Monday, February 23, 2009

Back...from the Attack

Hello All!

Well it has been an interesting several weeks. As many of you know I have a couple of real "kicker" illnesses that re-appeared and have required my utmost attention. In both cases I am moving ahead with some trepidation however forward progress can only be considered....good!

There is much to talk about in the news these days and many things I need to catch up on; stimulus packages; Bush/Cheney fighting (called that one!) and a myriad of issues that have a direct effect on the way each of us lives our lives. Too many roads to go down today in discussion but leave it to the Army Times to come up with a point of emphasis that I can run with.

I have always enjoyed the Army Times if for no other reason then for its "reporting" about what is happening in the service itself...but I digress...what drew me to today's copy was a cartoon that is a weekly staple of the paper. Pvt. Murphy's Law allows readers an inside view of Army life through the eyes of a private. Some of these comics are quite good and others are...well... open to imagination!

This weeks comic portrayed a young Army soldier (female) and a Muslim woman covered from head to toe in the traditional Burqa gazing at each other. The Army female was equipped with an M-4 rifle, combat helmet, boots and all the accoutrement's that being in combat affords soldiers these days. The Muslim woman is dressed so that the only thing visible are the hands and the eyes from under her burqa. For those of you who don't know, the burqa is the garment of choice in the Middle East and the one that covers the women most completely: either the eyes and hands are visible or nothing at all is visible.

Sorry fellas - no mid-drifts with this ensemble!

Originating in what is now Pakistan, it is more commonly associated with Afghanistan. Typically, a burqa is composed of many yards of light material pleated around a cap that fits over the top of the head, or a scarf over the face (save the eyes). To say it is not

Now all that said does anybody else see the cultural dichotomy of this cartoon? The United States sends thousands of female soldiers around the world in the pursuit of freedom and democracy yet those we protect are not afforded the same freedoms ALL of us enjoy. I look at the woman in the burqa and wonder what she might be thinking as G.I. Jane is standing there in all her regalia.

Mark Baker - who writes the cartoon - has pulled off a coup (if you will) of personal, religious and women's rights and freedoms in oppressive countries. No doubt the Muslim lady portrayed in the picture will never see this cartoon for what its net worth awareness! I will make some assumptions that others will see this and change could happen. Even if it does not it is still a very touchy subject and kudos for mark for addressing it!

You can view the whole set of comics at

Stay Warm and looking forward to getting back in the saddle!

Brian Hayes

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wait....Something More Important

February 2, 2009

I had originally intended on writing about the Center for a New American Security( today as I recently discussed this unique organization with several current and former military strategists however my usual ramblings took a different path as I was cut short by a co-worker asking if I had heard about the new Kevin Bacon film by HBO titled Taking Chance.

I mentioned that I had indeed heard about the film and then I fell silent for just a moment.

Now for those of you who have not seen or heard about this cinematic work let me be the first to warn you that it is and will be a major "tear jerker" no matter how hardened your heart is.

Mr. Bacon (expertly) plays Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, an officer in the United States Marine Corp who voluntarily accompanies the body of fallen Marine Private Chance Phelps as he is returned home for a military burial in Wyoming in 2004. Private Phelps was killed during intense ground combat by insurgents in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.

What this movie does is chronicles one of the silent, virtually unseen journeys that takes place every day across our great country, bearing witness to the fallen and all those who, literally and figuratively, carry them home.

Witnessing the spontaneous outpouring of support and respect for the fallen Marine - from the groundskeepers he passed along the road to the cargo handlers at the airport - Lt.Col. Strobl was moved to capture the experience in his personal journal. His first-person account, which began as an official trip report (every military event concludes with such) gives an insight into the policy of providing a uniformed escort for all casualties.

The story became an Internet phenomenon when it was widely circulated throughout the military community and eventually reached the mainstream media winning accolades and awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

In reading a recent quote regarding the movie, several words expressed by Lt.Col. Strobl resonated deeply with me:

“Perhaps it might be good if we saw or thought more about them than just a line in the newspaper and went on with our day...hopefully, this movie will make people realize"

As I have repeatedly watched the trailer, I think back to my time in both Iraq and Afghanistan where I witnessed remains leaving for the United States and the subsequent impact that single vision had on me. In the end it was nothing compared to the loss that a family suffers when their Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine comes home for final resting.

Taking Chance will undoubtedly pay tribute to all of the men and women who have given their lives in military service as well as their families who have suffered this loss. I can only hope that perhaps one of the major networks picks up this film and airs it in its entirety if only for the fact that it is a work that we as a Nation should all watch to fully understand and comprehend the cost of being free.

If you are not busy February 21st at 8PM and have access to cable TV and HBO I would suggest watching this I a Nation it is a must see.

Well done Kevin Bacon and HBO Films...and Thank You.

Brian Hayes

The trailer can be found here: