Friends of Webster

Raised in the house, but field certified.

What if you lose in September?

At my firm, just today, a close friend and mentor posed this question. This friend of mine is a former 0-5 Army JAG who has had incomprehensible experience with these matters. Sitting across from his desk, in an office adorned with his military and civilian accomplishments ranging from Gitmo to lucrative commercial cases, I stared on…

What if I lose in September? (and my thoughts as I recall them)

I was silent. The thought was foreign to me. The fear enveloped me as all my interrelated thoughts were jumbled into one string of thoughts that fired like synapses in my brain…..

“Spiritually, would I live through that? Does God want this for me? I have no future. Everything that I have worked for is gone…again.  That would be the final straw. No politics. No lawyering. No civil rights. No redemption. No, “I told you so.” Does God want me to feel tormented until the day I die? I can’t hold my breath anymore.  I can’t stand by and wait for the story to be told. What good is a damn book/movie/whatever? Stop calling me about it. You don’t need my help anyway, right? You know the facts just like everyone else does, right? Honor IS a damn patch on your shoulder, screw Tom Cruise. Maybe I can fight the pain out of my system. MMA? Who cares if Jackie Robinson was court-martialed? You go experience a court-martial and then get back to me.  What else can I do? What stone can I unturn to make sure that that doesn’t happen? Forget it, I have no control. But who does? Does Ron know how much this means? Does he know that this is a lynchpin in my life? Does he see me for what I can be? Will I be reduced to nothing? Will I falter? Will I lose the will to stand back up…again and again for a lifetime?  Paul had a thorn in his side.  Is this necessary to go to heaven? Will I lose sight of God with success? Will I depend on Him with failure? Would I be a pious man? Would I be a good father? Would I feel comfortable raising my daughter? Would I feel comfortable in my own skin?”

Then, I only said a few tearful words.

“Mike, I can’t lose. I….can’t…lose.” 

Because faith led me to this point.  I had that much faith in God, that I have ignored logic for three years and pursued dreams, well beyond the norms of a secularly afflicted person. I have built myself up again because of faith. Faith is real, so I surely won’t be disappointed. Right? Screw it. Whatever God wants for my life, i’ll honor it.

Back to work.

July 17th, 2009 Posted by | Reflection | no comments

Have you seen it? Meeting David Wilson.

Below is the trailer to the documentary of a young black man named David Wilson who finds the plantation of his ancestors and meets a decendant of his family’s owners, also named David Wilson. He searches for the answer to the all-ellusive question…what is wrong with black people?

When you get the chance, follow the link to David Wilson’s amazing new website: The Grio

I hope to write for his editorial staff sometime in the near future.

June 17th, 2009 Posted by | Reflection | no comments

Expectations

Often times, I lose sight of what I am fighting for. I forget why there are D.C. lawyers calling my phone or why some people go out of their way to bring up the very issues that spawned this web site. It is only when I sit back and read the most recent 41 page brief to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces that everything comes back to me. United States v. Webster Smith was supposed to have been an open and shut case that ended with a guilty plea about three years ago; but the case still has life.  By all indication, the case has more life now than it did when many first heard about it.  LT Stuart Kirkby, bless his soul, had about 100 men and women on his JAG docket.  Merle Smith had a line to toe and he toed it well, with diplomatic and political savvy. The content of the brief to CAAF couldn’t have been raised as issues to the court, back when. They would have had Kirkby sanctioned and Smith barred from ever pursuing employment within the community that has defined his life, supplanted his purpose and provided for his family.  

As much as this case is about people, it is also about a system. Never should a person be defeated by the investigation, itself. A person should never be influenced to make a decision about the sanctity of their freedom based on what they read about themselves in the print media or hear from nationally prominent politicians.  Facts of the case, media scrutiny and the intensity of the investigation can break the best of men. Yet in still, facts-despite the media scrutiny and investigation-are often enough to get a man through it all.   The latter is where I stand.  Some people preferred it when negative media scrutiny over-shadowed logic or facts. To them, U.S. v. W.S. was more reasonable, more tolerable, when I didn’t say a word. It was more reasonable when most of the facts had yet to speak for me.  If you believe that there is finality where I currently stand, I ask you not to insult the CAAF judges.  They have already positively changed the lives of several men that I once knew. 

Some of the anonymous messages to this site have ramped up recently.  There are people that are infuriated that this fight continues; it was supposed to end with me breaking down in a room before anything ever went public or something, I suppose. It was supposed to be over before any testimony was scrutinized.    

