Sunday, November 25, 2007

"LAST LETTERS" by Steve Savage

Below are Last Letters of the Faceless, Nameless Numbers that were once Statistics scrawled across the Chryons (bottom banners) of our Cable TV Screens, while the Mainstream Nightly News was reporting such important news as "French transit workers back on job."

Read these letters, which follow, as though they were written to you and your family by your own son or daughter, father or mother, sister, brother, or friend, and yes, even in some cases, Grandmothers, who are serving in Harm's Way.


Excerpts of letters from Army Capt. Joshua T. Byers, 29, of Anderson, S.C., who was killed on July 23 when a bomb detonated under his vehicle.
Thursday, June 5

Dear Mom and Dad,

A couple of days ago, my squadron commander told me that I would be taking command of Fox Troop in June, after all. . . . SWEET! I left my conversation with him walking on air! Not only will I soon be a cavalry troop commander (the most lethal combination of fire power that a captain can be in command of, in any service), BUT I will have the opportunity and the incredible responsibility of commanding in combat. I have to admit that I am really nervous and just pray that I am up to the task out here to lead 120 men in combat operations. I will give them everything I have to give — I love them already, just because they're mine. I pray, with all my heart, that I will be able to take every single one of them home safe when we finish our mission here.

Friday, June 20

It seems like I've been here for so much longer than I have. My life away from here seems so far away. In some ways, I don't think I'll ever have it back completely. I think war takes certain things from you, or maybe it gives certain things that change your perspective.

I love being in command. It's so great to lead again. I love taking care of my men and accomplishing our missions together here. I am blessed.

Thursday, July 3

In the past two nights we've been attacked each night while on patrol. No casualties for us. . . . I see more bravery in a day here than I had seen in my entire life prior to this.

I'm healthy and doing fine — although I really want to get that redeployment order and come home (as everyone does) — I don't dwell on it. We are accomplishing our mission here and I think I'll take a lot of pride in that for the rest of my life. Although the sacrifice is great, the rewards of service are so much greater.

Friday, July 18

Life here continues to be challenging, but we're all hanging in there. We got a blow to our morale a few days ago when the corps commander visited us (three-star general). He said there was no way we were going home in less than nine to 12 months. Man, that's going to suck. We're working on month No. 4 right now and it already seems like we've been here forever and a day.

I still love being a commander. I love leading troops and taking care of them. It is a huge responsibility and I feel the weight of it every day. I send the thing I love most out here — my men — into harm's way every day and every night. I just do my best to ensure they're ready, trained, equipped and properly led in every situation.

Monday, July 21

We conducted a huge operation in the desert about a week ago. We had intel that suggested that the bad guys were hiding weapons and ammo out in the desert and bringing it into the city to attack us. We swept all of the desert north of us and found lots of weapons/ ammo. . . . Two of the targets that we captured turned out to be first cousins of Saddam Hussein.

I love you both with all of my heart! I'm working very hard here — adding honor to our country and to our family name!



Excerpt of an e-mail message to his wife, Theresa, from Army Master Sgt. Kevin N. Morehead, 33, of Little Rock, Ark., who was killed Sept. 12 during a raid on enemy forces. The message was sent July 7.

Hey Baby,

I do enjoy planning for the future. It gives me a lot of hope to be able to plan for our success. Sometimes I think that maybe I wouldn't come up with these plans if I wasn't deployed. Being here focuses my attention on home and I have time to come up with lots of avenues for us. It has been one blessing for me being here. I think if we can get the things done that I have come up with we will be able to have a prosperous life ahead of us. I don't want you to worry about how we are going to make it after I get out. . . . I want us to be able to enjoy our life and do things that we want to do.

I think after we get these bills settled and get on track this winter with the property and the house, next spring I am going to get us another boat. We had a lot of fun when we had a boat. I remember when me, you and Jesse used to go to the lake and camping. Those were really fun times. I would eventually like to get a camper or an R.V., too. . . . I know how you like to have a nice place to stay. If we got a nice camper, then it would almost be like staying in a hotel room with A.C. and a private shower and a queen size bed.

I love you very much. I can't wait to get on with our lives. I really look forward to our future together.


