Woman Honor Thyself

When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It's a whole different way of thinking. --Elaine Boosler

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

WhaT do we ReallY OwN?

Fallen troops' effects handled with care Medals, mail -- maybe even a forbidden pup. These folks get it home.

"ABERDEEN, Md. - The personal stuff they carried to war, the remnants of lives lost in Iraq, was spread neatly across long tables in a drafty warehouse last week.
Mortuary affairs troops wearing surgical gloves at the Joint Personal Effects Depot went about the tedious work of counting and separating out what belonged to the soldier and what belonged to the government...

In three years of war, Lt. Col. Deborah Skillman, the depot's commander, said her unit at the military's Aberdeen Proving Ground has cut the time for getting the personal effects back to the families from 45 to 22 days.
But the checklist efficiency does little to relieve the stress of handling, photographing and doing the inventory on the last items a fallen comrade may have held, laughed about, cared about.

"You're touching somebody's life here," said Army Capt. Cathy Carman, 34, of Eustis, Fla., who is in charge of the section that carefully packs and boxes up the belongings for shipment home.
"It's an emotional job; nobody here will argue about that," Carman said.

She gestured to a box of tissues kept nearby for the 120 troops and civilian personnel, many of them retired military, who handle the items belonging to soldiers and Marines killed in action.
Driver's license, house keys, letters from home, a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, diaries, cigarette lighters, Air Jordans, photo albums, children's drawings, Christmas stockings. Also the spent cartridges from the farewell salute fired by the service member's buddies in Iraq.

When a soldier is killed, his unit inventories and packs what he kept at his bunk site in rucksacks, sea bags and footlockers.
The personal effects of the more than 2,300 troops killed in Iraq have all gone first to the Dover, Del., Air Force Base and then to Aberdeen.

Rivera pointed to a torn-up piece of a brown paper bag with "We Love You" in what appeared to be a child's scrawl written in crayon upon it.
"We don't know what that is. Maybe it's something a kid in Iraq gave to him. It was in his stuff and that's going home.."

Is it about what they "own"?
Sometimes we construct meanings for material objects much in the same way we construct meanings for people..
We all have that special, cherished, or "favorite" possession.
Yes this is our "stuff"..a mere tangible item - clothing, jewelry..perhaps a saved letter.
But it is not of consequence what this soldier "owned". It is now about letting those who loved him or her own more "joy" through the memories of her prized possession...own more love by letting his memory shine out to all those honor him...
and for us ..to own more respect for those laying down their lives for us...even as we speak.

You must see this over at thirdworldcountry.it's time for a little less talk and ALOT more action on illegals.
The Amboy Times has an insightful look at N. Korea and nukes.


  • At 3:03 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said…

    I'm glad that somebody does this task. How difficult it must be!

    General Patton used to send home to the boys' mothers locks of hair; he often did the clipping himself. Old Blood and Guts had a heart for the kids who died under his command.

    The removal of personal effects is more impersonal now, but I know these families really appreciate that they can get back something as a tangible tribute. I'm sure that the families of the fallen are grateful for what these in Aberdeen do.

    Thanks for posting this.

  • At 5:12 AM, Blogger American Crusader said…

    Damn Angel, good post. That has to be a tough job and it's done for both the fallen soldier and his family. Then at the funeral you get groups like the Westborough Baptist Church protesting and calling the soldiers death God's punishment for homosexuality.

    Is this a crazy world or what?

  • At 6:53 AM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said…

    AOW..dint know that bout Patton how interesting!
    AC!..always gr8 to see u and jus thinkin bout the protestors at soldier's funerals makes mah blood boil!

  • At 8:51 AM, Blogger Gayle said…

    Patton was hard on the enemy, but he truly cared for his troops. I wish they still did that. Think about how much a lock of hair would mean to a wife, mother, father, brother, sister, or a sweetheart?

    Really good post here, Angel. That's got to be a tremendously tough job!

  • At 12:47 PM, Blogger Iran Watch said…

    I've seen Marines I served with the have their belongings collected after being severely injured or killed. It's a very empty feeling knowing your friend or comrade isn't coming back.

