How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.
Petraeus, reiterating earlier remarks made by Command Sergeant Major Hill, said that the unprecedented ceremony sends a “message to friend and foe alike.” He told those assembled that it is “impossible to calculate the value of what you are giving to our country . . . For no bonus, no matter the size, can adequately compensate you for the contribution each of you makes as a custodian of our nation’s defenses.”
In Saddam Hussein's wildest dreams I'm sure he never imagined such a ceremony taking place in his palace. I hope wherever he is he has Internet access:
Jonn Lilyea at This Ain't Hell has a link to an important petition to the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Iraq Veterans Against the War are going to testify before the caucus, preaching to the choir as Thus Spake Ortner points out, to "present eyewitness accounts of the Iraq occupation to Congress":
OK, first off, this is ridiculous. Just so you realize, they aren't testifying before the House Armed Services Commitee. They aren't testifying before the Foreign Relations or Veterans' Affairs Committees. They are testifying before the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which means they will literally be preaching to the choir.
Lilyea has a list of caucus members:
If you have the misfortune to live in one of those districts, please contact their offices and express your displeasure and what you expect from your elected representatives. If you don’t have your representative’s contact information you can find it on Congress.org. It’s been my experience that faxes and phone calls get a better response than email (which usually ends up in trash folder before anyone reads it).
I, thankfully, do not have the misfortune to live in one of those districts, but I will be signing the petition and if you're reading this, I hope you will too. The petition attempts to force caucus members to ask for actual proof from IVAW before accepting any of their claims:
* Make request of the Iraq Veterans Against the War that member(s) of the Caucus be provided video of the entire Winter Soldier Investigation “testimony” proceedings and be provided access to all those who testified,
*That the Caucus require any testimony given by IVAW be presented in the following format:
D: Date(s) - When did the incident occur?
U: Unit(s) - What military units were involved?
P: Personnel - What are the names of the participants and witnesses?
E: Event(s) - What exactly happened exactly where?
S: Signature(s) - Was this reported at the time or later and were reports, affidavits or depositions signed, or will they now be signed?
* That in the event that staff determines that there has been testimony given that touches on areas where, in the words of Senator Warner, the members of the SASC “have a responsibility to establish where in the military chain of command rests the ‘accountability,’ depending of course, on the accuracy of the facts…”, the Caucus forward the information to the House Armed Services Committee (HASC),
* That the Caucus request and all documents and records, signed statements and recordings, audio, video or digital, that bear on the claims made and being investigated,
* That the Caucus demand that those making such claims or professing publicly to verify those claims be requested or subpoened to appear before the HASC under oath, to answer questions.
Although this "testimony" is only taking place before a lame caucus, it is still a slap in the face to our troops serving in Iraq. We've been down this road before. If the caucus is going to let members of IVAW speak, they should demand proof. And we need to stand up for our men and women in the military every chance we get:
I guess the point of all this is that the battle for the minds of the people against this insidious campaign to pervert the truth and turn Americans against our returning soldiers, is not over and it may have just begun. We’ve scored some significant victories in the last 14 months, but the battle continues.
The circus will take place on May 15.
That's the title of a new album by Jerry Reed:
Jerry Reed — singer, songwriter, musician and actor — has vowed to do all he can for Middle Tennessee veterans.
At the Alvin C. York Veterans Affairs Medical Center, he rolled out his new album The Gallant Few, filled with songs that honor those who have served. Sales will benefit wounded veterans.
Keep checking the website for updates and when the CD is available, please buy it.
A little walk down memory lane with Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins:
About 480 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan assembled beginning at 8:30 this morning just across the street from the Senate wing of the Capitol. The temperature was about 45 degrees - global warming had struck. In their sand colored polo shirts, emblazoned across their broad chests with “Vets for Freedom”, they renewed old friendships and established new ones.
Jonn Lilyea has some great pictures at the link above, including this one of Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions:
Jeff Sessions spoke about victory being imperative in Iraq;
After a month on the road rallying support for the mission in Iraq the Vets For Freedom members will surge on Capital Hill this morning.
From the VFF website:
Vets for Freedom will bring our message to Congress, when over 400 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans descend on Capitol Hill for "Vets on the Hill." Our guys will enjoy breakfast with the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Richard Myers, before heading to Capitol Hill for a bi-partisan press conference with two-dozen members of Congress, including Senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsay Graham.
“I just wanna say what you know so well,” McCain said. “No one detests war more than a veteran. But the veteran also knows the consequences of defeat means greater sacrifice and greater numbers who are wounded and killed. You know better than any the consequences of defeat.”
“My friends, we will never surrender to the extremists,” McCain added.
“You want to know who wants you to come home more than anybody?” Graham continued. “Al Qaeda because you’re kicking their ass.”
Many thanks to the Vets for Freedom, still fighting for us today. God Bless our Troops and all our Veterans.
An American hero comes home:
Sgt. Matt Maupin is dead, the parents of the missing Clermont County soldier said today.
Maupin's remain were found in Iraq, nearly four years after he was captured by insurgents, his parents said. An Army general visited them today and gave them the news, they said.
"Matt is coming home. He's completed his mission," his father, Keith Maupin, said.
Rest in Peace.
