November 30, 2004


Have you ever had one of those moments where you realize you're a fool?

My co-worker and I had an argument last week, the details of which are tedious and irrelevent. I decided I would suck it up and try to clear the air on Monday, so I walked into the office with a gift in hand and apologized for the misunderstanding. She refused my apology and gift.

I keep thinking about that ending scene in Clerks, where Randal berates Dante for sticking with the status quo simply because it's easier than rocking the boat. I too hate rocking the boat. I keep my mouth shut all the time at work, despite the fact that my co-worker pisses me off a lot, because it's easier than dealing with discord. I have considered quitting my job and looking for something more fitting someone with six years of higher education, but I never wanted to rock the boat. I didn't want to disrupt the office, I didn't want my boss to have to find someone to replace me, and I didn't want my co-worker to dislike me for moving on and leaving her to train someone new.

In short, I have been living for everyone's happiness but my own. I'm an utter fool.

I'm reading Atlas Shrugged for god's sake, and I didn't see what a pushover I've become. I turned down a job I really wanted because I didn't want to upset the status quo at work. I'm so disgusted with myself today that I don't even know what to do.

I learned a valuable lesson this week: Sarah comes first. I've spent the past year trying to make life easier for my co-worker, and this week she proved that she would rather win an argument than save our friendship. No longer will I do what's good for the office and for my employer; I will do what's good for Sarah.

There will be big changes in the near future...stay tuned.

Posted by Sarah at 08:39 PM | Comments (21)


Congress Eyes UN Fund Cut...well, it's a start.

Posted by Sarah at 07:41 AM | Comments (1)

November 29, 2004


Wow. Someone with WAY too much time on his hands wrote a long and boring pro-Chomsky rant on one of my really old posts. I imagine this guy googled Chomsky stuff and then bombed everyone who had said anything bad about Chomsky. The funny thing is that the post was only somewhat related to Chomsky. Oh, I could have said bad stuff, since his linguistics is garbage and his politics is hilarious, but I didn't say anything about him in this post. Go ye and be bored silly: Logic and Reasoning: Inside the Mind of an anti-Chomskyite: The Play (Act 1)

Posted by Sarah at 06:45 PM | Comments (4)


I have a million articles to read that have been emailed to me, but I need to grade a couple of papers before class. I'll try to get caught up this evening, but in the meantime, read Under Fire (via Oda Mae), an article that compares the Fallujah Marine to Ethics in America, the series I've been raving about for some time now...

Posted by Sarah at 08:52 AM | Comments (1)


Imagine Cartman saying "sweet." That's what I said when I read about our new COLA increase! A 31% currency adjustment? My job only gave us 4%. Man, the Army takes care of us.

Posted by Sarah at 08:05 AM | Comments (4)


My trip north turned out nicer than I had imagined it would. Lüneburg is one of the cutest freaking cities in Germany, and the Christmas decorations just made it all the more wow. I also had a very nice time with my friend. I was nervous at first, since she's from Sweden and her German boyfriend is stridently anti-war. In fact, she also said that she was nervous about our introduction. However, he was a very good host; he asked many, many questions about the war and the military, but none of them were rude or demanding. I tried to answer them as best as I could, and hopefully he learned something new or at least got to see another perspective. I was very grateful because he could've been a real jerk. It was a pleasant visit, and now I've driven all over this darn country. The only other direction left is towards Berlin...

Posted by Sarah at 07:15 AM | Comments (1)

November 26, 2004


I'm leaving today for a trip north to Lüneburg to visit an old friend. I'll be back to blogging next week. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Give Thanks for These Patriots
Holocaust Survivor Reunites With Rescuer

Posted by Sarah at 07:02 AM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2004


I'm also thankful for cowboys.

Posted by Sarah at 08:17 AM | Comments (2)


I bet most people in my pre-Army life wouldn't trade places with me in a million years. On the surface, my life appears to suck: working two jobs for eight bucks an hour while the husband is off fighting a war for over a year. I'm sure many people feel sorry for me that I have to be alone and fearful.

I don't see it that way. I have so many things to be thankful for.

I'm thankful that I get to teach my classes. I don't really care about the money; I do it because I love Soldiers and I want to help them excel. Hearing them hooah or ma'am me is the greatest feeling in the world, and reading a well-formatted essay about how wonderful the military is...well, that just tops it all. I grumble that I'm always grading papers, but I'm so fortunate to have gotten my foot in the teaching door in the first place.

I'm thankful that it doesn't matter that I only make the eight bucks an hour. If deployment brings anything, it's cash flow. We're one check away from paying off our car, the last of our debts or obligations, and it's a thrilling feeling to be financially set. My husband has certainly earned his Hostile Fire Pay, but I'm thankful that he is eager to save that money for a down payment on a house someday instead of wanting to buy video games.

I'm thankful that I have friends to go through this year with me. I'm still a little freaked that news of my blog has leaked out, but it has brought me closer to some people and made for a lot of inside jokes and good conversations. I managed somehow to bring comfort to Mrs. Sims and the Prewitt family, and in turn many people have brought me comfort as well. I'm so thankful that I've met people from all over the world who share common ground.

