Sunday, September 30, 2007

General Peter Pace ~ Biography

General Peter Pace
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

General Peter Pace was sworn in as sixteenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Sep. 30, 2005. In this capacity, he serves as the principal military advisor to the President, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council. Prior to becoming Chairman, he served as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Pace holds the distinction of being the first Marine to have served in either of these positions.

General Pace was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Teaneck, NJ. A 1967 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he holds a Master's Degree in Business Administration from George Washington University and attended Harvard University for the Senior Executives in National and International Security program. The General is also a graduate of the Infantry Officers' Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Ga.; the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, in Quantico, VA; and the National War College, at Ft. McNair, Washington, DC.

In 1968, upon completion of The Basic School, Quantico, Va., General Pace was assigned to the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam, serving first as a Rifle Platoon Leader and subsequently as Assistant Operations Officer. He was later assigned to Marine Barracks, Washington, DC, where he served in a number of billets, to include Security Detachment Commander, Camp David; White House Social Aide; and Platoon Leader, Special Ceremonial Platoon.

General Pace has held command at virtually every level, and served in overseas billets in Nam Phong, Thailand; Seoul, Korea; and Yokota, Japan. While serving as President, Marine Corps University, then Brigadier General Pace also served as Deputy Commander, Marine Forces, Somalia, from December 1992 - February 1993, and as the Deputy Commander, Joint Task Force - Somalia from October 1993 - March 1994.

After an assignment as the Director for Operations (J-3), Joint Staff, Washington DC, then Lieutenant General Pace served as the Commander, U. S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic/Europe/South. He was promoted to General and assumed duties as the Commander in Chief, United States Southern Command in September 2000.

As the Vice Chairman from October 2001 to August 2005, General Pace served as the Chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, Vice Chairman of the Defense Acquisition Board, and as a member of the National Security Council Deputies Committee and the Nuclear Weapons Council.

General Pace's personal decorations include: Defense Distinguished Service Medal, with two oak leaf clusters; Defense Superior Service Medal; the Legion of Merit; Bronze Star Medal with Combat V; the Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with gold star; Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V"; Navy Achievement Medal with gold star; and the Combat Action Ribbon.

General Pace and his wife, Lynne, have a son, Peter, a daughter, Tiffany Marie, and a daughter-in-law, Lynsey Olczak Pace.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pentagon Says Farewell to General Peter Pace

Men and women of the Defense Department line the halls and applaud Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace on his last official day at the Pentagon, Sept. 27, 2007. Pace retires Sept. 30 after more than 40 years of service. Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby

Men and women of the Defense Department line the halls and applaud Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace on his last official day at the Pentagon, Sept. 27, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by Cherie A. Thurlby

Marine Gen. Peter Pace embraces Marine 1st Lt. Andrew Kinard following Pace's final news conference as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Kinard, who lost both legs to an improvised explosive device in Iraq, now works at the Pentagon. He and hundreds of Pentagon employees cheered as Pace moved through the E-Ring, Sept. 27. Pace retires Sept. 30 after more than 40 years of service. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen

CPL Graham McMahon ~ Farewell and Walk with God

Cpl. Graham Martin McMahon
January 28, 1985 - September 19, 2007

Cpl. Graham M. McMahon, 22, of Corvallis, Oregon, died September 19 in Balad, Iraq, from a non-combat related illness. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Fort Lewis, Washington.

Cpl McMahon was known as a strong, bold, bright young man with a future full of promise. He was a medic in his unit and was proud to be called 'Doc' by his fellow soldiers. He planned to return to school and continue in the medical field. One of his favorite activities was snowboarding in the Oregon mountains.

Graham was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, and moved to Corvallis, Oregon as a child. He attended Crescent Valley High School and graduated from Corvallis High School in 2003. McMahon joined the Army in May 2004, graduated from the Army's health care specialist course for combat medics at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and arrived at Fort Lewis in November 2004.

Memorial services will begin at 6 pm, Friday, October 5, 2007, in the Auditorium at the Benton County Fairgrounds. A reception will follow immediately after the service.

We will keep his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Passing of a Hero ~ Marcel Marceau

Marcel Marceau
March 22, 1923 ~ September 22, 2007

Marcel Marceau is known to most of the world as a wonderful mime - which he was.
He brought us joy and laughter.

What most people don't know about him is about his role in WWII. He was born Marcel Mangel, son of a Jewish kosher butcher. His father was arrested by the Vichy government and taken to Auschwitz and died there. Marcel and his brother, Alain, joined the French resistance. When the Resistance decided to move the Jewish children who had been hidden in a Paris orphanage, to allow them to escape from France, they called upon Marcel to help them. He was able to make the children feel at ease and appear on holiday in order to take them by train to Switzerland. He spoke English and later became a liaison officer with General Patton's forces.

Many Jewish children survived WWII because of Marcel Marceau.

Rest in Peace.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Quotes ~ James Madison on Readiness for War

"How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited,

unless we could could prohibit, in like manner,

the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?"

-- James Madison

(Federalist No. 41, 1788)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Army Stops Counterfeiting in Iraq

Iraqis go about their business while Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and Iraqi police search a photo shop believed to be connected to a terrorist counterfeiting operation in the market place in Qayyarah, Iraq, September 13, 2007

Soldiers load a printing press believed to be used in a terrorist counterfeiting operation, while other Soldiers provide security.

Iraqi police provide security alongside Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The IPs and Soldiers conducted a raid on a suspected terrorist counterfeiting operation in the city of Qayyarah, Iraq.

A Soldier inspects a printing press believed to be used in a terrorist counterfeiting operation. The press, along with 10 other printers, five computers and three cell phones were seized by the soldiers and Iraqi Police during a raid to disrupt terrorist funding activities in Qayyara.

Soldiers and Iraqi police question local Iraqis in a neighborhood of Qayyarah, Iraq, about a suspected counterfeiting operation in the area during a pre-dawn raid.

Soldiers load a printing press into an Iraqi Police vehicle. The press was believed to be used in a terrorist counterfeiting operation, in Qayyarah, Iraq.

Soldiers load a printing press into an Iraqi Police vehicle. The press was believed to be used in a terrorist counterfeiting operation, in Qayyarah, Iraq.

Cpl. Mason Radcliff communicates with Soldiers on the ground while providing security from a rooftop during a raid with Iraqi police to detain suspected counterfeiters who were supporting terrorists in the area of Qayyarah, Iraq, Sept. 13. Radcliff, of Prattville, Ala., is a Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 82D Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which is currently deployed out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Iraqi police, along with an interpreter and a Soldier, question an Iraqi resident about a terrorist counterfeiting operation going on in his neighborhood in Qayyarah, Iraq.

Putting Iraq Out Front: Soldiers Aid Iraqi Police With Missions

By Spc. Eric A. Rutherford
115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

QAYYARAH, Iraq – A joint Iraqi police (IP) and coalition forces operation netted a counterfeit document production facility in Qayyarah, Iraq, September 13.

The site included a printing press, printer plates, gold leaf used to reproduce official gold seals on documents, ID cards, and ink and accessories used in creating false documentation.

Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB), 5th Battalion, 82D Field Artillery of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, assisted the IP with the raid.

The mission was to detain suspected counterfeiters who were facilitating Al Qaeda in Iraq supporters, and seize and disrupt their activities.

“We got intelligence from a local informant,” said Capt. Daniel Lloyd, HHB’s Commander. “The IP were in front, primarily the IP in coordination with the Iraqi Army. The two targets were suspected of facilitating AQ-I through financing, and producing counterfeit documents, IDs, money and government fuel coupons.”

The Soldiers, deployed out of Fort Bliss, Texas, alongside the IP, conducted a cordon and knock in the neighborhood, and questioned residents about the operation. The suspect residence was located, and a sensitive-site exploitation search began.

The IP and Soldiers from the battery’s White Platoon provided security and helped search the residence and detain and question the suspects. After the exploitation, the Soldiers and IP loaded the two detainees and all of the seized equipment into IP vehicles and trailers provided by the battery’s Red Platoon, which provided the quick reaction force during the raid.

The IP and White Platoon then moved into the marketplace in Qayyarah to search the suspect’s photo shop.

“We got the key from the owner, and made soft entry,” Lloyd said. “We got more hard drives and printers. This mission specifically was targeting people that are facilitating foreign fighters and Al Qaeda. We are trying to stop the money going to the terrorists funding, the financial path. It is a crime operation and they are making money from the whole thing, but at the same time, that money and the services they provide aid to the terrorist to operate in the area freely.”

During the raid, Cpl. Mason Radcliff conducted searches and provided security for the mission. Radcliff feels that working alongside the IP is helping to make a difference.

“It is important to work with the IP,” said Radcliff of Prattville, Ala. “The Iraqi people will see coalition forces, but they also see the IP out there doing good things to help catch bad people in their community. With the IP, they (Iraqis) see us working with them -- it is kind of like bonding with them. It lets the Iraqis know that we are there to help.”

That help came in the form of having a suspected terrorist financier and illegal document forger being removed from their neighborhood. For this raid, the intelligence definitely pointed in the right direction.

“We got a lot of information, so I think they will be going away for a while,” said Radcliff. “It was a big success.”

Lloyd agrees with the mission being a success, and points out why it helps the Iraqis.

“Obviously it’s like anything -- you are going to have bad guys in your neighborhood,” said Lloyd. “If bad guys are in your neighborhoods, then foreign fighters and Al Qaeda are going to be coming into Qayyarah because they know they are getting their help from that area. We are cutting the jugular right there, if we get rid of the facilitators, then they are not going to come to Qayyarah to try to get money, passports, or documentation, to legitimize themselves. As a whole, operations like this help out the public because we are pulling bad guys out of the city. If the bad guys aren’t there to create documents and aide in operations of the safe houses, they have to move somewhere else, or cease to exist.”

During the raid, in which no shots were fired and no injuries occurred, Soldiers of HHB once again helped build relationships with not just the people of Iraq, but with the IP as well, by allowing their Iraqi counterparts to lead, and by taking a supporting role in the mission.

“We transitioned from unilateral to bilateral operations almost immediately after we got here,” said Lloyd. “We immediately adopted the whole idea of Iraqis in the lead. They are going to be the ones that actually control the operations. We are going to be there to aide and facilitate in the operations.”


This article is from fellow Oregonian and friend SPC Eric Rutherford. Thank you, Eric, for bringing us a story we would not otherwise hear.

Wednesday Heroes ~ LCpl Cory Jamison & Cpl Jeremy David Allbaugh

Lance Cpl. Cory Jamieson

Lance Cpl. Cory Jamieson
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Personal Security Detachment, Headquarters and Support Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, attached to Regimental Combat Team 2

Hippocrates once said, "Art is long, life is short".

Cpl. Jeremy David Allbaugh lived a short life. But, he was immortalized recently in acrylics by a Lance Cpl. Jamieson who painted a mural in his honor.

"I feel sad because it is for him, but it makes me happy because I can still do something for him," said Lance Cpl. Jamieson. "I thought about it during the ceremony in the chapel. I looked up at the stained glass windows and I thought 'I should do something like that'".

Along with help from family, a fellow Marine and a Morale, Wefare and Recreation manager, Jamieson had the paint and tools needed.

"I would paint eight or nine hours in the gym and time would fly by," Jamieson said.

Cpl. Jeremy David Allbaugh, 21 years old from Luther, Oklahoma, was killed by a roadside bomb on July 5, 2007 while conducting combat operations in Qaim, Iraq.

"He believed very strongly in what our country's doing," said his mother, Jenifer Allbaugh. "They were doing good things over there, and we don't see that in the news or media. There's a lot of progress being made. I wish more people would talk to our boys who are in it and not our politicians because they see it firsthand".

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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tribute to Sergeant Jeffers

This is a beautiful tribute Dave Jeffers made for his son, Eddie.

Hope Rides Eternal by David Jeffers

Dave and Eddie Jeffers

Hope Rides Eternal
by David Jeffers
September 24, 2007

“Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't.”
Sgt. Eddie Jeffers, USA, 1984-2007

Those now famous words scream out of these pages as a constant reminder of what I’ve lost. Those words were first sent to me as a quick note from my son serving so far away, becoming a man way too quick. I remember reading the email for the first time thinking to myself, “Oh my, Eddie has written something very big.” Of course in Eddie’s normal style, it came across as almost an afterthought.

