Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 29, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

MEMORIAL DAY.... Memorial Day didn't become a holiday until after the Civil War, but it was the Civil War that inspired it. So here's what my great-grandfather, Eli Drum, was doing 143 years ago today:

Friday 29th
Done nothing to day but patrol the streets.

Those would be the streets of Glasgow, Kentucky, where Eli and the rest of the Illinois 107th were twiddling their thumbs waiting for Ambrose Burnside to get started on the Eastern Tennessee campaign.

From these humble beginnings, Eli became a journalist in the town of Cerro Gordo, Illinois, where he and his neighbors observed Memorial Day every year with picnics and American flags. In a few minutes, I'm going to do the same.

See you tomorrow.

Kevin Drum 2:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (59)

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Comments

Thank you, Eli Drum, for helping to preserve our one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all!

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on May 29, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

On this note, Kevin, when you get back, the CBS crew members who just died in a roadside bomb deserve a mention.

Posted by: glasnost on May 29, 2006 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Blogs have come a long ways since 1863.

Posted by: JC on May 29, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

I just moved to Cerro Gordo St. in Los Angeles. I love that kind of "now I recognize that name" "coincidence."

Posted by: Tbag on May 29, 2006 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Don't worry; I have it on good authority that the insurgency/resistance is in its last throes.

Posted by: Ed Muntin on May 29, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure the people searching your place while you are out appreciate this info.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on May 29, 2006 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

Those would be the streets of Glasgow, Kentucky, where Eli and the rest of the Illinois 107th were twiddling their thumbs waiting for Ambrose Burnside to get started on the Eastern Tennessee campaign.

And, of course, Burnside won. So, why don't you have similar patience while Iraq gets its democracy together and some of our troops twiddle their thumbs patrolling Baghdad?

Posted by: American Hawk on May 29, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

"We cant bust heads like we used to, but we have our ways. One trick is to tell 'em stories that dont go anywhere -- like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. 'Give me five bees for a quarter,' youd say.
"Now where were we? Oh yeah -- the important thing was that I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didnt have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones..."

Posted by: Abraham Simpson on May 29, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

The war, dear Hawk, that Eli Drum fought in isn't actually over, although victory for the Confederacy is in sight insofar as it controls all three branches of the Federal government.

Do you expect Iraq to be wrapped up much faster?

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on May 29, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

You're right, Hawk: if one war was worth fighting, all are.

Is there some bizarro world where your logic actually works?

Posted by: Bobarino on May 29, 2006 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

My great grandfather was in Switzerland contentedly breast feeding. No diary entry though.

Cheers.

Posted by: B on May 29, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

A Hawk,

We didn't have any gigantic external army stomping around 'helping' us with that war, did we?

Posted by: cld on May 29, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I often wonder if it would have been better for the North if they had let the South secede and let the South reap the whirlwind from their apartheid system much like South Africa in recent history?

Posted by: bruce from chicago on May 29, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Very cool journal.

Posted by: Frequency Kenneth on May 29, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Ugh, Burnside, Antietam. Good thing your great-grandpa survived.

Posted by: MNPundit on May 29, 2006 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

american hawk you might like to know that ambrose burnside was one of the worst generals that wore union blue. his ineptitude rivals that of george w. bush. waiting for him to do anything had to be an excrutiating experience. i've always felt sorry for those who served in his ninth corps. burnside, however, met his match in the eastern tennessee campaign.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on May 29, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Great post!

Posted by: Chris on May 29, 2006 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Let us all work for the day when every American soldier can write in their journal every day, "Done nothing to day."

Posted by: charlie don't surf on May 29, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

And, of course, Burnside won. So, why don't you have similar patience while Iraq gets its democracy together and some of our troops twiddle their thumbs patrolling Baghdad?

Posted by: American Hawk on May 29, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

You are a sack of shit. Our troops twiddling their thumbs? Actually, there, keyboard commando, they are getting shot at, killed and maimed daily in your shitty little war while you post your brave comments and fight "liberals" from behind your keyboard. FUCK YOU, asshole.

Posted by: Pat on May 29, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

I don't mind Southerners memorializing their dead too, as long as they don't promote attitudes I can't accept. But wearing a Confederate flag lapel pin, as did Sen. George Allen and probable 2008 Republican primary candidate for Prez., is more than just a bumper sticker. Youthful as he was, a lapel pin has that cachet of meaningfulness that goes beyond youthful rebellion. Yes, let's stop the continued rising again of the old South.