And, believe it or not, I'm thankful for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Without hesitation I can say that I am thankful that Uday and Qsay are dead, that Saddam is in custody, that al-Qaeda and al-Zarqawi are on the run, and that Iraq will soon have its first election where the result is less than 100%. I'm thankful for nations like Poland, Great Britain, Australia, and all the rest of the coalition of the willing for standing up for what was right even when it meant incurring wrath from the axis of weasels. I'm thankful that President Bush sees the threat of islamobarbarism and has vowed to counter it as long as he is in office, and I am thankful that 59 million Americans helped keep him in office so the fight could continue.

Most importantly, I'm thankful that my husband is fighting a war in 2004. We have the luxury of being able to instant message with each other nearly every day, and when he's involved in something dangerous, I have the ability to track it online. I'm thankful that our brigade was adamant about the 100% R&R policy, something that was impossible even last year. I'm thankful that my husband got to come home for two weeks so he could get much-needed rest and crab rangoon. I hear from him, I know he's safe, and I support him wholeheartedly...but I'm also thankful that we only have four months left!

This year I have so many things to be thankful for. Wars have a way of bringing immediacy to your life, and I'm thankful that I've learned to be grateful for every minute my husband and I have together, as well as every friend who understands why we are thankful we can be part of such important moments in American history.

I have nothing to complain about. I'm thankful.

Posted by Sarah at 07:59 AM | Comments (6)

November 24, 2004


Photos from Fallujah.

Posted by Sarah at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)


Election blogging has now been replaced by Marine-shooting-in-Fallujah blogging. Rightwingsparkle asks some interesting questions concerning omniscient reporters.

Posted by Sarah at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 23, 2004

2-2 INF

My neighbor sent me a gripping article about A-CO 2-2 INF, the company CPT Sims commanded in Fallujah. It features more from SSG Fitts and provides a harrowing picture -- and actual pictures -- from the missions.

Here's something funny though: "Of roughly 400 men and women from Task Force 2-2..." Are there any women in Fallujah? I know there aren't any in 2-2 INF, and I thought I understood that women couldn't even be attached to infantry battalions. Is this just p.c. talk, or are there really women involved?

Posted by Sarah at 06:23 PM | Comments (4)


Got an email from Red 6, the husband's best friend, today. He's back from Fallujah, safe and sound. He's also famous for a day.


And other Indians have noticed!

Posted by Sarah at 04:03 PM | Comments (2)


Many people have pointed to Kevin Sites' explanation to the Marines (he's the one who taped the Marine shooting the wounded terrorist). I don't doubt that Sites felt a sinking feeling in his stomach as he witness the scene. I also tend to believe him that he wasn't out looking for Woodward/Bernstein-type fame. But here's what I don't like.

In war, as in life, there are plenty of opportunities to see the full spectrum of good and evil that people are capable of. As journalists, it is our job is to report both -- though neither may be fully representative of those people on whom we're reporting. For example, acts of selfless heroism are likely to be as unique to a group as the darker deeds. But our coverage of these unique events, combined with the larger perspective - will allow the truth of that situation, in all of its complexities, to begin to emerge.

When we look back on Operation Iraqi Freedom, what are we going to remember? What are the memories that the Mainstream Media has drilled into our heads? Abu Ghraib. This Marine shooting a wounded terrorist. Jessica Lynch. The lack of WMDs.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. I don't watch news on the TV, so maybe the airwaves are bombarded with hero stories I just haven't heard yet. But I sincerely reject the idea that the Media is balancing "the full spectrum of good and evil that people are capable of" in the daily news. They instead take something like Abu Ghraib and give it flashy banners and expert guests, run the story on a loop every 15 minutes, and drill the "atrocity" into our heads. Did they present the full atrocity of Nick Berg's beheading? Of the children's jails and rape rooms and mass graves uncovered after the war? Did they make a nice flashy banner for the torture chambers and half-dead prisoners that were just found in Fallujah this week?

Where's the flashy banner for CPL Yeager? Where's Pat Tillman's story on a loop over and over? A few clips at the end of your segment pointing out some Hometown Heroes does not a balanced scale make. The Media defends itself by saying, "we have to show the good and the bad." Please, show me when you've given half the airtime to good as you have to bad.

Over the past two years, I have developed a sense of utter revulsion for reporters and journalists. I don't want to feel like that, but they've made their own bed. I don't blame Kevin Sites for shooting the footage, but I blame the Media Monster for the way it's presented and distributed.

John Kerry killed a wounded enemy in Vietnam and got the Silver Star. This Marine killed a wounded enemy in Iraq and will face the death penalty. It's all in how you package and sell it.

Posted by Sarah at 08:22 AM | Comments (6)


Wretchard puts a final nail in the Bush-is-Hitler meme. I have no idea if readers click on every link I provide, but this is certainly one you want to check out. You also need to click on Wretchard's link to the liberation of Dachau when he compares it to the shooting in Fallujah.

Posted by Sarah at 07:34 AM | Comments (1)


A story from a Marine in Fallujah:

I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not have heard yet. I was told about both of these incidents shortly after they occurred. No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am confident that the meat is correct.

The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them "cook off" for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.

My grandfather flew with Chuck Yeager during WWII, and they've kept in touch throughout all these years. It makes me smile to know that Yeager's grandson and my grandfather's grandson(in-law) are fighting in the same war today.

Posted by Sarah at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)


Bill Whittle's long-awaited book, Silent America, is now for sale. I personally have to wait two torturous weeks until it goes on sale through Amazon, because pre-sale orders can't be shipped to APO. But I will be first in line to buy a copy once they're available.

