Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veterans Day

(The Confederate War Memorial, St. Augustine, Florida)

Yes, one of those young men and I share the same last name, he is the brother of my great,great grandfather. What's even more amazing to me is that, 100 years later, I went to school with kids who carried almost every one of those names. I don't know the names of earlier vets in my southern family, but I know on my Yankee mother's side there were some revolutionary war soldiers from Pennsylvania and some Union soldiers.

I was going to list the veterans in my family right now, but I was afraid I might leave someone out. Let's just say from World War II to the present war, off the top of my head, I counted 4 uncles, 8 cousins, 4 brother-n-laws, a father-n-law, and 3 nephews.

I am not a veteran.

There are lots of ways to serve your country, they are all valuable, but I still believe there is nothing quite as commendable as putting your life on the line for other people. I have a similar feeling for cops, paramedics, and other first responders, but this is not their day and the fact remains, on any given day, they can quit. I know, I've been there.

It's my opinion, based on conversations, commentary, and yes, blog posts, that a lot of people do not have direct contact with a soldier serving currently. I hear them discussed as abstract numbers or "the troops", but short of being one, I believe you have to know one to realize the true, daily sacrifices of military service.

Last year, on November 11th, I profiled one of my students I lost in Iraq. This year, I thought I'd introduce you to Kevin. He's a commenter here frequently, he's my buddy since Mrs. Blackmer's first grade classroom, and he's in the Persian Gulf with the Florida National Guard.


Kevin and I grew up together, that's him on the right, me on the left. We went to elementary school, were the first wave as 7th graders in the integration of the south, and finished high school together. We went on adventures together, chased girls together (caught some too), and always remained friends.

In 1976, I came home from the Marine recruiter's office all pumped up to find a college acceptance letter waiting on the kitchen table. I went to school. Kevin joined the Navy and travelled the world for a few years.

He eventually came home, married the beautiful Kelly and together they raised two great kids. After the Navy, he followed in his father's footsteps and became a full time member of the Florida National Guard. In the guard, he became a expert on helicopters.

During his career, I know he was deployed around the world several times and missed precious moments with his son, daughter, and wife that can not be regained.

( Above: Kevin with a Russky chopper)

Now at 48, he is in the Persian Gulf with the National Guard. He will be there for a year. His job is vital and the lives of every soldier who flies aboard his helicopters depend on the work he and his crew performs. There really isn't any room for mistakes.

A year.

365 days of being in the danger zone.
365 days of working long hours in harsh conditions.
365 days of living in cramped quarters with minimal privacy.
365 days of missing your wife and kids.
365 days of dealing long distance with all of the bills, ills, and obstacles that a family endures in a year.
365 days of worrying, long distance, about all the things we Dads stress over ... did they remember to lock the house, who's this new boyfriend?
365 days of missing the good times, Gator games, shrimping, the kingfish run ...
365 days of hoping that your deployment is just that and not extended.
365 days of knowing that if it is extended, you will stay until the job is done.

Daily ones.

I can't think of a single sacrifice I made today.

Thank you Vets, past and present.

... and thank you Kevin.

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Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

Great post, which includes much food for thought.

"I can't think of a single sacrifice I made today."

You and me both.

Thanks for reminding us of the sacrifices made by the men and women in the military.

Deb said...

I don't have any veterans in my family, moms or dads side. Strange. My father in law, however, is the consummate veteran, having served in the Marines in WWII in the Pacific. He still carries around the shrapnel, and never speaks of the fighting he had to do.

A year in Iraq is a tremendous sacrifice. I hope all goes well; I am now thinking of a local career military helicopter pilot who was killed just over a year ago.

I don't agree with the current war, but I certainly have the utmost respect for those who have given up so much in fighting it. They really had no choice.

LauraHinNJ said...

No, most of us don't make sacrifices. We don't even know what it means, really.

Nice tribute to your friend. I hope he stays safe.

Anonymous said...

God bless Kevin; God bless all the vets and especially the ones who lost their lives. "All gave some, some gave all." Thanks, FC, nice post.

kevin said...

FC, thanks.
It's also 365 days of mostly boring routine. But, I don't want any "excitement". That usually means something bad has happened. I have friends in Iraq that have been shot at, and thankfully, missed. I'm thankful that doesn't happen here.

In my mind, I still look like the first photo, with shorter hair.

Anonymous said...

Nicely put, FC. Thanks for a great post!

bluebird of paradise said...

what a wonderful tribute to your friend. i hope he comes home safe and sound.........

Hick said...

Kevin: Thank you for your service.

Like FC, I cannot name all the veterans and current military in my family without forgetting someone. I thank God every day for the sacrifice our veterans made on my behalf and the current young men and women are still making to keep us safe.

