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Friday, May 25, 2007

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day we honor the men and women who paid the ultimate price for being an American. Each deserves to be remembered, to be kept alive, for just a little longer. There are hundreds of thousands of them, and even the millions of us who are indebted cannot possibly say all of their names. But we can pick just one - from a history book, a news report, war memorial or grave marker - and say it aloud on Memorial Day. We can give it weight, relevance, life. We can say it while we’re at the beach, at a barbecue, driving a car, or working around the yard. That one name may get us thinking about the freedoms we exercise but do not always cherish. And it may remind us that in this life, no hour can ever be too precious, no day too mundane.



National Anthem

Here are the first 4 stanzas of the National Anthem:

Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

“Ramparts,” in case you don’t know, are the protective walls or
other elevations that surround a fort. The first stanza asks a question.

The second stanza gives an answer:

On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
‘Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

“The towering steep” is again, the ramparts. The bombardment has
failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission
a failure. In the third stanza, I feel Key allows himself to gloat over
the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably
was in no mood to act otherwise.

During World War II, when the British were our staunchest allies,
this third stanza was not sung. However, I know it, so here it is:

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

The fourth stanza, a pious hope for the future, should be sung more
slowly than the other three and with even deeper feeling:

Oh thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation,
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven - rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto –”In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.



Here are the lyrics for Taps, the tune most often played honoring the fallen brothers. It's also played at the end of each day on military bases.

TAPS

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lakes, from the hills, from the skies,
All is well, safely rest.
God is nigh.


Then good night, peaceful night,
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright,
God is near, do not fear
Friend, good night.

Composed By Major General Daniel Butterfield
Army of the Potomac, Civil War

This bugle call was written during the Peninsula Campaign of the
Civil War in the year 1862 after a battle near Richmond, Virginia
which saw a large number of Union causualties. It is said that the
tune came to then Brigade Commander Colonel Daniel Butterfield,
while reflecting sadly on the losses. According to the story,
Butterfield unable to write music, hummed it to his aide who wrote
it down in musical notation. It was performed that evening by his
bugler, Oliver W. Norton in honor of fallen comrades. In 1874,
it became officially recognized by the U.S. Army as an alternative
to "Lights Out" and since has been used not only a signal that day
was done, but also as means of saying good-bye to a fallen comrade,
usually accompanied by the drumbeat, Muffled Ruffles. It is customarily
played at military funerals across the land.



"I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom." Abraham Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby



"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.



"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." Ronald Reagan

Make sure to take a moment this weekend to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Whether you believe in today's war or wars of past, remember it is those who sacrificed their all to allow you the privilege of freedom. One day soon, this privilege will disappear only to be replaced by man's right to enjoy freedom. Until that day arrives, we honor those brave individuals to quietly and courageously brought about order from the chaos.
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Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm Already Home

The following is a BMS (Blurry Monitor Syndrome) post.

Tim McGraw performed at the 42nd Annual Country Music Awards May 15, 2007. He flew in family members of fallen troops all expenses paid to Las Vegas where the show was being taped. The families were standing behind Tim as he sings the song, making it that much more special. The video is cut short and it's a shame, the families coming out on stage was soul wrenching.

"This kind of generosity and support for our troops overwhelms me," said Debbie Lee who will be there, mother of Marc Alan Lee , the first Navy Seal killed in Iraq on 8-2-06. "Especially when we see so many from Hollywood and the music industry who use their voice and money to protest the war in Iraq," she continued.

I'm still trying to figure out how Tim held it together during that performance. The lyrics are so powerful and hit home to the broken families around the world. I hope he adds this to the soul2soul concert this summer. Hats off to Tim, Warren brothers, and Dancehall Doctors for an amazing tribute.

Dear Families of Fallen Troups, God bless you. May you find strength and peace with each passing day. And may God bless you with healing beyond belief. I only wish there was more I could do, but God can do it all, and I will pray often for all of you.



I'm Already Home

If you’re reading this…and my mama’s sitting there-
Looks like I only got a one-way ticket over here.

Sure wish I…could give you one more kiss-
War was just a game we played when we were kids.

Well, I’m laying down my gun…I’m hanging up my boots-
I’m up here with God and we’re both watching over you.

So lay me down…in that open field out on the edge of town-
And know my soul…is where my mama always prayed they’d ever go…
If you’re reading this –
I’m already home.

If you’re reading this…half way round the world-
I won’t be there to see the birth of our little girl.