Posted by Sarah at 07:10 AM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2004


CavX found a parody of Fahrencrap 9/11. It's a lengthy clip, and you get the joke after a couple of minutes, but it's worth checking out. I loved the Wal-Mart scene.

Fellowship 9/11

Posted by Sarah at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)


Good Bleat today...

I was a cranky teen too. Now there's nothing I like more than shopping for Christmas decorations with Mom.

Posted by Sarah at 07:25 AM | Comments (1)


I had a strange variation on the going-to-school-naked dream last night: I dreamt I went to a Veteran's Day parade in Class A's, but I had forgotten my beret. Talk about panic! I bolted awake and calmed myself down by reminding myself that I'm not even in the military...

Posted by Sarah at 07:18 AM | Comments (4)


Charles Johnson writes a lengthier post on the liabilities of having embedded reporters. I can't stress enough how everyone should watch Ethics in America: Under Orders, Under Fire. It's two hours long, so the next time you think about popping in a movie, consider watching this instead.

Posted by Sarah at 06:42 AM | Comments (1)


Mom's 4'11" and Dad's 6'3". Mom likes shopping, traveling, and entertaining friends; Dad likes fishing, fishing, and fishing. They both like movies, but Dad likes action and Mom likes romantic comedy. They both like TV, but Mom likes reality shows and Dad likes to flip channels between kung-fu and pirate movies. But somehow they've made it work for 28 years.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Posted by Sarah at 06:34 AM | Comments (3)

November 21, 2004


I got a hilarious email from a friend who watched Smallville for the first time because of me:

PS: I finally saw Smallville for the first time tonight. Except for the names, it has nothing to do with the Superman comics whatsoever. I already knew that, but it helps to confirm it. The Chloe character is totally original. I didn't "get" the show. Do all the episodes follow this formula?

- Kryptonite causes something to happen
- Clark resolves it

If you're a Smallville fan too, you'll know just how hilarious that summary is. Pretty much yes, but that's part of its charm.

Posted by Sarah at 06:38 PM | Comments (0)


The husband's best friend is back safe and sound from Fallujah.

Posted by Sarah at 04:37 PM | Comments (1)


While my husband was home, he fixed a broken drawer in the kitchen. He was completely frustrated and pissed off while he was doing it, because the broken part was at the back of the cabinet frame in a very difficult spot to reach. It's been a long time since I've seen him in such a gumption trap. I mention this because I was in one today.

I took an Excel Spreadsheets class this weekend. The class was fairly easy and straightforward, and I learned a lot of tricks with Excel that I didn't know before the weekend. However, the final exam was nothing like the class. I just spent the past three hours being angrier and more frustrated than I've been in a long time.

I'm still far too grumpy to even bother going into details about everything that went wrong on the final. The overarching problem was that the class was full of easy stuff like 1) highlight this data, 2) see the pretty graph, 3) save. In contrast, for the final, the teacher gave us a spreadsheet with some data and told us to make a business presentation out of it. I had learned Excel over the weekend, but I sure hadn't learned economics or business management. I couldn't read the data at all; I didn't understand the headers and I spent a lot of time looking up what all the business terms meant so I could even understand what the figures meant. All of my formulas were right, but somehow I had invested 159% of my money, my graphs kept overwriting the other graphs, and I couldn't get the damn thing to center on the page to save my life. Even the teacher couldn't figure out what was wrong with my spreadsheets.

I left the class in a very foul mood. So much for personal growth and enrichment; I took a class that I didn't even need, and all I got was a massive headache.

Posted by Sarah at 04:36 PM | Comments (1)


Reason #__ why I think President Bush is a good and decent man.

Posted by Sarah at 07:05 AM | Comments (3)

November 20, 2004


All of a sudden, my husband's absence has hit me like a ton of bricks. I wish he were here. When I'm with him, every day seems like double-soup Tuesday.

Posted by Sarah at 05:51 PM | Comments (1)


Only history can judge a president...

Posted by Sarah at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)


I had dinner last night with one of those newly-discovered friends in my real life who also reads my blog. We discussed many issues, and I had a good time getting to know her point of view a little better. It's a bit strange: she said that she and another friend discuss new stuff on my blog at work in the morning. But it seems like nobody else thinks it's weird, so I guess I'll go on being whispered about on post.

Some things that we talked about last night that I wanted to give her links to:
Fallujah Marine in Trouble for Pulling a Kerry
You're Not in 'Jesusland' Anymore
Ethics in America (the one you want to watch is Under Orders, Under Fire I & II)

And here's something else we kinda hit on last night:

Americans don’t hate Europeans. We don’t even hate French people. Well, most of us don’t. In fact, by and large, we love Europeans. We find them fascinating and mysterious. We buy European wines and foods and brag about how many American dollars we had to spend on it. We think that Europeans are somehow more sophisticated than we are, and we seek to emulate their sophistication, at least in gesture if not in spirit. But, when you get right down to it, many Europeans simply aren’t individualist enough for us, and so we kind of lose them at some point, usually when we start talking about how much we love our country and our freedoms. It isn’t that we don’t understand that Europeans love their country, too, or that we don’t appreciate European culture. It’s just that we are American and that means more to us than having a cool accent.

