Today is the 73rd anniversary of D-Day. It’s the day when American, Canadian and British forces made the largest amphibious assault in history on several heavily fortified beaches in Normandy (Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, Sword) in order to fight Nazi Germany and gain a foothold in Continental Europe. More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft were on hand to support the invasion.
General George S. Patton, Jr addressed his troops as they were preparing for battle on June 5th, 1944. He said
“There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you won’t have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, ‘Well your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.'”
Nothing comes without a cost. During the invasion many of the Allied ground forces were either killed, wounded or went missing following the landings and there were many additional deaths among the Allied air forces.
It’s good for us to remember them always but particularly on this day…
Santa’s Helper is busy delivering Christmas love. There’s a little something special in my bag for all our troops, whether deployed or at home, our veterans…and of course our civilian American patriots. God bless you and yours!
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air….”
Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
*I will be out of town on Friday, and I may or may not have internet service so here’s the Celebration Of Service Friday post, just a little early.
I’ve whispered in Santa’s ear and asked him to bring you a safe and happy Christmas season whether you’re home or serving abroad. Know that your countrymen are including you in their prayers on Christmas and every other day of the year. We think about you, we appreciate you and we are ever grateful for all your hard work. God bless you and yours!
When I was a child, we used to drive by the rows and rows of white headstones that cover the landscape at the Golden Gate National Cemetery. Even when I was very young, the sight gave me pause. I don’t remember now, if I prayed for those buried there but I know I thought about them long after the headstones were tiny specks in the distance. I always wanted to visit, I wanted to walk up and down the rows and read the inscriptions on the stones. I asked to stop many times but my parents didn’t take my requests seriously and I never got the chance. I surmise they thought it would be upsetting to me but I never felt that way. I simply wanted to walk there, to feel the atmosphere, to think inside the quiet blanket that surrounded the place. In my own way, I wanted to “talk” to the men who were buried there.
These days I think a lot about those who served and who are currently serving. I think about our fallen and I pray for them and the families/friends they leave behind. I think about how to conduct myself to best honor their service, their sacrifice and to show my gratitude in a concrete way.
On March 2nd 2012, I wrote the following
“This very day, this very hour someone is engaged in a life or death struggle on your behalf. Do not forget to be grateful and by extension show that gratitude by living so that your life is worth the price paid to protect it.”
That’s what I try to do each and every day. I try to make good use of the time I have. That’s because each day I’m given to do my work here is a gift paid for by somebody else.
Enjoy your time, hug your friends, hold your family close…be kind to each other…
Conventional wisdom says ignore negativity and in general I think that’s excellent advice. Even so, it pleased me to fashion a response to my latest bit of hate mail which was posted to my page on Bodybuilding.com last Tuesday, so that’s what I did. The following is a screenshot of the note I received.
Since you have taken time out of what I’m sure was an already busy day to write, it’s apparent you want some of my attention which, just this once, I will grant you. I’m not being facetious. What I have to say is from the heart.
First I find it odd that you wrote to me to speak for your husband and son. I’m sure they could speak for themselves if they were so inclined. I wonder if this is a habit with you? I can just imagine…”Dear Dr Brown, my husband and son just love you. They consider you the best doctor they’ve ever been to.” or “Dear Mr. Michaels, my husband and son were so frustrated when they arrived to pick up the car but had to wait an entire half hour for you to finish rotating the tires.” It seems to me that you might have a smothering type of personality which leads me to my second thought.
It’s entirely possible that your husband and son told you they think I’m a joke or made derisive comments about me if you happened upon them while they were looking at my photos. Perhaps they didn’t want to upset you or were trying to avoid an argument. It’s clear that you’re excessively possessive, easily upset and we’ve already established that you tend to smother so there is probably a fair amount of conflict avoidance going on where your family is concerned.
On the other hand, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that you and your family do indeed sit around the dinner table at night and look through my gallery photos to get a good laugh. I don’t mind. I don’t take myself seriously with regard to my photos so it doesn’t bother me if you don’t either. Actually, since I get great pleasure out of spreading happiness, if I get a genuine laugh out of you, your husband or son, I’m perfectly OK with that. We all need a little more levity in our lives.
Please be aware if I’ve had any contact with your husband on Bodybuilding.com, he has invited it. Out of the 2841 friends I have on the site, I have asked approximately 20 to be my friend first and they were typically friends of friends that I ran into over and over, got to know a little and finally asked to be “official” friends. This is not a function of anything other than my rather reserved nature with people I don’t know. I’m a watcher. I tend to stand back and observe. I don’t typically initiate contact of any kind on the internet or in my daily life. It’s just the way I’m wired. I do offer genuine compliments to people here (men and women alike) when they are merited. It’s a bodybuilding site. That’s what we do…offer support, encouragement and appreciation where they are deserved.
I’m cognizant of the fact that I’m not in high school. I got out long ago, got an undergraduate degree, a Master’s degree and a PhD. I’m thankfully done with the formal part of my education.
