Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas in Afghanistan: My daughter's message.

Christmas in Afghanistan - a guest post

by Molly Conner on Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at 10:40pm.

As you go to Christmas services this year, please take a minute and remember the servicemen and women who died in Afghanistan this year.

The United States has lost 494 servicemembers this year. The UK has lost 101. Total Coalition Forces casualties are at 702. It is the deadliest year of the war so far. Yet no one in the United States is paying attention. News coverage of the war makes up 4% of media stories, down from 5% in 2009.

Less than 1% of voters polled before the midterm elections this year considered the war in Afghanistan to even be a major issue.

So please, as you celebrate the holiday this year, take a moment to remember those who gave their lives for this country, those who were wounded, those who lost limbs, and those who lost loved ones. I honestly don't care if any of you are for or against the war. Your position doesn't matter. Just please, keep us in mind, remember us, and pay attention when the stories come on the news. Please let the war in Afghanistan take precedence in your mind over Bristol Palin in Dancing With the Stars, or Lindsay Lohan's latest drama in rehab. Please remember us. Have the debate. Ask the hard questions. Decide if it's worth it, and if it is, what more needs to be done, what you can do to help. Visit your local veteran's center, ask what you can do to help. Donate to the wounded warriors project. Or just visit the websites of the units in Afghanistan, and look at the names, pictures, and biographies of the fallen. I link to my own 101st Airborne Division, which has lost over 100 soldiers this year. But they all deserve to be remembered.

I don't believe that all soldiers are heroes. I don't believe that military personnel should be automatically labeled as role models, as too often happens. I don't pretend that hundreds of thousands don't initially enlist for reasons other than patriotism.

However, I do believe, with my whole heart, that when you allow your elected government to send soldiers to fight and die in your name, you owe them the basic human dignity of paying attention, and acknowledging that sacrifice. And yet, nine years into this war, media coverage is down, and the war is a non-issue in the election, while soldiers continue to die at their highest rates yet.

Attention should be paid.

So please, when you celebrate the holiday this year: remember us.

  • icasualties link here

  • Fort Campbell (101st Airborne Division) Eagle Honors pages here

  • Wounded Warrior project here

To my wonderful, supportive family and friends - thank you for everything you've done, every word of support you've sent this tour. This is not meant for you.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saratoga Restaurant Week and Limoncello Ristorante

Bee Balm Gal's musings have been a bit dark of late so I thought I would lighten up today with a report of Restaurant Week in Saratoga. This is an annual promotion when a large number of restaurants in and around Saratoga offer three-course dinner specials for just $18.19.

The Handsome Husband and I headed out to Limoncello Ristorante where we had never eaten before. Their regular menu looked very tempting but cheapskates that we are, we stuck to the special $18.19 special menu.

The Handsome Husband chose Gnocchi Bolognese, "homemade potato dumplings with a traditional ragu of ground beef, tomato, mushroom, peas and Barolo wine." He nearly licked the plate.

I chose Pollo alle Noci, " tender cuts of chicken with gorgonzola and walnuts." Yum.

Limoncello's waitstaff was terrific - friendly, attentive, efficient. Food was served HOT and at a good pace. The HH* and I will go there again and next time, we will try their main menu.

Two thumbs up for Limoncello Ristorante.

*HH = Handsome Husband


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Heart-breaking news

Fort Campbell, Kentucky, lies along the state's southern border and the nearest good-sized town is Clarksville, Tennessee. The 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army is based at Fort Campbell. This spring, folks from Fort Campbell poured out of there and into Afghanistan to support the so-called surge.

Clarksville's main newspaper, The Leaf-Chronicle, carries a good deal of local Army news. The newspaper's website uses the dark graphic, above, when it carries reports of losses from the 101st Division. This graphic has gotten too much use this year.

Today, The Leaf-Chronicle is reporting six more deaths from the 101st Airborne. By my count, this brings the total number of 101st Airborne soldiers killed in Afghanistan this year - mostly since June and the beginning of the surge - to ninety-eight. In the most recent deaths, the six soldiers were killed Monday when an Afghan Border Police officer turned his weapon on them. The gunman in Monday's attack was a border police officer rather than an insurgent donning the uniform for a day, according to the news story.

As I have written here and here, I have a daughter and son-in-law currently serving with the 101st and I find these mounting losses painful to read about. My heart aches for the families of these brave soldiers.

But aside from these families and readers of the Clarksville newspaper, is anyone noticing?

You can click here to see the faces and names of ninety-two 101st soldiers lost this year. The six new names and photos will be added soon. And if you scroll back down the list, you will find the photos of two local young men: Spc. Benjamin D. Osborn, a graduate of Lake George, NY, High School, who was killed on June 15, and Pfc. David T. Miller, a graduate of Saratoga High School, who was killed on June 21. May they all rest in peace.