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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-12-24-21-pmLong form content in a short form world is a novelty these days and I plan to keep this post brief.

I’m thinking about all the Veterans (and their families) today who have sacrificed so much for so many.

I’m eternally thankful.

A very big thank you to all those who have served and continue to serve.

#VeteransDay

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The Reiman’s Harley-Davidson Letter

The Reiman’s Harley-Davidson Letter

I’m talking about a photo that’s being shared on Facebook, of a letter.

A simple, short letter, from Reiman’s Harley-Davidson, in Kewanee, IL.   That reads:

Dear Christopher and Jamie,

Enclosed you will find the check you mailed to us regarding the account of Christopher. It is the policy of Reiman’s Harley-Davidson to waive storage fees for our active-duty service members who are deployed. It is our honor to keep your bike safe and secure while you provide us with our freedoms. We hope you return to us safe and sound.  Until that time, we will store your bike at no charge to you. This is our way of saying “Thank you” for your service to our country. 

Sincerely,
C. Dennis Packee
Dealer Principal

The backstory is Christopher Walters is currently deployed to Afghanistan. His wife, Jaime, had sent in a check and an apology for being late on a payment to her husband’s account. He had been renting storage space at Reiman’s for his motorcycle while he was deployed. When the dealership owner Dennis Packee saw the letter, he would have none of that and sent the money back to her.

Mr. Packee didn’t think much about the gesture and went back to work.  It’s Reiman’s H-D policy and seemed like common sense to him.  The letter got posted on Facebook and then the phone began to ring… from people all across the U.S. who expressed their appreciation of the gesture.

Thank you Mr. Packee for the gesture and giving back to those that have given much!

Photo courtesy of Reiman’s H-D.

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At Willamette National Cemetery

I remember watching the Vietnam War as a kid and seeing shooting and blood and bodies—and people were serious.  Very serious!

Then years later on the first night of Desert Storm in 1991, while watching CNN the contrast was stunning.  I remember thinking, are they reporting on a war, or are they trying to sell me on it?  These days the media is problematic as they would rather be first than be right!  Endless commentary without much reporting.  I’ve always thought that people should get information to make themselves smarter, not just to make themselves feel good and reinforce their viewpoints, but I’ve digressed.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day which commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service.  It is set aside so that we might reflect on the honor and sacrifice of those who courageously gave their lives to safeguard us and our way of life. Freedom surrounds each of us everyday—as we openly speak our minds, ride motorcycles freely in any city, where worship is feely exercised and where ballots are freely cast to change who will govern this great county.

It is a great county, and let’s take a few minutes today to remind ourselves of the consequences of war and remember the families of our Fallen.

Photo taken by author at Willamette National Cemetery.

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Jesse Mead, son of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Korey Mead

Few of us can relate and what we don’t realize is that they are right here among us!

I’m talking about families who carry a burden deep inside of lost loved ones and service members who have made a lot of sacrifices while a public is at peace.  Like many of you, I’ve been distracted by the sputtering economy and living life or by the talking heads incessantly doling out two-bit analysis of the political environment.

Is it enough to just say thank you and welcome home to the vets?

You may not know, but Harley-Davidson has been on the front line – right next to the troops – from the factory workers in Milwaukee, who made specialized military bikes, to the soldiers who used them beginning in 1916 throughout WWII.  From 2007-2009 H-D donated more than $1M to the Disabled American Veterans and Mobile Service Office program. Over the years, H-D has supported the Traveling Vietnam Wall, Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, National Veterans Wheelchair Games and more.

Clearly H-D isn’t the only company supporting troops, and they all deserve a shout-out, but it’s disappointing to see a lack luster appreciation for veteran’s returning home at a national level.  Oh sure, there are local gatherings and the occasional public display of gratitude.  And the media will do the occasional story about the lines of people greeting the troops in some cities which is encouraging.

But, “Portlandia” is luke warm.  It seems we’re too busy writing articles and creating media buzz about the new Oregon Ducks uniform or commenting about the Newberg company, Hydro Graphics, that painted the helmets for the Rose Bowl.  Even as a football fan, there is some absurdity in all these Nike funded uniforms…

Is it me or does anyone else see a disconnect for veterans receiving a national welcome home fitting for the sacrifices they made for this country?

Sunset in Kandahar

According to a CNN/ORC International poll released late last year, most Americans agreed with the decision to end the war in Iraq.  Almost eight in ten said they support removal of combat troops from that country.  However, half the nation believes the Iraq war had a negative effect on life here in the U.S. and seven out of 10 say the money spent on the war is one reason for the economic problems facing the country today.  And although 96% are proud of U.S. troops who served in Iraq, just one in three consider the war a victory and more than half call it a stalemate

The fact is there are an estimated 2.6 million living veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and 23 million total veterans dating back to World War II, according to the GAO.  And the number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan coming home who may need additional support grows daily.  While we all can express our admiration for veterans, most of us do not fully understand the problems faced by service members or their families when they return.

As a start I propose the creation of a “Welcome Home Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Day.”  A national day of recognition that the people of the U.S. could pay the respect due them.  Until that day comes, I suggest taking time out from our busy lives to give thanks for the sacrifices of those service members who we don’t know.  A small display of kindness and admiration can mean so much to those who expect so little.

I haven’t met my expectations lately in recognizing the sacrifices and wanted to change that today by simply saying… you are appreciated and WELCOME HOME!

Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzwort.  The photo is of Jesse Mead, son of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Korey Mead during the 25th Infantry Division HQ redeployment ceremony at Wheeler Army Airfield in Wahiawa, HI on December 18, 2011.  The 25th ID HQ was the last division HQ under U.S. forces to leave Iraq.  Sunset photo courtesy (U.S. Army, Sgt. Ruth Pagan, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., PAO)

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Emon Beach Lifeguard Stand - Kwajalein Marshall Islands - Kwajalein Missile Range

Today is Veterans Day and it will come and go, like the winds of yesterday.

Many won’t even give it a second thought which is most unfortunate as I think Veterans day should be each and every day.  Without the men and women who have fought for this country, we would not have the freedoms that we all enjoy.

I come from a military family, have friends in the service and have lost relatives (more info HERE) so, I can speak with some credibility as to the hardships that veterans and their families endure.  It’s not easy and many could use our help, both financially and mental support.

But, when it comes to Iraq/Afghanistan – all in all, considering the costs to the U.S. versus the benefits I have to be intellectually honest in that I’m re-thinking my position and whether the war was worth fighting, or not.  I was for it before I was against it and decided last year it’s time for an immediate withdrawal.  The sectarian violence continues, our presence seems to fuel ever increasing religious extremism and clearly we can no longer afford to fight the fight given the state of the U.S. economy and budget deficit.  But I’ve digressed.

The cool air of November is about the memories for some, or nightmares, for others and the combat soldier who has another day of remembering the greatness of their comrade’s as they fought beside each other.   Be it in the jungles of Nam or the sands of Iraq or the Mountains of Afghanistan or even the icy terrain of Korea or the beaches of Europe.  They all share a memory of where they fought with their comrades.

Veterans Day to me is a day for everyone to appreciate what our military has done for us. And how they put their lives at risk. It is a day to just honor what the military men and women have done.  It’s also is a chance to remind myself, and others around me, of all the wonderful things that we as Americans have and can do, that we would not have if Veterans had not fought for it.

Thank you all!

Photo taken at Emon Beach – Kwajalein Marshall Islands (Based there circa; 1972)

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Spc. Eric Richardson Beaverton, Ore., left, who was wounded in Kandahar, Afghanistan, bows his head in prayer before President Barack Obama addressed military personnel who recently returned from Afghanistan, Friday, May 6, 2011, at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Monday is Memorial Day and it’s a special holiday in America because it commemorates U.S. men and women who died during their military service.

