Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
It's a special day every year, probably my favorite holiday for reasons I've written about before. This year I'm especially grateful for this news from Iraq. And as always find it special to read the President's Thanksgiving Day proclamation. My church always reads it during the morning Thanksgiving Day service so it's always been a part of my Thanksgiving Day memories. Hope you are sharing this day with some special someone's or at least get to chat with them. As I got in an email from a family friend yesterday who lives overseas: "“nothing compares to home sweet home”! Free elections, the best possible medical care, religious freedoms, material wealth beyond belief even after the subprime crisis, and the list is almost endless. Talk about God’s blessings!"
I couldn't agree more.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The 4th annual blog-based fundraiser for Soldiers' Angels' Valour-IT program got underway on Veterans Day. To make it fun, there is always a *friendly* inter-service competition. The feud, I mean, fun ends on Thanksgiving Day.
I'm on the Navy team in honor of my baby sister (who of course is no longer a "baby"), an Annapolis grad and former LT in the US Navy. Yes, as I told Admiral Larson on Parents Weekend after her Plebe Summer, I'm still insufferably proud. :-) GO NAVY!
Plus, it was to her Navy friends that I sent my first, pre-Soldiers' Angels care packages.
ANYWAY, for those unfamiliar with the Valour-IT program, go HERE (make sure you scroll down to read the testimonial from LtCol X).
I've had the pleasure of watching the inspiration and the very first recipient of a Valour-IT laptop present the 1000th laptop to another recovering wounded soldier at Walter Reed Regional Medical Center. I've also had the pleasure of delivering one myself, to a marine at our National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD last December.
While many injuries create challenges that take months or years to overcome, the beauty of Valour-IT is that it offers a short cut. Hands in bandages or arm in a cast so they can't type? or maybe a permanent injury so that they'll never type again? How about a laptop with voice-activation software or an adaptive keyboard or mouse? A short cut to blogging, emailing, or IM'ing with family, buddies, or the world at large. And now, the program is expanding to offer other techie-enabled therapy or independence.
It's a worthy cause, so give as generously as you are able. Every $1 helps. Really.
Hit the "Donate" button under thermometer in the upper right corner of this blog or click HERE.
To be fair.... and to prompt you to donate even if your loyalties lie elsewhere....!
A Coast Guard supporter is HERE
A Marine Corps supporter is HERE
An Air Force supporter is HERE
An Army supporter is HERE
Sunday, November 23, 2008
My blog is a little different than me...
The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.First part is not far off, but the "enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters"...not so much. I know my limitations.The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Victory is sweet. Please savor it.
Join me in passing along buckets of thanks to our veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom for a most excellent job done. I've met so many of you - way to go!
As well, thank you, Mr. President, for not backing away before attempting to win.
And, most assuredly, thank you, Generals Petraeus and Odierno, for your foresight and fortitude in the face of so many naysayers.
Finally, congratulations to all Iraqis - you're on your way.
In case you missed all the preparations (and the reason's we're celebrating), it's Victory in Iraq Day.
Doubt it? Here's independent combat reporter, Michael Yon, via Instapundit:
"There's nothing going on. I'm with the 10th Mountain Division, and about half of the guys I'm with haven't fired their weapons on this tour and they've been here eight months. And the place we're at, South Baghdad, used to be one of the worst places in Iraq. And now there's nothing going on. " November 14, 2008Update via Instapundit:
"MORE: Yon emails this correction: "'Actually, NONE of them have fired their weapons in combat during this tour, and about half of them are combat veterans from Afghanistan and/or Iraq.' Sorry, I had misunderstood that bit."
More links about the win HERE.
P.S. And the political part (HT: The Corner) of the solution is looking pretty good too. ANYTHING that mullah Muqtada Sadr and Sadrists oppose is good for Iraq, because it means Iran doesn't like it. The cleric who matters - "country's most influential Shiite cleric", Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani - has given the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) his blessing. The AP and Sadr are spinning it for all they're worth (at second link):
"...al-Sistani, has indicated the agreement would only be acceptable if it passes with a big majority."
""If the agreement passes with a small majority, it will be a defeat for those who sponsored it," said Salah al-Obeidi, al-Sadr's spokesman."
Notice that the AP has a direct quote from a Sadrist, but puts words in Sistani's mouth.
But as Amir Taheri comments (at first link):
"With the SOFA so obviously popular in Iraq, Tehran has softened its opposition to it these last few days. Most Iraqi observers now expect SOFA to pass with more than a two-thirds majority."
Add your prayers to many others; we've won the war, now we need the Iraqi elected government to continue to succeed.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
So, on Saturday, November 22nd, this blog will be celebrating Victory in Iraq day along with all the other blogs listed HERE and all the rest that zombietime hasn't had time to add.
Go HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE to read why we all think this day has come.
You've got a little over 24 hours to prepare.
Monday, November 17, 2008
And go see the quote from then Capt Chuck Ziegenfuss (below the cartoon), the first recipient of what is now called a Valour-IT laptop. (but! come back here to donate to NAVY!)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Since Navy and Coast Guard buddy up anyway.... and if you're feeling bad that Navy is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO far ahead, you could donate to Coast Guard instead (see link at bottom of previous post).