Let me allow you to eavesdrop on his actual words from the original email: Dad, I've recently read all the emails you've sent, and I've decided to respond in the form of an actual article, it's been a long time coming. So here it is, do with it as you like.

Nothing more, just Eddie’s normal way of writing a “rant” as he liked to call them, in the fashion of Dennis Miller who Eddie enjoyed so much. He told me he wrote the article in about 10-15 minutes because he didn’t have much time and had to go. Eddie had no idea of what he had written nor the profound effect it would have on all of us. I knew almost immediately that this needed major circulation; that this was on a caliber of the poignant letters to home in the past times of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Here is what I wrote him in response:


Son, I'm sorry I didn't answer this earlier. It was in my junk mail inbox for some reason. I've fixed that.

As for your article, words fail me. You have written what is possibly one of the greatest wartime articles ever. I've read many, from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, both World Wars, the Korean and Viet Nam wars, all very moving, all very poignant.

Your story, however, made me look within myself, and I'm your father! I forgot I was reading something from you. To say that I am proud of you and that you are my hero is not worthy of how I feel.

Son, we are praying for you without ceasing and I long for the day you return home safely. Keep doing the great job you are, and stay close to the Lord, He will never leave you nor forsake you.
I love you and miss you greatly and am so very proud of you. May God continue to keep you safe.

Love in Christ,


I also knew that there were many unscrupulous media outlets and everyone that came to mind that could do a mass circulation were completely untrustworthy. I wrote Rod Martin of The his ideas and began to pray about it. I had recently published some articles with the New Media Journal and through my good friend Greg Allen of The Right Balance, I had come to know Frank Salvato as a man of great passion, integrity, and patriotism. It became clear to me that Frank should be the one to publish this if he deemed it worthy.

We now know that Frank deemed it worthy, but it was much more than that to him, again please eavesdrop on our conversation:

God bless you Frank; we are truly humbled. (My thank you note)

It's just me doing my part. I was speaking with my wife last night, and as I choked back tears I told her this was possibly the most important thing I had ever published. (Frank)

That is typical Frank Salvato humility; genuine and so endearing. My family has come to love this man for his great kindness and compassion.

As “Hope Rides Alone” spread across this country and out beyond our boundaries beyond our shores, The Ride was no longer alone; it was a stampede of many a sleeping patriot, the true but hidden citizen who had been long lulled to sleep as though some magic spell had been cast over our country. The response was beyond all imagination. I told my wife Karen that I was na├»ve enough to believe Eddie’s article could spark a revolution.

A revolution where people finally say “ENOUGH!” and “NEVER AGAIN!” will we stand by and watch our brave men and women castigated by the unpatriotic, unworthy, uncaring, unloving, un-Americans who love power and hate all that is good about America. We said, and are saying, and will forever say to these pitiful politicians, psychopaths, pacifists, pinkos, and pathetic performers of Hollywood and the Left, “You will not exact defeat on our country as you did with Vietnam!” The outrage we felt when Senator Harry Reid said the war is lost was wonderfully portrayed in Frank’s castigation of this leading Dhimmicrat in "The Blood on Your Hands."

Since Eddie’s death Wednesday our family has been lavished in amazing grace and love and we are literally being sustained by it. I’ve been saying a couple of days now that I am half-a-breath from crumbling, being held up by my Heavenly Father and comforted by my savior Jesus Christ. When people tell me that you are holding up incredibly well, I assure them that it is all God and none of me. God is already seeing the glory He so richly deserves through Eddie’s passing and Eddie would be so happy to know that. Eddie did not want us dishonoring his life and service like so many have done. He wanted what he stood for to carry on even if he was killed in action.

Many of you are angry that Eddie has died all the while the enemy within continues to relentlessly disgrace our military and our Commander-in-Chief. More than one person has asked me how we answer this. How do we counter this obvious attack on the survival of our country?

Simple, we use the Ronald Reagan strategy; the strategy he used against the Soviet Union and communism. Reagan said: “Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.”

Did you catch that? It’s so simple it’s easy to miss…we of the “Hope Rides Alone” family and all our like-minded Americans win. “The Cindy Sheehans, and the Al Frankens, and the rest of the ignorant sheep of America (who) spout off their mouths about a subject they know nothing about”; they lose.

Eddie wrote in his article "Freedom Feels Good": I have lost very close friends over here. I don't want their lives to have been given in vain. Simply put, we are fighters. We are all in the same place for various reasons, for me, it's personal. I am in a modern day crusade to exterminate evil.

Many of you have said since Eddie’s death that now it’s personal, now when these leftist hate America first loonies shoot off their mouths, they are attacking Eddie. I agree.

For me it is personal; it always has been. I will not let my son die in vain. People have been so sweet and say Eddie will never have died in vain, but he can. He can if we do not fight back; if we do not win. Eddie was on “modern day crusade to exterminate evil” and I will change one word in our fight against the enemy within. We will not exterminate any political opponent, but we can and we must eliminate them from having any control over our country. Their history of failure and destruction fills libraries.

My son is living eternally with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, a fact and a knowledge that brings great comfort and solace to my family and friends. Those of us who know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior will one day join Eddie. It was his passion to share Christ with all he came to know.

I miss my boy and I long to hold him again and my grief is comforted knowing that he died a hero doing what he believed to be his life mission from God. One co-worker wrote me and said a parent should never have to bury a child and how true that statement is. Nevertheless only God knows how much time we have left.

I know with every moment I have left it is my hope to bring honor and glory to God and to continue the fight my son passed on to us. Most of you who wrote Eddie said that hope does not ride alone. You are right. Hope rides eternal. So let’s ride!

Dave Jeffers is a Sunday school teacher, Bible student, lay preacher and the author of "Understanding Evangelicals". Dave has taught and preached the word of God at churches in Germany and Belgium, as well as his home church in Gulf Breeze, Florida. Dave is a retired Army Master Sergeant and his 22 years of active duty not only allowed him to travel the world, but to also adopt a worldview based on biblical principles and life experiences.

Reprinted at David Jeffers request from the New Media Journal

Tributes to Sgt Eddie Jeffers

Funeral Services for Sgt Eddie Jeffers

Sgt. Edmund J. Jeffers, 23, Enterprise, AL

Saturday - September 29, 2007

Patterson-Sorrells Funeral Home
1301 Neal Metcalf Road
Enterprise, AL 36330

1000 hrs to 1100 hrs (10:00 to 1100 a.m.)

