Wednesday, May 31, 2006
and Troy Fields
I've been thinking about you a lot today, as I do every day. I've seen the news, and I've read the newspapers...
I know how you told me before you left, not to put my trust in the mainstream media, and to always question that which they display as fact...but it is hard when I haven't heard from you in weeks, and when I worry so much about your well-being.
They say that no news is good news, and unless I am a recipient of the dreaded home visit, you know the one to which I am referring, or unless I hear otherwise, that I should take comfort in knowing you are out there somewhere, fulfilling your obligations, manning your weapon, surviving your missions... I try to take comfort in this, as I know that there are so many whose loved ones have not come home, whose seat at the dinner table will be empty in years to come, whose children will never feel their arms around them again...
And yet, I still sit here. Day after day, I sit here and I stare out the window, and I stare at the four walls around me, and I pray to God that today will be the day that I hear from you, and that I will find comfort in your words, however brief they may be. I pray that you will have the strength and the stamina and the necessities you need to be successful in your duties...
I think about this war, and those who have given their lives in sacrifice for our freedoms, defending our country, standing up for what is right, and fighting to the death to help another country cultivate the same sense of security in their own land. I think about them, and I applaud them, and my heart breaks for them, and yet I am selfish -- I do not want you to become one of them...
I want to be strong for you, and I want you to be proud of me, that I am not falling apart in your absence. I portray to you when I am able to, that I am a rock, although inside there are times when I am crumbling...
I hear songs on the radio that remind me of you... I sing along and try to hold the tears back as the same melodies that we sang together to, danced to, lived by... haunt me...
I see photographs of us together... times gone by that remind me how special you are... how very unique you are... and how very much I want to have more photos like this taken in the future...
I drive down familiar roads, and pass by familiar places, where you and I have been together, and I feel so very small and alone there without you now...
The truth of it all, is that I miss you.
I miss our conversations, from the mundane, to the comical, to the extreme...
I miss your face. I miss looking into your eyes and seeing myself in their reflection...
I miss your smile.. the way your mouth turns up at the corners and your warmth radiates the room and permeates my soul...
I miss your laughter... I miss the way the sound of it makes even good times better...
I miss your arms holding me close and letting me know that everything is going to be okay...
I miss you...
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I received this in an email from a friend and I had never seen it before --
These are photos from a trucker who has painted his cab and trailer with the names of all those who lost their lives in 9/11.
The trucker's name is John Holmgren from Shafer, Minn.
The trucker has been "pulled over" numerous times just so the troopers can get their picture taken with the truck.
A huge thank you John Holmgren, wherever you are, for this fantastic tribute -- and a thank you to my friend Jolene in Oak Harbor, Washington for the chance to share this with others!
Saturday, May 27, 2006
On this special day we remember those who gave their lives that we might live free...
How many of you know the story behind the Buddy Poppies that are seen everywhere in the Spring? My first recollection of these bright red paper flowers is from when I was a small child, and in the Spring my grandpa would always buy me a handful of the poppies and tell me that they were special flowers to help special people.
I didn't understand then, the way that I do now.
'The red poppy became associated with war after the publication of a poem by Canadian war veteran, Colonel John McCrae titled, "In Flanders Fields".
The VFW conducted its first poppy distribution before Memorial Day in 1922, becoming the first veterans' organization to organize a nationwide distribution. The poppy soon was adopted as the official memorial flower of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
It was during the 1923 encampment that the VFW decided that VFW Buddy Poppies be assembled by disabled and needy veterans who would be paid for their work to provide them with some form of financial assistance. The plan was formally adopted during the VFW's 1923 encampment. The next year, disabled veterans at the Buddy Poppy factory in Pittsburgh assembled VFW Buddy Poppies. The designation "Buddy Poppy" was adopted at that time.
In February 1924, the VFW registered the name "Buddy Poppy" with the U.S. Patent Office. A certificate was issued on May 20, 1924, granting the VFW all trademark rights in the name of Buddy under the classification of artificial flowers. The VFW has made that trademark a guarantee that all poppies bearing that name and the VFW label are genuine products of the work of disabled and needy veterans. No other organization, firm or individual can legally use the name "Buddy" Poppy.
Today, VFW Buddy Poppies are still assembled by disabled and needy veterans in VA Hospitals.'
(Info taken from VFW Official Website)
As a child, I didn't understand the symbolism of these simply crafted red flowers. I only knew that my grandpa told me they were very special. Grandpa was a veteran, having served in World War II, so I guess he knew what he was talking about. I lost my grandpa several years ago, but every Spring when I see the brilliantly red poppies, I think of him, and of all those who have given so much for me and for you.
To learn more -- click on the VFW or the Buddy Poppy Program
In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Friday, May 26, 2006
For more info on this powerful and captivating piece, featuring video shot by the Marines of Lima Company themselves -- click here.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Basically, I got a great email today from a friend of mine who is also a proud supporter of our troops. This photo was attached to the forward and I really liked it. Not sure whose graphic it is, so I can't give credit, but thought it was worth sharing.
As you start your week today -- please keep in mind the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who are putting their lives on the line so that you don't have to fear being attacked by terrorists when you walk out your front door.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Monday, May 15, 2006
I just wanted to put up a post to let you all know that I have received confirmation from both the family and the Central Missouri Ride Captain -- the Patriot Guard Riders will be there to show their support in honor of Pvt Al Gaylord.
This Mission Ride has three parts:
Funeral in Carrollton; Escort Ride from Carrollton to Lebanon (165 miles, with one fuel stop at Warsaw); and Burial at Lebanon. Ride Captain is Big Dog. Assemble at the VFW, 104 Walnut Drive in Carrollton. Please arrive early, to sign ride waivers (required for this Mission Ride). Mission Briefing at 0800, kickstands up at 0815.
For more info click here.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
I apologize for the lapse, just found out that a family member's brother in law was killed in Iraq on May 5th.
Alva "Al" Gaylord belonged to the 110th Engineer Battalion, Missouri Army National Guard. He died of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near his RG-31 Mine Protected Vehicle during a combat clearing operation in Qasr Ar Riyy, Iraq. He was 25 years old and from Carrollton, Missouri.
For those of you in the area I will post visitation and funeral information as soon as I receive details.Please keep his family and friends in your prayers.
Alva "Al" Gaylord
Friday, May 12, 2006
I am writing to ask for your support as I begin a new project on behalf of my deployed friends. Most of you are already familiar with my blog, and I thank all of you who have come by and checked it out and left your feedback. I have started a new project and need your help.
I am trying to get together a bunch of cards to send over to Iraq to give to the Redbull soldiers, aka Desert Bulls, that my blog was started in honor of.
These men and women deserve the best support that we can offer them, and I am asking that you will help me to honor them this Independence Day by assisting me in filling care packages to them with cards and letters of support, hope, and thanks. I realize that this doesn't give everyone a lot of time to go out and buy cards or write letters, but it is important enough to me that I know I have to try. If you are willing to help me to honor these men and women please send all cards and letters for them to me so I can pass them on.
The sooner the better! If you are willing and able to help out - please send all cards and letters to me at the following address by June 16th:
PO Box 143
Chilhowee, MO 64733
p.s. While I've got your attention -- head over to Kat's site at YIKES! and help her fulfill her needs for Operation: Thanks For Freedom.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
This one is courtesy of Tim at t.f. boggs .
He has given me permission to repost it and share it with you all. The following goes into detail about some of his personal experiences while deployed in Iraq, including showing the reader a glimpse of what it has been like working alongside some Iraqi Army soldiers. My thanks to Tim for sharing this with me.
BREAKING DOWN WALLS:
"The past week I have been surrounded by 18-50 year old Sunni Iraqis and have lived to tell about it. In this racially profiling type of world that we live in these men are terrorists hell bent on the destruction of the Western world, but in my new world I have a different view of these guys. Who are these Iraqis you may be asking? My new best friends.
