Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

For 90-year-old WA woman, helping soldiers is simply part of life

I love this story from the Bellingham Herald:
Margaret Hardy seems to have a quip for everything. After all, the 90-year-old just had to point out that her daughter-in-law had been waiting years to bury her.

Under crocheted hats, that is.

Hardy has donated thousands of hats over the years to soldiers abroad and to local charities.
She received an award for her work from the local Republican Women's group which was presented to her by Staff Sgt. Candido Villalobos of the Washington National Guard's 81st Brigade:
Villalobos, a former Marine, told Hardy that her donation to troops in places like Afghanistan and Iraq meant a lot, especially in cold winter months when they can wear them under their helmets.

"A lot of boys don't have anybody that sends them anything," he told her as she sat in a leather chair in the room where she spends much of her days crocheting, watching Fox News and sipping on a can of root beer.
Read the whole thing.

Update 2/9/2011: I happen to know the author of the article I linked above. This evening, he posted on facebook that he received an email from a member of Margaret's extended family. She passed away yesterday. Condolences to her family and friends, and congratulations to her on a life well-lived.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

APO Address Giveaway to Brighten a Soldier's Holiday

Dad's Roadhouse up in Illinois is having a little giveaway contest. To show appreciation to our troops, they will send a gift package to a service member. All you have to do to sign up (or sign someone up) is to this post and put the rank, last name and a contact email. PLEASE DO NOT PUT IN THE FULL ADDRESS INFORMATION ON A PUBLIC FORUM LIKE THAT! The drawing will be 6pm Central on Sunday, December 19. As of right now, the odds are pretty good right now, but McQ has also posted it over at Blackfive, so we can expect that to change...

A big THANK YOU to Dad's Roadhouse for supporting the troops!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Honor Back

Today is the last day of the Project Valour-IT fundraiser. Please contribute what you can. This is truly an amazing project that has done so much good for so many who have made incredible sacrifices for the rest of us.

Don't forget, though, that no matter the time of year, Soldiers' Angels can always use your help.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy 235th Birthday, Marine Corps!

In addition to this being the Marine Corps' birthday, it is also what would have been Marine Corporal Jason Dunham's 29th birthday. Corporal Dunham's actions - covering a grenade thrown by an insurgent with his body and his helmet - earned him the Medal of Honor, and a new Arleigh Burke Class, Aegis Guided Missile Destroyer, named in his honor, is being formally commissioned this Saturday, November 13th. When I was student teaching, one of my third graders drew a memorial for Corporal Dunham, which I was able to share with everyone here.

Happy Birthday, Marines! Gifts can be given here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's not over

While we may have reach our initial goal of $15,000, and even surpassed the $30,000 mark so far, to say nothing of what has been raised by the other teams so far, the competition is not over. Collectively, we have exceeded the original goal of $60,000 for the current campaign. However, this friendly competition continues through Veterans' Day. Every single dime raised here goes solely to fund the important work of Project Valour-IT. The more we raise, the more Marines - and soldiers, sailors, airmen and seaman - we can help. Please do what you can.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In Loving Memory of Abby

September 9, 1996 - November 7, 2010

You were my dog your entire life. I saw you be born. I always loved how your one ear never really stood up all the way. But it was time to let you go. I miss you already. I love you.

Valour-IT Auction begin to finish up tomorrow!

Act fast to win one of these great items in the Valour-IT auctions - these items close tomorrow (end time noted is Pacific time). Proceeds go to Valour-IT, bid now - don't miss out!

RESTREPO mini poster signed by the filmmakers 05:45:33

"Restrepo plunges viewers into the experiences of soldiers on the front lines of the Afghan War" - a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, "Restrepo," named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you.

"RESTREPO mini poster signed by filmmakers Tim Hetherington (recipient of four World Press Photo awards, including the World Press Photo to the Year (2008), and an Alfred I. duPont Broadcast award for his work in Afghanistan for ABC's 'Nightline') and Sebastian Junger (bestselling author of "The Perfect Storm" and "War.")

Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran Medallion 07:08:49

This coin from Eagle Crest commemorates the Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and features intricate, multi-colored designs on both sides and the words, "Democracy, Bravery, Honor, Sacrifice & Freedom"

U.S. Army Combat Infantryman Medallion 07:14:14

This coin from Eagle Crest commemorates the U.S. Army Combat Infantryman. Its green and gold face displays four Infantryman on foot. The blue and gold flip has 5 stars and a long rifle.

Personalizable US Coast Guard cross-stitch 07:42:34

Counted cross-stitch of the U.S. Coast Guard emblem suitable for personalization with name/rank and additional information (years of service, unit, etc.)(see example photo). Finished piece is designed for a 3.5" x 5" opening (mat or frame). Can be mounted with a custom-cut mat (NOT part of auction item) for dual openings in an 6x10 frame (see example photo). Auction winner will need to provide contact information in order to arrange personalization before item can be shipped.

Leadership in Action signed by author ADM Greg Slavonic 08:16:59

This auction is a copy of ADM Slavonic's upcoming book Leadership In Action. It will be released to the general public on in MID-NOVEMBER. This is an ADVANCED copy. ADM Slavonic will sign and ship. SPECIAL TO VALOUR-IT! Greg Slavonic has brought together several contributors for this book that would rightly be on a "Who's Who" list of our nation's most highly honored and decorated military leaders; two-, three- and four-star Generals, Admirals, Captains and Colonels, war heroes and two Medal of Honor recipients--they know what it takes to lead and to succeed. In the pages of this book, you will find something that is critical to success in life--a philosophy of leadership that you can take for your own. By reading each chapter, giving thought to what you've read and applying what you've learned in action; a discerning reader will gain a thorough understanding of what real leaders are made of--and in the learning can become one too.

Day by Day comic strip book. Signed and Numbered. 09:18:49

The first DayByDay Cartoon book collecting all of the strips from 2002-2003. This miniature coffee table book measures 7"x7", features a high gloss softcover, is 132 pages with 363 toons and is signed and numbered by creator Chris Muir.

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes (2010, Hardcover) 12:38:18

A visceral, gripping, epic novel of the Vietnam War written by a highly decorated war veteran, MATTERHORN throbs with compelling authenticity on each of its many hundred pages. Though its topics are embedded in our cultural consciousness--napalm, Agent Orange, tortured soldier's souls, the chaos of guerrilla warfare, the impossible ethics of violence, the beauty and horrors of the jungle, loyalty, insanity, friendship, and death--MATTERHORN renders the Vietnam experience anew, boring relentlessly down on the specific kinetic reality of the time and place. Karl Marlantes writes with an intense immediacy reminiscent of Mailer's THE NAKED AND THE DEAD or James Jones's THE THIN RED LINE. MATTERHORN deserves to take its place on the short list of great works about America's engagement in Vietnam and the powerful reality of armed combat.

