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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Martha Crowninshield O'Brien to Elaine

Martha Crowninshield O'Brien to Elaine

Tattered Flags…….

Since September 11, 2001, much has happened in my life and the world. We’re currently on the brink of a questionable war, smack in the middle of a rare arctic chill continuing to do our best to live well in an unwell world. It’s scary and it stinks. So, driving home the other morning, following a chaotic night shift in delivery under the auspices of a full moon AND a significant shift in barometric pressure (two conditions destined to commence labor AND catastrophe), I was mildly annoyed at the condition of the American flags hanging from overpasses along the highway.

Tattered and worn, shredded and dotted with holes and dirt, they struck me as an eyesore. More than once I wished someone would remove them thinking they no longer reflected the crisp patriotic symbolism we had all come to embrace post 9/11. In some ways I think I couldn’t bear to see them flapping weakly in the breeze, barely recognizable from the beautiful bright American flags reflective of my idea of the United States of America…

Certainly I couldn’t be the only one disturbed by their condition over and over again driving by…Beaten down; useless; No longer regal. Just as quickly I would push that thought to some recess of my overburdened mind, and drive on toward home.

Some say there are defining moments in our lives that we will not ever forget. Events which, like discovered fossils, impress and imprint in such a manner that they are forever etched in our memory banks. Gone, but not forgotten. Something along those lines…September eleventh will never require the year attached in reference to the event. We all know the date…We dread it….We all remember and can’t ever forget. Those memories keep drifting in and out like wisps of smoke from embers of a flame once furious and over time, significantly silenced. Those shredded flags made me remember over and over again, all the feelings I personally experienced that day…..

I spent the night time portion of 9/11 working in labor and delivery. Often I felt as though I should simply move into the suite since I was there so often. I don’t recall the circumstances or any of the patients I treated. Nor can I bring to mind the names of any of the nurses there with me…It was to be the last of any of my relatively benign night shifts. If asked who the call doctor was I might have known prior to the twin towers. Not after or at least, not that night.

What DOES come to mind is waking up to a magnificent brilliantly sunny September morning immersed in guilt because I was just too tired to get up and bring my little ones, ages one, three and four to the playground, as I had promised. I hoped they would forgive me. I knew they wouldn’t understand. I gave thanks that my husband was downstairs feeling well and caring for them. I reflected how fortunate I was. Ironic, when I look back at that time.

On my way to the bathroom I discovered the clock had stopped, and turned on the TV to check the time. At the exact moment I did that, I watched in surreal horror and disbelief as a plane hit the second tower. The correspondent was teary and emotional. I thought I must be dreaming and changed the channel. Again and again and again. When reality hit me a moment or two later, I wished but then knew it must not be a dream. The events were all too real. I was too horrified to cry but knew I must collect myself and be with my family.

Downstairs I heard various timbres of voices filtering through the door. I paused there then, to hear the laughter. I peered in to the room, unseen by them, and watched the little ones play excitedly with their daddy and each other. Memorizing the pure joy on their faces, I remember being struck by the sad fact that whatever transpired, their lives would not ever be the same. I savored the moment and then, in silent agony, with tears streaming down my face, I hugged my husband and babies, and related what I had just seen. I called our oldest son and felt an almost if not definite primal urge to be among those people I loved most in the world. Together, in silence, my husband and I prayed for those whose loved ones couldn’t come home.

“God would make it so no one was hurting,” piped up our four year old. If only that were true I thought..

The night shift of nine eleven, no one really spoke of the events. No one had to. We all clung together and no one was floated that night. We did receive a labor patient but her tears were mostly due to sadness and not pain. What should have been a joyous occasion for her and her family would forever be equated with one of the saddest events known to America. She relayed that she desperately hoped she would deliver after midnight, but delivered just a bit before. She cradled her infant son and with tears of joy tempered with sadness, she said a prayer to the effect that she hoped we all someday could figure out a way to fix these horrible differences and stop the violence. Later, to me privately, she verbalized her fear of having to ever let go of her child. I hugged her and it didn’t have to be spoken that I felt the same. For both of us, our children, our families and the world, we said a not so silent prayer. That night I think we all cried for the innocence this new baby and all our children had already lost.

On the way home early that morning, I was surprised but not at all shocked by the Patriotism unfolding around me. It got to the point that stores ran out of flags, and red, white and blue ribbon. We were nicer to each other. Surrounded with crisp new flags on cars, houses and hanging from overpasses, I felt that heartfelt swelling of pride reserved usually, for special occasions and hoped beyond hope that it would continue long after the initial sting had passed. I, like all I saw that day and for quite some time afterwards was and will be forever proud to be an American.

