29 April 2008

Governor Perdue Signs Executive Order Reappointing the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee

Governor Sonny Perdue signed an executive order reorganizing the Military Affairs Coordinating Committee (GMACC) and announcing that it will continue to serve as the state’s focal point for efforts to assist Georgia’s military facilities and communities impacted by the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC).

“Georgia’s military installations serve as cornerstones for the local economies of several Georgia communities and even entire regions of the state,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “The Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee will strive to ensure the continued economic strength and military viability of Georgia’s defense installations and activities while also coordinating the state’s assistance to communities impacted by the 2005 BRAC recommendation.”

The Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee was created in 1994, at the behest of Senator Sam Nunn, to help Georgia's bases deal with Base Realignment and Closure. The committee was reappointed in 2003 and 2005 by Governor Perdue. James R. “Jim” Balkcom, Jr. shall serve as the chairman of the committee.

The text of the Governor’s executive order is below:

Whereas: Georgia’s Military Affairs Coordinating Committee (the “Committee”) was reestablished by executive order on August 22, 2003; and

Whereas: The members of the Committee and its related Community Action Group Leaders have completed the part of their mission to prepare for the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (“2005 BRAC”) recommendations; and

Whereas: Georgia continues to need a statewide focal point for efforts to assist Georgia’s military facilities, to support communities impacted by the implementation of the 2005 BRAC, and to prepare for any future BRAC.

Now, therefore, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Governor of the State of Georgia, it is hereby

Ordered: That Military Affairs Coordinating Committee will continue to serve as the State’s focal point for efforts to assist Georgia’s military facilities, to support communities impacted by the implementation of the 2005 BRAC, and to prepare for any future BRAC.

It is further

Ordered: That the following individuals are hereby appointed as members of the Committee, replacing all previous members of the Committee and its related Community Action Group Leaders:

James R. “Jim” Balkcom, Jr.
Civilian Aid, Secretary of the Army
78 Lindberg Drive NE
50 The Parkside
Atlanta, Georgia 30305

James A. “Micky” Blackwell, Jr.
311 Hardage Drive
Marietta, Georgia 30064

Brent C. Brown
Chairman, President & CEO, Chesley Brown Companies, Inc.
170 Nickajack Road
Mableton, Georgia 30126

Lieutenant General (Ret) Thomas N. Burnette, Jr.
32 Myrtlewood Drive
Savannah, Georgia 31405

Lieutenant General (Ret) Carmen J. Cavezza, Ph.D.
6301 Cape Cod Drive
Columbus, Georgia 31904

Major General (Ret) Richard N. “Rick” Goddard
213 Westbury Court
Warner Robins, Georgia 31088

George M. Israel III
President and CEO, Georgia Chamber of Commerce
233 Peachtree Street NE
Suite 2000, Harris Tower
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

William H. “Bill” Linginfelter
1410 Wesley Walk NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30327

James P. “Jim” McNary
242 Camden Road NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Sheila McNeil
Chairperson/President, Friends of Kings Bay Submarine Base
117 City Smitty Drive
Saint Marys, Georgia 31558

Thomas J. Ratcliffe, Jr.
Ratcliffe & Smith, P.C.
103 North Main Street
Hinesville, Georgia 31313

Major General (Ret) Rondal H. “Ron” Smith
216 Falcon Crest
Warner Robins, Georgia 31088

It is further

Ordered: That all such members of the Committee shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.

It is further

Ordered: That James R. “Jim” Balkcom, Jr., shall serve as the Chairman of the Committee.

It is further

Ordered: That members of the Committee shall serve without compensation, except that each member may be reimbursed by the Committee for expenses incurred as a result of their duties as a Committee member.

Any inconsistent previous order is hereby rescinded.

This 29th day of April, 2008.