I changed jobs last week after my previous mission was handed over to civilians. I am currently working guarding my base and am surprisingly enjoying myself. I work with 3 other American soldiers and a handful of Iraqi army soldiers (IA). Part of my day is spent controlling the flow of traffic in and out of the base and the rest of it is spent hanging out with the Iraqi soldiers learning Arabic, drinking tea, and smoking hookahs. I joke around with the IA saying that we should call it school instead of work since we spend the majority of our day learning from each other.
I am not a big fan of my new job but the interaction with the IA and local Iraqis more then make up for the dullness of the work. I have met numerous local civilians in my area who are more concerned with getting rid of the terrorists in their neighborhoods then they are with their own safety. Each time they give us information to the whereabouts and activities of terrorists in our area they risk not only their lives but also the lives of their family. I work in an area where the IA are locally born and raised and the civilians do what they can to help the Americans root out the bad guys, and all of this in a Sunni town.
I know a lot of people would caution me not to put my complete trust in my new friends, and while I believe they are somewhat right, I would say that they would have to come to Iraq and see these guys for themselves. I have only been around the soldiers for a week and already I have wrestled with them in a guard shack, been beaten in an arm wrestling contest, shared food off the same plate, and smoked out of the same pipe with them. I joke around with them in Arabic and call them my brothers and they always reply in English with a resounding “Yes, very good.”
Because of the obvious language barrier with some of the IA our conversations are limited until one of the interpreters has time to translate for us. Most of the time the soldiers want to know if we have wives and children back home. When I tell them I don’t they want to know why and then question me about my age. I explain to them that if I didn’t spend the better part of the last 4 years in Iraq then I might have a better chance at finding a “Madame” as they say. They find it fascinating that we are able to date for long periods of time and can have more then one girlfriend before getting married. I guess I better get started finding a wife and having kids because if I come back here then I will be better able to relate. “Yes we don’t make enough, and yes my baby needs food too, and yes the wife wants new shoes and a purse too. Life is tough but we do what we can right?”
They are just as eager to bring me anything that I might need as I am to do the same for them. One soldier even invited me to dinner with his family and I look forward to going as soon as I am able to. They have the same gripes and complaints that American soldiers do: they are underpaid, underappreciated, and definitely know how to do things better then their commanders do. They complain about their food, clothes, and rules they have to follow. All soldiers are the same apparently.
Not everything about the IA in my area is hunky dory though. Most of the soldiers don’t like the Kurds or Shiites. They think the Kurds should leave Iraq and get their own country and are wary of the Shiites because they remember the long war against Iran that their fathers fought. They are extremely nationalistic and tend to look down upon foreigners in their country. However, I do encourage them by making fun of the Turkish workers here who can’t seem to fix things properly the first time and have to keep coming back again and again for the same problems.
Overall I enjoy spending my time learning about the Iraqi soldiers’ culture and lives. I enjoy their acceptance of my soldiers and I and am thankful that I am able to see them with my own eyes as people with cares and needs. They aren’t crazed terrorists like the media would have you believe. They want to make the most of the opportunity that they have right now. They realize that now is the time for them to decided their own fate and they are acting accordingly by showing bravery and courage in the face of certain danger. They are our allies and although they don’t agree with us on everything they do agree with us on one key point; freedom is the best answer and if Iraq is ever going to be truly free then they have to get rid of the terrorists in their towns and make a stand while they still can. Their future is in their own hands and from what I have seen so far I would say that their future looks bright."
(as posted by T. F. Boggs)
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Just a quick update to let you all know how happy I am to have heard from my friends who are Redbulls deployed with the 1/34th BCT and currently in Iraq. Everyone seems to be doing well. I've been told that so far their missions have been successful, and no one has been seriously injured. Keywords appear to be "camels", "HOT", and "sand".
