Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day -8 Dad's Last Post

This will be last entry into the Blog 365 Days. I have picked today as kind of a symbolic day. 21 years ago today I was an intelligence officer sitting in an Ops center in Berlin Germany as reports filtered in that people were crossing the border into West Berlin. Unbelievably it was true and my team and I monitored the situation through out the night responding to every situation to ensure the safety of the East German populace. That was my time in the sun if you will, I received accolades for the work done that night. It all seems so small compared to what Zach has endured over the last year, and what we as a family have endured. I am so thankful that Zach made it through with no physical harm, now comes the work to reintegrate him mentally into society.

My heart is heavy for the loss that so many suffered, for the men and women in Zach’s unit who lost friends and saw such incredible devastation. War is not pretty it is not a game, but it is a struggle for all involved – soldiers and families! But we as a nation should be proud that men and women are willing to answer the call, stand to post and say “not on my watch, not today, sleep well America because I am at the ready”! Duty, honor and country are not just words but part of the creed of what it is to be a soldier, marine, airman or seaman, a way of life that they accepted and signed up for. Thank you to all of them and thank you to you Zach! You are our little boy even today, even as you speak of the horror of war, you are our little boy, the boy who collected leeches in the pond, the boy running the base paths during a little league game and the little boy who went to pee in the closet as we remodeled our home.

So yes 21 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall Zach was actually born after the fall of the wall that marked the end of soviet and communist rule over eastern Europe, I will conclude my writing in the blog. Our son has returned from defending others against oppression, from trying to make the world a safer place. On this anniversary of the fall of the wall, and in celebration of Zach’s return with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team let us say thank you to all service men and women, let us not forget that freedom is not free and too often it is paid for in blood. May we never loose sight of that and commit ourselves to preserving freedom, and that we may be the masters of our own destiny, and that being an individual is worth preserving worth defending and worth fighting for if necessary.

We owe a debt of gratitude to all our military personnel. I am truly thankful for the fact my son has safely left Afghanistan, thankful that he can now start the next chapter of his life. I am also saddened for those whose sons will not return, who have had deal with that heartache. For many warriors the greatest tribute they can pay to their fallen brothers is to live their life and do the most they can with it. “For he who sheds his blood with me today shall be my brother” – live on brothers live on!

P.S.

"All gave some, some gave all!" As I write this I have just learned of a 20 year old young man who was killed yesterday. He was in the 101st Airborne graduated from Carrabec High School (not far from here) had a wife and was expecting his first child!

“And when he goes to Heaven
To St. Peter he’ll tell:
Another Marine reporting, sir,
I’ve served my time in hell”

Grave of a Marine on Guadalcanal

“And I can't call in sick on Mondays when the weekend's been too strong,
I just work straight through the holidays,
And sometimes all night long.
You can bet that I stand ready when the wolf growls at the door,
Hey, I'm solid, hey I'm steady, hey I'm true down to the core,
And I will always do my duty, no matter what the price,
I've counted up the cost, I know the sacrifice,
Oh, and I don't want to die for you,
But if dying's asked of me,
I'll bear that cross with an honor,
'Cause freedom don't come free.
I'm an American Soldier, an American,
Beside my Brothers and my Sisters I will proudly take a stand.
When liberty's in jeopardy I'll always do what's right.
I'm out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight.
American Soldier,
I'm an American Soldier.”

From the song American Soldier by Toby Keith

You are superman, I love you Zach, Welcome back! Soon it will be welcome home!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day -4

Mom – Day -4

Many people asked me what I was going to do with the Blog. They wanted to know if I was going to continue, maybe talk about our transitions …. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had been waiting for Day Zero for so long and when it came, I didn’t know if it was really true. It is still a bit surreal. After I wrote Blog Day -1, I knew exactly what to do. I was exhausted! I am still exhausted. I just want to be able to sleep, catch up on all the sleep I lost. That is it. I am tired and done. This is my last Blog entry.

I love you Zach, Good Night
Love your Mama
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day -3 Dad

I talked to Zach yesterday he sounded so good. He was happy to be back in Germany but was upset that there are no days off! He said that everyday he has briefing, in processing and debriefing. I told him these are important things that are part of integrating back into society from a combat zone. He agreed and said it is part of the Army game. It will take time for him to wind down, but it will take time for us to wind down as well. What a trial this has been for our family and for him. It is the same for thousands upon thousands of families across America and in countless allied countries around the world. So many have suffered through a year or two or three of this hardship, and yet others saw the hardship abruptly end and grieving begin. Today in the paper I saw the picture of young girl crying into the fold American flag that had just been given to her. Moments before it was draped over the coffin that held her fathers body. No words spoken or mere mention of his being a hero can ever ebb the grief that will be with that young girl probably for the rest of her life.

This is why Zach feels so much desire to achieve now, he feels that he must live life to the fullest and achieve his potential to honor those who fell. For his friend Matthew Hennigan, who was killed in a fire fight and with whom Zach was to go snow boarding this winter. I believe Zach is destined to great things, not just because he is my son, and I admit that does make me biased, but also because of his great understanding of what is right and just. He understands that fair is only determined by those in charge. However, just and right are concepts that are quantifiable, discernable and defendable. He is a student of history and understands the magnitude of his decisions and actions, he understands the legacy of his military service, the importance of education what it means to sacrifice not in words but in actions.

The one thing I truly feel that I have done right as a parent is to allow my children to be independent and given them the tools to be confident in that while being good citizens. I have always tried to do the same with my exchange kids and we all have such good relationships for that reason. Life is not easy, never has been, never will be but the desire to succeed and do well will keep it fresh and interesting. For Zach that chapter is now in its infancy but the real adventure begins.

For Lisa and I as well, I cried when I found out he was in Germany, it was like I was in Limbo from Afghanistan fatigue. Kyrgyzstan is still a somewhat hostile country they let us have the base there because we bid more than the Russians, ah but Germany – beer, brats, sauerkraut, potato dumplings, sauerbraten and the like. I could relax, I can relax enjoy it Zach, I look forward to seeing you here in Maine. The air is different, the sky is bluer, and even the auto repair bill thanks to our fabulous Maine roads can’t remove my smile and good cheer today!

You are superman, I love you Zach!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day -1

Mom – Day -1

Today Zach called me at school during my prep time. I couldn’t believe that I was speaking to him from Germany. I don’t know how to describe how I felt because words cannot compensate for my feelings. Today, I have been discussing the Day of the Dead with my students and I feel as if my mother was there listening to my lecture. I must be over sensitive now because I can’t seem to stop crying because I feel so lucky. I tell myself I should never complain for the rest of my life because all of my prayers have been answered. Today I also received a big package from my sister with the book, The Kite Runner, a Mexican of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and other little things – some of the things that kept me going: learning about the culture, and my faith. I just feel so blessed and scared that I shouldn’t deserve this. One day, far from this day, I will go back and read my 365 days of prayer. Funny how this war is because I am the enemy, the Infidel, somehow I don’t feel like the Infidel because I have never prayed to God so hard as I have done this past year. Please continue the prayers for those that are still willing to fight and are willing to sacrifice their life for …. Sometimes I don’t even know what we are fighting for .

I love you Zach and I love my family.
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day zero

Day 17 - NO DAY 0, that is ZERO

Mom – Day 17 NO it is Day 0, that is ZERO

Today is Day ZERO. He is really out of AFGHANISTAN – he is done with his deployment and is now in Germany. I can’t believe that it has come to an end and I don’t know what to do. I have been teary eyed but I can’t wait to shower so I can just cry and cry. Cry for my relief of not having that pit in my stomach any more, cry for the soldiers that Zach is leaving behind, cry for Zach’s friends that did not make it back with him and for their parents that will never write Day Zero. I don’t know what to do with my emotions now that it is over.
Today is November 1st. Día de los Muertos is Nov 1st and 2nd. This is the day that the living remember those that have passed on but today I think that the ones that have passed on remembered the living – they helped bring Zach to a safe place today. I do think that our prayers were heard and Grandma, Grandpa, Tristan, and many others were helping us through this. Today I called Mary Golden, my cyber friend, Robert’s mother. It was odd because I never spoke to her on the phone, only via computer, but it also felt normal because we are both at the same place in our lives – Mary we made it!
I don’t know what I will do next. I think I need a little time to think and understand what my new role is going to be. I need to figure me out. I do know that I am so lucky to have Galen there next to me and for being such a great Dad and husband. I am also lucky for having all of the support I have received from my family and friends. 6,734 hits from people reading our Blog – Thank you
Yes, now I am crying.

I love you Zach so much
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 18

Mom - Day 18

I can't believe that we missed writing in the blog for so many days (this time Galen is sick). Zach is still deployed, he hasn't made it yet to Germany but I know it won't be long and that heavy weight that Galen and I have been carrying for so long has been lifted.
So I was wondering, what now. Now it will be time for the transition. Everyone is giving me advice about Zach and helping him with his transition back to a 'normal' life. The Army is going to be there for him to help him with his transition until I see him. I am worried about how he will cope with everything he has seen and done. I think I kind of understand why our military re-deploy, they go back to a family that can relate to them.
Right now it is snowing, the yellow ribbons are still on the tree and we are still waiting to hear Zach's voice.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 21 Dad

"Hey I just left Afghanistan today! I am in Manas its so nice hear. The air is fresh the food is good. Don't know when I am leaving yet but its nice to be outta there."

