Saturday, July 3, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Flag day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777. Flag day was established by an Act of Congress in August of 1949.
My flagpole bracket has been broken for a while, and I have been disappointed because I have been unable to fix it. So I offered my flag to my next door neighbor until such a time as I can once again see Old Glory waving out in front of my own home. I'm going to go and put some small flags out as a concession. Meanwhile, I can see my flag flying at my neighbor's house through my bedroom window. That'll have to do for the moment. I hope wherever you are, you will be flying the Star Spangled Banner today.
"Oh long may it wave, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Click here for Colonial Williamsburg's Biography of Patrick Henry as well as background to the impassioned speech below.
William Wirt, Henry's first biographer, created a memoir of Patrick Henry's life, including this speech, which it has been noted was spoken without notes to the Virginia Convention at St. John's church in Richmond, Virginia.
March 23, 1775.
MR. PRESIDENT: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775
Friday, February 12, 2010
Contrary to what you might expect, serious psychiatric problems are not a necessary and inevitable consequence of life’s worst crises. In fact, Dr. Calhoun (Trauma & Transformation, Richard D. Tadeschi and Lawrence G. Calhoun, 1995), believes that most people actually are transformed for the better from their battles with life’s toughest stuff...
“What we have found new and remarkable,” he writes in Trauma & Transformation, “is how often it [post traumatic growth] happens and how apparently ordinary people achieve extraordinary wisdom through their struggle with circumstances that are initially aversive in the extreme.”
In his provocative book Healing Invisible Wounds (Dr. Richard Mollica, 2006), he asks why we are quick to believe that a knife wound to the chest will heal but an injury to the mind will never repair itself. In a biological sense, he believes, there is no difference between an injury to the body and an injury to the mind.
Dr. Mollica calls this “self-healing” a force inside all human beings “to restore our physical and mental selves to a state of full productivity and quality of life, no matter how severe the initial damage...
“The full flowering of human resilience is awesome,” he says. Every human being is born with the strength to heal.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
I can tell you this, he has always been in camo.
He just traded in his hunting camo for digital camouflage. I can describe to you his younger years, however, who he has become today sure warms his families’ hearts. He still has the same personality as his younger days, but one can not help but notice he is a man now with maturity beyond his years.
I was always told that Shane was mature for his age, even when he was young. I guess being an only child had something to do with that fact. Although he had many friends and cousins he played with as a child, he spent a good bit of time with adults. His Dad was his best buddy and to this day that still remains true.
He was one of those children that liked to mimic his Dad and pal around with him.
He grew up around his Dad’s adult friends, which today are now some of his best friends as well. The age gap has no bearing on their relationship.
When he was very young he used to tag around with me, his Mom. We spent many a day shopping, but he soon realized doing guy things was way more fun. He was always a shy child.
Although he has come out of his shell quite a bit, he still is one to sit back and listen and not be too talkative, well, unless you talk about hunting or guns. We should have realized at a very young age that the military was going to be in his blood.
His passions are hunting, guns, his dogs, his family and friends. We often wonder what order that list falls.
There is not much that will come in between him and his hunting plans. His girlfriend at the time, now his wife, was told long ago that hunting comes first. If you want to make plans during hunting season, don’t expect to include him.
He would get up early in the morning before school and hunt. He would go to school and afterwards, go off to work. When he punched out at the time clock, it was off to hunting coon at night. We would have to remind him that there is more to life than hunting. He never has come around to that way of thinking though.
When the day came that Shane told us his intention of wanting to be a Marine, we were not surprised, but yet apprehensive. That is probably saying it mildly. I was not for it at all. His Dad was more open minded about it than I was. We all talked about it extensively. We had many visits from the recruiter, but Shane would not sign the papers unless he had his parent’s blessings. For the obvious reasons I couldn’t give him my total support. I was scared. After all he is my Punkin!