Please keep my Redbull friends in your thoughts as they continue to serve our country and fulfill their varied duties in Iraq, including Fink, Croson, Fields, Bari, Reineke, Morrison, Inserrea, Ring, Bleuer, Smith, Fletcher, Greiner, and others from the 1/34th BCT, including those from units 1/133rd INF, 2-136 CAB, 1-125 STRIKE, 134 BSB, 1-34 BTB, and the 1-167 RSTA.
These men and women need your support and encouragement.
~Tab (aka proudfan)
..."whether you're Democrat or Republican, Legal or Illegal, Immigrant or Native, Left or Right, this is just plain wrong. Why is the US government reporting the whereabouts of AMERICAN CITIZENS to a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT?!! Unless you live in a bubble (or don't watch the news, which is more plausible), you've heard about the minutemen project along our border with Mexico. The goal of the minutemen is to monitor the border for evidence or indications of illegal border crossings and report it to the Border Patrol. They are not supposed to actively engage the border crossers or commit any crimes themselves.
"According to three documents on the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Relations Web site, the U.S. Border Patrol is to notify the Mexican government as to the location of Minutemen and other civilian border patrol groups when they participate in apprehending illegal immigrants -- and if and when violence is used against border crossers." If this wasn't infuriating enough, since when does the MEXICAN government dictate US policy to us?! WE ARE A SOVEREIGN NATION!! Mexico depends on us more than we depend on them. Why are we allowing them to tell us what our policy is or is not with respect to our borders?
Ladies and gentlemen, this type of policy demands a letter to our elected representatives, whether you like them or not. I'm not telling you what to write because you may disagree with me. Whether you agree or disagree, our elected officials need to know our feelings about this issue. If you like the policy of reporting American locations to a foreign government, then tell your Congressman to make sure the program continues. If you agree with me that this is an egregious assault on our privacy and the freedoms we enjoy (and I fight for) in this country, write your Congressman and tell him/her.
Personally, when I write my Congressman I'm gonna feel bad because I've been writing him a lot lately. I told myself I would give him some air and stop writing so much (about immigration, Iraq, gas prices, etc). But, I can't let this pass. The second amendment to our Constitution guarantees to us a "well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State." I have no idea if this is against some sort of law or not, but I do know that it's against the law (Title 10, US Code) for the military to spy on American citizens. I'm sure that goes for the rest of the federal government as well, I just don't know where to look.
If you want to know a little more about what the law of the land is with regard to illegal immigration, read the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 . Why isn't our government enforcing its own laws? Okay, that is a whole other topic. But, as a soldier I see this as a national security issue. We're fighting an enemy who KNOWS our southern border is easy to cross.
Okay, I'm all worked up now. I better end this now.-- CJ
A Soldier's Perspective http://www.soldiersperspective.us/
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Sunday, May 07, 2006
You may recognize him as Emily's husband - Emily has a great site too! Check it out!
Staff Sgt Daniel Bari, 134th BSB, nears the finish line
of the Boston/Iraq Marathon April 15.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men." -Samuel Adams
Friday, May 05, 2006
Well, it's been all over the news for two days now -- Moussaoui has been sentenced to life in prison for the part he played as a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. Many are torn over the verdict, some angry that he was not given the death penalty instead. Moussaoui will spend the rest of his days in solitary confinement at the only Super Maximum Security prison in the United States, located in Colorado. At one point in the proceedings, Moussaoui hissed, "God curse America, and God save Osama bin Laden! You will never get him!" Even after he had been sentenced, Moussaoui continued to spit his vile insults in the courtroom, telling the judge and jury, "America, you lost! . . . I won!". His comment was met with disdain by Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, who according to reporteers replied by saying, "You came here to be a martyr and to die in a big bang of glory, but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, you will die with a whimper."
I am not interested in stirring up a huge political debate -- but I am curious about your opinons due to all of the controversy that has been sparked by this verdict. Do you think Moussaoui should have been sentenced to death? Or is the life sentence fitting? I'm just curious what some of you make of the situation...
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
In the latest Edition of the Army Times, there was an insert called "America Salutes the Military". In this section, were a bunch of quotes that American celebrities and other notables have shared their thoughts about our military men and women. After going to the site and reading all of the incredible things there - I wanted to share some of them with you.
