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January 18, 2011
Truth and Tucson (Two)By Greyhawk
Contrary to first reports, Jared Loughner was not an Afghanistan veteran - in fact, he'd been rejected for military service. But there were several veterans involved at the scene of his crime and the hospital where his victims were treated. Their stories would emerge in the days following the shooting.
Among them, James Eric Fuller, 63, "a naval air veteran [who] drove himself to Northwest Hospital after being shot," Kenneth Veeder, 75, "a retired Vietnam veteran in the Airborne Infantry division of the Army. According to KVOA-TV in Tucson, a bullet grazed Veeder in the leg. He was treated and released from the hospital in one day," and George Morris, 76, a former Marine who took two gunshot wounds, and whose wife Dorothy was killed in the assault.
Also present was 74-year-old retired Colonel Bill Badger:
The number of veterans in the crowd might seem surprising at first glance - but it isn't. Though often dismissed as flag-waving suckers (or even perceived as threats - see part one), most of those who've devoted years of their lives to defending the nation simply take a more active (and absolutely non-violent) interest in the political freedoms they've guaranteed. They end up in just about every political party on the American scene, but in this case several ended up in the hospital. Waiting for them there:
Rhee's time in combat prepared him for the Tucson shooting, but his time in violence-racked Los Angeles prepared him for combat:
In 1992, the Navy set up the Navy Trauma Training Center at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California hospital. The idea was straightforward: Navy doctors would work side by side with civilian doctors as the gunshot victims of L.A.'s street violence came through the hospital. Doctors there were seeing wounds from weapons that once were fired only by soldiers.The Los Angeles Times reported that Rhee spent "five years as the director of the Navy Trauma Training Center at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where he typically would treat 30 gunshot wounds a day."
Rhee used his experience treating trauma injuries in Los Angeles -- the gunshots wounds, the stabbings, the car crashes -- to prepare military doctors, nurses and other medical personnel for the battlefield.
He described Tucson as "decidedly quieter than his past posts," though according to McClatchy news:
That knowledge might explain why for this mascal event a call for outside help was made - with one doctor diverted from a trip to treat soldiers in Afghanistan:
He also called on other military doctors to help treat Giffords. Dr. Geoffrey Ling, an Army colonel and an expert on brain trauma, was on his way to Afghanistan when he was diverted to Tucson. He and Dr. James Ecklund, a retired Army colonel, assessed the treatments and met with Giffords' family, including her husband, Mark Kelly, an active-duty Navy captain and astronaut.
Still, "Tucson is actually, for a trauma surgeon, very embarrassing and pathetic because violence is almost nonexistent," Dr Rhee said. "I know everyone in the country thinks World War III is going on in Arizona, but it's probably still the nicest place I can think of to live."
A trauma surgeon would know - but others would disagree, including a now-well known sheriff. And while there were many individuals above whose actions are praiseworthy, one - following a series of absurd twists in this tragic tale - would lend credence to expressed early fears that political hate speech can push "some folks over the edge." To understand that completely - or as much as possible - we'll have to return to day one and follow those twists and turns from the beginning.
Posted by Greyhawk / January 18, 2011 1:50 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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