I don't often blog about the Navy....but today, on the anniversary of the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, I have to take time to remember and honor those who have served in the Navy. I'd like to honor them with this clip of the Navy's Presidential Ceremonial Honor Guard Drill Team.
Now, I'm not old enough to "Remember Pearl Harbor." But, like a lot of us, I have taken the time to learn about the attack; how we were unprepared, how our courageous service men (and women) tried to respond the best they could, how so many died, and how our collective surprise turned into determination not to allow our collective complacency to become our Achilles heel. The sleeping giant awoke after Pearl Harbor and took care of business.
I am old enough to remember 9/11. I had a small part to play in the Air Force's response that day, and in the days and weeks following. I will always remember the shock and horror I felt when I realized that we were under attack; not by a state entity, but by extremists bent on forcing their beliefs on us through terror.
I thought that the sleeping giant had awoken after that cowardly attack; and it did...for a while. But it seems to me that we have slipped back into our collective complacency. Although we are actively involved in military operations against terrorists in multiple places around the world, there is no real impact on the majority of us. We have not been asked to alter our selfish way of life. We have not been asked to do all we can to support the effort. We have not been asked to sacrifice.
Unless we have friends or family who have courageously volunteered to serve in our fighting forces, we seem to have forgotten the need to stand fast and fight for liberty and against those who would use terror to deprive us of our freedoms. I've heard the cynical saying that "the military has gone to war, and Americans have gone to the mall." Unfortunately, it seems that it's true. The "sleeping giant" has willingly gone back to sleep....leaving those who serve in our military forces, and our first responders, to keep their eyes open and carry the burden of protecting and preserving all that we hold dear. May God bless them for their willingness to stand firm.
So, President Obama finally made a decision. He's going to send 3o,ooo more troops to support our operations in Afghanistan. Good. It's about time. I hope that President Obama's plan to "finish" the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and their extremist allies works. I'm not sure that President Obama is being realistic....but I can still hope. I am, however, extremely concerned by the "deadline" President Obama has set for leaving Afghanistan. Not only does a "deadline" give those extremists hope...all they have to do is wait for us to leave before restarting their plans...but a "deadline" may not be realistic. I fear that President Obama will become so entrenched in the idea that he has to leave by the deadline he set, that he will ignore military realities that may exist at the time. Anyone who has served in the military knows that no plan lasts beyond first contact with the enemy. My fear is that President Obama, and his advisers, will become so entrenched in the politics of supporting their plan that they forget those military realities.
There are a lot of benefits to living in "Flyover Country." Although you give up easy access to a mall (wait....isn't that one of the benefits??), you gain access to some of the most beautiful country in the world. Yesterday, we spent the day outside, surrounded by that beauty. We, along with my Aunt and Uncle, went off-roading on 4-wheelers. My Uncle has lived here his entire life, and has worked outdoors most of that time. He "KNOWS" "Flyover Country." He took us to an extremely remote, absolutely beautiful area, to see a Native American cultural site. (For those of you who are concerned with preserving cultural sites, my Uncle is a professional who respects those sites, and wants to preserve them....as do I. We are NOT "pot hunters.")
Anyway, we rode the 4-wheelers through some very scenic country...staying on a primitive, but extremely fun, road. We started the 4-wheeler trip higher on the mountain and followed the road down toward the desert. The road followed a deep gully, carved by a year-round creek, which flowed around (and sometimes through) red sandstone cliffs. Every turn of the road brought a new vista that took your breath away. After "a-ways" (which is a measurement of distance here in "Flyover Country") we got off the 4-wheelers and hiked to the cultural site. The hike was interesting, to say the least! We had to climb up a natural cleft in a rather steep hillside (I'd call it a cliff...but I've seen real cliffs that are much more sheer). Here's a picture of the cleft we climbed.
After the scramble up the cleft, we reached a ledge that ran around the side of the hill about 800 feet from the flat where we'd parked the 4-wheelers. The views were incredible! Here's a view of the valley from the ledge we followed, looking westward. Notice the primitive road in the valley....to give you a sense of scale....
We followed the ledge (more or less) around the side of the hill to a point where the hillside faced east. There we found the cultural site. The site was high up on the hillside, protected on the west with a 7-8 foot sort-of-semi-circular sandstone formation. The first thing you noticed was the multitude of flint chips scattered over the dirt. The chips were definite evidence that, at some point in time, people sat in that area and worked on tools; like arrowheads or other stone tools. They were all over the place, and you could tell from looking at them that the stone was worked.
The next thing you saw was a small rising-sun etched into the sandstone formation. If you looked more closely, you could see a flat stone with a smooth, oval indentation....something the ancient people used for grinding their grain or corn. Just sitting there, you could imagine a group of people, friends or family or both, coming to this place (where they could see miles in each direction) to visit while they worked or played. It was pretty cool!
It was easy to see why the ancient Native Americans chose this area to live. It is fertile, beautiful, and easily defensible. The ancients in this area built houses (sometimes even towns) and farmed where they could find water. When they left, rather abruptly, they left behind pictures etched or painted on the rock and granaries (sometimes full of corn) high in the surrounding cliffs. They also left other evidence of their daily life, if you know how to look for it, including evidence of their homes, evidence of how they ground their grain or corn, and evidence of how they made tools (like arrowheads or axes).
Just to the east, a short hike away, was a cliff-side granary. Although the ancients' storage facility was in ruins, you could still see how they used stone, branches, and mud to make a secure storage area inside a cliff-side alcove. You could still see the charred wood used as beams of the storage area's roof. You could still see even the indentations of the branches in the mud that was used to cover the storage cache. What was really awesome, was that you could see where the ancients who made the granary used their fingers to press the mud onto the stone. Cool!
After leaving the cliff-side granary...and leaving everything in place...we hiked over the top to the south side of the hill. The views to the south were just as incredible as the north-side views. After finding a way through cliffs and ledges, we finally made our way around the north-side of the hill to a "saddle" or lower-spot on the crest of the hill. Just before making our way over the saddle to find the cleft down the side, we came upon something that, in its own way, was just as amazing as the cultural sites....we found the remains of yellow, green, and black balloons; all tied together with ribbon, that had flown over "Flyover Country" from someone's birthday party or homecoming game and come to rest in the branches of a tree. Not something you see everyday in the wilds...miles and miles away from the nearest mall.
Happy Birthday to my granddaughter, Princess Pink! I will never forget the call from her mother, telling us that she had arrived; healthy and well. I will never forget the wonder of knowing that my beautiful baby had given birth to a small, helpless being. Princess Pink is another beautiful baby, just like her mother; and she is growing up into a beautiful, smart, loving little lady. Have a very happy Birthday, little girl. I miss you.
This video is in the category of "things that make you go "wow!" Check it out....it sure "wowed" the Navy Midshipmen watching this particular halftime show; and without a even having a wardrobe malfunction!
My Marine son is home from Afghanistan, safe and sound! It was wonderful to get a call from him this morning and hear his voice (even if it was 0530 here in "Flyover Country." I know his wife, Florida Girl, is extremely glad to have him home, and so am I. I'm proud of him and the man he is, and I'm proud that he's chosen to serve this Country; but I'm so happy that he's home. YEA!!!!!
CARRIE ANTLFINGER, Associated Press Writer MILWAUKEE (AP) ― A Milwaukee Army reservist's military identification gained him some street cred Tuesday, when he says four men who mugged him at gunpoint returned his belongings, and thanked him for his service, after finding the ID.
The 21-year-old University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student said he was walking home from work about 1:15 a.m. Tuesday when the men came out from between two houses. He thought about running to the other side of the street but decided against it.