"Throughout my adult life, I have always tried to acknowledge the debt I owe to my military experience, for allowing me to serve my country and for instilling within me strong moral fiber and self-discipline. These qualities have served me well in a film and television career where I have played many heroic characters. Today, more than ever, the inspiration for the parts I play is found in you - our nation's men and women in uniform - and the selfless contributions you make on a daily basis to keep our country safe and free. I salute you. I thank you. And I wish you Godspeed and a safe return home."
- Chuck Norris, Actor
"I just want to tell the troops that I'm with them 110 percent, and I know that they're doing a good thing. Don't listen to the skeptics; continue to do what you do. We need these brave soldiers to fight for our way of life. And the fact that they have the nuts to do that is just unbelievable to me. Tell everyone I said "Git-R-Done.""- --Larry the Cable Guy, Blue-collar comedian
"As the driver of the Team Marines NASCAR Busch Series team, I have had the honor to meet many Marines. I want to take this time to thank every one of them for their service to our country. The sacrifices they make allow us to spend our time racing these cars and entertaining the folks back at home. On behalf of the entire NASCAR community, I want to thank not only the Marines but all the other members of our armed services for their hard work and service to the United States."
- Ashton Lewis Jr., Driver, No. 25 Team Marines; NASCAR Busch Series
"I want to thank you for serving our country. What you're doing is a noble cause; we are fighting the terrorism in the world wherever you are. I've traveled this country coast to coast just about every year, and the support for the military is out there and it's very strong."
- Charlie Daniels, Country music artist
"I have a deep admiration for the military troops. These are brave individuals who leave their families to protect our country and the future of America. It takes an incredible personal commitment and true selflessness to face the dangers and challenges our troops face every day. While a lot of athletes talk about going to war, the soldiers know firsthand the true meaning of this."
- Oscar De La Hoya, Professional boxer
"I've worked with the military through my field of entertainment for almost 50 years. I recognized early on that these men and women possessed a quality that few Americans would ever know - the pride in knowing they wore the uniform of the greatest nation on earth. Regardless of the mission, they execute their duties with dignity and precision. We have come to expect no less from our men and women in uniform and they have risen to the challenge. ... For every young man and woman who has stepped up to fill the shoes of those before them, and for every family who has given their support to their son and daughter who have become part of our military, a grateful nation says thank you."
- Lee Greenwood, Country music singer
"It's not an understatement to say that the visit we had with our wounded troops was one of the most emotional experiences we have ever had, and one that we will never forget. "Inspirational" is a word that springs to mind, but it really doesn't do justice to the feelings we experienced that day hanging out with those brave guys. Of course, we would do it again in a heartbeat."
- Dusty Hill, ZZ Top bassist
"For all you do ... this Bud's for you! Stay strong, God bless and thank you for allowing me to "keep on kid rockin' in the free world!""
- Kid Rock, Rock/rap musician
"While we were in Torino. I got a lot of good e-mails of support from people who were deployed and it was really motivating to hear those words from them over there and how proud they were of us. It's really hard to explain to people how proud we are of them. We're representing them, trying to do our best, and their job is much more difficult and a lot harder than people can imagine. I was real proud to represent them and really happy to be able to show what the U.S. Army is about in the Olympic Games and around the world."
- Spc. Steve Holcomb, Driver, U.S. Olympic Men's Bobsled team; Utah National Guardsman
"We can't tell [the troops] - and we try to - what they mean to us and what they mean to our country. ... We're proud of you no matter where you are. We're proud that you're serving your country. It really is a great duty to serve your country ... we don't want [you] to feel overlooked. [You] signed up and are serving our country. What an honor it is for me to be around you and your service. The one thing that I never heard was a complaint from any soldier. We've met thousands. They never said, "I wish we weren't here." They all know their goal, [and] they accept it with a lot of pride and honor."
- Neal McCoy, Country music singer
You guys make us proud. You have our eternal thanks, love and respect. Stay safe."
