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It takes a certain fortitude to enlist in the military.  A fortitude that, I am not ashamed to admit, I never had.

Despite a deep respect for those in my family who served in the armed forces and a lifelong fascination with all things military, at a young age I knew in my heart that I didn’t have what it takes. Be it a disinclination to take orders without question, fear of a painful death, or a reluctance to kill others in the name of possibly misguided policy, I was fully aware then and now that I would not have made a good soldier, sailor, or marine.

It is this same awareness that makes me so grateful for the men and women who have and continue to serve our nation.  Fortunately not everyone has the same hang-ups and hesitancy that I had as a youth, and because of that I am blessed with the privilege of liberty and the honor of holding our veterans in the absolute highest regard, honoring them, and thanking them as often as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

As I have said, I am a sap when it comes to dogs.

Recently I read about Rufus, Target, and Sasha, three stray dogs who together saved the lives of up to 50 US soldiers in Afghanistan when they prevented a suicide bomber from entering a barracks on base. The bomber got the door open but Rufus and Target had latched on to his legs, preventing him from entering. Sasha was barking wildly, alerting her friend, Sgt. Chris Duke, to the danger. When the bomber realized he could go no further, he detonated his vest.

Sasha, the smallest of the three, was injured so badly that she had to be put down. Rufus and Target were both horribly burned over the majority of their bodies. Thanks to the soldiers, they were nursed back to health and survived the attack. This Reader’s Digest article has the whole story.

Keep in mind that these dogs were only curs. They aren’t purebreds, or show dogs. They were simply mutts, strays from a war-ravaged country who, despite having no reason to care about humans, acted out of instinct and loyalty to the soldiers they had befriended. Even though they probably did not know their lives were in danger, their acts were still, by all accounts, heroic. They selflessly put themselves between their friends and danger, giving fur, skin, and blood in the process and, in Sasha’s case, the ultimate sacrifice.

Can you blame me for being a sap over dogs, when I see what three strays are capable of?

Unfortunately, this post is not about dog heroism. Rather, it is about human incompetence, selfishness, and cruelty. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m a sap when it comes to some things. Probably more than most. “America the Beautiful” is one. Same with excellent poems, great speeches by now-dead figures, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution, some songs by John Prine, happy endings, and a lot of other things. I get emotional, tear up, and get that gaspy, hollow feeling in my gut.

Near the top of that list are two things I hold very dear and am exceptionally sensitive to – fallen veterans and dogs. With both – be it their loyalty, their dependability, their commitment to something bigger than themselves, and their willingness to sacrifice for others – we can find shining examples of characteristics we all should endeavor to possess. I am humbled by them both, and can find in them joy, security, and sorrow.

For this reason, when I found this story about Navy SEAL Jon Tumlinson and Hawkeye from TODAY, I cried like a baby.

Thank you, Jon, for your dedication and ultimate sacrifice. You live on in our liberty and memories.

Thank you, Hawkeye, for your loyalty and devotion. We share in your grief and wish you renewed happiness with your new master.

I will forever be amazed by the dedication of our veterans and of humankind’s best friend.

Should you feel compelled to do something, you can help out veterans and their families here (all of these are well-rated charities):
Fisher House Foundation
Navy SEAL Foundation
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Homes for Our Troops

And you can help human’s best friends here (again, all are very well-rated charities):
Hearts United for Animals
Animal Friends
ASPCA
or your local humane society

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