How to be a …. duh…. winner

How to be a …. duh…. winner

March 8, 2010 - No matter how hard I try, I can’t get away from Charlie Sheen.  Every time I turn on the television someone is talking about him.  Even the major news networks are giving Charlie incredible amounts of prime time.  Not only are they reporting about his dire situation, they are granting him lengthy interviews.

A Google search for “Charlie Sheen” just gave me 534,000,000 results.  I imagine that in the past five minutes, that number has grown.  Sheen, the highest paid actor on television, has 422,345 followers on his Facebook page.  Since March 1, he has acquired 2,258,167 followers on Twitter and he’s only given out 71 tweets, most of which are about himself and….duh, WINNING!

Sheen broke the Guinness World Record for the person to reach 1 million Twitter followers the fastest, and it has now been revealed that his purpose is simply to score a fortune through advertising now that his paychecks from CBS may be a thing of his past. Apparently, there are enough of us out there who are interested in what Sheen is doing and he has discovered he can get the same $10,000 per tweet reportedly paid to Kim Kardashian for her priceless words of wisdom.

On March 3, 2011 the top 10 YouTube videos of all time included two videos by Justin Bieber, 2 videos by Eminem, Lady Gaga-Bad RomanceCharlie bit my finger-again!, and the “Official Music Video – Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA.”  You can watch Miley dance in front of an enormous American flag while she wails about partying in the USA.  I’m not sure if Miley wanted to grab the “patriotic” crowd with her hit, but I can assure her it’s not working with this Marine mom.  I realize that our troops are fighting for our freedom, but watching her dance half naked in front of the flag just doesn’t seem worth the sacrifice which has been made by thousands of American families since 9/11.

We’ve got to stop enabling the Charlie Sheens and Lindsey Lohans of this world.  We support their habits every time we tune in to watch their latest brush with the law.  NBC’sToday Show is just one of the major news empires which has empowered Sheen to continue his manic and delusional behaviors.

What would Sheen do if no one followed him on Twitter?  What if media outlets stopped granting him interviews? What if, instead of reporting the Hollywood gossip, the media informed us about the heroic lives of SSG Mark Wells, CPL Jordan R. Stanton, SPC Jason M. Weaver, Sr. Airman Nicholas J. Alden, SSG Chauncy R. Mays, SPC Christopher G. Stark, SPC Brian Tabada, SPC David R. Fahey, or SGT Kristopher J. Gould?  Since March 1, the Department of Defense has listed these nine men as having made the ultimate sacrifice so Charlie Sheen could continue to exercise his right to freedom of speech to tell us all about …… duh….WINNING!

I don’t know any of these brave men who recently died so I could live, but I know a few good men just like these brave heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice in this 10 year war, and I have the privilege and honor of knowing their incredible families who must find a way to go on without them. There is no doubt in my mind that each of the men just mentioned above has a story and a very full life.  How do I know?  Because they died fighting the same cause as the following great men.

LCPL Sean Langley, USMC

LCPL Sean M. Langley died from injuries received as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar province, Iraq.  He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.  He died on November 7, 2004.  I never knew Sean, but I remember his funeral.  I felt compelled to go because my own son was just beginning his service in the USMC. I couldn’t imagine what it must be like for his family to endure such a loss.  Just over six years later, I find myself in a friendship with Sean’s mother, Tricia.  She is a true woman of grace, integrity, and wisdom.  She has shared of the difficult path she walked in the first years after Sean’s death and she is quick to respond to the needs of others who find themselves suffering a similar loss.  Just as her son gave his life for all of us, she continues to support our veterans and support those who need her tender caring mercies to get through the days ahead.

LCPL Chase Comley, USMCLCPL Chase Johnson Comley made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation on August 6, 2005.  He was 21 years old. Chase served in Iraq with 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.  This photo was taken on that very day.  I’m not sure how his mom, Cathy, ended up with this photo, but when she shared it with me, she said it was nice to know that he was in a good mood on the day he was killed.  Everyone who knew Chase will tell you that he was always smiling and always a whole lot of fun.

