Friday, August 26, 2011

A TIMELY MESSAGE

******I am going to leave Mike's post up in honor of 9-11 for a few more days.


I don't want anyone to miss this post.  This is from my great friend that is a Marine.
 
I have had it on A Baby Changes Everything blog, but wanted to repost it here, as I have had so many emails regarding it.

Feel free to share it with anyone…

Now a word from a wise man in a time when our country has some major problems..
 
Thoughts for the day

Last week my dad and I played golf on the course here on base. The great thing about this game is you never know who you'll be paired with.
We drew a single player that morning. I introduced myself to him as he pulled up in his cart. He likewise introduced himself as Aaron.
His voice was, well, Elmer Fudd-ish. "BwootifuI day to pway gwawf." I knew he was a fellow Marine without having to ask.
The hair cut said that. As men often do to each other, we usually--and immediately--ask each other what the other does, fairly--or unfairly--sizing up and evaluating each other based on our chosen professions.

As if our profession in any way defines who we really are. So I avoided the familiar question, "What do you do?"

Having previously worked in surgery for almost ten years, I'd seen enough tracheotomies to know the scar at the bottom of his neck had been one done in a hurry and not with an instrument really sharp enough to do the job.
Amateurish even.
After playing the first hole it was obvious the speech impediment was physical tongue-tying, vice the type often seen with partially deaf individuals or those born with one. Clearly he had no hand-eye coordination issues besides not being able to putt better than I could, thankfully.


Sober golf players tend to not visit a whole lot except on the tee box. We were all focused on the task at hand.

Marines typically size each other up by asking what units they are in, where they've deployed to, battles fought in, etc.

It took us until at least the back nine to get to all that. We had been in some of the same places at the same time. He pulled up his shirt to show me his entry wound just below the left rib cage, and the typical midline incision scar that accompanies such gunshot wounds. That one was courtesy of the invasion of Iraq. A few years later he'd join the Marine Corps’ first Special Operations Battalion and deploy to Afghanistan twice.

That trip to Afghanistan in 2009 would account for the tracheotomy scar. He was crossing open terrain when he got shot in the face by a sniper.
Fortunately, it impacted him in the left jaw bone.

Unfortunately, the fragmentation of the bullet pulverized his tongue and internal carotid artery. After being shot, Aaron sprinted 400 yards to the corpsman’s location so he could render first aid to him.
The corpsman performed a hasty tracheotomy on him so he could adequately breathe until he got medevac’d.
Aaron will medically retire sometime in the next year with a 100% disability. He’s married but no kids yet. He married before his first trip to Afghanistan. “She stuck around after I got shot. Guess I married the right one.” Indeed.



He works private security details from time to time, gouging them for hundreds of dollars a day for VIPs because he’s got a special ops background and is no stranger to a gun fight.

In his time off he’s taken up golf. Aaron’s not sure what the future holds. But right now he’s just trying his best to enjoy life. “Twice was enough.” Getting shot and nearly dying that is.

 
Another wounded warrior story which, outside of family and a few close friends (and occasional golf partner), no one will ever know.
 
I thought the same thing a few weeks ago when I was awakened in the dark hours of a Saturday with a text notification from CNN that 22 SEALs had been killed in a helicopter crash. I looked at my watch and started doing the mental math: That got reported at least six hours after the fact.24 hours to gather remains. 48-72 hours to get them out of country and to Dover AFB.

Next of kin will be notified by the end of the day, if not first thing Sunday morning. They try to do death notifications all at once. The logistics of that would be a nightmare. 3-5 days for remains identification and funerals the week following. I know this process all too well.
22 SEALs dead. One or two is acceptable—militarily speaking of course.
It’s the risk we accept. But not 20 at a time. These guys don’t grow on trees.

Who were they?
Where were they from?
What were their stories?
They’re certainly not the sum of their medals. Only through the tears of those who knew them can even we get a glimpse.
And it’s hard not to stereotype about what type of people they were. After all, probably 20% of active forces could be special ops. Less than 10% will apply. 5% will make the screening cut and they’ll cull that down to less than 1% by the end of training. Why?
Because of all the missions that can fail, theirs can’t. Athletes they may have been, but that’s not what makes them great or heroic.

If it was, every star athlete out of college would be recruited for special ops. It’s their heart and mind that make them great.

