Monday, August 31, 2009

A Letter to the Unborn Children of a Fallen Marine

I saw this today in Politics Daily. I almost forgot about posting it. It tugs at the heart. Their father was dearly loved and respected greatly.
The Letter

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ted Kennedy's Gravesite - - Arlington Cemetary


A simple white cross marks the spot where Senator Ted Kennedy was buried yesterday.


Kennedy is buried about 50 feet to the left (if you are facing the graves) of his brother Robert, who is buried about 50 feet to the left of John. You can see Robert's cross to the back right in this picture. Yes, there was an armed guard at the gravesite. Since Arlington Cemetary was closed to the public yesterday, the public came to view the site today.

I opted to avoid any crowds and arrived around 6:15 p.m. There were maybe 100 people in line when I got there. I did not get in line. I just wanted to take pictures of people in line.


If you go to Arlington Cemetary, the Kennedy gravesite is a short 15 minute walk. If walking in the hot, humid, northern Virginia summer or fall, there is a tram from the cemetary visitor's center. The site is located down hill from the Lee House, home of confederate general Robert E. Lee.

After the resolution of the Cuban missle crisis, John Kennedy walked through the cemetary to clear his mind. When he arrived at the spot beneath the Lee house and looked out across the Potomac toward Washington, DC, he was so taken by the view he told an aide that he could stay there forever.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jungle Adventure

Having the kittens in my life has allowed me to remember the wonderment of experiencing something for the first time. As adults, I think we lose this perspective. Its the same old - same old, day-in-day-out. We fail to notice the magic in the ordinary.

Since being in my care, the kittens have never gone outside, except for the one or two times they made a curious "sneak" onto the front porch. They watch with great interest as I do yard work in that 'magical', forbidden place called the outdoors.

Today, since I was letting Ranger out, I decided to let the kittens come outside for an adventure.

They stalked bugs, walked on stones, rocks and dirt for the first time.


They followed Ranger around a bit to see what he did. He goes for the grass. So the kittens tasted grass for the first time.


They were furry balls of excited energy. What do we do next? Where do we go? Can we eat that? What is this?

Many of my pictures are blurry as I tried to capture them batting at flying bugs or stalking each other. Below, Stache stalks Dash.


He would run along the stepping stones and launch himself into the hostas and scurry along the fence, under the cover of the bushes. He's actually panting here from all the running around he was doing. As he would pounce around in the bushes, he would let out these meows that sounded more like roars.


Here he is checking out where Dash is, so he can attack.


Stache leaps out from the 'brush'.


Here are two videos of their play. You can see that Dash is more cautious. He sticks to the edges of the garden, not wanting to dive into the dark places. Stache on the other hand, dove right in and was loving life. Dash was having a wonderful time too - - just not interested in going into the 'jungle'.

Here is Dash with one of his GQ poses.


Watching them explore and enjoy their adventure today was such a blessing.

Friday, August 21, 2009



Dash and Stache have been buddies ever since they were born.

Below, Dash comforts Stache after a bath, little does Dash know, his bath is next.


Dash using Stache as a pillow.

Stache loves food and sometimes falls asleep in the food dish....
...or near the food dishes.

Hmmm, how can we help? Stache (left) and Dash (right) trying to help me unload the dishwasher. This is one of my favorite pictures of them and their curiosity. By the way, they really like getting into the refrigerator.

A wrestling match!


Best Buds again!

This is how they hang out with me when I am working on the computer, infact, they are doing this right now as I prepare this blog.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spree Adopted, Dash Escapes Death


Spree was adopted on Friday night by a very nice, young couple. The couple was looking for a pair of kittens. They held Dash and Stache first and those two boys put on the charm. They were totally chilled out and relaxed and were loving the man and woman up. I thought for sure they would be adopted. I felt sad for Spree as she sat in the crate by herself. She looked lonely.

