25 September 2016

Gold Star Mothers' Day




”The service rendered the United States by the American mother is the greatest source of the Country’s strength and inspiration.

We honor ourselves and the mothers of America when we revere and give emphasis to the home as the fountainhead of the State.

The American mother is doing so much for the home and for the moral and spiritual uplift of the people of the United States and hence so much for good government and humanity.”

Whereas the American Gold Star Mothers suffered the supreme sacrifice of motherhood in the loss of their sons and daughters in World Wars, Public Resolution 12 provides: the last Sunday in September shall hereafter be designated and known as “Gold Star Mother’s Day”.



- The preamble to Public Resolution 123, approved June 23, 1936, the first legislation to provide recognition for Gold Star Mother’s Day.

To our Gold Star Mothers: Words cannot express how much we love and honor you.


13 September 2016

...and our flag was still there.


202 years ago today, The Battle at Fort McHenry (9/13-9/14 1814) – Perhaps the greatest moment in our flag's history is the one which inspired our national anthem. After witnessing Fort McHenry being attacked by British warships the night of Sept.13, 1814, from a neighboring ship, Francis Scott Key woke up the next morning to see through "the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there” - intact and waving proudly.




In the summer of 1813, Mary Pickersgill (1776–1857) was contracted to sew two flags for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. The one that became the Star-Spangled Banner was a 30 x 42–foot garrison flag. After the Battle of Fort McHenry, the flag became a keepsake of the family of Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead, Fort McHenry's commander.

The flag remained the private property of Lieutenant Colonel Armistead's widow, Louisa Armistead, his daughter Georgiana Armistead Appleton, and his grandson Eben Appleton for 90 years. The publicity that it had received in the 1870s had transformed it into a national treasure, and Appleton received many requests to lend it for patriotic occasions. He permitted it to go to Baltimore for that city's sesquicentennial celebration in 1880. After that his concern for the flag's deteriorating condition led him to keep it in a safe-deposit vault in New York.

In 1907 he lent the Star-Spangled Banner to the Smithsonian Institution, and in 1912 he converted the loan to a gift.

Source: Smithsonian.

10 September 2016

Sorrow and Resolve



Like all Americans, my memories of that day are vivid: The unbelievable sight of the burning towers, the horror and despair of the jumpers, the shock of realization when the Pentagon was hit: America is under attack.

And as the towers fell – first one, then the other – time seemed to stop as I slumped forward in my chair and felt the cries of a thousand souls from a black void.

Then something else swelled up: Fury. They finally got what they wanted; what they've wanted since the first WTC attack in 1993.

Over time, it became clear to me that until then I’d been living in what now seems like my own little world, concerned with my own petty little problems. I’d taken so much for granted. In particular, I realized I’d never fully understood what it meant to be an American. I had no personal experience with the concept that our country was something worth living – and dying – for. It was a kind of Pinocchio moment: "Now I know I'm a real boy, because I can feel my heart breaking."

What I didn't know then is that a heart can break a thousand times.

Although 9/11 is often called ‘the day the world changed’, the fact is that for most Americans, our lives since then have changed in what are essentially inconsequential ways. But for almost 3,000 families – killed in an act of terror simply because they went to work that day, or because they responded to help their fellow citizens – every minute of every day for the past 15 years has been lived with the painful loss of a loved one.

And as the global war on terror that began as a result of 9/11 started, brave men and women stepped up to risk their lives to protect America and prevent future acts of terrorism. Their families stepped up with them, enduring long, multiple deployments filled with challenges, loneliness, and worry.

Over 45,000 warriors have sustained life-altering physical injuries, and many more suffer from invisible wounds. Close to 7,000 made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and another 7,000 more families joined the original 3,000 in suffering every day from their indescribable loss.

For all of them, the world truly did change after 9/11.

It is said there is no greater love than that of someone who is willing to lay down his life for another. As a volunteer at Landstuhl, I have had the privilege to be in the company of Heroes, for whom the words Duty, Honor, Country are a way of life.

Fifteen years later, each and every time I see a Wounded Warrior, my heart still breaks with sorrow - and swells with pride and resolve.

“Today is a day to be proud to be American!” cried a warrior from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

September 11, 2016 is a an even prouder day to be American.



"Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look."
- Ronald Reagan

07 August 2016

Purple Heart Day



Today is Purple Heart Day. On August 7, 1782, General George Washington - then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army - established the Purple Heart award, originally designated as the Badge of Military Merit.

