Diary Of A Hollywood Refugee

Friday, April 28, 2006

Voices From The Frontline

I've been involved in discussions on several over at The Castle and Grim's Hall about the relationship between the Military PAO and the Media.

At points through these discussions, I've mentioned the need for milbloggers, and the PAO, as well as "citizen bloggers" to find other ways to help people look at the war differently..to grab their attention....and give them reason to try to understand this war DIFFERENTLY.

The written word works for many, but for just as many, it remains unevocative, cold, and distant and requires more active participation than passively watching tv, films, videos, or listening to music.

Visuals impact on us differently. They are instantly evocative, often more powerful, and their visceral impact runs deeper and remains with us much longer than the written word.

But what of words put to music with visuals??

Apart from blogs and podcasts, I really like some the combat videos and a few documentaries being made by soldiers & Marines in Iraq.

I blogged about one combat video in a post called "Marines Don't Fuck Around".

Titled "Iraq 1" the video is brought to us by Doc Matey and The India Company Marines of the 3/6 who deployed during OIF 3.

With it's blend of combat imagery juxtapositioned against the evocative lyrics and haunting melody of "Jesus Walks" , this video leaves a powerful impact.

I also blogged about "Scout's Out", a documentary shot by the soldiers of Fox Troop, 82nd Cav, based out of Oregon.

During their year long deployment in Iraq, and with the help of the generous citizens of Oregon, they distributed 2000 pairs of shoes to Iraqi children, as well as lots of candy, toys and clothing. They also had the unique opportunity to capture their humanitarian efforts on film as they watched "their kids" grow up.

Produced by First Lt.Rich Paetz, the documentary, titled "Scouts Out" was shot entirely by the soldiers from their perspective and will include interviews with the soldiers and their family members "because", as Rich reminded me, " it was their war too"
As well as blogging, I'd like to encourage more of our deployed soldiers and Marines to express themselves and share their stories, and experiences, through combat videos, documentaries, and music about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And I want to strongly encourage the PAO, bloggers and milbloggers, to blog about them, make alternative media aware of them, and interview, in writing and in podcasts, those who create them.

An entire generation of youth, who are not in combat but who share belong to the same culture as those fighting this war, need to be re-educated on how to understand war.

Rather than focus on the military attempting to build a relationship with the MSM who
1) aren't interested in doing so, and
2) are comprised of aging baby boomers who will not be easily swayed into letting go of their Viet Nam era angst
I feel that it is far more vital that our the PAO and we bloggers (An Army of Davids) understand the culture from which our troops now come, and begin to deliver the message to their cultural peers in the same way they themselves love to receive messages.

First we need to understand the culture these soldiers and Marines are a part of, and for that I turn to what Evan Wright says about them in "Generation Kill" his searing portrait of the young Marines fighting this war.

"...they are kids raised on hip hop, Marilyn Manson, Jerry Springer. For them, Motherf**ker is a term of endearment. For some, slain rapper Tupac is an American patriot whose writings are better known the speeches of Abraham Lincoln. There are tough guys among them who pray to Budda and quote some Eastern philosphies and New Age precepts galeaned from watching Oprah and old kung fu movies. There are former gangbangers, a sprinkling of born again Christians, and quite a few guys who before entering the Corps were daily dope smokers(..)

They represent what is more or less Americans first generation of disposible children. More than half the guys in some platoons came from broken homes and were raised by absentee single wsorking parents, and they are far more "intimate" with video games, realtity TV shows and internet porn than their own parents.

(...) this is the generation that first learned of the significance of the Presidency not through an inspiring speech at the Berlin Wall, but through a national obsession with semen stains and a certain White House blow job."

This the generation of men and women fighting the war on terror and it is their peers who both support this war or despise it. Either way...they share a cultural commonality.

Therefore it is this generation of soldiers and Marines that are the best people to speak to their cultural brothers and sisters in ways that will help their peers grasp the complete picture, and help to reshape the way their peers and the future generation of youths come to understand forth generational war.

