Memorial Day Through the Eyes of a Green Beret Wife

I lived about 15 miles from Fort Bragg, North Carolina from 1994 to 2012, in a rural area where many Army officers and members of the various Special Forces groups based there made their home. After 9/11, our area was immediately impacted as Fort Bragg forces were some of the first deployed in the War on Terror. We were reminded daily of the sacrifices these families were making – dad wasn’t there to participate in Little League with the kids or read a bedtime story, or any of the hundreds of little things that make up family life. Unfortunately, some of the dads never made it home.

Tiffany and I became friends when our boys were in the same Cub Scout pack. I knew it was difficult for her to hold down the fort at home while her husband was in parts unknown for months at a time – and when there were constant reports on the nightly news of injuries and casualties halfway around the world. But I didn’t realize the depths of the pain and trials she and other military wives experienced until a few years ago. That Memorial Day she wrote about losses her husband’s small unit sustained during one deployment, and with her permission I am sharing it here in full.

In the early days of the war I remember watching the news religiously. I was always shocked at how much information the media would give about the location of our guys. It really bothered me. And, of course, we could find out in almost real time if we had lost another Green Beret.

I remember a particular day when I heard a news bulletin telling of not one but two fatalities from our very small unit. My heart sank. The phone tree was abuzz, with all of us trying to find out. Was it me? Would I hear the knock on the door? As every military wife has done, I imagined my response. What I would say or do? How would I react? Would I cry, yell, tell them to leave? Ask them in? What would be best for my children? Step outside?

Thankfully that knock did not come for me that day. It did for two other wives.

I knew I had to go to their memorial service. I would want other wives to show support if it had been me, so alone I decided to go.

I got up that morning feeling brave. I got dressed and did my makeup, yet thought that seemed strange. I’m not sure why. I drove to the Special Forces chapel alone. I quietly walked inside and found my seat on a pew in the back half. I wasn’t comfortable sitting up close to the family. I was concerned that so many seats were empty, but most of our guys were gone, so I understood.

Looking around at the windows I found it so strange then that the stained glass included soldiers with guns in a church. Guns and church didn’t seem to go together.

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Stained glass window at the JFK Memorial Chapel, Fort Bragg, NC

Now I understand. Those windows show the depth of man’s soul in a battle. There is probably not a place closer to God – or seemingly further from Him – on this earth.

Shortly before the memorial began a very long line of young soldiers entered the chapel, filling every available space. It was standing room only. I later found out they pulled students from the local training unit over as a show of support. I watched these young guys and wondered what they were thinking.

I don’t remember much of what was said that day, but I clearly remember the final roll call. The command calls the name of each soldier on the team. (12) Each soldier answers “Here, Sgt Major” until they get to the fallen soldier. Their name is called, and when there is no answer there is the volley of gun fire.

I will never forget the agonizing wail from the wife of one soldier that day. My heart hurt for her. I feel horrible pain inside just remembering that sound. I realized that volley symbolized the last sound her husband heard before he was killed. What were his last thoughts? That sound is deafening. Did he know that was it? Did he have a chance to think of her? Was he in pain? I figured these might be her thoughts. They were holding her on her feet now. It was so hard to watch I closed my eyes.

I quickly walked away from that chapel, feeling a lot less brave. I got into my car and quietly sobbed.

GreenBeret

I wish I had never gone that day. Fear enveloped my life, fear of that wailing pain. I tried to outrun the fear. I couldn’t run fast enough. I tried to pray my way out of the pain. The sleeplessness clouded my mind. I could no longer eat or drink, certain my knock would come.

Eventually I chose to end my marriage. I couldn’t wait for this certain end. I loved him too much. I wallowed away in a bottle, to the shock and disgust of most I knew. My mind was twisted with the sorrow of the sound of the wife’s cry. It haunted me, and does to this day.

Those months were the longest of my life. I know what I felt, and also knew that my pain could never amount to hers.

I am beyond grateful that Rich made it home that deployment. Many did not. It was a rough year for our unit. He came home, broken himself, to a wife who could hardly hang on.

How grateful I am that together with the blessings of our temple marriage and the power of the atonement we were able to be healed of the wounds inflicted that deployment. But every year on Memorial Day I remember that wife. I remember her pain and her sacrifice. I remember her son, and the loss he must have felt. I remember they gave all.

I think people forget that most soldiers do not join thinking they will fight this particular political foe. They join to protect America. They don’t pick a side. It isn’t about that to these patriots. It’s protecting their home and fellow citizens. Leave the politics to the politicians and hold them accountable. But love the soldier. He loves America.

Tiffany shared with me that the weeks around Memorial Day are extremely difficult for many combat veterans, who are remembering their brothers in arms who didn’t get to come back home. Some replay battle scenes in their mind, second-guess split second choices, or wonder why they were the ones who survived.

When we honor and remember those who gave their lives on Memorial Day, we should also remember the parents, spouses, siblings, and children left behind –  their pain and their sacrifice. They gave all.

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Homeland Security Secretary Speaks Out On the Kushner “Backchannel” And the Culture Of Leaks (VIDEO)

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly was on Meet the Press today and talked about two items that have controlled the media this past week: the alleged backchannel to Russia proposed by Jared Kushner and the leak of classified information about the Manchester bombing.

TRANSCRIPT

CHUCK TODD: You got it. Earlier this morning I spoke with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. And I began by asking him about the Jared Kushner news.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEC. JOHN KELLY: I know Jared. He’s a great guy, decent guy. His number one, number one interest, really, is the nation so you know there’s a lot of different ways to communicate, backchannel, publicly with other countries. I don’t see any big issue here relative to Jared.