One day he had an injury to his hand that could have possibly threatened his chances of becoming a Marine. His Grandmother and I were secretively happy at the thought, but when the doctor told him, I could see the huge disappointment on my son’s face. He was crushed at the news. That moment changed my outlook. I knew at that time that this was my son’s dream. I must now support him and his decision.
Shane has always been one that gave 100% at anything he attempted. He always had to prove to himself that he could do what he set out to do. He never wanted to fail. Sometimes that can be a lot of stress on a young person. We tried to explain to him that it is not the score or grade that is important, but knowing that you gave it your best and applied yourself that really matters.
When Shane entered the Marine Corps, he set a personal goal for himself. Go figure! He said he wanted to be a Sergeant before his 4 year enlistment was complete. At 2 ½ years he has reached his goal. It was not an easy climb. He paid his dues. He studied and worked hard to achieve this rank.
I could sit here and write on and on about all his accomplishments to the point that it would become too much bragging. I will try to save you all from that. I know my son is so very proud to be a United States Marine. He said they are the best, and he wanted to be one of the best. We are all aware that it sure is not an easy road to become a Marine. They are very disciplined and unique individuals. I know we are all as proud as scared Parents can be.
As you can tell we admire our son and all his achievements throughout his life, but I am more proud of the man he has become. He stands up for what he feels is right. He is one that doesn’t go looking for trouble, but if his friend is in need, they can count on him. He is a very loyal person and will do anything for a good friend. Yet at the same time he will have no trouble telling you when you have crossed the line. He believes in fairness for all and looks out for the underdogs. He wants nothing handed to him and wants to earn his way. He is devoted to his wife and family.
If someone messes with either one, he is there with out question at their defense. He has a rough exterior but a soft, kind heart. He makes it no secret that he loves his family and wife. He never parts a phone call or visit with out a kiss for his Mom and Dad both. He always tells us he loves us at every chance.
He has great respect for his uniform and the US flag he defends. To this day he still gets embarrassed when someone makes a fuss over his service to his country. He tells us this was his choice and he is just doing his job. He has a high regard for the Marine Corps and their standards, standards he won’t budge on either. Just ask the Marines in his squad who wore sandals with their uniform one day at rest. Of course the Mom in me told him to not be so tough on the boys. He told me “We have standards to uphold, I can’t pick and choose which ones we will follow and ones we will not.”
As a Sergeant, he may bark at his men and demand perfection from them. However, he will defend and go to bat for them at any cost if ever needed. He respects them and is proud of their accomplishments and devotion. It is like he has become a father figure to 11 men at his ripe old age of 22. He doesn’t carry himself as a superior in their presence. He tells us he just leads them, and they deserve the recognition. He feels a sense of responsibility for each of them. He tells us they are his family now.
We long for the day when we can wrap our arms around him once again.
This was written by Diane, on behalf of herself and John, in honor of their son, Sgt. Shane.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Chris - nicknamed Boo by my husband who still calls him that to this day - lived with us most of his life. When I think back to when he was little, what I remember the most is how much I loved being with him.
Whether we went shopping, to church or the park for a picnic, he was so well behaved and took an interest in everything.
As he grew older of course, he grew less interested in being with Grandma and more interested in being with his friends and pursuing other interests.
Chris is very social and has always had a lot of friends. He was intelligent and made good grades in school, but as he got older, studying took a back seat to his social life and sports.
It didn’t help that he hated to read. He would much rather go to the gym and work out, or go to the park with his friends to play football, softball or soccer.
Sports were his first love. He played football in middle school and in his senior year in high school and also took part in track when he was in 8th grade. The sport he loved the most, though, was soccer. He played it from first grade until he went into the military.
Knowing how he felt about sports, I was totally surprised when he decided to participate in Chorus when he was in 5th grade. At the end of the year when they put on a program, he played the part of one of the Blues Brothers complete with sunglasses, jacket, tie and black hat.
