Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Time To Think

Well, I've received a nice number of emails on my little soul searching here. Some are nice, some not so nice with interesting points in them, and another few were given the click into the bin rather quickly, lest I soil myself from the filth they espoused.

Reminder: I asked for suggestions on my political edification. Nothing else will be read thank you!

I was so busy answering emails, that I didn't get a chance to write the Apologia I had promised. For students of Critical Thinking, Greek Studies and English, I'm basing my Apologia in a similar format that Plato's recounting of Socrates Trial ocurrs. Now how did I know, I was going to be excoriated and tried publicly, hmmmm? Simple, I knew who some of my readers were going to be.

Till I return, be nice or I'll have to get Casandra Porter to sit in for me and write the next entry. You really don't want that to happen now do you. Isn't the net wonderful, she can write from her little chair over at the DOD in DC and doesn't have to come back to NY at all.... that is unless enough of you piss her off. Remember her saying: HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A WOMAN STABBED IN THE BACK!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Letters from Baghdad

Hi y'all,
Below are 2 letters Michele recently received from 2 of her military correspondents. She was so touched by them, that she asked I post their letters here to share with others. Let us know what you think.

Dear Michele,

I am writing you from [somewhere near Baghdad]. Earlier today I walked in from a mission that took us five long hot days. Upon our return we found out that we would be leaving out again in the morning on yet another mission – length unkown. My unit has been in this area for one week short of one year, and last month we were informed that we would be extended longer than our original 365 days.

Today was cooler than it has been lately (only 112 degrees). Please don't misunderstand, I’m not complaining. I was no longer even in the National Guard, but reenlisted when my old unit was mobilized. I only want to give you some perspective on the situation in which I found your postcard.

I walked into the tent and it was just lying there on my cot, under a fine coat of dust, like everything else. I blew it off and felt a painful knot growing in my throat before I could finish reading it. I don't know who you are, or where you got my name and address even, but I will say this, Your kind words have added much meaning to these past twelve months. To put it very bluntly, my men have worked very hard, for what seems a very long time, and it is good to hear from someone who gives a damn about us.

Though we are from different parts of the country, lots of people from my home-town area felt the loss and sorrow, and many even wept with you when they heard the awful news of 9-11, and I am truly sorry for any pain or heartache you have had to endure since your great city fell under attack. I will read the card you sent to the guys later tonight in their briefing. I am certain that they will appreciate your prayers, thanks and well wishes, as much as I did. Thank you once again Michele.

Your friend in Iraq and fellow American,
Capt. JR



It's been a long day for all of us and I can't wait till it is over with. It started out ordinary enough but that quickly changed into quite an active day for mortar. Mosque Day has taken on a new meaning here. It has become a day of mortar attacks and prayers. In fact I had to change my whole message because those insurgents can't remember what Mosque day is supposed to be about.

Nevertheless the FOB overall took a beating, we had some casualties, and once again we had two rounds land near our command post and our vehicles. It was an experience that rattled a few of our newer soldiers and left me once again feeling pretty lucky to be alive. I thank you all for all your prayers, because I know that's what got me through.

This mission will someday end for us and I can tell you that we are better for it or should I say that I am better for it. The daily mortar attacks have been a true test of our resolve. [snip] I feel much honored to be here with these soldiers as they struggle with the heat, the bad food, and the lack of luxury items that one could easily find at any 7-11 stores in the states. I feel very lucky to be here and it is an experience that I will always look back on.

I have tried to learn everyday, to make myself better, to improve the lives of my soldiers, to uphold standards that seem so high, yet save lives in the long run and finally I have learned that Memorial Day is for the living not the dead. It is a day for us to remember those who have served and given their life for a cause, it is a day to celebrate their legacy, by this I mean what they left for us to emulate, and most of all it is a day to sit back and understand how better our lives were because we knew them.

I, or should I say we, have all been affected by this conflict, for most of us the terrible tales we all have can only be shared with those who have been here. I have seriously considered what I am going to tell people when they ask me, "How was it, really?" It is a question that I will be asked by many and yet there is truly no right or wrong answer. However I believe that my answer will be the following: "I am very proud of my unit and the positive impact they had on the Iraqi people that no one ever cared to write about. I served in an artillery unit, who had 8 soldiers killed and a unit whose soldiers were awarded the most Purple Hearts in the division. I had the pleasure of serving with the best soldiers, NCOs, and officers, who were not always perfect, but cried when they saw the aftermath of a car-bomb which left many Iraqi men and women dead. I had the honor of meeting many very warm and friendly Iraqi nationals, who seemed no different from people that I know it the states. But most of all I served my country for 14 months and received the thanks of many grateful Americans who showered me with cards, emails, and boxes filled with love and generosity."[snip]

I thank you again for all your generosity and your thoughtfulness. You all have made a tremendous difference in my life and the lives of those who serve with me. God Bless you all and I hope that all of you have a very good Mosque Day and a better weekend. Godspeed and I'll see you on the high ground.