"Yeah Its nice to get outta there. Great air force food. I had real milk for the first time in 8 months. I took a shower without feeling dirty again instantly. I can buy things again, almost there to Germany. We might be here up to 4 more days. Time to relax really for the first time since march. I am ready to get to Germany then get home! its almost 2300 here; they have a weird time here. I am gonna try to get some sleep before weapons guard."

Words from a young man who has left Afghanistan. I am so happy yet not sure how I feel, it is so weird much like it is weird for him to be out of Afghanistan.

You are superman, I love you Zach!

Day 21

Mom – Day 21

Today I can really shed some tears of emotion – relief, happiness, and thankfulness – Zach is out. He said he finally had the opportunity to take a shower and feel clean, drink some real milk (not expired), eat a Snickers and have some pepperoni. Thank you for all of the prayers. (he is not in Germany yet).

Love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 22

Mom – Day 22

I just don’t get it! Did Karzai forget ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ or this thing called NATO led ISAF (International Security Assistance Force)? I don’t recall Iran being part of the ISAF. Iran is constantly in the news and I hope someone is taking notice. It is kind of sad that we are still sending our men and women over to fight for President Karzai’s government and he seems to be mocking us with presents of cash from Iran.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 23

Mom – Day 23

I have been a bit sick and in bed for a few days. Dal has taken over while I was out. While I was sick I had the opportunity to turn on the TV for a few minutes to watch ‘The National Press Club’ luncheon with the guest speaker being Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I have spoken about her before. She was born in Somali in 1969, then her family moved to Saudi Arabia, she received political asylum in the Netherlands and I believe she is now living in the U.S. She described being a Muslim in Somalia and Kenya (where she also lived) and how families followed their beliefs with respect to Islam but when she lived in Saudi Arabia, Islam’s Sharia law was not a choice but a mandate by the government. She is now a Muslim Women’s Rights Activist. Although, I listened to maybe the last 15 minutes of this luncheon, there was another statement she made that struck a chord, she stated that Sharia law is ‘Gender Apartheid’ – wow - The audience also asked her what she thought about the firing of Juan Williams from NPR because of his comments with respect to Muslims. She said that in Europe it has been quite successful to find ways for people not to critique or question Islam (she gave examples of physical threats to their lives, trying to make it a criminal act, and/or by discrediting or humiliating the person or entity). She said that a government entity should never put a halt to public discourse.
I never considered myself a feminist or someone that would take a course in Women Studies. I always pictured ‘those’ women to be those who want to just be heard or ‘those’ women who couldn’t think of something better to do or study or who wanted to be more like a man. I never pictured myself writing this blog today. I love being a woman, I love wearing my red lipstick and high heels when I want to – but that is just it, when I WANT TO. My friend Carol gave me this wonderful CD called ‘Mujeres de Agua’ by Javier Limon. It is a compilation of music from different women artists from different parts of the world and they are singing for the women in Iran who cannot make their voice public. I love the CD, maybe I am becoming one of ‘those’ women?


I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Day 23 Dad

I am so tired and really need sleep. Maybe in a few days my mind will be at ease, I haven't checked the number of casualties reported in a few days I guess it had just become a habit. Staying busy is the only thing I can do but it is good to be busy, or else I just sit and wait and think.

"We will only continue to be the land of the free so long as we are home of the brave!"

You are superman, you are my hero, I love you!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 24 Dad

Still waiting ...... :-(

You are superman, I love you Zach!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Day 25 Dad

Lisa has been sick since yesterday, I made some chicken soup that I know she likes. It kind of slowed me down, but she is my honey so I have to take care of her like she did for me a couple of weeks ago. I didn't accomplish half the things I wanted to this weekend. Still waiting for the words, Hi Dad and mom I am in Germany!

God Bless all those who are serving and have served. Freedom is not free and so many have sacrificed so much for us to be free.

Zach you are superman and I love you!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 26 Dad

Tomorrow, tomorrow tomorrow you're only a day away. Zach is supposed to be getting on a flight tomorrow that will take him out of Afghanistan and back to Germany. It is a day so many of us have been looking forward to. For him it comes with some aprehension but that is the warrior in him. Deep inside he is ready to leave ready to move on.

It is odd that it is so close and almost upon us. As I look at the clock on the computer I realize as I write this that in Afghanistan it is after 6 AM TOMORROW!!! Wow it could be any time I wonder how Zach feels, I wonder what he is thinking? Soon enough we will all be together and I can ask him.

God Bless our troops!

Thank you Zach, you are superman, and I love you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 27 Dad

Here are the words of a young man who is spent a year in hell. An old saying that many combat soldiers say "I have already been to hell!"

"Hey its weird getting ready to leave. I have my last box to mail ready to go with stuff I don't want to take with me. I have to mail it tomarra. Its such a weird feeling - leaving, I am excited and not at the same time. I met one of our teams replacements today. He locked right up talking to me. I had to take him to the range. They have all of the army's newest equipment and camo. It looks slick, a lot better then the junk we got. Finally getting some equipment that might be useful. Although I already heard about their leadership telling them they can't use some of the things haha dumb army. When I took him to the range I put on my equipment on to go out there with him. I threw my tan attachments back on my weapon threw my empty mags back in my vest so he could use them. Everyone looked at me like I was SF haha. I was wearing all mix-matched gear. An acu combat shirt stained brown from all the missions and sweat, tan and black weapon, a coyote tan vest with purple IR chem lights attached, tore up gloves with the fingers cut out, green duck tape on my iotv (bullet proof vest), no sling just some chord that attaches to a d-ring on my vest and my peltors on. My stuff looking all dirty but squared away no strings hanging off and having a set up that I wasn't adjusting - it all just fit. That's just from being here so long. You get your equipment how you like it plus having your own equipment the army didn't give you or they gave equipment made by people who never left the wire. You figure what works and want does not. I have my rucksack as my checked bag haha and my assault back for my carry that's no joke. Its weird having to do all that but it's a commercial flight in Manas. I have mixed feelings leaving now as it creeps closer (two and wake up). I am really excited and ready to go especially to get home; however I feel like I am almost leaving home. I think one reason for that is what happened to Hennigan. He got killed, I didn't have much time to recover I had a mission. Every mission I always thought this is another guy we don't have to worry about or I was hoping we would get the guy who did it. We finally did get the guy but the feeling never left. I guess it's just having the ability to prevent casualties so that it wouldn't happen again, that kept that feeling that and kept me going. I am leaving now and I guess I feel like I am leaving Matty behind. I am used to the life here now its normal to me. I am leaving my team too, which is terrible especially because they will prolly go on a another mission or two. When I put my gear back on today I was ready to go back out and do what I do. If 4-10 asked me to stay I might say yes. I feel like I know so much about how it works and could do more good things. Its weird feeling so excited to leave this shitty place but wanting to stay at the same time. I think I might always feel that way when people are here and I am not. I don't think my phone will be operational I don't know where my charger is now hah I don't get service here after 1600. We might be able to skype on Saturday. SFC Jones said I could stay in this hooch instead of moving to the transient tents. Technically I am supposed to go on lockdown tomarra and go there. I would rather chill here in the tent I spent a quite a bit of time at this deployment half full of 173 and half 4-10.

Well that's about it dad

have a good day love you,"

So close, words that resonate so loudly with me. Only a little more time .....

You are superman Zach, thank you for all you have done, I love you with all my heart.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 29 Dad

Zach emailed today, he is at Forward Operating Base Shank. He turned in his weapon, and most of his other equipment that he won't carry with him. He is excited yet he was concerned that so many of the replacement troops from the 4th Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division have no combat experience. He said they all looked at him and the other team members with an almost reverence. Zach said it was weird but I told him that he should remember his first days.

I can almost breath normally, it is so close.

You are superman, I love you Zach!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 30 Dad

Well Zach emailed that he was doing inventory today and tomorrow he will go on to FOB Shank. He is now ready to leave his team is all coming in together so he is happy about that. They are close, they are brothers in arms, they have been through hell together and all want to come back together. There is a close knit bond between these men, they are forever linked through necessity and now just because.

My heart is still pounding movement in Afghanistan is never easy so prayers are still important. The hours are getting short and as Zach said he "can feel the cool air of the German fall".

You are my hero, you are superman and I love you Zach!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 32

Mom – Day 32

Zach emailed me several days ago (both Dal and I) but I did not email him back as of yet. I will email him but I was so mad at him that I didn’t want to say anything that I would regret. Whether I disagree with him is not my call anymore, I have to support him. All we can do as parents of our kids that are now adults is pray that we did a decent job and that we gave them the essential tools needed to be good people. I pray that one week from today I hear from him telling me he is out of Afghanistan.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 33 Dad

Still waiting for word from Zach that he has moved to FOB Shank, not sure when that is supposed to happen but his phone is there so we can't talk to him until he has his phone. He wrote on some friends facebook pages yesterday but that is all I have. We are so close now moments are like hours, days are like years. As I walked with Jack today all I could think about in the cool breeze is what is like where Zach is? I really just want to be with him and protect him like I did when he was little. Now he would have to protect me there.

I won't felt better until I know he is safe and right now it is really hard. Day by day, try to put on a happy face.

