Posts Tagged ‘military’

Memorial

Friday, May 29th, 2009

A few days late. I’m mainly reposting this because I don’t want to get to next year and think “Where did I see that…?”

Source

When you partake in your Memorial Day barbecue today, try to remember a few things.

When the smoke from the grill blows into your eyes, try to imagine the terror of the young pilot as the smoke fills the cockpit of his F4 Wildcat, spiraling into the sea off Guadalcanal.

When you sample those pork ribs, remember the Iowa farm boy whose life blood stained the surf at Normandy.

When you eat a bite of potato salad, think of an Idaho preacher’s kid who died with a prayer on his lips, asking God to forgive him for the enemy soldiers’ lives he had taken.

When you welcome your niece’s new boyfriend to the table, remember the black kid from Mississippi who died right beside his white buddies in Vietnam, though he wasn’t even allowed to eat in the same restaurants back home.

When you scold your misbehaving grandchild, think of the little boy whose only knowledge of his father will come from stories told by family, because Daddy died on a dusty street in Fallujah while he was still in the womb.

When you fetch your wife another glass of tea, think of a young wife living in base housing at Fort Benning, as she hears the news that her husband died at Ia Drang.

When you invite Grandpa to say grace before the meal, think of young men cut down by a hail of fire from a Maxim at Belleau Wood.

When you reflect with pride on your daughter’s recent graduation, think of a young woman cartwheeling into the sea in her F14 Tomcat after a failed carrier landing.

When you look with distaste at the tattoos on her new boyfriend, think instead of the former gang kid from Detroit who found a way up and out of poverty in the Army, only to die from an IED blast in Baghdad. And remind yourself that what matters is how he treats your daughter, not the ink on his arms.

When you sit at the table, think of a Navy Captain, a husband and father, who died at his Pentagon desk on September 11. His death was no less honorable.

If you’re traveling today, think of the passengers of United Flight 93, for in a field outside Shanksville they became the first soldiers in our war on terror.

When your boys fight, as boys will do, remember the boys on both sides who died at Gettysburg.

If a loved one can’t make it to the gathering today, think of Mrs. Bixby and her five sons.

While your kids play in the pool this afternoon, think of other kids not much older, trapped below decks as the Arizona went under at Pearl Harbor.

When you take a shower tonight, think of young men reeking of machine oil and sweat, desperately trying, and failing, to surface their wounded submarine somewhere in the Pacific in 1943.

I tell you of these things not to spoil your appetite or your day, but to remind you that the things we enjoy in our lives are made all the sweeter when you consider what made them possible.

Remind yourself also that your sacrifice is infinitely easier. All you need do is sacrifice a moment of your time every few years to pull a lever. The way to honor a dead soldier is not simply to fly a flag on Memorial Day. Vote to preserve the freedoms they died defending.

And stop by your local Veteran’s Cemetery and put out some flowers on the grave of your choice. It need not even be the grave of someone you know.

Bring your children along, and explain to them why. It’s important.

Sometime news is what didn’t happen.

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Major General John F. Kelly
February 3, 2009
Al Anbar Province, Iraq

I don’t suppose this will get much coverage in the States as the news is so good. No, the news is unbelievable.

Something didn’t happen in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, today. Once the most violent and most dangerous places on earth, no suicide vest bomber detonated killing dozens of voters. No suicide truck bomber drove into a polling place collapsing the building and killing and injuring over 100. No Marine was in a firefight engaging an Al Qaida terrorist trying to disrupt democracy.

What did happen was Anbar Sunnis came out in their tens of thousands to vote in the first free election of their lives.

With the expectation of all of the above (suicide bombers) they walked miles (we shut down all vehicle traffic with the exception of some shuttle busses for the elderly and infirm) to the polling places. I slept under the stars with some Grunts at Combat Outpost Iba on the far side of Karma, and started driving the 200 miles up the Euphrates River Valley through Karma, Fallujah, Habbiniyah, Ramadi, Hit, Baghdad and back here to Al Asad. I stopped here and there to speak with cops, soldiers, Marines, and most importantly, regular Iraqi men and women along the way. It was the same everywhere. A tension with every finger on a trigger that broke at perhaps 3PM when we all began to think what was almost unthinkable a year ago. We might just pull this off without a bombing. No way. By 4PM it seemed like we’d make it to 5PM when the polls closed. At 4:30 the unbelievable happened: the election was extended an hour to 6PM because of the large crowds! What are they kidding? Tempting fate like that is not nice. Six PM and the polls close without a single act of violence or a single accusation of fraud, and nearly by early reports pretty close to 100% voted. Priceless.

Every Anbari walking towards the polling place had these determined and, frankly, concerned looks on their faces. No children with them (here mothers and grandmothers are NEVER without their children or grandchildren) because of the expectation of death. Husbands voted separately from wives, and mothers separately from fathers for the same reason. In and out quickly to be less of a target for the expected suicide murderer. When they came out after voting they also wore the same expression on their faces, but now one of smiling amazement as they held up and stared at ink stained index fingers.

Norman Rockwell could not have captured this wonderment. Even the ladies voted in large numbers and their husbands didn’t insist on going into the booths to tell them who to vote for.

One of the things I’ve always said was that we came here to “give” them democracy. Even in the dark days my only consolation was that it was about freedom and democracy. After what I saw today, and having forgotten our own history and revolution, this was arrogance. People are not given freedom and democracy – they take it for themselves. The Anbaris deserve this credit.

Today I step down as the dictator, albeit benevolent, of Anbar Province. Today the Anbaris took it from me. I am ecstatic. It was a privilege to be part of it, to have somehow in a small way to have helped make it happen.

Semper Fi.

Kelly

Hat tip: Blackfive, via Brian.

McCain release video

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

This is interesting. A reporter in… Sweden?… has discovered a unique bit of archive footage: John McCain’s release from Vietnamese prison. He is among a number of other prisoners being released. He is notably pretty gray-haired already, I would guess form his ordeal, and is walking with a significant limp.

The page is not in English, but the video works just fine. Here’s the link:

John McCain release from prison video