'This We'll Defend' Army Medallion 13:08:45

This coin from the Northwest Territorial Mint commemorates the U.S. Army. It has an Army themed front side with the words, "This We'll Defend." The flip side has the Department of the Army seal.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Demotivator Contest

Cassandra over at Villainous Company is holding a Demotivator contest over at her place as part of the current Project Valour-IT fundraising effort. As of this moment, Team Marine has raised $18,500, less than $1000 ahead of early leader Team Army. We still have six days left. Help keep Team Marine in the lead!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

“It was only natural I became a Marine, and thank God I did”

Veterans’ Reflections: Following in Her Father’s Footsteps

Marie Peckham is a small woman. While it wouldn’t be technically inaccurate to assume she wears military-themed pins and jewelry because her husband served in the military -- he did -- it would be an underestimation of Peckham’s strength.

Even though she stands only somewhere between four and five feet tall, she was a Marine Corps staff sergeant, following in her father and brothers’ footsteps.

“It was only natural I became a Marine, and thank God I did,” she said
Marie served during World War II, enlisting in the Marine Corps in 1943. She learned something while in the Corps:

“My service taught me camaraderie, it taught me to not be prejudiced, and it taught me to appreciate all of the blessings of this country,” she said.

That appreciation, she said, is something that isn’t as prevalent today because a gap between civilians and servicemembers needs to be remedied.

“I’m a bit prejudiced,” Peckham said of the nation’s current conflicts when asked if she has any advice for today’s servicemembers. “We want all of it to be over as soon as possible, but while it’s going on, do your part.”

Civilians don’t need to feel pressured to serve in uniform, she said, but they need to do everything they can to support those who do don the uniform. Members of the all-volunteer force are putting themselves at great risk, she added, and the least people can do at home is to create an environment of support and caring.

“Read more about veterans issues – read about their problems, what they need, and what they deserve,” she said. “And always, always support them – always.
You can support them by supporting programs like Project Valour-IT. Please donate what you can, or take a look at the items up for auction - remember all proceeds go to Soldiers' Angels' Project Valour-IT. Those who have served - and sacrificed - deserve our support.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Project Valour-IT auctions

One part of the Valour-IT fundraiser is the various items donated for auction, with all proceeds going to Project Valour-IT. This year, the guys at YouServed are hosting and managing the auction items on eBay.

I want to call special attention to three items. They are ones I donated to last year's fundraiser, with the winner donating them back to Soldiers' Angels. Yes, I know, there isn't a Marine piece - that one was customized for someone last year, along with the Army one, but the proceeds from these three items are to go to Team Marine. So, without further ado:

To bid on this U.S. Navy cross-stitch piece you can have personalized with name, rank and additional information, click here.

To bid on this U.S. Air Force cross-stitch piece you can have personalized with name, rank and additional information, click here.

To bid on this U.S. Coast Guard cross-stitch piece you can have personalized with name, rank and additional information, click here.

Here's what these can be turned into, with appropriate framing (after I finish customizing to the winner's specification):

That's my Grandpa, who was a naval aviator in the Pacific during World War II.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Take a moment... think about why you had the freedom to go to the polls today and cast your vote. The men and women of our Armed Forces help to keep us free so we can make our own decisions about whether or not to perform our civic duty, and choose for whom we will cast our vote. Regardless of your political leanings, you should appreciate those who protect our ability to participate in our Republic. Some of those who stand between us and those who would take our freedoms away literally shed their blood doing their duty. The least we can do is help them in return in their time of need. Please donate whatever you can, even if it is only a dollar or two. Click the donate link on the sidebar to support Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT.

What your donation helps buy:

$800 for a laptop
$400 for an iPad
$200 for a Wii system used for physical rehabilitation
$200 for a personal GPS to give a measure of independence to those dealing with the effects of TBI & PTSD

To date, Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT had distributed nearly 6000 laptops. But, Soldiers' Angels cannot continue this invaluable program without your help. Every little bit helps.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

For Us All

Help us help the ones who have shed their blood for us all. Please donate to Team Marine for Project Valour-IT.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

2010 Project Valour-IT Fundraising Competition

It's that time of year again. Today began the annual Project Valour-IT fundraiser with a friendly little inter-service rivalry to make it fun. This year, the ladies heading up Team Marine beat Team Army (this time lead by Matt from Blackfive) again in inviting me to be on their team. So, even though Dad was in the Army and Grandpa was in the Navy, I'm working for the Marines again.

Over the past year, I got only a little taste of what it is like to lose your independence. I had an "episode" just before Christmas that resulted in being told I wasn't allowed to drive for six months, to see if whatever it was that happened to me while I was sitting at my desk at the office happened again. Wouldn't do to be behind the wheel and be unconscious... It sucked to have to have my parents drive me to work and pick me up and to have to arrange ahead of time for getting to and from any extracurriculars I wanted to do. But, I still had the use of my arms, legs and eyes.

There are those of our service members who have lost that, too often times permanently. Project Valour-IT seeks to return some of that independence back to troops. Originally, this project solely provided laptops with voice-activated software to Wounded Warriors.

Since then, it has been expanded to help meet the needs of other Wounded Warriors with other technology. One of the side effects of TBI and PTSD is short-term memory loss; handheld GPS units for those coping with TBI and PTSD gives them back a measure of independence. Wii Video Game Systems are used as part of physical therapy in hospitals, improving recovery times and likely giving the troops an outlet for their competitive drive they didn't lose when they were injured.

In order for Soldiers' Angels to continue providing this technology for our Wounded Heroes, we need YOUR help. I know times are tough - I think most everyone is feeling the pinch - but please consider donating to Project Valour-IT. The goal this time around is $60,000. The fundraising drive runs through Veterans' Day, November 11, 2011. Just click on the widget on the sidebar on the right. No amount is too small.

In addition to the "normal" donation option, this time, you have the option to donate unwanted & unused balances on gift card, to transfer stock, to make a wire transfer, or, you can check out the items up for auction, all proceeds going to Project Valour-IT (check the auction items regularly, new items will became available every day, through Thursday, November 4th, with each auction running 7 days).

Other Team Marine blog posts about Project Valour-IT:

Why I Support Valour IT

It's Time For The Project Valour-IT Blog Competition

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I remember

9/11/01 was the last morning I just listened to the radio in the morning while getting ready to go to work. That morning, I was going into work late because I had to take my car in to get payment for repairs arranged after I had been re-ended in my new car. I always just had the radio on as part of my alarm clock, and it would turn off an hour after my alarm. The radio had turned off before I left for the insurance office.

When I arrived at the insurance office, the agent I was dealing with (the agent for the guy who rear-ended me) asked if I had been watching or listening to the news. I told him no, and he informed me that a jet had hit the World Trade Center. At first, I thought small jet, not commercial airliner. While he was looking at the damage on my car, the Pentagon had been hit. I immediately thought Bin Laden. I went home before going into the office. I called in to see if they knew yet - yes, they did. I had turned the TV on when I got home, and I watched as the first tower collapsed. I knew that about 50,000 people worked in the towers, and I anticipated a death toll far more horrifying than it was, although nearly 3000 dead is horrifying enough.

At the time, I was part of a small church group at my parish in Fayetteville, and we had our regular weekly meeting that night. Instead of what we originally had scheduled, we went into the church and prayed the Rosary.

Since that day, I am even more of a news-junkie than I was before. I kept the TV on all the time when I was home, even overnight, watching nothing but news for days on end. I kept hoping for survivors. To this day, I often sleep with the TV on FoxNews channel.

Sadly, the deaths resulting from that attack didn't all occur on that day, or as a result of physical injuries received that day. Another friend of mine has a boyfriend who had a brother who had recently moved to Virginia and worked at the Pentagon. Stephen was a helicopter pilot. He had been part off Dust-Off during the Vietnam War. I'm not sure what Dust-Off was - I'd have to do a bit of research. Anyway, Stephen was at the Pentagon that day. Apparently, he was often in the part of the building that was hit and he lost people he knew. I'm not sure, but I think he was involved in either rescuing or dealing with the people who were pulled from the building that first day. Stephen later commited suicide. My friend and I surmised that what Stephen saw that day brought back the traumatic memories of the Vietnam War, and did not seek help in dealing with what he was going through. Stephen in buried at Arlington National Cemetry. My friend accompanied her boyfriend to the funeral. Stephen's wife moved away from there - I think she had been home when Stephen killed himself there. I happened to have a business trip to DC in May 2003, after Stephen's funeral over the winter. I was able to find Stephen's grave and photograph the headstone, since it was not in place yet at the time of the funeral. I'm sure Stephen's wife was still visiting - there were small stones placed on the top of the headstone. I don't remember the significance of that gesture.

We will never know the true toll of people whose lives will end as a direct result of the attacks. I'm sure Stephen's was not the only suicide of a survivor or a family member of those killed, and there are also those who are now getting sick and dying from illnesses connected to working at Ground Zero....

This was originally posted in May 2006 on a blog that is no longer active on the internet.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Restoring Honor - 8/28 in DC

When I explained to my sister that I was going to the 8/28 “Restoring Honor” rally hosted by Glenn Beck in Washington DC, it was difficult to explain that I didn’t actually know what was going to happen. I had spent a great deal of money on plane tickets and a hotel (within walking distance of the Lincoln Memorial), and yet I could only guess at what would happen. This is the same leap of faith made by hundreds of thousands of Americans from all over the country.

Glenn Beck opens his daily radio show with the words “this is the third most listened to show in the country.” This sentence embodies the phenomenon of Glenn Beck. Recently voted the “Number One Most Hated Conservative” in the country, Glenn Beck is a controversial figure, even among conservatives. Yet his fans are un-swayed by his detractors and negative press.

A recovered alcoholic and drug addict, Beck completely changed his life in the past ten years. He readily admits that he was a “dirtbag” before he became sober. On his radio show he often discusses one of his biggest regrets is the loss of his word - of his integrity: “I lost trust once in my life. When I was drinking… I lost my word because nobody could trust me because I was living a lie. I was an alcoholic…The one thing I promised myself is if you give me a second chance, Lord, I won't do that again. I promise you, I will not lie. I won't cheat, I won't steal, I won't do it. He's given me a second chance. I'm not going to violate that.”

A devout Mormon, Beck is unabashedly unafraid to openly discuss God on his radio and television programs. Going against a research study conducted by his own company (which advised him against it for ratings purposes) he has spent a good portion of 2010 urging Americans to get “down on [their] knees and pray.” He has also dedicated a good portion of this year to re-educating Americans on the actions, principles and religious beliefs of the founders of our country. “Founder’s Fridays” on his television show have concentrated on many important figures surrounding the American Revolution, including two specials on African-American founders who have been all but erased from our history books. Online, he has begun “Beck University”, with lectures given by different academics that underscore his main theme: “Faith, hope and charity.” These three ideas were also the main focus of the Restoring Honor rally. Not politics, but something beyond politics – something deeper, that people from all walks of life and political persuasions could relate to.

The rally had been planned almost a year in advance and was originally intended to be a political event. However, immediately after announcing it, Beck felt that he was going in the wrong direction. Through the following months, his listeners began to get an idea of what they could expect, as he continually discussed the ideas of faith, hope and charity. There were still no details other than Beck’s request that political signs should be left home – that this would be a day to talk about honor, integrity, character and faith.

Naturally there was a lot of controversy about the rally, especially since 8/28 was the forty-seventh anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in the same location. Originally, Glenn wanted to hold the rally on 9/12 (after the 9/12 Project, which he founded), but that is a Sunday this year, and he did not want to ask people to take part in this event on the Sabbath. The only other day that worked for all involved was 8/28. It wasn’t until after the event was announced, that the NY Times discussed the importance of that particular date. At first nervous, Glenn decided that there are no coincidences, and that this was indeed the right date for this gathering: “Whites don't own Abraham Lincoln. Blacks don't own Martin Luther King. Those are American icons, American ideas. And we should just talk about character and that's what this event is about. It's about honoring character.”

As the weeks and months led up to the rally, Glenn continually discussed the importance of character and of faith in our country. He maintained that our country’s ills cannot be solved by politics, but by a return to the values that our country was founded on. He reminded us that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights by our Creator; that our rights are God-given and not granted by any man or woman. His passion was and is undeniable, and his listeners responded by taking the Forty Days and Forty Nights Pledge: “I will pray on my knees every night for the next 40 nights...starting TONIGHT. Pray for guidance, inspiration, peace...pray for the leaders of our country. Pray for their safety, and that they will receive wisdom. I will re-establish my relationship with God.” He made it clear that listeners needed to follow their religious beliefs, whether they be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or another faith. He urged listeners to figure out what they actually believe and to pray, pray, pray.

One thing we did know going into this event was that we would be honoring our military, the last group in the US that Americans still trust in great numbers. We knew we would hear Sarah Palin, another controversial figure, speaking to us as a mother of soldier. We knew we would hear Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, speak about her uncle’s dream of equal rights for everyone, about God and our great country. And we knew we would hear Glenn talk about the importance of Faith, Hope and Charity.

One of many t-shirts on display.

Arriving at 5:30 in the wee hours of the morning, my husband and I arrived to an already massive crowd. Thanks to the kindness of a group of people, we were able to squeeze in fairly closely to the stage. We spent time visiting with the people around us, talking about politics and about God. One woman near us had attended the event “America’s Divine Destiny” the night before at the Kennedy Center, which brought religious leaders from many different faiths together to deliver an inspiring evening of prayer, music and worship. She was exhausted, but ecstatic to be a part of the rally.

As I looked around me at the masses of humanity, I saw that people had trusted Glenn. He told us to leave our signs home, and we did. He said “bring your families” and we did. My husband and I were surrounded by people of all ages, races and faiths. A common theme was patriotic and religious t-shirts, but not a sign in sight. As we waited for the rally to begin, I made the rounds of the mall. With a new friend, I pushed through the happy, polite crowd and saw the same thing wherever I looked – people smiling and excited to be standing together in such a sacred place.

At 10AM the patient crowd was finally rewarded, and the rally began. Although we did not know entirely what to expect, we were not disappointed. We stood together and honored our military. Glenn emotionally spoke of how his listeners had contributed over 5 million dollars to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The bulk of the contributions were less than $100 each – most coming in at $10 increments. Charity indeed.