The victim, who asked not to be identified because the robbers still have his keys, said one of the men pulled him into an alley. They had him lay face down and one put a gun to his neck. They took his wallet, $16, keys, his cell phone and even a PowerBar wrapper from his pants pockets, he said.
But when one of the robbers, whom the reservist presumed was the leader, saw his Army ID in the wallet, the hostile tone quickly changed. The robber told the others to return the items and they put most of it on the ground next to him, including the wrapper, the reservist said.
"The guy continued to say throughout the situation that he respects what I do and at one point he actually thanked me and he actually apologized," he said.
The reservist said he asked the robbers, who all had hoods or hats covering their faces, if he could get up and they said he could before starting to walk away.
"The leader of the group actually walked back, gave me a quick fist bump, which was very strange," he said.
Milwaukee police spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said the reservist is credible and that officers still were looking for the suspects Tuesday.
The reservist didn't realize until later that his keys were not with him and he doesn't know if the robbers intended to keep those, he said.
As he was walking home, he realized the strangeness of the situation and questioned whether his girlfriend would believe him. (She did.) He said he feels lucky.
"I'm just kind of awe struck that everything was given back to me due to just being in the military, " he said. "I realize in pretty much every other situation that wouldn't happen."
He said he's never been deployed, only having signed up for the Army Reserves about a year ago. He is the first person in his immediate family to join the military and he's always wanted to do it.
Schwartz said besides that attempted robbery there were two others within a 40 minute period in the same area and police suspect the four men were involved in all of them. The robbers were unsuccessful for the first, at 12:35 a.m., when the 39-year-old man they approached ran into the street and started screaming.
Schwartz said within 10 minutes they approached a 47-year-old man — who is a convicted burglar and had a Department of Corrections inmate ID in his wallet — ordered him to the ground and pointed a gun at him. They took his wallet, apparently unfazed by that card.
Anyone with information should call Milwaukee police at 414-935-7360
Interesting, isn't it that these thieves would respect a military ID, but not an ID from the Department of corrections!
Today is Veteran's Day; a day when we should recall and remember the service and sacrifice of those who serve, or have served, in our Nation's military (and their families). Even though this day is dedicated to solemn rememberance, often played out in Veteran's cemetaries across the country, it should also be a day of joyous thanksgiving. We should give thanks for the freedom and liberty that we enjoy, because of those military men and women. So as you go about your business today, take time listen to "Taps" and grieve for those who are lost. Take time to rejoice with those who have come home to those who love them. But most of all, take time to thank a Veteran.
One of the assignments I had, while on active duty with the Air Force, was to serve as the staff judge advocate at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. It was an interesting assignment, for a number of reasons, but one of the interesting parts of the assignment was the chance to serve as a "greeter" for Distinguished Visitors. Andrews Air Force Base, home to Air Force One, also hosts flights for Congressmen (and women), as well as members of the Cabinet and other important people. I got to "welcome home" a couple of important people, including Secretary of State Condalisa Rice and First Lady Laura Bush. Both women were extremely polite, exceedingly gracious, and exceedingly classy. What a shock it was for me, based on those experiences, to see the photograph of our current First Lady debarking from Air Force One dressed in shorts and tennis shoes.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I'm a pretty informal person. (I went to my high school graduation wearing jeans....you couldn't see a nice dress under the graduation robe...). I live in jeans and enjoy workout clothes. But, if you ask me, casual and informal clothes are not appropriate wear for someone representing our great Nation as First Lady while riding on Air Force One. I wouldn't wear jeans to a business meeting or while representing a client in court. That our current First Lady feels it appropriate to wear casual clothing while representing our Country does nothing but demonstrates a severe lack of class.
On the 10th of November in 1775, at the Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Captain Samuel Nicholas organized two battalions of Continental Marines; giving birth to one of the most feared, most celebrated, and most professional fighting forces the world has known. (And that's really not hyperbole!) Today, U.S. Marines around the world celebrate the Marine Corps birthday. I'd like to join them in a small way by saying "Happy 234th birthday" to all Marines, past and present. Thank you for serving this Country and her citizens. Thank you to your families for supporting you in your choice to serve. Thank you for 234 years spent preserving our freedoms.
Here's a great story of an Air Force pilot who is making a difference...oh, and she happens to be a woman flying as a military advisor and an instructor pilot with the Iraqi Air Force. Who said cultural prejudices couldn't be overcome?
Female Advisor Invades Iraqi Airspace
by Senior Airman Alyssa C. Miles U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
11/4/2009 - CAMP TAJI, Iraq -- A female Air Force pilot deployed from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., works in a male dominated environment training Iraqi helicopter pilots.
Capt. Kacey Grannis, 721st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, is the Iraqi air force's first female Mi-17 instructor pilot at Camp Taji, a job which she describes as one of a kind.
"My primary duty as an air advisor is to train, advise and assist their pilots by expanding their knowledge base," she said. "I'm an American Air Force pilot flying in an Iraqi air force bird built by Ukrainians with an Iraqi co-pilot in a combat zone. Everything from the challenges we have to deal with, to the rewards that we reap from our relationships with the Iraqi co-pilots and the sheer 'cool' factor of the flying we get to do is rather unique."
In the Iraqi military female pilots are scarce, and upon notification their new advisor would be female, some Iraqi pilots doubted Captain Grannis' ability to handle the helicopter's large frame. However, the captain decided to let her skills speak for themselves.
"There have been other female air advisors, but not in this air frame," she said. "For the guys I was flying with, I think they were maybe not really sure what I could do, but they were at least willing to let me fly with them and let me demonstrate my skills. I was fortunate enough to have the best training in the world, so I was able to do what I know how to do. I believe I've garnered the respect I needed.
"One of my very good friends here is a member of Squadron 4's leadership," the Sturgis, S.D., native continued. "He's one of the most experienced Iraqi pilots here - he's an absolute wizard in the Mi-17 and he's known for being skilled for hovering without the flight control assist system. When I first got here, he wanted to fly with me to kind of gauge my skills. As we were out flying, I asked him if we could do some hovering with the auto pilot off, simply because I knew it was something he would find valuable if I could do it properly. I feel like the fact that I was able to one - do it, and two - do it well, I feel like he responded well to that."
Captain Grannis, who has more than 50 hours in the Mi-17, trains Iraqi pilots who have many more hours in the aircraft than she.
"Pilots as a whole tend to be competitive and respect number of hours and skill level," she explained. "The dynamic itself is very interesting - the pilots we fly with have a lot more experience in the aircraft specifically than we do; there are definitely things that we have as coalition advisors to learn from these guys. They are definitely the experts on the aircraft systems and the performance handling characteristics. However, we're not necessarily trying to teach them how to fly, we're trying to teach them how to employ the aircraft in ways that are different from what they've done in the past."
Outside of the learning environment, the Iraqis have come to view Captain Grannis as family.
"I get a lot of attention because I'm a female, but it's very respectful attention," she said. "A lot of times these guys kind of treat me like their little sister which is a great honor to me because I know in Iraqi culture, family is very important. I'm honored that these guys consider me a sister. But I tell them 'outside the aircraft, I'm a woman, inside the aircraft, I'm a pilot. And because I'm your instructor pilot, you're going to do what I tell you to do.'"
One student who has responded well to the Captain's training is Iraqi air force Capt. Jabbar, who says he has no qualms working with another female advisor "if they are as talented as Captain Grannis."
"Captain Grannis is the first female pilot I've worked with," he said. "She's a very good instructor and she has good experience for training and teaching. She always gives good advice and she never gives up."
With the training he and his peers are receiving, Captain Jabbar has high hopes for his country.
"We're making good progress with our training, and I hope the Iraqi air force is a strong air force for this country," he said. "I wish peace for Iraq and I wish the Americans a good and happy life, and I hope they wish the same for us."
