the intersection of two streets for over 45 minutes, saluting the entire flag-waving, horn honking, engine-revving parade of three-hundred thousand bikers as it rolls by.
That, Mr. Keillor, is what Memorial Day is all about. Not about seeking civilization in front of Renoir’s ballerina or Monet’s children in an exercise of intellectual oneness with self. Although I agree that beautiful art can lift a person up “from the mishmash of life,” there is a time when you need to remember alone and a time when you need to remember together. For me and my family, this year, Memorial Day was a time to come together and celebrate the return of our Marine from a land in conflict. For our Country, Memorial Day should be, and often isn’t, a time to come together remember. For these motorcycle-riding men and women, Memorial Day and Rolling Thunder was a time for them to remember together. Do not belittle them, for they have earned it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bio Challenge

AirForceWife at SpouseBuzz has a wonderfully silly post that made me laugh out loud! It was so good she "appropriated" it from another blogger so that the SpouseBuzz readers could get a kick out of the challenge. I agree with AFWife; the challenge is a big one and it's really funny, so I thought I'd keep the chain going and "appropriate" it for the few of you who read my blog.'s the challenge: write your autobiography in just 6 words. That's right, use just 6 words to describe yourself, no more and no less. Can you do it? Check out the post and comments at SpouseBuzz for some really creative attempts including AFWife's great 6-word bio.

Here's my attempt: Did it for family and country.

Give it a's tough!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Counting Blessings

What a wonderful weekend! We had the whole family together, and that is always wonderful. Of course, Cpl Devildog and FloridaGirl were the rock stars; especially with Princess Pink and CurlyLocks. Neither one of the rock stars could sit down for a minute without one or the other of the little girls demanding attention. I think they cured Cpl DD & his wife of any desire to procreate for the immediate future, just through sheer overexposure. It was fun to watch, though!

We squeezed a lot of fun into a very short “long” weekend. On Saturday, most of the family went to the amusement park, where PrincessPink “outshot” Cpl DD in water pistols to win a big red stuffed bear. As she explained later, she’s a better shot with water; but he’s a better shot with bullets. (Personally, I have my suspicions that Cpl DD aimed his stream of water at her target, but don’t tell anyone.) CurlyLocks discovered a love of roller coasters; something she shares with her grandmother, who had to pass on this trip to the park. Grandpa and I stayed home with T-man; but we had fun at Toys-R-Us instead. I’ve learned that it’s not a good idea to take Grandpa to Toys-R-Us. Not unless you want to come home with lots of toys. T-man loved it. He got a new “ba-ball” (T-man for basketball). On Sunday, we had an early surprise birthday celebration for CurlyLocks while Cpl DD and FloridaGirl were here, and before PrincessPink leaves to visit her dad and grandmother. CurlyLocks was very surprised, very happy, and very eager to open her presents! On Monday, we relaxed watching the Washington Nationals play baseball at their new ball park. What a great park! Unfortunately, they lost in extra innings, but what a great ball park! It was fantastic to have all my kids, their spouses, and kids together (even if it was very busy). In today’s world, with families spread out all over the place, it’s not often to have everyone together. When it happens, it’s a blessing!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

On 'Raqstars

Check out Mike the Marine's 'Raqstar video! It's well worth the trip! Absolutely fantastic, but make sure to turn up the volume!

Spouse's Info Networks

Remember the children’s game of telephone? You know, the one where you whisper a sentence or phrase in someone’s ear (preferably as quickly as possible) then that someone would whisper it in the next person’s ear, and so on until the last person would announce a totally unrecognizable sentence or phrase and everyone would fall over laughing. That game. I used to think that the “spouse’s information network” was something like that children’s game. Someone in one of the “helping organizations” would tell someone, somewhere, something and sooner or later something remotely resembling the original message would make its way down to those who really needed to know. I’m glad to know that my understanding of how the information network actually works is based on totally outdated and inaccurate information!

In my mom’s experience, when my dad served in Viet Nam there wasn’t a formal network to get information to the spouses of those men serving in Viet Nam. The women were pretty much on their own. My mom got information about my dad from his squadron commander, only because the squadron commander was a good guy who understood that taking care of his people meant taking care of his people’s families. If my dad was able to call my mom to tell her anything, he would, but if he couldn’t call or if the information was of the type he couldn’t tell her; she was out of luck. Now my father’s unit was a small Air Force detachment stationed on a Navy Weapons Depot, so if the “big Air Force” had something institutionalized it may not have made it down to the detachments; but according to my mother, she wasn’t aware of any formalized program to support the spouses and families of deployed Airmen. Getting information to the spouses was a matter of who you knew and whether you could reach them.

