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Iraq War

June 11, 2019 - 5:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in David Bellavia, Iraq War, news, notify, video, Medal of Honor.
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Below, selected quotes. For the fuller context of each quote, watch the videos.

Thank you to Western and New York for love and support
David Bellavia opened the press conference acknowledging all of the Western New Yorkers who have contacted him over the past 72 hours and then discussed how the men who served in Vietnam didn't benefit from a warm homecoming, and that many veterans do not get the recognition they deserve.

"I just wish that more Vietnam veterans, Korean War veterans, everyone guys at V.A. hospitals. can feel half the love that Western York has given to me, and most importantly. the Gold Star families in Western New York and Rochester. These men and women have given up their sons and daughters and there's really, it's not just Memorial Day, it isn't one day a year for these families; it's every single day. And we still live with that and we still think about them. And you know I think about them, too."

The benefits of military enlistment
"If there's anything that can come out of this, hopefully, young people in Western New York will we'll see their country as more worthy than anything else in their life. We are a very special institution, the United States Army, and I encourage as many people to look at that as an opportunity to better themselves but more importantly better their communities and their country."

The call from the president
Bellavia said he was told in August that he would be receiving a call from a top official in the Department of Defense, though he didn't know why. When the call was repeatedly delayed, he admitted to some frustration

"I really didn't know who that could have been. It could've been Secretary of the Army. It could've been Secretary of Defense. But that senior member of the DoD was very difficult to get on the phone. So no offense to Secretary of the Army; I'm sure he's a busy person. But he can't be that busy because there was a very difficult time to get that individual to allocate time. I had no idea that the senior member of the DoD, he was the senior member of the DoD, being the commander in chief.

"It was pretty humbling. It was pretty life altering.

"I lost my dad a year ago and yesterday would've been his 75th birthday. It was pretty crazy that the White House announcement came on his birthday, but my dad was my hero. I loved him. I spent every day talking to him. When I deployed my dad would, he would type up play-by-play of the Buffalo Bills games as if I had no access to get scores in the Army. He would take the time to write me a six-page letter single-spaced (letters) on every play. I would read these no matter where I was, Kosovo, Germany, or Iraq and we just talked about the Bills no matter how bad the day was, it was about the Bills.

"My dad would always tell me something and I always thought he was just uncool because he's my dad but he'd always say, 'way to go.' He'd say, 'way to go, man.' That's what my dad would say. No one else has ever said that to me in my life because it's not something you would expect anyone to say. But as the whole conversation with the president he's going on, I'm not even listening. I'm just kind of...but at the end of it, he said. 'Good job. David. Way to go, man.' That's what the president said and I haven't heard anyone say that to me but my father and it just brought me right back down to Earth."

On being an Iraq War veteran
Bellavia acknowledged that the Iraq War is a controversial war and that many people believe the United States entered the war because of faulty intelligence.

"Listen, you know I'm not going to pretend to write -- the narrative the Iraq war as well established but the Iraq veteran has nothing to apologize for. The Iraq veteran has served with the same, in the finest traditions of any other generation at war. And, you know, there's a whole lot of men and women who -- Yeah, everything's changed. I have to represent those people because that's what we have to do.

"I can't tell you that looking back and seeing how a lot of people tend to look at the valor of a generation and say well are these good wars or bad wars. Iraq veterans are walking around with chips on their shoulder because they're regarded as part of the bad war the war of choice, the war that was based on bad intelligence and you know we're free to think and decide whatever you want. I think the narrative is written on that. But I would just caution us to not make the veteran feel the weight of that. I don't think it's their responsibility. Ninety-nine percent of these men and women served with honor and distinction and we really shouldn't have to apologize for where our nation sends us to fight."

Thoughts on the battle that led to the Medal of Honor
"When you go through a graveyard and you see someone born and died on the same day, you know, I always see that on a tombstone and think, you know, that's got to be horrible and I just imagined how someone could explain to my son why I chose to do this. I wanted someone to be able to articulate to my kid that it's not that I don't love you, it's that I love these guys, too. We're in this together and that's why it's so important to me to tell as many Gold Star families that if the roles were reversed their sons would be talking to my mom, and their sons would be talking to my kids, and their sons would be saying, 'don't forget what your son did.' "

On veterans and being a veteran
"I happen to believe that veterans make the best neighbors you can have. I think we make great employees. I think we make great teachers. I think we make great friends. 

