9-11

 
Like most of you I saw a status going around facebook recently about the mayor of NYC not inviting his cities finest first responders to their 9/11 ceremony but didn’t really believe it until the other day.  Holy crap was I wrong!  It just rubbed me the wrong way and I can’t believe that this was an issue during a supposedly humble time of remembrance and unity.
 
Sitting in the emergency room with my daughter waiting on x-rays for a broken finger from a downhill skateboarding incident; the Bill O’Reilly show was on with Geraldo Rivera as a co-host.  They were doing a segment about Mayor Bloomberg’s justification for not inviting people to the official 9/11 memorial and dedication ceremony.  I found myself agreeing with O’Reilly since Bloomberg’s standpoint was ridiculous in saying that there’s no way to decipher which clergy, firemen and policemen would he invite if he had even extended the offer.  O’Reilly stated that basically out of respect and honor for the event and purposes for the ceremony itself that he should have invited some rather than none at all. 
 
These nameless faces are doing outstanding work day in andday out and the Mayor expects them to do those jobs but when it comes time to be graceful and show honor and appreciation for saving those that could be saved on that fateful day those nameless faces are slapped.  Interesting to ponder and maybe even compare to today’s military perspective in regards to this war.  The show was all jaw dropping to say the least.  I just cannot believe that there are people who would intentionally disregard the influence and presence of people whose main job is to be ready, open and available for the people.  Mayor Bloomberg I think you had a pretty sorry excuse and it was just a cop out.  Maybe you didn’t realize the real meaning of that ceremony and what it represents maybe you’ve become out of touch with that meaning.  I think maybe he shouldn’t have been invited to the ceremony and the Mayor at the time should have been the only one allowed to attend since he was so concerned with space and priority.  It’s like saying the Marines who were on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan are good at their jobs but really only a few are outstanding and we’ll have a huge gathering to give accolades and credit to only those who got press time and met the President. 
 
Either way the city is rebuilding at ground zero and so is the nation as a whole but to this day our men and women are out there laying their lives on the line for people who may or may not appreciate or understand it.  Politicians with absolutely no military experience or ties and the average clueless civilian expect and demand protection from this great nation but do they comprehend the impact on the service members and the loved ones who are by their side?  Do they understand what we go through physically, emotionally and mentally day in and out to keep sane for our Marines so that this country maintains its security?  My hope is that our nation does realize and sheds a tear for those innocent lives lost just by going to work one morning and for those wanting nothing more than to help the ones in trouble as well as those who fought and continue to fight for vengeance and reconcile to those lives lost.  Like cowards the terrorists like to hit people when they’re not looking.  Those civilians had no clue they were going into battle when they woke up that beautiful morning in NYC but the military sure as hell brought them a battle not too long after that; hell they asked for it. 
 
The phrase “adapt and overcome” can be used in many contexts and I think it applies here.  We’ve learned our lesson about having our guard down and have adapted and overcome in an attempt to make this country stronger and more efficient in the last 10 years.  Those who’ve tried to test us haven’t had their satisfaction and have seen the wrath of Old Glory herself.  Today think of those lives lost and who aren’t able to kiss their spouses, mothers and children ever again.  Today think of the families left behind to keep the lost ones’ memories alive and live on to care for their loved ones.  Honor and remember those who selflessly and willingly volunteered to help that fateful day and went unknowingly but selflessly running towards their death without hesitation.  And finally remember those who lost their lived since the beginning of this war and those who continue to fight with their lives for us and our freedom everyday in the sandbox. 
 
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands one nation under God indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.
 
