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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Three clicks and get $2 for Soldiers' Angels!

Squiddo is giving away $2 for each of the first 40,000 votes from charity supporters.

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. :-)

Act fast!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In their own words

HT: Maj Pain at Blackfive

**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

UPDATED - Blanket-Making Marathon Busts Previous Record...

[Note: Instructions for making a "no-sew" blanket are HERE]

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!

*205 and Counting*

I went to a blanket-making party in Bowie, Maryland yesterday. We were making Blankets of Hope that go into Soldiers' Angels' First Response Backpacks. The backpacks are given to troops who are med-evac'd to combat support hospitals in theater or sent to military hospitals in Germany and stateside.

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.


Reports from Milblog Conference 2008...

ArmyWifeToddlerMom did some liveblogging here, here, and here.

So did Marcus at A Soldiers' Perspective here, here, here, and here.


Friday, September 19, 2008

2008 Milblogs Conference...

...gets underway tomorrow morning in Las Vegas, NV. I'm disappointed that I can't be there this year (it was 10 minutes from home last year!), but check Mudville for updates. My write-ups from last year are here , here, here, and well, this one too. The line-up for this year looks to be great - it includes my favorites (Greyhawk and Mrs G) and more, though looks like another of my favorites, Bill Roggio, won't make it after all.

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

Why their work and our support is so important

Okay, to be fair, *tissue alert*!

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

Remembering 9/11

Seven years ago this morning, I was driving to work in Atlanta, listening to WKHX 101.5 country radio. I remember the morning DJ prefacing his remarks by saying something like “we like to be careful how we report these kinds of stories, but there are reports that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center”.

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

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 Rosslyn, VA which are just across the Potomac from DC. They do it every year, but I happened to notice workers atop one of the buildings hanging their huge American flag down the side of the building. The neighboring buildings already had their flags hung, and the flag at the Pentagon has been up for over a week. I stopped near the Marine Corps Memorial to take a quick photo of some of the flags.

It’s a beautiful night in Washington, DC/Arlington,VA and somehow seeing them hang one of the tribute flags while I watched made it even more special. It certainly brings to mind the flag that draped the side of the Pentagon seven years ago this week. Tomorrow I have the privilege of attending the dedication of the Pentagon’s 9-11 Memorial. You can find more information about the memorial at that link above. Here’s a brief description:

“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.