nurturing thursdays: those who serve…

Two news pieces reported on MSNBC today, made me pause to reflect upon the sacrifices made by those who keep the rest of us safe.

The first was about firemen who helped in the aftermath of 9/11. As usual, they did not consider the risks to their own safety and well-being. Only years later did that horrific day return to haunt them, many suffering the effects of cancer. Mounting medical bills in addition to an emotional and physical roller coaster ride puts the victims and their loved ones at high risk for depression and serious loss to their quality of life.

Following that report was a piece about a military family whose husband/father has been deployed to the Middle East multiple times. Of the 19 years they’ve been married, the couple have been separated 9 years. Their two sons, now teenagers, have missed their dad tremendously. While the family understands their sacrifice as a career choice, it doesn’t lessen the impact of losing a member for years on end. Especially knowing that each deployment could mean the death of their loved one.

It’s easy to shed a tear or two for the plight of these folks whose lives are spent protecting us. Having compassion, however, also includes giving back…not “sitting back.”

Rather than pay for “pork belly” projects put forth by representatives in Congress, our tax dollars should be spent accommodating the financial needs of those who risk their lives to save ours.

I think that’s what’s so frustrating about many members of the Republican Party. They want “boots on the ground,” but they ignore the fact that these folks have needs. They’re not wind-up robots. They feel. They break. They bleed. They die…and leave behind loved ones of their own.

President Obama is walking a tightrope between keeping our country safe during these perilous times…and showing compassion for the men and women who must answer the call to lay down their lives for their country. Not an easy decision, although the president’s critics rant and rave that it’s a no-brainer. Scary to think what Obama’s successor would do if he or she is a Republican intent upon spilling blood.

…when did we become a dispassionate people?

………hugmamma.

(Note: For more inspirational writing, visit…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/17/nurt-thurs-you-are-2/

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hiding…mr. hyde

Police work is a double-edged sword. We entrust these men and women to take care of us in the face of adversity, all the while on the turn of a dime they themselves could become our adversarial foes. The catalyst to being friend or foe is the human element.

Given the right circumstances, police are compassionate heroes. Given the wrong circumstances, police are the devil incarnate. Most tend toward keeping their wits about them in all circumstances, but there are an inordinate number who reveal their Mr. Hyde when their Dr. Jekyll would be better suited. That’s where personality most likely plays a role.

It’s more than likely that those police who give in to their baser instincts have an underlying defect with respect to their being suitable for the job. Perhaps there’s a tendency towards bullying. Or maybe they had themselves been victims of bullying…in the home, at school, in the workplace. It might be that they served in the military and are therefore predisposed to pulling the trigger, and asking questions later. Worse case scenario is that they are prejudiced toward people different from themselves.

Sometimes in the heat of the moment, police can simply lose control and go absolutely berserk. I often think about this when I remember the lickings my mom would give when I was a child.

One time in particular when she, a 200 pound woman, lunged at my teenage brother. With both hands around his throat, I thought she was going to choke him to death. I remember screaming for her to stop. She finally did, I guess realizing she was going too far. Whether my brother had done something so heinous which drove my mom over the edge, or whether he sassed her back…I don’t remember. What remains permanently carved into my memory is my brother struggling to get out from under the full weight of my mom as she lay on top of him across the bed, her hands squeezing the breath out of him.

My mom’s church-going friends, even the pastor himself, never, ever saw this side of my mom. Her Mr. Hyde. Only her children witnessed the ugly side of an otherwise upstanding, law-abiding, religious citizen. And we all kept her secret from the world beyond our front door. What else could we do? We were too scared to tell.

Police are human. Sometimes they can be scary humans. How do we prevent their Mr. Hydes from taking over…

…and killing???

………hugmamma.

 

this…12th man

Not normally a football fan, I admit…I was caught up in the thundering tsunami that was the 12th man as it made its way to the Super Bowl.

That the outcome was not the event we had hoped for does not, in fact, dispel the gigantic wave and its accompanying roar that came crashing down in Arizona. And like the tsunami that caused seismic damage to Japan and its nuclear power plants, the Seahawks weighed in as a heavyweight contender. 

Russell Wilson, in only his third season as a pro quarterback, gave seasoned veteran Tom Brady something to think about. Wilson can only get better, as Brady surely has in all the years he’s been quarterbacking.

I feel as much for the ardent Seahawks fans as I do for the players themselves. For all their sake, I wish the team could have brought home the win. Fans and players alike did all they could to make it happen. No one can fault their fervor or hard work.