I am not surprised that these music driven combat videos are being created by our deployed men and women but I am surprised FEW people- including those in these various discussions- are even aware they exist, nor understand their importance: THIS is an effective way to speak to and reach the generation to whom we want to deliver different messages about this war!

On April 4th, 2006 Crosscheck Records announced the release of Voices From the Frontline , a CD of all original material from US military personnel currently serving in Iraq.

Featuring twelve musical tracks and twelve spoken word vignettes recorded by men and women on active duty, the CD offers an insiders view into the often difficult, emotional, and unblinking reality of life for American troops stationed in Iraq.

Crosscheck Records has teamed up with the non-profit organization Operation AC to donate a portion of the proceeds from Voices From The Frontline in order to supply soldiers with non-combat supplies.

Voices From the Frontline tells the stories of several soldiers in their own words.

In the opening track, First Time, rappers Mike Watts and Quentin Givens matter-of-factly ask the question at the core of every soldier facing deployment: Will I come back alive or will I come back dead?

The soldiers speak about keeping it together to get the job done, letters home to loved ones, saluting those who lost their lives, the close calls dealing with IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), the support of their families, the fight to stay alive, the guilt of not seeing a child grow up, the inner conflict and loyalty they feel.

In Condolence, a performer who goes by the name Amp writes a letter to a woman apologizing for his role in her loss he asks God if theres a spot for me in heaven, could you give it to her?

The females perspective from the frontline comes from Kisha Pollard and Mischelle Johnston. In Girl at War, Kisha speaks about what its like to be a woman doing her military job and earning the respect of her fellow soldiers. And you look at me up in down cause youre thinking Im weak, til you see me in Iraq and Im patrolling the streets. She brings up the fact that she can get shot just as well as a boy. Desert Vacation is one of two R&B songs on the album, written and sung by Mischelle Johnston who finds herself a bird in a cage waiting for my ticket out. She sings about the frustration of events turning out differently than she expected.

Overall, the men and women on Voices From the Frontline aren't using their art to make a statement for or against the war. They just want to be heard, their experiences shared. These are their stories and their expression of what it is like to fight, to work, to live, and to cope with life on the frontlines in Iraq. It is clear that they appreciate life despite their daily struggles, the overwhelming challenges, and the loss of fellow soldiers. Through it all, they manage to find the strength and courage that it takes to do what they do.

This is why I am far more interested in podcasts than simply blogs...don't get me wrong...the written blogs are great...but "Blogcasts" can include original music, stories, interviews, "the actual voices" of this generation speaking to THEIR peers. We have the technology and the critical "blogmass" to ensure they get exposure throughout the blogsphere and beyond!

Blogcasts (podcasts) can be downloaded onto hand held devices to be listened to at home, in the car, on the subway, while walking, while doing homework( this generation multi tasks) and they can be aired on radio and internet radio.

If you include "combat videos" which can also be distributed through "You Tube", aired on MTV, internet tv, or delivered directly to consumers through blogs and milblogs; you've now got two culturally effective ways to get across a different type of message about this war, our soldiers, and our military, that reflects the experiences, the stories and the expression "of what it is like to fight, to work, to live, and to cope with life on the frontlines".

You can listen to some of the songs from the CD at My Space.com . Then buy the CD, give it as a gift to your friends, and SPREAD THE WORD about this Voices From The Frontline to your co-workers, other bloggers and milbloggers, your local radio stations, your local news papers, and your local TV stations.

I'd like to encourage milbloggers to start creating podcasts (or blogcasts as I like to call them.) and to include interviews with soldiers/Marines in your unit in which they share "their stories and their expression of what it is like to fight, to work, to live, and to cope with life" in the sandbox.

The MSM elites grew up in the 60's and 70's. Music defined that generation with protest songs from artists like Crosby Stills Nash and Young ( "Four Dead in O-hi-o), Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez. "Hair" became the definitive musical of the Viet Nam era.

