Mornings at the Pentagon

March 4, 2010

Mornings at the Pentagon
By Joseph L. Galloway | McClatchy Newspapers

Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing months or years in military hospitals.

This week, I’m turning my space over to a good friend and former roommate, Army Lt. Col. Robert Bateman, who recently completed a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.

Here’s Lt. Col. Bateman’s account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the Web-log of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Web site.


“It is 110 yards from the “E” ring to the “A” ring of the Pentagon. This section of the Pentagon is newly renovated; the floors shine, the hallway is broad, and the lighting is bright. At this instant the entire length of the corridor is packed with officers, a few sergeants and some civilians, all crammed tightly three and four deep against the walls. There are thousands here.

“This hallway, more than any other, is the `Army’ hallway. The G3 offices line one side, G2 the other, G8 is around the corner. All Army. Moderate conversations flow in a low buzz. Friends who may not have seen each other for a few weeks, or a few years, spot each other, cross the way and renew. Everyone shifts to ensure an open path remains down the center. The air conditioning system was not designed for this press of bodies in this area. The temperature is rising already. Nobody cares.

“10:36 hours: The clapping starts at the E-Ring. That is the outermost of the five rings of the Pentagon and it is closest to the entrance to the building. This clapping is low, sustained, hearty. It is applause with a deep emotion behind it as it moves forward in a wave down the length of the hallway.

“A steady rolling wave of sound it is, moving at the pace of the soldier in the wheelchair who marks the forward edge with his presence. He is the first. He is missing the greater part of one leg, and some of his wounds are still suppurating. By his age I expect that he is a private, or perhaps a private first class.

“Captains, majors, lieutenant colonels and colonels meet his gaze and nod as they applaud, soldier to soldier. Three years ago when I described one of these events, those lining the hallways were somewhat different. The applause a little wilder, perhaps in private guilt for not having shared in the burden … yet.

“Now almost everyone lining the hallway is, like the man in the wheelchair, also a combat veteran. This steadies the applause, but I think deepens the sentiment. We have all been there now. The soldier’s chair is pushed by, I believe, a full colonel.

“Behind him, and stretching the length from Rings E to A, come more of his peers, each private, corporal or sergeant assisted as need be by a field grade officer.

“11:00 hours: Twenty-four minutes of steady applause. My hands hurt, and I laugh to myself at how stupid that sounds in my own head. `My hands hurt.’ Christ. Shut up and clap. For twenty-four minutes, soldier after soldier has come down this hallway—20, 25, 30. Fifty-three legs come with them, and perhaps only 52 hands or arms, but down this hall came 30 solid hearts.

“They pass down this corridor of officers and applause, and then meet for a private lunch, at which they are the guests of honor, hosted by the generals. Some are wheeled along. Some insist upon getting out of their chairs, to march as best they can with their chin held up, down this hallway, through this most unique audience. Some are catching handshakes and smiling like a politician at a Fourth of July parade. More than a couple of them seem amazed and are smiling shyly.

“There are families with them as well: the 18-year-old war-bride pushing her 19-year-old husband’s wheelchair and not quite understanding why her husband is so affected by this, the boy she grew up with, now a man, who had never shed a tear is crying; the older immigrant Latino parents who have, perhaps more than their wounded mid-20s son, an appreciation for the emotion given on their son’s behalf. No man in that hallway, walking or clapping, is ashamed by the silent tears on more than a few cheeks. An Airborne Ranger wipes his eyes only to better see. A couple of the officers in this crowd have themselves been a part of this parade in the past.

“These are our men, broken in body they may be, but they are our brothers, and we welcome them home. This parade has gone on, every single Friday, all year long, for more than four years.”

So many fun things to share!

February 24, 2010

So many fun things to share! If you are not aware, we are also at Veterans Galleria on Facebook. Please go to that site and become a fan of the page, we’d love to have you and your families. Make comments. Let’s be interactive on this site. Let’s have a huge support for our Branson Veteran Community.

Please register on line for the Hand in Hand Branson Honors Purple Heart event. If possible, we would love to have all of you registered by the 9th of April so we can make sure we have enough FISH.

