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Lietta Ruger

Lietta Ruger is a social worker by vocation; an Episcopal lay preacher, step-daughter of life-time longshoreman in Puget Sound, has been a labor union activist, and is now an activist mother and grandmother.
She has two Iraq veterans in her family facing multiple tours of duty in Iraq, was herself a young military wife to husband deployed to Vietnam, and was raised in the military life in an Air Force family where home was numerous military installations abroad and in U.S.
Lietta, chapter coordinator for Washington state Military Families Speak Out speaks with experience, conviction and authority about the role and conflicts a military family faces in supporting its loved ones who serve.

Winter Cabin

oil painting by Lietta Ruger, Bay Center, Washington
See Lietta's gallery for more of her oil paintings

Hi, my name is Lietta (pronounced Lee-etta). While I have a rich life history that makes my world-views what they are today, at this time in our current history with the war in Iraq, I pull heavily on my focus as a military family with 2 loved ones deployed in Iraq. Both served already in an extended 15 month tour in Iraq 2003 - 2004, and are now under orders for a re-deployment (2nd deployment) to Iraq.

Having been raised as a military brat, I come from a history of being a child inside a military culture. As a young wife to a husband drafted to Vietnam, I am marked by that era in our history as is the family we raised in the following years.

Now I find that I am a mother-in-law and aunt to 2 new Iraq veterans who will be serving yet again in the carnage and destruction that marks the war in Iraq. My history as a professional social worker has amply taught me to assimilate a variety of world-views. Yet it did not prepare me well enough for the divisiveness we see in our popular culture now in our country.

I struggle to grasp, comprehend and understand it and am not sure I am doing such a good job in "getting it" yet. Well, I do "get it", of course. I understand the phenomenom that has set citizen against citizen and civilian against civilian all while the troops have devolved into a culture of their own as they try to cope with the discrepancies that have become hallmark characteristics in the war in Iraq.

I did not live my entire adult life, raise my children in accordance with the rules of the culture, only to find those rules of accord have been turned upside down. As a mother and grandmother, I cannot turn away from the inheritance of the richness of this country as our children's rightful legacy - nor can I be idle in watching it slip away to be replaced by whatever is morphing into our country's new identity.

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Reflections from the bus; 

