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Posts Tagged ‘War’

My thoughts on the Middle East and our Departure

22 Aug

Photo of tank with rocking chair on flag backgroundNo one person can, rather simply and with certainty, nail down just why the Middle East conflicts continue today but there are many contributing factors of influence which drive the war(s) that carry on. I doubt that our entering into the frakkus, post 9/11 really matters so much but there are compelling arguments some might make concerning our involvement prior to the terrorist attacks that fateful September day.

I’m proud to be an American and quite proud of what “America” stands for … but in this matter, our hands are not without their own fair share of blood.

My opinion has consistently been that we should never have allowed George W. Bush to drag us into two full-scale wars; one in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. I also believe there was much more going on behind the scenes, in the White House, than any of the nation’s constituents have ever been aware of. Had we been, we’d have probably been yelling more loudly for our own government’s reform and as well, impeachment, than we were for Osama Bin Laden’s head on a skewer.


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When the Walls Fell

14 Sep

NY Times front pageWhere were you on the morning of September 11th, 2001, when those two magnificent towers in New York City did fall (each tower large enough that it had its own zip code)? Were you glued to the television screen, aghast that such a thing could be happening right here within our borders? Were you frantically attempting to reach a loved one on the telephone to ask, “Have you heard? Turn on the TV!” or hoping in the face of all odds your friend or family member was nowhere near what would come to be known as “Ground Zero.” As the minutes drew on it became clear that New York was not the only target; other planes had been commandeered by the terrorists as well, heading for other locations (including the Pentagon).

I had left my ex earlier that year and was staying with a friend temporarily as I prepared to embark on a 10-day meditation retreat (scheduled for a week or two later). If not for the retreat I don’t know how I would have weathered the feelings I did experience. I’m sure I would have been fine but I don’t know if I would have been “as okay” as I was.

The morning of 9-11-2001 was brutal; the emotions going through my mind as I watched first one then the next tower fall. The feeling of total helplessness and agony for the lives lost that day, their souls rushed on to the next destination – the next leg of their journey.


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Steven Dale Green, Criminal or Victim?

28 May

(It saddens me that news of Green’s crime can be interpreted as a dark stain that must be endured by those who have done nothing to deserve it; that the reputations of good servicemen and women might be damaged because of the barbaric actions of five men who do not deserve to speak for the ranks as a whole. It also grieves me that this news is the topic of discussion so soon after celebrating the heroism of ‘deserving’ service members on a day set aside just for that, “Memorial Day.”)

Steven Green tries to blame his actions on the war, suggesting that he “lost [his] mind” while over in Iraq. Green claims he stopped seeing Iraqi’s as individuals and cannot tell the civilians apart from the terrorists of whom we are over there to fight.

I can’t begin to comprehend what is going through the minds of the men and women fighting this war but, for me, it’s an insult to those who wear the uniform to suggest that the “war” was Green’s downfall. I’m having a difficult time wrapping my mind around the horrific acts of this young man; raping a 14-year old girl and subsequently killing her along with both of her parents and a 6-year old sibling. It escapes any reason for me whatsoever that a person can be capable of such acts. Certainly the actions of the 9-11 terrorists equally shock and abhor me but one does not justify the other.

The vast majority of our ranks in the armed services would not, I hope, be capable of such acts. It’s true that Green did not act alone (the article mentions co-defendants Spec. James Barker, Sgt. Paul Cortez, Pfc. Jesse Spielman and Pfc. Bryan Howard) but how do we connect the dots between the actions of the average honor-bound serviceman and those of this 24 year old convicted rapist and killer? We don’t. Regardless of how I feel about the war itself, the war isn’t to blame for this man’s crime; he is. Read his biography (as described on Wikipedia) and you’ll discover he’s a high school dropout, was arrested for alcohol possession and reference is made to other “prior drug and alcohol related offenses” that would have otherwise disqualified him from entering into the service. He was allowed to enlist when he was granted a “moral character waiver.” (Of course, had he been openly gay no such waiver would have been considered.) Perhaps if those entrusted to separate the “weeds” from those who have what it takes to be a good serviceman (a man of HONOR) had done their job, we wouldn’t be talking about this today.

Perhaps. But they did not — and because of their failure to do their job we must now discuss the failing of another.

