On the evening of April 29 at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., The Unknown Soldiers won a MilBloggie Award for best military blog run by a U.S. Reporter. My sincere thanks to everyone for voting, and for continuing to support this blog.
I also want to urge everyone to follow the fine blogs that were nominated in the same category, all of which are worthy of this year's award: War On Terror News, The Long War Journal, Michael Yon Online Magazine, The War Report, The Rumor Doctor, and Susan Katz Keating.
Considering that many of the stories you read on this blog and in my weekly Creators Syndicate column are about brave American service members who made the ultimate sacrifice, I accept this award with a heavy heart. While I am unable to attend the 6th Annual MILBlog Conference due to obligations related to family and a new job with the USO, I sent in the following acceptance remarks, which I thought I would share here.
It's been one year since I had the honor of standing in front of you to accept a Milbloggie on behalf of The Unknown Soldiers blog. I regret that because of a new job at the USO here in Arlington, with a new baby back in the Atlanta area, this period of transition and frequent travel made it impossible to attend this year's conference. Thank you so much for this award, and congratulations to all the other U.S. Reporter nominees, all of whom run amazing blogs.
Writing about the personal stories of our brave troops, honorable veterans, and their devoted families is a privilege, especially for a career journalist who hasn't served in the military. While hundreds of articles I worked on for my blog and Creators Syndicate newspaper column over the past year have stayed with me, there is one in particular that's on my mind tonight.
Lance Cpl. Andrew Carpenter was shot by a sniper in Afghanistan on Valentine's Day. Five days later, the Marine's wife, Crissie, had to make the crushing decision to remove her husband from life support. Because she was eight months pregnant at the time, she could not travel to Germany to say goodbye to the love of her life.
After an emotional February 28 memorial to honor this Marine, I drove through the city of Columbia, Tennessee, as part of the procession to the cemetery. What I saw that day would give everyone at this conference hope. Thousands of people -- from young children to the elderly -- stood in the evening mist with hands on their hearts in tribute to this fallen hero. In an age where celebrity is often placed over sacrifice by our nation's media, the people of Tennessee showed us that real patriotism still exists.
Crissie Carpenter told me that while the pain was still unbearable, what she saw that day helped her get through the next month. On March 18, Landon Paul Carpenter entered the world his father left as a hero. In the hospital, a nurse gave baby Landon a onesie that reads "Born Free...Because My Daddy Fought For Me."
I think we do what we do to ensure that children like Landon grow up knowing that their moms and dads are heroes. To receive this honor from you, especially since so many military bloggers are American troops, veterans, or members of military families, is something I treasure. Thank you, and may God bless our men and women in uniform, their loved ones, and especially their kids.
Image courtesy: Marcia Truitt/Inara Studios