My Country 'Tis Of Thee
To Honor Those Who Serve
by Mary Puplava, Webmaster | March 3, 2003
Sunday is a day of rest for Financial Sense's webmaster. However, my curiosity always gets the better of me and of course, I checked my email. The day's batch was quite different than the usual. It included three very special emails. The first was from a friend and fellow board member whose brother is serving in Kuwait. The second was from a Financial Sense fan in Phoenix, Arizona with the subject, "Not Like The Navy I Served!" The third was from a dear friend whose son has been serving in the Navy and is stationed "somewhere in the Gulf." I called my friend as I could sense her broken heart. You see, she had spent the afternoon as I'm sure other mothers, wives and sisters--in tears.
This morning, our Liz, receptionist and assistant webmaster, said goodbye to her husband, Matt. The U.S.S. Nimitz left San Diego harbor this morning. In Liz's words, "This is the first time he ever had tears in his eyes." Matt has shipped out every year Liz has worked for us and sometimes twice in the same year. He's been gone anywhere from four to six months at a time and even when he's been in port, they'd ship out for short cruises two to three weeks at a time. Liz has missed sharing New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, anniversaries and birthdays with her Matt. But then, Matt has missed sharing them with Liz.
For the past several weeks as I've driven home from work, I've listened to Roger Hedgecock as he's promoted "Operation Homefront," a partnership with an organization for military wives of San Diego who provide support services for military families. They've had rallies and bake sales. They've solicited the help of San Diego businesses and services to come to the aid of families left at home. On Saturday Jim and I hosted a dinner for our friends whose son is "somewhere in the Gulf." They told us that Wells Fargo employees at his work are preparing a care package a week to send to someone they know who is serving overseas. As I drove into work this morning, I heard our local radio station's live coverage from North Island. The Nimitz battlegroup was shipping out. 8,000 lives left their homes and families today. They began to play recordings from their call-in line from well-wishers who prayed for their safe return. And then I heard the choir sing. It was "My Country 'Tis Of Thee." It was then that my own tears were shed. I made my daily run to the post office and when I pulled into my spot, I looked through the window to our reception desk and there our Liz sat, inputting stories for Storm Watch. She'd left Matt to board the Nimitz at 5:00 AM this morning and here she was faithfully serving Jim and I and you, our visitors.
My thoughts turned to what can I do.
I am the mother of three wonderful sons. Often I have thought about what it would be like if they were called to serve their country. All three of our sons have worked for Jim and I. They've cleaned toilets, filed, made bank runs and matched trade tickets. Our eldest, Ryan will be 25 in April. He's worked eight years for us. For the last three years, Ryan attended college afternoons and evening; while serving as our equity trader during the day. He sends out a weekly alert to our clients and has become a valuable asset to our business. The National Honor Society has invited him to join a select group of graduates to travel to China in May to see first-hand the economic transformation that is occurring there. Our middle son, Chris, will be 24 in July. He's attending Cal Poly for a degree in bio-chemistry. Our youngest son, Adam, is 21 and attends the San Diego Art Institute and is pursuing a degree in multi-media communications. Our client site has been Adam's responsibility for the past few years.
Although I can only imagine what it would be like to know that your son or husband or brother or boyfriend was shipping out, I do know what I would feel if it were my own three sons. I don't write today to judge my President, my Congress, al-Qaeda, Iraq, the U.N., France or Germany. I write today for those who serve and those who sacrifice for them. I write today because Jim and Adam will be sitting at our dinner table tonight, Ryan will be in the office tomorrow, and I can phone Chris or email him and encourage him with his studies. My calls or emails won't be censored and I know they will get through to the son I love. I write today, because Liz will go home to an empty bed and their son, John, will not see his dad at his hockey game. I write today because my heart is full for my friends and my country.
I am an American. Today I honor those who serve the country I love.
From Sandra ~
Here's an email from my brother who is in Kuwait, if you're wondering what the military guys go through. If not, just DELETE it, but I found in gave me a better insight to life over there.
Sent: Saturday, March 01, 2003 10:01 PM
Hope you're all doing good. I'm on email now, but it doesn't work that well. Email sometimes goes out and sometimes I receive it. Where they go I don't know. The phones are very hard to get through. The reliable ones, you have about an hour wait. Overall things are going fine. I'm just cold all the time. When we first got here it was warm to hot during the day and cold at night. Now it's just COLD during the day and COLDER at night.
