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May 28, 2005
Thoughts on Losses, More Casualties of WarBy Greyhawk
Note: Originally from November, 2003, this tribute to the families of heroes is being presented as part of Mudville's Memorial Day weekend, 2005.
Here, take a look at this, compliments of Dean. Ponder the vastness of the universe we live in, the grandeur of the cosmos. Consider the infinite numbers on a line and the infinite points between any two of them...
What a world! One in which World Magazine reports that two enemy factions are taking very different approaches to the Muslim Holy month of Ramadan:
For U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, Ramadan began with cultural-sensitivity training. Central Command ordered all fighting forces to take a crash course on respecting Islamic customs during the month-long holiday. But Middle East militants, not Yankees, crashed the holiday, ending before it had barely begun the early quiet of the first day's fast with a series of coordinated and deadly attacks on the capital city.
Now let's focus in on a smaller part of the world. Here's a look at one of the victims of those Ramadan celebrations; perhaps one who'd just finished her sensitivity training. Army Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld, 19, of Waupun, Wis.; assigned to the 527th Military Police Company, V Corps, Giesen, Germany; killed Oct. 26 during a mortar attack on the Abu Ghraib Police Station in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.
Note the subtle difference in tone from the following two stories. The first from the local Wisconsin paper:
WAUPUN, Wis. ? The news of Rachel Bosveld?s death has brought the reality of the conflict in Iraq home to Waupun.
And this, from the Associated Press:
WAUPUN, Wis. ? All Rachel Bosveld wanted was to come home.
An excerpt from her letter, along with what appears to be the grieving father's answer to a question, although the question itself isn't in print. I could believe it was something like "Do you still support the war?" But who knows, perhaps they actually used the term 'invasion' when they asked.
I could be wrong, but I detect thinly disguised political opinions of the reporter insinuated into an obituary here. Draw your own conclusions. In my mind the first report caught the essence of this tragedy without beating me on the head with it. That such people are dying far from home is wrong enough. To abandon the cause they sacrifice their lives for would be unpardonable. To use their sacrifice to further their killer's cause is reprehensible.
Jessica Blankenbecler, 14, e-mailed this final letter to her father, Command Sgt. Maj. James Blankenbecler, at 1:29 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 3., two days after he was killed in a convoy in Samara, Iraq. The Herald is publishing it, in its entirety, with the family?s permission.
Jessica and her father
There's much more to this story, of course, and you should read the whole thing. This man had just transferred to Ft Hood, and barely settled his family there before shipping out, then spent 17 days in Iraq.
The pain felt by Marvin Bosveld, Jessica Blankenbecler and a lot of other good people is nearly beyond my comprehension. I'm reminded of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's reply to the question how many dead?: "More then we can bear". His words were reasonable on 911; by a few days later they seemed forgivably excessive, given the efforts to evacuate the towers and strength of the American character. He wasn't looking this far forward, but was he right after all?
Perhaps so, for truly the dying hasn't stopped. And for a long time today, with the picture of Rachel Bosveld and the words of Jessica Blankenbecler fresh in my mind, I pondered the rightness of our presence in Iraq. Was it time to pack it in?
And after much thought and prayer I drew strength again from this conclusion: That such people are dying far from home is wrong enough. To abandon the cause they sacrificed their lives for would be unpardonable.
We live in an incredibly big universe. I'll never fully understand a fraction of it, but this I know: the strength of Jessica Blankenbecler, the simple courage of her convictions inspires me. I'll pray for the same for any who've suffered losses anywhere.
(Original post 2003-11-02 20:25:13)
Posted by Greyhawk / May 28, 2005 9:38 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
Furthermore, I will occasionally use satire or parody herein. The bottom line: it's my house.
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Original content copyright © 2003 - 2011 by Greyhawk. Fair, not-for-profit use of said material by others is encouraged, as long as acknowledgement and credit is given, to include the url of the original source post. Other arrangements can be made as needed.
Contact: greyhawk at mudvillegazette dot com