Most local papers and magazine have a “society page” or as I like to refer to it, “the pretty people pages.” These pictures often consist of people with money or local celebrity status who do some charity work and get their pictures taken while wearing expensive clothes. Now, yours truly is not knocking society people at all and am thrilled to see people giving back to non-profits (heck – we need them to give to Soldiers’ Angels). However, I’m much more comfortable hanging with people who probably won’t make the pages in print. The people I am referring to are the men and women who serve or served this Country, volunteer to put their life on the line and don’t draw 6 figure paychecks while in uniform. Not having ever served in uniform, but only in the supporting role as a military wife, my admiration for those who wear or wore the uniform is undeniable.
This past weekend, I attended the fifth annual Milblog conference in DC as a representative of Soldiers’ Angels. Those in attendance were fellow Milbloggers (Hooah Wife is my Milblog) who either serve/served their Country, were married to someone who served or worked to support the military in some capacity for their career or as a volunteer. Surrounding yourself with others who bleed red, white and blue brings a certain semblance of pride and camaraderie that is so refreshing. Every person in attendance was working either behind their keyboards or in some capacity to continue to support the military and those who serve or have served. This gathering of the minds always stimulates and motivates me to work even harder for Soldiers’ Angels and reminds me that blogging is not a waste of time but can really make a difference (keep telling yourself that Greta).
Friday night was time to reacquaint with old friends and make some new ones, while simultaneously raising money to support a new military non-profit started by a dear friend of mine called Honor Their Service. That is just how this group is, anything for the troops. The military experts who are also bloggers are making a difference and they have already had their first meeting with the new administration. The panels were spectacular and all in attendance were impressed with the quality of all our speakers. Milbloggers are a strong community and together we will continue to bring issues to the forefront and voice our opinions on the military while highlighting causes and heroes. You will probably not find many of us on the “society pages” but you can be sure you will find us on the internet.
The Face of America bike race, a bike ride that allows wounded heroes to ride with supporting men and women in uniform and civilians, also took place this weekend. Soldiers’ Angels had formed a team and I wanted nothing more to than to be able to show my support for them as well as the rest of the cyclists. By the power of Angels, yours truly somehow managed to get to Gettysburg to help adorn the finish line with handmade banners that Soldiers’ Angels had been collecting. We arrived at the home of Seamus, a retired Marine whose house was surrounded by grassy fields that seemed endless. Ospreys adorned the land for this occasion and Howitzers were brought out to cross the road for the participants to ride under. His yard housed several tents set up for food and drinks after the race. The front lawn was spectacularly adorned with all the flags of the Armed Forces, a POW MIA flag and a fire truck with the American Flag flying off its’ ladder. As the participants climbed the final leg, they would be greeted by the view of all the flags. The intensity and preparation of this event and all those who helped make it possible was completely overwhelming.
The sirens alerted us that they were coming, a bagpiper started playing, a stream of motorcycles and then the “low rider” bikes approached the Howitzers, which meant the final trek up the hill to the finish line. Nothing could prepare me for seeing the heroes on the “low rider” bikes make it to the finish line. Being able to cheer them in as they helped each other complete the race was emotionally breathtaking. The face of my friend Chuck crossing the finish line with his brothers in arms, is a memory that will forever be etched in my brain. This 2 day ride of 110 mile accomplishment was over. The finish line was without media as this event is about personal accomplishment and pride not fanfare and exploitation of our heroes. The celebration was grand and it seemed everyone enjoyed themselves. Chuck fell asleep under a tree for a bit for a much needed nap but woke to get some food and drink and hang out with his friends. After all the cyclists had left, some returning to Walter Reed, we stayed behind to clean up. Spontaneously, we ended up standing with a group of Veterans as “taps” was played over the hill which still displayed the aircrafts flown in for this momentous occasion. It was hard not to choke up at the intensity of this moment because as I mingled throughout the day, it is painfully real that many of these heroes who are struggling with their own wounds might also have pushed themselves on this ride for their friends who could not be with them. Without Soldiers’ Angels, meeting these heroes would be improbable. You may not know who they are because their stories and pictures will more likely appear on a Milblog than a society page. The military are my society, my rock stars, my heroes. Now to get myself back on a bike to be able to ride among such greatness next year.
The pictures from the bike race can be viewed here and the video from it can be seen here.
Update: for more Milblog Information and the video of General Oates, head on over to Mudville and Blackfive for a humorous view.
C/p at Hooah Wife