God Bless America!  Thank God for the military and especially the Marine Corps!
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Wounded Warrior Conference…Rubin Tibor

Anthony & I attended a Wounded Warrior Project conference not too long ago and the highlight of our entire weekend by far was the speech given by Medal of Honor Recipient, 2 time POW survivor as well as Purple Heart recipient Rubin Tibor. His biography on the page was enough to make everyone who’d read it prior to him even getting up on stage stand out of respect and reverence for his service. The stories he told were of dedication in the face of discrimination and disrespect, commitment in the face of defeat and despair and love of country even when it could be looked at as if his country had forgotten about him. It was just so incredible to see such passion from a man of 85 years. He could emotionally stir a room and make them laugh hysterically within a few sentences. His daughter even spoke a little bit and just said he wants other generations to know that basically with everything that you fight for there will be more obstacles but keeping your head high and a sense of humor helped him tremendously. He wants to tell his story so that others who face injuries and adversity could maybe learn something and be inspired to know that Mr. Tibor still has the same commitment to his country now than ever before and wants to share his experiences so that others may be inspired as well. I hope very soon that we’ll have a chance to hear him speak again since he is such an exceptional gentleman.


The Army citation for the Medal of Honor reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Corporal Tibor Rubin distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism during the period from July 23, 1950, to April 20, 1953, while serving as a rifleman with Company I, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division in the Republic of Korea. While his unit was retreating to the Pusan Perimeter, Corporal Rubin was assigned to stay behind to keep open the vital Taegu-Pusan Road link used by his withdrawing unit. During the ensuing battle, overwhelming numbers of North Korean troops assaulted a hill defended solely by Corporal Rubin. He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully. Following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, the 8th Cavalry Regiment proceeded northward and advanced into North Korea. During the advance, he helped capture several hundred North Korean soldiers. On October 30, 1950, Chinese forces attacked his unit at Unsan, North Korea, during a massive nighttime assault. That night and throughout the next day, he manned a .30 caliber machine gun at the south end of the unit’s line after three previous gunners became casualties. He continued to man his machine gun until his ammunition was exhausted. His determined stand slowed the pace of the enemy advance in his sector, permitting the remnants of his unit to retreat southward. As the battle raged, Corporal Rubin was severely wounded and captured by the Chinese. Choosing to remain in the prison camp despite offers from the Chinese to return him to his native Hungary, Corporal Rubin disregarded his own personal safety and immediately began sneaking out of the camp at night in search of food for his comrades. Breaking into enemy food storehouses and gardens, he risked certain torture or death if caught. Corporal Rubin provided not only food to the starving Soldiers, but also desperately needed medical care and moral support for the sick and wounded of the POW camp. His brave, selfless efforts were directly attributed to saving the lives of as many as forty of his fellow prisoners.





So as you can see he is definitely our hero and we couldn’t thank him enough for coming out to do the seminar and share his stories with us. Complete bad ass?! I think so! This man inspired me to look into our own backyard and see what hidden gems are within our own family tree. I found quite a bit and now and going to tirelessly work on crafting another blog dedicated to our families military history and anything they have to say from the past and for the future generations to pass on their knowledge so that it is not lost through time.

this 4th of July…and last 4th of July for us…

Did you know that our Marine Corps is older than this country? It’s only older by 8 months or so but that still that says something about the good timing of the founding father of the Marine Corps. Growing up and even now people associate 4th of July with fireworks, bar-b-que’s and family reunions but where did this tradition come from?

Basically the prominent people in the free states in America had gotten pretty ticked off with the British King and wanted to let him know their intent to separate from Great Britain. They did just that by writing the declaration of independence and using many reasons and justifications for separating from the monarch even calling the King’s rule ‘a history of repeated injuries’. They defined the King as ‘a Tyrant who was unfit to be the ruler of the free people of the United States of America’. The legal separation from the monarchy occurred and went into effect when the congress voted to approve a resolution of independence on July 2, 1776. After voting on that congress then debated, wrote and revised the declaration of independence and finally approved it on July 4. What I found interesting was that John Adams thought that July 2 would be infamous and that the succeeding generations would honor the anniversary of the nations’ independence and he was right about it being an honored for years to come but he chose the wrong date. The July 2 date was not known to most Americans in 1776 since the approval for independence was a closed session of congress; everyone went by the date signed on the declaration.

