Monday, May 30, 2016

No truer words spoken...

Thank you.

Memorial Day 2016: Remembering AfghanistanI had to shut down my computer the other day after reading about all the brave soldiers who've joined the ranks of the "forever young" in Afghanistan. It's been a long 15 years.War is not for the fainthearted, or the impatient. I am guilty on both counts, but I am not alone in my feelings as I come to understand the cost of war extends far beyond America's diminishing treasure.With scant media reports about the positive impacts of our presence in Afghanistan and a Commander-in-Chief who checked out before he took office, it's easy to mistake Afghanistan as a total loss. A cursory glance projects a dysfunctional nation infested with godless, faceless, soulless lunatics who will stop at nothing to "kill all infidels."

And it is also easy to politicize a war. Those who encouraged us to "cut and run" revealed their own cowardice and will forever bear the guilt associated with the loss of untold innocent lives. But those who invested their blood and treasure can take credit for the good. You gave Afghanis hope, before Democrats took it away.

As reported in The American Interest, "the Democratic Party solidly opposed the surge and supported the deadline. In September 2009, 62 percent of Democrats opposed Obama's impending surge decision, and 63 percent of Republicans supported it...The war in Afghanistan was never as politically unpopular as the war in Iraq...until the President started to telegraph his disbelief in the mission."

Memorial Day - 2016 [This is the 15th anniversary of this edition of Mullings which was first written for Memorial Day, 2001 - four months before 9/11. Our son, Reed, was then a young member of the team in charge of President George W. Bush's visit to Arlington Memorial Cemetery on that day.]
We went to Arlington National Cemetery to attend the annual Memorial Day observance.

The entrance to Arlington National Cemetery is directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial. These two historical, mystical, sites are connected by the Memorial Bridge.

At the entrance to the Cemetery there is a sign which asks visitors to keep in mind the true nature of this place:

Welcome to Arlington National Cemetery

America's most sacred shrine.

These are hallowed grounds.

The Mullings Director of Standards & Practices and I made our way up and down the curving walkways, past the small groups of school-aged children and their chaperones listening to docents working to inspire groups of students.

War stories can inspire the next generation of young Americans to grow up with respect for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their freedom. If these stories are not shared, they will die. Pull up a chair to the bonfire, gather your family around—and tell a story that will impact young hearts and minds forever.

Prayer and Kamikazes 

I had one grandfather in the U.S. Navy and another in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. Both were nearly killed in Kamikaze attacks. Kamikazeswere Japanese fighter planes packed with explosives and flown by suicide pilots.

My grandfather in the Navy was a gunner on the Fletcher class destroyer USS Franks (DD-554). Franks garnered nine battle stars during WWII. Fun fact: Franks carried the very first Navy SEAL rescue diver, Mel Collins, who risked his life to dive deep into the sea and battle high waves to retrieve U.S. Navy pilots after their planes were shot down.

One day, a kamikaze plane emerged out of the sky and barreled straight toward Franks. My grandfather said the entire crew on his ship began praying—thinking prayer was their last hope. Sure enough, the kamikaze pilot missed the ship and landed in the ocean. My grandfather recounted how the pilot began waving his arms and screaming for help—even though he had just tried to kill himself and every American onboard Franks. But the admiral told his men, “Shoot down that SOB.”
On Memorial Day

 This and every Memorial Day
Honor them always and NEVER FORGET their sacrifice.  
May they Rest in Everlasting Peace.