Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day in Modern America

Tomorrow countless families and friends all across the country will gather in places like backyards, beaches, and lakefronts and mindlessly party. From personal experience, always a very narrow perception of reality I admit, most will not have the slightest idea of why May 28th is not a regular business day. Sure, television commercials have blared advertisements for a couple of weeks now declaring “Memorial Day” sales but I am willing to bet money that except for a very few actual awareness of what the day means is limited.

As a country, particularly here in the patriotic south, we give especially great lip service to recognizing those that have fallen in the service of the United States and to those veterans who came home. But in all honesty except for a magnetic yellow ribbon attached to the back of the stereotypical civilian family SUV the vast majority of Americans do not give a damn about those that raised their right hand to protect and defend this country. I have ranted and raved for years over the shallow platitudes offered up by civilians as the rare individual decided that he or she would actually put their lives on hold and join those soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen already serving. All the while if you listen carefully, you will hear these proud civilians mention how they would never let their own children join the armed forces. The all too usual refrain whispered by the faceless mass of America is that while the person enlisting is a fine example of American courage their own child has to go to college and start their careers. This is not some piece of fiction I made up, it came from a stalwart member of a local community that prides itself on love of America and its values.

Now before anyone gets the wrong idea I was NOT in favor of the war in Iraq and feel we need to pull out of Afghanistan as fast as logistically possible. Untold billions have already disappeared over our little adventures and will continue to be sucked down some fiscal black hole as the bills come due. My problem is with those civilians who gleefully supported the wars without actually having to pay the price in family blood. Once again, I have to bring up the fact that the day after Pearl Harbor men all across the United States willingly lined up in front of recruiting offices ready to fight. After the attacks on 9/11 no such massive show of real patriotism materialized. As the months after the World Trade towers fell went by with various members of the Bush Administration and allied pundits declaring we were in a “War of Civilizations” with the forces of evil that attacked the country for the most part the majority went about its usual business.  I was still in the National Guard when all this happened and it was funny watching the recruiters scratch their heads in amazement as interest in joining the military evaporated like a snowball in the Sahara with not one but two wars looming.

I was lucky, by 2005 I had become very cynical but with having twenty-one years of service I filed my retirement papers and got the hell out. For the very few that joined and those already in the service the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan became an annual rotating nightmare for them and their families. I know a few guys and gals that did four combat tours but to a person none of their marriages survived and despite laws and assurances that their civilian jobs would be waiting when they returned many of them ran into strange circumstances making that promise a joke. While they can and have to a certain extent picked up the pieces of their lives those that came home missing a limb or with severe mental trauma, those wars will stay with them until the day they die.

Please excuse my attitude, for all intents and purposes I am a peacetime veteran who joined during the safe and secure days of the Cold War when a possible conflict with the Soviet Union was viewed almost universally as an incredibly bad idea leading to global nuclear war. For what it is worth, I am proud of my service and grateful for the incredible things the military gave me the opportunity to try. While in the service I met the absolute best America had to offer, and that was in peacetime. Those that have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan war and their families are damn near demigods as far as I am concerned for putting up with the huge amount of crap offered up by cowardly politicians and a civilian population I will refrain from describing.

Adding further insult to injury read up on the amount homeless American veterans. I could write entirely independent posts on the suicide rate of veterans and active duty troops, the financial problems their families back home face, and many other issues further leading me to believe the land of the free is occupied with nothing but self-centered and delusional children. 

And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job.
The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness.
The Alliance to End Homelessness, a public education nonprofit, based the findings of its report on numbers from Veterans Affairs and the Census Bureau. 2005 data estimated that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans.

Stop by and check out:

National Veterans Homeless Support, Inc.
"We Fought Together; Once, Forever"


Sherry said...

Back in the Viet Nam days, my Mom's best friend was planning on sending her only son to Canada if the war wasn't over before he was old enough to be drafted. Sarah was "proud to be an American" she just wasn't proud enough to sacrifice anything for what she was receiving.

And 45 years later, that still seems to be the problem.

Mike Williams said...

Thanks for the Memorial Day reminder. I live in a Navy town, my neighbors are either active duty or retired. As I look down the street the flags are flying and the BBQ's are starting.

Sarge said...

Excellent post! Thank you!
What aggrivates me is those chicken-hawks like Romney who talk tough about Iran but snuck off the France to avoid Vietnam. Cheney is a fucking clssic - I had other priorites, Not when it came to having that Marine's ass blown off in Faluga; he didn't.

I would still suggest the Air Fotce to a young man - but, not the Army, Guard, or the Marines until we get our asses out of Afghanistan.

Oh, active duty and vets get 10 free wings at Hooters tomorrow...


Randal Graves said...

It's called human resources for a reason. Once you've been used up, you're no longer of any use. But those yellow ribbons sure are purty, ain't they.

Ranch Chimp said...

Memorial Day Greeting Bum, and this posting is well put, I have covered so much of this as well, and because, you cant tell me that it isnt within the American budget at all to erect/ facilitate shelter's in this country for homeless Vet's, I have known a few homeless Vet's personally when I worked the street (security) and the worse that I have seen in this nation was in the City of Los Angeles ... absolutely unbelievable (thousand's). I wrote a couple stories about homeless Vet's I personally was helping and working with, who also told me that they were TURNED DOWN for a bunk for the night by the .... get this ... "Salvation Army" ... because they didnt have the $7/ $10 fee to pay for the bunk ... I shit you not! ... THEY WERE VETERAN'S! ... that there made me think of the Salvation Army with disgust thereafter (I wrote about it as well, as being the REASON I dont support the Salvation Army after that) ... it's pure bullshit man! F'n scum in my opinion, that actually spend million's in Washington to have work out/ spa facilities, tax write off $50 luncheon's per plate, then even rent SUV's on monthly contract's and at tax payer's expense ... I could go on and on, on this issue Bum, but I'll spare ya'll.

Have a good un Bud ....

lime said...

i have been appalled by some of the battles the veterans i know have had to fight once they've returned stateside, by how many deployments they've been through as well.

locally, i was shocked to find out the local veteran's organizations did not have enough money to put on the annual parade (and ashamed to admit i thought the municipality footed the bill for that out of naive of me). i was glad they still had the annual remembrance ceremony though.

i have given gladly to veteran's charities in the past and will continue to do so because it's needed but it angers me that there is a need. this should not be. these people should be well-provided for and if they gave their very lives then their dependents should be cared for.

Pixel Peeper said...

I sometimes wonder why nobody points out how inapproriate it is to say, "Happy Memorial Day." There is nothing "happy" about the day - it's about death, sacrifice, heartbreak, service. It's about remembering and honoring the fallen soldiers. People wouldn't say "Happy D-Day," or "Happy 9/11," or "Happy Pearl Harbor Day."

I know that people just say it, they don't mean anything by it, but I'd like them to think the next time.

Robert the Skeptic said...

There is this almost embarrassing faux-patriotic fervor to overtly "honor" our veterans and currently serving men and women. I can't help but wonder if there isn't a little bit of guilt driving those Armchair Patriots who do not serve.

I also wonder if we have been embroiled in the longest wars in our history BECAUSE so much of the population contributes NO sacrifice. All our wars the public participated in; there was rationing, war bonds, taxes... everyone contributed something to the effort. Iraq is no longer mentioned in the nightly news... and little is mentioned about Afghanistan... it's "old news", except to the people who are there.

As I write this I think of the Credence Clearwater song, "Fortunate Son"... I ain't no senator's son.