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April 13, 2006

Saving A Piece Of History

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will,
in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country;
but he that stands it now,
deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

- Thomas Paine

How do miracles happen? Sometimes, it takes a bolt from the blue to bring them to life:

steaknight01.jpg You can never know what life will bring, and Jim Mayer certainly didn't on April 25, 1969, as he began to step over a two-foot wall lining a Vietnamese rice paddy and heard a click and froze for a split second. How could he possibly have guessed that 35 years later he would find himself in a back room at Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse, a few blocks from the White House, surrounded by friends who'd gathered to celebrate what happened -- or to be more precise, what didn't happen -- on that day.

He heard that click and froze, but it was too late. He was standing on a 60mm mortar shell, American made, that the Viet Cong or the North Vietnamese had wired up as a land mine. It blew him straight into the air. When he hit the ground, he saw that the bottom of his left leg was gone.

He stayed conscious through the whole thing: through a buddy reaching him first and then the platoon medic, through getting a tourniquet and being upset with the medic for not letting him smoke, through being medivac'd to the 25th Infantry Division hospital at Cu Chi, through triage, all the way to the operating room table where the shock wore off and the pain kicked in.

"Put me out," he said.

Move the toes on your right foot, the doctors told him.

"I can't move my right toes."

Try it, they said, and then: You're moving them!

"Good. Put me out."

When he woke up two days later, he had no toes left to move.

Now here he is at 58, gliding through the crowd at Fran O'Brien's on two below-the-knee prostheses, shaking hands, cracking jokes, collecting hugs. After nearly two hours of this, he steps behind a small lectern at the side of the room, then pretends to change his mind. "Go buy a drink and we'll start the program in 25 minutes," he says.

But the 70 or so people gathered for Jim Mayer's 35th annual Alive Day will have none of it.

"Jim! Jim! Jim!" they chant.

From the tables along the back wall, a cluster of Mayer's newest friends -- much younger men who lost their limbs in Afghanistan and Iraq -- join in.

Long after the Viet Nam war ended, Jim Mayer's tradition lived on. Strangely enough, the dream-come-true for so many wounded vets today at Fran O'Brien's started with something of a dream all those years ago:

As for Mayer, he credits the Alive Day idea to the beneficent effects of morphine and to an attempt to impress a pretty nurse back in that operating room at Cu Chi.

Like many young men in the '60s, he'd volunteered to serve before he could be drafted. "It was my turn," he says. "Nothing heavily patriotic about it. It was like so many guys from my little town had gone." The town was Shrewsbury, Mo., population 6,000. Mayer was headed for a degree in business administration from Southwest Missouri State University. Because of this, an Army recruiter told him, he'd most likely wind up as "a personnel clerk or something."

Right. "Grunt," he says. "That's how I went in."

He'd been in Vietnam maybe 2 1/2 weeks when he experienced his first firefight. "That was like -- wow. I mean, right in the middle of it, you're going: This is worse than they told me." One thing he wasn't prepared for was the fact that his enemies were not only shooting at him; they were yelling insults.

He made some quick friends, among them a medic named Kindler and an engineer named Abbott. "We called ourselves the Rat Pack because we thought Sinatra and all them was cool." At night they could see the distant, lethal light show over what was called the Parrot's Beak, where the border of Cambodia and Vietnam bends in a beak-like shape. "Red tracers going down, green coming up," he recalls, "and we'd go: whoa, something big over there."

Two and a half months into his tour, he stepped over that rice-paddy wall and tripped that mine.

Later, he would learn that Abbott, too, had tripped a mine that morning and had died in triage on the concrete slab right next to him -- he'd seen him die, in fact; just hadn't known who he was at the time -- and that Kindler had been killed the next day. Before he learned these things, though, a priest came to visit him. This was right as he woke up after being out for two days. A nurse was in the room, too.

The priest mentioned that he'd given Mayer last rites on the operating table. He made him look down so he could see that both legs were gone. Finally, he leaned close and gave him the good news: "The shrapnel stopped right here, so you can still raise a family."

"That's great, Father," Mayer said. "Got anybody in mind?"

The priest turned to the nurse. "This soldier's going to be okay," he said.

Mayer laughs as he thinks back on the scene. Morphine doesn't just relieve your pain, he says, "it has these side effects. Things become really pretty. She was a very pretty nurse and she kept getting prettier, too." Their conversation went something like this:

"Well, soldier, what are you going to do when you get home?"

