Monday, November 29, 2010

A FAMILY JOURNAL: FATHER TO SOLDIER-VOLUME 6

The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to jkmyfathersvoice@gmail.com  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.

Sonpo...

Well we made it through Thanksgiving without having you here for the second year in a row.  Gosh that's been difficult.  It was nice having relatives around but there was a big "hole" missing.  YOU.

Thank God for phones and the U.S. Military providing free calIs home over the holiday.  It was great to have you speak with your grandma and grandpa and aunts.  I know it was special for them to hear your voice....and it is for us too, just to know you are safe.

Your brother made it home from AIT in Maryland on Thanksgiving Day.  Ten men from the family and your cousin's wife surprised him at the airport while everyone else was preparing for the feast.  He was speechless...and you know that doesn't happen often.  He stayed until Sunday morning when we put him back on the plane headed east.  He remarked that it was tough for him to go back to his training and that he couldn't imagine how hard it would be for you when you come home on leave.  I guess we'll deal with that when the time comes.

I've talked with a whole lot of families in recent weeks about the phone conversations they have with their soldier.  All have mentioned the "flatness" in your voices.  Many have also said they don't know what to say since your answers are pretty short and to the point.  Perhaps we can all work on that together.  It might even make for a good blog post, "How to Talk to Your Deployed Soldier."

I will say that your call on Friday about buying a motorcycle had you sounding the perkiest in weeks.  This should be fun helping you make the transaction and putting it in storage until your leave comes around....your saying May now?  Wow, that's a long ways off.  Maybe dad will have to take it for a spin once the weather warms up.  Nothing like an old fart on a crotch rocket!!

Your New Crotch Rocket Will Be Waiting for You....

I've heard quite a few stories about other soldiers buying things while they're deployed or when on leave. I imagine much of that has to do with money burning a hole in the pocket.  Whatever, you men and women deserve to treat yourselves, that's for sure..

I thought about the Afghan elections you told me about this past week,  You mentioned all the shooting going on in town after the results came in.  Guns going off all the time.  I thought it funny at first.  I thought of the Wild, Wild West and the shoot 'em up mentality that was present....then I remembered this was far too real.

Can't wait for our next talk and hope to have the bike in our possession.  VROOOOOOOMMMMMM....

244 days or 36 weeks to go however you look at it!  Praying for your safety, son.  Praying for you daily......

Love, Dadpo
                                             -30-

YGG,

John

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WITH HELP FROM "THE FAMILY CIRCUS" AND A LITTLE ANGEL


Growing up I could always count on the Sunday paper to offer some words of wisdom or humor through the comic section and one cartoon in particular, "The Family Circus".  "The Family Circus" was created by cartoonist Bil Keane and debuted on February 29, 1960.  Originally dubbed "The Family Circle",  the Circus faced objections to the name from the magazine of the same name.  Through it all, the Circus name stuck as a portrayal of Keane's family life and their exploits.  Today, "The Family Circus" is the most widely syndicated cartoon panel in the world, appearing in 1,500 newspapers.

I'm going to have the Keane family help me as we get ready for another holiday.  Here comes Turkey Day...and as we are on the cusp of Thanksgiving, I wonder what you are thankful for?  Do you really embrace the day for all its intended purpose?  Or do you somehow find a way to deal with difficult relatives by gorging yourself on turkey and the trimmings and then head for the couch or easy chair?  We all have much to be thankful for.  If you question that comment, then put pen to paper and see if you have more on the plus side than the negative.  Far too often we are mistaken with the material things in life rather than the blessings of life, family, health and home.  I could continue to ask question upon question regarding your thankful thoughts, but instead I'm going to turn to little Jeffy asking a very simple yet insightful question to his mother, Thelma.  See if it hits home with you......  



      
What are you doing today?  Hiding or seeking?  Little Jeffy's question has so many implications in our lives.  Let your mind take you to all the different variables....from a kids game, to determining life's goals.... to relationships..... to war......and to God.  Each of these situations offer the question, are we hiding or seeking?