You might be to young to recall, but in 1968, with new bodies returning from a deeply unpopular war, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Act, moving Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Washington’s Birthday to Mondays, to allow for convenient three-day weekends. The loss of focus on this once-somber day had become institutionalized. The change in the holiday was contemporaneous with a larger change in attitude among many Americans toward their government, its wars and those sent to fight them.

Young men such as my father or my cousin Mike sat in Vietnam and read letters implying they were pawns in an immoral game, with nefarious intent to terrify kids in a jungle thousands of miles from home. Their dead were not to be honored upon their return, but rather shunned as emblems of a country in crisis… as people celebrated the beginning of summer rather than Memorial Day, one could debate that a generation grew up not understanding what the day’s name really meant.

My cousin was “KIA”, and recently a good buddy of mine had a family member, Spc. Eric Richardson from Beaverton, OR. , who fought in Afghanistan come home wounded, but alive.  He was shot in both legs in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  Earlier this month at Fort Campbell, KY., he was selected to sit in the front line as one of the most recently wounded veterans when President Barack Obama addressed military personnel who  returned from Afghanistan.  He could barely stand and almost passed out from pain before he was finally able to sit down.  It was a proud moment for his family.

Sure, we’re all looking forward to an enjoyable Memorial Day barbecue and get-together, but regardless of one’s politics, independent of class, race or religion, there should be a basic acknowledgement and respect for those who have given their lives protecting an ideal.  I’m grateful for all those who currently serve, have served, and those who have lost their lives defending our freedom.

I hope that amidst the fun and sun rain, we might all perform some simple act of respect and honor all our brave service members.

Photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak).

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By this time you’ve already heard that our President, Barack Obama, a man who ran on a platform of hope and change, is getting us deeper into Afghanistan.  Isn’t Al-Qaeda in Pakistan?  And, if the Soviets couldn’t win there, why can we?  A country owned by China with disastrous financials (that’s us, in case you didn’t recognize your homeland).

If you join the armed forces to serve your country, to pay your bills, you’re entering Hotel California.  It seems you can never leave.  You jumpily wait for people to attack you or detonate IEDs.  Coming home to a country that pays you lip service, but doesn’t give a rip because people can’t find a job.  If you come home at all.  And if you do return, you’re likely traumatized.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is paying record bonuses and their Chairman Lloyd Blankfein says the firm is doing God’s work.  Huh?  What deity does Mr. Blankfein pray to who wants to see the populace suffer?  Used to be Wall Street helped build America, now traders just profit off exotic investment instruments.

But there is good news (sarcasm alert!).  The enormous financial outlay of the 8+ year war has brought into sharp focus Bagram Airfield, where off-duty soldiers can obtain everything from Kyrgyz massages to purchase a BK burger.  Including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  According to AFP reports, the dealer for those away from the front lines sells about 4 motorcycles a month to U.S. servicemen.  With another 30,000 troops being deployed, and most of them set to take off or land on Bagram’s runway in route to fight the Taliban it means H-D should expect a sales increase proportional with the troop surge.  In fact, I just read a post on the H-D forum from a soldier who bought a 2009 Night Train yesterday.  Congrats Army_Train85 and thank you for your service!!

Obama’s speech wasn’t all that inspirational for me, but he did state (you can read the full text of his speech here) that sending the extra troops will cost the U.S. military $30 billion dollars this year — or $1 million for each newly deployed soldier.  That’s high-finance and hard for me to wrap my head around it.  In fact, it’s difficult for me to understand the cost ($28 a head) of each and every meal prepared for U.S. soldiers on the base cost more than most Afghans earn in a month.  That alone might explain the attraction to the Taliban-linked narco-terrorists.  Sigh. I wish there was a better way…

At any rate, as Bagram turns into a military “boom-town”…H-D is poised to take advantage.

Photo courtesy of Corbis/Shaun Schwartz.

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