From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Friday, July 31, 2015

Open Letter to Lindy West Concerning Her Comment About "The American Sniper."

The comments to this article are closed at this point, but I have to make comment.  I am an American, and kept safe every day by those serving in the United States Military.  I know a lot of Military people, a few of them in my immediate family.  I have been  the wife of a Soldier serving in this present conflict, and in fact tonight my husband, who is now retired after 30 years in the United States Army, is in Iraq in his new position with the State Department. What America has asked of many of them, especially people like this man who served in the darkest places, performing the darkest jobs, is enough to break any person.  To have such articles and statements publicly printed after his death, when he can't even defend himself, becomes for me a personal obligation that I must address. The following link goes to the article written by Lindy West.  I first made many of these statements directly to Ms. West's Facebook page, as I am very certain she will never visit this blog, and I wanted to specifically address her.

 Ms. West, I read your comment and article about who "the American Sniper" really was, and I am terribly interested in what research and sources you sought out before you made the statement that you did. I believe the quote was, "The real American Sniper was a hate-filled killer." Perhaps first I should explain why I am so interested. Several of my family members are, or were, members of the military during this present conflict. It is very easy to make accusations, I've made some of my own, but never without first hand knowledge of the accusations I made, or irrefutable evidence by reliable sources. You are a professional journalist, and I would very much like to know about how you came to your conclusions about Chris Kyle. I noticed that the tags on this post related to some of the hate filled responses you received to that comment. They were listed as, "Legal issue, Trolling, Hate speech, Offensive/Threatening language, etc..." I think that actually your statement, in and of itself, could be classified as any one of those things. So I am asking you to provide information about how you reached your conclusions. I personally have not seen the movie, read the book, nor do I have any personal knowledge of Chris Kyle. Just as I know that not all those who serve in the military are all that they ought to be, I also know that any person, especially one who is dead, can be maligned in The Information Age with little or no proof. On behalf of all those family members who have watched the sacrifices of their loved ones in service to this country in a war we did not start, and made sacrifices of their own, I am asking you for this information... Chris Kyle has a surviving family.

The official military records of Chris Kyle have been released through the Freedom of Information Act, and are readily available online. 

" A member of SEAL Team 3, Kyle served four tours in the Iraq War. In his time there, he is purported to have shot and killed more than 160 targets. He was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He was honorably discharged in 2009." Quoted from USA Today.

There is a very interesting article from The New Yorker which addresses many of the accusations made against this man. 

Ms. West, have you ever known very closely someone who has served in combat? I am referring in particular to that kind of service where a man is kicking in doors, watching men die on either side of him, and having to defend his own life from the threat of imminent death while doing so?
I have known many such people. I understand a great deal about PTSD. No one who experiences war at the level that this man did is ever the same. I am sure you personally do not believe in war, however there are in particular approximately 1 million people in the Middle East who do believe in war, and who have declared it against our nation. They, with sincerity and devotion,which they are willing to give their lives for, wake up every morning intent on flying their flag from our nation's capitol. Ms. West, one of their first targets will be outspoken female journalists. They hate everything you stand for Ms. West, and would think nothing of taking your life, and doing so in the vilest way they can conceive of. That isn't the only area of the world where there are those who hate our country and all we stand for.
I can not imagine myself having to take the life of another person... yet I know that in order for our country and our people to be protected, there are those who intend us harm, who will be stopped by no other method than the taking of their lives. That fact is as old as humanity, and the answer to that problem does not lie in diplomacy... nor in compliance... nor even in prayer... Our enemies in the Middle East daily murder their own innocent countrymen... surely you understand they have no qualms about murdering our innocent countrymen. They have already proven that they do not.
Have you ever seen the 20/20 interview with Robin... or read the book by his wife...
Ms. West, I think your callous evaluation reveals more about your character than his... and I seriously doubt that my words will mean anything to you, but I cannot state those two things as fact, as I do not know it as fact.

Sometimes We Find Life Hard

If you are finding life hard today, this will lift you, I promise it will...  I post this periodically to remind us all of the many sacrifices made by those who serve in the United States Military the world over.  I post it also to encourage anyone struggling with problems that seem overwhelming.  I post it too so that we may never forget nor neglect the obligations that we owe to those who have served in our military, especially those who have given the most.