The Purple Heart exists in its current form since 1932, and is awarded to service members "wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces".

During World War II, almost 500,000 Purple Heart medals were produced in anticipation of the huge number of casualties estimated to result from the planned Allied invasion of Japan. The invasion never happened due to the dropping of the atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact, the total combined casualties of the sixty-five years following the end of World War II — including the Korean and Vietnam Wars — have not exceeded that number, so the Purple Heart medals awarded today are part of that stock.

As of 2010, a total of over 1,900,000 Purple Hearts have been awarded in our nation's history - over 35,000 to service members for wounds sustained in the Iraq War and over 7000 for the war in Afghanistan.

13 July 2016

Remembering the Heroes of Wanat


"I just hope these guys’ wives and their children understand how courageous their husbands and dads were. They fought like warriors."
- SGT Jacob Walker


Im Memoriam:

1LT Jonathan Brostrom
SGT Israel Garcia
SPC Matthew Phillips
SPC Pruitt Rainey
SPC Jonathan Ayers
SPC Jason Bogar
SPC Sergio Abad
SPC Jason Hovater
SPC Gunnar Zwilling

All Sky Soldiers of Chosen Company, 2/503 Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. They were killed in action at Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler near Wanat in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on July 13, 2008. 27 Americans and four Afghan soldiers were wounded.


Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and with all of the men who were there that day. We will always remember.

Originally posted 13 July 2009.

Scroll down at this link to read about the MEDEVAC Heroes of that day, as well as the many awards - some posthumously - received by the warriors of Wanat.

30 June 2016

Happy Independence Day!



On Independence Day we remember that our freedom and liberty are owed to a remarkable group of men and women who had the courage to stand up against the tyranny and injustice of the British Crown over 200 years ago.

56 men signed a document that denounced the “repeated injuries and usurpations” of their God-given rights and liberties. This bold and courageous act was not self-serving, but a pursuit to establish a new way of life where all men, created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

They pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to fulfill the principles of freedom our Warriors still fight for today.

God bless America, and happy Independence Day!

06 June 2016

“Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!"


Photo: National Archives.

“Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force! You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you."
- Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Force Dwight D. Eisenhower on the Eve of D-Day

On June 6, 1944 the D-Day invasion, Operation Overlord, began with a dangerous attack by American paratroopers who were dropped behind enemy lines. With their parachutes, men weighed in at 90 to 120 pounds over their body weight.

By dawn 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m.

Due to heavy fog and German guns, the pilots were unable to drop the paratroopers precisely as planned, causing great loss of life and supplies. Still, the 101st and 82nd Divisions managed to form smaller improvised squads and began to fight.

By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches.

The Allied casualties (killed, wounded, missing in action) figures for D-Day have generally been estimated at 10,000 (2700 British, 946 Canadians, and 6603 Americans), including 2500 dead. However, ongoing research suggests a that as many as 4400 Allied personnel were killed on D-Day, including 2499 Americans.

30 May 2016

For Some, Every Day is Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, we pause as a grateful nation to honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in our defense.


We used to think of them as stoic Heroes of wars fought long ago represented by white gravestones standing in silent memory across our land.



But now they are also today's sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends.



And in their sacrifice lies not just our liberty, but also the pain of those left behind.



As we honor our fallen Heroes, we also remember their loved ones and pray for those living with the pain of loss.



Nothing can ever replace their loss, but we pray they can find strength knowing that their loved ones died while fighting in defense of our country's founding principles.



If not for their commitment to a cause greater than themselves, we would not be here to enjoy the freedoms we have today.



As we pause to remember the high cost of freedom and honor those who paid the ultimate price to protect it, let us resolve to live lives worthy of their sacrifice.



God bless our Fallen Heroes and their families. We honor your sacrifice, and will love and remember you always.



For some, every day is Memorial Day.

09 May 2016

2016 Invictus Games Open in Florida



From Stars & Stripes:

“You will see people that should have died on the battlefield but instead are going for gold on the athletic field,” Prince Harry said to a thunderous crowd during the opening ceremony at the ESPN Wide World of Sports arena at Disney World. “You will be inspired.”

Prince Harry launched the Invictus Games in 2014 in London after he saw the rehabilitative power of sport at the U.S. Warrior Games and wanted to take that healing spirit global.