color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: June 2005

Thursday, June 30, 2005

No Better Day, No Better Way

Below is the text of a fax (redacted, of course) sent to the organization that runs the rodeo in our town. I know our son hates this kind of stuff and I know I’m in for a tongue lashing if they do respond and honor him at the rodeo. Except for a baseball game on the 4th, I can think of no better day, no better place and no better way to honor all of America’s Soldiers and to honor my personal Hero (makes me teary-eyed just thinking about it!)
Re: Acknowledging A Soldier at the Rodeo
We are residents and will be in attendance at the Rodeo on Monday, July 4th. In attendance with us will be our son who is home on leave from Iraq where he is stationed with the United States Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. He has been deployed since January and will return to Iraq on July 12th.

Is there a way to acknowledge our son during the Rodeo that day?
Thank you very much, His Proud Parents...

Since this was sent rather late, I’m not sure anything will happen, but I'll post if it does…

In the mean time, I have been filling my time by annoying the hell out of my soldier by calling his [now activated] cell phone a couple of times a day and reveling in being able to call him whenever I have the urge to speak with him and hear his voice... and hear him say (accompanied by a big sigh), "Yes, Ma? I love you, too, Ma... I gotta go (laughing).

And IMing whenever I hear the Moo, but my fingers are so light on the keyboard -- not having to think about how to phrase a question or worry about saying something that might upset him (like the death of his friend) or prioritizing what to say and ask for fear the connection will be unceremoniously lost or cut short by duty (the infamous "gtg ma. mwahs" (translation: got to go, Mom. Kisses...) Now my head and heart are so light in knowing that he is not there... The best I can describe the feeling is -- know how you feel when you know a happy secret about someone and you're talking to that person and you just want to blurt it out and are barely able to contain a smile? That's a little of what it feels like with my son HERE and not THERE.

He has been to a mall and not been worried about the crowds... He tells me it feels no different than "the old days" and he has been to a fireworks display and said he only jumped once -- and that was when someone threw a cherry bomb close to him, but he says otherwise it was just like "the old days". As young parents, we had a joke about "BK" -- before kids... Will my son now have a "BI"?

We have also been finalizing travel arrangements and the trips to and from airports... and reconfiguring sleeping arrangements (we have one aunt, one uncle, some of our friends, and one of our son's friends traveling here to see and love him before he returns to that place). Of course, there is the shopping list to re-stock the house with foods not seen (except in care packages) since his last trip here at Christmas and so that I can be sure all of his favorite meals can be made... Tomorrow I am going into a baking frenzy making all of his favorite treats... and then there's the cleaning thing (putting on my best Eeyore voice, "Oh, yeah".) Not that the house needed cleaning -- it was just something to pass the time until he gets here this weekend.

And as I have attended to all this busy work, I have been compiling a mental list of things I want to ask, things I need to ask, things I dare not ask... If I get answers to my questions, it will make an interesting post. Right now, I can not wait to be three days older... actually, I wish I were a year older...

Finally, a big THANK YOU to all in the blog community (bloggers and readers alike) for your kind thoughts and wishes and your outpouring of support for us, but especially for our soldier!! You'll forgive me if my posts are a bit irregular for the next week or so. I just know you'll understand.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Another International Institution Has Lost Its Way?

Busy getting ready for the arrival of our soldier son (details in a new post later this week), but in the mean time, I thought I'd share another illuminating and thought-provoking piece by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl. But it is, as Senator Kyl states, "important to make clear here that the American Red Cross (ARC) and the ICRC are not one and the same - in fact, they operate completely separately. The ARC is not in any way involved in the ICRC's policy decisions or statements." (emphasis added)
Weekly Column - June 27, 2005

Another International Institution That Has Lost its Way?
By U.S. Senator Jon Kyl

As Congress scrutinizes the financing and operations of the United Nations, we have also found an unfortunate need to focus on other multilateral institutions that receive significant funding from the American taxpayer. One such organization is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Since its founding in Switzerland in 1863, the ICRC has provided vital and laudable emergency relief to the victims of war and natural disasters around the world, operating under its “Seven Fundamental Principles”: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality. But in recent years, it has moved to broaden its non-emergency relief portfolio, engaging in a level of political activism that appears to contradict its foundational mission of being a neutral and impartial organization. In some cases, actions and statements by ICRC leaders have been directly in opposition to, and even attacked, the interests of the United States.

Specifically, the ICRC has engaged in efforts, among others, to:
Lobby on arms control issues;
Reinterpret and expand international law so as to afford terrorists and insurgents the same rights
and privileges as military personnel of states that are party to the Geneva Conventions; and
Inaccurately and unfairly accuse the United States of not adhering to the Geneva Conventions, even
while demonstrating a reluctance to pursue those same protections for American prisoners of war.