While the media replays that game-changing moment over and over and over again, perhaps it’s good to remember other more significant life-changing ones.

Pat’s battle with Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis.

Greg O’Brien eventually succumbing to Alzheimer’s.

The Japanese reporter slain by Isis.

Syrian refugees fleeing their homeland by the thousands. 

Jewish people once again facing annihilation at the hands of mad men.

African natives dying from ebola.

The havoc being wreaked upon the earth because of environmental changes caused by man.

Innocent lives lost because of crazed gunmen.

Young folks being bullied into taking their own lives.

Veterans returning…only to face death on the home front.

And the threat of another World War…as the Middle East continues to unravel.

There’s always another Super Bowl to win next year…

…but what will happen to the world in the interim???

………hugmamma.

what puzzles me…

Just when the economy is on the upswing, real estate has climbed out of the tank into which it took a nosedive, Wall Street is back to hedging its bets, health insurance is spreading its coverage to include the less prosperous, veterans are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel…Speaker of the House Boehner and his congressional cronies are trying to stir the Middle East pot in the hopes that America will muscle its way back into another war.

Perhaps Netanyahu and those supportive of his hawkish stance should stop hiding behind words and take up weapons to defend their beliefs. They don’t need to convince us to do their fighting for them. They should try some sacrificing on for size instead of sitting back in relative comfort, while thousands of men and women leave jobs, families, and homes behind…some even dying…to effect others’ politics.

Politicians have taken to playing with peoples’ lives. We’re like pawns on a chess board being sacrificed for the good of the king and his minions. 

While I hope I’m wrong, it seems the pendulum will swing the other way in the 2016 run for the White House. It’ll be interesting to see if all fall in behind the leader, or if in-fighting breeds discontent.

And where does that leave us?

…sliding backwards into oblivion???

………hugmamma.

 

believe…

On 12/3/11, I wrote and posted the following poem to hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul. Since then I have been reminded of it by inspirational fellow blogger, Pocket Perspectives, who has very kindly reblogged my poem…twice! Very humbling indeed. You can enjoy her motivational words at
http://pocketperspectives.com/

I was just reminded of what I’d written yet again by K. Jackson.  A couple of nights ago she left the following comment after reading what I’d written almost 3 years ago.

“Thank you for your beautiful poem! I just sent it in a card (with you credited of course) to a homesick son away at boot camp.”

I wish I could offer comfort to this mom whose son is committing himself to our safety, far from those he loves and who love him. Her comment, an expression of a mother’s desire to hold her child close, inspired me to revisit…

Believe…

…in yourself
…in your worth…to others…and to you
…in your goodness…and in your desire to do good
…in your possibilities…and that all things are possible
…in your ability…especially in overcoming negativity
…in your strengths…don’t dwell on your weaknesses (we all have a few)
…in those who love you
…in tomorrow, the dawn of a new day
…in your gut instinct…it knows you best
…in compassion…for others…as well as yourself
…that you are your own best friend…always root for youself
…that you deserve to be alive…and that you DO make a difference
…that you can do whatever it is you want…and that you will succeed
…that it is you who sets your own agenda…not others

…and always believe…that happiness is there for the taking…in all the small moments…every day of your life…

………hugmamma. 

calling out the posse…iraq

Having already made my way through several presidential biographies, I’ve decided to keep on the path of learning who the real man is behind the facade. So I picked up a book I’d purchased a while ago at Half-Price Books…The Family, The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty…by Kitty Kelley. 

I was never a fan of the president, or the author, for that matter. That’s why the delay in reading the book. I’d bought it thinking “Why not? I’ll get around to it one of these days, when I’ve nothing else to read.”

Since I was on a presidential roll, it was Bush’s turn. Knowing Kelley’s tendency for sensational reporting, having read Oprah: A Biography, I should’ve been prepared for her book. Well shame on me, I wasn’t.

It’s not to say Kitty Kelley doesn’t report facts. She does. It’s her explosive style of telling a story that has me on the edge of my seat. The lady is not averse to confrontation. Far from it. She welcomes the challenge.

According to USA Today

The Bush Administration and the Republican Party launched a vigorous campaign to discredit Kelley as a Democratic partisan and discourage coverage of her 733-page book….Kelley pointed out that she has never lost a lawsuit and ‘never, ever had to retract a story.’ “

…and the Houston Chronicle adds…

Doing what {Kelley} does is like poking a stick into a hornet’s nest. The holder of the stick gets a nasty reaction from the disturbed occupants….The resulting book, however, is a good read.

