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Archive for Thursday, November 9, 2006

Standing ovation greets soldiers

Red, white and blue neighborhood a surprise to sergeant after Baghdad

November 9, 2006

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Staff. Sgt. John McLean was still a few blocks away from his Lawrence home Thursday afternoon when he saw American flags, red, white and blue streamers and the "welcome home" signs.

"It was really incredible," McLean said. "It really shows how the neighbors support their own neighbor, plus what's going on over there."

After more than a year of patrolling the dangerous streets in the suburbs of Baghdad, McLean had finally returned to the safe environs of his old neighborhood on Riverside Drive in northern Lawrence.

McLean's day began at 12:30 a.m. at Fort McCoy, Wis., where he and more than 450 other members of the 1st Kansas National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 137th Infantry, boarded buses for the long drive to Topeka. They had spent the past week getting physicals, being debriefed and completing paperwork before heading home.

Shortly after 2 p.m., they marched into the Kansas Expocentre to a rousing standing ovation from an estimated crowd of 3,000 people.

McLean's wife, Raquel, was in that crowd, waiting to see her husband for the first time in about 14 months.

"It's been a roller coaster," Raquel McLean said, describing her emotions. "The waiting, anticipating and then waiting again."

She had plenty of company. More than an hour before the troops returned home, Lawrence resident George O'Brien Sr. leaned against his car in the Expocentre parking lot and waited to be reunited with his son, George O'Brien Jr.

"He wants to have three or four days by himself," O'Brien said of his son. "He wants to get out on his motorcycle. He bought a new Harley just before he left."

The elder O'Brien, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, summed up the past year in one word.

"Worry," he said. "That's about the best way to describe it."

Longtime coming

Throughout the parking lot, families from throughout Kansas arrived in vehicles bearing flags and signs that said "My Son is Home" and "Welcome Home Heroes."

Outside the Expocentre's main entrance, Larry Beam and his wife, Bev, of Topeka, eagerly awaited the return of their son, Jeff Beam, of Lawrence.

"It seems like it has been forever getting here," Bev Beam said of the reunion.

Larry Beam, an Army veteran of Vietnam, said he was happy to see such a large crowd show up for the welcoming.

"We didn't have anything like this when I returned home," he said.

The 2nd Battalion is made up of Company A based in Lawrence and other units based in Kansas City, Kan., and Wichita. Their duties in Iraq included operating the Joint Visitor's Bureau in Baghdad and providing security for many high-level visitors to Iraq. They also were responsible for patrols around Baghdad.

One soldier in the battalion, Company A's Spec. Jessie Davila, of Greensburg, was killed in February by a car bomb.

Welcome home

Also waiting to welcome the guardsmen were Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the guard's adjutant general, and other state senior Guard commanders. Their speeches were short.

"I just want to say welcome home," Sebelius said to the troops and their commander, Lt. Col. James Trafton. She also commended the guardsmen for their handling of a "very dangerous" mission in Iraq.

Trafton said he was proud of his unit.

"As I look back over the past 15 months, I'm amazed at what they accomplished," he said, noting that the troops had seen their duties increase as they took over responsibilities of other battalions when they left and weren't replaced.

Trafton called on his soldiers to remain safe now that they were home.

"Just because you made it through combat in Iraq, you are not indestructible," he said.

Before dismissing the troops to their families, Bunting also commended them.

"No unit has ever served with more distinction than the 1st Kansas," he said.

Upon dismissal, families swarmed onto the Expocentre's floor searching for their loved ones.

Sgt. Matthew Davids, of Lawrence, held his little niece, Madeline Davids, while standing by his sister, Heather Davids, of Kansas City, Mo.

"I didn't think it would be anything like this," a smiling Matthew Davids said of the welcoming throng.

Heather Davids said she had no problem spotting her brother as he marched in.

"I think it's just awesome," she said. "I just got welled up with emotion. I couldn't wait to make contact with him."