Bring Them Home Now Tour,

participant; Lietta Ruger, Military Families Speak Out,

Opportunities that might never have crossed my path were afforded by the Bring Them Home Now Tour, Crawford, TX to Washington DC, September 2005. I was fortunate to be included and participated in the central route, through the central Eastern states. There are two stories that emerged from my experiences. The story of interaction with thousands of people at each of our city stops is amazing in itself. The story, though, of being a part of the birthing of our 4 young panel speakers is yet another story. And of course, there is yet another story; the behind-the-scenes story of 6-12 adults travelling on an RV for almost 4 weeks on a whirlwind schedule of stops in cities across the states. Amusing anectodal storylines developed in our travels together and that's another time, another story.
In my 54 years, I've had a lot of life experiences, yet this historical adventure of time spent in Crawford, Texas supporting Cindy Sheehan's stand and the 4 weeks of the Bring Them Home Now Tour will be at the top of my list as both memorable and significant. When I went to Crawford in that first week of Camp Casey, I left my home state of Washington feeling an almost hopeless despair that America, generally speaking, had given up on and abandoned our deployed troops. At the very least, I felt, as a military family with deployed loved ones, I could stand with Cindy, a mother whose son was killed in Iraq. Expecting little to come of this effort, it was nothing short of astounding to experience what grew out of Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. I learned that America does care and enough to discomfort themselves to stand up for their convictions. I learned this over and over again on the Bring Them Home Now tour and yet again at the rally in Washington DC on Sept 24 where an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 people gathered and marched based on their convictions to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.
Having no guide book to how the tour would emerge, I reconciled with myself that my own efforts would stand as a historical testament on behalf of our adult children and our 12 grandchildren that their mother and grandmother did choose to act regarding the issue of the war in Iraq. At best, I could hope my own example would serve in some measure as a mentoring or model for them as they inherit this America and the ongoing war in Iraq and Middle East. Yet my own are not the only young who will inherit what has been unleashed and it was of interest to me to see up close how Americans in other states, largely considered of the conservative bent, were feeling and reacting to the issue of the war in Iraq. What I learned is that it is imperative not to give up on our young and that they are indeed the leaders of tomorrow and that they can be impassioned to act in their own best interest, given the opportunity to be heard.
So it is with the 4 young participants on our central bus tour, ages in early to late 20s and early 30s. By tours end these 4 are polished and powerful speakers with a passionate message of their own experiences related to war, particularly the war in Iraq. They will carry their own message to the young in this country and reach far and beyond where some of us elders are unable to connect. It is fitting that the young will be the messengers to the young in our country who are the avenue for change in the coming years. It is fitting, therefore, that I name with pride our 4 young messengers who have learned from our tour the power of their own experiences and message. Pay attention to these names, and hear their message. Hart Viges, an Iraq veteran and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Kallisa Stanley, a young military wife and member of Military Families Speak Out. Beatriz Saldivar, aunt to nephew killed in Iraq on his second tour and herself a member of Gold Star Families for Peace and Military Families Speak Out. Chris Snively, a veteran and member of Veterans for Peace.
These four already had a message when they began the tour, and over the course of the weeks, as they participated with us who are older and part of the panel speakers, these young ones engaged our audiences beyond what we elders could have done less their efforts. It was the tribal elder model, where our elder experience was valued by them, yet it was their own vitality, youth and passion that was sent forth on the mission to engage the young of this country and astound the elders of this country. Surely, it was for me, a likeness to laboring to give birth to the babes who are the new light of our America. It is difficult to ignore their message, their experience, their courage, their determination, their compassion, their deep concern and their optimistic hope that they can make a difference in speaking and sharing their message. It is difficult to dismiss their message as being a throwback to an earlier time in our history. Their message is a message for today and for today's America. It is a powerful message and I am deeply honored and priviledged to have been a part of their lives for the 4 weeks on tour. I expect America will be hearing from them often as it is unlikely they can return home and easily forget their own experiences while on tour.
The reception our central tour received as we stopped in city after city to participate in planned rallies, town-hall meetings, events and vigils was warm, embracing and heartening. My assessment would be that ordinary citizens where ever we stopped were hungry for information and eager to hear our own experiences as a military community. I'm mindful of the words of one woman where we stopped in Ohio, who said they don't get much opportunity in their community to have legitimate discussions about the war in Iraq and sometimes don't even know how to frame the questions or the enter the discussion. I asked her to say more and she explained that the rhetorical 'support the troops by not challenging the President' took precedence over generating further authentic discussion. She further pointed out that our example as panelists on the tour, served to help them not only ask the questions, but also bolstered their courage and determination to have the discussion despite oppositional rhetoric intended to shut down discussion. I took her comments to heart as we continued the tour, recognizing that we were serving a function above and beyond what even we were aware of as we shared our experiences, stories and message.
I'm mindful too of our experience of two Marine Moms with deployed sons in the Lima unit which experienced 22 killed in August, 1/3rd of that Marine unit killed. They shared the usual concerns of keeping their silence on behalf of feared repercussions to their deployed sons if they did speak out. Most all our military families have this concern and fear and it can be a very real consequence to our active and deployed loved ones. They followed along with our tour through the rest of Ohio, and were resolved to speak out in their own communities. By the next stop, one of the Marine Moms spoke on our panel, and before we left Ohio, had sent along her own written article speaking out on her experience which has been published online. I'm fairly positive, we left these two Marine Moms feeling more empowered to act in their and their loved ones own best interest than before we arrived. And that is what we found true throughout our tour. People felt more empowered to not only speak out, but to act and in action, often times, the feelings of helplessness in the face of great odds begins to dissipate. Our ongoing message at all of our stops was to thank the people who turned out as the real power lies with the people and to encourage them take an action today and tomorrow that they didn't take yesterday to end the war and bring out troops home, now. It was a well-received encouragement, I think, gauging by reactions of the people we encountered.
There are far too many anectodal stories of our experiences on the tour to share in a short missive, yet each and every one is an important part of the larger story. What is the larger story? For me, it is that after 2 + years of 24/7 attention to bringing our troops home and feeling an almost utter despair that America, Congress and this Commander-in-Chief has abandoned our troops, I am pleased to know how wrong I was to have arrived at the conclusion. A conclusion, in great part formed, by the absence of accurate or adequate media reporting and by the deliberate efforts of this Administration to put forth an alternative storyline masking the harsh truths of the war in Iraq. Ordinary American citizens across this nation DO care, and care enough to ask and act and are stepping up to the plate to honor their requirement to have a civilian duty in time of war which is to challenge the Commander-in-Chief always on the necessity, validity and value of sending troops into combat and war. This is more especially true when such a war is waged on foreign soil and the origin reasons for invasion or pre-emptive war are at best speculative and in the case of Iraq shown to be outright deception on the part of this Administration.
I believe our Bring Them Home Now Tour did have a large impact in the growth of the grass-roots level movement as was demonstrated by the numbers who turned out for the rally in Washington DC on Sept 24, 2005. Yet that rally was only a beginning, I do believe. I do not think America will go quietly into the night again. I am proud of our four coalitons, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace and Veterans for Peace and proud to have been a part of carrying our collective military community voice with our singular message 'support the troops, bring them home now, and take care of them when they get home'. In the two months that have passed since that beginning vigil in Crawford, Texas, I do not believe there has been an adequate defined answer to the original question that was posited 'what is the noble cause?'
As we visited with Congressional aides, Legislators and Congress people at our every stop and blitzed Congress when we got to Washington DC, we did ask the hard questions of each of them. Despite efforts by some to blow us off, my own evaluation, is that for the most part we were listened to and heard. That in itself is a small measure of accomplishment, but is hardly enough. Essentially the challenge to Congress is that the time for sitting on the fence has ended, and as one of our internal slogans on our bus was 'you're either on the bus or you're not' modelled after the President's own message of you're either for or against; for Congress it is time to do their own Congressional duty on behalf of their representation of citizens of this America and on behalf of the deployed troops and step up to the plate regarding the issue of the war in Iraq.
There is a clearly defined mission for our deployed troops, and it has yet to be defined. In the absence of a clearly defined mission, our troops then have no reason to be deployed. Staying the course is not a clearly defined mission. Fighting them there so we don't have to fight them there is not a clearly defined mission. Waiting for the training of the Iraqi military so they can take over their own security is questionable when it takes approximately 6 weeks to 4 months to train a recruit fresh out of high school in America to be deployed to combat in Iraq. There has been considerably longer period of time to train an Iraqi military than is permitted for training our own young American troops. Fighting terrorism is not a clearly defined mission as the definition of terrorism is far too broad and non-specific in it's definitions. Rebuilding Iraq because our invasion destroyed the infrastructure is not a clearly defined mission for combat troops; rather begs quite the opposite in international and political resolution instead of military resolution.
Most of these are the reasons we heard from the Congressionals we visited. We are hopeful that our own heartfelt and passionate messages served to show these same Congressionals that the arguments for remaining in Iraq are weak.