Excerpts of letters from Army Pfc. Rachel K. Bosveld, 19, of Oshkosh, Wis., who was killed Oct. 26 in a mortar attack.

Tuesday, Oct. 14


I'm doing fine, Mom. Yes, I did get into a sort of accident, if that's what you call it. We were hit by an IED (improvised explosive device) or RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), which set our truck on fire because it struck the battery and fuel line. My neck and shoulder were pretty banged up for about two weeks. My shoulder popped (dislocated) and I jammed my neck as well. I lost my hearing in my left ear for a few weeks. My hearing in general isn't good at all anymore. I've been through my share of explosives. I'm sending pictures home to be developed of my truck (or what's left of it). I took a few of me with the truck, so you could all see that I'm O.K.

It's still pretty warm during the day, but gets very chilly at night. Could you try and find one of my hooded sweatshirts to send to me?

Right now I'm soaking my feet. My feet take a beating in these boots. My feet are all cut up and sore. . . . Feels soooooo good now, anyway. I guess I haven't been taking as good care of myself this month. We have a physical training test I'm getting ready for. This month and last we haven't gotten much time to do P.T. So I work, sleep, work, P.T., work — oh, and eat.

Well Mom, my 20-minute soak is up. Take care. I love you. Don't worry so much about me, Mom, my intuition has already saved a few lives here and my own as well.

Monday, Oct. 20

I'm doing great this week. Sure, I've dodged lots of bullets and such, gotten little to no sleep and eaten nasty food, but I am doing great.

I got to drive a tank! I got a tour, learned how to operate everything, load everything, and I got to DRIVE IT! I was tooth from ear to ear!

I'm getting a Purple Heart for the accident, along with eight other people in my platoon. . . . Someone is always getting injured here. There have been no fatalities so far in my company, though, just lots of injuries.

So, how are you? Eighteen days till my birthday! I can't wait! No one probably even knows when it is over here.

Well, bye for now, just wanted to let you know I'm O.K. and I miss you.

I love you,


Excerpt of a letter from Army Pvt. Robert L. Frantz, 19, of San Antonio, who was killed June 17 when he was struck by a grenade. The letter was postmarked June 15.

Dear Mom,

I got the first package, and the letter you sent me. Sorry if I haven't been writing so much. I pull 12-hour guard shifts from 7 at night till 7 in the morning, and then I go on patrols some time in between those hours, and when I am not doing that I am usually sleeping.

Someone shot at us last night. I was getting ready to go to sleep and I hear a pop, pop, and then the bullets ricocheted off the building right outside the window I was standing in front of. . . . It kinda sucks, when all you can think about is there's someone out there trying to kill you or your buddy next to you, and all you can do is hope you kill them first.

I got to stay the night in Saddam's wife's palace the first night I was in Baghdad. That thing is huge. I want to see what his main palace looks like. . . . I took some pictures, hopefully they'll come out.

We've had random gunfire within a 100-meter radius all night, every night, since I have been here. It kinda scares you the first couple nights, but you tend to get used to it.

Well, Mom, I gotta go. Tell everyone I love them and miss them very much.

Love always and forever,


Excerpt of a letter from Army Pfc. Jesse A. Givens, 34, of Springfield, Mo. Private Givens was killed May 1 when his tank fell into the Euphrates River after the bank on which he was parked gave way. This letter was written to be delivered to his family if he died. Melissa is his wife, Dakota his 6-year-old stepson and Bean the name he used for his son, Carson, who was born May 29.

My family,

I never thought that I would be writing a letter like this. I really don't know where to start. I've been getting bad feelings, though and, well, if you are reading this. . . .

The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. I will always have with me the small moments we all shared. The moments when you quit taking life so serious and smiled. The sounds of a beautiful boy's laughter or the simple nudge of a baby unborn. You will never know how complete you have made me. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never dreamed existed.

Dakota . . . you taught me how to care until it hurts, you taught me how to smile again. You taught me that life isn't so serious and sometimes you just have to play. You have a big, beautiful heart. Through life you need to keep it open and follow it. Never be afraid to be yourself. I will always be there in our park when you dream so we can play. I love you, and hope someday you will understand why I didn't come home. Please be proud of me.

Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I know you will be strong and big-hearted like your mom and brother. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on your mom's belly, and the joy I felt when I found out you were on your way. I love you, Bean.

Melissa, I have never been as blessed as the day I met you. You are my angel, soulmate, wife, lover and best friend. I am sorry. I did not want to have to write this letter. There is so much more I need to say, so much more I need to share. A lifetime's worth. I married you for a million lifetimes. That's how long I will be with you. Please keep my babies safe. Please find it in your heart to forgive me for leaving you alone. . . . Teach our babies to live life to the fullest, tell yourself to do the same.

I will always be there with you, Melissa. I will always want you, need you and love you, in my heart, my mind and my soul. Do me a favor, after you tuck the children in. Give them hugs and kisses from me. Go outside and look at the stars and count them. Don't forget to smile.

Love Always,
Your husband,

Thursday, November 22, 2007

STOP EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE NOW! by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

My hometown, Long Branch, New Jersey, was America's First Seashore Resort, boasting of the world's best beaches. The crystal clear waters and view of the Ocean's Horizon was a pleroma of beauty that had to be experienced to describe. Every Beach had its own little community of quaint, picturesque cottages that granted quick, easy access to a panorama we Long Branchers considered to be a very special gift from God to all of us.

My grandfather, Julius Lafayette Granit, World Champion 10 Mile Ocean Swimmer, was Chief Lifeguard in the 1890's and I was Chief Lifeguard through the 1960's. No matter where we Long Branchers would go in this world, our hearts would always long for the image of our beautiful seaside that was so indelibly painted on the mural of our minds.

Over the years, the municipal political machinery of Long Branch was usurped by vacationing visitors who came to stay and exploit what was God-Given for their their own greedy, personal gain. Through sheer force of their voting numbers, they took over the Administration of Long Branch and quickly began to condemn homes and businesses through the use of Eminent Domain Abuse.

Many of these homes and businesses that had stood for centuries, were "in-your-face" sold to developer friends who, seemingly overnight, turned the Beachfront into some grotesque monstrosity of cheaply constructed homogenized condominium firetraps.

The eulogy, below, eloquently written by Jeff Rowe, is the true story of Anna DeFaria, the courageous Long Branch woman, who gave her life in defense of her home and her neighbors homes. It was she who was at the forefront of the battle to stave off the greedy monsters behind the Eminent Domain Machine that continues to devour the lives and livelihoods of the victims in its Path.

Stand Strong America! Don't Let Long Branch's Story Become Your Story! STOP EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE NOW!

Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

by Jeff Rowes
[Jeff Rowes is an attorney with the Institute for Justice in Arlington, Va., which represents the MTOTSA homeowners in Long Branch and which represented the homeowners in Kelo.]
In 1960, Anna and Antone DeFaria plunked down $6,400 for their American dream, a tiny seaside bungalow in historic Long Branch. Though small by today's standards, their home served the DeFarias well, faithfully sheltering them and their children from the cold winds of the Atlantic and the cold winds of life.

Anna DeFaria, who died last week 10 years after Antone passed away, never imagined in 1960 that her modest home would one day become a flashpoint in the nationwide fight against eminent domain abuse. She and her neighbors in the working-class Marine Terrace-Ocean Terrace-Seaview Avenue (MTOTSA) neighborhood have been locked in a closely watched legal battle to save their homes from Long Branch, which is trying to seize them so a private developer can build even more beachfront condos for the rich.

Those of us privileged to stand with DeFaria in this important struggle drew inspiration from her unwavering commitment to the principles of liberty. Although offered inducements not available to her neighbors, she was a rock. She understood that this case was about the sanctity of the home and the constitutional right of everyone, even people of modest means, to keep the property they worked so hard to own. There was no way she would sell because, as she put it, Long Branch was not trying to take just her house, but "my home, my life."

Eminent domain abuse was catapulted into the headlines in 2005 when a narrow majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Kelo v. City of New London, Conn., that the U.S. Constitution allows the government to transfer property from one person to another for the latter's private financial benefit so long as there is some hope that jobs and tax revenue might follow.