CHUCK TODD: Even with an adversary, somebody that was, at the time, our own intelligence community had collectively said “this is a country that had infiltrated our election.” Did this show good judgment?

SEC. JOHN KELLY: Well you know, it was before the government was in place during the transition period I think, from what I understand. And I think any time you can open lines of communication with anyone, whether they’re good friends or not so good friends, is a smart thing to do.

CHUCK TODD: Had you ever, in your lifetime of government service, both in the military and outside of it, had you ever used another government’s communications facility though? The idea of sort of going around American communications.

SEC. JOHN KELLY: Well no, but I didn’t have to. I mean in my previous life, we wouldn’t do that kind of thing but youknow politics being what they are– a better way to put it, not politics but the kind of interaction here in Washington, there’s a lot of ways to communicate with people.

It’s interesting that two general officers with extensive experience dealing with foreign powers, friendly and hostile, see no problem in Kushner’s stillborn idea of creating a backchannel to the Russians. Presumably this is not because they know what they are talking about but rather because they have sold out several decades of honor and integrity. As I’ve said before, there is a rather bright line that separates legal from boneheaded stupidity. Kushner clearly crossed it with this proposal.

The next major subject was leaks.

TRANSCRIPT

CHUCK TODD: Did British Prime Minister Theresa May have a point when she complained to the United States about leaks?

SEC. JOHN KELLY: She did.

CHUCK TODD: She did. It did come from our side.

SEC. JOHN KELLY: I don’t know where the leak came from. But I will tell you this, as I always do in cases like this, I immediately called my counterpart in the UK. And after offering my condolences about the attack – and unbelievably the third time in 120 days I’ve done that; I’ve called the minister and offered my condolences. She immediately brought this topic up. And, if it came from the United States, it’s totally unacceptable. And I don’t know why people do these kind of things, but it’s borderline, if not over the line, of treason.

CHUCK TODD: Do you plan – you call – you believe it’s treason, to leak some of this stuff, you believe that’s treason?

SEC. JOHN KELLY: I do believe it is. I believe when you leak the kind of information that seems to be routinely leaked – high, high level of classification – you are telling the –

CHUCK TODD: And what was leaked on this Manchester bombing you believe maybe even meets the treason standard?

SEC. JOHN KELLY: I think it’s darn close to treason.

I found this to be encouraging and disappointing. First, I’m encouraged that Kelly is actually against leaks of classified information. This is a refreshing change from the current environment where leaks are considered okay so long as they damage Trump. And, to the extent that the Manchester leaks have changed that conversation, the leakers of the Manchester information have actually done the nation a service. Jeff Sessions has ordered an investigation of the leaks and I’m confident some of them, though not the Susan Rices and Ben Rhodes of the world, will be caught and punished.

It was disappointing to hear a guy like Kelly sling around the word “treason.” Under our Constitution, treason only happens in wartime. Leaking classified information is a lot of things, but it isn’t treasonous.

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Israeli Report: Donald Trump Read Palestinian “President” Abbas the Riot Act on Terrorism

Earlier in the week, President Trump spoke on the subject of terrorism while sharing a stage with Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas.

I was gratified that President Abbas joined the summit and committed to taking firm but necessary steps to fight terrorism and confront its hateful ideology.

Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded.  We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single, unified voice.

This was directed at Abbas and the Palestinian practice of paying stipends and pensions to the families of dead terrorists.

Now, via Israeli media, we’re hearing there is more of a backstory. And it is compliments of a leak so it has to be true.

But according to a report by Channel 2 Sunday evening, the closed-door meeting between the president and the PA chairman was anything but cordial.

A US official present during the meeting claims the president expressed outrage with Abbas, yelling at him regarding Abbas’ claims that his Fatah faction was not involved in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement.

“You tricked me in Washington,” the president is said to have yelled at Abbas, referencing the PA leader’s March trip to the US capital.

During his March get-together with the president, Abbas claimed he was dedicated to advancing peaceful relations with Israel, and that the PA was not engaged in incitement against the Jewish state.

According to the American official who spoke with Channel 2, beyond the PM’s statement, Israel also provided the White House with proof of the PA’s support for and promotion of terrorism.

“You talked to me about peace, but the Israelis showed me that you are personally supporting incitement,” Trump reportedly told Abbas last week.

Given the heavy bias within the foreign policy establishment against Israel and toward the Palestinians it is hardly a surprise that Abbas would have felt comfortable peddling the traditional Palestinian lie that they are interested in peace. If this report is accurate, it is disappointing that no one on the NSC or at the US embassy in Jerusalem bothered to point out Palestinian–and UN and EU–subsidization of terror. They were probably too busy insulting their Israeli counterparts to be bothered.

From what we’ve seen of how Trump operates, Abbas has probably succeeded in burning any remaining bridges with the administration. This is not a bad thing because the only thing the “Peace Process” has produced in about 40 years is Palestinian terrorism and intransigence.

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Smart Girl Politics Podcast with Kira and Teri: Could Air Drops of Blue Jeans and Coca-Cola Save the World?

On this week’s episode, Teri and Kira discuss the starring role Melania’s hand played in Trump’s first overseas trip and how her fashion choices always send a subtle message. Other topics include whether or not a Manchester-type terrorist attack could happen in the U.S., why people need to just leave Ariana Grande alone, and NYC’s Puerto Rican Day parade honoring a convicted terrorist. Also, Kpop, Miley Cyus, and why air dropping blue jeans and Coca-Cola might save the world.

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