1100 hrs (11:00 a.m.)

Immediately following the service in Daleville @ Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Hwy 84

The family requests that Memorial efforts, in lieu of flowers, go to Fisher House in Eddie's Name.

The Patriot Guard Riders will be there to honor Sgt Jeffers and the family.

Monday, September 24, 2007

ARMAD ~ Emery Goes to DC

On September 16, 2007 Emery McClendon, an Amateur Radio Operator from Fort Wayne, Indiana, traveled to Washington D.C at the invitation of "Families United For A Strong America" for a three night trip.

Families United is a grassroots coalition of Gold Star and Blue Star families, Veterans, and Americans who share a deep appreciation for our men and women in uniform and support them in their efforts to make America safer by allowing them to complete their mission.

Emery got involved with this group late in 2005 after they contacted him regarding Amateur Radio Military Appreciation Day. Emery is the Founder of ARMAD, which was started in 2004 as a way to allow our communities to come out to public places to show verbal appreciation to our Troops, Veterans, Military Retired, and our First Responders.

The trip departed on Sunday morning with arrival at Reagan National Airport, and The Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City. On Monday morning there was a welcome breakfast at the Sheraton Hotel with distinguished guests. After the breakfast there was a private tour of the Pentagon, and I was able to also promote ARMAD and pass out information to the Pentagon staff for posting. After the tour we went to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath ceremony with General Peter Pace, Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff.

On Tuesday morning our group was invited to breakfast at The White House with President and Mrs. Bush on the South Lawn. Also present was Vice President Chaney, Condolesa Rice, and others from the Administration.

During the White House visit I was able to speak with The President, and shake his hand. I also took a photograph with Mrs. Bush. I spoke with the White House Staff about ARMAD and was allowed to leave information about ARMAD. Several staffers express interest and praise for the project.

Following the White House visit I went to the Capital and spent almost two hours with my Congressman. He escorted me to the private section of the Galley and I was allowed to sit in the section reserved for the Speaker of the House family to observe the activities on the floor. After the trip to Capital Hill there was a huge press conference at Upper Senate Park, and a dinner at the Marine Corp Museum located at Quantico.

My friend, Emery, is an amazing guy! You may remember him from this post.
I'm so glad he had such an exciting adventure. To see more of his pictures, visit here.
He does great work for the troops!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Radio Tribute to SGT Eddie Jeffers

I will be away from the computer for a few days.
If you have time, this radio tribute to SGT Eddie Jeffers is worth a listen.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

SGT Eddie Jeffers ~ Farewell, and Walk with God

"Blessed be the Lord my Strength,
who teaches my hands to war,
and my fingers to fight."

Psalm 144:1

Wednesday evening - I had just popped dinner in the oven and sat down at the computer to check my email. Up pops a message from David Jeffers, Eddie's father. It was titled Hope Rides Eternal. I expected a new essay from Eddie - a follow up to Hope Rides Alone. Sadly, that was not to be. I was not prepared for the sad news. This is what my email read:

It is with great personal sadness but joy in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that I announce the death of my son Eddie Jeffers. Eddie was killed around 7 am Iraqi time from an accidental vehicle roll-over. Although our personal loss is traumatic, we know he is in a better place. All of you have been so wonderful to my son and my family and he was so blessed and humbled by your love for him. He told me this past summer after the wonderful gift you gave his wife and him that he didn't understand why people were so generous and kind to him. You see to Eddie, he was just doing his job and what he believed was his life mission from God.

I've said this often; Eddie was my hero. My dear brother in Christ Rod Martin told me that Eddie died a hero for not just the soldier he was but the person. Eddie, through his writing, touched so many people's lives, yours and you so lovingly touched ours back.

We thank you in advance for your condolences and prayers. Please pray especially for Eddie's wife Stephanie; as you can imagine she is devastated. Our prayer is that Eddie's death will exalt Christ as did his life.

In lieu of any flowers we are asking all donations be given to the Fisher House in memory of Eddie; he loved that charity.

Love in Christ Jesus
The Jeffers Family

"Blessed be the Lord my Strength, who teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." -Psalm 144:1 (Eddie's favorite Bible verse)

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
-Revelation 21:4

I write this tonight with a heavy heart and great sadness for the loss to the spirit of our country. Eddie was so special to so many of us who never had the honor of knowing him, but whose hearts he touched with goodness and honor. He was a hero to so many of us. We felt fortunate to be able to show our appreciation for what he gave to so many of us... honesty, faith, hope and the American spirit.

I was fortunate to correspond with Eddie's father this year. We were part - a teeny, tiny part - of a surprise for Eddie and Stephanie on his leave. Eddie Jeffers was more than a name on a page to me. He was a part of the spirit of America that has soared for over 200 years - a young man who loves his country enough to fight for her and to speak out for her, a young man of profound faith in God and in America, a soldier who believed in his mission and was willing to tell us all how much.

Tonight, I grieve for the loss of a friend, the loss of a soldier, the loss of a fine American, and for his wife and family. Our prayers are with them all.

We are all much richer as a nation because Sergeant Eddie Jeffers walked among us.

To read Eddie's essays, click on the titles:

All of these essays were originally printed in

Messages for the Jeffers family may be left in the comments section and will be forwarded to them.

Hope Rides Alone by Sgt Eddie Jeffers

Hope Rides Alone

by Sgt Eddie Jeffers

February 1, 2007

I stare out into the darkness from my post, and I watch the city burn to the ground. I smell the familiar smells, I walk through the familiar rubble, and I look at the frightened faces that watch me pass down the streets of their neighborhoods. My nerves hardly rest; my hands are steady on a device that has been given to me from my government for the purpose of taking the lives of others.

I sweat, and I am tired. My back aches from the loads I carry. Young American boys look to me to direct them in a manner that will someday allow them to see their families again...and yet, I too, am just a age not but a few years more than that of the ones I lead. I am stressed, I am scared, and I am paranoid...because death is everywhere. It waits for me, it calls to me from around street corners and windows, and it is always there.