And speaking for myself only, my own last message in our visits was all the way out of Iraq now, anything else is a strategy of delay and placating the public and itself a non-plan serving to continue the war in Iraq. Asking for a reasonable reaction from unreasonable Administration and expecting a reasonable reaction is unreasonable. I also offered up a few facts for consideration;
1) The current mass marketing campaign by high profile marketers to target parents of children at elementary school level for recruitment into the military points to a decade or longer effort of war in Iraq and Middle East
2) As 341,000 troops have served two or more tours in Iraq, it is apparant by simple math that there are not enough troops to do the undefined mission for which they were sent. With the reported 150,000 standing troops, the remarkable incidence of forced retention via stop loss, extended tours, repeat tours for Active, Guard and Reserve troops demonstrates an involuntary military and an under-the-radar use of a draft of forced conscription.
3) America is losing a battalion of troops a month, killed and wounded, according to Senator Jack Reed in the Senate Armed Forces Committee Report in June 2003. A battalion size is approximately 800 troops.
4) One million children in America have a deployed parent.
5) The estimated number of 23,533 Iraq and Afghan veterans requiring VA care has been revised upwards by 103,000 additional Iraq and Afghan veterans needing VA care. That would total 126,533 Iraq and Afghan returning vets requiring VA services in addition to the veterans of previous wars. At this time we know VA is seriously underfunded.
6) The triangle model of accountability, responsibility, trust of the troops to the Commander-in-Chief and citizens, the Commander-in-Chief to the citizens and troops, and the citizens to the troops and Commander-in-Chief demands more of our civilian citizens and Congress in holding the Commander-in-Chief accountable and responsible on behalf of our deployed troops.
Overall, my own assessment is that Congress is reacheable, and more has to be done by ordinary citizens everywhere to reach their Representatives and Senators and express their own experiences, concerns, and well-stated arguments for why it is necessary to bring the troops home now and expect Congress to act accordingly. As I travelled through the offices and halls of Congress in my shorts and tank top, instead of the impressive blazer, shirt and slacks I planned to wear,
I can say simply the illusion of power is an illusion. Our message asks for people in positions of power to return to decency and do the right thing, that partisan politics be set aside and an expectation that higher ground is possible beyond political gaming.
Lastly, given what I believe is the success of our tour, I'm among those who believe the tour should continue to the Western states, to Canada, and abroad. Where's the bus, I want to get on the bus again. What about you, do you want to get on the bus, too, figuratively speaking?

