Thursday, June 30, 2005

Day 178 - Another Medcap Mission

I hope to have some pictures to add to this later, but Al had another (small) Medcap Mission today. They brought box fans to the Iraqis and followed up on some other issues. He is now home safe. He will be doing several of these missions throughout July.

I'm thankful that he gets the opportunity to do something positive while he is there. The medical issues and birth defects are rampant there - and I although I know that there's not a lot that he can do, every little bit helps. I'm very proud of him for that.

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** Picture added 7.6.05 -- I didn't edit out any of the background, because you can just "see" the energy at the clinic!**

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Day 177 - Two Things

Hey guys! I haven't been posting much because I have been VERY busy at work. With the upcoming three day weekend, I have had a lot to get done. I was also EXTREMELY frustrated with my Blogger template. You may have noticed that all my entries were getting kicked down past the sidebar on the right hand side. Well, WHOO HOO! Sean, from the very awesome blog, Doc in the Box, posted a fix to me in my comments. THANK GOD!! If you have been having similar problems -- see this post!

Okay, the next thing is that we really need to pull together as a military community - and as a community of military supporters and say some HUGE prayers for the downed Chinook helicopter situation in Afghanistan. It is VERY serious. There is not a lot of information being given out --- and currently no confirmation of anything is being made to the families. The media has reported that Navy Seals were on board - but there have also been reports that Special Forces soldiers were on board. The helicopter was shot down by the Taliban. Please pray.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Day 174 - Picture Day!

Well, life is cranking along here. I got to talk to Al yesterday and today --- which was really nice. He has been super busy lately - he is filling in for someone on a position that he doesn't normally do - so our communication has been more limited than 'normal'.

I thought that I would post some recent pictures of us:

This picture I actually found on the Net!! One of the support sites that I frequent had a request for care packages for Al's unit - and this picture was one of the ones shown. It has Al - and his really good friends - Dave, Paul and Troy -- I will have to have him tell me who the other two gentlemen are though -- I 'think' I know - but I'm not proof positive - so I don't want to make a false identification. This is an awesome find though - first, because WOW - I wasn't expecting it - and second, because Al and his friends are not at just one location - so it's a really, really neat thing that by some miracle they were all assembled in the same place and time for this pic. I'll be interested to find out if it is a really recent pic (I think it is) - or an older pic!!
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And I took these pictures today to send to Al -- I took a bunch more too - but I won't bore you with all of them.

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Hope all of you have a very happy and VERY blessed rest of the weekend -- I really need to go to bed!! Four more days until the end of the month - whoooo hoooo!!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Day 171 - I've been MEME'd!!

And if you have no idea what that means, do not feel bad, because I had NO IDEA either - lol. I got tagged by my new friend over at an An American In Italy - and she said that I had been "meme-fied". So, I had to spend the first few minutes of my work day figuring out what the heck a "meme" even was! So, blog readers, a "meme" is a topic or theme that originates on one web page - and then goes over to several other blogs - where they discuss it and pass it on to others.

The topic that I was "meme'd" about, was The Things I Just Don't Get, so I very shortly came up with five things for you to read about that, I have a hard time accepting/comprehending.