I hope she looks like you…I hope she fights like me-
And stands up for the innocent and the weak.

I’m laying down my gun…I’m hanging up my boots-
Tell dad I don’t regret that I followed in his shoes.

So lay me down…in that open field out on the edge of town-
And know my soul…is where my mama always prayed they’d ever go…
If you’re reading this –
I’m already home.

If you’re reading this…there’s gonna come a day-
When you’ll move on and find someone else and that’s okay.

Just remember this…I’m in a better place-
Where soldiers live in peace and angels sing amazing grace.

So lay me down…in that open field out on the edge of town-
And know my soul…is where my mama always prayed they’d ever go…
If you’re reading this –
I’m already home.

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Saturday, May 5, 2007

A Letter form My Hero

Something must be seriously wrong. Could it be, dare I say it, we might have finally tamed this wild, wild west. I came in today and there was not a crisis to handle! All my reports are done and I have no scheduled appointments. WOW!!! I'm going to start a project I've wanted to do but have not had the time yet. It's eerie! I can finally take a breath and not have to rush. I might even work 12 hours today! That'll be a first! If it stays like this I may even be able to take my first day off on Monday. Of course this could just be the calm before the storm. Hopefully it stays this good until I leave. We deserve a rest. We've worked our asses off up to now. My replacement is due in about a week. I should have about 10 to 14 days to work with him. That will be great for him. I only had 6 hours to train with the guy I replaced and that sucked. This time It'll get done right.

I'm so looking forward to being crammed in like a sardine into a freedom bird to make the trip home. I'm going to miss a lot of friends I've made here. It's surprising how many people you can meet in a shelter while waiting out the next boom. Everyone here has a common bond. Everyone who has ever served in the military knows what I mean. Everyone who has ever served in combat especially knows what I mean. All my PGR brothers and sister know what I mean. Even if they never were in the service they feel that camaraderie of a shared experience. A meaning and purpose in life higher than one's self.

Yesterday we hit the 100 degree mark for the first time. It is supposed to climb higher each day for the next 7 days according to the seven day forecast. Supposed to be 110 by then. I'm glad to be out of here before summer! Before I go we will see some days above 120 according to the forecasters. My hats off to the troops that have to work in all that heavy battle gear outside in the heat. The IBA (Individual Body Armor or as we call it battle rattle) adds another 70 pounds and does not let your torso or head breath.

My one wish is that all Americans could see and feel the pride I have in these young volunteers. They are absolutely America's finest! I wish all American's could see and experience what is truly happening over here. It's certainly not what's fed to them by the news media and the Xxxxxxxxs. The Iraqi people are just beginning to understand what freedom is. They will and are fighting! They are just not ready to go it alone yet. When we won our independence had it not been for France's support militarily and financially we would not have made it. Now it is our time to help and support Iraq. America did not have the enemies camped on our borders trying to subvert us like Iraq does. It will take time maybe even a couple more years but this battle can and will be won. We and the Iraqis are winning everyday. I just wish I was more eloquent. There is a difference between being talkative and eloquent. I am passionate about this! It's a conviction of my soul! I wish I could put into words my feelings so everyone could understand what I feel when I see the greatness here in the Iraqi people yet to be realized. Also my dismay with those who would distort the truth and lie about our successes here.

Well I better go before I get mad again at the wimps!

155 mortar and rocket attacks on base, over 500 have missed the base moral is high!

God bless you all! See you soon!


What I will miss about Iraq.

Today as we drove to lunch I saw a little Iraqi girl about 10 years old walking her sheep families 2 dozen sheep along the fence. She was barefoot as all the farmers here are. When someone says dirt poor they are talking about these people. She looked through the fence and waved as we passed by. She waves every time she sees us. We've never talked to her or even stopped but we always wave back. We've gotten accustomed to looking for her everyday. When we were returning the sheep had bedded down in the heat and she had removed the sash she wears around her waist and pitched a make shift shelter from the sun with her sash and a couple of sticks. She sat in the shade of her shelter as we approached. Then she jumped to her feet and stepped out in the sun to jump up and down waving and smiling so we would be able to see her back off in the field. We waved and honked as we went by. This has become a ritual for us everyday. I have never met this little girl but I will never forget her. I do not think the others will either. She is a symbol of why we came here and why we joined the military. Excuse me I have to wipe my eyes. I will miss but never forget the look on her face. She embodies the hope for Iraq!
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