31 May 2010

...for their tomorrow, we gave our today...

I came across this quote earlier today, and felt that it was appropriate for Memorial Day.  "When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow, we gave our today." - The Kohima Epitaph.
     The history that we know about (that we're taught) in school as we grow up, gives all of us an idea of what happened, but do we ever really know?  Do we know what it felt like, what these guys suffered through?  I'm lucky to have a father who was an Underage Veteran (that means he.. lied about his age when he was 13 and entered the Korean War.  Yep, 13. He is the founder of the Veterans of Underage Military Service).  My husband is a veteran, as is my sister and brother-in-law.  I'm lucky to say that I was raised very patriotically and I'm proud of my country.  I love and am honored to know what is done for the pursuit of freedom and democracy, and I support every servicemember, and I pray that they get home safe.

Every state has some sort of memorial, honoring our veterans, and my husband and I had a chance to visit the one closest to us in North Florida. I went because I didn't want to think that it's just a three-day weekend.  I wanted to remember the great sacrifice that our servicemen and women did so that I can drive anywhere I want at any time, pick out any shirt that I want at a store, choose from 20 different types of bottled water, simply because it's all my own choice since someone else fought for me.  For me.  They don't even know me and they fought for me.  For my freedom.  I took this picture at the Memorial Wall, and my heart broke for the man at the end of this wall honoring his fallen brother.

Have you read Band of Brothers, by Stephen E. Ambrose?  If you haven't, you should.  I read this in literally 5 days, and I'm usually not the quickest reader when I'm trying to absorb war facts and understand military terms.  But this one had me.  I was flying out for a 5-day trip to Baltimore a few years ago, and I covered about the first 100 pages on the flight out, paged through it in the hotel in the evenings, and then finished it on the flight back home.  I gotta admit, it's tough to hold back tears when you're surrounded by a ton of people.  They end up thinking you're weird, especially when it turns into a hyperventilating hiccup, but who cares.  It's worth it.

Lone Survivor, by Marcus Luttrell, is another tough one to read, too.  I've never been in battle, so I can't really understand what happens out there, and the only way to feel just even a small drop of the sweat from one of these guys as they risk their lives, is to just get as immersed as you can in a book, get educated, read about it, try to feel it, become inspired by it.  In this story, four US Navy Seals went out on a recon mission one night; only one man came back.  This is one my husband also loves, and it's one that brought tears to his eyes.  You can imagine, then, how I responded to this.  This is one that completely rips you apart as you move through each word, and it paints the picture of how lucky we are.  There are men and women out there who have fallen because freedom is not free.

And if you're only in the mood for a film to remind you of why we're lucky (or to those out there who simply don't support the military), read through this quote from Jack Nicholson's character from A Few Good Men:  
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have more responsibility here than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. I know deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you don't want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

To our servicemen and women all over the world, defending and preserving freedom, thank you for being on that wall.


28 May 2010

So Time Passes...

So surprising to me that a year and a half flew by since my last post, and oh my, the events that have unfolded. I got married, which was a flippin' achievement in and of itself, and now my life is caught up flying from one business meeting to another this year (literally, Southwest is my current favorite airline, strictly due to no bag charges and open seating.  Take that first classers!), and coming home to tend to the "kids." A dog and a cat, who have really not figured out just yet who actually runs the house. My husband and I try to reinforce (at least with each other) that we, the humans, lead this pack. Sadly, the two "kids" feel otherwise and remind us pretty frequently...

I've read so much and so often, that I almost don't know where to begin...I've become a slacker in my original goal of being regular with this site... So, I'll start with the most recent novel that took no more than 2 days to finish (or 2 airline flights, I should say) -- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. Gentlemen, hear this: Do not be a dork and get swayed by the title, this is most definitely not a typical mystery book about a chick that fights crime. Who knew that a sophisticated suspense thriller set in freezing cold Sweden would be a creepy and twisted "delight" to page through on a ride from Florida to California? Here I was, flying from one gorgeous place to another, and I was stuck in the -6 degree weather of Stockholm and Hedestad, getting caught up in Mikael and Lisbeth's frightening and freaky moments?  Kind of reminded me when I lived in St. Cloud, Minnesota...Okay, I'll admit that I was a little worried that the elderly woman sitting next to me could read some of the pages, and be slightly disturbed by the kind of person I was. For the rest of the flight, my head was bent over and my hair covered the pages. So there!

What follows is a nerve-wracking, disgusting, uncomfortable trip through a magazine publisher/journalist's experience as he is initially found guilty of libel in Stockholm, is subsequently hired by an aging industry millionaire to track down his niece who disappeared 40 years before, and in the middle of this, just a short jaunt to a minimum security prison to serve out his sentence of 2 months.  Oh yeah, Lisbeth is the young and emotionally non-responsive chick who has a photographic memory and is a daggone good hacker.  The things she goes through...I cannot even hint as to what they are.  It's definitely not G-rated.

Originally written in Swedish, the English translation was done by Reg Keeland, and it is a masterpiece. That's right.  A freakin' masterpiece.  Here's why:  Not often does a translated novel work effectively to engage a reader's interest, and this one is absolutely fabulous. Some Swedish words remain, which flow and are interpreted by the reader easily (such as gaol for jail). It ultimately creates an authentic experience that you begin to wonder what Sweden is all about. I love to travel, but I will be honest in that I never once considered visiting Sweden. Quite the contrary now.  And I want to fight crime.

Here's what's sad: Stieg Larsson originally planned this to be a 10-book series. He managed to complete 3 of the first 10, delivered it to his publisher, and then died from a heart attack. Based on his background in always shedding light and exposing those who are corrupt in any way in Sweden, there have been several rumors that he was killed. No one really knows, of course.  But, I'll tell you what I do know...it's a flippin' shame that we won't be able to read any more novels from him.  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starts off a trilogy of a creepy and fantastic example of suspense writing at its absolute finest.  Lock the door.  Leave the lights on.