Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘military’

oypmomn4w5fqvh4avx2kwy3rgqPhoto: Shoup Family
Col. Harry Shoup was a NORAD commander who received a surprising phone call in 1955 about Santa — and started a new tradition.

This story about a fast-thinking colonel in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) who calmed a crying child and started a new Christmas tradition is sure to warm the cockles of your heart. John sent it to me early this year, and I’ve been waiting until the right moment to share it.

Steve Hendrix at the Washington Post had the report.

“Col. Harry Shoup was a real by-the-book guy. At home, his two daughters were limited to phone calls of no more than three minutes (monitored by an egg timer) and were automatically grounded if they missed curfew by even a minute. At work, during his 28-year Air Force career, the decorated fighter pilot was known as a no-nonsense commander and stickler for rules.

“Which makes what happened that day in 1955 even more of a Christmas miracle.

“It was a December day in Colorado Springs when the phone rang on Col. Shoup’s desk. Not the black phone, the red phone.

“ ‘When that phone rang, it was a big deal,’ said Shoup’s daughter, Terri Van Keuren, 69, a retiree in Castle Rock, Colo. ‘It was the middle of the Cold War and that phone meant bad news.’

“Shoup was a commander of the Continental Air Defense Command, CONAD, the early iteration of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Then, as now, the joint U.S.-Canadian operation was the tense nerve center of America’s defensive shield against a sneak air attack. … It was not a place of fun and games. And when that red phone rang — it was wired directly to a four-star general at the Pentagon — things got real. All eyes would have been on Shoup when he answered.

“ ‘Col. Shoup,’ he barked. But there was silence.

“Until finally, a small voice said, ‘Is this Santa Claus?’ Shoup, by all accounts, was briefly confused and then fully annoyed. ‘Is this a joke? … Just what do you think you’re doing?’ he began.

“But then the techno-military might of the United States was brought up short by the sound of sniffles. Whoever was on the phone was crying, and Shoup suddenly realized it really was a child who was trying to reach Santa Claus.

“The colonel paused, considered and then responded:

‘ Ho, ho, ho!’ he said as his crew looked on astonished. ‘Of course this is Santa Claus. Have you been a good boy?’

“He talked to the local youngster for several minutes, hearing his wishes for toys and treats and assuring him he would be there on Christmas Eve. Then the boy asked Santa to bring something nice for his mommy.

” ‘I will, I will,’ Santa-Shoup said. ‘In fact, could I speak to your mommy now?’

“The boy put his mother on the phone, and Shoup went back to business, crisply explaining to the woman just what facility their call had reached. …

“The woman asked Shoup to look at that day’s local newspaper. Specifically, at a Sears ad emblazoned with a big picture of Santa that invited kids to ‘Call me on my private phone, and I will talk to you personally any time day or night.’

“The number provided, ME 2-6681, went right to one of the most secure phones in the country.

” ‘They were off by one digit,’ said Van Keuren. ‘It was a typo.’

“When Shoup hung up, the phone rang again. He ordered his staff to answer each Santa call while he got on the (black) phone with AT&T to set up a new link to Washington. Let Sears have the old number, he told them.

“That might have been the end of it. But a few nights later, Shoup, as was his tradition, took his family to have Christmas Eve dinner with his on-duty troops. When they walked into the control center, he spotted a little image of a sleigh pulled by eight unregistered reindeer, coming over the top of the world. …

” ‘What’s that?’ the commanding officer asked.

“ ‘Just having a little fun Colonel,’ they answered, waiting for the blowup.

“Shoup pondered the offense as the team waited. Then he ordered someone to get the community relations officer. And soon Shoup was on the phone to a local radio station. CONAD had picked up unidentified incoming, possible North Pole origin, distinctly sleigh-shaped.

“The radio station ate it up, the networks got involved and an enduring tradition was born. This Christmas Eve marks the 63rd straight year that NORAD is publicly tracking Santa’s sleigh on its global rounds.” More here.

As a former copyeditor, I’d like to point out that typos matter. But as a grandma, I’ll add that sometimes a mistake can lead to something good.

Photo: ShareAmerica
shutterstock_117822769

 

Read Full Post »

Photo: Hartford Courant
Former US Marine Roman Baca
develops ballets that help veterans heal and help audiences gain empathy. For his Fulbright Fellowship, he’s creating a new version of Igor Stravinsky’s
Rite of Spring tied to WW I.

Not long ago, Suzanne’s friend Liz found a piece of antique weaponry and asked instagram friends how it might be used in an art project or something else positive.

I said to “beat it into plowshares.”

In their own way of beating weapons into plowshares, war veterans may continue to serve the country after their time in the military. They may run for Congress like Seth Moulton of Massachusetts or establish a nonprofit like Soldier On, which treats veterans suffering from addictions.