Wonderful post!

threecollie said...

Liz has a good college friend, a young girl just a couple years older than she, serving in Iraq. It is humbling to contemplate. Great post.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

FC, this is a great post and I also can't name everyone without missing someone who is a vet, but I do have a step-grandson who is currently serving in the Marines and I want to thank all who are serving in any capacity, for their unselfish service to our nation.

Thank you vets past & present.

Anonymous said...

thank you fc.

robin andrea said...

All the veterans in my family are long gone, but not the respect and appreciation of the hard work and sacrifice that they instilled in me. Last night we watched the local news, which we hardly ever do, but we wanted to see the impending doom of the weather report. The news covered the homecoming of a hundred soldiers to Fort Lewis, here in Washington. These soldiers were returning home to their families on Veteran's Day. Roger and I had tears in our eyes, as we watched the joyous moments. I wish the very best for your friend and know his day of return will be as momentous an occasion.

BTW-- That above anonymous comment is Roger's.

Laura said...

I hope it is not too late to comment. This was wonderfully written, FC. What a moving post to read, and every line hit home. Military parents deal with a different set of obstacles than we civilians do. Sometimes, I think the stress must be enormous. Yet they serve unselfishly every year.
My Dad is an Army veteran but my two brothers couldn't serve because of disablities.
Thank you, to all of you who have served.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks Hal,
They are good people.

Tell your fathernlaw thanks from PureFlorida.

I agree and I hope so too.


I still see us that way too. Take care of yourself.

Thank you, glad you liked it.


We are lucky for the past, present, and future vets.

I know what you mean. The goofy kid in my science class is a soldier 6 months after graduation. It always amazes me.

Unselfish sums it up.

i should have known from the lowercase. :)

I was watching a return last week and one of the soldiers was meeting his 7 month old son for the first time. Lumpy throat time.

Thank you. It's a very different set of obstacles on top of all the usual ones.

rick said...

That pic of the hog and your hair reminds me of the Guana camping trips. Remember the hickory nut fights? Thanks for serving and sacrificing!

Brian said...

Thanks for the tribute FC, we hope it stays boring for him also....

Love ya, Kevy!

Floridacracker said...

... and the redbug/tick bites when it was all over.

Boring is good.

Hurricane Teen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hurricane Teen said...

...that was me who deleted the comment...on accident...I hate computers...but here it is again...

Eusebio Pacetti!!!! He's kin to me!! I'm not exatly sure how...I'll have to go back and look at my records. But he is on my list of Confederate veterns in my family.

Very good job commening our veterans for all their sacrifices, too. They don't hear it enough from the people here.

Enlightenment said...

Speaking of veterans, let's take a few moments and look at the event that precipitated the "war on terror" and around which America's foreign policy has been inextricably wrapped ever since.