AND now for some help from a little angel.  Several friends of mine shared a video with me of a young girl who further illustrated hide and seek.  Her story is about a man who tried to do it his way.  I caution you that this piece will require you to listen to her words, watch her expressions and be in awe of her delivery.  No teleprompter...few looks at her notes......spoken straight from the heart.


video

   
Can you see any of yourself in Jonah?  It's not an easy question to ask.  And have you been hiding more than seeking?  This Thanksgiving take the time to reflect on your blessings and pray for our troops all over the World.  Pray for their safety and that they are directed in the right ways of war.....and then take the time to pray for your own road to travel.  You'll hear the right words....and it won't be "Not It".

YGG,

John

Monday, November 22, 2010

A FAMILY JOURNAL: SOLDIER TO FATHER-VOLUME 5

The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to jkmyfathersvoice@gmail.com  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.

Dad...

I figured I'd write you another journal entry since I have some time on my hands tonight seeing as how I'm working in the TOC until 6:30 a.m.  It kinda blows because I've been awake all day...

Nothing new has really happened in the last few days besides getting moved back in with my old room-mate, back to the last unit I was assigned to.  It looks like I'll be working in the TOC and going out on missions so I'll have to juggle both of those somehow.  I'm also really hoping to train for another job, which I've heard might happen.  If I do, I will to go to another country for about two weeks.

I found out I probably won't be getting leave until May sometime. They weren't tracking  that I was even here! They thought I arrived a week ago and I've been here almost a month now. This is just another reason why I wish I never would have gotten switched from one unit to another in the first place.  I don't have the guys with me that I've known since Day One of the deployment. I really don't have any chain of command telling me what I need to do, which really sucks. I have to find everything out on my own and do everything myself.  There is still eight months left of this deployment and who knows what could happen in that time or what could  happen tomorrow for that matter..


Another Day.....Another ?????

The scenery here is getting old really quick.. I look out at the same city, the same mountains, the same everything everyday. And each day is about the same anymore. I wake up, shave, shower, put on a clean uniform, and go about my day like usual. The same routine over and over again.. Man I can't wait to come home and change things up, back to normal life.  It's not that bad here it just gets old really quick. Everyday is just another day.... at least it goes by pretty fast. I hope things back home are good as they can be.

I pray you all are doing well! 
               Love, Your Son

                                                -30-

YGG,

John

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NOW WHERE STAFF SERGEANT GIUNTA?

On Tuesday, November 16th, Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta became the first living person since the Vietnam War to receive the United State's highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor. He was honored for saving members of his squad during the War in Afghanistan in October of 2007.  As an American, I was proud to see him receive such an award.  As an Iowan, it took the feeling one step deeper in appreciation for what he did that day.  His actions were heroic.

I'll have to admit right up front I don't know Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta.  I hope to meet him someday because I have a ton of questions I'd like to ask him.  You probably would too.  But here is where we might differ.  Perhaps you might ask those famous 4 W's and H.  Who, When, Where, Why and How.  I'm sure there are some great questions you could ask. On the other hand,  I'm more intrigued by "Now Where?"

In the days leading up to his honor there were numerous sound bytes and newspaper articles detailing Salvatore Giunta's life.  There was one from his mother, Rosemary, that I found most insightful.  Mrs. Giunta explained that when Sal decided to join the military he told her that he wanted to make a difference.  He had this overwhelming feeling to do something for his country and he wanted to do it, right.  Let me say that one more time, he wanted to do it  R....I....G....H....T


Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta

Giunta himself is uneasy with all the accolades being thrown his way. "I'm not at peace with that at all," Giunta said. "In this job, I am only mediocre. I’m average....And coming and talking about it and people wanting to shake my hand because of it, it hurts me, because it's not what I want. And to be with so many people doing so much stuff and then to be singled out—and put forward. I mean, everyone did something."

The definition of hero has several interpretations.  The meaning that led to his being recognized with the Medal of Honor most likely falls in the area of  "a person, who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal".  If you look at that definition it's not hard to understand where Giunta's conflct bubbles to the surface.  He doesn't feel that he has heroic qualities....he says he is "mediocre...I'm average".  He did though perform a heroic act.  No doubt.  He did it right. 

I'm reminded of the HBO miniseries, "The Pacific" and a certain Sgt. John Basilone who received  the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. He was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to receive both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.  After receiving the Medal of Honor Sgt. Basilone stayed stateside and promoted war bonds for his country.  But that wasn't enough, it wasn't fulfilling, even for a Hero.  What Sgt. Basilone found most rewarding was being with a company of men working toward a goal.  After several requests, Sgt. Basilone was granted a return to action.  Seven months later while serving as a machine gun section leader with Charlie Company, Sgt. Basilone was killed in action at Iwo Jima.     