You are superman, I love you Zach.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 34 Dad

Six International Security Assistance Force personnel have been killed in the last 2 days. It does not seem that the taliban is taking a break or seeking peace. The struggle to stay focused is very labored now. All I can think about is Zach finally getting out of there. But all the time as the casualties mount my heart goes out to those families. I saw that a ISAF soldier was killed in Zach's area today, but the French were reporting that it was a French soldier. While I was relieved I felt guilt as well because of my feelings of relief that the soldier was not an American.

How sad that we feel this over and over. I have a very special son, he volunteered for the army in a time of war, he knew that he would be sent to Afghanistan yet onward he pressed. He never backed down to any challenge he is the epitome of what anyone would want in a son. Then when he was already off the combat line he volunteered to go back because his friends were still out there. But due to that we continue to worry, my stomach remains unsettled, I worry continuously. We are so close, we are so close.

My prayers will continue, and my faith continues. Zach will be out of there soon laughing with his friends in Germany. Soon he will be skiing and maybe our lives all of us will level out, not necessarily normal as I am not sure what that is.

You are superman, you are my hero, I love you Bud!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 35 Dad

I told Zach don’t volunteer for anything in the military. Of course the volunteer is part of the training, joining, airborne, half the stuff he does is volunteer. But then he was at FOB Shank, and while it was a pain there to deal with all of the garrison dwellers who have never been out side the wire you are still sleeping in a bed every night with enough to eat and you are warm. Now he is going out on a multi day mission in the mountains, no cold weather gear and seems to be stressed. The new unit arriving is not taking over the mission load quick enough so they are still conducting the missions. I felt like screaming you were out and chose to get on a helicopter going back up there – WHY???? Well we know why he is stubborn like his mother and loyal to those with whom he serves.

When I told Lisa about his latest email it sounded like she was mad at me. I am the one who told him just stay at Shank. He said it slowing down, but 4 ISAF or Nato service members were killed in action yesterday, I did not get their nationality but it was in eastern Afghanistan where I believe the 101st Airborne has been operating. So we worry again and now he is cold and lacking equipment but back out on the missions – perfect. I know my son, I admire his courage and loyalty to his friends, but sometimes you have to just let it roll. He was upset about all of the people in shank telling him what to do and that money of them have never left the friendly confines of the now huge post in Central Afghanistan. Sometimes you just have to buck up, deal with it! Maturity is sometimes a slow process despite the appearances on the boy.

You are my hero, you are superman, I love you Zach!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 36

Mom – Day 36

I am so upset and frustrated with Zach. Did he not learn!!!! You never never volunteer for anything. Zach was already at FOB Shank, why didn’t he stay there? No, he had to go back out to do more missions and that is exactly what he is doing now. Does anyone really care that he decided to go back in the field – I don’t think so. Is he really making a difference, I don’t really know? Soldiers are still getting killed, he is still out there fighting AND he is not properly equipped – he sent all of his gear back except for the ‘essential’ things, which did not include his winter gear. I cannot yell at him or tell him – “WHY DIDN’T YOU LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS !!!!”, one would think that he would of figured this out by now. I was so overwhelmed when I heard that he was done with his combat missions, only for him to volunteer to go back out there. He needs to get out of there! Karzai is fooling himself thinking that one can negotiate with people like the Taliban – what is there to negotiate??? Will Karzai ask the Taliban not to hang the children, or gas the girl schools, or throw acid in the faces of the young girl students, or not to literally tear people into pieces. It is like asking Hitler to use a little less gas in a concentration camp.

Zach stay focused, I love you
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 38 Dad

Got an email from Zach today he said he is ready to leave. Time which has sometimes seemed to go so fast now is slowing, I am tired getting cranky, busy at work busy with football I think I need a break! I need some down time not being sick, not worrying just being!

You are superman, I love you Zach!

Day 39 Dad

Each day brings the day Zach leaves Afghanistan, but it is so difficult to be patient. Zach sent an email describing the conversion to fall that is occurring there. The beautiful sunset the cool air, the smell of winter. He indicated that he is down to about 11 days, left in COP Carwile. I thought you had left already and then volunteered to go back. But he is dedicated to his team his brothers and didn't feel right not being there with them until they all left. And leave they will very soon, but it does not change the stress and feeling of anxiety that Lisa and I feel.
Zach said the non local taliban members were beginning to leave for the winter, very much like when he arrived but somehow it was always active. His concerns again involved the unit that is replacing his. On one hand they can't arrive soon enough and on the other hand my heart goes out to them and their loved ones who will endure the continuous worry and stress that this brings to everyone. God bless them!

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron." Dwight D. Eisenhower

You are superman, you are my hero I love you with all my heart Zach.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 41

Mom – Day 41

Today Dal and I went to a birthday party. The party was for one of my friend. I got to know her because Zach and her son grew up together. I watched all the people that were around my friend Beth and I was so impressed at how she was surrounded by so many people that care for her. I have written in my blog about Beth. She is someone that I work with who always makes it a point to seek me out and ask me about Zach and how I am doing. She has always been a support for me at my work where sometimes I feel isolated with my thoughts and feelings. I looked at her and I started thinking about how she is such a positive person and such a loving person. I am so happy to have her as a friend. She has been one of my crutches this year. I am so fortunate to have friends like her – thank you Zach for being friends with her son Sam.

I love you Zach.
xoxoxoxoxoxox

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 42

Mom – Day 42

I don’t know if I should count down the days until Zach leaves Afghanistan. I have been disappointed so many times. I remember, as if it were yesterday, Zach with his Platypus and his Huggables (monkey) stuffed animals. Zach was also the one that slept with us in our bed until we couldn’t fit and then he slept on the floor in his sleeping bag next to us in our bedroom. It was Victoria that was quick to be independent. Now I hear about Zach sleeping outside and his childhood is behind him. Things change even if I am not willing to accept the change.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxo

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 43 Dad

I emailed back and forth with Zach today, he is back up in the mountains at a little Combat Out Post but in his mind he is ready to leave Afghanistan. He is brainstorming various money making ideas for life after the Army. I am certain he will be a millionaire some day as he has that drive and determination that has pushed so many Americans to financial success. I just hope he is still focused on the task at hand since he is at the outpost.

Paratrooper Creed:

I volunteered as a parachutist, fully realizing the hazards of my chosen service and by my actions will always uphold the prestige, honor and high esprit-de-corps of the only volunteer branch of the Army.

I realize that a parachutist is not merely a soldier who arrives by parachute to fight, but is an elite shock trooper and that his country expects him to march farther and faster, to fight harder, to be more self-reliant, and to soldier better than any other soldier. Parachutists of all allied armies belong to this great brotherhood.

I shall never fail my fellow comrades by shirking any duty or training, but will always keep myself mentally and physically fit and shoulder my full share of the task, whatever it may be.

I shall always accord my superiors fullest loyalty, and I will always bear in mind the sacred trust I have in the lives of the men I will lead into battle.

I shall show other soldiers by my military courtesy to my superior officers and noncommissioned officers, by my neatness of dress, by my care of my weapons and equipment, that I am a picked and well-trained soldier.

I shall endeavor always by my soldierly appearance, military bearing and behavior, to reflect the high standards of training and morale of parachute troops.

I shall respect the abilities of my enemies, I will fight fairly and with all my might. Surrender is not in my creed.

I shall display a higher degree of initiative than is required of the other troops and will fight on to my objective and mission, though I be the lone survivor.

I shall prove my ability as a fighting man against the enemy on the field of battle not by quarreling with my comrades in arms or by bragging about my deeds, thus needlessly arousing jealousy and resentment against parachute troops.

I shall always realize that battles are won by an Army fighting as a team, that I fight and blaze the path into battle for others to follow and to carry the battle on.

I belong to the finest fighting unit in the Army. By my appearance, actions, and battlefield deeds alone, I speak for my fighting ability. I will strive to uphold the honor and prestige of my outfit, making my country proud of me and the unit to which I belong.

This is why he went back up to be with his team who is still in the mountains. They are brothers now "for he who sheds his blood with me today shall be my brother" the St Crispin's day speech means so much to America's elite soldiers.

You are superman, I love you Zach.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day 44 Dad

In 2006 Lance Corporal Mathew Smith was laid to rest, a marine who died serving his country in Iraq. On that morning members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas, picketed the funeral. Their beef is that they believe that soldiers are somehow dying to protect gays. Albert Snyder, Mathew’s father has been engaged in a long court battle with the group that has now found it’s way to the Supreme Court. The issue is whether the 1st Amendment which grants them freedom of speech supercedes the need for privacy of the family of this marine.

“"This case is about a little church in Topeka, Kansas, engaging in public speech on a public right-of-way, about issues of vital public interest and importance," lawyer Margie Phelps wrote to the court defending the protests. She is also the daughter of church founder Fred Phelps and will argue the case before the justices.”

“Westboro's website says the legal dispute is about the "sovereignty of the Living God" and that those who fail to live up to God's standards should be punished. Phelps explains that their decision to picket funerals "is to use an available public platform, when the living contemplate death, to deliver the message that there is a consequence for sin." That sin in their view is homosexuality and all government policies they think support homosexuals.”

While I am all for the freedom of speech at some point common sense must start being a part of our normal daily lives. While the constitution does protect the freedom of speech it does not however protect the outright abuse of freedom as practiced by this “little church from Topeka”. Just as you will see me write and rail against those on the left who don’t understand that all of our freedoms granted under the constitution are subsequently protected by our military. Again the only reason they have the freedom to be the idiots they are being is due to a long military heritage that has shed too much blood to protect to have these loons denegrate their memory.

