Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Milblogs Silent Today

Army Master Sgt. C. J. Grisham has always led from the front, from combat that earned him the Bronze Star with V device, to doing right by the men he led. His honesty won him readership and respect, from the White House on down. Yet, when he stood up for his children in school, his command did not stand by him. You can read more at Military Times to get the full story.
Please donate via PayPal; or you can log into PayPal on your own, go to the send money page, and put in his email: dj_chcknhawk -at- yahoo -dot- com; or, you can send donations directly to:

Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893
Please write "Grisham Legal Fund" in the memo line if you use this option.

Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information about the military, and military operations, to you. Today, many milblogs are gone and others are under attack from within and without. Today, you have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something about it. Make your voice heard by writing your congressional representatives and others, and by making donations as you see fit.

The battle for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas is fought on many fronts and in many ways. Without your help, the battle may well be lost.


From my personal point of view, as an educator myself, the idea of contacting the employer of a parent over a policy disagreement or because I felt "threatened" is highly unprofessional. Policy disagreements should be restricted to the school system and the parent, and if the disagreement cannot be satisfactorily resolved, the court system should be involved. NEVER the parents' employer. If someone at the school truly feels threatened, contact campus security or local law enforcement. The parents' employer should have NOTHING to do with this. In CJ's case, school district personnel have overstepped the boundaries of ethical, professional behavior. The reason, IMO, they contacted his employer - the United States Army - is because they KNEW it would cause problems for CJ. I am disappointed beyond words that CJ's Chain of Command did not back CJ up on this issue. CJ acting as a parent - even if he had actually threatened someone, which he did not - has NOTHING to do with the Army.

As far as donating, I don't have deep pockets from which to spare vast sums of money. I'm sure many of us are in that same boat. However, I'm sure I'll be able to spare $5 or so from time to time. That will just be one less trip through the drive-thru. So, I would ask, even if money is tight, anything will help. This fight against the school district won't be over soon, I'm guessing. I'll be able to handle smaller amounts over time. I will be doing it because I believe in CJ, and I believe he is doing the right thing with regard to the school district.

As for the Army, I hope SOMEONE will come to their senses and put an end to the hell CJ and his family have been going through in regard to damaging an impressive career. We need more people like CJ in the Army, and telling its story from the Soldier's Perspective, not fewer. CJ needs to have the freedom to continue blogging, and sharing the unvarnished truth. CJ's smart enough to know what shouldn't be general public knowledge. The Army should trust him to do on this - he gets the fact that sharing certain information publicly can get good people killed unnecessarily. There's a reason he's been invited - as a milblogger - to the White House both under Bush and Obama. There is no legitimate excuse the Army could provide to justify losing his voice. The Army needs to stand behind a soldier like CJ, not punish him. From where I sit, CJ hasn't done anything to deserve the treatment he's received from the Army in recent months.

If you are so inclined, you can join the Pitchfork Brigade on CJ's behalf. Or, since this issue is larger than just CJ and his blog (other blogs have gone silent, gone away, or self-censored their content based on taking flack from various chains of command), consider writing your own representatives. Find out where to contact your Senator or Representative on this issue. Milblogs provide an invaluable service to us, the American public. They provided "ground truth", and the positive stories coming from Iraq and Afghanistan that are sorely lacking in most mainstream media outlets. We cannot allow them to disappear because some in the military do not understand, do not want to deal with, or are downright hostile towards, milblogs.

Updated 6:38pm

Participating blogs:

A Soldier's Perspective
You Served
The American Legion
Laughing Wolf
Hugh Hewitt
This Ain't Hell
Castle Argghhh
Boston Maggie
Miss Ladybug
Hooah Wife
Kiss My Gumbo
Some Soldiers Mom
Assoluta Tranquillita
Knee Deep in the Hooah
Soldiers' Angel New York
Drunken Wisdom
Grim's Hall
From my position
CDR Salamander
Confederate Yankee
Chromed Curses
Homefront Six
Pvt Murphey's Law
Delta Bravo Sierra
The Sniper
Another Voice
Support your Local Gunfighter
Knottie' s Niche
Great Reader JihadGene
America's North Shore Journal
Righty in a Lefty State
Thunder Run
Gazing at the Flag
Neptunus Lex
Soldiers Angels Germany
Bring the heat, bring the stupid
Little Drops..... Into the pool of life.
The Gun Line
In Iraq Now (at 56)
Army Houesehold6
From Cow Pastures to Kosovo
Susan Katz Keating
Kitchen Dispatch
Right Wing Right Minded
The Foxhole
The SandGram
My Own Political Party
Registered Evil
Drunken Wisdom
Storm'n Norm'n
Texas Fred
No Runny Eggs
Keep My Soldier Safe
Asymmetric Military
The Army of Dude
LTC John - Miserable Donuts
The Mudville Gazette

Covering the story:

Army Times
Air Force Times
Marine Times
Navy Times
Military Times
The AtlanticWire
Muncie Free Press
Flopping Aces
Small Dead Animals
Navy Experience
The Pink Flamingo
World Net Daily
CNN IReport
Michelle Malkin
Bookworm Room
National Review's The Corner
Ace of Spades
Jawa Report
Winds of Change
Cao's Blog
Free Republic
United Conservatives of Virginia
Miss Beth's Victory Dance
Wake up America
Dr. Melissa Clouthier
Villainous Company
The Washington Independent
In the Crosshairs

Sunday, December 13, 2009

USO tour brings happiness, strength to Fort Hood

Again, from News 8 Austin:

It's been a little over a month since the shooting at Fort Hood shook the nation.

On Friday, soldiers and their families gathered to remember the tragedy and show that they will be strong in moving on. Thousands celebrated at the post with celebrities, carnival rides and live music--all compliments of the USO.
At the end of the day for people like Decker, the event fills a void.

