New Year's Eve will be marked by a Blue Moon --- as in, "once in a blue moon" --- which actually means about 2.5 years! A Blue Moon is when we have two full moons in one month... this happens on New Year's less often.
As we begin the last year of the first decade of the 21st century, we are finding that we are continuing to be under siege from Islamic terrorists, the country is more divided than ever, and that the troops sent around the world are still fighting and dying, though they receive less recognition than ever before --- even the anti-war figures seem to have lost interest.
For me, I will renew my commitment to support our troops around the world and our wounded warriors and veterans. And, you? Maybe we can all do something special, once in a blue moon!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem.
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.
The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eye when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light
then he sighed and he said "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night"
"Its my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,"
then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red white and blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat,
I can carry the weight of killing another
or lay down my life with my sisters and brothers
who stand at the front against any and all,
to insure for all time that this flag will not fall."
"So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."
December 7, 2000
Author's Note: A Soldier's Christmas was the first in this series of patriotic writings, drafted on Pearl Harbor Day 2000 when in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election our nation saw the right of US Armed Forces personnel openly questioned and debated. I felt it unconscionable that at the onset of the Christmas season, those serving to defend our nation would hear anything but our love and support. It is our challenge to stand for their rights at home while they stand for our lives and safety overseas. This poem went out and quickly spread around the world in emails, letters, magazines. I received letters from Marines in Bosnia, soldiers in Okinawa, from a submariner who xeroxed a copy for everyone on his sub. Moms wrote, dads, brothers and sisters. I have saved and cherish every letter and set out to continue writing throughout the year.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
"Merry Christmas, My Friend"
By Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt
Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster & stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give,
And to see just who in this home did live.
As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand,
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.
With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
A sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I'd seen,
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.
I'd heard stories about them, I had to see more,
So I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.
He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I'd just read,
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?
His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan,
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
Owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.
Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
Because of Marines like this one lying here.
I couldn't help wonder how many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.
He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
"Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice.
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
My life is my God, my country, my Corps."
With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
I watched him for hours, so silent and still,
I noticed he shivered from the cold night's chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
And covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
With eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
Although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
And for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.
I didn't want to leave him so quiet in the night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
Said "Carry on, Santa, it's Christmas Day, all's secure."
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas, my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.
James M. Schmidt wrote this poem back in 1986 while a Lance Corporal stationed in Washington, D.C., serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers [in 1986].
Schmidt hung this poem on the door of the Gym in the BEQ. When Colonel Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire Battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed worldwide, and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine.
Schmidt's original version, entitled "Merry Christmas, My Friend," was published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991, "Gyrene Gyngles," Page 79. As Leatherneck wrote of the poem's author in 2003:
"Merry Christmas, My Friend" has been a holiday favorite among 'leatherneckphiles' for nearly the time it takes to complete a Marine Corps career. Few, however, know who wrote it and when. Former Corporal James M. Schmidt, stationed at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., pounded it out 17 years ago on a typewriter while awaiting the commanding officer's Christmas holiday decorations inspection . . . while other leathernecks strung lights for the Barracks' annual Christmas decoration contest, Schmidt contributed his poem to his section."
After leaving the Corps, Schmidt earned a law degree and now serves as an entertainment attorney in Los Angeles and is director of operations for a security consulting firm.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
H/T Brat and Blackfive
FOR TODAY, Wednesday 16 December 2009, many if not most, fellow milblogs -- including This Ain't Hell, From My Position, Miss Ladybug, Boston Maggie, Grim's Hall, and those participating in the Wednesday Hero program -- are going silent for the day. Some are choosing to go silent for a longer period of time.
The reason for this is two-fold. First, milblogs are facing an increasingly hostile environment from within the military. While senior leadership has embraced blogging and social media, many field grade officers and senior NCOs do not embrace the concept. From general apathy in not wanting to deal with the issue to outright hostility to it, many commands are not only failing to support such activities, but are aggressively acting against active duty milbloggers, milspouses, and others. The number of such incidents appears to be growing, with milbloggers receiving reprimands, verbal and written, not only for their activities but those of spouses and supporters.
The catalyst has been the treatment of milblogger C.J. Grisham of A Soldier's Perspective (http://www.soldiersperspective.us/). C.J. has earned accolades and respect, from the White House on down for his honest, and sometimes blunt, discussion of issues -- particularly PTSD. In the last few months, C.J. has seen an issue with a local school taken to his command who failed to back him, and has even seen his effort to deal with PTSD, and lead his men in same by example, used against him as a part of this. Ultimately, C.J. has had to sell his blog to help raise funds for his defense in this matter.