We work every day, mostly because there is nothing else to do. My days are pretty much the same. Wake up about 0520, get dressed, walk to portapotty, (making it through the night without having to get up and pee is a major accomplishment worth sharing with your friends) shave and gargle while I walk, then wait a couple of minutes for two friends. We then walk to breakfast. It always the same. Powdered eggs, sausage or bacon, french toast, oatmeal. After that we walk about a mile to work. Work all day. Then at 1900 (7pm) we walk back to dinner, which is usually something that goes on rice. The something always changes, but almost always goes on rice. Used to go to lunch, but all that consists of is hamburger or hotdogs. After dinner we sit around a little bit, telling stories, crawl into the COLD sleeping bag, wait till your body warms it up, then relax and fall asleep reading a book.
Every two days or so is my shower day. Which means I take a bus three miles or so to another camp and take a shower. This usually takes 2 hours since you have to wait for the buses. That's why I don't shower everyday. Can't afford to be gone long every day. Once a week I'll wash clothes. I make sure that it's a day I shower, since they're on the same camp. When I first got to Kuwait, we were at a different camp. The showers were very hard to come by. My first one was 8 days after I left California. Then I went 5 days. Then they got it all working and I was able to go everyday. That only lasted three days. Then we moved to this new camp. Of course nothing was or still is setup. That's pretty much it in a nutshell. Lots of fun Huh?
I'm definitely saving money. Nothing to spend it on. They have a PX, but the lines are long for that. I waited in line once. It took 45 minutes to get in. Then I couldn't find what I was looking for and didn't want to go out empty-handed after waiting so long, so I bought 20 bucks worth of junk food. Then had to wait 20 minutes to get out. All in all it took over an hour. But at least we have a PX if we need basic essentials.
The sand storms are strange. The wind isn't blowing very much, but you can't see very far and need to wear goggles. The sand is very fine. A lot like the beach. It has a way of getting into everything and everywhere. All in all it's just a big camp out. Without the fun. Well I need to get back to work. Take care.
From Ed, a Financial Sense Fan, Sunday, March 2, 2003
I served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 through 46, and it was not at all like this, well, not quite this bad (or good)!!! This is GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Subject: Military History
Some little known American military history. Also known as sometime the Navy does it right!
The U.S.S. Constitution (Old Ironsides) as a combat vessel carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men. This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (fresh water distillers). However, let it be noted that, according to her log, "On July 27, 1798, the U.S.S. Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum." Her mission: "To destroy and harass English shipping."
Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Then she headed for the Azores, arriving there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine. On 18 November, she set sail for England. In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchantmen, salvaging only the rum aboard each.
By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, although unarmed, she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whisky distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home.
The U.S.S. Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February, 1799, with no
cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whisky and 38,600
gallons of stagnant water.
From Dan who serves in the Navy to his parents, Sunday, March 2, 2003
I was recently asked about my thoughts on the upcoming war. I wrote my thoughts down and would like your input. I don't know if I have said too much, not enough, or just babble. I would also like to know if you agree/disagree. I'm not much of of a political person and can only talk about what I perceive. I would greatly value both of your thoughts in the matter. I am pretty sure I have gotten it right, but I do value your wisdom in such matters.
P.S. The response is to a friend, but geared for anyone who might ask. The following letter is written in an attempt to answer the question:
"What are your thoughts on an up coming war?"
To be quite honest with you, I haven't given much thought about the possibilities regarding any upcoming conflicts. I have just chosen not to really dwell on the rights or wrongs of it all. I do know one thing, I have a job to protect fellow service members and that is what I am going to do.
For me right now I can't afford to allow any moral qualms impede my judgment if things come to a boil. I honestly gave up my right to an opinion when I signed up. I know it may sound like a sad thing to you, but when life and death decisions are made in half a second, I can't hesitate because I may have a disagreement with what I am doing. A moment's hesitation could very well result in death of hundreds of American lives, many of whom I count as friends.
When everything is over and I am once again safe at home, then I can sit back and see if the means has justified the ends. Until then, I can only hope that the government that the public voted into office (since my vote wasn't counted due to the fact I was out here for the last election) has made and will make the best decision regardless of what people, both the majority and minority might think. That is a cold reality to the military.
We in the service have a saying, "We serve and protect the rights of the Constitution. We do not have them." That statement or a variant of it is often said in jest, if things aren't going our way, but it reveals an honest truth. When a choice is made to make a preemptive strike on a missile site killing a few enemy soldiers versus allowing that site the opportunity to sink my ship and killing over 350 American sailors, the choice is already made. Though the thought of having to take a life saddens me, I will press that button to fire my missiles before they can fire theirs.