Describing Kelley as a woman “with balls,” is putting it mildly. She’s more like a bulldog on a mission. Point in case? Her tell-all on the Bush family was written while George W. was the sitting president.

 With every book I’ve written, I’ve encountered a certain amount of hesitancy on the part of potential sources, because they are understandably reluctant to talk about powerful people, either for fear of retribution or for fear of being socially ostracized. The amount of trepidation I encountered in writing this book was unprecednted, but perhaps that’s what comes from writing about a sitting President whose family has a long reach. Many sources were reluctant to tell their stories on the record, and much as I dislike using unnamed sources, in some cases I had no choice. Many people who know the Bushes–friends, former employees, classmates, business associates, and even a few family members–were skittish about speaking for {fear of retribution.} I heard an endless stream of excuses and apologies, some comical, others disconcerting: “You don’t know that family…If they think I’ve talked to you, they’ll never speak to me again.” “This town is too small to rile the Bushes.” “I want to live to see my grandchildren.” One man said, “You can’t use my name. They’ll come after me. The Bushes are thugs.”

“Thugs? Surely, you’re kidding,” I said.

“Look what they did in Florida during the 2000 recount,”  he answered, and then detailed the “Brooks Brothers Riot” of Republican activists who helped stop the voting in Miami by storming the canvassing board. To prove his point, the man sent records showing that many of the rioters in pin-striped suits had been paid by the Bush recount committee.

With stability in Iraq hanging in the balance, George W.’s war against Iraq is once again called into question. 

Call me politically naive, but I’ve always thought the presidential son had a personal vendetta against Saddam Hossein for the assassination attempt against the presidential father. An article from the History News Network dated 3/6/07, “How Do We Know That Iraq Tried To Assassinate President George H. W. Bush?” lends credence to my claim.

On June 2, 1993, representatives of the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and others in the Department of Justice (DOJ) discussed the results of their investigations with representatives of the Clinton Administration. Three weeks later, the DOJ and CIA reported their conclusions. The DOJ and CIA reported that it was highly likely that the Iraqi Government originated the plot and more than likely that Bush was the target. Additionally, based on past Iraqi methods and other sources of intelligence, the CIA independently reported that there was a strong case that Saddam Hussein directed the plot against Bush. – See more at: http://hnn.us/article/1000#sthash.1KMHbZkx.dpuf

So in true Wild West style, George W. gathered up his posse and went after the bad guys. “Shoot ’em up, cowboys! Bang! Bang!” Too bad a lot of innocent people, Iraquis and Americans alike, got caught up in the bloodshed. Not to mention the trillions spent in the process…hard-earned taxpayer dollars. 

Minutes ago I visited another blogger’s site since she’d been by to view mine. From what I can surmise, she resides in the Middle East. It may even be that she’s an Iraqui. Reading her post, “Who Destroyed the Cradle of Civilization,”  it’s obvious she’s not speaking tripe. 

Saddam Hussein might have been the craziest of leaders but the man knew the geopolitics of Iraq. He was the impetus behind turning Iraq from a mere Arab nation to the most advanced Arab country in history. Iraq was always better than its neighbours. Healthcare facilities were excellent. Education was imparted right from the primary level up to the university, completely free of charge. Iraq was a nation where more human rights were granted to its citizens than any other Arab nation, especially in the areas of religion and liberation of women. The New York Times had thus, once called Baghdad “The Paris of the Middle East. Toppling Saddam Hussein was the biggest misstep US committed and now Iraq has to face people, I call pre-historic barbarians . I’d never thought a day would come when I’d have to support a man like Saddam Hussein over President Bush. Sometimes, I feel that the biggest Weapon of Mass Destruction in Iraq was Mr. President himself.

The day Saddam was caught President Bush had said, ” the world will be better off without you, Mr. Hussein.” Today Iraq has gone worse, and so has the world.

( http://akritimattu.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/who-destroyed-the-cradle-of-civilization/ )

I’ve always wondered why it is that some Americans insist other countries adopt our ways…lock, stock, and barrel?

Democracy, as we know it, works for us because it is founded upon Christian principles…because our ancestors were determined to free themselves from oppressive rulers…and because we’ve had centuries to make democracy our own.

How do Middle Eastern countries founded upon Islam adapt their values and cultures to Western ways? Not easily, that’s for sure. Should it be our battle? Or should it be that the people of the region figure it out with as little outside interference as possible?

A complex question with an impossible answer it seems. But it surely didn’t help…

to have a cowboy mentality in the White House. 