Posted by Sarah at 07:18 AM | Comments (0)


This Slate article (via Hud) shows some good perspective on the Fallujah shooting, but the title irks me: What the Marine Did: The shooting of an unarmed Iraqi was a tragedy. But was it a war crime? Am I the only one who fails to see the "tragedy"? This is the enemy. The same group of people who have been collecting heads since May. The people who attack from mosques and use women and children as shields. Whether or not this man held a weapon in his hand at the moment the Marine killed him does not make the difference between a terrorist and a friendly neighborhood Iraqi. I firmly believe that, had he had a weapon, he would've tried to kill the Marine first. He was the enemy; I fail to see the tragedy of his death.

Posted by Sarah at 07:08 AM | Comments (3)

November 19, 2004


Annika made me laugh with the list of advice her dad has given her. My dad also has a very dry sense of humor, and he's always been a sort of hands-off type of dad. He never intimidated any boyfriends, he never preached, and he wasn't the house authoritarian (that was our mama). So when he spoke, it was usually something memorable. Some of his wisdom was simple ("Never drive barefoot") and some of it was more complex (He made me figure out how much money I would have to pay on student loans each month if I chose to go to a private school instead of a state school.) But there is one "dad saying" that stands out for me.

Dad has an expression that drives some people nuts: "If you were sorry, you wouldn't have done it." Several people think that expression is absurd, but I know what my dad means by it, and I hate to hear him say it. Sometimes we know we're doing things that will hurt people or get us in trouble, but we do them anyway. And then we expect a "sorry" to fix everything. Dad doesn't buy it; you shouldn't have done it in the first place. I would often break my curfew in high school and then come in and say I was sorry. Of course I wasn't sorry and I had stayed late on purpose, so sorry doesn't cut it. Sometimes I would egg my parents on and then say 'sorry' in a huffy voice. That doesn't cut it either. The funny thing is that my husband has sort of picked that expression up and uses it when we argue. Whenever I sheepishly apologize, he echos Dad...and usually gets a punch in the arm.

I think about Dad's expression a lot. Obviously there are times when a sorry is sincere, but sometimes we shouldn't be allowed to get away with hurting people on purpose and then apologizing. If we were sorry, we wouldn't have done it.

Posted by Sarah at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)


The Stars and Stripes account of the memorial service for CSM Faulkenburg, CPT Sims, 1LT Iwan, and SSG Matteson.

Posted by Sarah at 07:24 AM | Comments (2)


Apparently a little boy in Iran was killed for breaking his Ramadan fast. When Ramadan started in Iraq, US soldiers were given strict rules: no eating, drinking, or smoking in front of Iraqis during Ramadan. However, my husband says that none of the Iraqis he works with were observing the fast. The American Arabic translators scolded the Iraqis for chowing down in the middle of the day, but the Iraqis just shrugged their shoulders. Now that there's freedom to choose -- a freedom that doesn't exist in Iran -- the Iraqi people are free to decide if they want to fast. Saddam's not watching any longer.

Posted by Sarah at 07:16 AM | Comments (2)


In regular history texts, the build-up to WWII takes a couple of sentences. In the book I'm reading, The Oster Conspiracy of 1938: The Unknown Story of the Military Plot to Kill Hitler and Avert WWII, it takes 184 pages. Right now it's 24 Sept and Chamberlain has just returned from his visit with Hitler. I can't put the book down. It's a fascinating story because we all know they fail, and we all know the price of their failure.

Oh yeah, I'm also struck by how much Bush is not like Hitler.

Posted by Sarah at 06:53 AM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

One of my students just forwarded this cool email:

Between the fields where the flag is planted there are 9+ miles of flower fields that go all the way to the ocean. The flowers are grown by seed companies. It's a beautiful place close to Vandenberg AFB. Checkout the dimensions of the flag.
The 2002 Floral Flag is 740 feet long and 390 feet wide and maintains the proper Flag dimensions as described in Executive Order #10834. This Flag is 6.65 acres and is the first Floral Flag to be planted with 5 pointed Stars comprised of White Larkspur. Each Star is 24 feet in diameter; Each Stripe is 30 feet wide. This Flag is estimated to contain more than 400,000 Larkspur plants with 4-5 flower stems each for a total of more than 2 million flowers. You can drive by this flag on V Street south of Ocean Ave. in Lompoc, CA.
And not a single weed!


Posted by Sarah at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)


I didn't blog very much while my husband was here, but I also know that I haven't been putting out very high quality stuff for quite a while now. I just don't have anything good to say. I'm also dealing with some feelings of weirdness that word has gotten out around here about my blog, so all sorts of people who are in my real life are also reading my blog. I therefore keep second-guessing what I want to say. I heard an Iraq anecdote yesterday I'd like to talk about, but I'm not sure it's OK for distribution. I overheard a bizarre statement at the memorial service, but I don't want people to recognize who said it. All of a sudden I want to pull a fad, to disappear and start a new blog elsewhere under a new name.

But let's face reality, even if I resurfaced, I still wouldn't have anything good to say.

Posted by Sarah at 08:18 AM | Comments (9)


Wallace got a fitting tribute for his Vietnam service! (via Bunker)

Posted by Sarah at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)


Via LGF I found two posts written by Froggy Ruminations about the Marine who shot the insurgent. Like he says, I'm not a veteran. But I would want my husband to shoot the terrorist. The object of war is not to die for your country, as Patton said.