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A week at Camp Casey, Crawford, Texas; reflections

I'm back home now, after spending a week at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. This is first day I've been able to get back to computer. In my 54 years, I have to count this week as one of the most amazing in my cumulative life experiences. I wanted my experience to be as authentic as possible, and I did sleep in a tent in a ditch alongside the road at the encampment site, now called Camp Casey; that triangular piece of land on Prairie Chapel Road. As I catch up with what's already online about Cindy Sheehan, it looks like there has been a good effort to record the day by day events.

I flew down from Washington state to Dallas, Texas on Tuesday, August 9, and arrived at the Crawford Peace House on Wednesday morning, while the Peace House was still in it's pre-Camp Casey state. By the end of the day people from various states were starting to arrive. By the next day the Crawford Peace House was full with swarms of people coming from so many states across the nation, and the rest of the week was a non-stop flurry of activities.

I got to witness first hand people of all stripes stepping up to volunteer whatever help they could give, be it donations of supplies, food, water, camp necessities, money and absolutely amazing volunteer services as the needs for Camp Casey grew hourly. The transformation of the Crawford Peace House demonstrated to me the immeasureability of what was going on at Camp Casey.

One of the things that every media person asked me as I did interview after interview, was 'how many people are there'. My answer; at any given time of the day and counting the press? What is happening here is not measured by the number of people at the encampment, it is measured in the spontaneous outpouring of support from people across the cities and states in this nation.

It doesn't matter if there are 30 people or hundreds at the encampment, it doesn't begin to be a measure of the support America is giving to Cindy Sheehan as she takes her stand to ask the President .... why? It is a spontaneous and organic growth that was not organized prior to the event and the support that is pouring in comes from the heart of Americans across our nation and countries outside our nation. How can you find a measure for that beyond counting heads for who is at the encampment site?

I say to media, you must find a different measure, the head count doesn't begin to express what is emerging with the support coming forth for Cindy and Camp Casey, and Americans from across the states are converging on this movement to express their own hearts.

People from other countries are reaching out to support what is symbolized in Cindy's action. Listen to the rythmn, it isn't measured in talking points on either side.

This is America pouring out it's heart to show they do care, and care deeply and transcends anything that resembles a rally, demonstration, protest or whatever other words used to describe a gathering with a pre-organized agenda. Cindy stood as one American citizen, and the consciousness of America reaches out in support of her as America tries to reclaim it's own soul.

It doesn't take thousands, it takes each one of us, one by one by one standing on principle and integrity. I found hope this week, hope in America, hope in my fellow citizens, hope for our humanity that goes above and beyond partisan politics.

So many different things struck chords in me and I will be writing on them in the forthcoming days, but I cannot begin to measure the number of people I met who made sure to tell me they were from Texas and came out to show support for the woman, Cindy Sheehan, as a mother of a soldier son killed in action in Iraq and asking the question so many of us ask 'why, why Iraq?'

Indeed the Yellow Rose of Texas was manifest among the hundreds and hundreds of Texans who came to help at Camp Casey and I want to call attention to some very Special Yellow Roses of Texas.

The Biggest Yellow Rose goes to Sgt. John Kolinex, McLennan County Sheriff's Dept. He was a favorite amongst many of us there in that first week. He patiently explainedover and over again to each and every one that asked when we had a new change of rules why and the reasons behind it. He did his job, just as our soldiers do, and he did it with dignity, kept order, and was incredible in how he managed the unfolding events of that first week in Camp Casey on Prairie Chapel Road. Sgt Kolinex; you done your county proud, sir and you done your country proud.