EXPECTATIONS  

As odd as it may sound, I have embraced this whole (long) process; that includes the good and the bad. No one has to remind me of the shame, dishonor and regret because I have already coped and moved on. I have a daughter who I hope to raise as a moral and compassionate person but believe me; I first had to reconcile fatherhood with my own flaws. I wouldn’t have grown, gotten married nor had a daughter, so soon, if I remained the person that I was. That was the good that came of it and it makes me feel safe and secure.  The bad, however, keeps me moving forward. It is an engine for progress; I enjoy it. Every time that I get one of those messages or hear some discouraging news, it reminds me of what I set out to fight for.  No person veiled with my transgressions, would ever give up on themselves when they know that they are right.  Yesterday, the Easter message at our church was about expectations. About never lowering one’s expectations, no matter what realities we face. Pastor Fleming also talked about the many ways that God turns curses into blessings. Personally, without all of the negativity and doubt, I would lose my way. I don’t remember life without it. The harsher the bite, the closer I feel I am. No matter the amount of discouragement, I have never lowered my expectations.   The line of demarcation, guilty or not guilty, has long since been forgotten.  

Whatever the outcome of this next stage, it will impact me and I will move on. I am simply trying to continue on with a pure and obedient heart, everything else will take care of itself. I have put all of this in God’s hands and I am watching it unfold. Don’t ask me to accept my current situation as reality, that would be lowering my expectations. 

April 13th, 2009 Posted by | Reflection | 9 comments

Two years, Today.

Honestly, I cannot believe it has been two years, but then again I do not think it is a day I will ever forget. November 20 of 2006 was a monumental day in our lives. It was a Monday and I was waiting in the parking lot by 6 am. Although I slept very little, I stayed the night in Charleston at my weekend getaway for approximately five months, the local Hampton Inn. I remember lying on the bed and writing the last of the 140 or so letters I would give my, then, boyfriend whom I had known since October of 2005.

Webster finally walked out of the cold, concrete building around 7:30 in his Abercrombie jeans, fitting a bit baggier than they had they did on June 27th, a blue t-shirt, and his favorite brown flip-flops. He was wearing a grand smile and we were both in a bit of shock. I was proud to show off my new XTERRA and we hugged briefly outside before he was anxious to get in the car and begin living again. His hands shook as he picked up my phone to call his family and so began our journey together.

We spent the next 24 hours experiencing Charleston from a different view. It really is a beautiful city, but Web’s view had been tainted up until that day. Our conversations were no longer limited to that which could be shared in a few hours time and we could hold hands without our every move being monitored. We were not limited to sitting across from one another at a small table or in a courtyard, nor was the view of the beautiful fall sky tainted by a twisting frame of sharp fencing.

We had each other and we had God, outside of that we did not have much. I had saved some money and Webster’s dad was generous enough to help us financially in our journey up to Connecticut to get the Tahoe. We spent Thanksgiving in the homes of LCDR Braxton and the infamous LaForte family I had heard so much about. The late hours of that night were spent scavenging through four years worth of clothing, magazines, books, and Coast Guard memorabilia that had been stockpiled in a small storage garage.

It was this night that I knew Webster would rebound from his tragic fall. When we opened that garage he said to me, “Linds, remember I haven’t seen a lot of this stuff since last December.” I knew exactly what he meant. In short, he was telling me that we may come across some things that I wouldn’t approve of, or that would have no place in our now steady relationship. With little room in the Tahoe we began picking and choosing what would make the trip and what would stay, never to be seen again. I helped the best I could and I watched as my best friend sorted through the life he would have to unwillingly leave behind. He left a lot of memories and a lot of pain in that small storage space, but he has never looked back for as much as a glance.

He didn’t have the time to look back. He still does not have the time to look back. I have watched him work multiple jobs to pay off debt and support his family. He finished school as fast and furiously as he could, graduating with honors. He found a way to make marriage a possibility, despite those who doubted he could. He has been an awesome dad to our beautiful daughter and does not let a day pass where she does not feel the warmth of his lips on her sweet forehead. By the grace of God, he landed a great job and I watch him work feverishly to complete every task. Tonight, he studies for his LSAT that will be taken on December 6.

God has worked in amazing ways in our life. It has been a journey and every step of the way He has made his presence known. Today, more than any other day of the year, I thank God for the path he has laid before us and I thank you, Webster, for walking on it. I never cease to be amazed at all we are able to accomplish with the guidance of our Lord.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 18:27

Lindsey B. Smith

November 20th, 2008 Posted by | Reflection | one comment

Pennsylvania Ave?