There's what's right and what's right, and never the twain shall meet.

When my husband was home, he saw that I had bought A Few Good Men, which he has never seen. I told him of my thoughts when I had watched it again, and he said that it didn't sound like something he'd like to watch. He made a comment (not a direct quote -- I can't remember exactly how he phrased it) about it being the type of movie that makes people shudder at what must be done to protect America. Is Jack Nicholson the bad guy, or has he done what was necessary to keep America safe? I don't have the answers to those questions. We also talked about the Ethics in America program and the SSG Alban case. The husband didn't like to face these issues at all, probably because every servicemember fears being in those shoes.

Posted by Sarah at 07:15 AM | Comments (4)

November 17, 2004


A photo of CPT Sims.

And a very touching memorial and letter from CPT Sims' father on TexasBug.

Posted by Sarah at 03:31 PM | Comments (2)


It's days like this when we're reminded that freedom isn't free. -- Chaplain Jacob

I just got back from the memorial service for CSM Faulkenburg, CPT Sims, 1LT Iwan, and SSG Matteson. 2-2 INF lost four great leaders in one week; for those of you unfamiliar with the military, these are four top-of-the-hierarchy men, all four of them leaders who touched many lives. What struck me about this memorial service was the sorrow that the soldiers expressed. I saw four grown men cry as they spoke about the bond they shared with these soldiers. I realized the sorrow that soldiers feel when one of their brothers falls, the bond that simply doesn't develop between colleagues in other professions. I was moved by the pain that these men felt from losing men they'd served with, bunked with, and fought with. It was extremely touching, and I won't soon forget those tears.

I also realized I would follow COL Pittard to the ends of the earth.

Posted by Sarah at 03:25 PM | Comments (1)


I need to apologize to SSG Fitts immediately. Oda Mae just received an email from a soldier downrange, someone who knows SSG Fitts (Oda Mae took out some names, but email left as-is, in all its soldierly glory, i.e. warning: swear words):

You are correct SSG Fitts is a great NCO and very positive guy. He was misquoted. We all hate some of our enbeds.. and the Brit times guys a real cock. VERY annoying wines alot and writes misquotes just to get his points across. However . . . that when these guys write fucked up shit, he won't kick them out.. even when we've asked him to boot them out. I didn't want [Mrs. Sims] to hear about that article, because sean was doing the right thing, and leading from the front, the fucking stupid brit got it all wrong.

My apologies for being down on SSG Fitts (and my apologies for this soldier's dirty mouth). I'm leaving up the post below this one because I don't believe in making the past disappear. But I have no beef with SSG Fitts. Keep that in mind when you scroll to the next post.

Posted by Sarah at 09:24 AM | Comments (9)


Some people thought I was too hard on SSG Fitts. Here's what SSG Fitts said, right after CPT Sims was killed:

"The CO is dead," he rasped, "and I'll tell you why. They were just a gaggle walking into some house. They weren't clearing the building properly before going in. We were doing that, and that's why we're living. Do not let your guard down here, or you'll be the next one dead."

I can only speak as a military wife, since I've never been a soldier. My comments may not reflect the military take on things. But I don't think what SSG Fitts said was a reflection of respect or loyalty.

I know that statements like these are made about the out-group: one company might pump themselves up by saying they're better/smarter/more hooah than another company, or platoon to platoon or battalion to battalion. However, I think it comes across as extremely crass when it's done within the in-group, especially right after a death and in front of a reporter! I don't know what tone of voice SSG Fitts used, but it doesn't sound to me like he's trying to scare the men into be safe; it sounds like he's boasting that he was smarter than the CO and that's why he's still alive. It sounds awful, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, I hear awful statements quite frequently. In my job, I work with only enlisted soldiers, and after a year, the comments about officers have started to wear me down. According to many NCOs, officers are unnecessary and worthless. Once when some of my students found out that my husband is an officer, they said, "At least please tell us that he's prior enlisted!" The look of disgust on these NCO faces when they learned he was ROTC was obvious. "I hate lieutenants," one of them said. Gee, thanks. Right before 1ID deployed, the 1SG stood up in front of our FRG and said, "The CO cares about the mission; I care about the men." Nice statement, thanks. Officers are apparently promotion-hungry morons who should just sit in the rear and let the real men take care of the company. Statements like this get made all the time, so when SSG Fitts paints the CO as a lollygagger who got his dumb ass shot, it makes me mad.

But I read this article as a wife. Maybe soldiers don't pay as much attention to these remarks -- though I don't see how constant griping about how dumb the LTs are wouldn't have an effect on unit cohesion -- and maybe I'm just being over-sensitive. But wives read these articles. Mrs. Sims is printing and saving everything written about her husband to make a scrapbook so that someday her son can learn about his father. Do you think she wants that nasty comment by SSG Fitts in her memories? Look, son, this "combat-hardened NCO" says that your daddy was a screw-up. We family members don't want to read that; shame on SSG Fitts for saying it and shame on the reporter for printing it.