A short distance away, Spec. E-4 Titus Stanley, of Kansas City, Kan., described the feeling of coming home as "heart-stopping."

"It was really emotional," said Stanley, a member of Lawrence's A Company. "You feel like a rock star coming in here. All the people are so supportive. I'm real happy to be back with my family."

Titus said he intended to give the Combat Infantry Badge he received in Iraq to his young nephew, Jessie Stanley.

"Jessie prayed for me every Sunday while I was over there. I feel like God kept me safe through his prayer," Titus Stanley said.

Also greeting Stanley was his mother, Billie Stanley, of Kansas City, Kan.

"He's a brave young man," she said of her son. "I'm just glad he's home safe and proud that he served his country."

Family dinner

In John McLean's Lawrence neighborhood, preparations began a few days earlier for his return. Neighbors Scott and Cammie Braden's children, Drew, 16, and Jamie, 11, began distributing fliers encouraging neighbors to put out flags or put up welcome signs as a way of saying "thanks" to McLean for his service.

"It was a community effort," Cammie Braden said.

By Thursday evening McLean, who as a civilian works as a respiratory therapist at University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., and Raquel, their three children and other family and friends prepared to enjoy a steak dinner.

"It's been a long, hectic day," John McLean said.




Free breakfast

Hy-Vee stores in Lawrence will serve free breakfasts for military veterans Saturday morning in honor of Veterans Day. Breakfast buffets featuring pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, fresh fruit, pastries, biscuits and gravy - and, of course, coffee - will be served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at both Hy-Vee stores in town, 3504 Clinton Parkway and 4000 W. Sixth St. The complimentary meals are available for all military personnel, including retirees, those on active duty or otherwise serving or having previously served in the National Guard or reserves. To receive the free food, just show a military ID to the cashier. "It's our way of saying thanks to those who serve our country," said Kevin Green, manager of store operations at Hy-Vee on Sixth Street. This is the fourth year of the appreciation program, Green said, and the first to feature buffets.

Comments

stagn 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome Home 137th. May God bless you and your families for the sacrifices you have made for your country in the War on Terrorism.

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TJ_in_Lawrence 7 years, 5 months ago

Check out the DVD The Fog of War and you'll see what the Secretary of Defense at the time thinks of that war now. Quite chilling.... Logrithmic


Oh my gosh!!! You have been given a great revelation!!! 20/20 HINDSIGHT!!! Congratulations.

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couranna1 7 years, 5 months ago

I am thrilled to see every soldier return home safe I am glad they made it However they are not fighting to keep america safe They are fighting a war we started and that was based on lies and manipulation and fear. The point is no one should be dying. Welcome home troops while I support you I cannot support the war

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Daniel Kennamore 7 years, 5 months ago

The point of the holiday is not to talk about politics guys...take a moment to forget all of that stuff and appreciate the troops...i for one can't express my gratitude for them.

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SpeedRacer 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome home, troops! Happy Veterans' Day to all who have served and all who have sacrificed.

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logrithmic 7 years, 5 months ago

While I too welcome these troops home (my family has a long military tradition and my cousin lost his only grandson in Afghanistan), I want to say that I do not support all troops in the military, nor do I support the military intelligence industry.

Beyond the serious corruption found in Pentagon contract awards, the bullies in the White House have lied us into an illegal war - with the leader of the military - the so-called "commander in chief" (more like frat punk warlord) ordering some of these men to commit war crimes. We have of course on record several incidents - from Abu Graib (yes, our soldiers were involved), Guantanamo (yes our soldiers were involved), to the horrors of Haditha and other war atrocities where innocent civilians have been murdered and children raped (yes our soldiers were involved).

Those who suggest that we have learned something from the Vietnam experience should remember that 1.7 million Vietnamese men, women and children died at the hands of our military. 50,000 of our men died too - and we were the invaders. Our military was sent in to prop up a puppet government. Check out the DVD The Fog of War and you'll see what the Secretary of Defense at the time thinks of that war now. Quite chilling....

