May 29, 2007

READ AND BE HUMBLED

Peter Collier at OpinionJournal writes

The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham's Medal of Honor on the third page of section B.

He goes on to share with us some of the stories of past Medal of Honor recipients. Even if you've never followed a single link I've ever posted here, I want you to go read this article.

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man, indeed.

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May 28, 2007

MEMORIAL DAY

This evening we went to a nice local Memorial Day service. Actually, we almost didn't make it. I thought I knew which park it was at, but I was mistaken. We drove around for a long time trying to figure out where it was in town. I nearly gave up, but the last place we looked was correct. My husband teased me that I was ready to cut and run.

The ceremony was simple but nice. A local 8th grader read a lovely essay he wrote for the VFW's Patriot's Pen essay contest. And there's something completely humbling about being in the presence of POWs. I got choked up every time I looked at their group.

This year I don't quite have anything poetic to say about Memorial Day. But that doesn't mean that certain families haven't been on my mind all day long. This year I'll leave the poetry to PFC Becker:

We are soldiers.
We are soldiers in the United States Army.
We are trained to be all we can be.

We fight for the freedom of many citizens of the United States.
We are all ready to meet our fates.

We all volunteer to defend the red, white and blue.
Not only the flag, but for the citizens of our great country too.

Since our country's birth for all these years,
we have been trained to be the best on Earth.

Many times we have went to war.
We will be involved in many more.

Generation by generation soldiers continue to enlist.
Some of us will got to war and definitely be missed.

Some soldiers will return and some won't.
Those who do not, we won't forget and we hope you don't.

Many of us are going to Iraq.
Some of us won't be coming back.

We have loved ones we are leaving behind.
They will always be in our prayers, hearts and mind.

If we don't make it home safely at the end of the war,
just remember we died defending the beliefs of those of many more.

---PFC Gunnar Becker, November 2003


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NOT BAD

I think MSN did a pretty good job on this comprehensive article on military pay and benefits.

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May 20, 2007

GOOD CELEB BEHAVIOR

I almost didn't want to go see Spiderman 3 because of the crappy behavior of the lead actors. Nothing says "hype our movie" like the actors talking about how much they resented having to make a third one. God forbid you have to be in a movie that people actually want to go see. How tragic. Sheesh, I was almost too annoyed to go. The older I get, the less I can stomach celebrities.

But we were treated to a real class act when Billy Blanks showed up at SpouseBUZZ Live. He acted like the military spouse audience was the celebrity, which was downright touching. He was super-nice, and I hope he knows how much we appreciated his visit.

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May 17, 2007

PRINCE HARRY

Yesterday I read about how Prince Harry will not be deploying to Iraq, and I really felt bad for the guy. He's trained and prepared with his unit, and now he has to watch his unit leave without him. Any true soldier would find that heartbreaking.

But today I heard that other British families are ticked off about the revelation, saying that Harry is no more indespensible than their sons are.

I too have come to this conclusion, that my husband's life is no more valuable than anyone else's in the military. If I believe this war needs to be fought, I cannot in good faith keep my husband from the battlefield. If he doesn't go, someone else will be sent in his place; just because that person doesn't share my bed doesn't mean he doesn't share a bed with someone else whose heart breaks to see him go.

That said, I think the Prince Harry situation is an entirely different issue altogether. To my understanding, no one is saying that Prince Harry's life is more valuable than any other soldier's. What they are saying is that Prince Harry puts his unit in danger. Apparently they've determined there's a $678,000 bounty on Harry's head. He's so high profile that he endangers the soldiers around him, a fact which is not lost on jokesters who've bought the I'm Harry t-shirt. If my husband could somehow put his soldiers' lives in jeopardy, then and only then would I say he shouldn't deploy.

Harry appears ready to sacrifice for his country. But right now the biggest sacrifice he can make is to stand aside and let his unit deploy without him. The Brits should try to understand this.

MORE TO GROK:

Tammi has thoughts on Harry too.

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May 10, 2007

STOKLEY

At the Milblogs Conference, a gentleman from Free Republic told the story of standing outside the White House Correspondents' Dinner with a posterboard showing Cindy Sheehan and SFC Paul Smith. Everyone could place Sheehan, but only one journalist knew who in the heck Paul Smith was.

We have different priorities in the milblog community. We know who Paul Smith is. We know who Jason Dunham is. And we all know who Robert Stokley is.

Several bloggers have written about meeting Mr. Stokley this weekend, and it seems most of the exchanges went like this:

AWTM: "I am so sorry for the loss of your Son."

And I stood in front of Mr. Stokley with tears in my eyes. And much to my amazement, he grabs my hand.

Robert Stokely: "I need to thank all of you bloggers for giving me my life back, I have to be strong for my family, I need to be the rock, and you folks have given me a place where I can talk about Mike, and I do not have to be that rock...."

And I stood there in tears in front of Mr. Stokely absolutely at a loss, and feeling ashamed of them.

AWTM: "I need to thank you, because Mike gave all, and your family has really sacrificed more than most of us will ever feel."

Robert Stokely, then wrapped his arms around me and gave me a huge hug.

Milbloggers all know who Robert and Mike Stokley are; I wish everyone knew.

I spoke on my panel this weekend about an article I saw in our local paper. It turns out that one soldier who's been killed in Iraq was a high school friend of a local reporter. So this soldier was front page news, complete with high school photos and a glowing report of his life. I told the audience that every soldier -- fallen or still with us -- deserves the same pedestal. I don't want the war to only hit home when a journalist loses a friend; they all are front page news. Everyone should names like Smith, Dunham and Stokley.

Please take a few minutes to listen to what Mr. Stokley had to say at the Milblogs Conference. It will take your breath away. And if you don't know much about Paul Smith or Jason Dunham, make sure you read about them too. If there's anything the milblog community can do and do well, it's educating the general public about Someone You Should Know. We want names like Smith, Dunham, and Stokley to replace names like Hilton, Spears, and Lohan. Pass the word.

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May 04, 2007

I'M OFF

I'm leaving for Washington DC in a couple of hours. I have no idea what my blogging capabilities will be this weekend because, despite the fact that the whole weekend will be dedicated to blogging, I remain possibly the only milblogger who doesn't own a laptop. But I'm sure I will return with stories and photos.

CaliValleyGirl said she's been having a hard time explaining to non-internet-obsessed people what the Milblogs Conference exactly is. She said she told them to imagine a Beanie Babies collectors convention, a gathering of folks with an esoteric hobby. I say it feels like a high school reunion of people you didn't go to high school with. Either way, I expect it to be awesome.

If you're so inclined, you can find info on the webcast and liveblogging here.

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