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October 24, 2004
Trick or TreatBy Greyhawk
Greetings from Baghdad. I'm pleased to report that plans for this year's Grand Halloween Cotillion are really moving along. The refreshment committee has announced the caramel apples will be available in green and red variety (thus heading off that fearsome debate that was developing between the Army and Marines) and the decorations committee has declared that they found a few of the pumpkins that survived those damned insurgents smashing party last week - so jack-o-lanterns will be available. Those who volunteered to help carve are reminded to bring their bayonets to the bingo tent Thursday night at 1900 hours.
In case you folks at home are wondering about the popular costume choices, most of the guys are coming as GI Joe, but I'm going to be Steve Prefontaine.
And yes - that's a joke. There is no Halloween Ball, though with dress and appearance guidelines being what they are (we can only wear DCUs or PT gear) on Halloween and every other night we will indeed be GI Joes or famous track stars.
There is some flexibility in uniform wear though. Make all the rules you want and people will still find ways to express their individuality. This go 'round it's all about how you wear the famous boonie hat.
This from the "local guidance":
Floppy hats must be worn with the brim flat and the drawstring under the chin, behind the head, or tucked inside the hat. The floppy hat will not be worn ?cowboy? (hung around the neck with the hat on the member?s back) or ?Aussie?style (brim rolled up).
But the younger troops found the obvious option: weaken the brim so it droops downward rather than staying somewhat parallel to the ground. The result, a hip hop style bucket hat that makes a subtle contrast to the "cowboy style" I've mentioned before.
To the best of my knowledge, none of the other senior folks have noticed the option being exercised. Maybe I'm a bit more keyed in to the environment; whatever means by which the style is spread it's not an information chain I'm in. It's no big deal, and as you can see above, the rules don't say you can't do it. So I'm inclined to let them have this one. Like I said, people find ways to express themselves...
Speaking of make believe, you know what's fun to do on a slow day? Speak French to an Iraqi. When he looks confused explain to him there are thousands of you here but the deal is you get to wear U.S. uniforms, 'cause it's on le down low'. Man they get pissed, especially the "former regime loyalists" who thought they had a deal.
Hah - I'm kidding again!
I kid the French. I live near there, when I'm not liberating people. I visit all the time and enjoy the visits. I live near this too:
The Porta Nigra, the Black Gate in Trier, Germany. Trier boasts the largest collection of Roman Ruins north of the alps. Rome civilized the western world through strength in the first centuries AD, then for a number of reasons weakened and fell, leaving the world in a centuries-long dark age. Unless you've seen the ruin up close you really can't fully appreciate the majesty of what once was, and how far it fell, and how long it took to recover.
But like it or not America is going to be Rome for Halloween this year. What's unknown as of yet is whether we'll be the Rome of the first century or that of the fifth.
Trick or Treat.
Posted by Greyhawk / October 24, 2004 8:26 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.
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