"I'm going to go bowling."

"Why bowling?"

"Well, we were state champs when I was 15."

"That'll be good. What else you going to do?"

"If I live, I'm going to have a party every year. I'm going to call it a Thank God I'm Alive party."

"Well, that's a real good idea, soldier."

"Okay, ma'am. You can come too!"

In 1991 Mayer began to include wounded vets from the Persian Gulf war in his Alive Day celebrations. When the GWOT started, Mayer and several friends were determined this new crop of war wounded would know the nation was grateful for their service:

Jim Mayer, the ringleader of the older veterans, volunteers regularly at Walter Reed's orthopedic ward, dispensing encouragement and cheer to the amputees. Mayer knows something of the subject, having lost both his legs to a land mine in Vietnam in 1969.

One of Mayer's friends is Hal Koster, co-owner of Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse. Koster, who served as a helicopter door-gunner (in the 174th Assault Helicopter Company) from 1967 to 1969 in Vietnam, told Mayer to spread the word at the ward that the recuperating soldiers were welcome at the restaurant as his guest.

Mayer started inviting wounded soldiers in the ward, but at first nobody showed up. Finally, in October, one soldier showed, then another. Then eight or 10 came. It became a regular Friday night gathering, with enough to fill one long table, then two. At the last dinner before Christmas, the group eating steaks and drinking beers filled up four tables and included nurses and therapists from Walter Reed.

"It got a life of its own," Mayer said. "It's like a weekly community."

"No one was here when we came back," said Ed Meagher, another Vietnam veteran who has helped organize the gatherings and who, like Mayer, works for the Department of Veterans Affairs. "We all got together and said, 'It isn't going to happen a second time.'"

It's a costly gesture for the restaurant, but for Koster, the bottom line is simple. "It seems to help these guys," he said. "That's what it's all about."

The soldiers are deeply moved by the reception they receive at the restaurant, including from other diners. "Some of the regulars will get up and give us their chairs when we come in," said Staff Sgt. Larry Gill, 43, an Army reservist from Alabama who suffered a severe leg injury in a grenade attack and is concerned about being able to resume his job as a police officer.

One of the soldiers at a recent gathering was Sgt. Erick Castro, 23, of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, who lost a leg when a rocket pierced the M1l3 armored personnel carrier in which he was riding. Despondent when he arrived at Walter Reed, Castro saw matters in a new light after interacting with some of the older veterans.

"When you first get to the ward, you say, 'I'm screwed for life: Then you see these guys," he said, gesturing to Mayer.

A recent writeup described the joy these weekly dinners bring to wounded warriors:

There are 20 steps from the street to the steak house, which might seem no small matter for young veterans who have lost their legs to war. But the stairs that lead down to Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steak House are not just another obstacle to the hundreds of GIs severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan who have labored up and down them over the past two years.

Instead, for those whose future plans exploded the moment they were maimed, the steps _ and the landmark restaurant they lead to _ are a welcome-mat back to normal life.

"My first dinner was the first time I felt like I was home," is the way Sgt. Steve Clark, who lost his arm to Iraq combat, describes the experience.

Virtually every Friday evening since 2003, the upscale restaurant three blocks from the White House has opened its doors to the young vets who are patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

In a restaurant where a T-bone goes for $30 a pop, each recuperating vet gets a full-course feast, plus whatever libations they choose, for free.

While a thick steak is ambrosia to those who have lived on institutional food for months, it is the atmosphere as much as the food that feeds the 50 or so troops and family members who partake each week.

Fran's is a haven for those young men, in the prime of life, who are self-conscious about their missing limbs, disfigured faces and other battle scars. Here, in a private banquet room, the wounded gather with their bandages, casts, crutches and still-clumsy prosthetics.

There they find camaraderie, mutual support and, commonly, a lot of laughs. It's a night out like they enjoyed before they went to war. No one stares at them and no one will let them sink into self pity, said Staff Sgt. Joshua Olson, now 26, who lost his right leg up to the hip two years ago when an enemy rocket hit his truck in Tal Afar, Iraq.

But now, those very same stairs may be the one obstacle these determined warriors, both new and old, cannot overcome.