One thing that struck me as odd in the days after 9/11 was Bush saying "We will not tolerate conspiracy theories [regarding 9/11]". Sure enough there have been some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding the events of that day. The most far-fetched and patently ridiculous one that I've ever heard goes like this: Nineteen hijackers who claimed to be devout Muslims but yet were so un-Muslim as to be getting drunk all the time, doing cocaine and frequenting strip clubs decided to hijack four airliners and fly them into buildings in the northeastern U.S., the area of the country that is the most thick with fighter bases. After leaving a Koran on a barstool at a strip bar after getting shitfaced drunk on the night before, then writing a suicide note/inspirational letter that sounded like it was written by someone with next to no knowledge of Islam, they went to bed and got up the next morning hung over and carried out their devious plan. Nevermind the fact that of the four "pilots" among them there was not a one that could handle a Cessna or a Piper Cub let alone fly a jumbo jet, and the one assigned the most difficult task of all, Hani Hanjour, was so laughably incompetent that he was the worst fake "pilot" of the bunch, with someone who was there when he was attempting to fly a small airplane saying that Hanjour was so clumsy that he was unsure if he had driven a car before. Nevermind the fact that they received very rudimentary flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, making them more likely to have been C.I.A. assets than Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. So on to the airports after Mohammed Atta supposedly leaves two rental cars at two impossibly far-removed locations. So they hijack all four airliners and at this time passengers on United 93 start making a bunch of cell phone calls from 35,000 feet in the air to tell people what was going on. Nevermind the fact that cell phones wouldn't work very well above 4,000 feet, and wouldn't work at ALL above 8,000 feet. But the conspiracy theorists won't let that fact get in the way of a good fantasy. That is one of the little things you "aren't supposed to think about". Nevermind that one of the callers called his mom and said his first and last name ("Hi mom, this is Mark Bingham"), more like he was reading from a list than calling his own mom. Anyway, when these airliners each deviated from their flight plan and didn't respond to ground control, NORAD would any other time have followed standard operating procedure (and did NOT have to be told by F.A.A. that there were hijackings because they were watching the same events unfold on their own radar) which means fighter jets would be scrambled from the nearest base where they were available on standby within a few minutes, just like every other time when airliners stray off course. But of course on 9/11 this didn't happen, not even close. Somehow these "hijackers" must have used magical powers to cause NORAD to stand down, as ridiculous as this sounds because total inaction from the most high-tech and professional Air Force in the world would be necessary to carry out their tasks. So on the most important day in its history the Air Force was totally worthless. Then they had to make one of the airliners look like a smaller plane, because unknown to them the Naudet brothers had a videocamera to capture the only known footage of the North Tower crash, and this footage shows something that is not at all like a jumbo jet, but didn't have to bother with the South Tower jet disguising itself because that was the one we were "supposed to see". Anyway, as for the Pentagon they had to have Hani Hanjour fly his airliner like it was a fighter plane, making a high G-force corkscrew turn that no real airliner can do, in making its descent to strike the Pentagon. But these "hijackers" wanted to make sure Rumsfeld survived so they went out of their way to hit the farthest point in the building from where Rumsfeld and the top brass are located. And this worked out rather well for the military personnel in the Pentagon, since the side that was hit was the part that was under renovation at the time with few military personnel present compared to construction workers. Still more fortuitous for the Pentagon, the side that was hit had just before 9/11 been structurally reinforced to prevent a large fire there from spreading elsewhere in the building. Awful nice of them to pick that part to hit, huh? Then the airliner vaporized itself into nothing but tiny unidentifiable pieces most no bigger than a fist, unlike the crash of a real airliner when you will be able to see at least some identifiable parts, like crumpled wings, broken tail section etc. Why, Hani Hanjour the terrible pilot flew that airliner so good that even though he hit the Pentagon on the ground floor the engines didn't even drag the ground!! Imagine that!! Though the airliner vaporized itself on impact it only made a tiny 16 foot hole in the building. Amazing. Meanwhile, though the planes hitting the Twin Towers caused fires small enough for the firefighters to be heard on their radios saying "We just need 2 hoses and we can knock this fire down" attesting to the small size of it, somehow they must have used magical powers from beyond the grave to make this morph into a raging inferno capable of making the steel on all forty-seven main support columns (not to mention the over 100 smaller support columns) soften and buckle, then all fail at once. Hmmm. Then still more magic was used to make the building totally defy physics as well as common sense in having the uppermost floors pass through the remainder of the building as quickly, meaning as effortlessly, as falling through air, a feat that without magic could only be done with explosives. Then exactly 30 minutes later the North Tower collapses in precisely the same freefall physics-defying manner. Incredible. Not to mention the fact that both collapsed at a uniform rate too, not slowing down, which also defies physics because as the uppermost floors crash into and through each successive floor beneath them they would shed more and more energy each time, thus slowing itself down. Common sense tells you this is not possible without either the hijackers' magical powers or explosives. To emphasize their telekinetic prowess, later in the day they made a third building, WTC # 7, collapse also at freefall rate though no plane or any major debris hit it. Amazing guys these magical hijackers. But we know it had to be "Muslim hijackers" the conspiracy theorist will tell you because (now don't laugh) one of their passports was "found" a couple days later near Ground Zero, miraculously "surviving" the fire that we were told incinerated planes, passengers and black boxes, and also "survived" the collapse of the building it was in. When common sense tells you if that were true then they should start making buildings and airliners out of heavy paper and plastic so as to be "indestructable" like that magic passport. The hijackers even used their magical powers to bring at least seven of their number back to life, to appear at american embassies outraged at being blamed for 9/11!! BBC reported on that and it is still online. Nevertheless, they also used magical powers to make the american government look like it was covering something up in the aftermath of this, what with the hasty removal of the steel debris and having it driven to ports in trucks with GPS locators on them, to be shipped overseas to China and India to be melted down. When common sense again tells you that this is paradoxical in that if the steel was so unimportant that they didn't bother saving some for analysis but so important as to require GPS locators on the trucks with one driver losing his job because he stopped to get lunch. Hmmmm. Further making themselves look guilty, the Bush administration steadfastly refused for over a year to allow a commission to investigate 9/11 to even be formed, only agreeing to it on the conditions that they get to dictate its scope, meaning it was based on the false pretense of the "official story" being true with no other alternatives allowed to be considered, handpicked all its members making sure the ones picked had vested interests in the truth remaining buried, and with Bush and Cheney only "testifying" together, only for an hour, behind closed doors, with their attorneys present and with their "testimonies" not being recorded by tape or even written down in notes. Yes, this whole story smacks of the utmost idiocy and fantastic far-fetched lying, but it is amazingly enough what some people believe. Even now, five years later, the provably false fairy tale of the "nineteen hijackers" is heard repeated again and again, and is accepted without question by so many Americans. Which is itself a testament to the innate psychological cowardice of the American sheeple, i mean people, and their abject willingness to believe something, ANYTHING, no matter how ridiculous in order to avoid facing a scary uncomfortable truth. Time to wake up America.