From the very first anniversary of our nations independence it has been celebrated; which has included everything from thirteen gun salutes to double shots of rum for General Washington’s soldiers in 1778 and today we line streets with flags and shoot fireworks in time with patriotic songs. If not for these courageous founding fathers we would be a completely different nation. Those men risked everything they had like our military does every day in order to make a better future for generations to come. I think this holiday we all deserve a double shot of rum for each and every American who gets to celebrate this holiday just as Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and many others did so long ago!

This time last year for us Anthony was in the sandbox. My mom was visiting us in California and we decided to head down to meet the Angela & Justin at the beach where Camp Pendleton puts on their annual festivities and fireworks display. Overall it was an unusually overcast day with spurts of sun darting through a very thick cloud bank. It was too cold for the adults except Angela who is a big kid at heart.  She played all day with our girls even in that chilly Pacific Ocean.  Justin, mom and I just read, relaxed and talked through all the comotion of the day.  All in all it was an exceptionally relaxing day and we all had a great time just being together. Unexpectedly Anthony was able to call me to check in on how we were, give me a new care package list and to see how the day was going since he knew it was around a holiday. Getting that phone call as most of you know is such an adrenaline rush you just feel giddy and like a cop interrogating a witness all at the same time. I was so ecstatic he’d called and then immediately turn to the barrage of questions like “do you need anything at all? Hot cheetos, socks, hot sauce packets, ect?” He didn’t really know if he’d called at the right time frame or day but they let him call so he did. He sounded tired but he sounded content in hearing our voices from thousands of miles away. He told me of all of the weight he had lost in just a short time of being there, how the weather was and how he was getting the hang of being out in that environment very quickly. We did our normal routine of the terrible Afghanistan phone connection hang ups and after the conversation said our, “I love you’s and talk to you soon love’s…”

All of the questions and answers in the world could not have predicted what would happen only 27 days later or the next set of questions after that phone call. If I would have known then what I know now I don’t know what I would have done but you never know when that last phone call is going to be your last phone call. It’s a hard to shake thoughts of ‘what if’ from your thoughts and nightmares looking back sometimes. What if he his guardian pack wouldn’t have saved him from being shot that first time in the back? What if the smoke canister wouldn’t have shielded him from being shot the next time in the back? What if it wasn’t just his leg and the sniper wouldn’t have missed a center mass or head shot? WHY did Anthony keep getting up and didn’t just stay down the first or second times he was shot?! We just know it could have been something extremely more serious than what he’s going through now and are just so humbled knowing what could have occurred that day.
In the last year Anthony’s injury and experience has changed our lives so much! We went from a distant young married couple who knew each other but not really to very close soul mates, confidants and companions. After something so devastating you either close yourself off emotionally to others or cherish life more than ever and love in a whole new perspective and I am so very thankful that we’ve both taken the latter of the two options. This entire year has been a learning curve for the both of us. It has been a test of our strengths and weaknesses regarding his physical abilities, mental preparedness for setbacks and being humble enough to let me take care of him. He was able to let me be his advocate and fight for him but not degrade or disrespect him. We just fell in love with each other all over again by really understanding the person you knew you loved for years but may have let life wedge in between somehow. There were times and still now where I wanted to throw my hands up of the whole situation when people tried to push their way in and screw everything up that we’d built up together. It takes so much trust, love and commitment to have someone by your side through literally thick and thin and our limits were tested on more than one occasion. As with anything worthwhile being able to overcome and persevere through such life altering challenges takes time, patience and plenty of alcohol. As a small bonus for me Anthony was on heavy medication when he first got home so I didn’t have to share my wine and White Russians with him!

Learn from our almost last phone call and live this 4th of July and everyday like it is your last, cherish the little things you may overlook and be madly in love with the person you have by your side because there are many who don’t get to and will never get that chance again. Happy Independence Day!

Memorial Day

Memorial Day for most Americans meant great shopping deals, the start of summer vacation season, fireworks, traveling, warmer temperatures, the Indy 500 and pool openings. Yet think for a second how you would feel if your father or brother had died in the war and people were out enjoying their time off and never for a second stopped to understand why they are off in the first place.

