the gauntlet…

…has been “thrown down.”

Yesterday General Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Council mouthpiece, has threatened Iran to behave “or else.”

Immediately upon the heels of a well-received roll out of the president’s Supreme Court candidate, Trump regresses once again to his bully pulpit. The inherent threat in Flynn’s words “As of today we are officially putting Iran on notice”  leads one to think the president is prepared to go to war.

“I love war in a certain way.” Words spoken by Trump during his presidential campaign. Ironic since he avoided serving in the military, and never suffered the anxiety other parents do when sending their children off to defend our country and what it stands for…freedom and a democratic way of life.

Prior to becoming president, Trump gushed profusely about his love for the vets. Now, ensconced in the ultimate position of power, he seems more than willing to put America’s military in harm’s way at the slightest provocation, real or perceived.

With Trump at the helm, we face the possibility of war on several fronts…in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, considering the firestorm currently brewing in the Ukraine. The global chaos, owing in great part to Trump’s erratic behavior, is negatively impacting his promise to “make America great again.”

Trump is the inveterate champion in the war of words…whether he utters them personally, or commands any one of a number of surrogates to speak for him.

Because of his demand that Mexico pay for the wall he has promised to build, Trump has essentially instigated a war with that country.

Because of his travel ban on Muslims entering the U.S. from 7 countries, Trump has angered Muslims the world over. And it doesn’t help that he’s also declared his intention to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

As though that weren’t enough, Trump blasts Australia’s prime minister as though he were some lowly file clerk instead of a prominent world leader and our valuable ally. Who could fault the Australians if they decide not to sacrifice their sons and daughters should Trump wage war with China in the south seas?

If we escape shedding blood on foreign shores during Trump’s presidency, it won’t be for lack of his trying…mightily. If his first attempt is any sign of Trump’s skills at real war…not ones made-for-TV or the big screen…America is in big trouble. Navy seal William Owens, 36, of Illinois was needlessly killed in a raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen that wasn’t scrupulously vetted

According to David Sanger of the New York Times…

Usually, a president goes down in the Situation Room, is presented with what they call a full package for the attack. There’s a legal assessment of the legal authorities under which they’re doing these. There’s a risk assessment to the commandos who would be doing it. There is a risk assessment of what could happen to civilians who are in the area.

This particular attack had been set up by the Obama administration. They had debated it, and President Obama decided about 10 days before the end of his term that he couldn’t approve it because the Pentagon really wanted to go in under the complete cover of darkness, a moonless night. And the next moonless night wasn’t going to be until after he was no longer in office.

So, they kicked this one over to the new administration. And it looks like President Trump got briefed on it, by and large, at a dinner, not in the Situation Room, not with legal advisers around. His secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, was there. Vice President Pence was there. Stephen Bannon, who has emerged as the newest member of the National Security Council, known really more for his political advice than military, was there.

So was his new national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who is a veteran of many of these.

But the discussion took place in a dinner situation. And he approved the raid at that dinner.

And I think one of the questions, given how many things have gone wrong, is, would it have been different if he had been in the Situation Room and perhaps had a different set of briefings?

Sanger goes on to say…

We don’t have a lot of view into the decision — discussion that they had at the dinner table.

But I think Richard [Atwood] raises one of the most important points. Over time, presidents learn that the biggest risk out here is not only the civilian risk and the risk to American forces, but whether — as Donald Rumsfeld used to say, whether you’re creating terrorists faster than you’re killing them.

And certainly, if you have a case like this where there appear to have been considerable civilian casualties, that may well be the case, especially because, even if some of those civilians may have taken up arms and fired against the SEALs, in the mythology of what went on, you’re going to hear a story of SEALs who dropped out of the sky and suddenly attacked a remote village in Yemen.

And you can imagine the recruiting capability of that. So, you know, part of what’s going on here…is that you have in the Trump administration a group that believes that the decision-making in these kind of cases has to be shortened, that more of the power has to be devolved down to the Pentagon, the commanders.

And yet, in the first case that the president approved, things went very badly wrong. And you have to wonder whether or not that is going to have the effect of making them think that they need to slow down and think more about the effects of these and get fuller briefings, or whether they’re simply going to say, look, this happens sometimes.