I have so many memories - mostly pleasant ones but some frightening. Like the time when he was 3 years old and we found him face down in our swimming pool. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ralph run as fast as he did to jump in and saved him. -I thank God he was alright but to this day I can still see that vision in my mind. He went around for months afterward telling everyone “Papa saved my life!”
When Chris was in middle school, he became interested in the military. At that time he thought he wanted to join the Army. When we were shopping one day he saw some camouflage material and asked me to make him a quilt out of it. I worked on the quilt and finished it when he was in Brownsville visiting his mom for the summer. I guess I got caught up in the camouflage thing - because I decided to paint one of his walls camouflage - sponging it with drab olive, beige and black paint. I also made a lampshade out of left over camouflage material. He was really surprised when he got home. To be honest, I’m still not sure what he REALLY thought of the room - a little over the top maybe?! When he was a sophomore in high school he helped me paint over it!
He began to talk seriously of going into the military when he was in high school. I didn’t want him to do that because I didn’t want him going to war. If it had been peacetime, I would have backed him wholeheartedly. I remember telling him war isn’t a game like he plays on Xbox - it’s real. He still talked of going into the Army and an Army recruiter even came over to the house to talk to us, but in his senior year of high school he went to live with his dad in CA.
His uncle was in the Marines and served in Iraq. The next thing I knew, Chris was calling me and telling me he had enlisted in the Marines. I’ll never forget how I felt the night he told me.
He told me when he was home on leave after bootcamp, that he had accepted Jesus and had been baptized at the top of the mountain at MCRD after the Crucible. He got a tattoo (one of many of course!) that has Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Chris is a man and a “tough Marine” now - but to me he will always be that little boy who held my finger in his little fist and hooked me for life.
Written with love by Pat, in honor of her grandson, Chris.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The sight of someone in uniform may bring about differing responses from the American population, but it’s a sight that rarely goes unnoticed by those of us who love someone who serves. We who are connected to a Marine take great pride in and have a unique bond with that uniform. We know what it took for our Marine to attain the honor of wearing those colors and representing the Corps. We also know what that sacrifice and service requires of them today and what it could portend for their future. For us the sight of camouflage, service alphas and dress blues is likely to elicit a bit of emotion. Some of us have to rein ourselves in and remember not to hug strangers in uniform. Others swell with personal and national pride, snap to attention, honored to say a word of thanks, give a word of encouragement or even just tip our hat, so to speak, with a nod or a salute in recognition of the dedication manifest in their voluntary service to our nation.
However, the same camo that gives our men cover so they can blend into their surroundings and which keeps them out of the line of fire may unfortunately be what keeps them off of the American citizen’s radar as well. Camouflage equals disguise, and the ones who give the most and who have been, and still are, standing in the line of fire seem fairly invisible to the nation at large, in part I believe, due to what I call, the camouflage effect.
As a Marine parent, I get that. I understand, and I raise my hand to humbly admit I can be counted among those duped by the camouflage effect. It’s happened to me. They look alike, dress alike and have the same haircut. Their distinct personalities are cloaked by the grave task at hand wrapped up in the usual news of the week that offers little in the way of insight into the man behind the uniform. To us that uniform sings “pride, a personal story, appreciation and emotion” but it can cause another’s eyes to glaze over, unable to make out the character hidden within the sea of sand colored cloth. The visual offered via screen and print provides little variety by way of narration and illustration to elicit much else.
Americans seem to view the struggle our Marines are engaged in as a fictional TV action story or drama, or a political sticking point...that is, if they ever think of it at all. If it does manage to intrude upon their consciousness, it might be a distant tale of a faceless group known collectively as "the military", "the troops", and "soldiers". It’s a foggy image at best, and one that some feel should just be kept that way. The visual we are often given is typical stock footage of a group of guys in camo, covered in gear, walking in single file through an ancient Afghan village to make the political point about the news story of the day. To me, it shouts, “No new insight here, people, move along!”