Memorial Day is a sacred United States federal holiday which remembers and honors service members who’ve died while in service to their country. This date itself has been changed over the years but is now observed on the last Monday of May. Originally it honored Union and Confederate soldiers following the Civil War. Three years after the Civil War ended the head of Union veterans established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. This day was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The day of honor was extended after World War I for anyone who has died in all wars. Begun as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the civil war, by the early 20th century, Memorial Day became the occasion for more general expressions of memory, as ordinary people began visiting the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not. There are memorial services at national cemeteries all over the country for service members who’ve given the ultimate gift for our freedoms.

When I researched a little for this piece I found something I didn’t know. On every Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time a long standing tradition encourages Americans to partake in a moment of silence to remember and honor those brave Americans who have died in wars. I think this is one of those small gestures in a huge impact kind of things. Imagine if everyone at 3 p.m. would have stopped whatever they’re doing to just be silent and still for our service members and their sacrifice. It’s an excellent way to honor and show respect to those brave individuals who gave up so much for you and me.

Also if no one noticed the flag was raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remained only until noon. It was then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolves not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to rise up in their stead and continue the fight for liberty and justice for all. This also lets us keep in our minds the ones who are deployed now in harm’s way now and in the future.

For most of us with any form of military influence in our lives this day means so much more than beach days and fireworks. Our lives are saturated in patriotism daily so the majority of us on bases across the world take the time out to pause in reverence out of respect, honor and admiration. We remember those who we know who are at war in harm’s way constantly at this very second fighting for us back in the states. We remember those who’ve died in past wars and made it possible for the military men today to enlist and serve their country as they did long ago. We remember those who we know who’ve recently lost their lives in the war which make this lifestyle all the more real to us. All of these outstanding and courageous service members who gave their lives in support for this country do so willingly to protect our country’s future. This unconditional commitment to duty and country is why I love the military life; cherish my husband, our Marine family & the Marine Corps.

–I couldn’t write this without putting in here a small portion for the families. It is hard enough being a family member or loved one of a service member and having them wounded, ill or injured is even harder. Yet for those who’ve lost that second half of themselves completely is something no one can fathom or imagine unless you’ve been there. My heart aches for these wives, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, of these service members. As the days go by I hope for peace of mind and heart knowing you’ll meet again someday. For my friend who lost her Marine in the war almost a year ago I love you and can only tell you that you are a brave and courageous who has a very loving and adoring guardian angel watching over your family. Whether you know it or not you have the strength that most women cower from in times of struggle and grief. You are so loved and have such a circle of affection and support around your family. I hope you’re getting stronger every day and can trust you’re gaining knowledge, strength, support and comfort from other Gold Star wives.

response to the comments from Marine Parent Support Group…

“I don’t know if the parents can see the comment and get my response so I’ll put it on here as well…”
 
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I don’t know why these comments didnt come to my BB so I’m kind of sad.

Thank you so much for allowing us to come and speak at your meeting. We had so much fun and never knew it would be such an eye opening and heartwarming experience that would push us to try and help out more. I’m amazed and inspired by all of the family members everyday but even more so by the parents for being so brave and courageous despite the distance from their Marine’s base and still being involved in one way or another.

These FRO’s jobs are specifically to inform you and have you ‘ready’ for deployments, trainings and anything that should come your way. They are your ‘chain of command’ when you need something answered and your Marine isn’t around. They regularly have events such as get togethers, blogs, Facebook pages for the battalion, Seminars, classes, ect that don’t necessarily need to be attended. Alot of them are geared towards just wives but you are encouraged to attend or even volunteer to help out. So please ask for notes from meetings, information to be passed via secured email, hotline, facebook page, ect. The more you know ahead of time whether or not you need it in the future will establish that relationship and bond early on. If you don’t need it and move on to another FRO in another battalion you can take that invaluable knowledge and information as to how you like to be included, informed and involved.

