Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It happens every Friday!

Friday mornings at the Pentagon.
Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing months or years in military hospitals.

This week, I'm turning my space over to a good friend and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, who recently completed a year long tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.

Here's Lt. Col. Bateman's account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Website.

"It is 110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army' hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew.

Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area.

The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares. "10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

"A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

"Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden ... yet.

"Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier's chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

"Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

"11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. My hands hurt. Please! Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway - 20, 25, 30.. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

"There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband's wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son's behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.

"Did you know that?

McClatchy Newspapers

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Monday, September 21, 2009

More Cards

We got another box off to another FOB. That makes the count to 3 different FOB's that we are sending cards to!! WHOOO HOOOO!!!
Anytime we can spread a little cheer to these soldiers who put their lives on hold and make out a blank check to the USA for, and including, up to his or her life. We are in DESPERATE need for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa cards. If you have extra's from years past, or have homemade one's you want to donate, please do so. These soldiers can mail these free cards home for free and they just LOVE them. They don't have the availability to go to Wal-Mart and pick up a few cards here and there so that's why we do what we do! Please email me if you'd like to help. Please forward on this to anyone who you know would like to help!
Lets spread some cheer!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Always remember

Never forget, never stop teaching our children either.
For when we stop remembering and teaching then their memory dies with us. Let us continue to remind our next generations of why our
soldiers are fighting and who we need to thank for letting
us sleep in a free land.
And let us keep each and every soldier and their families in our prayers.
Thank you to each and every single soldier
who has and currently is serving our country!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Book

One of my Blue Star Mom Friends, Christina, stopped by today
and gave me a small, sweet little book.
It's a small book with some BIG quotes,
quotes that tell it like it is,
both sweet and sour.
One touched me, the core of me,
of a Mom waiting for her child to come home safely
and I wanted to share it.
Thank you Christina, for being so sweet and my friend.
I added my daughters name in it to personalize it.

it's all about the JOURNEY.

we are CREATED by it.

we are made STRONGER by it.

we are DESTROYED by it.

and we are REBORN from it.

for as far as your road goes YVONNE...


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Card fronts

When we get card fronts from stamping demo's (thank you SO much ladies!!) we organize them in these boxes according to card type.
After we make them into full cards, we add envelopes and organize them into these clear boxes that have locking lids, add dividers to separate the card types, then mail it off to a Chaplain.

We just received another Chaplains name that is at a pretty big FOB and is anxiously awaiting this box of cards for "his guys."

SO cute for him to put it that way!

Thank you for your support ladies! You're gonna put smiles on soldiers faces!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Sack Lunches

The Sack Lunches

I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my
assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight.. 'I'm glad I have a good
book to read Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and
filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to
start a conversation. 'Where are you headed?' I asked the
soldier seated nearest to me.

'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training,
and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan .'

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that
sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several
hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would
help pass the time..

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if

he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for
just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait
till we get to base '

His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch.
I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a
fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed
my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked
me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq ; it's almost like you are doing it
for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the
soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you
like best - beef or chicken?'

'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked.
She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute
later with a dinner plate from first class. This is your thanks.'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane,
heading for the rest room. A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I
want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming
down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he
was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers
only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled,
held out his hand, and said, 'I want to shake your hand.'

Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's
hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a
military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness
I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all
of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my
legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out
his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars
in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane.
Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put
something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word.
Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their
trip to the base. I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five
dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base. It will be
about time for a sandwich. God Bless You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of
their fellow travelers. As I walked briskly to my car, I
whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were
giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals.

It seemed so little...