January 19, 2004


I was driving home about an hour ago, bouncing with lots of fun ideas for the next installment of Building the Ideal American, when all of a sudden I was hit between the eyes with a diamond bullet. I had made a commitment before Christmas, and through my neglect I have damn near let the window close on it. Damn near, but not quite.

So let's talk about what you owe. Nothing soaring and abstract this time. I mean, specifically: what you owe me. What, do you suppose, do you owe me for all of the essays and entries over the past year or so? Brass tacks: how much, in cash, do you think you've gotten from this website, in terms of time well spent?

Can we say $5.00? Minimum? Does that seem fair? If you've been coming here a lot over the weeks and months, and if you've read most of the SILENT AMERICA essays, do you think that might be worth perhaps $10.00? No more than $20.00, certainly -' that's what I was going to charge for the as yet unfinished book. So, can we agree, you owe me somewhere between $5.00 and $20.00 dollars? That seem about right?

I've been writing about, and you've been reading about, the nature of this country -' about it's generosity of spirit, about the mechanisms of our wealth and prosperity. And I feel I am at my best when I talk about the men and women who serve and defend her in our place, so that we may sit here warm and comfortable and surf the net in safety, free from fear.

I was asked to drive down to Camp Pendleton a few weeks ago and talk with the commander of the First Marine Division. In person. I was heartbroken to have been unable to attend that great honor, but I promised to do my best and that is what I am doing now. My best.

In the next few weeks, these young men and women will return to the deadly Sunni Triangle in Iraq. They read the news. They can count.

If you do not think that these teenagers are thinking about what we are about to ask of them -' again, for these were the kids that lassoed that statue and pulled it to the ground -' then you have another think coming.

When an entire division ships halfway around the world, it is like moving a small city. Everything they need must go with them. Space is at a premium. And in place of additional weapons or ammo or other vital supplies, in place of some personal items to help them stay connected to home, these Marines have chosen to dedicate 3 entire ship borne containers of their own tightly limited supply resources to bring to the Iraqi people, and especially the hard-line Sunni's who are doing most of the fighting -' the elements that they not only need, but also some things they most decidedly do not need. The kind of things that make life feel like something a little more than survival. Like fifteen thousand Frisbees -' that's two tons of them, each printed with the word 'FRIENDSHIP' in English and Arabic.

Think about that for a second. Think about the sight of these fearsome, towering, heavily armed warriors distributing Frisbees to kids and teenagers who have likely never seen one, much less tossed one before. What kind of invaders do such a thing? What kind of monsters throw Frisbees with kids?

Three containers also holds a lot of medical equipment. The West Caldwell, NJ, Fire Department has just donated all they could spare of their surplus Fire Helmets and Jackets -' 18 sets or so. With all my recent silliness aside for a moment: Where do we find these people?

Those helmets and jackets are going in the containers. Lots of things can go in the containers. Police and Civil Defense supplies, so that Iraqis can feel some sense of pride in themselves and their institutions once again.

If you have ever marked my words, do so now: Arabs having pride in themselves is the absolute key, the very fulcrum upon which this entire, world-changing strategy depends.

This is too important to screw up. This image of America, this face of our soldiers is the essence of everything I have tried to convey to all of you over the past year.

Not only do I think this is essential to the people of Iraq; I believe in my heart that this will, in the long run, save the lives of some of the sons and daughters we are sending over there next month. I do fervently believe that what the Marines have asked us to help them with will turn the hearts and minds of many who may have been turned away.

So I am asking you now, to pay back the debt you owe me. I am asking you to go to the Spirit of America website by clicking here. And I am asking you to donate from $5.00 to $20.00 to this cause, because my voice is only here because of people like this, because of a nation that can do such things as this.

The final words of the Declaration of Independence echo through my mind at this moment, like a fading cannon shot across still water:

We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Our lives are safe and comfortable, thanks to these men and women. Our fortunes have seen no equal in all of history, thanks to these men and women. And our sacred Honor is being upheld by teenagers in uniform who have asked us to help them bring medicine, fire helmets and Frisbees to a people brutalized for two generations. Some of these kids, likely, will not come home. They know this. And still they go: volunteers all.

