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September 6, 2007
Standing in the Gardens of StoneBy Greyhawk
Land of unlimited opportunity...
Need someone with ULTIMATE MORAL AUTHORITY to declare that American troops in Iraq are thugs committing heinous atrocities against the civilians?
With extraordinary honesty, these veterans -- medics, MPs, artillerymen, snipers, officers and others -- revealed disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops: innocents terrorized during midnight raids, civilian cars fired on when they got too close to supply convoys and troops opening up on vehicles that zip past poorly marked checkpoints, only to discover that they'd shot a 3-year-old or an elderly man. The campaign against a mostly invisible enemy, many veterans said, has given rise to a culture of fear and even hatred among U.S. forces, many of whom, losing ground and beleaguered, have, in effect, declared war on all Iraqis.
Need someone to act as a uniformed "honor guard" in a mock-ceremony "honoring" the troops who are actually just innocent victims of the capitalist war-monger invasion of Iraq?
Well, power to the people, right on! - the IVAW is there for you, too, man!
Meanwhile, a motley crew of antiwar groups, including Iraq Veterans Against The War, CODEPINK, ANSWER, and MoveOn.org, are organizing a week of demonstrations in Washington beginning September 15. The "mobilization" will be kicked off with a "Die-In," sponsored primarily by ANSWER and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW)... "The die-in will be led by an Honor Guard of Iraq Veterans Against the War who will simulate a 21-Gun Salute before taps is played to initiate the die-in."Need some guys to lend much-needed credence to your protest of wounded troops at Walter Reed? Dial 1-800-IVAW, baby!
Need some veterans to show up and publicly praise your "courage" for advocating surrender in the war on terror?
As long as you're willing to take a big ol' shit on the efforts of American troops, the IVAW will be there to wipe your ass and call it roses!
(Note: some reimbursement for travel expenses may be required depending on recent donor generosity; consult your local precinct committee chair for scheduling.)
while over in Iraq and Afghanistan...
On mid summer nights in Baghdad it stays hot even after the sun sets, as the breeze dies and a day's worth of heat radiates out from the rocks and the pavement and the concrete walls - the garden of stones in which we live in Iraq. But mid-summer is past, and though the hottest part of the day is still hot the duration is diminished, and the moment when the outside feels bearable comes earlier in the night. Pausing for a moment outside tonight I felt a warm desert breeze that didn't induce a sweat - the temperature had fallen to a mere 99 degrees, and it was only 10:30 PM.
There are new faces in the DFAC these days. Tents that were empty are now full. Lines that were long are now longer. There are new faces in the mirrors above the communal sinks. But for every new face there's one about to depart.
You can spot the new guys from a ways away. Their uniforms are a slightly newer shade. Get a little closer and other details become clear. Sharper edges. Bare right sleeves (the combat patch is earned almost immediately, but rarely issued before 30 days in.) But there's something else they've got - a way they move through the crowds. They haven't yet blended into the background, they stand out, they swagger, they exude confidence and pride, because yea verily they are the baddest sunsabitches in the valley. They are ready to get down to business.
They are here to win.
and toeing the line so they can have it all
A few reports of what the old crew has been up to in Iraq over the past week - none of which will be in your newspaper:
Six terrorists killed, 25 suspects detained, al-Qaeda network disrupted
"And let me be clear, the violence in Anbar has gone down despite the surge, not because of the surge. The inability of American soldiers to protect these tribes from al Qaeda said to these tribes we have to fight al Qaeda ourselves. It wasn't that the surge brought peace here. It was that the warlords took peace here, created a temporary peace here."
They're making noise and we're making history
(That's just the first verse. The second is here.)
Posted by Greyhawk / September 6, 2007 10:23 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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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