And then there’s the Marine who became a choreographer to tell stories that enlighten and heal.

Candice Thompson writes at Dance Magazine, “When Roman Baca returned home from active duty in Iraq in 2007, he found himself having a tough time transitioning to civilian life.

” ‘I remember a couple of instances where I was mean and angry and depressed,’ says Baca. [His wife] suggested Baca return to his roots in dance. ‘She asked me, “If you could do anything in the world, what would you do?” ‘…

“Baca had to broker his transition back into dance. Earlier, he had trained at The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory in Connecticut and spent a few years as a freelance dancer before feeling compelled, like his grandfather had, to serve his country. ‘I walked into the recruiter’s office and said, “I want to help people who can’t help themselves.” ‘ Baca reveled in the rigor of the Marine Corps, which seemed like a perfect analog to classical ballet. …

“Baca served as a machine gunner and fire team leader [in Fallujah]. And while his job was one of looking for insurgents and intelligence, Baca also ended up doing humanitarian work, bringing water and school supplies to those in need. The transition from violence to aid helped him meet his original desire to defend the vulnerable.

“In 2008 … he reached out to his mentor Sharon Dante from The Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory. He had dabbled in choreography before joining the Marines and had begun to write while overseas. Dante suggested [that he] focus his writing and choreography on his experiences in Iraq. The exploration led Baca to form Exit12 Dance Company, a small troupe with a goal of inspiring conversations about the lasting effects of violence and conflict. …

“When a theater in the UK reached out to him in 2016 about creating a new Rite of Spring — one that would explore the connections between the creation of this famous ballet and the outbreak of World War I, in commemoration of the war’s centennial, as well as touch on today’s veterans and current events — he knew immediately it was a project for [him].

” ‘One percent of our population serves in the military, and an even smaller number serves in war,’ explains Baca of one of the central questions motivating this new commission. ‘How do we take all of this remote and little understood experience and inspire the audience to positive action?’ ”

More at Dance Magazine, here.

Read Full Post »

Photo: Military Friends Foundation
Joining the Tough Ruck marathon means carrying a heavy load for 26.2 miles to raise money for the fallen and injured and their families. Acknowledged by the Boston Marathon.

I was out for my ordinary walk on Saturday when I soon realized I was accidentally in the way of a new kind of marathoner: soldiers carrying heavy rucksacks on their backs. They were pushing hard as they were at mile 25 of a 26.2-mile marathon.

The signs saying “Tough Ruck” didn’t tell me much, so when I got home, I looked on Google to see what this was all about.

From the website: “We are a group of military and civilians whose sole purpose is to Ruck in honor and in memory of our Fallen Service Members, Police, Firefighters and EMTs, while raising funds to support military families in times of need.

“We will walk a 26.2 mile course with our Rucks.  Military Friends Foundation is proud to announce the continuation of our partnership with the Boston Athletic Association, the National Park Service and the Old Manse for 2017.

“On April 15, 2013, the Tough Ruck members were at the finish line of the Boston Marathon and joined the first responders to help those that were injured by the horrific blasts. They truly exemplify the best of what our Nation is. …

“Each year Ruckers are awarded the first of the official Boston Marathon Medals and receive recognition from the Boston Athletic Association.

“Tough Ruck participants are made up of any member of the Armed Forces currently serving, Veterans, First Responders, or Civilians. This extends across borders and is an open invite to our allied brothers and sisters around the world.
Regardless of a Rucker’s branch of service, rank, or position, each Rucker is a person who has volunteered to band together and do something to honor our Fallen Soldiers. …

“Ruckers push themselves and are an exemplar of drive, determination, and motivation. We ask each Rucker to push him or herself to their max potential and NEVER GIVE UP. Ruckers leave all egos, negative attitudes, and apathy at the start line. You are a member of a team. …

“When you register you will be asked to select one of three a divisions.  Ruck sacks will be weighed in prior to the start time and immediately after crossing the finish line.  You will NOT be permitted to ruck if your ruck sack does not weigh in at a minimum of 15 pounds.

“Military Division – Open to all active military and veterans and retirees.  Each Rucker will wear a: blouse, trousers, safety belt, regulation issued boots, and a ruck/assault pack/regulation pack issued by branch of service.  The minimum weight in the military division is 35 pounds.

“Heavy Weight Division – Ruckers in the heavy weight division will carry a minimum of 35 pounds at weigh in and at the finish line.

“Light Weight Division – Ruckers in the light weight division will carry a minimum of 15 pounds at weigh in and at the finish line.”

I didn’t realize something was up until I heard people clapping and cheering them on outside the Colonial Inn. I love the symbolism of sharing a heavy burden.

Read more here.

Read Full Post »

Sept-11-in-the-Greenway

 

There was an event in the Greenway today to commemorate Sept. 11. A lot of companies volunteered to help the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund prepare care packages for service men and women.