Now those same flags are in shreds. They are tattered, worn and barely hanging from the spots they adorn. It pains me to admit, although briefly, I did consider them to be an embarrassment due to their wary, dilapidated condition. I wondered how others must feel at their wary sight.

Then, it occurred to me that is the very thing which makes them special. Real reminders that however horrific the circumstance and despite however long it takes, we Americans may be the worse for wear, but we will forever be present and vigilant, not unlike our resilient, beautiful, faded but glorious American Flag. Like them, whose shreds whip around in wicked wind and all the elements time and circumstance can muster, we will persevere and eventually prevail. We always have and will forever continue to do so. We will NOT give in.

These days when I pass beneath aged flags I once imagined should be removed and even replaced, I catch myself and think back to that awful dark day when cowardly terrorists elected to harm innocent people for no good reason, separating not only Americans but innocent people from around the world like so much discarded unimportant garbage…Misguided cowards who take everything yet give nothing to the world. Deviants who claim to speak for Allah much as uninformed people would dare to speak for God.

My heart hurts to think of the needless suffering, and conversely, swells with pride at the actions of so many people, Americans by birth, by choice, or both. I am also touched by the people worldwide who grieved and continue to grieve along with us. Thankyou.

Each time I catch even a brief glimpse of one of those well worn flags, it brings me back to that day and honors each victim in my mind, heart and soul.

I thank God, Allah and every person’s personal concept of a higher power for those tattered flags because the message they convey is one of hope, resilience, recovery and someday, of a world more interested and invested in peace versus hate.

If all I can do is raise my children to respect themselves, each other, their families and friends, take pride in the privilege of being Americans, and continue to be open to the ideas, thoughts and customs of other cultures, then I will have done my personal part in promoting peace .

Now, each time I see a worn, world weary flag sputtering in the wind, I see a remnant of hope, and hope, like a tattered flag, is something that no one can ever take away.

Written by: Martha J. Crowninshield O’Brien 01/24/03
Iraq War Today

Keegan's Irish Pub & Restaurant

Starting today Keegan's is observing its third annual
Salute to the Military Weekend
November 10, is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps and tomorrow is Veteran's day. Our celebration runs through Sunday, October 14. The pub is decorated with the flags of all the services and S.O.S. is on the menu all day, each day.
For our third annual "Salute to the Military Weekend" we are doing something special. Keegan's Pub is working with the Soldiers Angels Foundation to raise funds and solicit "Angels" for our brave men and women serving in Iraq and other places.

Soldiers Angels currently supports thousands of American Service Members stationed wherever we raise our Country's Flag. They work tirelessly supporting wounded soldiers with transitional backpacks, personal visits, phone calls, etc. Please contribute if you can. Soldiers Angels is an all volunteer 501 c 3 non-profit foundation.

If you are in the military or a veteran please come in. It is a chance to meet great people including those of us who really appreciate what you do. If you have military or veteran friends, please let them know.
Keegan's Irish Pub & Restaurant

Hostage Slaughter House

Iraqi Forces find Hostage Slaughter House...Fox News reporting.....
Greg embedded with Marines in Falluja seems tired...Keep your helmet on Greg

Iraq War Today

BLACKFIVE: Happy Birthday, Marines!

Happy Birthday, Marines!
I want to extend (from this Doggie) a cheerful and thankful "Congratulations!" upon the 229th anniversary of the birth of the United States Marine Corps. Here's the message sent by the Commanding General (and the his wife, Bonnie) of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. [Note the wartime context]

BLACKFIVE: Happy Birthday, Marines!

An Angel Visits our wounded

I just got home! It was a long night. I saw LyVell. he still in infection control. He is also having trouble hearing, but they expect that to clear up. I read a note from Dan and he beamed! I'll let Mike know so that he can email Dan with the return message. I also spoke to his stepmom. It was a nice visit and I left them both smiling. Next to Private Major. He smile when I came in. I think people pop in and out but don't come back. I told him that I got him a case of lemons and will bring it on Thursday. He smiled ear to ear! I promised to remember a knife so they can cut them for him and he laughed. He said his mother was tickled that I stopped just to talk to her. Then he told me about Pres. Bush stopping to see him. He's Mr Cool. Said it was nice but he was tired. He told me that yesterday he wanted to give up. I said he better not and we talked about all the research and advances with spine injuries. He said "Why bother" and I told him that he's important, a hero and worth the time. That made him happy.
Next up to see Phil. Boy was he full of it tonight. Luther (Lou, a nurse) was in there and we carried on. He was in rare form!
Now down to Joe B. I got hugs from all. When Joe came back from recovery, I even got a big hug from him. He remembered me, including name. That's such a good sign! I'm so glad he isn't groggy. He is an amazing young kid. The lieutenant was having trouble with Gail so I left my number to call if she got testy over night. I know she'll listen to me and calm down.