As the rally progressed, three outstanding veterans were commended for their great honor and integrity in action. Non-military outstanding citizens were also honored with awards for “Faith”, “Hope” and “Charity”. Following these awards, Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stepped forward to thunderous applause to deliver a speech echoing her uncle’s. And finally, in the last hour, Glenn delivered his speech. While it is impossible to give due justice to Glenn’s words in a short column, but a short survey can share some of his basic thoughts.

He spoke of the power of the individual and of the need for each person to stand for what we believe in: “I testify to you here and now. One man can change the world. And I share with you an equal testimony. That man or woman is you. You make the difference. Do not stand and look to someone else. Look to yourself. Pick up your stick and stand (in reference to an earlier comment about Moses).” He went on to encourage people to look inward with honesty and work to better themselves: “We must be better than what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We must get the poison of hatred out of us. No matter what anyone may say or do…we must look to God and look to love. We must defend those that we disagree with, but are honest and have integrity.” He reminded us of the words of the Gandhi, who told us to “become the change you want to see.”

Throughout his speech, he reminded the audience to hold true to the ideals of faith, hope and charity. For faith he advised people to figure out what they believe in and then believe! “Pray on your knees with the door open for your children to see. Not only pray with them, but let them see their father or their mother humbled by God in prayer. That which they gaze upon, they will become.”

On his show he has long held that you cannot hope without knowing the truth. He exhorted his audience to tell the truth – to be truthful in every aspect of your life. Get rid of the lies; the big ones and the small ones. “Tell the truth in your own life and then expect it from others.”
And finally; charity. The old adage says charity begins at home, and in the months leading up to the rally, Glenn had asked his listeners to give extra time and attention to their families. During and after the rally he also urged people to give ten percent to their churches, synagogues, temples and mosques. Give ten percent to worthy charities. Give ten percent and feel the great blessing of giving. He has often said that it is his honor and privilege to tithe ten percent, and he encouraged the crowd to do the same.

And so we stood for over an hour and listened and wept and cheered. And those who trusted Glenn Beck were not disappointed. And we were not surprised at anything we heard. Glenn did not say anything that we had not heard from him many times before. What was really important was the fact that we came and stood together to hear him and his guests speak these things. We affirmed our belief in a country that was founded on divine providence. We affirmed our belief and devotion in our loving heavenly Father. As two hundred and forty leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths (representative of many more throughout the United States) came together to reform the “Black Robed Regiment”, we agreed that denomination doesn’t matter. We agreed that we must set aside our individual theological differences and stand together, using God as our shield.

As we finish up the first week following this amazing event, we are seeing its effects on our great nation in our media. Crowd numbers are being debated (one news commentator likened it to “typical foot traffic” for the area), with numbers from 87,000 being a lowball guess, and upwards of 500,000 probably being closer. Judge for yourself!!

This is an aerial photo showing the crowd that stretched 8/10ths of a mile from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.

Crowd closeup taken from someone sitting at the Washington Monument – almost a mile away from the stage.

The message is also being exhaustively discussed. People on the left just aren't sure what to make of it, and since everyone left their signs at home, they can't latch onto one nut-job with a hateful sign. In fact, the only signs I saw were after the rally, with a few dissenters who apparently showed up late. The crowd looked at them and just walked by!

Labor leaders, liberal religious leaders and the NAACP will be holding a “counter-rally” on 10/2/10. Advertisements for the event assure people that they are “fueled by hope and note hate.” For the hundreds of thousands of attended, and for those who watched it live on C-SPAN and Facebook, it doesn’t really matter. We know what we heard and experienced. It was Faith, Hope and Charity. We stood there and looked around us at the vast crowd and we knew, without a doubt, that these people all agreed with the inscription on the very top of the Washington Monument. Laos Deo. Praise be to God.

It was an honor to be there. South Park Diva.

Showing my patriotism as only a diva can...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Glenn Beck Honors the military on 8/28 - and does NOT dishonor the Purple Heart

As we move ever closer to the Restoring Honor Rally on 8/28, which is being hosted by Glenn Beck, a lot of liberal groups are moving to discredit him in any way possible. The New Black Panther Party has threatened to be there, possibly in the hopes that people will be too scared to attend. Other more insidious attacks include the continuing “Glenn Beck hates Jesus” arguments (see this article for a great rebuttal) and of course, the “Glenn Beck is dishonoring recipients of the Purple Heart" attack.

Of course, anyone who listens to Glenn on a semi-regular basis knows that Glenn has nothing but respect for our troops. In fact, the Restoring Honor rally is commited to honoring our troops! But Glenn's detractors never seem to care about honor or honesty, as they work to smear Glenn and keep people away from the Lincoln Memorial on 8/28.

Any fan of Glenn knows that he is not dishonoring Purple Heart recipients, but rather reaching back into history in order to honor the non-military, non-wounded person. He is going back to the "Badge of Military Merit" established by George Washington (check out the history of the Purple Heart), which honored soldiers who displayed great honor and merit, regardless of whether or not they were wounded. After Washington created it, it fell out of use until it was revived as the Purple Heart and given only to those wounded in battle. He's not trying to replace the Purple Heart, but rather add another award (that is actually truer to Washington's original vision) to honor the non-military folk who act with great honor.

Recently at the American Revival, I had a chance to email in a question to Glenn after he began discussing the Badge of Merit. What follows is first a transcript of the discussion of the Badge of Merit by David Barton, who is the author of numerous books on the founding fathers and an expert on George Washington. Glenn was then read my question and answered it pretty fully. I’ve edited out the pauses and some of the repetitions, when it appeared he was gathering his thoughts and not repeating for emphasis.

David Barton – {answering a question on the Badge of Merit, which Glenn is wearing as an insignia on his shirt, presumably so that people can see it}.

“This is actually what George Washington gave. This is the Badge of Merit. There are three of them still known to exist today. Washington was different from so many others in that he didn’t {only?} want the generals to get recognition; he wanted the common people who did remarkable things to get recognition. And he would look out among the troops, and he saw things that were courage – and by the way, if you read his diaries from Valley Forge it’ll make you cry to see what he saw among his troops.

As he saw that, he wanted to honor those guys nobody had honored in that era by the British troops. If you’re a commoner, you’re a peon. You’re down low. Washington wanted to exalt the common man and exalt particularly virtues of honor and courage and faith and integrity, and when he saw it, the Commander in Chief gave you that badge right there. It was on a little bracelet you got to wear on your arm. There’s three of them still known to exist today.

They’ve taken that {he gestures to the badge} and turned it into the Purple Heart, because it was a purple heart. Now {i.e. today} it means you’ve been wounded in battle. But Washington’s original Badge of Merit was the purple heart to honor and recognize great traits he saw among common average ordinary soldiers.”

Glenn: “We are assembling people on 8/28 in Washington DC that have earned this – that have truly earned this. And we are bring this back for the common people. On 8/28 three people are going to receive it. “

My question (which was emailed in earlier in the event, and coincided very nicely with this discussion): A lot of people are moving against 8-28 by saying that you are dishonoring the recipients of The Purple Heart. I know that you are simply trying to restore the original intent of the Badge of Military Merit, but where do you see the place of the Purple Heart going forward?

