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November 12, 2005
Desecration DayBy Greyhawk
Flags of our fathers?
The town of Waterville Maine celebrated Veteran's Day this year by throwing five of it's veterans in jail. The group was attempting to remove 2,000 white flags planted at the Veterans Memorial Park there. Waterville Police Chief John Morris said "I warned them, very carefully, that they were not allowed to do destructive behavior on these flags. If they did, we would have to ask them to leave the park. If they refused to leave the park then we'd have to arrest them, and that's what happened."
A white flag is internationally known as a symbol of surrender. Arne Springorum, 33, a local geologist, acted as spokesperson for the "peace group" that planted the flags:
''That was an interpretation we never anticipated," Springorum said. ''We thought of several different colors, but black seemed drastic and represented death. Red seemed like it represented a bloody memorial. A white flag seemed appropriate, because it was the color of truth."The five veterans were booked at police headquarters and released after paying $40 to the bail commissioner.
''Frankly I'd be embarrassed if my son saw it like that," said Michael Williams Sr., an Air Force veteran whose son is a sergeant in the Army. ''They don't need to remind me with 2,000 flags that 2,000 soldiers are dead."The veterans altered the route of their annual parade this year, ending at the local American Legion rather than the park.
Meanwhile, in Boston, the Veteran's Day parade was cancelled altogether:
For the first time in decades - even with soldiers dying abroad daily - Boston had no Veterans Day parade because organizers feared neither crowds nor marchers would come.But a group calling itself "Veterans for Peace" claims it was their efforts that killed the parade
The parade was canceled. In its place was a ceremony on City Hall Plaza that quickly turned into a political spat about US military involvement in Iraq. And, just as that war has polarized civilians, it split the American Legion and a veterans' antiwar group, who offered sharply differing accounts of why the parade was called off.Attendance at the Boston ceremony, however, supports the parade organizer's claim. Only 150 people showed up.
Protesters stood in the back of the crowd, carrying signs that read ''Support our troops, bring them home" and ''No War."The "Veterans for Peace" group had less success in Milwaukee:
MILWAUKEE -- Organizers of the Milwaukee Veterans Day Parade scheduled Saturday have banned the local Veterans For Peace chapter from the event, saying the group's political activism violates the spirit of the parade to honor veterans.The "peace group" leader then revealed more than he might have wanted to about his agenda:
Zutz then grabbed an American flag and suggested that veterans carrying the flags in the parade also would be making political statements.Kudos to Mary Ann D'Aquisto who responded: "I don't care what you think about the war, President Bush or gays in the military, all we want to do is honor the veterans."
And that is what most Americans did yesterday, as they have for years. But the last word in this story belongs to the father of one of the veterans arrested in Maine:
Malcolm E. Williams, 87, said he wished the police who arrested his son had taken him into custody, too. ''I'm beginning to feel ashamed I even fought for my country," said the World War II veteran, a medic in the Army Air Corps who recalled the many surrender flags he saw in Germany.
Posted by Greyhawk / November 12, 2005 3:11 PM | Permalink
I clicked on Mudville Gazette to catch up on the news from the Milbloggers and Friends of Milbloggers and this is what I just read: "Flags of our fathers? The town of Waterville Maine celebrated Veteran's Day this year by throwing five of it's ve... Read More
If you set your heart on something to do good in the world, you can accomplish it. -Collin Kelly, age 9, founder of the Boys Helping Veterans Club Collin Kelly of Framingham, Mass., is an amazing 9 year old. His grandfather, whom he never knew, ... Read More
"If you set your heart on something to do good in the world, you can accomplish it." Collin Kelly, age 9, founder of the Boys Helping Veterans Club. Collin Kelly of Framingham, Mass., is an amazing 9 year old. His grandfather, whom he never knew, was ... Read More
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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