There are the demons that follow me, and tempt me into thoughts and actions that are not my own...but that are necessary for survival. I've made compromises with my humanity. And I am not alone in this. Miles from me are my brethren in this world, who walk in the same streets...who feel the same things, whether they admit to it or not.

And to think, I volunteered for this...

And I am ignorant to the rest of the world...or so I thought.

But even thousands of miles away, in Ramadi, Iraq, the cries and screams and complaints of the ungrateful reach me. In a year, I will be thrust back into society from a life and mentality that doesn't fit your average man. And then, I will be alone. And then, I will walk down the streets of America, and see the yellow ribbon stickers on the cars of the same people who compare our President to Hitler.

I will watch the television and watch the Cindy Sheehans, and the Al Frankens, and the rest of the ignorant sheep of America spout off their mouths about a subject they know nothing about. It is their right, however, and it is a right that is defended by hundreds of thousands of boys and girls scattered across the world, far from home. I use the word boys and girls, because that's what they are. In the Army, the average age of the infantryman is nineteen years old. The average rank of soldiers killed in action is Private First Class.

People like Cindy Sheehan are ignorant. Not just to this war, but to the results of their idiotic ramblings, or at least I hope they are. They don't realize its effects on this war. In this war, there are no Geneva Conventions, no cease fires. Medics and Chaplains are not spared from the enemy's brutality because it's against the rules. I can only imagine the horrors a military Chaplain would experience at the hands of the enemy. The enemy slinks in the shadows and fights a coward's war against us. It is effective though, as many men and women have died since the start of this war. And the memory of their service to America is tainted by the inconsiderate remarks on our nation's news outlets. And every day, the enemy changes...only now, the enemy is becoming something new. The enemy is transitioning from the Muslim extremists to Americans. The enemy is becoming the very people whom we defend with our lives. And they do not realize it. But in denouncing our actions, denouncing our leaders, denouncing the war we live and fight, they are isolating the military from society...and they are becoming our enemy.

Democrats and peace activists like to toss the word "quagmire" around and compare this war to Vietnam. In a way they are right, this war is becoming like Vietnam. Not the actual war, but in the isolation of country and military. America is not a nation at war; they are a nation with its military at war. Like it or not, we are here, some of us for our second, or third times; some even for their fourth and so on. Americans are so concerned now with politics, that it is interfering with our war.

Terrorists cut the heads off of American citizens on the internet...and there is no outrage, but an American soldier kills an Iraqi in the midst of battle, and there are investigations, and sometimes soldiers are even jailed...for doing their job.

It is absolutely sickening to me to think our country has come to this. Why are we so obsessed with the bad news? Why will people stop at nothing to be against this war, no matter how much evidence of the good we've done is thrown in their face? When is the last time CNN or MSNBC or CBS reported the opening of schools and hospitals in Iraq? Or the leaders of terror cells being detained or killed? It's all happening, but people will not let up their hatred of President Bush. They will ignore the good news, because it just might show people that Bush was right.

America has lost its will to fight. It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing. It's not like World War II, where people rationed food and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Unless you are in the military or the family member of a servicemember, its life as usual...the war doesn't affect you.
But it affects us. And when it is over and the troops come home and they try to piece together what's left of them after their service...where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives, most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends? They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can't touch them. Somewhere where they can complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their shoulders.

We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor...we cannot place the burden on our military alone. We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not. And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars. It's supporting our President, our troops and our cause.

Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't.

Let's stop all the political nonsense, let's stop all the bickering, let's stop all the bad news and let's stand and fight!

Isn't that what America is about anyway?

-Sergeant Eddie Jeffers is a US Army Infantryman serving in Ramadi, Iraq

Editor's Note: Eddie was killed in Iraq today in a vehicle rollover accident.

Freedom Feels Good by Sgt Eddie Jeffers

Freedom Feels Good

by Sgt Eddie Jeffers

February 10, 2007

Everyday, I live, I breathe, and I think Iraq. It is my life...more so than many of the so called experts who rant and rave about it. I walk these streets, I trudge through this darkness that so much of my life has seemed to become. And I am frustrated. It is hard to battle on the behalf of the ungrateful.

The Iraqis are just as guilty as the Americans in this. It infuriates me to no end to try so hard, to put myself and the ones I lead into the line of fire, and to be forsaken by the ones I am here to save. They turn their heads when we ask questions. They say there are no terrorists...but there are...everywhere. The Iraqi people unfortunately respond only to force, violence, has been their life for so long. Our cultures and religions alone widen the gap between our struggles over here.

The ones who have stepped up to fight are few...the Army and police are small, and struggling to grow. They are the hope of their nation ever leaving our control.

But more than anyone, I sometimes see futility in my actions. I fight, I kill, I scar myself emotionally, psychologically, and in some ways physically...and as I lay in the dark at night, I wonder what it's for. I wonder if the Iraqi people will ever get it together or if the country will collapse on itself whether I am here or not. It makes me angry, and a big part of me is content to let it fall apart. Part of me doesn't care what happens to this God-forsaken city after I leave long as "me and my boys" make it out in one piece.

But that is the viewpoint of a man who wishes his actions to be in vain. I do not. I have lost very close friends over here. I don't want their lives to have been given in vain. Simply put, we are fighters. We are all in the same place for various reasons, for me, it's personal. I am in a modern day crusade to exterminate evil. People whose atrocities I cannot even begin to name cannot be allowed to exist among us. As long as these people are here, everything that is just and good is at risk.

I am not naive...not anymore, too many people who believe in good are unaffected by evil. I have faced it and compromised with it and even felt its poison flow in my veins at times. But this is for a purpose; if anything to provide the example. If the Iraqi people have learned one thing, it is that the Americans will not quit. They gun us down and we advance without blinking, through homes, living rooms, kitchens, into the streets, courtyards, palm groves and back into their face. That example of unrelenting spirit is our greatest gift to the Iraqi people. Some of them have taken the example to heart and signed up for the Army and police.

Things can't change overnight and we can't expect a country whose culture has been dominated by state mandated way of thinking to change in an instance...take the Japanese in World War Two for example. Our example as warriors for the just and good, who will never quit no matter what is thrown at us or no matter how many fall will pay off eventually. But first we have to break the back of a way of thinking that has been in place for took some very horrible things to break the "yamato damashii" of the Japanese in our Second World War, but we succeeded and look at them now.