An excellent story on the situation with C.J. can be found at Military Times:
While there have been new developments, the core problem remains, and C.J. is having to raise funds to cover legal expenses to protect both his good name and his career.
One need only look at the number of blogs by active duty military in combat zones and compare it to just a few years ago to see the chilling effect that is taking place.
Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to the public. They have provided vital context and analysis on issues critical to operations and to the informed electorate critical to the Republic.
On Wednesday 16 December, readers will have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Those participating are urging their readers to contact their elected representatives in Congress, and to let their opinions be known to them and to other leaders in Washington.
Some milblogs will remain silent for several days; some just for the day. All have agreed to keep the post about the silence and C.J. at the top of their blogs until Friday 18 December.
The issues go beyond C.J., and deserve careful consideration and discussion. We hope that you will cover this event, and explore the issues that lie at the heart of the matter. Contact the milbloggers in your area or that you know, and hear the story that lies within.
A Partial List of Participating Blogs:
This Ain't Hell http://thisainthell.us/blog/
Boston Maggie http://bostonmaggie.blogspot.com/
Miss Ladybug http://miss-ladybug.blogspot.com
Drunken Wisdom http://beerbrains.com/
Grim's Hall http://grimbeorn.blogspot.com/
CDR Salamander - http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com
LL - http://chromedcurses.com
Two cartoonists join in!
Check them out as well...
If you wish to donate to CJ's defense fund, please use the following address, or click the link below. He's in a serious battle against a serious foe. Read the article to find out all about it.
Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893
Please write "Grisham Legal Fund" in the memo line if you use this option.
Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to you. Today, many milblogs are gone and others are under attack from within and without. Today, you have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Make your voice heard by writing your congressional representatives and others, and by making donations as you see fit.
The battle for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas is fought on many fronts and in many ways. Without your help, the battle may well be lost.
Posted by Terri at 5:46 AM
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I have long resisted word verification for those who comment on my blog. I have now turned it on - I'm sorry. But, this morning I spent over an hour getting rid of spam - including Japanese - in caricature, no less - and Russian - in Cyrillic.
As you know, I do have moderation turned on. There are valid reasons for this. The first comment that set this off was on a post about the murder of the soldiers in Kuwait at the beginning of the Iraq War - some one left the comment, "We salute soldiers who kill their officers" on the post. Unfortunately, the Mother of one of the soldiers was the first to see it. Comment moderation has been on ever since.
And, over the years, it has proven to be necessary. My recent idiocies have included:
-The mother of the soldier convicted of the murder of the soldiers above. According to her, her son is innocent and someone else did it, but we wanted it to be a Muslim --- and, he will soon walk free. FYI - his death penalty conviction is working it's way through the required appeals processes of the military system of justice.
-A leftie with a foul mouth called me names because I listed Scott Speicher's rank incorrectly - except I didn't - the idea of him increasing in rank while MIA was too deep for the fool. When I refused to have the argument on a tribute post, he, of course, had to yell about freedom of speech. Somehow, he could not understand that this is MY HOUSE!
-An ex-wife left a scathing attack on her ex-husband on a post about some of his accomplishments in Iraq. It was pretty mean and vile.
-Another ex-wife and her friends use a tribute post to attack the current widow and they come back regularly to do so.
-Someone wrote a long complaint about how someone is using MySpace in an unethical manner - geesh, report it to them, it's not my job to fix it.
-I had someone pretend to be a Chaplain and try to get a soldiers address and phone number from me... I didn't have the information, but if I had, it would have taken more proof than a yahoo email address to convince me he was who he said he was.
-I always have people writing 'I don't want this posted, but...' and then go off to very strange places.
-And, last but not least are the two page essays on the personal political views of Anonymous!!!
So, my friends, we now have moderation and word verification - I'm so sorry.... I hope you understand.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
The Cost of the Twelve Days of Christmas!
Two Turtle Doves
Abdul Rashid, a 5-year-old resident of the Nawa district of Afghanistan, receives a dressing for a wound on his face from Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Elsey, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, while a linguist translates at a medical aid station at Patrol Base Jaker Dec. 3. Rashid was injured by a motorcycle earlier that day. Navy hospital corpsmen like Elsey routinely see local residents and children here to treat their wounds.
Photo Courtesy United States Marine Corps
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.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Sixty-six years ago, December 7, 1941, the United States was rocked by the radio announcements that told of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. Many historical and remembrance pieces will be written today: stories of history, stories of personal experience - though those will be fewer each year, stories of the reaction in the United States, Japan, the world, even a conspiracy theory or two. I am re-posting my rememberances.
