The suspect of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA, has been identified as U.S. Marine Corps veteran Ian David Long, age 28. The shooting occurred late on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at a nightclub where at least 12 people were reportedly killed.
One victim includes a sheriff’s sergeant, Ron Helus.
Every Tuesday before Thanksgiving, there’s a ceremony held in which the President of the United States gives an official proclamation before a large crowd, pardoning a turkey for all the crimes they may have committed.
The turkey pardon is a fun — albeit goofy — ceremony that helps the country get into the holiday spirit, even if it began in ’87 as a means of distracting people from the Iran-Contra Affair. Since then, every president has kept the tradition going because, well, America seems to love turkeys this time of year.
As strange as this tradition might seem, it’s really not all that out of place. The relationship between Americans and turkeys has been weird since the beginning.
In those days, the meal was “scraping together what they had.” By today’s standards, a feast of venison, lobster, and duck is far more fancy than a deep-fried turkey.
(“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth.” 1914. Painting. Jennie A. Brownscombe)
Long before the Europeans arrived in the Americas, indigenous peoples had sort of domesticated the turkey and started breeding them, making them plumper so that they’d make for a better meal. And it made good sense to do so. Turkeys are simple creatures that, when nourished, develop into large birds with plenty of delicious meat and they’re covered in large feathers that are great for crafting.
Furthermore, wild turkeys can survive in a range of environments. They were found all across the New World, from the Cree peoples’ lands near the Hudson Bay in Canada to the lands of the Aztecs in Mexico. Columbus himself even once remarked on how great the birds tasted. Eventually, turkey became a staple in most settlers’ diets… which makes it all the more odd that there wasn’t any turkey served for dinner at the first Thanksgiving.
The Wampanoag people were well known for their hunting skills and brought venison because it was showcased their talents as hunters. The pilgrims brought lobster and water fowl because they were much more common. Since the settlers didn’t really leave Plymouth, turkey was of off the menu unless they ventured into native territory.
This myth got its start just two years after the creation of the Great Seal of the United States when Benjamin Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter about the design choices. He jokingly said that bald eagles had “bad moral character.” He also said the bird of prey was more of a scavenger (they’re not). He went on to praise the seal of the Order of the Cincinnati, a fraternity of military officers, that had a turkey on it.
In case you were wondering, Franklin’s actual recommendation for the Great Seal was of Moses parting the Red Sea with fire raining everywhere and the motto of, “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”
These loud, slow-moving, flightless birds will wreak havoc on farms in the spring time when the seeds are sewn. That’s why turkey season falls around then… in most states, anyway. Some states hold it in fall so that citizens can hunt down their own Thanksgiving dinner. Happy Thanksgiving!
(U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.)
Soon after the United States became the United States, Americans quickly started hunting down and eating wild turkeys. They hunted them so thoroughly that pioneers would almost drive them to extinction wherever they went. The turkeys survived westward expansion and steadily climbed — then, the Great Depression hit and, for obvious reasons, they almost went extinct again in the 1930s.
After World War II, some troops returning from war went on to become game wardens, and began relocating turkeys en masse to avoid their being hunted into extinction. But how did these military veterans manage to catch large quantities of elusive turkeys in the wild? With modified howitzers shells that launched nets, of course!
No, seriously. These turkey-net cannons actually worked. The turkey populations went from just under 500,000 across the entire U.S. in 1959 to the roughly seven million that are fair game for hunting each and every year.
Ongoing U.S.-China tensions in the South China Sea regarding Chinese artificial island-building are leading many at the Pentagon to sharpen their focus upon the rapid pace of Chinese Naval modernization and expansion.
While Chinese naval technology may still be substantially behind current U.S. platforms, the equation could change dramatically over the next several decades because the Chinese are reportedly working on a handful of high-tech next-generation ships, weapons and naval systems.
China has plans to grow its navy to 351 ships by 2020 as the Chinese continue to develop their military’s ability to strike global targets, according to a recent Congressional report.
The 2014 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended to Congress that the U.S. Navy respond by building more ships and increase its presence in the Pacific region – a strategy the U.S. military has already started.