Music combined with visuals from the coverage in Nam, impacted on "baby boomers" so deeply and shaped the way most of that generation thinks about all wars.

We can impact on today's generation by combining music, words and visuals from Iraq and Afghanistan to help to reshape how they view this kind of war while delivering a far more balanced message about our troops, our military and the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'd much rather see the PAO, soldiers, Marines, milbloggers, and 'civilian bloggers' work collaboratively with these kinds of ideas, than wasting anymore time trying to win over an unwilling MSM.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Warrior King, Hollywood & Iraq

Once again, the liberal pro terrorist, anti Bush, anti -Iraq, anti- victory agenda of Hollywood will be mobilizing to weigh in on Iraq with yet another biased film.

According to Variety, "Warrior King" is based on a story by Dexter Filkins of the New York Times( that figures!) called 'The Fall of the Warrior King", which centers on Lt. Col. Nathan Sassaman, an Army commander in Baghdad who resigned following a scandal in which men under his command caused the drowning of an Iraqi civilian. Filkins wrote of this story that "it is a tale that seems like a parable of the dark passage that lay ahead for the Americans in Iraq".

That sentence alone speaks loudly to the reason this film is being made.

Produced by scientologist Tom Cruise,
"Warrior King" is meant to illustrate the gulf between those making policy and soldiers who try to apply it in Iraq.

The the screenplay is written by Stephen Belber, who had been "
searching for something that could capture the absurdity of this particular war," .

If Hollywood is not going to support our efforts against an enemy that wants to kill ALL of us, especially those in the Hollywood community whom they equally despise, then I suggest we ignore this film, like we did with "Jarhead", and send yet another message to Hollywood that we are not interested in their collective " pro jihadist, pro dictator, pro terrorism, anti - Iraq forming a democracy and succeeding " agenda.

Several other Iraq war themed films have been greenlit:

The Ron Howard-directed "Last Man Home" for Universal and Imagine; set in the days just before President Bush launched full-scale war in 2003, story revolves around a covert U.S. military unit that is on the hunt for an AWOL American soldier in Iraq. The soldier is looking for his brother, who went missing when fighting in the first Gulf War.

Irwin Winkler
"Home of the Brave"; about
three soldiers struggle to readjust to life at home after returning home from a lengthy tour in Iraq.

Columbia's "Against All Enemies,"based on the controversial book by Richard Clarke about how ill equpped America was to deal with the 9/11 terrorists to be
directed by Paul Haggis.

Ridley Scott's "The Invisible World" for Paramount;
drama about the abduction of a female journalist in Iraq.

"Stop-Loss," with Kimberly Peirce directing; the story centers on a soldier who returns home from Iraq to Texas and is called to duty again through the military's "stop loss" procedure. The soldier then refuses to return to battle.

''Grace Is Gone'' is about a father (Cusack) with two young daughters who receives the devastating news his wife was killed in Iraq. Before bringing himself to tell his children, he takes them on their dream vacation -- a cross-country trip to the fictitious Disney World-esque "Enchanted Gardens" theme park in Florida.

Not one story about the daily inspiring heroic accomplishments of our troops...just stories about one man's failure, one man's dissent, one man's controversial assertions about Pres Bush and the military, the underside of the situation in Iraq with the kidnapping of a journalist; the challenges soldiers face when returning from war and trying to find the "new normal", and the pain that that families face when their loved ones pay the ultimate price.

Hoo-fucking-ray for Hollywood. Asshats!

I say take the money you'd spend to buy overpriced tickets to these films and donate the funds to "Any Soldier.com" or "Soldier's Angels" where they will be used to send care packages and letters of support to our deployed troops. At the same you you'll be sending an important message to Hollywood: "Hell no! We won't go......................to see these films!"


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Is The Media Telling The Truth About Iraq?