Captain Grannis does.
"This has been a great experience," she said. "I'm very fortunate to have been able to come here and meet all these great people. I'm honored to work with the officers, warrant officers and airmen of the Iraqi air force. Without exception, every one of them is highly patriotic and dedicated to the job they're doing and dedicated to the idea of a free peaceful Iraq, and I think that's amazing."
Heavenly Father, I thank Thee for the blessings Thou hast given me. Thank Thee for the blessing of Family, all of whom carry my love with them where ever they are. Thank Thee for the blessing of my children and grandchildren, for they are among the greatest blessings anyone can have. Thank Thee for the blessing of children who have chosen to serve others, both in the military of this great Country and at home. I ask Thee, Heavenly Father, to bless all my children and grandchildren with health and happiness. I also ask Thee for a special blessing on my children who are currently protecting this Country. Bless them both with courage to face adversity, awareness of their surroundings, and the strength they need to accomplish the mission assigned. Bless them with the ability to hear, and listen to, the promptings of the Holy Ghost, to keep them safe from harm or injury. Heavenly Father, please surround them both with Thy love, and help them both to return home to those who love them. Thank Thee, again, for all the blessings Thou hast given me. In the Name of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Jump over to the Villainous Company blog and read Cassandra's post discussing President Obama's staged photo op on the Dover AFB flightline where he saluted and honored our returning war dead. It's a great post and I agree wholeheartedly with her analysis!
This is an absolutely awesome song! It's dedicated to everyone who is, or who has, served. It's available for sale on iTunes, with all the profits from the song donated to the Armed Forces Relief Trust. Current or former servicemembers can get the song for free just by asking for it. Check out the website!
There's an interesting excerpt from a speech Lord Christopher Monckton gave on October 14, 2009 going around the internet, where he claims that President Obama will actually cede US sovereingty when he signs the United Nations World Climate Change Treaty in Copenhagen in December 2009 . Lord Monckton is a former advisor to Margaret Thatcher, and a noted climate change skeptic. He successfully sued to keep Al Gore's climate change movie, "An Inconvient Truth," from being shown in British schools citing numerous inaccuracies. The British judge ruled in Lord Monckton's favor and ordered 9 serious errors to be corrected before the film could be shown. Lord Monckton has repeatedly challenged Mr Gore to a debate about climate change. Mr Gore has repeatedly declined.
According to Lord Monckton, the text of the treaty actually sets up a new form of world government; one that has the ability to force the "rule of law." Lord Monckton intreprets the language in this treaty to transfer wealth from western governments to third-world countries in satisfaction of "climate debt," and that the ultimate purpose of this treaty is to set forth a communist world government on the world. Lord Monckton believes that the US Constitution's Supremacy Clause, which gives treaties the force of law, will enable the terms of this treaty to supercede the terms of the Constitution.
Interesting. I don't know if Lord Monckton is prophetic or nutty. Judge for yourself. Here's a 4-minute exercpt from the speech:
The PBS show Frontline has posted a great video on their website. Click here to go to the site. The video, titled "Obama's War," follows Echo Company of the 2d Battalion, 8th Regiment as they moved into Helmand Province in July and the efforts the Company has taken to hold Combat Outpost Sharp (named for a member of their Company who was lost the first day of the push into Helmand). The video is extremely well done and discusses the strategy behind counter-insurgency and what the Marines of Echo Company are asked to do to implement the strategy. The video is actually part 1 of a series that Frontline will air on October 13th. Good stuff and a "must watch," particularly for anyone with a loved one fighting in Helmand.
Today is my son's birthday. I remember when he was born....not all that long ago. He was such a big baby, compared to his sisters. He was all male, right from the beginning; a charmer, sweet and cute, until he wanted to eat....then Heaven help us if he didn't get food immediately. From the time he was a little boy until he was a teenager, I could tell when he was starting a growth spurt....the cereal would magically disappear. The kid would have cereal for breakfast, cereal for after school snack, cereal for dessert, and cereal before he went to bed. I think I was personally responsible for keeping General Mills' profit margin high during those years.
He was a good kid, even though he suffered from "teenage boy disease." You know, inability to wake up to an alarm clock, total fascination with electronic gaming, and a firm belief that parents know absolutely nothing. That's "teenage boy disease." Nevertheless, he was a pretty good kid. He understood responsibility and consequences; something some kids never learn. He was an athlete and loved sports, something he still enjoys. He was an all-state football player and played baseball. (His baseball coach told me that he let my son run the team.) He's a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, just like his dad and the rest of the family. He's even converted his wife. He's still a charmer. He's still cute (ok, handsome). He's still athletic. He's always been a natural leader. He's a Marine.
God Bless you, my son, and may He bring you home safely to those who love you. Happy Birthday.
I find this video very disturbing. It's a video showing elementary school children in New Jersey being taught to sing President Obama's praises. Now, I have nothing against patriotic songs, nor do I have anything against teaching children respect for the office of the Presidency or other governmental entities. (Although, as an adult, I often wonder if I can ever respect for the persons filling those positions.) What disturbs me is teaching children to praise the person not the institution. Why can't we teach children about the Constitution, our Democratic form of government, and ideals of freedom and self-reliance? Isn't there something ultimately wrong to teach children to praise a person filling a governmental office, and not teach them to say the Pledge of Allegiance?
Now here's something that is a pretty good idea. Hope it catches on! Seems like a guy from Seattle wondered, like a lot of us do, how he could best convey his thanks to those who choose to serve in the military. He came up with the gratitude salute. It's a simple, unobtrusive way to say thanks and to let our military know that we appreciate them and their service. Check out the video:
My blogger friend, Jake of Jake's Life, has a post asking for support for his friend, Clay. Clay is riding in the "Ride to Recovery," a bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The ride is to raise money to purchase rehabilitative bicycles for wounded warriors; an extremely worthy cause! Clay, a former-Marine who himself was a wounded warrior, is trying to raise $5000 through his ride. Take the time to read Jake's post about Clay's ride on his blog, then go to the Ride to Recovery website and sponsor Clay Hunt. Let's help him meet his fundraising goal!
Those of you who follow this blog know that two of my children are currently serving overseas, my daughter in Iraq and my son in Afghanistan. Well, I have some news. Florida-girl, my wonderful daughter-in-law, called me this morning. She let me know she had received a phone call from my son earlier in the morning. She said he sounded wonderful, and apologized for not being able to call on their Wedding Anniversary, which was earlier this week. She said he was his normal self....joking around and teasing her. It was great news! But then she told me that a little bit later in the morning, she received a call from HQ Marine Corps, with a "casualty report." They told her that my son had been knocked unconscious by an IED a couple of days ago, and medevac'ed to a medical facility with a serious concussion and that he was under observation with headaches and nausea. Of course, he hadn't told her any of this news earlier, probably in an effort to protect her, not knowing that the Marine HQ would call. (He's like that....he told his grandmother and I not to watch the news while he's gone; even though he knows we will.) Florida-girl was upset, of course, but she said the worst part was the Marine who called used the term "casualty report" and not something more innocuous like "injury report." She said her stomach had hit the ground, before she realized what the Marine on the phone was trying to tell her. Can't say I blame her. My stomach is still near my ankles. Good thing is that he seems to be OK....at least he was able to call his wife and joke around with her; even if he didn't let her know about his concussion. Gotta love protective men.......their heart's in the right place, even if you want to kick them in the backside for not giving you information!
I've been watching the news coverage of the "Great Health Care Debate" with great interest. I'm extremely pleased that citizens of our great Country are taking the time to become educated, to read the proposed bills, and to speak out about their thoughts. To me, this is what Democracy is all about; citizens participating in their governance. I just hope that our politicians listen, but somehow I doubt it....and I'll tell you why.
It seems like just about everyone who supports the bill (in one form or another) starts their conversation about health care with the statement, "I think we can all agree...." Interesting. Most DON'T agree; that the health care system in irretrievably broken, that costs are totally out of control, or that it's the government that has to do something about health care. By starting their argument with the statement "I think we can all agree...." proponents of health care reform (whether their politicians or press), are using a classic debate tactic. They're trying to set the stage for the argument by getting their opponents in the discussion to agree to a premise that may (or may not) be faulty. Lawyers use this tactic all the time to get a witness (generally on cross-examination) to agree to a crucial fact or premise the lawyer wants to establish. I just hope that opponents of the proposed government takeover of health care who do not agree that the current system is irretrievably broken take the time to correct the premise. After all, if the system is broken, politicians will not be able to help themselves....they'll believe they have to get involved to "fix it."
If you want to be totally scared, check out this website that shows the US National Debt Clock....plus a couple of other clocks. The numbers are so big, it takes a while to comprehend them....but when you do, the fright sets in....big time!
For me, there are certain memories of my life that stand out like the vibrant colors of a beautiful painting. Some of those memories are of experiences or feelings that I knew at the time that I wanted to keep with me for the rest of my life. The joy and wonder I felt on the birth of each of my children, the happiness that comes with healthy grandchildren, the pride I felt when when my daughters graduated from college and my son graduated from Marine boot camp are just a few examples of memories of "big events" in my life that I cherish and want to keep with me forever. Other memories imbedded themselves into my consciousness for other reasons. Memories of this type include little things: like the smell of the lye soap when my mother and grandmother washed clothes using a wringer-washer and a washtub set up in the kitchen of my grandmother's house, the feel of doing a perfect backflip, or the comfort of a dog sleeping on your feet. The importance of these memories, of the little things, kinda sneaks up on you. You may not know these things are important to you at the time you're experiencing them, but the memory of them becomes critical to you later on.
There are other situations that you know as you experience them that the situation will be "historic" to you and to others, and you deliberately take notice of what is happening, where you are, what you think, and how you feel. People of a certain generation can tell you just what they were doing and how they felt when they learned of President Kennedy's assignation, for example. For a more current example, ask anyone what they were doing on September 11th, 2001, and they can tell you where they were when they heard about the terrorist attacks, what they did when they heard, and the emotions the attack generated.
When I was a young girl we lived in Nevada. My dad was in the military and during the time we lived in Nevada, he went to Vietnam three different times for 6 months each time. I remember a time when he was home; not at work and not in Vietnam. I don't remember why he was home, if it was a weekend or a weekday, but he was there. We had a "TV room" where the family watched our favorite shows (I can honestly say we didn't have more than three channels, and might have had less). Anyway, I vividly recall coming down the hallway from the kitchen and seeing my dad on one knee, tuning in the TV picture (or sound...we had to do that in those days). He was wearing a white, short-sleeve t-shirt and his hair was short, cut in what was called a "flat-top." He looked up at me with a different expression on his face and said, "come here, sis" (he always called me sis). He said, "you need to watch this with me." Now, I don't know if it was my dad's expression, his demeanor, what he said, or if there was something that what was "in the air;" but even though I was just a young girl, I knew right away that this was one of those "historic" occasions that I would remember all my life.
So I sat with my dad and watched grainy, black and white pictures of men walking on the moon for the first time. I remember the darkened room (to see the TV picture better). I remember the warmth of the day (it was Nevada in July and we didn't have air conditioners). I remember that my dad smelled like Old Spice aftershave and he had tears in his eyes when Neil Armstrong took that historic step. I was amazed by the idea of those pictures coming all the way from the moon into our TV box. I was proud that America was the first country to put men on the moon. I was awed by the poetry of Neil Armstrong's announcement about small steps and giant leaps. Most of all I felt loved; because I was there with my dad, his arm was around me, and he wanted to share that special occasion with me.
That was 40 years ago today. A historic day, and a beautiful memory for a young girl to have shared with her dad.
The official website of the Multi-National Forces- Iraq (MNF-I) has a tear-jerker of a story about a wonderful woman.....it was so good that I had to copy it here:
‘Camouflage Angel’ Spends Last Moments With U.S. Combat Casualties Friday, 10 July 2009
Army Sgt. Jennifer Watson, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the Casualty Liaison Team at Joint Base Balad, stands in Hero's Highway. Each patient brought via helicopter to the Air Force Theater Hospital passes through Hero's Highway. Watson, a native of Peru, Ind., is deployed here from Fort Campbell, Ky. Photo by Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing.
JOINT BASE BALAD — The emergency-room trauma call and the medical staff's immediate action upon his arrival is only a memory to her now; sitting quietly at the bedside of her brother-in-arms, she carefully takes his hand, thanking him for his service and promising she will not leave his side.
He is a critically injured combat casualty, and she is Army Sgt. Jennifer Watson of the Casualty Liaison Team here.
Although a somber scene, it is not an uncommon one for the Peru, Ind., native, who in addition to her primary duties throughout the last 14 months, has taken it upon herself to ensure no U.S. casualty passes away alone. Holding each of their hands, she sits with them until the end, no matter the day or the hour.
"It's unfortunate that their families can't be here," said Watson, who is deployed here from Fort Campbell, Ky. "So I took it upon myself to step up and be that family while they are here. No one asked me to do it; I just did what I felt was right in my heart. I want them to know they are heroes.
"I feel just because they are passing away does not mean they cannot hear and feel someone around them," she continued. "I talk to them, thanking them for what they have done, telling them they are a hero, they will never be forgotten, and I explain my job to them to help them be at ease knowing the family will be told the truth."
In general, Watson explains to the patients that the CLT works within the Patient Administrative Department here, acting as a liaison for all military and civilian patients in-theater and initiating the casualty-notification process to the patient's next-of-kin.
Upon their arrival at the Air Force Theater Hospital, Watson speaks with each combat casualty getting as accurate information as possible about the incident. Once the doctor gives their diagnosis and severity of the patient's injuries, Watson and her team complete and send a Defense Casualty Information Processing System folder report to the Department of the Army or the patient's respective service so that their next-of-kin can be notified.
"I make sure we tell their family everything they want to know, so they know everything that's going on," said Watson. "[Through the report], we'll tell the families everything that is going on with their family member ... so that they don't have any questions."
Furthermore, once the initial report has been sent, the CLT and Watson make hourly rounds to the intensive-care ward or unit to check on the patient's well-being, or, for the more critical patients, to check on their stability.
"We are constantly communicating and making sure the family knows everything we know," said Watson. "We want to put the families at ease and let them know that everything is being done for their loved one. From the moment a servicemember is brought in through Hero's Highway, they are never alone."
Each month, the AFTH, the equivalent of a U.S. Level-1 trauma center, treats more than 539 patients; more than 101 are trauma cases in the emergency department. Although Watson can never predict if and when her fellow brothers- or sisters- in arms may need her, she is always available here. "The hospital staff is wonderful," said Watson. "They know how important it is for me to be there with them and if they know it's time, someone will come and get me no matter where I'm at.
"I see it as a form of closure, not just for me, but for the families so that they know that somebody was there with their son or daughter," she added. "My heart goes out to every patient that comes into the hospital, especially my wounded in action Soldiers. I feel like everyone who comes through the door is my brother or sister."
Not surprisingly, Watson's dedication to duty and her hard work have not gone unnoticed. She has touched the lives of all those who she has come in contact with, to include the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group commander, Col. Mark Mavity.
"Sgt. Watson's story is one of the most compelling here in the Med Group," said Mavity. "She is a Soldier's Soldier who combines an unparalleled level of compassion and commitment to our most grievously wounded warriors with amazing professionalism each and every day.
"What is truly incredible is that she is a personnelist by training but with the heart of a medic who has taken it upon herself to hold the hand and keep a bedside vigil with every mortally wounded Soldier who has spent their last hours within the AFTH," continued the colonel. "She will not let her brave brothers or sisters pass alone. This is a heavy burden to bear and at great personal emotional cost to Sgt. Watson, but she is unwavering in her final commitment to these Soldiers. You don't have to look any further than Sgt. Watson to find a true hero."
"Angel" and "hero" are only two of the many titles Watson has been given since arriving at JBB; although she is appreciative of the kind words, she remains humble.
"I am far from an angel," said the sergeant with a smile. "I just do what is in my heart. I guess for me, I think about the family and the closure of knowing the Soldier did not pass away alone. To say I'm a hero ... no. The heroes are my guys who come in [through Hero's Highway]."
Reflecting on her time here, Watson said she is extremely thankful for the opportunity she has had to work side-by-side with the Air Force.
"The staff of the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group has done an amazing job since I have been here," she said. "They are incredible. They have done procedures and saved the lives of the most critically injured Soldiers, and have been some of the most professional people I have ever worked with. "I want the families to know that their servicemember was a hero," Watson concluded. "They made the ultimate sacrifice, but before they passed on, they received the best medical treatment, and the staff did everything they could -- they were not in pain and they didn't die alone."
(By Staff Sgt. Dilia Ayala, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing)
Did you ever try to find your way to a place without having good directions? You know that your destination is somewhere "over there a ways" but you're not sure of what roads to take or where to turn. So you generally fumble around, maybe taking a wrong turn (or two). You might never find your destination, and may have to settle for someplace you really don't want to be. Even if you eventually do find the place you want to go; your journey has been long and convoluted.
I think that, most of the time, judges who are "results-oriented" are like a traveller who does not have (or refuses to follow) good results to reach her destination. A "results-oriented" judge knows how she want to rule; but often has to twist the law and take convoluted logic to get the desired result. A "results-oriented" judge will let policy, politics, or empathy drive her decision, rather than follow the law to a conclusion. A "results-oriented" judge may pay lip service to the law, but does not truly respect it.
I had the good fortune to work for a wonderful Federal appellate judge; one who takes the facts of the case and applies the law to those facts to reach a decision. Although the results of a case are important, he doesn't let the results drive the decision....the law does that. The law, statute and precedent, gives the directions for his legal journey. Now don't get me wrong, he is well aware of the impact the decisions he makes will have and how those decisions might drive policy; but he nevertheless applies the law, as he sees it, to reach his decisions. He does not let the result of his decisions drive how he rules. He is a judge who truly respects the law.
Supreme Court nominee, Sonya Sotomayor, appears to be a "results-oriented" judge. While all judges bring their background, including their legal training and their life experiences, to the bench with them (after all how could you leave who your are at home?), Judge Sotomayor is willing to use her background as a sounding board to determine what result she desires in a case, rather than applying the law to the facts. She wants to rule with "empathy." She wants to make policy. She wants to interpret the law and the Constitution to reflect her idea of what a result should be in a particular case. In this respect, she's like that traveller on a journey without clear directions. She will twist the law and apply convoluted logic in order to reach her destination. This is not the type of Justice we need on the United States Supreme Court. Her desire to reach a specific result, in order to make policy or achieve a political end, doesn't respect the law or the Constitution.
The Marine's 2d Battalion, 8th Regiment is fighting in Afghanistan as a part of the "surge" into Helmand province. The 2/8 is called "America's Battalion" and has a storied history, having served at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Okinawa in World War II as well as service in Iraq and other places around the world. Now they're in Afghanistan, doing what Marines do best, taking the fight to the enemy. Check out the 2/8's Official Website for some great information about "America's Battalion."
Although for some reason the "mainstream media" seems to think it more important to report on the death of and memorial services for a suspected pedophile and confirmed strange, weird, sad man, there are some excellent reports on "America's Battalion" and the "surge" in Afghanistan on the internet. National Public Radio has been following the 2/8's deployment into Afghanistan and has been reporting on the 2/8's efforts, as well as the impact of the deployment on families and loved ones. Unlike some of NPR's reporting, this series seems to be pretty balanced. Check out the series articles on NPR's website. Pat Dollard also has a post about the 2/8 Marines on his excellent website.
I have two younger sisters. Once upon a time, my middle sister categorized us as "the smart one, the athletic one, and the pretty one." She called me the smart one. Well, I'm not so sure about that most times; but I do know that our youngest sister (I'll call her Buddy) was the athletic one. In High School, many-many moons ago, Buddy played basketball, softball, and ran track. As a Senior, she was named the athlete of the year for her High School. She's stayed active in sports, particularly softball, while raising three great kids. She coaches and she referees. She's most definitely still the athletic one. But you know, she also is a pretty smart cookie. It takes smarts to raise three kids, particularly after a divorce. It takes smarts to realize what you need in your life in order to be happy and then courage to go for it. It takes smarts to learn what you need to learn to have a good career and a wonderful future. I think Buddy is really the smart one. (Maybe that makes me the pretty one....well maybe not....)
Anyway, today is Buddy's birthday. I want to tell her how much I love and admire her; for her compassion, for her intelligence, and for her beauty. She is another strong woman in this family of mine that contains so many strong women, and I'm very proud to be her sister.
Happy Birthday, Buddy! Have a wonderful day today, and a fantastic year....you deserve it because it's never to late for happily ever after!
I live in "Flyover Country." It's beautiful here where the Earth's wonders are displayed in all their glory. Within 30 miles, you can be in the midst of Alpine splendor or deep in the awesome grandeur of desert country. You can see nature's sandstone sculptures and marvel at the vastness of open spaces. I live close to one National Park, a National Monument, and two National Forests. It's marvelous to be surrounded by such natural beauty. But even with all this beauty, the Earth can be treacherous. Yesterday, we had an example of just how quickly all this beauty can become dangerous. It rained. Flyover Country needs the rain, but this was a RAIN. It came down hard and fast. Then it quit. But, as happens in there was too much water, coming down too fast. The ground just couldn't absorb it fast enough. So we had a little flash flood. Fortunately, most of the flash flood was contained to the river that runs through Flyover Country, but it still demonstrated just how furious, and how dangerous, Nature can be. A friend of mine, Torrybob, took videos of the river (at a place where the river goes down a little fall) before and during the flood.
I love Independence Day! Maybe it's because Independence Day comes in the summer...you know those days when you were a kid when you wore a bathing suit all day long and played outside from the time you went to swimming lessons in the morning until the street lights came on in the evening and you had to come in the house. Maybe it's because Independence Day is a day you can make things explode and sparkle...remember waiting for dark then lighting sparklers and using them to write your name in the air or the thrill of watching a wonderful fireworks display? Maybe it's because of the celebratory picnics and BBQs with friends and family eating tasty burgers, hot dogs, and watermelon. Maybe it's because of all those things and because Independence Day is a day for remembering and celebrating just how wonderful our National experiment is and how blessed we are to live in the United States. I love this Country. I'm glad that I've been able to use my talents in her service. I'm proud that my children have chosen to do the same. I guess one of the reasons I love Independence Day is because it's the birthday of this great Nation. So have a safe, happy and fun-filled Independence Day, and take time to remember and say a prayer for those who celebrate this day while serving overseas.
Now this is a really cool picture of an F-22 breaking the sound barrier! GO AIR FORCE! According to FoxNews (where I saw the picture, although it's going around the internet), here's what scientists think happens:
"A layer of water droplets gets trapped between two high-pressure surfaces of air. In humid conditions, condensation can gather in the trough between two crests of the sound waves produced by the jet."
Whatever it is that produces the vapor cone, or shock collar, or whatever it is they call it....the picture is really cool!
Have you ever had one of those moments when something that you've done, over and over again, suddenly strikes you in a different way? Maybe this something strikes you as suddenly funny, or suddenly scary, or suddenly poignant. Well, that happened to me today. There I was, in Church (a gorgeous, brand-new chapel, by the way), singing a beautiful song that I've sung a hundred times before, when the words of the song struck me right in the heart with suddenly poignant meaning. It was the third verse of "America the Beautiful." You know the verse that goes,
O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved And mercy more than life!
Maybe it was the spirit found in that beautiful, new chapel amongst the congregation was so strong; maybe it was that I love this Country; or maybe it was because two of my three children have chosen to serve "America the Beautiful" by risking their lives in foreign lands to protect her and her citizens; what ever it was, I lost it. The poignant words of that verse in that beautiful song touched me. Hard. It was so sudden that I managed to control the tears running from my eyes, but only barely. I couldn't sing; I was too choked up. I couldn't do anything but send a silent prayer to my Heavenly Father for all those heroes, including my two children, who "more than self their country love" and who serve in her Armed Forces. My God bless them all and bring them home safely.
Sevilla, my beautiful and brilliant daughter, leaves this weekend for a year-long deployment. She is my firstborn; the miracle with the eyes so big it seemed they were all you could see of her newborn face. For me, she is still the two-year-old who could carry on an fascinating conversation with adults or the gifted 5th grader who didn't think she needed to do her homework, because she got 100s on all the tests. For me, she is still the teenager who loved to dance and the young woman who could write an essay in less than an hour that was so impressive her instructor posted it for everyone to read.
For me, she will always be that baby, that little girl, and that teenager; yet I know that she has grown-up and has developed into a complex, fascinating woman. She is a wonderful mother to another gorgeous and talented little girl. She is a strong young woman with a poet's soul. She's my daughter and she's also my friend and I love her on so many different levels. I'm proud of her; what she's done with her life and what she's chosen to do with her future. Of course, I'd love to keep her home and safe, she is my child after all; but it is her choice to serve and I will support her in any way I can.
If it looks like a pig, smells like a pig, and sounds like a pig....is it a pig? I think ABC News' plan to promote the President's health care agenda, without offering any opposing views, looks, smells, and sounds like a pig....or in this case, a biased media outlet. Check out the story on the Drudge Report.
On June 24th, ABC News will air from the White House, and will later broadcast a "primetime special" on health care reform from the East Room of the White House. They also plan to air segments supporting health care reform on various other ABC programs. However, ABC News will not allow any opposing views on the health care debate on any of these programs. Why not?
In my view, ABC News relinquished any claim to objectivity or bias-free reporting during the election, but this move has "sealed the deal." By refusing to allow opposing views during an all-out blitz in favor of President Obama's health care proposals, ABC News is nothing less than a mouthpiece for the Democrats and liberal special interest groups. Ken McKay, the Republican National Committee's Chief of Staff, in a letter to ABC said that he finds
"it outrageous that ABC would prohibit our Party's opposing thoughts and ideas from this national debate, which affects millions of ABC viewers. In the absence of opposition, I am concerned this event will become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat agenda. If that is the case, this primetime infomercial should be paid for out of the DNC coffers."
Great suggestion! If the news is no longer objective reporting of facts, and objective analysis of those facts, it should be made clear to the public watching or listening to that news. Call a pig a pig and an infomercial an infomercial! Mr McKay goes on to make an excellent point,
"President Obama does not hold a monopoly on health care reform ideas or on free airtime. The President has stated time and time again that he wants a bipartisan debate. Therefore, the Republican Party should be included in this primetime event, or the DNC should pay for your airtime."
Absolutely! If, as it appears, ABC is using it's programming as an infomercial to "sell" the President's health care reform package to it's viewers, then the President's party should pay for the airtime and it should be made clear to the viewers that the programming is a "paid political announcement." After all, if its a pig, it should be called a pig!
I have a cousin who lives on a 1/2 acre of happiness. Although she's my cousin, she's really the age of my kids and I didn't grow up playing with her, like I did some of my other cousins; but I love her nonetheless. She's a great person, a wonderful mom, and a really cool lady. Anyway, I hope she doesn't mind but I committed a bit of petty theft this morning. She had a post on her blog introducing this wonderful video found on YouTube. The video was produced by a person named Jon Schmidt, who arranged an absolutely wonderful song. He combined Taylor Swift's Love Story with Coldplay's Viva La Vida. The result is fantastic. Now I must admit, I love Taylor Swift's songs. I haven't heard a single one that I don't like. I also like some of Coldplay's music. But this arrangement combines the best of both. You gotta watch the video. Here it is:
According to this article on FoxNEWS, persons, non-citizens, who are detained on the battlefield (or other places...since who can determine where a battlefield really is in these times), are now read Miranda rights; just like they were US citizens. Not only is this just wrong, but it is extremely stupid, too! I agree with those who criticize this practice (according to the story, Republicans and terrorism experts); this is evidence of a shift a shift in how we see and define terrorism. At issue here is whether terrorism is an act of war or is it a criminal act.
Now this is not just a question of semantics. How we, as a Nation, define a particular act and person who has committed that act drives how we respond to that act. For example, if a citizen of another country shoots a soldier guarding the entrance to a US base overseas, is that person a terrorist or a criminal? If that person is captured immediately, should we interrogate that non-citizen to determine if there are additional threats to US personnel or US interests or should we interrogate her with an eye toward prosecution in a US criminal court for the crime she committed while giving her all the rights a US citizen would enjoy? I understand that it would be nice if we could do both. I believe that's what the Bush administration was trying to do, by labeling someone involved in aggressive actions towards the US as an unlawful detainee and giving them limited rights. The detainees were interrogated to see if they knew something that might stop future attacks or if they had information of value to intelligence; but they were also interrogated to see if they had evidence that would be useful in prosecuting others or themselves.
According to the article "Terrorism analyst Neil Livingstone called the move a 'dramatic shift' in policy." Mr Livingstone said, "[We're] going back to the bad old days that gave rise to 9/11 when we treated terrorism as though it were a criminal problem, not as a war or not as an attack on the United States. We don't want to have to make a legal determination every time we go after a terrorist whether we've got a good case or not, we should go after them as enemy combatants of the United States."
I agree with Mr Livingstone. Except for certain jobs, most of the members of our Armed Forces are not law enforcement specialists. They are warriors. They fight. They should not be made to collect evidence or investigate. I also agree with Representative Pete Hoekstra, a Republican representative from Michigan and the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, when he expressed concern about going backwards to treating terrorism with a law enforcement mentality. He was right on the money when he said, "I think it's a really lousy way to fight a war. ... This dramatically changes the way that our frontline forces work."
This dangerous shift in the underlying philosophy of how we treat and deal with terrorists is a regression to the Clinton-era policies that lead to the "firewall" between intelligence-gathering and criminal investigation that contributed to the failures that led to the successful terrorist attack on 9/11. Much of what this new administration has done concerns me....but this shift from prosecuting a war to prosecuting criminals represents a mistaken view that will make protecting this Nation so much more difficult. It's not just semantics!
I wonder how anyone could believe there isn't any bias in the mainstream media, what with some reporters feeling "tingly" in their legs at the mention of President Obama and other reporters so effusive with their praise of the President, his policies, and his administration that it seems any objective reporting from those reporters has gone by the wayside. Anyone who has doubts that there is a "cult of personality" around President Obama, and that many in the mainstream press are card-carrying members, should check out this video of Newsweek Editor Evan Thomas:
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, in his speech at Omaha Beach in Normandy, said that we have a "covenant with the dead of D-Day;" a covenant to see that freedom and tyranny will not prevail, and that today's Armed Forces are carrying forth the work to see that covenant fulfilled. I found that thought to be particularly poignant.
Many see World War II as a "good war." It's true that the enemy was easily defined and that progress (or the lack of it) was easily measured. Many saw the war, as President Obama said in his speech, as a competition between "visions of humanity;" with the Nazi view as one of subjugation, tyranny, and hatred of those who were different and the Allies' belief that people should live in freedom and liberty, free to chose their own destiny. D-Day veterans, who are passing on at a ever-growing rate, were able to face a storm of death to start the liberation of Europe from the those who espoused the view of totalitarianism. These men, this "band of brothers," are true heroes. We must never forget the bravery and sacrifice of these men and women. We must never forget to remember the significance of June 6th and D-Day.
So too, we must never forget that our men and women serving in the Armed Forces still fight those who's differing view of humanity would deprive men and women of their freedom and liberty; who's differing view of humanity would force men and women to live and worship a certain way; and who's differing view of humanity espouses hatred to those who do not think as they do. While the war we fight in these days doesn't necessarily have an easily defined enemy or easily measured results, the fight is just as important and just as real as the war that was fought so many years ago. The men and women of our Armed Forces are still fighting in order to fulfill that covenant which those who fought on D-Day, 65 years ago, bled and died for: to end tyranny and see that freedom prevails for everyone.
I have to admit it....I have a few decals on my truck. On my back window I have a decal that reads, "My son is a United States Marine" and one that reads, "My daughter is in the Air Force." I also have a "Retired Air Force" decal on my back window. All of them are about the same size, about two inches in diameter. None of the decals are what anyone would call obtrusive or gaudy. On the tailgate of the truck are two of those magnetic sticker thingies....you know the yellow ribbon that says "Support Our Troops" and the red, white, and blue ribbon that says, "God Bless America." I'm proud of my kids and want to acknowledge their service and my pride in them. I'm also one of those people that loves my Country and I really do support our troops and don't just say I do.
I'm glad I don't live in an area with a homeowner's association that would try to tell me to remove the stickers or get my car towed...at my expense. Unfortunately, according to FoxNews, that's what's happened to Frank Larison, a 58-year-old former Marine who served for more than 14 years, including a year long combat tour in Vietnam. Mr Larison has seven Marine Corps decals on his car, but his homeowner's association has sent him a letter asking that he remove them or have his car towed and face a $50 fine for each successive violation. The association claims the decals are advertisements and that violates the associations rules that prohibit ads on vehicles. Mr Larison says that the decals are "patriotic" and "to show he served." He says the decals aren't advertising anything because "you can't buy freedom."
Personally, I think Mr Larison ought to go get his car "shrinkwrapped" in that stuff that wraps the entire car in a Marine Corps Globe and Anchor! Or he ought to get the car painted in the Marine Corps colors of crimson and gold, with the words to the Marine Corps Hymn emblazoned on the rear windshield. Better yet, he should outfit his car with a painting of the flag raising at Iwo Jima on its hood. Mr Larison is a Marine, albeit not a serving Marine, and he's rightly proud of his service and his country! His homeowner's association is completely out of line to order him to remove his Marine Corps decals; especially when there are plenty of other cars on the property with bumperstickers supporting political parties, health causes, and other non-commercial interests. What about fairness.....or is it just veterans of the Marine Corps or other Armed Forces that are targeted here?
Bob Derga, a Gold Star Parent and a Board Member of Military Families United, has written a wonderful piece posted on The Fox Forum titled "The Full Measure of a Marine's Life."I urge you to read it this Memorial Day. It eloquently reminds us what Memorial Day is all about. Thank you Mr. Derga!
We observe Memorial Day today, even though the "real" Memorial Day occurs at the end of the week. Whenever we observe it, Memorial Day is designed to be a day of rememberance. It's a day when we should remember departed or absent family and friends. It's a day when we should remember our parents, grandparents, and ancestors; we should remember what they gave so that we could be where we now are. Most of all, it's a day when we should remember the sacrifices of our warriors.
These are the men and women who stood, and now stand, between us and harm. These are the men and women who are dedicated to preserving that wonderful freedom we enjoy. These are the men and women who first raised their hands and said, "yes, we can, and yes, we will." Without those who are willing to put their lives "on the line" for all of us, our Nation would not have been born, would not have survived the threat from internal civil strife, and would not have been able to help other Nations survive world-wide threats to their continued independence, twice. Without our warriors, this Nation would not be able to stand as a bulwark of freedom, an advocate for human rights, or that "shining city on the hill." Our warriors are essential. So please join me this Memorial Day, whenever you observe it, in saying a prayer for those warriors who serve. Join me in taking the time to thank a warrior for his or her service. Most of all, please take the time to remember.....
Did you see the story that ran a week or so ago? The one about the Army Specialist who was asleep when the Taliban attacked his outpost in Afghanistan? Apparently, he grabbed the most important gear (his helmet, body armor, and weapon) and jumped into the fight. What made the story interesting was that a NYTimes photographer just happened to be around, just happened to snap a picture of the firefight, and just happened to catch 19-year old Army Specialist Zachary Boyd fighting the Taliban wearing flip-flops and his pink "I love NY" boxer shorts. And of course, the picture just happened to end up on the front page of the NYTimes the next day. The best thing about the story (other than Specialist Boyd's courage and commitment) was Boyd and his parents' sense of humor about the whole thing. Boyd's dad told a TV reporter that this son called and told him he might be on the front of the NYTimes; but he didn't mention that he'd be there in his undies. Later Boyd told his dad that he might not have a job, if his boss (the Commander-in-Chief, President Obama) was unhappy with his attire.
Well....Specialist Boyd's job is safe. Secretary of Defense Gates has gone on the record saying that he wants to meet Specialist Boyd and shake his hand. According to Secretary Gates, "Any soldier who goes into battle against the Taliban in pink boxers and flip-flops has a special kind of courage." Secretary Gates also wondered how the Specialist Boyd's unique uniform impacted the Taliban. He mused, "just imagine seeing that: a guy in pink boxers and flip-flops has you in his crosshairs. What an incredible innovation in psychological warfare." Wait a minute.....there's a thought.....pink boxers as an issue item....might work.....well, on second thought....might not be such a great idea....
Okay...so my mother has a crazy bird that really wants to get in her house....watch the video....the bird keeps pounding on the window with it's feet. Any theories on why, or what the bird wants? Personally, I think the bird has seen a home it likes and wants in. What do you think?
To all of you who have chosen to serve in the Armed Forces, whether you're a member of the Guard and Reserve or whether you're on active duty....today is your day. Have a very happy Armed Forces Day, and remember that you are honored for your service. We must not ever forget that you stand watch so we can pursue the "life, liberty" and "happiness" that is our right. We should remember that you stand guard so that many of us can be oblivious to the horrors that you so willingly face. You stand; and for that we must always remember to thank you, on this day and every day.
For all you mothers out there.....have a wonderful and happy Mother's Day. I hope you all are able to celebrate this day with family.
Although none of my children or grandchildren will be with me this Mother's Day, this past week I was able to visit my son the Marine and his wife before he deploys overseas to a dangerous place. My visit with them was too short, but it was great to see both of them.