Debunking Popular Mechanics lies:
someone else debunking Popular Mechanics crap:
still more debunking Poopular Mechanics:
and still more debunking of Popular Mechanics:

Poopular Mechanics staff replaced just before laughable “debunking” article written:
another neo-con 9/11 hit piece explodes, is retracted:
Professor Steven Jones debunks the N.I.S.T. “report” as well as the F.E.M.A. one and the 9/11 commission "report":
N.I.S.T. scientist interviewed:
F.B.I. says no hard evidence linking Osama bin Laden to 9/11 which is why his wanted poster says nothing about 9/11:
Fire Engineering magazine says important questions about the Twin Tower “collapses” still need to be addressed:

Twin Towers’ construction certifiers say they should have easily withstood it:
USA Today interview with the last man out of the South Tower, pursued by a fireball:
Janitor who heard explosions and escaped has testimony ignored by 9/11 whitewash commission:
Janitor starts speaking out about it and his apartment is burglarized, laptop stolen:
Firefighters tell of multiple explosions:
Eyewitnesses tell of explosions:
Interview with another firefighter telling of explosions:
Firefighter saw “sparkles” (strobe lights on detonators?) before “collapse”:
Other eyewitnesses talk of seeing/hearing explosions:
Surviving eyewitnesses talk of multiple explosions there:
Cutter charge explosions clearly visible:
The pyroclastic wave (that dust cloud that a second before was concrete) and how it wouldn’t be possible without explosives:
Detailed description of the demolition of the Twin Towers:
Freefall rate of “collapses” math:
More about their freefall rate “collapses”:
Video footage of the controlled demolition of the Twin Towers:
Video footage of the controlled demolition of WTC # 7 building:
More of WTC # 7 controlled demolition:
Naudet brothers' video footage of the North Tower crash:
Photos of the Pentagon’s lawn (look at these and see if you can tell me with a straight face that a jumbo jet crashed there):!.htm
More photos of this amazing lawn at the Pentagon:!%20(9-11).htm
Very unconvincing fake “Osama” “confession” tape:
More about the fake “Osama” tape:
Fake “Mohammed Atta” “suicide” letter:
Commercial pilots disagree with “official” 9/11 myth:
More commercial jet pilots say “official” myth is impossible:
Impossibility of cell phone calls from United 93:
More about the impossible cell phone calls:
Experiment proves cell phone calls were NOT possible from anywhere near the altitude the “official” myth has them at:
Fake Barbara Olson phone call:
Where the hell was the Air Force?
More about the Air Force impotence question:
Sept. 10th 2001, Pentagon announces it is “missing” $2.3 trillion (now why do you think they picked THAT day to announce it? So it could be buried the next day by 9/11 news):
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan:
Unocal pipeline-through-Afghanistan plan mentioned:
More on Unocal Afghan pipeline:
The attack on Afghanistan was planned in the summer of 2001, months before 9/11:
Pentagon deliberately misled 9/11 Commission:
Evidence destruction by authorities and cover-up:
9/11 whitewash Commission and NORAD day:
The incredible fish tales of the 9/11 Commission examined:
Jeb Bush declares state of emergency 4 days before 9/11 for Florida, saying it will help respond to terrorism:
Steel debris removal from Ground Zero, destruction of evidence:
Over two hundred incriminating bits of 9/11 evidence shown in the mainstream media:
Tracking the “hijackers”:
“Hijacker” patsies:
“Hijackers” receiving flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station:
Several accused "hijackers" still alive and well, wondering why they are accused:
Yet the F.B.I. insists that the people it claims were the "hijackers" really were the "hijackers":
No Arabs on Flight 77:
Thirty experts say “official” 9/11 myth impossible:
“Al Qaeda” website tracks back to Maryland:
Al Qaeda videos uploaded from U.S. government website:
Operation: Northwoods, a plan for a false-flag “terror” attack to be blamed on Castro to use it as a pretext for America to invade Cuba, thankfully not approved by Kennedy back in 1962 but was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and sent to his desk:

Floridacracker said...

That name is irony right?

I think your aluminum foil hat is on a little too tight.