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Arlington In Eternal Vigil
Posted: 04 April 2007 03:11 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Recently, I had the good fortune of stumbling upon a documentary while channel surfing.  It was titled “Arlington In Eternal Vigil.”  As the resting place of my grandfather (a retired naval officer) and his still born son, it has always held a special place in my heart.  I was humbled even further watching this outstanding film.  I ordered it on DVD so I could enjoy it over and over (http://www.patriotseries.com).  Near the end there is a dialog that struck me especially in light of the quote I posted last week about the death of LT Jared Landaker, the son of a retired California Highway Patrol Officer (the full quote is in the “Another Hero Returns” thread)

February 7, 2007, Anbar Province, Iraq. 1st LT Jared Landaker United States Marine Corps, Hero, from Big Bear California, gave his live in service to his country. Fatally wounded when his CH-46 helicopter was shot down by enemy fire, Jared and his crew all perished. His life was the ultimate sacrifice of a grateful military family and nation. His death occurred at the same time as Anna Nicole Smith, a drug using person with a 7th grade education of no pedigree who dominated our news for two weeks while Jared became a number on CNN. And most unfortunately, Jared’s death underscores a fact that we are a military at war, not a nation at war.

Until we become a nation committed to winning the fight, and elect leaders with the spine to ask Americans to sacrifice in order to win, we shall remain committed to being a nation with a military at war, and nothing more.

The cord struck was associated with the “nation with a military at war, and nothing more.”  In the closing moments of the documentary the following dialog takes place in which our future is addressed.  It, like the quote above gives me reason to ponder my good fortune and freedom.  To wonder if I am worthy of such sacrifice both past and present…

Wrapped up in the powerful stories that make Arlington what it is, are the stories that make America what it is.  Arlington, in all its tragedy, in all its heroism and triumph, gives us a picture of America as a whole.  A powerful metaphor of what really makes our nation great.  Arlington National Cemetery in all its beauty and reverence is far more than a final resting place for men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion for their country.  For Arlington is not a memorial to the death of anyone, rather it is a true and enduring celebration of life.  A celebration of lives well lived, of mostly unknown, ordinary Americans, who made extraordinary contributions for people they would never know, for families they would never meet. 

And so it remains today, America is great not because we’re strong and rich, not because we can do whatever we want, or because we’re free to enjoy our lives.  These are merely byproducts of something deeper and more important.  Every marker at Arlington National Cemetery affirms this point. 

But are future generations listening to the broader statements this national treasure is making?  Have we forgotten the lessons of Arlington?  Have we grown so comfortable in our lives and confident in our future that we’re no longer conscious that “freedom” is not “free?”

In a powerful speech, now inscribed at his gravesite in Arlington, President Kennedy said, “Let every nation know, where it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

There’s no greater testimony to those words than….Arlington.

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He was just a man doing a job.  A job whose primary attribute was self-restraint and self-composure, not for his own sake, but for those whom he lead by example.  A job whose objective could be boiled down to the single understatement, as he did at the Hot Gates on the morning he died, of performing the commonplace under uncommonplace conditions. 

Description of Dienekes, a Spartan warrior at the Battle of Thermopylae

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Posted: 05 April 2007 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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LL - I’d have to say it’s like the layman’s version of the psychological principle that only sane people wonder if they’re going crazy:  if you’re wondering if you’re worthy of that kind of sacrifice, that means your mindset is the same as that of the heroes laid to rest in Arlington.  The ones that don’t stop to consider should be the ones looking in the mirror.

Thanks for posting this, definitely going to give the DVD a look.  Stay safe out there sheepdog!

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Posted: 05 April 2007 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Brian,

You are great for the mind.  Thanks for your comments.  It is always so great to have you participate.  I noticed that I didn’t necessarily ask a question for others to comment on.  You helped me very much, but I am curious of peoples thought regarding the quote from the DVD.  I see so many “kids” that I would refer to as Gen X’ers doing things I would have never believed based on the stereotype I had in my mind.  Yet these are the ones today that perform such admirable acts in dismal conditions.

It really boils down to the question GD and I always ponder.

Why do some people get it and others are clueless.  (BTW I am not saying that pro- or anti-war is any different here.  I am speaking of a call to duty, honor and integrity.  I am confident that there are numerous members of the military who question the actions underway, but they perform anyway.)