  1. Image hosted by MARRIED PEOPLE'S DATING WEBSITES: Back in the day, when I was "brand new" to this Army stuff and Al was first getting deployed (YES, okay, I admit it - as a National Guard Fiancee, the military doesn't mean a whole lot to you, until you learn that they're going take your sweetie away from you for a year and a half), I was frantically trying to find resources and help to figure out what the heck all the acronyms meant - and all the paperwork, etc. I needed "new friends" too. So, I innocently typed in 'Army Wife Support' on Google - and I got like three dating websites for "Lonely Wives" (just so you know, I tried it again today, and those search terms don't pull up the same sites anymore - thank goodness!). But, back in August and September, I was - to put it bluntly - APPALLED. Color me naive, but I had no idea that cheating was so rampant when the spouse's soldier TDY'd or got deployed. What in the world is the point of being in a committed relationship if you're going to act like that? Anyway, to any "Lonely Wives" out there, if you're that darn lonely, you're probably in the WRONG relationship. Be a real woman and end things with your spouse before you start searching for love on the net!!
  2. Image hosted by CELLPHONES WITH OBNOXIOUS RINGS. Oh My Goodness!!! I have to confess that in the past, that I have gotten 'cutesy' with my cell ring on occasion. Playing "Old Lang Syne" on New Years, "Take Me Out to Ballgame" during the World Series season. But - UGH - the rings that they have out now are sooooooooo horrible. You know my co-worker's daughter set his cellphone ring to the other day? A cat meowing!! Do you have any clue how annoying and utterly unprofessional it is to have your cellphone do that? Not to mention that most men carry their phones in their pockets. You're standing in line at the grocery store, and all the sudden you have a meowing cat emanating from your pants? Very odd.
  3. Image hosted by Speaking of men and their pants, my next thing that I just "don't get" is, WHY DRESSING HAS TO BE SO MUCH EASIER FOR MEN. I work in an office full of Estimators, who count numbers all day and decide, on paper, how much it is going to cost to build big, beautiful buildings. Well, there is a real easy dress code for them -- a golf or polo shirt and khaki pants. That's it!! They just have to match up their belt and their shoes (of which they have to choose from brown or black) and they are all done. This makes me sick. If only things were so EASY for us women!! If it is true that men 'rule the world', it is simply because they don't have to try to make coordinating outfits with skirts and blouses and scarves and jewelry and to figure out if it's the right time of year to wear white or not.
  4. Image hosted by Number four on my list of things that I don't get is THE ABILITY TO PURCHASE HERBAL VITAMINS/SEXUAL STIMULANTS AT THE GAS STATION. What in the world is the deal with this? I'm sorry, but I have never been in line to pay for my petrol and suddenly remembered that I needed a new batch of "Horny Goat Weed". NEVER. What kind of quality control does the gas station attendant possibly have over those medications? Like the FDA is doing some sort of active monitoring process on them either? Maybe I value my body and my sanity too much to even ingest 90% of that herbal crap. Or perhaps it's because I am going to marry a nurse, but I like my pills dispensed from a clinical setting by my friendly neighborhood PHARMACIST, not some chick named Flo in Clinton, Alabama - at the same time I buy my 58 Ounce "Big Gulp".
  5. Image hosted by And my final thing on my list? PEOPLE WHO WEAR BICYCLE SHORTS - BUT THAT DON'T BICYCLE. I don't want to see that much of anybody's tightness. Bleeerrrggggh. And another thing - women cannot wear these things without certain areas being morphed into something that SHOULD NOT BE SHARED IN PUBLIC. And I'm not even going to discuss what it does to a man's genitalia. BARF. If people must insist on wearing these monstrosities, then they need to be accompanied by our friend the jogging short. I feel that it is essential that jogging shorts not be allowed to fly solo in the world of exercise fashion either. They are WAY TOO SHORT to wear all by themselves!! A permanent marriage must come to pass between the bicycle short and the jogging short. You heard it here first.

Well, that was a lot of fun. Thank you so much for the 'tag' - I will just tag two people to "meme" -- my good friend Stacy at Keep My Soldier Safe, and my new friend Huntress at Diary of a Hollywood Refugee. I'll be interested to see what their lists consist of!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Day 169 - Nine more days

Did you know that? That it is only nine more days until June is GONE? Isn't that a wonderful fact? Can you tell that I'm wishing my days away?

Al and I had a good talk today - we have some "big" plans for his R&R - and we're moving forward on all of that stuff. I have been crossing things off my "TO DO" lists left and right today too. So, I am in a HAPPY MOOD - whoo hoo! I am smiling and whistling to myself and singing little songs and everything. Quick, write this down . . . at 4:29 p.m. on 6.21.05 . . . I was in a good mood!! I'll probably go back to being a deployment hater in about five minutes or so - but HEY - I don't want to wring half of humanities necks right now, YAY!!

In honor of today's good mood, I took a silly quiz. I always said that I would never be one of those people who takes silly quizzes and then posts them on her blog for the world at large - well, oh well, I'm in a good mood dang it!!

So I took a quiz to see if I'm a good girlfriend or not - it was either that or an IQ test and I'm not feeling particularly brilliant today.

Here's the results:

You are a Great Girlfriend!!

When it comes to your guy, you're very thoughtful. But you also haven't stopped thinking of yourself. You're the perfect blend of independent and caring. You're a total catch - make sure your guy knows it too! href="">Are You a Good Girlfriend? Take This Quiz :-)href="Find'>">Find the Love of Your Life (and More Love Quizzes) at Your New Romance.

I'm glad to hear that I'm a catch - but I really hope people don't need this kind of affirmation in their relationships - that would be sad. LOL.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Day 168 - If you see me on the evening news . . .