If not, just donate to Navy HERE.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
There are no words that seem adequate.
When you read stories link this. (HT: www.Blackfive.net)
Or meet people like this.
Or listen to folks like these.
Or when you understand how true this statement is...
Or, keeping it really pithy, when you realize that (HT: www.MudvilleGazette.com):
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
"Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." George Orwell...you can only resolve to make sure that they never doubt your support.
Sending out endless gratitude to those who've served.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I had the pleasure of attending the event, which of course gave other Angels and me an excuse to shop for new dress up clothes. Within the Angel/Milblog world, there were quite a few familiar faces. I got a hug and hello from Patti Bader (founder of Soldiers’ Angels), chatted with Monica, Joe, and Maureen (our crew of regular Angel volunteers at Walter Reed), and said hi to Kassie (who volunteers at
But most importantly, the event gave us all a chance to talk to others about Soldiers’ Angels, to people who really knew very little about the organization before that night. I chatted with a representative from Peabody Energy, one of the corporate sponsors for the event, and his wife, as well as a table full of young congressional staffers and their friends, including some from Rep Blunt’s offices and one from the office of Senator Kit Bond.
Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave the keynote. Not bad, huh? I even got to shake his hand and thank him for being there after he was nice enough to get his photo taken with one of the folks at my table. ADM Mullen was carefully doing the rounds of the room, making sure that he said hello to each of the service members in attendance; a number of our wounded who are recovering at Walter Reed had made the trip downtown for the evening. To me, his careful attention to those who’ve made a very physical sacrifice in their service to our country was an extension of his keynote remarks. He noted that our government is doing a better job of taking care of those who serve or have served, but that there is still room for improvement. And he also noted that a key aspect of our efforts is to make sure that our men and women never return home from war to a public reception like they got during the Vietnam War; one that lingered for years.
That aspect of his remarks resonated with me because that was the driving motivation that led me to become a member of Soldiers’ Angels, four years ago this week.
I feel as strongly today as I did then: I don’t ever want anyone who serves our country with such honor and dedication to doubt my appreciation and admiration of their service.
As I’ve written in so many cards and letters, I’m so grateful and so very proud to call them “ours”.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
What I didn't mention was that at the end of our lunch, I ran into Zach. I met Zach, a Marine, at Bethesda last December shortly after he was transferred from Landstuhl, Germany. Even then, just short weeks after his injury, he had so much energy and such an amazing attitude. MaryAnn in Germany wrote about the days immediately following his injuries HERE.
I emailed MaryAnn Saturday night to let her know that I'd seen Zach and that he was in town, not for treatment at the hospital, but to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon!!
When my younger sister ran the MCM a few years ago, I had a great time chasing around DC and Arlington to cheer her on. I now live in Arlington and I'm just a 15 minute walk from Miles 1, 4 and 26. A couple years ago, my sis and I chased around town to cheer on a Navy friend. It's really fun and I get a ton of exercise. Needless to say, when I heard Zach's plans, I told him I'd try to cheer him on as I live so close.
Well, after a late start and then getting stuck on the wrong side of the main flow of runners so that I couldn't get in front to catch up with the trike riders (which included Zach), I made a beeline for the second half of the course in south DC and sat down to wait... yes! I managed to catch a glimpse of Zach at Mile 15 and Mile 20 and yell "Go Zach! Go!" before he rolled by surrounded by a pack of runners.
MaryAnn posted about Zach's latest efforts HERE, so go see the photo of Zach...
And yes, he finished! Totally cool.
Way to go Zach! You're an inspiration for us all. :-)
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I managed to get to part of the final Operation Fresh Air for 2008.
I wrote about 2008 Part I back in May HERE.
I was late, so I missed the lunch. And it was colder than expected (and I didn't bring a coat!), so I didn't go hang out on the dock with the fisher-people. Darn. However, it was a pretty day and getting outside for some fresh air is key (I was late because I'd gone out for exercise that morning!). Between fishing and kite flying, folks seemed to have a great time.
And, I did get to chat with the military wives, who coordinate and run these fishing events for our wounded vets who are recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center and elsewhere, which is always worth the trip.
When I attend, I am representing Soldiers Angels' and our tangential support for these trips. So when I get introduced, Carrie or Cyndi will say, "This is Lisa. She's with Soldiers' Angels."
Quite often the vets have heard of us, but not always. When they have, it's always fun to hear how they know about us. Last Saturday was no different.
One volunteer (a marine) said: "I know you." Someone had received a Blanket of Hope and had asked the marine to do some research into the group that had sent it. Nice.
A wounded veteran was there with her children, and she first learned about us when she received one of our insulated travel mugs in Iraq. The photo above shows one of those mugs (you can buy one of your very own at www.angelsstore.org; proceeds support Soldiers' Angels operations). Her mug was a prized item in theater, she said. "Every one knew that was my mug", making it clear that no one dared walk off with it! And I'm pretty sure she said it came home with her. It seems like such a small thing, a travel mug. I have 3 or 4 between the office and home, so you forget that when someone packs up their kit to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, they probably don't waste space on a coffee mug. But that doesn't mean that they didn't wish they had one once they got there.
