All day long today, you will see the ads on TV for Veteran's Day sales, free meals at chain restaurants, and flags waving everywhere - all in honor of those who have served or are still serving our country. But what happens tomorrow? Where is the gratitude and love after the free meals and spontaneous handshakes are gone?
Anyone who knows me, knows that I served in the military for 20 years. Actually 20 years and 17 days, but who's counting? The point is, I retired from military service relatively unscathed, and even though I have bad knees, a cranky back, and may have been exposed to asbestos, I came back in one piece with a sound mind and a body that will last for 30 more years. God willing and the creek don't rise, as the old folks say. There are those veterans who are worse off than me, and deserve more than annual shine or "tokens" of appreciation. So - how can we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice?
Like everything else, America seems to have a short memory. Just having one day of remembrance is not enough. I know, I know - what about Memorial Day? Ooh - TWO whole days to thank someone for giving their life for this country! Thanks, guys! No...what I am saying is that it should be something that happens all year long, spontaneously. We should not let this opportunity be hijacked by Pseudo-Patriots, you know the folks who tell you that if you don't agree with them and all their policies you are un-American. The hate and anger being spewed out like active volcanoes has become rampant, and has clearly hijacked the democratic process in this country. We need to take it back in honor of those who have served so that we ALL can exercise our freedoms. Here is how we can start:
1) Get your facts right before talking about an issue. You hear folks all the time who come out on Veteran's Day and talk about how Americans died for the freedom to say what they want, when they want, how they want. However, most of the dead would come back and scissor kick some people in the back of the head if they heard and saw what is going on now. Yes - I am looking at extremists who talk about Death panels (Sarah Palin), Sharia law in America (Sharon Anggle), experiments on mice to have human brains (Christine O'Donnell), the President is a racist (Glenn Beck), and others. If you don't believe me, the links are at the end of this article. Now, to the educated, or even awake, these would seem to be preposterous, full of shiggity (shout out to Bougieland!) and worthy of intense laser-beam side-eye (pilfering Bouge again). But a large part of our population has bought into these things, with gusto and enthusiasm. Google any one of these and you will see what I am saying. So, in honor of veterans everywhere, the next time you hear someone promoting something garbage-can worthy, take the time to get the real information, print it out in big letters, and staple it to that person's shirt, fanny pouch, or Hoverround.
2) Become more vocal. It is okay to get a little loud when you are intelligent. The loudest these days seem to be the ones with the - how should I say it - the softest brain matter. At least with the least wrinkles. It is true - there are studies that show the human brains with more wrinkles have been used the most. Thinking is not an option. We have to be smarter than the average bear. That is not to say we have to be in lockstep and agree on everything, but when you have the facts, and you know them to be real and not an illusion, you have to be louder than the person who rides the little bus with the strawberry-flavored windows. Case in point: all we have heard in the past two years, is how the President is a Muslim, and yet he attends a Christian church, his family is Christian, he doesn't abide by any of the tenets of Islam, etc...But the falsehood is all you hear. Fight ignorance and stupidity - be on the intelligence front line! (I know - got caught up a little bit there!)
3) Encourage progress. It seems we are living in an age of intolerance and anger. People who have humble roots and are now prosperous are quick to shun those who are still struggling. How is it that anyone can be against healthcare reform when millions of children previously in danger of having no medical coverage can now get proper care? Folks previously shut out of institutions because of skin color, gender, or sexual orientation (soon) can now participate. Not saying we are there, but we are moving forward, and it just completely baffles me that there are those who want to move backwards to the "good old days" when things were infinitely easier for the majority than the minority. Tell those folks to shut up, suck it up, and act like real Americans and embrace change.
So - in honor of veterans everywhere, I will exercise my rights with more responsibility, intelligence, and enthusiasm, and not let them be twisted and manipulated by the less responsible. And I will do this every day, not just on one or two days. They fought for them, and many have died for them, so I will not waste these golden opportunities. What are you going to do this Veteran's Day?