Have you ever asked yourself one of those beauty pageant questions like, “If you could meet any person from the past or present, who would it be?” or “If you could change one thing about the country what would it be?” The answers usually have some kind of worldly or Utopian overtones about meeting Mother Theresa or saving the world from chlorofluorocarbons.

Because I have a passion for American history, I seem to ask myself, If I could live in any time, when and where would it be?”

I am 2 books into an 11-volume series called the Oxford History of the United States. Each book averages about 700 pages and covers a couple decades of American history. It would put the casual reader to sleep faster than ambien but I love it. I actually got excited several hundred pages into the first book when George Washington came onto the scene. Sick, I know.

Anyway, the answer to my question is: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from May 25 to September 17, 1787. This was the time-frame the Constitutional Convention replaced the Articles of the Confederation with the United States Constitution, thereby, creating the same government that I am so disappointed in today.

Our fledgling government came together from each of the colonies and in 4 months created the document that still governs us 223 years later. Today we have a government with one of the lowest approval ratings of all time that has wasted over a year trying to create healthcare legislation; just one small aspect of our lives.

It would have been amazing to see our original national leadership debate theories of government and, ultimately, decide that OUR government would be a democratic republic.

Marines in AfghanistanWe are living in a critical time in our nation’s history. There have only been a few times since the Revolutionary War that our way of life has been so threatened. We are quickly approaching the 8th anniversary of the terrorist’s war declaration on America and the Western world; the attacks on New York, Pennsylvania, and our Nation’s capital- our generation’s very own Pearl Harbor. Today’s service men and women are fighting every day in unimaginable conditions and yet we barely hear about it in the news. When is the last time you heard any news on what our brave Marines and soldiers are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq? Why does Michael Jackson, Ted Kennedy, and nationalizing health care get more attention than the sacrifices of our troops? This war WILL BE the longest war in our history. Our success in this war is as important as our success in the Revolutionary War for it was in the Revolutionary War that we won our freedom, it is this war that we defeat the terrorists that are committed to killing American’s and destroying our freedom. How can it be that we are at this critical point in our history and we don’t hear about it in the news?

Below is a listing of the top news stories by media outlet:

CNN.com/world:

-Japan oppostion on track for landslide victory

-UK minister denies deal on Lockerbie release

-Voter fraud complaints double in Afghan election

-British Royal Marine killed in Afghan blast

-Olmert charged in corruption probe

-18 killed in attack on Pakistan police station

-Dalai Lama arrives in Taiwan

-Gabon voters to elect new president

-In will, late Shiite leader askes Iraqis to unite

New York Times Home Page:

-Cheney calls interogation inquiry a ‘political move’

-Japanese opposition wins election in landslide

-Former Israeli Prime Minister is indicted

-German elections deliver mixed messages for Merkel

-Remnants of Iraq Air Force are found

-California wins little league title

-Late president’s son favored in Gabon election

-Los Angeles forest fire threatens foothills

-Some building not living up to green label

Now, let me tell you what our troops did today that you didn’t read in those headlines:

-13th ESC Soldiers killed by roadside bomb: BAGHDAD – Two 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Soldiers died of wounds suffered following an improvised explosive device in eastern Baghdad Aug. 28 at approximately 2:30 a.m.

-Afghan-International Security Forces Pursue Taliban Militants in Kandahar

-Afghan-International Security Forces Destroy Haqqani Stronghold in Paktika

I am concerned that we have so many terrorists out there with only one thing on their minds, the destruction of America, and so many Americans don’t even realize how hard we are fighting to keep our country safe.

Darryl Worley said it best, “Have you forgotten?”

20091213army-yearoftheNCOThe United States Army has labeled this year, “The Year of the Noncommissioned Officer.” According to my research, the last time the Army officially celebrated our NCOs with a year-long event was 20 years ago.

As an officer in the Army, I can personally testify to the quality of our sergeants and I can say that I am very confident that there isn’t a single successful officer in the Army that hasn’t been positively influenced by an NCO. I can think of a few great sergeants in my 11 years that have shaped who I am.

When I was a lieutenant, my platoon sergeant, Sergeant First Class Moody had the biggest influence in my military life. He taught me about holding your soldiers to a standard, never wavering from that standard. He taught me how to hold people accountable.

When I was a captain and a company commander, there was a crew of great NCOs that taught me a lot of things. My first First Sergeant, 1SG John Fetty was, is, and always will be my hero. Eventhough I only worked with him for 2 months, I would be a lesser officer today had I not been exposed to his experience. My 2nd week in command of the 82nd Airborne Division’s only aerial delivery company, we had an excercise to determine our proficiency of rigging and outloading a battalion under the “wheels up in 18 hours” standard. The company rigged 58 pieces of equipment in less than 18 hours in the December cold. 1SG Fetty was there for every minute. Over the next several weeks I really learned what tough love was. He knew how to break a soldier down, how to build him back up. He always took care of soldiers, whether they realized it or not.

SFC Trail, working an issue with the company supply sergeant, Specialist Breland.