It's the little things. Something to remember for your next care package!
Anyway, my thanks to Carrie for giving me the heads up so that I could head south again and join in the fun. I'm also grateful to all the women who contribute to these events - their events truly address the need that our wounded vets feel "to just get away" (that's another direct quote from last Saturday!).
P.S. We had our monthly Soldiers' Angels lunch for patients, family members, and the navy medical staff at Bethesda yesterday, and one of the docs looked at our sign and said: "I had a silver travel mug in Iraq that had that logo on it." Heh. Small world.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
If you're in LA, check it out. If not, order your own copy like I did.
It's worth the time and money to watch. And as I mentioned before, high school history and civics teachers should consider screening it for their students.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
One is "Blankets of Hope" which involves making full size blankets for our troops overseas, which I linked to here.
The other one is "Blankets of Gratitude" for which I'm making the small afghan/lap blanket (sorry Shelley! Got them muddled...) - the lap blankets are for our vets in more than 60 veterans facilities across the country.
Anyway, lap blankets are to be about 36" x 48"; blankets for the deployed are more like 58"x84".
If you'd like to make a lap blanket, please send an email to:
va. crochet. craftteam @ gmail . com
and my Angel buddy Michelle will help you get it to a Veteran!
If you don't crochet, the no-sew fleece type are great for either size! Instructions (pdf) here.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
If so, go HERE to learn how to become a Soldiers' Angel!
Go HERE or HERE for tips on your first care page.
If that seems more than you can manage, go HERE and see if there's something else you might like to do.
Do you knit or crochet? Go HERE and help my Angel buddy Michelle in Iowa and others with this massive holiday project for our Veterans in VA hospitals. My afghan is about 25% done - got to get busy!! They need LOTS of help.
Thanks in advance :-)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
If you have a second, CLICK HERE, scroll down, select "Soldiers' Angels" and the click "submit".
Thanks! Your donations help support some terrific activities for our troops and their families. :-)
Thursday, September 25, 2008
**THIS** (go read the whole thing - and yeah, you might need a kleenex) is why I'm a member of Soldiers' Angels, why I read milblogs, and why I've written this and this and this and this and this and, maybe, especially THIS in the past.
Remember, without milblogs, most of us would never hear these stories. Remember the extraordinary work that our troops have done and continue to do. A fitting tribute would be for you to seek out good coverage of their work; read reports in their own words when you can find them. If they are willing to go to Afghanistan for a year, surely you can go poke around on the internet to find some decent war coverage.
Don't know where to start? The Dawn Patrol at Mudville or the Blackfive site are good places to visit every day or so.
Go on, go read that letter.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Update!! The grand total is....242 Blankets of Hope! Woohoo!
And Organizing Angel Lisa sends this link to her photos (MUCH better than mine) of the event: CLICK HERE
And Angel MaryAnn has a post at her blog, too, because all these blankets will be headed to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany! MaryAnn's post gives you more info on all those who donated to support the event. Many thanks to those generous folks!
We were making the "no-sew" version of the blankets. Got some fleece, a ruler, a pair of scissors, nimble figures, and an hour or so? Then you too can make a Blanket of Hope. As this is a terrific project for kids, there were several Brownie and Girl Scout troops participating. More than 100 people had signed in by lunch time and more arrived as the day went on.
Here are some of my blanket making buddies. I worked at their table from about 10 to 2, and then went to another table to help a mom and daughter team (by 2pm I was no longer a "newbie" and could help those just learning - ta da!).
I was stunned at the varieties of fleece fabric that are available. My table made blankets with little stars, big stars, sports equipment, fire rescue/first responders (in picture below), lady liberty, geckos, US Army, and horses. My second table did blue plaid, blue cammo, and two lady liberties.
There were also fleeces with Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force logos, hot rods, flags, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, and on and on. All were made into amazingly cuddly blankets, and each will make a terrific addition to a First Response Backpack.
Another Lisa and her husband Matt were the Angel-ringleaders-organizers-extraordinaires of this event. Lots of work went into making this event go off without a hitch, and they made it look very, very easy.
Not only that, but as of about 2:30 pm folks had helped make 205 Blankets of Hope.
205. Busted that record of 168 from last year, and folks were still making blankets. A spectacular success. And a whole lot of fun. Soldiers' Angels founder, Patti Bader, called in from California to say thanks and to congratulate everyone on the successful event.
Each blanket was carefully rolled up and tied with a ribbon. The finishing touch for each blanket was a card signed by all those who had helped make the blanket. Nice.
I'm not sure how many boxes they used, but they certainly had lots to pack up as I left.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Since I can't hang out with the milbloggers in Vegas, I will be Angel-ing tomorrow - making "no sew" Blankets of Hope for our First Response backpacks. Some Soldiers' Angels in Bowie, MD have set up a 12-hour marathon event - should be fun. I'll share more later this weekend!
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Go visit Sgt Hook's blog. He's currently 12 months into a 15 month deployment to Iraq. He hasn't posted as much during this deployment, but his words are always worth reading.
This time he notes progress, American GI Janes inspiring a little Iraqi, and how our military families serve, too.
