Friday, June 04, 2004


Remember my e-friend Mike...the one with the films that we are praying for?

You must go see his brand new website here.

The unit he spent time with in Baghdad is 2/3 Field Artillery, also known as The Gunners, hence the name Gunner Palace.

At the site you can even watch some clips from his movie.

Enjoy...and keep praying.

A Jordanian man has reportedly shot his unmarried cousin dead as she recovered in hospital after delivering a baby.

The 35-year-old who has not been named then surrendered to police, saying he acted to "cleanse his family's honour".

Stunned medical staff were present as the suspect and his two brothers ran into the woman's room and opened fire.

The 25-year-old mother was hit by six gunshots, the Jordan Times reported, quoting official sources. The day-old baby lying next to her was unharmed...

Jordan Times says this is the third case of so-called "honour" killing in the country this week. It also quotes official figures which say that nine women have died in such killings this year. No explanation is given for the apparent rise in deaths.

Campaigners say Jordanian courts often hand down very lenient sentences for male relatives who commit honour crimes.

Last year, the Jordan Times reported that a man received a four-month prison sentence for murdering his younger pregnant sister "in a fit of rage".

One wonders if Audi Murphy would ever have been heard of if today's media had covered WWII.
The media have the power to decide what stories from Iraq are reported, and how the stories are treated. If it weren't for smaller news outlets and the Internet, few of us would even realize that we are being deliberately and systematically robbed of Iraq war heroes. Few of us would realize how many people of how many nations are with us in this war, and how well they are doing in our common fight against terrorism.
The New York Times will probably never report the story of Corporal Samuel Toloza, one of 380 soldiers from El Salvador, which was carried in the Washington Times. Corporal Toloza, out of ammunition, bravely defended fallen members of his unit from Iraqi insurgents. He charged the enemy, armed only with a knife. ''One of his friends was dead, 12 others lay wounded, and the four soldiers still left standing were surrounded and out of ammunition. So Salvadoran Cpl. Samuel Toloza said a prayer, whipped out his knife, and charged the Iraqi gunmen." The Iraqis broke, and more Coalition troops arrived before they could regroup. Phil Kosnett, who heads the CPA in Najaf, has nominated six El Salvadorans for the Bronze Star. ''These guys are punching way above their weight,'' Kosnett said. ''They're probably the bravest and most professional troops I've every worked with.'' Yet their story is almost completely buried by the mainstream media's endless liturgy of doom, gloom, and quagmire.

You will probably never see the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders mentioned on ABC, CBS or NBC. When attacked by over 100 of Moqtada al-Sadr's so-called militia (in reality a gang of thugs with a religious motif), the 20 or so soldiers fixed bayonets and mounted a 19-century style charge. Taking only three casualties, the Scots captured or killed 35 of the enemy. No American media outlet saw fit to even mention this action, except those who carry Mark Steyn's opinion column. Not one seems to have thought of the Highlanders' action as newsworthy.

What Iraq will look like on the Internet. Still more signs of progress.
Iraq is making its first claim for an internationally recognized presence on the Internet.

Iraq's media commission and the U.S.-led administration in Iraq want to set up Web addresses using the domain code ".IQ" as the final tag. That would mean addresses for Web pages would be distinctively identified on the Internet with Iraq's own country code.

I've recently begun reading Intelligence in War: Knowledge of the Enemy from Napoleon to Al-Qaeda by John Keegan, noted English military historian, author and former Senior Lecturer at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (Great Britain's "West Point".) The man is brilliant.

Here he calmly reminds us to ignore the media hysteria because things are progressing as they nearly always have in history.
The media's message is clear: Iraq is a mess that should never have been allowed to happen. Yet media people are precisely the sort who know perfectly well that wars usually end in a mess.

Many of them, by training, are history boys or history girls. Moreover, they have been trained to perceive reasons why some wars end neatly and others do not...

The aftermath of the First World War was worse. On Armistice night, Lloyd George, leaving the House of Commons with Winston Churchill, remarked: "The war of the giants is over. The war of the pygmies is about to begin." The pygmies, in civil wars in Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Baltic states, Finland and above all Russia, went on fighting for years, killing or starving to death millions. A full-blown war of conquest by Greece against Turkey ended in a Greek humiliation but also 300,000 deaths...

History boys can explain easily - and convincingly - why some wars, as that against Germany in 1945, end in unopposed occupation of enemy territory and why others, as in Iraq in 1920 and 2004, do not. In the first case, the defeated nation has exhausted itself in the struggle and is dependent on the victor both for necessities and for protection against further disaster - social revolution or aggression by another enemy. In the second case, the war has not done much harm but has broken the power of the state and encouraged the dispossessed and the irresponsible to grab what they can before order is fully restored.

What monopolises the headlines and prime time television at the moment is news from Iraq on the activity of small, localised minorities struggling to entrench themselves before full peace is imposed and an effective state structure is restored. The news is, in fact, very repetitive: disorder in Najaf and Fallujah, misbehaviour by a tiny handful of US Army reservists - not properly trained regular soldiers - in one prison. There is nothing from Iraq's other 8,000 towns and villages, nothing from Kurdistan, where complete peace prevails, very little from Basra, where British forces are on good terms with the residents.
Charles Krauthammer picked up on this article by Keegan, and continues it:
The fact that transition from the coalition conquest to whatever new Iraq emerges will be difficult and bloody and contentious is the historical norm, argues Keegan, and yet it has been used by critics to discredit the war and Bush and Blair for having undertaken it.

The panicmongers have been telling us that the June 30 date for the handover of power was approaching with nothing but violence and no one to hand the reins to. But we have an interim government, remarkably balanced in terms of ethnicity, region and tribe. Such encouraging developments, however, are apparently not to be permitted to puncture the current defeatism.

A moderate Shiite is appointed prime minister, and the headlines prominently mention that he was supported by the CIA, thus implicitly encouraging the notion that the man is illegitimate. But where was an Iraqi exile, hunted by Saddam Hussein, to get help, if not from the CIA and MI6?...

Then it is said that this new government consists of just the old, discredited interim Iraqi Governing Council reappointing itself. In fact, of the 36 new ministers, just four are from the Governing Council.

Then comes my favorite: The new government has no legitimacy because it is composed of so many exiles. What kind of leadership does one expect in a country that endured three decades of tyranny in which any expression of opposition met with torture and death? Who better than these exiles - some rather heroic, many of whom created and sustained organized political opposition for decades - to run a transitional government?

Yes, Iraq is a mess. Postwar settlements almost invariably are. Particularly in a country where the removal of a totalitarian dictator leaves a total political vacuum. Of course there are difficulties and dangers ahead, and no guarantee of success. But the transition to Iraqi rule is under way. The first critical step has just been taken.
The bride and groom were dressed for the occasion, but most of the other trappings of a wedding ceremony were missing when Jacob Schwartz and Aimee Thornton were married by the bride's father — a chaplain stationed in Iraq.

The midday heat blanketed the Middle Eastern desert, but the sun had barely made an appearance in Birmingham at 5:30 a.m. Thursday as the ceremony took place.

Mark Thornton, the bride's father and an Army National Guard chaplain stationed in Mozul, Iraq, conducted the ceremony via telephone. It was broadcast on the Russ and Dee in the Morning show Thursday on WYDE-FM...

The couple sat across from each other in swivel chairs, wearing headphones and holding hands, as Mark Thornton spoke. "Real love will make your burdens lighter because you carry them together," the preacher said.

"We always thought Mark would marry us. We always thought it would be at a church," said Schwartz, a junior meteorology major at the University of Alabama. "We never imagined it would be conducted from Iraq."

The Iraqis have enough to concern them without having to continue to pay for Saddam's sins. Seems to me those countries who didn't spend a dime sending troops to help calm the aftermath ought to be the first to step up and forgive the debt.
Iraqi's new finance minister Thursday said the country expected up to 90 percent of its estimated $120 billion debt to be forgiven.

"We expect up to 90 percent of the debt to be forgiven, but because negotiations are ongoing it is too early to give figures and ratios," Adel Abdul-Mahdi told Reuters.

"We really want Iraq to be forgiven of (all) debt if that is possible, but we believe the larger part must be gotten rid off," said Abdul-Mahdi, part of a new interim government that will formally take over sovereignty from the United States June 30.
Iraq named a team on Friday to organize its first free elections in January, the next step in establishing its independence from U.S. military occupation.

The formal selection of the electoral commission came three days after the appointment of an interim government in a process overseen by Washington with U.N. participation.

The new government told the United Nations it wanted the right to decide on the future presence of U.S.-led forces and other security issues but in general sided with Washington.

The United States is trying to persuade other major powers, including France and Russia, to support a U.N. mandate to keep U.S.-led troops in Iraq until the country has a fully legitimate, constitutionally elected government -- scheduled for about 18 months time in the current U.S. transition plan.
(Emphasis added)

How sadly political it will be if the UN Security Council does not immediately honor this request by Iraq.
Iraq’s new government won a precious vote of confidence today from the country’s top Shia cleric, who urged it to erase the marks of occupation and secure full sovereign powers from the UN.

There is a lot of history to overcome...but it will happen.
Gruizenga, who earned a master's degree in public administration from Western Michigan University in December 2002, has worked closely with three of the women in the new government: Pascale Warda, minister of immigration and refugees; Nesreen Berwari, minister of municipalities; and Mishkat el-Moumin, minister of the environment.

"We help (Iraqi women) write grants, facilitate training programs for political party development, and train them to be good political candidates," she said. "We give general instructions on how to work with the media, how to promote themselves in the political environment."

Gruizenga emphasized she was speaking for herself and not for the State Department. But she said she, her colleagues and the Iraqis they are helping are frustrated by "the fear of the Iraqi people to rise up against a handful of insurgents" and by the news media's focus on the violent opposition to the U.S.-led occupation.

"Ninety-nine percent of Iraqis love us and want democracy to work," she said. "One percent are causing all the trouble.
On a raid last fall in Iraq, U.S. Army Capt. Stacey Corn's squad came under intense attack while preparing to invade a house believed to be the headquarters of enemy combatants.

Corn was shot -- and likely would have been killed, he said, if it weren't for the quick response and counter-fire provided by one of his fellow servicemen, Lt. Ken Ballard.

"He was there for me and my boys," Corn said. "He was the first to be there for anything or anyone."

Corn had to tell his squad Monday that Ballard had been killed in action.

Ballard, a Mountain View man whose grandparents live in Newark, became the latest Bay Area soldier killed in combat when he was shot in a small-arms gunfight at 11:59 p.m. Sunday in the An-Najaf area of Iraq.

"A lot of my soldiers said the same thing to me," said Corn, now stationed in Louisiana. "They said, 'We should have been there for him, because he was there for us.'"

Ballard's father, who lives in Hayward, also received the news Monday, which was Memorial Day -- already special in the Ballard family because of its long history of military service. Four generations of Ballards have served since World War I.

"I always had respect for (Memorial Day) and how it should be observed," Tom Ballard said. "The day will carry an even deeper meaning for me now."
Army Pfc. Nicholaus E. Zimmer, 20, of Columbus, Ohio, died Sunday in Kufa, Iraq, when his vehicle came under attack by rocket-propelled grenades; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Friedburg, Germany.

Recently I asked you to join me in praying that Mike would find a distributor for his balanced approach films showing our soldiers in Iraq.

We are not out of the woods yet...but he did write with this to say:
On the good news front, prayer must work.

I have had nothing but praise from people who have screened the the latest cut and I think we will have no problem getting a broadcast outlet in the States. This is been a long road. I went from having high levels of interest in the Fall to being totally ignored to now being praised. Go figure.
Go figure? Not exactly. Go pray! The interest is growing but he doesn't have a broadcaster yet.

2LT Leonard Cowherd was a Platoon Leader in C Company, 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment based in Friedberg.

By no means is this the first MilBlog to feature what follows. And it isn't particularly timely on my part. But it is about one of our own and I wish to add it to the record. I also hope that readers who have not read this previously will take the opportunity to do so.

You will need ten minutes, a quiet space, and a box of kleenex. Please don't even start to read this if you don't have all of those.

2LT Cowhert's father-in-law updates their circle of concerned via email after learning of the Lieutenant's death by firefight in Karbala. An extract:
Is there anything you can do? Sarah, Charles and I have discussed this. We need nothing. We appreciate everything. However, if you want to 'do'something we have two requests. First - somewhere in your 6-degree circle of friends and family find a deployed soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. Talk to them. Send them an e-mail, a letter, or package. Tell them you're there. Tell them you care. It doesn't have to be Iraq or Afghanistan. We have folks around the world that are doing our business. Just reach out to one of them. One of Leonard's biggest concerns was the soldiers in his platoon who received no mail or support from folks outside the company. Our warriors shouldn't have this problem.

Second - stand a little stiller, stand a little straighter the next time you hear the National Anthem. There are generations of warriors that have made that possible.

What happened? Leonard caught a sniper's round in the chest. He did not suffer. As far as we know at this time, his platoon and company had been engaged in relatively heavy combat all day long in Karbala. Leonard died at around 1720 Iraq time on Sunday. We do not know if he was off his tank or if it happened while he was mounted. During the same period two other soldiers were wounded although they do not appear to have been with Leonard's platoon. Again, as far as we've been able to determine, the unit returned fire and carried the field. Some reports indicate they killed the sniper.
Read the entire series of notes here.

(My sincere thanks to Bobby Sr., father of two deployed soldiers. May God bless you and yours, Bobby, and grant them safe return.)

The 390th day of CPT Patti's deployment. One year, three weeks, three days.

Generally, it has been a cool spring here in Germany. To such an extent that it is only today that the roses outside my office are at full bloom. This is late by my standards. Growing up in South Carolina I could count on Dad cutting rosebuds from the bush for each of us to wear on our lapels on Easter Sunday.

So...the roses are late, but they are beautiful. And I'm wishing CPT Patti could see them. She hasn't seen roses in bloom since 2002.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


OK...I've taken care of a lot of that stuff I needed to do today. But I find I just don't have it in me today to review hundreds of depressing headlines so I can pick out the nuggets today.

Forgive me...I'll try to tank up and be better on Friday.

Meanwhile, Sarah is on top of her game today with some good stuff about liars...and she saves you the effort to find the gems in the President's Address at the AFA. Go pay a visit.

Apparently well deserved criticism directed at the Army.
While the Marine Corps makes certain that its Marines receive the credit and admiration they've justly earned, I found that the Army effectively camouflages its combat heroes.

As a career Army wife (and mother and daughter) I have a first loyalty, and a longstanding crush on the Marines. I intended to highlight exemplary members of both services. Had it been up to the Army, "The Soldiers You Never Hear About" would have been a mistakenly titled account of courageous Marines in action. I recognize that the Army is a really big organization, but there's no excuse for the lack of interest I encountered when I attempted to bring some attention to those in its ranks who so richly deserve it.

Colonel George Rynedance, in the Pentagon's office of public affairs, initially talked to me about identifying some of the services' decorated heroes. He explained that each service had to be contacted separately. In three phone calls, I had the medal citations I was looking for from the Marines on my fax machine. I talked to a Marine captain at Quantico and a Lieutenant at Camp Pendleton. They both followed up to make sure I had everything I needed. The performance of these young officers is not merely the result of a smooth, disciplined public-affairs operation. It seems to me that their interest and responsiveness reflects the Corps's ethos of Marines taking care of fellow Marines.

When I called the Department of Army, I was referred to its "awards branch." There I was told that no information about soldiers' medal exploits was available. The "awards" office had no information on the first Distinguished Services Crosses awarded since the Vietnam War. It was recommended that I call the individual duty stations of individual decorated soldiers. At Fort Bragg, I was told that I would have to be able to identify a decorated soldier by name before a citation detailing his actions could be tracked down. The public-affairs office appeared unaware of any recent award ceremonies for service in Iraq. My updates to Col. Rynedance on the dead-ends I was encountering were met with a detached response.

Perhaps a team of researchers from 60 Minutes could have found Army officers as determined as those Marines to see that their soldiers receive the credit they deserve. But, 60 Minutes isn't interested in telling stories of heroism and self-sacrifice in Iraq, and as far as I can tell neither is the Army. I was unable to find anyone in the Army much interested in my modest project.

Soldiers obviously deserve better than the current disjointed system that inhibits widespread public recognition of their bravery. Couldn't the Army War College be a repository for the official citations, stories, and press releases about the soldiers who have earned the service's highest awards?

Next time the Pentagon complains that good stories aren't being told, it might be because the military isn't telling them.
Before the war, the news media failed to reveal the extent of Saddam Hussein's brutality. Too many journalists cut a shameful deal with the dictator: To keep their Baghdad bureaus open and unmolested, they refrained from serious attempts to report Saddam's crimes.

Since the liberation of Iraq the broadcast media have ...well, they've made no great effort to correct the record...

There are videotapes of many of Saddam's vile misdeeds. He ordered them either for personal amusement or as a management tool _ to make sure the work was getting done. These tapes show Saddam's thugs hacking fingers off those suspected of disloyalty, pulling out the tongues of those who dissented, cutting off the heads of those who offended the dictator. The blood splatters, the victims scream, Saddam's killers sing Saddam's praises.

It's puzzling that the same media outlets that air -- over and over _ tapes of Americans abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib do not broadcast these earlier tapes. One possible explanation: Tapes of American abusers are prurient -- the women's underwear, the dog leashes, the nudes-on-nudes. By contrast, the Saddam tapes are gruesome in a banal way.

But such reasoning is insufficient when you watch veteran film-maker Don North's restrained documentary entitled, "Remembering Saddam," the story of nine innocent businessmen who had their right hands amputated at Abu Ghraib on Saddam's orders. North's film has been written about by the Wall Street Journal, and North has been interviewed on C-SPAN, but not one network -- not CBS, NBC, ABC or PBS -- has yet aired his truthful, revealing tale of real people who suffered under a brutal dictator, who suffer still, and who are grateful to Americans for freeing them from Saddam's clutches.
(Emphasis added)

Oh...written by a former NY Times correspondent.
Fatigue and fraternity. Grief and grit. Above all, frustration. Sit down for a minute with soldiers of the Alabama National Guard's 1165th MP Company, and you see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, no matter the rank, no matter the platoon.

They are beyond ready for home and hearth.

The good news is, it looks like they'll be back in Fairhope and Brewton for welcome-home ceremonies soon. This week, for the second time, they begin packing. Latest word from 1st Armored Division headquarters is that the 1165th will convoy south in early July, reaching the safe haven of Kuwait in about two days. That should put them back in the States before the end of that month.
In spite of my previous insistence it won't happen, the timetable for this 1AD unit is very close to the absurdly widespread rumor regarding our 1AD units as well.

Postings will be late, and perhaps light today. Other fish are frying.
From now on, all Army units tapped to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan will be placed under stop-loss and stop-move restrictions that prevent soldiers from switching assignments or voluntarily leaving the service, according to an order signed June 1 by Reginald Brown, the Army’s assistant secretary for manpower and reserve affairs.

The stop loss/stop move will take effect as soon as a unit is activated for deployment to a future Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom mission. It won’t end until three months after the unit returns to its home station, Maj. Gen. Franklin L. “Buster” Hagenbeck, the Army’s chief for personnel matters, told reporters at a roundtable Tuesday morning.

The stop-loss/stop-move order includes the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, which is on its way later this summer to Iraq from South Korea, Hagenbeck confirmed, as well as any units that will deploy for the third rotation into Iraq, or OIF 3.

Stop-loss restrictions prevent servicemembers from retiring or leaving the service at their scheduled time. Stop movements mostly prevent permanent changes of station.

The stop-loss/stop-movement restrictions will be in place “for several years” until the Army has finished “transforming” itself into a service based on 48 brigade combat teams that stay together for 36 months at a time, with a 12-month deployment period included, Hagenbeck said.

That project will take at least another six years to complete, according to Army plans.
As you read the coming firestorm about how the Government "violates" the contract it has with Soldiers, please keep in mind that paragraph 9. a. (5) of the enlistment contract actually tells the enlistee that his status may change at any time (that would include being on PCS (changing station), and ETS (leaving service) status. It also points out that if the US is at war one's enlistment is automatically extended until sox months after the end of the war.