Texas Red Leg

Monday, June 07, 2004

Terror & the Men in my Squad

All morning long, and on all the major news media outlets there have been reports about this "new" credible threat.

Nothing new to us. I work for one of those large financial institutions who were targetted on 9/11 and continue to be so. Not many people know that Al Queda planned this attack so well that it purchased stock "Futures" in a few select companies that were located in the World Trade Center, as well as the airlines affected. Shortly before the attack they dumped the stock, greatly impacting the NYSE. Bottom line, they made money off their own actions. Since then the SEC has put in place measures that help to prevent financial instability, however, another terrorist attack would go a long way to hurt our country's recovery and alter our elections (as happened in Spain).

Post 9/11, I received one of those lovely packages, laced with an interesting residue that went out to be tested. My firm and I kept quiet about it for a number of reasons, mostly the need to protect the sanity of our friends and WTC survivors. Just like I don't open email from unknown senders (and even attachments from familiar ones) I don't open packages from unknown entities without calling to confirm the recipient sent it before opening it. I was lucky by having that rule, others in the media industry and the post office were not.

We have also had bomb scares at my firm aimed at demoralizing staff. I for one, now react the opposite, I get angrier and more determined with each new threat. On my floor we've got an incredible life safety team that meets monthly and practices scenarios quarterly. We're prepared for anything.

Since 9/11, my firm has put incredible security measures in place to ensure we minimize the effect of hostile actions. We are very well prepared to handle anything that may happen in the workplace. Part of the credit is due to some incredible guys who are the head of our security division; their former intelligence and military training serves us well.

Unfortunately, on a personal level, I am as vulnerable as any New Yorker when I travel throughout the city. The difference between an ordinary traveler and me, I'm finally at a place of strength and peace. I'm at peace with myself that this is the kind of world I will live in for some time to come. And although I am vulnerable, the reality of this does not make me afraid for I have found the courage and determination I needed to move forward with head held high.

My inspiration for courage has come from a wonderful source, our servicemen. Since April I have been the faithful correspondent of nearly 40 US servicemen, one of which is my youngest cousin deployed in Afghanistan.

Through our letters we have bolstered our morale and inspired each other to stand firm against any threat or action that threatens our beloved country. Their incredible feats in the face of hostile action have been amazing and inspirational. They continue to show me what determination and dedication can accomplish. I credit them for my being able to move from grief, past fear, and into the light of a new day with the same hope and strength they have developed. This is the group that I call my squad. They come from different branches of the service, from different backgrounds, but mostly they are an incredible group of brave, selfless men that have given up much so they may serve to protect me. So that I might finally walk the streets of New York not feeling like I have a target on my back.

I greatly admire, respect, and salute each and everyone of these men. They have done much to fill the void left by the murder of my 7 friends. These are the men who have rallied around me, supported me, who have watched my back and have enabled me to get my life back. They are: 1Sgt Jim, Sgt. Matt, Sgt. Rob, Capt. Elliot, Sgt. Joel, CWO Roy, PFC Manny, LCpl JJ, most recently Capt. JR and Col. Peg Leg.

There's also a few others who have inspired me through their blogs. When my site was hijacked digital jihadists I lost my blogroll and my links to them. I'm still working on getting the list together for when I move to my new place but until I move, I list them here and urge you to visit regularly if you wish to be inspired:

Sgt. Hook
Sgt. Missick
Eject! Eject! Eject!

I am greatly honored that some of these men consider me [and I them] a friend. Terrorist action or not, I am not afraid. I am prepared emotionally, mentally, and spiritually for what may come. I have my Last Will  completed, my son's Guardianship Papers signed and my spirit free of any thoughts of things left undone or unsaid, for I have now said them here.

Words cannot express the gratitude I have for these men, for their sacrifice and that of their families. They are all incredible men of honor and courage, and are very dear to me. My fervent prayer is that God provide them with the continued strength and wisdom needed to perform their jobs and the inner peace needed to continue their fight daily. God bless them all!

Update: To those who have emailed me expressing concern and sending well wishes, I thank you. Your emails are heartfelt and much appreciated. They too add to my strength. I am back at work again, thanking God for the love and support I've received, and for the peace I'm experiencing in my spirit. God bless you all too!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004


La vérité, je la dirai, car j'ai promis de la dire, si la justice, régulièrement saisie, ne la faisait pas, pleine et entière. Mon devoir est de parler, je ne veux pas être complice. Mes nuits seraient hantées par le spectre de l'innocent qui expie là-bas, dans la plus affreuse des tortures, un crime qu'il n'a pas commis.
- Open Letter from Emile Zola to the President of France published in L’Aurore Jan. 13, 1898

The truth, I will say it, for I promised to say it, if justice, uniformly seized, did not do it plainly and fully. My duty is to speak, I do not want to be an accomplice. My nights would be haunted by the ghost of the innocent one, that pays the price, in the most horrible of tortures, for a crime he did not commit.
- Open Letter from Emile Zola to the President of France published in L’Aurore Jan. 13, 1898 [translation my own]

My birthday is a time where I re-evaluate, how I’ve either contributed or harmed society through my personal action or inaction.