Accounts vary depending on who is telling the story, but what everyone agrees on is this: the Capitol Hilton, who have leased restaurant space to Hal Koster and Fran O'Brien's are terminating the lease effective two weeks from now, and soon these wounded vets will have nowhere to go. The Hilton maintains the decision is strictly business:

I made contact with a Hilton spokesperson this morning and it appears that the story the story of the eviction is true. Hilton denies that the decision has anything to do with the Friday dinners or the veterans who attend. Fran O'Brien's was on a 6 month holdover from a lease that expired last year. The hotel claims that the decision to close Fran O'Brien's is a business decision - nothing more. Specifically they deny that liability concerns were an issue. They note that they've held events attended by disabled veterans recently at the hotel, and that the hotel GM was a frequent attendee at the Friday night dinners. The hotel is in discussions with one of the sponsors of the Friday dinners about continuing the event at one of the other restaurants in the facility (Twiggs) or in one of their conference rooms.

Given that the meal is the brainchild of Koster (a Vietnam vet), I'm not sure how successful the hotel will be in attempting to continue the tradition in his absence. It looks like very much like a two and a half year tradition will get tossed aside by the Hilton's decision.

Representatives for Fran O'Brien's were not available for comment this evening, though they indicated that they would be available Friday morning.

Ironically, I must say that I find the Hilton's position far less understandable than I would have, had it been a question of liability. Hilton Hotels is a far larger concern than Fran O'Brien's Restaurant. They have resources far outstripping those available to Messrs. Koster, O'Brian, and Jim Mayer. If these gentlemen were able to summon up the initiative to fund steak dinners for our wounded veterans and obtain the necessary underwriting to keep this worthy venture going for two and a half years, surely a large corporation like Hilton can absorb the ruinous cost of "allowing" Fran O'Brien's to continue to pay rent? We are, after all, at war.

It is true, as so many critics of the present administration have averred, that we have not been asked to make sacrifices to match those made by our Armed Forces. But the fact that we have not been compelled to sacrifice does not mean that we cannot do so voluntarily, nor does it erase the debt we owe those who have served this nation.

I could understand, frankly, the fear of a multi-million dollar lawsuit. What I cannot understand is a "business decision" that cynically values marginal profit over the enormous satisfaction of honoring our wounded warriors and allowing them a oasis of normalcy and fun as they undergo the arduous challenge of reconstructing lives - and bodies - shattered by war.

If, like me, you question the priorities of a corporation which values their own bottom line over the sacrifices of our military men, please contact Hilton Corporation immediately to express your vocal (but polite) displeasure:

*Dan Boyle (212) 838-1558

daniel_a_boyle@hilton.com

Brian Kellaher (202) 393-1000*

If the Capitol Hilton allows Fran's to stay, presumably the worst they will forego is the opportunity cost of using the space occupied by Fran's for some more lucrative use. What they will gain is the gratitude of our wounded veterans and the respect of a grateful nation. Surely that is a reward beyond mere financial calculation?

Update: Some good advice for Hilton:

Hilton has missed a great opportunity here. Instead of forcing out Fran O'Brien's in an unprofessional manner that included assuring Fran's they were developing a new lease while they apparently had no intention of doing so and then giving them only three weeks to leave, they could have cooperated with Fran's and then publicized their "great civic-mindedness."

Cooperating with Fran's to ensure the restaurant's continued association with the hotel would have given Hilton the kind of PR that money can't buy...

- FbL

The Armorer Interjects:

Hilton wants to change their property, they should be able to. And if they were going to do that - why not just say so with enough time for the owners of Fran O'Brien's to make other arrangements, as Hilton seems not to have done?

That's the lesson learned here. In time of war, *especially* in the era of the Blog, messing with recovering wounded soldiers, however indirectly, can land you in hot PR water - and it didn't have to be that way, if a little Golden Rule had been applied to the issue. Make no mistake - this story has the legs it does not so much because of the restaurant - as it is the patrons on that night.

This is a Story That Should Never Have Been.

That said, I suppose those of us attending the Milblogger Conference ought to go do dinner there, eh?]


Posted by Cassandra at April 13, 2006 07:49 PM

Comments

I gave Hilton my thoughts via their online comments page last night. I told them that is Fran O'Brien's lost it's lease, I would not patronize any Hilton establishment. And don’t forget that it’s not just “Hilton” hotels. The Hilton “family of hotels” includes: Conrad Hotels, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Hotels, Homewood Suites and Scandic Hotels.