I've been trying for several days now to understand Staff Sgt. Giunta and Sgt. Basilone and what makes them unique.  Maybe a word that really describes them best.  Actually, I'm going to borrow the "word" from a friend of mine who made me see it in a different light and enabled me to see its significance.  The word is.....dauntless.

To be dauntless is to be incapable of being intimidated or discouraged, fearless.  DAUNTLESS.  Dauntless to serve, dauntless in country and dauntless in life.  So, now where Staff Sgt. Giunta?  Once the wild ride ebbs and your life returns to some sort of normalcy, then,  now where?  I have no problem visualizing you taking on the next task put in front of you and doing it right.  It's that type of "right" that we should all strive to achieve in our lives.  I wish you the best, Staff Sgt. Giunta.  Continue to be DAUNTLESS in all that you do.  Because that's what you are to me.    

YGG,

John

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AFGHANISTAN HERO EUTHANIZED

Perhaps you remember my dog, Mason.  The one who earlier in MFV blog history told of his affections for one his four-legged friends, Rocket Bubba.  Mason related the story about RB and the road he traveled before being adopted by a Soldier buddy and brought to the United States.  It was a feel good story.  It had all the traits of humankind.  Mostly good traits.

Now let me tell you another.  I mention that I'm going to be the one delivering the message because Mason is too choked up to speak. He appears beside himself and little wonder why.  I was watching "CNN's American Morning" and a crawl came across the bottom of the screen.  "Afghanistan Dog Hero Accidentally Euthanized".  Somehow I muttered the words over in my head, "accidentally"?  I turned to my wife and said, "how could that happen", still not believing what I'd seen.  And about that same time, Mason let out a BIG sigh.  The type of sigh that echoes pain.


Target.....a Saviour of Soldiers

I had to find out what happened, not only for my own curiosity, but for Mason's as well.  How could this of happened?  I've attached a link to the story.  Read on........


http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/11/15/afghanistan-dog-hero-accidentally-euthanized/?hpt=T2


I'm shocked.....I'm angry......I'm disgusted.....I'm hurt.  I have all sorts of emotions as I write this, but I wonder most how Mason must feel.  No wonder he had the BIG sigh.  It all seems so unrealistic to think that an accident of this sort could happen.  A little hero wonder dog put down....accidentally.

 Where is the Hope in this story?  I'm trying to see something here.  I'm holding on to the fact that Target had a litter of puppies while in Afghanistan and they all found their way to the states. Where they're at, I'm not sure.  I'm not even going to speculate on some potentials here.  Yes, it would only seem deserving that one puppy finds its way to Target's home.  That would be a gift, wouldn't it?.  For me and Mason and Target's family, it would be the "Ultimate Gift".  Then I could share a SIGH with my four-legged buddy.  Yes, a GOOD sigh.  "Did I say that right, Mason"? 

YGG,

John

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A FAMILY JOURNAL: SOLDIER TO FATHER-VOLUME 4

The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to jkmyfathersvoice@gmail.com  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.


Safe and Secure.......Hopefully A Routine Day Running Recon


NOVEMBER 14TH, 2010

Hey Dadpo:

 Well we had another mission today. It wasn't as exciting as yesterday's but it wasn't too bad! Before every mission we go out to these hills and test fire our weapons.  On our way there the ANA (Afghan National Army) that's working with us on joint patrol's vehicle caught on fire.  So we had to wait on that and then escort them back to the FOB and wait for them to get another vehicle then finally we left. I was gunner today on our patrol!!! Nothing exciting happened though... we just drove on a road and did route recon.
Yesterday's mission was way better granted we weren't supposed to break a vehicle and get stuck in a village for 3 hours but it was really neat seeing all the people and all the little kids and trying to communicate with them. It's really hard because they don't understand us and we don't understand them but it was still really cool.  The kids wanted pens and water, that's words they seem to know in English. 
I'm trying to take alot of pictures so I can show you guys when I come home on leave. I'm not sure when that'll be yet, but hopefully in December! Love you all!

- Your Son

                                                    -30-

YGG,

John

Friday, November 12, 2010

A FAMILY JOURNAL: MOTHER TO SOLDIER-VOLUME 3

The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to jkmyfathersvoice@gmail.com  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.