Take note, and don't forget.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I remember continuing to listen, thinking like many that some small plane must have had an accident, lost control. I don’t think it was clear what happened until I got to work. With no TV access, we were all on our computers trying to get news from the internet. I remember giving up on connecting to the national news sites, and successfully connecting to WashingtonPost.com.
I still remember when a colleague walked into my office to say that the first tower had fallen.
They sent us all home just before lunch.
What I remember most about my reaction to that day is captured in Allan Jackson’s song, “Where were you”. In one verse, the song asks: “Did you… Close your eyes and not go to sleep?” With the whys, the hows, and the what will bes that apparently went through many of our heads, it was hard to turn it all off and rest. And I didn’t even know anyone personally who was killed that day.
Still, when you don’t have a personal connection, it’s easy to forget the details, the impact.
However, now, living and working in Arlington, VA, I now have friends and colleagues who have vivid memories of that day at the Pentagon. One was on the way to the Pentagon from Maryland for a meeting that was to include a friend and fellow naval officer… at a location in the Pentagon that was destroyed by American Flight 77. Another colleague was on the phone talking to her husband speculating that “we [the Pentagon] have to be next” and hearing a loud noise and not immediately connecting the noise to the impact of Flight 77. Another, who I saw today at the newly dedicated Pentagon 9-11 Memorial, remembers seeing then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld exit his office and go toward the crash site, the fire. At this morning’s dedication of the new memorial, Secretary Rumsfeld said: “Those of us who were in the Pentagon on September 11th, share — and we will always share — a very special bond with each member of their families and with each other. We will not forget the way this huge building shook.”
Now, with only one degree of separation between me and those who experienced that event first hand, whose friends and colleagues were murdered that day, remembering is not difficult. Of the speeches given today, it is Rumsfeld’s words that stand out. Two more quotes:
“Today we renew our vows to never forget how this long struggle began, and to never forget those who fell first.”
“My constant prayer is that God will bless the families of those we remember this day. And that the good Lord will bless all of those who have lost loved ones in the long struggle that has followed. We are deeply in their debt. And each of us will remain so for the rest of our lives.”
The only thing that got a longer standing ovation than Donald Rumsfeld today was the official unveiling of the memorial itself.
Things that I’ll remember and share about this morning’s dedication…
…the sun rising and slowly breaking through the clouds
…the lone bagpiper who played Amazing Grace as he walked the grounds of the new memorial
…the continuous series of airliners passing behind the Pentagon on their normal approach to National Airport (yes, they are always that close)
…being surrounded by people, men and women, in uniform and not, who intermittently wiped their eyes all morning
…the flourish with which the covers were removed from the memorial’s 184 benches
…the spontaneous and sustained applause that greeted that unveiling of the individual tributes
That end, the unveiling accompanied by the voices of military choir members, was, in a way, exultant. For those remembering loved ones and friends and colleagues, the memorial was warmly received as was the acknowledgement of its importance to them, and to the nation.
The new memorial is now officially open to the public, 24-7.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
It's been a busy month. Not much time for blogging, and what spare time I had I used for a few Soldiers’ Angels volunteer activities (another lunch at Bethesda, the memorial Run for the Fallen 10k, and the 2008 National Freedom Walk [which had a terrific turnout!]) and to write to my adopted soldiers.
However, work has finally hit a lull, so I got a chance to take a walk across town after work tonight, something I really enjoy doing. On my walks, I pass by the mid-rise office and county buildings in
It’s a beautiful night in
“Located just outside the Pentagon, the memorial park features 184 granite-topped, stainless-steel “sculptural elements” that represent the 125 lives lost in the Pentagon and the 59 deaths aboard American Airlines Flight 77. Each element has a reflecting pool of water at its base, which is flood-lit in the evening. The families of the attack victims had a hand in the memorial’s design.”
I’ll share more tomorrow.
I wore one of my Soldiers’ Angels shirts on my walk tonight, because the anniversary of 9-11 also reminds me of this George Orwell quote:
“Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
Remembering those killed seven years ago, and those fighting to reduce the chances that something similar ever happens again. Godspeed.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
This film isn’t about Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s about those who step up to serve as warriors - as our “sheepdogs” - who do not only their best, “but what’s necessary”.
Through interviews and quotations, from warriors from American history and all the way back through ancient history, this film speaks of what it is to be a warrior… and why we need them. The following quote from John Stuart Mill, economist and philosopher, is included and might be considered the Cliff Notes version of the film:
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”
In my opinion, this film is a reminder of why we need to respect what our warriors volunteer to do, regardless of our political persuasions.
This is a film that should probably be picked up by high school civics, government, and history teachers. Veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm plus our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are interviewed in the film. Ilario Pantano (contributor and Associate Producer) will be a familiar name and/or face for many. Kelsey Grammer is a terrific narrator, and Neil Argo’s soundtrack is terrific.
It’s 84 minutes well spent. Order a copy and then grab a seat and a tissue.
Thank you, gentlemen, for your service and your sacrifices – I’m a grateful and humble beneficiary.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Since those first efforts, I occasionally have sent special care packages to our medics in theater or to our Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. Any member of Soldiers' Angels can find out how to support our medics by monitoring postings on the Soldiers' Angels Forum. Scrowling through some blog posts by Roger (Angel of All-Things-CSH-Support) at his blog will give you some idea of the things that get sent. The rocking chairs are still my favorites. Last year, I wrote about some of what I've sent.
If you're not a member of Soldiers' Angels, there is another great opportunity to support our wounded warriors. Angel MaryAnn (who I mention frequently!) ring-leads terrific support for our ill and wounded who get sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for treatment. On her blog, you'll find links to more information as to where to write to troops or what items you could send to make things a little nicer for those that often arrive with nothing more than the shirts on their backs - if that. These patients will eventually get a chance to purchase their own supplies, but if it were you, wouldn't you like to get one of these while you were getting settled? Depending on the situation, a troop might be given one of these backpacks in theater, at Landstuhl, or at places like Bethesda National Naval Medical Center or Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the Washington, DC area.
Last Saturday, I met the parents of a Marine who had received one of those backpacks. His mom mentioned it while she stopped by the hospital lounge to get a sandwich courtesy of Soldiers' Angels. Among many things, Soldiers' Angels sponsors a lunch at Bethesda once a month for patients and their family and friends. It's not an elaborate endeavor, usually just the fixings for a deli sandwich, but there's not much open for visitors on the weekend, and many times our fixings entice those who've been reluctant to eat hospital food - or any food for that matter - to have a bite to eat. We had a couple of those last weekend, and the Navy medical staff eagerly collected whatever they thought their patients would eat. Sometimes it's the fresh veggies, or the potato salad. Or a turkey sandwich (we've found a great local deli). Or a cookie (duh). Whatever, it's such a pleasure to provide a "treat" that hits the spot. In other cases, it's a handy, fresh meal for family members who have dropped everything to be with their warrior.
There are Angels that provide even more support at Walter Reed, and they've started blogging about it over here.
So if you've ever wondered what your donation to Soldiers' Angels gets used for, buying cold cuts and cookies is on the list. Each and every person that joins us for lunch passes along a thanks to all who provide the financial support for these efforts.
As someone who gets to see the impact of your gift, thanks.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I downloaded a new, free browser, Firefox, from Mozilla which doesn't have a problem (I know lots of people who have been using Mozilla products for a while). I couldn't get to some my favorite blogs (Long War Journal, Mudville, Blackfive, MichaelTotten) without the new browser.
So, I removed sitemeter.com code so that others wouldn't have a problem reading my blog if they use IE. :-)
Update: Sitemeter.com has fixed their problem :-)
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
However, it's been harder to get excited about them this year. This decision by the International Olympic Committee was particularly depressing. Read the whole article to understand why the Iraqi government's action were quite understandable and not deserving of rebuke. I was just complaining about it to a friend tonight as we talked about getting together to watch the opening ceremonies on the 8th.
Which is why the news that the IOC has reversed that silly decision has made my day. Go, Iraq!
I wrote about it last Thanksgiving. I eventually ordered my own 3x5 print.
Michael Yon has other photos that get more visibility, but this one is still one of my favorites because the caption gave me chills. The good kind.
I was reminded of that photo, of Iraqi Muslims sitting in a Chaldean Catholic church in Iraq showing support for the church and urging Iraqi Christians to come home, when I read this story via The Tank. Not only are there Iraqi Muslims willing to sit in a Christian church to show support for fellow Iraqis, at least one Sunni sheik was willing to say...
"...that anyone who killed a Chaldean will be regarded as one who has killed in a member of his tribe (under the medieval Islamic concept of qisas this is a capital offense), and money will be provided from the Sahawa al-Iraq treasury to rebuild the churches and cemeteries that al-Qaeda destroyed. He justified this by quoting from the Qu'ran and stating that there should be no compulsion in matters of religion because truth stands free from error. "As Steve Schippert at The Tank comments:
"So is there progress in Iraq? You betcha.Well, now you know.
Armed Sunnis and Shi'a protecting Iraqi Catholics? Who'da thunkit?
Well . . . Who'da reported it for anyone to know?"
Our troops are fighting for a peace that permits some semblance of religious freedom.
And by fighting for Iraqis, our side continues to champion the ideals on which our own freedoms are based:
United States Constitution, Bill of Rights
Amendment I: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Thank a vet. Their work is not all that is required, but it is - quite often - a minimum requirement.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Not for Nothing, A Follow-up on the Sky Soldiers in Afghanistan (the details you might otherwise miss...)
It was Sky Soldiers that fought that pitched battle in Afghanistan last week and who lost 9 of their own before they prevailed. Some of their wounded have found their way to Landstuhl and MaryAnn.
As expected, there's much more to the story than made the headlines. Mary Ann has a round-up of links at the end of her post.
I saw this story earlier today among the news links at Long War Journal in which the 173rd's commanding officer, Col. Charles "Chip" Preysler, provides a detailed explanation of just what kind of "base" the Taliban attacked
And if you can overlook the incorrect use of "FOB" (as Col Preysler explains in the previous story, this was no fortified Forward Operating Base [FOB] that was attacked), this Stars and Stripes reporter relays first hand accounts from those who fought off the enemy and survived. It also gives you a glimpse of some of the men we lost. Valiant is the word that comes to mind.
