30 May 2016

For Some, Every Day is Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, we pause as a grateful nation to honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in our defense.

We used to think of them as stoic Heroes of wars fought long ago represented by white gravestones standing in silent memory across our land.

But now they are also today's sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends.

And in their sacrifice lies not just our liberty, but also the pain of those left behind.

As we honor our fallen Heroes, we also remember their loved ones and pray for those living with the pain of loss.

Nothing can ever replace their loss, but we pray they can find strength knowing that their loved ones died while fighting in defense of our country's founding principles.

If not for their commitment to a cause greater than themselves, we would not be here to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

As we pause to remember the high cost of freedom and honor those who paid the ultimate price to protect it, let us resolve to live lives worthy of their sacrifice.

God bless our Fallen Heroes and their families. We honor your sacrifice, and will love and remember you always.

For some, every day is Memorial Day.

09 May 2016

2016 Invictus Games Open in Florida

From Stars & Stripes:

“You will see people that should have died on the battlefield but instead are going for gold on the athletic field,” Prince Harry said to a thunderous crowd during the opening ceremony at the ESPN Wide World of Sports arena at Disney World. “You will be inspired.”

Prince Harry launched the Invictus Games in 2014 in London after he saw the rehabilitative power of sport at the U.S. Warrior Games and wanted to take that healing spirit global.

01 May 2016

Five Years Ago: bin Laden Killed by U.S. Forces

This is a repost from 2011.

"A lot of people were upset we celebrated the death of another human being. I told them the only thing I as upset about is that I didn't do it. They've got to understand that people have to do terrible things so that things like 9/11 don't happen again."

- Sgt. Christopher "Kit" Lowe, wounded in Afghanistan, 2009.

Words like "grateful," "relief," and "calming," were words local veterans at the Soldiers' Angels Support Center in San Antonio, TX used when they talked about the "most wanted terrorist" Osama Bin Laden being taken down. The words hardly describe the peace and closure many military men and women and veterans say they're feeling.

Here are more reactions from Wounded Warriors and Gold Star families.

"While bin Laden may be dead, America still must defeat the Taliban and the rest of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. We're still not through losing soldiers on the ground over there. There's still a job that we have to do. And we need to complete that job before we come home."

- Donn Edmunds, Gold Star father of Army Ranger Spc Jonn Edmunds, who was among the first combat casualties in Afghanistan in the fall of 2001.

"I always believed in the cause; whether it was against fighting Al Qaeda, or the Taliban, or whoever, but I really think it means a lot more now that we've actually stuck with this war and caught him."

- Robert Riley, former Navy Hospital Corpsman wounded in Afghanistan in 2010.

“I feel like celebrating, but I don't feel like celebrating his death. But I think it's a huge relief that he died for anyone involved in 9/11-- every American, you know.” Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, he says the U.S. mission is not over.

- Marine Cpl Todd Love, wounded in Afghanistan in 2010.

"A lot of thoughts ran through my mind, with a pounding heart and some relief that this just may be the beginning of the end of what was started with our country’s biggest assault... September 11th. My grandson Seth would have been so proud to see the demise of bin Laden.”

- Ron Garceau, Gold Star grandfather of Army Sgt. Seth Garceau who died at Landstuhl hospital in 2005 of wounds sustained in Ramadi, Iraq.

"I was personally happy to see that. Any time evil is defeated, that's a great thing and it's something to be happy about. Do I take a lot of satisfaction, a lot of semi-quiet satisfaction, in knowing that bin Laden is dead? I do. I guess a small part of that is personal. But for me, it's for my country."

- Layne Morris, former Army Special Forces wounded in Afghanistan in 2002.

"I'm more proud than ever to be an American. There is no better military in the world than ours. I remember after the 9/11 attacks, when Bush said we will not falter and we will not fail. This event speaks to the commitment, intestinal fortitude and perseverance of our military."

- John Walter Wroblewski, Gold Star Father of Marine 2nd Lt. John Thomas "J.T." Wroblewski, who was killed in Ramadi, Iraq in 2004.

"For guys like me who have lost personally so much, and friends, it's like, are we going to be there forever?" He hopes the county's leaders learn something from the costly wars.

- Retired Staff Sgt Joe Beimfohr, wounded in Iraq in 2005.

"When you're fighting an ideology, you're not facing off with a nation-state that can surrender. The only way we can beat them is to stop them from conducting their actions. And we do that by showing them that they will pay an ultimate price."

- Former Staff Sgt. Phillip Baldwin, wounded in Afghanistan in 2006.

‎"I have a vested interest in what happens in Afghanistan. I feel like (bin Laden's death) hopefully will be a turning point and I know it will be a great morale booster for our troops."

- Linda Ferrara, mother of MAJ Marcus Ferrara, who served in Iraq, CPT Matt Ferrara, KIA in Afghanistan in 2007, 1LT Damon Ferrara, just returned from Afghanistan, and 2LT Andy Ferrara, deploying to Afghanistan in May.

"What can you say? Everything I signed up for is finally completed. I was instantly emotional. It was amazing."

- Former Army Spc Rob Kislow, wounded in Afghanistan in 2005.

"The first thing that went through my mind was elation. And relief that everything that we're going through hasn't been for nothing, because it kind of feels like that sometimes."

- Leslie Kammerdiener, Silver Star Mother and caregiver of former Army Spc Kevin Kammerdiener, wounded in Afghanistan in 2008.

"In war, the only cause for celebration, in the eyes of a warrior, is its victorious end. There will still be the empty chair at the table, the salt of tears, the bitterness of friends and family no longer among us, and the emptiness that comes from their loss. We will continue this fight, and so will our enemy."

- Major Charles Ziegenfuss, wounded in Iraq in 2005.