Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Send a ChristmasGreeting to a Wounded Soldier

Michelle has some wonderful ideas in her post below. I wanted to add this one that's going around in emails these days. However, Michelle forwarded a bulletin from Walter Reed Army Hospital that those cards and packages will not be delivered.

It's a security thing. So, instead of jumping on that email bandwagon all for nothing, why not try one of the links mentioned in that bulletin, which I will include here:
Instead of sending an “Any Wounded Soldier” letter or package to Walter Reed, please consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families listed on the "America Supports You".

Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded servicemembers and their families include:

USO Cares
To Our Soldiers
Red Cross

For individuals without computer access, your local military installation, the local National Guard or military reserve unit in your area may offer the best alternative to show your support to our returning troops and their families. Walter Reed Army Medical Center will continue to receive process and deliver all mail that is addressed to a specific individual.

Finally, Michelle recommended Operation Undergarment. They collect underwear, pajamas, and monetary donations to help wounded soldiers. At their website, they have the bios of the soldiers they are helping.

And just remember, when you lend a hand, say a prayer too! It costs absolutely nothing, and is worth a whole lot.

Helping the families of deployed soldiers

As the holiday season approaches, everyone gets a little busy with cleaning, decorating, baking, and shopping. For the families of deployed soldiers, the additional stress of holiday preparations on top of the frustration and sadness of not having your husband (or wife) and your children's father (or mother) there to celebrate can be overwhelming.

Kristina's Soapbox has a list of ways to help a deployed soldier's family. Although not specifically holiday related, this is the time of year when families could really use an extra hand. Specific to the holidays, I'll add a few suggestions:

  • Do some of their Christmas baking for them (thank you, Margaret, for doing this for me).
  • Put up their Christmas tree and string it with lights (thank you, Tommy).
  • Do outdoor decorations for them (and then help put them away after Christmas is over).
  • Watch their kids so they can go shopping for presents (thank you, Uncle Steve and Aunt Lynne who drove 400 miles just to do this for me).
  • Invite them to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners (but realize they may not be in the mood to share these times with you).
  • Invite them over to celebrate the holidays on a less emotional night (like the weekend before Christmas).
  • Serenade them with Christmas carols on Christmas Eve (thank you, Cincotta family).

If you aren't local, mail them baked goods, give them a gift certificate to a maid service, find a local business that makes meals for people and send them a gift certificate, have your kids draw them cards, call frequently, and keep them in your prayers.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Special Family Bible

You may have seen requests for Bibles for our troops. I bet you don't hesitate to donate after you read the legacy of this solders' Bible.

After eight tours of duty with seven family members, the Bible is now in Grand Prairie once again. But this time it's not stored away.

By family decision, the Bible has been retired from active duty. "Sixty-four years and five wars have taken its toll on it," Mike said.

It now occupies a place of honor in a glass case in Clarence and Winnie Lambert's home.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Supporting the Families of One who Gave All

Please leave a note of condolences and prayers at this post. It is a virtual sympathy card for the family of a young American soldier who gave his life in the Middle East.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Those who serve and Those who don't

I’ll be honest. When I saw the cover story for today’s Washington Post Magazine I wasn’t sure I had the stomach to read it. After all, the Washington Post is rarely a friend to the military. They ran the story the under the blazing title

US and THEM: As mistrust, resentment, and misunderstanding grow between the civilian and military communities, can America wage a just and effective war?

In reality, this article written by Kristin Henderson, a Navy chaplain’s wife, is amazingly balanced and well written. Please read the entire thing. There are many well-made points like this one:

Less than half the civilian population believes military leaders can be relied on to respect civilian control of the military, according to surveys by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, an academic think tank in North Carolina. Never mind that 92 percent of military leaders still insist their civilian masters should have the final say on whether to use military force. And while nearly two-thirds of military leaders believe they share the same values as the American people, only about one-third of their civilian counter-parts agree. The vast majority of civilians believe service members are intolerant, stingy, rigid and lacking in creativity. More than 20 percent report they'd be disappointed if their children joined the military. Before the invasion of Iraq, the editorial boards of major newspapers endorsed the use of force, yet a search turned up no calls for Americans to join up to support the effort. President Bush urged civilians to go shopping.

"The military is at war, but the country is not," warns University of Maryland sociologist David Segal.