Godspeed, gentlemen. My prayers and condolences to their families.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Which seems really appropriate when we have commentary like this (HT: Greyhawk, who has a series of post you should read, too) and news like this (HT: A Major's Perspective), although The New York Times is spinning the story for all it's worth. If I were you, I'd read Major C's post instead of the whole NYT article.
Milbloggers to the rescue once again.
And for a laugh, go watch the video at the very very end of today's Dawn Patrol. I knew our troops were talented and always step up to a challenge, but the ability to dance while wearing all that stuff is truly.... amazing.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
You'd be correct to guess that this is a topic near and dear to my heart.
Whether it's because I want to have an informed opinion on proposed new strategies in Iraq or Afghanistan or Lebanon, or because I want to know how things are going where my "adopted" troops are deployed, or because I want more than a sound-byte about US casualties in Afghanistan, I turn to - without fail - milblogs.
So why post about this again?
Just a few days ago, I saw the sensationalist headline from the AP (Associated Press) reporting that a US base in Afghanistan had been overrun and nine US troops killed. I went immediately to The Long War Journal website. Why? Because a US base being "overrun" sounded extraordinary. If nine US troops had been killed, something significant had happened. Why would I think that? Because our guys are really good at what they do. We do not lose nine in one day very often any more. So, I knew there was more to this story than a notable death toll.
The first clarification I found was that the Taliban attacked a remote combat outpost - one that was still under construction. And while there was a heartbreaking loss of nine of our own, the US and Afghan forces, numbering just 70, repelled a "complex attack" by 200+ Taliban fighters (some estimates put the attacking Taliban force as large as 500).
That's news. The success of the out-numbered good guys wasn't the AP headline, but it was discussed in detail at the Long War Journal and it was the emphasis of another milblog report here. Hat Tip on that second write-up goes to Mrs G's Dawn Patrol (I now have a link at the top of my blog to the Dawn Patrol so that you'll be reminded to peruse her latest round-up of milblog-type reporting on the web on a regular basis).
The thing I've learned is that you can't rely on the major news outlets (print, web or TV) for good war reporting because their coverage is inconsistent at best. But that's okay, because we're fortunate to have a lot of volunteers and a bunch of new professionals dedicating their time to consistent reporting. That consistency is crucial to providing adequate context for the latest blaring headline or sound byte on the evening news.
If you're as appreciative as I am of these alternate news sources, considering donating to keep these folks up and running:
The Long War Journal and Public Multimedia, Inc (donations are tax-deductible!)
The Mudville Gazette [home of Greyhawk and Mrs. G]
The daily and ultimate sacrifices made by our troops and their families are not for nothing. Our troops are accomplishing terrific things around the world, and we wouldn't be nearly as well informed about their endeavors without the efforts of milbloggers and independent journalists covering the wars.
My thanks to them all. Again.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
"Beginning June 14, 2008, a small team of runners will run across America to raise awareness about the lives of those soldiers who fought, to activate their memories and keep their spirits alive, to support organizations that help wounded veterans and the families of those killed (Wounded Warrior Project, Yellow Ribbon Fund, Gold Star Family Support Center, and the 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary Memorial Fund), and to aid the healing process for those Americans whose lives have been affected by the war."The miles logged on July 4th included one for JP Blecksmith. If you've read this blog before, you might recognize that name, as JP is one of the graduates of the United States Naval Academy and former Navy football players memorialized on the shirt that I now wear every Memorial Day. Details HERE. More about JP and what his sacrifice has inspired his family to do can be found HERE.
Consider supporting the runners in "Run for the Fallen" by showing up somewhere along their route (I hope to be there as they finish at Arlington Cemetery on August 24th) or by donating to one of their chosen troop support organizations.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
This ship has an awesome motto for a 4th of July activity:
"STRENGTH IN FREEDOM." The real strength of our country is that,for over 200 years, Americans have fought and died for the ideals of freedom anddemocracy. Hence, "Strength in Freedom."
Start typing! :-)
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
They sleep in WWII era wooden huts and sleeping bags, as the constant blowing dirt finds its way into everything they own. They cherish the basic things most take for granted in the states. Operating flawlessly in the 100+ weather is not the exception, it's the expected. They are a tight group that redefines the phrase, "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy".
Don't know what to say? Well, maybe something like this?
Emails go to dirtpeople AT gmail DOT com
Deadline is July 10th!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
After raising a little over $1M in one day, the donations have kept coming. Now they're at one and a half MILLION dollars.
That's 50% past their goal. Way to go America!
They cracked a million bucks! Not bad for 8 hours work, huh?
If you missed out on the fun, they're still taking donations thru July 2!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
In a terrifically opportune follow-up to my post below (about funding a trike for Sgt Bob of Iowa), Major Daniel Gade passes along a request for your help for wounded vets and other mobility-challenged folks that are using Segways to get around town.
I'll let Maj Gade fill you in:
"As many of you know, I was seriously wounded in Iraq in 2005, and lost my right leg. I am not alone: the war has produced more than 800 amputees of various degrees of severity, and many more with burns, joint fusions, and other issues resulting in decreased mobility. For many of us, the solution to our mobility issues- the thing that enables us to get around our college campuses, places of work and worship, golf courses, and other locations, is the Segway. A Segway is to a person with a mobility problem as a guide dog is to a person who is blind.
However, for a variety of reasons, certain venues which allow wheelchairs (Federal law requires it) choose not to allow Segways.
But you can help: On Tuesday the 18th of June, the Department of Justice released a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" which seeks public comment on whether Segways should be accommodated in the same way as wheelchairs when they are operated by a person with a disability. You can help by simply contacting the Department of Justice and stating that disabled veterans and others with mobility issues should be accommodated in all circumstances, whether they use a Segway or a wheelchair. It would be best to express your views in your own words rather than quoting me, but only because "form letters" are counted by DOJ as single comments rather than separate ones. "
Read the whole thing HERE (HT: Blackfive).
Follow the two links at the Blackfive post and get on board to help these folks attain the quality of life they deserve. If motorized wheelchairs are permitted, I can't see how Segways can be excluded. It's really not that different from making an exception for seeing-eye dogs where pets are otherwise not permitted.
Thanks, Major Gade, for your service and for bringing this opportunity to our attention.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
So he can do stuff like this?
He got to take one these "trikes" for a spin on day two of this year's Face of America Bike Ride from Washington, DC to Gettysburg, PA.
I can't really imagine what it's like to have an injury that permanently changes how one gets around in the world. The closest thing I've experienced would be a sprained foot, but, yeah, not even close.
So how would you like to help give this vet a new degree of freedom with his very own trike?
It just so happens that I met this veteran during the FOA bike ride. He wouldn't remember me, but I remember him because his borrowed trike wasn't available until the second day of the ride, and I didn't realize that he would be riding until I saw him rolling down the road. [I don't have any pictures - they're all on Lauging Wolf's camera...]
I also didn't find out that this trike-riding veteran is from Iowa.
It just so happens that an Angel from Iowa that is assisting with this Trike Project is one of my best Angel buddies (though like many Angels, we've never met in person!). Angel Michelle and I adopted a Navy ship for a holiday project in 2006. Small world!
My Trike Fund check will go in the mail on Monday - how about you?
All donations are being handled through a special bank account and a designated bank officer in Maryland near another trike-rider who is working this effort on that vet's behalf.
That caring cyclist who rode with the veterans in the FOA ride managed to find a trike that will only cost a total of $3600 to purchase, modify, and ship to Iowa. Any funds raised in excess of those needed to purchase and ship the trike to Iowa will be donated to Soldiers' Angels.
Sounds like a win-win to me.
Send checks to:
** UPDATE: ACCOUNT CLOSED
Thanks to anyone who donated!! Sgt Bob is now enjoying his new trike!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Some amazing before and after pictures. (HT: Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette)
They made a difference.
Others are talking about it more and more, without hesitation or qualification. (HT: Mrs. G's Dawn Patrol at Mudville Gazette)
If you'd like to support those that continue their work in Iraq or others serving in our armed services, adopt a troop through Soldiers' Angels today.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
I'm looking forward to my visit out west (a friend's wedding, hanging out with my mom and younger sister, spending time with a college friend), but I do regret that I won't be able to pay my respects at Arlington on the Day. I'll miss watching Rolling Thunder rumble into town for their annual POW/MIA awareness ride to the White House. And I'll miss joining other Soldiers' Angels to hand out the little American flags at the Memorial Day parade along Constitution Avenue in DC.
I did pack my shirt, though, so whatever my friend Patty and I do on Monday, I'll have suitable attire. Whatever you do, I hope you'll pause to remember why Memorial Day is a national holiday.
In case you missed it last year, here's the text from the back of the shirt:
FALLEN… BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
“An inestimable prize, the understanding that health, good fortune, long years, domestic tranquility, all the attributes of personal happiness, do not make a life well lived if we are afraid to risk it all for the love of something finer, something bigger than our own desires.” - Senator John McCain
May we always remember and honor those who served. God bless and God speed.
Monday, May 19, 2008
I think we could all agree that too much time inside... is just too much. For me, even exercising in a gym is punishment. I'll bundle up in layers, but please, just let me go outside for a walk, okay?
So perhaps, more than others, I was excited when I read about Operation Fresh Air last year.
Some military wives (mostly of the Marine variety, I believe!) in the DC area conceived of Operation Fresh Air, an opportunity for those recovering and rehabilitating at our DC-area military hospitals to spend a day fishing at a Virginia State park. I don't fish much, but how cool is that?
The events, OFA I and OFA II, were very popular with those who had a yen to get outside, and this year was no different. Despite a sprinkle (okay, shower) or two, the guys that came to fish yesterday never left the dock. Folks had to carry food out to the pier so they'd eat! I joked that Chicken Parmasean sandwiches might have been a bit better than chicken parm over spaghetti, but it was still yummy and the fisher-guys adapted. Just as some of them do for other things. They are such an inspiration, and it's such a pleasure to be able to help in any small way with an event that they clearly enjoy so much.
Someone caught an eel, which was suitably gross for the young boys. Check.
