Sunday, December 31, 2006

Reflecting on this day of milestone marker 3,000 US military deaths in Iraq - Who else has seen Vietnam Wall Memorial in DC

Who else has seen the actual Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC? I have, in DC, and the replica Vietnam Wall at the state capitol in Olympia, and the traveling Vietnam memorial replica wall - total of three times over the course of my 55 years. I know everyone who sees the wall is overcome by the sheer numbers of names engraved into the black walls. I know my experience of visiting the Vietnam Wall in DC was a visceral experience and personal experience for me....a vigil I dreaded to undertake, for it was the first time in my lifetime that I would see the actual real Wall.

My own history back to that era was firmly in a container with the lid tightly secured and tucked away in the cobwebs in my mental attic. Popular opinion back in that era was not favorable to returning Vietnam veterans or their families. It was safer for us as a family then to quickly put it away, leave it behind and try to move on....

You've heard that expression recently, I'm sure -- get over it and move on. That was one heard repetitiously after the last Presidential election. And yet, were it so simple to get over it and move on, would we be in another situation in Iraq not unlike the situation of Vietnam? I pull the container from my attic, brush off the cobwebs, loosen the lid and let the history wash over me.

I cannot be silent this time, I cannot let young wives and children endure what I endured in silence so long ago. I have something to say this time and I do, and it resonates with many, I know, I can tell by their reactions and actions. Others have something to say and it resonates with many, and eventually it will resonate strongly enough that the outcry of no more cannot be missed. But not yet, not this year, perhaps next year.

The Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington D.C.

One walks by the first wall which is not so tall and one begins to take in the engraved names. You then walk to the next wall and the next and the walls grow increasingly higher with more engraved names filling out the growing spaces on the increasingly higher walls. By the time you are feeling hopelessly overcome and overwhelmed, you look down the length of the wall to see how much further you will have to walk and how many more walls and engraved names you will have to see before you have completed the walk. As the heighth of the walls reach peak height, the walls then begin decrease in size again until you have reached the last wall and the 'end of the Vietnam conflict' and can now exit the memorial walk of the walls.

That walk registered with me hard as I made that walk, holding my vigil candle, September 2005 in Washington DC. As I walked the walls, I remember thinking at that time, what will the Iraq memorial look like when it is built and how many names will have to be honored in that memorial. I remember reflecting back to when I was young and my then husband was drafted and sent to Vietnam.

I was a young military wife, pregnant with our first child, in my first 'real job', marking time anxiously, hoping he would come home alive to participate in the life of our first child - or even wounded and alive, but please, not dead, not killed in action. I felt empathy wash over me as I contemplated the young wives and children of the young men and women deployed in combat today in Iraq and Afghanistan. I could feel so strongly their youth and the acuteness of will the new memorial begin to encompass the magnitude of the loss is what was reeling in my mind. It is so much more than numbers.

What I didn't notice until reading David's story was that indeed the Vietnam Wall Memorial is designed to reflect back your own reflection. It occurs to me how appropriate that symbology was then in Vietnam war era and now in Iraq/Afghanistan era....we are each and every one of us complicit somehow and deep reflection is encumbant on each of us as we memorialize today at this milestone marker that as of today 3,000 U.S. troops have been killed - we go into the new year with that number as a marker. It is all we have because no other symbology is permitted at this by this Administration.

We have no way to acknowledge, reflect, mourn, honor except for what the civilian community provides in the way of vigils to try to grasp the overwhelming loss, to try to honor what has already been lost, to try to scream attention that the future memorial to honor the war dead in this era already has too many names...

But then today is the day before a new year, and traditional celebrations tonight ought to be a bit muted to reflect that today is also the day our country has reached another milestone in Iraq. Perhaps when the fireworks are shooting off from the Space Needle in Seattle after an evening of drink, merry-making and celebrating, some will remember to remember that for 3,000 families it is not a celebration. Rather it marks that our country will move into another new year the same way we did last year - with our military still in Iraq, adding more names to the future memorial that will mark this time.

Let us reflect and be reminded it is our own reflection we see in the Vietnam memorial - and we see our reflection because we are the living, mourning the dead. Perhaps it will strengthen resolve in each of us who reflect today that with a new year we must act to do something different so that we are not re writing this memorial next new year's eve.