Opponents of this strategy point out that the U.S. has 11 aircraft carriers, the Chinese have one and China’s one carrier still lacks an aircraft wing capable of operating off of a carrier deck. However, several recent reports have cited satellite photos showing that China is now building its own indigenous aircraft carriers. Ultimately, the Chinese plan to acquire four aircraft carriers, the reports say.
The commission cites platforms and weapons systems the Chinese are developing, which change the strategic calculus regarding how U.S. carriers and surface ships might need to operate in the region.
These include the LUYANG III, a new class of Chinese destroyer slated to enter the fleet this year. These ships are being engineered with vertically-launched, long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, the commission said. The new destroyer will carry an extended-range variant of the HHQ-9 surface-to-air missile, among other weapons, the report says.
Furthermore, the Chinese may already be beginning construction on several of their own indigenous aircraft carriers. China currently has one carrier, the Ukranian-built Liaoning. It is not expected to have an operational carrier air wing until sometime this year, according to the report.
The Chinese are currently testing and developing a new, carrier-based fighter aircraft called the J-15.
Regarding amphibious assault ships, the Chinese are planning to add several more YUZHAO LPDs, amphibs which can carry 800 troops, four helicopters and up to 20 armored vehicles, the report said.
The Chinese are also working on development of a new Type 055 cruiser equipped with land-attack missiles, lasers and rail-gun weapons, according to the review.
China’s surface fleet is also bolstered by production of at least 60 smaller, fast-moving HOBEI-glass guided missile patrol boats and ongoing deliveries of JIANGDAO light frigates armed with naval guns, torpedoes and anti-ship cruise missiles.
The commission also says Chinese modernization plans call for a sharp increase in attack submarines and nuclear-armed submarines or SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to strike targets more than 4,500 nautical miles.
The Chinese are currently working on a new, modernized SSBN platform as well as a long-range missile, the JL-3, the commission says.
While the commission says the exact amount of Chinese military spending is difficult to identify, China’s projected defense spending for 2014 is cited at $131 billion, approximately 12.2 percent greater than 2013. This figure is about one sixth of what the U.S. spends annually.
The Chinese defense budget has increased by double digits since 1989, the commission states, resulting in annual defense spending doubling since 2008, according to the report.
Some members of Congress, including the House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., are advocating for both a larger U.S. Navy and a stronger U.S. posture toward China’s behavior in the region.
The Corps’ deputy commandant for aviation, Lt. Gen. Jon “Dog” Davis, said Wednesday at the Unmanned Systems Defense conference in Arlington, Virginia, that this future platform — a Group 5, the largest class of military drone — will be equipped to fight from sea as well as land.
“I would say we’re very aggressive with what we want that Group 5 to be,” Davis said. “I want my airplane to go off a seabase and, frankly, I think the Group 5 [unmanned aircraft system] for the Marine Corps will have [AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile] on there, will have AIM-9X [Sidewinder missile], will have all the weapons that an F-35 will carry, maybe even the sensors the F-35 will carry.”
This future drone will not be a competitor with the Corps’ new F-35B Lightning II 5th-generation fighter but a collaborator, able to team with the aircraft on missions, he said.
“It’s about … making sure that the Marines have the very best protection wherever they go, whatever they do, and manned-unmanned teaming is not just with attack helicopters — it’s with jets, it’s with grunts,” Davis said.
In the Corps’ 2016 aviation plan, the MUX is described as filling an extremely broad range of missions, including electronic warfare; reconnaissance and surveillance; command, control, communications and computers [C4]; aircraft escort; persistent fires; early warning; and tactical distribution.
“It will be a multi-sensor, electronic warfare, C4 bridge, [anti-air warfare] and strike capability at ranges complementary to MV-22 and F-35, giving MAGTF commanders flexible, persistent, and lethal reach,” the document states. “It will provide scalable MAGTF support deploying as detachments or squadrons supporting commanders at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.”
Call it a mega-drone, if you will.
