Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Hero ~ 1LT Thomas M Martin

1st. Lt. Thomas M. Martin
1st. Lt. Thomas M. Martin
27 years old from Ward, Arkansas
C Troop, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division
October 14, 2007
U.S. Army

An Eagle Scout, Thomas M. Martin took on cleaning up an old red train caboose as a service project. "He remodeled it to make it where people could go inside. If you saw it before and looked in it after he was through - it was daylight and dark", said his former principal, Robert Martin, who is no relation. "Tom was involved in Key Club, German Club and band, making All-Region Band his sophomore year", said Robert Martin. "He was a wonderful young man. Those that knew him knew he was funny and outgoing."

Lt. Martin died in Al Busayifi, Iraq of wounds sustained from small-arms fire when insurgents attacked his unit during combat operations. He enlisted in the Army in 1998 after graduating high school and served in Korea before accepting an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 2005.

"He was very polite and respectful. I can't think of him ever overreacting; he had a wonderful, good-natured personality", said Pat Hagge, a family friend. "It's a terrible tragedy; he was a great young man."

Lt. Thomas Martin is survived by his parents, Edmund and Candis.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Mother Nature Rages and the National Guard Responds

When Hurricane Dolly hit Texas and the flooding began, residents could count on the National Guard and the State Military Force to assist them. They rescued, they brought ice and water and food.

As the wildfires ravage California, on the front lines of the fight you will find the National Guard, and not just from California. Units from across the nation have responded to assist.

These are amazing men and women who are there to aid their country, no matter what the emergency might be.
Thank you one and all.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Scenes from the USNS Mercy

07/14/2008 - U.S. Sailors assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet band entertain children during an engineering civic action program at the Bario Pite Elementary School in Dili, East Timor, July 14, 2008, Service members from several nations are participating in Pacific Partnership, which provides local communities with various medical, dental and engineering services. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Valcarcel, U.S. Navy. (Released)

07/16/2008 - University of California San Diego Pre-Dental Society student Chae Kim shares a moment with a young Timorese patient in the pediatrics ward aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) July 16, 2008. The ship is moored in Timor-Leste for Pacific Partnership 2008, which provides local communities with various medical, dental and engineering services. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class A. Nick De La Cruz, U.S. Navy. (Released)

07/21/2008 - U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kate Thomas, attached to the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), examines a patient’s retina as part of a medical civic action program in Timor Leste July 21, 2008. The hospital ship, which is deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2008, a humanitarian and civil assistance mission, is also scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Martin, U.S. Navy. (Released)

07/18/2008 - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Simmons attached to the radiology department on board USNS Mercy (T-AH 19), positions a 12-year old Timorese patient for a CT-scan on board the ship while in port in Timor Leste on July 18, 2008. The Mercy is deployed in support of Pacific Partnership, an exercise that provides local communities with various medical, dental and engineering services. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class A. Nick De La Cruz, U.S. Navy. (Released)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Marines in the Iraq Desert

U.S. Marines in a Humvee provide security while camels walk by during Operation Bonneville Flats in the desert southwest of Lake Habbaniyah, Iraq, July 9, 2008. The Marines are assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment.
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Jeremy M. Giacomino

Wednesday Hero ~ 1Lt Frank B Walkup

This Weeks Hero Was Suggested By Toni

1st LT. Frank B. Walkup, IV

1st LT. Frank B. Walkup, IV
23 years old from Woodbury, Tennessee
2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division
June 16, 2007
U.S. Army

Toni already has a great post up on her site, so I'll just link to it.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their live
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Faces of Freedom ~ USNS Mercy

07/18/2008 - The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) sits anchored off the coast of Dili, Timor Leste, July 18, 2008. Mercy is deployed in support of Pacific Partnership 2008, a humanitarian assistance mission to Southeast Asia that includes specialized medical care and various construction and engineering projects. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph Seavey, U.S. Navy. (Released)

The USNS Mercy is a hospital ship in the US Navy. It's primary mission is to provide acute medical and surgical services to support our military forces ashore and afloat. The secondary mission is to provide disaster and humanitarian relief and care.

Currently, the Mercy is involved in Pacific Partnership 2008, partnering with Operation Smile, Project Hope, Timor Red Cross, Australian Aid International and others. About half way through a four month mission, it has visited the Philippines, Vietnam, Timor-Leste, and is heading to Papua New Guinea and Federated States of Micronesia. And, the medical staff has seen more thatn 41,000 patients and provided dental services to nearly 9,000. They have performed more than 600 surgeries and provided veterinarian care to more than 4,000 animals. In addition, the biomedical repair technicians have fixed medical equipment in the hospitals they have visited. The engineers and SeaBees aboard have done construction projects ashore.

