Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Musings

My children and I have a tradition for Memorial Day. We began this tradition nearly two decades ago. I was concerned that my children would not understand the sacred nature of this holiday---Memorial Day. We have had members of our families serve our country in times of war and peace, but, we have been so very blessed in that we do not have any close family members that have lost their lives in the service of our great country. SO, to make it more personal, I began to take my children to the cemetery on Memorial Day. We would discuss the white crosses and American Flags that adorned some of the plots, and then, we would go home and watch a variety of "War Movies" to bring home the somber reverence that I felt should accompany this day.

When we moved to Utah, nearly 7 years ago, as we were going to celebrate in our usual way, at the cemetery, we stumbled upon a Memorial Day Service! I was overjoyed! IT was incredible! There were men in uniform and our Flag was raised, we were led in singing OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM and there was a speaker, an officer in the Air Force, from Hill Air Force Base! And, so, our tradition became far more than it's humble beginnings---with just me, speaking about the day! We now had real soldiers who shared their love for their branch of service and their love for their buddies and this great land. We added to our tradition, a stop to get donuts and juice and it has become one of our favorite holidays!

Today, we arrived at the cemetery just before the service began at 9:00 am. The service today began with the raising of our flag, OLD GLORY, and singing "Oh, Say Can You See?" It also included the posting of wreaths for each of the wars fought since we became a nation. Then a beautiful poem was read and a speaker spoke. Mr. McMurdie began by speaking of his 19 year old son that at the time when most young men enlist, he was enlisted in another kind of battle, that of cancer. He said that though he did NOT fight "the" enemy, he was no less dead. And his wife and child were no less alone. He then honored his son as he also paid tribute and honored all those who had also lost their lives, but had willingly given their lives so that we could be free. They also rang a bell as they read the names of those who had fallen in the wars from our tiny community. There were far more than I would have expected. ANY number would have been too many! BUT, again, my heart swelled with such profound gratitude, I was overwhelmed with emotion and the tears spilt freely down my face. HOW can we truly ever repay those young men and women, and the families that they have left behind? HOW can we truly be worthy of such an enormous sacrifice? I will never feel I can repay such a debt. BUT, I WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE TO REMEMBER THEM! I will ALWAYS SPEND THIS DAY HONORING THEIR MEMORY! I NEVER WANT MY CHILDREN OR MYSELF TO FORGET! A single soldier played taps, and after a five minute pause, there was a yellow balloon release in honor of those that have fallen, so that we can stand proud today! WE ARE AMERICANS! AND, I am so very grateful to be an AMERICAN! I am so grateful to be able to raise my children in this, the greatest of all lands!

I received this as a forward today. I checked with and I have corrected the mistakes in the original message. Originally, the email attributed the article written denoucing the pay increase to the Washington Times, when in fact, it appeared in the Washington Post. Also, it claimed that the editorial piece was written by the Actress, Cindy Williams, when it was NOT! The editorial piece appeared nearly 9 years ago but, in my mind, our military men and women STILL are by far UNDERPAID for the service they render to each one of us, and this great land of liberty. I post it in the hopes that we will remember just how much these great men and women do sacrifice FOR EACH OF US EVERY SINGLE DAY THAT THEY ARE SERVING!


This is an Airman's response to Cindy Williams' editorial piece in the Washington Post about MILITARY PAY. On Nov. 12, 2000, Ms Cindy Williams wrote a piece for the Washington Post, denouncing the pay raise(s) coming service members' way shortly-- citing that the stated 13% wage was more than they deserve.

A young airman from Hill AFB responds to her article.

"Ms Williams:

I just had the pleasure of reading your column, "Our GIs Earn Enough" and I am a bit confused. Frankly, I'm wondering where this vaunted overpayment is going, because as far as I can tell, it disappears every month between DFAS (The Defense Finance and Accounting Service)and my bank account.

Checking my latest earnings statement I see that I make $1,117.80 before taxes. After taxes, I take home $874.20. When I run that through the calculator, I come up with an annual salary of $13,413.60 before taxes, and $10,490.40, after. I work in the Air Force Network Control Center where I am part of the team responsible for a 5,000 host computer network I am involved with infrastructure segments, specifically with Cisco Systems equipment .. A quick check under jobs for Network Technicians in the Washington , D.C. area reveals a position in my career field, requiring three years experience with my job. Amazingly, this job does NOT pay $13,413.60 a year. No, this job is being offered at $70,000 to $80,000 per annum...
I'm sure you can draw the obvious conclusions.