Chase’s legacy lives on.  A few of his Marine buddies participate in the Red Sox Run to Home Base fundraiser each year.  Their efforts support the Home Base Program which helps veterans and families who have been impacted by the invisible wounds of war.  You can support Team Chase  for the 2011 event which takes place in May. Chase was a baseball fan, having been to Fenway Park himself at the age of 7, so this is a fitting way to honor Chase’s life.  I know Chase was a good athlete because he was the pitcher on my son’s Little League team back in 1996.  I can still remember screaming from the stands for Chase to strike those other guys out!

Fast forward nine years to 2005.  Chase was serving with his unit out at FOB Smitty in Iraq.  My son’s unit is right there too.  FOB Smitty was small and everyone knew each other. Everyone took Chase’s death hard, and though my son had the privilege of being present for Chase’s Final Roll Call, I know he will always remember that moment with mixed emotions.  It was the first of many losses that would hit close to home for these Marines.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than 5 years since Chase gave his life for us.  In the time that has passed, I’ve had the honor and privilege to come to know Chase’s mom and call her friend.  She is an amazing woman of strength.  Chase would be very proud of her determination to move forward with humility and grace. Though it must be difficult, she still supports our troops, and encourages those who still have family members serving.  We are so thankful that LCpl Chase Comley was willing to serve and sacrifice his life for all of us.  We are also grateful for the grace with which his mother lives each day.  She raised a son who was willing to lay down his life for his country.  She, herself, has made a pretty big sacrifice for all of us, too.  It won’t surprise you to know that Chase’s brother, Clinton, is also supportive of our troops who are deployed.  He sent a great big package to my Marine and his unit, and just recently, he was instrumental in getting a group of students to donate to our nonprofit organization, Military Missions Inc.(LINK)  He wanted to make sure that the troops currently deployed were getting the same support that his brother appreciated while he was serving in Iraq.

CPL Joshua Charles Watkins made the ultimate sacrifice, during his second deployment, on October 21, 2006.  Josh served in 2nd Tank Battalion, Tow Platoon, 2nd Marine Division.  Josh and his team stepped in to work with their new replacements for one last mission.  Most of the unit had already completed their last mission of the deployment and were packing to head home to the USA.  Josh and his team were met with sniper fire in the last hour of the last mission of the deployment.  Josh was hit and died and few hours later.

Prior to enlisting in the USMC, Josh completed three years of college at the University of North Florida.  He felt compelled to stop his education for a brief time, so that he could serve at a time when he felt he was needed. He loved the Marine Corps, his family and his country.  An only child, Josh truly believed he was fighting over there so that his mother and others could be safe over here.  He felt that fighting terrorism in Iraq would prevent having to fight it here.  In December 2006, Josh’s mother and uncle, Amy Vazquez and David Tillis, established the Marine Corporal Joshua C. Watkins Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of North Florida to honor Joshua’s sacrifice and aid returning veterans in continuing their education, as Josh had planned to do.

LCPL Thomas Echols, USMCLCpl Thomas P. Echols was 20 years old when he was killed during his second tour of duty with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.  On December 4, 2006, Tom left behind a beautiful young wife, Allyson, and an unborn daughter, Julia. While standing post, Tom was shot by a sniper and killed instantly. Tom was many different things to many different people. He was a loving husband, expectant father, battle buddy, son, brother, and friend. Along with a little girl who never met her daddy, the world lost a great man on that day.  I had the privilege of delivering a condolence book to his young wife just a few weeks before his beautiful daughter, Julia, was born.  I’ll never forget meeting Ally and the grace she extended to me as I awkwardly delivered the book.  Ally continues to impress upon her young daughter the memory of her father and his unselfish sacrifice made for each of us.

Sgt Joshua Frazier and LtCol Oliver North (Ret)

SGT Joshua J. Frazier  was killed by a sniper on Feb. 6, 2007, just a few days after being promoted. Josh was serving his third combat tour in Iraq, with 1st Battalion 6th Marine Regiment. He was so sure about what he was doing that he changed units so he could go back soon after his previous deployment. As well, Josh extended his stay in the USMC so he could help fellow Marines by allowing other service members to come back home. He felt like the guys who were married with kids needed to be home with their families. Josh was a true hero who put everyone else before himself.

The Some Gave All Foundation http://www.somegaveall.org/  was established in 2007 in memory of Marine Sgt. Joshua James Frazier and another hero, Army Sgt. Nicholas Conan Mason of Virginia, who also died while serving in Iraq.  The families of these two heroes wanted to do something positive to honor their lives and continue their legacy of service.