Or this one:

Contrary to a common misperception, minorities are only slightly overrepresented in the military, making up 35 percent of service personnel compared to about 33 percent of the general population.

Overall, recruits tend to come from small towns. And, while these small towns often have a boarded-up factory, family incomes indicate that those joining the military are the upwardly mobile working middle class.

There's clearly some self-selection going on, too, because nearly half of all Army recruits are following in the footsteps of a parent who has served. We seem to be creating an American warrior class.

Finally, these words by Chuck Hagel ring very true:

He sits back. "Second, I don't think you want a free society where you've got a very clear difference between the people and the paid professional military, kind of the guns-for-hire type, and whatever trouble we get into we'll just send them over."

And how does that hurt anybody besides the guns for hire?

"It disconnects the people from the kind of commitment and sacrifice that goes into this. You ask the question, so what? So what is: You then raise another generation of Americans thinking they have no obligations, thinking they have no responsibilities, thinking that they're born into this world as an American so we'll pay these kids over here to go join the armed forces. That's the real danger here. Service. Citizenship. What is the responsibility of a citizen?"

A difference between the military population and the general population that I have observed is the higher percentage of the military who actively profess a religious faith when compared to the civilian population. I do not know of any surveys that back up this perception but I would not be surprised if there were some. I do not think that military service promotes religion. Rather, I believe those who are drawn to military service are the same people who acknowledge a power far greater that themselves. They can recognize a cause greater than their own personal desires. They understand and respond to the call to serve. Do I think we should go back to the days when everyone has to do their time in the military? No. I do think that a great many young people would do well to spend a year or two serving their country in some fashion.

My father served as an Air Force officer. I served as an Air Force officer. My husband still serves as an Air Force officer and has flown over thirty combat missions during his career including this one. His grandfather, his step-grandfather, and his uncle were all career military officers. My oldest son expects to be commissioned as an officer in the Army next year. I guess we qualify as part of that “American warrior class”. I firmly abhor war. But I value freedom. I know freedom comes at a cost. I hope those elitist parents who shield their children from military service because it is somehow beneath their station in life to serve someday look into the eyes of those who willingly serve America. Perhaps then they will recognize patriotism and heroism. Perhaps their perception of their own stature and importance will diminish. Perhaps they will appreciate a cause greater than self-indulgence.

This post is also found here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wartime Prayer Books

If you'd like to help donate Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's "Wartime Prayer Book" to members of our military serving overseas, visit the Wartime Prayer Book site.

In 1943, Archbishop Fulton Sheen published a prayer book entitled The Armor of God. The world was caught in the storm of war, and uncertainty about the future was part of everyday life. Today our world has once again entered a time of the darkness and terror of war. There is a great need for hope, faith, courage, and charity. To help fill this need the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation has reprinted The Armor of God with the simple title The Wartime Prayer Book. The Wartime Prayer Book contains not only standard Catholic prayers, but also reflections on the dignity of serving one's country. Though it is compact, it examines such topics as Our Lady, the Eucharist, Prayer, and Encouragement. It is an invaluable resource to our soldiers, as well as a source of comfort to all people in a time of war.

A big "thank you" to Esther for the link!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Support Our Married Troops

The young woman mentioned in this newspaper article is the daughter of a friend and fellow Franciscan.

The article highlights the difficulties faced by our troops, who often are newly-married when they are deployed to regions far from home.

Please keep Kathleen and James in your prayers, that God will bless them with a long and happy life together, and pray for all our military members and their spouses. Long separations are difficult to endure. May God keep them safe and give them strength.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Click the image to enlarge it and read the dialogue.

So true!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Freedom Isn't Free: Happy Birthday USA!

A big thank-you to Dan at faithmouse for this toon.

Read here to find out the kind of sacrifice made by the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence, 231 years ago today.

And pray today for our country, for our leaders, and for those who defend our country.

"America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!"

Friday, June 15, 2007

BOOK REVIEW: Dream When You're Feeling Blue

This week I read Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg (Random House, 2007). Set in World War II-era Chicago, it's a novel of life on the home front as experienced by the young women in one family.

Often mentioned in this book are the kinds of sacrifices regularly made by the folks at home so that the young men fighting the war would have the supplies they desperately needed. Maybe that's not as much of an issue with easier shipping methods now--I don't know--but the working together to make a positive contribution toward a cause meant a lot to those fighting and helped the ones who were at home but separated from loved ones to get through that time.