"We need this for some closure, to move on. We need to know that we're remembered," she said.

You can see the video report here. You can also watch video from the press conference connected to this USO event. Speaking at the microphone include Lt. Gen. Robert Cone, Gary Sinise and Dana Carvey.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Witness to History

Earlier this morning, I got an email notification of a post on the Sons of the American Legion Travis Squadron 76 blog. It is the recollection of Firman Balza, a crewman on the USS Maryland on December 7, 1941. He'd joined the Navy less than a year before. I share this link with a few people, one of whom was my high school government teacher. It never really dawned on me that he was a very young boy on that infamous day. With his permission, I am reprinting his response about those events:

What a horrible day it must have been for many Americans. I was almost 6 years old, and i recall only a bit. It was in the afternoon, and I remember my parents listening to the radio. I didn't understand much, but I do remember it being rather astonishing for them. Later, in 1944, my father was drafted into the army despite the fact that he had four kids, and after only a brief training period was assigned to the army in France. He was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and recovered in a hospital near Paris. Later, he was assigned to guard German prisoners at a camp also in Paris. I never did get to talk with him about what it was like there in 1935 [sic] when the war ended. He didn't like to talk about his experiences at all.

In requesting his permission to share this, I said "There is much of these little personal bits of history that we are losing. I know Joe, an 95 year old WWII vet from the ballpark. I want to try to record his story, with the help of a vet friend of mine, before Joe's no longer with us. I never talked to my grandfather, a naval aviator in the Pacific during WWII (though he was in high school still when Pearl Harbor was attacked." It's been twenty years now, since we lost my grandfather to lung cancer.

If you know a World War II vet, ask if they are willing to share their story, before it is lost forever.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

White Christmas

I don't recall ever seeing the movie White Christmas until one Christmas break during college before my dad was assigned to Fort Hood. I was spending the holiday with my grandmother since I was unable to go home to Augsburg. It was incredibly cold that year, and I spent much time sitting at the dining table which was located right next to the fireplace. My grandmother has been confined to a wheelchair for more than five decades because of polio, so I took charge of tending the fire to help keep us warm. I don't remember what else I was doing, sitting at the table (maybe working on a cross-stitch project?), but I distinctly remember watching White Christmas on television. Ever since then, it's been one of my favorite Christmas movies. In more recent years, I acquired a copy on DVD (which has already been watched once this season), but they'll run it on cable, too. I watched it again this evening, on AMC.

When watching this movie, especially the opening sequence, you can't help but remember those who serve so far from home, and in dangerous places, at this time of year:

You can help share the holiday spirit with today's heroes. Soldiers' Angels is in the process of sending approximately 140,000 care packages to every service member deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you are able, please consider supporting this project.

Pacific War museum 'inspires youth by honoring heroes'

Had the local cable news channel on again this afternoon, as I didn't want to get hooked into watching something when I had someplace I wanted to go this afternoon. While it was playing in the background, a story about the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. A little over a year ago, I went to their living history Pacific Combat Zone, and just a few weeks ago, I walked through the grounds on the way to a local German restaurant. I noticed they would be having a special event on Monday, December 7th, with George H.W. Bush as a speaker. They'll be re-opening the George H. W. Bush Gallery at the museum. Unfortunately, I couldn't even consider going, since I need to be at work. I did like seeing the story on the news today, though.

In the piece, they talk to WWII vet of the Battle of the Bulge and Bronze Star recipient Curley Awalt.

"All we want to do is teach them history. We don't teach discipline or anything else, we only teach history to the children," Awalt said.

While volunteering may keep Awalt active, he's also working to honor the important meaning behind the museum.

"I'm doing it because of the enjoyment of showing people what we have here," he said.

It's inspiring the next generation by helping them connect to the past.

It won't let me embed the video, but you can access it here.

This was also apparently the second part of a series running all weekend. The first piece talks about the history of the museum:

Rob Esterlein is the CEO of the Nimitz Foundation, which funds the museum. He said the museum ended up in Fredericksburg by both chance and intention. It started as a homespun idea to honor a favorite son and turned into a world class museum.

"A group of people in Fredericksburg wanted to honor the most famous and influential man to ever come from this town," Esterlein said.

That man is Chester Nimitz. He was born in 1885 and grew up in Fredericksburg, in his grandfather's steamboat shaped hotel. He pursued the military as a way to further his schooling.

Video of this first report can be seen here. I'll check back later to see if there is a part three for Sunday.

Update 12/8/09:

I checked late Sunday, but they didn't have it posted yet. Then, I was watching News 8 again yesterday afternoon and caught the report on the re-opening of the George H.W. Bush Gallery. I've since had the chance to check up on the website.

Video report for part three is here. From the text:

From pre-war mobilization to an incredible look at the attack on Pearl Harbor, the new George H.W. Bush Gallery and National Museum of the Pacific War tells the story like never before.

"This is the only museum in the United States that is devoted 100 percent to the Pacific Operation," World War II veteran and volunteer Curley Awalt said. "The museum is something that the people of Fredericksburg are very proud of."

Lastly, the final video report can be seen here. From the text:

Sixty-eight years ago, Rob Jensen was aboard the USS Maryland at Pearl Harbor.

Tuesday, he waited patiently for a chance to hear a fellow World War II veteran and former president of the United States speak.
Jensen toured the museum and said he was overwhelmed by its impact.

"Too many memories, I don't want anything to do with the war pictures. I can't do it anymore," he said.

The museum tells the story of the War in the Pacific.

I hope to visit the museum some time soon. I think it would make for a nice Saturday or Sunday trip, heading out early, so I can take my time going through the exhibits. I'm sure it will be well worth it.