NOVEMBER 12TH, 2010

"I'm sure I speak for all Moms when I say that there is no way that pen and paper can hold what's in her heart.   It's hard to even find a place to start when it comes to trying to put into words what she carries with her every second of every day.  When it comes to our soldiers we walk tall and proud to be their Mom, but we may crumble at any moment.  Our hearts are so full that the slightest movement in there causes it to spill over.

I miss my son like the desert misses rain.  Even to pen that starts my tears.  And with my tears right behind them are my fears.  Our sons and daughters will never be the same after being at War, that is the one thing for sure.  Even they fear how it will change them.  I'm sure their thoughts go to, "what might I have to see for the rest of my life in my mind's eye?"  The thought of how my soldier might be changed when he returns home is too much to bear.......so my advice to myself is, "don't go there, just stay in today". 

Our soldiers try and do the same.  They are there to do their job so every day they get up and go to work.  I'm sure that thought helps to keep the lid on a soul that's full to the brim.  But again, the slightest movement can cause it to spillover.  And what about when they come home?  When their soul could be so filled that there's no way to stop it from pouring out.  How will they numb that pain?

Well, so much for staying in today with my thoughts.....I love you son.  My heart is right there with you every minute of every day.  Time to put the lid back on it and go to work."

                                                         -30-

YGG,

John




Thursday, November 11, 2010

A FAMILY JOURNAL: FATHER TO SOLDIER-VOLUME 2

The journal you are about to read is part of an ongoing dialogue.  The words are a conversation between "the family" of the soldier experience.  It's Dads, Moms, Sons,  Daughters,  Relatives and Friends sharing their thoughts of a particular day and/or it could be the soldiers journal entry detailing his or hers.  I believe there are many, many people keeping a journal through the Afghan War.  If you want to share an entry of yours email it to jkmyfathersvoice@gmail.com  Your post will be strictly confidential,  no names will be used.  In addition, locations overseas will not be mentioned for security purposes except the country of origin.  Some editing may be done to further protect the journal participant.


NOVEMBER 11TH, 2010

"Thought I'd tell you that I have alot less hair than I did the last time you saw me.  Mom buzzed my head not once, but twice.  After the first time, I looked like a porcupine....hair sticking out everywhere.  After the second "shave" I look like I'm now ready for Basic.  Hoooooha!  My hair hasn't been this short since I was 17.  My dad always made me get my hair cut short.  I hated that.  Now I can wash my hair and not worry about the drying.  Wow!

Your Mom and I went to hear Charles Larson speak at the Des Moines Public Library.  He wrote a book, "Heroes Among Us".  The book is about 29 exceptional soldiers that displayed heroism.  It was a great talk and question/answer period.  Larson served for a year with the U.S. Army in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He was awarded the Bronze Star.  We bought his book signed for both you and your brother.. We sent it your way.  Hope you enjoy.

Special day today for you, your brother and us.  Veterans Day.  I can't begin to tell you how proud of you we both are providing safety for us and our country.  Do not let anything dissuade you from knowing what your commitment means.

I think of one of your favorite songs. The tune sung by Josh Thompson, "Way Out Here".  I'm mentioning this because I want your mind to take you there.  Listen to the lyrics and see the images.  Let the words be of greater importance to you today than ever before and for hereafter.  Praying for your safety, son.  Praying for you daily......

262 days or 38 weeks to go, however you look at it.

video


                                                                   -30-

YGG,

John

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A FAMILY JOURNAL: FATHER TO SOLDIER-VOLUME 1

THE TOPIC OF A "JOURNAL"  IS THE FIRST ONE OF ITS KIND ON THE BLOG.  I'M HOPEFUL THAT IT WILL GENERATE A RESPONSE OF SHARING BETWEEN SOLDIER AND FAMILY/FRIENDS THE THINGS THAT CAN'T ALWAYS BE SPOKEN.  IT CAN THOUGH CONNECT US TO EXPERIENCES.  SOME OF THESE THOUGHTS MIGHT BE INTIMATE IN NATURE AND OTHERS WILL PROVIDE A GLIMPSE OF THE SURROUNDINGS, THE PEOPLE AND THE HAPPENINGS OF DAILY LIFE WHETHER IN AFGHANISTAN OR AT HOME.  I'M ASKING FOR PEOPLE TO SHARE,  AS WILL I,  PIECES OF TIME AND EMOTION.  HOW DEEP YOU GO IN SHARING IS UP TO YOU,  JUST SHARE WHAT YOU MIGHT.  ALL POSTS WILL BE CONFIDENTIAL TO THE PUBLIC, JUST THE THOUGHTS WILL BE SHARED, NOT THE NAMES OR LOCATIONS DUE TO SECURITY PURPOSES.   I'LL GO FIRST.

