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December 22, 2009
Run to the FireBy Greyhawk
Via email, from Spirit of America's Jim Hake:
The photo above shows LtCol Billy McCullough, Battalion Commander of the 1/5 Marines in Nawa, Afghanistan. The Marines in Nawa have made great progress in the last 6 months. LtCol McCullough is presenting the Marines ceremonial sword - the Mameluke - to local Afghan leaders who have been working cooperatively with the Marines. This is one of the ways relationships are reinforced on the front lines. Because of your support, Spirit of America was able to provide the swords when they were needed.
A few days ago I received an email from a Marine Captain asking if we could provide 20 treadle-powered sewing machines. They'll be used to help women in Nawa, Afghanistan and build upon the gains of the 1/5 Marines.
You may recall that years ago we provided swords and sewing machines to help the Marines in Anbar Province, Iraq. That was before and during the "Anbar Awakening" and the surge - when the situation in Iraq was difficult and challenging, as Afghanistan is today.
"RUN TO THE FIRE"
At the end of the day, I was briefed by a young Lieutenant. He asked if I knew what to do if anyone started shooting at us. Figuring that the Marines would know where to take cover, I said, "I'll do what the Marines do." The Lieutenant gave me a strange look and said, "No. The Marines are going to run TO the fire. YOU are going to run away."
I've never forgotten what the Lieutenant said.
The Marines run to the fire - meaning they don't shrink from the tough or unwanted situation. They do what needs to be done no matter how hard it is. They "run to the fire." I've come to understand this is an ethos that applies broadly - not only to Marines in combat.
Afghanistan is a tough situation, even for those not serving. Here at home there is ample pessimism and disagreement. Many prefer to avoid the subject entirely. And, there is no easy solution.
The situation is difficult but we are not powerless. We can help our troops succeed and come home sooner and safer. This is our time to "run to the fire" and do what needs to be done.
Please consider a year-end donation to help our men and women in Afghanistan. You can give here, call 800-819-7875 or mail to 12021 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 507, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Thank you.
Our best wishes for joyful holidays and a very happy New Year for you and your loved ones.
Jim Hake and the Spirit of America team
Posted by Greyhawk / December 22, 2009 9:56 AM | 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...)
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