The collective perception is at odds with the personal reality hidden within that shot. Why would Americans back home living the free life think beyond that narrative without someone to tell the gut level, real-life stories going on within that frame on behalf of their own personal liberty?
Rarely are the scenarios behind the desert camo given air and print time despite the fact that reporters are, in some places, embedded with our troops. News of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom is minimal, and glimpses of the lives behind the uniforms even more obscure. An explosion in Afghanistan may have just changed forever the life of that friend your son went to high school with or that boy from your church youth group who always made everyone laugh doing crazy stuff, or the neighborhood kid who always managed to show up just about the time you pulled a sheet of hot, chocolate chip cookies out of the oven.
Does the average American understand what has been relinquished on their behalf by these nameless people in uniform? Do they have a sense of the individuality of those who volunteer their one and only life? Can they get up close enough to make out the real faces of the unique characters or has that been erased by the camouflage effect?
Whether they are aware of it or not, America’s citizens have a stake in the life of those who serve. Some of us are painfully aware of it, others haven’t a clue. Either way, the case can be made that there is a vast and under-served audience out there waiting to read or hear the stories of these rather extraordinary individuals.
Last year, Fox and Friends did a story on the NYT photo of the soldier in his boxers, and Fox had his mom on the show to give us a glimpse into who this young American is and the story behind the photo. Literally stripped of the camouflage that keeps these defenders of freedom off our radar, we stepped into an alternate reality where a kid in "I (heart) New York" boxers and a pack and helmet was fending off the taliban. It was a rare, consummate insight reminding us that there are young Americans with a personality and a history behind that uniform, and parents and grandparents back home a world away nodding a "that's my boy" response...we saw that these are young Americans, and we as a nation, are sadly in many ways uninformed about them as they are well-disguised with generalities. Yet how compelling an insight the story of Specialist Zachary Boyd! Just the thing to cause a viewer to step back and rethink who and what is on the line and the families and friends back home connected to those who serve who are making sacrifices of their own.
We love freedom and know first hand its value and the high price required to maintain it. We don't want to see the little boys we taught to pray and who blew us kisses from the stage of the school play and who did things we'd rather not discuss when they were teens GIVING ALL AND THEN SOME in vain. We don’t want to see the father of our new baby girl glossed over as another “one of the troops” as he misses out on the first year of her life.
So how do we help each other grasp the very unique hearts and personalities beating inside those uniforms? It’s time to make it personal. It’s time to tell a tale or two and offer a few visuals and give some inside scoop into exactly who it is walking that road in our place in the Hellmand province, rifle at the ready and life in the balance.
It’s time for us to share the story line and the images the culture hasn’t been privy to. It would be only fitting to shed some light on the persona enveloped within that desert camo and high time we honor our young men... while we still have them in our grasp.
If you would like to provide a unique look at the life and personality of your Marine or Sailor, serving with the 2nd Battalion/2nd Marines, please contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stories should be up to 800 words and include around five photos if you like. I'm flexible on that. Be creative, and give us a portrayal of his personality that we would never see from just a photo of him in uniform. Why did he join, who is he really, what is his day like in Afghanistan that you know of? Share something funny or touching about him that we might never know. Paint us a picture with your words. Include a short video clip if you like, or just tell us a story about him. It doesn’t have to be the history of his life. Just help us to grasp who these Marines and Sailors are beyond the camouflage veneer.
Stories will be posted as they come in. I do, however, reserve the right to edit content if I deem it necessary. If so, I will contact you in that regard prior to posting. So get going. I know you have someone to brag on. And we are all ears.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
I awoke in the semi-darkness to a sense that something was standing over me. It wasn't an unfamiliar visitor. It was the ever-present to-do list being held to my head like a gun, before I ever opened my eyes to the day. This scene plays out too often. If only I could find a way to lock the door to this early morning intruder who ruins my first thoughts each day with it's threats and it's brawn and it's never-ending presence. Unlike the scene in a suspenseful movie where the main character can outsmart the bad guy, there is no way to escape the power of "the list".