Glenn’s answer:

“Where the purple heart already is. I’m saying that we need to honor merit inside, not just for the troops. We know if you look at all the things that are happening, if you look at the things that we trust, and the things that we hold up in high esteem now, the troops are number one. In fact they’re the only things that we look at now and say ‘Those are honorable people.’

You’re gonna meet…I’m gonna showcase some people – Marcus Lutrell will be there – and I’m gonna showcase some other people. I met a guy this week – we had him on the radio – his hands were blown off. His hands had been blown off. This guy…he still wants to serve. They’re remarkable, remarkable people. Well we can’t only have the people in our military being the only honorable remarkable people. You need to do that. I need to do that. We all need to do that, and all I’m saying with this {he gestures to the Badge of Merit insignia on his shirt} for all the rest of us ‘You know what? Are you willing to lose your hands? Are you willing to lose your house for it? Are you willing to lose sleep? Are you willing to have people just bash you in the head, over and over and over again?’

You know it is an insult, to say at this point in our history that we can compare ourselves to those who stood with Martin Luther King. We haven’t had a dog sicced on us. We haven’t had fire-hoses opened on us. We haven’t had a baton to the head yet. We may. But if that happens the only way we will stand is if we understand honor and merit.”

This morning I happened to listen to that radio interview with the Marine who lost his hands (podcast - I'm days behind on my Glenn listening!):

GLENN: "There was never a time, never a time that you thought, 'I don't have hands. What am I going to do?' I mean, was there a time where you were quite honestly pissed off or, why me?"

SGT. WRIGHT: "No, I don't think so. I don't think I let myself get complacent or — you know, we don't really have an attitude, we don't foster the attitude of 'I can't' or 'I quit.' And when you have an obstacle in front of you, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and focus on what you can."

GLENN: "America, let me tell you something. This is exactly, exactly why we're doing 8/28. Here's a guy with incredible honor. Here's a guy who has sacrificed more than I will ever sacrifice. Here is a guy who has an American attitude of, "What? We just do it." This is why our country is struggling right now. Because there's not enough of us that are just like, 'Do the damn job,' and it's an honor to do the job. I am deeply humbled by not only you but all of the brothers that you serve with. It is remarkable what you guys accomplish, and we can never thank you enough, although I do believe you have far too many medals. It's a showoff kind of thing."

And yes, Glenn was joking about the medals – read the whole thing!

Now, my own father, who is a Vietnam vet, doesn't necessarily see the need to do the Badge of Merit in the military, since there are other ways of recognizing honor in our troops who are not wounded. But it seems pretty clear that Glenn is trying to find a way to honor those who are not necessarily soldiers.

I'm going to 8/28 in DC with my husband, so I'll just have to see!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Major Ziegenfuss speaks to the American Legion

This Memorial Day weekend, Major Charles W. Zeigenfuss shares the text of his speech to American Legion Dick Munkres Post 287 in Savannah, Missouri.

Commander Burns, Ladies and Gentlemen, friends and family: thank you for attending this remembrance for our fallen warriors.

On the 23rd of July, 2003, Captain Joshua T. Byers, 29, of Sparks, Nev.; assigned to Headquarters, Headquarters Troop, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, in Fort Carson, Co.; was killed when his convoy hit an explosive device. Josh was not only my friend, but was my mentor and peer.

While supporting (which is a Department of Defense word for fighting) in Operation Enduring Freedom, another very close friend of mine was killed. He died May 29, 2004, just two days short of a Memorial Day, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck a land mine. Captain Daniel W. Eggers, 28, of Cape Coral, Florida. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

LTC Gary R Derby, 44, of Missoula, Montana; assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division; died Feb. 9 2009 in Mosul, Iraq, of wounds sustained when a car bomb was driven into his vehicle. LTC, then Captain Derby commanded a company in my battalion when I was a young shave-tail lieutenant. Aside from his candid leadership and sense of humor, he was the kind of guy who you could always count on to tell you when you were being an idiot—and how to really improve on style points.

One thing that each of these heroes had in common—besides having the unfortunate luck to serve with me, was that they took their duty very seriously; and themselves much less so. The loved the military, they loved serving this country; every day, and no days off.

Each was a family man. Each left behind a great legacy. Each served to the fullest measure. I am sure if they had the chance to be alive today, each would ask that someone who died alongside them would instead take their place among the living.

Many of our fellow citizens have no understanding of the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, other than it means a long weekend. Many people, especially those with no connection to the military, often confuse the two, citing Memorial Day as a day to thank those serving the nation in uniform. Recently, a friend of mine commented that “Memorial Day is meant to pay homage to those who gave their lives for this country and our way of life. It is a day to honor the dead. There is NO such thing as “Happy Memorial Day.”

Respectfully, I disagree, in part, anyway.

Memorial Day is a happy yet solemn, joyful yet tearful, partly sunny yet mostly cloudy kind of day.

We are living the days these men and women never will. Live them well, be happy, and enjoy the blessings of liberty their service and sacrifice have bought. Although we take pause today to remember their absence, we must also take this day to celebrate the very liberty they have secured.

Memorial Day should be a "happy" day, the same as Easter. We remember the sacrifice, and the cost, yet we rejoice in the promise of chocolate rabbits, only six more weeks till spring (if Christ came out of the tomb and saw his shadow) and painted eggs, god-awfully early church services, plastic grass, and kids on a blood-sugar bender. We remember the sacrifice, and the cost, of the loss of friends and family on this day. I remember Josh wearing a cape and boxer shorts and little else, standing in the Kuwaiti desert and saluting passing vehicles. I remember sharing stories and fixing the world’s problems over barbeque and beer with Dan. I remember Gary creatively counseling another lieutenant who just refused to “get it.” I remember these men fondly, and am thankful to wear the same uniform, to serve the same nation, and to carry forward where they cannot.

Dan, Josh, and Gary can't spend this day, or any other day with their families, or among us, and we are a poorer nation because of that. I miss them, but today I pay special attention to their absence, and jealously guard my time with my family. We will have a happy day, because my friends, my mentors, my brothers have already paid for it, in advance, with interest.

I do not mean to suggest that it is proper to tell a recent widow to have a “Happy” Memorial Day. I know the families of the fallen, and especially the recently fallen, spend this day in grief, but they spend this day remembering none the less. They will, in time, first recall the good things, the joys and happiness, the special days; and will lock away the days which hurt the most. These families, these survivors, have something their warriors no longer have… time. They have time to grieve, time to mourn, and time to heal. They will, soon enough, spend their memorial days at family barbeques, pool openings, amusement parks, and all manner of fun and happy occasions.

On Memorial Day, these families, mine and hopefully yours, will also pause to remember all of the joyful times we spent with those who have stood their final muster, and then we too, will go on living, and have a happy Memorial Day.

Thank you for your time and your attention.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Not forgotten

1LT Kile G. West was killed in action on Memorial Day 2007. Today marks three years since that fateful day. I was honored to be able to attend his funeral. Kile will not be forgotten. I remember, too.


Heard a news report this morning on the way to work that there will be a ceremony tomorrow, May 29th, at 11am to rename a post office in Georgetown in Kile's honor. Looked it up on the internet after I got to the office. Unfortunately, with me not being able to drive right now, I won't be able to make it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

National Anthem

I went to my first baseball game of the season today. I hadn't seen most everyone I know out there since September, so after getting side the park, I started making the rounds. I was at the First Base Gate when it was time for the National Anthem. I couldn't help but notice a young man in front of me facing the flag and saluting...

That's his pink cotton candy in his left hand ;-) Sorry it's not a better photo - I had to take it with my cell phone...

Update 5/24/10: Thanks, MaryAnn, for helping clean up the image so we can see that young man a little better!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

More Art I Like: Lepa Zena

One of Cassandra's posts from Friday lead to Cousin Dave's comment:

Think about it: who do you know that buys original art? Very few people do. Very few people even have any contact with original art. Why? Because the art world has turned up its nose at Everyman. Artists no longer make any attempt to communicate with the "sheeple"; their work consists largely of in-jokes that they tell each other. As long as they maintain the politically correct stance in their art, such that their NEA grants keep coming, they need not make any attempt to communicate anything outside of their inner circle.

Now, this is not true of all artists in America today. But it is true of nearly all of the ones who get press attention and major museum showings. My wife and I have made it a point, the past few years, to seek out original art for our home. We go to fairs and shows and such and seek artists who are not in the NEA loop, who make their living by selling to the public. And we've found some refreshing and surprising works. There's a lot of different viewpoints there too. But one thing you won't find is the snarky/petulant attitude of the grant artists. Why do the NEA-grant-supported artists do the things they do? Because they can. Because it's their way of asserting their superior position over the audience. It's their way of letting us know that they get paid for whatever the hell they want to do, and that they have a claim on our tax money, and that there's not a damn thing we can do about it. It's simply them thumbing their noses at us.

I will have to admit, I've not ever bought much in the way of original art. I know I bought a small watercolor or two from one of those street vendors when I went to Florence on a Humanities trip my junior year of high school. Also bought a small watercolor when I was in Seward, Alaska in June 2004. I've seen other original art - larger pieces - from time to time that I do like, but it's never been something I could afford. I have one original piece that was a gift, and I will dig it out of storage when I get a chance and share it with you. Until then, I thought I would share another of the prints I have bought for myself.

I was living in Arkansas, but I was down in Austin visiting with my family. For some reason, we were out at the mall and we'd gone into Deck the Halls. On the back wall, there was a huge print framed in a fancy gilt frame. It was stunning: a big, black horse; I just loved it. I wasn't in a position to buy anything like that then, but I did ask about it. It was called Lepa Zena, painted by Marta Gottfried. I eventually did buy the print, but it's still rolled up waiting to be framed. It's a large piece, and it is larger than all of the other prints I've had custom framed and it's not going to be cheap to have it done "right".

Funny how all the large prints I have have horses in them.... And generally speaking, I likely would not be struck the same way - positively, that is - by the art created the NEA-type artists of whom Cousin Dave speaks.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dedication at Austin Memorial Park

Austin Memorial Park is the cemetery American Legion Travis Post 76 visits on Memorial Day to plant American flags by the grave markers of veterans. I participated last year. One marker I saw was for someone who had served in the Spanish-American War. I've been told there are some veterans dating back to the Civil War.

One of the ladies at the Post, Sharon Blythe, has been working for many years to gain recognized historic status for the cemetery, in an effort to prevent the City of Austin selling off part of the cemetery - a section which is apparently the resting place for many veterans - for some other purpose. She and Rescue Austin Memorial Park will be hosting a dedication this Saturday, April 24, 2010, at 10:30 in the morning for the marker recognizing Austin Memorial Park as an Historic Texas Cemetery. Among the veterans interred there is LCpl. Nicholas S. Perez. Sharon would like to see as many people attend the dedication as possible, to help show City of Austin officials that this cemetery is important to the people of Austin. If you can, please come out to show your support. Austin Memorial Park is located at 2800 Hancock Drive, Austin, Texas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fundraiser to benefit LCpl Nicholas S. Perez Elementary's Library

American Legion Auxiliary Travis Unit 76 is holding a fundraiser. It was decided we would donate the proceeds to help the library at LCpl Nicholas S. Perez Elementary School. Perez Elementary is a newer school, so there is much empty space on the bookshelves. A new school gets a limited number of books, and it takes time to expand beyond that, especially for a school with many families of lower socio-economic status. Our Auxiliary wants to help fill those shelves.

So....the prize is a customized cross-stitch of the service emblem of the winner’s choice that will be framed along with a photo of the selected service member. This is an example of what you could win.

Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. You can purchase raffle tickets by mail. Make your check payable to American Legion Auxiliary Travis Unit 76. Mail it - along with your contact information so we can send you your raffle tickets and contact you if you win - to:

ALA Travis Unit 76
c/o American Legion Travis Post 76
PO Box 1214
Austin, Texas, 78767.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jeremy Kane Benefit Run April 2010

My friend Carrie, who posts over at Villainous Company from time to time, sent a link and asked for help in spreading the word on this.

The Jeremy Kane Benefit Run will take place on Sunday, April 25th "at 10:00am sharp at Cherry Hill East High School" in Cherry Hill, NJ.

From the website for the run:

Lance Cpl. Jeremy Kane was a student at Rutgers-Camden studying Criminal Justice and Political Science. He had joined the Marine Reservists on September 11, 2006 because "he felt that every American had the duty to give back to his country."

When his Reserve Unit was activated for deployment, Jeremy was hesitant leaving his mother behind, as Jeremy's Father recently passed away from stomach cancer. Shedding his reluctance, Jeremy Kane deployed with enthusiasm because he knew it was the right thing to do. For this, Jeremy Kane made the ultimate sacrifice for his family, and country.

We will all run to raise a monument for Jeremy Kane, and other students and graduates of Rutgers who have also sacrificed their lives in the interest of our protection. We ask that you join us on April 25, 2010 to celebrate the fact that such heroes have not passed, but lived.

So, if you are in the vicinity and are willing and able, please considering either participating in the run, or contributing to this cause.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some Things Don’t Need Embellishment

From Old Blue over at Afghan Quest:

Landstuhl isn’t just for wounded. It’s where servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan go for medical treatment and evacuation for any number of reasons. Many are ill. Some have been diagnosed with serious diseases, such as cancer. It is also the waypoint for seriously and critically wounded warriors on their way to places like Walter Reed, the burn centers and the first big step on what may be a long road of recovery. Those people never see the outpatient barracks. They are stabilized and moved again. Some others are there for lengthier stays. For them, many of whom came in with little or nothing, a change of clothes can mean the world.

Enter Soldiers’ Angels and the force that defies gravity and fatigue; MaryAnn Phillips.