For me, getting information was a bit different because I was also on active duty. I had the “” connection and could make DSN calls. No problems.

FloridaGirl relied on the Marine Corps’ Key Volunteer Network. The program uses telephone chains (like recall rosters for us military types) to keep spouses up to date. It works! Although the Key Volunteer changed when Cpl DevilDog would arrive several times, the Key Volunteer always forwarded the information as soon as the Marine Corps told her what they knew. (And of course, we all know that the Marine Corps always knows what’s going on.) What’s important is that they’re trying. They’re making the effort. They’re recognizing that families are important. Just ask the pregnant wife of the Marine captured in the dramatic series of gun battle photos with the Taliban in Afghanistan. That wife told FOXNews that it was her Key Volunteer Network that helped her through the ordeal of seeing her husband reacting to very close call. So, in my internal game of telephone I’m changing my whispers to: I love the spouse’s information network!

UPDATE: Check out Cassandra's take on Milspouses at Villainous Company! She hits the nail squarely on its head!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Feet Dry!

Cpl DevilDog called this morning at ZeroDarkThirty to tell me that his flight had landed in Bangor, Maine. He said that he didn't have a lot of time to talk; but then told me he was going to shave. He had found a pay phone and used our 1-800 number we've had for years to call and asked me to call his wife and pass along his message. I don't know if she was happier that he'd actually landed in the States or that he was going to shave. . . .


Ever heard the phrase “I know a guy?” Well, as it happens in this case I was lucky enough to know a girl; my daughter, Sevilla. She’s an AF officer and was on the Andrews AFB Joint Service Open House Air Show Committee. See the connection? She knew the right people, and I knew her. The connection sure worked for me! I had an absolute blast attending the Air Show (along with a huge number of other people . . . they had to turn people away on Saturday). Over the years, I’ve been to a lot of Air Shows, including a number of JSOH Air Shows at Andrews. But this was the most fun I’ve ever had at an Air Show. I think part of the reason it was such fun is because I wasn’t really working the JSOH, like I had been in the past. I also had the chance to take time and meet a lot of really fun and extremely interesting people. So, here’s my After Action Report.

My daughter, Sevilla, has a lot of good friends. One of them is a military science fiction author, Julie Cochran. (Yes, I have her permission to use her name in this blog post. Read her books, you won’t regret it.) Julie had made arrangements with Sevilla to attend the JSOH to do research for an upcoming book. Sevilla, being the type of friend she is, invited Julie to stay at our house. I was there when she extended the invitation, and even though I didn’t know Julie very well at the time, I seconded the invite. Am I’m glad that I did. Julie went to the JSOH to do research, so she was working. I went to just have fun. Mission accomplished! For both of us.

Julie wanted to talk to guys involved with special operations, specifically SEALS. She found some, I’ll call them “Shades,” “Sharkbite,” “Capo,” and “Slim.” Julie hung around them, picking their brains and absorbing their personalities. I watched her do her magic-author-thing; but I also wandered around, meeting all kinds of new and interesting people. I’m kinda like my Dad in that I like to just talk to random strangers. It’s what made him such a good fixture at the Indian Taco booth each year at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Mom would fix the food, and he’d BS with the customers. But I digress. The four guys on this team were very impressive. Not only did they obviously know their mission and their equipment, but they were well trained, articulate and intelligent. I’m certain the Navy wouldn’t send just any one to man a static display at a premier show like the JSOH, but these guys were top-of-the-line. I’d like to talk about one little incident to demonstrate what I mean.

