Archive for May, 2011

There is no cure for birth and death, save to enjoy the interval.

—  George Santayana

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Memorial Day Graveyard at dawn

We thank you for your sacrifice…

Remarks by Secretary Eric K. Shinseki
A Memorial Day Message from Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki
Washington, DC
May 30, 2011
Today, we pay homage to those who placed themselves on the Altar of Freedom for love of country.  Memorial Day is a time for remembrance, reflection, and respect — for honoring the men and women who gave their lives in service to the Nation.
On the last Monday of May each year, we observe moments of silence and moments of tribute to acknowledge the sacrifices by these brave few for principles greater than self. In answering their calls to duty — at Tarawa and Normandy, Seoul and Chosin, the Ia Drang and Khe Sanh, and at Baghdad and Mosul, the Shahe’ Kot, Korengal, and Marja, or any of a host of other crossroads of conflict — these American men and women stood their ground, held back the dark forces of oppression and destruction, and advanced our founding principles, ideals, beliefs, and values about the right of self-determination.  They cherished liberty and loved freedom enough to lay down their lives to preserve our way of life.
Many lie in final rest in our national cemeteries.  Whether at Gettysburg, one of our country’s first national cemeteries, or at Washington Crossing, our most recent dedication, each VA national cemetery is a sacred place of honor befitting the great deeds and sacrifices of the Fallen.
More than 3.7 million Americans — Veterans of every war and conflict, from our Revolution to the Global War on Terror — have been laid to rest in these hallowed shrines.  The quiet serenity, pristine nature, and strict adherence to time-honored Service traditions make our cemeteries the healing places where families and friends can remember and honor those who gave, in President Lincoln’s words, “the last full measure of devotion.”
This Memorial Day, a Nation at war prays for peace and the safe return of our sons and daughters, even as it exacts justice from those who trampled our most cherished principles.  Now, as then, in addition to our prayers for peace, we pray for the families of the Fallen.  And we pray for the Almighty’s continued blessings on this great and wonderful country of ours.
[The above photo and remarks have been taken from the Department of Veterans Affairs web site.  — KMAB]
[The following is taken from the Wikipedia biography about General (now Secretary) Shinseki:
“General Shinseki publicly clashed with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the planning of the war in Iraq over how many troops the U.S. would need to keep in Iraq for the postwar occupation of that country.  As Army Chief of Staff, General Shinseki testified to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” would probably be required for postwar Iraq.  This was an estimate far higher than the figure being proposed by Secretary Rumsfeld in his invasion plan, and it was rejected in strong language by both Rumsfeld and his Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, who was another chief planner of the invasion and occupation.  From then on, Shinseki’s influence on the Joint Chiefs of Staff reportedly waned.  Critics of the Bush Administration alleged that Shinseki was forced into early retirement as Army Chief of staff because of his comments on troop levels, but the claim is disputed.
When the insurgency took hold in postwar Iraq, Shinseki’s comments and their public rejection by the civilian leadership were often cited by those who felt the Bush administration deployed too few troops to Iraq.  On November 15, 2006, in testimony before Congress, CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid said that General Shinseki had been correct that more troops were needed.”
I remember watching the evening’s news clips of General Shinseki’s Congressional testimony and thinking – “there sits the last honorable General on active duty”.  When he was later proven correct, I smiled to myself and wondered how many of our losses could have been avoided if the General’s testimony had been received by an equally honorable Congress. — KMAB]

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When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened.

—  Mark Twain

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But nothing in life can ever be cleansed completely of fiction because memory is unreliable and selective at the best of times.  To those who have been misquoted, misnamed, or mischaracterized, I apologize.  I did the best I could with the limited faculties I still possess.

—  Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.)
Medal of Honor recipient
from the Author’s Note to his book “If Not Now, When?

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Talent only goes so far, but faith gets you a little farther.  I take it as a reminder of why I’m out here.  It’s, ‘Remember what kind of gift you have, and most of all, don’t let your team down.’

—  Brian Wilson,
Pitcher for the SF Giants, describing the crossed-arm gesture he makes after the end of game
(quoted in “A Band of Misfits“, by Andrew Baggarly)

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It’s one thing to see a movie or listen to music and to think “genius” —  that some gifted person and exalted apparatus has put together this unique work of art we appreciate.  However, once you know what’s behind the curtain, you begin to realize that it could be you.  It is when the tools of production are transparent that we are inspired to create.  When people understand how great work is made, they’re more likely to want to do it themselves.

—  Chris Anderson
from “The Long Tail

[It could be you, but do you want to?  —  KMAB]

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We’re doing great!  Just last week we killed five hundred beggars.

— Red Skelton
(When asked how President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” was progressing.)

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