I can’t describe MaryAnn as unassuming, a word often associated with people who share her trait of recoiling physically whenever any kind word is directed at her (by anyone who is not a patient, the family of a patient or a medical professional). MaryAnn is a force of nature, possessing seemingly boundless energy and a benevolently powerful presence that melts barriers. She can appear to be tired, but while some would get a charge out of a Red Bull, all you have to do to give MaryAnn a charge of energy is tell her that a patient needs something. She is suddenly on the go, tracing the long halls of Landstuhl for the millionth time, seemingly tireless.
Personally, I am awed. MaryAnn and the Angels of Landstuhl do things that I could never do on an ongoing basis. To me, they are legend. Truly amazing. Volunteers all. You do not need to embellish their amazing work. But recently a journalist credited MaryAnn with coordinating medical care for a wounded British soldier. While I’m sure it sounded like a great story, it’s not true. The story has been corrected, but in the meantime it made it look like the very professional organizations involved weren’t doing the best they could until they were coordinated by this volunteer. This simply isn’t so. Soldiers’ Angels are truly heroes to me without having to give them superhuman multinational medical powers. They do many wonderful things, but international medical coordination isn’t one of them. Soldiers’ Angels supports soldiers and their families.

Go read it all.

I am honored to know MaryAnn, even as just an acquaintance. She is an amazing person. I am glad I can even be a tiny part of what Soldiers' Angels does for our service men and women and their families.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kudos to Delta Tau Delta, Gamma Iota Chapter

Five weeks ago, I joined my sisters on a exercise walk that goes to one of the parking garages on the University of Texas. This morning, I went with them again. On the way to campus, I saw something that wasn't there last time: someone had painted an image of the Iwo Jima flag raising and a big "Support the Troops" yellow ribbon on the fence. I wished I hadn't left my cell phone in my purse in the trunk of my sister's car. On the way back, I saw that along the fence around the corner, there was also the Marine Corps' Eagle, Globe & Anchor, a Navy anchor, the Air Force logo and the Army logo. Then, I saw that this was a frat house. When I was in college, I didn't have a good impression of fraternities in general because of behaviors I observed, so I still carry a wariness about them. But, I do have to give kudos to the Gamma Iota Chapter of Delta Tau Delta fraternity for their public support of our troops. I plan on going on the walk again next weekend, and if I do, I'll try to remember to bring my camera, and if the fence is still painted the same, I will update this post with photos.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Letter to Blanche Lincoln (posted by South Park Diva)

This is the third email I've written to my Senator, Blanche Lincoln (D) of Arkansas:

"It has been awhile since I last emailed you. I first begged you not to vote for the Senate healthcare reform bill. Then I asked you what your price was when you did vote for it, seeing as how the majority of Arkansas do not want it passed.

You didn't listen then. Now that Scott Brown has been elected, are you listening now? I've heard that you are worried about your Senate seat - about the upcoming elections. Are you ready to listen to the people that (mostly) elected you?

We hope today that the healthcare reform bill is dead. But Nancy Pelosi is going to ram it down our unwilling throats. She wants to "pole vault over the fence" - the fence that is built by the will of the American people! When did Congress and the Senate decide that they will do whatever they want regardless of the will of the people? When did this arrogance begin that we are just too stupid to understand what they are "trying to do for us"?

Now Obama is presenting a budget that is truly amazing. It is amazing in its sheer "not-caring-ness". Yes, I've just invented a word. Any proponent of this budget obviously does NOT care about the future of this country at all. They don't care about our children, to whom we are handing this hefty price tag. The budget significantly raises our national debt even more, and yet it seems that to many want to blithely wave it on through. For crying out loud, the budget is counting on tax money from cap and trade, which hasn't even been presented yet! And hopefully won't pass if it does get presented!

I don't have a problem with Democrats or Republicans. I have a problem with any politician who will not listen to his or her constituents. I have a problem with any politician who thinks him/herself somehow above the people that they represent. I have a problem with a politician who wants to recklessly spend and heavily tax us when we can least afford it. Heavily taxing our corporations, when they have already cut jobs dealing with our struggling economy. Heavily taxing "the rich" because it is somehow okay for them to shoulder even more of the burden caused by the bad decisions made in Washington D.C.

When will this end? Are you ready to listen yet? The American people are not yet willing to have Obama's socialist/progressive agenda rammed down their throats. Are you listening? Are you ready to once again do your job? The one where you are elected by a group of people, and then you go to represent their will? Or are you going to have to learn the hard way - by losing your job as Senator? Your numbers are dipping. Have you finally realized why? Or, as some cynics predict, will you, along with other ousted Democrats, going to go on to a job in Obama's administration - another payoff for voting against the will of the people."

Although her website assures that each email is answered, I never received an answer for the last two emails, nor do I expect one from this one. Maybe I'll be wrong. I'll let you all know!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cooking with the Wounded

Back in September, Laughing Wolf spearheaded a wonderful event for our Wounded Warriors at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Originally, it was going to be "Cooking with Laughing Wolf", but somewhere along the line, it became "Cooking with the Wounded". Because of this first event's success, the seed was planted to try doing it again. Cooking with the Wounded is now an official part of Soldiers' Angels.

For Phase II began at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in November: the ladies from The Yellow Bowl Bakery in Lafayette, Indiana and a number troop supporters in the Washington DC area, with help from the Warrior Legacy Foundation, served up Southern hospitality and tasty bakery items. Now, the focus is on raising awareness about the program, and the funds to send The Yellow Bowl Bakery ladies to cook for the wounded at Landstuhl. You can donate online or you can mail a check to:

Soldiers' Angels
Cooking with the Wounded
1792 E. Washington Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91104

Cooking with the Wounded has a Facebook page; please help spread the word, or just go to get the latest on the program. Or, if you know or have connections to a "top chef", see if they would be interested in working with Cooking with the Wounded. If you would like additional information, contact Blake Powers at

As noted in the press release on the current fundraising efforts:

This also marks the start of the 2010 fundraising campaign for Cooking with the Wounded. In addition to raising money for this first trip, three other trips are planned to Landstuhl in 2010. A number of chefs, including well-known chefs, have expressed interest in taking part. The money raised will help cover the three trips to Landstuhl, and support "practice" and other meals and events at locations here in the United States.

Comedienne and long-time troop supporter Phyllis Diller has generously donated photos of her entertaining with Bob Hope in Vietnam, autographed by her, to help raise funds for both Cooking with the Wounded and Project Valour-IT. One of these photographs will be given to the individual who makes the largest contribution in the first two weeks of the fundraiser; and, one will be sent to the company that makes the largest cash contribution. In addition, one significant donor will be chosen to receive a Christmas card sent by Ted Nugent to Cooking with the Wounded.