Posted by: Lisa at April 14, 2006 10:43 AM

Thats really a great story.

Posted by: Jane at April 14, 2006 11:20 AM

I'm hoping a few of our local TV stations are going to pick it up. [fingers crossed]

Posted by: Cassandra at April 14, 2006 11:27 AM

I love this post, Cassandra. I've been wanting to do something like this, but was so caught up in the current issues with Fran's that I couldn't figure out how to include what I wanted to say about how important it was and yet still give the motivational focus I wanted. This is great!

Posted by: FbL at April 14, 2006 01:13 PM

When a principle comes up against the almighty dollar, the principle fairs ill. However, I am calling right now and emailing. Being in the military means using our mouths to spread the shame of what Hilton has done througout the military community worldwide. Of course, their timing couldn't be more rotten with PCS moves and TDYs and
families who are vacationing and will think twice about patronizing a Hilton establishment...

Just sayin.'

Posted by: Cricket at April 14, 2006 04:30 PM

Thank you Cricket :)

Posted by: Cassandra at April 14, 2006 04:33 PM

On second read, my comment above makes absolutely no sense, so just ignore it.

...Except for the part about liking this post. ;)

Posted by: FbL at April 14, 2006 05:54 PM

Great Article Cassandra.
Cricket: I sometimes hate to admit it, but, among other things, I am a business school graduate. There is a concept of the "good will" an enterprise has that increases its value. I cannot believe the folks running Hilton could be as stupid and shortsighted as they are. The good will that would be theirs by giving O'Brien's a fair shake would have been tremendous. Without seeming cynical, it would much outweigh any gain in incremental income.

Poor Danny Boyle has had a bad hair day, I.e., hair-on-fire-day. Email him, please.

Posted by: Mark McGilvray at April 14, 2006 06:41 PM

I'm boycotting Paris Hilton. She will have to make her next movie without me.

Seriously, I'm going to hold my tongue about this for a while longer. I don't know the details of Hilton's "business decision." It may be that Fran's is perpetually delinquent in its duties as a tenant. It could be that the chain can't tell us anything about it for fear that a tort suit will swiftly follow. (Always thinking like a lawyer.) I will say that this presents an excellent opportunity for another Washington restaurant to step up and a world of great publicity. Hello, Blackie's?

Posted by: spd rdr at April 14, 2006 06:51 PM

Please ask the Hilton, "Is it fair to say that you disagree with President Bush's decision to go to Iraq?" If the answer is, as I suspect a yes. please ask them why they are using these heroes to punish the president? It will be a cold day in hell before I stay at any of their establishments!

Posted by: DagneyT at April 15, 2006 09:01 AM

I waited a day before writing about this for a reason.

It is obviously an emotional story and because my husband is in the military there is a tendency to jump in with both feet before looking.

Therefore, I wanted to do some checking before I said anything. Like mr rdr, I can actually see Hilton's side of things.

On the one hand, looking at this coldly, Hilton has the right to do whatever they wish with their property. They may, for any number of reasons, find Fran's an unsatisfactory tenant. We have only heard one side here. In general, I dislike blogswarms. I see no real reason they should have to justify their rental decisions to the general public.

On the other hand, their rationalization that the vets are welcome to keep coming to a dining room is a bit facile. I think anyone, thinking about this for two seconds, is going to realize that free steaks is not what drew these guys out of their hospital rooms. It was the fact that Jim Mayer and Hal Koster had been through war too: that they knew what these guys had gone through: a shared experience. These guys could get a steak at any club. What they can't get is the cameraderie and the shared experience of seeing vets 30 years down the road who have turned it around. *That* is, IMO, what makes this event so valuable. The people, not some dumb slab of meat and a free drink.

That Hilton can't see this just kind of stuns me. And why they wouldn't, if there is some kind of bad blood between them and Fran's, try to put that aside in the interest of helping these vets out, is something I can't understand.

They don't have to continue indefinitely to lease to the restaurant. But why not put their resources behind trying to find a new home for Fran's? It's in their best interest, PR-wise, and they would be doing a good work.

Do they have a duty to do it? No.

Would it be the *right* thing? I think so.

Is it a smart business decision? Absolutely. Even if you assume they hate Fran's and bear them some grudge, they would be taking the moral high ground away from them and, in the process, doing the right thing by some men who have given a lot for this country. But instead they have decided to dig in their heels. I think they are fighting the wrong battle to defend the wrong principle.