It's because I have killed a co-worker. And I'm not just talking a gentle killing - we're talking full on hand-to-hand assualt with a deadly weapon (ie. my heavy duty stapler or my good Fiskars scissors). I.AM.SO.SICK.OF.REGULAR.NON-MILITARY.PEOPLE.WHO.DON'T.UNDERSTAND.

The last couple of weeks have gotten bad. I think it's because I am soooooooo looking forward to Al's leave - and it feels like it is NEVER going to get here. But, I have grown so impatient with people - I have zero, zilch, zip tolerance left. You hear that, people? MY TOLERANCE HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm not saying that there aren't civilians out there in the world that are perfectly nice, that may even go above and beyond in the empathy department - what I AM saying is that NONE of them work at my company. I already stopped going on break, and I NEVER eat my lunch in the lunch room. That way I don't have to deal with 40 million questions about Al being gone or my mom being sick. Am I wrong to feel this way? I mean these people barely KNOW me from Eve. And then they have to come up to me and ask me extremely personal questions about my life? How do they even know about this stuff anyway? Gossip. That's how.

You know, maybe I'm just oversensitive or something - but I just don't go around asking people unbelievably personal stuff. Like, I don't walk up to other people and go, "Well, Sally, How's that incontinence going for you?", or "John, did your son get out of drug rehab yet?". I mmob (mind my own business) - and unless someone is either a direct family member 0r a VERY close personal friend, I don't pry. I think it's rude to shove somebody's face into their personal issues.

Today, I was assaulted in my cube. And I say assaulted because it was a surprise attack that I did NOT welcome. I was quietly doing my work and mmob, when one of the older ladies in the office saunters by - and our conversation went like this . . .

Mean Old Lady: So, Melinda, when is your boyfriend getting home, anyway?

Me: Well, he's my fiancé not my boyfriend, and he will be home in either August or September.

Mean Old Lady: OH! Not UNTIL AUGUST or SEPTEMBER? That's a really long time to wait, huh?

Me: Yes, it sure is.

Mean Old Lady: Well, at least when he's home, he's home for good, right?

Me: No. He will only be home for 15 days, and then he has to go back to Iraq.

Mean Old Lady: WHAT? HE HAS TO GO BACK? THAT'S A.W.F.U.L.!! Well, he'll be home for good in like October, right?

Me: No. He will not be home for good until January or February.

Mean Old Lady: January? February? How are you going to be able to take it? That's F.O.R.E.V.E.R.!! How terrible!!!

Me: **saying nothing, trying not to strangle her with my bare hands, forcing a smile unto my face**

---> Exit Stage Right, Mean Old Lady.

Just to clarify, I don't want to think of my situation as being horrible or awful or tragic or blah, blah, blah. This is what just what God has handed Al and me to deal with - and some days are much worse than others, but I just have to suck it up and keep on moving. I love Al like crazy - and I would never change having him in my life. Not for one second would I give him up to make this situation go away. He is worth every minute of this crap. Well, most minutes anyway - lol.

So, let this be a public service announcement to the American Public at Large ---- if you know somebody who has somebody deployed, DON'T ASK STUPID QUESTIONS!! You will know when their loved one is home for good by the 10,000 watt smile on their face. And if you don't know anything about it - it's probably because they chose not to tell you in the first place!!! Don't forget, when all else fails, you can practice my MYOB manuever - it never fails.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Day 167 - Happy Father's Day to my Bunny

Happy Father's Day everyone!! But most especially, I want to say 'Happy Father's Day' to Al. He was on another medical mission this past weekend and although he isn't 'home' to his FOB yet, he is safe.

I hope that you will indulge me as I send Al a little note today . . .

Dear Bunny,

I just wanted to tell you "Happy Father's Day" - I wish so much that you were home, and I could spoil you. I have the pancake mix and syrup all ready for your R&R though - so I guess that you will have to wait just a little longer.

You mean so much to me and to the kids - and I want you to know that I think that you are the BEST Daddy in the whole world. I have always appreciated the fact that you really take the time to 'listen' to Emelia and Trey - and one of my fondest memories of you is when you would take Em after her bath and read her a book. Did you ever notice how she never squirmed when she sat on your lap? She loves you honey.