The fund’s website explains that the care-package service project was to support active duty service members and veterans. Activities included “building 500 military care packages for our service men and women overseas, writing letters of support to our troops, building care packages for our local veterans in need, and a pledge drive for the families supported by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund.” More here.

I saw the mayor having his picture taken, so I took his picture, too.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh at 9/11 service project in the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
091114-Maypr-Marty-Walsh

Read Full Post »

I’ve blogged before about programs that use theater for healing purposes and programs that use the arts specifically to help veterans.

Now Dana Ferguson writes at The Los Angeles Times about Shakespeare getting into the act and easing vets into the job world.

“Fifteen years ago former Pfc. and military police officer Jerry Whiteside had two masks tattooed on his left bicep, one smiling, one frowning. …

“Little did he know that more than a decade later, he would be symbolically reunited with the images imprinted on his skin.

“His journey began at the end of a 30-year struggle with drugs and alcohol, he said. Whiteside, a Chicago native turned Angeleno who had served in the Marine Corps from 1972 to ’76, sought help from the Veterans Administration in Los Angeles. He completed a detoxification program in 2011 and for this summer was referred to the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles to do various jobs on the set of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“Whiteside, 61, and some 30 other veterans of the Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam and the Gulf wars assisted in building the set and working odd jobs with the production, which continues through July 28.

“Shakespeare Center artistic director Ben Donenberg said employing veterans stemmed from another of the company’s outreach programs, Will Power to Youth, which hires young Angelenos to study and perform Shakespeare plays. After seeing alumni of the program serving in the armed services and later seeking jobs at home, Donenberg said, the company decided to extend its employment program opportunity to veterans, starting last year. …

“One of the things we want to do as a company is to ease the transition to civilian life, and part of that is on the civilians; there’s only so much the veterans can do,” [Chris Anthony, associate artistic director at the Shakespeare Center] said. “The rest of us have to see them in a different light. It’s something we need to work on as civilians.” More.

Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times
Military veteran Jerry Whiteside passes out programs before each Shakespeare Center performance.

Read Full Post »

Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP
Musician Julio Fernandez during a Voices of Valor music session at Montclair State University.

Today I am returning to the topic of veterans programs that help people overcome post-traumatic stress and reintegrate into civilian life. (Interesting how often these programs involve gardening or the arts — which we always knew were good for us!)

Samantha Henry at the Boston Globe has the story.

“During stressful times as a combat medic in Afghanistan, Mason Sullivan found solace in Vivaldi. New Jersey native Nairobi Cruz was comforted by country music, a genre she had never heard before joining the Army. For Jose Mercedes, it was an eclectic iPod mix that helped him cope with losing an arm during a tour of duty in Iraq.

“These three young veterans all say music played a crucial role in alleviating the stresses of active duty. Now, all three are enrolled in a program that hopes to use music to ease their reintegration into civilian life.

‘‘ ‘It’s a therapy session without the “sit down, lay down, and write notes,” ‘ Mercedes, 26, of Union City, said of the music program. ‘It’s different — it’s an alternative that’s way better.’

“The pilot program, called Voices of Valor, has veterans work as a group to synthesize their experiences into musical lyrics. Guided by musicians and a psychology mentor, they write and record a song, and then hold a CD release party. The program is currently underway at Montclair State University, where students participate through the school’s veteran affairs program.

“Developed by husband and wife team Brian Dallow and Rena Fruchter, it is open to veterans of any age and background. No musical experience is required.” More.

P.S. A word on the power of reddit. John posted my blog entry from yesterday in the Christmas category at reddit and it increased traffic to this site by a factor of 10 so far.

Read Full Post »

Although the Christian Science Monitor daily is strictly online, there is a hard-copy Christian Science Monitor Weekly that is worth buying. The cover story of the latest issue is about a group of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Each was floundering a bit in civilian life, looking for the same sense of purpose that they had felt in the military.

The story of how they came together in the blighted Oliver neighborhood of Baltimore is inspiring. The setting for the TV show The Wire, the area had been run by drug dealers for decades. Despite the best efforts of the local police, the residents could never get the help they needed to feel safe, to get vacant lots cleaned up, or to weatherize homes.

Today the veterans, applying the leadership and community-rebuilding skills they learned in places like Anbar Province, are making a difference — and feeling motivated once more.

See a great array of pictures at the Monitor website.

Photograph : Christian Science Monitor

Three veterans – (l. to r.) Patrick Young, Earl Johnson, and Dave Landymore – survey buildings and chat with neighbors on a warm Friday night. The men are volunteers with the 6th Branch, a nonprofit organization of volunteer veterans who use their community rebuilding skills to address urban blight in a project called Operation Oliver.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: