August 30, 2004

CLOAK

VDH's newest contains a really nice quote from Thucydides:

For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness in his country's battles should be as a cloak to cover a man's other imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual.

Unfortunately, there are many here who work and live on post who look down their noses at our Soldiers. However, I often agree with Thucydides: a Soldier's service, if it is noble, trumps his faults. Among the students I've had in my classes, there have been several who have been in and out of jail, who were in dangerous gangs, and who previously just generally didn't contribute much to society. In any other circumstances, I can't imagine how I would have ever come to associate with people of that background. But selfless service can cloak a myriad of imperfections. He may have been a dumb kid who landed himself in jail, but now he's a dedicated leader who's aiming for an E-7. He may have been a dangerous gangbanger, but now he's found religion and a life of responsibility as a father and husband. He may have been a drug-dealing punk who joined because the courts forced him, but now he's thinking of making a career of it. For me, the minute they put on that uniform -- as long as they live by the values it represents -- they have earned respect and dignity, despite their individual flaws.

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August 29, 2004

NAP

The commander sent a CD home that contained several hundred photos of my husband's company. This one is my favorite. I can't even tell who this is, but there's something about it that I find quite touching. I don't know how to put it into words; it just chokes me up to see this napping hero.

sleep.jpg

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August 26, 2004

SNIPER

I have half-assedly followed Kim du Toit's donations to snipers SGT Walter and SPC Adam for a while now. The other day he posted a photo of them, and if it ain't the jawdropping-est thing I've ever seen, I don't know what is. Then tonight I found the Adopt A Sniper website via The Patriette, and I got to thinking. So I split my money and donated a little bit to Kim's two snipers and a little bit to some anonymous snipers.

Is it weird that the word "sniper" is a turn-on?

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FALLEN

I've written before about parents of fallen Soldiers who don't support the mission. I think it's very sad. But today, through Sgt Hook, I was moved to tears by a parent who does support his fallen son, in a very noble and selfless way.

Hook wrote about a memorial service he attended in Afghanistan; the Soldier's father reads Hook's blog, heretofore unbeknownst to Hook. I can't read SGT Daniel Galvan's father's message without feeling a jumble of pride, sadness, and loyalty:

Hook,

I do not mind at all your posting my email on your blog. Your words and thoughts are greatly appreciated as is your blog appreciated as a way to pay tribute to our soldiers. If you would pass on my thanks to Daniel’s First Sergeant for the conduct of his memorial. I have only gotten second hand reports through my daughter-in-law but what I have heard it was a moving experience for my son’s fellow soldiers in attendance.

If I may be so bold, I charge Daniel’s Division with completing the duty we have to make sure that the lowlifes that hit us on our homeland on 911 are brought to justice. You can pass the word to Daniel’s fellow soldiers that his Dad is proud of him and of all who wear the uniform, I will pray daily for all and that we bring this action to a fitting and just conclusion in a timely manner; I can think of no better tribute to Daniel that that.

In closing let me say that Daniel loved the Army, flying, his family, his parents and above all he loved the USA. I used to say that my heart pumped OD blood (half in jest) but I believe that Daniel’s heart did.

Blas E. Galvan

Mr. Galvan, I promise to do my part here on the homefront to make sure your son's sacrifice is never forgotten. And I'll put in a request to the Dukes of 1 ID 3rd Brigade to help get the lowlifes.

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WOW

Here's the forgotten story of seven U.S. airmen killed by a mob in Rüsselsheim, Germany, during World War II.

And here's the developing story of a sniper.

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MILITARY SPOUSES

LT A's wife forwarded me this. She also wrote to say that LT A is having complications, so please keep him in your thoughts.

Military Spouses - There's a Difference

by Col Steven Arrington
Nellis Air Force Base

Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses ... how special they are and the price they pay for freedom too. The funny thing about it, is most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses. They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself.

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flare tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms. Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces!