I know that Trey misses his daddy so much too. When I go to visit him, he constantly talks about his Daddy being a soldier, and that his Daddy is in the Army. You really should have seen him when I played those videos for him - he sat next to me on the chair and didn't make a peep the whole time, except to say, "Wow!" and "Cool!" - "Is MY DADDY doing stuff like that?". He really is a miniature version of you, baby. I am proud of him - and proud of you too.

Anyway, I just want you to know that we are thinking about you today - and praying for you too. I wish that things were like Star Trek - and you could teleport home for the day. But just know that in our hearts, even though you are half a world away right now, that you are right here with us, and we love you with everything that we have.

Sending ALL our love to "Daddy", "Daddy Al" - and my future husband . . .

YOUR Melinda

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Day 164 - Picture Day!

Well, I have been promising to share pictures from our trip home to MN last month - and also of Em's Alabama birthday party. Today seems like as good of a day as any!!

MN Pictures:

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Em and Mommy on the morning of her "real" birthday - in MN

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Pretty Girl

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With Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Darren, Aunt Janie and Mommy outside of church

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Going for a boat ride!

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"Hi Al!!, We miss you!!"

Alabama Birthday Party

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With Uncle Matt and Auntie Melissa

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Em had a Blue's Clues (or as she says, "Boo's Coos") Birthday - I made this cake

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Mommy w/ the Birthday Cake

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Em played A LOT at her birthday party!

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Em says, "No more birthday hats!"

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The next day - dressed up for breakfast!! Her cute shoes are from our Homefront Hugs family!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Day 162 - Happy Flag Day!!

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Our current flag, featuring 50 stars on a canton against the background of 13 stripes, 7 red and six white, has been in effect since July 4, 1960 – following the inclusion of Hawaii in the United States of America.
Though the Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877, with the centennial of the U.S. flag's existence, the idea of making it a public celebration is believed to have originated in 1885.
In course of time a number of individuals and organizations advocated the adoption of a national day of commemoration for the U.S. Flag. However, B.J. Cigrand, a teacher from the Wisconsin Public School,District 6, is believed to be a forerunner of the thought. He organized the pupils in the Fredonia, to observe June 14 as 'Flag Birthday'. It was the 108th anniversaryof the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes, the first national flag of the United States. It was a bid to inspire and educate the school children with spirit of the Flag as well as love for the nation. And it was not a single shot bid. Cigrand continued to advocate the need for its observance in the following years through numerous magazinesand newspaper articles and public addresses. But the celebration was yet to take off in a well defined styleand in a wider scale.
On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school,and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York.On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.
Inspired by Colonel J Granville Leach, a historian,the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of Americaadopted a resolution on April 25, 1893. The resolution requested the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as 'Flag Day'. It was also recommended that on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises,with each child being given a small Flag.
As a result of the resolution, Dr. Edward Brooks, then Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia, directed that Flag Day exercises be held on June 14,1893 in Independence Square. School children were assembled, each carrying a small Flag, and patriotic songs were sung and addresses delivered.
In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be displayed on all public buildings. Meanwhile, with BJ Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn as the driving force, the Illinois organization, known as the American Flag Day Association, came into being.
Its purpose was to promote the holding of Flag Day exercises. And thanks to its initiative, on June 14th, 1894, the first general public school children's celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held. More than 300,000 children participatedin the programs held in various parks across Chicago. Adults, too, participated in patriotic programs in different parts of the country. And the celebration registered increasing popularity as more and more localities and states over the next three decades.
The Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson established it officially on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years following Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that the 14th of June was designated by President Harry Trumanas National Flag Day to be celebrated each year across the nation.
Growing up in America, I have always thought that our flag was beautiful. The colors, the styling, etc. Vibrant Red of Valor, Bright Blue of Justice, Beautiful White of Purity and Innocence.
Now that I am actively involved in the military mindset though, the flag means so much more to me. I find myself actually coordinating complete outfits out of red, white and blue. It has actually become a challenge to me to try make cute patriotic outfits. Yes, I know I have issues! If Al doesn't get back from the sand soon, I'm scared that my patriotism may start to extend past my car, my house, my cubicle at work and my outfits --- I have a bad case of patriotic sprawl and I'm coming to get you. If you see me heading your way with those small miniature flags - watch out!! I'm like "The Borg" from Star Trek, 'Resistance is Futile'!!
Here is an excellent article on the meaning of Flag Day as intrepreted by Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran:

Iraqi Freedom Veteran Reflects on Meaning of Flag DayBy Capt. Steve Alvarez, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2005 – It's been a little more than two months since I returned from Iraq.

