Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Memorial Day


This morning I read an article telling how many memorials built to honor those who died or served in the First World War are falling into disrepair. With a tight economy, many can’t be repaired. World War One was known as the Great War and the “War to End All Wars.” Little did we know.

Men and women have always gone off to serve, prepared to give what Lincoln called “the last full measure.” They should be remembered, but memorial buildings and monuments aren’t necessary. The second most impressive memorial I’ve ever seen is Arlington National Cemetery with the Tomb of the Unknowns. We don’t know names, but we know their spirit. We remember.


By far the most impressive memorial that too many of us have seen is very temporary. Combat boots with an inverted M-16, dog tags and a helmet. This was the memorial for the service members we had lost from our base. It seems like there was always more than one.

The base theater/chapel was where these were placed and as the military members entered, the placed their rifles under the pews – bumping the boxes of tissues that had already been prepositioned there. The lost member might be from any service – we all were working together.

Friends spoke of the fallen. We’d file past the memorials and render a slow salute; commanders would leave their unit coin as a tribute to each of the fallen.

An hour after the troops left, the memorials were gone.

It’s what comes from the heart that remembers these heroes, not necessarily buildings or stadiums. So today, remember – from the heart.



Sometimes we have the negative form of a word, but not the positive. George Carlin mentioned the need for “chalant”; we have “nonchalant,” so the concept is there.

Same for NIMBY – “Not In MY Backyard!” I want reliable electric power, but not a transmission line much less a power plant.

IMBY – “In My Backyard” has led to many earmarks, set asides and other pork in various forms of legislation including bridges, highways, defense contracts and whatever.

Want to find the nearest college stadium? There’s an app for that. Want to build a new college stadium? There’s an earmark for that. If it doesn’t get a direct grant, funding will qualify as a charitable contribution and be a deduction.

We look at places like Afghanistan and laugh at how they identify themselves according to tribes and villages, but are we any different? It’s my city and my industry I’m interested in. Those are my village and tribe writ large. If the rest of the world goes down the tubes, so be it.

Once upon a time, so long ago that we still capitalized nouns, a bunch of guys got together and after a lot of hard work, drafted a document that begins:

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

Like every other person who has or is serving in the military, I swore an oath to protect and defend the principles in that document, from enemies foreign or domestic. An oath, once taken, stands. I am just as proud today as I was thirty some years ago to stand by my commitment.

How much stronger are we as “We the People” instead of “me”? Don’t we together have a better chance of maintaining domestic Tranquility and an effective defence?

Don’t we all want Justice so we’re all treated fairly and to see the general Welfare promoted so we all benefit?

Let’s look past our tribes and our villages and be a part of “We the People.”


Dr Seuss(Theodor Seuss Geisel)We Miss You!

Dr. Seuss
(Theodor Seuss Geisel)
We Miss You!


For the Christmas season in 2005 I was bouncing around Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Sailors I was responsible for worked hard unloading and reloading ships, acting as Customs Inspectors and training Iraqi and Afghani forces. When the holidays approached, they looked forward to some well-deserved downtime.

Alas, it was not to be.

When the holidays come, so do FOGOs – Flag Officers (Admirals) and General Officers (Generals). Instead of a day to catch up on some shuteye, read a book, relax or whatever, the Sailors (as well as their Army, Marine, Air Force and Coast Guard compatriots) had to put on a clean, pressed uniform and spend half a day at the DFAC (Dining Facility) while a FOGO they’d never met carved the turkey or dished up mashed potatoes on the food line and then sat and “chatted” with the service members.

All well-intentioned, but not exactly a bull’s-eye.

This Christmas, may I suggest that whatever you’re planning on doing to entertain or support others, please – keep your audience in mind. If you give them what they want, it’s so much better than if you give them what you want to give.

Just a thought.