It's important to make clear here that the American Red Cross (ARC) and the ICRC are not one and the same - in fact, they operate completely separately. The ARC is not in any way involved in the ICRC's policy decisions or statements.

Even so, this trend at the international level is more than worrisome. The ICRC helped save American lives in two world wars and has played a vital role in conflicts around the globe as a neutral arbiter. But under its current leadership, the organization appears to have lost its way by deviating from its core principles. In doing so, it risks forfeiting its hard-earned credibility and moral authority.

Like Amnesty International, which recently diminished its credibility by allowing one of its leaders to compare our terrorist holding center at Guantanamo Bay to a Soviet Gulag, the ICRC's political forays have done significant damage to the international perception of America's defense and foreign policy. This is particularly troubling given that the United States government has remained the ICRC's single largest contributor since its founding; to the tune of $233 million in 2003 alone.

How did this happen? In recent years, the ICRC has undergone a significant and accelerating change, leaning more in the direction of the liberal and frequently anti-American international nongovernmental organization community. According to analysts Lee A. Casey and David Rivkin, Jr., the ICRC made “no discernible effort” to improve the plight of America's POWs from the Korean, Vietnam, and Iraq wars, despite pressure from the U.S. government and POW families. The ICRC has also conspicuously failed to criticize the North Vietnamese, North Korean, and Baathist Iraqi governments for their torture, killings, and other abuses of U.S. POWs.

Former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger criticized the ICRC in the report of the independent review commission he chaired on prison problems in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, stating flatly that the ICRC's legal and policy positions were fundamentally wrong. In particular, the report condemned the ICRC's insistence that the same Geneva Conventions protections afforded uniformed soldiers in military conflict be granted to terrorists who do not wear uniforms and indiscriminately target civilians. Shortly afterward, the Wall Street Journal quoted an ICRC official on a visit to a U.S.-run Iraqi prison telling U.S. authorities that “you people are no better than and no different than the Nazi concentration camp guards” after she was denied immediate access to the prison - for personal safety reasons, because it had just experienced a riot.

As frustrating as such incidents are, the bigger problem is that we need a truly impartial and independent ICRC to tell the world the truth about the way America operates - that abuses are aberrations, that our soldiers go to extraordinary lengths to protect civilians, and that our foreign policy rests on the principle that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. There's no other organization in a position to play that role; without it, many foreign populations are pre-disposed to believe the worst about us. It's in everyone's interest that the ICRC return to its core mission, because that mission is indispensable, and there's no one else out there in a position to fulfill it.
Sen. Kyl serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees and chairs the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

He's Baaaackkk!

Whooohooo! He landed at Newark Airport at 1:30 this afternoon! (He left Iraq Thurs. morning -- Wednesday evening our time). I have to wait a week to see him, but he called as soon as he was boots on the ground! I don't know how to explain it, but the conversation was so light and different than the ones from Iraq (sigh).

I asked him about the best part of being home ... He said, "It doesn't smell here... and I don't have to worry whether someone wants to shoot me." He was really humbled by the number of people in Atlanta and Newark that patted him on the back, shook his hand and thanked him -- and the man that insisted he take his first class seat! He was, however, a little bummed that he couldn't drink the beer someone bought him on the plane -- he thanked the man but told him he couldn't drink in uniform (there was a Major seated behind him -- just his luck!) But I was assured that the situation (the beer, not the Major) would be remedied at the party being given for him this evening!

Just thought I'd spread a little of my happiness...
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Life Isn't Fair. It's just fairer than death...

Life Isn’t Fair. It’s just fairer than death, that’s all.
- William Goldman,
“The Princess Bride”

It’s not the news anyone wants to greet my son with when he gets off the plane this weekend after five months in Iraq… and the guys meeting his plane are looking to me to advise them on this. They know he has been looking forward to seeing them all, kicking back and “chillin’” with his friends and brother… putting the war behind him for a while. But one of their high school friends died two days ago. He was 19.

You always want to protect your children – not just physically, but emotionally. You want to keep them from the pain of that first betrayal, a broken heart, the disappointment of that strikeout that ends the game and the season. You never want them to have anyone close to them die because that’s a pain that’s hard to soften. You eventually recognize at some point that the best you can hope to do as a parent is to teach them to accept those painful moments as a part of life, learn from them and move on… better and stronger.