There are a couple of other Yellow Roses of Texas I want to acknowledge; Tim Origer, Veterans for Peace, Texas. He lost his leg in Vietnam and has a prosthetic leg now, and I saw him stand on his two legs in the heat of the sun for the full length of a day helping to direct traffic and make sure the vehicles kept moving to their designated spots, on both sides of the road. This was late into the week when 'guests and visitors' came out to Camp Casey to share a different message and were designated to one side of the road while we already had our designation on the other side of the road.

And a most special thanks to Chito Greer, Veterans for Peace, Texas, who brought me my much needed drugs each morning; benadryl. I was bitten up and down both legs by fire ants the first day I was there and had a Texas size allergic reaction so that both feet and legs were swollen up to monstrous size. I think I've got a much deeper appreciation now for our slugs up here in the Pacific Northwest who eat plants, not people!

There is more to tell, and so many more people to acknowledge and recognize but mostly my reaction to being eyes on the ground as it was unfolding is Thank You America and keep on coming down to Crawford to show support for what Cindy Sheehan has mobilized in the hearts of people everywhere. And if you can't come to Texas, then you can find a Camp Casey somewhere in your own state, as by now at weeks end there are Camp Caseys springing up everywhere. I'm proud to say my home, Washington state, was already on board with Camp Casey by Monday, 2 days after Cindy sat down at her camp.

It is time to stand front and center with Cindy and ask 'why Iraq' and bring our troops home, now. It is time to listen to the military community voice that, as Cindy says, 'has skin in the game'.

more later,

Lietta Ruger, proud mother of 2 Iraq Veterans, proud member of Military Families Speak Out and proud of being part of Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas.

From Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog
Creators of the Pacific Northwest Portal.

What is PNP?
“It's nice to see some strong focus on more local politics like this. The local level is the key to retaking a liberal majority in this country…It's all about building local community.”

Lietta Ruger joins Cindy Sheehan in Crawford

Friday, August 12, 2005
The Pacific Northwest's own Lietta Ruger, a strong supporter of NPI and Pacific Northwest Portal, has gone to Texas to join Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside Bush's ranch in Texas:
The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier who started a quiet roadside peace vigil near President Bush's ranch last weekend is drawing supporters from across the nation, including the Pacific Northwest.


Dozens of people have joined her in Crawford, Texas, while others have sent flowers and food. One activist called her "the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement."

Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., says she was surprised at the response.

"Before my son was killed, I used to think that one person could not make a difference," she said Wednesday under a tent where she has slept since Saturday. "But one person that is surrounded and supported by millions of people can be heard."

Lietta Ruger is one of those supporters. The mother from Bay Center near Longview arrived Wednesday in Crawford.

"We're all Cindy Sheehan," said Ruger, who plans to stay at the makeshift encampment until Monday.

"When I left Seattle yesterday my 5-year-old grandson said, 'Grandma's going to talk to the president so Daddy doesn't have to go away again,' " said Ruger, whose son-in-law and nephew have already served in Iraq.

About 30 people gathered at the Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle Wednesday evening to support Sheehan's demand to speak with Bush and to protest the war.

"This mother has called (Bush) on (his reason for going to war) and we need to support her," said protest organizer Judith Shattuck, a member of Progressive Democrats for America.
NPI stands with Lietta Ruger, Cindy Sheehan, and all those in Crawford demanding answers about the war in Iraq. The chickenhawks and the 101st Fighting Keyboardists are already trying to bring Cindy down with smears and hate-filled attacks. They're calling her a liar.

We have a message for them: You are in the minority. Support for the war in Iraq is vanishing. We will not give one inch. We want answers, we want accountability, we want this unjustified, immoral war to end.

He's going back to Iraq, 2nd Deployment + Stop Loss 

Saturday, January 22, 2005
I had hoped to retire this blog, it served it's function at the time, yet, I have not lived easily knowing that the potential for another Bush administration was a possibility. While with every fiber of my soul and being, I worked against such an outcome, knowing it would mean more war in Iraq, more war in other countries, it looks like we have four more years with Bush at the controls. My kids, who already served in Iraq, will be sent again, I feared, and this blog has not yet seen it's end time.

I left it, rather unattended, to serve as a placemark and prayed never have to pick it up again and resume entries into this blog. It is a tragedy that I have to keep it going, as my loved ones are being sent back to Iraq for 2nd deployments.