Pearl Harbor Day. A Day That Will Live in Infamy.
What I always will remember is growing up in the shadow of Pearl Harbor - the ever present reminder of how ugly war was. There was nothing noble or gleeful about the awful day. I grew up with the stories of those who were there, stories of people I knew, stories of people who lived through it. As I get older, I can 'see' and 'hear' the stories come alive.
Each Sunday before Pearl Harbor Day, Puna would take us to the Arizona Memorial. Armed with the leis we had strung from the plumeria blossoms on our tree, the family went together. It used to be rather low-key to visit there, and once you got there, quite unusual to have anyone else at the Memorial. There wasn't a Visitor's Center yet. There was no evidence of the Park Service then. Just a guy at the dock that grabbed the little shuttle boat, tied it up and helped you off.
We would walk through the Memorial - our steps echoing in the cavern of the Memorial. Halfway through, we would stop and look at the ship resting beneath us, still leaking oil into the lapping sea, and carrying it ever away, like the spirit was still escaping the doomed craft. We would toss our leis into the water. Eventually, we would end at the Memorial wall, carved with all of the names of the men who died on the Arizona, most of whom were still entombed within.
Puna, this large mountain of a man, would clasp his hands behind him, dip his head in prayer, then focus on the wall and in a hauntingly beautiful, tenor voice would chant the names of the fallen. His voice would echo in the chamber. A more beautiful prayer I have never heard. Once, I looked at his face and saw the tears streaming down, but his voice never wavered. His eyes seemed to be closed, yet he never missed a name.
When the chanting was finished, we would walk back to the overlook on the ship and Puna would tell us about that Sunday morning. He spoke of the noise and the fear and the chaos. He spoke of curfews and rationing. He spoke of the increased military presence on the island. He spoke of the sorrow. And, he spoke of the fear of another attack. Then, he would talk about the uniting and the supporting and the belief in America.
Always, he finished with a warning. America will never be safe from people wanting to take away what we have. They will always want to destroy us, to conquer us, to marginalize us. If you don't believe me, come here and look - open your eyes and look - at what can happen, and will again.
I believe I only saw Puna serious twice a year - Pearl Harbor Day and Memorial Day. On those days, he spoke of bravery and heroism and patriotism. The rest of the year you could depend upon those laughing eyes and the aroma of his pipe. The parents are gone now, but the stories and the emotions remain. I am so grateful for what they shared and what they taught.
I'd like to say that I absorbed it all then, but I didn't. When we used to hike into the mountains and came across some of the crashed Japanese planes, mostly pirated shells, I still didn't get it. When December Seventh was marked at school by people telling their personal experiences, I didn't get it. Oh, I heard it all. I believed it all. I just didn't get it.
It wasn't until I was older and watched the world and global politics that I saw it, that I truly understood the lesson he was trying to teach all those years ago. On September Eleventh, one of the first thoughts I had was of standing in the Arizona Memorial with Puna and hearing his words.
I hope Americans have the resolve to fight for our country as we did in 1941, but I fear for us, now, more than ever.
This is my annual post on Pearl Harbor.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Far, far away in Iraq, the soldiers of the Oregon National Guard
were treated to the Oregon - Oregon State Civil War Football game.
To see the festive pictures and read the story, click here
A former Ducks cheerleader was also in attendance!
Nike sent over shirts and hats for both teams.
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Approximately 3,000 members of the unit are currently deployed to Iraq, making it the largest single deployment of Oregonians since WWII.
Tonight is the "Civil War" Football Game - the 113th Annual. The Oregon State University 'Beavers' and the University of Oregon 'Ducks' will meet in their annual showdown. This year, the stakes are even higher - the winner will go to the Rose Bowl on New Years' Day! People here are going overboard, as football fans are want to do!
Quietly, the best part of the game is that the game will be honoring the 41st Brigade Combat Team of the Oregon National Guard. Football players on both sides will be wearing the units emblem, the rising sun, on their helmets.
Currently, about 3,000 members of the 41st BCT are on deployment in Iraq.
The 41 BCT can be traced back to 1887 when the Summers Law established the Oregon National Guard. During WWII, the unit saw some of the fiercest fighting throughout remote locations in the South Pacific, earning the brigade the nickname "Jungleers".
Members of the Oregon Army National Guard's Youth Challenge Program are scheduled to participate as the official Color Guard during opening ceremonies.
Thank you to everyone who is remembering the best in our state tonight!