In our case, when we sent our son off to Iraq, we hoped he would never lose anyone in his company but certainly not a close friend, but we knew it might happen. The first fatality from our son’s battalion had been one of his instructors and he took the loss hard but accepted it as a risk of being a soldier. But how do you tell him that someone he thought of -- thinks of -- the way he last saw him is dead from a heroin overdose? When they last saw each other just before my son deployed to Iraq, he, Rob and the rest of the “buds” were playing cards, telling stories, playing music too loud, laughing and enjoying themselves....

Now he comes back to this…

“A 19-year-old… man found dead yesterday likely overdosed on heroin… police said, a day after authorities warned that a lethal mixture of the drug could be circulating around the region. Six other people have died from heroin overdoses in [New York], New Jersey, and Pennsylvania during the past three weeks. A seventh man… remains on life support… from a heroin overdose. A small bag found near the dead teenager was stamped with lips and the words "Kiss of Death." The teenager was found dead about 2 p.m. in his bedroom.”

His friends are all confused and angered by the death of their friend, “How could this happen? No one we know does H!” While he was not a child of privilege, he was not a child of depravation… Rob was a “good kid” from a middle class family with many friends. Most of his friends went away to college and have been out of touch since the new term started in January, but even those that stayed to attend college locally tell me that they had seen little of Rob in the past few months but assumed that – like them – had just been absorbed with work and school… Maybe the image my son has from last December of a laughing and happy Rob is how he should be remembered... and maybe we'll never know what compelled this boy to snort something marked "Kiss of Death" and think he was immune... and maybe it will serve as a reminder to others that they don't call it "dope" for nothing... I don't know... but I wish I never had to answer when they ask, “When should we tell him?”

We have all agreed that he should be told… but we have also agreed that he should be allowed to revel in the happiness and excitement that will accompany his arrival – he’s earned it and if Rob were alive, he'd want that, too. They were friends. After visiting with Rob’s parents the other night, the “gang” selected our son’s best friend to approach our son in a quieter moment later in the day or evening after he arrives – when things have quieted down a bit. The funeral is Monday and they are all hoping that our son arrives home in time to attend... They want to stand together and I know he'd want to be there, too.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), “For the Fallen”

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

My Guys... An Update

For my regular readers, you know that my extended family and I have "adopted" a lot of my son's buddies.... a group I fondly refer to as "My Guys". They have been coming and going on rest and recuperation, rest and relaxation -- whatever they call it -- R&R. A chance to come back home for 20 days (ok, about 5 of that is spent traveling) and revel in the 3 Fs - family, friends, and food. OK, there's a 4th F, but I'm trying to keep this PG-13...
So while I was in California last week visiting a sister, one of the Guys was home on R&R in the same town, so my sister and I got together with V. and his Mom and Dad... It was great. If we hadn't had to leave after 3-1/2 hours to retrieve my dear BIL from the airport, we'd have stayed all night!
What was mildly distressing was to hear my Guy tell us all that it's a bit demoralizing trying to fight what he calls "a pc war". He said we are so busy at times trying not to anger or upset the Iraqis that we compromise the task. The example he gave was that when they have good, solid intel that a house has weapons or a "bad guy" we should be kicking in the door and grabbing what we came for (his words). Instead, it has gotten to the point that at times (not always) our soldiers are reduced to almost politely knocking on the door and announcing, "Hello... it's the US and Iraqi Army. May we come in?" while the scurrying inside reaches audible proportions through the door.
The other example he gave is that they seem to be re-arresting the same people for weapons violations over and over. They find a weapons stash in a backyard, arrest the guy, hold him a few days and let him go. A few weeks later, they repeat the drill. He says the only thing that will cure those types of weapons merchants is to take some truly drastic action (I won't say here what he suggested...) Under the current scenario, they are routinely taunted by Iraqis - nose to nose - and even by some children, "Oh you can't do anything to us! You Americans can't touch us." He says the soldiers are tough and kick ass when they have to and when they are given no choice... but he doesn't think it's often enough (remember these guys are in a heavy Sunni area). If you want a good read on what it's like to go from Shia to Sunni towns, check out Michael's current post at A Day In Iraq (
V. also tells the story of how they are trying to convince IA and IP that there really is a purpose to taking aim at a target and hitting what they're aiming at. He says for the most part Iraqis spray the general area with 30 rounds -- and whether they hit the bad guy (or bystanders) or not is all Allah's will. They are amazed when the Americans take aim and drop a terrorist at 200 yards... then they turn to the Iraqis and exclaim, "Allah's will." V. says he thinks a lot is that in the "old" Iraq, people were so afraid of the IP and Saddam's men, that they never had to shoot... or if they shot it was from point blank range at their victims. To be fair, he says that some IA and IP are getting the message and that most of the IP and IA are dedicated to a new Iraq. They just aren't very good shots. He did assure us that it is way better than when we first started training them and they improve every day -- in number and accuracy...
He did say that the people are generally accepting if not outright supportive of the troops... even if they still want the Coalition soldiers out as soon as possible but at the same time virtually all acknowledge that a presence in Iraq is still necessary. (Sounds strikingly like American politics and current events, no?) He said we are making lots of progress and he tells me it's like learning a new math concept -- you struggle, you listen, you learn a little, and then one day BAM!! the light comes on, it all falls into place and NOW they get it. He says we belong there for now, but it will be good when they get to all come home.
He says R. (another of my Guys) has been especially terrible at communicating with his folks, so they have taken to sending him "form" and "fill in the blank" style letters -- which the other guys think are HILARIOUS...
It was really great to see V. again and very hard to say goodbye to him a second time!
M. (another Guy) extended his leave home to see if he could convince his wife to attend counseling sessions to save their marriage, but she would have none of it... but since he refused to grant her the divorce, she now has to wait until he returns home after his deployment to continue the proceeding (you can't maintain a divorce or any other court action against a deployed service member). He recently returned to Iraq. He tells me a small part hopes she will reconsider over the rest of the deployment, but a part of him knows that the marriage is over. His greatest concern is for their very young son...
And with the latest promotion, all of My Guys have been promoted since their deployment in January (HOOAH Guys!!)
And I'm more than a little curious at this missive from the FRG (family readiness group) about a meeting later this week:
Hello everyone!
I am forwarding this information for a x-xx Battalion Meeting. I have been told that it is of great importance and lots of updated and important information will be distributed with regards to the deployment. As stated, the FRG meeting will include the entire x-xx battalion so please try to make arrangements so you can be there. Thank you,
There has been a lot of buzz around about the redploy next year, so it will be interesting to hear what the "importnat information" is -- considering that this is the first full battalion FRG meeting since they deployed in January. Not living near the base, it's impossible to be there for the meeting and they have not made provision for conference calling or webcasting for those in remote areas... (it is a HUGE group we're talking here...) So we have to wait for an email in the days following the meeting... aarrggghhh.
And this week our son leaves his FOB for his R&R journey to the U.S. and I can hardly keep up with the emails and IMs from his friends and our friends who all want to be able to see him and take him to dinners and lunches and such... He should arrive in New York 3-1/2 days after he departs Iraq... I will sleep easier just knowing he is not in Iraq... better when I know he is stateside... and the best yet when he is back under our roof... As I told my aunt, it will just be a shame that I have to send him back for a year...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror

I am a pretty big fan of Sen. John McCain and was delighted to be moving to a state where he would be one of my representatives in government. I didn't know much about Jon Kyl, the junior senator here, but I am almost giddy after having read a number of pieces and public statements by Senator Kyl (R-AZ). The man holds many of my views and speaks his mind when asked. He holds reasoned positions and is an eloquent advocate of those positions. This guy has got it right. Here's his weekly column for June 20, 2005:

Guantanamo Bay and the War on Terror
By U.S. Senator Jon Kyl

It's important what the rest of the world thinks of the United States. But it's more important that we defend ourselves against terrorists who seek our annihilation. Much of the criticism of our efforts, both international and domestic, is factually wrong and appears to be driven by a partisan hostility to President Bush.

Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military base where a $150 million facility has been built to house detainees in the war on terrorism, individuals who might better be described as “people who will kill Americans if given half a chance.” At the hearing, Democrats criticized the Bush Administration, alleging that the 520 prisoners are in “legal limbo,” that “there is no plan exactly how they're going to be handled,” that their “rights under the Geneva Conventions have been violated,” and that they deserve some sort of a “trial” or they should be released. A big problem if true, but none of it is.

The detainees at Guantanamo are not in a legal limbo any more than any other prisoners in any other war were in limbo when they were captured. International law allows any nation the right to detain enemy combatants for the duration of a conflict. The primary reason is to prevent them from killing more Americans, and, secondarily, to gather useful intelligence. That's why we are holding these men - they are enemy combatants who were shooting at our troops or otherwise involved in terrorism, and many have information that could help prevent further attacks. We certainly never “tried” captured Nazis or Japanese POWs in World War II (with the exception of a few leaders charged with war crimes) although many were held for years.

The Supreme Court has since ruled that because Guantanamo is under U.S. control, some traditional American legal procedures apply, including the right of each detainee to have his status reviewed. After that ruling, a special commission was established to determine whether, in fact, all of the detainees were enemy combatants, and a number of them were released. We know that at least a dozen went right back to fighting us, because they were subsequently captured again on the battlefield.