In addition, companies who sponsor Cooking with the Wounded will be able to receive additional benefits. In a first for Soldiers' Angels, companies that agree in 2010 to provide $100,000 in funding each year for five years will be listed as Founding Sponsors, and that list will remain on the Cooking with the Wounded site until at least the end of the calendar year 2020, with links. Individuals and companies that donate $5,000 - $10,000 will be named Bronze Level Sponsors; those that donate $10,001-$25,000 will be listed as Silver Level Sponsors; those that donate $25,001 to $50,000 will be listed as Gold Level Sponsors; and, those who donate $50,001 or more will be listed as Platinum Level Sponsors. These sponsorships will include listing in a special section of the site along with appropriate links. Other benefits may also apply. For more details please contact

Cooking with the Wounded began with one person wanting to cook a steak dinner for the wounded at Landstuhl. As other chefs asked if they could do a meal of their own, it has grown into a program that seeks to send a team of chefs to cook a special meal for the troops at Landstuhl and those that care for them. In addition to the meal, these guest chefs also take the time to talk about their experiences in getting started and share lessons learned. The ultimate goal for the program is to help those leaving military service, most especially the wounded, who are interested in a career in the food and beverage industry get the knowledge and training they need. It is also hoped that teams of chefs can be sent to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other locations to cook for the troops there.

I look forward to the time when Cooking with the Wounded is able to hold an event at Brooke Army Medical Center: I would very much like to lend a hand in person. Please do what you can to support this wonderful effort: spread the word to family and friends, or if you are able, contribute financially, however small. Every little bit helps.

Update via email received from Laughing Wolf:

Kicking off the 2010 fundraising campaign the day before the Haiti earthquake was not the best possible timing, but I want to thank one and all for donations that way, and particularly the support given to Team Rubicon.

Because of that, and the fact that some can't do but one thing a month, the contest to with the autographed photo donated by Phyllis Diller has been extended through next Tuesday [ed. - February 9th]. The individual (and company, if any) making the largest donation via will win the photo.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Club: Bendigo Shafter

Over at Grim's Hall, Grim proposed doing a kind of book club, beginning with Louis L'amour's Bendigo Shafter. I'd not really read any of L'amour, except for a copy of Last of the Breed my dad had many years ago. So, I decided I'd give it a go and ordered the book. So far, we're to have read through Chapter 3, with discussion to be found here. I received the book a week ago, and read those first chapters by Sunday. Since then, I've tried to read about a chapter a day. I read Chapter 9 last night before going to bed. I'm enjoying the book, and figure I'm on track to meet Grim's suggested pace of ten chapters a week. I've you've a mind to, why don't you look up a copy, catch up on the book and join us?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Resolution Update: 52 weeks

Yesterday was 52 weeks since my first weigh-in on Saturday, January 3rd, 2009. When I weighed in yesterday morning, my total weigh loss was 53.2 pounds. I have been very pleased with my progress this past year.

Things have changed over the past year. The biggest difference - besides the weight - is the greatly reduced calorie need. When I started a year ago, I was aiming to eat about 1737 calories a day (based on moderate activity). After my latest weigh-in, my target is 1378. If I had tried eating so few calories when I first started, I'm not sure I'd have been able to do it - I would have been hungry all the time. However, as my body gradually changed, and I gradually made adjustments accordingly, the gradual reduction in calorie intake wasn't really noticeable; for the most part, I continue to be satisfied with what I eat, though I do occasionally get REALLY hungry for no apparent reason.

I will say that my weight today is not the most I've lost this year. My greatest weight loss was 61.4 pounds, on Saturday, December 19th. I know exactly why I have gained 8.2 pounds over the last two weeks. I went five days without exercising, from the 19th through the 23rd. I didn't plan it that way. I was busy over that weekend, finishing up with my sewing for my sisters' Christmas gifts. I was fully prepared to get back to my exercise on Monday. Fate conspired against me. I had a medical emergency - I blacked out - at work and was taken by EMS to the ER, and when the first tests they ran came back normal, they decided they wanted to admit me, and I wasn't allowed to just walk around. I didn't leave the hospital until about 7:30 Tuesday night. I took it easy on Wednesday, though I didn't really have to. I did exercise Christmas Eve, but Christmas Eve presented other issues: the abundance of sweets. That Monday night, I was to have gone to the Legion's Christmas dinner, and I had baked a cake. Needless to say, the cake didn't make it to the dinner, since I didn't either. That cake found its way out to Grandma's for Christmas Eve dinner. Daddy had also baked some chocolate chip cookies. There was also hot chocolate and Lebkuchen while we opened our presents. Christmas Day, Daddy always bakes up those Pillsbury cinnamon and orange danish rolls. I had two or three. Then, back out to Grandma's for the turkey dinner, complete with mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, and corn, and again, a variety of sweets. A week later, we had pizza New Year's Eve, and then lots of food New Year's Day when we again headed out to Grandma's: ham, barbecue chicken, barbecue sausage, potato salad, pork & beans and corn, and a few more cookies. Oh, and we can't leave out the large number of sodas I've been consuming over the holidays, either. I'm not really freaking out about the 8 pounds in two weeks. I'd already told myself I'd not be obsessing about the calorie counting over the holidays, so I could enjoy them, and I know why I put the weight back on. But, it's now time to get back into the swing of things. Two weeks of not closely minding the calorie intake is enough.

To work towards my ultimate goal - from the latest weigh-in, I've got in the ballpark of 40 more pounds to lose. For the next ten pounds or so, I can continue to aim for a 1000 calorie deficit each day. After that, I will have to make some adjustments. I will have to reduce my daily calorie deficit to 500 calories, so as to keep my body from thinking there is a shortage of food and as a result, slowing my metabolism. So, it may taken me the next year to lose these last 40 pounds. I've not ever really hit a "plateau" (those times when I've not lost, I know why - either not enough exercise or too many calories). I will continue to update here from time to time as I continue my weight loss journey.

My exercise routines are a little different than when I first started a year ago. Those days I go into the office, I still work out with my sisters. I am still walking on the treadmill (though my sisters do intervals on the other treadmill and also the elliptical, trading places), and still doing some free weights. When I'm not at the office, I have mostly been doing in-home walking. Over the summer months, it was just too hot to walk in the neighborhood during the day. Also, with the DVDs, it doesn't really matter what time I do it - right when I get home from school, later in the evening after I've eaten something for dinner, in the middle of the day on the weekends. The important thing is that I continue to get exercise. I asked for - and received - two more exercise DVDs for Christmas. Yesterday morning, I went with my sisters (in 30 degree weather, even!) for the "Shredder Walk" that a trainer at a local gym does. It is a roughly 4-mile walk from the gym to one of the parking garages on the UT campus. When the garage is reached, everyone goes up the stairs to the top level for some exercises (I was a little wobbly at that point) and then it's down the stairs and back to the gym. I'm not sure of the schedule, but I think I'll do it again. It just sucked getting up that early on a Saturday morning, and then having to get my dad up so he could drive me over to my sister's place, since I'm not allowed to drive for a while after my little blackout episode two weeks ago...

So, the plan is to renew the New Year's Resolution. I will keep up with the exercise. I will try to push myself: as I get closer to my goal, it is likely that I will have to do more to see the same results. Time will tell. I will continue to count my calories, and I know I will soon need to make some adjustments soon, when I get to those last thirty pounds. I will also work at making sure I get a decent night's sleep each night. Lack of sleep can contribute to weight problems, and getting enough sleep was also a part of the discussion when I was in the hospital. To that end, I'm off to bed. It's Sunday, and I don't have to get up for anything in particular once morning rolls around.