All week I have been thinking about what I would write about for Memorial Day. I’ve been told I come off preachy sometimes, but really I know most of the people who read my blog and I fully understand I would be preaching to the choir if I were preaching about this day. The one theme that kept coming back to me regarding Memorial Day, was the theme that came from the movie “Saving Private Ryan” when Tom Hanks was dying and he looked at Matt Daman and said, “Don’t waste it.”
Don’t waste it. Don’t waste your life and don’t squander your freedom. I take that to mean don’t be a lemming. Make a difference. Think about the world and not just your little corner of it. I strive to do this. I have taught myself to be more tolerant- though I don’t always succeed. We always want people to be just like us, think just like us- and yet the world is so big that could never be possible. And that freedom, we are so privileged to have in this great country, is often taken for granted and stomped on by many of us trying to make everyone fit into our groove.
Memorial Day is supposed to be about the troops killed in action. It’s not really supposed to be about thanking all our Veteran’s. But in my thinking, the best way to honor those who have died is to honor those who have lived and help them give their lives new meaning.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the plight of many veterans suffering from PTS and TBI and about their inability to find jobs that can accommodate their disabilities. Some of them can’t work at all. Many Iraq and Afghanistan veteran’s are homeless, drug and alcohol dependent and many more are suicidal. Many of them found maneuvering the VA so difficult they just gave up and receive no medical care at all.
I’m not sure which part of this people are not understanding. While political factions argue with each other over which is the best party, while they call each other names, spread rumors with zeal, and batter each other in advertisements, our veterans are dying.
In an article written late last year Paul Rieckoff , executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said, “The suicide rate is out of control – it’s epidemic proportions right now. There are very few programs that are effective, and there’s a serious lack of national awareness.”
Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2011/05/26/1680716/concern-grows-over-epidemic-veteran.html#storylink=cpy
A serious lack of National awareness. Still a million people will write about today and they will write about Veteran’s Day later, and people will wave their flags and argue about their right to choose, their right to pray, their right to eat fat, their right to grow pot, their right to raise their kids however they want, their right to be FREE.
Many of our veterans are not free. Some with visible scars and some without, they are shackled to their nightmares. They are buried with their friends who came home in coffins. They walk on tightrope; barely able to balance they hang on for life that is no longer dear.
Those of us that understand all this owe it to these men and women, the walking wounded, to wake the Nation up. We owe it to them to have intelligent conversations that are not politically biased, but about them alone. We owe it to them to stop blaming politicians for something WE can change if we unite in our message that our veteran’s needs must come before one more war, one more special interest, and one more barrel of oil, one more study of frog sex, one more dime spent on any frivolous bull shit thing.
After 11 years of constant war, almost every single person I know has known someone that either has been in the war or been deeply affected somehow. Everyone I talk to has had a son, daughter, sister, brother, nephew, cousin or friend serve in one of the two last wars.
A staggering 45 percent of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21 percent who filed such claims after some other relatively recent wars, top government officials told The Associated Press.
I have not backed off my campaign to raise awareness. If I am preaching – so be it. I don’t know any other way to get the word out. I’m shooting from the hip like I always do. I’m hoping you will share this Memorial Day message with your friends and family. I’m hoping it will make its way to people who want to make things better for our veterans. 1.6 million veterans need our help.
Don’t waste it. If you don’t know the meaning of life- give your own life meaning. Leave this world a better place by repaying the greatest gift given to most of us and earned by so few. The gift of freedom.
Things can change. If you have even a smidgen of the bravery some of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms have, you can help make a difference. Speak up for them, don’t just wave your flags and shout out America the Beautiful, or the Pledge of Allegiance. We owe them – don’t you think?