Where is our country going? What are our soldiers fighting for – for this? To be protested, to be thought of as less than a hero because you fight for all people? Jesus said, “what you do unto the least of my brethren you do unto me!” Do these idiots not even follow the bible or do they believe that people who are gay are less than human? What a sad testimony to the way they live their lives to not even know that Jesus was about love, not hatred. What about “Judge not for ye shall be judged”? Who do they think they are? It appears to me that Reverend Phelps thinks that he is above god, and can single-handedly decide what God’s interpretation should be, I think we call this heresy.

Martin Luther King, said in the I Have a Dream Speech that he could see a day when blacks were judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.” I have often said that this is one of the most incredible statements made by man in the history of the world. It has so many applications, anyone gay, straight, black or white, young or old, Democrat or Republican should be looked at via the content of their character and not the word that defines them. If we as a society could get to this point then the rest would fall into place.

Unfortunately we have not reached that point, we still label others, and seek fairness without first defining fairness. For without definition there is not fairness there is no justice there is no law. The definition begins with our constitution and it’s application through common sense which has become a rarer commodity than the dodo bird. I continue to be sickened by the utter arrogance of so many who feel they know better, they and only they know how the rest of us should live. Freedom is of choice not freedom from choice, in all forms.

Shame on these mis-guided people from the Westboro Baptist Church, may God forgive them for the harm they seem to want to portend onto others.

You are superman, I love you Zach!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 45 Dad

The Soldier's Creed

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team.
I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills.
I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

Not just a job but an adventure. You are superman, I love you Zach!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Day 47 Dad

As I walked outside just minutes ago I could feel the cool fall air sweeping into the valley.. Soon the warmer days of fall will continue to shrink toward winter. The crisp air will turn cold and snow is sure to follow. I thought of Zach having sent most of his gear back to Germany and yet going out into the field again and again, is he warm? I don't know and that is part of a constant worry, the reason for my now slightly graying hair. However I saw the movie Invictus again as Lisa bought me the movie about Nelson Mandela and the South African Rugby team. It is truly a wonderful story and brought my attention to this poem whose lines were recited by thousands who struggled with war and the fight for freedom....

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

Zach you are my hero, you are superman and I love you with all my heart!

Day 47

Mom – Day 47

So I sent Zach an email telling him that it is so stressful to hear that he was going back out to the field. I held back how UPSET I was because I don’t want to give him more things to think about. He did respond to my email yesterday
“Re: I love you
Aye mom, My team is still out there. ……….It’s my job mom but I only have like 3 weeks left. Remember I wanted to go back, I asked not to stay I know what I am doing! I know its stressful but know that I am a squared away paratrooper one of the best. Have a good day mom I am gonna go ride a helicopter in a few minutes.

Love you”

I did delete some of his email. What can I do but do what I have been doing – saying my prayers.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Day 48 Dad

Just another day, another day, and another day, I don't have the energy to write much today. Not a bad day just a long day, waiting and waiting for .....

The funny thing about honor, duty and commitment is that sometimes .. you just want safety and security but then you can't have one without the other.

You are superman I love you Zach!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Day 49 Dad

Well it is official, Zach said today in an email that he is headed back to the Command outpost and will again conduct combat missions. He said he couldn't take being in a garrison type environment like Forward Operating Base Shank where so many just talk about the field and few actually experience it. He said, his team and the infantry boys are out there he should be with them.

Lisa is not happy, so for the short term it is more of the same!

Zach stay alert on edge and be vigilant, you are my hero, you are superman and I love you!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 50 Dad

One day closer! I received an email from Zach, he indicated his dates for redeployment and how excited he is to leave. On the other hand, he wants to go back to Carwhile, to do missions, because he said his brothers-in-arms in the Dog Co. of the 1st BN, 503rd Parachute Infantry are still out there. So is Attack Company, and Zach indicated if they are still out there conducting missions they need the Recon guys out there. Incredible, he is ready to go home to leave Afghanistan, and yet there are still troops in the field. We cannot understand the devotion to duty, honor and brotherhood that these brave people live by.

I know it is not what Lisa wants to hear, but Zach would make an incredible Army officer, he has a sense of commitment and love of country that is interspersed within him and being a caring incredibly driven person who is far wiser in common sense than his years would indicate. Zach you are my hero, you are superman and I love you!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Day 51

Mom – Day 51

No word from Zach yet. We are all patiently waiting to hear from Zach and to hear that he is at FOB Shank. Finally, we are waiting to hear that he is in Germany. The wait!!!
I had this longer blog post but in the end I deleted it. Sometimes this blog is so Prozac, so depressing. Sometimes the delete button is okay.

I love you Zach
xoxooxooxoxoxoxoxoxo

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

don't forget-Matt Hennigan, RIP

Day 52

Mom – Day 52

Zach has been fighting in the Sayed Abad district in the Wardak province and in this vicinity for almost a year now. This area is still active with the Taliban. Zach mentioned in an email that although point A to point B might only be a 10 minute drive, only a few miles apart, they might as well me a 100 miles apart because it is too dangerous to just go from A to B. This is what he is telling me after being there for a year! July of 2011 is nine months away; I cannot imagine that in nine months someone will be able to get from point A to point B in 10 minutes. Next year we will all find out if all of the sacrifices our military did was all in vain or not. What about Zach’s friend Matt Hennigan, who should of turned 21 the 21st of this month, did he die for nothing? I am still fighting internally with not understanding why we are there. Are we there to help those that can’t fight for themselves? Are we there to get rid of the terrorists (this is assuming that they all live in one country)? I just don’t get it. I know that many of the Afghan people are finally seeing some hope of living a normal life after decades of war but I wonder if this is enough. I guess time will answer some of my questions.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 53

Mom – Day 53

Dal is finally home from the hospital (I don’t know how he did it, somehow he convinced the doctor). Although he is out of the hospital he is still under strict doctor’s care.
Zach emailed Dal and I today. Zach did say that he is finally at COP Carwile and he will be off to Shank soon. “ I am heading to FOB shank tomarra packing up the last of my gear. I am keeping just enough stuff for the next few weeks. I am hoping I will head back here to do a few more missions once I am done my business at shank. Our team has done some really good work especially this last month……………..I want to make sure I have my things right when I get to Germany. Like already here, I don’t have the right clothes. We where supposed to leave this month but kept pushing it further away. I shipped most of my cold weather gear. During the day it gets up into the 90's but at night its goes sometimes into the 20's. I woke up the other day on the side of the mountain covered in frost. I might have to buy some stuff when I get to shank. Well thats about it. I miss you guys, hope all is well.”

Zach I love you
xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 54

Mom – Day 54

Dal is still in the hospital☹ I am not sure when they will release him. I did not enjoy this weekend with him in the hospital. We also tried calling Zach today. I wanted Galen to have a chance to speak to him but the calls did not go through. I don’t know where he is, I hope he made it to his COP and maybe he is back at FOB Shank (but I doubt it).
Today is “ Gold Star Mother’s Day”. The Gold Star represents a son or daughter that has been killed in the line of duty. (the Blue Star signifies that a member of their family is serving in the Armed Forces during a time of war). This must be a hard day today for the Mothers and families of these fallen men and women.

Zach I love you
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Day 55

Mom – Day 55

Dal woke me up at 1 a.m. to take him to the hospital. His diverticulitus has acted up again. He has been so stressed out about Zach’s final days in Afghanistan. I think the stress caused this flare up. He is not a good patient in the hospital because he is not patient and he had a football game to coach (one of his passions). He was happy to hear that I did get in touch with Zach today. Zach has not had the opportunity yet to get to his COP, which he needs to get to before he can get a chopper to take him to FOB Shank.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 56 Dad

As I looked at the world today, I was amazed by what is around us, life just rambles on no one seems to care what else is going on. We are such a me planet, despite how much we have so many – too many are just fixated on me and what I don’t have. These thoughts have been nagging me over the time that Zach has been in Afghanistan, probably because we couldn’t just pick up a phone any time or visit just to give him a hug.

So much is taken for granted but I look at the world so differently now, I am still the ardent fiscal conservative I have always been and still the fiscally conscious social moderate that I have always been but I give thanks for what I have. I have become much less consumed with worrying about what others have. My family is what makes me who I am. While I will work to enjoy some material things primarily I will work to be able to enjoy my family. This spring as Lisa and I struggled with numerous issues some associated with Zach, I started this transformation and it has helped me cope.

Since this spring I really have begun to look at the world differently. I am blessed to have all the love I have from my wife, my children and the many exchange kids who have come into our home and into our family. I love them all deeply, and feel that I am the richest man in the world.

Even today as I feel my diverticulitis acting up probably due to the stress I feel knowing how close Zach is to being out of Afghanistan my tenseness is somewhat comforted as I look around at the pictures of my beautiful family (A gift from Victoria – Thank you!). And as Zach’s time in Afghanistan winds down I must transform as I talked about yesterday, but to keep my perspective on things, continue to live for the love of my family, and give thanks to God my creator for my blessings. What a year it has been eyes opened, things changed – remained the same or perhaps just a different light that shines upon them.

