29 September 2009

Military Poem: In Flander's Field

This poem is an institution in Canada. In fact, i'm willing to bet that adult over the age of 20 can recite this poem verbatim. I have my thoughts about the Poppy as symbol which I am saving for a different blog. But in the meantime, really read the words and reflect on what it means to you.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead.

Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

— Lt.-Col. John McCrae (1872 - 1918)

25 September 2009


Here are some interesting facts behind this famous picture:

  • There are six Flag Raisers on the photo. Four in the front line and two in back.
    The front four are (left to right) Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley and Harlon Block. The back two are Michael Strank (behind Sousley) and Rene Gagnon (behind Bradley).

  • Strank, Block and Sousley would die shortly afterwards. Bradley, Hayes and Gagnon became national heroes within weeks.

  • The pole weighed over 100 lbs.

  • Iwo Jima was the first place an invader's flag ever flew over Japanese home territory.

  • This flag is now in the Marine Corps Museum, Washington, D.C.

And here are some intresting facts about the Iwo Jima Memorial:

  • The flag raising photo caused an immediate sensation. Just two days after it was first seen in the US, Senators rose on the floor of the US Senate calling for a national monument modeled on the picture. The California State Legislature petitioned the Federal Government to build a grand monument. Thousands of ordinary American's wrote the President appealing for a monument to immortalize the picture they loved.
  • Felix DeWeldon, an ambitious sculptor, had a clay replica of the picture sculpted within 72 hours of seeing the picture.
  • Hundreds of artisans would work 8 years to create the Iwo Jima Monument.
  • Erection of the Statue began September, 1954.
  • The Memorial was dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 10. 1954.
  • Each figure is 32 feet high.
  • The flagpole is 60 feet in length.
  • It's the world's tallest bronze statue. It's stands 78 feet high.
  • A cloth flag flies from the pole.
  • The cost of the statue was $850,000 (1954 Dollars.) No public funds were used. Private donations picked up the tab.
  • The inscription reads:
    "Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue."

24 September 2009


I run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free. ~ King David.

23 September 2009

Taking Chance

I won't lie. I love military theme movies. Anyone who watches military movies will know that in every military film, someone dies. Generally, the plot goes as follows:
  • Introduce character by showing him with loving family (usually newly married wife)
  • Show him bonding with his band of brothers
  • They go into battle
  • He miraculously dies saving his buddy
  • Flash forward to buddy going to wife's home and she collapses in his arms and they both cry.

However, the one thing you never see, hear, or even discuss is what happens from the death at the battlefield to the time the body arrives home. And I am certain that most people never even think of all the honor and glory that goes into that process.

My friend Joanne recommended that I watch the HBO movie called Taking Chance (starring Kevin Bacon). It is based on a true journals by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC. (<- click to read...well worth the read).

Point of Clarification: She did not gently recommend the movie. She rented the movie and then physically brought it over to my house and insisted that I watch it that night with implied threats of what would happen if I didn't watch the movie. (Her husband is a two-term US army veteran so I take all threats seriously..lol).

I can't even begin to express how much I love this movie. I STRONGLY recommend that everyone watch this movie. In fact, I think it should be required as part of the high school curriculum.

Although it was robbed of an Emmy award (because academy voters tend to go for dramatic star-filled heart string movies over movies with subtlety and nuance), it deserves a place of honor in your film catalogue.

I felt like I was watching a watercolor being painted. I felt like I was witnessing the most honorable of human actions with the quietest of dignity. Does anyone ever think of what happens to the body from field to funeral? Do you think about how you feel about a soldier who dies.

So I will leave with a preview and a synopsis. And then you MUST run out and get the movie.

In April 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC, came across the name of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, a young Marine who had been killed by hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran with 17 years of military service, requested that he be assigned for military escort duty to accompany Chance's remains to his family in Dubois, Wyo.Witnessing the spontaneous outpouring of support and respect for the fallen Marine - from the groundskeepers he passed along the road to the cargo handlers at the airport - Strobl was moved to capture the experience in his personal journal. His first-person account, which began as an official trip report, gives an insight into the military's policy of providing a uniformed escort for all casualties. The story became an Internet phenomenon when it was widely circulated throughout the military community and eventually reached the mainstream media. 'Taking Chance' chronicles one of the silent, virtually unseen journeys that takes place every day across the country, bearing witness to the fallen and all those who, literally and figuratively, carry them home. A uniquely non-political film about the war in Iraq, the film pays tribute to all of the men and women who have given their lives in military service as well as their families. An HBO Films presentation of a Motion Picture Corporation of America and Civil Dawn Pictures production, Taking Chance marks the directorial debut of two-time Oscar®-nominated producer Ross Katz ('Lost in Translation'). The screenplay is by Lt. Col Michael R. Strobl, USMC (Ret.) and Ross Katz, based on the journal of the same name by Strobl, who also serves as military consultant. Strobl, who recently retired after serving 24 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, developed the original story with the strong support of Phelps' parents, John Phelps and Gretchen Mack. The executive producers are Brad Krevoy ('A Love Song for Bobby Long'), Cathy Wischner-Sola and Ross Katz; the co-executive producer is William Teitler (HBO's 'Empire Falls'); and the producer is Lori Keith Douglas ('The Notorious Bettie Page'). HBO Films vice president Jenni Sherwood is the executive in charge of the production.

22 September 2009

Tribute Video

So I had this great idea planned for a blog today, but I'm having a bit of an architectural crisis going on at my home (water leaking from the upstairs tub into my downstairs furnace room/hall closet) so I just couldn't get the energy to post something thoughtful and insightful.