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King Jr.

by Lietta Ruger on Sun Dec 31, 2006 at 01:13:38 PM PST
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U.S. military deaths in Iraq reach 3,000 -

U.S. military deaths in Iraq reach 3,000

Sunday, December 31, 2006; 2:46 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq has reached 3,000 since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, an authoritative Web site tracking war deaths said on Sunday.

The milestone comes as President George W. Bush weighs options, including more troops, for the deteriorating situation in Iraq, where daily violence plagues Baghdad and much of the country and has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis.

The Web site,, listed the death of Spec. Dustin R. Donica, 22, on December 28 as previously unreported, and said that 3,000 U.S. military personnel had now died.

A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq could not immediately confirm that Donica's death had not previously been reported. No soldiers were reported killed by small arms fire on December 28 but the death of an unidentified soldier in a bomb attack north of the capital was announced.

© 2006 Reuters

U.S. military deaths in Iraq reach 3,000 -
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Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas at Home 2006

Wow, it was April 2006 we made the last entry to this blog! No way to 'catch up' 10 months of no posts. Life has certainly moved on for us, but not this blog.

Okay, so Christmas 2006. We purchased (at seriously reduced price) a new artificial Christmas tree. We already have a huge 6 foot tree that completely takes up either the upstairs or downstairs cupola if that is where we place it. Or takes up the whole front of the living room if that is where we place it. It certainly holds all the decades of Christmas ornaments back to when the children were, in fact, children. Now, they are grown with children of their own.

It's kind of sad in a nostalgic kind of way to put up the big tree with all the years of ornaments unless the kids and grandkids are going to come for Christmas visit. For now they are scattered about, and sometimes they can do the travel, sometimes not. I wanted instead a smaller more compact tree that I could tuck in a corner and I'm quite satisfied with the size of this smaller tree.

Our Christmas gift to ourselves this year. A nice double recliner loveseat. We have for several years now been discussing getting either couch or loveseat that has dual recliners. It was still years in the future for us as a purchase. When we were out and about taking in Christmas bazaars and such like, we came across a garage sale that we almost didn't stop at and found this great dual recliner at a price too good to pass on.

Nope, not telling, but we knew we would not likely come across such an affordable price for this kind of piece of furniture again and it was in such good, cared for shape. We left, both yearning and wishing we hadn't committed to dental work and $$ cost to us. Somehow we managed to talk ourselves into believing we could tighten the budget belt, squeezing hard, eat beans and rice, and doing so could manage to pay the dentist $$ and treat ourselves to this Christmas present. Now, it's February and we are recovering but recliner is paid for and so is the dentist $$.

posted entry by Lietta Ruger
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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Toothless Me ..."Are ya ready Roy?" - Gabby Hayes

Yesterday, Lietta and I drove to Deep River Dental in Raymond and Dr. Hamilton pulled all of my top teeth.

I was surprised at how easy and rapidly it went once I was good and numbed up and breathing a little bit of nitrous oxide (laughing gas). I remember some sort of minor interruption while he gave one of my teeth another shot of numb juice, touching my gums with my tongue and saying "4 down and 4 to go," with which he agreed.

Shortly thereafter he was done, the upper plate was put in immediately and I was warned not to take it out, prescribed pain medication and an appointment to come back next day (this morning) where he checked and made minor adjustments in the plate.

Once the numbness went away, I was glad for the pain killer hydrocodon but have only taken 4 doses since the pulling.

Dr. Hamilton is also the local Mormon bishop and I have had some interaction with him previously. He's a good dentist and I've seen him in action at the one church meeting I was invited to attend back in April.

Lietta now cooking soft foods with mashed potatoes and shredded meat (beef, pork and chicken) as the foundation.

Tonight I removed the plate for a salt water rinsing as instructed and looked at my toothless self for the first time. It's not readily obvious although Lietta said she could tell right away. The gums are already covered over without stitches as the plate served that function.

I've been off work yesterday and today and will return to work tomorrow.

Spent lots of time on the computer, online and playing Age of Kings to pass away the time, especially yesterday when the pain was more pronounced. I did sleep good though but have been drowsy all day.

Now 7:45, Lietta working on supper and I'm writing.
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Saturday, December 2, 2006

A Gallery of my real oil paintings

click on the photo to view gallery of my oil paintings over the years
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Messing around with the computer Paint tool - digital paintings

click on the painting to see more at my Picasa public gallery
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spring color bowl

spring color bowl

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