On April 5th, I participated online in a live event hosted by Reuters and Global Voices,which included a video of the panel discussion and real-time blogging from around the world, discussing the much talked about topic of media bias when covering the war in Iraq.

This was a great event, with diverse opinions represented, and panelists in the room included Roger Cohen,In't Writer-at-Large for the NY Times; Iraqi photo journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad; Alastair MacDonald, Reuters Iraq Bureau Chief; Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, Chief of Strategic Communication, Combined Arms Center, U.S. Army; Paul Holmes, Editor for Political and General News, Reuters; and James Taranto, Editor of Opinion Journal.com

It's clear that everyone agrees covering the war is challenging on many levels, and in a country that is clearly divided and polarised, "If you write a 'good news' story from Iraq you are immediately identified as an apologist for the administration ... and if you write something critical then you're in the other camp" according to Roger Cohen, writer at large for The NY Times.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an Iraqi photojournalist who works for the Guardian, made a powerful statement:
" It's a civil war, people are getting killed every single day every single hour (...) I'm being a bit harsh and radical because I feel people deserve to be told the full truth which is that there is civil war there...there is a massacre there. (...) Let's not argue is it better now than Saddam (...) It's a civil war there and we are still shying away from the words Civil War."

I do encourage you to listen to what Abdul-Ahad said, in it's entirety as part of a segment on "The Complete Story". While I don't agree with much of what he offered up during the discussion, on the issue of civil war in Iraq, I do. It lends further credence to Michael Yon's perspective:

Nobody knows what the future will bring for Iraq. In my opinion, it’s already in a civil war though many people seem afraid to say it. Actually, the reluctance is more likely ordinal in nature–-no one wants to be the first to say what many know to be true. Many now-stable democracies have suffered civil wars.

I wrote those words more than one year ago.

Throughout 2005, I said in writing, on the radio and television that Iraq is in a state of Civil War. It had been in that state for decades. I’d point to all the kindling heaped around the country and point to the smoke on the horizon, but most people politely dismissed the warnings. Now the fire is bigger. Listen. Listen! Iraq is in a state of Civil War. Much bigger than it was a year ago, and next year it will be bigger still, if we do not recognize that there is a FIRE!

Zaki Chehab, editor of London-based Arab newspaper Al Hayat, also made many interesting points.While he felt that the situation in Iraq is not as positive as some would like to believe, he stressed that"Security is the most important issue and it cannot be solved by leaving Iraq. America cannot withdraw from Iraq tomorrow - it will be a victory of Al Queda."

Iraqi blogger Salam Adil offered up a rather prophetic insight:
"The media as a whole has not done its job as a pillar of democracy - and it's failure will be felt for years to come"
Rebecca McKinnon covered the event for Global Voices. Video highlights from the debate are available on Reuters site.

Biased media coverage about Iraq is a small albeit important part of the larger issue of media bias in general. I addressed this larger issue in Bias, What Bias?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ten Excellent Reasons NOT to buy this book!

Rob Anderson, writing for The New Republic, offers up his thoughts on the latest drivel to come from a collective of ten anti war activists and journalists, compiled in a book with the pithy title "10 Excellent Reasons Not To Join The Military".

Co -authored by that leftwing, dictator supporting, Isreal bashing, jihadist loving, lunatic Cindy Sheehan, this book is a misguided anti war, anti military propaganda piece by a group of fools who believe that "words" alone will bring peace to the world, and that one should not enroll in the military because "refusing to enlist is more than a career decision. It is a moral and political act, a contribution to the burgeoning, international movement for a better, more peaceful world"

Yes, that's right, in the warped minds of these self appointed "enlightened progressive " liberals, if no one enlists, the military becomes weak or non existant, and an America without military power would ensure that no other country invades us, no other country uses nuclear weapons against us, and that Al Queda will simply go away and leave us alone.

According to Rae Abeliah of Code Pink(o):
" it takes more honor and courage to dedicate one's life to working for social change. Teachers, community organizers, activists, engineers, public defense attorneys, lobbyists, and artists are the true patriots.

