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?