More than a year earlier I promised my wife I'd come home safely, and the day I returned, hours after I had come home, I watched my wife eagerly remove the Blue Star Service Banner that hung in our front window, and she happily watched me bring down the yellow ribbon that had hugged our yard's corner tree for a year.

The symbols of my family's hardship and sacrifice were now finally gone from the landscape of my neighborhood. Passersby and neighbors, noting the missing banner and yellow ribbon, stopped by and welcomed me home. My family's soldier was home, and the tattered, frayed ribbon that weathered three Florida hurricanes, and the banner that faded in the setting sun each day were now stowed for posterity.

Before I left Iraq, I, too, removed an item from display. It hung in the public affairs "hooch" at Phoenix Base in Baghdad, and also briefly in my quarters. The item had made the long journey from the United States to Iraq. Now back home, it sits far from the angry sounds of mortar, rocket and small-arms fire so familiar to soldiers in Iraq -- now also familiar to this flag. It is a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. Capitol on the day I became an Army officer.

Before my duty in Iraq, the flag served as a moral compass that guided me and kept my course true after I decided to leave the enlisted ranks and set my course on an officer's career path. It kept me focused and committed to the oath I took when I became a second lieutenant. I kept it within eyeshot in my office. Looking at it as I weighed options more than once helped me make sound military, personal and ethical decisions.

In Iraq, the flag was still a source of direction. The enemy routinely attacked us using indirect fire. On one occasion a round hit our compound, but did not explode. But another hit so close that the wall-draped flag waved slightly from the blast that violently shook the walls.

I looked around the hooch as we hugged the floor, and for some strange reason I felt reassured, safe. "It's going to be fine," I told my soldiers. I stared at the colors as the mortars continued to hit, and found an immense source of strength. I was never able to explain it, but every time we were attacked, if I was in the hooch, I always looked to that flag for a sense of peace, for stability, to keep me focused and grounded.

When I was in Fallujah, Iraqi security forces raised their nation's flag in a scene reminiscent of U.S. Marines raising the flag at Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, Japan, in World War II. Having seized Fallujah's hospital, one of the major objectives in Operation Al Fajr (Arabic for "dawn"), Iraqi special forces lifted their nation's colors, and in doing so lifted their comrades' spirits. And while the raising of the Iraqi flag inside of Fallujah's city limits was not as dramatic as the Marines raising the U.S. flag in the Pacific, to me, an officer sent to Iraq to help support the training of Iraqi security forces, it was equally inspiring.

As I served in Iraq, I wore the U.S. flag on my uniform. The flag accompanied me as I traveled the sometimes-dangerous streets of Iraq and flew with me in Iraq's not-so-friendly skies. My U.S. flag patches are the only patches from my uniform that I have kept.

Now, symbols of my war service, like my flag patches, are securely tucked away in a keepsake box, and my commissioning flag sits on a shelf in our den encased in wood and glass. Someday I'm sure they will again serve as a source of inspiration.

But today is Flag Day. And for my family, our house is not our home without the flag waving gently, quietly, proudly in the breeze on our front porch. For us, our flag symbolizes that we are free to do what we want, when we want. It represents freedom of spirit, who we are, what we stand for, and what we're willing to endure for liberty.

That's what kept me focused in Iraq and kept me believing in our mission. To me, the flag represents my family, our way of life -- many, united as one. And maybe that's what Flag Day is all about. The flag is something different to everyone, and in that disparity there is unity, a bond.
I've returned to my life as a part-time soldier, and I am in Washington performing my annual training. It comes as no surprise that on my son's first visit to Washington, the first two places we visited were the Marine Corps War Memorial and the National Museum of American History.
The Marine Corps War Memorial, which depicts that famous World War II flag raising, now reminds me of the nascent Iraqi forces raising their country's colors in Fallujah. The symbolism behind the monument has become, for me, one and the same with the symbolism of that moment in Fallujah.

And draped at the entrance of the National Museum of American History is a symbol of sorrow, resolve, determination and inspiration -- the mammoth flag that covered the span across the Pentagon's damaged walls the morning after Sept. 11, 2001.

And as expected, the encased flag in my den and the flag patches I wore on my uniform are once again serving as a source of inspiration.

You are, after all, reading this article.

(Army Reserve Capt. Steve Alvarez was public affairs officer for Multinational Security Transition Command Iraq.)
Visual history of the United State's Flag:
The Grand Union Flag:
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It showed the British Union Flag of 1606, the predecessor of the Union Jack, in the canton. Its field consisted of seven red and six white alternated stripes representing the 13 colonies. The latter officially replaced it on June 14, 1777.
Don't Tread on Me:
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There were some other early versions of the Flag. A very popular one among them was, the first Navy Jack. It had the 13 red-white stripes with a rattlesnake overall, and the motto"Don't Tread on Me."
The 1st national Flag:
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Called the Stars and Stripes, this was formally approved by the Continental Congress--on June 14, 1777. The blue canton was to contain 13 stars, but the layout of the stars was left undefined, and several patterns are known.The one designed by the legendary Betsy Ross is said to feature the stars arranged in five rows of either two or three stars.
The Navy adopted its own flag:
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Some related designs that followed soon, include the 76 Flag. It was flown at the Battle of Bennington on Aug. 16, 1777.
Hulbert's Stars and Stripes:
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Yet another contemporary flag that was cast in the mold of the Stars and Stripes was the one designed by John Hulbert, a magistrate. It's stripes were the same but the canton featured a diamond-shaped field of 13 stars was.
The Stars and Stripes - 1795 version:
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Stars and Stripes remained unchanged until May 1, 1795, when two more stars and two more stripes were added to reflect the admission to the union of Vermont (1791) and Kentucky (1792). It was this flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the "Star Spangled Banner".
Stars & Stripes - 1818 version:
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In 181 8, with five more states being admitted, the Congress enacted legislation. This stated that henceforth the stripes should remain 13, whereas the number of stars should always match the number of states. It was also decided that any new star should be added on the July 4 following a state's admission. This has been the system ever since.
The 1863 version:
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On May 1, 1863, a new national flag, the Stainless Banner was adopted. However, the design did not last long.
The 1865 version:
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But a still short lived was a modification of the Stainless Banner. It was adopted, rather futilely, about a month before the end of the war in April 1865.
Stars and Stripes - standardized version:
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Since then every time a new state was annexed, the size of the canton, as well as the stripes got altered, so as to accommodate the increased number of stars. It took to Oct. 29, 1912, when an executive order standardized the proportions and relative sizes of the elements of the flag. However, the exact shades of color of the elements were yet to be standardized. And it took till 1934 to standardize this.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Day 161 - Please Pray.

This weekend was a sad weekend. For the faithful blog readers out there, you know that I belong to a Yahoo Board of other National Guard wives. There are a lot 155 wives/significant others on that board and I woke up Sunday morning to an email that one of our wives lost her hubby. Her son is also serving with the 155 BCT - and he actually was home on R&R - she had just picked him up on Friday, and her husband was killed on Saturday.

Her name is also Melinda - and her husband is Sgt. Larry Arnold, they have three sons and this was Larry's second deployment. A hero has been lost - but he is being welcomed home by His Father. We pray that God's grace, mercy and healing protection would be extended to the Arnold family during this sad time. We also pray for the family of Spc. Terrence Lee and for the family of the Iraqi Interpretor, Ron, that was also killed. There were also injuries involved in the explosion, and we lift up those who will need physical and emotional healing from this tragedy.

This excerpt is from Kevin Kelly's blog - he is at the location that the events happened at:


June 12, 2005 was a terrible day because we had 2 great American soldiers killed and another soldier injured from B Co. SGT Larry Arnold and SPC Terrence Lee were killed by an IED that struck their vehicle. SGT Landrum was injured and sent to Baghdad by medevac. There was also an interpreter named Ron who was killed. I will not go into any details of what happened. I was blessed to have known both of these great warriors and they will be missed terribly. I'll miss the always smiling SPC Lee. If you had a frown when you walked past him, you would have to smile back because he just made you smile. He was always out there doing a wonderful job at whatever task he was assigned. I had known SGT Arnold before, but when we got to FOB Hotel, I really got to know him. A truly special man. One of the hardest workers I've ever known and no matter what he was doing, he would always stop to say hello and ask how you were doing. I didn't know SGT Landrum that much in a personal way, but everyone I've talked to has said he was just as an outstanding soldier as the other soldiers that have been killed or wounded over here. These men went outside the wire daily to fight these insurgents. There was never any complaining, just "Yes, Sir". They don't come much better than these three. At last update, SGT Landrum is in stable condition. As we hear more, I will update you. SGT Arnold and SPC Lee may be gone from here, but they will be with us every single day the rest of our lives for being a better person by knowing each of them. Ron was an interpreter that joined us right as we got here. The soldiers of B Co. considered him one of their own and he was well respected throughout the FOB. A very outgoing and adventurous young man that will also be missed by this FOB. Please take these families in your prayers every night and ask that God comfort them to help them get through this terrible tragedy. I know there will be lots of information flowing through the news soon, but just remember that SGT Arnold and SPC Lee paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom at home and SGT Landrum was seriously injured and each of us is a better person for having been blessed to know and serve with them.

