November 24, 2005
A Marine Gives Thanks
This is a message posted on AnyMarine.com by a Marine who's deployed near Baghdad:
Today, I am thankful for my beautiful wife and kids, giving me joy that I would not otherwise have. Thankful for my parents and in-laws who support us in so many ways that I couldn't even begin to count them. My friends all over the country, the world and from our church. To all of you in Cyber land who have supported our Marines with letters, cards, emails and packages. I am thankful for my health and ability to lead Marines. Thank you Mr. Bush for having the tenacity to stand up to those who oppose us. I thank you God most of all for allowing us the chance to live another day, to watch the sun rise across the sky and know we have a chance to write a new page in our lives. That's it for me; I hope you all have a wonderful day and a fantastic holiday back in the states.
Major Mitchell "Taco" Bell
The Year that is drawing to a close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke the aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theater of military conflict; while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversion of wealth and strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascription's justly due to Him for such singular deliverance's and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
November 18, 2005
Food For Thought
We have been sleepwalking through the greatest revolutionary movement in the history of the Middle East, as the U.S. military is quietly empowering the once-despised Kurds and Shiites — and along with them women and the other formerly dispossessed of Iraq. In short, the U.S. Marine Corps has done more for global freedom and social justice in two years than has every U.N. peacekeeping mission since the inception of that now-corrupt organization ...
... Forget acrimony over weapons of mass destruction, platitudes about abstract democracy, and arguments over U.S. security strategies. Instead bluntly explain to the world how at this time and at this moment the U. S. is trying to bring equality and freedom to the unfree, in a manner rare in the history of civilization. -- Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, October 28, 2005
November 11, 2005
The "Transcendent Grace" of Gratitude
Then and Now Americans Support Their Troops
By Bob Dole and Lonnie Moore
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2005 – The two of us were born more than 50 years and nearly 160 miles apart. But we are connected to each other -- and to so many of our fellow Americans -- in ways that easily surpass both age and geography.
We were born and raised in Kansas. Both of us are Army veterans. And both of us nearly lost our lives on the battlefield.
We were wounded near Castel d' Aiano, Italy, on April 14th, 1945; and in Ramadi, Iraq, on April 6th, 2004, respectively. We were struck down by Italian bullets and Iraqi rocket-propelled grenades almost exactly 49 years apart.
These connections of shared military experience, of circumstance and of history, are eternally meaningful for the two of us and for millions of other veterans.
We are sharing our experiences on this Veterans Day, when we honor our brothers in arms, to also pay tribute to our shared connection with Americans on the home front, to the enduring power of their letters and their packages and their contributions, to the transcendent grace of their gratitude and prayers.
Support the troops. It is a noble idea, and a long-standing American tradition. And in the 50 years that separate the two of us, it has played out in countless unique ways. But at its simplest and most essential, it just means getting a letter from home.
Back in World War II, letters that arrived in a week were considered speedy. Today anyone can go to the Web site www.americasupportsyou.mil to send a letter to a soldier abroad with just a click of the mouse, and to read soldiers' replies just as quickly.
The America Supports You Web site is much more than an electronic post office. Created by the Department of Defense, it connects and inspires ordinary Americans who are doing something to support the troops, while at the same time amplifying the impact of their efforts. It is, to borrow a military phrase, a "force multiplier" for Americans on the home front.
Writing letters to a soldier may seem a bit quaint today. But back in World War II, few things were more disheartening for a soldier than to go to mail call every day and never get a letter.
In Iraq today, even soldiers without families back home get literally boxes and boxes of letters from Americans in every corner of the country.
In the sometimes lonely and always stressful nights of war, these notes of concern and appreciation from complete strangers, from school children in Wichita, Kansas, to elderly women in retirement homes, are an immediate and necessary connection to home -- they are a reminder that our service has a national purpose.
But the connection to home also has a, well, practical purpose. One that speaks more to everyday comforts than to our deeper emotional needs, but which many soldiers will tell you affects their morale nearly as much.
Back in World War II, we were lucky to get "goodie" packages filled with sunflower seeds, candy, oranges, and even shoes. These items were bought by parents and neighbors with their own food coupons. Contributions were collected in cigar boxes on drug store counters.
Today an America Supports You member organization like "Soldiers' Wish List" mobilizes a virtual, internet-connected national "neighborhood" to send soldiers mountains of cookies, DVDs, phone cards, video games and even tooth brushes.
Maybe all of this talk of letters and care packages seems a bit trivial in a time of war. Maybe it is hard for Americans to understand the real value of all their kind gestures and small gifts when the context is conflict and war. But our own experience shows that it is precisely the sober context that makes all the little efforts of support so essential.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, both of us had to recover from life- and body- altering injuries. We can tell you that whatever the medical technology, recovery and rehabilitation are as much an emotional challenge as a physical one. It is hard to put into words how important it was for us to hear from ordinary Americans that despite the damage done to our bodies, that we were still full persons whose sacrifice was not only appreciated, but meaningful.
Few things are as therapeutic to the injured as the tangible support - big and small -- provided by friends and strangers back home. The cliché, in this case, is true. It is the thought that counts.
And as much as the two of us are connected by our Kansas roots, and by our military backgrounds, and by the shared experience of our injuries, we share an even deeper connection with all of you back home who in ways large and small let us know, then and now, that Americans support their troops. Your support made our service possible. And that's as true today as it was 50 years ago. And just as necessary.
(Former Kansas Senator Bob Dole was a second lieutenant in the Army's 10th Mountain Division during World War II. Wichita native and retired Army Capt. Lonnie Moore fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 1st Infantry Division. He now works outside of Washington, D.C.)
November 03, 2005
Barf Bag Alert
Take a swig of Pepto Bismal before reading the following quote from Bill Clinton's eulogy of Rosa Parks:
I remember, as if it were yesterday, that fateful day 50 years ago. I was a 9-year-old southern white boy who rode a segregated bus every single day of my life. I sat in the front. Black folk sat in the back. When Rosa showed us that black folks didn't have to sit in the back anymore, two of my friends and I, who strongly approved of what she had done, decided we didn't have to sit in the front anymore. It was just a tiny gesture by three ordinary kids.
If 9-year-old Bill Clinton ever sat in the back of a bus it was only because he was playing "show and tell" with a neighbor girl.
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