One has to wonder about Trump’s cavalier attitude toward risking the lives of those he espouses to love…the military. With his own sons and son-in-law out of harm’s way and living the great life for which other American sons and daughters are making the ultimate sacrifice, Trump engages world leaders as though he were playing a game of chess. And judging from his seeming disdain for deep thinking, I wouldn’t bet on him to win at chess, let alone…

…war.

 

Advertisements

nurturing thursdays: …in adversity we find happiness

Recently I heard something which made a lot of sense…after I’d thought about it a little.

It was while listening to NPR radio, during a piece on a journalist who had spent the better part of his career in war torn countries. When he returned to the States and settled into a more mundane existence, he came to realize that he missed life in the war zone.

Like you, I was taken aback. “Is he nuts?” I thought. After hearing what he had to say, I totally got where he was coming from. And now, after living through my own personal war I am convinced the man is right.

My Easter posting was a very brief piece wishing everyone a blessed holiday. In it I asked that prayers be said for my daughter. At the time I revealed nothing except that she had surgery, not one, but two.

Hurriedly booking a flight to leave the next day, it would take more than 24 hours before my husband and I could reach our daughter’s hospital bedside. Until then we had no idea what to expect. The last bit of news we’d had…from her boyfriend…was that the ER doctor thought our daughter’s CAT SCAN showed internal bleeding.

And so began our war to win back our daughter’s prior good health.

Five weeks later, the battle is winding down. While I would like to declare victory, as the saying goes…”it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” And this fat lady for sure ain’t singin’…not yet at least. Not until our daughter’s dancing a rollicking jig again…contemporary-style.

Our daughter underwent surgery to remove a fibroid from her uterine wall. Because it was a polyp, the gynecologist wanted to be certain it wasn’t cancerous. Fortunately it wasn’t. Unfortunately its removal proved tricky.

While trying to unstick the polyp, the forceps pierced the uterine wall. Realizing this, the doctor halted the procedure deciding not to attempt removal of a second, larger fibroid. Deciding that the uterine wall would self-heal, the doctor released our daughter allowing her to go home. A few hours later she returned to ER in excruciating pain.

Later that evening our daughter was admitted as a patient. The next morning the gynecologist consulted with a general surgeon specializing in bowel operations. It was decided that in penetrating the uterine wall, the forceps also pierced the bowel wall. Bile had leaked out causing the unbearable pain our daughter had experienced. Without being totally coherent about all that would occur, our daughter underwent the second surgery to repair her bowel wall.

Two centimeters of bowel was removed. Rather than perform the less invasive procedure, the surgeon opted to get in quick, probably to halt the spread of more toxins throughout our daughter’s body. Of course the abdominal incision meant a longer recovery time. Hence, her hospital stay of 6 days.

My husband and I were by our daughter’s side two days later. We kept a vigil for as long as we could each day. We took turns walking the hallways so as not to cramp up while sitting in the hard chairs.

Having us with her allowed our daughter to relax into her recuperation. She was the child again…reveling in the loving care of doting parents. Best medicine in the world. Just what the doctor ordered.

Lucky for us our daughter’s boyfriend, whom we had not met until then, proved an excellent fill-in. He was with her throughout the entire ordeal, right up until we arrived. Even after our arrival, he’d visit nightly after working a full day. It took him half-an-hour to get to the hospital and 45 minutes to drive home to his apartment. They’ve only dated 7 months and yet, it seems they’ve been waiting their whole lives for one another.

Wedding bells will peal in the not-too-distant future. We couldn’t be happier for our daughter and her awesome beau.

Happiness is truly where you find it, and often it’s under the least likely circumstances.  I wouldn’t question it…

…i’d just…go along with it.

………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.

 

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

…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.

in the aftermath…#2

Following is the second in a series of opinions reacting to Osama bin Laden’s death, which I am sharing.

Bin Laden’s Last Challenge–to Republicans
by William McGurn

Osama bin Laden is dead; New York celebrates a...

Image by Dan Nguyen @ New York City via Flickr

In life, Osama bin Laden‘s ability to elude capture for almost a decade after 9/11 challenged the American claim that no enemy is beyond her reach. In death, the al Qaeda terrorist now presents a new challenge, mostly to Republicans hoping to run in 2012. The message is this: You better have a coherent foreign policy to go along with your fiscal agenda.