Those who remain in detention - a tiny fraction of the 10,000 enemy combatants we have picked up over the past few years - are terrorist trainers, bomb makers, extremist recruiters and financers, bodyguards of Osama bin Laden, would-be suicide bombers, and so forth. Because they indiscriminately target civilians and are not fighting for another particular country, among other reasons, these individuals do not qualify for the protections of the Geneva Conventions. Nonetheless, official U.S. policy is to apply Geneva standards, including access to lawyers, Red Cross visits, and so forth. Every single detainee receives a new review every year to determine whether he still poses a risk. That would seem to be a reasonable standard for a country at war, and surely a credible “plan” for “handling” their cases.

The recent flurry of partisan and international criticism of the handling of Islamic sensibilities at Guantanamo, sparked by a discredited Newsweek report that a copy of the Koran was flushed down a toilet, must have Osama bin Laden rolling with laughter. None of the critics had previously displayed much concern over the abuse of Muslims by other Muslims, as occurs every day in Iraq. The reality is that virtually all prisoners are better fed and cared for at Guantanamo than they have ever been in their lives. They are certainly treated well in comparison to those Westerners taken captive by terrorists in Iraq, who are typically beheaded. A handful of politicians have even raised the idea of shutting down Guantanamo, because of its “negative symbolism.” But as even vociferous critic Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) has conceded, “The question isn't Guantanamo by itself. Obviously, if we're holding people, we're going to hold them somewhere.”

Exactly. Attacking the United States should bring serious consequences, including imprisonment, if we can catch you.

Sen. Kyl serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees and chairs the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Forget Lance's Yellow -- Here's the newest & coolest bracelet in town! It's PURPLE! It comes in 2 sizes (7" and 8"), 100% (not a typo -100%!) of the purchase price goes to agencies & charities supporting wounded troops, and soldiers' families -- and you not only get to select the charity (they have a list by state and a national list), but you get to name the price you pay for the bracelet from $1 to $5 each!!

They are trying to raise $100,000 for these charities... SO PLEASE HELP!!! Support Fischer House where wounded soldiers' families stay for free near medical centers... or refurbish homes for disabled troops to make them handicap accessible... or provide immediate personal necessities to wounded soldiers or marines... Lots of charities to choose!
The site explains: "The GI-Bracelet is the color of the Purple Heart, symbolizing the bravery and sacrifice of those who serve. 100% behind our troops and their families.
"The entire purchase price is donated to support our troops and their families!Many military families fall into financial hardship when the breadwinner is injured or killed.
"When you buy most other "support our troops" products, you don't know where the money goes. The entire purchase price of each GI Bracelet is donated to support our troops and their families!
"Please join us to give back to these brave people in their time of need.
"This endeavor is not for the red states or the blue states. It is for the United States of America and the men and women who make the sacrifices for our country."
Spread the word and pass this along to everyone you know!!! Let's really get this rolling!
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
Hat tip: Assumption of Command (
NOTE: For all of you narrow minded individuals who just must comment on the "Forget Lance's Yellow" - Lighten up, will ya? I and my family were among the first to support Lance's Live Strong Foundation and to wear the yellow "Live Strong" bracelet... My son and most of his platoon wear the ones I and my sister gifted to them (because LIVE STRONG is a great message!)! I intend to wear THREE bracelets: Lance's "Live Strong" yellow, the red "My Soldier My Hero" AND the Purple "For Those Who Serve." The rest of you trolls, please get a life!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


So here are a series of emails sent/received/sent since my last post.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005
Dear Mr. Tofel (President, International Freedom Center):
We are the parents of an American soldier currently serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

We are former residents of New York. We strenuously object to any Memorial at WTC being anything other than a memorial/memorials entirely and strictly dedicated to the Victims murdered at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. If Tom Bernstein and others fronting for various human rights organizations desire a "learning center" to highlight man's inhumanity to man, please insist that they use someone else's money and that they put their "learning center" somewhere else -- Switzerland (the bastion of neutrality), or on the grounds of any of the preserved Nazi Death Camps... or perhaps in one of the burned out villages in Darfur... or at the site of any one of the many mass graves provided by Saddam Hussein.

The United States was attacked on September 11, 2001 and the memorial should be to the victims and to the American people who fight oppression and tyranny worldwide to ensure that it doesn't happen again.

Thursday, June 09, 2005
Thank you for your note. I know it was based on hearing one side of this story. I hope you'll take a few minutes now to read the other side:
Dick Tofel, President, International Freedom Center

Thursday, June 9, 2005
Mr. Tofel:
Thank you for your response. We have read your response with great interest -- hoping that the initial stories were perhaps inflated. Sadly, that is not the case. However noble your and the International Freedom Center intent is, we are still not convinced that the WTC site is the appropriate place for such an endeavor. Perhaps it should be at the United Nations, a body allegedly devoted to Peace in the World that surely could use the attention and commitment of such a gesture? You do yourself and your project no favors parading the signatories to such a grand scheme from academia, given the history of such individuals and their somewhat anti-American stance.