When something like this happens, you never know how you will react. Every heart here was heavy as we heard the news. Many gathered in groups outside, others inside to listen on the radio as all lifesaving techniques that could be performed were carried out by true heroes and others just walked around by themselves to gain some kind of understanding. As I said earlier, you never know how you will react and will you be able to gain your composure. 1LT Marty Davis was at the area of the explosion and he acted as professional as anyone I've ever known in being able to gain his composure and update the TOC in what most would call a chaotic incident. He is the type of soldier that every soldier would like to follow because of the way he handles tragedy and every day combat missions. He is a great leader and because of his actions we were able to get SGT Landrum to the hospital for surgery. There were many more soldiers that were doing everything they could and acted like true heroes, but I will just always remember that voice of Marty Davis on the radio on any mission that I go on.

As far as the earlier part of the day, this will be very short. It was a cooler day (115) because of the steady dust storm that we had all day and even through today. For the most part, we had at the most 200 yards of visibility. We traveled to a school to meet with people about what is going on in the village and what we need to assist them. When we drove up, we had approximately 60 kids run to us. While the meeting was going on, we had someone firing around us that hit buildings around us. No one was injured. We spent a lot of time with the kids and really are starting to know them by name. We then went to another village and we handed out boxes of cereal, rugs, book bags and quilts. It was chaos. It was hard to control these people. There was one little girl around 5 that came up to me and grabbed my hand and just sat there and held it waiting in line. She got her boxes and then I was able to get her several more things. I'm sure she knew what she was doing when she grabbed my hand, but one of the nicest things that has happened to me over here. I was given a green apple and some kind of orange juice in a can that was cold and had lots of pulp. It was actually very good. We then went to another area and found some farmers that we had to discuss giving seed and fertilizer away. We found the biggest watermelon patch I've ever seen and they were just about ready. They told us that when they get ready they will sell them to us for less than 50 cents a piece. Their garden was also full of tomatoes, peppers, okra, turnip greens, squash and peas. 1SG Stiles had a tomato and said it was absolutely delicious.

I was able to use my Misty Mate that a soldier's mother sent to me. Her son is in the 2/114TH, but sent me a box with it inside. This thing is wonderful. It gives just a fine mist of cold water that you can spray on face and neck and give you some refreshing coolness. If you truly want to give someone something that a soldier can use on a very hot day, may want to look at sending them one of these. I was pleasantly surprised at how great it was.

I will tell you briefly about the church service. There was a larger than normal group in church this morning. Responsive reading 478. Then sang Baptist Hymn 61 Come, Christians, Join to Sing. We were then read some letters from 6th and 7th graders who wrote to us. One was from Decatur, MS and another was from Fresno, CA. The prayer request today was only about SGT Landrum and the families of SGT Arnold and SPC Lee as well as Ron. It's not that no one wasn't thinking about SGT Wong or SFC Galatas, but it just was a very emotional time. They are still in our prayers daily as well. We then sang Baptist Hymn 481 - Just A Closer Walk With Thee. The sermon came from 2 Kings 6:24 - 7:2. Based upon when something is going wrong with a situation (like yesterday), you can't lose your faith or hope. You have to trust in God and allow him to work with you till you're through it all. We then sang a song A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Communion followed and then sang He is Lord.

I really don't feel like writing anymore. I'll try to write more tonight or tomorrow, but just don't know what kind of mood I will be in. Please continue to pray for these families, our families and all of the soldiers over here. We can't thank you enough for all your thoughts and prayers. May God Bless You, Kevin

Friday, June 10, 2005

Day 158 - "Slacking"

LOL. I have been a major slacker. I realize this, I accept it -- and I apologize for it. There is a very simple reason for it though - I have realized that the fewer posts that I make, that I can give myself a false sense of time going by faster. For example, the last post that I made was on "Day 150" - well, today's post is "Day 158" - so I can say to myself, "Oh my goodness, look at that, another eight days gone, and here just yesterday it felt like it was 'Day 150' - time is just flying by - well before you know it, Al will be here on R&R - and then he will be home for good." No I have not been inbibing in alcoholic substances, I promise. Although that might make time go faster too.