Now we find out that up to 650,000, perhaps more, Iraqi civilians have died in the period since the invasion, as well as 3,000 of our young, and when all is said and done - what will the sacrifice be worth? A cheap homecoming? Or will we actually learn something about "Why We Fight" (another great DVD). American must come to grips with its generational bloodlust. War without end, amen amen is a lie!

Surprisingly, Vietnam is now a socialist country with a capitalist economy. Like China. And we buy goods from both and sell technology to both. Which makes one wonder - why do we ever go to war in the first place?

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

Werekoala (which, by the way, would be a site to see, Eucalyptus Trees Beware!):

I can see the point, but I still think "left-wing boogeyman" paints a better picture. The boogeyman from the left-wing, ya'know.

How do they figure today is the corps birthday? Is it from the official naming of the corps, or did we simply not have a military unit of its type before that?

Maybe I should check wikipedia. . .

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm in agreement, I did not mean to get a peeing match going, and BTW,I never listen to Rush (never have) and have stated this many times before.

Again, thank you troops and welcome home!!

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werekoala 7 years, 5 months ago

jonas,

Ask any Marine, they'll be able to tell you the birthday of the Corps. Most posts do something, depending on the numbers. Have a cake or reception or something.

Also, from what I understand, the Marines over there can usually get their hands on some actual booze for the birthday, unlike those poor Army boys who get 2 beers on Superbowl Sunday.

Oh, and "right-wing" as in it's the boogeyman of the right wing. The problem with demonizing your political enemies is that a) the pendulum swings, b) you start believing your own propaganda, and c) when those two things happen, your whole world can be shattered.

Right-thinker:

Did you or did you not type "anti-military, secular-progressive, anti-war, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld hating posters" and then proceed to name names of folks you considered to be this way.

Look, the military needs to be honored. And while I've seen the posteres you named disagree with the Administration's conduct, religious social conservatism, and the conduct of the Iraq war, I've never seen them being "anti-military".

Way I see it, if someone is so far gone he can't honor the troops, I'm not mad. I pity the poor deluded idiot. The problem is, people like this make up less than 1% of Administration critics. You've just let Rush, et al, convince you that every single person who disagrees with the party line is one of that small percentage.

Chill out. Everyone in the thread has posted out of support for the troops. Looks like it's time to set the water down, buddy.

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Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 5 months ago

yes jonas and it is very formal and for some not so much they look good in their dress blues.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 5 months ago

That's not the issue, the issue is Jonas accused me of:

  1. Namecalling, I did not name-call unless you consider "far-left" name-calling, if you do, then reconsider your political ideology.
  2. That I started the thread off track, wrong again, Reality check did that.

I gave thanks and saluted and asked that others do the same.

I realize you far-left, anti-military folks find this piece to be particularly irritating, it shows today more than ever.

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

wouldn't that be left-wing boogeyman?

Does the marine corps do anything to celebrate their birthday?

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werekoala 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome home, soldiers. I'm glad so many of you made it back.

Also, today is the Marine Corps' birthday. Buy a Marine a drink, if you meet one out tonight.

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day. Do something for vets. Donate some old clothes to the DAV.

If you've got the cash, why not donate to one of these charities as well:

http://www.childrenoffallensoldiersrelieffund.org http://www.aerhq.org/ http://www.vfwfoundation.org/

Oh, and while I'm not sure this is the best thread for political arguments, right_thinker is being far more of a tool than reality check. Reality Check is advocating for better benefits for vets. Right_thinker is attacking everyone who doesn't agree with him as being part of some imaginary right-wing boogeyman.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 5 months ago

Don't flatter yourself, Jonas, you were wrong on both attempts to defend your views. Hit hard-give me a break!

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75x55 7 years, 5 months ago

No need for guilt at not serving - just have an appreciation for those that do.

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mgroves33 7 years, 5 months ago

I'm sure the gratification you get from the controversy warrants your words. Is it really worth it?