___________________________
Governor

28 April 2008

American Legion Honors Women in the Military

March was National Women's History Month and Fayette County Post 105 of the American Legion honored "Women in the Military" at their March meeting. The Lady Legionnaires, pictured with their branch of service are B/Gen Anne MacDonald, Army, Helen Denton, Army, Sharon Collins, Army, Deana Rowe, Marine Corps, Mavis Compagno, Air Force, and Carmen Streit-Smith, Army. These veterans represent military service spanning the years from World War II to the present day. Not pictured are members Susan Northrup, Air Force, Carmen Madero, Army, Christine Koch, Army, Gloria Norris, Army, and Geneva Martin, Marine Corps. Fayette County Post 105 meets the second Monday evening of each month at the Log Cabin, just south of the old County Court House in Fayetteville.
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24 April 2008

Military Officers Association of America Presents Chambliss with the Colonel Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Co-Chairman of the Senate Reserve Caucus, and a member of the Senate National Guard Caucus, on Tuesday evening was presented with the Colonel Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). The organization recognized Chambliss in particular for legislation he spearheaded in the U.S. Senate to reduce the age at which members of the National Guard and Reserve can receive retirement pay. The legislation passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act and was signed into law by President Bush in January.

“If we’re going to continue to call on the members of our Guard and Reserve who make tremendous sacrifices with respect to their family lives and civilian employment, we need to take action to show that we stand behind them and appreciate the tough challenges they face,” said Chambliss. “I am concerned that those who would otherwise stay in until they reach 20 years of service are going to get out, particularly those who are experiencing repeat deployments. I will continue to work with the Armed Services Committee to address the critical needs facing our guardsmen and women, reservists, and their families.”

MOAA is the nation’s largest veteran’s organization that represents active duty and retired military officers and their families. The Colonel Arthur T. Marix Congressional Leadership Award is named after Colonel Marix, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret), who founded MOAA on February 23, 1929 and served as its first President.

Schools Jump Onboard To Help Honor Flight

Honor Flight Fayette has taken off with students throughout the Fayette County School System.
A call went out to schools in March asking them to help the nonprofit organization in its efforts to send local World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit their memorial. Honor Flight pays all the costs of transportation, including meals. It costs approximately $400 per person for the one-day excursion.

Schools were asked to consider sponsoring fundraisers to help cover the costs of sending a veteran to the WWII memorial. Teachers and students immediately jumped onboard and have raised over $6,000 countywide in just two weeks – enough to send 15 veterans to the memorial. The donations are expected to increase over the next several weeks as schools continue to fundraise for the trip that will take place on May 14.

Whitewater Middle School has raised the most funds to date with $3,200 that it generated through bake sales and individual donations. The school’s original goal was to raise enough money over a two-week period to sponsor one veteran.

“We will now be able to send eight WWII veterans to see their memorial. It is an honor to have the opportunity to give back to those who gave so much for us,” says seventh grade social studies teacher Laura Kennedy.

Starr’s Mill High asked the entire school, including teachers and staff members, to donate $4 to the program in the hopes of raising the $400 needed to sponsor one veteran. They ended up with $2,000, enough for five veterans.

“The response was outstanding as many faculty, staff and students donated way more than $400,” says social studies teacher Michael Raymer.

The eighth grade social studies students and teachers at Rising Starr Middle collected donations during their lunch periods totaling over $500. In addition, the student clubs at Sara Harp Minter Elementary pooled their resources for a combined fundraiser where each club member was asked to donate $1 to the cause. The clubs raised $435. Combined, the two schools raised enough funds to sponsor two more veterans.

Other schools across the county are planning additional fundraisers after spring break. Braelinn Elementary will sponsor a veteran by having teachers support a CRCT jeans week where teachers will be able to wear jeans the week of CRCT testing by paying a minimal cost to benefit Honor Flight.

The Air Force Junior ROTC classes at Sandy Creek High are also planning a fundraiser and will provide a color guard to honor the veterans as they depart from Fayetteville on May 14.
The nation loses approximately 1,200 WWII veterans each day. Many of them are in poor health, making it critical that they see their memorial as soon as possible. The community is invited to help with their local school’s fundraiser by contacting the school in their area to learn more about fundraising efforts. More information about Honor Flight Fayette can be found at www.honorflightfayette.com.
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Secretary Handel to Honor War Crimes Prosecutor at Holocaust Days of Remembrance

The State of Georgia’s official Days of Remembrance Observance of the Victims of the Holocaust will be Friday, May 2, 2008 at noon in the State Capitol rotunda.

The annual ceremony is held to remember those whose lives were impacted by the Holocaust, and to honor those who work to educate others about the event.