  • At 1:24 PM, Blogger eyesallaround said…

    Great post. It reminds me of a 1944 Howitzer shell I found in a house in Portland once. I hung on to it over the years because I thought it was cool. For some reason it was important to a soldier. I should post on it.

  • At 3:56 PM, Blogger Lady Jane said…

    Oh, what a sad task to undertake, but so noble too. I'm so glad someone does this. Thanks for telling us about it, Angel.

  • At 4:13 PM, Blogger radar said…

    Angel, I am the grandson, son and father of soldiers and am a veteran myself. I do appreciate your blog, now that I have found it, and have put you on the blogroll at my place.

  • At 5:19 PM, Blogger ABFreedom said…

    Excellent post Angel, and it says a lot about the quality of the military. There is not to many countries that have the same respect and honor for those fighting for freedoms.

  • At 6:49 PM, Blogger The MaryHunter said…

    Real moving, Angel. In Annapolis we see lots of young midshipmen in their training for what could end up as the ultimate sacrifice. I try not to think about that aspect, but it creeps in now and then.

    Thanks for this post.

  • At 6:44 AM, Blogger Brooke said…

    Excellent post!

    Probably about two months ago, a guy was selling a kevlar helmet on Ebay, apparantly covered in blood. He claimed it was from a fallen Ft.Hood soldier.

    Needless to say, a few well placed phone calls from Glenn Beck Insiders put a screeching halt to that. The man is now facing Federal charges on two different counts.

    I'd have to do a little archive digging to find it agian, but the point is that some folks are so quick to cheapen the effects of soldiers, when they should be treated with respect. Kudos to these folks!

  • At 8:37 AM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said…

    Thank u all so much..this was quite an emotional piece...:)

  • At 12:54 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said…

    It's nice to know there are caring people who take this seriously.

  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger Kerwin said…

    If they need Kleenex I do not know how impersonal it really is. The loss of a human life is a very sad thing but to know they died for others make it a life well spent.

  • At 10:10 AM, Blogger peddlinshutterbug said…

    great writing! and it brought a tear to my eye. My son is over there, and this is a family's worst nightmare.
    But, we are so proud of our patriots who put their boots on the ground so the America-haters find it more difficult to put their bloody hooves on OUR GROUND. I was not aware of the details of this process of which you wrote, but it makes perfect sense; our military is comprised of the most honorable,disciplined,intelligent, and LOVING people in existence. I just wish there were journalists that were like you, and who could and would write these things, instead of digging up only the worst on those who fight to save EVERY American, including the ungrateful and even the hateful ones.. You keep up the good fight, too!

  • At 7:27 PM, Blogger Frasypoo said…

    That was a sad post.Had me in tears!I would not do too well at that job!!
    Also another military job that I thought was sad are the people who do that gun salute and play the taps at army funerals.

  • At 5:05 AM, Blogger falcon_01 said…

    Another stirring post. I wish the media underscored that most of the people in the military are in it for the honorable reason of wanting to protect freedom, even to the extent that they would lay down their life so you could say and do as you please. Instead they are given false support, mocked by politicians, and their deaths praised by the very people they are defending. I recall a few times confronting people using their free speech to bash troops. I told them if it weren't for those same troops you wouldn't have free speech in the first place...and to a middle eastern lady ranting in the checkout line I said, "and if you talked that way about the troops or government in your country of origin you would probably be killed."

    This article is why it is so important to protect our Constitutional rights, and not back down on issues of free speech- because those rights have been paid for in blood. Failure to stand up for them by writing your representatives, or by allowing corrupt socialist liberals to snatch rights away, demeans their ultimate sacrifice.

  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger His Girl Friday said…

    very good post!

  • At 12:40 PM, Blogger Z said…

    Your take is so right, WHT....I could barely look at the picture without tearing up. God bless our soldiers and the memories they gave their families; and the life they give us through the loss of theirs.
    there's so little one can say...
    thanks for this, it's a beautiful reminder of what's really important.


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