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room/dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it sill looks pretty good.

Other spouses say goodbye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say good-bye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or for a remote, a year. They are lonely, but will survive.

Other spouses get used to saying 'hello' to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying 'good-bye' to friends made the last two years.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another new school next year and whether that school will be the worst in the city again.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events such as birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons on their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for Mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for Dad's funeral.

And other spouses are touched by the television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it. The card simply says "Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been sixty today." A military spouse is the lady with the card. And the wall is the Vietnam memorial.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference. Our country asks more of military spouses than is asked of other spouses. Military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands or wives. Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them!

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give!

I like that: "the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive." I'm proud to be lumped together with other military spouses.

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August 24, 2004

SELFLESS SERVICE

A battalion commander puts his finger on the nagging usch I've felt for Kerry:

I think the purple heart issue as it relates to Sen Kerrey [sic] speaks volumns about him as a leader. He was not a private, but a Lieutenant, a small unit leader. He was taught that as a leader his two critical tasks were; accomplish the mission, and welfare of his soldiers. No leader I know would ever dream of leaving their troops behind especially not on a technicality. 3 medals equals ticket home. A leader should represent Army values of duty, honor, and most importantly selfless service. His actions seem more selfish than selfless.

My husband won't even take R&R without the rest of his soldiers getting it; I can't help but feel contempt for someone who would go home and leave his brothers to fend for themselves.

MORE TO GROK:

More two cents on Kerry's leadership.

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SUPPORT

One Marine groks the same way I do:

Now we are on the verge of victory or defeat in Iraq. Success depends not only on battlefield superiority, but also on the trust and confidence of the American people. I've read some articles recently that call for cutting back our military presence in Iraq and moving our troops to the peripheries of most cities. Such advice is well-intentioned but wrong - it would soon lead to a total withdrawal. Our goal needs to be a safe Iraq, free of militias and terrorists; if we simply pull back and run, then the region will pose an even greater threat than it did before the invasion. I also fear if we do not win this battle here and now, my 7-year-old son might find himself here in 10 or 11 years, fighting the same enemies and their sons.

When critics of the war say their advocacy is on behalf of those of us risking our lives here, it's a type of false patriotism. I believe that when Americans say they "support our troops," it should include supporting our mission, not just sending us care packages. They don't have to believe in the cause as I do; but they should not denigrate it. That only aids the enemy in defeating us strategically.

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August 20, 2004

VFW

I feel really sorry for these VFW guys. They feel so absolutely betrayed by John Kerry. Forget the Purple Hearts; Kerry came home and denounced his brothers in arms. I can't even imagine how it must feel to be a Vietnam vet who sees Kerry cash in on the war hero image.

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August 19, 2004

TEXAS

Thus, I expect to see Germans, the French, Spaniards, the Dems and others dancing on the streets and boulevards as soon Europe is liberated from those unwelcome foreigners.

Keep dreaming, Nelson. I have heard so much whining lately about the poor German economy that it's not even funny. They hate us to death, but they sure don't want us to leave. Oh, poor Kitzingen, where one in three inhabitants is American. Their poor gasthauses will have to close. Cry me a river.

I saw a military commercial tonight that basically said "don't start packing just yet", but I'm ready.
Send me to Texas.

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FUN FIRSTS FOR AN ARMY WIFE

1. the first time you look at someone's lapel and address him with the correct rank

2. the first time you see a full bird on a lapel

3. the first time you see an Airman and have no idea how to address him

4. the first time you see a Marine and wonder what in the heck is wrong with his blurry camoflauge

5. the first time you correctly call it a weapon instead of a gun

6. the first time you correctly call it a post instead of a base

7. the first time you use military terminology that makes your husband say, "Where did you learn that?"

8. the first time you realize that your friends from back home have no idea what you're talking about

9. the first time you get a hooah when you're teaching grammar

10. and the pinnacle: the first time you explain to a soldier the difference between his AARTS and his ATAARS

Anyone got any other good firsts?