In looking back over these past 2 years, I've realized that I allowed my grief, to both rule my life and blind my judgment. I no longer have the luxury, nor do I want to live in that level, of grief stricken ignorance. This re-examination of my life comes at a time when I normally look at where I’ve been, in order to forge the path of where I need to go.

Actually, my nights have been haunted, heavy and often as of late. Perhaps it’s Mike smiling down at me, nagging me out of this political hibernation that I’ve been in since 9/11. Perhaps its Larry, reminding me, through my subconscious, of our debates on the issues of education, defense spending, social programs and our respective ideas of government and how the business of our republic should be conducted. I've been haunted by silent accusations and of complicit action through inaction.

Par conséquent, Je dois appeler la partie responsable. Jai'Accuse Moi!

Yes, I accuse myself, of political indecision and hypocrisy! Of being too afraid, of extremists on the right or the left, to explore what republicanism and conservatism is all about.

Yes, I accuse myself, of letting loudmouth extremists, on both sides, intimidate me into a feeling of political inadequacy which fueled my political denial even when they accused me falsely and their political beliefs were not congruent with my belief system.

Yes, I accuse myself, of having been a harbinger for the left when I was young, naively believing that democratic principles should be observed in all areas of government, with liberality going towards those who were less fortunate than I.

Yes, I accuse myself, of being complicit, through silence, during a time when I should have spoken up against the acts of an immoral and spiritually corrupt President, who I still believe in my heart is a sexual predator.

Yes, I accuse myself, of letting labels blind me to men of greatness, simply because I was afraid of “what might happen” and never did. In doing so, I allowed fear to prevent me from supporting some incredible changes that transpired, while I sat on the sidelines.

I think my specters have been calling on me these past few months, because the time was ripe for me to re-examine my conscience and political leanings. As a result, I must out myself hear and now, in order to put an end to my political purgatory. I can no longer outwardly support a party or a political ideology that I have not supported and have not affiliated with for more than a decade. Yet, I'm unable to say or even figure out where I belong in the new political landscape. 

Am I a reluctant conservative or a former recovering liberal? With each passing day I realize I am more conservative than I once thought, and have successfully argued against the radical left for some time now. Yet, how are my political views to be discerned and defined? These unspoken questions lay there, waiting to be embraced, while I sit here and stare into the darkness that these extremists have created ... and fear begins to rise once again.  Well, no more!  Mike, Larry and the others didn't rush into the towers wondering or questioning.  They ran with a fierce determination and conviction. That is the conviction I must now seize upon to get to the other side of fear.

Fear of the ramifications of what awaits me; of the fact that it will usher in the demise of my last surviving friendship. I have probably postponed writing or even saying all of this out loud for that fear. But the pain of inaction is greater than the pain of uttering the truth.

The truth is I can no longer remain subdued in my arguments, just as I cannot temper my level of disgust with the DNC. I am at the point of revulsion. I can no longer debate like a lady. I simply want to take my gloves off, get into the ring and throw a few well placed punches and kicks of my own. I can no longer stand by silently and know that brave Americans are being accused of untruths and vile things. I can no longer live with that lie silently.

So now my birthday will marks the birth of my independence day. Today, I communicated with various political figures and organizations requesting they remove my name from their rolls, as I no longer want to be called or be associated with them or with their political positions in any way.

In the end, what motivated me the most was believing  certain individuals were responsible for the death of my friends. For some time I have been bothered by the fact that Pres. Clinton missed several key opportunities to rid this country of a problem which has plagued us in the Middle East & elsewhere for some time. His inaction caused the death of thousands during his term in office. And on the eve of his benefiting from these indiscretions, by publishing his memoirs. I can no longer sit idly by and hold my tongue.

Aujourd'hui, J'accuse Clinton de trahison, et prononcez-le coupable comme chargé! [Today, I accuse Clinton of treason, of betraying the safety and well-being of the American people, for political expediency. Of this he stands guilty as charged!]

As I think of my friends deaths on 9/11, my rage rises to a boiling point, when I wonder if he and Monica were Cigar playing, at the time they were looking for him to give the order to wipe out OBL.

On Saturday I will post my Apologia and to see what I intend to do about defining my political leanings.

Suggestions are welcome for I find myself feeling the rage rising after being dormant from the grief and shock of my beloved friends. 

Thank you!
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