It’s not just that Barack Obama is looking strong. For the moment, at least, he is strong. In the nearly 10 years since our troops set foot in Afghanistan, a clear outcome remains far from sight, and many Americans have wearied of the effort. As President Obama reminded us Sunday night, getting bin Laden doesn’t mean our work there is done–but his success in bringing the world’s most hunted man to justice does reinvigorate that work.

It does so, moreover, in a way that few of Mr. Obama’s recent Democratic predecessors in the Oval Office have matched. The killing of bin Laden was no one-shot missile strike on a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory suspected of making chemical weapons, as ordered by Bill Clinton. Nor was it a failed hostage rescue in Iran a la Jimmy Carter. Instead, it was a potent combination of American force and presidential decisiveness.

SEALs in from the water.

Image via Wikipedia

First, Mr. Obama authorized a ground operation with Navy Seals far inside Pakistani territory. Second, he did not inform the Pakistanis.

These are the kinds of hard decisions that presidents have to make, where the outcome is likely to be either spectacular success or equally spectacular failure. For taking the risks that would paralyze others, and for succeeding where others have failed, the president and his team have earned the credit they are now getting.

Yes, in the days to come we may learn that the real story is a little more complicated than the one Mr. Obama gave us Sunday night. Did enhanced interrogation play a role in generating vital intelligence? And about that order to the CIA to get bin Laden: Wasn’t that a modification of an order given by George W. Bush after 9/11?

Nevertheless, in going after and getting bin Laden as forcefully as he did, Mr. Obama has just undermined one of the primary narratives against him–that of an indecisive president who worries more about the rights of our enemies than the freedom and safety of our citizens. If Mr. Obama ends up toppling Moammar Gadhafi too, he will look even stronger.

In fact, even weaker policies–e.g., cutting defense, pulling out from Afghanistan, might now be argued from a position of strength: “I said I would get us out of Iraq, and I did–and Iraq is stronger. I said I would prosecute our real enemies in Afghanistan, and I did–and we got bin Laden. It is true that I am reluctant to commit America to overseas conflicts. But when we are engaged I will finish the job.”

Do Republican candidates even have an answer? Apart from Sen. John McCain and Sarah Palin, few Republicans even talk about foreign policy. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty probably comes closest to offering a coherent vision, having come out for a robust foreign policy that backs up our friends and takes on our enemies without apology.

Within the GOP, however, there remains a strain that is deeply suspicious of U.S. involvement overseas, especially since the end of the Cold War. The irrepressible Ron Paul, of course, has been most explicit. Before announcing he wouldn’t run in the GOP presidential primaries, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour sounded a similar note when he complained about trying to turn Afghanistan into Ireland and suggested we start shrinking our troop presence there.

2012 Republican Presidential Candidates

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

As for the rest, the former governors from last time around (Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee) seem to be hedging their bets. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels served under President Bush, but he would hardly be confused for an advocate of any freedom agenda. For the most part, the Republican hope appears to be that eight-plus-percent unemployment along with six-dollar-a-gallon gasoline will be enough to defeat Barack Obama.

They may be right. Certainly one forceful strike is no guarantee that Mr. Obama will be re-elected, much less that he will follow-up with other muscular acts. But it does make the argument against him weaker. Up to now, Republican candidates seem to have believed they had been gifted with the second coming of Jimmy Carter.

President Obama makes surprise visit to Bagram...

Image by DVIDSHUB via Flickr

If Republicans are smart they will recognize that this meme took a big hit when a Navy Seal put a bullet in bin Laden’s head. Along with his decision to ramp up the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the president now has the opportunity to present himself in a way few Democrats ever have: as more hard-nosed about protecting the American people from foreign threats than his Republican opponents.

(Write to MainStreet@wsj.com)

“turn, turn, turn,” a folk song

Joan Baez was a songstress who epitomized the folk song era. She had the peaceful appearance of the “flower children” who grew like wildflowers all over the 60’s landscape. And her voice lulled those who were listening, into believing that life was beginning to replicate Heaven. I wonder what she thinks of the way things have turned out decades later?