PS - 10th anniversary this year of passing of my father, WW II "hump pilot." I also had a great-grandfather in the Civil War, in Penn. Cavalry, 109th IIRC and a volunteer.

Posted by: Neil' on May 29, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Let everyone remember today that, at it's core, war is a direct violation of Jesus's admonition to love one another, as he has loved us. We need a day commemorating the million of innocent lives that have been cut short by war, not just one honoring thr warriors. You can call Memorial Day patriotic, just don't ever call it Christian.

Posted by: Stephen on May 29, 2006 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

earlier this spring, i visited the american cemetery in manila. impressively depressing. next time some idiot wants to take this country to war, he ought to first visit this place. acres and acres of white crosses and stars of david commemorating those who died way too early in a place thousands of mile from home. same should be required of any one, any time who thinks war is a good idea.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on May 29, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

And in July 1863, 20-year-old Silas Greene Gamble, one of my maternal great grandfathers, was marching south with his newly drafted regiment, still inside Illinois, when his replacement rode in on an old horse, with an old rifle, old revolver, and a change of civilian clothes -- all for Greene. Neighbors, none of them wealthy, had pooled the $300 needed to buy the replacement. They knew that Greene's widowed mother and the younger children would not be able to stay on the farm without Greene. His surviving letters describe a wonderous ride home on the old horse.

It's a very American story. Greene died February 1918, after my maternal grandfather, Arthur Butterfield Stall, began training with the 90th Division in Texas. Arthur subsequently fought in the St. Mihiel and Meuse Argonne offensives. He was in the front lines when the Armistice was declared.

Memorial Day is a day of nifty American spirituality for me. Dinner is eaten in view of an American flag, somewhere.

Posted by: Stephen Neitzke on May 29, 2006 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Great post Mr. Drum.

On this day in 1775, my 6th great-grandfather Roland Stockman had recently returned home to Newburyport Mass from service in the Battle of Lexington under Captain Moses Nowell, and was awaiting a decision from the Continental Congress in Philadelphia regarding the formation of a revolutionary army. He would re-enlist under Nowell's command (in defense of the Newburyport seaport) on July 10th.

Over in Rockingham County New Hampshire, another 6th great-grandfather Dr. Joseph Adams would soon see at least one of his sons off to war. He and his father Reverend Joseph Adams were probably quite worried by this point. The Adams name was already widely suspect in New England. Their 2nd cousin Samuel Adams was a wanted fugitive from the British authorities, and Reverend Adams's favorite nephew John was a delegate to the Contintenal Congress. Within two weeks, they would vote to raise the Contintental Army and name George Washington as its commander.

Posted by: Linus on May 29, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to direct attention away from American Hawk--I know it's against the rules of this blog lately--but thought some of y'all might enjoy this.

MY MISSED OPPORTUNITY TO HARANGUE JOE LIEBERMAN, by shortstop

Was sitting in National Airport (won't use the other name) yesterday morning when I looked up and there was Senator Appeaserman heading right toward me, having apparently been given a rare Sunday morning off from acting as craven, whining apologist for Bush on the talk shows. Joe is among the top 10 or 15 members of Congress with whom I wouldn't mind having a "WTF is wrong with you!?" conversation, and certainly #1 "on our side." So y'all can imagine my shame when, given only about two seconds' notice, the best I could come up with as he walked directly in front of me was:

"Go, Ned!"

Old Joe loudly goes, "Chuh!" and rolls his eyes at me, then keeps booking toward his gate. I jump up to follow him for what I hope will be an enjoyable chin-wag and he makes a beeline onto his plane--ahead of everyone else, of course, and pulling his own oversized, unchecked bag (by far the least of his sins) down the jetway.

I head back to my seat to find Lieberman despiser mr. shortstop, who was sick as a dog and hadn't smiled since Friday night, howling with laughter. "That's my girl. Wouldn't he have been surprised if you'd been the person sitting next to him on the plane?" he says, miming frantic hits at the overhead call button for the flight attendant.

Moral of the story...well, I don't know. Figure out just what you want to say to every public figure if you're ever given a few seconds to say it? Seems a bit burdensome, doesn't it?

Posted by: shortstop on May 29, 2006 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Dunno, "Go Ned" isn't the worst you could do. Though I might have favored a robust "Look honey, it's Senator Apeaserman!" myself.

Well done. Drinks on the house!

Posted by: craigie on May 29, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Go Shortstop!


If it had been me I don't think I could have done more than just gape at him, and I'm sure he'd have gotten the wrong idea.