Navy Capt. James Rice, commander of the military treatment facility aboard Mercy, said "One of the most important aspects of the Pacific Partnership is the long-term commitment to work with each of the nations and to make sure that the friendships and the relationships we build are long-lasting ones." He added, "This is just something that gets to the core of why we went in to our professions in the first place."

To read more about the USNS Comfort, visit her webiste at:

To hear Capt Rice interviewed about the current mission, visit this link at Blog Talk Radio:

Much gratitude to the men and women who work on the USNS Mercy and who are providing services aroung the Pacific for people who need our assistance.

PS - Attention Mr Obama - Did you know our military did this?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wednesday Hero ~ SPC Kisha Makerney

Spc. Kisha Makerney
Spc. Kisha Makerney
23 years old from Fort Towson, Oklahoma
120th Engineers, Oklahoma Army National Guard
U.S. Army

Spc. Kisha Mackerney isn't being profiled today because of something she did on the battlefield. She's being profiled because her spirit and determination. In 2002, Makerney joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard out of a sense of patriotism, because, as she put it, "I love our country and our people." Between 2004 and 2005, she served in Iraq as a gunner and helped provide battalion security. She returned home in early 2005 and was in a terrible motorcycle accident on June 25, 2005. The front wheel of her brand new bike had blown out and sent her flying into a highway sign. She looked up at her now mangled bike and was angry. That's when she noticed that her left leg below the knee was missing. The first thing she thought of when she saw her leg was that her military career was over.

Makerney pulled herself out of the ditch that she had landed in and was able to flag down a passing motorist. She was taken a hospital in Hugo, Oklahoma before being flown to Dallas, Texas.

As soon as word spread about her accident, her fellow soldiers, her second family, rallied and rushed to her bedside. "Even before I was out of surgery they were waiting in the halls," she said.

Continue reading Spc. Kisha Makerney's story here. There are some despicable comments by a few readers on the story. Just ignore them.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes,
They Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tony Snow ~ The Passing of a Great American

Tony Snow
June 1, 1955 ~ July 12, 2008

I woke this morning to the very sad news about the passing of Tony Snow. Tony has lost his battle with cancer. A battle he confronted bravely and publically. When Tony was diagnosed with cancer, I like millions of Americans, dropped him a get well note. Tony answered everyone.


Thanks so much for the kind note - and for including me in your thoughts and prayers.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate you thinking of me and raising my name in prayer. Prayers have enormous power. They're good medicine - and they certainly have lifted my spirits. I feel as if I have been borne on the shoulders of thousands of friends, all of whom have made the ride easier than I ever could have imagined.

We're blessed to live in a land where people just want an excuse to do something good for someone else. Thanks for taking advantage of that opportunity with me. Please encourage others to do it closer to home for other friends in need. Kind words, notes, emails, and small gestures have a way of lightening the load, while making our own lives richer and more rewarding. Again, thanks for the incredible gift of caring.

God bless,

Much will be written about Tony today. About his life, his career, his passion for and talent for music - he played six insturments (trombone, flute, piccolo, accordion, saxophone, guitar) and had a band, Beats Workin'. He adored his family - his wife Jill, his son, Robbie, his daughters Kendall and Kristi. He worked in two White House Administrations - George H W Bush and George W Bush. His collegues will tell stories about him. They will draw their favorite images in words - such as his voracious reading and intellect - his offices overflowing with books, the cartons of books he toted around. We will hear about the music, the marathon runs, the joy he left is his wake. We will be reminded that this was a good man.

What I will remember about Tony Snow was his smile and his laughter and his love for his family. He could present the news in a way that was informative and hopeful. I will remember him for trying to alert the country to the dangers of colon cancer - a disease that claimed his mother when he was 17. Despite his awareness, he was not to escape it. But, because of him, I have. Because of Tony, I got that colonoscopy. I was lucky. My tumor was found early. My surgery was successful. I wonder how many of us are here today because of Tony Snow.

God Bless you Tony. Our prayers now will be with your family as they go down this difficult road alone.

TheWhite House

Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of our dear friend, Tony Snow. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Jill, and their children, Kendall, Robbie, and Kristi. The Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father. And America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character.

Tony was one of our Nation's finest writers and commentators. He earned a loyal following with incisive radio and television broadcasts. He was a gifted speechwriter who served in my father's Administration. And I was thrilled when he agreed to return to the White House to serve as my Press Secretary. It was a joy to watch Tony at the podium each day. He brought wit, grace, and a great love of country to his work. His colleagues will cherish memories of his energetic personality and relentless good humor.