I know from experience; the list will "go off", and a day that should be a day of freedom will be shot. So I pounced out of bed and made my move to gain an upper hand over it. I prefer to grab it quickly, wrestle it for control and rule it rather than have it hold me hostage. I have experience with being its captive, as indicated by its way of awakening me under duress. I may have to follow it's orders to an extent, but I don't like to give in easily or obey completely.
So with the list on my mind, I made my coffee, plopped down on the couch with the Christmas lights twinkling their final twinkle of the season and I pulled out my journal. I find it helpful to get writing when the list spells out it's demands. I can counter it better if I jot down my own list of sorts...a list of thoughts and plans of the things I don't have to do but which I have dreams of getting a chance to fulfill.
As I began to write, out of the corner of my eye, I sensed a soft morning glow sneaking its way across the dining room, trailing through the kitchen window, quietly inching it's way into my day to surprise and wow me with it's beauty. The first "ahhh.." moment of the new year was upon me, and the second uninvited guest of the morning. This one more than welcome.
Ah, yes, a welcome intruder - the light. It's like the list's alter ego. It quietly glides through the slats in the little white kitchen shutters to shine a beam of hope at an angle across the dining room and onto the new picture there, it lights up the blue and green glass sitting on the table along it's happy-go-lucky way, with little bursts of joy in tow. I jumped up hurriedly. I had accidentally shut out this morning visitor from it's usual stage in the back room. In the winter, that is where it makes it's grand entrance each early morning when I pull the curtain aside so it can step in and start the show. But the curtains were still drawn and it was having to slip in via the kitchen window like a little thief.
The light was a bit shy today, starting out with a meek tiptoe, peeking out from behind a dishwater-dull sky overpopulated with clouds, but it wasn't deterred from doing what it could. Dark clouds have no power over even the tiniest ray of light.
Even a little sunshine overcomes every time and makes a statement and has an impact. Big is not important to a ray of light.... a small beam lends an optimistic sparkle to an otherwise dreary and oppressive morning overpopulated with heavy, threatening clouds. Grand and glorious isn't necessary, just a little bright spot does the trick. I feel hopeful despite the layers of puffy, ugly gray out there, spread out across a vast sky, hiding a beautiful blue. I can trust the color is still there despite the cover of drear and blah, all because of one little ray working its wonder. And it's countering the somber thoughts heaped upon me by the list.
To my surprise, despite the dense clouds domineering the world only moments ago, a much brighter glow is starting to overpower the gloom now, a full-fledged sunny show is dancing across the room and kicking up hope for the day. The clouds have taken off running. They knew they were beat.
Both the welcome sparkle of morning and the dreaded list with it's chains of demand come in, invited or not. Each holds a certain sway over us. The light often starts out sweetly, nudging us with a warm embrace and a twinkling wake up call, the list and the fear, come like a gun to the head. So even though you may have a to-do list or an understandable fear that threatens to hold you like a hostage for another five months, there is also a ray of light just beyond the window making its way past dark clouds and dreary skies to get to you. It's gonna rain down it's sparkle of joy if you allow it a way in. It may start out small, but it has the power to scare away the ugliest of oppressive thoughts and can give you an upper hand to see what you have to face in the honest light of day. Keep an eye out for it, give it a stage. Don't make it sneak around trying to find a way in, fling open the curtains and give it a chance to light up the new year.
And while you're at it, take your list in hand and add something important to it. Make room at the top to note the Valentine's Day/Easter package we are about to get underway to send our Marines. The plan is unfolding to deliver a little love and light to them in the days ahead. The bright ray of light that greets us with hope for the new year is also on it's way to our Marines. And we can make it brighter.
More news on how you can help send a little sunshine and love will be posted in the days to come. Now, you better go find your sunglasses, because I think it's gonna be a bright new year!