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September 16, 2007
My Take On The MilBlogs Visit With Our PresidentBy Mrs Greyhawk
It was surreal, to say the least, I think some of the others have used this description as well. We gathered in the Roosevelt room adjacent from the Oval office an hour before our meeting to be briefed, get video com set-up, checking mics, while at the same time, giving the “Baghdad Bills” a hard time on their choice of attire. T- shirts, baseball caps and unshaven. The President also chided them at the end of the meeting.
The anticipation of meeting the President was far more nerve wracking than actually meeting him. Matt joked before hand that he wasn’t sure if Mohammed would be able to go the whole meeting without a cigarette. I worried I’d have to excuse myself during the meeting to go to the ladies room after gulping down an extra large white chocolate mocha coffee from Starbucks. But after the President entered the room, worked his way around the table, shaking hands and sitting comfortably in his chair, we all immediately felt at ease. He thanked us for coming and acknowledged it was the "first time a president had met with bloggers at the White House". It was history in the making. This alone was awe-inspiring and I did have to concentrate hard to keep from having an idiotic grin on my face thru out the meeting, especially since we were all discussing serious issues.
Unfortunately, I did not get to say much since the President gave very long but thought provoking answers to the important questions given him, starting with the Baghdad Bills, and going around to a few others. We only had an hour, and there were 10 of us, and The President is a busy man. It didn't matter, really, it was an honor to be there and just being there was saying something.
Bill Roggio from A Long War Journal, currently embedded in Iraq, asked, “…With the current blurring of the lines between domestic politics and foreign policy, and the unwillingness of the American people to fight the current war, how do you get the American public to support the current and future conflicts?”
Bill Ardolino from INCD Journal, currently embedded in Iraq, asked, “What influence or leverage is being applied with the national Iraqi government to ensure that such assistance is delivered to the province? And note that the desire for support is tempered by the local belief - incorrect or correct to whatever degree - that the central Iraqi government under Maliki is compromised by Iranian interests.”
BlackFive mentioned that he had an embed headed for the Philippines to join a Special Forces unit there, which evoked a surprised look from General Lute.
John of Castle Argghhh! asked "Mr. President - you talk about and clearly believe in the "Long War" and that it's the President's job to see "over the horizon" and beyond the next Gallup Poll. How are you going to set the conditions so that your successor will continue the fight - regardless of who wins the election?"
His wife, Beth, She who Must be Obeyed, was there at the Whitehouse too but the Whitehouse staff kept her busy with a personal tour of the Whitehouse during our meeting. She also got to say hello to Barney the First Dog. How cool is that?
CJ at A Soldier’s Perspective had made a comment regarding the troops but I just could not write fast enough and have a poor memory, so I’ll update this section later.
Update: Seems CJ could not remember his question either, but for good reason. Find out why here.
NZ Bear was able to comment on his efforts with the Stand By the Mission petition. He emphasized the success they have had and the way they've been able to do their part via the petition to push back against Move-On's libel against General Petraeus by giving Americans a way to express their support for the general and our troops, and the President of course welcomed the news.
Ward Caroll representing, Military.com and Defense Tech, then asked "after watching the original 9-11 "Today Show" broadcast in real time and that the experience had left him, wondering whether his petition to the nation had been strong enough in terms of calling citizens to duty?
About that time the Chief-of-staff Josh Bolten poked his head in and the President asked, "Is the copter here?" Our signal that this meeting was quickly coming to an end.
Like myself, Steve Schippert with The Tank and Muhammed from Iraq the Model, did not get time to ask our questions. You can find Steve’s thoughts of the day here and if and Muhammed puts up a post I’ll up date this section as well.
I really did not have a question for the President anyway but wanted to comment that reading hundreds of milblogs every morning, that the troops are stating the same things that General Petraeus conveyed during his report and that I found it appalling how he was treated by congress and how he was accused of "cooking the books". That the troops see the progress and the reduction in violence in most areas and General Petraeus passed on their thoughts honestly. The president was adamant when he said, "I will do everything in my power to support the troops and their families” and I believe he means it.
He did express that he was very upset with the Move-On.org ad. If anyone should be attacked, it should be him, it is his policy, Petraeus was only giving the report they asked for. When he became President he knew what he was getting into, "I don't mind people attacking me . . . that's politics . . . but I do mind people impugning the integrity of our generals." He also said that he did not want to bash the media, that is when I said “that's what we were here for, to correct them when they have facts wrong and keep them in line”, my only line in the meeting. Not really the one I wanted to leave with, but oh well.
We were then escorted into the Oval office for individual photos. Cj was hoping to get one behind the desk, but no such luck. After photos, the President then exuberantly slapped Presidental coins in each of our hands. Here is where we got to personally meet and shake the hands of Tony Snow on his last day, his replacement Dana Perino and Stephen Hadley. Then President headed out to Marine one.
We stepped onto the Portico outside the Oval office and watched him step onto Marine One headed for Quantico. He turned and waved goodbye to us then to the press that was waiting on the Whitehouse lawn. A few reporters curiously glanced our way, which we found quite amusing, as I’m sure the President did.
After he left we were led into a hall where, we could use the restrooms, finally, goodbye to the extra large white chocolate mocha coffee. CJ reminded Vanessa our hostess, that when he used Saddam's toilet that it was solid gold and that they "may need to update" the Whitehouse toilets. It was duly noted.
My overall impression of the President is he is very intelligent, focused, engaging and genuine. He sincerely believes in the message of freedom and the necessity of this fight for victory because they “will follow us home otherwise”. He also truly believes the war is "winnable."
I wish it were Greyhawk that had been there, I think he could have added much more and he deserved it but I’m glad I got to go. Out of the mouth of littlest Greyhawk, "that must have been AAAAAAWESOME!" ...and it was.
Posted by Mrs Greyhawk / September 16, 2007 4:26 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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