All of us here at the White House will miss Tony, as will the millions of Americans he inspired with his brave struggle against cancer. One of the things that sustained Tony Snow was his faith - and Laura and I join people across our country in praying that this good man has now found comfort in the arms of his Creator.

--President George W Bush

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wednesday Hero ~ Sgt Kenneth J Schall

Sgt. Kenneth J. Schall
Sgt. Kenneth J. Schall
22 years old from Peoria, Arizona
Armor Crewman, Company A
2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division
June 27, 1962~May 22, 2005
U.S. Army

"It was very tough not to be touched by him in some way," said Terri Schall, Sgt. Kenneth Schall's mother.

Kenneth Schall was enrolled at Glendale Community College and was studying to become a history teacher when the country was attacked on September 11, 2001. The event spurred him to join the Army.

Born in Phoenix, and a graduate of Centennial High School in Peoria in 2001, Kenny lettered in golf. He was an all-around athlete.

He enlisted into the Army in May 2003. Schall had been stationed at Fort Riley since November 2003. He served a three month rotation to Iraq, with 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor and returned to Fort Riley in March 2004. He deployed with his unit, for a second rotation in February 2005.

Terri Schall last spoke to her son on Mother's Day in 2005. "He sounded great — tired — but he said he was doing OK", she said. Pictures from Iraq showed him playing soccer and handing out candy to the children. Sgt. Kenneth Schall died when the Humvee he was riding in was involved in an accident in Yusafiyah, Iraq.

Along with his mother, Sgt. Schall is survived by his father and two younger siblings.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Training Beekeepers in Afghanistan

An Afghan beekeeping student demonstrates the honey-extraction skills his instructor taught him, as his fellow students look on. The Shindand Agricultural Experiment Station provides farmers in the Shindand district of Afghanistan's Herat province with agricultural education and employment.
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Perry,
Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan

An Afghan instructor teaches local farmers how to remove bees from a honeycomb during the honey extraction process. The beekeeping course is being held at the Shindand Agricultural Experiment Station in Afghanistan's Herat province.
U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anna Perry,
Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan

By Army Spc. Anna Perry
Special to American Forces Press Service

SHINDAND AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 3, 2008 - U.S. special operations warriors serving in western Afghanistan's volatile Herat province have a unique security-enhancing capability in their own backyard, and it involves neither bullets nor bombs.

The Shindand Agricultural Experiment Station, located within the perimeter of Shindand Airfield, is an attempt to provide desperately needed agricultural skills to Afghans and an effort to jumpstart agricultural production in the Shindand district.

"The agricultural center has many positive effects for the both the troops and the local population," a U.S. Special Forces civil affairs team leader said. "This allows us to build a rapport with the villagers through education and employment; therefore, they are given a reason to think twice about allowing the anti-Afghan forces to step in and influence their lives in a negative way. The presence of this agricultural center is a security measure in and of itself."

The agricultural center, which officially opened in May, boasts a greenhouse, honey house, four concrete fish ponds, a classroom and living quarters for three scientists. Thousands of pomegranates, grape vines, fruit trees, rose bushes and vegetables grow around the station.

"The station is intended to be used for the development of innovative approaches to agricultural production, the demonstration of new technologies and to teach and support local farmers," said the station's agricultural advisor, a coalition officer who will be the primary mentor to the three Afghan scientists who soon will be hired to operate the station.

Thirty years ago, the advisor said, Afghanistan was an exporter of food, with pomegranates, nuts and vegetables among the major crops. "I believe they have the capacity to once again export food, but they need a better handle on concepts like water conservation and adapting new technologies like drip irrigation," the agricultural advisor said.

The intent is to hire Afghan scientists who have a wide array of specialty skills ranging from vegetable production to fish farming. The scientists will teach classes and conduct research at the station and will go out into the villages and share their knowledge with local farmers, the agricultural advisor added.

Six Afghans who work at the station provide maintenance, crop irrigation, weeding and planting support.

The vast majority of Afghans are employed in some type of agricultural profession, and until a legitimate way to make money is provided, they will continue to use poppy production as a main source of income, the agricultural advisor said. The station provides Shindand-area farmers with a realistic alternative to poppy production.

Roughly two dozen local farmers are taking a three-week-long beekeeping course at the station. The material covered in the class, which is being taught by an Afghan instructor, will enable the farmers to manage beehives and to extract and market honey.

One local farmer said he is grateful to have an opportunity to learn a skill as lucrative as honey production.