Prominent candidates for such a role include the Bell-Textron V-247, an unmanned, single-engine armed tiltrotor platform designed to operate from the sea; the Lockheed Martin K-Max built by Kaman, an optionally manned cargo chopper used to transport gear in Afghanistan and now being developed to accommodate sensors; and the Tactically Exploited Reconnaissance Node, or Tern, an aircraft developed by DARPA and the Office of Naval Research that sits on its tail so it can launch and recover on a ship’s deck.
Davis said he wants the Marines’ Group 5 UAS to be able to fly at 30,000 feet, the typical cruising altitude for an airliner, and to carry weapons internally to maximize efficiency and time on station. Ultimately, he said, he wants an unmanned aircraft that can do everything a manned aircraft can.
“Do I think it will replace manned platforms? No, but I think we have to integrate, look for capabilities, cover down our gaps, our seams, that are out there,” he said. “Frankly, no matter how many airplanes I have, I don’t get 24/7 coverage with my manned platforms, especially from my seabase. If we do distributed operations, we’re going to need all the game we can bring.”
Davis said he wants to see a tech demonstration flight of the MUX by 2018 and early operational capability for the system by 2024.
That timeline puts development of the mega-drone slightly ahead of the joint Future Vertical Lift program, which will select a next generation of helicopters for services including the Army and Marine Corps.
USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) achieved a major milestone this week as it successfully launched from dry dock and moored pierside at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Nov. 27.
This milestone is an important step in the ongoing effort to repair and restore one of the U.S. Navy’s most capable platforms, and reflects nearly a year’s worth of wide-reaching and successful coordination across multiple organizations. The ship entered dry dock at the Navy’s Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) Yokosuka in February.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) prepares to depart from a dry dock at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. McCain is departing the dock after an extensive maintenance period in order to sustain the ship’s ability to serve as a forward-deployed asset in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyra Watson)
“After the initial repair assessments were conducted, we had to quickly mobilize and determine the most critical steps to develop an executable repair and modernization plan,” explained Deputy Commander for Surface Warfare and Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC), Rear Adm. Jim Downey. “As we began the restoration process, we assembled cohesive teams capable of delivering both materially ready and more modernized ships to the fleet.”
To begin the repair and restoration effort, the Navy immediately reached out to personnel at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, Maine. BIW is the company that originally constructed the ship and currently serves as the planning yard for work on in-service Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The BIW employees worked alongside representatives from Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) Supervisor of Shipbuilding, also in Bath, Maine, to conduct a material assessment of the ship. That information was then used by SRF-JRMC and the local Japanese repair contractor, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, to plan and swiftly execute the work ahead.
The McCain crew has been involved in every aspect of the availability.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) is pulled towards a pier after departing from a dry dock at Fleet Activities Yokosuka. McCain is departing the dock after an extensive maintenance period in order to sustain the ship’s ability to serve as a forward-deployed asset in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy Graham)
“I’m proud of and thankful for every person who has worked together to move USS John S. McCain another step closer to both normalcy and sailing again with U.S. 7th Fleet,” said Cmdr. Micah Murphy, commanding officer, USS John S. McCain. “There is still a lot of work to be done, but I remain impressed by the incredible teamwork, determination and flexibility shown daily by this crew as well as the SRF Project Team to return a better, more lethal warship to the fleet.”
Today, McCain has a fully restored hull, a new port thrust shaft, and newly constructed berthing spaces.
The ongoing availability also includes completing maintenance work that had previously been deferred, which reflects the Navy’s commitment to ensuring that required maintenance on ships is no longer deferred. Additionally, the U.S. Pacific Fleet implemented a new force generation model to protect maintenance, training, and certification requirements prior to operational tasking for ships forward-deployed to Japan, like John S. McCain.
The ship’s crew worked alongside personnel from NAVSEA’s Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Philadelphia and Port Hueneme divisions who were challenged to develop a test plan concurrent with repair efforts.
“All key players and industry partners continue to execute the McCain effort with maximum intensity in an environment built on trust and shared goals,” said Capt. Garrett Farman, SRF-JRMC commanding officer. “Our mission is to keep the 7th Fleet operationally ready, and everyone on the team recognizes the immense value that this mission brings to U.S. and Japan mutual interests in keeping our waters safe.”