We owe them. We owe them.

Posted by Proteus at January 19, 2004 9:08 AM

Welcome to the Eject! Eject! Eject! commenter community. Please read and understand the following:

1. This is not a public square. This is a dinner party on personal property. Good conversation is not only tolerated but celebrated here. But the host understands the difference between dissent and disrespect, even if you do not. Louts will be ignored until the bouncers can show them the door.

2. This is a voluntary online community. Your posting of any material, whether in comments or otherwise, grants to William A. Whittle, Aurora Aerospace, Inc. and their affiliates, a perpetual, royalty-free, non-exclusive, worldwide license to use, sublicense, reproduce or incorporate into other material all or any portion of the material posted, for commercial or other use.

3. If a comment does find its way into a main page essay, print, or other media, every effort will be made to credit the individual making the comment. So chose your screen name accordingly, SLNTFRT33@yahoo.com!

Now let's see some distributed intelligence and basic human decency! Don't make me come down there every five minutes!


Through my work and home, I have donated over $5000 worth of books to our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. I just sent out five book crates of toys to Operation Give.

And I just gave my share of money to Spirit of America. Thank you for the link. I only wish that I could do more.

Keep up the good work, Marines.

And you keep it up too, Bill. There's still enough money for that book when you finally finish it.


Jason, you are a hero. I admire you enormously.

Bill - thank you for your support on this. It means a great deal. It's especially encouraging that people like you see the opportunity that we - the American people - have to make a meaningful contribution to victory in Iraq ... victory as defined as getting Iraq on a steady path to being a peaceful and prosperous society. There is no more important task in front of us. As I've gotten to know the Marines over the past year I've been deeply moved and encouraged by the quality and intent of these men and women who represent us overseas ... who are called upon to be warriors one minute and humanitarian workers the next. What we know for sure is that one-to-one interactions make a difference EVERYWHERE and Iraq is no exception. By all of us pitching in as we can with this, there will be results.


Your timing is superb, Bill. I learned tonight that a friend will provide lodging and transportation when I visit D.C. in late March (for the first time).
The savings in travel expenses will go to Spirit of America.

Amy, you magnificent BASTARD!

THAT'S the spirit.

People can also check with the local bases or the Reserve Centers, to see if there is anything the local troops need/want/require before they ship out.

Across America, the military has groups to help Service Members. Locally, we have the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow, Edwards AFB, and Fort Irwing. The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Soceity for the Navy and USMC, The Air Force Assistance Fund for the USAF and the Army Emergency Relief for the Army provide Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines with immediate help in emergencies, such as no interest loans to fly Service Members home because of serious illnesses or deaths in the family.

I have been backing these guys yearly since 1977, they are all deductable donations, and you provide bottom line assistance for folks who really need it.

Sapper Mike

I think you have underestimated the value of what you've written, so I sent $40. Hope you don't mind. I'm looking forward to handing over another $20 or so for the book, too.


Thanks for the link, Bill. I cannot think of a worthier cause right now.

Done. You are absolutely correct that having pride in themselves IS the key. Maybe frisbees are only the beginning of the road, but it is a beginning. Thanks for making us aware of it.

Ditto on the link, Bill. I just sent an email around the office telling people to pony up; how can you NOT shell out a few bucks for this kind of philanthropic cause? Make Iraqi lives better and save some American ones in the bargain.

I sent my $25, and I'm happy to do so.

"Even the smallest person can change the course of the future," Galadriel said. This may also be true about Frisbees.


Thanks for the post and the link! One comment: it's posts like this which make me wish you had an 'Email this column/post' button or something so that I could just send it to everyone I know.

Guess I'm just going to be sending everyone a URL now.

As for the Fire equiptment:

I just UPS'd out all the equiptment - 210+ pounds consisting of 16 helmets, 14 pairs of bunker gear, and 17 jackets have been donated by the WCVFD as listed (three boxes worth!). It is the least we could do to help our brother firefighters in Iraq, and no less importantly, our brave men and women who risk all for our freedom. If it makes the difference in one Iraqi's mind, I will feel it was a success-

These are but small measures taken compared to the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, and all the people who put their lives on the line... God Bless them all-


PS- if anyone has an affiliation with a Fire Department who may be interested in donating, e-mail me, or go to the web-site and let them know your intentions- it's well worth it...

Here's $100.00 for the efforts of the 1st Marines. This is a small down payment that is owed to these fine gentlemen. Their efforts on behalf of "Toys for Tots" is another example of the work these warriors do.
Keep up the fine work.
John ( a retired Squid airdale)


I've been reading your stuff for awhile now and I must say you are selling yourself short at $20. I'm a dentist in the army over in Germany and I've got many many friends over in Iraq right now. It's comforting to know how many people really care about whats going on over there and all the sacrifices being made by the soldiers (and marines, airmen and seamen of course). This is the 2nd time now I've been directed to Spirit of America site for the 1st Marines and the 2nd time now I've donated. If all my favorite blogs keep sending me there...I soon might have some explaining to do to the Mrs...

Keep up the good writing Bill...


Quite right, Bill. Paypal is delivering $10 from me, and I believe that is too little for what you have written and *WAY* too little for what they have done.

Consider it done. Semper Fi

Done and done! (Good timing... today is my payday.) Now I will reward myself by using the rest of this comment to suggest that Molly Ivins may secretly have a crush on George Bush.

A real worthy cause; I'll spread the word.

And, for the record, the free ice cream phrase was stolen from Lileks.

Tasking complete.

Next assignment?

Bill, it was my great honor and pleasure to attend your first test show last year... I saw that Steven den Beste had posted this request last week (I think?), and had been meaning to check for legitimacy, as I do with all causes before I donate to see if they are on the up&up. Your request is all the legitimacy I needed, so the donation has been made. Keep up The Good Fight.

- John

Bill, I just want to say thanks, and that I've sent my 20. As a proud former member of the 1stMarDiv (over there the first time), I'm happy to help.

"TOW, by God!"

I put in $10, though the value of what I've read on your site far exceeds that.

Thank you Bill, and Godspeed to our Marines.


Thank You for getting me up off my dead butt.


BTW, You're worth much more than $20

Black Oak


ex L/CPL USMC 1970-1972

There are 44,000 US soldiers in Iraq without ceramic body armor capable of stopping an AK-47 round.

I wrote Rumsfeld about where to send the money from my bakesale to buy armor for the troops but he hasn't replied. Shall I just send it to you?

They got $50.00 from me. Money's a little tight and it's gonna get tighter soon, but those guy's are hanging thier asses out for us. I figure I can forego some minor luxuries for a few weeks.

And really, my definition of "tight" and "luxury" are relative to what I'm used to as an American. I aksed myself, how hard will it really be to knock off beer and steaks for a few weeks? Considering the relative sacrifice, not that hard.

I've passed on the link to this article to some friends who may not come here regularly Bill.

And as someone said, you are definitely worth more than 20 bucks.

Take care.

Done x 5.

And I haven't read all the essays yet. I find that they require reflection and digestion, and I get spiritually constipated if I take them too fast. (And sometimes run out of Kleenex.)

Besides, I'm rationing them - I found your writing on November 3, 2003 - wrote my first ever fan mail of any discription, and settled in to lurk. Well, I guess I've given up the lurking.

But your assessment of the debt owed does not jive with mine.

Just after I posted, I had a horrid thought - I need to clarify.

My comments about debt not jiving are with respect to you and your writing, Mr. Whittle, and not with respect to our soldiers. On that debt, sir, we are fully aligned.

Sorry, I'm new at this.

I just fired an idea through google, and it didn't immediately come up with anything.

My thought is this: take up a collection to buy the Iraqi Police a few of these or petition Harley Davidson to donate a few.

I'm curious if anyone else thinks this might be a good idea, or if something like this is already in the works.

There are very few things that express Jacksonian individuality like a Harley does. That's the very image they shoot for.

Well, now I don't have an excuse to not set up a PayPal account...

(I've got the sneaking suspicion that link won't work, so use this
as a backup.)

WILCO....EOM, rounds complete.

Just donated $20.00. Best bargain I have found in a loooong time.

Just sent 20 bucks their way.

Tinman, this story (http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,FL_armor_011404,00.html) says that Interceptor (who makes the ceramic plates) will have enough armor in theatre for all the troops, by the end of January.

Bill, if there is anything more we can do, let us know.

Hi! I'm new to this site. I just linked here through IMAO, and felt compelled, after reading, to plunk down $20 for the cause. I don't generally give much to charity, because I'm not making much right now and I'm paying my own way through college, but I felt this was extremely important. I definately appreciate what you are doing here.

First timer here, found you through IMAO. Your words are an inspiration to all. I have been meaning to donate for some time, thanks for the pivotal reminder. The deed is done!


Hey Bill,

I'm a longtime reader of both your site and IMAO, and of SDB's site as well. I've never posted a response - I'm not much for the blogger comment wars - but I wanted to let you know that I've given $25 to Spirit of America. I wish I could give more but USF just sucked another semester of grad school tuition from my bank account, so it's a bit anemic right now.

Anyway, I'm glad to do what I can. Thanks for letting us all know about this excellent charity.


Done. And it's cheap at the price. I think back to the first Gulf War, when the Internet was mostly used by enthusiasts and university comp sci students, and hadn't yet come to the attention of the public at large. Now it makes it so easy to do something like this that there's really no excuse not to.


I like the troops and all, but I f**king LOVE FRISBEES! Hell yeah I'll pay up! /sarcasm

Really, it is not a donation, it is an obligation. I drink the frosty brew of freedom everyday, it's about time to buy a round for the bartender.

One last, slightly related item. When honoring those that serve, remember that there is another wonderful way to improve their lot. Whenever an election rolls around, look very carefully at those vying for your favor, and find out how he/she stands on the military. Regardless of party, (there are saints and sinners on both sides of the aisle) there are many folks at various levels of government that can have an effect on our troops.

Do your homework, and then VOTE.

Done, Bill.

If I may say, you made one incredible point that you failed to name: what makes us American is our CHOICE to pay for the services done to uphold our rights and freedom. The calling card of the Left is the willingness to force us to pay for countless services at the point of a gun (and disarming us of our guns at that), while those who truly love liberty will find the means to fund its protection willingly and abundantly.

Gratitude to those men and women in Iraq will never need to be forced upon us. We will always gladly give it.

Thanks, Bill.

A good idea, but I already gave a fair amount to the Iraqis through http://www.operationgive.org/ so I have to think on it a bit.

Maybe the various donation groups should join up with each other to avoid duplication of efforts and maybe make it more likely to get help from organizaitons.... pool their resources.

Actually, I believe that every dollar that is given out by the US in foreign aid should carry the condition that it must be publicly and vocally acknowledged by the governments receiving it. There would *have* to be corresponding reduction in the "America is oppressing us" cries if the populations of those countries actually knew how much we do for them.

Thanks for finding this and letting us all know about it. I tossed $50 into the kitty - this is exactly the sort of thing that needs to be done to solve the problem in Iraq.

The Campbell family has donated to the cause.

Nothing compared to those going, but hopefully it will make their job easier.

Done. Await your next.



Thanxabunch for the link and I hope they Hava Happy!

done and done. Who knows, in another 8 months, I might be seeing some of the stuff my donation will buy, being the pointy end of the spear...

I'm in for a hundred.