………hugmamma.

could i do better?…could you?

Every now and then something on CNN prompts me to reflect upon President Obama’s handling of national and world affairs. I must confess I’m no expert in government matters.  Who is?

Yes, there are those with years, even decades of experience. Naturally, that counts for something. But so does an opinion. 

In the last month or so I’ve read a couple of presidential biographies, one on Dwight D. Eisenhower, the other on Richard M. Nixon. I’m now burrowing through one on John F. Kennedy.

Biographies are my favorite reads. They’re part history, part gossip…some factual, some speculative. I especially like getting to know the private person, the one the public rarely, if ever, sees.

My takeaway from Eisenhower’s biography was that he was a disciplined man given to sacrificing his personal life for his life as a public servant. His wife, Mamie, followed in her husband’s wake keeping herself intact, physically and mentally, as best she could. Eisenhower governed like the military man that he was, gathering his group of trusted, male cohorts about him to advise his next moves. Oddly enough, or maybe not, Vice President Nixon was not among them.

Political ambition had the starring role in Nixon’s life. It took him to the summit only attained by a few mortals, and it plunged him into the darkest depths where few souls ever tread. Pat, his “partner in crime,” believed her husband honorable in all he undertook. She saw the glory and the sorrow of a man driven to create the America of his vision. As we all know, Nixon fell far short of his ill-conceived plan.

There were moments of greatness in Kennedy’s life. His inaugural speech challenged us to “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.” Thousands answered the challenge by joining the president’s newly instituted Peace Corps. The Cuban Missile Crisis probably aged Kennedy faster than all other obstacles combined…chronic back pain…a spendthrift-fashionista-first lady…an insatiable appetite for women…and Governor Wallace’s hard-core opposition to black-equality.

And where was Jackie in all of this? She loved Jack is all…and his money. Evidently the Kennedys were a good match. He had his faults; she had hers. Great thing is…they both understood each other’s imperfections and still managed to love one another “until death do us part.” Which it did, unfortunately.

The Obamas seem a different breed from what we’ve encountered before. At least I think so. 

President Obama, as a former law professor, governs as though he is still in the classroom. He welcomes, even encourages, creative thinking. In the end, however, it’s his lone voice that decides the course of events. Yes, he has campaigned hard for tenure, and won. How he has managed to do so in the face of the Koch brothers and the billions they spend advancing the cause of the Tea Party is unfathomable.

I like to think it’s because Obama’s cause is morally right. I’m a sucker for those showing compassion for the less fortunate. And although the president has an ego the size of the universe…what leader doesn’t?

Funny how I can relate to Obama’s thought processes in making decisions, and the mistakes he’s bound to make given that he’s human. And maybe that’s just it…he’s human. It might also be that he lived a life more similar to mine, especially since he grew up in my native Hawaii. Beyond that, however, he wasn’t a product of a military background like Eisenhower. Nor from what I can surmise, Obama wasn’t driven by a burning desire to star in the White House. That came later, after he failed to move mountains as a human rights activist in the Chicago projects, and a stint in the senate.

While I’m an unlikely prospect to be one of Michelle Obama’s best buds, I get what she’s about. First and foremost, she’s a mom like me. Moreover, she will preach her husband’s goodness to all and any. Woe to those who dare challenge us on that front. 

No, I don’t consider myself in the same league as these notables. Nor would I ever care to be. With their power and celebrity comes a whole host of problems I wouldn’t want. Given their unique circumstances, I think the presidents and their first ladies do the best they can. It may be difficult for them to remember that they’re made of clay like us, given how the media keeps the spotlight on them 24/7.

Maybe we can remember for them…

…they wear bvd’s and girdles too!

………hugmamma.

(I know. I know. I’m dating myself…) 

IMG_0605

what’s wrong with…this picture?

Did you see the one where the guys in a boat headed straight into the tornado’s water spout…with boyish glee? And when interviewed, the boat owner said…he’d do it again, given the chance?

Did you see the congressmen who, when interviewed, swore they’d shut down the government…rather than allow millions of Americans the opportunity to sign up for health care insurance tomorrow?

Did you see the video in which a black SUV is chased down by a pack of motorcyclists who travel the road as if…they own it?

As we all know, there are two sides to every story. Whatever the arguments, certain facts are indisputable.

Had the boat overturned going through the water spout, the coast guard would’ve been called into action to rescue those numb skulls. And who would have footed the bill…us, the taxpayers, of course!