A beekeeping student who resides in the village of Changan said his view is the same as that of other villagers at the course. "We came here because this is one of the best ways to make money in Afghanistan," he said. "Honey is the most expensive thing to buy at the bazaar. We are here to support our families, economy and country."

At the end of the course, the graduating students will receive three beehives, bees and the equipment necessary to extract honey.

In the future, the station also will provide courses on agricultural skills such as poultry production and fish farming. In addition, the agricultural advisor will work hand in hand with a U.S. Special Forces civil affairs team in establishing a fruit-drying warehouse and a poultry farm, which will be extensions of the agricultural station.

Through one class at a time and one job at a time, the agricultural station peacefully is creating a more secure Shindand district for both the villagers who live there and the troops who serve there.

"My idea is that we should provide all Afghan people with jobs and there will be peace," the beekeeping student said. "Run this kind of project all over the country. ... You can hold security with weapons and rifles, but if there are enough jobs, people will go to work and not steal or fight to support their families. There is hope, because the economy is improving. The security of this country depends on the jobs."
I know - another agriculture story! Successful agriculture is the keep to self-suffciency.

Monday, July 07, 2008

George Washington's Ferry Farm

Artist rendidtion of Ferry Farm - George Washington's boyhood home

Aerial Photo of the Foundation of Ferry Farm

George Washington's boyhood home has been located. Announced on July 2, 2008, it was confirmed that archologists have uncovered the foundation of the home, the four cellars and the defensive trenches added by the Civil War soldiers. Unearthed are relics from native Americans, the Washington family, the Civil War and beyond.

Ferry Farm is located across the Rappahannock from Fredricksberg. Called the Washington Farm in George's Day, it became known at Ferry Farm for the ferry that linked it to the city.

George lived here from age 6 to 19. It is the site for the stories of his youth, such as the Cherry Tree and the skipped dollar across the Rappahannock River.

To read more of Ferry Farm, go to the official web site at :

Excavation information may be found here:

Sunday, July 06, 2008

George Wythe ~ Founder and Patriot

Wythe House in Williamsburg, Virginia
George Wythe (pronounced with) was the first of the signers from Virginia on the Declaration of Independence, a space reserved for him by his fellow Virginians, and a framer of the Constitution.

Wythe was highly respected by his fellow Virginians. Thomas Jefferson wrote of him, "No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe. His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country."

George Wythe was a man of many accomplishments. He was Virginia's foremost classical scholar, dean of its lawyers, a Williamsburg alderman and mayor, a member of the House of Burgesses, and house clerk. He was the colony's attorney general, a delegate to the Continental Congress, speaker of the state assembly, the nation's first college law professor, Virginia's chancellor, and a framer of the federal Constitution. As the first professor of law at the College of William and Mary, those who studied and worked under him were the future Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, and the statesman Henry Clay.

Wythe was one of the country's earliest abolitionists and freed his slaves. Late in his life, Wythe freed all his slaves and provided them a means of support until they were able to support themselves.

He was poisoned - it is believed by his nephew who was trying to poison the slaves who were to inherit - and died after two weeks of suffering. In his final will, he left all of his books to Thomas Jefferson.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fourth of July Reenlistment Ceremony

BAGHDAD RE-ENLISTMENT - More than 1,200 U.S. troops re-enlist in Baghdad, July 4, 2008, during a ceremony in the Al Faw Palace rotunda led by Multinational Force-Iraq Commander Army Gen. David Petraeus. Multinational Force Iraq Public Affairs

Baghdad, July 5, 2008 – Servicemembers from all over Iraq gathered here today in the Al Faw Palace rotunda on Camp Victory, to re-enlist and celebrate America’s Independence Day.

All 1,215 servicemembers celebrated by raising their right hand and pledging to continue defending the ‘land of the free’ in what is the largest re-enlistment ceremony since the all-volunteer force began in 1973, according to the Multi-National Force – Iraq Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt, Maj. Marvin L. Hill.

“Volunteering to continue to serve our nation, while deployed – is both noble and inspiring,” said Gen. David Petraeus, commanding general, Multi-National Force – Iraq. “It is, as award citations often state, in keeping with the finest traditions of our military services.”

Petraeus presided over the ceremony and led the airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers in their oath to defend their country against all enemies both foreign and domestic on this day of celebration of America winning its independence.

"We recognize the sacrifices they make and the sacrifices their families and communities make as they serve in Iraq," Hill said. “These servicemembers know the cost of war and they are still re-enlisting.”

All together, the servicemembers pledged more than 5,500 years of additional service to their country.

“It makes me feel proud to serve this great nation,” said Spc. Zackary Cunningham, mechanic, 602nd Maintenance Battalion, Tactical Base Balad, who plans on making the Army a career.