Secretary of State Karen Handel will deliver remarks at the ceremony. Holocaust survivors, children of survivors, and victims and liberators of concentration camps will light candles in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

“The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust provides an invaluable service to Georgians as we honor the memory of the victims, learn more about their struggle, apply these lessons to our own lives and teach future generations how to live and work together, in peace,” said Secretary Handel.

The Georgia Commission on the Holocaust will present its highest award, the Humanitarian Award, to Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Office of Special Investigations with the U.S. Department of Justice. Rosenbaum is the longest serving prosecutor and investigator of Nazi war crimes. He served as chief enforcer of the Holtzman Amendment, the legislation that allows the U.S. government to denaturalize and deport those individuals who committed Nazi war crimes.

The ceremony will include a performance by the Brass Quintet of the United States Army Ground Forces Band. The public is welcomed and encouraged to attend.
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Isakson Praises Passage of Legislation to Enhance Benefits for Veterans

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today praised the Senate’s passage of legislation to increase a variety of veterans’ benefits. Isakson is a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“The most important responsibility we have as a Congress is to see to it that the treatment and services we give our veterans are the very best our country can offer,” Isakson said. “Our nation’s veterans and their families have sacrificed tremendously so that our children and grandchildren can live in freedom. I am pleased the Senate has passed this legislation to ensure that our veterans receive the benefits they deserve.”

The Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 is a comprehensive bill providing benefits to veterans, their families and their survivors. Provisions of the bill include expanding eligibility for traumatic injury insurance, increasing benefits for veterans pursuing apprenticeships or on-job training programs and expanding eligibility for specially adapted housing assistance. The bill also provides an automatic annual increase in burial benefits (based on inflation) for the families of veterans.
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23 April 2008

World War II Heritage Days Event

Battle Re-enactments, Military Vehicles, Equipment Demonstrations, Vintage Aircraft Displays at the Commemorative Air Force Hanger, Falcon Field Airport, Peachtree City. Opening Ceremony - Saturday April 26 at 10:00 a.m. Heritage Days - Saturday & Sunday, April 26-27. Suggested Donation: $5; More info www.wwiidays.org. WWII Theme Hanger Dance: 6pm - 11pm, Saturday, April 26; Advance Tickets $35/person (before April 21), after April 21 $50/person - reservations required, 678-364-1110.

Chambliss, Isakson Praise Senate Approval of Legislation to Rename Post Offices in Honor of Fallen Soldiers

U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today praised Senate approval of legislation to rename several U.S. Post Offices in Georgia in honor of fallen soldiers.

The U.S. Post Office located at 3035 Stone Mountain Street in Lithonia, Ga., will be renamed the "Specialist Jamaal RaShard Addison Post Office Building." The U.S. Post Office located at 5815 McLeod Street in Lula, Ga., will be renamed the ``Private Johnathon Millican Lula Post Office.'' The U.S. Post Office located at 116 Helen Highway in Cleveland, Ga., will be renamed the ``Sgt. Jason Harkins Post Office Building''.

“These men are true heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and democracy,” said Chambliss. “This is such a special way to honor their service and sacrifice to our country.”

“These men served without desire for credit, but on behalf of their country and everything that we stand for,” Isakson said. “Naming this post office after them is one small way to honor the sacrifices they made to make the United States and Georgia a better place.”

Specialist Jamaal R. Addison

Addison was a member of the 507th Maintenance Company, and was part of the initial invasion of Iraq. He was the first soldier from Georgia to make the ultimate sacrifice. Addison, a longtime resident of Lithonia, graduated from Lakeside High School in Decatur, Ga., before joining the United States Army in 2000. He spent a year in Korea before he was sent to the Middle East in the first days of the Iraqi war. On March 23, 2003, Addison was traveling with the 507th Maintenance Company when the convoy was ambushed. Addison is survived by his parents and his 6-year-old son, Jamaal Rashard Addison, II.

Private First Class Johnathon Millican

Millican served in the 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment from Fort Richardson, Alaska. Millican, a Hall County native, was killed by insurgents in Iraq while conducting an operation in Karbala on January 20, 2007. Millican was off duty in a communications room talking with his wife when the attackers fired several rounds into the room with an AK-47 and tossed in a concussion grenade. Millican covered the grenade with his body, attempting to protect his comrades from the enemy intrusion. Private First Class Johnathon Millican was later awarded the Silver Star Medal of Honor for his courage, valor and dedication for his fellow soldiers. Millican is survived by his wife, Shannon, his parents and sisters.