Thanks again Brian!!!!

Stay safe!

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He was just a man doing a job.  A job whose primary attribute was self-restraint and self-composure, not for his own sake, but for those whom he lead by example.  A job whose objective could be boiled down to the single understatement, as he did at the Hot Gates on the morning he died, of performing the commonplace under uncommonplace conditions. 

Description of Dienekes, a Spartan warrior at the Battle of Thermopylae

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Posted: 05 April 2007 08:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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LargeLefty, thanks for that thoughtful post. Sounds like a great DVD.

I don’t know why some people get duty, honor, country and others don’t. I suspect much depends on how a person is educated, or by whom.

Arlington used to be Robert E. Lee’s estate, and while his notion of “home” was tied most strongly to Virginia, that bit about how Arlington represents a cross-section of all America rings true. I bet old Robert understands now, even if he didn’t then, that the whole country can be gratefully regarded as home by her citizens.

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Because "viriliter age" has to mean something in English, too.

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Posted: 14 April 2007 01:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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[quote author=“LargeLefty”]Why do some people get it and others are clueless.  (BTW I am not saying that pro- or anti-war is any different here.  I am speaking of a call to duty, honor and integrity.  I am confident that there are numerous members of the military who question the actions underway, but they perform anyway.)

Can I ask a question (or two)...Why is it honorable to continue doing questionable things? When should what you believe is right usurp what the military or government is telling you to do?

I’ve been to Arlington many times. It’s a beautiful, serene place. My favorite (well…favorite is probably the wrong word; the most moving?) spot is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I’m not usually one for symbolic pageantry, but I was always so impressed by the soldiers guarding the tomb. They seemed to strong and dedicated and honorable. They represented the military really well, I thought.

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Posted: 15 April 2007 12:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Petunia,

You may ask anything you like, that is the beauty of the American Way.  I have just read your dialog with SS and actually feel your presence here on the forum is beneficial.  It forces us to realize an often opposing view (not always though).

With that said, your post here is an interesting one.  I believe the difference here is in definition of “call to duty.”  Unlike earlier wars, there is no draft going on now.  Members of the military are “volunteers” who made a conscious decision to join.  They gave up certain individual rights by joining the military.  Although I did not serve in the military, I have had the opportunity through my current job to work in very close quarters with them.  It was quite an eye opener for me. 

It is my observation that the military is not a democracy.  They protect it vigilantly, but don’t practice it well.  I beleive it is because of a real need for order.  In the words of Jack Nicholson, “we follow orders or people die, its that simple.”  I realize that this is a qoute from a movie, but it best represented the point I am trying to make and what my experience with military life represents.

My discussions with Jeff were not just focused on the war, it just offers a best example of people willing to sacrafice of themselves for a cause.  I often say the same thing about people who do CrossFit.  Why do some people, many of whom who you would never expect, get the understanding that things in life worth having are often difficult and require dedication. 

I am not trying to compare a CrossFitting housewife, to a war hero, but sacrafices are still difficult for each of them.  You suffer along with us on this forum.  You expound views often contrary to the majority and endure the barrage of countering points of view.  Although I often wonder why you continue to do this, I must tell you that I have always found you to be one thing, CONSISTENT! 

I personally refuse to allow politics to degrade the sacrafices of those who gave the ultimate sacrafice and now rest at Arlington. 

My question of service, honor and integrity were associated with character traits possessed by individuals and why that occurs.  It just so happens that many military personnel possess these traits, but many other non-military people do too.  I am sorry to have rambled, but it was not my intention to have this post boil down to a simple pro- or anti-war question.

Steve

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He was just a man doing a job.  A job whose primary attribute was self-restraint and self-composure, not for his own sake, but for those whom he lead by example.  A job whose objective could be boiled down to the single understatement, as he did at the Hot Gates on the morning he died, of performing the commonplace under uncommonplace conditions. 

Description of Dienekes, a Spartan warrior at the Battle of Thermopylae

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Posted: 16 April 2007 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Steve…

That’s a great post. First of all, thank you.

Second of all, I completely agree with you actually about the military being different now because it’s all volunteers. Many people compare this war to Vietnam, and even though I can see some similarities, I don’t think they’re the same at all. The main reason is the difference between unrepresented men being forced to fight in a draft and volunteers choosing to be a part of the military.

