Thursday, November 27, 2008



If Obama stays the course, there’s a chance, slim but real, that a democratic Iraq will emerge from what now looks like a disaster.
Is that right?

So said the crusty George Jonas in yesterday's National Post. Some people -- Iraqi people -- have other ideas, about words like "slim" and "disaster".

Here's the Thanksgiving circular from Families United For Our Troops and Their Mission. It's about the many faces of our victory in Iraq. Tissue alert: if this one doesn't get to you, you're made of stone.

A Thanksgiving Blessing

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of the many families who will be missing a loved one at the table. We will reflect on Thanksgivings past and the joy and laughter they brought to the gathering. On Derek’s last Thanksgiving at my home, there were 14 around our table. I remember breaking down as I said grace and asked everyone to remember our troops and keep them safe. Derek followed me into the kitchen to give me a hug. His eyes were warm and bright when he said, “Just remember, if I go anywhere, I’m going home.” In those words, I have found comfort.

Our blessings go out in particular this holiday to the brave Blue Star families, the PGR, our military, and our loyal troop supporters that have come to our side in mutual understanding and strength. I must confess that I never knew I was a Blue Star parent. Derek was a member of a Special Ops group that number less than 400 worldwide. I didn’t know where or when he was deployed. On our ride across country this summer for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, we found support and new friendships through both Families United and these groups.

Last week, I was offered a wonderful opportunity that has given all of our families’ reason to be thankful. Merrilee Carlson and myself had the joy of experiencing the rewards of our efforts in Iraq. On Wednesday, November 12th, I was invited to DC to take part in a joint wreath laying ceremony. My son is buried at Arlington Cemetery with three other Americans, and one Iraqi Captain. An Iraqi General stood with an American General and placed the wreath together on the common grave. “Together they fought, and together they died”, were the words expressed by the Iraqi General.

A delegation of about 15 Iraqis attended the ceremony to honor all of our sons and daughters that have given their lives for freedom. That evening we attended a dinner hosted by the Iraqis. I consider it a gift that I can now sit between an Iraqi General and the Iraqi Ambassador and share laughter and conversation.

Ambassador Sumaida’ie’s words in an article written on April 10th of this year, ring true to this date.

“Having intervened and committed itself so deeply, the U.S. is debating the level and cost of its engagement. I submit that it cannot afford to lose this fight to its enemies. The destinies of the U.S. and Iraq have become intertwined and their national interests very closely linked.”

We stand at a crossroads in our country this Thanksgiving. In honor of my son, and all of our military families, we will pray that our leadership finds the strength and courage they need to allow our troops to complete their mission.

Our Thanksgiving table was always filled with lively debate, and that is the beauty of our freedom. Derek alluded to this in part of an address he wrote to his team.

“Our team has not always seen eye to eye. It’s hard for people to agree on everything, actually it’s (darn) near impossible. I know for a fact if I was surrounded by 14 Argels, we definitely would have a hard time getting (stuff) done. I could argue with myself for days on end, but that’s why I’m glad we have such a diverse group of men…Remember your training, your accomplishments, and each other. You will see combat, you will see death, and you will deal it. Take ease in knowing that your country, your friends, your family, your team and myself believe in what you can do. Success!”

Our success and continued support depends on the friendships and relationships forged during this time. This week we will give thanks for those friendships with allies, love from our families, the sacrifice of our troops and the continued successes in their mission. I pray that each of your families find the strength and courage this Thanksgiving that our troops exemplify.

Deb Argel-Bastian
In honor of my son, Capt. Derek Argel
Deployed to heaven, Memorial Day 2005


Just in case anybody [not least, the President-elect, who must now be painfully aware that he's playing in the big-leagues] thought that the terrorist crazies of the world are going to let the Iraq set-back discourage them for the long-term, a new tumor has erupted in Mumbai, India, where at least 100 were killed and hundreds more have been wounded or taken hostage in a well-coordinated series of attacks across the city. Al Qaeda has been dealt a massive blow by the loss in Iraq and the severe disruption of its funding and communication networks (no thanks to the American Congress update: and the New York Times, may I add...), but the spiritual and psychological poisoning of a whole generation of Muslims by their fanatical terrorist mentors is by no means purged.

The economy may be riding a roller-coaster, but one cost remains inelastic: the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Prayers for our friends in India this day.


Born of American Puritan values, seedbed of the great American Protestant Ethic.

Or was it?

Taylor Marsh at Credo [via the Anchoress] tells us that the FIRST first American Thanksgiving took place among the Spanish in St. Augustine, Florida in 1565 and the
celebrations were kicked off with a Catholic Mass. Likewise the second recorded formal Thanksgiving celebration, declared by Don Juan de Oñate (explorer, conqueror, and scourge of the Acoma Indians) in Texas in 1598.

And if that don't beat all, it seems that Squanto -- English-speaking Patuxet Indian who became an ambassador from the Wampanoag tribe to the Pilgrims, and whose assistance with subsistence gave the struggling Pilgrims something to be thankful for -- had earlier embraced Catholicism while in Spain, having been freed from slavery by a community of Franciscan friars.

And, as Marsh reminds us,
“Thanksgiving” in Greek is Eucharistia.

So there.

And now back to our regularly scheduled Pilgrim.