Kitty, the main character in the book, struggles with the idea of these sacrifices at times. She resents that she has to give up some creature comforts. But toward the end of the novel she has an epiphany about how things were for the deployed soldiers and sailors.
When she climbed the porch steps, shivering, Kitty thought about the boys who slept outside in the cold. How did they do it? She sat on the top step and looked at her watch. How long could she last out here, a few steps from her own front door? Could she last fifteen minutes?
So maybe it was something like this, only with the presence of extreme danger. Did fear make you warmer? She closed her eyes, imagining that all around her were unseen enemies, and that although she needed to sleep, she also needed to stay alert. She imagined a whistling in the air, a mortar shell coming in, how she'd have to get out of the way and run.

Later her father takes the opportunity to encourage her:
"Those boys are doing their part, every one of them, God love them. And to me, they're all heroes, whether they fall in battle or sit stateside. But you know this, Kitty, sure I've said it often enough: We're all fighting this war, dressed in uniform or not. And where the part of the boys overseas is the fighting and the part of the boy stateside is to do the best job he can do to support them, our job is to remain proud and optimistic. We on the home front have to be the bright place those boys can come to in their minds. And we offer our own kind of ammunition: the belief that they're doing the right thing. We must support them fully in every way we can, and we must wait patiently for them to come home.
"A soldier needs to believe with all his heart in his commander and his mission, and he needs for us to believe in him. How do we show him that we do? Not by mourning the fact that he's there but by celebrating the life we are privileged to lead on account of his sacrifice."

Highly recommended.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thoughts from Fr. Michael Deusterhaus

Fr. Michael Desterhaus is a Catholic priest and a Marine. He recently spent a tour in Iraq and now that he is back home, continues to support the military members and their families with his writing at CatholicMil.org. Please take a look at his collection of pictures that show the very positive side of our military's work in Iraq.

Monday, May 28, 2007

For Deceased Veterans
O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, look kindly on your departed veterans who gave their lives in the service of their country. Grant that through the passion, death, and resurrection of your Son they may share in the joy of your heavenly kingdom and rejoice in you with your saints forever.
(Prayer from the Franciscan Friars, TOR)

(Image and prayer found at: Danielle Bean)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

On Memorial Day

The U.S. White House Commission on Remembrance suggests that all Americans pause at 3 PM on Memorial Day, to remember those who gave everything for our freedom.

The Commission encourages Americans to honor the sacrifices of America’s fallen and the families they left behind. It promotes acts of remembrance throughout the year and asks Americans to pay our debt of gratitude in memory of our fallen by giving something back to the Nation.

I like this last bit. Not only do we remember our fallen heroes, but we resolve, with our families and friends, to do something for our country in their honor.

Please do spend some time visiting this site. Especially worthwhile are the History of Sacrifice and Toll of Terrorism links.

And offer a prayer on Memorial Day, for all those who gave all, and for those they left behind.

Happy Memorial Day??

This morning I received an email wishing me a Happy Memorial Day.

It's not the first such wish I have seen, though most are generated by advertising departments trying to lure me into a bargain at a Memorial Day Sale.

They're missing the point.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Picnics are nice. Swimming is nice. Department-store sales are nice. But they're not what Memorial Day is all about.

On Memorial Day, take a little time to bring your children to a military cemetery (above: Beverly National Cemetery in New Jersey, near our home). Tell them that everyone who is buried here died in a war, or was a veteran or spouse of one. Let them look down the long rows of uniform white stones and see how many heroes we remember on this holiday.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

(And thanks again to Dan at Faithmouse for the cartoon above.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

These Colors Don't Run

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A tip of my Uncle Sam hat to Dan at Faithmouse for his Memorial Day cartoon. God bless all those who served, all those who sacrificed.

The Gettysburg Address

By Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The Flag Goes By

by Henry Holcomb Bennett

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
A flash of color beneath the sky:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

Blue and crimson and white it shines,
Over the steel-tipped ordered lines.
Hats off!
The colors before us fly;
But more than the flag is passing by.

Sea-fights and land-fights, grim and great,
Fought to make and to save the State:
Weary marches and sinking ships;
Cheers of victory on dying lips;

Days of plenty and years of peace;
March of a strong land's swift increase;
Equal justice, right and law,
Stately honor and reverend awe;

Sign of a nation, great and strong
To ward her people from foreign wrong:
Pride and glory and honor, - all
Live in the colors to stand or fall.