The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) prepares to undock as a dry dock is flooded in order to test the ship’s integrity. McCain is departing the dock after an extensive maintenance period in order to sustain the ship’s ability to serve as a forward-deployed asset in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy Graham)
The complex repair and restoration required support and collaboration from all aspects of the U.S. Navy maintenance enterprise, including NSWC Philadelphia and NSWC Port Hueneme; Engineering Directorate (SEA 05); Deputy Commander for Surface Warfare (SEA 21); Commander, Navy Regional Maintenance Center (CNRMC); Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC); Southeast Regional Maintenance Center (SERMC); Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC); Puget Sound Naval Shipyard (PSNS); and Forward Deployed Regional Maintenance Center (FDRMC) Naples and Rota detachment.
Over the next few months, efforts will focus on testing the repaired ship’s systems in preparation for a return to operational tasking.
The Navy’s enterprise leadership continues to make improvements with routine, close oversight provided by the fleet commanders and the Navy staff to generate ready ships and aircraft on-time and on-plan. Improved ship-class maintenance plans are capturing a more robust understanding of fleet maintenance requirements, and the elimination of work deferrals are improving the material condition of the fleet.
This summer, Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer inducted Sen. John S. McCain III into the ship’s official namesake alongside his father and grandfather in a ceremony on board, July 12. The crew’s messdecks, known as the Maverick Café, re-opened for business on Nov. 19, the late Senator’s birthday.
John S. McCain is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan as part of the U.S. Seventh Fleet. The ship is expected to complete repairs in late 2019.
The U.S. deployed every type of strategic and nuclear-capable bomber to Guam amid soaring tensions between the Washington and Pyongyang in a move sure to rattle North Korea.
The B-1B Lancer bomber, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, and the B-52H — the workhorse bomber that dropped tens of thousands of tons of munitions during the Vietnam War — will be in Guam, the Pentagon has confirmed to Business Insider.
North Korea can’t stand U.S. bomber deployments to Guam, where the U.S. hosts massive military bases in relative proximity to Pyongyang. North Korean media statements usually react strongly and issue threats in response to the U.S. flying B-1 training missions over the Korean Peninsula.
In statements, North Korea refers to the B-1 bomber as a nuclear asset, although the plane has been modified not to carry nuclear weapons as the result of an arms control pact with Russia. The B-2 and B-52 do have nuclear capability, and make up the air-launched component of the U.S.’s nuclear triad.
Unlike in-ground nuclear silos and under-sea secretive submarines, the nuclear-capable bombers in the U.S. Air Force’s fleet enable the U.S. to signal its resolve and intentions during times of high tensions.
While some may interpret the deployment of the nuclear-side of the bomber fleet as an escalation, the deployment is part of a mission called Continuous Bomber Presence, wherein the U.S. has maintained a bomber presence in the Pacific at all times to assure allies, enable readiness, and promote regional stability since 2004.
But it’s still rare to find all three in Guam at once. The three bombers first flew together in Guam in August 2016, and this deployment is the first time since that they’ve all been gathered together in the South Pacific.
Sending all three strategic bombers to Guam sends the strongest message bomber deployments could possibly spell out.
For a country that hasn’t been conquered since Tamerlane rolled through, Afghanistan has sure been shaped by all those who tried to control it. Today, there’s even a little strip of land in the country’s northeast that forms a panhandle – strange for such a small strip considering the major powers who fought for control of the area.
It was those major powers who created the panhandle in the first place. Today it borders China, Tajikistan, and Pakistan. But during a period of time in Afghan history known as “The Great Game,” those countries were parts of China, the Russian Empire, and the British Empire, respectively.
A treaty between Russia and Great Britain in 1873 made the Panj and Pamir Rivers the border between the Russian Empire and Afghanistan’s northern border. In 1893, the Durand Line became Afghanistan’s border with British India. A mostly independent Afghanistan was a buffer zone between the two growing empires.
