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Member since: Thu Jun 16, 2016, 06:54 PM
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Personal tribute to Shannon Kent, killed in Syria.

This was written by a relative of mine who gave permission to share it.

(re Navy Chief Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) Shannon M. Kent, 35, of New York.)

Forgive me this tome...in truth, I could have gone on even longer...

Over the years, just about anyone that knows me has heard me brag about my amazing sister-cousin/best friend Shannon. These last few days, I have vacillated between having literally no words to describe the size of this loss to the world and, conversely, overflowing with superlatives to describe how extraordinary Shannon is. If an outsider who didn’t know Shannon, read all of these tributes, they might think that we were prone to hyperbole because how can anyone really be that amazing, incredible, inspirational, etc.? However, with Shannon, there is simply no need to exaggerate; it’s almost as if she should be an adjective unto herself because she genuinely embodied everything all of us want to be.

For those of you that didn’t have the distinct honor of knowing Shannon, I feel obligated to give you a glimpse of the incomparable human being that she is because, quite frankly, everyone should have a Shannie in their lives…

Though we didn’t technically grow up in the same household, Shannie and I called each other “sister” and loved each other as deeply as any sibling would. Nine years her senior, I had the privilege of watching her grow from a sweet baby who I would secretly wake up from her nap so I could play with her, to a teenager sneaking down to the guest room to wake me at 1:30 in the morning to pour out her heart as she tried to find her way in the world, to a brilliant, generous, fearless woman who became someone I turned to as an adult, at times, trying to find my own way.

Watching Shannon charge through life was like constantly cheering for the winning team because, despite some setbacks along the way, she was never daunted by anything and she so often fought and “won,” that this loss literally seems impossible. Truly, with the small exception of bees and wasps, I never knew Shannon to be afraid of anything and no challenge was too great to overcome. There are so many examples to offer, but I will just start with the events of the last 2 years. When she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, (cancer with a little “c”, as she called it) she practically took it in stride, knowing that, even though she likely got the cancer from the burn pits in Iraq, she was luckier than other veterans with far worse prognoses. Oh, and in the middle of having cancer (and shortly thereafter), she was working full-time, maintaining 4.0 GPA while obtaining her Masters in Psychology, having her second baby, remodeling her home, planting a massive garden, creating gorgeous artwork, supporting her husband, Joe, and all the people she loves during their own trials and tribulations (myself included), AND being a completely loving, devoted (and, when Joe was deployed, sometimes single) mommy to two beautiful boys under 3. As if that weren’t enough, in the middle of all of this, Shannon applied for and was accepted into an extremely competitive PhD program whereupon completion, she would have been a psychologist helping her fellow veterans with PTSD. That PhD program also would have made her a commissioned officer in the Navy and kept her home with her sweet babies for at least 5 years; a privilege well-earned after several deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Upon hearing this, some might ask how Shannon even ended up in Syria if she worked so damn hard and did everything right? The answer is that the Navy had an unfair and completely arbitrary regulation regarding “physical fitness,” pursuant to which Shannon was deemed medically unfit to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS), but somehow perfectly medically fit to deploy to a war zone. The next question is naturally, “how was she medically unfit?” Well, she achieved a rating of outstanding on her Physical Readiness Test, so that wasn’t it. No, you see, that cancer she likely got from Iraq; the same cancer whose ass she kicked while ably carrying the world on her shoulders? That made her unfit for OCS and the Navy wouldn’t grant her a waiver so that she could attend this prestigious program.

This next part is what makes Shannon so uniquely Shannon: rather than just complain about this obvious injustice, she put on her best pants suit (seriously, she looked great) and took the fight to Washington, for Christ’s sake. She met with congressmen and senators and prepared a white paper for the Navy’s medical board (better than most lawyers could write, I might add). And, SHANNON WON! She changed the regulation! She texted me that day, “I changed the Navy,” almost in awe of herself (umm, join the club, kiddo). However, by that point, it was somehow too late for her to benefit from her own hard work and determination. And she was a good sailor, and she followed orders, and she deployed to Syria, and now she’s gone…

Here’s the thing: Shannon’s insane tenacity, ambition, and determination? This seemingly inhuman demonstration of immense character and integrity which makes you question your own mettle? That was only a fraction of the person Shannon was. She had this insatiable curiosity for other cultures which led her to immerse herself in and fully embrace new languages, art, décor, food (particularly if it involved cheese) and, most especially, people. For Shannon, there was no distinction between family and friends; if she loved you, you were family, plain and simple. And the beneficiaries of that love knew that it was boundless and fiercely loyal and so, so generous. She was generous of her time and generous with her praise and she could build people up in a way few can. I have to say, in reading the tributes to Shannie, I recognized so many names because over the years, she sang the praises of those she loved to me and it was a pleasure to put some names with faces after all this time.