In a now-famous dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor warned that the decision in Kelo meant that the government now can seize any beloved home, any booming small business, any thriving church and even pastoral rural land whenever someone richer comes along promising to build something bigger. The justice also predicted that the burdens of eminent domain abuse would fall on those least able to defend themselves.

O'Connor was right on both counts. We at the Institute for Justice documented a dramatic proliferation of eminent domain abuse in the wake of Kelo as local governments, no longer concerned about pesky constitutional rights, binged on private property. We also just published a study showing, based on U.S. census data, that people subject to eminent domain for private economic development are much more likely to be poor and from minority communities.

As bleak as this seems, there is reason to hope. Courageous Americans like DeFaria have taken on greedy local governments and developers in strategic lawsuits across the country arguing that state constitutions provide more property rights protection than the Supreme Court is willing to recognize in the Constitution. So far, two such cases have reached their respective state supreme courts, where the Kelo theory of eminent domain for private economic development was soundly rejected.

State legislatures also responded to unprecedented public outrage over Kelo. Forty-two states have reformed their eminent domain laws to prevent what happened to DeFaria and her neighbors.

Although New Jersey, which is one of the worst eminent domain abusers in the country, did not enact any reform following Kelo, all of us took heart last spring when the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Paulsboro violated the state constitution by labeling harmless rural property "blighted" so it could be transferred to a big corporation. DeFaria was particularly joyous at discovering the most distinguished judges in New Jersey agreed with her that rights are for everyone, not just the rich and powerful.

DeFaria embodied the very best in all of us. Though as tiny as the proverbial David, she never shrank from Goliath. And though given much reason to be bitter, she was a woman of enduring devotion who never failed to wish God's blessings on everyone, even those in the city government out to take her cherished home.

Her personal fight may be over, but, to no one's surprise, her children have vowed to carry on. Through her family and our memory of her, she will remain with us in spirit as we continue our fight to vindicate the constitutional rights in which she so deeply believed.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"THANKSGIVING PRAYER" by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

[March 1, 1980 Wedding Photo: Anna, 27, and Me, 42]

Thanks for my wonderful, carefree life
With access to cash and a beautiful wife.
No worries, health problems, or bothersome blues,
Can jump in the car and eat out where I choose.
Thanks for the Grandfather Clock, the Giant TV,
Lounging around doing nothing in anonymity.
Thanks for teaching me the tricks of the trade,
Enabling me to live this outrageous charade.
Thanks for my new teeth, spaces gone from my smile,
Fountain pen, diamond ring, watch with gold dial.
Thanks for the friendship of so many nice folks;
The joys, the laughter, camaraderie, and jokes.
Thanks for letting me live in these beautiful Hills,
As just an ordinary Joe who’s paying the bills.
Thanks for no pressure, no sleepless nights,
No guilt feelings, no senseless fights.
Thanks for making me the world’s luckiest man;
A husband, "Daddy," "Pop-pop;" my family’s biggest fan.
Most of all thanks to be in this Land of the Free,
With the right to pursue happiness and opportunity.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

IN HONOR OF MY BELOVED SON'S SERVICE TO AMERICA by Steve Savage "King of the Beasts"

Today, November 10, 2007, my son, Dan, deployed for his Second Tour of Duty in Iraq. For the next 12 to 15 months, his beautiful new bride, Amber and her family, Dan's mother, Anna, his five brothers, Eddie, Michael, Tommy, Matthew and Scott, and I, will be praying every moment that God will guide him, protect him, and keep him safe from harm.

This is the child Anna sees and carries in her heart. When he was only 4 years old, he said to his mother,"Mom, you know some day I'm going to have to leave you." Anna, faced with the future, said, "Yes, but not now."

This is NOW!
Undefeated New York/New Jersey Junior Olympic Boxing Champion, Danny "The Lion-Hearted" Anton, Army Ranger Hand-to-Hand Combatives Champion, "Achilles" to the men of the 2-69 BN, 3rd ID, Twice-Awarded Bronze Star for Bravery, US Army Ranger Captain Daniel Burch Anton.