*Also please be aware that some of these battalions are trying more and more to include parents so inquire as to whether there is a “Parent Advisor” available. He/She is there specifically for parents and corresponds via Facebook, Email and phone to organize get togethers before homecomings, coffee meetings, informative notes, ect.

Stay strong ladies and we are always here for you if there are ever any questions, comments, or concerns. Nothing is ever too silly, simple, or small to not know about when it comes to your Marine and the Marine Corps so advocate for them and your family.

We do plan on coming back to speak to your group again and to the MarineParents group that Angie is associated with. We loved speaking to you all and hope to start a group here for the parents in Southern California area as well as in our hometown of Houston, Texas.

Marine family support group…amazing folks!

We went on a trip to Illinois this past week. My cousin was supposed to graduate from the Navy’s only Boot camp in Great Lakes but sadly was injured. We ended up just seeing the sights and sounds of Chicago which was about 40 miles away. We weren’t prepared for the cold. Personally I thought it was windy like Oceanside is breezy. There is always a constant breeze here because of the proximity to the ocean well let me forewarn whoever makes any plans to ever visit there. Bring scarves, thick jackets and gloves! This time of year there was not freezing but felt like it due to the tropical storm like winds! When they say Chicago is the “Windy City” the words are not exaggerated by no way shape or form! 
 
Thankfully we’ll get to go back because this trip was all about getting lost. Blackberries and Droid phones were useless against the countless construction projects and detours which lead us to nowhere most of the time. We wandered the cityscape which by the way is the size of 4 Houston skylines. It is long and full of one ways and the whole reason I could never find my Gino’s Deep Dish Pizza!! Man versus Food places next time guys so be ready!
 
On our first night in Great Lakes we went to dinner with the Kleinfelders’ who are parents of a Marine who went to Afghanistan with Anthony. They volunteer with many supportive organizations that support the Marine Corps & deployed troops overseas. Angie invited us to speak at a Marine Parents support group to talk about Wounded Warrior & the Family Readiness Program. We didn’t really know what to expect since its family members and we’ve talked to more Marines and wives than moms, dads and family members.  There was supposed to be a recruiter there just going over uniforms but he couldn’t make it so we were more than happy to step up.There were no words to describe our experience though other than absolutely inspirational and motivating.
 
What we witnessed is amazingly resilient families from all over the ‘time in’ & MOS spectrum of the Marine Corps get together, talk out issues and lean on each other for support mentally and emotionally. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it said and then said it on here that it takes a village to help each other come to terms with this life and not just survive it but thrive in it. These families have proved that logic absolutely right and have inspired Anthony and I to seek more of these groups out. We’d love to help wherever possible and these outstanding parents just wanted to know more about the Marine Corps. We can see now that there is that need for more involvement and information now more than ever. Whether it’s knowledge of the Marine Corps history, bootcamp information, uniform names, rank structure, MOS’ or even different programs that help parents & family members the need is there and should not be set aside or overlooked. We got to speak with girlfriends, sisters, soon to be and step fathers, mothers and even poolees. Families from airwing and marsoc positions to sawgunner and grunt units it was just heartwarming. We were told how appreciated we were for coming out and speaking but we got so much more from just saying a few words than this group of family members will ever know. Angie is so great for exposing us to something new and absolutely motivating. Information and knowledge about this lifestyle is the key to being able to take things as they come and be stronger throughout what comes our way. Poor poolees & first time families who were there; we apologized for maybe talking over their heads & talking about not so fun things but hopefully they see the reality of the situation yet also know that there are strength in numbers. Hopefully when we go back again we’ll get to go to another meeting and maybe talk about the bootcamp experience, care packages or deployments in general. LOL!
 
 
For those of you who were at that meeting let me give you some more information that not everyone may have heard or didn’t get a chance to ask me about. 
 
It is easy for a Marine to say that he’s prepared his family fully for deployments & everything that comes along with this lifestyle and sometimes they believe that. There is always something to learn though regardless of whether you’ve been around military since birth or just this past year. In all actuality I believe the Family Readiness Program should take a more active approach to introducing families who aren’t close to a base like most wives are to all aspects of how this lifestyle will impact them & their Marine for years to come.

 

1) I encourage all of you once again to find your FRO and contact information for your company Family Readiness Assistants (FRA’s)
2) Check your units Facebook page, unit website, twitter page regularly
3) If the unit is deployed call the hotline for information that the unit website may not have (or even try calling the unit their attached to); google alert information to be sent to your email or smart phone the RCT & unit name so you’ll have the latest information available not always ‘officially released or confirmed’ from the unit
4) Email your FRA regularly to keep that bond there for either the homecoming or even the next workup and deployment
5) If you haven’t already look into taking the L.I.N.K.S. for Parents online course it has invaluable information that can and will be used throughout the entire course of your Marine’s career
6) Read the Marine Corps Times regularly & keep in tune even if its sporadically with Marine Parents & the other organizations which provide forums and chat rooms
 
 
How can Family Readiness Program help me?
 
The Family Readiness Program assists the families of deployed Marines and Sailors in several ways, including:
1. Keeping you informed. While the units are deployed, the Family Readiness Program is the means by which families receive all official messages from the command. Heard that the MEU is leaving early? Coming home late? Somewhere dangerous? If you want the true scoop, go to your Family Readiness Assistant as they will have the latest information direct from the unit and can help dispel any rumors. This way, you don’t have to rely on the lieutenant’s brother’s girlfriend’s nephew for information on the MEU.
2. Providing the voice of experience. Family Readiness Assistants know the ins and outs of military living, and possess the knowledge to help other families through the difficult deployment period. In addition to their life experiences, they receive extensive training on the programs and services available to military family and are eager to pass this information on.
3. Information Referral Services. Looking for a way to get involved with other spouses with children or similar interests? Your designated Family Readiness Assistant will gladly refer you to the endless resources that are made available to military families.
4. Family Readiness. The Family Readiness Program’s number one mission is to enhance family readiness for the deployment, and does so by creating programs, readiness packets, and social events designed to make the separation caused by deployment a little easier to bear.
5. A support system. Remember, you are not alone. As military families, we are part of a unique community and in a profound way – we are a family unto ourselves. Any problem you may be facing has no doubt been met and overcome by another family member and the Family Readiness Program provides the means for their experience to benefit you.
 

Veteran’s Day is more than a day off

Throughout these few days every year of remembrance, honor and celebration I personally wanted to take the time to say how humbled I am to have known, know, have met and work with so many brave, courageous and heroic current and prior service members. There are so many countless others out there who are just as outstanding as these service members who’ve left such a positive impression in our lives.
Wherever they are now I want to say thank you for all you have done, sacrificed and will continue to sacrifice for our country. Anthony & I go to Balboa Naval Hospital quite a bit for his appointments and see the results of slight and life altering injuries to these selfless Americans and almost everyone we see has a smile on their face. All politics, statistics and bull crap aside, these men and women signed up, trained, went to all of the wars and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq for the greater cause and the bigger picture; for you, me, our kids and our kids’ kids.
The many people and sometimes perfect strangers who help people cope with the initial shock of the injury, transport the injured to the states, and are available throughout the recovery and rehab; are all angels on earth. Giving back to those in need is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. I will personally never forget any of our earthly angels and will teach my girls to give back to others and go my entire life donating to and volunteering for those organizations out there to help not only the service member but their families during a crisis. Whether it is sending care packages, doing a Hike for Heroes, visiting the injured in the hospitals, going to a memorial, helping with the Wounded Warrior project or otherwise the ideas are endless but help is needed in ways too great to put into words.
So enjoy the parades, football games and days off during this time. Yet please educate the not knowing, teens and kids why they get a day off of school and those who’ve come before them to make it safer for them to live their lives. Age appropriate of course explain why the towns, streets, houses, and cemeteries are proudly waving & displaying American flags, red, white and blue wreaths.  Explain why veterans are in their Sunday best for ceremonies and parades. These events are for our Veterans and their families. Have a great weekend and God Bless the USA!!