Imagine your spouse gets killed in a car accident. Then imagine that the newspaper writes an article about the accident and interviews a witness who says, "If the driver hadn't been swerving around like a madman and had been more responsible, he/she might still be alive today!" How would that make you feel, to read that about your own spouse? Now imagine the witness was a close friend, someone who should show respect and loyalty. That's how I as a spouse read that article. CPT Sims and SSG Fitts worked together. From everything I've heard, CPT Sims was one of the most respected COs on this post. I think SSG Fitts should've shown more tact and respect in the moments after CPT Sims was killed.

My two cents: take it for what it's worth.

Posted by Sarah at 08:40 AM | Comments (4)

November 16, 2004


Dear therapy-seekers in Florida,

I understand that some of you are upset that Kerry lost the election. I would've been pretty upset if President Bush had lost as well. I would've been down in the dumps. I would've been concerned for our nation's future. I would've wanted to gripe about it to my friends. I might've cried for a brief moment. I understand it's a big deal. But now we have a group of you seeking therapy for your depression, which they've given the catchy name of Post Election Selection Trauma.

You want to know what depression is? Spend the weekend mourning your friend's husband. Sit on her sofa trying to chitchat and ignore the lump that's rising in your throat. Watch her child playing with car keys, oblivious to the sorrow in the room. Take time off of work to go to a memorial service for four brave men who were killed over the weekend. And then come talk to me about depression.

One of my students wrote something this week about America being the "land of the too-free", that people in the US have it so good that they don't even know what real problems and suffering look like. He's dead on. I'd like some of you Post Election Selection Trauma patients to spend a day in Mrs. Sims' shoes and then tell me what real depression feels like.

Grow up, people.

P.S. And while we're on the topic of "things that burn me up", I hope I never meet the disrespectful and disgusting SSG Fitts. CPT Sims' wife read that article, you bastard.

Posted by Sarah at 08:08 PM | Comments (7)


Some links this morning:

Hell no, I am not sorry
Super Bush?
a short video clip on Arafat: Yasser Arafat's Dark Legacy (via David Kopel at Volokh)

Lots of grading to catch up on today, but I will post final thoughts on R&R soon.

Posted by Sarah at 08:05 AM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2004


For two weeks, my house had a built-in comedian. Today I realized the house is too quiet and there's no one to talk to.

(Thank goodness for fad.)

Posted by Sarah at 07:05 PM | Comments (1)


Over the past two weeks, the husband and I talked a lot about the future. We talked about where we'd like our next duty station to be. The husband started studying for the GMAT. We talked about making the final payment on our car, our cruise that's scheduled for May, and my job prospects for next year. On Saturday night, we cracked open a bottle of cheap champagne to celebrate our good fortune and bright future. And then the phone rang.

CPT Sean Sims was killed in Iraq.

We don't know CPT Sims personally, but I know his wife and infant son fairly well. I couldn't believe the news. As we sat there, the champagne soured and our future started to look a bit more precarious...making our last 24 hours bleak and somber. I couldn't stop thinking about the Sims family for the rest of our weekend. She's going through the worst possible thing that will ever happen to her, and all I could think of is what every military wife understands: it could just as easily be happening to me. All of our worst fears are materializing for someone I care about, and there's nothing I can do about it. In the end, all I could do was snuggle under my husband's arm and cry, cry for a baby who will never know his father and a wife who will go through hell. Our weekend took an ugly turn, but we faced it together, choked down the rest of the champagne, and went to sleep in our bed for the last night in a while.

I just dropped him off at the bus. Our future is uncertain, but at least we know we made the most out of the two weeks we just had.


Let's avoid registration:

Company commander dies on Fallujah mission

Knight Ridder Newspapers

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Capt. Sean Sims was up early Saturday, looking at maps of Fallujah and thinking of the day's battle. His fingers, dirty and cracked, traced a route that snaked down the city's southern corridor.

"We've killed a lot of bad guys," he said. "But there's always going to be some guys left. They'll hide out and snipe at us for two months. I hope we've gotten the organized resistance."

Sims, a 32-year-old from Eddy, Texas, commanded his Alpha Company without raising his voice. His men liked and respected him. When faced with a broken down vehicle or rocket propelled grenades exploding outside, he'd shake his head a little and say, in his mellow drawl, "We'll be OK. This'll work out."

When he noticed that one of his soldiers, 22-year-old Arthur Wright, wasn't getting any care packages from home, Sims arranged for his wife, a school teacher, to have her students send cards and presents.

Sitting in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle that was pocked by shrapnel from five days of heavy fighting, Sims figured he and his men - of the 1st Infantry Division's Task Force 2-2 - had maybe three or four days left before returning to base.

They were in southwest Fallujah, where pockets of hardcore gunmen were still shooting from houses connected by labyrinths of covered trench lines and low rooftops.

A CNN crew came by, and Sims' men led them around the ruins, showing them the bombed-out buildings and bodies of insurgents that had been gnawed on by neighborhood dogs and cats.

The father of an infant son, Sims was still trying to get over the death of his company's executive officer, Lt. Edward Iwan, a 28-year-old from Albion, Neb., who'd been shot through the torso the night before with an RPG.

"It's tough. I don't know what to think about it yet," he said slowly, searching for words. "All of this will be forever tainted because we lost him."

Shaking off the thought, he threw on his gear and went looking for houses to clear.

A group of rebels was waiting. They'd been sleeping for days on dirty mats and blankets, eating green peppers and dates from plastic tubs. They spied on soldiers who occupied nearby houses without knowing the enemy was so close, watching and waiting.