If the government shuts down, thousands of middle class folks will be furloughed, military families will cease to be paid, and the health care law will go into effect. So what will those idiot Tea Party reps have gained? Why…attention on the world stage, of course…at no cost to themselves since their salaries remain intact, regardless.

The pack mentality screams out…”One for all and all for one!” So when a gang of motorcyclists takes over the highway, surrounding a car on all sides and traveling as though they’re “rubbernecking,” what’s a car driver to do? Get out and walk?

Some days it’s difficult to believe what I’m seeing…

…ever have one of those days?,,,

The Gadsden flag

 

………hugmamma. 

what’s the difference?…

As events continue to unfold in Syria and the world looks on, wondering what to do, I too wonder…what would we do if the atrocities heaped upon the Jews by Hitler…were to play out in today’s society?

Adolf Hitler in Yugoslavia.

Would we vacillate about Hitler…as we are vacillating about Asad?

Would we allow German Jews to be killed by non-German Jews…as we sit by and watch pro-government Syrians murder those opposed to the government?

Would we complain of war weariness having fought one world war…as we are complaining of the several wars already fought in the Middle East?

Would we oppose President Roosevelt’s taking us to war…as we are now opposing President Obama’s efforts to level the playing field in the Syrian civil war?

Would we stand by as Jews are gassed to death…as we now watch as Syrians are poisoned by lethal chemicals?

Do we value Syrians less than we value Jews? Or do we value others’ lives…

…less than we value our own?…

………hugmamma.

Propaganda Poster

be prepared…

Remember that Girl Scout mottoBe Prepared!

9-11 is just around the bend.

9/11 WTC Photo

I was reminded of that by my daughter who watched a TV documentary detailing the horrific event which changed America…and our lives forever.

On another channel I’ve been watching an old war movie. Or rather I’ve been listening to it, since I can never sit still for too long…too much to do. As I putter, parallel thoughts of both films begin formulating in my mind…and a post begins to percolate.

No matter our differences…housewife, flight attendant, soldier, white collar or blue collar employee, toddler or senior, uncle or cousin, bachelor, student, doctor…death is inescapable.

Neither the soldiers who enlisted for WWII or the flight crews working the downed flights knew the exact date and time of their deaths, until they were embroiled in the ultimate battle for their lives.

The same can be said for victims imperiled by cancer, heart condition, MS, Alzheimer’s, or any other life-threatening disease. 

Accidents also claim their fair share of human lives…as does death by natural causes.

Mankind, accustomed to being in control, cannot outsmart death. Birth and death go hand-in-hand. The process of dying begins…the day we are born.

What we don’t know is…our expiration date.

9/11 Memorial - South Pool

 What we can do is…prepare for death.

“Prepare for death?” you ask. Yes. It’s possible. At least it’s worth a try. 

We should get as close as we can to our organic selves. Strip away the “pesticides” which preserve our artificiality. Savor the natural “flavors” of our humanity. Own our spirituality. Grow healthfully from the inside out. Bask in the sunshine of being one with all.

The value and validity of one life is incorporated into the value and validity of all lives.

Love thy neighbor as thyself…and commit thyself to being one with thy neighbor.

WWII and 9-11 confirmed that with death…we are all one…and the same.

…there are no differences…

………hugmamma.

an opinion…to ponder

I came across the following in today’s Wall Street Journal which I thought deserved sharing, primarily because of its author.

afghanistan

afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

The gentleman is not someone of notoriety; rather, he’s more like…every man.


A Marine Volunteers–for a Pay Cut

by Benjamin Luxenberg

US Navy 090424-N-3271W-021 More than 500 veter...

US Navy 090424-N-3271W-021 More than 500 veterans who escorted the unclaimed remains of seven Iowa veterans to their final resting place at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery line the procession route with American flags after providin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America owes its veterans. For the past 12 years, they have toiled and sacrificed in Iraq, Afghanistan and in so many other places around the world. Thousands made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, and thousands more were wounded. Even those without serious injuries gave their blood, sweat and tears. When service members take their oath, they are writing a blank check to the U.S. government, to the American people, for their lives. When and how America chooses to cash that check is beyond their control.

Nor should the untold sacrifices of military families be forgotten. How many husbands weren’t with their wives during the birth of their child? How many kids’ birthdays or Little League games were missed? How many childhoods were missed almost entirely? Twelve years of war does that. The time cannot pay veterans enough to compensate for those kinds of losses.

America has asked–or, more truthfully, demanded–so much from its veterans. And yet the country must now ask for more. Not for more of those things that really matter, the things that make life worth living. What the country seeks is more material in nature: basically, money.