As for being a pin up, maybe I am, maybe I’m not. I do know that I get many kind notes from people who like the military tribute photos I post. The “pin up” photos are a creative outlet for me that combine my interest in bodybuilding and photography. Those who like my photos are well aware of the fact that I’m not a model or a photographer by profession. I post military tribute/patriotic photos not because I’m a beautiful, young thing who gets paid to stand there with an American flag or an Airborne shirt, rather I’m a fellow citizen gratefully acknowledging the very hard work put in by members of our armed forces. I call them my visual thank you notes. If you don’t like them, please don’t look at them. They are my favorite kind of photo to post. Incidentally, you may be surprised to hear it but several troops have told me specifically that they have one or another of my photos on their walls so I guess maybe I am a “pin up.” Imagine that!
Let’s think this over together. I have Unidentified Perturbed Guest Woman who doesn’t enjoy my tribute/patriotic photos on one hand, and some of our nation’s finest, our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines who are serving this country honorably, many of them in harm’s way who take the time to write and tell me they like them on the other. I presume you know who wins that battle of opinion.
Finally, as a former English teacher, I have to tell you that aside from the grammar issues I won’t delve into, your writing style is atrocious. If you want your opinion to be considered your approach would benefit from a bit more subtlety. Name calling and use of profanity is a terrible reflection on you. It indicates at best a lack of self-control (in which case you lose your argument by default) and at worst a lack of both creative imagination and intelligence. People judge you by the language you use and how you use it. As soon as you begin to punctuate your points with swear words you’re discounted as being unworthy of a response. I hope you to find a way to express yourself so you get the kind of exchanges and results you really want in your life.
Best wishes to you, your husband and your son,
Last Saturday I left the gym and went the grocery store just down the street. Yes, I was there on a Saturday. Weekend workouts aren’t my usual routine but I’m fluffy right now and taking steps to de-fluff. I jokingly call it, paying for my sins, which in this case refers to the months of gluttony that preceded Mr Mirror’s proclamation that something needed to be done. So off I went to the gym on a Saturday. I added an extra 1 hour cardio session and then because I have Gymrat-itis I did a good hard leg workout.
When I had finished my shopping, I stopped to say hello to a nice Asian man I see often, an employee, who was manning the self checkout area. One day, more than a year ago as I was going though his checkout lane he exchanged a few words with me. At that particular time I happened to be wearing my 7th Special Forces Group shirt. He said “I remember them. They were good men. That was a long time ago, more than 30 years but I’ll never forget.” We didn’t have time for more because there was a line behind me so I moved on through. From that day on, we always made it a point to say hello when I did my usual stop after the gym. Another day many months later he told me he had been a tunnel rat in Vietnam. On Saturday, he told me a little more of his story. He said he had been with the 3rd Marines. He told me that he had a Marine Corps hat he used to wear “but it had the Vietnam ribbon on it and they called me a baby killer.” He talked a little about his family, his sons and daughter. He said they asked him “how he could kill his own” referring to other Asian (Vietnamese?) people. He said they didn’t understand but he just told them that “Freedom isn’t free.”
Freedom isn’t free…It’s an expression you often hear. For some who use it, it’s a throwaway line with little meaning…something pithy to say when they have nothing else to contribute to a conversation but for so many others it touches that shining cord of truth that runs through all of us. Nobody knows this more powerfully than those who gear up and go out there into the fray, with conviction and a resolute heart what the costs actually are.
Different people carry the burden of that knowledge differently. For some it’s always locked away, never to be mentioned. For some it’s kept inside for years until the time is right and they are moved to tell certain things publicly (I heard a Vietnam era Army Ranger named Gary Dolan say that he didn’t speak of his experiences until 30 years after they occurred) . Sometimes they will volunteer bits and pieces if they determine that you’re someone they find worthy like my friend David (a former Marine who gives me things to read and shares personal reflections about his older brother, a Recon Marine who was killed while on patrol in a fierce firefight in Vietnam). Sometimes they’ll show you.
This amazing piece of artwork is on the back of a Soldier (Ranger) that I came in contact with through our mutual interest in a fit lifestyle. I saw it and was immediately struck by the great detail and profound meaning. It’s an entire conversation without words and I find it poignant and beautiful in it’s expression. He said I could share it and when I asked him if he wanted any words to accompany the photos he told me I could just say he’s “A true patriot.”
Indeed! True patriots; the ones who risk everything, who willing forgo all creature comforts, who endure heat, cold, hunger and bone-weary fatigue, who step forward when all others are running to the rear and who consequently see up close the worst that mankind can set against them.
I’m proud of them. I’m proud that they answered when called and proud to call them my countrymen. I know in my heart that freedom isn’t free. The same spirit and determination that’s rooted in them is what helped win it for the rest of us in the first place. They follow in the footsteps of those who went before, standing up, taking their turn despite the always open door right next to them that says, “the easy way out.”
“The Soldier above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” (Douglass MacArthur)