"I'm forever grateful to the United States Army they gave me purpose and direction they gave my life meaning and value. I'm a better human being because of my service. And I think most of the people that I've served with can all tell you the same thing. And I encourage any man or woman that wants to become an individual in their community to serve the United States military."

On how he's changed since Fallujah; veterans are anti-war (from the interview)
"You know, I never saw the enemy as people. I think, now, when I have, when you have children, you think you know, obviously, you want your guys, America, the good guys, to be OK. But I also think back to, I don't want the enemy's children to take the road that their dads took. I don't want my kids to be fighting in conflicts with another generation. ... What are the things that we can do, especially when it comes to acknowledging that a lot of people think that war guys, veteran guys are pro-war, that we love this. You know, we're pretty anti-war. I mean, I don't know of any veteran that you've talked to that is like, 'this is the greatest thing in the world.'

"We're violently anti-war but with the goal, the end state is that we won't do this anymore. I mean, if you would've told me that I would join the Army because my son and daughters would also get to have this experience, I never would have done it. It's not worth it. You fight so that it stops here and it doesn't continue. And it would be heartbreaking to know that this is going to go on for another 25 years."

We also asked about his political future and he suggested he will not be a candidate for Congress in 2020. He said he believes the Army will keep him busy for the next 18 months to two years with Medal of Honor appearances.

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May 30, 2014 - 1:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Iraq War, funeral.

Iraq War veteran James Carney was laid to rest today with military honors, including a giant American flag hung across West Main Street Road by the ladder trucks from City of Batavia and Town of Batavia.

Carney died unexpectedly at age 27. He was being treated for PTSD but was said to be rebuilding his life in Boston at the time of his death.

Funeral arrangements by Michael S. Tomaszewski Funeral & Cremation Chapel (full obituary).

Previously: Family dealing with unexpected death of veteran who was overcoming post-war struggles

November 15, 2009 - 12:28pm
posted by Daniel Crofts in Arts & Crafts, schools, Iraq War.

Eighth-grader Steven O'Brien is a pretty good salesman. He displayed his knack for hawking things Saturday at Batavia High School's annual Arts & Crafts Festival.

With a variety of goods draped over his arms, he looked like a walking advertisement for "Treats for Troops," an outreach project for the military which began at Batavia Middle School in 2002.

Steven helped sell such items as necklaces, bracelets, picture frames, scarves, towels and blankets, priced from $1 to $10, along with founder and special education teacher Lucille DiSanto.

The money raised will pay for supplies for an "adopted" military troop in Iraq or Afghanistan that has a soldier from Batavia in it. Each year, a different troop is chosen.

"It's grown a little bit each year," DiSanto said. "We're definitely getting more attention."

The fundraiser for those in combat is the culmination of the efforts of her students, the student council and an organization called SWAT -- Students Working as a Team. They sell the items, some of which they make themselves, others are bought with donations. A McDonald's corporation MAC Grant pays for project costs.

"I felt it was necessary to help kids learn community service,” says DiSanto. “And what better way to do that than to help one of our own in Iraq or Afghanistan?"

The Treats for Troops table fared quite well, taking in $65 within the first 70 minutes Saturday. They received a total of $35 in donations.

"This is the most donations I've ever gotten," said DiSanto excitedly.

Steven took it upon himself to venture out beyond the table, working the crowd with his sense of humor. People bought stuff from him, and vendor Fran Norton donated a dollar.

"Anything for the boys," says Norton, who holds America's soldiers in high esteem. "Any services we can provide to them, they deserve it."

Anyone interested in learning more about the Treats for Troops project should contact DiSanto at Batavia Middle School. If you would like to learn more about Batavia High School's Arts & Crafts Festival, please contact Paul Pedersen, BHS Physical Education teacher and Batavia Ice Devils coach.