One of the new venues within the 3 day event….our shopping extravaganza for the women…..If enough of you sign up, we will shuttle you to Dress Barn at Factory Merchants Mall. At that time you will receive a 15% discount on all your purchases in either of their two stores. There will be wonderful appetizers, coffee and teas and drawings every 10 minutes for wonderful prizes. This fun event is for all of you women while the men are fishing, and of course, if you are not fishing men, you are welcome to come along and hang onto those purse strings….lololol. This is going to be a blast and very special. We will then shuttle you back to the lake, as we want everyone to be there on shore when the men bring home the “dinner.”

Our fish fry is on Friday Evening, after the tournament and the Entertainment Show. It is at the Rec Plex, easy to find, plenty of parking and doggone it’s gonna be fun. It will be held in a tent, buffet line for food, music, laughter, visiting, dancing, whatever makes you smile. Share your stories, tell your fishing tales, spend more time visiting with your professional fisherman. Jeans, sweatshirts, casual….fellowship and nothing beats good food with the right people and I learned last year….YOU ARE THE RIGHT PEOPLE.

Because of the Soldier

February 23, 2010

Because of the Soldier

By Heather Forbes
Hollister High School Senior

We are free because of their bravery. We can live a normal, happy life when their life is anything but normal. We have clean clothing, but they most likely haven’t been able to wash their clothes for awhile. We live semi-calm lives, when they live in a battlefield. both groups are Americans, and both groups are free. They are the people who guard our country. They are the people who are willing to give their lives for every American. They sacrifice so much that we can’t possibly understand. They are the men and women in our military. We should remember every day what they do for us, but sadly sometimes we forget. There is so much that we could do for them, but a lot of the times we are too busy with our lives to remember that they can’t get the stuff they need.

I am strong believer that we should honor our veterans, and soldiers, but we should also honor the mothers that gave birth to them. I have always believed that for you to be strong (mentally, physically, and emotionally) it has to come from influences out of someone important in your life. I think that the mothers of a veteran, or a soldier, give those influences. You, mothers of the fallen, and/or of a soldier, have provided your children with bravery, courage, intelligence, and so many other qualities. You have made your children the heroes with the way you raised them. I know you didn’t do this alone. I also know that half of the time you may not have known what you were doing, but you made them strong, and you gave them what they needed to protect our country. Thank you for helping them when they fell. Thank you for helping them to be able to get up and keep going no matter what. And finally, thank you for letting them join the services, for they in turn, have put themselves in danger for our freedom.

Missing Branson

February 17, 2010

For many years my wife and I would spend Veterans week in Branson. The first time I was there and went to the parade I found real brotherhood. I was a Vietnam vet from Illinois. I saw some other vets I knew from the St. Louis area and ask if I could join them. They were more than happy to except me into there group. At the start of the parade there were 12 of us marching, but by the end of the parade we had grown to about 30 or 40 Vietnam Vets. I was just blown away by the number of people lining the streets. I have been in Veterans day parades in Springfield, IL (my home town) and felt like the Veterans had been forgotten. Since moving to Florida we have not been able to get back to Branson and we miss it. The attached picture is of me in 1967 in Phu Loi, South Vietnam. I went over with the 554th Engr Battalion, “C” Company and then got transfered to the 362nd Engr. Co.(LE) in Tay Ninh. Thank you for letting me maybe find some of my old buddies on here and say THANK YOU for the way Branson welcomes all Veterans!!!

Ken Sudduth


What's new?

February 12, 2010

Hand in Hand Branson Honors Purple Heart Recipients is moving along. We are having fun coming up with new ideas and people are asking to participate…..what an event we have in store. Remember the Opening Ceremonies is for Purple Heart Recipients, as well as disabled veterans, so please come prepared to ask questions.

If you are a Facebook user, we are on Facebook as well. You can share your pictures and make comments (nice ones of course).

My last blog I challenged each of you to do something for the women that are at home, to help lighten their load or to help them feel special. I have not heard from anyone. Maybe this is a project for your church, your card party, your neighborhood. PLEASE step outside the box and do some little thing. We here at Veterans Galleria are in the process of planning a Pal’s Getaway. If a wife of a soldier and her girlfriend or pal or even by herself would like to come to Branson we will pick up a night’s hotel, coupon book, 2 show tickets and if she sees something else she would like to do, we will try and assist her so she has the best time ever!! I’m sure you could offer an evening of babysitting, a dinner and a movie, a Spa treatment.

Did you notice we now have a link to the Department of Defense? Did you go to dotwarrior and listen to the wonderful world they are going to be creating for you, the veteran? Please check out the new links we have added to the site. There are so many places that want to offer help to the veteran.

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