They were everyday people from anywhere towns asked to do astonishing missions under extraordinary circumstances so everyday people from anywhere towns can live their ordinary lives.

I doubt many standing in football stadiums the past two weeks(or the coming months), watching the NFL circus unfold into the regular season, gave any thought to the security of this nation; that a couple ordinary guys from Shreveport, LA put a bullet hole through a terrorist’s head half-way around the world so Americans wouldn’t have to worry about a bomb disrupting the regular season. We Americans are fickle.

The economy goes to hell and we’re worried about standard of living in our retirement years. Meanwhile the Constitution gets shredded, weakened or re-legislated with no one reading the contents of a bill. The normalcy bias is killing Americans—“Things can’t really be this bad. It’ll get better.”
But it doesn’t. So nothing gets done. It’s a state of unbelief. And it’s paralyzing.
We need a battlefield lesson. When trapped in a cross-fire you move or get killed. Stay put and you die. SEALs know this lesson.
They’re dying so we can enjoy the ideals of freedom printed on a piece of parchment signed in the year of our Lord, 1787—the Constitution.

I’d challenge you to do a couple of things. 1) Get to know your warriors and their families.
Not all military life is glorious or affordable. They’ve been given a tough assignment, by us. They aren’t nameless, faceless anybodies without families.
They bleed and sometimes die. Not always of their own decision.
Read a book about a battle, recent or back to our nation’s birth.
Understand what they go through and what we’ve asked them and their families to sacrifice. If you live in an area where there is a military base, seek their friendship. If not, stop by the local recruiting station—the most thankless job in the military—and thank them. 2) Get involved.
Don’t let your freedoms be destroyed by incompetence or pride. Both get you killed on the battlefield. Both will get your freedoms taken.
There’s no interest like self-interest.
If you care about something, engage your Congressman.
If you don’t, no one else will and they’ll make dangerous assumptions about your lack of assertion. 3)
Live like today actually counts for eternity. Be quick to apologize when you are wrong and take less than your share of the credit when it comes to glory.

There’s a Marine helicopter squadron whose motto is, “Give a @hit.” Great motto. Act like you care. Think. Decide. Act… Love. Eat. Pray…and thank God you weren’t born in Libya.

Our country has been blessed with much. So much is required of us to maintain what was handed to us.

Statistics show that those who inherit large sums of money are prone to squander it quickly because they have no idea the sacrifice with which it was obtained.
Please don’t do that to your freedoms handed to you by the lives of so many. We threw tea in a harbor once because of tyranny. What will you do to keep tyranny, disguised as law, at bay?
Just remember, a couple of boys from Shreveport, and other places, continue to hook and jab with an enemy to keep you sleeping peacefully in your tempurpedic at night. So that when you awaken, you have the moral strength and intestinal fortitude to fight peacefully to keep your rights, and the peace of mind to enjoy them.



mike and fam2



I love you Mike McClendon and thank god that 20 years ago God allowed our paths to cross and then connect…You are one of my heroes.

15 comments:

Marydon said...

Emotional, factual, heart warming, tears quietly flowing, heart breaking ...

Thank you for sharing.

Love the beautiful photo.

Have a wonderful weekend.
TTFN ~
Hugs,
Marydon

Mellodee said...

Theresa, Beautifully said and deeply heartfelt.

All of us (well, most of us)"seniors get" it. Our grandfathers fought in WWI, our dads in WWII, our uncles in Korea, our brothers in Vietnam, our husbands in Desert Storm, our sons in Iran, and Afganistan. Some of these men survived, many didn't.

Our Legislature is not much more than a political playground where the Congressmen jockey for position, vote in sweetheart deals for themselves, and campaign stop on the way to reelection!

The Judiciary is riddled with politcal appointees who couldn't reason their way out of a paper bag.

The Presidency is hampered by party manueverings and amd must deal with everything from Declaring War to having photo ops with 100 year old ladies! Well, that is unless it's an election year and then a whole different set of concerns arise. Nobody really knows what anyone believes other that expediency. I don't believe that a President has written his own speeches since Dwight Eisenhower! Speech writers, draft and redraft with input from everyone from the White House cook to the President's dog!

The Constitution?? It's still there but it's getting more and more tattered and unrecognizable every day. Most people (including many public office holders) have never read the whole thing. Yet they are willing to tell us that it means that they can do whatever the hell they want, no matter how unconstitutional it is.