It’s an area even more ungovernable than the rest of Afghanistan. At elevations as high as 17,000 feet in some areas, the area is inaccessible to most Afghans – and even the Taliban and the Soviet Union were unable (or unwilling) to fully move into the area.
The form of Islam practiced in the Wakhan is very hostile to the Taliban, a further explanation of the lack of central interference from Kabul.
The 3,500-mile area used to be a route along the Silk Road and was traversed by great historical figures like Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. People there still depend on trade, but this remote part of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province sees little in the way of tourists or even Afghan visitors.
Today the area has few roads, no government, and is home to roughly 12,000 nomadic and semi-nomadic people.
This time we asked Air Force veteran Julio Medina, who’s the founder of Morale Patch Armory, why these moto patches endure in popular military culture – even when a command may not fully appreciate them.
“Morale patches are a simplistic form of art that most people can relate to in some way or another,” Medina says. “Whether it’s humorous or something that will make you embrace your inner patriot, morale patches send strong messages.”
The Latin in the patch above means “not worth a rat’s ass.” During the Vietnam War, troopers who ferreted out Viet Cong insurgents hidden in complex subterranean hideouts became known as “Tunnel Rats.” These brave servicemen had to dodge human enemies, animals (like bats), and potentially deadly gasses — not to mention VC booby traps. The story alone makes for a great patch.
The DICASS (Directional Command Activated Sonobuoy System) sends submariners range and bearing data via and FM frequency.
Medina also talked about the elements of a good morale patch.
“Relevance, clean design, and a clear message are key factors in a successful morale patch drop,” he says. “There are some amazingly talented artists out there, but unless you have the ability to get relevant eyes on the patch, it will start collecting dust no matter how good it is.”
“Military active duty, veterans, and law enforcement are the largest consumer base,” Medina says. “There are quite a few airsoft players in that bunch, too. I’m sure none of these groups come as a surprise. There are so many different styles of patches out there.”
The patch above is for the USAF’s 509 Operations Group, which pilots the B-2A Spirit stealth bombers out of Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The chicken is a reference to an old Twilight Zone episode where aliens start to eat people. Most of you will probably get the Simpsons reference better.
Medina believes the enduring popularity of morale patches comes from how they poke fun at the mundane or at high-stress situations. The common denominator is the camaraderie built from shared experiences – the tension and hard times that troops go through as a cohesive unit.
“Military members of all branches deal with common military-related stressors day in and day out that the average individual may not even experience in a lifetime,” Medina says.
“Morale patches are key to lightening the mood by making things funny … making you feel like a proud American, just the way you felt when you graduated basic training and became a part of something bigger than yourself,” Medina explained.
Morale patches have always been an interest for Medina. As a former enlisted Air Force Security Forces airman, Medina kept his own collection of quirky patches since 2007.
“I kept seeing really creative patches being made and sold by hobbyists,” Medina recalls. “As opposed to the few mainstream brands in the industry that sell mass quantities of a single design.”
That’s how Medina started his own patch business. His passion for the industry combined with his appreciation of the humor and artistry led him to establish Morale Patch Armory.
“I once heard ‘Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life,’ ” Medina says. “Since the inception of Morale Patch Armory, every day has been fun and exciting even through the toughest challenges.”
Keenan Reynolds is living a double life. The breakout NFL wide receiver was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round in 2016 but eventually found himself in Seattle, taking passes from quarterback Russell Wilson. In his other life, however, he goes by the title Lieutenant Junior Grade Reynolds.
Reynolds is currently on the practice squad for the Seahawks, but the onetime Navy QB made his big league debut this year for Baltimore and later, Seattle. Except in the pros, he’s a wide receiver.
On the days when Reynolds isn’t wearing the Seahawks uniform, he’s decked out in another uniform: the U.S. Navy’s.
Right now, Keenan Reynolds’ Navy work is as a cryptological warfare officer. He’s not allowed to go into further detail.
“I can’t really give the details, to be honest with you,” the first-year wideout told the Seattle Times. “Just… we’ll just say cyber.”