Sergeant Jason Harkins

Harkins served in the Army's 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis, Wash. Harkins, a Clarkesville native, was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq when he died of wounds sustained from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Baqubah on March 6, 2007. Harkins served over three years in the U.S. Army Reserves and is a recipient of the Bronze Star of Valor and the Purple Heart. Harkins is survived by his wife, Emily Renee Cook Harkins, his parents and his brothers and sisters.
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16 April 2008

Chambliss Introduces Legislation to Ensure “Sole Survivors” Who Leave Military Service Receive Full Separation Benefits

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today during a news conference on Capitol Hill unveiled legislation to ensure that “sole survivors” who leave military service after losing their siblings in war receive full separation benefits. Chambliss joined U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. and U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., in introducing the legislation. The lawmakers were joined by Jason Hubbard, of California, an Army veteran and sole survivor who lost his two brothers in Iraq. He is one of 51 sole survivors identified since the September 11, 2001, terrorists attacks, including 3 from Georgia, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Under the Department of Defense’s “sole survivor” policy, service members who lose all their siblings in war are not allowed to return to a combat environment. The policy, portrayed in the film “Saving Private Ryan,” is intended to protect American families from losing all their children to war. However, recent experience with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Hubbard brothers’ story in particular, demonstrates that the policy is flawed. Sole survivors who leave military service early under the policy have been asked to repay all or part of their enlistment bonuses and have also been denied access to the separation benefits veterans need when transitioning out of the military, including the Montgomery GI Bill, transitional veterans’ health care, and the Veterans Home Loan Guarantee Program.

“The Hubbard brothers’ story is extremely moving and it is a strong reminder of the tremendous personal sacrifices our military families make,” said Sen. Chambliss. “When these families experience tragedy and loss, their situation should not be made more difficult as a result of poorly constructed policies and procedures. Our legislation is greatly needed in order to ensure that sole survivors are not penalized when they separate from the military and that the benefits and pay to which they are entitled are consistent with personnel who are involuntarily separated under honorable conditions.”

“Today there are no standard benefits available to members of the Armed Forces who leave early under the ‘sole survivor’ policy. This is simply wrong,” Sen. Feinstein said. “These brave men and women have served their country honorably, and they’ve suffered great personal tragedies. To deny them separation benefits only adds insult to injury. Their country owes them more. This bill will ensure that they get the benefits that they are due.”

“Army Specialist Jason Hubbard served honorably in defense of our nation, and lost both of his brothers to war. His discharge from the military as a sole survivor should not disqualify him from receiving the transitional benefits others receive upon leaving the military,” said Rep. Nunes. “The Hubbard Act honors the sacrifice of families that have dedicated themselves to our nation through military service. Through passage of this legislation, we will ensure that sole survivors who return from war are treated with dignity.”

“Asking sole survivors to repay all or some of their enlistment bonus, as well as denying them access to military separation benefits, simply because they are a sole survivor is unthinkable,” said Rep. Costa. “We need to treat all of the men and women serving this country with respect. This legislation corrects this injustice, and allows sole survivors to qualify for many provisions that were previously denied to them.”

THE HUBBARD BROTHERS’ STORY

In November 2004, Jared Hubbard, a Marine, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Six months later, his brothers, Nathan and Jason Hubbard, enlisted together in the Army to honor Jared and to serve their country. Nathan and Jason Hubbard served in the same unit in Iraq. Last August, the brothers were returning from a scouting mission in two Blackhawk helicopters south of Kirkuk. The helicopter carrying Nathan crashed and he was killed. Jason Hubbard’s helicopter landed nearby, and he was ordered to help secure the crash site.

Jason was required to leave the combat theater because he had become a “sole survivor.” When he voluntarily separated from the Army under this policy, he was asked to pay back his enlistment bonus. He was also denied transitional health care and the GI Bill. The Secretary of the Army personally intervened to resolve Jason Hubbard’s health care and bonus issues. However, he is still not allowed access to the GI Bill unless he goes through the lengthy process of changing his discharge code.