At one point, two peaceniks confronted both “Shades” and “Sharkbite” with the most of the standard anti-war arguments. Although I didn’t see the start of the discussion, the two young men handled themselves very professionally, responding to the peaceniks’ arguments with logic and fact. When one of the peaceniks started to get a bit agitated, “Shades” very calmly cooled him down, using reason and well-placed, very subtle humor. Impressive! I watched the last half of this exchange from a step or two back, away from the display tables, while Julie involved from the beginning and watched from the middle of the exchange. Because I was able to see the entire area, I noticed something Julie wasn’t able to see. During the entire discussion, “Capo” (who, as the more strong, silent type, seems more subtly dangerous than the rest) stood in the middle of the display tables, behind both “Shades” and “Sharkbite;” not participating in the discussion, but extremely aware of what was going on and extremely ready to act if necessary. When I walked toward the display, he was so “on” that I actually felt his awareness zero in on me for a moment, assess whether I was (or was not) a threat, then switch back to the discussion. He was able to remain aware of the multitude of kids climbing into and out of the mini-sub behind him, the two adults picking up weapons and posing for pictures, the teenager and his mother in front of me handling a handgun and still tell I was not a threat; all while keeping his attention focused on what was happening while the two other SEALS professionally responded to diffuse the agitated arguments of the peaceniks. For me, those few moments captured the essence of these young men. This is the quality of the individuals that have chosen to answer the call to serve. God Bless them all!

I also met up with my cousin, “G.Smiley” at the Air Show. He was suitably impressed by the VIP treatment afforded by our connections, and was gratified by the vantage the special passes gave for viewing the Air Show. He’s promised to send some of the pictures. I do have to say, watching the Air Force’s Heritage Flight, where an F-22 flies in formation with a F-15, F-104 and a P-51 does something to make this AF-vet proud. There’s also something that just makes your spine tingle when you watch the F-22 make square 90-degree turns. Watching an airplane do something that seems impossible is just awesome. Of course, the headliners like the Blue Angles and the Golden Knights were fun to watch, as well. But the best part of the Air Show for me was meeting and talking to the people there, from all over, who appreciate the hard work and professionalism of the men and women of our Armed Forces. I do have to say though, that the people who work hard behind the scenes to put on that show every year deserve the biggest and best round of applause for a job extremely well done! The JSOH was a resounding success in my book.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Waiting for the Return

My family is eagerly awaiting the return of my son from his deployment in Iraq. Although I don’t have to worry about OPSEC (operational security for you non-military-types) like Lt G at the Kaboom blog, I do have to be concerned about privacy because of my past jobs, and to some extent my current job. So, taking a page from Lt G’s book (and because I think he’s extremely clever, if you haven’t read his blog, you’ve missed a treat), I’ll use pseudonyms for the people I discuss on this blog, unless they’re already in the “public eye.”

That said, back to my family. We’re all waiting for Cpl Devildog to come home from Iraq. He married Florida Girl in August, left for training in September and deployed in October, so we’re giving them some time to get reacquainted rather than descending en mass on them to welcome him home. The two of them are coming to visit us over the Memorial Day weekend, so we’ll get to see them soon. I just have to exercise a little more patience. I can do it. I know I can.

My granddaughters, PrincessPink and Curlylocks, and I made a banner out of a white sheet and Sharpie markers and sent it to FloridaGirl to hang up for us. My 20-month old grandson, T-man, did his best to help and managed to sufficiently distract grandma so that she actually spelled Cpl Devildog’s name wrong. Ever try to hide red, permanent Sharpie ink on a white sheet. Bleach doesn’t work, but white fabric paint will (sort of) cover it up. I can just imagine the abundant grief I’ll get (and deserve) from Cpl Devildog. “Jeeze, Mom, you can’t even remember how to spell my name. Did you even remember me when I was gone?” You get the picture. He likes to tease, and I’m bracing for the impact. Seriously, though, we’re just waiting for him to get home, safe and sound. All of us; FloridaGirl, his dad and I, and his sisters (Sevilla and the GymQueen, as well as her husband, PerfectMan) just want him home save and sound. I can wait. I can do it. I know I can!

Carpet Bombing in Cyberspace?

Col Charlie Williamson, an AF judge advocate, wrote an interesting article titled Carpet Bombing in Cyberspace published in the on-line version of the Armed Forces Journal. In it, Col Williamson calls for a military botnet to act, when necessary, as an offensive weapon against computer networks that may be attacking ours. We’re not just talking about your garden-variety hackers here, characterized by the caricature of the pale-faced geek hiding out in his mom’s basement trying to find the backdoor into the Pentagon’s super secret supercomputer just to say “Kilroy was here.” We’re talking about either state-sponsored or terrorist-sponsored cyberthreats, who are extremely sophisticated in their means and methods. It is this type of cyberattack for which Col Williamson proposes his botnet cyberbomber. Personally, I think he’s on to something.

Col Williamson uses a history lesson to show that our current methods of protecting our computer networks have become outdated. He likens our computer networks firewalls, passwords, and gateways to a medieval castle’s walls, moats and drawbridges. Like a castle fortress, a computer’s protections can help keep out intruders, and may serve as a minor deterrent, but those protections, according to Col Williamson, do not “strike the enemy while he is still on the move.”

Col Williamson believes we need to have the offensive capability to do so, as a part of a scheme of defense in depth. That idea is simple; you defend in close by taking the fight to the enemy offensively. For defending our most sensitive computer networks, Col Williamson proposes a botnet. A botnet is a “collection of widely distributed computers controlled from one or more points.” He suggests we use all those old and outdated computers the DoD is constantly replacing. Good idea? I think the concept is good, but as with everything else, the “devil is in the details.” There would have to be a great deal of engineering done by a lot of very smart people. There would have to be a lot of discussion on when, and how, to deploy this potential weapon. Most critically, there would have to be the willingness to accept what would most likely be a high political cost of using a weapon like this.

In some ways, that is the most interesting question: are there some computer systems (and what are they) that are so important that we have to risk the political implications of using an offensive botnet cyberspace weapon to protect them, even at the expense of losing political capitol? I’m certain there are some “red line” computer systems out there that should not be crossed. But if we do field, then use, this type of weapon the political backlash would be huge; particularly if some of the computer systems used by the “adversaries” are located in a putative-allies’ country. Could you imagine the uproar. . . . What would the U.N. say? What would France say?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


My grandmother was a strong woman. She wasn’t a “flashy” woman, or a woman people would call a “character.” She didn’t keep 10 cats, only one. Even so, she was a strong woman. She worked strongly, she lived strongly, and she loved strongly. I wouldn’t call her a “tough broad”, but she was strong in all the ways that count.

My grandmother lived in an area of the country where life wasn’t often easy, and she lived during times that were often difficult. I don’t know if her strength was an intrinsic part of her personality, or if the circumstances of her life molded her strength. Probably some of both. My grandmother worked hard all her life. She loved, raised, and taught her children (including at least one foster child that is still a part of the family), as well as other people’s children through Church, 4-H, and Riding Club activities. Her teaching “style” was a subtle as her strength. She showed you how to do it, and then expected you to get it done. She kept her home and her garden. After her children were grown, she worked for the Forest Service until well into what most folks would call their “senior years.” She suffered the loss of her beloved husband and a daughter. Money was always tight, but things worked out. Because she was strong.

But it seemed to me, as a granddaughter looking in (so to speak) that her internal strength was able to withstand the things she had to face because her strength wasn’t brittle. Her strength was tempered by love. She’d get exasperated at my grandpa, for example, but she loved him. Her love for my grandfather was readily apparent to anyone who looked for it, even when she was cussin’ him. She always loved her children (and grandchildren) even when she disapproved something we did. We knew it, and counted on it. She loved her garden, her mountain, and her community. Maybe her capacity to love was what made her strong, and how she lived her life was just a reflection of her inner capacity to love. I don’t know. I just hope that I can be half the woman she was. She is my hero. I miss her.

My mother found these “words of wisdom” my grandmother jotted down on a piece of paper. Perhaps they’ll help us all gain some insight and strength. Some of the quotes are attributed, some are not. I haven’t “cite checked” the attributions, just left them as my grandmother wrote them:

1. If you take care of the pennies the dollars will take care of themselves.

2. Honesty is not only the best way, it is the only way.

3. Why do we allow someone who is nasty to us, to rent so much space in our minds? (Fredric Luskin)

4. Teach your children the virtue of honesty. A person who is honest enjoys a clean conscience and an unspotted reputation.

5. If you must make mistakes, it will be more to your credit if you make a new one each time. (unknown)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why Blog?

Since I started this blog, I’ve had people ask me why I wanted to blog. After thinking about it for a while, I realized have a number of different reasons for deciding to join the blogging community. I’ve been addicted to reading blogs (mostly milblogs or writer’s blogs) for about a year and I’ve found that I’ve been adding more and more comments to the blogs I read; rather than just “lurking” and reading the blog post and its comments. I’m not so full of myself that I think I know it all, but I do know some things and think that I can add to the general conversation “out there.” So, instead of “lurking,” I’ll blog.

That’s one reason, and frankly, a surface reason, one I’d give to a relative stranger. There are other reasons, more “under the surface” relating more to who I am. You see, I learn something when I read blogs; something about the person writing the blog, something about the topic of the post, or something about how the post is written. It’s interesting to feel like you’ve been able to get to know someone you’ve never met; just because you’ve been able to follow that young man entering a war zone for the first time, see him confront the danger and boredom that characterizes conflict and watch him as he grows into a leader of men. It’s interesting to see the war on terror from the point of view of those confronting it; where it’s real, up close, and personal. It’s interesting to see the different ways that mothers and young wives write to offer support to other wives and mothers. You see learning never ends, and blogging is just another way to learn and to share ideas on a wider scale.

And that’s the final reason. Sharing. Sharing has always been difficult for me (just ask my sisters). I have lots of acquaintances and know lots of people. But I have few true friends; you know. . .the type of friends with whom you feel comfortable sharing the thoughts and ideas that make up who you really are. So, I thought if I started to share those thoughts and ideas through a (relatively) anonymous blog, it would get easier to open up to people I care about; kinda like how it’s easier to talk to someone when you’re riding in a car. So, consider this “blog-therapy” in a way; my way of learning what I should have learned in Kindergarten; how to share.

More Berkley Craziness

CJ at A Soldier's Perspective has a great post on the continued craziness of the folks at Berkley. In the post he debunks three myths written in an editorial by Mark McDonald in the Berkley Daily Planet. The third myth is the most disturbing to me. Mr. McDonald writes:

Incidents of rape of female recruits by recruiters have increased significantly and the Pentagon has acknowledged the problem by issuing an order prohibiting any recruiter from being alone with a female recruit at any time. Alleged perpetrators have gone uninvestigated and women who report the assaults continue to be penalized for doing so.

This is absolute baloney (or some other words starting with a B and and S). I have spent my career in military law. I know there have always been some unscrupulous recruiters who have taken advantage of female recruits. It is an unfortunate fact that there will always be people who do not believe the rules apply to them, or who believe they can get away with something. For this reason, there has always been a business practice, in the form of an order that recruiters should not meet alone with recruits of the opposite sex. But the vast majority of recruiters are honorable men and women who are doing their best at a very difficult job; often without the support structure that other military families enjoy. It's a hard, tough duty. That said, when a recruiter steps over the line, I have not known any service that hesitates, one iota, to investigate or prosecute a recruiter who has acted improperly with a recruit. In my experience, Mr. McDonald's blanket statement that "alleged perpetrators have gone uninvestigated and women who report the assaults continue to be penalized for doing so" is simply not true.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Witchcraft, Wisdom & Marines?

Apparently Code Pink has now resorted to witchcraft to try to chase the Marines out of Berkley. According to FOXNews, Code Pink has asked those coming to their protest rally at Berkley this weekend to wear pointy hats and come equipped with spells and rituals to "impart wisdom to figure out how we're going to end war." OK . For some reason, I don't think that spells and rituals will have an impact on our Nation's toughest. The Marines know how to end a war; you win it. It doesn't take a bunch of crazies wearing pink pointy hats to tell Marines a thing about winning war, or about wisdom (as if these crazies new a thing about wisdom).

Like all good Marines, the Marine recruiters at Berkley can adjust to the situation as needed. As Marine Captain Wheatcroft says in the article, "They're always in pink and wear funny things, half-shaved heads, one side with hair and the other one bald, yeah, I'm pretty much used to anything." For some reason, I don't think that pointy hats, complete with spells and rituals will bother this professional.

After watching Code Pink's antics, I'm glad I always hated to wear anything pink, and if my shiny pink cell phone wasn't so easy to find in my bag, I'd throw it away, too.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Staying Behind

This is something I wrote last November, just after my son deployed to Iraq:

My son, a Marine Corporal, just left for a deployment in Iraq. In 2003, my husband served in Baghdad, just before he retired from the Air Force. A friend asked me if it was harder sending my son or sending my husband.

Hard Question.