I still wonder, though, what happens if you change your mind. Or maybe your point is that you don’t get to change your mind if you’re in the military because it’s a different kind of culture?

You expound views often contrary to the majority and endure the barrage of countering points of view. Although I often wonder why you continue to do this, I must tell you that I have always found you to be one thing, CONSISTENT!

Again, thanks. I really do try to be consistent. But I’ll let you in on a secret: I continue to debate here for selfish reasons, actually. Although I do hold out some small hope that someone will listen to what I say and rethink his angry or violent approach, I mostly do it because I think that when you spend all your time with people who think just like you, you do yourself a disservice. With the exception of Jeff and Mikki (and the other people here), everyone I know is a diehard liberal, much much more liberal than I am. And I definitely prefer to surround myself with people like that because I don’t want to be fighting all the time. However, I also think it’s important to listen to the other side because there are lots of things I don’t know and lots of ways of living that I don’t understand. And even if the people saying the opposing ideas make me angry, I’d rather hear it than insulate myself with nothing but liberal thought. I tried listening to conservative talk radio for this reason as well, but that just made me too upset so I went back to NPR.

And then of course, there’s also the part of me that can’t stand a bully. So many people will just skulk away when confronted with that personality that I become unwilling to do it. Bullying me will never shut me up, and eventually the bullies learn that and try something else. That’s always a great moment for me.

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Posted: 16 April 2007 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I still wonder, though, what happens if you change your mind. Or maybe your point is that you don’t get to change your mind if you’re in the military because it’s a different kind of culture?

This is a tough topic.  Conscientious objection is what it is called, and there can be consequences.  Military members willingly sign a contract, and willingly submit to being held accountable be the uniform code of military justice (UCMJ).  A conscientious objection may result in a discharge. 

I have personally seen this go both ways, as no one seems so sure of how to handle it.  I think most cases have been handled on case by case basis.  On one hand, I’ve seen an individual “object” due to religous beliefs, and they did not deploy, no reprimand in place.  On the other hand, I’ve seen an individual “object” and charged under the UCMJ for failure to follow orders (example - failure to fire a weapon, or failure to deploy). 

Is it a different kind of culture? Of course.  Grown men and women voluntarily join the military, to “solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Commitment is required in this club.

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Posted: 16 April 2007 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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( i am of the age of viet nam and an testify to the similarities and absolutley hate what i see especially in the person i vote for. the number 1 prob is that it is a political war not a military one just like vn. its is run the same way and fought almost the same except for the jungle scenes you cant tell the enemies apart and instead of north vrs sought its shia vrs sunni. instead of experimenting with agent orange and god knows what else we are experimenting on ieds (theirs) and armement and types of weopens. similar to vn, is the raids to capture and then let the enemy have it back to do it all over again. buy people off with big pay offs , throw money at them. granted no 2 wars are exactly the same but i bet i can compare vn to iraq to the letters of any wars we have ever had. china and the cambodias khmer rouge supported nvn. just like iran and syria. what else. anyway it makes me verrrry verrrry angry to do the same stupid crap with our soldiers lives when we are dupt to believe we are going to win.  oh, yes prosecute our troops for killing people like in mi lai.  i am really po’d at the dems for wanting to cut and run and the reps for staying a politically controlled waste of human life course that has the same outcome as vn. destroy the country to save it while haliburten etc get filthy rich just like in viet nam (  if you are going to go to war then win, if you are going to fight ,fight with everything and win. if your going to pussy-foot around the send in the ambassadors and pelosi and of course hanoi jane fonda to play their ego games but dont call it a war. double grrr.

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Posted: 17 April 2007 02:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Petunia,

Your question is a tough one.  When I promoted to Sergeant I attended a supervisory course at the Academy we pondered this at length.  In the course they used the movie “Crimson Tide” as a back drop.  If you haven’t seen it, Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman play two naval officers on a nuclear submarine.  Incomplete orders are received to launch the subs weapons and the conflict between the two are the basis of the movie.  Hackman plays the sub’s Captain (who wants to launch the nuc’s) and Washington is the Executive Officer (who wants to confirm the order first).  The movie is very good, but disturbing. 