Given the tenor of your column, I would assume that you NEVER had the pleasure of serving your country in her armed forces.
Before you take it upon yourself to once more castigate congressional and DOD leadership for attempting to get the families in the military's lowest pay brackets off of WIC and food stamps, I suggest that you join a group of deploying soldiers headed for AFGHANISTAN. I leave the choice of service branch up to you.

Whatever choice you make, though, opt for the SIX month rotation: it will guarantee you the longest possible time away from your family and friends, thus giving you full "deployment experience." As your group prepares to board the plane, make sure to note the spouses and children who are saying good-bye to their loved ones. Also take care to note that several families are still unsure of how they'll be able to make ends meet while the primary breadwinner is gone obviously they've been squandering the "vast" piles of cash the government has been giving them.

Try to deploy over a major holiday; Christmas and Thanksgiving are perennial favorites. And when you're actually over there, sitting in a foxhole, shivering against the cold desert night; and the flight sergeant tells you that there aren't enough people on shift to relieve you for chow, remember this trade whatever MRE (meal-ready- to-eat) you manage to get for the tuna noodle casserole or cheese tortellini, and add Tabasco to everything. This gives some flavor. Talk to your loved ones as often as you are permitted; it won't nearly be long enough or often enough, but take what you can get and be thankful for it. You may have picked up on the fact that I disagree with most of the points you present in your opened piece.

But, tomorrow from KABUL , I will defend to the death your right to say it.You see, I am an American fighting man, a guarantor of your First Amendment rights and every other right you cherish. On a daily basis, my brother and sister soldiers worldwide ensure that you and people like you can thumb your collective nose at us, all on a salary that is nothing short of pitiful and under conditions that would make most people cringe. We hemorrhage our best and brightest into the private sector because we can't offer the stability and pay of civilian companies. And you, Ms. Williams, have the gall to say that we make more than we deserve?


A1C Michael Bragg Hill AFB AFNCC

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How Truly Blessed Are We !

I am, once again, working all night. I have been granted permission to use some of the time that I am working all night, doing schoolwork, checking emails, or just in general, using my laptop with my wireless connection. What a blessing that is right now! I find I am in the blessed situation to be able to multi-task AND be paid for that! But, it is still so very difficult to leave my children and work outside the home. I was so very blessed to be able to be a stay at home mother for 20 years! BUT, my circumstances changed, and my working is a necessary evil! ( I say EVIL because anytime I am away from my children, it is so sad to me....)

Anyway, I thought I might share a tender moment, and a sweet memory with you all. I was driving with my youngest daughter, Shawnie. (She is 8 years of age) We were on our way home from Brigham City. We had been doing errands and now had about a 30 minute drive just to chat. IT has been particularly hard on Shawnie when I do have to work. SO, she began to complain, once again, about how much she truly hated me leaving her the nights I did work.

I pondered as to what to say to her that I had NOT ALREADY said on the subject! I had often told her all of the reasons that our budget just could not allow me to be home 24/7! I felt impressed to ask her if she even knew what I did when I was at work! She replied that she knew I took care of a little boy, but that was all! SO, I began to tell her about my work. I said, " Shawnie, do you know that this little boy I take care of at night does have his parents home, but, if I was not there, they would not be able to ever get a full nights sleep!" Shawnie said, "Why not Mom?" I then explained what I was required to do for this little patient of mine. I said, "Shawnie, do you know that he can not even breathe without the help of a tube in his neck? AND, he cannot even eat like you can. All of his food has to be fed to him through a tube that goes into his stomach. HE cannot even drink anything nor can he eat anything. IF he is thirsty, he cannot even tell me! I just have to keep his mouth moist and put Vaseline on his lips. Did you know that his lips get so dry and chapped because he cannot even lick his own lips? HE cannot scratch if he has an itch! He does not have any use of his legs or arms. I have to turn him frequently all night, so he does not get sores on his shoulders, back, arms, and feet! Can you imagine how hard it must be for him? IF something is bothering him, he cannot even tell me! Sometimes, it takes me a while to figure out why he is crying! And, it breaks my heart! I work so hard and fast to try and find out just what he does need so that he is not suffering!" Shawnie was so very quiet by this point. I looked over at her, and I was overwhelmed with emotion, as I saw tears welling up in her eyes and spilling down her cheeks. She did NOT speak for a moment. Then, she said, "Mom, I will never ever ask you to stay home from work again! HE really does need you more than I do, doesn't he?"

