Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pause to remember: Never, never forget!

Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to be the flag protocol expert--but I had no idea why the flags were are at half-staff today @ Umass and Amherst Town Center (but, unfortunately, not in a lot of other places):

THIS JUST IN (from mass.gov.com)

Flag Status

Flags are currently being flown at Half-staff.

Governor Patrick has ordered the American and Commonwealth Flags lowered to half-staff on February 17, 2009 from sunrise to sunset for Staff Sergeant Alex R. Jimenez who was killed in action.

I only wish this sad scenario attracted the same audience as TV broadcasts from the late 1960’s where anti-war protester's chanted: “The whole world is watching, the whole world is watching.”

Thank you Sergeant Jimenez! For doing your duty, protecting our country, my family, our way our life.

The AP and Army Times Reports:

UPDATE. This Just In:

On Feb 18, 2009, at 9:54:18 AM, "State House Events (BSB)" wrote:
Hello Everyone,

Governor Patrick has ordered the American and Commonwealth Flags lowered to half-staff on Thursday, February 19, 2009 from sunrise to sunset for Jonathan R. Roberge who died in Iraq

Pursuant to gubernatorial protocol which states,

"The U.S. flag shall be flown at half-staff at all state buildings from sunrise until sunset on the day of interment of any soldier from Massachusetts who is killed in action in a war zone while on active duty,”

Please be advised that Governor Patrick has ordered that the United States flag be lowered to half-staff at all state buildings from sunrise until sunset on Thursday, February 19, 2009 in honor of Jonathan R. Roberge of Leominster, Massachusetts who died Monday, February 9, 2009 in Iraq.


There have been some questions about public buildings and state buildings below are the definitions.

Public Buildings: Buildings containing government offices, such as the State House, city and town halls, public schools, police and fire stations, municipal and county offices, offices of public agencies, commissions and authorities, public works facilities and senior centers. Clubhouses and other buildings at publicly owned golf course. Even if a building is privately own but occupied by government offices is considered a public building. Property owned by a public entity such as the state, a city or a town.

State Buildings: Property owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you,

From: amherstac [mailto:amherstac@aol.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 12:23 PM
To: State House Events (BSB)
Subject: Re: Half Staff Notification


Tell the Governor I said "thanks".

Larry Kelley


On Feb 18, 2009, at 12:35:41 PM, "State House Events (BSB)" wrote:
From: "State House Events (BSB)"
Subject: RE: Half Staff Notification
Date: February 18, 2009 12:35:41 PM EST
To: amherstac

I shall!



Anonymous said...

How Do You Ask a Man to be the Last Man to Die for a Mistake?
- John Kerry

Anonymous said...

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them
Lawrence Byron; From For The Fallen.

-Ryan Willey

LarryK4 said...

So why did John Kerry vote in favor of the resolution going to war with Iraq?

And how the Hell do you ask a man (or woman) to be the FIRST to die for a mistake?

Ed said...

Seems to me that Deval Patrick -- who had overwhelming support in Amherst -- has also ordered that the UN flag be flown at half mast.

"Flags" means "flags" and the Amherst Town Common is public property owned by a government entity....

So will the UN flag also be at half mast, or will the supporters of Deval defy him?

Anonymous said...

This what's wrong with this country. People look through the lense of political partisanship on every issue. If Mitt Romney had ordered this the last post would not even have been thought of.

LarryK4 said...

I think what Ed was getting at is that, unlike Senator John Kerry, the UN Security Council did not vote to support the war in Iraq.

I sometimes wonder if that only other town in America ever lowers their UN flag to half-staff?

Neil said...

The resolution cited many factors to justify the use of military force against Iraq:

* Iraq's noncompliance with the conditions of the 1991 cease fire, including interference with weapons inspectors.
* Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, and programs to develop such weapons, posed a "threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region."[2]
* Iraq's "brutal repression of its civilian population."
* Iraq's "capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people".
* Iraq's hostility towards the United States as demonstrated by the alleged 1993 assassination attempt of former President George H. W. Bush, and firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones following the 1991 Gulf War.
* Members of al-Qaeda were "known to be in Iraq."
* Iraq's "continu[ing] to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations," including anti-United States terrorist organizations.
* The efforts by the Congress and the President to fight terrorists, including the September 11th, 2001 terrorists and those who aided or harbored them.
* The authorization by the Constitution and the Congress for the President to fight anti-United States terrorism.
* Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Saddam Hussein regime and promote a democratic replacement.

The resolution "supported" and "encouraged" diplomatic efforts by President George W. Bush to "strictly enforce through the U.N. Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq" and "obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion, and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."