- John Mellencamp, Rock musician
"I went to Afghanistan. It was probably one of the best experiences of my life just to go there. It was just a wonderful opportunity to give back. For me personally, I don't have any [family] in the war. I didn't how much hard work they're doing over there. I got an up-close and personal view of what they're dong every day, facing attack and changing the lives of the Afghani people. [The troops] all believe they are doing the right thing. It makes me feel better here that they're there. We had, like, three of the troops that were personal escorts. We bonded and got along so well. It was such an emotional experience. I remember all the awards and medals and patches they gave us for being over there. They were just excited for us to be over there. When I got back on the plane I was crying. First and foremost, [you're] so brave ... thank you. Just know that we really do appreciate what you do over there. I could see firsthand the hard work they do over there ... I'm just so thankful for the bravery of the men and women serving."
- Candace Michelle, WWE Raw star; 'Playboy' model
"My visit to the J. Walter Reed hospital was powerful, inspiring and life-altering. ... I have a deep respect and great concern for them, not just while they bravely put themselves in harm's way, but also when they come home, that whenever and however needed, they have appropriate support systems for themselves and their families. ... We owe them this. We owe them our gratitude and more."
- Michael Bolton, Pop singer
"I would like to salute all U.S. service men and women who risk their lives every day to protect and serve our country. You are an inspiration to every American - regardless of race, class or profession. Having been raised in a military family, I can greatly appreciate the dedication, strength and courage it takes to do your jobs. Many sports fans look up to me because of how well I play basketball. But I look up to all armed service men and women for their sacrifice and unselfish characteristics. You are the true heroes and heroines, and Officer O'Neal salutes you."
- Shaquille O'Neal, NBA player, Miami Heat; special U.S. deputy marshal
"It was a very humbling experience visiting the wounded troops. I was very nervous about meeting them. Usually it's the other way around and people sometimes get nervous about meeting me. I didn't know what to expect, but I was really struck by their incredible spirit and pride. We should treat these kids bigger than rock stars for what they've done for us."
- Ozzy Osbourne, Lead singer, Black Sabbath, solo heavy-metal star
"Without the military and the people who serve this country, we would not play and enjoy the games we love. We hear the words "role model" used often in professional sports, but this is just a game - a form of entertainment. Our military risk their lives to ensure our freedom and way of life. To me, there are no greater role models to follow. I am grateful for their service and for the sacrifices they make for this country."
- Mariano Rivera, MLB pitcher, New York Yankees
"To the men and women who have answered the call to serve this country by joining the military, I salute you. My hat is raised in honor of you and my heart is open for you. Defending all our freedom from places both near and foreign is the ultimate civic duty, and I applaud you. You are the ones we think about and praise when we sing, "I need a soldier." You and your families are constantly in our prayers and we continue to thank God for each and every one of you. Stay blessed."
- Kelly Rowland, R&B singer, Destiny's Child
"I can honestly say that the work I have done with the USO has been some of the best work of my life. But to say it is work would be doing it a disservice. It is not work. It is a rewarding pleasure to support our service members and I am honored to be able to do it. ... When visiting Landstuhl Medical Center, Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed, I met many our brave wounded soldiers and Marines and saw first hand how dedicated our doctors and nurses are to these service members and their families."
- Gary Sinise, Actor, 'CSI: New York'
"We want to salute all the members of the armed services for their dedication to the protection of our country. Often we take for granted that the protection they provide allows us to work and play at home without fear ... Every race, I get to meet men and women from the Marine Corps and thank them for all they do for our country."
- Regan Smith, Driver, No. 35 Team (McDonald's), NASCAR Busch Series
"The whole country is behind you! We thank you for your service!"
- Mort Walker, Cartoonist, creator of Beetle Bailey
"I am just a country boy and I really love this land, from the mountains of Montana to the Alabama sand. You are the men and women who have fought for the freedom that we all take for granted. I am proud to be an American and proud of all of you. Just remember, America will survive!"
- Hank Williams Jr., Country music singer
Click here to read more!