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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

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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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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Sunset H.O.G. Poker Run

The attacks of September 11, 2001 shaped the nation and the course of history.

Prior to this date most people would not have considered the possibility of an enemy attack on U.S. soil.  Nine years later it’s easy to forget that 2,749 lost their lives and seven buildings were destroyed. Recently President Obama announced the withdrawal of 90,000 combat troops from Iraq, marking the “end of America’s combat mission”, but who would have believed we would have a death toll of over 4,000 troops from the two wars?

I recall the events not to dwell on the tragedy, but to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, to honor the veterans and to remind myself that terrorist fanatics want to destroy the very principles of freedom and democracy that I write about on this blog. Sure the posts are slanted toward issues more relevant to motorcyclists, but it’s the same principles of freedom none the less.

We all remember where we were and what we were doing that day.  After watching the towers collapse, seeing the Pentagon and the western Pennsylvania crash I remember feeling a sense of desolation and anger.  But, I also remember how proud and inspired the first responders as well as Rudi Giuliani made me feel by their actions.  I remember the World Series just 6 weeks later in New York, the opening pitch by George Bush and a stadium full of people determined to not let this act change everything.

And speaking of freedoms, I’m not even a little conflicted about the $100M development of a mosque near ground zero.  I think it’s in poor taste and no matter how you spin it; the people behind the mosque are using our open arm kindness as a weakness.  And here is where hipsters will inundate my inbox with missives telling me I don’t know jack, that I’d better do the public a favor and stop writing, but pure and simple it’s an insult to the victims of 9/11.

There are and will be many motorcyclists paying tribute on September 11th.  There is “America’s 9/11 Ride” that raises money for families of active-duty first responders’ children.  There is the “Ride With The 40” which honors the hero’s of Flight 93 and lots at a the local level.  Here in the northwest is the 18th Annual Sunset HOG 9/11 Poker Run which is open to all flavors of motorcyclists.

I’m not sure yet if I’ll just watch a documentary or participate in one of the rides.  I plan to do something to support the victims and remember the attack.

Photo courtesy of Sunset H.O.G.

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Military_ShipOn this Veterans Day we still feel the shock of the 13 who were killed and the 43 injured on the base of Fort Hood just 6 days ago.

I have not been injured or nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.  Nor do I personally understand the trials and long road to recovery that the injuries of war demand.  In war, these events are called battles.  In our own country, by the hand of an American soldier, these events are called a massacre.  The victims were hit not by an exploding IED, responsible for close to 85 percent of the injuries and deaths in Afghanistan, they were hit by bullets, dozens of shots fired from a pistol by a psychologically disturbed individual.  The victims of this tragedy are not only those who were physically harmed, but also their families, loved ones and comrades.  They will need our support, on Veterans Day, and beyond.

Today I say thank you as we commemorate, remember, and honor those who have put themselves in harm’s way for their country.

Photo take in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, HI.

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FireTruck-FlagLike many of you I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on the morning of 9/11.

The sunrise was starting to peek out and you could tell it was going to be a beautiful fall September morning in 2001.  I was up early preparing for a flight to the bay area and in an odd and very uncharacteristic behavior I had the TV on — which I never do — as I prepped.  The announcer interrupted the show about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center and in a few minutes I watched the 2nd plane crash.  I didn’t know what was going on, but knew it wasn’t no accident.  I have friends who work in the city and I went to the PC and sent off a couple emails.  I never did make my flight and remember feeling a sense of violation and anger at both the perpetrators and our governments failure as I watched the TV news for most of the day.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 years ago.  The Alan Jackson song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” best sums up my feelings today and I wanted to dedicate this post to the victims and hero’s of 9/11.  And while we’re at it let’s not forget the military on the battlefield.

Photo courtesy of NJ Monthly.com

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