His previous work with the Navy saw him as the starting quarterback for the Midshipmen in a stellar football career that saw him break the career rushing touchdown record, the NCAA touchdown record, and career total touchdowns along with the career passing yards records.
Most importantly, he was the only Navy QB to go 4-0 against Army.
U.S. Naval Academy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was awarded the 86th AAU James E. Sullivan Award on April 10, 2016 at the New York Athletic Club. He shared the award with UConn women’s basketball player Breanna Stewart, who was not in attendance at the ceremony.
Reynolds was the last service academy football player to enter the NFL draft under Obama-era rules regarding academy exemptions. The Department of Defense used to offer elite athletes from its service academies a waiver to defer their active duty service and go into the ready reserve instead.
It allowed players like Keenan Reynold the chance to pursue NFL careers at a time when their chances are the best at being drafted. The rules granted these exemptions on a case-by-case basis. Those waivers were rescinded by the Trump Administration. Now, academy athletes will no longer have the option of a two-year service waiver.
Unfortunately for Reynolds, it was uncertainty about his service obligation that kept him from being invited to the 2016 NFL Combine.
Reynolds was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2016.
“I’ve got eight years in the reserves,” he told the Baltimore Sun. “I am two years in. So, basically, I owe a certain number of drills a year, and a certain number of active-duty days.”
He went on to say that he was humbled to know he was the last of his kind to be granted a service waiver to pursue his football dreams, but he knows that his fellow academy grads will never give up on their own dreams. They’ll just go for it as soon as they can.
With all the advances in military clothing technology these days, there’s still one glaring holdover from the days of military uniforms gone by: boot laces. We have velcro work uniforms, and velcro body armor, zippers on work pants, and plastic buckles have replaced the old metal clasps on web gear.
Yet, every day, U.S. troops are lacing up their boots just like Arnold Schwarzenegger did in Commando 30-plus years ago. What gives?
Pictured: me before work every morning during my time in the Air Force… In my head.
The truth is that there’s actually a good reason for all the combat/work uniform gear that American troops wear every day. From the way it’s worn, to what it’s made of, to how it’s worn, it all actually has an operational value to it. The most enduring reason velcro isn’t used as a means to secure one’s boots is that shoelaces are built to last, like most other military-grade gear. Velcro wears out after repeated use and becomes less and less sticky with time.
Another reason for laces securing their boots is that if one of the laces does happen to wear out and snap, a spare boot lace can be secured pretty easily. All a Marine at a combat outpost in the hills of Afghanistan has to do to re-secure his boot is to get a lace and lace it up. If it were secured with velcro, both sides being held together would require a seam ripped out and new velcro patches sewn in its place.
“Cover me, this is a hemstitch!”
Speaking of austere locations, has anyone ever tried to use velcro when it was soaking wet or caked in mud? For anyone who’s ever seen a recruiting video for any branch of the military (including the Coast Guard), it becomes pretty apparent that mud, water, and lord-knows-what-else are occupational hazards for the feet of the average U.S. troop. Bootlaces don’t need to be dry, clean, or chemical agent-free to work their magic, they just work.
The whole idea behind clothing a capable, combat-ready force is to eliminate the worry about the clothing as long as each individual troop follows the clothing guidelines. Everything about military work gear and combat uniforms is that they can be worn relatively easily and their parts can be replaced just as easily – by even the least capable person in a military unit.
Even the new Second Lieutenant.
Finally, the most significant reason troops need laced-up boots instead of goofy velcro attachments is the most unique aspect to their chosen profession: the idea that they may be in combat at some point. Military combat medics will tell you that the easiest way to access a wounded foot area is to simply cut the laces away and toss the boot. That’s probably the biggest combat-related factor.
Besides, where would Marines string their second dog tag if they secured their boots with velcro?
As the time drags on that we are left to stick with social distancing, more and more folks are celebrating their birthdays — away from loved ones, isolated from friends, and instead, in the safe quarters of their own homes.
But just because you’re celebrating birthdays far from the masses, doesn’t mean they can’t be made special. Look to these creative tips for social distancing birthday ideas throughout the pandemic, and at future duty stations when living far away from those you love.