Day 389 of my darling wife's deployment. One year, three weeks, two days.

Obscure musical reference of the day: "It was the third of June, another hot n' dusty Delta day..."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


Did you think the Oil for Palaces program was amusing? You are going to love the Taxi Service for Terrorists Program.
The United Nations and Red Cross have been providing cover for terrorists -- literally. And American taxpayers are footing some of the bill.

Last week, an Israeli television station aired footage of armed Arab terrorists in southern Gaza using an ambulance owned and operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Palestinian gunmen used the UNRWA emergency vehicle as getaway transportation after murdering six Israeli soldiers in Gaza City on May 11. The footage shows two ambulances with flashing lights pull onto a street. Shots and shouts ring out during the nighttime raid. A gang of militants piles into one of the supposedly neutral ambulances, clearly marked "UN" with the agency's blue flag flying from the roof, which then speeds away from the scene.
I think its time to take our 25% of the UN's budget and go home.

(Emphasis added)
Americans suffer from hypochondria and historical amnesia that skew their perspectives and make them think things are worse than they are, George Will said Tuesday during a luncheon fund-raiser for the Baptist Health Foundation.

The national political columnist and commentator urged the more than 300 people in attendance at The Club to take a more grounded view as they enter the presidential election frenzy and both Democrats and Republicans try to portray the economy and other national issues as crises.

For example, the rising price of gasoline has everybody stunned although the price was surging only four years ago, Will said.

"People are driving around in their Lincoln Navigators, barely making it from one gas station to another, drinking designer water that's more expensive than gasoline, talking on their cell phones about how arduous life is in America," Will said to great laughter from the crowd...

Will's speech also took a serious turn when he talked about the threat of terrorism and the war in Iraq. While he wasn't against a "pre-emptive war," he said the United States needed better information than it had to pull off such a feat. He also said he thought the concept of creating a beacon of democracy in the Middle East was overly optimistic.

"Maybe, just maybe, we underestimated the miracle of democracy," Will said.

It took more than 500 years to progress from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Independence, he said. After the Civil War, it took 110 years to progress through Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement. So how do we think we can turn over power in Iraq by June 30, Will asked.

"Who thinks the Middle East is easier than Mississippi?" Will said rhetorically.
President Bush lashed out at greying-at-the-temples rockers Sting and Paul McCartney on Tuesday saying "These guys have just totally lost touch with the concept of rock and roll."

Speaking before a crowd at a 1960s music review, President Bush verbally spanked the former members of The Police and The Beatles for inflicting pointless costs upon the music listening public.

"It is gravely disappointing that the music these two former greats create today is vapid, meaningless stuff. And perhaps the worst of it is kids today are losing their hearing listening to this stuff at high volume. How many more must be deafened before these two has-beens will cease victimizing a whole new generation?"

The President went on to tell the cheering crowd "I'll say this...I would never let my daughters listen to this crap. Sure, I know they are of legal age and everything, but sometimes a father has to just step in and put his foot down when he knows what he's talking about. And let me tell ya...I know rock and roll. Friends, this isn't rock and roll."

The President did not bat an eye when a member of the crowd asked "Sir, how is it that you are such a Rock authority?"

"Simple", replied the President. "I'm the President so of course that qualifies me as an authority on Mr. Sting's and Mr. McCartney's performances at their jobs. While I've never actually played in a rock band myself, mind you...well...uh... I have the microphone...and you are listening to me, therefore apparently we all agree that I'm an authority on the subject" the President said, to the nodding agreement of nearly all in the crowd
A poem by National Guardsman Ben Sleaford
"Do I Believe?"

Sometimes I ask myself what I believe
What is the one thing I will not leave?
I ask myself what is it I want
as I stand in a row with my eyes front.

I ask myself in the back of my head
What is that thing for which so many have bled?
As I stand in that long, green row
I ask myself, "Will I go?"

Will I be courageous?
Will I be brave?
Will I like a soldier
be strong and behave?

Will I stand with feet planted facing my death?
Will I be fighting to my last breath?
Will I be frightened and die all alone
Never again to see my loved home?

And I ask myself "Do I believe?"

Do I believe in what
for my father fought?
Do I believe in what
at the cost of their lives my uncle's bought?

If I'm not brave, if I'm not ready
When the time comes will my hands be shaky or steady?
In the back of my mind a little light flicks
a mental wheel turns, a brain cog clicks

An answer comes into my head
In a stern voice it is said
You have to believe now and forever
for those who see freedom as a worthy endeavor

For those who fell for the Liberty Bell
For those who fell in the War of 18 and 12
Who at Gettysburg's high tide believed it
and believing it, died.

For those at Beaull Wood
for those who freedom stood
At Iwo and Normandy
Men just like me

You must believe for the men who fell
at the Pusin Perimeter
Oh what a story to tell
For those who went to the jungle to fight
And in that jungle, died one night.

You must believe for who will?

What a great story. Kids writing to a Soldier they didn't know...and the Soldier traveling from Chicago to Charlotte just to say thanks.

Wow, there are some good people in this world!
A veteran of the Iraqi war visited some special pen pals Tuesday at Southwest Middle School in Charlotte.

Army reservist Arthurine Jones, 47, of Chicago, made a promise to come see Southwest sixth-graders who wrote letters to her during her yearlong deployment.

Students wrote more than 100 letters to Jones, and she shared them with the rest of her unit, the 308th Civil Affairs Brigade.

She kept all of the letters, too, and brought them to Charlotte with her...

Jones said the letters got her through some tough times away from friends and family.

"It meant a lot to me," she said. "And I had never met the children before, and that's what really made it special."

Hurrying up so that our guys can come home.
In a rapid-fire deployment, about 5,000 U.S. Marines will arrive this month and travel to Iraq in July, the military said Tuesday.

The deployment occurs in the fierce heat of summer and under an extraordinarily tight schedule, with troops expected to land in the war theater a few weeks after receiving orders.

''We'll be pushing them through the theater and getting them up north'' into Iraq, said Army Col. Gary McKown, who oversees U.S. troop movements into Iraq from this desert base south of Kuwait City.

The Marines, who had yet to receive official deployment orders Tuesday, will be among the units traveling into Iraq in July, relieving about 15,000 war-weary soldiers from the Army's 1st Armored Division and 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

In April, both Army units had their stays in Iraq extended by three months after a pair of insurgent uprisings spread deadly turmoil across the country, requiring U.S. troops to take over a swath of Iraq formerly occupied by its coalition partners.

