Recently, I've gotten a few emails and questions that have led me to believe that although you may not be in any doubt about where I stand on certain things (not that I'm opinionated or anything...), you probably don't really know a whole heck of a lot about who I am - or why I'm blogging.
So, a little over a year after I started blogging, I figured it was high time I told you a little about me.
I'm from CT - have lived there most of my life, although I've also lived in New York and North Carolina. I'm married, with a slew of furry kids, but no human ones (yet - we're working on that).
I am not, nor have I ever been, active military. I did look to join once upon a time...long story. Had I enlisted, I would have joined the Army. One of the main reasons I didn't was that it was unlikely that I would have had any chance at the type of MOS I wanted. The recruiter I spoke with (who, let's get this clear, NEVER pressured or lied to me), advised me that with my SAT scores, my grades, etc., I was likely to have gone the medical route. It wasn't what I wanted at the time. I still regret not enlisting sometimes. Then again, though, I couldn't be nearly as lippy on this blog if I were serving.
My father-in-law is a Vietnam Vet (Special Forces), of whom I'm extremely proud. My father is an anti-war liberal who did not have to serve in Vietnam due to physical issues. My husband wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and earn his Green Beret, or, he tells me, drive a missile truck. Not sure why the missile truck had such allure... My family has been in this country since its inception, and I can document their presence in the Union ranks during the Civil War (one of them served with the fabled Fighting Irish - the 69th NY). My grandfathers fought in WWII. My stepgrandfather told one of the funniest war stories I've ever heard - about a German prisoner who gave him a hard time one day.
My family was a fortress of liberalism until the past few years, with me standing out as the lone supporter of military action against our enemies and other views more apt to be found among Conservatives. To my mother's credit, though, she has said more than once that what the anti-war crowd did to returning Vietnam vets was, she thought "horrible." Things have improved on that score. I think for everyone, 9/11 was a time of renegotiation of beliefs, and I've heard some surprising things out of some of them lately.
I'm lucky enough to have married my best friend - and we share basically the same political beliefs, which is a good thing, 'cause during the last election, if he'd been voting for the other guy, things might have gotten really ugly.
At the beginning of Desert Storm, I was in college - and living with my father when I wasn't at school. I remember the demonstrations on the college campus - basically, pathetic hippie wannabes who couldn't have gotten a coherent message together if someone had put it on a billboard for them.
Anyway, living with my anti-war father was interesting, to say the least. Worked with him too - he was decidedly higher up on the food chain. He, by the way, said shortly after Desert Storm ended that there was no further need in this country for ground troops - a standing Army - any more; everything could be handled with smartbombs, not that we should be doing any of that, anyway. The showdown at the O.K. Corral came when he insisted that I could not wear my American-flag-and-yellow ribbon pin at work, which I put on the day the war started, and vowed to remove when the last person I knew came home from the Gulf. I refused to remove it. A small battle ensued; I won.
In truth, and it's probably not the best way to handle things, I haven't talked to my father, really, since OIF started. I just can't hack it - I know what he'll say, and I'm likely to react very badly.
During Desert Storm, I wrote to the friend of a friend - a Marine - sending cartoons and jokes to the Land of Sand in some sort of weird foreshadowing.
I remember 9/11 clearly. I remember sitting with one of my best friends while she called the airline family crisis line to try and find out if we'd watched her brother (a pilot who flew one of the doomed planes' routes) fly into the Trade Center. We sat and watched in horror as the Towers fell. She turned to me and said, "There's no more Twin Towers. They're just...gone." She had been there with her kids a couple of months earlier.
When the troops went to Afghanistan, I started looking for a way to support them. I remembered my friend's friend mentioning how much he'd appreciated my letters. I wanted, in the era of political correctness, and unbelievably, argument about the mission, to say "thank you." I wanted to make sure that I was NOT part of the problem. I wanted to make sure at least one Hero knew that someone was proud. Fortunately, there are a lot of other people who learned the lesson of Vietnam - NEVER again will we allow our Heroes to be so abominably mistreated.
It wasn't until early 2004 that I found Soldiers' Angels
. I'd looked at a bunch of different venues, but that was the one I decided on. I can still remember how excited I was to get my Soldier's name and address. I remember writing my first letter almost immediately, and hoping I'd get a reply, though I knew I probably wouldn't. But I did - almost immediately. It took only two weeks, and in my mailbox was my first piece of "soldier mail." He was a Cavalry scout, in Iraq. He was a regular writer for quite a while - I could almost predict the day the letter would arrive. One day, watching the news and seeing how particularly ugly it had been that day, I wrote to him that "there is nothing you will ever have to do over there...nothing you can tell me, that will ever make me think you are anything less than a Hero." I remember hearing the few stories that my father-in-law tells about his time in the jungle - and they ain't pretty. The first one I heard, I can remember thinking, "Man, if this is the story he thinks is OK to tell in mixed company, what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks are the other ones like???" I knew that life in Baghdad probably got pretty hard to take sometimes. And I just wanted it out there - he was my hero, and I was proud. Later, he wrote less frequently, as work kept him incredibly busy. But he did instant message me, and email. I think we wore out the emoticons, especially the ROFL one, and it was always great to hear from him.
Still on my desk is the Iraqi money he sent with his first letter - Saddam's face right there in the plexi-frame. I was hooked on SA from day one, and I had found my niche. He's been home now for almost a year. I still hear from him occasionally. In his wake, I've been thrilled to have two more adoptees return safely home from Iraq, and I have two now - both in Afghanistan. One of them is my first deviation from a solidly (and completely by chance) Army pattern - I've got an adopted Airman.
I had read this blog when Patti was doing the bulk of the posting. Patti is the founder of Soldiers' Angels
, and her son is an Iraq vet. I forwarded a couple of items I'd found, and she asked me to start helping out. I was more than happy to do so. Soon after, she asked me to take over the management of the blog, and a very small star was born.
I do this because it is one way that I can say thank you. I do this because it still makes me furious to hear anyone maligning the troops. I do this because I believe in them and their mission
. I try to stay out of a number of political topics - largely because that's not the point here. My purpose here is to support our Heroes - and to get out there some trickle of the ocean of wonderful things they do.
I have never forgotten the lesson of Vietnam. I will NEVER allow it to happen again - at least, not in my little corner of the world.
So that's a little of who I am and why I blog. Hopefully, you're still awake. I am thrilled that there are so many of you who make this a regular e-stop. I am honored that you find something worthwhile on these pages. I am humbled on a daily basis by the Heroes about whom I post.