Hats off!
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums;
And loyal hearts are beating high:
Hats off!
The flag is passing by!

Help for the Home Front

The Military Soul Foundation is dedicated to supporting military members and their families.

  • The mission of The MilitarySoul Foundation is to make a positive difference in the lives of military families, military personnel and patriots by uniting and supporting kindred spirits.
  • To facilitate emotional and financial support to troops and their families.
  • To increase public awareness of the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces and their families.
  • To sponsor or participate in projects that improve the quality of life for troops and their families as deemed appropriate.
  • To document and preserve the esprit de corps of military personnel and families.
  • To maintain an interactive portal that will enrich lives by providing inspiration, resources and community.

Do check out their web site. The Links page offers a large number of resources to support the home front.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spouse of a Soldier

I wrote this after the 9/11 attacks as we were again sending troops to battle. As we approach the Memorial Day weekend, lift our troops up in prayer and pray for their wives, children, parents, and other loved ones as well.


by Denise J. Hunnell

It was 1990. The winds of war were swirling fiercely. My husband was an F-16 pilot. I knew he would be leaving soon. I had received many words of support and comfort for which I was very grateful. Still, terror gripped me. I knelt in church on Thanksgiving Day and felt the warm stream of tears flow. A small age-worn hand grasped mine. This tiny, frail woman next to me understood. She had sent her husband to World War II, her son to Vietnam, and now her grandson, my husband, to Desert Shield. From this diminutive form I drew great strength. For the sake of my husband, my children, and my country, I could now hold back the tears.

Not long after the new year dawned my husband and his comrades strapped on their jets and headed over the ocean. We wives banded together. We laughed together and cried together. We commiserated over all the household catastrophes that only happen when husbands are away. We didn’t speak too much of our fears. Those were understood.

Inside I quaked with every scud launch. Every report of a downed plane wrenched my soul. Yet, before anyone else could see the strain in my face, one of the wives would see it. She would speak no words, but would grasp my hands. I would do the same for her. We understood.

The day came when our husbands returned. I had heard that they were coming, but was afraid to get my hopes up. Part of me was steeled for my husband to be missing. When I saw him, tired and worn, step into the hangar I felt like a new bride.

After the band stopped playing, the parade was over, the hugs and kisses were given, and he was home, I could only cry and tremble the way you do after a near-miss head-on collision. I thanked God for my husband’s safe return. I thanked God for the loving support of family and friends. I thanked God for the strength of the wives. He understood.

Ten years later we are spouses not wives. The last decade has wrought many changes. Some things, however, remain constant. Whether husband or wife, we are still married to soldiers. When duty calls the soldier will answer. In fact, he may seem eager to leave those he loves and fight the good fight. It is hard to be married to a hero. The spouse of a soldier is called to understand. Understanding makes you a hero too.

Army Wives - Army Strong

I'm not saying that I think this new Lifetime TV drama, Army Wives, is going to be bad. I'm just not convinced that it's going to be real.

"It's the perfect show for right now, whatever way you feel about the war," said Catherine Bell, who plays Denise Sherwood, a loving wife and mother to a teenage son who physically abuses her while her husband is away. "Most people are against the idea of our guys dying over there [in Iraq and Afghanistan], and the show shows the stories of the families faced with that fear on a daily basis.

"The friends all harbor secrets that isolate them. Former-cop-turned-surrogate-mother Pamela Moran (Brigid Brannagh) fears the community will learn she's giving birth for money, while scantily clad bartender Roxy LeBlanc (Sally Pressman) struggles to overcome a sordid background. Emmy winner Kim Delaney ("NYPD Blue") anchors the group as Claudia Joy Holden, the assertive wife who commands respect around the post. And Roland Burton (Sterling K. Brown) sticks out as the male counterpart, dealing with his wife's post-traumatic stress disorder.

I live on a military post. I have yet to meet any woman who looks anything like Catherine Bell. I don't know any surrogate mothers or sexy bartenders.

I do know plenty of assertive wives. And I'm sure there are abusive teenage sons, and female soldiers with PTSD.