Then, I began to cry. I told Shawnie that I loved this little boy and it did make my day that when he hears my voice as I enter his room, he will smile! HE does make noise and tries to talk to me as I read to him and it is clear to me that he is aware of his surroundings! BUT, the love I had for my little patient, would never ever be as great as my love for her! FOR each of my own children! I told Shawnie that my job was NOT to be his Mom, because he does have a Mom that loves him like I love her! I was just there to give his parents the help they need to care for him. I explained to her that we just do not always even comprehend our blessings! HOW wonderful that we can move our limbs, eat our food, scratch at whatever itches! HOW sad that we take all these things for granted. BUT, it is when we see others that are so limited, that we must always treat them with the utmost kindness and love and then thank our Heavenly Father that we have been so very blessed!And, we should ALWAYS pray for those who do not have all that we have been so very blessed to have! I had no idea that Shawnie would react as she did! I did NOT even think, until that moment, to explain how really important it was, to that family, that I did help them at night. I was so moved that Shawnie would be so mature and self-sacrificing! At such a young age, to tell me that he needed me more than she did! I just wept along with her! How grateful I am for the whisperings of the spirit that led me to explain more fully to Shawnie, just what I was doing each night I did work!

And, she has been true to her word! She has NOT complained as I have had to leave around 7 pm the nights I do work. She will tell me that she is going to miss me, and I hug and kiss her and tell her that I will really miss being with her! IT is still so hard to leave my own beautiful children as I do go off to work! IT is such an amazing blessing to me, though, that I can tell my children that I am not just working for a paycheck, but, I am truly being of service to this family that has been given such an enormous challenge to deal with for the life of this child.

How blessed we are to have the use of our senses, our limbs, our voices! May we thank the LORD for all these gifts and use them always to bless others, never to hurt or harm our brothers and sisters here upon this earth!

Monday, May 18, 2009


April was such a busy month! BUT, it was such a joy-filled month as well! I was so very blessed to have three of my daughters return home! Kathryn, who is 21, was serving a mission for our church in Phoenix, Arizona. She was gone for 19 LONG months! SO, to see her coming down the stairs at the Salt Lake City Airport, well, I was overwhelmed! FOR the first week that she was home, every time, and I mean EVERY TIME I saw her, I just wept! It was so wonderful to have her home. I have likewise wept at the blessing of having my other two daughters return home from Minnesota. Colleen, who had been gone for almost 2 years, was so sorely missed! I am so very grateful that she took us up on the offer to come home after Kathryn and I flew to Minnesota to have Kathryn see her father and her sisters and new nephew, Trevor! Bonnie and Scott's little Trevor is so adorable! IT was such an amazing thing to see my oldest daughter excel in her mothering! FOR so many years, she had told me that she did NOT wish to have any children! BUT, after waiting for 7 years, I guess the time was right and she has now exclaimed that she wants to have more children, she finally understands why I wanted to have so many beautiful little babies come join our family! Carrie Ann had been staying with Bonnie and Scott to help with Trevor. I was able to be there for his birth, but, being a single, working Mom, I could NOT stay as long as I wanted, and so, Carrie took my place. She was a wonderful help and yet, again, was sorely missed by me at home!

And, it is with great anticipation that we look forward to Bonnie and Scott and Trevor moving in with us come August, so that they can find work, find a home of their own and just be near us. I will then be in heaven! There just is NO greater JOY for me, than to have ALL of my children close!

I have started a couple of posts, and yet, with all the hubbub of life right now, I have been unable to complete them. I will soon....
FOR today, I just would like to share my gratitude for the blessings of having so many wonderful, amazing, awesome, outstanding and beautiful children! I am so humbled that I would be so very blessed! I am so very grateful that we have a HEAVENLY FAMILY! Heavenly Parents, an OLDER BROTHER and it is so awesome that we are all spirit children of our Heavenly Parents! I am also overwhelmed at the love THEY have for all of US! THAT was no more evident then when our Savior came down to this earth, took on a mortal frame and lived a perfect life, so as to show us the way! AND, what was HIS reward for living so perfectly? HE was condemned, persecuted, tried and finally crucified on the Cross at Calvary. BUT, that was NOT all, he took upon HIMSELF the sins of ALL those who would ever live here on this earth.....for you and for me, he atoned for all of our sins. HE then died for us, so that we might LIVE again! AND, if we choose to live by HIS laws, obey HIS and the Father's commandments, we will live with THEM again, forever, to never again be separated from THEM or from our FAMILIES! HOW precious this truth is to me! HOW great is my gratitude for that, the greatest gift, the greatest act of mercy and love for all of us! Amazingly, all we have to do to partake of this incredible gift of eternal life and exaltation---or immortality and life forever with GOD and Jesus, the Holy Ghost and our Heavenly Mother, is to accept the Atonement,Be BAPTIZED as HE was; accept Jesus as OUR divine Savior and Redeemer and live a life as close to HIS as we possibly can!