Posted by: cld on May 29, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

I'm happy to report that two of my great great grand-uncles were stationed in the Union Army guarding Fort Marcy, Virginia, thus preserving for future generations what would ultimately be the birthplace of endless Hillary Clinton conspiracy theories.

Posted by: Tom on May 29, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

To me, on a day like today, Chickehawk is irrelevant. I am not even turned on by smacking down Joe Appeaserman, although, Shortstop, you did better than I could have on the spur of the moment.

You see, I just returned from visiting my mother and father's graves. As they were in life, side by side they are for all eternity. My mother died May 24, 2005, a little more than a year ago. I am in my 50s, but it still feels funny being an orphan. No one to call when something good happens with one of the children or grandchildren. No one to call when I need an understanding ear. I have a loving wife, but our lives are so interconnected we share everything, good and bad, as it happens. I have friends, but some how they are not the same as my mother or father.

My dad died May 7, 2002. On his marker it reads United States Navy, World War II. At the time of his funeral some nice men came out and fired a salute. They handed my mother a flag. It was then and in a profound way, later talking to my mother, that I understood that, just like a lot of men and women of his generation, my dad was a hero. The distinguished flying cross, air medals, and a record in combat that sent shivers down my back when my mother told the stories. My mother told me that of the 64 airmen in his unit only 8 survived the war. She might have been exaggerating, but my dad was in torpedo bombers. Those units took a lot of casualties. His was in a lot of battles.

To the day he died my dad never talked about his service. He once told me that he was all he ever wanted out of the Navy. His military service just wasn't important. Raising his family, being a good husband, being a good employee and a good boss, and playing golf (not necessarily in that order) were what counted in his life. He always looked forward. Never backward. He wanted to build more and better during his life. He was very proud of his accomplishments in his job. He would spend hours telling about this invention or that innovation. He was proud of his sons and spent hours bragging on their accomplishments. He never talked about the Navy. His military service was in the past. The Navy had given him his wish. He was out.

I just returned from the cometary. On the way home I realized that there are millions, upon millions of people like my dad who served in WWII. All they wanted out of military service was themselves. Most of them got their wish. Hundreds of thousands didn't. Collectively, with their mates, all of them built the world in which we live.

Thank you, all of you.

As to American Chickenhawk, give it a rest for at least one night. Show some respect. Just once.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 29, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

its an unpseakable disgrace to all who've given so much to America what it stood for to have George W. Bush at the helm on Memorial Day, on the 4th of July, on Veterans Day. It feels dirty, like a greasy pustule slime has covered all that is good about America...all that it once was before the great defiling of 2000-2008.
.

Posted by: justfred on May 29, 2006 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

NEWS ALERT: Drunken cowboy and well-known National Guard deserter spotted at Arlington National Cemetery! Details at Ten! F-L-A-S-H!!!

Posted by: Geraldo Rivera on May 29, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk, vying for the title of Stupidest Fucking Guy on the Face of the Planet, writes:

And, of course, Burnside won. So, why don't you have similar patience while Iraq gets its democracy together and some of our troops twiddle their thumbs patrolling Baghdad?

Maybe because we were fighting the Civil War for a good and clear reason, unlike in Iraq. Perhaps because the 1,000 reminders that we need just be patient have only made matters worse. And finally because you, American Chickenhawk, are not lugging a rifle in the streets of Baghdad. The day you are, I will have all kinds of patience.

Posted by: Chuck on May 29, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Great move shortstop !!!

And thanks to all that share stories of their family & friends that did their duty when called upon. Those many have helped build what "We the people..." used to have before Bush Handlers, Inc.

With some patience & perseverance I believe that some day soon "We, the people..." will clear up our problem & assist the rest of humanity in joining us.

In the silence let the bugle blow in hope that war shall leave us and a mighty age of peace & good will toward all will blossom

Peace be with ya all & yours

"The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices." - James Carte

Posted by: daCascadian on May 29, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

And finally because you, American Chickenhawk, are not lugging a rifle in the streets of Baghdad. The day you are, I will have all kinds of patience.

Indeed.

Posted by: Cruel Troll Killer on May 29, 2006 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Memorial Day. I spend this day thinking of the guys I served with in Vietnam who are forever frozen as 19-year-olds. Now I'm old enough to be their grandfather and am (usually) enjoying my life as it unfolds to a normal conclusion.

War sucks. And chickenhawks deserve a place in the seventh circle. If I could be granted one wish, it would be that all of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders who post here could be magically transported to Iraq right now. To be led of course by some of the fearless political leaders of this generation. And serving alongside those leaders' children.