When Sims and his men came through the front door, gunfire raged for a few minutes. Two soldiers were hit near the shoulder and rushed out by the man next to them.

Crouching by a wall outside, Sgt. Randy Laird screamed into his radio, "Negative, I cannot move, we're pinned down right now! We have friendlies down! Friendlies down!"

The 24-year-old from Lake Charles, La., crouched down on a knee, sweating and waiting for help.

A line of troops ran up, taking cover from the bullets. They shot their way into the house.

Sims lay on a kitchen floor, his blood pouring across dirty tile. An empty tea pot sat on nearby concrete stairs. A valentine heart, drawn in red with an arrow through it, perched on the cabinet.

His men gasped. There was no life in his eyes.

"He's down," Staff Sgt. Thorsten Lamm, 37, said in the heavy brogue of his native Germany.

"Shut the (expletive) up about him being dead," yelled back Sgt. Joseph Alvey, 23, of Emid, Oklahoma. "Just shut the (expletive) up."

The men sprinted to a rubble-strewn house to get a medic.

The company's Iraqi translator, who goes by Sami, was waiting. He asked, "Is he in there? Is he there?"

He tried running out of the door with his AK-47 ready. As men held him back, he fell down against a wall, crying into his hands.

When the troops rushed back, they lifted Sims' body into a pile of blankets and carried it into the closest Bradley.

Six soldiers and a reporter piled in after, trying not to step on the body.

In Baghdad, interim Minister of State for national security Qasim Daoud had announced that the city of Fallujah was now under control.

In the surrounding neighborhood, troops furious at the news of their fallen leader called in revenge, in the form of a 2,000 pound bomb airstrike and a storm of 155 millimeter artillery shells. A mosque lost half a minaret, its main building smoldering in fire and smoke.

In the back of the Bradley with Sims' body, no one spoke.

The only sound was Wright sobbing in the darkness.

Posted by Sarah at 03:09 AM | Comments (10)

November 14, 2004


I mentioned I'd like to write something about Arafat, and the wife has been bugging me to keep my word. I don't think I could add very much new information on how vile the man is, but I thought I would offer a few observations. I'm only 24 years old. I paid pretty close attention to the news growing up. We weren't an overly political household but we stayed well informed. My only memories of Arafat and the PLO are the historic and now failed peace agreements done during the Clinton Administration. People my age have no political memory of Yasser Arafat or the PLO pre 1993. For me and all the other twenty-somethings who wave Palestinian flags and rant about the Likudniks who are responsible for the squalor the Palestinians live in, Yasser Arafat has only been a political leader. Sure, since 2000, he might be complicit in terror attacks. He could have done more to stop the EU aid-receiving Hizbollah jihadists, but with Bush and his proxy Sharon tearing everything up, can you blame those poor Palestinians? After all he is an elected leader. More elected than Bushitler no doubt, we 1980s born know-it-alls quip.

What most young people don't remember is that before 1993, Arafat was synonymous with terrorism. The PLO was a guerilla organization very much like Al Qaeda. Here are just a few highlights of President and Nobel Laureate Arafat and his PLO merry pranksters in the '70s and '80s.

8,000 individual acts of terrorism between 1969-1985 alone.

The massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics.

The attack on the Maalot grade school that killed 21 children.

The hijacking of four airplanes in the 1970’s and an Italian Cruise Ship in 1985.

The man who had been exiled from both Egypt and Jordan was invited to Oslo in 1993 from his exile in Tunis, to sit down with Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Here, the Osama Bin Laden of the '70s and '80s was given his own autonomous region to govern and a workable roadmap to getting a completely independent nation. I could go on about the numerous failed opportunities in the '90s, but they are so numerous I won't even name them. It is an almost undisputable fact that Arafat was offered 97% of the West Bank and all of the Gaza strip and on behalf of the Palestinian people replied, "NO. All or nothing."

I think we all know how that turned out. And what has Arafat, as the leader of the autonomous Palestinian territory, managed to amass besides failed opportunities in his ten years at the helm? Oh, about $7 billion! Estimates vary from $300 million to $7 billion, but he's no doubt worth a fortune. Since the 1970s, the PLO has been receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from Arab states and many other western nations. I don't know the exact numbers but it would make a nice shame graph for an ambitious blogger.

This man, who used the plight of the Palestinian people in Refugee camps as political capital, has wealth measured in billions. And yet, he was lauded by Western diplomats and journalists. An anchorwoman for the BBC reported his death with tears in her eyes. Nearly every Foreign Minister in Europe attended his funeral.

Yes, I'm well aware of his George Washington status with the Palestinians. He was powerful human symbol and forceful advocate; Palestinians united behind him in their pursuit of a homeland--or so says Jimmy Carter. I can think of another powerful advocate who rallied a humiliated people to a great pursuit. He felt the same way about Jews as Arafat.

Are we so afraid to call it like it is? Will Osama Bin Laden someday sit down with an American president to negotiate the withdrawal of troops from Saudi Arabia? Arafat has proven that you can move from terrorist to statesmen. He was able to do so because we allowed it. "Give peace a chance" is a really comfortable slogan. When facing a monster, it can me more comfortable to listen to him than to fight him.