I also know plenty of truly strong women who struggle with difficult (but not violent) teenagers, especially boys; women who have to work to pay the bills (but they don't tend bar or sell their children); women who try to have a normal family life while the head of the household is gone for over a year. I know women who can't say no and get too involved in volunteer activities, and other women who can't say yes and retreat into their private shell. I know women who struggle with fear for their husbands' lives, and others who reach out to those who have lost their husbands. I know women who support the war, and women who don't; women who push their husband's careers, and women who nag him to get out.

Army Wives premieres on June 3rd at 10 pm. I hope I'm sleeping then. If any of you watch the show, let me know. If you are an Army wife, let me know if you think it's real. If you're not an Army wife, watch it for the entertainment value, but don't expect to get a true glimpse of what being Army Strong is really all about.

Things the News Media Missed

In addition to the media's sorely-lacking notice regarding the death of a U.S. soldier, Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., this week, there are some other things that you don't see on the news.

You don't see the compassion. You don't see the caring. You don't see the faces--of the soldiers and of the children they are helping.

Yes, children.

We tend to think that war is all about adults.

But why are we really at war right now? We're there for the children: the children of our country, to whom we have a patriotic duty to protect, to keep safe; and the children of the Middle East, who are caught in a situation not of their own making and who depend on our soldiers to help them with their basic needs. That's more than just food, clothing and shelter when we're talking about kids. It's safety, security and a shared smile, too.

Amy Caroline has posted a series of pictures that she received in an email. These pictures show our soldiers doing what they do best. These guys are not "killing machines"--they are sons, brothers, husbands and dads, all doing the best they can for the children of our country and the Middle East. Don't miss this beautiful post, and while you read it, pray for our troops.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tipping My Uncle Sam Hat to This Guy

Earlier this month, Joe Waters, a stadium pizza vendor quit his job because he felt it was his duty to pause during the singing of the National Anthem, despite the stadium management's directives to vendors to keep selling food at that time.

Thank you, Mr. Waters. I'm going to show your story to my children. You're setting a fine example of the respect that should be shown by our nation. I firmly believe that patriotism is taught by example, not by words.

And this is not just about selling pizza at sporting events, either. This is about respect--and that always must come first.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

This morning my local newspaper carried an article about moms of our military who are deployed in war zones.

One of the captioned photos (not available in the online edition) carried a quote from a mom who said that there is no way to prepare for your son or daughter going off to war.

On Mother's Day, remember these moms who are missing their children and worrying about their safety. If you know one, do something special for her. Remember the wives and girlfriends of our troops as well.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Prayer Warriors

This evening Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale, Virginia will hold its monthly Holy Hour to pray for our Armed Forces. We will pray before the Blessed Sacrament for both general and specific intentions. If you have a specific intention, please feel free to call the parish office, 703-978-8074 and ask that it be included in our prayer requests. This Eucharistic Holy Hour for our Armed Forces is held on the second Friday of every month.

Send a Message of Thanks to Our Troops

1-800-Flowers has a website set up where anyone can send a FREE "thank you" message to members of the military. Their goal is a million messages.

CLICK HERE to thank our troops who put their lives on the line every day so we can be free. Thank their families who sacrifice plenty so the troops can defend our country and protect other countries who need help.

Tip of my Uncle Sam hat to Esther, the Hawaii Catholic Mom, for this link.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

If you don't believe our country is at war...

...maybe this will convince you.

A terrorist plot on American soil--practically in my own backyard.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

June Cleaver Wore Combat Boots?

We don't think so.

But we do think that June would have been a member of this blog, if she were a real person rather than a fictional icon.

According to a website dedicated to the program Leave it to Beaver:
June considers herself a fulfilled woman according to the most traditionally conservative American view of womanhood: a girl goes to school to find a good provider, gets married, sets up his home, bears his children and his problems at the sacrifice of any greater ambition of her own. She is the homebody extraordinaire, allowed to fly from the next only long enough to do the family shopping, attend school and church meetings and visit relatives and friends. Even her hobbies are home oriented - like crocheting and making curtains....She had little work experience, although she types competently and she did volunteer at the USO during World War II (emphasis mine). The kitchen is the central core of June Cleaver’s life. Although a spotless range and oven have replaced the hearth, June still prepares two elaborate hot meals each day, three on weekends with tender loving care. Her coffeepot is ever ready for her husband and there’s milk, cookies, fruit and often cake for her boys when they come home from school.

June did what she was able to support our troops and their families in wartime. Our country is at war right now. Are we doing what we are able for our troops and their families?