Hail to the Chief.

Posted by: Nixon Did It on May 29, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

My father was one of six boys, five of whom served in WW2. Only three saw real action: One spent the war years waiting for a missile to blow up the munitions boat that he was on. My father and his brother were in the army: His brother was killed in the South Pacific in 1944. My Dad, so I was told, was the youngest commissioned officer in the US Army, just over 18 years old. He arrived in Europe shortly after D-Day and fought his way across Belgium. He was in the Battle of the Bulge and liberated a prisoner of war camp. He was 21 years old when the war ended.

He returned with a mild form of what we would now label PTSD. Once at a restaurant, right after he got home, a car backfired on the street outside the window where he and my mother were seated. He was under the table before he was conscious of his reaction.

He forbade us from ever using the word "hate," and we couldn't point our toy guns at one another. "Guns are for killing," he would instruct us. "I am the only person you know who has killed people." I would lie in my bed at night and imagine what I would do if the Nazis came to my house.

On my mother's side, my uncle was in a plane shot down over Mongolia. My mother was living with my father's family when the word came that my father's brother had been killed--when the message arrived she knew that either my uncle or my father had been killed. So when she learned that it was my uncle, she said, she felt such enormous relief, that she was ashamed.

I have nothing but contempt for George Bush, a man who plays at war. My father would be so appalled at what Bush has done to our country.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 29, 2006 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

I think A-hawk was trying to be ironic. It missed obviously by the reactions.

As for ancestry, I cannot claim Civil War forebears. Have never understood the fascination that the re-enactors have with the butchery. Dad was from Virginia and born in 1914 and we assumed he had a grandfather or great uncle who served under Jackson or Lee, but he was an orphan and we have no family history. Mom's grandfather was a wetback from Canada who settled in New England after the war. So they always had their arguments on wether it should be called "corn bread" or "johnny cake" but otherwise it was peaceful coexistence.

Posted by: jim58 on May 29, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Meanwhile, one of my great-grandfathers was in a cavalry unit preparing to move out. A few weeks ahead were Brandy Station and Gettysburg.
I am more comfortable with the cause of his great-grandfather, who spent a hard winter at Valley Forge, along with his nephew, John Marshall.

Posted by: Roger Bigod on May 29, 2006 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: biu on May 29, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

Like jim58 (and biu, probably) my ancestors did not participate in the American Civil War, but I salute Eli Drum and all American servicemen of the past and present, particularly those who showed what it means to be patriotic without being sentimental, jingoist or developing a weird military fetish.

As a lot of American politicians have shown, it's not easy to avoid those temptations.

Posted by: sweaty guy on May 30, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Why quit now when victory is a mere six months away?

Posted by: Libby Sosume on May 30, 2006 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

Cerro Gordo is my mother's home town and eight miles north is Cisco my father's family seat from 1839 to about 1949.

They are small towns.

Posted by: ccron on May 30, 2006 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

We drive through Glasgow on our way to fish at Dale hollow every spring.

And Glasgow has had high speed internet since 1995 via their local electrical cooperative, which is also their cable provider.

Looks like $26.95 for cable TV, and $25.90 for internet.

Go Glasgow, you little bit of happy socialism in KY. ;)

Posted by: dglynn on May 30, 2006 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

Cerro Gordo, BTW, was named for a Mexican War battle, speaking of Memorial Day.

Posted by: Socratic Gadfly on May 30, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

Just recently I found out about a very cool poker game - Hi Lo Omaha, I played and even won!

Posted by: hi lo omaha on May 30, 2006 at 2:52 AM | PERMALINK

Frequency Kenneth: Very cool journal.

My thought as well. What elegant script and economy. Kevin, I envy you your treasure. And let us treasure and mourn the thousands like Eli who have been lost.

Posted by: has407 on May 30, 2006 at 4:17 AM | PERMALINK

On this day, when many American soldiers and families have to deal with the reality of harms way, it is particularly sad to note the quality of the government they fight for and reputedly represents their best interests. Let us hope that one year from now, the government has been returned to them and that the Congress and the Courts have finally reined in the usurpers of "conventional wisdom".

Oh, and BTW, have you noticed that the American body politic has become more and more like that of a banana republic? My guess would be the boys from DIS and CIA and NSA and GOP have been working the phones, dropping off the cash, and bribing journalists, whatever it takes to make this place feel like a shaky shake on the bayou...in America. So, let's hope that the reining in, reeling up, and setting down gets underway soonest.