September 3, 2009 - 9:01am
posted by Bea McManis in Iraq War, Tom Ridge, Rachel Maddow.

Maddow blasts Ridge for clinging to Iraq war justification

Published: September 2, 2009
Updated 1 day ago
 

During a three-part interview with former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge on Tuesday night, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow made some hard-hitting points on revelations that the “Terror Threat Level” system was manipulated for political purposes during the Bush Administration.

On the program to promote his new book “The Test of Our Time”, the former Pennsylvania governor seemed taken aback as Maddow took him to task as being a “crucial” part of a “false case to the American people.” As Jay Rosen aptly tweeted, “To work himself out of the bind she had gotten him into, Ridge actually disavowed the jacket copy of his own book under Maddow’s questioning.”

MADDOW: I think you making that argument right now is why Republicans after the Bush and Cheney administration are not going to get back the country’s trust on national security. To look back at that decision and say ‘we got it wrong but it was in good faith’ and not acknowledge the foregone conclusion that we are going to invade Iraq that pervaded every decision that was made about intelligence. Looking back at that decision-making process, it sounds like you’re making the argument that you would have made the same decision again.

Americans need to believe that our government would not make that wrong a decision, that would not take such a foregone conclusion to such an important issue, that the intelligence that proved the opposite point was all discounted, that the intelligence was combed through for any bit that would fit the foregone conclusion of the policymakers. The system was broken and if you don’t see that the system was broken and you think that it was just that the intel was wrong - I think that you’re one of the most trusted voices on national security for the Republican party, and I think that is the elephant in the room. I don’t think you guys get back your credibility on national security until you realize that was a wrong decision made by policy makers; that wasn’t the spies fault.

RIDGE: Well, I think you are suggesting that it was only driven by, quite obviously the people who made the decision knew more about the threat than you and I do. And again I think it is a pretty radical conclusion to suggest that men and women entrusted with the safety of this country would predicate a decision upon any other basis other than to keep America safe. Later on it may have proven that some of the information was inaccurate, but there were plenty of reasons to go into Iraq at the time - the foremost were the weapons of mass destruction, that obviously proven to be faulty. But the fact of the matter is, at that time, given what they knew, and they knew more than what you and I did, it seemed to be the right thing to do and the decision was made in what they considered to be in the best interest of our country.
In her closing points on the subject, Maddow adds “If you can go back in time and sell the American people on the idea that 4,000 Americans ought to lose their lives and we ought to lose those trillions of dollars for democracy in Iraq, you have a wilder imagination than I do. We were sold that war because of 9/11. We were sold that war because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction from this guy who didn’t have them, and our government should have known it. And frankly a lot of people believe our government did know it and it was a cynical decision.” She then concludes with “Maybe everybody wasn’t in on it and maybe that is a radical thing to conclude…”

Mr. Ridge did thank Maddow for the civility of their discussion before the end of the program.

New York University professor and press critic Jay Rosen went so far as to call Maddow’s measured, piercing performance “one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever seen on television.”

Links to all three videos can be found at:
http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/09/02/watch-rachel-maddow-blasts-tom-ridge-on-iraq-war-justification/

February 6, 2009 - 12:00pm
posted by Tasia Boland in Iraq War, patriotism, real estate.

My husband and I are house hunting, and recently we found a house we fell in love with except, it is part of a homeowners association. Now we have been asking friends and family what they know about homeowners associations. Today I heard about this story and am giving second thoughts to being involved in an association.

From the Morning Show with Mike and Juliet:

When their son was deployed to Iraq in October, Terry and Sue Lewton installed a flagpole outside their Loveland, Colo. home to fly the American flag 24 hours a day until his return. Sgt. Jason Lewton is still stationed in Iraq, but his parents’ homeowners association asked them to remove the 20-foot flagpole to maintain “the high standards of the community.” Sue Lewton refuses to remove the flag until her son comes home. The flagpole is not taller than the Lewtons’ home, the flag is kept in respectable condition, and they received no objections when they asked their immediate neighbors before installing the flagpole.

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