I'd laugh......except that this kind of liberal lunacy is so dangerous to our security, and to the very values of secular freedom that they proclaim to uphold, that it's frightening. Understandably, Al Queda, the Iranian President and his merry band of theocratic mullahs, and every rogue nation trying to secure nuclear weapons, must love Rae. She is a their mouthpiece, after all!

Rob Anderson makes a somewhat chilling point when he says
10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military is not a lone dissent from within an otherwise pro-military left; on the contrary, it speaks for the growing ranks of liberals who are uneasy with the idea of American strength, and the institutions that guarantee it.

This type of misguided thinking on the part of liberals is a throwback to the Viet Nam era and speaks to a huge lack of understanding about who are enemies are in today's complicated world, and just how serious they are in their intent to eradicate Israel, islamify Europe, subjucate the Arab world to an even more theocratic form of Islam, and subjucate, if not completely destroy America, democracy, and freedom!

How does Sheehan propose America face its increasing national security threats? "We need to demand that our leaders use their words to solve problems. We need to demand that other nations use their words, too."

Cindy and her band of loons would like the Iranian President Ahmedinejad to use his words:"Israel should be wiped off the map".

Enough said about her brilliant (note the dripping sarcasm) proposal for handling our national security threats! But then again, Cindy feels the U.S support of Israel is unfounded, so it's understandable that she would like to demand that the Iranian President "use his words".

However, I'd prefer if he didn't use his words!

Cindy and her band of anti war activSHITs also forget that Al Queda belongs to NO state. This terrorist organization is hellbent on killing her, along with all Americans. The terrorist threat to our security does not belong to one state, one country, one part of the world. These terrrorists are found scattered around the globe, some even living and working within our own borders. The only words they ever utter involve destruction to the infidels of which they consider all Americans, Canadians, and most Europeans.

I'd prefer if they didn't use their words, thank you!

In "New Instabilities, New Priorities", James Schlesinger reminds us that
"Americans tend to be rather romantic. The world seems a benign place, with a natural harmony among peoples only intermittently disrupted by evil men or hostile ideologies. Once those are removed, the natural harmony will be restored."

This is exactly the type of utopian thinking Cindy, along with the "progressive" authors of this book, most "progressive" liberals and their leaders within the democratic party, subscribe to. It speaks to an immature quixotic worldview, steeped in idealism, and far removed from reality.

Schlesinger reminds us that post Cold War, the world may appear to be safer from cataclysmic destruction, but in reality, it is far more unstable.
The dissolution of Cold War lines, which provided us with a kind of stability,belies the hope that the future world order will be less unstable.
He reminds us that the world today faces 'new instabilities' that would be familiar to those who have any knowledge of the world pre 1939 and more so after WW1: a world marked by power policitics, national rivaleries and ethnic tensions.

Despite its menace,The Cold War Era, had an elegant simplicity but today's world is far more fluid, amorphous, and ambiguous, and this is why the fundamentals of power along with the perception of power are even more important!

Instability throughout the world is NOT caused by America, rather it is American military might that prevents the instability from turning into a worse conflaguration. This reality is what is lost on Cindy and her ilk!

Sorry to break your utopian bubble, Cindy, but "using words" ain't gonna solve our security problems or prove to be any kind of deterrent! We have in fact been using "words" - aka diplomacy- for 30 years with many rogue states and those "words 'have fallen on deaf ears.

Diplomacy or "words" to use Cindy's terminology, can prove to be effective, BUT only with rationale people. The threats being posed to us come from the minds of highly irrational people.

This is why a strong Military force from the world's largest most successful democracy, serves us well. It is the SOLDIER that provides Cindy, Rae, and the rest of these anti war activists with the freedom to write and spew forth their opinions, and "speak words" however uneducated, unrealistic, myopic, utopian, and dangerous their thinking often proves to be.