Zach you are superman, you are my hero, and I love you bud!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 57 Dad

I saw on Facebook that some members of the 173rd Special Troops BN (Airborne) started arriving back in Bamberg Germany where they are stationed. I got an email from Zach he completed his last scheduled combat mission. He is working his way back to Forward Operating Base Shank. Zach indicated it won't feel good until his feet are on the ground in Germany. He was concerned that the rest of his team remains out in the field for a couple more missions.

I am still tense, still concerned it has become part of me to fell this way it is part of who I am now. It is weird but some part of my days is consumed with all things military, political, what is Afghanistan and who the taliban and al queda are. I feel like as Zach transitions from a being in a combat mode to just being a soldier, our family must also transition from a wartime family to just being a family.

Almost there! You are my hero Zach, you are superman and I love you bud!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Day 58 Dad

“I found out what a Dragunov rifle sounds like!” This is how Zach started our conversation on Sunday. A Dragunov is Russian designed sniper rifle which is made by several countries for export now. While he was engaged in a firefight, Zach said he was targeted by a sniper who thankfully missed. He said this so casually and with little emotion in either direction. The weekend was one of the worst he had seen in Afghanistan with firefights almost continuously as the “peace-loving” taliban attempted to disrupt the elections. Zach described one particular incident which occurred over the weekend where the taliban tied an informant to two vehicles and then they were driven in opposite directions to send a message to anyone about collaborating with the Americans. Zach said he heard that more children were killed by the taliban for simply talking to the Americans. Then more disturbing news that he was unable to engage the enemy all day yesterday despite the constant barrage of bullets and rocket propelled grenades being fired at them. What in the %^&$ is that?

This ^%$# has to stop and we need to either kill the bad guys to send them a message or get out. Zach said they know how to fight with out provoking a response from the Americans due the constrictive rules of engagement the Americans must follow. Zach said he is very worried about this type of warfare and how those arriving to replace him will be able to stay safe. Our intent was to rid that land of al queda and the taliban then that is what we should do! If a round is fired at our men and women in uniform we respond to ensure no second round will be fired. Other wise this is all just a song and dance that is resulting in the death and dismemberment of a generation of young people.

Zach was also very upset about the so-called pastor in Florida who was going to burn the Qur’an. He was pissed because of what was happening in Afghanistan, they were never told the burning did not happen so the animosity toward the Americans was very high. He felt that he was fighting there for freedom for all people and to end oppression. He felt the book burning was just another way to oppress and that Americans we’re better than that. It was interesting to hear his prospective on the mosque at ground zero which he also says is causing a stir and just the war in general. He is very principled and believes that he is fighting for freedom and to free an oppressed people but if we don’t exercise the same principles that we want others to follow then what is it all for? Very wise words from one so young but heed we must as he is on the saber point of that struggle for freedom.

God Bless all of our men and women in uniform. You are superman, I love you Zach!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 59

Mom – Day 59

I spoke to my girlfriend Becky today and she was telling me how she was happy that Zach would be getting out of Afghanistan soon. She said that only to find out that another dear friend of hers will have their son leaving for Afghanistan soon. I told her that maybe he will not be in the direct combat areas but then she said that this young man is a medic, he will be a combat medic. My heart went out to this young man and his family because that is a very dangerous job. This year is the deadliest year of the war.
On Facebook today I looked at Robert Golden’s page (my friend’s Mary son who is stationed in Afghanistan where Zach is but they do not know each other) and he posted a video that is a tribute to one of our fallen soldiers. The soldier is Vinson Bryon Adkinson born 12/13/1983 and died 8/31/2010. He was a friend of Roberts – it is so hard to see this wonderful person so full of life, recently married with so much still to do and now he is gone. At the beginning of this video tribute there was this quote “It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag.” --Father Dennis Edward O’Brian, USMC

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 60

Mom – Day 60

I haven’t really felt like writing in a long time. I am writing because I feel I need to but I don’t have my heart into it. I am antsy and I don’t know what to say or think. Most people don’t really ask about Zach anymore (although there are the regulars!) and I understand that because it has been almost one year. I usually bring it upon myself to start talking about him, those that I think might want to hear but they are not sure to ask anymore. I am getting use to Zach being in Afghanistan but it is still hard for me knowing that he always seems to be in a combat zone, always on alert. I don’t cry everyday now and I have starting wearing regular mascara (I swear I thought my eyelashes were disappearing) but I have chewed off my fake nails and starting right into chewing my fingernails. I feel like I need to do something! I light candles of the Virgin Mary, thinking it can’t hurt and I still wear the cross of my Mother’s ashes every single day. We did speak to Zach on Sunday for over an hour. At first we spoke to him for about 10 seconds – we had to call back later – but I was so relieved to hear his voice. I knew that voting day was going to be bad but it was really bad. Zach is so distraught about the whole situation in Afghanistan. He spoke about how the Taliban tie up ‘informants’ to two different vehicles and drive off until their body is split apart, or how the Taliban hang children just for talking to the Americans – it is so disgusting. Zach is tired; it is time for him to leave.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 61 Dad

We talked to Zach today and he was very tired, he indicated the last 3 days have been hell with firefights almost continuously. He said there was a polling station and 200 yards away was a firefight. He indicated there was more of not being able to return fire. He is worried about the new units arriving and wondered if there was any end in sight.

Wow we take voting for granted and there it could be life or death literally.

You are superman, I love you so much Zach!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 62

Mom – Day 62

I don’t think that I have to say much to know that I am nervous – Zach is out on a mission in heavy body armor, the Afghan people are voting, and the Taliban are trying to prevent people from voting. I will be so relieved to hear from Zach.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 63 Dad

Well the months are turning to days, and days will turn hours, but it seems to drag now. I so look forward to hear Zach's voice from Germany! He is so ready and as I read the posts on Facebook all of them are ready to leave. All so young and now seasoned combat veterans. A whole generation of young men have grown up in the far off lands of Iraq and Afghanistan. Gone as boys back as men! God bless them!

We all owe them a debt of gratitude, but the people of those lands owe them even more. The debts owed to this generation of Americans is far greater than can ever be repaid. Just once I would like to hear one of these so called religious leaders of Islam say thank you! Will it happen? Probably not.

Zach you are my hero, you are superman, I miss you so much and love you with all my heart!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 64 Dad

“Conspicuous gallantry performed above and beyond the call of duty”, this is part of the prerequisites for the nation’s highest military combat honor, aptly deemed the “Medal of Honor”. SSG Salvatore Giunta who served two tours in Afghanistan with the 2nd Bn of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team (the brigade that Zach serves with) is going to be presented with the MOH in an October 6th ceremony. As a 22 year old specialist he ran into a wall of bullets to save the lives of two of his fellow soldiers. One of the soldiers was being carried off by taliban members who he killed and then pulled the wounded soldier back to safety. While the soldier eventually died of his wounds his family was grateful that his body could come home for final rest. The actions of SSG Giunta on that day 2 years ago resulted in his then Company Commander to recommend him for the award.

22 years old, and he acted with complete disregard for his own safety to save the lives of his brother’s in arms. I am so glad that he is getting this award as it is so rightly earned, and I hope that it is covered by the media. To quote a politician “This is a big F#@$ing deal!” I wonder how many more acts of incredible heroism are performed by our military members and that are never recognized other than by a few people who are there. We as civilians may never know the true extent of the sacrifice of our brave people in uniform. We can only be thankful that they are willing to make that sacrifice for freedom and for our nation. It is the individual who has made this nation great and free and as long as we have those who are willing to be that buffer between freedom and tyranny, between the light and the darkness then we will always be great.

Thank you to all who have served in our military, all who have raised that right hand to protect our nation against all enemies foreign and domestic.

Zach you are my hero, you are superman, I love you bud.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 65

Mom – Day 65

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.
Mother Teresa

Wisdom is the best guide and faith is the best companion. One must try to escape from the darkness of ignorance and suffering, and seek the light of Enlightenment.
Dalai Lama

I believe that the atrocities the Taliban has done to the women and children of Afghanistan will one day cease. They are not forgotten. I pray that the Taliban’s new twist on trying to ensue riots will be recognized as another ploy to try and gain control for their abusive regime. I pray that the Afghan people have the strength to stand up for their beliefs, to provide a better life for their women and less fortunate.

I am waiting to hear Zach tell me that he finished his last mission. I am so nervous – I feel like I have to say extra prayers and make sure my candle is lit.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 66 Dad

I find myself more preoccupied than ever. Each day sometimes is a struggle in all that I do. I have a hard time concentrating and more often than not I am staring out into space nothingness just daydreaming. As the days and hours grow short here and the darkness of the night however still and peaceful is the ruler of the 24 hours of a calendar day, I still am hoping for quickness in the dial. I can’t talk about it many feel the mother is the one who is most affected by having a child at war, but it is the whole family. The feeling is woven into every fabric of our day and is never far from our thoughts. Even our extended family of all our exchange kids is affected; they know Zach and I am sure that at some point if not more than simply seeing the news from Afghanistan they think of him.

His time in that hell is drawing down and for all of us it will be a great relief when he calls or emails us from his home base in Germany. We all worry about our children, we want the best for them and it is so hard as a parent to know that your child is in harms way in a nation were probably most people don’t trust him or may not even like him, and where many would do him harm is sometimes bordering on unbearable. You rely on your faith in God and closeness of family to get through. I am thankful for my family for Lisa who strong when I am not and hopefully I am the same for her. I am thankful to be able to spend a couple of hours with some young football players everyday as that is something I enjoy and share with Zach. Perhaps if he goes to a local school he can help me coach next year.

