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Archive for February, 2012

By Catherine McCarthy

Even Xavier Alvarez’s lawyers admit he has trouble telling the truth.  And he told some whoppers when running for local office in California.

Like 29 years of service in the Marine Corps.

That he won the Medal of Honor for rescuing the American Ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis, and that he had been shot in the back as he returned to the embassy to save the American flag.

In another version, he was a Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot who had been shot down but then, with the help of his buddies, was able to get the chopper back into the sky.

In the Liar Olympics, Alvarez was a gold medal contender.  But he raised eyebrows with his tall tales, and reports to the FBI resulted in the first indictment and conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 704(b),(c)(1), widely known as the Stolen Valor Act.

Almost one year after the Supreme Court ruled that the picketing of military funerals was protected speech, the court will today once again hear oral arguments debating whether the First Amendment protects those who lie about military honors and service. Once again, our servicemen and women, past and present , will have to face the fact that the Constitution that they uphold, that they shed blood and lose loved ones to defend, may again protect speech that dishonors and disvalues the very traditions they hold sacred.

The Court’s ruling won’t come down until mid- to late-June. It is likely that this too will be ruled as protected speech, as it was with respect to Westboro Baptist Church’s protests of military funerals.  Many members of our Facebook page at that time commented that while the protests infuriated them to no end, they understood the ruling and thought it was the right decision.  Our military families know the high cost of freedom.

Justice Brandeis wrote in 1927, “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” My family was fond of saying, “Truth will out”. Our amazing partner Military Times is using the power of another part of the First Amendment, the freedom of press, to raise awareness of verified liars.  Check out their Hall of Shame. Make yourself feel better by checking out their Hall of Valor blog and search engine.

With the much-deserved attention and support increasing for our military families, wounded warriors and veterans, it would not be surprising to see more Xavier Alvarezes. People have good hearts, and want to help those who have given up so much for us, and that provides an opportunity for scammers to use our patriotism for their personal gain. There are highly rated organizations, like Operation Homefront, that work with our military families to make sure your invaluable time and resources make it to those who legitimately need your support.

Today is also the 280th Birthday of George Washington,  in a letter to letter to Charles M. Thruston, Aug. 10, 1794. “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.”

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By Catherine McCarthy

A week ago, I had a surprise visit from a close friend. She and I had been through thick and thin when our husbands were stationed at Naval Station Norfolk, and we remain close to this day, even though our paths have taken us out of the service and on to different places.  We’re talking 2+ hour phone calls and frequent IM chats.  My three kids can recite her phone number just as easily as their own.

After touching base recently, our conversation landed on the recent Navy ERB.  ERB is the Enlistment Retention Board, which is tasked with making the difficult choice of who gets to continue in service to their country, and who gets the DoD version of a pink slip.

Drawdown, force shaping,  whatever the term (I actually read an article that referred to members as “inventory”), the 2012 cuts have been wreaking emotional havoc on many military families, either directly through notice they are being discharged, indirectly by knowing someone who has, or fear of what’s to come.  Just among our small circle of acquaintances, three have already been told their service is no longer required or desired.  Fear, anxiety and anger seem to be the order of the day among those touched by these cuts. For good reason:

Statistics aside, there is a sadness unique to our military and their families when the time comes to move on.  Military service is a calling, felt with a depth of faith understood only by those who dedicate their life in service (whatever form that may take).  Faith in country, mission, and each other.  One more time, they are being asked to leave their home and their family, except this time the home and family is the military itself.

We may not be able to change who will be asked to leave,  but we can certainly do something to support the families facing the transitions. This is a call to action for our community to stand by these families and help however we can.  Lend an ear, make a connection, pass on word of a job opportunity.  Listen and learn from those who are and have gone through the transition.

One day, we all eventually hang up the uniform.

Share your thoughts, transition tips, and check out the resources below

 

Resources:

US Chamber of Commerce Hire Our Heroes:  In March of 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched its Hiring Our Heroes program, a nationwide effort to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment. In addition to a goal of 100 nationwide job fairs, their programs include: a Wounded Warrior Transition Assistance Program, a Student Veterans Internship and Employment Program, and a Women Veterans and Military Spouses Employment Program

US Department of Labor Gold Card: provides unemployed post-9/11 era veterans with the intensive and follow-up services they need to succeed in today’s job market in addition to their VETS program

National Resource Directory’s Veterans Job Bank

Department of Veterans Affairs Veteran Employment Coordination Service

Broader resources also available at Military One Source.

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By Catherine McCarthy

Sports is human life in microcosm.  ~Howard Cosell

Did you hear?  There’s a big game this weekend. How big? It is estimated that 100+ million people will tune in to watch.  Considering about 98% of that will be from inside the US, that works out to about 1/3 of the country.  Close to as many that voted in the last presidential election.

Americans love of sports rivals our love of country. Some could say, more so. It’s probably true that folks are currently more concerned at this moment about Super Bowl point spreads and smorgasbords than who is watching a hillside, a fence line, and our skies in places where flat screens and HiDef take a far backseat to basic needs like food, shelter and freedom. But there are times in sports when our ideals of perseverance, courage, opportunity, teamwork and excellence coalesce into one beautiful moment, where we connect as TEAM USA:

Whitney Houston National Anthem 1991 Super Bowl:

Ten days after the start of Operation Desert Storm, Super Bowl XXV kicked off in Tampa with what is now considered to be the gold standard for performing the National Anthem. Dare you not to get goosebumps:

Jesse Owens 1936 Olympic Games, Berlin:

Courage in the Face of the Furher

Despised by the Nazi regime not only for being American, but African American, Owens would not be cowed by hatred and went on to represent the Red White and Blue by winning four Gold Medals in Track and Field at the Olympic Games in Berlin.

David and Goliath 1980

Miracle on Ice:

Decades of Cold War tensions boiled over in the 1980 Winter Olympics match up between the United States and the Soviet Union on a patch of ice at Lake Placid NY. A team of amateur college players up against a state sponsored machine that had dominated Olympic gold since 1964. An underdog victory so iconic that many don’t realize that it wasn’t the gold medal event (which the US went on to win).

 

 

“For America”,  Jack Buck September 17, 2001,

At the time Buck, himself a veritable institution among American Sportscasting, was sick with lung cancer struggled to maintain his composure to deliver this poignant poem first night back for Major League Baseball, less than a week after the terrorists attacks of 9-11

Since this nation was founded under God,
more than 200 years ago,
We have been the bastion of freedom,
the light that keeps the free world aglow.
We do not covet the possessions of others;
We are blessed with the bounty we share.
We have rushed to help other nations;
anything…anytime…anywhere.
War is just not our nature,
We won’t start but we will end the fight.
If we are involved,
We shall be resolved,
To protect what we know is right.
We have been challenged by a cowardly foe,
Who strikes and then hides from our view.
With one voice we say,
“We have no choice today,
There is only one thing to do.”
Everyone is saying the same thing and praying,
That we end these senseless moments we are living.
As our fathers did before,
We shall win this unwanted war,
And our children will enjoy the future we’ll be giving.

Here’s to all American heroes, past and present, on and off the battlefield, and to those moments that have us all chanting, “USA! USA!”  Feel free to add your favorite moments or join the convo on our Facebook page:

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