I decided to post this great You Tube Video to express what I cannot.

* Music is from my favourite band of all time, 3 Doors Down, collaborating with my favorite singer of all time, Bob Seeger. Song is called Landing in London from 3DD album 17 Days*

21 September 2009

When You Go Home.

Quote: When you go home, tell them of us and say, for their tomorrow, we gave our today.
I have a friend who is in the Canadian Army. And while our friendship stemmed from the most unusual and funny of circumstances, he is a friend all the same.
And I'm not going to lie. Everytime I hear on the news that another Canadian Soldier has passed away, a part of me prays it's not him. It is the simple reality if you have a friend or a loved one in the military....for a brief second, you stop, pause and pray when the news comes on.
I would like to say that it is a relief when I find out it's not him. But that is simply not the case. Because the reality is that I realize that somewhere there is a person grieving for the lost of their friend and loved one. There is no solace in that.
It's easy to remove one's self from the war and argue the merits of our engagement in said war. But what should never be argued is that when a soldier dies, that loss for the friend, spouse, parent or child is our loss too.
If a country and the freedoms it posesses' are based on ideals, then someone must stand for and represent those ideals.
We take for granted that we will always be able to wake up at our leisure, go about our day, and come home. We take for granted that we can speak freely, express our opinions and desires; that there will be a venue to do so and listen to those opinions.
But for many citizens of the world, that's just not a reality. I can argue the merits of a conflict, and the excuses behind them. But what I can never argue is that the rights we are afforded should be an option for all the worlds people. It's not up to me to tell them to take that option, but the option they must have none the less.
And our military, for good are bad, are the ultimate symbol of those ideals. Soldiers represent our voices. They represent our dreams. They don't just protect our physical selves. They protect our spiritual and mental selves too. Our freedom is not perfect. We as a country will never agree. But the fact that we don't have to is a testament to the brave men and women of today and yesteryears who stepped up to the call to protect our ideals we so cherish.
It is instinctual to want to protect those you love and hold most dearest, like your friends and family. But how many of us will be willing to put our life on the line to make sure all Canadians will be able to do the same?
And I will leave you with my final thougths: Remember tomorrow what is sacrified today. Thank the soldier who goes about his way.
*Dani's note: This is the kick off to military week! I can't wait to hear your thoughts. *

11 September 2009

Punk & Me: Reality Train Wrecks.

My lovely and animated friend mocked me for not updating my blog. She is a total punk. And why not use my blog to call her a punk. Punkity punk punk.

To protect her privacy, i will call her punk.

Putting aside my juvinile behaviour for a second, I thought I would end the week with some random t.v. inspired drivel. Because if there is one thing punk and I share, it's our mutual love of t.v. stuff. I would like to say that we are highbrow, sophisticated friends when it comes to the television program we watch and talk about. Oh no sirree. The more low-brow, the better is our motto. Well not really, but we like train wrecks. Makes for an interesting life. Specifically, we like reality train wrecks.

Big Brother. Oh. Dear. Lord. Will this show ever stop? And will we ever truly stop watching this trainwreck. Here is our usual BB routine. First, we claim after the trainwreck of the last season that we will never watch it again. Then someone will casually mention when the new season starts and we will reiterate our claims of not following the show. Then the show will start and we will watch it just to remind ourselves how horrible it is. Then punk will say she refuses to watch it and will only follow the spoiler feeds, and then proceeds to secretly watch it. I will confess that I've watched every episode. Around week 2, we e-mail each other our top 4 picks. Then we will proceed to read the spoiler feeds between each show and e-mail each other our theories. About 3/4 of the way into the season, we will get annoyed because one of our faves will be evicted and we will claim that we are over with the show. But we then secretly follow the rest of the season and continue to chat about it. At the end of the season, we will lament how awful it is and make new claims about never watching the show again.

The Biggest Loser. I will confess that this is a show that I mostly watch. In fact, my blog is peppered with comments about this show. In theory, it is a train wreck. Fat people put through the paces and competing to be less fat. But I love it. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. And I know that punk watches it too. She may claim that she doesn't, but I know that she secretly does. We don't really talk about this show but then it will randomly pop up in our conversations and we will both immediately lament our own weight loss struggles and wish that we had a BL Canada. If they ever did and we would be able to compete as "couples", I think punk and I would go. And be very cutthroat about it too.

America's Next Top Model. We both fiercely love this show. Every year, we watch, discuss during commercial break, pick our favourites, and mock the stick creatures. So. Much. Fun.

A Shot At Love/ Rock of Love etc. I will confess. I don't really watch this show. But I have seen it. It's one of those if there is nothing else on, I will watch it. Punk on the other hand quite enjoys the show. So I will at the very least show an interest in her discussion about it. However, when she does discuss it, I often wonder why I don't watch it? It sounds like quality trash and I should ride that train.

The Bachelorette. On the other hand, if she has A Shot At Love, I have the Bachelorette. God, I hate this show. Why. Can't. I. Stop. Watching? Punk probably mocks me about this, but she always seems to know what's going on with the show...hmmm. Doth she protest too much?

So You Think You Can Dance/American Idol. We so love these shows. She follows AI a bit more than I do, but we both watch SYTYCD.

So I ask you..what trash shows do you and your friends share in that you are willing to confess? Does anyone else watch the above shows? Just so you know, there are way more trashy stuff we watch...this is but the tip of the iceberg.