Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cold but Happy Night at Walter Reed

If it wasn't for the wind...

Another cold night out front of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. No need to wave our flags, the wind whipped them about with patriotic fervor.

We managed to keep ALL FOUR CORNERS covered with about 29 Freepers, friends and real heroes. It was so cold (go ahead, say it - "How cold was it?") that my camera wouldn't work for more than a few minutes after being exposed to the ambient temps. I'd zip it inside my coat to warm it up between shots, but I missed a lot of good ones. Crap!

Several wonderful things happened last week that made Friday's celebration extra special. The top three essays from Sgt. Snyder's "Why am I here?" contest were announced and posted on The Will to Exist. I've been looking forward to this for months!

I've snagged a paragraph from each to reprint here, but I encourage everyone to follow the links to read the essays in their entirety.

The 3rd place entry was penned by SFC John Holmes who served in 2005 at FOB Spiecher, Iraq.

Why I serve is for one reason. I have sworn to uphold a document, one that was unique in the world when it was created, and one for which my fellow soldiers serve and die for. The Constitution speaks words that say, All men are created equal. I serve for this, and nothing more. I will defend this document, and the ideals that are written in it, to the death, through what ever misery and pain and separation from loved ones may be required.

The second place entry is from Sgt. Walter J. Rausch, who is currently on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

I have watched on television how the American public questions why their mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters are fighting and dying in a country 9,000 miles away from their own soil. Take the word of a soldier, for that is all I am, that our cause is a noble one. The reason we are here is one worth fighting for. A cause that has been the most costly and sought after cause in our small span of existence on our little planet. Bought in blood and paid for by those brave enough to give the ultimate sacrifice to obtain it. A right that is given to every man, woman, and child, I believe, by God. I am talking of freedom.

And the winner is ...drumroll... Lt. K of Wordsmith at War. Not exactly a shocker, and the Lt. certainly showed why he's among the top of the literary milblog heap with his awe inspiring essay.

I’m in Iraq because this is the war of my generation, and somebody has to volunteer to travel across the planet and defend America against people who will fly airplanes into buildings on an otherwise average sunny morning in downtown New York City. Through that act alone, terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and I’ll be damned if I’m not going to take some action. I’d rather be a soldier, an active participant against such a cruel enemy, than a critic who enjoys the flavors of American life but isn’t willing to put on a uniform and say, “America. I am your humble servant. Send me where you will.” I don’t mean all citizens need to fight. Everyone is not supposed to be a soldier. But if you aren’t willing to do so, then your criticism lacks substance.

Take that Code Pinkos! You communist freaks don't deserve to breath the same air as these heroes.

What's more inspiring?
  1. Eight hippy 'tards singing '60s protest songs in front of a military hospital (that even the Sheehag says is wrong!) and blaming the President for all the ills of the world.
  1. A hospital full of veterans who answered the call of duty, put their very lives on the line, sacrificed and suffered for what they believe is right, and would go back to their units in a heartbeat if only they were medically able.
Code Pink's numbers are dwindling to the point that they've had to drag out a tiny, elderly woman in a wheelchair to fill out the ranks. Then they subject her to the most heinous torture of listening to tone-deaf Perry (guitar man) serenading her all evening!

These *cough* diehards didn't even make it to their 9pm curtain call. I guess "the cause" isn't worth it when it's cold. What dedication!

We, on the other hand, come prepared! tglsTakoma puts together a wonderful canteen of coffee and hot water thermoses as well as all the condiments to make tea and cocoa. Dr. Raoul brought fresh baked preztles. Tonight we had a special treat.

We were visited by a couple of wonderful ladies and a young boy who brought us cups and cups of cappuccino, coffee, cocoa and doughnuts; and they thanked us for being out there for the soldiers in WR, and we thanked them profusely for the warmth!
They were at WR to be with their husband/brother/uncle, Daniel from Ohio (4ID), who was seriously injured in 2003. He had plates put in his arm and he is going to have another surgery on Monday.

The Angel in the red jacket was incredibly nice. She asked us to sign the back of her T-shirt so she could give it to her brother after his surgery.

Thank you, Daniel! Not only for your service and sacrifice, but for having such thoughtful and generous family members.

Concretebob and IraqiKurd (who was in rare form!) in an early evening pose.

The other terrific event this week was the homecoming of two exceptional Marines: Capt B and TacoBell. The official story is here, but Taco has taken some precious reunion time to post his own pic!

If you look closely at the photos here, can you find Taco's parents? It's not exactly "Where's Waldo", but Navy Wife and Danang68 braved the weather to cheer the wounded warriors with us! Unlike the weenies waaaay down the block, these true supporters stayed 'till the buses (yeah, there are two now!) from Fran O'Brien's came shortly before 10pm. What a great family!

Today I talked to my adopted Marine, Lcpl Pete, USMC who is returning to his family soon. Being stationed at the base in Hawaii for the past few months is like heaven compared to Afghanistan, but it can't come close to being "home". I'm so proud of what he's accomplished and really want to hear the words "I'm here!" once he's reunited with his beautiful wife.

This sign was supplied courtesy of US FlagWaver and carried by Concretebob. The words seem all the more powerful when read on the corner outside the gate of WRAMC.

"Were it not for the brave... there would be no land of the Free"