1. Have a HouseParty
Join this free app and host live games with video chat. Invite family and friends and take part in trivia, charades, and more. Just make sure you have a full phone battery so the fun can keep on going.
Choose a flick you’ve been waiting to see and ask all your favorites to watch right along with you. This is a free feature for all Netflix subscribers. Simply log into your account and share the link with others so they can join in.
If you plan early enough, have loved ones send a card. With the mail still running as an essential service, those from all over can create and send in special cards. Collect them and give to the birthday boy or girl all at once, or spread the love for fun that keeps on coming.
5. Something special
Finally, consider something special that’s personal. Let the birthday celebrator choose a meal, plan a family activity, or order a meaningful gift. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to be a day that shows they’re loved.
The families of seven dead US servicemen gathered August 7 to receive lost Purple Heart medals their loved ones had earned in four wars.
An eighth veteran was present for the ceremony at the historic Federal Hall on Wall Street on August 7, which was National Purple Heart Day.
The group Purple Hearts Reunited, based in Georgia, Vermont, has made it its mission to track down misplaced medals. Founder Zachariah Fike said as many as five are found each week across the country.
Seven of those medals returned August 7 went to men who served in World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The eighth was presented to Army Specialist Daniel Swift, a firefighter injured by a roadside bomb in 2004 in Iraq as a member of the National Guard. In his honor, the ceremony opened to the sound of the Fire Department of New York’s bagpipe band.
Rebecca Crofts, 72, was 10 when her dad, WWII Staff Sgt. Bernard Eldon Snow, of Santa Barbara, California, misplaced his medal.
“‘Little Becky, have you seen my medal?'” Crofts, of Superior, Wisconsin, quoted him as saying. “I began hunting for it and never found it.”
Snow’s medal was eventually recovered in a California jewelry shop and returned to the Purple Heart Foundation.
A tearful Crofts was handed a folded American flag honoring her father.
The Purple Hearts were presented framed, next to each recipient’s military rank.
Besides Snow and Swift, the Purple Hearts went to: Army Pvt. Frank Lyman Dunnell Jr., of Buffalo; Staff Sgt. George Wesley Roles, of Edna, Kansas; 1st Lt. Brian Woolley Flavelle, of North Caldwell, New Jersey; Pvt. Dan Lawrence Feragen, of Carlyle, Montana; Pvt. 1st Class Jack Carl Kightlinger, of Franklin, Pennsylvania; and Pvt. 1st Class Andrew Thomas Calhoun, of Great Bridge, Virginia.
The first Purple Heart was created by George Washington when he commanded the army serving the colonies that became the United States. Washington was sworn in as the first US president at Federal Hall, then the nation’s capital building.
Candlelit makeshift memorial on the steps of the US Supreme Court following the the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Wikimedia Commons)
My little girl has always been defiant, yet respectful. She’s opinionated, witty, and undeterred from any goal, plan, or scheme she sets out to pursue. She can wear down even the most hardened of resolves, with well-formed arguments and logical persuasions. She’s a lawyer in the making.
Rather than dampen that argumentative and determined spirit to fit within the bounds of responsible parenting, we hope to shape it using strong role models. So, we fill her bookshelf and Netflix queue with as many “Sheroes” as we can — including icons like Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and the Notorious RBG.
Two years ago, she chose to portray Justice Ginsburg in her school’s third grade Living Wax Museum. In a room full of Betsy Rosses and Babe Ruths, Hannah stood off to the far side as the sole, small, defiant RBG. She refused to break role even for a hug after her speech — completely dedicated to her assignment.
When I told her of Ruth’s passing the morning after we lost her, she still had most of her speech memorized. The importance of her death was not lost to my 10-year-old. Over the following days and weeks, we’ve had many conversations and reflections about the legacy of RBG, and the work left for us to pick up. I often pair these conversations with an embarrassing serenade of Hamilton’s “Dear Theodosia”; specifically, this refrain of hope:
If we lay a strong enough foundation We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you And you’ll blow us all away
The foundation is laid, now we must make sure to pass it on. Here are eight lessons I hope to pass along to my daughter from the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Representation is vital and always worth fighting for.