The resolution authorized President Bush to use the Armed Forces of the United States "as he determines to be necessary and appropriate" in order to "defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq."

LarryK4 said...

Hey Neil,
Thanks. As always you are correct. Indeed the Resolution never stated, “Let’s bomb Iraq back into the stone age.”

And it never said, “Let’s kill the sadistic Goofball with way too much money and way too much time on his hands”

But my theory is that John Kerry—IF he turned it into a CRUSADE—could have made a difference. A BIG difference.

He, more than most US Senators, could have spoken passionately about the “cost of war,” the shedding of “our most precious blood”.

But he did not.

Ed said...

Ed meant exactly what he said.

The Governor ordered ALL flags on municipal property to be flown at half staff. Either the Town of Amherst flies all flags (including the UN one) at half staff, or they defy the Governor.

So which is it folks: do you support Deval or don't you? Do you comply with his lawful orders or don't you?

Neil said...

ed, i don't worry about flag orders so much ...but that's just me.

larry, you make a good point. why is it that kerry could not stand with Byrd in opposition of the cluster-f*ck between the euprhrates and tigris rivers in 2002? Because if he did, he could never have been elected president in 2004.

two things about that suck. he failed us in 2002 and he didn't collect the prize in 2004 not that he should get a payoff for that Faustian bargain.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, either you have a core or you don't.

Ed said...

I support the Iraq war - and you know what, WE WON IT!

They have had what, two peaceful elections and they neither are living under a dictatorship nor killing each other which, like, has never happened over there before.

We only have Iran supplying terrorists, Iraq isn't a safe haven for them anymore.

These are good things....

Neil said...

I support the Iraq war - and you know what, WE WON IT!

On what basis do you support the Iraq war, ed?

Did we have just cause to invade?

Was Iraq a threat to US national security?

Do you think the executive branch believed there was a likelihood that Iraq had a nuke and would use it or did they use the mushroom cloud argument, the aluminum tubes and the mass quantity of uranium as fraudulent evidence to manufacture consent?

Why did they conflate 9/11 and Saddam?

What criteria do you site for winning it?

Why are you invested in support for the Iraq war?

Do you regard flag orders as a sign of patriotism? Supporting your government's wars as a sign of patriotism? Do you believe that well intentioned men can get it so wrong that they unite the Muslim world against America and provide the recruiting incentive for the radicalization of thousands more Muslims men? Do you believe the nations intelligence agencies when they say we are less secure as a result of the Iraq war or do you ignore these things and wave your red, white and blue flag all fuzzy and warm in your love for your country? Use your brain Ed. I see you trying to do that all the time. Use it.

Iraq was never an imminent threat to our national security and as a result, our invasion of Iraq was an illegal war (as far as civilized nations are concerned.) Our invasion may even have been a war crime.

It had real consequences Ed. Young people lost their lives including a friend of mine. and a million Iraqi civilians. They don't want us there. And we can't leave.

Support what you will but don't insult my intelligence by spewing that "we won" bullshit. You're smarter than that... I think.

Anonymous said...


Do you support the 600,000 innocent Iraqi women and children that were killed in the war?

Do you think that if someone came to "liberate" us we would make that trade-off?

Do you support the $2trillion spent that we now don't have for our road, schools, etc?

We won? What did we win? Another corrupt govenment that will soon be swept away for one that is preaching hate against us. Just you watch.

Sure feels like losing to me.

Anonymous said...

Western Mass. veterans blame war, military culture on increasing number of suicides

by The Republican Newsroom
Saturday February 21, 2009, 2:00 PM


When Jeffrey M. Lucey returned from Iraq in 2003, he had a T-shirt from his stint with the Marine Corps that bore this message: "Pain is Weakness Leaving the Body."

The 23-year-old wasn't home long before he plunged into emotional turmoil. At first he tried to medicate himself with alcohol. When the pain became too acute, his family brought him to the U.S. Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northampton. He was diagnosed with mood swings and alcoholism and discharged after four days.

A month later, on June 22, 2004, Lucey hanged himself in the basement of his parents' home in Belchertown.

Last month, the U.S. government agreed to pay Lucey's family $350,000 to settle a wrongful death suit and promised to make "important changes" in the VA system to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Also in January, the Army announced it would hold a "stand down" to address the skyrocketing number of suicides by active duty troops.

In January alone, according to the government's figures, there were 24 suspected suicides in Iraq and Afghanistan, a number that exceeded combat deaths in those theaters. The number of confirmed suicides in 2008 reached 128, a jump from the previous record year of 2007.