Your Mom has mentioned journaling to you for several weeks now.  She says she thinks its important to keep a daily log of your experiences in Afghanistan.  I know you think....."ah, Mom, come on, lighten up."  But she has a point.  Most Moms do.  And most times they're correct.  I know this is going to be hard for you to get started so I thought I'd show you my first entry and you can see what I'm journaling about.  I hope this gives you a rhythm where you can jot down what happened each day.  Some day you'll be glad you did and you'll look back on these notes and think how far you've come.

Let's get caught up.  It been 3 weeks since you left the States.  Tough time when you said "goodbye".  Your brother was graduating from Basic the same day you were flying across the country enroute to Bulgaria, then on to Kyrgyzstan.  I figured we'd heard the last of you for weeks until you got to your FOB (Forward Operating Base).

Two days later we see you on Facebook and I'm speechless.  How the heck, what the heck?  That was quick.  Social Media, thank you very much!!  Two days later we "Skype" and see you.  Unbelievable.  You made it safe and sound.  Two more weeks go by and you arrive at your FOB.  More serious now, much more serious.  This is where I'm going to start.  November 10th is the first entry.  One day before Veterans Day.

"I think of what other families are going through as their soldiers deploy and I wonder what their thoughts are.  Alot of us in the same boat.  All trying to make it through this safely.  I don't think so much about what will happen to your flesh in Afghanistan, but rather what will happen to your Soul.  I know there will be things you can't or won't talk about. Just tell me what you think you can.  I know you're bored now.  Take bored.  Much better than being shot at.  In fact, if you're bored...journal.

I think about the last time we talked or chatted and when the next time will be. Will it be in the next 5 minutes, 5 hours or 5 days?   My phone, my computer is always ready to hear from you....to know that you're alright. Most of my day, if not all, has you and your brother as the central theme.  Mom too.

On the good side, the dog misses you like crazy.  He knows something is different with you not being here.  He lays around alot more and sleeps alot more, waiting, waiting, waiting.  Patient, boy he is.  Your car is in okay hands.  We started it today and it sounded great.  I took it on a spin and laid rubber half-way around the block.  Boy, did it move.  Okay.....PN  (the new generation language for probably not).  Just seeing if you were following along.

263 days left.  Or roughly 38 weeks if you look at it that way.  Sounds better by saying 38.  And that's until you're home for good....through this deployment.  You won't be here for Thanksgiving this year.  Weren't here last year either, don't make this a habit, okay, missing Turkey Day.  Christmas is coming.  I'll think about that later.  Praying for your safety, son.  Praying daily....."

                                                                       -30-

YGG,

John

Monday, November 8, 2010

WHAT'S IN A SLOGAN?

Slogans have become a big part of the advertising identity for companies, causes, and political stances.  Some are quite creative.  Some are stupid.  And some only tell half of the story.  Let me throw out some of the best slogans of all-time and see if they strike a chord of remembrance.

Not in any particular order....

"Don't Leave Home Without It". (American Express)

 Hey Mikey... He Likes It.  (Life Cereal) 

"Best Part of Waking Up is Folgers In Your Cup".  (Folgers Coffee)

"We Try Harder".  (Avis)

"Be All You Can Be".  (a goal embraced by Joe Batten of Des Moines, once a  top motivational speaker)

"Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux"  (Wow, don't remember that one, do you?  And that was effective?)

"Tippecanoe and Tyler Too"  (the first known slogan, arguably)

"I Like Ike"  (President Dwight  Eisenhower election theme)

and  of course Nike's big one.........."Just Do It".

"Just Do It" was a great message.....but it could have been  better.  It's like it only conveyed half  the message.  Why not, "Just Do It, Right".  Don't just do something, do it with passion....or thought or knowledge.  Perhaps the slogan was supposed to be a takeoff of doing what "feels good".  Regardless of the outcome, just do it?  Well, in my thinking it Could of, Should of, Would of have been better by adding, "Right".

Do you have a favorite slogan that you remember, now that I've stimulated your memory banks?   Mine is an old-timer.  It's one I used to see in the U.S. Post Offices for years and years.  It was effective both in words and picture and it said much more if you thought about it.  And it certainly was a challenge that struck a chord with the masses.  "I Want You".  Not only was the slogan effectively thought out....the image of Uncle Sam with his finger pointed in a direct line to the viewer was added delivery. 




" I Want You" is recognized as the most famous poster in the world.  Hands down, hands raised, any way possible, the most famous, ever.   The Uncle Sam character was designed in 1916 by James Montgomery Flagg as a patriotic theme.  The words were added later during World War II to help with enlistment of the troops. The challenge in the message was "to tell all of America to wake up and do their part for the war effort".  It hit home and the American people responded to the call.

Some slogans wither and die with time and change.  And it shouldn't have happened here.  I couldn't find any real definites why the Army quit using the "I Want You" promotion.  Some critics assert the message was full of propaganda and others offer the Army's desire to try another theme, "Be All You Can Be".  I liked that campaign too, but I'm not sure why you would ever stop the former for the latter.  Not only are enlistment candidates moved by the image, it also conjures up other themes in the brain.  Our troops face danger every day.  More than we can ever imagine.  When given time to think and reflect their thoughts often go to these:

"I want you to think about your Country.  I want you to remember the Sacrifices I've that are made for you.  I want you to think about how my day is going.  I want you to know what my family has given up.  I want you  to know how I long for home.  I want you to feel what I feel and know what I know.  I want to hug my wife and kids again. I want you to appreciate what I did for you.   I want.....................you to CARE".  And I want you to care the right way.

Veterans Day is right around the corner.  Thursday to be exact.  November 11th.  Fourteen months ago it had very little significance to me.  Some, just not alot.  If I saw a video piece I might take the time to stop and think.....a radio report might catch my ear, but I didn't embrace the significance of the day.  Veterans Day.  Since September of last year I've had two sons join the military.  It's changed their lives.....and it's changed mine.

As I look interestingly at the "famous" poster I know the message has a different meaning to me today.  Different than the one I first saw in the post office, yet the one that is still challenging me.  "I Want You" is tops in my book as the best slogan.  Country, patriotism, God, family, commitment....it's all there to take with you.   And most importantly,  "don't leave home without it".           

YGG,

John

Friday, November 5, 2010

DOG'S BEST FRIEND

I love my dog, we'll actually he's our dog.  He's a Golden Retriever, a boy by the name of Mason. He is the second Golden our family has been gifted with......both adopted.  It's hard for me to think of anyone letting either one of them go.  They have been great dogs, a big part of our family.  I don't get it when people dump a pet.  Both of our guys have been incredible and loving......and loyal.  Maybe being a rescue dog has given them a deeper appreciation for having a home, I'm not sure, but it's like they know something other dogs don't.  Maybe how fortunate they are.

Mason is a talker.  He likes to take toys in his mouth and growl and speak to whichever of his "buddies" he's chosen to connect with that particular day.  I, on the other hand, like to play a game with him, where I growl back and get him to communicate with me.  If you heard us you'd probably think we were nuts.....at least one of us anyway.


Mason, the Compassionate One

Yesterday, I was telling my wife, Joanne,  about dogs in Afghanistan and how some of the troops stationed there adopt dogs into their units.  They become the mascot, so to speak.  And the reason they become such a buddy and become such a part of the soldier's everyday lives, is that it's a connection to home.  The Afghan people look at dogs much like we do rats.  Boy, they don't know what their missing out on.

So anyway, my wife Joanne,  goes to the computer and "Googles" dog stories from Afghanistan.  And several come up.....one in particular.  She says, you got to come see this.

This is where I need to make a hand-off, because it's not my story, it's Mason's.  He talked like he never had that day.  He put some "highs" and "lows" in his speak that I'd never heard him say before.  He even threw in an occasional whine for extra effect.  He had something he wanted to share that day.....so here he is.  Our Mason.