My dear son-in-law, the mainstay and backbone of his family which are my daughter and their three children, my grandchildren....he's just received orders for redeployment to Iraq. On top of a second deployment, he also now is under Stop Loss orders. He was due to have his enlistment completed in 2005 and now with Stop Loss he would not be able to get out of military as scheduled. He has already served in Iraq 2003-2004 in a 15 month tour, 1st Armored, and was caught up as was all of the 1st Armored troops in a last-minute extension in April 04, at exactly the time he was scheduled to come home. NOT. Another three months in Iraq.

His cousin, my nephew, is awaiting orders now and is himself a husband, a father and they are expecting their second child. He also served 15 months in Iraq, 1st Armored, and was extended at same time as my son-in-law. He has served previously in Bosnia. He is awaitng his own orders for a 2nd tour in Iraq. Another tour in Iraq, and this is more war and combat than a young person should have to see or bear.

Both will do their mission, and I do not speak for them but I do speak up on their behalf and not necessarily with their permission yet they do know I have been doing all in my limited power as a military family, a mother, a civilian, to do what I can to halt the carnage and destruction that are the features of collateral damage, words used so impersonally to describe the stink and death of war.

What is appalling besides everything about how the troops needs are under-met, and how badly they are being exploited is that his choices now look like this:

Re-enlist in March. No, you don't want to re-enlist? Well you already have orders to redeploy to Iraq and you are already under Stop Loss orders so you won't be getting out any time soon anyway. If you don't re-enlist, you'll be serving anyway and in Iraq, while the rest of the guys get their bonus for re-enlisting, you won't be getting yours and will be serving beside them anyway.

What limited choices are these and does our public know that the all-volunteer military has fallen through trickery and deceit, misleading to even false information into an entrapment. They can't get out! That, friends, is a long way from "volunteer".

The troops cannot be recycled over and over again to Iraq without grotesque expense to themselves and their families which seemingly, if I am to judge by the civilian response in our country, is just fine so long as no one else in our country but the military families and troops have to bear the burden. That argument, "well they volunteered didn't they" doesn't carry water anymore. It may have started out that way, but so much has changed along the course, that this is a long, long way from anything resembling an "all volunteer military".

Not unlike the Iraqis themselves, our troops are trapped in a war-torn country in a war ordered and sustained by our own government and seemingly a majority of this country's citizens. Please, please tell me, WHAT is the reason now?

Having lived through almost 3 years of lies and deception spouted by the administration, I have endured listening to the citizens catch hold of propaganda and repeat it ad-nauseum with little thought to the words they are gleefully repeating . I have seen our mainstream news turn itself away from it's origins as news reporting to become more of the propaganda, lies, deception and treachery which keeps our kids (and our old men hauled back into active duty) in Iraq. But one by one the lies have come to light, yet our citizenry champions the newest and latest excuses for why we are there and why the troops must stay.

I had hoped to retire this blog when my son-in-law and nephew came home from Iraq. I built it only to give them a record to look at when they returned. Now they will be returning to Iraq in second deployments, in large part, thanks to the deliberate ignorance and willfulness of our own citizenry, my fellow countrymen, my neighbors. I do not thank you or excuse you for your part in casting the death warrant vote but I also know the singular accountability and responsibility lies at the hands of our own President and Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush.

So picking up where this blog left off, I will be recording again the conditions in our country, in our politics, in our citizen mindset, as our two loved ones are marched back to Iraq. To those so willing for this war, and the wars yet coming, as promised by the President in his Inauguration speech, I say, send your own if you are so committed to this man you cheer as your President, and bring mine home.

Mr President, I'll fly my flag at half staff on July 4 

I was struck by the demeanor of the 700 soldiers in dress uniform attending the President's speech last night at Ft Bragg. They were polite. The singular time there was applause came at the prompting of a White House Advance team person.

The soldiers were the dignity and nobility in that room last night. Their Commander in Chief, our President seems to have a way with exploiting the dignity of our military and our loved ones deployed who are doing the grist of the 'hard work' . The litany of disrespect shown to our troops by this President and this administration is a wearisome and growing list.