My husband and I have been married for 31 years. He is my partner and best friend. When he left for Iraq I felt like I went into hibernation. It was like someone hit the "pause" button on the DVD of my life. My kids were grown and out of the house. I'm not certain I suffered from "empty nest syndrome" when they went off to school; but my nest sure felt empty when my husband deployed. Don't get me wrong. When my husband deployed, I was still on active duty and had numerous responsibilities. That part of my life continued, and I think I was able to function well and get the job done (at least my performance report says so). But everything else shut down, to the point that I worried both my mom and my kids. I didn't want to talk to family or friends. Except for work, I was on "pause" until my husband came home. I don't know, maybe this emotional/life "pause" was my way of coping with the knowledge that he was in harm's way. But then, again, maybe I just needed a rest.

My reaction to my son's deployment has been different. I don't know why, but there hasn't been the same need to "pause" and wrap myself in emotional insulation to the point I don't even want to interact with anyone close to me. Maybe it's the different circumstances. When my husband deployed, the house was empty except for me. I had the luxury of using that "pause" button to distance myself from anxiety and stress (to the point I also distanced myself from everyone and everything). My circumstances are different now. I'm not alone. I have to interact with the family close to me; my husband, my daughters and thier families. I see them most days. I also recognize that my son's new wife needs support more than I do. She's a newlywed, left in a new town, without a support structure. I can't distance myself. I can't "pause." For some reason, I think they need me to be strong, to be available, to support them, and help them with their anxiety and stress. For some reason, being needed helps me deal with my own stress and anxiety.

Don't get me wrong, it was hard, extremely hard, to see my "little" boy get on that bus with his weapon and gear and head down the road that will ultimately take him into harm's way. But, I'm extremely proud of him. He's stepped forward and said, "I'll go" when our Nation is threatened. He serves because he knows this Country and our way of life is worth his service. He's a Patriot. But he's also my little boy. My beloved son. I birthed him, loved him, and raised him. Although he's now a man (and a big, strong one at that), I still have the instinct to protect him from anything harmful. So, there are more conflicting emotions inside me, seeing my son deploy. On one hand, there's pride in the man he's become, and there's joy in seeing him do something he believes is right. On the other hand, there's anxiety and a desire to protect. I know I can trust in his intelligence, and the training he's received to help keep him safe. But it's still tough.

It would be easier to go myself........

Support the Troops

Col Hunt, a Fox News commentator, has an interesting commentary posted on yesterday titled "Inside the Numbers: 49 Servicemen Killed in April.",2933,331559,00.html. He makes the point that the servicemen (and women) dying overseas are not just numbers, to be used by politicians (and others) to justify whatever argument, position, or policy that person happens to support. His point is that "Soldiers are dying because we sent them to fight and die, the least we can do is PAY ATTENTION DAMN IT!" I agree. The total number of our Nation's young men and women who have died or been injured is not a data point that we should use as political fodder or to support partisian bickering. The sacrifice of these Patriots and their families should not be reduced to a rhetorical tool used by those who haven't even begun to understand what it means to serve.

Col Hunt also says that we've allowed ourselves to become distracted by all the political bickering during the partisian presidential posturing. Maybe. I know I'm tired (already) of the endless campaign season. Maybe, like most people, we tend to focus on things that are going wrong rather than things that are going right; and right now the war on terror, at least in Iraq, seems to be on the right track. So, even though more servicemembers have lost their lives in April than in the last 8 months, that news has been regulated to the back pages of the newspapers. I do agree with Col Hunt, though, that we need to be worthy of our young men and women in harms way; and the only way we can do that is to remember them, support them and their families, and pay attention to their needs. Col Hunt mentions TAPS and Wounded Warrior, both worthy programs for injured servicemembers. But, servicemembers who have not been injured deserve our support too. It's not hard to say "thanks." A simple card or letter will do, and goes a long way toward making a young man or woman's day a bit brighter. Check out the AnySoldier or AnyMarine websites for addresses of random, wonderful young folks who would welcome a note.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Starting this Thing

Here I am, after being a blog "lurker" for amost a year, starting my own blog. Why? Well, that's a good question. It could be that I just wanted to join the general blog conversation. I could be that I was bored. It could be that I didn't want to be left behind. I really don't know. It just seemed like the thing to do. So, here I am. Cyber-me. Ready to become a blogger. Now, isn't that just scary!