The Weekly Standard published the letter General David Petraeus sent to his troops in Iraq. "Hope has been rekindled." Here is an excerpt:
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and Civilians of Multi-National Force-Iraq:
As 2007 draws to a close, you should look back with pride on what you, your fellow troopers, our Iraqi partners, and Iraqi Coalition civilians have achieved in 2007. A year ago, Iraq was racked by horrific violence and on the brink of civil war. Now, levels of violence and civilians and military casualties are significantly reduced and hope has been rekindled in many Iraqi communities. To be sure, the progress is reversible and there is much more to be done. Nonetheless, the hard-fought accomplishments of 2007 have been substantial, and I want to thank each of you for the contributions you made to them.
In response to the challenges that faced Iraq a year ago, we and our Iraqi partners adopted a new approach. We increased our focus on securing the Iraqi people and, in some cases, delayed transition of tasks to Iraqi forces. Additional U.S. and Georgian forces were deployed to theater, the tours of U.S. unites were extended, and Iraqi forces conducted a surge of their own, generating well over 100,000 more Iraqi police and soldiers during the year so that they, too, had additional forces to execute the new approach. In places like Ramadi, Baqubah, Arab Jabour, and Baghdad, you and our Iraqi brothers fought--often house by house, block by block, and neighborhood by neighborhood--to wrest sanctuaries away from Al Qaeda-Iraq, to disrupt extremist militia elements, and to rid the streets of mafia-like criminals. Having cleared areas, you worked with Iraqis to retain them--establishing outposts in the areas we were securing, developing Iraqi Security Forces, and empowering locals to help our efforts. This approach has not been easy. It has required steadfastness in the conduct of tough offensive operations, creative solutions to the myriad problems on the ground, and persistence over the course of many months and during countless trying situations. Through it all, you have proven equal to every task, continually demonstrating an impressive ability to conduct combat and stability operations in an exceedingly complex environment.
The way ahead will not be easy. Inevitably, there will be more tough days and tough weeks. Unforeseen challenges will emerge. And success will require continued hard work, commitment, and initiative from all involved. As we look to the future, however, we should remember how far we have come in the past year. Thanks to the tireless efforts and courageous actions of the Iraqi people, Iraq's political and military leaders, the Iraqi Security Forces, and each of you, a great deal has been achieved in 2007. Thus, as we enter a new year, we and our Iraqi partners will have important accomplishments and a newfound sense of hope on which we can build.
As always, all or your leaders, our fellow citizens back home, and I deeply appreciate the dedication, professionalism, commitment, and courage you display on a daily basis. It remains the greatest of honors to serve with each of you in this critical endeavor.
David H. Petraeus
The Greatest Gift. Laura Ingraham:
The ineffable generosity of our soldiers and those who love them.
Megan pulled a three-ring binder out of her bag and showed me a photograph of herself and her husband. Young — they’re both 21 — with big smiles on their faces, and obviously wildly in love. “That’s what he looked like,” she said with a somber face, “He was such a cutie-pie, always buying me little stuffed animals and writing the most thoughtful notes the entire time he was in Iraq.” Then she showed me the photo of her husband receiving the Purple Heart on Wednesday from President Bush at Bethesda Naval Medical Center. As President Bush pinned the medal on Mike as he lay unconscious in the ICU, having suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by a piece of shrapnel that pierced his right eye.
“This is my Mike now,” she said, rubbing her eyes. He is completely blind and to alleviate a terrible cranial pressure build-up, doctors had to remove the front of his skull. Since being wounded several months ago, Mike has never regained consciousness and suffers from terrible terrible spasms that make his entire body seize up on itself. “That’s my guy,” she repeated, before she went on to tell me about how they met and fell in love.
There are no words, no gifts, no tangible thing we can give to Megan and her hero Mike. We can give them never-ending, heart-felt gratitude. Especially our prayers. We can also take the time to show support for our troops and their families:
As we are about to celebrate Christmas spending time with our families and friends, let us all do our best to live up to the true spirit of this season — and to make it a time filled with love, faith, gratitude, hope, charity, and... yes, let’s try for some peace on earth. Let’s also remember the military families and our wounded heroes, who will spend this Christmas at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center, Bethesda Naval Medical Center, and other medical facilities across the nation. As we rush anxiously around because we “haven’t found the perfect gift” for so-and-so, these families hope and pray for gifts that cannot be put under a tree: a hand that squeezes back, a smile, the first step on a new prosthesis, or a positive medical report.
They need our prayers and support at Christmas and every day. Please give what you can to any of the wonderful organizations that support our bravest and their families.
Such a small thing we can do for those who are giving everything. For us.
Move America Forward
There is an URGENT need for phone cards. Please help deployed service members call home by donating to USO Operation Phone Home.
They have sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and friends who are with them in spirit and silently supporting them from the other side of the world. But it would mean so much to our service members to be able to hear their voices. Far from home and lonely, they are defending our flag and our freedom. The USO is working hard to bring home as close to them as possible. Please join us in USO Operation Phone Home, a campaign created to make it possible for Americans to extend this touch of home to the men and women of our armed forces. And we will continue this effort until every one comes home.
Donate online here. You can also donate via phone: 1-800-901-1501, or mail:
(with O.P.H. written in the memo)
USO World Headquarters
PO Box 96860
Washington, DC 20090-6860