The Iraqis are capable of free government but we cannot call it quits because we think they aren't. Someone has to believe in them, someone has to help them out; someone has to provide the example. We are showing it to them. Some have taken it, many haven't, but it will spread...because freedom feels good.

"Blessed be the Lord my Strength, who teaches my hands to war, and my fingers to fight." Psalm 144:1

-Sergeant Eddie Jeffers is a US Army Infantryman serving in Ramadi, Iraq.

Editor's Note: Eddie was killed today in Iraq in a vehicle rollover accident.

The Real Deal in Ramadi by SGT Eddie Jeffers

The Real Deal in Ramadi

by SGT Eddie Jeffers

April 17, 2007

At the behest of my father, I wrote down some notes to be included in a little situation report (SITREP) on Iraq. I decided to address this letter to everyone because by now, you all have probably heard every news station popping off about this and that. So here's to give you an update and clear up some stuff.

First off, in the last six months, 1-9 Infantry has pushed itself into limelight and set the example for victory in Iraq. When we got here six months ago, lesser units that came before us held very little ground in East Ramadi. We pushed in and slowly began taking ground in the northern districts, which were definitely safer. We made nice with some sheiks up there, got them on our team and pushed them into near autonomy in their regions. All this was done for the task of securing those areas and pushing the insurgents there into the fortified and deadly southern district of our sector. Going back was deja vu, as this same area is where I cut my teeth as a private.

So off we went; raid after raid. Plenty of bombs, rockets, IEDs, machine guns and everything else you hear about in Iraq, all within an area roughly the size of six to eight football fields. It was hard, and a good bit of American blood had to get spilled in order to accomplish our mission. My company footed a good bit of that bill and our numbers reflect our actions. The enemy got it worse though.

Within three to four days we racked up 69 confirmed (key word is confirmed) enemy killed-in-action. Countless more severely injured and even more detained. Some serious whackin' and stackin' by some pissed off infantry boys. We broke the infrastructure of their insurgency by seizing roughly fifteen to twenty caches, each one containing enough guns, mines and explosives to equip a small army. We called in airstrike after airstrike, catching them in their homes and safehouses. Through the magic of the Air Force and Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS), we brought down destruction worthy of the Old Testament. Over the course of the deployment so far, we have had sixteen KIAs across the task force and over 100 seriously wounded. No small price, but a lot better than the enemy.

So now, the war has changed on us. Transitioning into a new role, we strapped on the guise of military advisors, security guards and bringers of goodies to the Iraqi people. After the push we established a Joint Security Station and reintroduced the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police back into the area. They've been doing patrols and keeping the peace and doing a damn fine job of it. We go out with them here and there but we leave it mostly to them.

We've been recruiting more police and outfitting them with better vehicles and equipment. We've been going around, getting the citizens to take a little charge and fix their city up. We've tossed around a little money and hired day laborers so to speak. The people have grown to trust us. They make citizen's arrests of insurgents and turn them over to us. We received little to no contact since the push and we have implemented a system that is working now.

All across Iraq, units are taking note. Everyone from the media to General Petraeus himself has come out here to see what we've done. We're winning the war and setting a good example of how to do it. Although my boys are bored because there aren't any doors to kick in or insurgents to shoot, they realize that this is the ticket out of this country in the right way. Overall, things are going good.

Now on to some bad news...

Anyone who has watched the news in the past few days has probably seen it, so I will clear up any rumors now. Due to a leak in the Pentagon, the secretary of Defense had to make a very abrupt announcement or risk the New York Times or someone else spilling the story.

The Army is going to fifteen month deployments to assist the surge in Iraq. Does that affect me? Yes it does. What does this mean? Expect me home around January. Every active Army unit will serve 15 months, including the ones over here now. It may change, as is the Army's way, but we will have to see. In the meantime, expect January 2008 to be my return time.

So, three more months than originally planned.Nothing that can be done about it except what we're doing now; continuing the mission and insuring America's success in this war.

-Sergeant Eddie Jeffers is a US Army Infantryman serving in Ramadi, Iraq

Editor's Note - Eddie died in Iraq today in a vehicle accident.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Stand by the American Mission in Iraq

Sign the Stand By The Mission Petition!

Wednesday Hero ~ 1Lt Forrest P Ewens

1st Lt. Forrest P. Ewens
1st Lt. Forrest P. Ewens
26 years old from Tonasket, Washington
1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment,
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry)
June 16, 2006

The love of Megan Ewens's life arrived at Arlington National Cemetery on July 7, 2006. His ashes inside a small wooden box, the box inside a coffin, the coffin draped with an American flag and carried on a caisson pulled by six black horses.

Lt. Forrest P. Ewens had shipped out for Afghanistan in March of that same year. His wife, being the same rank in the Army, understood the risks, telling a colonel at Fort Drum, N.Y., that if anything happened to her husband, she didn't want to hear about it from a stranger.

On June 6, 2006 Lt. Ewens and Sgt. Ian T. Sanchez were killed when ATV struck an IED while on combat operation in Pech River Valley, Afghanistan.

A few weeks before his death, Lt. Ewens called his wife from an Afghan mountain to inform her that his unit had been subsisting on melted snow and rations and that he had been writing his impressions down in a notebook he carried.

"This was the love of her life," Megan Ewens's mother said. "They were so well-matched and made such a good team. We couldn't ask for a better son-in-law."

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 blog, you can go here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

60th Anniversary ~ United States Air Force

Captain Drew Jensen ~ Farewell and Walk with God

A son of Oregon, Captain Drew N. Jensen, 27, of Clackamas, Oregon, died September 7 in Seattle of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire during combat operations May 7 in Ba'qubah, Iraq. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Washington.

Capt. Jensen was paralyzed from the neck down and required a ventilator to breathe after he was shot in the neck during his second tour of duty. Jensen was a mortar platoon leader. As he tried to help one of his soldiers, pinned behind a vehicle after an explosion, he was shot by a sniper, leaving him a quadraplegic and dependent upon a breathing tube.

The family issued this statement about his death:

"In accordance with ... an advance directive prior to his first deployment, Drew elected to be removed from artificial life support. In understanding the delicate and personal nature of the situation, Drew consulted only with immediate family and medical personnel prior to the execution of his wishes.