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
While Obama took his own sweet time to ponder the way ahead in Afghanistan, this country had Troops fighting in that country. His unwillingness to listen to the Generals on the ground; REALLY listen to them, cost the lives of 116 American Troops. That's 116 too many as far as I'm concerned and Obama is responsible. On August 30th General McChrystal told Obama that reinforcements were needed in Afghanistan and asked for additional Troops in a 66 page assessment that was submitted to Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. It wasn’t until December 1st that Obama announced that he would send an additional 30,000 Troops to the country. McChrystal clearly stated in the 66 page document that without additional resources, the mission in Afghanistan was likely to fail.
I find it appalling that Obama chose to ignore McChrystal’s plea for additional Troops for such a long period of time. Instead, he focused on things such as attempting to get the next Olympic Games in Chicago, attempting to figure out ways to further bankrupt our country, finding ways to shove his healthcare initiatives down the throats of the American people and his willingness to ‘bow down’ to the leadership of other countries. His disdain for the US Military was never more apparent to me, than his speech following the horrific and senseless murders at Fort Hood last month, when he choose to only mention that tragedy as an afterthought as he was addressing Native Americans. That disdain is further evidenced by his complete and utter disregard of General McChrsytal’s plea for additional Troops for over 3 months. That disdain and complete disregard of the emergent needs of our Troops serving in Afghanistan cost lives. President Obama should be ashamed of himself, he dropped the ball BIG TIME.
The period since Gen. McChrystal submitted his assessment that additional troops were needed has included the second deadliest thee-month period of the war. In September through November, there were 112 U.S. casualties in Afghanistan (including 37 in September, 58 in October and 17 in November). Together with 4 casualties that occurred on August 31, these account for the 116 total U.S. casualties that have occurred in Afghanistan since the general’s assessment.
The deadliest three-month period of the war was June through August of this year, when there were 119 U.S. casualties. These included 24 in June, 44 in July, and 51 in August.
So far this year, there have been 291 U.S. casualties in Afghanistan, making 2009 the deadliest year of the war. Prior to this year, the deadliest single month of the war in Afghanistan was June 2008, when 28 U.S. troops were killed. http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/57832
That's completely unacceptable! I’m not saying that all of the deaths of Troops that have occurred since August 30th would have been prevented had he acted quickly on General McChrystal’s request for additional Troops. That’s not realistic, but I do feel that had those reinforcements been sent in a timely matter, perhaps the number of casualties could have been drastically reduced. General McChrystal is the expert, NOT Obama and it’s critical that he learn to listen, really listen to what the experts on the ground say. They know what is necessary for the Troops, they live, sleep, eat and breathe the war in Afghanistan. It’s time that he learned that the sign of a good leader is one who, when faced with a decision about something they have little or no experience with,that they will defer to the expertise of those who DO have experience. This isn’t a game and Obama would do well to learn that as quickly as possible. It’s time for him to take his job as Commander In Chief of the US Military seriously.
Posted by Terri at 1:44 PM
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
by Perry P Perkins
"Elk Hunters Don’t Cry" is 19 humorous, poignant, and sometimes absurd adventures of a Pacific Northwest sportsman. It’s a well-known fact that outdoorsmen, elk hunters in particular, don’t cry. In fact, not so many years ago this was considered a badge of honor, a mark of courage for young hunters to aspire to as they watched their fathers and uncles grimace manfully in the face of pain. I’ve seen several of my own hunting friends take tumbles in rocky riverbeds, gash themselves with skinning knives, and char various portions of their anatomies in campfires…all without a single tear. Some of them defoliated large tracts of national forest with white-hot profanity, but none ever cried…”
Novelist, blogger, and award winning travel writer, Perry P. Perkins is a stay-at-home dad who lives in the Pacific Northwest. Perry has written for numerous outdoor magazines and anthologies including American Hunter, Bassmaster Magazine, and Northwest Fly Fishing. His novels include Just Past Oysterville, and Shoalwater Voices.
His website is http://www.perryperkinsbooks.com/
50% of proceeds from this sale will be donated to Kevin’s Driftboat, a ministry to help returning veterans re-adjust to daily life by spending some time in a relaxing environment, talking about their experiences, and enjoying the outdoors.
Mitch Webb, founder of Kevin’s Driftboat, has taken countless returning vets (as well as the parents of our fallen heroes) on multi-day fishing trips around Oregon.
To order this great book, $9.99 (+$2.50 S/H)
and donate to Kevin's Driftboat
use this PayPal link
I am honored to call Mitch a friend and support his work.
Thank you, Mitch, for all you do for our best!
And, thank you, Perry for your generosity.