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July 30, 2005

A Line in the Sand

What am amazing and busy week I have had. Sorry for the lack of posting but as you read this I think you'll understand.

This past Thursday evening I was honored to host Chris Missick, author of the A Line in the Sand blog, and two of his friends; Kyle Rodgers and Ryan Albaugh. Ryan served with Chris in Iraq, while Kyle is acting as videographer and technical advisor (they're live-blogging the tour, as well as recording much of it).

Chris served in Iraq from March 2004-March 2005 as part of 319th Signal Battalion. While in-theater, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant, and was the "2004 Soldier of the Year". Now in the reserves, he starts law school next month. He is, I believe, 24 years old or thereabouts.

Chris set up a special website, Web of Support, where you can follow the tour day-by-day. From the site:

Returning home in March of 2005, I have set my heart on beginning an extensive road-trip through our country to personally thank the individuals I formed the deepest relationships with through the blog. The supporters I have selected offer a broad regional and demographic sample, and offer unique insight and stories that will prove to be inspiring and insightful. In a drastically new approach to a soldier’s memoir, Web of Support: How A Soldier’s Blog Connected Him With American Patriots opens a window into the life of a deployed American soldier who blogged his experiences. Perhaps even more importantly, it provides an inspiring look at what some individuals around the country are doing to display their patriotism in a time of war. This book will be a link between the experiences of what soldier blogs broadcast on their websites and the personal impacts blogging has on a soldier while they are at war and when they return home. It will blend the elements of a soldier memoir with the emotional impacts of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Chris is an amazing guy, as you'll soon discover. I felt quite honored to meet him. The Web of Support tour has generated no small amount of media attention as well. Check out the Web of Support site (click on Media info) for the full list, but the latest is a mention by Oliver North in his most recent editorial. Ollie starts out by blasting Jane Fonda for her announcement that she's going on an "anti-war" bus tour of the US, and concludes:

Hopefully at some point during your Jihadist journey, you will bump into Sgt. Christopher Missick of the 319th Signal Battalion. While in Iraq, Missick met hundreds of good Americans through his blog, "A Line in the Sand." Home now, he and a fellow veteran are driving around the country -- fueled by conventional gasoline -- to meet some of the patriots -- his "web of support" -- who sent letters, packages and prayers. He wants to personally thank them and "meet the heart of America."

That's the kind of support the troops appreciate, not your caravan of craven critics.

Exactly right.

Chris was also one of the "Milbloggers" profiled in the most recent edition of Wired Magazine. You can read the story when it appears in their on-line edition August 4 here. Right now you can pick up the hard-copy at a magazine or news stand.

Of all the the people Chris met through the Internet while serving in Iraq, I am honored that I am one of the few dozen that he and his buddies were able to stop by and visit.

As I mentioned, they are taking a cross-country tour, starting in Carson City NV and ending in Sacramento CA. They've already put over 4,500 miles on their vehicle, and my guess is that will be doubled by the time they're done.

But despite the seeming inefficiency, it really is the best way to see America. Certainly when one does business travel, flying is the way to go. When I was a kid, every summer my folks piled everyone into the family station wagon for the annual trek to see the relatives in Kansas and Colorado. From where we live in the Washington DC suburbs to there is a good 2 - 3 day car ride. On one level it seems like a hopeless time waster, and of course at the time I did not appreciate the lengths my mother went to in preventing all-out war between myself, my brother, and sister.

But the fact remains that if you really want to see this great country of ours, you've just got to do it by car, and take your time at that. On each trip we would stop at one or another sites along the way; the great Arch in St Louis to the Truman Library and Museum, to Mark Twain's birthplace are some of the places that I remember. There are so many things to see along the way; the birthplace of an important person, a museum, a natural beauty, whatever you care for, this country has it.

After they arrived I took them out to dinner, as I figured it was the least I could to to treat them at one of Leesburg's finest. Later we ended the evening on my deck in what turned out to be beautiful weather. The Washington DC area can be hot and incredibly humid during the summer, and we've had some pretty bad weather of late (you out west only think you know what humidity is). But providence smiled on us this past Thursday, with a light cloud cover to shield the sun, and relatively low temps and humidity.

At some point after dinner, Chris got a call from one of his friends that the new issue of Wired Magazine was on the stands, and that he was profiled in one of the stories. We hurried out to the local Rite-Aid and picked up several copies.

Over the course of the evening the four of us talked about everything, politices, the war, history, our personal lives, and, of course, blogging, for that is what brought us together in the first place.

As you may imagine there was plenty to discuss. Besides his military experience, Chris has been involved in politics since (and during) his college days. During the 2000 presidential campaign, he was Director for Youth Outreach for Northern California for the Bush-Cheney effort, and in early June of 2000, was promoted to Deputy Director for the Northern California campaign. He even got to go to the Republican National Convention.


Here's Chris and me, I'm the guy on the left. Chris is holding the copy of Wired Magazine opened to the article in which he and other Milbloggers were profiled.


Chris, me, and Kyle in my Townhouse


Ryan, Chris, and Kyle at the restaurant


The travelers are posting photos from each of their stops on the Web of Support website, so be sure and check those out too.

A Line in the Sand

If you've never read any of the Milblogs, start. Estimates are that there are maybe two hundred, but of course nobody really knows. If you're not familiar with any of them, The Mudville Gazette is a good place to start, as it links to many of the milblogs.

Chris posted his experiences in Iraq on the "Old War Blog" section of A Line in the Sand Like me, I think you'll be impressed by the quality of writing and depth of thought.

Helping the Troops: No Effort is Too Small

One point Chris made about helping the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere (let's not forget about the ones in Bosnia) is that you shouldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. He said that he'd found that sometimes people thought that if they didn't get involved in some big support program, nothing was worth doing. Or, because not everyone has the time to commit themselves to a full blown pen pal program that involves a committment to writing a letter a week, they didn't think that anything was worth doing, or just never got around to it.

Troops, Chris said, appreciate anything and everything. Many of you probably know this already because you've read it on a web site or another, but I think it a point worth stressing again. On my sidebar are links to a number of organizations the provide opportunities to help troops. Most, such as Adopt-a-Platoon, offer a number of ways, from adopting a full platoon of soldiers or marines, to one-time packages or letters. And, of course, there are dozens of such organizations, as a quick look at other blogs will reveal.

I wish them well on their journey across this great country of ours, and am honored that I was able to meet them.

Posted by Tom at July 30, 2005 3:00 PM

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Hey there! Got a problem with photos? E-mail them to me, and I will post them for you. No problemo! lol.

I would have written sooner, but I fell asleep at the computer. Yeah, I got yell at, but what are brothers for? blah, blah, blah. lol. He's really cool. Just don't let him know I said that!

Posted by: Rosemary at July 31, 2005 8:27 AM

You are a welcome sight. I'm proud of the people fighting for this great county, The United States of America. I want to let you know there are many of us out there supporting you. And the numbers are growing. You are the protectors of freedom, and without you this country would soon be no more.

Posted by: Richard Lyman at November 20, 2006 3:43 PM

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