It's just like the Emporer Has No Clothes. We are sliding faster and faster into anarchy, or fascism, or socialism, or radicalism, depending on who's is telling it.

I want my country back. The country of my youth, where we saluted the flag and meant it. Where we cried at parades. Where it wasn't a crime to say a prayer in school. But it was a crime to bring a weapon and it was dealt with very cleanly and simply....expulsion and arrest. That's all. My country held ticker tape parades in NYC when heroes came home! We learned all about the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution which estalished this country. We read the Constitution multiple times and we knew the differences and responsibilities the 3 branches of government and checks and balances, and reason, and rational thinking, and compassion, and generousity, and patriotism....and we were proud to be American....and we were proud of our military....the Best Men in America. Integrity, Honesty, Respect, Honor, Humility, Trust, were the norm, not the exception!

Where America was the home of the Free and the Brave and always would be.

Yes, most of us baby boomers get that. But that America slipped away somehow (we could all write a big long essay on how and why) but none of us seems to know how to get it back. Or how long our "freedom" will last when we can't even manage to respect our "brave".

[So sorry Terese, I got a little carried away! :) Can you tell, I worry about this world we live in a lot!)

Mellodee

Debby said...

The
Navy Seal that had his dog lying in front of his casket is so touching. These are people that do so much for us. God bless our soldiers.

Just a little something from Judy said...

Thank God for people like you who take the time and initiative to share a post like this. It is so well written! Thank God for men like Mike and so many others who give their lives for our freedom. So thankful for this post!!!

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

So many stories...of lives of those given in sacrifice to our freedoms and securities.
I am so very blessed and honored to be a part of a military family...My dad is retired Air Force...My husband is retired now, but has flown helicopters in Iraq and other parts of the world doing relief missions and support to those on the ground. My father in law served in the Korean war. My brother is active duty Navy. And many other family members served in the branches of the military.
We have had dear friends who served and who gave their lives in service...and many dear friends who are now without those family members to grow old with. Again and again...each would say that the military life that was lived was one that they would choose.

Blessings & Aloha!
Thank you and God bless the McClendon family. God bless all those past, present and future that are part of the military family.

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

so beautiful - thank you for sharing this Teresa.

Rene said...

Glad that I came over from a blog hop. That story was amazing. We should all remember the sacrifices that are made, and thank those men and women who serve!

Misadventures in Motherhood said...

Beautiful sentiments and so true. That was an extremely touching and heartwrenching post. I have more respect for those in the military than I could ever see. In fact, I pretty much get choked up whenever I so much as see someone in uniform. I want to shake his/her hand and just say, "It's an honor and a privilege to meet you... and thank you for everything."

Thanks for sharing this beautiful post. I'm a new follower from the Wednesday hop and I'm so glad I happened upon your blog. I hope you have a blessed week.

Smiles, Jenn
www.misadventuresinmotherhood.com

Becky said...

Thanks for this post. It was a blessing and it is powerful. I did notice that 2 of the SEALS killed were from Shevreport, mainly because my husband is from Winnfield, LA. My two sons and my son in law also serve. 1 in the USAF & the other two are Marines.
I'm a new follower from Welcome Wednesday hop. Would love a visit back at: http://thebartonlife-est1995.blogspot.com/

Ali's Answers said...

Thank you for sharing. A truly touching and thought provoking story.
I am a new follower from WWBH.
:)
Ali
www.alianswers.blogspot.com

Clydia said...

Thank you for sharing. Iam also your newest follower from WWBH! XOXO

Shiloh said...

That's a very sobering post. I forget far to often to be grateful to all the people who are protecting my way of life.
I came to follow from the Welcome Wednesday, but it seems kind of trivial to mention that just now.:)
Thank you very much.

MommyDigger.com said...

Thank you for sharing this. What a touching story, our servicemen and women do so much for us...

I'm a new follower from the Welcome Wednesday hop. Would love for you to visit me at www.mommydigger.com

mamawee said...

new follower from welcome wednesday. Thank you for that post, it puts a lot in perspective

Material Girl Green said...

I'm a new follower from the Welcome Wednesday hop! Check me out and follow back at http://materialgirlgreen.blogspot.com