That more than anything else, is what made me decide to write about this. I don't understand that kind of cynicism.

This is kind of a no-brainer, whether you come at it from a Machievellian or a moralistic point of view, and either way, Hilton comes up short.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 15, 2006 09:32 AM

"This is kind of a no-brainer, whether you come at it from a Machievellian or a moralistic point of view, and either way, Hilton comes up short."

Exactly. That's why Hilton's explanations ring hollow. There's something here other than what has been so far "explained." Although I suppose we can always assume that the Hilton management is stupid beyond description. Either way, they still come up as terribly heartless.

Posted by: FbL at April 15, 2006 10:48 AM

Cass, you articulated what I was thinking...that it had to be 'more' than just the free steaks and booze. When the Engineer came back from Kuwait, we were at On The Border, a favorite place since they are more Tex Mex than Taco Hel*, which has yet to make a decent taco. Anyhoo, our server, who had seen me and the CLUs there over the course of that year asked the Engineer where he had been. He told her he had just gotten back from the ME...didn't specify which country. She gave him a hug and thanked him. We thought that was the end of it, until we got the check. The meal was on the house. We were rather taken aback, as he had no wounds or injuries, but the management said that the price of our meal was nothing compared to the price we paid as a family.

I cried all the way home, never realizing that there were people out there who did appreciate what we did and went through, on both sides.
To share that with someone is more than the price of the meal.

Have we been back since then? Yes. We willingly paid too, because someone UNDERSTOOD.

And now, they are no longer in Peachtree City.

Posted by: Cricket at April 15, 2006 01:37 PM

I am not terribly big on emotion, as you all can no doubt tell. I get upset easily, and it does not take very much to move me to tears. But I do not, or at least I *try* not to, let emotion drive the decision-making process.

We have brains for a reason. I think it important to sit back and look at things skeptically, though my first inclination has always been to give people the benefit of the doubt. It's not always easy for me to take off the rose-colored glasses, but I think it's important to do so before jumping to conclusions.

It's hard to achieve the right balance between heart and mind. But I think both are needed. I wouldn't want to live in a world where people let their passions rule their brains.

But OTOH, I'm not sure I'd like a world where no one ever considered the human consequences of their decisions either. There has to be a balance. The tough part is finding the right mix. That is where our values inevitably collide.

Posted by: Cassandra at April 15, 2006 01:57 PM

I actually work at the VA and have done some small volunteer work with groups that support the veterans. There isn't much more to say about it from the perspective of the veteran that hasn't already been said, quite eloquently, by many posters.

My additional beef with Hilton is that I have been watching our Washington "institutions" like Fran O'Brien's disappear at a rapid rate, replaced by chain stores, restaurants, luxury condominiums, and other wonderful development projects. No one can leave well enough alone, and DC is rapidly becoming an overdeveloped urban wasteland, especially in some parts of the city, where it consists of little but huge chain stores and upscale character-free shopping and restaurants so that you can no longer tell which city you're in -- there is a boring sameness which has descended upon this city and many others. And building after building is going condo. It is pretty depressing.

I love Fran O'Brien's, and as a matter of fact, an organization I belong to that has an event there every year is going to have to find a new place to have it. The place has character and style that whatever goes there in its place cannot hope to duplicate. I fear it will be a new Hilton "concept restaurant" like all the other mediocre Hilton restaurants that are in all the increasingly mediocre Hilton properties around the globe. The executives of Hilton clearly don't see any value in being the place that serves as home to an institution. They didn't learn how to place value on intangible concepts in MBA school, just on numbers, and often just on someone's guess at numbers. They seem to think in terms of "products" -- this is another Hilton product within the family (interesting concept here, family) and I can just see some smarmy pinheads giving the concept to the executives via a slick Powerpoint presentation as the executives nod in agreement (or boredom) and make a "business decision" that is numbers-based and ignores intangible factors. No wonder America is in trouble -- this is how investment decisions are made these days.

I deplore both the treatment of the owners of Fran O'Brien's -- regardless of whether they are or are not good tenants -- including the total lack of notice, and management idiocy in assuming that any veteran would WANT to come to Twiggs or a conference room for a dinner. Yuck. But stupid is as stupid does. I have thought for years that the quality of the Hilton "family" of "products" has been declining. This is one more data point supporting that conclusion.