So, that was my night. I wanted to see some others. I think I have a lead on a job for Joe's mom. The civilian HR manager for the base is to call me tomorrow. I just ran out of time. Joey (mine) didn't have his homework done and he was getting tired. The soldiers really like seeing him and I'm impressed with how caring and grown up he can be. Even though I don't always see as many as I'd like. I'd rather spent a little time with them and let them know that I really do care and I'm not just on some routine. I think it means a lot to them that I take the extra time.
I'm beat. I need to email Mike and Debbie ! It feels so good to see those heroes smile.
KathleenIraq War Today

U.S. Army tanks from Alfa Company, 2-7 Cavalry

U.S. Army tanks from Alfa Company, 2-7 Cavalry, stand guard at their position in the Sunni Muslim city of Falluja, November 10, 2004. U.S. tanks pushing into central Falluja are meeting fierce resistance from well-organized insurgents who show no signs of giving up, U.S. Marines said on Wednesday. Photo by Eliana Aponte/Reuters Yahoo! News - World Photos - Reuters

U.S. Marines with Weapons Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment

U.S. Marines with Weapons Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, seize apartments at the edge of the Iraqi city of Falluja, November 8, 2004. U.S. Marines backed by air strikes battled through a rebel stronghold in Falluja on Wednesday and officials said kidnappers had seized three relatives of Iraq interim prime minister in Baghdad. Picture taken November 8, 2004. EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/Lance Cpl. James J. Vooris-USMC Yahoo! News - World Photos - Reuters

U.S. Marines from Charlie Company

U.S. Marines from Charlie Company, second tank battalion reload their tanks with shells during battle in the Sunni Muslim city of Falluja, November 10, 2004. U.S. Marines backed by air strikes battled through a rebel stronghold in Falluja on Wednesday, as officials said kidnappers had seized three relatives of Iraq ( interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. (Eliana Aponte/Reuters) Yahoo! News - Top Stories Photos - Reuters
Iraq War News
Allawi Relatives Kidnapped: "A cousin and at least one other relative of Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi have been kidnapped in Baghdad and may be threatened with beheading. In Fallujah, the battle continues; so far the dead includes ten GIs, two Iraqi soldiers, and 71 rebels."

In CBS News: Iraq Crisis

U.S. Forces Hold 70 Percent of Fallujah: "
American forces battled through boobytrapped lanes and alleys Wednesday in a stunningly swift advance, taking control of 70 percent of Fallujah and bottling up enemy fighters along a strip of territory flanking the main east-west highway that bisects the rebel bastion.

The military said at least 71 militants had been killed as of the beginning of the third day of intense urban combat, with the casualty figure expected to rise sharply once U.S. forces account for insurgents killed in airstrikes.

Read more…

Good analysis here. Scroll down to previous entries as well.


In Command Post: Irak

Top Islamic Cleric at Arafat's bedside: "A top Islamic cleric rushed from the West Bank to Yasser Arafat's hospital bedside Wednesday in what an aide to the Palestinian leader called the "final phase" of his life."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Palestinian leadership holds meeting: "The Palestinian leadership met Wednesday to discuss arrangements for the funeral of Yasser Arafat, who remained in a deep coma in a Paris hospital, officials said."

In Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq

Attacks continue elsewhere in Iraq in Iraq & Terror

Battle rages in centre of Falluja: "Rebel losses in Falluja are said to be in the hundreds as US marines fight their way into a city in ruins."

In BBC: Conflict with Iraq (UK Edition)

Rebels fight from mosques as US says 70 percent Fallujah taken (AFP): "AFP - Crouching in mosques, rebels traded fire with US troops in the heart of Fallujah as the military pushed south after seizing 70 percent of the Iraqi city on the second full day of battle."

In Yahoo! News: Iraq

US marines expect to control Fallujah within 48 hours: "US marines expect to take complete control of the Iraqi rebel bastion of Fallujah within 48 hours if their assault continues on course, a US military officer said. (AFP)"

In Yahoo! News: War with Iraq

The perpetual gloom of Fallujah not easily forgotten by Marines: "Marine Staff Sgt. Robert Talley has a term for the sniper fire his platoon encountered in Fallujah this year: "Spray and pray.""

In San Diego Union-Tribune: In Iraq

Black Watch soldiers remain defiant: "Black Watch soldiers in Iraq are continuing their mission to stop insurgents escaping from the under-siege city of Fallujah."

In Ananova: War In Iraq


Army regiments to be saved, says MP: "Scotland's historic Army regiments will "almost definitely" be saved from the axe under new proposals which the Government is set to adopt, an MP said."

