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Commentary: We invite you to celebrate Austin Tice’s birthday
Thirty-eight years ago Sunday, after nine months of waiting, we finally had the great delight of meeting our firstborn, Austin Bennett Tice.
Today, we wish we could remind him of how glad we are he was born, how blessed we are to be his parents, how truly we believe the world is a better place for having him in it.
But we can't do that; Austin is detained in Syria. We are not allowed any contact with him.
Sunday is his 2,554th day of detention.
Austin went to Syria in 2012. As a freelance journalist, he was there to cover the escalating conflict and raise awareness of the horrible consequences of urban warfare, especially for children.
His 31st birthday was the last time we were able to share the joy of this special date with him – singing the "birthday song" over the internet, reminiscing about the past year and sharing dreams for the year ahead.
Three days later, on Aug. 14, 2012, Austin was detained at a checkpoint near Damascus.
He has been held in secret and in silence for almost seven years.
Today, we are wistfully thinking of all the ways we wish we could celebrate with him.
We are fondly remembering wonderful birthday celebrations of the past: delightful summer gatherings of family and friends, which included imaginative cakes, party games, and, of course, thoughtful gifts.
There are so many things we would love to do to celebrate with Austin, but the birthday candles and games and gifts will have to wait until he comes home.
Until then, we will continue to faithfully pray and relentlessly work to bring our son safely home.
Today, we are celebrating by announcing the launch of the "Ask About Austin" campaign.
We invite you to join us in urging the White House and the State Department to continue to use every diplomatic means available to secure Austin's safest and soonest return.
We ask you to help make our birthday wish for Austin come true:
Go to AskAboutAustinTice.org to send messages to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and your members of Congress. Add your signature to a petition to the U.S. government asking that all available diplomatic means be used to bring Austin safely home.
If you are in the Washington, D.C., metro area, please sign up to volunteer on Sept. 23, when we plan to canvass Capitol Hill to raise awareness for Austin and make sure every member of Congress knows about the upcoming two-day exhibit of Austin's photos from Syria, beginning Sept. 30 in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Invite your family, your friends, and your colleagues to join us in celebrating Austin by bringing him safely home.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Debra and Marc Tice are the parents of journalist Austin Tice, who has been detained in Syria since 2012. For more information: www.austinticefamily.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.