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time to be born a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal, a time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to build up a time to break down, a time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
A time of love, a time of hate, a time of war a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven
A time to gain, a time to lose, a time to rend, a time to sew
A time of love, a time of hate, a time of peace, I swear it’s not too late

To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time to every purpose under heaven
To everything turn turn turn there is a season turn turn turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

 

children, “clean slates”

A favorite saying has been that “Children are clean slates, upon which adults leave their chalk-mark.” Although babies are most likely born with individual personalities, it’s also very likely that adults influence their development to a great degree. Our passions and prejudices are passed along directly, or through osmosis. We are human, so it’s impossible to guarantee perfection when raising children. Nonetheless, we should make a concerted effort to guard against leaving a legacy of negativism to future generations. Easier said than done.

Change is inevitable; life isn’t stagnant. But while we can’t stop change, we can  control its direction. Viewing life through a baby’s eyes, it would seem only natural that he or she would want a pleasant environment in which to grow and  flourish. It’s not far-fetched to think that adults would agree.

Unfortunately, life has had a head start, our world seems already “set in stone.” War is waging all around us. Battles are being fought on every front: rich vs. poor, liberals vs. conservatives, Wall Street vs. Main Street, blacks vs. whites, Muslims vs. Christians, U.S. citizens vs. illegal immigrants; big businesses vs. small businesses. On the front line fighting are the stockholders, politicians, consumers, lobbyists, NAACP, Ku Klux Klan, “skinheads,” religious fanatics, families, farmers, pharmaceuticals, health insurance companies.

The fallout from our self-inflicted war is its negative impact upon our society, particularly our children. Many fear they will be saddled with our trillion-dollar national debt; I fear they’re already saddled with a psyche of distrust and dislike for anyone and anything, alien to the world in which they’ve been raised.

Children are “killing” children, as in the case of Tyler Clementi’s suicide brought about because his college roommate and a friend posted pictures on YouTube, revealing that Clementi was gay. Obviously the instigators grew up with a certain mind-set, and felt certain their revelation would be well received by millions having the same mind-set. That way of thinking, “us against them,” has been generations in the making, passed along without thought of the consequences to the most vulnerable among us, our children.

When we become adults I wish we could remember how it was growing up as children. Rose, a black girl at the orphanage where my mom worked, was forever picked on because she was mentally slow, stuttered, and built like an Amazon. With nowhere to go when she graduated from high school, my mom brought Rose into our home for a couple of years, to share what little we had. Another orphan, Fuji, was teased because he was slightly built and had effeminate tendencies. And I can remember telling “white lies” in elementary school to cover up being poor, wanting desperately to be accepted by others. How did we children know that being black, disabled, gay and poor were qualities that set us apart, like lepers, like outcasts? Why did our perpetrators know they could victimize us, and not be punished by the adults? It’s no wonder we grow up doing what was done to us, or by us, as children. Can the cycle ever be broken? I hope so.

I’m still trying to “wrap my brain around” the Human Rights Campaign. While I can’t identify with gays in their perception of life, I know in my gut that they are human beings deserving of the same respect that I demand for myself. Knowing several gay men, I’m aware of their incredible talent for business, and commitment to doing their utmost in their positions, most of them in management. Perhaps because they feel they have to prove their worth above and beyond their straight peers, gays are sensitive to their surroundings and those who cohabit them. Granted, there are those who are jerks, just like there are straights who are jerks. I avoid both, not because they’re gay or straight, but because their personalities don’t coalesce with mine. Period.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not an easy undertaking, not because it CAN’T be done, but because of society’s pervasive mind-set. Get rid of the mind-set, and I don’t see a problem. As children, weren’t we told to “get along with others?” I don’t remember being told only to play with “straight” boys and girls.

One of my best childhood guy friends, Michael, was very fashion conscious, seemed like one of the girls during sleepovers, eagerly joined in learning new dance steps, and was as heartbroken as me when my boyfriend and I broke up. My brothers referred to Michael as a “mahu,” (Hawaiian for “gay”), but that didn’t deter me from having him as a close friend. My mom thought he was a great friend, my girlfriends liked him, and my other guy friends, sports jocks, liked him as well. In fact Michael wasn’t gay for he had a serious crush on a mutual friend, who felt badly that she couldn’t return his feelings.

I couldn’t imagine the world without the gay men I know, and about whom I care. They’re like me in all the ways that matter. They love, they feel, they bleed. Why wouldn’t I let them defend me by serving our country? Their sexual preference seems to be the only obstacle to military duty. Delete that, and it seems a “no-brainer.” But eliminating historical prejudices, especially ones based upon subjective interpretations of the Bible, seems an impossibility. My one voice can’t “move mountains,” but as Gandhi said “Everything you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s important you do it anyway, because no onelse will.”

For me, those discussed in Eve Conant’s Newsweek article “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,”  are the faces of the Human Rights Campaign, gays who want to serve and, perhaps, die for our country.

Joseph Rocha had always wanted to be in the military. He enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday, trained to become a handler working with explosive-sniffing dogs, and found himself part of a small, specialized unit in Bahrain. Banned by law from discussing his sexual orientation, he had a hard time explaining to his peers why he didn’t party with them, or even join their bawdy conversations. He became an outcast. Fellow sailors ridiculed him for being gay. At one point they locked him in a dog kennel. Another time they forced him to eat dog food. In 2007 he was discharged after signing a document admitting his homosexuality. But if “don’t ask, don’t tell” is repealed–as many expect will happen in the coming year–Rocha says he wants to serve again. “You never lose that sense of duty and service and love for country,” says the second-generation Mexican-American from Sacramento, Calif., who will graduate from the University of San Diego this spring. “It’s a unique and beautiful thing most of us feel we were robbed of and would take the first chance to have it back.” …

Lissa Young, 48,…A West Point grad from a military family–her father was a fighter pilot–Young had an exceptional 16-year military career before she was outed in 2002. At that time, she was a Chinook pilot and West Point instructor who had just been selected for promotion to lieutenant colonel. …

To fly commercial planes, Young needed new training, but her financial security–including her retirement benefits–disappeared the day she was discharged. She was in her 40s with $50,000 to her name and no job experience outside the military. … she was hired by Raytheon as a salesperson for air traffic-control systems in the Middle East. But she felt awkward in the corporate world. …She…made her way to Harvard.

Now Young is on the verge of getting her doctorate in education, still hoping to teach at West Point as a civilian if she can’t rejoin the military. As a cadet at West Point, she was the first female to serve as a deputy brigade commander, and she returned later becoming a full-fledged instructor. ‘I’m a product of West Point,’ she says ‘They molded me, I took an oath to dedicate my life to leading soldiers.’ …being in the Army and serving isn’t what I do, it’s who I am.’ She would love to fly again, and if allowed back in, wants to be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. …

Bleu Copas, 34, joined the Army after the attacks of September 11. ‘I thought it was the honorable thing to do,’ says the native of Johnson City, Tenn. But after almost four years in the service, the then-sergeant–and fluent Arabic speaker–was anonymously outed. …He accepted an honorable discharge. ‘My commander told me he didn’t want to do this, that I was one of his best leaders,’ …Despite what happened, he says he wants to return ‘for the same reason I signed up in the first place: to serve my country.’

The Army invested a lot of time and money in Copas before it dumped him. He spent 18 months in intensive Arabic training in Monterey, Calif., and had top-secret clearance for handling sensitive documents. These days he works a desk job at the Department of Veterans Affairs back home, helping soldiers transition to civilian life. He doesn’t feel comfortable in a suit and tie, and he’s forgetting his Arabic. ‘It’s very rusty now; I don’t have a lot of use for it in northeast Tennessee.’ He says he’s not bitter, but it’s clear he’d like a change. ‘I’ve been told I’m too forgiving; maybe that plays a role. But if there are new opportunities, I just want to take them.’

After 9/11 ousted gay vets felt hopeful they would be recalled to service. ‘These were high-performing people who knew the nation was in need and couldn’t imagine the military wouldn’t want them,’ says Bridget Wilson, a San Diego lawyer who has represented gay and lesbian soldiers for decades. Yet pilots, linguists, and trained gunners watched from the sidelines as the military loosened restrictions on high-school dropouts and former drug users to boost recruitment for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘It really made us crazy when they waived convicted felons into service,’ Wilson recalls.” 

If my daughter were to go to war, I’d want her fighting alongside soldiers who are the best in their fields. But I don’t anticipate having to worry about my child going to combat, so I’ll leave it to the parents of children who might one day decide to enlist. Would it be better that they be caught in a hailstorm of fire with trained soldiers, gays and “straights?” Or all “straights,” some having been drug addicts or felons before joining? I’m not saying they can’t change, but what’s their proven track record? 

just my opinion…hugmamma.