Military officials have identified the incoming Marine units as the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the 24th MEU from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Marines will be followed by 3,600 soldiers from the U.S. Army's South Korea-based 2nd Infantry Division. Those soldiers will pass through Kuwait after the Marines, McKown said in an interview with The Associated Press.
(Thanks Beth)
Throughout history, far more battles have been lost by a failure of nerve than have been won by military genius. Today, the greatest danger to American efforts in Iraq remains the collapse of our will...

In the last few weeks, group-think — or group hysteria — has overtaken the pundits. Lunatic proposals have been advanced to end an imagined debacle in Iraq. One strategic genius suggested that we need to allow the Iraqis to defeat us so they can take pride in themselves again. Other voices have called for an immediate withdrawal of American troops, despite the awful consequences such cowardice would bring.

Yet we are a long way from failure in Iraq. Helping a broken country reconstruct itself is very hard work. Setbacks are inevitable. Instead of predicting doom whenever we stub a toe, we should be surprised at how well so much is going.

Iraq is stumbling forward — not backward, forward.

Baghdad will soon have its own nascent government — and it's not necessarily a bad thing that we didn't get our way in choosing its leaders. We're in danger of becoming an overly protective parent. We need to let the kid ride the damned bike and fall down a couple of times.
The insurgents continue to fail everywhere but in Fallujah. Kurdistan is free and prospering. Iraq's key factions are talking instead of shooting.

The economy is on the move.

Development lurches ahead, despite terror attacks.

And the people have already shown far more political maturity than Europeans did in the 20th century.

The time will come for us to leave Iraq. But it's not here yet. Leaving prematurely would undo much, if not all, of the good that has been accomplished, while making a mockery of our soldiers' sacrifices.

Sometimes you win just by staying in the game — or fail by losing heart and leaving the table.
MORE SIGNS OF PROGRESSThe interim Iraqi government is set, and the Iraqi Governing Council has been disolved.
The first post-Saddam Hussein government was unveiled here, as Washington and London presented a revised UN resolution that sets a rough date for US-led troops to leave Iraq.

Iraq's interim Governing Council Tuesday was dissolved and the new transitional executive presented to the public: Sunni Muslim tribal magnate Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar was named president and 33 ministries were parceled out along religious and ethnic lines among the country's Sunnis, Shiite Muslims and Kurds.

Iyad Allawi, a US-backed former Baathist dissident, had already been picked as prime minister Friday.
Geez...looks as if the USA, once again, has kept its word despite handwringing over American imperialism, blood for oil, and other very, very tired cliche's.

Is anyone really surprised?

Of course now we will be subjected to endless discussions about the imperfections of this Iraqi government, reminders that it wasn't elected, and many crocodile tears that it, well, should somehow be better!

Perhaps now would be a good time for a brief review of United States history.

America was born in 1776...right? Well, sort of. We declared our independence in 1776...but of course, the British had a vote in all this. So how long did it take before that little spat was settled? A year? Three? Five? see, by the standards of the media in the 21st century, the American Revolutionary War was a real quagmire. Seven years! The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783, officially ending the war between the US and Great Britain.

But at least when we declared our independence we had a functioning government and a good framework for getting things done...right? I mean, the constitution guided us through these early days...right? As a matter of fact the Constitution wouldn't come into play until TWELVE YEARS after we declared our independence...ratified in 1788.

Oh...but we did have the Articles of Confederation that functioned similar to a constitution...right? Yes...we did...five years after we declared our independence. The Articles were ratified in 1781. However, six years later these were seen as so flawed that a constitutional convention was called to revise them. Turns out they were so broken it was easier to throw them out and start over.

Well...certainly though we at least had a general agreement on the way things ought to work in a Democracy...right? Well, frankly, no. You may have snoozed through this in high school history class but perhaps the greatest debate democracy has ever seen existed between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton over the nature of man and the nature of a Democracy (do you recall any discussion of the Federalist Papers? No? Now do you have an answer to the question you asked in high school, "Why do I need to know this stuff?"?)

So...when you read and hear the talking heads discussing how poorly this new Iraqi government is doing, consider please that our own history teaches us the lesson we've mentioned here over and over and over.

Folks, this is hard. Worthy, attainable, necessary...but hard.

The Aussies have been handling air traffic control in Baghdad. Not any more.
For the first time since the war, a team of civilian Iraqi air traffic controllers will walk into the Baghdad tower and begin work. Helping the transition will be Mike McCormick of Miller Place, who is assigned to run the FAA's air traffic control center in Ronkonkoma but has spent the past three months in Iraq.

"It's the first step," Hatfield said in a telephone interview from Baghdad, "in giving the new Iraqi government control over their own aviation system."

Carla wrote to ask me to speculate about Iraq tour lengths for Marines. I did. Looks like I'm all wrong (and I'll remind you all I told you my speculation was worth every penny you paid for it!)

Appears Carla gets her wish.
The Marine Corps’ top general said Tuesday that there are no plans to extend seven-month tours in Iraq despite reports that Marines could be there as long as a year.

Marine Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee said battalions and squadrons are not scheduled to stay longer, but acknowledged things could always change.

“If the battlefield changes, then we’ll react to that,” Hagee said in an interview in Rota.

“But right now, it is seven- month rotations for the infantry battalions and the squadrons, it’s about a year rotation for regimental headquarters, group headquarters, division headquarters.”


Day 388 of CPT Patti's deployment. One year, three weeks, and one day.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


I missed seeing this on television...but Mom clued me in on the telephone tonight. Thanks Mom!
Across the Potomac River at Arlington National Cemetery, hundreds of military officials, dignitaries and visitors turned out to see President Bush lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns...

Mr. Bush's words provoked resounding applause from the crowd, which gave the president a standing ovation at his introduction and at the conclusion of his remarks.

The pitch of the crowd's cheers and the flurry of miniature American flags that audience members waved for the president was rivaled only by the crowd's enthusiastic welcome to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who introduced the president.
(Emphasis mine)

And this is how the New York Post reported the same thing
Rumsfeld, who spoke first, got a thunderous standing ovation from the 1,000 people who attended the ceremony.

There were shouts of "God bless you" and "We love you, Rummy."
Wow. I wish I could have been there to add to the ovation.
Democratic senator - and certain presidential nominee - John F. Kerry gave the middle finger to a Vietnam veteran at the Vietnam Memorial Wall on Memorial Day morning, has learned.

Ted Sampley, a former Green Beret who served two full tours in Vietnam, spotted Kerry and his Secret Service detail at about 9:00 a.m. Monday morning at the Wall. Sampley walked up to Kerry, extended his hand and said, "Senator, I am Ted Sampley, the head of Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, and I am here to escort you away from the Wall because you do not belong here."

At that point a Secret Service officer told Sampley to back away from Kerry. Sampley moved about 6 feet away and opened his jacket to reveal a HANOI JOHN T-shirt.

Kerry then began talking to a group of schoolchildren. Sampley then showed the T-shirt to the children and said, "Kerry does not belong at the Wall because he betrayed the brave soldiers who fought in Vietnam."

Just then Kerry - in front of the school children, other visitors and Secret Service agents - brazenly 'flashed the bird' at Sampley and then yelled out to everyone, "Sampley is a felon!"

Kerry was referring to an incident 12 years ago when Sampley confronted Sen. John McCain's chief aide, Mark Salter, in a Senate stairwell after McCain repeatedly offended POW families at a Senate POW hearing. Sampley, whose father-in-law at that time was MIA in Laos, followed Salter into the stairwell and, when they emerged, Salter had a bloody lip and a broken nose.

Sampley's group, Vietnam Veterans Against John Kerry, has garnered huge national attention and has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post and on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country." Tens of thousands of Vietnam vets have registered their opposition to Kerry through Sampley's group.

Yeah, it looks like we are swapping links, but you just have to read what happened to Sarah today.

Me...I'm thinking "angels".

I can't believe I missed this one. Fortunately Greyhawk had my back.

(Read it all, but check for the Giessen, Germany reference especially).
The bloodbath began on Saturday when gunmen in military garb opened fire on the Al-Khobar Petroleum Centre building, housing offices of major Western oil firms, before storming into compounds containing oil services offices and employees' homes.

"There were pools of blood, blood is everywhere," said a member of the staff at the upmarket Oasis compound, adding that freed hostages told him there had been more than four attackers.

The hotel where the foreign hostages were held was still sealed off after the siege and security forces were searching for explosives the militants might have left behind.

Bullet-holes, blood stains, shattered glass, empty cartridges and grenades were evidence of the havoc, he said...

Arab residents had said the gunmen asked them if they were Muslim or Christian before targeting the Christians.

"It happened very quickly. It's difficult to recall it all. I locked the front door and I heard some shots," said Diane Reed, an American shot in the legs when the militants first stormed the complex on Saturday. She was at al-Saad hospital where she underwent two surgeries.

The ministry listed the total death toll in the attack as an American, a Briton, an Italian, a South African, a Swede, eight Indians, two Sri Lankans, three Filipinos, an Egyptian boy and three Saudis. It said 25 people were injured.
Emphasis added.

The so-called cleric al Sadr has no popular support in Najaf.
After Saddam's fall, Najaf and other holy cities in Iraq's Koran belt had prospered from the inflow of hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims from Iran, Syria, and Bahrain. Many new hotels rose out of the dust to meet the demand, but, because of fighting, construction sites on Najaf's monochromatic streets remained abandoned last week...

Publicly furious with the occupation, the citizens are also privately blaming Sadr for bringing the fighting to the holiest Shiite city, and they say that they will be grateful when he and his ragtag bandit army leave.

"Things were very good two months ago. It was a peaceful town. Then people from outside our city came in [and] the majority of the fighters came from outside of Najaf," said Ali Nasser, 25, while eating a lunch of stewed lamb and rice in the emptied bazaar.

"When the Americans first came here, they played soccer and dominoes with us. They were just like our friends. We didn't even see a tank."
(via Instapundit)

John Leo says eloquently what I've tried to say in my own hamhanded way for most of a year.
Some 82 percent of the journalists were able to list a news organization that was "especially conservative" (most named Fox News), but an amazing 62 percent could not name any news organization that struck them as "especially liberal." Good grief. Even 60 percent of the Homer Simpson family could probably figure out that the New York Times or National Public Radio qualify as liberal.

In response to the survey, some argue that personal social and political views make no difference if a reporter plays the story straight. Well, yes. But nearly half of those polled told Pew that journalists too often let their ideological views color their work. This is a devastating admission, something like an umpire's union reporting that half its membership likes to favor the home team...

That's why the steady march toward a more liberal newsroom is so puzzling. The news media have to cope with a declining readership and viewership and intense scrutiny of their wayward practices by right-wing outlets and relentlessly critical bloggers. Yet the mainstream media have only those few in-house conservatives who might warn their bosses when news reports are skewing left.

Why does the news business keep hiring more and more people who disagree sharply with the customers, many of whom are already stampeding out the door for a variety of reasons?

If straight talk of savagery offends you, if you believe in ethnic and gender diversity but not diversity of thought or if you think there is an acceptable gray area between good and evil, then turn to the funny pages, and take the children, too.

This piece is not for you.

We published pictures Thursday of burnt American corpses hanging from an Iraqi bridge behind a mob of grinning Muslims.

Some readers didn’t like it...

It doesn’t take a Darwin to figure out that in this world the smartest, the fastest, the strongest, and the most committed always win. No exceptions.

Look at your spouse and children. Look at yourself in the mirror. Then look at the pictures from the paper last Thursday. You better look at them. Those are the people out to kill you.

Who do you think will win? You? Or them? Think you can take your ball and go home and they will leave you alone? Read a little history. Start with last week, last month, last year, and every other year back for half a century. Then go back a thousand years. Nobody hides from this fight.

Like it or not, that’s the way it was and that’s the way it is.

But many Americans don’t get it.

That’s why we published those pictures.

If they jarred you off the sofa, if they offended you, if they scared your children and sent you into a rage at mass murderers or heartless editors, then I say, it’s a start.
(Thanks Deb)

But this story ends much better than it begins.
Within days, forces greater than a thief's sour spirit came to bear on the situation, in the slight and modest form of Lori Floyd.

Floyd, of Endwell, read Brown's letter to the editor published last month in this newspaper: "For the past several years I have posted the colors on our front porch 24/7. They were there through the entire winter, under light at night and proudly waving in the fiercest and slightest breeze. My flag was not there the morning of April 15. I hope the person who removed it has it displayed in a proud manner."

She read it, and she was appalled.

"I know things get stolen every day, but a flag?" says Floyd, 38. "I couldn't believe someone would steal a flag."

She and her family moved here from Troy, Ala., less than a year ago. She didn't know Joseph Brown, but that didn't matter.

Her husband, Tech. Sgt. William E. Floyd, is stationed in Kuwait with the U.S. Air Force Reserves 5th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron.

"I talk to my husband every day by e-mail," she says. "And in conversation I said, 'Guess what? I read a letter in the paper today about somebody who stole a flag.'"

C130 pilots take a flag on every mission with them, she explains, then present them to different people for different reasons. "Could you ask if we could get one for Mr. Brown?" she asked her husband, who is due home early next year.

When her husband went back and told the crew, they were astonished that someone would steal a flag, too -- and they were happy to send one to Joe Brown.

Through the newspaper, Lori contacted Joe and told him what her husband had done on his behalf. She had a very special flag for him, she said. Would he mind if she came by and gave it to him?

Joe was overwhelmed again, but this time with a different set of emotions.

"She's a busy lady," he says. "She has four kids, and she works. To think that she would take the time to ask her husband ... I am just thrilled."

