After a couple of weeks of being bombarded by anti-american nonsense and anti-military pontificating in the media, I realized that I had allowed myself to get swept up in it all and found myself becoming downright cranky most of the time. I do not suffer fools lightly or quietly. But after an enjoyable chat with one of my adopted soldiers, (thanks, Joe) I realized that the soldiers I've come to know and fiercely protect, are going about their business and have not let these idiots ruin their day nor caused them to lose their sense of humor. I've decided to follow their lead and do the same.
I have decided to end the week on a positive and/or humorous note. As my good ol' Yankee Dad would tell me when I was upset about some injustice or travesty in the world or in my life,
"Don't let the Bastards get you down." This from the man who bought his own potato peeler in the Army because he didn't like the one the Army had and he was on KP duty alot for various infractions that mostly involved pissing off Officers. You can learn alot from a soldier about how to make good out of what appears to be bad.
My sense of humor hasn't quite come back, (I'm working on it tho...)
so we'll start off with GOOD ~
United States War Dogs Memorial
State of New Jersey
The United States War Dogs Association
Saturday, June 10, 2006
NEW JERSEY VIETNAM VETERANS‘ MEMORIAL
AND VIETNAM ERA EDUCATIONAL CENTER
EXIT 116, GARDEN STATE PARKWAY
(ON THE GROUNDS OF THE PNC BANK ARTS CENTER)
National monument to military canines coming to Holmdel
BY TOM CAIAZZA
Feb. 1, 2006
National monuments have long been erected to honor the thousands of American men and women who have given their lives for their country. Those brave few who gave what Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion” will have company in the pantheon of American history — man’s best friend.
The U.S. War Dog Association (USWDA), a nonprofit military organization that trumpets the accomplishments of canines and their handlers during military conflicts, and the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation will present the nation’s first memorial recognizing the efforts of America’s war dogs.
The U.S. War Dogs Memorial will be housed on the PNC Bank Arts Center campus adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Holmdel and is expected to open in May or June.
Ron Aiello, the president and co-founder of the USWDA, is a former Vietnam veteran and military dog handler. The association was formed by Aiello and other veteran handlers in 1999 after a string of successful war dog exhibits were presented at regional dog shows, Aiello said.
Many of the dogs trained to protect and to serve in the Vietnam theater were left there after the war, and many still were euthanized instead of returning to the United States.
“These dogs saved about 10,000 American lives,” Aiello said. “They deserve better than what they got.”
The association wrote to then-Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, pitching the monument and proposing the Holmdel site because Aiello said it was one of the best Vietnam memorials in the country.
“We expected to get a response in a couple of months,” Aiello said. “We got a call two weeks later from the Department of Veteran Affairs.”
The association began fundraising, slowly amassing the nearly $80,000 expected to cover the cost; they have $15,000 left to go.
“We thought the hard part was going to be getting the approval and fundraising would be easy,” Aiello said. “Instead it was the opposite.”
The last half-decade has seen 9/11, a war in Iraq, two hurricanes and a tsunami, all of which Aiello said may have affected the willingness of the public to donate to the War Dogs Memorial.
“It has been a nasty couple of years,” Aiello said.
The memorial will be a dog and its handler, in Vietnam-era fatigues, casted in bronze and resting on a stone base.
Sculptor Bruce Lindsay, of Hamilton, sculpted the statue, and it will be cast by ART Research in Lancaster, Pa., which Aiello said graciously offered to help make sure the memorial could be opened as soon as possible by charging half-price for their services.
“We wanted to have the dedication this year,” Aiello said. “ART cut the price in half so we could get it done this year.”
Aiello said that ART Research was dedicated to bringing the memorial to fruition and that their generosity expedited the entire process.
Kelly Watts, the executive director for the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation, said they were honoring all men and women who fought and died in Vietnam, but had not acknowledged the dogs.
“We have been very careful with what we want to add to the memorial,” Watts said. “We took great pains for the men and women, but didn’t have the dogs.”
Watts said that the canines were integral to the survival of their handlers, and that the bond between them was very strong.
“Wherever we can integrate them into something we are doing,” Watts said of the dogs, “we will.”
Ron Aiello and the War Dogs Association send care packages to current dogs and their handlers fighting in Iraq. They sent out 225 packages last year alone, and Aiello said that was down from the year before.
The dozen or so people that make up the inner circle have donated time and energy to recognizing the war dogs. They are prepared to donate their money, too.
If the group is unable to raise all the funds for the project they will take it out of their own pockets, Aiello said. The association has still to raise $15,000, half of which has been promised through donations in the works from Pedigree and others. Aiello said that if need be, they will offer their own money just to see the memorial finished.
“And if we still don’t have enough, we will take out a loan and continue fund-raising to pay it back,” Aiello said.
Donations can be made through www.uswardogs.org, Aiello said.
The memorial, although specifically associated with the Vietnam War, will honor all dogs of war and their handlers.
“It’s more than just Vietnam,” Aiello said. “All these dog teams that have served and will serve, we want to honor them all.”
You can read more about Ron Aiello and Stormy here.