09 April 2008

Senators Introduce Legislation to Expand Guard and Reserve Retirement Benefits to Include Duty Performed After September 11, 2001

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators including Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, and John Kerry, D-MA, Lamar Alexander, R-TN, Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY, Norm Coleman, R-MN, Susan Collins, R-ME, Johnny Isakson, R-GA, Blanche Lincoln, D-AR, Mark Pryor, D-AR, and Pat Roberts, R-KS, today introduced legislation to benefit members of the National Guard and Reserve by amending current law to include any duty performed after September 11, 2001 as service qualifying for reducing the age at which retired pay can be received. Currently, National Guard and Reserve members are the only federal retirees who must wait until age 60 to collect retirement pay.

The bill, the “National Guard and Reserve Retired Pay Equity Act of 2008,” builds upon legislation authored by Senate Armed Services Committee members Chambliss and Pryor, which was accepted as part of the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. Specifically, that legislation, which was signed into law in January 2008, reduced the age for receipt of retirement pay by three months (counting down from age 60) for every 90 days a Guard or Reserve member spends on active duty in support of a contingency operation, or on active service for purposes of responding to a national emergency declared by the president or supported by federal funds. However, the provision in that Act only counted service performed after the date the bill was enacted and was not retroactive to September 11, 2001.

“The way we rely on our National Guard and Reserve has fundamentally changed since September 11, 2001,” said U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA. “The bill we are introducing today enhances what we did in last year’s defense bill and rewards our men and women who have deployed since our nation was attacked. Their service was critical as well as sacrificial, and they should be rewarded for it. We need our military personnel and their families to know that we stand behind them and honor the great sacrifices they make on behalf of our nation.”

“Our National Guard and Reserves have sacrificed over and over, again and again, since September 11th. America’s heroes have helped put the pieces back together in the aftermath of the worst attack on our homeland and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, while fighting courageously overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Providing our Guard and Reserve retroactive credit for retirement benefits they’ve earned is one small way Washington can honor their tremendous sacrifices,” said U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-MA.

“This bill is a much-needed step toward giving our guardsmen and reservists the retirements they deserve,” said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN. “Nearly 14,000 from the Tennessee National Guard have served their country heroically since September 11, 2001. Many have served two or three tours. We not only owe these men and women of the National Guard and Reserve our thanks, but we also should recognize the families and communities supporting their sacrifice. Tennesseans know these men and women need our full support in order to carry out their missions, and I will continue to make sure meeting their needs is a top priority of Congress.”

“Since 9/11, the National Guard and Reserves have played critical roles in both homeland security and overseas deployments, and they have performed with skill and courage in response to these increased demands. These men and women face the same risks and make the same sacrifices that all of our brave servicemembers do, and they deserve the same respect and gratitude from this country. We must ensure that these troops receive the benefits to which they’re entitled after their service is concluded,” said U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-NY.

“Bottom line, this legislation is about fairness among all of our nation’s brave servicemen and women,” said U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-MN. “Whether they fought overseas in the immediate aftermath of September 11th or are deployed right now, our troops and their families have all made an enormous sacrifice on behalf of our nation. It is my hope the Senate will act quickly on this common-sense bill, as making this important change is the least we can do to reward the commitment of our brave fighting men and women.”

“The recurring mobilizations of National Guard and Reserve units has put too much stress and strain on members and their families,” said U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME. “We owe all our nation’s veterans a great debt and this legislation will help afford them with benefits that they have earned.”

“Since the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, our nation has depended on our Reserves and National Guard like never before in waging the war on terror,” said U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-GA. “This will help see to it that the treatment and services we give these individuals are equal to the sacrifice they have made for our country.”

“In this time of increased dependence upon members of our Guard and Reserve, I believe it is imperative that we provide for their needs and recognize their sacrifice,” said U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-AR. “That is why I have worked hard to provide them and their families with the benefits they rightfully deserve and why I have consistently supported legislation to lower the retirement age for members of the Guard and Reserve.”

“Our National Guard and Reserve serve our country with great distinction and sacrifice,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-AR. “Every day of their service should count, and this legislation helps honor our commitment to make sure it does.”

“This bill ensures our citizen soldiers, a very important part of our military, receive retention and recruitment benefits closer to those provided to our active duty forces. We should take this opportunity to honor them for their sacrifice on behalf of our freedom,” said U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS.

08 April 2008

From Senator McCain: Support our troops and their mission

My Friends,

Today, I had the privilege to hear from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on the current state of the war in Iraq and the progress that has been made there. We owe these two patriotic Americans a debt of gratitude for their selfless service to our country.

At the beginning of last year, we were engaged in a great debate about what to do in Iraq. Four years of mismanaged war had brought us almost to the point of no return. Sectarian violence in Iraq was spiraling out of control, life had become a struggle for survival, and a full-scale civil war seemed almost unavoidable. Al Qaeda in Iraq was on the offensive and entire Iraqi provinces were under the control of extremists.

However, rather than retreat from Iraq and face the terrible consequences that would ensue, we chose to change strategies and turn things around. I was proud to be an outspoken advocate for this change in strategy and endured much criticism from members of both parties. As I've said time and time again, I'd rather lose a campaign than lose a war.

"Never despair," Winston Churchill once said. And we did not despair. We were tested, and we rose to the challenge. Some political leaders close their eyes to the progress that the surge has made possible, and want only to argue about the past.

But the question for the next president is not about the past, but about the future and how to secure it.

While the job of bringing security to Iraq is not finished - as the recent fighting in Basra and elsewhere vividly demonstrated - we are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success. Success - the establishment of a peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic state that poses no threat to its neighbors and contributes to the defeat of terrorists - this success is within reach.

Should the United States choose to withdraw from Iraq as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama wish to do; before adequate security is established, we will exchange for this victory a defeat that is terrible and long lasting. Al Qaeda in Iraq would proclaim victory and increase its efforts to provoke sectarian tensions, pushing for a full scale civil war that could descend into genocide and destabilize the Middle East. Iraq would become a failed state that could become a haven for terrorists to train and plan their operations.

We cannot allow this to happen.

The American people deserve the truth from their leaders. Doing the right thing in the heat of a political campaign is not always the easiest thing. But when 4,000 Americans have given their lives so that America does not suffer the worst consequences of our failure in Iraq, it is a necessary thing. In such a grave matter, we must put the nation's interests before our own ambitions.

My opponents' calls for an immediate withdraw, regardless of the consequences, is a reckless and dangerous move that would threaten the long term security of our country. Leadership is not about bowing to the political pressures, it is about thinking through the consequences and having the experience and judgment to make the tough decisions.

Senators Clinton and Obama will surely echo the sentiments of their extreme liberal supporters and call for a pre-emptive withdrawal from Iraq. The American people deserve better. I encourage both candidates to move beyond empty and destructive rhetoric and elevate the debate to a level that the country deserves. There are tough decisions ahead and America deserves leaders that are up to the challenge.

As president, I will ensure that our troops come home victorious in this war that is part of the larger struggle against radical Islamic extremism and will continue to make keeping our nation secure my highest priority.

Sincerely,
John McCain

P.S. - Please join me by signing this petition today, calling on Senators Clinton and Obama to support our troops on the ground and the mission they are carrying out.

Chambliss Statement during Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today made the following opening statement during a hearing in which General David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker delivered a progress report on the situation in Iraq. Chambliss has been to Iraq six times, most recently during Thanksgiving 2007.

“We can’t overstate how much we appreciate your service to America. General Petraeus, I’ve had the privilege of visiting with you a number of times in theater. Each time, irrespective of what the challenge is, you’ve responded in a very professional way, in a way which makes us all proud to be an American. Ambassador Crocker, it’s refreshing to know that there are folks like you who are career diplomats, and you have a number of them under your leadership that are performing such valuable leadership in this particular time of crisis. To both of you and your families, we just thank you for a great job you’re doing. I’m particularly impressed too, General Petraeus, with your comments on the 3rd ID. We are obviously looking forward to those folks returning to Fort Stewart and Fort Benning, and what a great job they’ve done over there. From the very first day of this conflict they were there and they continue to perform magnificently.

I noticed in both your written and spoken statements, compared to what you had to say when you were here in September and the percentage of time spent on what’s happening on the governmental side and the civilian side is remarkably different. When you were here in September, we primarily heard you talk about the update on the military perspective and what had happened and where we were going. Now, thank goodness, we’re here listening to you talk about the improvements that have been made on the Iraqi civilian side. The situation indeed remains complex, but I believe the surge has been effective, and we need to continue to support our efforts to win in Iraq and win the war on terrorism.”