The act of changing your mind for me would be very difficult because the degrees of difference between an objector and a person unwilling to launch nuclear weapons.  Unfortunately, I must head off to work and cannot expound any further.  I will look forward to talking to you personally about this the next time we meet.

As with many of your posts, I enjoy looking at both sides of issues.  You bring a often different point of view, but a necessary one to keep me thinking.  I too am an avid NPR fan, but for a variety of reasons.  I recognize their left lean and adjust.  I cannot listen to the Rush’s or Air America’s of the world much because I don’t see them solving anything, they just fan the flames of opposition. 

Gotta go.

Gonzo and Dale - thanks for the input

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He was just a man doing a job.  A job whose primary attribute was self-restraint and self-composure, not for his own sake, but for those whom he lead by example.  A job whose objective could be boiled down to the single understatement, as he did at the Hot Gates on the morning he died, of performing the commonplace under uncommonplace conditions. 

Description of Dienekes, a Spartan warrior at the Battle of Thermopylae

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Posted: 17 April 2007 03:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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This is my first read through this thread.  Mainly because I am just not ready to do Murph again, thank you very much Steve.

A good read nonetheless.  Thank you.

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Posted: 17 April 2007 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Petunia
Even when change in viewpoint is unlikely, understanding the other view is important. Truly I treasure your input, well read, educated and (usually LOL)  logical.

Dale
Respectfully,
I think the intricacies of wars and cultures are far too numerous to make blanket statements comparing Vietnam and Iraq.  Of course, generalities can be made, like Horses, mice and Dragons all have four feet, however they are still vastly and totally different animals.  Similarities should be considered in perspective and policy should not be made by playing emotional “cards” such as
This is just like another Vietnam.”

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“No man who refuses to bear arms in defense of his nation can give a sound reason why he should be allowed to live in a free country”  T. Roosevelt

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who are not.”  Thomas Jefferson”

“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid” - Gen Eisenhower.

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Posted: 17 April 2007 05:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Steve…

Sounds like an interesting movie. I haven’t seen it but will add it to my Netflix. I do like Denzel.

Just for the record, I actually do believe that the military is a different culture and I do think that for it to work as is, you can’t really change your mind. I mean…if the guys set to land on Normandy had changed their minds mid-boat ride, Nazi Europe wouldn’t have been defeated.

If you have honorable, honest people running your military, not being able to change your mind is fine. Personally, I’d never want to be in a position of losing that much autonomy. But if you are, I don’t think it’s inherently bad or not admirable. The problems arise when dishonorable, dishonest people are running the military. Then you’ve got soldiers who aren’t allowed to think for themselves at the mercy of guys who might make them do objectionable things. I imagine it’s tricky.

But for sure…we can talk about it later. smile

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Posted: 17 April 2007 09:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Like in every bunch there are some bad apples, no more and no less in the military.

a friend passed this along and i wanted to share.

http://www.youtube.com/v/ervaMPt4Ha0

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“No man who refuses to bear arms in defense of his nation can give a sound reason why he should be allowed to live in a free country”  T. Roosevelt

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who are not.”  Thomas Jefferson”

“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid” - Gen Eisenhower.

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Posted: 17 April 2007 09:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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S ? i dont know what this icon is so i think i’ll try it. if the statement has any fact to it at all you cant tell the future but by the past then the word LIKE can be use to compare to situations. its done in math all the time by using equations. i can compare viet nams past to irags by what we are doing ie treading water. we did for how many years in nam and now were doing the same with iraq. i want to win not hold and set up another dmz line like korea or pull out like nam and then say oops we blew that one. nam of course is not iraq, we are a volunteer military and etc etc but i still say the confrontation is run by politicians similar to nam hit and retreat, take over a strong hold and move out. personally without knowing the border or terrain which is an ignorant statement for me to make but i would set up a dead zone around iraq no one in or out without a passport and stop iran and syria from agitating or supplying either side and eventually iraq would learn to take care of themselves as we did. your right mikki it is emotional of me and irrational im sure but some things just kind of push a button and boom, nuclear melt down.

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Posted: 17 April 2007 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Thank you for sharing that BBoJ.  I wish I had the ability to get my meaning across so simply and respectfully.  My hat’s off to the creator of that video.

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"Xerxes does not want your lives, sir" the emissary called.  "Only your weapons."

Leonidas laughed.  "Tell him to come and get them."

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