To be clear, we are true supporters of all the concepts of freedom and herald its great history -- and mourn its tragic failings. However, the fight of the Czech Republic and such other struggles for democratic rule have no place at such a site. "Ground Zero" truly is hallowed ground to us and most Americans -- as sacred as any national cemetery or battle site -- and we would no more support this grand scheme were it proposed for Arlington National Cemetery or the Gettysburg Battlefield.

We remain committed to the idea that the entire site of the attack of September 11, 2001 be reserved entirely as a memorial committed to the victims of that attack, the American people and the men and women who have given their lives in this War on Terrorism.


And thanks to LimeShurbet ( who thought my response to Mr. Tofel clear enough to put it up on his site... and who has set up the Take Back the Memorial site ( Be sure to visit the site and use the valuable contact links provided to register your opinion on this proposed travesty.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Ground Zero Memorial Has Been Hijacked!

I worked a few miles from the World Trade Center and was witness on the morning it became Ground Zero. I visited the site a number of times after that horrific day to pay homage to those we lost there. I have never visited the site -– whether a week after or a year after -- and not been brought to tears. It was and remains my opinion after seeing the site a few days after the carnage that, had it not been for the need to recover the bodies of the victims of that attack, we should have left the rubble and ruin there until every American and supporter of democracy worldwide had an opportunity to view it. It was truly that horrific and no image captured in photographs or film can convey the magnitude. People who have visited the Grand Canyon or the Great Pyramids will understand what I mean. I would like to have seen it left there for the same reason the Nazi concentration camps were left standing: to bear witness to those who perished and to be a testament that we can never let either event happen ever again.

Now individuals who want to share their “vision” and have us all believe that we brought this atrocity upon ourselves are hijacking the WTC Memorial. They intend to turn the Memorial into a statement on human rights atrocities in the world. It will not be a Memorial to the American citizens, firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel who were murdered September 11, 2001. It will apparently be a multi-media extravaganza of man’s inhumanity to man – the Nazi Holocaust, Native American Genocide, Soviet gulags, the KKK …

You just have to read Debra Burlingame’s piece in the Wall Street Journal about what the Memorial at Ground Zero is becoming. The writer of “The Great Ground Zero Heist: Will the 9/11 "memorial" have more about Abu Ghraib than New York's heroic firemen?” is a member of the board of directors of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame III, pilot of American Airlines fight 77, which was crashed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

She writes, in part, “Rather than a respectful tribute to our individual and collective loss, they [people] will get a slanted history lesson, a didactic lecture on the meaning of liberty in a post-9/11 world. They will be served up a heaping foreign policy discussion over the greater meaning of Abu Ghraib and what it portends for the country and the rest of the world.

The World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex will be an imposing edifice wedged in the place where the Twin Towers once stood. It will serve as the primary "gateway" to the underground area where the names of the lost are chiseled into concrete. The organizers of its principal tenant, the International Freedom Center (IFC), have stated that they intend to take us on "a journey through the history of freedom"--but do not be fooled into thinking that their idea of freedom is the same… To the IFC's organizers, it is not only history's triumphs that illuminate, but also its failures. The public will have come to see 9/11 but will be given a high-tech, multimedia tutorial about man's inhumanity to man… This is a history all should know and learn, but dispensing it over the ashes of Ground Zero is like creating a Museum of Tolerance over the sunken graves of the USS Arizona.” I wholeheartedly agree. If people want a memorial to "teach" the world about its failings, put it somewhere in Washington DC or perhaps in Switzerland -- the next home (we hope) of the U.N... Better yet, how about France? But it certainly does NOT belong at Ground Zero.

She goes on to reveal that the principles of the Memorial are mostly members of various human rights organizations and liberal college professors (one who believed that maybe we brought the attack on ourselves and one who can't figure out whether the attack at the WTC or the Patriot Act is worse!) who have hijacked and kidnapped the memorial at Ground Zero for their own purposes.

Ms. Burlingame also writes, “While Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and LMDC [Lower Manhattan Development Corp.] are focusing their attention on the economic revival of lower Manhattan, there has been no meaningful oversight with respect to the "cash cow of Ground Zero." Meanwhile, the Freedom Center's organizers are quickly lining up individuals, institutions and university provosts with this arrogant appeal: "The memorial to the victims will be the heart of the site, the IFC will be the brain." Indeed, they have declared the World Trade Center Memorial the perfect "magnet" for the world's "great leaders, thinkers and activists" to participate in lectures and symposiums that examine the "foundations of free and open societies." Put less grandly, these activists and academics are salivating at the prospect of holding forth on the "perfect platform" where the domestic and foreign policy they despise was born.”