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

I only hit hard where I percieve it to be warranted. Sorry if I've irritated innocent bystanders.

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mgroves33 7 years, 5 months ago

Regardless of the politics behind getting these troops to Iraq, I must say that I am humbled by what these men and women sacrificed over the last year of their lives. I can also say with great sincerity that Staff Sgt. McLean has more integrity than just about anyone I have encountered in my life. I'm glad you are home Sarge.

There appear to be a few readers with very passionate political opinions. Respect and integrity seem to be lacking. My suggestion would be to post your opinions after an opinion based article.

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

Don't ask me to respond unless you're ready for it.

And if you think yours and reality check's posts were coeval in terms of hostility, labeling, and impracticality, then I can't think of anything that would actually reach you. I've made the point that I wanted to say, and I will now drop it.

. . . "harrassment?!" hahahahaha

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Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 5 months ago

It is amazing how a few people can turn a happy welcome home into a battle.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 5 months ago

Posted by jonas (anonymous) on November 10, 2006 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

However, now that I am made to think about it, I think I should re-word my earlier post for better accuracy.

Let's drop in to point out that the first attempt to change this thread's discussion from a respectful salute to the troops into a flame war about political ideology through the use of labeling and stereotyping came from a self-proclaimed right-wing supporter of the troops, and not by a (paraphrase) "godless, Bush and America-hating liberal peacenik."

Just for the record.

Hey, you're right, that IS better!


Posted by right_thinker (anonymous) on November 10, 2006 at 7:59 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Welcome home and thank you, soldiers!!!!

salute

I sincerely hope the anti-military, secular-progressive, anti-war, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld hating posters, like Katara (HGA/Wendt), Bozo, Merrill and the whole lot of you guys can muster up a "Thank You", for allowing your freedom of speech.


Posted by Reality_Check (anonymous) on November 10, 2006 at 7:43 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"It really shows how the neighbors support their own neighbor, plus what's going on over there."

Huh? What makes him think the neighbors support "what's going on over there?" Supporting troops and neighbors has NOTHING to do with supporting the war. Equating the two is a right-wing propaganda ploy from the Old America, circa Nov. 2, 2000 - Nov. 7, 2006.

In fact, I'd say that, on Tuesday, Americans clearly showed they DIDN'T support the war, or at least the way it has been prosecuted so far (and the false pretenses under which we started it.)

That said, I also thank the guardsmen and women for their service. I am sure that, when they signed up for 2 weeks a year and 1 weekend a month, they didn't know they'd be patrolling the streets of Baghdad!

(I wonder how many guard troops re-enlist?)

These guys and gals really stepped up to the plate when their country called. Impressive since most of us here didn't do the same thing.

I just wish they'd been sent to Afghanistan or Darfur, where they're REALLY needed, instead of Iraq. But that's clearly not their fault.

Now let's hope our government REALLY "supports the troops" by increasing veteran benefits and health budgets, instead of cutting them as they have been trying to do. (Now we'll find out which political party supports the troops vs. supports the war.)

Note posts content/times posted by Reality check (7:43 am) and mine (7:59). Wrong again, Jonas, would you please get your facts straight and please stop harassing me.

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Kelly Anderson 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome home!!!!! and thank you to all that serve in the present and have served in the past.

Thank you to my mother and father (Air Force and the reason they met and married) Thank you to my sister (Air Force) Thank you to my brother (Navy) Thank you to my brother-in-law (Army) Thank you to my nephew (active duty in Iraq-Army) Thank you to my 2 nieces (ROTC-Air Force at K-State) and thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for my families safety and rights of freedom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Christine Pennewell Davis 7 years, 5 months ago

Ok stop being childish it is nonsense you guys are grounded, nothing but nice for the rest of the day. Thankyou and welcome home, and enjoy all you can.

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

However, now that I am made to think about it, I think I should re-word my earlier post for better accuracy.