The current budget sequestration plan protects military pay at the expense of all other costs in the Defense Department. Because our pay (I am a Marine) has become sacrosanct, even deeper cuts in the rest of the Defense Department budget will have to be made–cuts that will endanger us now and in the future. It isn’t just a matter of national security but also of personal security. As the Pentagon reduces funds for equipment, troops may begin to wonder: Are we going to be forced to surrender body armor to keep our pay? A more reasonable balance needs to be found. Even the currently envisioned cuts won’t necessarily be enough to stave off future ones, especially if military pay continues to be off-limits.

National security shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of military pay. But cuts wouldn’t have to start with basic paychecks. They could begin by aligning special pay across the branches. For example, airmen who serve aboard Navy ships earn “hardship pay” while the sailors aboard those same ships don’t. Serving aboard ship isn’t reasonably more difficult for an airman than it is for a sailor or Marine. Lodging and food allowances for those temporarily assigned to certain units can be reduced; there is no need for service members who are on temporary active duty in Bahrain–sometimes for as long as a year–to receive $142 per day on top of all the other moneys and forms of compensation. And there are, no doubt, dozens of other small fixes that can make some difference to the military budget.

But, ultimately, even base pay may have to be put on the line. Congress should cut only what feels justified in the name of national security. The cuts should be done the American way: Those who most need the money should be affected the least. Don’t start with cuts for everyone across the board. In the Marine Corps, we have a saying” “Officers eat last.” We officers exist to serve the enlisted Marines under our command. Start with us. But don’t start with those of us who are married and on whom spouses depend. Don’t start with those of us who have children. Start with those of us who don’t. Start with the single, childless officers. Start with me.

Yet active-duty service members and veterans cannot endure these sacrifices alone. For the past dozen years, most Americans have barely felt the impact of the wars and deployments abroad. To steer the government and the U.S. economy–the greatest pillar of national security–back on track, let everyone bear some of the burden. Let civilian officials take a pay cut too. Let older Americans, including my own grandparents–Nani, Papa Bernie, Grandma Dorothy–accept some cuts in Medicare. The middle-aged (that means you, Mom and Dad) must accept some cuts to Social Security benefits upon retirement. And to my civilian friends (Greg, Preethi, David, Anna), you must accept raising the Social Security retirement age, whether it is a mere two years or a painful 10.

It is long past time for all Americans to share in the sacrifice. Nothing should be off the table. Maintaining present comforts at the expense of future security endangers everything that veterans and their families have fought for. Don’t tell them that they fought in vain. That is what America owes.

Mr. Luxenberg is a first lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. His views do not represent those of the Defense Department or USMC.


We all make sacrifices, big and small.

Even civilian families are often denied the substantive presence of working fathers…and mothers. And many do not have Uncle Sam footing the bill for health care costs and the like. 

Notwithstanding such comparable sacrifices, those in the military are charged with the extraordinary task of dying…to preserve our freedom and those of others who desire democracy for themselves.

Death is…the ultimate sacrifice.

English: Arlington National Cemetery: A U.S. M...

English: Arlington National Cemetery: A U.S. Marine with the Drum and Bugle Corps, Marine Barracks Washington, plays Taps during an interment ceremony for 11 Marines recently brought back from Vietnam. Hundreds of friends, family and service members were on hand to pay tribute to the men who made the ultimate sacrifice so many years before. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…not something to be taken lightly…

………hugmamma.

a book…a movie…life

War and Peace. 

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer, posed in costum...

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer, posed in costume, while filming War and Peace. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sadly I neither read the book, nor was I able to sit through the epic film starring Audrey Hepburn, her husband at the time…Mel Ferrer, and Henry Fonda.

Despite this failing, I know one thing for sure. Peace is preferable to war.

College students during the Vietnam War, my husband and his brother, along with thousands of other students, were registered in a nationwide draft lottery. Fortunately, both had high numbers which, in the end, kept them from having to serve.

Family and friends mouthed a collective sigh of relief.

Two of my brothers weren’t so fortunate. One served in the Korean War; another was drafted into the Vietnam War.

I never learned about the war fought in Korea. My brother, so much older than me, had long since moved out on his own. We saw one another from time to time, but our chats were limited to the weather and other pleasantries.

By contrast, my brother Ed, just a few years older than me and still at home when I was growing up, shared horror stories about his stint in Vietnam.

The worst was when his buddy was blown to smithereens…within inches of my brother.