Zach and I have always been close as we enjoy so many of the same things. He and his mom are close and Zach is such a family kid. A kid? He is now a combat veteran who will probably be different, but I can hear the kid in him from time to time hopefully with time away from the images of war being a kid is all he will have to worry about for a while. Until school starts and studying…….

I look forward to watching football, finally going to Fenway park with him, even though we will over pay for the tickets and him just being at home for family get-together’s and challenging me to cooking duels. It is so close to happening yet it seems so far, my heart yearns for the clock to spin and time to fly!

Zach you are my hero, you are superman, I love you with all my heart.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 67

Mom – Day 67

I just read Dal's last two posts - I guess we had similar thoughts going through our heads - I wrote this blog entry prior to reading Dal's entries. -

All we hear in the news is about the building of a mosque (community center) near ground zero. I hear over and over how Muslims will be upset around the world thinking the US is anti-Muslim if it is not constructed. Then I read on the Internet how there are protests in Kabul. The protesters are chanting “death to Christians” and to the Americans. Then I wonder, what is my son doing in Afghanistan? Is he not there trying to fight the Taliban and Al-Qaeda? The direct benefit, and immediate benefit, would be to the people of Afghanistan – the children, the women of Afghanistan. The majority of the people living in Afghanistan and Iraq are Muslims. I also wonder how tolerant are the countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia – do I need to continue – how tolerant are these countries to other religions? I will never forget watching people jumping from one of the Twin Towers because these people decided that they were going to end their lives on their terms. I remember the fear that we all felt on 9/11 and this fear was presented to us by radical “MUSLIMS” not radical Christians or another radical groups. Honestly, I would rather see that we leave all of those countries alone and pull out of everywhere – Iraq and Afghanistan. If they don’t want us there then we should leave. I am so angry.
At the same time that I am so ANGRY and disgusted that my son is fighting in a place that no one seems to care about, I also feel that the bi-product of this war is a better place for the women and children of Afghanistan. I tell myself that many of these women and children have no voice; we only seem to hear the voices that want to silence all that don’t agree with them. Greg Mortenson and Khaled Hosseini’s books really give me hope that one day there will be a difference in the lives of some of these women and children. I love the quote that Mortenson uses in his book, Stones into Schools, where he quotes a saying from Africa that goes like this, “You educate a boy and you educate an individual, you educate a girl and you educate a community.” I really believe that a woman can make a huge impact on society. It is the woman who gives birth and nurtures her child (given the opportunity – since many children are sent to Madrassas). The woman is often taken out of the equation as being not as important, not as smart, etc. but I think this where something went wrong.
I have to have hope and Mortenson has shown me that there are some people in these countries that want a better life.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 68 Dad

We talked to Zach today and it is hard, he is so close and still going out on missions and has been tasked with yet another. What a trooper tired yet he goes on. This evening we went up to see one of Zach's friends who is in the Marines and is now home from Okinawa, and will be headed to Cherry Point NC for his next duty station. His mom was saying that it was hard for her to send him off and that she couldn't imagine how we felt with Zach in Afghanistan.

The military is a hard transition for those serving and their families. These young men and women are charged to do incredible things with incredible equipment, Then they come home and they are kids again pampered by parents and just hanging out. How sad that these young people who are old enough to fight for others freedom in a foreign country are not even free to have a beer in their own. I just don't get it! These young people have earned special privileges.

They should have our respect we should honor them and never forget the sacrifice they make daily leaving childhood behind! All Americans should be thankful, freedom it is not free! Thank God that there have always been those willing to fight for it and defend it!

Zach you are my hero, you are superman and I love you!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 70 Dad

"They are crossing the border illegally and violently displacing the indigenous population whose homes and possessions they either destroy or occupy. They are attacking the young, the elderly, and especially the girls and women, whom they kidnap, forcibly convert, or traffic into brothels. The locals are terrified of them. The police rarely come to their aid, nor do the politically correct media or government. Both are terrified by the criminals and terrorists who are riding these immigrant waves.

I am not talking about illegal immigrants to Europe or North America. I am describing Muslims who are penetrating India’s West Bengal region. These Bangladeshi immigrants are becoming conduits for criminal activities (arms, drugs, and sexual slavery) which also fund global jihad.

You won’t read about this in the Western mainstream media—or even in the Indian media, which has turned a blind eye to this ongoing tragedy because they are afraid to be labeled “politically incorrect” or “Islamophobic.” They are also afraid of reprisals. When Islamic zealots ransacked the office of the renowned newspaper, ‘The Statesman’ in Kolkata, in retaliation for a mere reproduction of an article condemning Islamic extremism, the Indian press remained silent. The editor and publisher of the newspaper were arrested for offending muslim sentiments and no action was taken against the rioters." By Phyllis Chesler in an op-ed.

Much the same as those who oppose the mosque in New York “Islamophobia” is a term made up to give radicals victim status. When are people going to stand and say why aren’t the Muslims tolerant, why don’t they understand that placing a mosque near the sight of such a horrific event perpetuated by other muslims causes such angst among others? I am tired hearing that they are protesting or threatening because of the threat of some whack job burning the Quran or because of a cartoon. And now the man who wants to build in NY basically threatens that if they don’t build there there will be reprisals and protests. Great what about us, I don’t give a damn about people who are perpetually fighting and whining, especially when our country has done more to bring freedom and justice to these people than they have done for them selves. We do more to assist muslims when tragedy strikes than other oil rich muslim nation! They sit back fat rich and happy then have the "audacity" to complain. Enough is enough!

Sorry Rosie O’Donnell you can say that radical Christians are as bad as radical muslims, but I beg to differ! Let’s just look at the last 100 years please explain to me Rosie how you claim this statement to be true when you look at the acts of terror, the beheadings, the floggings, stonings and the violent attacks on India. Please draw the comparison for me as I am not seeing it.

I am sick and tired of political correctness, my son is fighting to protect these people and if they don't appreciate it than I have nothing for them and we as a nation have done enough.

God bless America and God bless our troops. We have done so much good in the world and this far outweighs the mistakes we have made.

You are superman, I love you so much Zach!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 71

Mom – Day 71

Today Dal received an email from Zach. It is always good when we hear something from him. He was really tired. He said that out on this last mission, he was lucky to get three hours of sleep in a day.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 72

Mom – Day 72

The bounty on the heads of our American soldiers really worries me. Do you know what you can do with a thousand dollars in Afghanistan, or the six thousand for a vehicle? I just read Dal’s post so I am repeating a lot of what he said but I don’t care, I just can’t get it out of my mind. The last time I spoke to Zach the television was on mute and there flashing before my eyes was this news (although I had read it on the Internet already). I decided not to say anything to Zach and I really don’t know what he knows about this if anything. I do think that he will eventually find out about it because word does eventually get around. As it is, this past summer has been horrible with respect to all of the casualties.

Zach is so ready to finish up and do some normal things and meet up with some girls☺ The numbers are getting smaller!

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 73 Dad

Well the wonderful peaceful intentioned government of Iran is offering $1000 for each American killed by the taliban and $5000 for each vehicle destroyed. Additionally, the wonderful peace loving Iranians kicked out several International Atomic Energy Inspectors for asking questions and inquiring about some tests and experiments being run outside the scope of the production of power. Nothing to worry about though. RIGHT??

Furthermore the Iranians are holding and torturing a woman suspected of adultery, and now possibly in the murder of her husband, of course no proof but then none is needed. This woman was given 99 lashes because a newspaper in Britain I believe it was the London Times showed pictures of her with out her head scarf. Turns out it was not her but then we can't take back the lashes can we? Maybe Ahmendinazad should get some lashes for impersonating a human being? She is awaiting a sentence of death by stoning as soon as Ramadan is over. Unbelievable!!!

I am being convinced that the difference in culture and the mentality is too far different for there ever to be meaningful relations with these countries. I just don't get why so many want to placate these thugs.

If my son was not involved via the military I would only say that they can all just kill each other and go to hell. It is harsh but it is how I feel. But the thugs in charge will not leave us alone, they will push. How far will we bend??

Zach you are my hero, you are superman and I love you with all my heart!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 74 Dad

We tried to reach Zach several times over the weekend. Today we were finally able to talk to him. He is so ready to leave and believes he only has about 3 weeks or so out in the Combat out post. That is a small outpost that the army uses to conduct missions from and is kind of out by itself. He is been there for most of the summer. He also said most of the time he has left will be out in the field. He will be glad when his tour comes to an end and so will his parents.

Today we had a nice ride looking for moose and just sightseeing. It was nice and I had football practice this evening. I took Zach's jeep because it is good to run plus I feel closer to Zach when I drive it and I need to feel close to him.

You are superman, I love you so much Zach.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day 76

Mom – Day 76

Today’s entry will be from Facebook. We couldn’t get through to Zach today to speak to him but we noticed that he did have the opportunity to go on Facebook today. He hasn’t been on Facebook for a long long time (a couple of months). Dal posted a comment about the causalities that the 173rd suffered the other day and Zach posted the following:
“Yeah it inverted the blast hull of the MATV. It was extremely small IED too. The MATV are the new version of the MRAP. These are the trucks we use. The MATV's are completely replacing the MRAPS. These MATV's have been known to be a lot weaker then expected and weaker then the MRAP. However despite this they are fielding only MATV's now because that’s the new contract....”

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 77

Mom – Day 77

The first football game for our school is today. I don’t particularly enjoy football, nor do I really understand it but I tend to go to most of the games. Football season, ski season and lacrosse season make me think a lot of Dal and Zach. Although Zach and Dal talk and watch almost every sport, these sports are events that I seem to attend at the High School level. It gives me an opportunity to be part of a bond (sports) that I would not otherwise be part of. At the High School when the kids play these sports, they are so excited and emotional about it – as if it were the most important thing in the world. There is a sense of innocence about it. There is also the feeling that one belongs to a community. Zach and Dal still email about sports here at the High School and I know that that is a time where that sense of innocence and community take over the thoughts of Zach’s everyday life in Afghanistan. Many times, one can take a look at sports and leisure activities to get a better understanding of one’s culture and way of thinking. Sports can say a lot about one’s character and what is important. – of course this is coming from someone that doesn’t watch sports but I try and pay attention to something!

I love you Zach and I miss you
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 78

Mom – Day 78

I haven’t written in the blog for a bit. The numbers of causalities don’t seem to end. I am just super antsy. Zach has been in black out because they lost men. I do know that Robert (my friend Mary’s son who is also in Afghanistan near Zach) lost some friends. My prayers go out to the families – I feel so bad for so many reasons.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 79 Dad

I saw a small snippet in the news today concerning the possible use of Chemical weapons against schools for girls and classes that are offered specifically for girls in Afghanistan. Blood tests taken from the victims involved indicate small quantities of agricultural compounds that can be used to produce the deadly VX gas. The taliban had threatened such activities earlier and it appears they are becoming proficient enough to practice. The entire situation continues to amaze me. Lisa has done extensive reading on the treatment of women in this society and now to read this was most disturbing. What is it that makes these people believe that they can just treat others with such disdain and contempt then murder based on their whacked out beliefs. Do they feel that the Koran is teaching them this, or is it misguided religious leaders or is that they just feel weak and need to exert power to make themselves feel better? I really don’t get it.

The bottom line is that the taliban is evil and they have no desire to see any improvements for average person in Afghanistan. More than likely Al Qaeda is very similar in structure and what they are trying to accomplish. I also took a look at PressTV which is the Iran english news agency basically a propaganda arm. They call America bullies who need to get beat up in Iran, I wonder how many Americans who hate us post on that website? I often wonder why people who hate what made this country great continue to live here - just move! I don't like the Hollywood elites who threaten to leave but never do why??? how about $$$$$, Alec Baldwin can just leave.

4 more Americans were killed today - are we worth their sacrifice, is our nation worth it, is Afghanistan and it's people worth it?

You are superman, I miss you Zach and I love you with all my heart!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day 80 Dad

President Obama gave his speech on the end of combat operations in Iraq. He said some good things but I told Lisa it doesn't appear that his heart is in these foreign operations. He also eluded to his domestic agenda while I wanted to hear about foreign policy.

In the last 4 days 22 Americans have lost their lives in Afghanistan. 22 young men who are not coming home to be with their families. This is what I need to hear what are we going to do to ensure the safety of them and what are we going to do so that their sacrifice need not be in vain. We need to have a clear and concise mission and execute it. The former president Bush was excoriated for the lack of planning and a mission in Afghanistan, now what do we have? It seems more of the same. Hopefully Gen Petraeus can formulate and initiate such a plan.

May the world remember what so many Americans have done for good in the world, what sacrifices were made to bring freedom to people they don't even know. May those in our own country know the price of freedom and appreciate what has been given to them and protected for them.

You are superman Zach, you are my hero and I love you so very much!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Day 81

Mom – Day 81

Today another 7 were killed and yesterday it was the same news. I hate hearing this news and every time I do I feel sick to my stomach. I can’t wait until Zach leaves. Zach did email Dal today so we knew that he was okay.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxox

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 82

Mom – Day 82

I am getting ready for bed but I feel really good. We spoke to Zach today (the lines kept on getting cut but we managed). He is tired of being in Afghanistan; he is so so ready to leave. He says he doesn’t want to get excited because with the military you never know until the time comes – he doesn’t know when he is leaving as of yet. He is thinking a lot about Christmas. Christmas is Zach’s and Dal’s favorite holiday. They love Christmas and all the people that gather for that day. He loves to watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music over and over again. His countdown is for this coming day when he is at home with everyone, eating and playing. Last Christmas was the first time he wasn’t with family and instead he was in a place where he wasn’t wanted and Christmas was not celebrated. It is nice to hear Zach talk about all of his plans and ideas. He loves being with family and he really misses Maine. I too don’t want to get to excited until I actually can hug him, laugh with him and have my family all together.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxox

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 83 Dad

Pre dawn attacks in the Khost Province led to 24 insurgent terrorist taliban cowards being killed. They thought they had the advantage attacking soft targets in the early hours.

No I am going to be positive today, Lisa, Dong Mei (our new host daughter) went to the Madison Anson days parade and passed out pop ice, it was so hot that they were melting but we had fun. Dong Mei particularly enjoyed the parade which was very Americana. We had a great lunch, spent the afternoon doing things around the house and then had a great dinner on the deck followed by a camp fire and marshmellows. It was a good day as Julie talked to Zach and even though we couldn't get through news from him through others is still meaningful to us.

I look forward to not following the war on the web and news but now that I am I may not stop until it is over. I feel for all the troops!

Zach you are superman, and I love you so much!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day 84

Mom – Day 84

So school is starting this week and I am not ready but it will keep me very busy. I just keep hearing about more of our military losing their lives. Every time I hear this news I am always worried – it is horrible news for some family. I just need to hear from him soon.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Day 85 Dad

We had a fun night as Lisa and I along with Brenda and Sylvia from my office participated in the Madison Anson Days chili cook-off. I made my chili and we had lots of compliments and requests for seconds but we fell short of victory we had fun though so it was all worth it. Next year we will decorate more, but next year we will have a secret weapon - Zach! My cooking buddy and my boy will help me out!

Lisa is heading down to pickup our new exchange student Dong Mei who will be coming in from China. It will be a long night as she will be staying in Portland due to the late hour of arrival. I don't enjoy being alone as much anymore!

I miss his cooking creations and look forward to competing with him on my team. Zach you are superman, you are my hero and I love you so much bud. I miss you more than words can say!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 86

Mom - Day 86

School is about to start in a few days and I am kind of ready. I am ready because Ramadan will be ending and Zach will finish his tour there. Tomorrow I pick up another exchange student that will be living with us. Life goes on.
In Afghanistan there was another incident. The Taliban used poisoned gas on 59 students and 14 teachers, and the reason according to the Taliban was that girls shouldn’t be educated. According to a CNN news report, everyone did survive. How sad.

Zach I miss you.
Xoxoxoxoxox
Luv Mama

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Day 87 Dad

Al Shabab, the Somali radical Islamic group that murdered 32 people in Mogadishu Somalia today. The brave radicals attacked a hotel with first a homicide bomb and then small arms fire. The death toll could have been worse except for the African Union forces that provided some support. Somalia a place that is incredibly poor and long run by war lords is now considered one of the big threats to the United States on our soil.

The intelligence community has long had a concern about the rise of radical islam within the borders of the United States. Al Shabab or the “The Youth” in Arabic is group that has wide appeal to many young Somalis upset by perceived Western intervention in Somalia and the use of Ethiopian troops as part of the African Union peace keepers in Somalia. I guess the most stunning is that many of these people are hearing the anti western and anti American rhetoric in their mosques located right her in America.

From a Foxnews article entitled After Crawling Onto U.S. Radar, Somalia Extremists Pose Threat – But Will They Go Global? “Jack Tomarchio, the Department of Homeland Security's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis at the time, had flown from Washington to Ohio earlier that spring day for a briefing on the Buckeye State's latest efforts against terrorism. Now, as heavy winds battered the streets above, two Ohio Homeland Security officials told him how the capitals of Ohio and Minnesota had become havens for refugees of war-torn Somalia. R30;R30;.. Then the two briefers told Tomarchio they were becoming increasingly concerned about "radical mosques" in Columbus, Ohio, where imams "considered to be a little fiery" would come from Somalia and preach anti-Western messages to the growing Somali community, Tomarchio recalls about that day in 2006”.

Why are these people immigrating to the United States? They hate us and our way of life yet they come here, and then want to convert us by words or the sword. We through freedom let it happen.

Additionally today I read in the paper that in the Congo 200 women were repeatedly gang raped and that this type of activity is used to pacify the local population because of the cultural stigma that follows even a rape. The suspects are suspected to be Muslim separatists. Where are the answers and where is the solution to the insanity that seems to be taking over?

The incident above was in 2006 and intelligence analysts continue to monitor Al Shabab to determine their strength and influence today. Young Somali men have disappeared from the US and are believed to be fighting in Somalia. “As for Tomarchio, four years after his underground briefing in Ohio and after first hearing of Al Shabab, he also said he believes an Al Shabab strike inside the United States is "unlikely" anytime soon. But, he said, it's too early to "write off the future operational capabilities of Al Shabab." "We did this with Al Qaeda years ago," he said. "And what did that give us? 9/11."

Tolerance, how more tolerant can a society be than live side by side with those who wish you ill?

