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November 11, 2004
Runner's HighBy Greyhawk
Quarter moon and contrail; Near dawn somewhere over Iraq a military aircraft returns from a mission somewhere else in Iraq leaving a contrail underlining the moon waning through the final days of Ramadan.
Type of aircraft? Don't know. Returning from Fallujah? Perhaps. Death at the other end of that vapor trail?
Blessed are the peace makers.
Last weekend I had my first day off since I've been in country. Celebrated with a relaxing long run, a few laps around the camp. Light drizzle was falling at the start, but halfway through the rain stopped and a cool breeze kicked in. Perfect running weather. Lately all my running has been done on a treadmill, so this was my first outdoor run in weeks. I know exactly which part of my quads let the treadmill work for them, because they protested this run. They were wasting their time, I've run marathons before, and pain isn't going to stop me. so I went hard enough and fast enough for long enough to induce an endorphin rush, a runner's high. Puts a quick stop to that pain crap.
Someone described this deployment to me in this way early on: "Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint." I didn't ask them if they'd ever run one. Late in a marathon several of your leg muscles will likely fail. Did you know you can use hip and abdominal muscles to compensate for the loss? I would imagine more than a few troops are doing that now, as a result of this marathon.
Anyway, the bottom line is eventually some of the muscles give out, reach their limit, can't make it, and the rest get to work double time, double effort. I wish the quitters wouldn't protest though, it just seems wrong, don't you think? "We're going further only if the rest of you do all the work, and by the way, please stop."
Just seems wrong.
See this run? This is the route of my typical 5-miler in Germany, a land that 60 years ago was nearly destroyed. The run I was on this past weekend wasn't as scenic, but it had its moments, and like I said, the weather was fine. This is a land of every day beauty, and if you keep your eyes open and your head up you'll turn a corner and see things like this.
That's kind of rewarding, kind of motivating. But you know why I won't stop going? Here's a teen age girl in Iraq and here's another who's father is here. Go read them. Don't read on until you've done it.
I don't like a lot of things about the world they're growing up in, so I'm doing my bit to change it. I'm not talking about this writing mind you - though I suppose that's a little part of it - I'm talking about what I'm doing.
When did I stop talking about running?
Blessed are the Peace Makers.
Not the peace lovers, we all love peace. The peace makers.
The difference? One group makes history while the other makes noise.
Speaking of the peace lovers, where are they? The coalition is involved in the heaviest fighting of the year and no one is in the streets protesting?
Must be the wrong Tuesday in November.
Some months ago when the peaceful people of Fallujah hung the mangled corpses of US contractors from a bridge in that town the American media did a brief bit of soul searching and decided to show the pictures of that atrocity in all their gory detail, in hopes of generating a massive outpouring of anti-war sentiment from the American people, of instilling a desire for regime change in the good ol' USA. They of course underestimated the American spirit, that drive that leads some among us to run marathons and others to cheer. Here's a typical quote from the day:
But the real effect of the images on Americans could be felt just months from now.See you at the finish line.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 11, 2004 3:50 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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