Tag Archives: patriotism

A Ceremony the whole nation should see — every Friday

I receive a lot of email “pass-alongs,” and once in a while I get one well worth presenting to my readers. This one which I picked up today (by McClatchy  Newspapers’ Joseph L. Galloway) is already a few years old, but I sure didn’t know about it, so maybe you didn’t either. More people should be aware of what’s really in our soldiers’ hearts.

Over  the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines,  sailors and Air Force personnel have given their  lives in the terrible duty that is war.   Thousands more have come home on stretchers,  horribly wounded and facing months or years in  military  hospitals.

This  week, I’m turning my space over to a good friend  and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert  Bateman, who recently completed a yearlong tour  of duty in Iraq and is now back at the  Pentagon.

Here’s  Lt. Col. Bateman’s account of a little-known  ceremony that fills the halls of the Army  corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause  and many tears every Friday morning.  It  first appeared on May 17 on the Weblog of media  critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media  Matters for America Website.

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It is  110 yards from the "E" ring to the "A" ring of  the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is  newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway  is broad, and the lighting is bright.  At  this instant the entire length of the corridor  is packed with officers, a few sergeants and  some civilians, all crammed tightly three and  four deep against the walls. There are  thousands here.

This  hallway, more than any other, is the `Army’  hallway.  The G3 offices line one side, G2  the other, G8 is around the corner.  All  Army.  Moderate conversations flow in a low  buzz.  Friends who may not have seen each  other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each  other, cross the way and  renew.

Everyone  shifts to ensure an open path remains down the  center.  The air conditioning system was  not designed for this press of bodies in this  area.

The  temperature is rising already.  Nobody  cares.  10:36 hours: The clapping starts  at the E-Ring.  That is the outermost of  the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest  to the entrance to the building.  This  clapping is low, sustained, hearty.  It is  applause with a deep emotion behind it as it  moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

A  steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at  the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who  marks the forward edge with his presence.   He is the first. He is missing the greater part  of one leg, and some of his wounds are still  suppurating.  By his age I expect that he  is a private, or perhaps a private first  class.

Captains,  majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet  his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to  soldier.  Three years ago when I described  one of these events, those lining the hallways  were somewhat different.  The applause a  little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not  having shared in the burden …  yet.

Now  almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the  man in the wheelchair, also a combat  veteran.  This steadies the applause, but I  think deepens the sentiment.  We have all  been there now.  The soldier’s chair is  pushed by, I believe, a full  colonel.

Behind  him, and stretching the length from Rings E to  A, come more of his peers, each private,  corporal, or sergeant assisted as need be by a  field grade officer.

11:00  hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause.   My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at  how stupid that sounds in my own head.  My  hands hurt…  Please!  Shut up and  clap.  For twenty-four minutes, soldier  after soldier has come down this hallway – 20,  25, 30….  Fifty-three legs come with them,  and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this  hall came 30 solid hearts.

They  pass down this corridor of officers and  applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at  which they are the guests of honor, hosted by  the generals. Some are wheeled along….   Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to  march as best they can with their chin held up,  down this hallway, through this most unique  audience.  Some are catching handshakes and  smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July  parade.  More than a couple of them seem  amazed and are smiling  shyly.

There  are families with them as well: the 18-year-old  war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband’s  wheelchair and not quite understanding why her  husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew  up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is  crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who  have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on  their son’s behalf.  No man in that  hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the  silent tears on more than a few cheeks.  An  Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better  see.  A couple of the officers in this  crowd have themselves been a part of this parade  in the past.

These  are our men, broken in body they may be, but  they are our brothers, and we welcome them  home.   This parade has gone  on, every single Friday, all year long, for more  than four years.

Did  you know that?

The  media haven’t yet told the  story.

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WWII Vet Blisters Obama’s Backside

Perhaps you’ve seen this elsewhere. If so, then good! This was in my email when I got back from Colorado; whatever you may think of email forwards, the content of this letter speaks for itself. Read it and pass it on.

WW II Navy Veteran tells Obama to shape up or ship out!

Harold_Estes_resized This venerable and much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body, he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now.  He dictated this letter  to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president.

 

Dear President Obama,    
My name is Harold Estes, approaching 95 on December 13 of this year.  People meeting me for the first time don’t believe my age because I remain wrinkle free and pretty much mentally alert.
I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1934 and served proudly before, during and after WW II retiring as a Master Chief Bos’n Mate.  Now I live in a "rest home" located on the western end of Pearl Harbor , allowing me to keep alive the memories of 23 years of service to my country.
One of the benefits of my age, perhaps the only one, is to speak my mind, blunt and direct even to the head man.
So here goes.
I am amazed, angry and determined not to see my country die before I do, but you seem hell bent not to grant me that wish.
I can’t figure out what country you are the president of.  You fly around the world telling our friends and enemies despicable lies like:
" We’re no longer a Christian nation" " America is arrogant" – (Your wife even announced to the world," America is mean- spirited. " Please tell her to try preaching that nonsense to 23 generations of our war dead buried all over the globe who died for no other reason than to free a whole lot of strangers from tyranny and hopelessness.)
I’d say shame on the both of you, but I don’t think you like America, nor do I see an ounce of gratefulness in anything you do, for the obvious gifts this country has given you.  To be without shame or gratefulness is a dangerous thing for a man sitting in the White House.
After 9/11 you said," America hasn’t lived up to her ideals."
Which ones did you mean? Was it the notion of personal liberty that 11,000 farmers and shopkeepers died for to win independence from the British?  Or maybe the ideal that no man should be a slave to another man, that 500,000 men died for in the Civil War?  I hope you didn’t mean the ideal 470,000 fathers, brothers, husbands, and a lot of fellas I knew personally died for in WWII, because we felt real strongly about not letting any nation push us around, because we stand for freedom.
I don’t think you mean the ideal that says equality is better than discrimination.  You know the one that a whole lot of white people understood when they helped to get you elected.
Take a little advice from a very old geezer, young man.
Shape up and start acting like an American.  If you don’t, I’ll do what I can to see you get shipped out of that fancy rental on Pennsylvania Avenue .  You were elected to lead not to bow, apologize and kiss the hands of murderers and corrupt leaders who still treat their people like slaves.
And just who do you think you are telling the American people not to jump to conclusions and condemn that Muslim major who killed 13 of his fellow soldiers and wounded dozens more. You mean you don’t want us to do what you did when that white cop used force to subdue that black college professor in Massachusetts , who was putting up a fight?  You don’t mind offending the police calling them stupid but you don’t want us to offend Muslim fanatics by calling them what they are, terrorists.
One more thing.  I realize you never served in the military and never had to defend your country with your life, but you’re the Commander-in-Chief now, son.  Do your job.  When your battle-hardened field General asks you for 40,000 more troops to complete the mission, give them to him.  But if you’re not in this fight to win, then get out.  The life of one American soldier is not worth the best political strategy you’re thinking of.
You could be our greatest president because you face the greatest challenge ever presented to any president.
You’re not going to restore American greatness by bringing back our bloated economy.  That’s not our greatest threat.  Losing the heart and soul of who we are as Americans is our big fight now. And I sure as hell don’t want to think my president is the enemy in this final battle.
Sincerely,
Harold B. Estes

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