07 April 2008

SMHS Choir Does Their Generation Proud

The Starr’s Mill High School Chorus went to Washington, DC this weekend to perform beautiful music in the National Cathedral, and they did do that, however something else will be what the chorus members remember for the rest of their lives.
During a visit to the Air Force Memorial, the choral group met up with a group of WWII veterans who were also visiting the memorial.
Dr. John Odom, the group’s conductor, led the group in an acappella version of The Starr’s Spangled Banner.
The veterans listened intently proudly wearing their WWII Veteran hats, some holding their hands over their hearts.

As Dr. Odom recalled the events in a letter to the student’s parents; “I have never been more proud of a group of kids as they sang for and interacted with these wonderful men who stood in harm's way so many years ago to insure the freedom that we enjoyed that very day. To see the tears of appreciation and pride run down those wrinkled and war torn faces caused my heart to swell with pride as our kids shook hands, hugged, and poured their hearts out to these veterans."
He continued, "Man after man came to me with tears and shaking voices in appreciation for the love and appreciation shown them moments before. One veteran took my hand and said "I had lost much hope for the future of our nation's generations to come, but because of what I have just experienced with these young souls, my hope is restored for the future of this great nation that so many of my friends died to preserve."

The performance at the National Cathedral was wonderful, and the wreath laying that the kids participated in at Arlington Cemetery was solemn and memorable. But the opportunity to impact the lives of the veterans and to restore their opinion of the today’s young people was by far the most remarkable achievement these young people have ever experienced. After hours of rehearsing the music that they performed at the Cathedral, their finest performance was given from one heartfelt rendition of the Star’s Spangled Banner.

02 April 2008

Governor Perdue Announces Plans for State Memorial Day Ceremony

Governor Sonny Perdue today announced plans for a state Memorial Day Ceremony to take place at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 22, 2008, at Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta.

“Georgia’s courageous and dedicated servicemen and women continue to answer the call to defend America’s freedom around the globe,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “This ceremony will pay tribute to our fallen soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen, those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of others. I hope that every Georgian will join with us in honoring these brave men and women.”

The ceremony will include remarks by Governor Perdue and a keynote address by Lt. General Russel Honoré, United States Army (Ret.). General Honoré retired in January after nearly 37 years of service in the military, most recently as Commanding General of U.S. First Army, headquartered at Ft. Gillem, Georgia. He is known for his outstanding leadership and coordination as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina after the 2005 hurricane.

The program will also include a solemn tribute to honor the Georgia servicemen and women who have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony. Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) will stream video of the ceremony on its website at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, 2008. GPB will also broadcast the ceremony on television at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 25, 2008.

In the following weeks, further programmatic and logistical details of the ceremony will be announced.

MEDICAL PERSONNEL READY FOR INAUGURAL HONOR FLIGHT FAYETTE TRIP ON MAY 14TH

Volunteer Fayette County medical personnel have been meeting with Honor Flight Fayette President Gail Sparrow and nurses Linda Payne and Nancy Romans in preparation for the much anticipated May 14th flight to Washington D.C. with 70 World War II veterans aboard. In fact, so many emergency medical technicians and paramedics signed up for the trip that there is a waiting list for future flights. There is also a doctor who will be traveling with the group.

Members of the non-profit organization, Honor Flight Fayette, are volunteers whose sole purpose is to say a tangible "thank you" to the veterans of WWII who have made so many of our freedoms today possible. The one day trip is free to the veterans and will include air fare, meals, ground transportation and commemorative gifts. Accompanying them, in addition to the medical personnel, will be guardians who will pay their own way to spend their time assisting the veterans with any help they may need during the trip.

The World War II Memorial was not completed until 59 years after the war ended and the "youngest" veteran of that war is now 79 years of age. Because we are sadly losing these men and women at the rate of 1,200 or more per day it is obvious that time is of the essence for us to show our gratitude and ask ourselves, "at what cost did they secure my freedom and how can I repay them"?

Honor Flight Fayette is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a dedicated board of directors to guide the effort. Donations may be made in honor or memory of someone, used to pay a veterans way ($400) or used toward their meals, etc. If you would like to know how you can help in this most worthwhile cause, please check honorflightfayette.org or call 770-719-1024