You may disagree and when I grow older I may as well. Right now my real concern is with the people back home placing misguided anger toward service members. Military people really don't have any choice in what they are asked to do. Not one person I know wants to be out here. We would rather be home with our families. I know some people might say that when the time comes, I could choose to not fire that gun. The simple answer to that uniformed statement is of course, I could choose not to fire my gun. That's the same as stating I could choose not to pay my taxes or I could choose to not be a responsible adult. The consequences that would follow my disobedience of orders far outweigh the consequences of my following those orders. I will not have the gravestones of my countrymen rest on my shoulders, because I felt a little squeamish about what I was asked to do.
People seem to forget that we are not trying to establish another America over here. We don't want that. All anybody wants is a stable Iraqi government that can be a viable contributor to the world market. We aren't trying to take away their culture or convert them all to our way of thought. We want to see the needless slaughter of innocent people stopped. We want to see chemical weapons removed from the region. We want to see people free from a tyranny that has stricken the majority to a life of poverty. We want to know that when we turn our backs and return home, a knife won't be planted into it. We want to be sure that those who might desire to do our friends or our families harm are not able to do so. If I must go to war so that my country might be safe, then that is what I will do.
Ask me if I want war and the answer is no. No sane person wants war. Ask me if I am willing to go to war to uphold the Constitution, defend my country, and free the lives of people who are under persecution, then the answer is without question yes.
I hope this answers the question of my thoughts on an upcoming war. I have tried to explain it as best as I can. The life of a military person is like sky diving. The experience can be explained, but never truly understood till you have stood on the edge and taken the jump.
Dan's Christmas email to his parents, December 27, 2002
Well things are going pretty smooth out here. There isn't much that I can complain about. They have me on a new watch rotation which doesn't leave me with much free time, but allows me to get 6 hours of sleep consistently which is nice. I start my day at 10 at night and stand watch till 0600. After my watch, I begin my regular work day which lasts till 1600. If there isn't much going on in the afternoon, I get to go to the gym at 1500 to work out. I haven't been putting on any pounds yet just cutting up and getting into shape. I still want to weigh about 175 which is 25 pounds heavier. We will see how it goes. I haven't been spending too much money, so I should have plenty to get a car when I get back. I did finally get your package on the 24th, which was nice since I waited till Christmas to open it.
One of the guys in the shop's wife also sent everyone stockings so that was a nice touch as well. The Christmas dinner was pretty nice. We had turkey, roast beef, and ham with all the fixings. The Captain came down and served the crew for awhile. One of my friends made a joke to him that I needed a lot of food because I was so skinny and the Captain took it to heart and I left the mess line with four pounds worth of food. I tried to eat it all, but couldn't quite manage. The slippers work out nice and I wear them all the time in the shop if I'm not too busy. As of right now, I don't know when I'll get to see dry land again. I don't really mind it, just mean I'll have a lot of work to do on my tan when I get back. The weather has been pretty cool for the gulf, around 60 degrees. Since the ship is always running it, AC temps in the space I work drop to the low 50s at night while I'm working. It makes it a little cold, but it keeps me up in the wee hours of the morning. I spoke with one of the quarter masters on board and he said I could have one of the ships old charts. I figured I could frame and use it for a nice wall piece.
My ship is supposed to be out here stopping smugglers, but I have found 90 percent of the people we stop are in such bad shape that we spend more time saving lives than anything else. I wish more people saw that kind of stuff we do. I know it would change a lot of opinions about what we are doing out here. People look on us as a type of goon squad out here to impose our values on people, when in reality we do more humanitarian efforts then a lot of world charities because we are always here to do it. I have never stopped anywhere without my ship doing something for the local community i.e. assisting in rebuilding schools, helping out at the local Red Cross or orphanages. Some people back home might complain because it's not our job to hold the world's hand, but we do it anyway. What would our country be if it didn't have our sense of charity? Anyway, I got to go back to work now, so I'll write again later, you're in my prayers nightly.
America (My Country, 'Tis of Thee)
by Samuel F. Smith, 1808-1895
My country,' tis of thee,
sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing;
and where my fathers died,
land of the pilgrims' pride,
from every mountainside let freedom ring!
My native country, thee,
land of the noble free, thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
thy woods and templed hills;
my heart with rapture thrills, like that above.
Let music swell the breeze,
and ring from all the trees sweet freedom's song;
let mortal tongues awake;
let all that breathe partake;
let rocks their silence break, the sound prolong.
Our fathers' God, to thee,
author of liberty, to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright
with freedom's holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King.
© 2003 Mary B. Puplava