I think you have to subscribe (free) to read the full article -- but trust me it will be worth it!

If you don’t want to register, then you can check out additional information at the wonderful Michelle Malkin’s place… She has lots of links and other information on her site… Thanks Michelle!

Ms. Burlingame asks, how do we get it back? Noise. Lots of noise. Register your disgust and disapproval with the current plan and demand that the WTC Memorial BE a memorial to the American people who were attacked and murdered on September 11, 2001.
Update: For auto links to contact various private and elected individuals to protest, go to the new Take Back The Memorial site:

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Ever Thought of Vacationing in Baghdad?

Well, we have been very busy lately… in a lazy kind of way. We traveled to New Mexico to witness the graduation of our son from college. Son the younger managed to check in from Iraq just minutes before the ceremony to congatulate son the eldest which was about the only time the elder was emotional. It was a great trip.

Then within days we traveled to Blacksburg, VA via Washington, DC for our daughter’s wedding. Son the younger's comment when he saw his sister's wedding pic (which through the miracle of the internet, he saw just hours after her marriage) was, "She sure was beautiful, ma." And if the groom hadn't already been a favorite in this household, his toast to his soldier brother brought sniffles and smiles from everyone... and sealed the deal.
Living in the desert southwest (although we live in a pine forest in a mountainous area) you forget just how GREEN the east coast can be in the spring! And it was a privilege to be in DC over Memorial Day weekend, visit the new WWII Memorial and some other monuments, and witness the overwhelming numbers of Rolling Thunder – a veterans’ organization whose major function is to publicize the POW-MIA issue. ( They ride motorcycles… and 400,000 of them were parked at the Pentagon for an address by Rummy. Truly awesome. After seeing the story and the pictures we sent, our sons (and the uncle and even Dad) have decided that they might like to ride in Rolling Thunder the first Memorial Day after the youngest redeploys. I'll follow in the chase mobile I guess.

Now I’m busy trolling through suitcases and duffle bags that were shipped from his stateside base and then stored in our attic when he deployed five months ago… searching for suitable civies (civilian clothes) ‘cause he’ll be home on leave in just THREE WEEKS! I’m going to get to throw my arms around our son and hug the stuffings out of him! WHOOHOOO! My only disappointment is that he is going to begin his leave in New York so that he can see one of his brothers, his girlfriend and his buds before he heads out west. The fun part is that his friends are all working to bring as many people as they can to whatever airport he’s arriving at so that they can whistle and cheer his arrival! They promise to take movies and pictures! The hard part is that he and we have no idea which of the three airports in the NYC metro area he’ll fly into… He won’t know that until his first stop outside of Iraq… but I know I'll be the first he calls (otherwise he won’t have a ride back from the airport!)

He’s a pretty funny guy… he is a clotheshorse in some respects and is very particular about the clothing he wants ready for his leave. At the moment, the only thing I haven’t located is his sneakers… I think we’ve looked through everything… Told him he’ll just have to part with some of that hard-earned cash and buy himself a pair when he gets off the plane.

And of course, he wants me to reactivate his cell phone. I think one of the hardest things for him to get accustomed to when he deployed (I mean other than the heat, the smell, people shooting at him, spiders the size of small dogs, etc.) was that he had to live without his link to the rest of “humanity” – his cell phone. And he is one of those guys that just HAVE TO ANSWER THE PHONE no matter who is calling. He will look at the screen, say “oh, man… I do not want to talk to him/her.” Then don’t answer the phone… He just can’t. He has got to answer that phone.
And, of course, besides reviewing his clothing selection, he’s reminded me a zillion times to not forget to send his credit cards, his driver’s license, his phone book, the phone, the charger… He’s a hoot!

We also spend a bit of each conversation trying to decide what he’d like to do while he’s here -- with a few of the buds who plan to tag along with him from NY (some of my other "kids" LOL). We have already put on the list a visit to his Grandfather (who had a triple bypass a few months ago and has yet to fully recover), and combine that with a visit to his cousins who live a few miles from there… He was thinking he’d like to find a way to stop in the Chicago area to visit one of the aunt/uncle combinations although they have indicated that they might come here to see him. And he’d like to drive the 9-10 hours out to California to see that aunt/godmother/uncle combo and to see their new home… but that aunt/godmother called this morning and suggested maybe we meet ½ way in VEGAS… now that could be an interesting trip (although our son and his friends are not yet old enough to drink or gamble). He says he needs to visit the closest Army base (4 hours away) to get some stuff he needs. We don’t care what he wants to do or where he wants to go – we’re there. Of course, the Mom part of me says he should rest up, eat well, relax and de-stress while he’s here… but Whatever.