“Women should be in all places where decisions are being made.” Yes, Ruth, yes. It is imperative to make sure that every perspective is heard and respected, and that is impossible to do without diversity of thought and experiences. I want my daughter to not only recognize imbalances of opinions but to seek out and welcome those on the margins — on the playground, a boardroom, elected office, or even Supreme Court bench.
Even if you’re the only one standing for what’s right, know that you can pave the way for others.
Have unrealistic expectations.
Justice Ginsburg herself recognized early in her life that becoming a judge as a woman was an “unrealistic expectation” but that didn’t deter her pursuit of advancing her career to its apex. Instead of being dismayed by cultural standards of the day, she set her sights on fairness and equality and never let the fact that she was the first, or only, limit her ambition.
Dream big, baby girl — don’t ever let the world dictate to you what’s possible.
Dissent respectfully and befriend the other.
Ginsburg is famously quoted as stating, “you can disagree without being disagreeable.” She’s also known for being friends with Justice Antonin Scalia, whose opinions and interpretations of the law often wildly opposed her own. I want my daughter to learn how to hold space for disagreement, discourse, and acceptance of “the other” in all aspects of her life — without losing sight of what she believes in and speaking up with respect and dignity.
Always remember that everyone is going through something.
Don’t ever be afraid to be yourself.
RBG’s small stature, demure presence, and unapologetically feminine attire was her own personal statement on inclusion. She didn’t attempt to earn admission to the “boys club” by becoming more masculine or conforming to a “safer” version of herself. She changed nothing, and steadily let her work speak to her deservedness. “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”
Occupy all spaces with power and authenticity, sweetheart.
Be steadfast in your efforts and mindful of balance.
RBG set such a stellar example of resiliency. Decades of fighting cases centered around equality brought forth some huge wins, but also many defeats. This didn’t deter her efforts or weaken her resolve. With each dissent on cases she lost, or opinions on those she won, she was able to push the narrative ever forward. To find the stamina for a career that spanned her lifetime, she set aside time for things that made her happy, found balance, and took care of her body. She once said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
The world will tell you that failure and setbacks aren’t ok. They’re lying. Always keep fighting for what you care about and learn when you fall short.
Choose your battles, and your words, wisely.
“Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.” We’re living in an age of noise and outrage, and are slowly losing the ability to debate respectfully and “argue” a point with impact. Some battles are worth fighting, but others won’t conclude in agreement or progress–no matter how right one is. I want my daughter to know when to speak, when to yell, and when to seek out better words.
But remember, always “speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.”
Have both brazen confidence and humility.
When asked why she chose to pursue law, RBG replied, “I became a lawyer for selfish reasons. I thought I could do a lawyer’s job better than any other.” And she was correct. There’s no shame in knowing who you are, what you’re good at, and that you deserve to pursue your dream. Her confidence didn’t grant her a free pass to success though, her curiosity and diligence did that.
Your confidence will be intimidating to some people. Don’t ever let their insecurities tempt you to become smaller.
Know that you are worthy of respect and admiration.
I want my daughter to know that she deserves nothing less than a partner that emphatically and sacrificially supports her. Ruth credits her late spouse, Marty, with unwavering support for her career, and adoration of her mind. “Whatever we do, we do it together.” I want my daughter to likewise only accept equality in a partner.
Find you a Marty, girl. Or, better yet, find someone like daddy.
What my daughter ultimately takes with her from my attempts to bestow some RBG wisdom to her, is yet to be seen. But when I asked her what she admired most about Justice Ginsburg, she wrote this:
Ruth Bader Ginsberg inspires me because she never gave up, and stood up for what she believes in. She famously said, “Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” I think this means that you should fight for things you believe in, but don’t hurt others in the process. – Hannah Artis, 10
And you’ll blow us all away.
Ruth, parents of daughters — and sons — everywhere are thankful for the legacy that you leave behind.