On May 19, Lori and her 9-year-old son Jared pulled up in front of the Browns' house. Joe and Mary were in their living room, where a photograph of their grandson, a Marine, hangs proudly.

Lori handed Joe the folded red, white and blue cloth in a presentation box. It came with a certificate from the crew certifying that the flag had been flown over Baghdad and Kuwait City by Capt. William Thornley and crew of the 181st Airlift Squadron, Texas ANG -- and that the flag was to be presented to one Joseph Brown, Korean War veteran.

No flag ever flew more grandly than the one now waving in the gentle Endicott breeze from a new pole erected on the Browns' porch.

"I was flabbergasted," Joe says. "To think that something so cruel turned into something so beautiful."

Interesting statistic.
A news report published last week in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch confirmed what many people in rural American have known all along - that small towns pay a disproportionately high price when it comes to war.

The newspaper reported that of 798 Americans killed in Iraq since the war began just over a year ago 47 percent hailed from communities of less than 40,000 residents. That number represents an extraordinary sacrifice on the part of such small towns because they make up only 27 percent of the population.
In the end the Iraqis have to do it their way. Seems they've begun.

But the naysayers were astounded, along with the U.N.'s Lakhdar Brahimi and the White House's Robert Blackwill, when Iraqi leaders started acting last week like Iraqi leaders. No thanks, they said to the U.N.-U.S. notion of an interim government of toothless technocrats, and rejected Brahimi's choice for the top slot.

Like real politicians, they cut a few deals and chose one of their own — a secular Shiite, not an Islamist or a Sunni or a Kurd — to be prime minister...

The purpose of all this jockeying is to form an organization capable of holding an election in a country beset by Saddam loyalists and terrorists determined to block that election. This will take Iraqi politicians courageous enough to risk their lives, sensible enough to work closely with coalition generals to protect the voters from the killers, and persuasive enough to enlist many more Iraqis to join the fight for freedom.

Present Iraqi leaders like Alawi are clearly asserting themselves. We will not like all they insist upon. But they are lurching toward a democratic decision, and despite the hand-wringing of Gloomy Gus & Company, that's real progress.

Odd thing about the cots though. CPT Patti's troops had segregated sleeping areas, as is, I believe, the norm.
This being a military love story, their first date was a walk to chow hall. As the two loaded their belongings on a truck outside the barracks the day before they left Fort McCoy for Iraq, English saw that his wife-to-be was nervous and asked her to walk to the mess hall for something to eat.

Then in Kuwait two weeks later, the night before their platoon was to leave for Baghdad, he approached her while she was doing laundry and the two began a conversation that finally enabled her to get past her shyness.

In Iraq, their platoon occupied a palace that was once the home of one of Saddam Hussein's top aides. After cleaning up the palace, soldiers set up cots in their new home -- with the couple's cots right next to each other.

"I can remember him making the comment that he has to sleep next to me for the next year," said the new Mrs. English, chuckling.

As the transition of authority nears, our military leaders in Iraq shift to a mission with a different emphasis.

The author of this article points out that "some" don't understand this in view of the continuing engagements with insurgents.

My personal opinion is that this is not a linear process requiring the elimination of all insurgents before we move to the next step. Indeed, to set such a threshold is tantamount to letting the insurgents dictate progress' timetable.

The symbolic victory comes when Iraqis are in charge. And once they are, the success of that Iraqi government becomes the most visible guage of success or failure of the intervention in politics-as-usual in the middle east.
Senior U.S. commanders here say they are writing new orders to shift the focus of the military's mission from offensive combat operations to protecting a new Iraqi government and parts of the economy while building up Iraq's own security forces...

The number of insurgents and terrorists operating in Iraq "will never go to zero," said Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, who on May 15 assumed command of a new multinational corps headquarters that controls the day-to-day military operations in Iraq.

"But what we've got to do is build this base of support," he said, "of people who want to be free, who want to live under a rule of law and want to be prosperous."
His company returned home just as pictures of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad became international news. Timberman said he saw nothing such as that during his tour and found the images disturbing.

"It doesn't represent the 300,000 soldiers who went through Iraq -- it certainly doesn't represent me or my company," he said.

"I believe everyone I served with ... they're all heroes in my book."


The 1AD observes Memorial Day.
Hundreds of soldiers in the 1st Armored Division gathered at dusk yesterday inside an open hangar not far from the battlefield where four of its members had died in just the past 24 hours. The drums beat in rhythm with the patriotic sounds of the trumpets and clarinets, while soldiers with cigarette lighters rushed to keep a ring of torches burning as the sun set.

The drill team clicked and clapped and stomped their feet and guns a methodical waltz between human and machine. Members of the honor guard took their positions, flags hoisted against the backdrop of the airfield and a bombed-out hangar whose twisted metal looked more sinister as darkness set in.

Only their families were missing from the ceremony. And the smell of barbecue. In their place was this realization: The taps that echoed in the stillness of the heavy heat could easily have been for one of them. No soldier forgets that on Memorial Day in a combat zone...

In a speech to the soldiers, Maj. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the commander of the 1st Armored Division, said the holiday would never be the same again for the soldiers.

"Many things won't be the same in our lives after this experience," he said. "Memorial Day is one of them." The difference, he said, would be "so profound that we won't really understand it until we get away from this experience."
In the heart of Baghdad's military-protected Green Zone, where Cara Scherer lives and works, the petite foreign service officer stepped away from the war's stress and did something for herself: She helped start a weekly salsa night.

She found a dance partner. She met a deejay from Puerto Rico.

"I usually have to talk the GI's into putting down their guns before they twirl me around," Scherer said. "It's a little surreal."

The 28-year-old arrived in Iraq Feb. 20 and has since put in long, demanding days as a U.S. public affairs officer, working mainly with the Iraqi press corps...

After June 30, when the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority intends to hand over authority to the Iraqi government, she will become the assistant administration officer for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Scherer knows that, even within the Green Zone, Baghdad is a dangerous place -- but she believes the work is well worth the risk.

"I think we're all optimistic," she said. "That's why we work together and continue to do what we do. We all care about what happens to Iraq and each other."...

Her goals are to help facilitate a free press and show people that Iraq is progressing. Schools are opening, police forces are being trained, agriculture is improving, she said.

"There are so many good stories that you won't see here in the American press that I see every day," Scherer said. "You know, there's a lot of hope, and there are a lot of hard-working Iraqis that are making big strides."

It isn't glamorous work, but the folks they support sure love that they do it.
The unit was stationed roughly 30 miles northeast of Baghdad, providing laundry and support services for surrounding troops.

The company, a Combat Service Support, was responsible for operational field shower systems, field laundry support, and a renovation shop for uniforms, tents and other materials.

The work of the 1001st allowed their fellow soldiers to get a decent shower and clean uniforms, so they could do their job effectively.

"The Army doesn't have a unit like this for no reason," Daren said. "They'd be miserable if we didn't support them."