Let's drop in to point out that the first attempt to change this thread's discussion from a respectful salute to the troops into a flame war about political ideology through the use of labeling and stereotyping came from a self-proclaimed right-wing supporter of the troops, and not by a (paraphrase) "godless, Bush and America-hating liberal peacenik."

Just for the record.

Hey, you're right, that IS better!

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

"anti-military, secular-progressive, anti-war, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld hating posters, like Katara (HGA/Wendt), Bozo, Merrill and the whole lot of you guys can muster up a "Thank You", for allowing your freedom of speech."

I would have hoped I wouldn't have to analyze your own post for you, Right-Thinker, but to call what you posted up there as politically relevent terminology just shows your total inability to distinguish between the reality that you want to believe in and the reality that is. Whether or not the terms would apply to Boze, Merrill and HGA, once you included the term "and the whole lot of you guys" you passed beyond any claim of credibility into the arena of simple stereotyping and labeling, and there is not a single jot of difference, in my opinion, between that and name calling.

It's also a rather thin and pathetic attempt on your part to lump together anyone who may hold reasoned, thoughtful opinions on mismanagement of the war, and the role of the administration therein, as well as the problems associated with mixing politics and religion, into the same group as the admittedly existent group of people who do, in fact, hate religious expression and authority, in an attempt to discredit any arguments in opposition to the one you are claiming to represent. But we can discuss your many and varied straw-man fallacies another time, at your leisure.

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EXks 7 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for your service and courage Staff. Sgt. John McLean

Thank you to our men and women in uniform, those serving now and to those who served in the past.

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 5 months ago

"....point out that the name-calling was started by a self-proclaimed right-wing supporter of the troops...." -Jonas

Are you referring to me, Jonas? What name-calling. Every one is a politically relevant term.

Back up what you post, Jonas, what name-calling?

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aeroscout17 7 years, 5 months ago

Oh, and BTW before we get too far off the subject: Welcome back to 2/137 IN! Glad most of you made it back safe. Now lets keep the rest in our hearts and minds until they return safe. Hopefully soon; I don't see what we are going to do at this point to change the status quo in Iraq.

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aeroscout17 7 years, 5 months ago

Yo Jonas, lighten up. I don't think Context was trying to make anyone feel inferior; just saying share the experience with those who haven't been there.

OK, I read the message again and maybe I am wrong, but I don't think so. There are more ways to serve besides the military.

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

"And, if you have a chance to really talk to the people with no idea -- you know, the ones who never served, who never had a son or daughter in service -- tell them about duty and make them understand the kinds of sacrifice we make in uniform. They probably won't get it, but if those folks (to whom service to country is such an abstract concept) feel a little a guilt about what they've never given ... so be it."

You should go @#%# yourself, context. Just because we haven't served a term doesn't make us inferior. Perhaps some of us COULDN'T serve. But I don't suppose you really care about the shades of meaning when it's so much easier to paint everything in black and white, ne?

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Silence_Dogood 7 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for your hard work, soldiers. Welcome back home!

Shut your hole, rightthinker. This is not the time and place, you useless schlep. Quit using this moment of happiness for these people and their families to further your own anti-American rhetoric. If I were a soldier, I'd be deeply offended, fool.

Again, thanks!!

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tony88 7 years, 5 months ago

sorry, context, i didn't know that veterans day was a day to bash civilians...

Once again, thanks for all the sacrifice! And some of those of us who haven't made that particular sacrifice will try to serve our country in a way that builds positively on what you and your predecessors have bravely fought for.

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context 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome home. I don't believe I know anyone from your unit, but you're all our soldiers, and we're very proud of you.

Enjoy sleeping in a bit today, riding that Harley, holding your kids, doing something unscheduled, and just walking along the street. You've paid some of the price for the America many of us sit back and take for granted.

Keep fighting for your country ... tell your stories. Most of us have little idea what it was like for you there. Be sure to share what war really costs, what people gave, and what you came away with. You're back home now, so you're entitled to talk and the rest of us ought to listen.

And, if you have a chance to really talk to the people with no idea -- you know, the ones who never served, who never had a son or daughter in service -- tell them about duty and make them understand the kinds of sacrifice we make in uniform. They probably won't get it, but if those folks (to whom service to country is such an abstract concept) feel a little a guilt about what they've never given ... so be it.

Happy Veterans Day!

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tony88 7 years, 5 months ago

Thank you to those who put so much on the line for the safety of others!

...and thank you, jonas, for pointing that out.

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craigers 7 years, 5 months ago

Thanks to all soldiers and vets. God bless you for your service.

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

Let's drop in to point out that the name-calling was started by a self-proclaimed right-wing supporter of the troops, and not by a (paraphrase) "godless, Bush and America-hating liberal peacenik."

Just for the record.

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KSChick1 7 years, 5 months ago

this article brought a tear to my eye

so sorry to the Vietnam vets (including my own father) who were not welcomed like this when they came home

glad you're back, all of you, and so happy to have you home!!!

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Tom Shewmon 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome home and thank you, soldiers!!!!

salute

I sincerely hope the anti-military, secular-progressive, anti-war, Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld hating posters, like Katara (HGA/Wendt), Bozo, Merrill and the whole lot of you guys can muster up a "Thank You", for allowing your freedom of speech.

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kansasdaughter 7 years, 5 months ago

Thank you and you have my respect and admiration. Sgt McLean, I hope the weather is nice enough Saturday for you to ride your Harley.

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blue73harley 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome home and thank you! I know this will be a very special Thanksgiving for all of you.

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Reality_Check 7 years, 5 months ago

"It really shows how the neighbors support their own neighbor, plus what's going on over there."

Huh? What makes him think the neighbors support "what's going on over there?" Supporting troops and neighbors has NOTHING to do with supporting the war. Equating the two is a right-wing propaganda ploy from the Old America, circa Nov. 2, 2000 - Nov. 7, 2006.

In fact, I'd say that, on Tuesday, Americans clearly showed they DIDN'T support the war, or at least the way it has been prosecuted so far (and the false pretenses under which we started it.)

That said, I also thank the guardsmen and women for their service. I am sure that, when they signed up for 2 weeks a year and 1 weekend a month, they didn't know they'd be patrolling the streets of Baghdad!

(I wonder how many guard troops re-enlist?)

These guys and gals really stepped up to the plate when their country called. Impressive since most of us here didn't do the same thing.

I just wish they'd been sent to Afghanistan or Darfur, where they're REALLY needed, instead of Iraq. But that's clearly not their fault.

Now let's hope our government REALLY "supports the troops" by increasing veteran benefits and health budgets, instead of cutting them as they have been trying to do. (Now we'll find out which political party supports the troops vs. supports the war.)

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SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 5 months ago

Thank you to our men and women in uniform.

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Jay_Z 7 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for your service and welcome home everyone.

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hipper_than_hip 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome home and thank you.

Salutes

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jonas 7 years, 5 months ago

It's good that many seem to have learned the lessons of vietnam (at least, the ones that I read about) where that whatever you're personal thoughts about the war itself, the men fighting it still deserve our honor and respect.

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Dixie Jones 7 years, 5 months ago

welcome home and thank you for all you have done. god bless

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Bowhunter99 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome back and Thank you for what you've done.

Happy Veteran's Day to all of us who have served!

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ronwell_dobbs 7 years, 5 months ago

Here's hoping and praying that everyone stationed there comes home alive, well, and soon.

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Angela Heili 7 years, 5 months ago

God Bless you all!! You are definitely welcomed home, and we thank you for your service in Iraq.

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small_fish_in_small_pond 7 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for all that you do. I pray that your mission was not in vain...

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Sigmund 7 years, 5 months ago

Welcome home and thanks to everyone of the 2nd Battalion for your service to our country in Iraq.

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