Someone flew a kite along the pier. Check.
Someone caught a fish 10 minutes before it was time to climb back on the bus. Check. Check.
Several little someones giggled and played and spent time with dad and mom, fishing, playing on the beach, munching on tasty fixings, and just generally chilling out.
Please note, for those who made donations through Soldiers' Angels for OFA last year, there were funds left over so yesterday's main course was your gift.
I missed this to attend yesterday, but it was a decent trade, I think.
A special thanks to all the great staff and volunteers at Leesylvania State Park for their support of the event!
Oh yeah, and another of the founding wives that I hadn't met before was there, though I didn't know it :-).
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The detailed background on the song is HERE (*tissue alert*), but the song was written and is performed as a message of thanks to all our aging WWII and Korean War veterans "who saved our way".
A newer version dedicated to Vietnam Veterans is HERE as "[a] long overdue thank you to veterans of the Vietnam War".
So grab a tissue, and go watch the video. Maybe there is someone you'd like to send a copy to?
Since I get my exercise by walking around Arlington and the National Mall, I have had the privilege and pleasure of seeing veterans of all our wars visiting our war memorials, some for the very first time. I saw some earlier today. At the Marine Corps Memorial. At the Vietnam Memorial. At the Korean War Memorial. At the WWII War Memorial.
The Soldiers' Angels organization started and remains dedicated to providing support to those currently serving in our armed forces. However, in more recent years, we've added programs that reach out to our more senior veterans. In particular, we have Angel programs that help fulfill wish lists for special items that VA facilities might like to have. We send individual presents at the holidays. For Christmas 2006, I sent a homemade afghan and a journal & pen to a VA facility in Portsmouth, VA.
A newer effort sends "Vet Packs" to veterans who reside at or gets services from our VA facilities. You can make a donation at the Angel Store to fund the delivery of one of these bundles of love and gratitude to an appreciative veteran. For more details on our Angels Veterans Team, go to http://www.noneforgotten.com/.
Wondering if something like a Vet Pack, full of personal care items, makes a difference to a veteran? Go HERE and read some letters.
This effort isn't motivated by lack of federal funding for our VA systems. It's about providing a way for you - YOU - to say thanks to a Veteran by sending a gift, but most importantly by letting them know that you haven't forgotten what they did and that you're grateful. If you'd just like to make a monetary donation, click the yellow DONATE button near the top right of this blog.
Would you like to do more? Sign up to become a member of the Angel Veterans Affairs Team HERE.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
So you've adopted a troop, and you're trying to decide what to put in that 1st or 20th care package...
Recently, I found these individual packs of white cheddar popcorn for my soldier - they're small enough to pack well, and are great for troops who don't have a microwave at their tent/hut away from home.
And even though it's "smartfood", it still tastes good. I tested some to make sure (an Angel hazard).
One of my troops likes Oprah's magazine. To make it easy to send, I subscribed to the magazine, so it arrives at my house as a reminder to send it and it saves a bit over buying it in the bookstore or at a newsstand.
On a year-long tour, troops also churn through socks so replacements can be welcome.
And a bit of flavoring to break up the monotony of all that water they drink seems to hit the spot. If you've got an active troop who has to worry about hydration and energy, there are several brands of individual drink mix packets with electrolytes, etc. Otherwise, the sugar-free type are very popular. Target has multiple versions, and Crystal Light packets are at most grocery stores. All are in pre-measured packets for adding to 16 to 20 oz bottles of water.
Of course there are always toiletries to send, and the "travel size" section of your superstore usually has an assortment of items. If you learn your troop's preference, the full size items are more economical, but the small ones are an easy add to a package. Note: don't forget to tape shut all lids of lotion, shampoo, hand sanitizer, etc! and then double bag them (some type of ziplock bag is best - I buy them in bulk at Sam's Club!).
Finally, one of my favorite items: whatever catches my eye as I walk down the market aisles. Recently I found these fish and this "naked" granola.
I saw a TV show on the founders of "Bear Naked Granola" (I'm a Food Network junkie) -- and the product looks really good. I think I need to go back to Target and get some for me...
Happy shopping and happy care-packaging!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I'm not sure what others plan(ned) to do with their winnings (each of 5 semifinalists won $25k), but Patti had promised her winnings to support Soldiers' Angels, which is why she had so much support in the voting, especially among milbloggers as you can see here, here, here, and here.
The prizes are really wonderful for SA. Donations help fund all those first care packages that get sent to each troop that gets submitted to SA for a deployment adoption. They help fund airfare for families needing to get to injured troops. Special events and BBQs for our wounded in our military hospitals. Cheer and care items for our more senior veterans in VA hospitals. Sponsorships for events like Face of America Bike Ride. The list goes on and on. Every dollar helps.
PLUS. What an awesome Mother's Day for Patti: Army son #1, Brandon, nominated her for the prize, and Army son #2, Brett, was live via satellite from Iraq when she was announced as a semi-finalist and then as the grand prize winner. Pretty terrific all around.
So, wouldn't you like to join the party and adopt one of those 800+ troops waiting for an Angel?
That number went up above 1000, so we need more help to get it down - adopt a troop today!