Can we blame the war for (by Green’s account) bringing about a change in this man’s character which seemingly made it possible, even if only temporarily, for him to commit the crime of which he’s been found guilty of — or is it all on Green? I think the latter. The man is to blame for his actions; not the geography wherein the crime took place, nor the war of which he was to have been fighting. Green is responsible for his unwillingness to differentiate between the Middle-Eastern civilians and those who were truly his enemy (and CERTAINLY he is to be held accountable for his lack of moral character, which enabled him to commit such a sadistic crime as rape).

What are your thoughts on this?

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Posted in Opinions

 

In Honor of Those Who Paid the Ultimate Price

25 May

We set aside this day in remembrance of those who have given so much of themselves for our freedom, to honor the many men and women who did pay the ultimate price so that we all might enjoy the “inalienable rights” upon which our Nation was founded.

Namaste,
Michael


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Posted in Poetry

 

An Open Letter…

27 Mar

Photo of Barack ObamaA member of my family (could just as easily have been anyone else) recently sent this email with a number of anti-Obama bumper sticker images. No problem; detractors of George Walker Bush, myself included, have done the same (of course, we had a much easier target).

The difference is Barack is barely in office and already those who oppose him expect “all of our problems” to have been resolved. We didn’t get into this mess overnight and I won’t pretend to blame George Bush for all of it (although in my opinion he’s done a considerable amount to stir the pot). It’s going to take more than eight weeks to put some distance between ourselves and eight years of “Moving America forward,” a failed road trip at the wheel of the previous administration. It will take considerably more than eight weeks to effect lasting change on an economy that is clearly in the toilet. It will take more than eight weeks to pull our troops back home from the Middle East.


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Posted in Politics

 

Stimulus Dollars Paving The Way to Foreign Interests?

24 Mar

Yes, you read correctly. It seems foreign companies and diplomats are lobbying Washington for a piece of the $787 billion stimulus program. Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia travelled here to lobby on behalf of Spain. (What? Spain can’t tax their own to raise funds?)

Do outside interests have a chance of securing any of this assistance? Perhaps and I’m of mixed feelings on the matter. After all, this is money raised at the expense of the American taxpayer and it ‘should’ be spent in a manner that consistently represents OUR interests; not those of a foreign nation. I mean, contrary to impressions given by the last administration (and their preoccupation with the Middle East) it isn’t my responsibility as an American taxpayer to take care of
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The Middle East, Real World and Tomorrow

18 Mar

741677388_lThe ending to tonight’s episode of Real World brought up some emotion for me. While the terrorist acts of 9-11 still make me angry as all hell I’ve never felt we should have sent troops over to the Middle East. I know, I know; I’ve heard all the arguments about protecting our interests and stopping terrorism abroad, yada, yada, yada… But my problem is I think we have more than enough issues right here at home to attend to without adding the task of policing a region that seems so obviously “anti-American” (the impression I get).

This attitude doesn’t sit too well with many conservatives; especially those who placed their faith in George Walker Bush right up to the last days of his presidency. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen it suggested that if you’re against the war you must be against our brave men and women in the armed forces. Bullshit! It’s BECAUSE I support our service members that I rail against this war so much. I understand this is what they train for but you just don’t put your military in harm’s way without a really good reason to do so (and in my opinion President Bush was far too eager to use 9-11 as a tagline for Party votes, counting upon bad intelligence {go figure} to justify his war chest.)


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A Moment of Silence

19 Jul

Today I wish to honor the men and women serving in our military. I know I’ve said a lot about George W. Bush and how I believe we shouldn’t be fighting the war we’re in, over in Iraq. I still feel that way but such feelings shouldn’t be interpreted as a loss of faith in our country or a lack of support for our military. My fight with GWB is political; my support of the military is without question, “my undying support!” These men and women often put their lives in harms way and they get so very little in return. Sometimes, they’re even made to feel as though THEY are the bad guys just for doing their job. Such a shame. Anybody who holds our military accountable for the decisions their commander in chief may have made should rethink such a position.

(After all, when was the last time you agreed whole-heartedly with every decision your own boss made on behalf of the company you work for? What if YOU YOURSELF were held responsible for the decisions your CEO made? Use that as an argument with another the next time they’re making some poor guy or woman wearing our country’s uniform feel like shit just for doing his/her own job. I say “they” because I know my own friends here wouldn’t do such a thing.)

Does everyone in the armed forces conduct themselves in an honorable fashion? No, we’ve had and will continue to discover some bad apples along the way – just as there are those among our “civilians” who don’t seem to know how to behave. Bad apples exist everywhere, amongst all walks of life and across the globe. Always have, always will.

So. What is prompting this blog? The loss of lives on Sunday morning (July 13th), when in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province nine [soldiers] died and others were injured. It saddens me to think that for many of those who fell this was their last action; they were actually preparing to come home — but nine never saw their families again. They gave the ultimate sacrifice. So I sit here and I wonder, “is it more important that I ‘stay away (from myspace) and hold true to a promise I made myself’ or do I make my voice heard by speaking out on behalf of the good men and women who serve in our military day in and day out, the safety of their lives never really certain”? Sure, there has been plenty going on here on myspace recently that I find disappointing — but my purpose for being here has not changed. To try and be the voice of reason and support when such may be sorely needed. I ask each one of you to consider what I’m about to say.

These nine soldiers gave their lives so that you and I might live freely and with reasonable safety in a country which, though not perfect, affords us freedoms that are not always enjoyed in other parts of the world. Getting very up front and personal with each one of you for a moment, if something were to happen to the friends with which you have been arguing in recent weeks… If for any reason the friend with which you have been arguing with here were to lose his or her life, how would you then feel? Would it make you sad that the last words to have been spoken between the both of you were words of anger, one blaming the other for his or her own opinions on a matter which, in the greater scheme of things, is really not all that important? (I’m talking of course about whether another here on myspace has/had(?) been lying. In this case, about his health. Crap, people lie online on the internet all the time. I do NOT condone the lies but fakirs on the net are a “given hazard”. It happens and I have personally been taken in by someone who lied to me for more than a year and a half. But how often can we identify with certainty that it IS happening? Usually, we can only speculate on the matter. So are you going to allow what might be the misunderstood actions or intentional dishonesty of a third party (who may or may not be lying) to come between you and your friends?)

I think that should be the last I say on this particular matter. After all, the first and foremost motivating reason for me to even get online to write a blog today was to honor the fallen who lost their lives on Sunday last.

So, in closing, that is what I wish to focus on. The courage of our men and women who have been fighting in a world far, far removed from us. They may not be here but we should be thankful for each one of them. We should keep in the foremost of our minds, the hope that those in our armed services will be kept safe as they go about doing their “jobs” today and every day that they are not safely here at home. Safely within the borders of the country for which they constantly put their lives on the line.” If you pray, pray that they will be kept safe today, tomorrow and every day thereafter until their tour of duty is done and they can return home to their own friends and loved ones.

If you do not pray, please just say (to yourself if noone else) “Thank you!” Thanks for doing a job which so many of us are unwilling or unable to do but nonetheless a job whose detail allows us, daily, to benefit from.

You may or may not agree with the war. Personally, I do not – but that does not mean I’m not thankful, every day, for the efforts these young men and women make and for the courage they exude EVERY DAY! May they be kept safe; both, from the actions of the insurgents and from the decisions our elected representatives have made that have placed these courageous men and women in harms way.

Peace and safety is my wish today…
Michael

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Posted in Politics

 

The History of "Taps"

26 May

I can’t vouch for this one. I don’t even remember where I stumbled across this but here it is anyway. What is purported to be the history of “Taps.” I just thought I’d post this in honor of all those who have paid the ultimate price over the years. Best and Blessings, Michael

—begin email———

Subject: The history of Taps

I never knew the origin of Taps. Here is its history(??)

We, in the United States, have all heard the haunting song, “Taps.” It’s the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually creates tears in our eyes. But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about it’s humble beginnings. Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe! heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.

When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son.

The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.

The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted. The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a! series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform. This wish was granted. The haunting melody, we now know as “Taps” used at military funerals, was born:

Day is done Gone the sun From the lakes From the hills From the sky. All is well, Safely rest. God is nigh.

Fading light Dims the sight And a star Gems the sky, Gleaming bright From afar, Drawing nigh, Falls the night.

Thanks and praise, For our days, Neath the sun, Neath the stars, Neath the sky, As we go, This we know, God is nigh.

I too, have felt the chills while listening to “Taps” but I never have seen all of the words to the song until now. I didn’t even know there were more verses than the one.

I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn’t know if you had either so I thought I’d pass it along. I now have an even deeper respect for the song.

—end email———

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