The re-enlistees have every right to feel proud, according to Petraeus. “You and your comrades here have been described as America’s new greatest generation, and, in my view, you have more than earned that description,” Petraeus said. “It is the greatest of honors to soldier here with you.”

Friday, July 04, 2008

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence

The Signers of the Declaration of Independence


John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas M'Kean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carrol

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Thomas Lynch, Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Click on the links to read their stories.

The Lee Brothers ~ Founders and Patriots

Stratford Hall

Richard Henry Lee

Richard Henry Lee was known for fiery, rebelllious nature, his skills as an orator and for his ideas - many the foundation of our country's history. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and in 1758 proposed a resolution restricting the importation of slaves - a duty so greivous that it would have the effect of ending the disgraceful practice. He led the opposistion to the Stamp Act in Virginia and formed the Committee of Correspondence to unite the colonies in their opposition to Britian. In 1774 he was elected to the first Continental Congress and served throughout the war. In June 1776, his resolution led to the Declaration of Independence, of which he was a signer. He was opposed to the Constitution because of his strong stance on states rights, and the 10th Amendment was written at his insistance. He became the first state Senator from Virginia in the new government that he was instumental in forming.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

As fiery as his brother was, Francis was quiet and shy and perferred not to be in the public. But, the times propelled him into service. He was a close associate of Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson. As brilliant at public discourse as his brother was, he was brilliant at the backroom strategy meetings, often calming the firestorms that erupted. He served the House of Burgesses and in the Continental Congress and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Many of the founders refered to Francis as the calm, thoughtful one that held them together.

Stratford Hall

Stratford Hall is located in Westmoreland County, 42 miles southest of Fredricksberg, Virginia. It was built by Thomas Lee, the father of Richard Henry and Francis Lightfoot. The other four brothers and the sister were also involved in the Revolution and the formation of the United States of America. The most famous descendant is Robert E Lee, who was also born at Stratford Hall. More information can be found at

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Founding Fathers

The Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull

Who Were the Founding Fathers?

For those of you who have forgotten your history, Independence Day is the day the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Continental Congress. We still had a long, hard slog through years of war to become a country, to write a Constitution, to elect a government - it was the day intent for freedom and liberty was stated. Today, commemorate the 56 brave men who stood up to oppression and tyranny. They risked everything for our future. Here are some of their stories.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Many lost their lives, more lost their fortunes, but none lost their honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated, but they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was all but destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

All gave their fortunes to the fight for Independence.

Some of us take our liberties for granted, but we shouldn’t. So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid. Then, thank the many down through our history who have fought for us, thank the men and women who are serving our country today, who fight for us, so that we will not have to.

Wednesday Hero ~ LCpl Julie Martinez

Click Image For Full Size
Lance Cpl. Julie Martinez

Lance Cpl. Julie Martinez, a radio operator with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, checks the communication capabilities during a backload of Marines from Combat Logistics Regiment 3 to the USS Essex June 9.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives
so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday.
For that, I am proud to call them Hero.

We Have Every Right To Dream Heroic Dreams.
Those Who Say That We're In A Time When There Are No Heroes,
Just Don't Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

35th Anniversary of the All Volunteer Force

35 Years of a Volunteer Force

July 1, 1973 the United States Military became an all volunteer force. Gone were the days of the conscription 0r 'The Draft'. For 35 years, through much of the Cold War, Panama, Greneda, Bosnia, Kosovo, Desert Storm, Somalia, and the Great War on Terror, every member of the military has been a volunteer. They stood up and said "Take Me." They raised their hands to take the oath and said "I mean it."

I remember July 1, 1973 vividly. There were many celebrations by the anti-war crowds, just as there were celebrations by the military crowds, though for quite different reasons. What started as a political victory for the anti Vietnam war crowd, has become the backbone and strength of our current military. I remember people believing that an all volunteer force would cause the disappearance of the military. What has happened has been quite different. It has created a strength of people that begins with them wanting to be where they are, united for a common goal. It has created a higher rate of re-enlistments and career soldiers.

I am proud to know so many of these volunteers. I was deeply touched when my favorite soldier shared that he had re-enlisted for life at Christmas while standing in the vast sands in the middle east. This SFC is on his second tour, which he volunteered to do. He is also a Reservist and gives up a very lucrative job and life to spend another year in the sandbox.

These are smart, ambitious people who are giving their lives to something larger than themselves. These are amazing men and women. They have made a commitment to our country... to each of us... to keep us safe and free. It is with the deepest gratitude that I say THANK YOU!