SFC Trail, working an issue with the company supply sergeant, Specialist Breland.

SFC Keith Trail, my last First Sergeant, was the “Don’t worry sir, I got it” guy. He was the epitome of the go-to, make-it-happen noncommissioned officer. He knew every trick a soldier would pull– because he pulled them all when he was a soldier. Trail is the guy that you give the hardest job to because you know, no matter what, he will get it done.

My long-time friend, Staff Sergeant Jeff Anderson. I might have survived command without him, but it would have been a lot harder. He got me out of more than one jam and really helped me get the company current on medical readiness. From providing last-minute drop zone medical coverage, to combat lifesaver bags for my unit, to more than one shot clinic- Jeff helped make me successful.

An old battalion commander of mine said something that really stuck with me. She called noncommissioned officers, “officers, noncommissioned.” I subtle rewording but it gets to the point. Our sergeant are, first and foremost, officers. They just don’t have a commission.

SSG Anderson and I getting ready to jump out of an airplane.

SSG Anderson and I getting ready to jump out of an airplane.

To all of the great NCOs in my life: thank you so much. If I can include just a fraction of what I have learned from you, I will be a better officer for it. To all the NCOs in the best Army in the world- this year is for you. Thank you so much for truly being the “backbone of the Army.”

One of Doug Marlette's controversial cartoons. He received death threats for this image.

One of Doug Marlette's controversial cartoons. He received death threats for this image.

Two years ago today, a great North Carolinian newsman was killed in a tragic car accident. Doug Marlette was born in Greensboro and spent many years in Hillsoborough. He worked for the Charlotte Observer. His cartoons made it into: Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Time. He also won the Pulitzer Prize.

Thanks for the ‘toons!

Have you ever gotten into one of those situations where you make the same mistake 2, 3, or 4 times? I remember when I was in Iraq, I was responsible for maintaining a briefing for the general that he gave almost weekly. Inevitably while we would rehearse, I would have the same mistake in the slides. Now, it is okay if it happens once; maybe twice. Any more than that and you will lose the confidence of your boss.

I might have done 100 routine things correctly but that 1 thing plagued me which caused anxiety with my boss. He would double and triple check my briefing because he wasn’t confident it was correct.

Lucky for me that other people are having the same problem… the White House press office. Just the other day, they spelled the President’s name incorrectly! Today they had two more press releases go out to the media with spelling errors.

picture-11

picture-2

Ahh. I am so relieved that is not just me!

http://briefingroom.thehill.com/2009/07/09/more-spelling-errors-plague-obama-releases/

Stuart Smalley, a character from Saturday Night Live.

I don’t intend for this blog to be controversial but I just have to say this: “What the heck is going on with our political system?!?!”

I just watched the video of Al Franken’s swearing in ceremony and all I could see was him laughing on the inside.

And I would too. I mean, this is Stuart Smalley, Saturday Night Live’s “I’m good enough, smart enough, and dog gone it, people like me” guy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against actors becoming politicians. I think Arnold Schwartzenegger has proven himself in California- especially in these tough times for the state. I just cannot see Stuart Smalley representing middle America.

vietnam veteran's memorialI was traveling back to Fort Bragg from Pennsylvania last Sunday and I was listening to a little NPR. There was a pretty interesting segment on about myths in our culture that take on a life of their own- specifically the one about Vietnam-era soldiers being spit on in airports. I’m sure you have all heard stories about our soldiers going through airports on their way home from Vietnam and being called “baby killers” and such. It was a really interesting segment because the commentator researched the subject and could not find a single documented case of spitting on soldiers. He qualified his statement by saying that he could not prove it didn’t happen but that there was no evidence that it did happen either.

According to the researcher, the Vietnam vet myth took on a life of its own- especially after the early 80’s. He cited movies like Rambo where John Rambo, a vet said that he came home from the war and was spit on. Since then, there have been many pop culture references to spitting…but no documented cases.

Now, I can tell you that I was spit on by a Korean boy when I was going through the Korean’s War Museum with my wife. It actually wasn’t intentional and I wasn’t in uniform. The young school boy was actually aiming at a girl in his class. I just got in his way.

Anyway- this news segment made me think about the overwhelming support our troops have today. Is it possible that we have so much support because their is an accepted belief that our soldiers in Vietnam were mistreated by the public; because they were spit on? I don’t know the answer to that. My gut feeling is that that is not the case.

American troops have always had the support of the public. I think it is an American tradition that goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War when the Continental Army was fighting for our freedom. Through the Civil War, our troops received support from the public in the form of food and other items. World Wars I and II were national efforts which included most of our industries and our workers. Then we had Korea and Vietnam; the forgotten war and the war everyone probably wished they could forget.  Then we had the all-volunteer Army- Desert Storm. And finally- the War on Terror- a new “national effort.” This one doesn’t involve most of our industries but more of a sense of nationalism and patriotism against terrorists.

Either way, I am proud that our co

untry supports our military so much. Thank you!!!

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