Shannon was also so damn creative and the artwork she made was unreal and, by my standards, an actual miracle because I DO NOT KNOW where she found the time to make these masterpieces (our kids are the same age and I barely have time to shower…). She is also a writer and had her sights on publishing a book (oh, who am I kidding…several books) one day. At this point, I’m sure you’ve gathered that Shannon was ferociously intelligent and she was hungry for knowledge about everything. I loved discussing and debating anything and everything with her because even when we disagreed, we respected one another and moved on. Lord knows, in today’s day and age, we need more people capable of discussions and debates like that. Shannon was also a natural-born problem solver; it was instinctive to her to fix whatever might be broken for anyone she loves. If you came to Shannie with a problem, she came up with 63 ways to fix it and she would give you the shirt off her back if she thought it would help you get through a tough time. Let’s not forget that Shannon was athletic and physically tough to such a degree that she stood shoulder to shoulder with the men in special ops, and, perhaps even more miraculously, they welcomed her there. Despite her toughness, Shannie was also warm and sentimental in a way that might surprise you. She always remembered everybody’s favorite things and then found a way to spoil you with them; she gave me and so many others the most thoughtful gifts over the years. Of course, because she was so damn good at everything, you might think people were jealous of her, but she was FUNNY and sarcastic and self-deprecating in a way that just made you eager to enjoy her company.

I could go on like this ad nauseam. Like I said, I’ve been bragging about Shannie since she was a kid and I don’t think I will ever stop bragging about my sister-cousin/best friend, Shannon Kent, because it has been an absolute honor to know and love her and to be loved by her. Out of all the gifts she’s given me over the years, the one I cherish above all and will carry with me all of my life is the gift of EXAMPLE. She has shown all of us that just about anything is possible. My greatest hope is that I can find a way to channel my overwhelming grief and rage over this immeasurable and senseless loss into something positive and meaningful in her honor. She has shown me it’s possible and I can think of no better guiding light than my Shannie.

My god, I love you, Shannon. I don’t know how any of us will go on without you, but your strength is such inspiration…

And just like that…I have no words again.

My FB gift to evangelical wall-mongers quoting scripture today.


Obama quote misused on FB by the Rethugs

A RWNJ posted in my newsfeed part of a 2005 speech where he said we can't allow people to pour into the US undetected, undocumented, unchecked. I found the rest of the speech and posted it:

Obama said that his aim was to bring the debate toward the sensible center” through “pragmatic, comprehensive reform.”

He did, in fact, deride those “who enter the country illegally,” saying they are “showing disregard for those who are following the law.”

But Obama then pivoted to make two other points.

“Having said that, securing the borders alone does not solve immigration management,” he said. “We’re going to have to better manage legal immigration in order to end illegal immigration. . . . Right now we’ve got millions of illegal immigrants who live and work here without knowing their identity or background. That’s part of the reason we need a guest worker program to replace the flood of illegals with a regulated stream of legals who enter the United States after checks and with access to labor rights.”

Obama then turned to “a third principle,” which he said “is most important.”

“If we hope to bring the 11 million existing undocumented workers out of the shadows into the open, we have to give them a reason,” Obama said. “I am sympathetic, and I understand people’s frustrations with respect to those who have come here illegally, but we have to understand that they are now here, they are paying taxes, they are raising families, many of their children are U.S. citizens who were born here and are going to school here, and if we are going to get some handle on that population, then we’ve got to give them some incentive in order to come out into the open.”

“This means that we’re going to have to grant them some sort of interim legal status to work with the opportunity to eventually earn citizenship,” Obama said.

In a 2006 speech on the Senate floor, Obama sounded even less like Trump, asserting that “while security might start at our borders, it doesn’t end there.”

He continued: “In fact, I will not support any bill that does not provide this earned path to citizenship for the undocumented population — not just for humanitarian reasons; not just because these people, having broken the law, did so for the best of motives, to try and provide a better life for their children and their grandchildren; but also because this is the only practical way we can get a handle on the population that is within our borders right now."

(This is from The Washington Post but I can't do a link)
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