"His wife, parents, brothers, extended families and friends will miss him beyond anything words can convey. We will honor the memory of Drew by remembering his life, accomplishments and the memories we shared."

Capt. Jensen was an Eagle Scout and a graduate of Sam Barlow High School in Gresham, Oregon, where he was on the wrestling team. He was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he received his BA in history in 2002. He was trained as an infantry officer and had completed Ranger School.

Before his death, Drew still was looking out for his soldiers. He arranged for a $10,000. fund to be established in his name to help offset the housing costs of famlies who have to travel to be with their wounded loved ones.

Jensen is survived by his wife, Stacia Jensen; two older brothers, Adam and Shane Jensen; and his parents, Lance and Mardie Jensen.

“He’s one of the three most wonderful children ever born,” said his mother, Mardie Jensen. “We’d like to have him remembered for his accomplishments rather than his death.”

The family website for Drew is

The following is a tribute from a friend of Drew's:

Ussually I try to write about the lighter side of my world and to document the legacy and greatness of our guys which to me is a pleasure and honor. I also try to ensure that everyone at home has happy thoughts to lighten their worries. I do try to be strong and brave but there are times that it is tough. Right now is one of those times. I have not written for a few days because I have been in a personal low. This is the greatest suck of all for me in this world.

Last week the world lost one of it's great young warriors and leaders. I am proud to say that I worked by this mans side on my last deployment here and he was instrumental in the development of the Iraqi National Guard with me. CPT Drew Jensen, also known as MISFIT 6 was the officer that was assigned to assist me in the initial start up of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps now known as the Iraqi National Guard. He was from C-Co 5-20th Infantry also from the 3/2 SBCT. He was OPCON to the Tomahawks and that is where they felt best to place him and his men. I immediately liked him, a smaller man in size about the same as me and with a very like mind. He was a West Point Graduate and class mate of my Platoon Leader Jake Kemnec and another friend of mine CPT Nick Kardonsky.

Within a few short days of working together he made an immediate impact on me when our camp was attacked with a ferocious barage of indirect that caused several casualties. Drew along with his RTO Ragu and several others of his, joined Wally and I in helping provide aid to casualties. We lost one but another lived as a direct result of his leadership and poise and witnessing that made me proud to be associated with him. Later I was awarded for my actions in that event and found out that the guy who put me in was Drew. A very selfless act to award me and the guys when he was instrumental in the event and went thankless from the public. I Never was able to express my gratitude to him for everything that he taught me those short months, I tried too, over a beer back in the rear but masculinity kept me from truly expressing my emotions. Instead he simply got a "Good Times Dude!" and that they were.

CPT Drew Jensen passed gracefully with his new wife present back in the rear after being rendered paralized from a enemy bullet. He received this injury providing aid to another soldier again demonstrating his natural herioc being. I have struggled with this one greatly, not that any of them have been easy, it's just we need real men like Drew. I know God has a plan and thats what we tell ourselves when we don't understand why we have lost someone so needed and precious. I hope that I will be half the man the Drew was and inspire my men as he did.

"Misfit 6, ING 7"
"Misfit 6, ING 7"
"Negative contact with MISFIT 6, ING 7 out."


Monday, September 17, 2007

Constitution Day ~ 220 Years Strong

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Constitution

of the United States of America

Signed into law September, 17, 1787

For 220 years the Constitution has been the governing law for our country.

55 delegates from 12 states signed the Constitution.

Our founding fathers gave us a brilliant foundation.

Fireworks erupt on the Fourth of July, but this is the day that made us a country!


The Department of Defense has a great mini course on the Constitution -

you can even print out a certificate of completion if you want to!

Constitution Day would not be complete without a remembrance of my Grandfather.
He is the one who taught me to love our magnificent country. It is also his birthday.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

History is Our Stories ~ The Invasion of Antelope, Oregon

Dedicated to those of this
community who throughout the
Rajneesh invasion and occupation
of 1981-1985 remained, resisted and remembered.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke

This commemorative plaque is placed at the base of the flag pole at the Post Office.

The green area ahead is the town.

The new city sign after the invasion.

The Church - over 100 years old.

Out in the plains of Central Oregon is the tiny town of Antelope, first incorporated in 1871. Today, Antelope has a population of under 50, plus the handful of ranchers that live in the area. Antelope has a fascinating history from the start - scene of range wars for cattle and sheep - scene of railroad wars to get the spur line - rerouting of the major highway around the town - but the dramatic events that took place here in the early 1980's were an invasion and take over of the town. It struggled and it endured.

We went out to Antelope a few weeks ago. I bought some stamps at the Post Office and asked about the commemorative plaque which sits at the base of the flag pole. The Postmistress, a lifetime member of the community, was wonderful to talk to. Antelope has never been the same and is changing from a farming/ranching community as the ranches are being bought up and turned into hunting clubs. But, Antelope remains the center of frightening and momentous events in the early 1980's.

In 1981, the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, purchased the Big Muddy Ranch, 64,000 acres for $5,750,000. There he and his followers built the Rajnesshpuram - a city/commune. Clashing with the city and county codes and laws over permits for the building they were doing was a problem for them. The commune expanded to over 4,000 people and expanded to take over the town of Antelope. The infiltration into Antelope, led to them taking over the town government and renaming it the City of Rajneesh. They had their own armed guards and their own laws and policies, which were imposed on the people of Antelope.

In 1984, they bused in homeless people to register them to vote. The end goal was to take over the county government, as well. When this plan was thwarted, the homeless people were left to fend for themselves, and quickly disappeared. In 1984, members of the commune introduced Salmonella organisms into salad bars at restaurants in The Dalles and 750 people were taken sick. The idea was to prevent them from going to the polls to vote.

Eventually, Anand Sheela, fled and was eventually arrested. The Bhagwan was captured in 1985 and was deported to his homeland of India. The commune collapsed. The members had given their earthly goods and money to the Bhagwan and were left penniless and homeless.

In 1996, a wildfire eradicated the buildings at Rajneeshpuram. Today, it is owned by a Christian camp.

The town of Antelope has endured. It endured invasion and armed occupation. These are strong and brave people stood up to evil and won. I applaud them. The chapter in our history of the Rajneeshi's is much forgotten. But, like all evils, we must remember.

