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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Remembering with Gratitude: A year like few others in American history (Updated)

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God...

Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, 1863

A small reminder of an important year in the history of our Union over HERE and of those who fought to preserve it. (HT: The Blog)

With gratitude for the sacrifices of those then and now who preserved and continue to defend our Union....a Union that has blessed so many here and abroad.

Update: Here's some context for and the complete text of Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation. Of note: "The first observance of the national holiday came one week after the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg."

You can read President Obama's Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day 2009 here.

For me, this still captures my feelings on the day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Welcome! and thank you for your service.

To some of our newest fellow citizens, who were willing to write that blank check to the U.S. of A... with gratitude and prayers, Godspeed!

"A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount ‘up to and including my life'."

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Military servicemembers take an Oath of Allegiance to become American citizens during a naturalization ceremony held at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 12. Nine Task Force Yukon Soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) and attached units received their citizenship at the ceremony. (Photo by U.S. Army Pfc. Andrya Hill, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not for Nothing - Take 11

With Saddam Hussein in charge, it was easy to forget that the "cradle of civilization" (click that link - it's a cool map) that we learned about in history class and the settings for many Biblical passages can be found within Iraq's borders.

When I am reminded of this fact, I often think that I'd like to visit Iraq (and Afghanistan) as a tourist some day.

Our troops have been among the first to test the waters:

“I heard about (the site) in college classes, but I never thought I'd get to actually be on the Ziggurat of Ur,” said Sgt. Brandon Metroka, from the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Another site, near the Ziggurat of Ur, is considered even more historically significant. It is believed to have been the home of Abraham, a central figure in the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions.

“I'm actually in school to be a history teacher. I'm a senior in college right now so this means everything to me... to be able to show my students (photographs) for the next 30 years,” said Sgt. Kiersten Dozack.

Read the whole story and see the pictures HERE.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A different kind of "shock and awe" (updated)

No precision bombs required. Ha.

"I was just in shock and awe that people would take time out of their day just to come out and support you," he said.

"I had the biggest smile on my face. I haven't felt this good in a long time."

Read the rest HERE. (Hat Tip: The Dawn Patrol)

If you live near the DFW airport, you can help generate that particular type of "shock and awe", too, but adopting a troop through Soldiers' Angels can do the same thing.

One of the niftiest things that you can get as an Angel is "free mail". "Free mail" is what deployed troops write in the upper right hand corner of an envelope where you and I put a stamp (you see, they can send their letters home for free). So, when you get mail from theater, it's "free mail". I'd adopted a number of troops before I received my first "free mail" (the others were kinda busy or sent email instead - which is still very cool). In fact, I think my first free mail came from a medic to whom I'd sent a one-time care package.

There is something special about a real letter; no matter how short, it's still very sweet. Free-mail is inevitably full of one thing: thank yous. And they go on and on with the thanks. Because of the extra support and TLC* that we provided. They don't expect it, even the smallest thing.

For Veteran's Day, I posted this quote on my "status" on Facebook (don't know the author):

"A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount ‘up to and including my life'."

A weekly letter and monthly care package for the length of a deployment - or a high-five from a five year old - seem like an inadequate trade, but they like it just the same.

1500+ are waiting. Are you ready to be an Angel? I think you probably are - no experience required! Go show 'em a little love.

*TLC = "tender loving care".... someone asked me what that stood for the other day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adopt a Troop. Send Letters. Send Care Packages.

Adopt HERE.

Care package ideas HERE and HERE and HERE.

Letter ideas HERE or at the very end of the post HERE.

Why do it? Go HERE.

THANK YOU!! Valour-IT Fundraiser raises $103K+

Y'all are the best. Details HERE.

Missed the fun? How about adopting a troop? We've got 1500+ waiting for an Angel. :-) (updated!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home stretch!! Just two days of Valour-IT Fundraiser

Just two days left, and only the *Marines* are close to their goal. Sheesh.

If you can spare a dollar or two, maybe you'd like to....

...push the Marines over the top (tomorrow's their birthday, so that'd be a nice gift)
...drag the Air Force out of last place
...be nice to Army because their football team is....yeah.
...or support MY TEAM, TEAM NAVY!

I'd be okay with any of the above. Really.

Click on the blue, green, red, or gray bar in the graphic below (or click on the name of the service in the text above) to make a donation to your favorite team!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Show your support for the Fort Hood Community

From the Soldiers' Angels web page:

Soldiers’ Angels is assessing the needs and--with our founder currently residing in Texas--standing by to offer physical and emotional support to our heroes and their families at Fort Hood.

RIGHT NOW: Collecting encouraging notes and NEW stuffed animals for the families and children of the injured or killed. Please send cards/letters and stuffed animals (and anything NEW that may brighten the life of a child) to:

Soldiers' Angels
4408 PanAm Expressway
San Antonio, TX 78218

You can check back HERE for updates.

Prayers for the Ft Hood Community

Psalms 91:11

"For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Favorite Moment as a Soldiers' Angel...starring the US Navy

I've written before about the blessings of being an Angel, especially after some of the unique opportunities I've had as a Soldiers' Angel living in the Washington, DC area.

However, my all-time favorite day as an Angel was in January 2007. I had just returned to the DC area after spending Christmas at my parents home in Houston, Texas.

I'd already done a little jig on Christmas Eve after receiving emails from about half a dozen of the 240+ sailors deployed to the Pacific on the USS Rentz that were on the receiving end of this project. Angel Michelle in Iowa, my co-lead for the project, had received emails as well. My favorite quote was:

“Thank u thank u thank u, I was happy to receive the stocking with your letter in it, I was sleeping and I woke up and it was on my leg. lol. Put a smile on my face. This is my first Christmas away and I felt a lot of love from yall"

Fun, huh? So what could top that?

Well, on January 7th, I got, not one, but two more emails.

The first had the subject: "THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING THE TROOPS". The message started,

"Lisa, My name is XXX and you're probably wondering who I am..."
Well, low and behold it was a from a member of a small Navy unit deployed somewhere in the Pacific. The USS Rentz had provided re-supply for them shortly after Christmas. We'd overestimated how many goody bags that were needed for the Rentz, so they shared some of the Christmas cheer along with food staples, fuel, etc.

How cool is that?? We never could have planned to provide some holiday cheer and a little morale boost for that remotely deployed unit, but that we did, well,... YAY!

Then a little bit later that day, I got this email, which I did get permission to share with "as many people as you wish":

“I can not begin to express the gratitude the Commanding Officer and I have for the gifts you delivered to this ship. I have been in the Navy for over 26 years and I have been deployed away from family and friends during Christmas eight times during that 26 years. Your gifts, notes, thoughts and the heart felt effort made this deployed Christmas the easiest to weather. Our crew has a large number of young sailors that experienced their first Christmas away from home. The homemade Christmas bags brightened so many faces and helped everyone on board forget about the distance between them and their families. You and your organization are wonderful. I am proud to be serving this country and helping to protect people like you and those that make Soldiers Angels possible. Thank you.”

THIS is why I'm a Soldiers' Angel. I want to make sure that those who serve know - without a doubt - that we appreciate their service to our country.

So maybe this will inspire you to adopt a troop (we have 2000+ waiting!!!), donate to the Soldiers' Angels Foundation (Go TEAM NAVY!), and/or remember to express your thanks the next time you have an opportunity. Maybe?

If you need to do some Christmas shopping, check out the Valour-IT Auction on eBay - great cause and some great items! (autographed first edition "Hunt For Red October" and baseball autographed by Nolan Ryan!)

Thanks in advance for any and all the support you can provide.