The Return of Cincinnatus

Life is but for Faith, Family, and Freedom

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Why We Remember: #MemorialDay

Drip. Drip. Drip.

As I stood in the rain on an afternoon in April, my thoughts were on how cold my rain-soaked uniform felt on my weary body as rain drops dripped from my headgear. We had been standing at attention for what seemed like forever.

Usually during these formations, there is a lot of under breath talking and joking. After all, most of the time, we are in these formations for a dog and pony show. This time was different. That morning, when volunteers were asked for to go to an honorable transfer of three of Ohio’s fallen, most of us volunteered. Sure, it would be cold and rainy…but these were our fellow Soldiers and Ohioans. So, in the reverent silence, as we awaited the C-130 carrying our fallen comrades, my mind began to wander to an April seven years ago.

I was stationed in Iraq along the Iranian border. Caldwell actually wasn’t too bad of a place to reside for a year. Our sleeping quarters were in a building with the officers and other members of headquarters and our Area of Operations (AO) was relatively quiet compared to what our brethren were experiencing out west. It was my off day. April 2005. All of a sudden, one Captain told me that there was a firefight going on, and our troops were ambushed. The information was incomplete, but it was enough to get me to get dressed and head in. We knew there were injuries, but we did NOT know how severe or how many. As our Squadron S1 accountability person, it was my job to find out and report to Regiment. After a couple of hours, we found out that they were in a Baghdad hospital and some were serious…there was a death, but the question was who and was it one of ours. We closed down the phone banks and internet service until we could find out. And as I finally got through to the hospital…they were rattling off those injured, I wrote them down… and then SSG Stephen Kennedy…Kilo-India-Alpha. My heart stopped. We had heard a rumor that SSG Kennedy had been killed, but this was final.

As we lined up as a Squadron to pay our final respects by saluting the infamous rifle, boots, and Kevlar it was solemn. A wave of regret over most of us. We now had a debt we couldn’t ever repay. We now had to live as to not taint what he had done for us. RIP SFC Kennedy April 4, 2005 Turki Village, Iraq.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

As the unmistakable hum of the C130 nears where we are, the families are now ushered out joined by the top commanders and the governor. The worse part is seeing the kids…I had resolved not to shed a tear, but that breaks me. My mind flashes back to June 2004 when I said good-bye to my 14 month old. I remember turning to Mandi and saying, “she has no clue what is about to happen.” Neither do those kids. My heart breaks as tears join the endless parade of droplets down my uniform.

As the caskets go by, we salute. It is the ultimate respect. It is a respect that is earned, not by deed, but by position. Regardless of rank, these Soldiers have achieved such a position. They have given us their last full measure of devotion. They have earned everything we have to give.

1…2…3…heroes loaded by an Honor Guard whose performance is so professional, so dignified. As the last hearse pulls away, and as we march back to the air hangar, that feeling comes back.

They gave their service.

They gave their optimism.

They gave their lives.

They gave everything to support and defend this nation built on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

John Adams said, “It will cost us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet through all the gloom, I can see rays of ravishing light and glory.  I can see that the end is worth more than all the means.”

What do we owe them for these “rays of ravishing light and glory” burning bright in our hearts?

We owe our service.  We owe our optimism.  We owe our lives.

And that is why we must remember.

RIP CPT Nick Rozanski, MSG Jeffrey Rieck, and MSG Shawn Hannon

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Veteran’s Day Thoughts

1. Stop comparing the sacrifices of our men and women in the military or what the citizens of New York went through to New Orleans and Katrina.

– I was in Iraq when Katrina hit, I watched in horror as my fellow Americans were failed by a government that THEY had put their faith and trust in. The local and state governements failed them miserably. But the tragedy was a misplaced faith and trust in some entity providing everything. Hurricanes are tragic, as are tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. But they do not compare to being attacked by an enemy or facing death in a country far from home for 300 million strangers just because that is what you do. You want to create a Katrina victims memorial day? Go ahead. I would love the extra day off of work, as I am sure the post office and banks would. But, don’t water down the sacrifice of veterans. It is bad enough that the media wants to keep talking about all of our “mental health” as if every Veteran is one step short of an asylum. Which leads me to…

2. Veteran’s Day is NOT the time to talk about Mental Health

I am tired of people talking about the mental health of veterans and how we have been failed. Maybe we have, but the media is too intent on making out every veteran to part loon because they served in a combat zone. Or, are about to be deployed to a combat zone. Have we really got that soft as a society? Or is PTSD just a way to marginalize our veterans. I think it is becoming a margnialization. Pretty soon, we will say that someone is unfit to serve in office because they are a veteran and we al know what that means…cuckoo. Even IF PTSD is a huge issue, the media treats it as a gleeful way to market against the armed forces. “Support our Veterans” lets build more asylums. You want to support our veterans…

3. Supporting the Current VA Health System IS NOT Supporting Our Veterans

You want to pass national healthcare…we already have it. It is the VA healthcare system, where Doctors are underpaid and do it as a “service to their country,” where 90 year old Veterans have to ride a bus that a volunteer is driving to get to the local VA hospital to get surgery when they live two blocks from a hospital that pound for pound provides better care, where bureacracy lives and some guy in a cubicle decides whether you even get access or not.

Solution, give these veterans access to Tricare for Life, an insurance option that would allow them to go where ever they want or need to go. I don’t believe one DANGED Dem who says we can choose our own doctors under their plan. Why? If you won’t give a MOH winner the ability to choose HIS own Dr., you expect me to believe that you will let me or my neighbor choose? And if you will…doesn’t that speak to your priorities…

Thank a veteran, besides me, I did what alot of better people did. Answer a call. Now, I am fighting that we don’t hang up on those others who did.

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