I would just as soon homosexuals have every right that I do. I don't really care about abortion. I'm not crazy about the Patriot Act but I'm a one issue voter. And President Bush and I agree on one thing: this, while certainly tragic, is preferable to this.

-- the husband


Update from Sarah: If you seek his monument, look around you.

Posted by Sarah at 05:40 PM | Comments (9)

November 12, 2004


Though I haven't mentioned it, I'm well aware that Arafat will be pushing up the daisies soon. Except he'll be encased in concrete instead of in his family's plot sleeping under a pile of garbage and filth for eternity, which would be sweet justice. Regardless of where the old terrorist's bones reside, our household was thrilled. I haven't blogged about it because the husband is formulating an Arafat post that will be up sometime before he leaves this weekend. Stay tuned...

Posted by Sarah at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2004


When most of us think of Veterans, we think of the beginning scenes of Saving Private Ryan, the elderly man walking through the white crosses in France. But there's a new face for Veterans these days, a baby face, on soldiers much younger than even I.


Our vets come in all shapes and sizes these days, some of them born as recently as 1986. Yet they're just as distinguished as vets such as my grandfather. Take the time to visit some Milblogs today and pay tribute to the many vets we have out in the 'sphere.

As for me, I'm gonna go hug my favorite vet right now.

The Big Red One has put together a video tribute to our Veterans through the ages. It's also dedicated to CSM Faulkenburg, a Soldier from our post who was killed in Fallujah this week.

Posted by Sarah at 11:05 AM | Comments (3)

November 10, 2004


So apparently a lot of hippies are taking photos of their signs, saying they're sorry that Bushitler was re-elected. I've made my own photo to show what I'm sorry for.


Posted by Sarah at 07:04 PM | Comments (6)

November 08, 2004


I've been getting more and more fed up with all the "reasons" President Bush won the election. Everyone who voted for him was supposedly a knuckle-dragging mouthbreather who only put down his Bible and klan robe long enough to vote for a chimp. I've been getting really irritated this week.

And then I read Deskmerc. Exactly.

Posted by Sarah at 09:59 PM | Comments (8)

November 07, 2004


We had a great weekend, and it dumped snow on us all day today.
That's a story for my husband to tell back in Iraq!

More later. Isn't Arafat dead yet?

Posted by Sarah at 10:46 PM | Comments (4)

November 05, 2004


The husband and I are leaving today for a weekend at the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch. They have a great R&R package, and everyone who's already been has said it's beautiful there. We'll be away from the computer, but I can take a few days off now that the election is over.

Don't do anything fun without me!

Posted by Sarah at 08:33 AM | Comments (3)

November 03, 2004


My icing skills have definitely improved since the last cake -- it helps when you read the instructions and you make frosting instead of drizzle -- so this one is actually legible.


I decided to make a pro-Bush instead of an anti-Kerry cake when I saw how quickly Kerry conceded. I respect him for not dragging it out, and I actually feel sorry for him. He was a man who geared his whole life towards running for president one day, and I feel sorry for him that his dream never materialized. I'm relieved he's not our President, but I feel and respect his disappointment.

Arafat's fair game though.

Posted by Sarah at 08:05 PM | Comments (14)


Right now New Mexico has counted 94% of the votes, and Bush is sitting at 52%.
I'm preheating the oven...

Posted by Sarah at 08:43 AM | Comments (7)

November 02, 2004


The cutest thing in the world happened today: my husband applied to join the VFW.

Posted by Sarah at 10:24 AM | Comments (6)


Yes, James, I did have the unbalanced electric can opener last week. But my husband has so wonderfully distracted me that I actually said, "What happens tomorrow?" when he asked me last night if I was nervous. It feels good to have more important things to think about, like squeezing the life out of Day Four.

Tonight will come and go, and there may or may not be cake afterward, but regardless of what happens, the husband and I will still have Day Five together. Right now, that's a big comfort.

Posted by Sarah at 08:15 AM | Comments (1)

November 01, 2004


There's nothing like an Army post to bring out the trick-or-treaters. We're swarming with kids, not to mention that the Germans bring their kids on post to enjoy this weird American tradition of "giving away free stuff." Some of the German kids didn't even bother to wear costumes, and they gave me a danke schön when they left, which almost made me want to snatch the candy back. When I'm in your country, I speak German; when you're in my country, taking my free candy, please attempt a thank you. With or without the difficult -th- sound.

There were some good costumes. Lots of Sponge Bobs and Spidermans. Lots of princesses. A really cool Wolverine, complete with adamantium claws. A blue sweatsuit covered in rubber ducks: a duck pond. And unlike Lileks, I saw a couple of terrorists and Osamas. And lots of Soldiers. I guess it comes with the territory.

Oh yeah, and I'm the awful lady who gives away Tootsie Rolls and Blow Pops and cheapie candy. We got hundreds of kids, and I wasn't about to spend $50 on brand-name candy bars. I managed to make two large bowls of candy last for an hour and forty minutes, thank goodness. I was about to start giving away Pringles...

Posted by Sarah at 10:45 AM | Comments (17)


My husband has also been a wonderful distraction from the last few days of the election season. I'm still reading through blogs, but now it's with more of a "keep me updated but let's not dwell" attitude so I can run back in the other room and hang out with my best friend.

I also have no interest whatsoever in grading papers, which is not good at all...

Posted by Sarah at 09:48 AM | Comments (0)