I mentioned they could also adopt Spree. In reality, three cats really aren't that much more expensive than two. You at least want two litter boxes and all the expensive stuff has already been taken care of by Lost Dog Lost Cat (spay, neuter, distemper shots) all they need is rabies and every year its the rabies shot and annual physical. They asked how much that typically costs. It depends on the vet, it really does. The vet I take my three (Ranger, Scout and Stryker) is pricey, but I like them. It typically costs about $100 a cat every year. I told them that. The man flinched. Guess it was good I didn't mention Stryker's broken leg that set me back 5 grand. They took Spree back into the quite room to get to know her for a little bit.

Then the couple came out of the "quite" room and saw the really little kittens. The woman fell in love with one active, female, gray tabby named Zola.

They asked if they could adopt one of the boys along with Zola. I told them I really wanted the boys to go together. Spree would probably be the best fit with Zola. One of the boys would overwhelm a smaller kitten. They are just very aggressive with their play. Very affectionate but they are all boys.

So they chose Zola and Spree.

The gal came back on Saturday so Spree could get her last distemper shot. I got to see her one last time. She had a cute, preppy, black, pink and white plaid collar on. The gal was getting name tags made for their collars. I didn't ask what Spree's new name was.

Spree and Zola are going to be spoiled rotten. I went with the gal through Pet Smart and was showing her all the things Spree really liked (feather toy, bungee toy, kitty lounger, food). They left with a full cart. It was cute, almost like watching new parents take their first baby home.

On Saturday she said that Spree had climbed up on her shoulder that morning and was giving her kisses. Was very affectionate. Yay! So often she'd come up to me for cuddles and then Dash and Stache would run over and muscle in. She's going to be the 'big sister' now with Zola.

Now, to find good homes for Dash and Stache. They really need to go together. They have been side-by-side since the day I got them. Remember this cute picture of them from the first weekend they were at my house.


Here they are getting into trouble together. Well, I guess they aren't really getting into trouble, they are trying to "help" me unload the dishwasher. Its amazing what becomes a big adventure to a kitten.


You are wondering how Dash escaped death. Well, this cute little head of his ended up inside the mouth of a big dog.


How did it get there? you ask. Let's just say, exclaim actually, "Praise God for His mercies regarding my stupidity and for His protection!"

There was this dog, some kind of hound mix, really looks like a good bird dog. When the walker would walk him past the cats, the dog sat down and literally had to be dragged away from the cats. He didn't seem aggressive toward the cats, just curious. I try to expose the kittens to the dogs. Dash and Stache have been really good. Usually the dogs just sniff them, maybe a lick and then that's it. So I showed the dog Dash. The dog sniffed and then "Bam!" snapped at Dash's head. The walker yanked back on the dogs leash, Dash went on the attack and was quite ferocious. I jumped back. Drama at the entrance of Pet Smart.

Dash had pulled back into the crook of my arm with his head as far back as possible with his paws up on either side. His eyes were big, round, the whites showing with fear. They were unblinking, almost as if he were in shock. If he could talk, he probably would have shouted, "What the hell! I just saw the four short months of my life flash before my eyes!"

I checked him out, no broken skin from the bite. I suppose Dash has good reflexes with shrinking back from Ranger's snaps.

He was a tense ball the rest of the day.

That dog, when it was walked by, just stared at Dash in the crate, and Dash stared at it.

I felt awful. What an idiot I am. I will never let Dash or Stache near another dog again.

So, hoping that next week, someone adopts the boys. I'm getting worried, as they now look like small cats. They have lost the kitten cuteness, but are still adorable.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Former Secretary of State Visits Museum


This past Saturday, former Secretary of State, George Schultz and his family visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Below, Mr. Schultz and his wife pose with the state flag of California. The state flags were lining the walkway entrance into the museum because the commissioning ceremony was also being held that day for two Officer Candidate School companies.

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While posing for pictures with the state flag of California, Schultz noticed the memorial bricks.


General Christmas explained the memorial brick program.


Inside the museum, Mr. Schultz took the time to speak with the Marine manning the front desk.