Al and I are genuinely s.i.c.k. of deployment. Just in the news this week there was two tidbits of info. that amused us greatly -- one was that divorce rates among soldiers are skyrocketing and the second is that Army recruitment goal attainment is at an all time low. LOL. Gee, hmmm, let me search my little pea-brain and see if I can figure out WHY in the world these two things could be happening??? Oh, that's right, if you never let a soldier be home and be around their family - or provide them access to decent commo when they're away from their family - or access to good counseling services upon return (six sessions doesn't cut it) - there probably won't BE a family for them to come to home to around the third or fourth deployment or so. And for any SMART soldier with ANY sense, after he's experienced one or two of those said deployments and he wants to KEEP his family - he (or she) will get out.

Now, I'm not trying to get anything started. Al loves our country and I do too - I'm very, very proud of him of serving. But there has to be a way to get this deployment issue solved - and there has to be a way to bolster up our MAIN fighting force and cut down on the length of Reserve and Guard deployments. To be honest with you, Al and I would be much more willing for him to go to Iraq TWICE in two years for a period of six months, instead of one time for an entire year. And the main fighting force people have it rough too - on my Army Wives board, since I joined last fall, women who had just gotten their men back last spring - already have those same men leaving again. Somehow, that just doesn't feel "fair" - you know?

Maybe it's because I'm stuck here at home and I just don't 'understand' and I can see everything in an 'idealized' way --- but to me, no matter what section of the military you are in, if the Army takes your loved one for a certain amount of time --- in Al's case it will have been for 545 days --- it should only be fair for you to get to keep them for that same amount of time. Is that crazy? I understand that they will need to keep up their training and they would maybe have to go for two week field ops exercises, etc. - but the 'majority' of those days would be spent at home with their family (or in the case of Reserve/Guard soldiers, working their civilian jobs).

Surely the military can see that job market is become highly competitive. That the ability to find "good" people is getting harder and harder . . . there ARE a lot of other options out there for highly qualified candidates --- and unless they are looking for a modern force of "drones" and "pulses", I hope that they realize and understand SOON that when you hire the soldier, that you hire that soldier's loved ones and families too. They say it on paper, but when the next piece of paper you look at says that your soldier is going to be gone for 545 days, it's a little hard to believe that the Army cares one little bit.

Okay, I'm off my soapbox - lol. Sorry about that!!

I am helping Al's mom move this weekend, so I will be in Jackson, MS. I get to spend time w/ my good friend Stacy - my deployment buddy - WHOO HOO!! And I get to see Trey-man, Al's Mini-me, so it should be a good time even with the moving part.

Sending lots and lots of hugs and blessings to all!! Mwah!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Day 150 - Holy Crap, it's Day 1-5-0!!

Well, Em and I are back from vacation. We had a lot of fun. We saw a lot of relatives, etc. Em learned the words "Grandpa" (pronounced "Popa") and "Grandma" (pronounced "Grrmma") - and she just generally loved being slathered with constant attention. It's got to be a good feeling to know that absolutely everything you do is adorably cute and precious. LOL.

I will post vacation pics for you hopefully tomorrow. She is having her "Alabama Birthday Party" on Saturday too - so we'll be excited to share that with everybody also.

Well, we are officially 150 days into this gig. That feels kind of crazy but pretty cool to say at the same time. I will be so happy when the next 50 days are behind us. There are several reasons for this:
  1. Two hundred sounds a lot better than 150.
  2. Our halfway point of "boots on ground" is 182 days.
  3. Al's R&R leave will either be in August or September - so in fifty days, he will be even closer to being in my arms!!

Here are the pics of my bunny that I was hoping to post before I left on vacation, but wasn't able to get around to it because of all the craziness going on. I know that I am HIGHLY prejudiced, but he looks sooooooooooo good!! We just got him a new digital camera - and the clarity is great. These are from earlier in May:

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Al overlooking his Forward Operating Base.

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With a friend.

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He looks soooooooooo good in this picture!!

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Close up of UXO's (Which I believe stands for "Unexploded Ordnances" - please correct me if I'm wrong!)