Long after he returned home, married, and had children, Ed continued to sleep with a gun under his pillow.

He’d awaken to nightmares, sweating in the dark as he recalled the horrible war years.

A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on 4th July 2002

A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on 4th July 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I toured the Vietnam Wall with Ed when it was first built. My husband and I happened to be visiting with my brother and his family at the time.

In those days there was no end to the controversy that swirled around The Wall’s selection as the nation’s memorial to the Vietnam War. Even my brother weighed in, favoring a more traditional monument. Perhaps something more typically representative of soldiers.

So I watched in wonder, as my brother underwent a quiet transformation…standing just inches from The Wall.

Tears welled in my eyes as Ed gently fingered the names of men with whom he had served…soldiers who had died for our country…young men in their prime.

Standing steadfast, my brother wiped a tear from his cheek.

This is what I know of war.

Information relayed from one who was there.  Second-hand, but nonetheless…powerful.

I am for peace.

I am for working with others to ensure a world in which we can live side by side, with respect for our differences.

I am for life…quality of life.

I am for equality…of persons…and nations.

I am for sharing in the bounty of this earth…as well as in its preservation.

I am for helping to shoulder the burdens of the less fortunate.

I am for all of us…being One Nation Under God.

…for no man is an island…unto himself.

………hugmamma.

Vietnam War Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

earth song…

Another blogger, kavi, at http://www.wingrish.wordpress.com …reminded me of the devastation the earth has suffered at the hands of humankind. We then both remembered Michael Jackson’s Earth Song, a powerful statement asking the question, on behalf of all species disenfranchised by man’s destruction of our environment…“What about us???” 

A  moving plea which deserves an answer…one that will most likely…never come…or come…too late.   

…kicking the can…down the road… 

………hugmamma. 

justice was served…but the memory lives on

As 9/11 fast approaches, it behooves us to remember the severity of Osama bin Laden’s attack against the United States.

National Geographic documented the steps leading up to the massacre in mind-numbing detail, as does the following video shot by private citizens with a bird’s eye view of the catastrophy.

For more than a year the four Al Quaeda Jihadists who learned to fly the jumbo jets lived among us…breathing our air, walking our sidewalks, driving our roads. They shopped, ate, and slept…only steps away from us. While they worked at their horrific mission, we went about our own business…working as usual.

Thousands of American lives were lost on 9/11. Families were forever torn apart. Children, even newborns, lived on without parents. Gaping holes were left in all our hearts. Not to mention the one in NYC…a tangible reminder of our country’s vulnerability to enemies intent upon our destruction…at any price.

President George W. Bush retaliated by taking us to war against Saddam Hossein. The dictator eventually met his maker, Allah. The cost to the American taxpayer?

We’re still paying it off.

And the man who admitted to masterminding and financing 9/11?

Osama bin Laden was silenced forever by President Obama in April of 2011.

No war…no astronomical price tag…

…just good, ole-american know-how…and guts!!!

………hugmamma.   😆  😆  😆

…only the brave answer…

“If not me, then Who?” I think most of us prefer to ignore the question, for ourselves and our loved ones.

My husband barely missed being shipped off to Vietnam in the late 60s, when the lottery was in place. The fact that he was in college may have gotten him a deferment. By the time he graduated, the war was winding down. We breathed a collective sigh of relief, and got married.

From age 13, my daughter knew she wanted to dance professionally. The military held no fascination for her. My mom’s heart skipped a beat, happy that my only child had also escaped the possibility of ducking bullets for a living.

afghanistan

afghanistan (Photo credit: The U.S. Army)

It is with awe that I read of those who willingly put their lives on the line so that we might do whatever it is we do. It’s difficult to wrap my brain around the sacrifice made by these brave men and women, and the families they leave behind, anxious for the safe return of their loved ones.

Memorial Day is a time to honor these brave Americans. But let’s remember them everyday, as we go about our own busy lives. The following has helped me do just that.

English: ARLINGTON, Va. (Oct. 4, 2010) Members...