I also have 500 lbs of stuff for Operation Give in my garage. It's enough to totally stuff a station waggon. The problem is getting it to Baltimore - there has to be a better (cheaper) way than UPS. If anyone out there in Whittle-land has any experience with trucking partial loads, I could use some advice on who to call and what to say. Drop me a note at richard (at) riley (dot) net

D*mmit man! Now you're making me support jarheads!Still, support sent.

Bill: right ON! For Christmas, we sent 10 really packed, first class packages overseas to 8 men and 2 women soldiers deployed in Iraq. In each package we included school supplies and candy for Iraqi kids. Next time, we'll include frisbees!

I love the concept of Spirit of America and will absolutely donate on my next charitable outing. By the way, everyone should check out the bio of Jeremiah Denton (About us --> Leadership) at the Spirit of America Website. Admiral Denton is on its advisory board.

I especially love this... about a year into his 7 year captivity in Hanoi, he was dragged in front of cameras for an interview and asked whether he supported the U.S. policy regarding the Vietnam war. He responded:

"I don't know what is happening now in Vietnam, because the only news sources I have are North Vietnamese, but whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it, I support it, and I will support it as long as I live."

Done. You and the Marines and happy Iraqi children are worth every penny.

this calls for contributions!

send your trooper a journal so he/she may record his/her feelings about our CIC's Gun Diplomacy

my support for our military remains unshaken despite the policies of the Bolo who commands them...


Bill, I was informed through Sgt Grit's Marine Forum (Grunt.com) of a collection being taken up for our wounded Marines when they first began arriving at Bethesda back last spring. Spousal Unit and I promptly went to Costco and bought a couple hundred dollars worth of long distance cards for distribution to these guys to call their families. The officer's wife who headed this effort up reported an unprecedented outpouring of material from private individuals and companies. So much in fact that they were overwhelmed.

I'll be happy to drop $20 on the link above and also waiting and hoping that there will not be many new arrivals at Bethesda Naval Hospital this time around.

-Jesse Brown
Former Marine

$50 in the pot.
Got a running total yet?

I am in...However, there was no mechanism to track my donation back to your site, so I assume we won't have a running total from your site alone...
not that we need one.
I shake my head when I think how this generation of kids who grew up as latchkey kids with little discipline, MTV and "New Kids on the Block" have turned into the warriors they are and tears well up in my eyes... I tell my duaghter I didn't think her generation had it in them. I sure as hell dont think my spot on the boomer curve had it in them either to accomplish what todays kids are doing...

$10.00 to Spirit of America, and I'll be helping the Operation Give folks at the warehouse next weekend. G-d bless and godspeed!

Since we're on the subject of owing, let's not forget Rachel Lucas. We owe her a lot for her hand in introducing you and your essays to the world wide web.

Thank you Rachel Lucas!

Done x5

Thank YOU!

Absolutely unofficial running total estimate.


Anyone who did not indicate a donation - didn't.
(I'm not saying you didn't - I just didn't assume a donation.)
Anyone who did not indicate an amount - assume $10
Only those who commented were counted - no lurker estimate.


How many frisbees does that buy?

It's so hard to hate you when you do things like this..

To misquote the immortal words of a young Jean Gale, "Bill Whittle, I'll love you til the day I die."

Keep an eye on the bushes outside your place..

Due to having half of my income stolen by the state in the form of taxes, plus some past irresponsibility on my part, I have very little to spare for charity. What I do have, I'll be giving to real Americans who are fighting imprisonment by their fascist government for breaking "laws" with no right to be. The Iraqis can take care of themselves, and I wish we'd get out of there and let them do that.

Done. ($10.00 towards the total). Thanks for making more of us aware of this very worthy effort.

Check Six

Done. 20 smackeroos, and if I read the story of your dad's funeral again, I'm likely to hit "Pay now" about 30 more times.

Thanks for the nudge, Bill.

$50.00 went from my PayPal account (which I use mostly to donate to bloggers). An honor to help.

When's the book coming out? I need to buy some to give as gifts.