I love my son and I adore his wife. My son has grown into an intelligent and capable young man with a fantastic sense of humor and strong sense of responsibility (even if he hasn't grown out of playing video games). He is a leader, not a follower. I cannot be more proud of him and the life he's chosen. He was lucky enough to meet and marry his Eternal companion, and it's obvious that they were made for each other. My son's wife is sweet, warm, and caring woman who has a steel-strong backbone (which is a good thing for a military-wife to have). I hope I made it clear to them both just how special I know they are, and how each of them are an essential part of my life.
As a mother, I dread seeing my son go off to fight our enemies in a foreign place. Yet I am proud of his decision to serve out great Nation, and support that decision with everything I am. Nevertheless, I am still a mother who wants to wrap my child in his warm, fuzzy blanket and keep him safe. I know that he is no longer the squiggly little boy who wanted to cuddle on my lap before bedtime; but I'm a mom who will always see that little boy, even if he now has a "buff" 6'2" frame.
It's hard not to want to protect your children. Like so many mothers before me who have sent their sons to war, all I can do is let him know that I love him, that I'm proud of him, and that I support him. I will trust in his training and know that he will do the best he can. I will pray for him, and the young men beside him. Most of all, I will trust in the Lord to bring him home safely to his young wife, and to the rest of us who love him.
I received this in my email and thought it was sufficiently funny to post here:
LETTER FROM THE BOSS.....
As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barack Obama is our President and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way.
To compensate for these increases, our prices would have to increase by about 10%. But since we cannot increase our prices right now due to the dismal state of the economy, we will have to lay off six of our employees instead. This has really been bothering me, since I believe we are family here and I didn't know how to choose who would have to go.
So, this is what I did. I walked through our parking lot and found six 'Obama' bumper stickers on our employees' cars and have decided these folks will be the ones to let go. I can't think of a more fair way to approach this problem. They voted for change; I gave it to them.
I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic.
Today, May 1st, is Law Day! This year the ABA-sponsored topic for Law Day focuses on President Lincoln and the Legacy of Liberty. Whatever you think about the politics of the American Bar Association, their sponsorship of Law Day is a good thing. In our society, we kinda take living under the rule of law for granted (sometimes). It's good to remind folks that living within the law is an essential part of the liberty we enjoy.
Today, I had the pleasure of going to "Flyover Country's County High School" to give a Law Day presentation to some of the students. What a blast! Not only were the kids polite, but they actually paid attention (for the most part). We had a great discussion about the civil war, President Lincoln, current events, the writ of habeas corpus, and how should the "balance" between civil liberties and National security even out. These kids had some very interesting perspectives on most of the topics. Gives me hope for the future!
My children are grown. They are all wonderful people and successful in the life they've chosen to live. My eldest daughter is a USAF helicopter pilot and wonderful mother. My youngest daughter is a loving, caring, wife and mother who has chosen to stay at home while her children are young. My son serves as a US Marine. I raised them all as best as I could; but like most mothers, there are things I wish I would have done differently. For example, I wish I would have encouraged my son to participate more fully in Scouting. He was involved in Boy Scouts, to a small degree, but I didn't encourage it as I should have. I have come to believe that Scouting teaches boys and young men how to work together as a group and how to be self-reliant. It's a great program.
If you want an example of how Scouting can help a young man mature, check out this story posted on FoxNEWS.com. Kudos to this young man for keeping his cool and doing what he needed to do to survive when he couldn't get off the mountain.
I'm not surprised by Senator Specter "defecting" to the Democratic party. He's been a Democrat in sheep's clothing for a long time. Although I'm not surprised at his switch, I'm saddened for those Republican constituents who voted for him, believing that they were voting for a Republican. I know that voters should evaluate a candidate based on the candidate's personal integrity and policies and not a political affiliation, but the party a candidate belongs to does say something about their political "approach" and may have had an impact on some voter's choice. For that voter, Senator Specter's defection must seem like a classic "bait and switch" gambit.
Slate has an interesting, and unique, way to look at the senate and it's interaction. They've developed a "Facebook-style visualization" of the Senate's "social networking" by grouping together those Senators who have voted together more than 65% of the votes in 2009. It's "way cool" and a "must see." Go check it out!
I love Spring-time. I've been trying my best to be an optimistic person, and I find that it's easier to see the brighter-side of life when the sun is shining and flowers are blooming. Here in fly-over country, there are still overcast days, and days when the wind is bound and determined to blow every scrap of dirt and dust into the next county (along with assorted lawn chairs and garbage cans). But in-between the dreary days, the cold days, and the blustery days, there are the wonderful, bright, sunshiny days that give life to the beauty of this Earth.
I also love Spring for the promise it brings; of Summer-fun, fresh vegetables, and family reunions. Sunny Spring makes these things seem just that much closer. When it's sunny, warmer, and the flowers are blooming, it just seems that everything good in life is possible and (hopefully) within reach. So, I love Spring. I hope your Spring is full of sunshine, beautiful flowers, and optimism. Don't forget to "stop and smell the flowers" along the way. After all, life is too short not to live it and Spring doesn't last all that long; even in "flyover country."
FoxNews reports that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has, again, verbally attacked both Israel and the United States, this time (ironically) at a racism conference sponsored by the United Nations. Why doesn't this surprise me? I really didn't think that President Obama's attempt to reach out to the Iranians with a speech on their TV would really open dialog between the two countries; so I wasn't surprised when it's obvious that nothing will open the minds of the Iranian leaders. They've made up their minds; Israel and it's supporters (most notably the United States) are cruel, racist and evil; and need to be wiped off the face of the earth. They've made their judgment and it will stand; no matter what.
Ever know someone like that; someone who makes their mind and won't change it? Like the Iranian leaders, they tend to be scary. Now I'm not talking about someone who has principles and lives by them. I'm talking about someone who makes a snap judgment about a person, place or thing, based on limited or superficial information, and refuses to listen to "the other side of the story" or look beyond the surface.
I've found myself doing just that, making a judgment about a person based on how they looked, and I learned a huge lesson when I was proven wrong. I met a certain person at a workshop a couple of years ago. This person was (by far) not the most attractive person I've ever met and additionally had some very annoying verbal habits. I immediately found myself put off by this person, and at first wasn't willing to look past the person's homeliness or listen to this person's discussions. It wasn't until I forced myself to look at my own reaction to this person's surface characteristics and feel shame for it, that I was able to open up to this person and find out just what a wonderful, warm, and intelligent friend this person could be. This person's inputs made the workshop a success and I would have missed out if I hadn't been able to see that I was wrong for making a snap judgment based on purely surface characteristics.
I think that's why I like the video of British singer Susan Boyle. (See my post on Dreamin'.) Ms Boyle is certainly not the prototype for a young (she's 47 years old), svelte, "hip," singing-star. In fact, she's just about everything opposite. She's an unemployed woman "of certain age," who stayed home to care for her elderly mother, rather than pursue her dream of being a singing star. You can tell from the reactions of the judges and the crowd that they expected Ms Boyle to be something of a joke; purely based on her appearance and her mannerisms. Like I did, they made a snap judgment based on superficial things. Then she started singing and it was wonderful. Her voice is as beautiful as her appearance is not. I hope that Ms Boyle achieves her dream of being a singing star, she certainly has the talent for it. I also hope that Ms Boyle's success will teach us that difficult lesson: we should not make snap judgments based on superficial things. People are complicated beings and there's always more to them that what appears on the surface.
I don't think the Iranian leadership will ever open their minds and look at their judgment that Israel should not exist, and that her supporters are "racist." They are so firmly entrenched in their judgment that no amount of outreach and dialogue, by the US or any other country, will change their minds. I hope that President Obama and his foreign policy advisers realize this simple fact, that the Iranians are entrenched in their racist philosophy and flawed judgment, and I hope they realize it soon.