The foundation honors all who have been wounded or killed in service to their country. 2011 will mark the foundation’s fifth year to host the annual Some Gave All Motorcycle Rally which fosters awareness and ensures that America’s younger generations will know of their sacrifices and how these heroes lived their lives prior to making the ultimate sacrifice.  Funds raised assist wounded OIF/OEF veterans and provide educational scholarships in the names of these heroes.

I had the privilege of making a condolence book for the Frazier family.  There is no way a book of this type can be created without the maker coming to know the subject in a personal way. Not only will I cherish the opportunity given for me to get to know Sgt. Frazier, as well, I will always cherish the touching communications with his family that followed. It is no surprise to me that the Fraziers work diligently to honor the service and sacrifice of Sgt. Frazier as they serve and sacrifice themselves.

Family of LCPL Robert A. Lynch LCPL Robert A. Lynch served in the Marine Corps for 14 months before he made the ultimate sacrifice in Rushidiyah, Iraq on July 24, 2007.   He was serving with the 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.  It is said that Robbie could be a bit of a jokester, but he also had a serious side, and would be the first to jump in and stand shoulder to shoulder with anyone.  Robbie was only 20 years old.  I attended his funeral and had the privilege of presenting his parents with their Gold Star Banner.  It was heart wrenching to hand the banner to his mother, and even more heart wrenching to listen to her sobs when she received her flag which had covered LCPL Lynch’s casket.  Robbie was a member of a large family and was a member of the ROTC at his high school. He left many behind who will always miss him, but he died doing what he considered to be his duty.

SSG Nicholas Carnes, SSG Delmar White, SPC Sammie Phillips - KY National Guard

SSG Nicholas Carnes, SSG Delmar White, and PFC Sammie Phillips all made the ultimate sacrifice within a period of two and a half weeks.  All three men served with the Kentucky National Guard.  Carnes died on August 26, 2007, during a fire fight in Afghanistan.  White died September 1, 2007 when a roadside bomb exploded while escorting a convoy in Iraq. Phillips also died in Iraq from injuries sustained in a vehicle rollover on September 10, 2007.

I presented the Gold Star Banner to the family of PFC Phillips, and attended the funeral of SSG Carnes.  I will never forget the pain I saw in the faces of these families on what had to be the worst days of their lives.  I have the privilege of knowing SSG White’s family.  Though they lost their hero, Michelle White and her children are faithful patriots.  They continue to support our troops in many ways, even going as far as to join our organization, Military MIssions Inc, in the July 4th parade one year.  Through the death of her husband, Michelle White has been given a voice which she uses to convey the message we all need to hear.  Support our troops!

Capt. Eric Terhune, USMCCapt Eric Daniel Terhune was born a Marine.  Born in the Naval Hospital, Quantico, Virginia, while his father was on active duty, Eric would later follow in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather and serve in the United States Marine Corps.  He entered the Marine Corps as a Private. After his enlistment, he earned a college degree and then continued to serve his country as an officer. When he was killed on June 19, 2008, Captain Terhune was serving with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Afghanistan. Though I never met Capt. Terhune, it is easy to know what an incredible hero he was for all of us.  I had the privilege of meeting his grandparents who had an amazing way of encouraging each of us in the visitation line as we came through to pay our respects. A few weeks after the funeral I received a lovely letter from Joy and Daniel Terhune with a donation to support our nonprofit’s efforts to continue sending care packages to deployed troops.  Incredible to think that despite their grief and loss they remembered meeting me, remembered I ran a nonprofit, and wanted to continue to make a difference despite their devastating loss.

Though overwhelming sadness has brought each of these heroes and their families into my life, there is a quiet strength and beauty about each of these stories.  Sadness defined here is far different from the sadness that is defined by the actions of actor Charlie Sheen and the millions who seem more fascinated by following his life rather than taking the time to learn about great men such as I have introduced here.  There is something to be said for families who experience the ultimate loss and yet they continue to give back to the rest of us. It is my suggestion that you stop following Charlie’s self-centered tweets and get to know those who are serving in harm’s way for you and me.  While you’re at it, get to know the incredible families who are supporting them.  That’s the way to find yourself…..duh….WINNING!

Originally published by the author on open.salon.com

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