The video below is a history of the Rajneeshpuram.

Rise and Fall of Rajneeshpuram

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Must Read Post from a Soldier

If you only read one post this weekend, this should be the one.

And Then, We Were Home...

This is my friend's blog. Troy was with the Redbulls and deployed for 22 months.
He returned from Iraq earlier this summer and this is his first post.

If you want to know what the troops think and what coming home is like,
Troy will tell you.

Welcome Home, Troy.
You are still in our prayers...

Quotes ~ General Peter Pace

"I'm proud of the fact that we stood and fought (in Iraq & Afghanistan).
Did we make mistakes? Yes.
But are we on the right path? Yes.
Is providing additional freedom for Iraqis and Afghanis
providing additional freedom for us here at home? You bet.
The more free people in the world,
the stronger our democracy is and the safer our democracy is."
-General Peter Pace, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Star Spangled Banner - 193 years strong

ALL FOUR STANZAS by Isaac Asimov

I have a weakness--I am crazy, absolutely nuts, about our national anthem. The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time. I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem--all four stanzas. This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said. "That's all right," he said. "It was at the request of the kitchen staff." I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas.

Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before--or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem. More recently, while conducting a seminar, I told my students the story of the anthem and sang all four stanzas. Again there was a wild ovation and prolonged applause. And again, it was the anthem and not me.

So now let me tell you how it came to be written. In 1812, the United States went to war with GreatBritain, primarily over freedom of the seas. We were in the right. For two years, we held off the British, even though we were still a rather weak country. Great Britain was in a life and death struggle with Napoleon. In fact, just as the United States declared war, Napoleon marched off to invade Russia. If he won, as everyone expected, he would control Europe, and Great Britain would be isolated. It was no time for her to be involved in an American war.

At first, our seamen proved better than the British. After we won a battle on Lake Erie in 1813, the American commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, sent the message "We have met the enemy and they are ours." However, the weight of the British navy beat down our ships eventually. New England, hard-hit by a tightening blockade, threatened secession.

Meanwhile, Napoleon was beaten in Russia and in 1814 was forced to abdicate. Great Britain now turned its attention to the United States, launching a three-pronged attack. The northern prong was to come down Lake Champlain toward New York and seize parts of New England. The southern prong was to go up the Mississippi, take New Orleans and paralyze the west. The central prong was to head for the mid-Atlantic states and then attack Baltimore, the greatest port south of New York. If Baltimore was taken, the nation, which still hugged the Atlantic coast, could be split in two. The fate of the United States, then, rested to a large extent on the success or failure of the central prong.

The British reached the American coast, and on August 24, 1814, took Washington, D. C. Then they moved up the Chesapeake Bay toward Baltimore. On September 12, they arrived and found 1000 men in Fort McHenry, whose guns controlled the harbor. If the British wished to take Baltimore, they would have to take the fort.

On one of the British ships was an aged physician, William Beanes, who had been arrested in Maryland and brought along as a prisoner. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer and friend of the physician, had come to the ship to negotiate his release. The British captain was willing, but the two Americans would have to wait. It was now the night of September 13, and the bombardment of Fort McHenry was about to start.

As twilight deepened, Key and Beanes saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry. Through the night, they heard bombs bursting and saw the red glare of rockets. They knew the fort was resisting and the American flag was still flying. But toward morning the bombardment ceased, and a dread silence fell. Either Fort McHenry had surrendered and the British flag flew above it, or the bombardment had failed and the American flag still flew.

As dawn began to brighten the eastern sky, Key and Beanes stared out at the fort, trying to see which flag flew over it. He and the physician must have asked each other over and over, "Can you see the flag?"

After it was all finished, Key wrote a four stanza poem telling the events of the night. Called "The Defense of Fort McHenry," it was published in newspapers and swept the nation. Someone noted that the words fit an old English tune called "To Anacreon in Heaven" -- a difficult melody with an uncomfortably large vocal range. For obvious reasons, Key's work became known as "The Star Spangled Banner," and in 1931 Congress declared it the official anthem of theUnited States.

Now that you know the story, here are the words. Presumably, the old doctor is speaking. This is what he asks Key:

The Star Spangled Banner

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

"Ramparts," in case you don't know, are the protective walls or other elevations that surround a fort. The first stanza asks a question. The second gives an answer:

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

"The towering steep" is again, the ramparts. The bombardment has failed, and the British can do nothing more but sail away, their mission a failure.

In the third stanza, I feel Key allows himself to gloat over the American triumph. In the aftermath of the bombardment, Key probably was in no mood to act otherwise. (During World War II, when the British were our staunchest allies, this third stanza was not sung. However, I know it, so here it is.)

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

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

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

I hope you will look at the national anthem with new eyes. Listen to it, the next time you have a chance, with new ears. And don't let them ever take it away.

To see Fort McHenry, go here.

History is Our Stories ~ Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry is the "Star Fort" at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor.
It is the site that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem
we know as the 'Star Spangled Banner.'

The large replica flag with 15 stripes and 15 stars.

Colonel George Armistead commanded the gallant defense
of Fort McHenry during the British attack in the War of 1812
on September 13-14, 1814
In the 24 hour bombardment, four Americans were killed:
Lt. Levi Claggett, Sgt John Clemm, Thomas Beeston, Charles Messinger
and 24 were wounded.

Fort entrance


Fort McHenry is one of the most interesting and well maintained historical sites in the National Park Service. It is a fascinating place to visit, and so much to see: cannons, barracks, earthworks, bomb shelters, jail cells, bunkers.

The fort was begun early in the history of the country as a defense for the city of Baltimore. It is named for James McHenry, George Washington's Secretary of War - 1796-1800.

During the War of 1812, Fort McHenry was fired upon by the British ships with rockets and mortars for over 24 hours. Francis Scott Key was on the deck of a British truce ship during the bombardment. He penned the poem, which is now our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, when he saw the huge flag still flying over the fort.

During the Civil War, the fort was used as a detention center for Confederate prisoners.

During WWI, many buildings were erected around the fort and used as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

The first time I saw Fort McHenry was at dusk, from a ship in the Baltimore Harbor.
It was one of the most touching moments of my life.