Think of all the people who died today to make the United States Constitution stand for something...and then look at what the current gang-in-charge is turning our country, our politics, our economy, and our men and women in uniform into. Grill it, chill it, swill it, it smells like rotten hamburger to me.

Posted by: parrot on May 30, 2006 at 5:05 AM | PERMALINK

My dad never told war stories. After 3 combat tours, one in Korea and two in Vietnam.
He hated the TV show MASH, I know that.
He did like telling the story of his big brother who flew artillery spotter planes in WWII getting shot in the ass. I guess he was flying too low once or something.

Posted by: merlallen on May 30, 2006 at 6:34 AM | PERMALINK

"He hated the TV show MASH, I know that.'

My grandfather, a staunch Democrat who worked in hospitals during WWII in N.Africa and Italy also hated MASH. There must be something about that show that grates on veterans' nerves.

Posted by: Botecelli on May 30, 2006 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

My grandfather, a staunch Democrat who worked in hospitals during WWII in N.Africa and Italy also hated MASH. There must be something about that show that grates on veterans' nerves.

Add my dad, a Korean War vet, to this list.

Posted by: shortstop on May 30, 2006 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

I had a Civil War great-great grandfather, who had several awards for bravery. When the family did more checking into the record, we found out he was a horse thief. He was caught and given a choice between joining the Army and being hung. He made the right choice.

Posted by: john edward on May 30, 2006 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

I guess I was fortunate because my father would tell some of his war stories. But he was a witty man, and he told stories that made us laugh: Men with dysentery. Men so exhausted they slept through alarm systems. Men grubbing for food, men trying to get a bath, a ride or being read the riot act by superior officers. Men homesick for their wives and families. He also told of heroism and battle. The stories he told were cautionary: they didn't glamorize war.

My mother said that after the war, whenever the men would get together they would talk about their experiences in the war, the ones who had seen action. The ones who had been behind the lines, not so much. I'm sure it was therapeutic, and I'm also sure that it got competitive. After a while, everyone began to put their experience in perspective and moved on. He had a distinquished career after the war so the war years weren't the most interesting years of his life.

What he didn't like about MASH--and actually what he didn't like about all the post-Vietnam movies--was the "military is soooo crazy" cynicism and the casual flaunting of rules. He would comment that it was because his men had rules and followed orders that they survived to tell the tale.

Posted by: PTate in MN on May 30, 2006 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

My dad once had a college professor who hated Hogan's Heroes. But I guess he had a good explanation, being that he had been held prisoner in a German POW Camp. Maybe he was thinking "Hey, we never thought of this stuff! We could have had that camp in the palm of our hands!"

Posted by: sweaty guy on May 30, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

I got ahold of my Grandfather's journal but was very disappointed. Every day had the weather - temp, wind, precipitation, and that was it.

He was the classic "wouldn't say sh*t if he had a mouthful" guy which I guess was pretty cool at the time but it sure left a lot of mysteries.

We've been unable to trace any of the family male lineage back before 1900. Since then my Grandathers were too young for WWI, too old for WWII, my father and his peers came after Korea and before Vietnam.

They all served, of course, but not during wartime. In my book that makes us lucky.

Posted by: Tripp on May 30, 2006 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Your great-grandfather had gorgeous handwriting.

Posted by: Ben Cochran on May 30, 2006 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

My great-grandfather was an illegal immigrant from Germany who fought in the Civil War. He was shot in the hand in Atlanta. His son fought in WWI, grandsons in WWII and Korea, great-grandsons in Iraq.

Posted by: Ravinia on May 30, 2006 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

Give us some details on the Eastern Tennessee campaign.

My mom's family hails from there -- and from the storytelling on that side of the family -- fought on all three sides of the war. (as i understand it, some less-than-affiliated local groups had sprung up)

Posted by: SombreroFallout on May 30, 2006 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

My paternal grandfather was the son of German immigrants, yet lied about his age (he was 17 at the time) to enlist in the US Army. His mother never spoke to him again.

He never spoke to us grandkids about what he saw, but my aunt knew he had experienced some horrific battles during his tour. He battled depression and alcoholism the rest of his life.

Maybe cowards like Chickenhawk will understand why we are so opposed to war in general; that it's impact is felt in families for generations. It's not to late, Chickenhawk. Enlist, and then I will be the first on here to praise your service. Until then, STFU.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on May 30, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Great post!

Posted by: Will on May 30, 2006 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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