In Ananova: War In Iraq

Baghdad under Curfew: "

From the AFP via The Australian :

IRAQ’S interim government set a night curfew on Baghdad and its surrounding areas today following the bombings of churches and a city hospital that killed at least 16 people.

The measure was introduced after US-led troops fought their way into reached central Fallujah, the main stronghold of Sunni resistance west of the capital, on the orders of Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

The curfew was in force from 10.30pm until 4am and will remain in place until further notice, Allawi’s office said.

(Iraqi Government)

In Command Post: Irak

Islamist Website Urges Iraqis to Stay Home: "

From The Australian :

A posting on an Islamist website has warned Iraqis to stay at home today in Baghdad and other cities or they would be “putting their lives in danger”.

The statement, in the name of eight known militant groups, said the unified “Islamic resistance” would step up operations against the “American enemy” in retaliation for the US-led attack on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

The statement urged Iraqis to stay at home today “to avoid putting their lives in danger”.

In Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, insurgents distributed leaflets warning shopkeepers to close their stores indefinitely starting today to protest about the attack on Fallujah.


In Command Post: Irak

Resistance Still Co-Ordinated, but Not Strong: "

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

US tanks pushing into central Fallujah have met fierce resistance from well-organised insurgents who show no signs of giving up, US Marines said today.
US infantry and tanks have punched deep into the city, and their Iraqi allies have made gains, but there are no signs Fallujah will come under their full control soon.

After a relative overnight lull, fierce fighting erupted again today.

A tank platoon that moved along Fallujah’s main street saw fighters who had just come under mortar fire climb onto rooftops and fire rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and machineguns.

“There are lots of them. We took heavy fire,” Gunnery Sergeant Ishmail Castillo told Reuters.

“They opened up on my tank. They don’t look like they are going to cave in.”

Sergeant Castillo said his tank had killed six guerrillas and two Marines were wounded in fighting.

“One of the Marines was hit in the head by RPG shrapnel,” he said.

Artillery barrages and machinegun fire echoed across the city as plumes of black smoke rose.

Tank platoon commander Lieutenant Joe Cash said the guerrillas were unleashing coordinated attacks.

“They hit us from one area and then another right afterwards. There is in-depth organisation. There were small-arms attacks all night,” he said.

Running along Fallujah’s streets in groups of four or five, the guerrillas appeared in black clothes and headscarves or dressed in uniforms worn by Iraqi government forces, said Lieutenant Cash.

“Some take off their fighting clothes, walk to a weapons cache and next thing you know they are shooting at you,” he said.

“You see a guy walking in the street with normal clothes and he gives you a hard look and you just know he is one of them.”

Lieutenant Cash said Marines found many weapons caches around Fallujah, including in mosques.

“We’ve reached the heart of Jolan,” Major Clark Watson said of a northwestern district of the Iraqi city where insurgents have long had a strong presence.

“We have pushed through four square kilometres, but it’s too early to say we are controlling it,” he told Reuters.

“That will take time because there will always be pockets of resistance.”

Maj Watson, of the 1st Battalion of Marine infantry, said guerrillas were fighting back, but not as hard as expected.

“It wasn’t as much as we thought it would be, but they have put up resistance,” he said.

(Tactical Reports)

In Command Post: Irak

7 Coalition Troops Killed in Roadside Blasts: "

From the AFP via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

Six Iraqi national guards were killed when two roadside bombs exploded minutes apart in northern Iraq, an Iraqi official said.

”A roadside bomb exploded at 7:45 am in the path of a national guard patrol in Tuz, destroying a vehicle and killing four of its occupants,” said national guard general, Anuar Mohammad, noting that a commander was among the victims.

Twenty minutes later, a second bomb exploded near a patrol that had been dispatched to the scene of the first blast, killing two, Mr Mohammad said.

One US soldier was killed and another injured when their armoured patrol struck a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, the US military said.

“A 1st Infantry Division soldier was killed and one injured after their combat patrol was struck by an improvised explosive device near Balad at about 4:20 am,” it said in a statement.


In Command Post: Irak

Another Church Bombed: "

From Reuters via the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) :

An explosion outside a Catholic church in south-western Baghdad has wounded at least 35 people, police and hospital sources said.

The blast destroyed the outer wall of St Bahnam’s Church and set the house next door ablaze, witnesses said.

A doctor at Yarmouk Hospital said 35 people had been brought in from the blast in the capital’s Dora district.

Police said a car bomb had detonated outside the church but witnesses said it appeared explosives were planted nearby.

Five churches were hit in a string of bomb attacks in October that seemed designed to intimidate the country’s small but deep-rooted Christian community, already shaken by a series of church bombings that killed 11 people in August.

Iraq’s 650,000 Christians, mostly Chaldeans, Assyrians and Catholics, comprise about 3 per cent of the population.


In Command Post: Irak