You are superman, I love you Zach.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day 88 Dad

I received an email from Zach today he said it was a long night and he returned to his regular combat outpost at around 1300 or 1 o’clock in the afternoon they had been out and essentially on the go for almost 24 hours. He said he grabbed a little sleep on the ground wrapped in his poncho. Interestingly he said that the checkpoint he was at yesterday and had the Afghan meal at was not available to be used again as it was blown up by the taliban. The local villagers said there were no taliban but after a day filled with fire fights and bombings, the question remained; If there were not taliban in the area then who was causing all the problems? The people are afraid of the taliban because like most of these radicals when they say they will kill you for whatever reason they usually mean it. Thus the regular folks are afraid to cooperate despite their hope for something better due to brutality by the peace loving taliban.

Can you imagine the fear that families feel when a member joins the Afghan national army or the police? They join to better their country and to move it forward but risk the safety of family by just making this commitment. So I have often asked what victory looks like? I wonder even more what defeat will look like? They people of Afghanistan are down trodden, beaten and almost without hope. I realize this is what our message is – to bring hope where there is none, to bring food to this who hunger, shelter to where there is destruction. What a truly great country we have that we can debate the process of not only providing these things for our own people but to discuss how to help others.

We must never forget the words of Ronald Reagan, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” We must always defend freedom, our constitution is not to be tread upon, we cannot pick and choose where to use it or defend it.

God bless our troops for willing to defend freedom and you and I. Zach you are superman, I love you with all my heart.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Day 89 Dad

We were able to talk to Zach today he was tired and actually out on a mission. They were at a checkpoint and decided to take a break there. He said he was eating a delicious meal prepared by the Afghans he said the lamb was a little gamey but the meal was delicious. It is so interesting that in all of what goes on Zach has the opportunity to enjoy some of the strange and exotic culture of Afghanistan. After the meal it was back to reality as he said they were going to be on the move again shortly after we hung up. The unit was broken into small groups called kill teams and they were all out conducting simultaneous missions.

I am glad that even in the chaos of war Zach can enjoy some moments of culture. He is a great cook and I am sure that he will take something from the food he enjoys to use later in one of his own dishes. I look forward to trying it. Maybe at Christmas.

You are superman, and I love you so much Zach!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 90

Mom – Day 90

Another day. Today I went to play golf and then Dal and I went to the movies. It was another beautiful day her in Maine. I want to hear Zach telling me that it is a beautiful day and he is going out to play golf. I remember that one summer (not to long ago) that Zach and Shane would go and play golf almost every day. There are so many things that we take for granted. Today was a beautiful day, a day I would normally take for granted but today I thought about how lucky I am. Across from the golf course was a house with banner with the single star – they have a son or daughter serving.
Yesterday while watching the news I was so touched by “Operation Finally Home”. “Operation Finally Home” provides homes to wounded veterans. This idea came to a man from Houston Texas, Dan Wallrath, when he realized that there were many injured men and women who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan that could use a little help. I used my tears hearing this story. Thank you Dan.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 91 Dad

Time is sometimes your enemy and sometimes your friend. Now I hope that time moves quickly as we count down the days left on Zach's deployment. I believe he is out on missions frequently once again since he is not on the internet much now and I have not received an email in over a week. For him the missions probably make the time go more quickly and for us it is a time of concern.

"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." Ronald Reagan

God bless those who are willing to fight for the freedom of others.

Zach you are my hero, you are superman, and I love you bud!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 92 Dad

The last combat brigades are leaving Iraq ….. What exactly does that mean? Having been in the military I understand that every soldier and every marine is trained in combat skills. All are considered combat units. Any units that deploy to Iraq will be combat units, while their mission may not be combat operations they are indeed combat units, with full capabilities. While the idea of the last combat unit leaving Iraq gives a sense of safety there are still over 50 thousand troops there in what is still a somewhat hostile environment. With more units scheduled to replace units there and the possibility of a continued presence for years to come, we should not get too caught up in the sense that Iraq is now a cakewalk. My hope is that while they say the last combat unit is leaving what they don’t mean is that any units arriving will be bereft of ammunition like what happened to many units in the Bosnia peace keeping missions.

It is no secret that I have always been a supporter of a strong national defense and having served myself I am a supporter of our military. But our government has a tendency to look at combat actions and peace keeping missions through rose colored glasses. This is especially true of the Democrat majority under both Presidents Clinton and Obama. So when government looks at the military as extension of political foreign policy and not as a national defense/national security force things become very convoluted.

We are headed toward the anniversary of 9 years in Afghanistan and I am wondering what the end game is at this point. I am not talking exit strategy I am talking a defense/security strategy. Iraq for the most part could now be considered a success they may be on their way to self governing and while they probably can never be a republic in our mold they are somewhat democratic in structure. Afghanistan is not there not in the ball park not even in the galaxy of being there. I have and will continue to support our troops but question what the ultimate strategy is or should be!

This morning I did as normally do I switched to MSNBC to check out the Morning Joe, Lisa and I typically watch Fox, but routinely we check out CNN, Headline news and MSNBC to see what the left leaning side of the political news spectrum is saying. Of course this morning they mentioned President Bush and one female talking head with a slight English accent bashed Bush after another gave him some credit. She said he left the right war in Afghanistan to concentrate on the wrong place Iraq. I thought about that …. The right war? Her point was that if we had concentrated solely on Afghanistan we could have destroyed Al Queda there and now it is spread all over the middle east, Africa and Southeast Asia. What a crock of hooey! Al Queda used Afghanistan because it was convenient they have no intention of a face to face engagement with a superior military. Our efforts in Afghanistan only hastened their move to other remote havens.

They can so much more easily spread their beliefs through terror, intimidation and using our own politically correct attitudes and beliefs against us. This is a shadowy organization much like any terrorist organization who operates in the background sending others to fight for them, in the case of Afghanistan it is the Taliban. The faster we understand that this is not a fight that Al Queda is looking to make head on the faster we can put a plan in place to defeat them!

God bless you Zach, you are superman and I love you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 93

Mom – Day 93

I can’t sleep again. I have been up since 3 am. I know that I am a bit antsy about Ramadan. I can’t imagine living in a country that is at war. I can’t imagine how people cope surrounded by fear and death for so long. I imagine they cope because our instincts are for survival. Since I can’t sleep I am going back to that website of the Afghan Women Writers and I will read some more of their stories and poems. Afghanistan is not the only country in turmoil; how sad it is to live in a place that must where one must always expend their energy just to survive.

I love you Zach
xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Day 94 Dad

"It is better for a man to go wrong in freedom than to go right in chains." - Thomas H. Huxley

I want to know when the Afghans will start to help themselves. Why don't they do something to prevent things like the stonings? If a person is not willing to stand up for freedom to speak for freedom and if necessary die for freedom then they do not deserve freedom.

Loc: Sayed Abad Afghanistan - From the daily caller "A crowd of about 300 villagers yelled “Death to the United States” and blocked a main road in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday as they swore that U.S. forces had killed three innocent villagers, officials said.
NATO forces rejected the claim, saying they had killed several suspected insurgents and detained a local Taliban commander in the overnight raid."

Do these people want freedom, do they know what freedom is??

Zach you are superman, I miss you and love you more than words can say!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day 95 Dad

Lisa was able to talk to Zach today, I know that made her feel better except that Zach will be going out on a mission tonight. By the time this gets posted he will probably already be out. Ramadan has been very active for the taliban.

Today I read that the taliban stoned a couple in Afghanistan for adultery. “Stoning is an ancient form of punishment that has been abandoned in all but a handful of countries. It is still a legal punishment in some countries, like Iran, which justify it under Shariah, or Islamic law, although human rights activists say the Quran never specifically prescribed stoning for adultery.” It was the first such stoning since the taliban were removed from power in 2001. The woman was 20 and promised to a different man and the man involved was 28 and married. The woman was stoned first and then the man in front of at least 150 men who witnessed the atrocity. Then Amnesty international issued a statement denouncing the stoning calling the “stoning a "heinous crime" that showed the Taliban and other insurgent groups "are growing increasingly brutal in their abuses against Afghans.""

The article went on “The Taliban-ordered killing comes at a time when international rights groups have raised worries that attempts to negotiate with the Taliban to bring peace to Afghanistan could mean a step backward for human rights in the country. When the Islamist extremists ruled Afghanistan, women were not allowed to leave their houses without a male guardian, and public killings for violations of their harsh interpretation of the Quran were common.” I find it interesting that this punishment is not in the Quran but yet they practice it under shariah, this again indicates to me as I have stated before this is all more about power and control than religion.
I wonder what Code Pink or the Ladies in Black have to say about this. It is an interesting dichotomy as on one hand human rights organizations denouncing this and yet many not in favor of the violence of war to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I wonder if we can talk the taliban out of doing this again. One could argue that worked in Iran where a woman was to be stoned last month yet due to “a campaign by politicians, rights groups, diplomats and celebrities around the world.” However, the bigger issue there was the fact that their nuclear power plant built and supplied by the Russians was about to come on line. Had they gone ahead with the stoning then the Russians would have been under a great deal of pressure themselves to not start the plant.

And so on it goes the political, the religious, the thirst for power – nothing changes does it? Evil lurks some defend it others try to thwart it and in between we all live. God Bless those who are willing to be in that middle because of them we are free. Freedom is not free, we must cherish and defend it each day to ensure that it continues for our children!

You are superman Zach you are my hero and I love you.