There will be much said about the President's speech and I took my own notes. I will do as the President asked and fly my flag on July 4th. I will fly it at half staff in respect for the fallen soldiers, for the fallen ideals of what the United States of America has come to represent, and as an effort to represent with dignity the soldiers who fight under the auspices of our flag and do so in honor, integrity and good faith. They are doing their job and their Commander, the President, needs to do them justice by doing his job.

I will fly my flag for them, Mr President, in respect for them. I will fly it at half staff. Would that you would so order, in the deepest respect, that Americans fly their flags on the Fourth of July at half staff to honor the troops who are doing the job with their very lives.

I have checked the protocols regarding the flag and checked with my Governor's office and there is no penalty or wrongdoing if I choose to fly my flag at half staff and when I indicated my reasons for wanting to do so I was given a welcome to do so....

I feel like voters just signed the death warrant for our kids  

Friday, November 05, 2004
It is over, the elections, and apparantly the Voice of America has spoken. We are stunned, in shock and awe, in a most literal sense. We cannot believe what we have just seen happen in our country.We will likely never forget the image map of red states to blue in this election.

Well, I guess we belong in the blue state where we reside and guess there are very few blue states left in this great country. Blue lined up along the west coast and the northern states of the east coast and a few of the Great Lake states. We comprise the perimeter of the country, I guess, and no place else to go but the oceans.

It is now post-election and the ground truth is that there will be 4 more years of Bush and his administration ... unleashed, unchained. We look for and anticipate the literal blood bath that will ensue and while I have had 2 1/2 years now to protest the war while supporting the needs of the troops, there was a degree of comfort that much of our country felt the same. There was a degree of comfort that Bush was thrust upon us in a bad election debacle in 2000, and that could be "righted" with this election.

The Voice of America has said otherwise. I do not know how to "be" just now as an American citizen out of harmony with my own country. I do not know how to explain to our young when they ask me literally, as they have after this election, "what happened to America". I do not know how to respond to our young soldier who says to me after the election "Mom, you know what this means don't you...there will be a blood bath"... to which I can only say "yes, I know....."

I don't know how to reconcile the definitions now that define christian as it seems to have taken on a morality tone of anti-abortion and anti-gay as if that was the entire message of the christian faith. How did the voters who voted morality and faith overlook the first commandment, Thou shalt not kill....? How did the voters reconcile the aborted life of the young troops who have not yet tasted adult life How did christians not separate morality from ethics? Anyway, a discussion for another day...I have no heart for it now.

I'll get my strength back, I'm sure, but I don't know how to depersonalize this election among my country. I feel like voters just signed the death warrant for our kids and I have to find a way within myself to reconcile my feelings with regard to knowing about half of the country voted for Bush. I don't know how to interpret that as other than our country agreeing to the consignment of our children to war, and why? How utterly selfish to put their "fears" above the well-being of the young generation for which us elders have stewardship. But I know I must find a way to reconcile it within myself. It was never just politics for us...we really did feel we were fighting for our country, for our kids.

So, with the ground truth now being that Bush remains the CIC, I will continue in my work as part of the organization Military Families Speak Out (MFSO..http://www.mfso.org/) which has now a membership of close to 2000 military families. It is a non-partisan, non-political organization with one message..Support our Troops. The difference is that it is not a Hooah message as heard from many military families, but one that supports the dignity, honor, ideals, courage and valor of the troops on the ground.

A message that the American people need to do more for our troops and demand more for our troops than to just tell them thank you ... that is not enough. The troops need more, they need all of us now more than ever and they need us to work on the homefront on their behalf, wisely, thoughtfully, intelligently and demand of the administration (no matter who occupies the office) the needs of our troops cannot be explained away as oversights and mismanagement. The needs of our troops are real and deadly and being so poorly managed leaving the troops exposed to danger above and beyond their call to duty. Our CIC owes the troops more..we will demand it.

American Soldier...be well, keep you courage and wits about you in the days ahead.

A proud military family of Iraq veterans,
An old military brat,
A Vietnam era military wife,

Don't even think about challenging my patriotism, it is deeper than platitudes as is my love for the troops and what they represent, what they stand for, what they commit themselves to....as is my love for their families that stand in courage behind the troops.

signing myself; Duty Calls..on the homefront.

Courage doesn't always shout. Sometimes courage is the quiet voiceat the end of the day that says, "I will try again tomorrow."

"It's time to punch the clock ... the Battle for America has begun"

Click on link above for an excellent 4 minutes of getting your patriotic fire relit.