We can hardly wait to see him! But I know already that his visit will be too short. When he leaves this time, it could a year or longer before we get to see him again. And just sifting through his things made me realize that saying farewell the second time may just be harder than the first…. So I casually say to the DH, “So, ever thought of vacationing in Baghdad?”

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Here’s a subject that just GALLS me! This from Damian Cave’s June 3 New York Times article on high school parents and military recruiting:

“Two years into the war in Iraq, as the Army and Marines struggle to refill their ranks, parents have become boulders of opposition that recruiters cannot move.

Mothers and fathers around the country said they were terrified that their children would have to be killed - or kill - in a war that many see as unnecessary and without end.

Around the dinner table, many parents said, they are discouraging their children from serving.

At schools, they are insisting that recruiters be kept away, incensed at the access that they have to adolescents easily dazzled by incentive packages and flashy equipment.”

Oh, paahleeeze! I want to ask these parents whether they are so afraid that they have done such a piss-poor job of raising thinking, logical children that they believe that a military recruiter can convince their child to enlist against the child’s will? Well, then the hard sell of some universities will be more than they can handle and you should be on guard against all those liberal arts, lefty-leaning colleges that promote godlessness and socialism… or perhaps the righty-leaning, uberconservative colleges of the Bible belt? Surely they must oppose one or the other of those ideologies and surely they must be demanding that those recruiters be denied access to their precious and vulnerable children, eh???

One father said, "Because of the situation we're in now, I would not want my son to serve," he said. "It's the policy that I'm against, not the military." All of these parents fighting military recruiters on high school campuses claim that they are opposed to the war in Iraq… and the logic is then you should be opposed to the military? Are they also against the military saving the lives of tens of thousands after the most recent tsunamis? And they must be opposed to Guard units when they help after major disasters in the United States? Surely they also oppose the military that fly aircraft night and day 24/7 over the U.S. every day watching and guarding against those that would harm us? Harm the very children they think they are protecting?

One parent actually had the audacity to state, "The recruiters are in your face, in the library, in the lunchroom," he said. "They're contacting the most vulnerable students and recruiting them to go to war." No they’re not, you idiot. They’re recruiting them to serve in the United States’ military to protect this country -- my country, YOUR country. The military didn’t start the War on Terror, but given the chance, they sure as hell will finish it.

I can’t imagine the conversation that might go on at the dinner table? What exactly do you say to convince your child not to enlist? Do you tell your child that it is bad, wrong, evil to consider joining the military? Exactly what logical argument can you possibly use to sway a child? Tell them that you don’t want them to go to war (told our sons the same thing). Tell them you want them to consider all their options (told our sons that same thing). Tell them that the military can be really hard and involves a lot of sacrifice (told our sons the same thing). Tell them that they might be killed or injured (told our sons that, too). Yeah, well… my guess is that a lot of these sniveling parents simply TELL their children “no”. They don’t really allow an open discourse about the honest and honorable career the military might afford. They don’t really listen to what their children might have to say. No, it is about the parent, not the child.

Another parent said, "Pulling in this need for heartstrings patriotic support is clouding the issue," she said. "The point is not whether I support the troops. It's about whether a well-organized propaganda machine should be targeted at children and enforced by the schools." Ummm, 18 year olds aren’t technically “children”. We assume they can think for themselves. (If not, you’ve failed as a parent.) It’s not like they’re selling them candy or soda or porn… They’re offering your children the opportunity to serve in the United States military. They are offering them the opportunity to earn money for college. They are offering them the chance to learn marketable skills. They are offering them the chance to become proud, contributing members of society. They are offering them the chance to defend their country. It’s an offer. And it can be refused.

People need to get out of the way and let the military recruiters do their jobs. If your child is interested – or has an interest – in joining the service, do your job as parents: help your child explore the offer in the same way you would help your child explore a college. See what they have to offer. Talk about the limitations, the benefits, the upside and the down. Grill the recruiter (don’t be nasty, just insistent.) It’s their job – they don’t mind.

There isn’t a parent of a soldier, sailor, marine, or airman that likes war. We live with the specter of our children’s mortality every day… and we revel in the pride that comes from such selfless and strong children who listened to what we had to say and said, “I know, Mom. I know, Dad. But this is what I want.”

When they say you SERVE in the military, they weren’t lying. They serve something bigger and nobler than anything those parents will ever understand.

Brings to mind that soliloquy from the character Colonel Nathan Jessup (even if he was a real creep) in “A Few Good Men”:
“And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because, deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand at post.”
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.