I'll leave the final words, about Cindy's solution to solving world problems, mitigating the security threats against us, and anti- military sentiment, to Rob Anderson:

"It's a point that strikes at the heart of the book's fatal flaw--and at the fatal flaw with liberal anti-military sentiment: Sure, it'd be nice if we could "demand" that world leaders use words "to solve problems." But if the Sudanese government were so enthralled with diplomacy, would it be slowly obliterating an entire portion of its own population? And if the president of Iran valued words above all else, would he be so worried about building a nuclear arsenal?

Of all groups, liberals especially should know that protecting human rights, promoting democracy, and ending genocide are ends to strive for on a global scale. The means, of course, should not usually be military; and in a perfect world, they would never be. Moreover, if the Iraq war has proven anything, it is that we are not always capable of fulfilling our role as a completely moral force abroad. But sometimes, as in the Balkans seven years ago, as in Darfur today, we have no choice but to try.

It is for those moments in particular that liberals should want to fix and strengthen the military, not tear it down. And if the authors of 10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military think that effort unpatriotic, they can count me a traitor."

Monday, April 10, 2006

Michael Yon's Frontline Forum

Congrats to Tim Boggs, whose story "Little Things Can Mean Alot" was the first chosen for the new Frontline Forum, created by Mike Yon.

Congrats to Mike Yon on the launch of Frontline Forum.

The Frontline Forum is an alternative channel for compelling stories from those now wearing boots and carrying rifles, and not comments or those endlessly forwarded unattributed "true" stories that always seem airbrushed. This is a place for those deployed in harm's way to tell real stories about the ground situation.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Marines Don't Fuck Around

We at war
We at war with racism, terroism and most of all we at war with ourselves
(Jesus Walks)
God show me the way because the Devil try to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me with me with me with me)

I saw this combat video over at "You Tube" earlier tonight.

Titled "Iraq 1" it's brought to us by Doc Matey and The India Company Marines of the 3/6 who deployed during OIF 3.

I LOVE it.

With it's blend of combat imagery juxtapositioned against the evocative lyrics and haunting melody of "Jesus Walks" , this video leaves a powerful impact.

(Jesus Walks)
God show me the way because the Devil try to break me down
(Jesus Walks with me)
The only thing that I pray is that my feet don't fail me now
(Jesus Walks)
And I don't think there’s nothing I can do to right my wrongs
(Jesus Walks with me)
I wanna talk to God but I'm afraid cause we ain't spoke in so long

"Jesus Walks" is by Kanye West, and was used in the promo for the film "Jarhead", but trust me, "Iraq 1" is a helluva lot better than "Jarhead" ever was.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

War Like You Have Never Imagined

On August 16th, 2004 Fox Troop, 82nd Cav, based out of Oregon mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III.

War is hell, but from the ashes of death and destruction, rises hope, and new beginnings.

During their year long deployment in Iraq, and with the help of the generous citizens of Oregon, they distributed 2000 pairs of shoes to Iraqi children, as well as lots of candy, toys and clothing. They also had the unique opportunity to capture their humanitarian efforts on film as they watched "their kids" grow up.

Produced by First Lt.Rich Paetz, the documentary, titled "Scouts Out" was shot entirely by the soldiers from their perspective and will include interviews with the soldiers and their family members "because", as Rich reminded me, " it was their war too" .

"With this deployment, we experienced good times, scary times, sad moments, and many funny ones. It was an unbelieveable experience!"

Rich hopes to have the documentary completed by Fall 2006, In the meantime, you can preview this "work in progress" at "Scouts Out", along with pictures of the soldiers themselves, four pages of assorted photos taken in Iraq, and a video page where you can check out some other really cool videos created by Rich. The images of the kids will melt your heart!

You can also access a blog written by Joey Coons, who served with Rich. Many of the adventures and situations that Joey wrote about were captured on film, so look for some of them to included in the documentary.