MORE:

Carla reminded me of one. How about

11. the first time you spell something out in the military alphabet without stumbling

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August 15, 2004

BEWILDERED

I just watched A Few Good Men for the first time since I learned anything about the military. It's not sitting well with me. The moral dilemma is disconcerting, it's a lose-lose situation, and in the end I have no idea what I think. What do you do if you're a servicemember who's given an unlawful order? If you disobey, you may be punished. If you obey, you may be punished. That's a frightening dilemma. Sometimes there's what's right and what's right, and never the twain shall meet.

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August 12, 2004

PURPLE HEARTS

What started out as a humorous post has turned into a debate about our military wounded. Interested in joining this comments section?

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August 10, 2004

RECRUITS

Tanker sent me this article: Army finds no lack of recruits for infantry
As an aside, my students were cracking up a few weeks ago talking about the Blue to Green Program. Now I'm Army all the way, but that program does make me giggle a bit.

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August 05, 2004

PERSONAL

There's an interesting discussion going on at Tim Blair's blog about Michael Moore's claim that more Congressmen should send their kids to Iraq. There are all sorts of discussions going on (and lots of tangents being taken), but a comment by Sam caught my eye:

... The bottom line, sure it would be nice if more of the congressmen had a personal link to Iraq so that they could take that into account when making decisions. But as congressmen one would expect they would do that any way. ...

I'm thinking I'd like to disagree here. I would like Congressmen to acknowledge how this war affects individual families and soldiers, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for them to look at the war through a more personal lens. What's good for individual persons is not always good for the country. If the war becomes too personal for our leaders, they might have trouble making the tough decisions. I see that happening a fair amount around here with wives' voting intentions: they want to vote for whoever will bring their husbands home. Instead of what's best for the country as a whole or what's best for Iraq, they just want their Soldiers home at any cost. I personally don't think that's a principled stance. In the military, the country should always come before the self.

Yes, I want Congress to fund body armor and HMMWVs because they keep our Soldiers and Marines safe, but I don't want them to make decisions based on emotion. If a larger number of them had children in Iraq, there's a chance it could cloud their judgement about what's best for the country.

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SURPRISED?

U.N. Must Rely on U.S.-Led Force to Protect Iraq Envoy Because No Countries Offer Troops, Annan Says

Heh.

(via Sir George)

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August 03, 2004

RIBBONS

Navy Capt. Roger Dean Edwards was sentenced to 115 days in jail and fined $7,500. He might end up forced from military service, defrocked as an Episcopal priest and face at least a suspension of his Virginia pharmacy license. What was his crime? Wearing military ribbons he didn't earn. Military honors are taken quite seriously, which is why anyone who believes in what those ribbons stand for should be quite appalled that John Kerry chose to throw his away.

(via Smash)

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August 02, 2004

ART

When my husband's best friend, Red 6, was in the firefight in Baqubah, an article was written in the Christian Science Monitor and his photo appeared in a BBC slideshow. I read that CSM article, trying to get a sense of what he was going through. Today I read a different article that gives me a much better, more personal feeling of the fight.

An artist named Steve Mumford has been living and painting in Iraq. He writes about being a civilian participating in that battle in Baqubah:

I’m thinking: tenuous as my bonds are with these men, I’ve been with them through this much, it would seem cowardly to pull out now. Perhaps I want their approval, the damn reporter, as Sgt. Cliat called me, without malice, when he didn’t know I was right behind him. Or perhaps I feel guilty that I have the luxury of deciding not to get back on the 113.

I recognize many of these names, and Red 6 plays a prominent role in the article. I recognize the Army Values that shine through ("You don’t never go backwards in a firefight! Move this fucking thing forward! Forward!"). And the artwork is beautiful.

If you know and love the Dukes of 3rd Brigade like I do, then you must read this article. If you want to get to know them, this is an exciting place to start.

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