In the first gallery, Making Marines, Schultz and his granddaughter experience the dressing down from Marine Corps drill instructors. Schultz is a Marine veteran of the battle of Pelilu in World War 2. When he walked out of the DI booth, he wiped his brow and exclaimed, "Whew!"

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Back in the Iwo Jima area of the World War 2 gallery, Schultz, General Christmas and a Docent chat about the displays and how the decisions were made for what was presented in the galleries.

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In the Korean gallery, I asked (yes, I was humbly bold and asked) if I could take a posed photo of he and his wife. It turned out quite nice.

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At the conclusion of the tour, the Schultz family headed up to the upper deck for a lunch on the overlook to Leatherneck Gallery.

As I followed the Schultzes around the museum, it was interesting how the 'regular' guests didn't pay them much attention. One gentleman asked me who the man in the suit was.

Mr. Schultz probably could have spent the entire day at the museum. He wanted to read and look at everything, but they had only budgeted 2 hours for a tour. Maybe he'll make a return visit.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

OCS Commissioning

Yesterday, Charlie and Delta companies were commissioned as 1st Lieutenants in the United States Marine Corps.

This one event, one ceremony, is life changing. It marks an end to 10 weeks of training where they have been tested physically, mentally, intellectually, morally and emotionally and found to be capable of leading Marines. Some candidates who arrive at Quantico to complete the equivalent of "Boot Camp" for Marine Officers, do not make it through the rigors. Others, after making it through the training process, choose to not take a commission.

While the graduation ceremony was going on at OCS on mainside, Marines were setting up for the commissioning ceremony in Leatherneck Gallery of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.


Not only did this include setting up chairs, but also setting up flags outside along the walkway up to the museum. While it was a hot, stagnant morning, a nice little breeze popped the Ohio flag out for a picture. Yes, my home state is Ohio and to be honest, it is the only state flag that I can identify.


Even though the ceremony did not begin until 1 p.m. (aka 1300), family and friends were staking out claims to seats an hour early.


When I went down stairs and made a pit stop in the bathroom, I was met by a gaggle of women lined up at the mirror, primping themselves for their boyfriends, fiances and husbands they had not seen in 10 weeks. The air was heavy with the scents of about 20 different hairsprays and perfumes.

When the Marines of Charlie Company entered, they were greeted by boisterous cheers, whoops and hollers.


Hi, Mom!


A very excited Marine Wife holds up her sign for her Marine.


I really liked this photo, this little girl just ran over and snuggled up with her grandfather.


I could not resist photographing this Private First Class, the combat cameraman assigned to shoot the commissioning ceremony.


The commissioning is about to begin.


Raise your right hand and repeat after me.


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;


that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;


that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;


and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.


An Army and Air Force general applaud the company, but also their children who, on this day, became Officers of Marines.


After they were commissioned, the Chaplain blessed the company. Emotions came to the surface for one Marine.

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Yay! We made it! Many hugs and handshakes followed.

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There were many more families this year who had family military service traditions. Here, a father salutes his son.


Below, the Lieutenant's father (Marine) and Grandfather (Air Force) help with pinning on his bars.


A younger brother delivers the first salute from an enlisted man to his brother, a newly minted officer.


The final pin was saved for his grandfather, a World War 2 veteran of the Army Air Corps.

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Ever mindful of details, Marines make the Eagle, Globe and Anchor carpet perfect for Delta Company's ceremony. I couldn't help but wonder if the supervising Marine was tempted to say, "You missed a spot".


Some of the Drill Instructors who trained the new officers.

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I recommended that this family climb up on the pedestal for some pictures. I am surprised more people didn't do this. What a fun photo. Love the leg kick, ladies!

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I just loved this smile this Marine gave his wife while she pinned on his Lieutenant bars.

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Same with this photo. Love the Marine's look as his grandma pins on his bar.

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This was my favorite salute photo. Talk about good timing on my part. I saw it as I walked by and was just in the right place to get their hands crossing.

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