English: ARLINGTON, Va. (Oct. 4, 2010) Members of the Naval Special Warfare community pay their final respects to fallen teammate and friend Lt. (SEAL) Brendan Looney by pounding their Tridents into his coffin at Arlington National Cemetery. Looney was one of nine service members who died in Zabul Province, Afghanistan after the helicopter they were traveling in crashed on Sept. 21. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Syberg/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Why They Serve: ‘If Not Me, Then Who?'”
by Tom Manion
   I served in the military for 30 years. But it was impossible to fully understand the sacrifices of our troops and their families until April 20, 2007, the day my son, First Lt. Travis Manion, was killed in Iraq.
   Travis was just 26 years old when an enemy sniper’s bullet pierced his heart after he had just helped save two wounded comrades. Even though our family knew the risks of Travis fighting on the violent streets of Fallujah, being notified of his death on a warm Sunday afternoon in Doylestown, Pa., was the worst moment of our lives.
   While my son’s life was relatively short, I spend every day marveling at his courage and wisdom. Before his second and final combat deployment, Travis said he wanted to go back to Iraq in order to spare a less-experienced Marine from going in his place. His words–“If not me, then who…”–continue to inspire me.
   My son is one of thousands to die in combat since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Because of their sacrifices, as well as the heroism of previous generations, Memorial Day 2012 should have tremendous importance to our entire nation, with an impact stretching far beyond one day on the calendar.
   In Afghanistan, tens of thousands of American troops continue to sweat, fight and bleed. In April alone, 35 U.S. troops were killed there, including Army Capt. Nick Rozanski, 36, who made the difficult decision to leave his wife and children to serve our country overseas.
   “My brother didn’t necessarily have to go to Afghanistan,” Spc. Alex Rozanski, Nick’s younger brother and fellow Ohio National Guard soldier, said. “He chose to because he felt an obligation.”
   Sgt. Devin Snyder “loved being a girly-girl, wearing her heels and carrying her purses,” according to her mother, Dineen Snyder. But Sgt. Snyder, 20, also took it upon herself to put on an Army uniform and serve in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan as a military police officer. She was killed by an enemy roadside bomb, alongside three fellow soldiers and a civilian contractor, on June 4, 2011.
   Air Force Tech. Sgt. Daniel Douville was an explosive ordnance disposal technician, doing an incredibly dangerous job depicted in “The Hurt Locker.” He was a loving husband and father of three children. “He was my best friend,” his wife, LaShana Douville, said. “He was a good person.”
   Douville, 33, was killed in a June 26, 2011, explosion in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where some of the fiercest fighting of the decade-long conflict continues to this day.
   When my son died in Iraq, his U.S. Naval Academy roommate, Brendan Looney, was in the middle of BUD/S (basic underwater demolition) training to become a Navy SEAL. Devastated by his good friend’s death, Brendan called us in anguish, telling my wife and me that losing Travis was too much for him to handle during the grueling training regimen.
   Lt. Brendan Looney overcame his grief to become “Honor Man” of his SEAL class, and he served in Iraq before later deploying to Afghanistan. On Sept. 21, 2010, after completing 58 combat missions, Brendan died with eight fellow warriors when their helicopter crashed in Zabul province. He was 29. Brendan and Travis now rest side-by-side in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery.
   “The friendship between First Lt. Travis Manion and Lt. Brendan Looney reflects the meaning of Memorial Day: brotherhood, sacrifice, love of country,” President Obama said at Arlington on Memorial Day 2011. “And it is my fervent prayer that we may honor the memory of the fallen by living out those ideals every day of our lives, in the military and beyond.”
   But the essence of our country, which makes me even prouder than the president’s speech, is the way our nation’s military families continue to serve. Even after more than a decade of war, these remarkable men and women are still stepping forward.
   As the father of a fallen Marine, I hope Americans will treat this Memorial Day as more than a time for pools to open, for barbecues or for a holiday from work. It should be a solemn day to remember heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, and also a stark reminder that our country is still at war.
   For the Rozanskis, Snyders, Douvilles, Looneys and thousands more like us, every day is Memorial Day. If the rest of the nation joins us to renew the spirit of patriotism, service and sacrifice, perhaps America can reunite, on this day of reverence, around the men and women who risk their lives to defend it.

Col. Manion, USMCR (Ret.), is on the board of the Travis Manion Foundation, which assists veterans and the families of the fallen.

An Officer and a (Little) Gentleman

An Officer and a (Little) Gentleman (Photo credit: JakeBrewer)

These men and women are not just wartime statistics. They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, close relatives and friends, co-workers, neighbors and friends. Their loss leaves a hole in their communities. Their legacy is that they died so that others’ lives might be better, abroad and at home.

A simple “thank-you” might seem a pittance by comparison to the gift bestowed upon us by these brave Americans. Behold a wildflower in a field of green. Its beauty still manages to captivate, although it stands alone.

Ohio Wildflower Along Interstate 270 in Columb...

Ohio Wildflower Along Interstate 270 in Columbus, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…so thank-you…

………hugmamma.