"Wide River To Cross"
by Levon Helm

There's a sorrow in the wind
Blowing down the road I've been
I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun

But I cannot look back now
I've come too far to turn around
And there's still a race ahead that I must run

I'm only halfway home, I've gotta journey on
To where I'll find, find the things I have lost
I've come a long long road but still I've got some miles to go
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross

I have stumbled, I have strayed
You can trace the tracks I made
All across the memories my heart recalls
But I'm still a refugee, won't you say a prayer for me?
'Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls

I'm only halfway home, I've gotta journey on
To where I'll find, I'll find the things I have lost
I've come a long long road but still I've got some miles to go
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross

I'm only halfway home, I've gotta journey on
To where I'll find, I'll find the things that I have lost
I've come a long long road but still I've got some miles to go
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross
I've got a wide, a wide river to cross 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I Have Seen a New Talent in my Husband

For some weeks now, Randy and I have been teaching a Sunday School class at our church in Wiesbaden, Immanuel Baptist.  In every endeavor I have ever watched Randy tackle, he has always given his all, whether it has been at playing cards, fishing, mowing the yard, commanding at the Brigade and Group level, serving in the Middle East, getting his degree from West Point, pursuing his Master's at the Army War College, or in the stories I have pried from him about Jungle Survival School and Ranger School.  He has always graduated with honors in all his educational and training efforts. He was in the top two percent of his class at West Point. The same efforts and pursuit of excellence goes for teaching Sunday School for children from age five to twelve, in fact, the efforts are more diligent and from an even more devoted heart.

This work is a delight to him, and he is always excited to get to church and set up our teaching aides and prepare for the children to arrive.  All work is a delight to Randy, as well as is the pursuit of fun, but watching him with these kids is such a delight.  Children instinctively like Randy, I think that is so because the heart of a child still resides along side the Warrior heart within Randy.  He still constantly practices his stealth skills, slipping up on me as I am singing and working in the kitchen when he comes home from work, and scaring the dickens out of me.  I don't know how he silently gets our door unlocked, moves past our dog Chance, who is a constant guardian of all his territory, and winds up surprising him too, since Chance usually waits by the front door for Randy when it gets time for him to be home.  Things have to fall just right, so I never know when the surprise is coming.

Chance and Randy also have a game we call "pig, pig, pig" in which Randy squeaks a good sized rubber dog toy shaped like a pig.  The object of the game is for the pig to attack Chance from under the covers of the bed for about 15 minutes every night, until I declare the pig assailant officially dead for the night. Chance is permitted to bask in his victory for a few moments, and then climbs down and goes to bed on the floor beside the bed.  Our dog is young, and he loves this nightly loud and rowdy adventure to the wild side, so does Randy.  When it gets close to bedtime, the dog gets anxious to go upstairs and play the game.  He begins to whine and beg if we stay up past the time we usually go to bed.   Like I said, Randy loves fun too.

Randy is  talented at so many areas, however domestic type skills remain clearly in my realm of excellence.  I was so tickled Sunday when he prepared the snack we serve the children each Sunday.  Randy just naturally fell into the role of preparing these little refreshments, and this past Sunday he accidentally made the pink lemonade with hot water as he efficiently prepared the cookies and the drink snack.  Those who know him from the military or the State Department, probably cannot imagine Randy diligently at the task of making pink lemonade and cookies as a snack for small children, but I can assure them, he does it "hoo-ah style."  He didn't like the flub up of the hot water at all... I just quickly made another pitcher and placed the "hot lemonade" in the refrigerator for the after church coffee, knowing it would be good and cold by then.


Randy enjoys directing the competition time of the lesson each week.  We believe that it is very important for believers of all ages to be very familiar with the Bible in general, and to memorize passages and verses, to "hide them in our hearts."  We do a "sword drill" each week where we present arms by having the children place their Bibles in front of them unopened while holding them with both hands.  Randy gives a scripture reference in book, chapter, and verse, then announces "charge," and the children race to find the scripture in their Bibles.  The person who finds it first, reads the Bible verse, and gets a point.  There are prizes for the winner of that Sunday's competition, and a bigger prize for the overall winner after six weeks of competition.  There is also a scripture memorization contest, which Randy also directs.  The kids love it, almost as much as Randy does...

What a privilege it is to spend time each Sunday with these precious children.  They are all so intelligent and well behaved.  They soak up like sponges the Biblical truths we present each week.  We also realize how great a responsibility is ours as we teach these whom God loves so much.  It is just icing on the cake that it is such a blessing to get to know each of them, and spend time teaching them the Word of God each Sunday.  I enjoy very much watching Randy teach them as well, more than usual, he does it with such devotion and excellence.

2 Timothy 3:14-15  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.