"Even though the deployment itself to Iraq was a year, we were really away from our jobs, family, and friends for 18 months. We had to train up in Texas and Louisiana before we went, so it made it even more difficult with the families".

Please help me spread the word about about this documentary and the heartwarming humanitarian efforts of Fox Troop, 82nd Cavalry, Oregon Army National Guard.

Scouts Out!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Those Risking Their Lives Deserve Our Support

It's no secret that too many Canadians align themselves with the leftist Orwellian doublespeak that runs rampant within the Democratic party, and among American left wing liberals who never speak out about the atrocities committed by their communist, terrorists and despots idols, except to justify their atrocities by blaming American "foreign policy".

Today, I want to share Gina MacArthur's thoughts with you, which she articulated in a letter published by The National Post.

I have provided a link, which may be time sensitive, so I'll post the entire letter below:

I am the wife of a soldier currently serving in Afghanistan. If anyone has a good reason to ask that the mission be cut short, it is me, my children and the families of other soldiers who are serving their country in that country. Ask any one of us if we want our husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters to come home, and we will tell you that we hope and pray every day for their safe return. But ask us if the mission should end right now and we will say no.

To pull out of Afghanistan before the mission there is accomplished would be an affront to every soldier who has given his life in the defence of freedom. Abandoning this mission would be tantamount to saying that their sacrifices did not matter, and would mean that they died in vain. If anything, the deaths of Canadian soldiers and diplomat Glyn Berry should strengthen our resolve to free the people of Afghanistan from the tyranny of the Taliban.

It is easy for the armchair soldiers and diplomats who sit comfortably ensconced in their homes in Canada to pontificate about what is best for our country. I challenge each and every one of them to put on a uniform and serve their country as my husband is doing, and then come home and tell me that we shouldn't be defending the innocent children who are not allowed to go to school, and the poor farmers who are forced to grow opium poppies to sustain their families.

Only when -- not if -- Canadian and coalition forces free Afghanistan from the Taliban's oppressive influence, will these people be allowed to live in peace -- the same peace that we in Canada take for granted.

In the meantime, I ask all Canadians to support our troops. That is the best gift you can give to them, and to their families.

Gina MacArthur, Morinville, Alta.

© National Post 2006

Thank you Gina, for your sacrifices. I am eternally grateful to your husband, and to all our troops, both Canadian and American, for their service, and to all their families for their personal sacrifices. May they all come home safely.

A Tribute To Pvt.Robert Costall- KIA, Afghanistan

I often write about and lend my support to American troops, and I am forever grateful for their service and their sacrifice in this relentless war on terror.

I am the daughter of an American mother, and Canadian father. My birth country is Canada, but I have spent many years living, schooling and working in the U.S.

While Canada was heavily critized for not joining the coalition forces in Iraq, Canada is nonetheless playing her part in the war on terror.
Canadian Brigadier-General David Fraser, commands all coalition forces in Southern Afghanistan. Canadian soldiers are fighting and dying together with American soldiers. Canada has "Boots on the Ground" in Kandahar.

Today, I want to join soldiers from eight countries, who on March 31st, paid tribute to Pvt.Robert Costall, a Canadian soldier who died defending his fellow soldiers during a firefight with Taliban forces. An American soldier also died during this firefight.

Pvt. Costall was a loving husband, a father, and a role model to the children of Gibson, BC.
"He was a great soldier, a great guy, he never whined or complained about his job, he loved what he did", according to Pvt Jerry Conlon

Sadly, Pvt.Costall paid the ultimate price protecting the people of Afghanistan from the oppressive Taliban, and by fiat, defending and protecting freedom and democracy that Canadians along with leftist Americans take for granted. But he will not be forgotten!

I shall remain eternally grateful to him and to all Canadian soldiers who stand shoulder to shoulder with American coalition forces.

"May Angels Sing The To Thy Rest, Sweet Prince".

Related: Read about Lt Gen.Rick Hiller, Canada's Chief of Defense.