To encourage and fortify relationships between military service members, veterans, their families, their friends, and their Country; to nurture the path of communication for everyone, ensuring that no one is alone or left behind; and proving that we have not, are not, and will never forget the nobility of their sacrifices.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Those Who Dare by Phil Ward~ A Book Review

Those Who Dare is a historical World War II work of fiction and the first in the Raiding Forces novels, which follows the career of a former American U.S. Army officer by the name of John Randal. John Randal who volunteers for the British Army Kings Royal Rifle Corps starts his memorable career as the Lieutenant in charge of buying trapped Allied troops at Dunkirk time to evacuate. Completely out numbered Randal uses gorilla warfare at Calais, France trading “time for space.”  
Randal is a charismatic character who has the ability to take bored, leaderless men transforming them into an elite fighting force. Randal not only wins the hearts and minds of his men, who are all volunteers, but his superior officers too. 
After Calais he is charged with creating a superior fast striking small raiding fighting force. The various training, equipment logistics, and mission debacles that ensue are classic examples of how plan Alpha never works out. It was interesting to watch Randal work through the same problems Victor Krulak worked through with the problems of amphibious landings during the same time frame.  
Phil Ward has pulled together a variety of believable characters in historical battles and events making an exciting new perspective which allows us to look at a time frame that is sadly being forgotten in light of a decade of recent war. 

I look forward to reading Dead Eagle's, the next book in the series. For more information go to 

Monday, August 22, 2011


As I mentioned in a previous post, shortly after hearing of the tragedy of the helicopter in Afghanistan which took 30 American lives the majority of which were Navy SEAL's, I was in attendance at a Cub Scout Camp Out with my two sons.

The Cub Scout along with several of the fathers in attendance were Veteran's. The Flag Retirement Ceremony is always emotional, but with the added deaths it seemed heavier. The Cub Master read the following poem, which to me seemed to go beyond Our Flag speaking to us, but the Fallen Men and Women of our Country speaking to us. I felt as if every person who had ever fought for Our Flag was speaking the words.

With permission I have the Cub Scout I AM YOUR FLAG poem that was read at our ceremony.
“I am your Flag. I appear in many places. I have taken many forms and been called many names. I was authorized by Congress in 1818 in the form you see now and have remained unchanged except to add a new star each July 4th after a new State joined the Union until I reached my present number of 50.”

“I am more than just red, white, and blue cloth shaped into a design. I am a silent sentinel of freedom. People of every country in the world know me on sight. Many countries love me as you do. Other countries look at me with contempt because they don’t allow the freedom of Democracy that I represent – but they do look on me with respect. I am strong and the people of America have made me strong. My strength comes from your willingness to give help to those who are in need. You strive for world peace, yet stand ready to fight oppression. You send resources and offer technology to less fortunate countries so they may strive to become self-sufficient. You feed starving children. You offer a home to anyone who will pledge allegiance to America. “

“Your sons gather beneath me to offer their lives on the battlefields, to preserve the Liberty I represent. That’s why I love the American people. That’s why I have flown so proudly.”

“Scouts and their families are some of my favorite people. I listen to your patriotic songs. I’m there at your flag ceremonies and I appreciate the tender care you give me. I feel the love when you say your pledge. I notice that your hand covers your heart when I am on parade. How smartly you salute as I pass by and I ripple with pleasure when I see it. I have had the great Honor of being your flag of the United States of America.”

“But now I am tired and it’s time for me to rest in the Sacred Flames of your campfire. My colors are faded and my cloth is tattered but my spirit remains unbroken.”

“As you watch me burn, do not be sad or feel sorry for me. I will be back the next time you need me, and my colors will be fresh and bright and my edges won’t be ragged anymore. Next time when I climb to the top of the flagpole I’ll wave at you and remember the love and respect that you have showed me here tonight.”

Have you ever witnessed a Flag Retirement Ceremony? How has it impacted you?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I always assumed my best friend's husband tolerated me. After my best friend came back from vacation with her family I received this note from her husband.

Kris, you inspired me to do something while on vacation. While having breakfast one morning I noticed an older man and his wife sitting there. He was wearing an "army - retired" hat with unit pin and purple heart pin, obviously seen action. So I went up to him and thanked him for his service. He turned his hat around and showed me the POW pin. 3 years as a Korean war POW. It was incredible. So thank you Kris for helping me meet this man.

This is the sort of interaction I have every chance I get when I see anyone in a uniform, Veteran's Hat, Unit shirt, or Blue Star insignia. Knowing I've inspired others to follow my example and share the gratitude every American should feel for those who serve gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Have you ever voiced your gratitude? Was it a rewarding experience for you?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Chinook Tragedy In Afghanistan

Photo by Kristina Divine Memorial Day 2011

I was at a Cub Scout Camp with my boys when I found out about the death of the 30 men on the Chinook. I shared the sad information with the Cub Master, a Veteran. At the camp fire, a Flag was retired. Before it was placed in the fire the Cub Master read a variation of the poem I Am The Flag. He included the lost and their families into the ceremony. The Flag retirement ceremony seemed like a fitting memorial for the service members who had died fighting for the Flag. The ceremony was emotional for several of us around the camp fire. Once home I contacted my friends who knew a few of the deceased and offered my compassion for their loss. I shared with them the experience of the Flag ceremony as a memorial. I have been given permission to post part of their response to their friends sacrifices.
Don't cry for any lost, though. Know that all (well, most of us) join these communities with the full knowledge and acceptance of the possible outcome. Many of us would rather die doing something to help others than as old people in our beds. Don't cry or mourn...celebrate and be grateful and love them and their familiies for what they did. 
I have experienced my share of death in this life, it is the living I feel for, because learning to live without a loved one can be like learning to breathe underwater. It seems impossible at first. I hope the families of the fallen from this crash, as well as the families of the fallen over the last 10 years from Iraq and Afghanistan feel the love and support of American's everywhere. As my other friend put it:

Its okay to cry and mourn, but what i like to do is think about the good times that you had with them and the smiles that you shared. I knew some of the guys that went down in the Chinook and finding out about their names this morning, I was hurt at first, mad the next second, and then realized that theres nothing I can do about it now. We spent the rest of the day laughing remembering funny things those guys had done and said. Laugh, smile and remember the good times.
The men who died are more than a number on a tragic day. They are sons, fathers, brothers, husbands, uncles, and friends. I wanted to take my friends advice and write a post that celebrated their lives, only I didn't have the honor to know any of them. Then I found this article by Stars and Stripes which celebrates the lives of each one of the men through the eyes of those who loved them. I highly recommend you read and honor the lives and the families of the men who died in the crash.

Remember Their Sacrifice. Our Freedom.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Pledge Of Allegiance

I am a substitute teacher.  I have every class I'm teaching say the Pledge of Allegiance. I can also say, EVERY teacher's class I've visited has their class say it too. This makes me proud and I hope it continues.

There has only been one instance where a boy didn't stand or take off his hat.  The other children in the class took it upon themselves to tell this boy to stop disrespecting OUR Country and the people who fight for OUR Flag. I told the class the boy had the right not to stand or take his hat off. The entire class gave the boy a look that said if he didn't respect the Pledge of Allegiance the other kids would take the issue up again at recess. The boy stood taking of his hat. He said every word. I think this particular kid was just trying to give me a hard time because I was a substitute, not because he had any one particular belief.

In the future I will carry a copy of this cartoon with me when I teach. I think it's important for the children to know they are not really disrespecting me when they refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance as the cartoon below shows.

What is your opinion on The Pledge Of Allegiance being said in schools?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Glamourous Military Pay

This is an Airman's response to Cindy Williams' editorial piece in the Washington Times about MILITARY PAY, it should be printed in all newspapers across America .
Ms. Cindy William wrote a piece for the Washington Times denouncing the pay raise(s) coming service members' way this year citing that she stated a 13% wage increase was more than they deserve.
A young airman from Hill AFB responds to her
article below. He ought to get a bonus for this.
"Ms Williams:
I just had the pleasure of reading your column, "Our GI's earn enough" and I am a bit confused. Frankly, I'm wondering where this vaunted overpayment is going, because as far as I can tell, it disappears every month between DFAS (The Defense Finance and Accounting Service) and my bank account. Checking my latest earnings statement I see that I make $1,117.80 before taxes per month. After taxes, I take home $874.20. When I run that through the calculator, I come up with an annual salary of $13,413.60 before taxes, and $10,490.40 after.
I work in the Air Force Network Control Center where I am part of the team responsible for a 5,000 host computer network. I am involved with infrastructure segments, specifically with Cisco Systems equipment. A quick check under jobs for "Network Technicians" in the Washington , D.C. area reveals a position in my career field,
requiring three years^T experience in my job. Amazingly, this job does NOT pay $13,413.60 a year. No, this job is being offered at $70,000 to $80,000 per annum............ I'm sure you can draw the obvious conclusions.
Given the tenor of your column, I would assume that you NEVER had the pleasure of serving your country in her armed forces.
Before you take it upon yourself to once more castigate congressional and DOD leadership for attempting to get the families in the military's lowest pay brackets off of WIC and food stamps, I suggest that you join a group of deploying soldiers headed for AFGHANISTAN ; I leave the choice of service branch up to you. Whatever choice you make though, opt for the SIX month rotation: it will guarantee you the longest possible time away from your family and friends, thus giving you full "deployment experience."
As your group prepares to board the plane, make sure to note the spouses and
children who are saying good-bye to their loved ones. Also take care to note that several families are still unsure of how they'll be able to make ends meet while the primary breadwinner is gone. Obviously they've been squandering the "vast" piles of cash the government has been giving them.
Try to deploy over a major holiday; Christmas and Thanksgiving are perennial favorites.. And when you're actually over there, sitting in a foxhole, shivering against the cold desert night, and the flight sergeant tells you that there aren't enough people on shift to relieve you for chow, remember this: trade whatever MRE's (meal-ready-to-eat) you manage to get for the tuna noodle casserole or cheese tortellini, and add Tabasco to everything. This gives some flavor.
Talk to your loved ones as often as you are permitted; it won't be nearly long enough or often enough, but take what you can get and be thankful for it. You may have picked up on
the fact that I disagree with most of the points you present in your open piece.
But, tomorrow from KABUL , I will defend to the death your right to say it.
You see, I am an American fighting man, a guarantor of your First Amendment right and every other right you cherish...On a daily basis, my brother and sister soldiers worldwide ensure that you and people like you can thumb your collective noses at us, all on a salary that is nothing short of pitiful and under conditions that would make most people cringe. We hemorrhage our best and brightest into the private sector because we can't offer the stability and pay of civilian companies.
And you, Ms.. Williams, have the gall to say that we make more than we deserve?
A1C Michael Bragg, Hill AFB AFNCC
If you get this more than once, feel honored that you know more than one person who supports our military and appreciates what they do.
If you don't forward it, you don't deserve their sacrifice.

Note: According to this is a real person and a real published article from 2009. I have no idea if he's still in the  Military or what is rank would currently be. However, I don't think too much has change in the last 2 years.  If you are a Veteran, Active Duty, or a Blue Star Family I encourage you to comment on your thoughts.