Daren knows firsthand.

"When we were in Kuwait, we had to wash our clothes out of a bucket for a month," he said. "It was horrible."

Daren said one of the most difficult parts of serving in rural Iraq was the lack of civilization and length of time it took to get things organized.

Eating off a mobile kitchen trailer for three months and waiting seven months for phone service was rough, said Daren.
"When we return to our home stations, we must ensure that we never forget those fallen comrades that deployed with us that will not return to their loved ones," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the senior U.S. military officer here, said during a ceremony at Baghdad's Camp Victory.

"They must not have died in vain,'' Sanchez said. ''We must not walk away from this mission. Otherwise, their sacrifices will in fact be in vain. This mission is too important for America, for the world, and for us as warriors."
“Sometimes you wonder what they think,” said Maj. Karen Ryan. “Can you imagine rolling in like this to the place where you lived?”...

On Saturday, about 40 U.S. troops brought medicine to this dusty enclave off the beaten path, announced their presence using loudspeakers, then waited. Curious Iraqis peeked out their doors before trickling out to meet the troops in the dusty town square...

“At first no one wanted to come out,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Vigil of Pueblo, Colo., and the 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment, attached to the 39th Brigade Combat Team. “Once we started to bring out the candy, footballs, water and T-shirts, they started coming out of nowhere.”

Dozens of children swarmed the troops as they handed out the free goods. Women were personally invited by the loudspeakers to see “female doctors.” They lined up for help. Old men sought relief for their sore feet and arthritis.

The only people busier than the two physician’s assistants were the two translators as they hurried to translate symptoms and treatments.

On guard was a handful of troops from the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the Iraqi equivalent of the National Guard and Reserves in the United States. The troops wore desert camouflage just like the Americans, but some wore sneakers instead of boots and they joined the convoy in Toyota pickups instead of Humvees.

A few weren’t even old enough to shave. One U.S. soldier said the Iraqis likely weren’t packing very many bullets in their automatic weapons.

“We brought them with us to show it’s not just American soldiers [trying to help],” Vigil said.
Each year, Memorial Day pays tribute to those who have died in America’s battles. This year, memorial wreaths will be placed on more female warriors’ graves than ever before.

Since the Iraq war began in March 2003, more women have died serving in Iraq than in any other war in American history. As of May 28, 20 female soldiers have died in Iraq, 13 by enemy fire.

I got a little weepy yesterday. You read about it in my Memorial Day post. Got a little down...a little selfish...a little angry.

Then I got up this morning and read the comments and the emails from you. And I'm humbled and a little bit ashamed.

Because there you are, with burdens of your some instances burdens I know for a fact are greater than my own, and you reach out to me and hold me up on a day I felt weak.

I am grateful to you. I am blessed that you joined this small circle of generous, caring folks.

Thank you for reaching out to right me as I stumbled.

Without friends the world is but a wilderness. - Francis Bacon

Day 387 of my darling wife's deployment. One year, three weeks.

She called me last night. She swears the Camp Victory PX is better than the one we have in Giessen. She said on Sunday she and some friends bought a grill, charcoal and Omaha Steaks and had a cookout by the pool. Then she treated her office to grilled steak for lunch on Memorial Day.

And I'm really, really glad she gets to have these moments of fun. She's worked so long and hard with so few breaks.

Monday, May 31, 2004


Memorial Day. Day 386 of CPT Patti's deployment. One year, 20 days.

I watched the national Memorial Day Concert on TV this morning. It featured the National Symphony, the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs. Some actors, some singers. And some amputees from the Global War on Terror.

It was moving. It was disturbing. It seemed as if we tried really hard on this Memorial Day to make it into a day of meaning.

By watching I learned the story of the milkshake man...a previous war (Vietnam?) amputee who volunteers on the amputee ward at Walter Reed. Milkshakes are apparently the superficial center of his ministry to those suffering the same fate as he has endured.

It was moving, but it was hard to watch. darling wife is not yet home safe. I was proud, watching this concert. And I wept. Sitting here alone in my apartment, I wept. Yes...I believe in what we are doing. And I am proud of my wife's service. But I wonder...when less than 250,000 soldiers out of 290,000,000 Americans has served in Iraq, just how invested in this is the average American? Where I have given the last 13 months of my marriage to this effort and many Americans haven't given it 13 minutes of serious reading or contemplation, I can't help ask myself why our investment when others are not willing, though they exploit the freedoms my investment ensures.

Later in my TV day (remember, we are six hours ahead of the east coast. Noon for us is 6:00 am in New York) I see Katie Couric interviewing the Milkshake Man. And I am annoyed. She puts the Milkshake man on the same hurried timeline that stupid show puts all their guests. Moreover, I wonder where has she and her stupid show been all this time. The Milkshake Man has been available...but couldn't be put on the show because they needed the time for stories about prison abuse.

I'm deeply annoyed that Katie Couric treats the Milkshake Man as the story du jour simply because today is Memorial Day. For those of us actually invested in America's defense, every day is a day to contemplate the gravity of the situation. We don't need some red-letter day on a calendar to remind us. In a time of war the vacant side of the bed every evening and morning reminds us.

I switched channels. Tuned to ABC. Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson were interviewing the medical doctor who has been ABC's medical reporter for as long as I can recall. Apparantly he's just released a book. And in it apparantly he declares himself a follower of Christ. And now he's being given the Five-Minute-Interview - same as if he were a member of the Manson gang. He's being treated as if he is a novelty. And this really annoys me because he isn't a novelty...he is a citizen of the America I Live In. But this is the state of the media today. A well-to-do man follows his convictions about helping the downtrodden and giving to the poor and these two talking heads want to profile him as if this is something newsorthy.

Point is - being a Christian is still in the majority in The America I Live In. Check the statistics and you will find the less well-to-do give more to charity in this country than any other group. So where has ABC News been that this doctor is "novel"? Beats me. It's life as usual in the America I Live In.

Today has been an emotional day for me. I feel as if more of America should be holding my hand day in and day out. In reality it feels as if the fraction of the population who are actually invested in the Global War on Terror are all holding each others hands...and a large percentage are holding nothing but politically motivated signs indicating "Bush Lied" and "No Blood For Oil".

And in a weak moment I resent the right that those on the less-than-informed-side have to hold and wave the flag. I feel about that as I occasionally feel about my smile. My parents paid the money to put me in braces. Me? I've been all too willing to smile without thinking about the costs of that nearly perfect smile. Just taking advantage of it. Pretty arrogant, I'd imagine my folks would think as I attempt to rip into a ball of twine with my teeth.

So...all this I encounter today. And then I go read Mark Steyn's column. And I think this country could use a larger bit of investment. Because lack of investment, but enjoyment of the fruits results in some very lazy and ignorant citizens who have no idea of the actual costs.