Thanks Dad.  You made my day.  Just like the day you and Mom came and rescued me.  I'll never forget that day.  Just like I won't forget this one.  I didn't know if Dad would understand what I was trying to tell him. I heard you guys talking about my brothers and sisters in Afghanistan and my heart went out to them.  I thought, "Mason what can you do to make a difference."  I came to the quick realization that my ruff edges would come in handy.  I talked, you listened and you acted.  Hmmmmmmmmm, so that's how obedience school worked, huh?

Now, on to the story, or the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey used to say.  This is where it gets good.  Check out the video below.  It's about a unique little "soldier", named Rocket Bubba.  Watch the story and then come back to hear the rest of the rest of the story.  



video



Kind of leave you hanging, did it?  What happened?  Did Rocket Bubba get put down?  Well, as the story continues, Rocket Bubba was in a pretty dire situation.  It did look like he was going to be put to sleep....that is until Eduardo Choate, a member of the International Police, came to his aid.  Through love and affection, Choate led a "company" of men and women in raising the $3500 needed to bring RB to the states.  He's in a great home now, Choate's home.  Spoiled as all get out from what I hear.  My Mom always likes to correct my Dad when he says I'm spoiled.  She says," no I'm loved."  Actually, between you and me, I'm both. Life is goooooooooooood. And so is RB's.  Man's Best Friend?  Nah.........you forgot our side of the story,  Dog's Best Friend, too!!!!  

P.S. For further information on Rocket Bubba I have provided a link to his story.  He's got his own Facebook page too.  The guy is a star.  Back to you dad.

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2010/aug/07/rescued-puppy-starting-long-road-us/

Thanks Mason.  You made a Mom and Dad proud.  There are a great number of ways to be moved through people, places, circumstances and yes, Dogs.  Wow....you helped put a different spin on the face of  War.  Now that you've gotten through to me, I'm wondering what else you have to say.  Speak Mason.  SPEAK.

YGG,

John

         

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PRAYERS TO SURRENDER

In war, I'd have to think one of the worst things that could happen to you other than being wounded or killed, is having to surrender.  In saying that, I'm not so sure most soldiers wouldn't take the wounded part before giving up or giving in.

Surrendering.  Couldn't even imagine that.  It would have to be surreal.  The thought of being totally exposed and naked to someone who has control over you.  Dependent on them for everything that you know in life.  When you eat, what you eat, when you go to the bathroom....just about total control.  Just about.

The wartime surrender is what we think of most when the word surrender is mentioned.  Probably the most ultimate of surrenders. And if you're captured, wouldn't your thoughts be, how soon before I get rescued?

Then days turn into weeks, weeks into months and so on.  Where is the life-line?  Why can't someone save me?  Let's imagine some of the emotions surfacing during confinement.  Let's start with Hope and  optimism because you'd be hopeful, right?  Someone is coming.  Then, uncertainty, pessimism, anger, bitterness and hopelessness.  That might just be the order of the thought process that follows when it appears no one is coming.

There have been prisoners of war that have chronicled their experiences.  The ones that I'm amazed most  with is the ones that talk of the faith journey throughout the ordeal.  They talk about surrendering to God and remaining faithful that they will be saved.  And they hang onto that faithful fact.  Second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day.  They have to.

In life, we all have ordeals that "capture" us.  We become stuck in the quagmire of everyday life and refuse to surrender.  The "I can do it myself" attitude, most certainly reigns.  That is, until we get taken to our knees and we surrender. 

In recent weeks, I've had the privilege to witness several individuals surrender.  It has been awesome to see the changes taking place in their lives.  Collectively, they've embraced "giving it up" and enabled God to be in control.  A transformation is taking place without a doubt.  This could be you that I'm blogging about today.  At that point in your life where you've just about given up.  Don't.  Don't give in to anyone or anything, except God.  Ask him for understanding of your situation, whatever it is.  Ask him for just a sliver of what he's up to.  He'll show you.  He'll let you in....and you won't be sorry.





Here are my prayers for today.

Prayer #1.  Lord, I ask for your protection so that none of our soldiers has to face capture.  Keep them safe and keep their hearts open to you throughout their deployment.

Prayer #2.  I pray for the children of all deployed soldiers. Enable them to navigate through the day and learn to lean on you for direction.

Prayer #3.  Surrender.  Surrender to God what you don't need anymore and strength to travel the new road ahead.

And.....

"But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord".  I say, "You are my God."  My times are in Your hand..." (Psalm 31:14)

YGG,

John