One of those reported 2007 suicides was Army Capt. Roselle M. Hoffmaster, a Smith College graduate. Hoffmaster, a surgeon assigned to Iraq, died under "non-combat-related" circumstances in September 2007, according to the Army.

The government's report, released 16 months later, concluded that Hoffmaster took her own life after being berated by a senior officer. Witnesses told investigators that Hoffmaster broke down, saying she "couldn't do it anymore," shortly before shooting herself. Earlier that night, another officer had tried to bolster Hoffmaster with the message: "You're in the Army now."

Although suicide in the military is making a big splash in the news, veterans and military families in Western Massachusetts say there is nothing new about the problem. Military culture and the nature of war are a perfect recipe for suicide, they say.

And, those veterans who do make it home face a different set of problems: the failure of the system to understand their needs and a lack of will by the government to do something about them.

Kevin P. and Joyce Lucey were in Washington, D.C., at a meeting of Military Families Speak Out when the Army announced its "stand down" recently. The group comprises people who have lost a family member during service in the Middle East.

"We were surprised that the Army was surprised," Kevin Lucey said. "We've seen this coming for such a long period of time."

Lucey was not overly optimistic about the "stand down," set from Feb. 15 to March 15 for officers to train soldiers to recognize the warning signs of suicide."I believe it will get worse before it gets better," he said.

Lucey extrapolates the message on his son's T-shirt to explain the syndrome of military suicide. Pain is weakness. Weakness is unacceptable. Calling out for help is a sign of weakness.

"When we brought Jeffrey to the VA, they said, 'You've got to learn to suck it up and live with it,'" he said.

Jeff Lucey heeded that message all too well. He was especially intent on keeping his emotional problems hidden because he had applied to the state police and feared they would count against him.

A year after Jeff Lucey committed suicide, his parents received a letter saying he had been accepted into the State Police Academy.

"Had he lived, chances are he never would have been accepted," Kevin Lucey said.

George A. Williams, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Northampton, knew he was in trouble when he broke down and cried during a television talk show after he got back from the war. Williams worked for 20 years as a New York City firefighter, but occasionally entertained thoughts of ending it all.

A recent spate of misfortunes sent him to the VA for therapy. A doctor there prefaced his session by telling him that anything he said could be held against him in a court of law, Williams said.

"I felt like I couldn't be totally open with my therapist," he said.

Williams, 62, said he had several friends who killed themselves by overdosing on drugs after they got back from Vietnam. "You're thinking you're going into combat for legitimate reasons," he said. "Then, when you get there, you're doing so much that's unexpected that they couldn't retrain you for it."

The best available defense, Williams said, is to stifle your emotions. "Maybe the people who do commit suicide and the ones who do have a conscience and care," he said.

"That's the culture, and it's sort of been passed down," agreed Lidon D. Chevannes, another Vietnam veteran who lives in Northampton's Florence section. "If I say I'm scared or can't handle it, I'm really not going to be looked on favorably."

Chevannes added that the military has not traditionally provided much help afterwards. "Once they've used you, that's it," he said.

Like Williams and Chevannes, William A. Miller speaks to students and other groups about his experiences for the Amherst-based Veterans Education Project. The 60-year-old Vietnam veteran said there is no mystery to the emotional breakdown that many soldiers and veterans suffer.

"You're trained to kill people," he said. "What do you expect? That they'll crawl back to civilian life exactly as they were? They're as much a casualty as anyone shot on a battlefield, but they're ignored."

Miller believes one key ingredient is missing from any help provided by the military or the VA - a discussion of the morality of war.

"You're ordered to shoot someone," he said. "Where in the organization is there somebody who even wants to talk about that?"

Ted Olejnik, a social worker at the veterans' hospital, insists that the military culture is changing, at least in terms of recognizing and treating post traumatic stress disorder.

"Help is available," Olejnik said, adding that he makes the rounds of churches, college campuses and veterans groups advertising the VA's services. He said he has never heard of VA counselors telling clients they can be held legally accountable for what they say in therapy, although they are mandated to report threats against others or suicide threats.

A Vietnam veteran himself, Olejnik said treatment for post- traumatic stress disorder has come a long way since the military accepted it as a mental health diagnosis in 1980. "When I left (the service), there was absolutely no treatment," he said.

The Leeds facility, one of the first of its kind in the VA system, has a 25-bed in-patient unit for veterans suffering from the condition. As part of the Lucey settlement, the government has promised to hire suicide prevention coordinators and increase the number of counselors. Medical center officials would not comment on whether or not those measures have been implemented yet.