I weep when I think of the beauty of this plan of happiness, where we can earn the right to live with our Heavenly Family and Earthly Family FOREVER!

I recently had an experience that brought the reality of this most precious gift with full force into my heart and mind....

I was in a hurry to get to work. I work nights as a private duty nurse. I work 8 pm to 4 am. It was last Monday,(exactly a week ago today!) as I was on my way to work, that I had planned to go to Sam's Club. My children were involved in Soccer and they all needed TREATS for their teams and their coaches! SO, with three teams, and three coaches, I decided it would be far more cost efficient to buy in bulk! I had a gift card with about $40 on it, and I had about that much in cash as well. I took my purchases quickly to the check-out. I gave the cashier my gift card first and asked her to run it first. She did. BUT, it came back declined! I was shocked! I KNEW the money was ON that CARD! I asked her to please run it again. This she did. Once again, it was declined. I do not know if that has ever happened to anyone else, but, it is SO embarrassing! I did NOT have another way to pay and the total exceeded my cash on hand. The total was $69.01! I began telling the cashier which items to take back in order to have enough money to pay my bill. Meanwhile, there was a family standing in line next to me. The gentleman approached me after we had started taking items back. He looked into my eyes, and simply said, " Will you allow me to do this?" I said, "What??" He said, "Will you allow me to pay for your groceries?
I will run it through on my card." I was dumbfounded! I was overwhelmed! I said, "I do have the money, I can give you all my cash and there is $36.00 on this card, I KNOW that there is!" He said, " NO, I do NOT want your money or your card. Please just allow me to do this for you." I began to cry. I said, "Why? Why would you do this?" He said, " Just consider this your lucky day!" I was shocked! I hesitated and he began talking to the cashier. He told her to ring back up all the items she had deleted from the bill, then, he ran his card! I was, of course, still in tears! I asked if there was ANYTHING I could do to repay him, he nodded no, and just smiled! I walked out of Sam's Club, I began to quickly load the car with the groceries, fearing I would be late for work! My benefactor came out with his wife and disabled son. I was still in tears, and I thanked them again. They just smiled and said, "YOU are most welcome!"

It took awhile to recover. I have been so very blessed! I have been the recipient of so much kindness, so many acts of service and love! I feel so very unworthy of all that I have been given!

As I pondered again, yesterday, about this very event that started my week, I thought how similar that is to what the Savior does for us, did for us and is STILL DOING FOR EACH OF US! HE merely asks, "WILL YOU ALLOW ME TO HELP YOU? WILL YOU ALLOW ME TO TAKE THIS BURDEN FROM YOU?" SO often, I have doggedly refused HIS proffered, FREE gift! I have felt that I MUST somehow do it all alone! I must NOT rely on ANYONE! And, yet, HE is still there, offering to HELP ANYONE OF US that are willing to allow HIM TO HELP us! ALL HE asks is that we accept HIM and HIS GIFT!

I thought, one day, I too want to be able to do for someone else what was done for me. I have had the opportunity to do it on a MUCH, MUCH smaller scale. A couple of times, I have been able to provide the needed change for someone in line ahead of me, when they were just a bit short. NOTHING CLOSE to $69.01! But, hopefully, and actually I KNOW, it is NOT the size of the gift we are willing to offer our brothers and sisters! IT is just that in our hearts we would and we do what and when we can!

THEN I reflect on that most precious of gifts given to me, that of my own birth provided to me by my angel mother and my father....and the spiritual rebirth made available by OUR SAVIOR, even Jesus the Christ! ONE day, I pray, I will be worthy and able to enter HIS presence and kneel at HIS feet, bathe his feet with my tears, and kiss the nail prints in HIS hands and feet. ONE day, I pray, I will be able to tell HIM in PERSON, how GREAT HE IS, HOW GRATEFUL I am for HIS ATONING SACRIFICE! AND for HIS perfect light and life! What a sacred and holy and blessed day that will be!

Until that time, what can I DO? Well, I can be more and more like that HUMAN savior at Sam's Club! I can seek out those in need around me! I can pray to have a far more observant heart and to have an increased awareness of those around me that might just need that hug, that smile, that note of encouragement. I pray that I can live my life more determined to do SO much MORE good! TO BE HIS HANDS! TO show in every word and deed, that I am a true disciple of MY SAVIOR, Jesus Christ! TO have everyone around me feel HIS LOVE for them THROUGH ME! That is my constant prayer! MAY I NEVER FORGET all that HAS been done for me, by the angels HE has sent to me, and MOST ESPECIALLY, BY our LORD as well.