Thanks to all for caring.

Posted by: JJ at April 16, 2006 12:02 AM

Hilton gets no more of my business, or my company's.

If they want to be identified with the Moonbat Leftists, let them.

The Red Roof Inn is looking better and better.

Posted by: Former Marxist at April 16, 2006 12:09 AM

No more Hilton (Las Vegas/Magic Fashion Shows) if they let Fran O'Brien's go. I'll do business elsewhere.

Posted by: Jihadgene at April 16, 2006 07:58 PM

Hilton has every right to make a business decision that doesn't include lease continuation for Fran O'Brien's.

And I have every right to make a business decision, and a personal decision, never to enter a Hilton group hotel again. Nor will any of the progeny of my five brothers and sisters, nor my wife's six brothers and sisters, nor any of the progeny of their progeny. Nor will any personal or professional associate of ours that we can convince.

And nothing can be done to change that. Even if the Hilton executives change their minds about Fran O'Brien's, they have shown where their hearts are, and they will not change.

They can go to hell.

Posted by: Will at April 16, 2006 08:57 PM

Good to see you're still at it, Cass.

Excellent coverage of what really is being swiped from our boys at Walter Reed...It strikes me that this is a terrible decision in terms of PR...that will cost them much more than 'rent' money across all of Hilston's holdings..

Posted by: Cao at April 17, 2006 05:40 AM

That's it -- I'm dumping my girlfriend (Paris); she's been hanging on by a thread for a while now anyway (if she'd only get rid of that damn dog!).

Though I do hope the latest word about the Hilton folks continuing the tradition somewhere else nearby is true. I know a lot of bars, donut shops and convenience stores that offer a free drink to cops and firefighters -- it's good business (when there is the financial ability to do so) to both keep the traffic flowing and also to show appreciation for a tour of duty none of us can express enough thanks for otherwise.

Posted by: Dan at April 19, 2006 05:49 PM

I am a retired disabled veteran. I spent a year at Walter Reed and was retired early after 14 years of service after being injured in a Combat Training Exercise (CTX/FTX). I only received a brain injury and some relatively minor orthopedic injuries compared to those soldiers that are losing their place of honor at Fran O'Brians because of Hilton arrogance. These soldiers have sacrificed their limbs for their country, which in my mind is the next thing to sacrificing their lives.

Write to and call the Hilton Klan and give them a piece of their mind. I did. These numbers are active as of today. Dan Boyle's number is direct. Ask for Brian Kellaher's voicemail.

*Dan Boyle (212) 838-1558

daniel_a_boyle@hilton.com

Brian Kellaher (202) 393-1000*

We owe these more than to stand by and allow them to be effectively evicted because of Hilton Hotels may have been advised by their insurance company that Hilton may be discontinued or that their insurance rates would increase if they continued to serve disabled vets as part of a regular function on their property. Hilton always had the option to change their insurance stupid company. Instead, and if true, it appears that instead of going to that trouble of changing insurance company's, they chose to evict the disabled vets from their property by closing Fran O'Brians.

Hilton admits that they have no future plans for the space currently occupied by Fran O'Brians, so it is clear to this disabled vet that Hilton is hedging their bets by evicting Fran O'Brians and thereby evicting the disabled vets. They kill two birds with one stone.

Unfortunately, as someone else mentioned, Paris is probably the keenest member of the Hilton family and she has no college behind her. The Hilton’s MBA’s seem to have made them stupid and heartless, though they were probably that already. The Hiltons still appear to have no idea what they have done and are doing. We vets have long memories and so do patriotic Americans when we are insulted through our country’s warriors, who are nothing less than extensions of ourselves.

You know, I remember during the Reagan Administration when the French refused us flyover rights when we attacked Libya, resulting in the loss of one of our pilots probably to fatigue because of the flight around Spain and down through the Mediterranean. I still hate the French basta*ds for that and I will always remember what they did then. I will always hate the Hiltons in the very same way. Many Americans feel the same way. The Hiltons is digging their own grave. They should stop listening to their accountants and listen to their PR people, or hire PR people with the wherewithal to tell them the truth. Maybe the Hiltons should all move to France. They may be more at home there, as they act more like the French and less like Americans. Basta*ds.

Posted by: James Knight at November 3, 2006 07:28 PM

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