Given the events of the past few days, I would like to address a number of specific National events and some specific reactions to those events. The first reaction is the National Media’s coverage of our fellow civilians being wounded or killed. The second reaction is to our Nation’s Military Personnel being wounded or killed. There are three events I want to make mention of. First is the shooting in Alexandria, VA, which involved the Republicans practicing for their baseball game. Second is the shooting death of three American Soldiers in Afghanistan at the hand of an Afghani Soldier and the ensuing return of our Soldiers remains to this Country. The third is the naval accident off the coast of Japan that has cost at least seven Sailors their lives in Service to their Nation. Then, I will address my fellow Veterans on their historic reactions to similar events over the past fifty years.
I will preface my critique by saying that all lives are precious. With that in mind, all lives lost deserve equal respect. It appears that our National media has put forward an agenda that has discounted the lives of our Military dead and wounded. It also appears that this has rubbed off on a large segment of the general public. I wish no ill and wish a speedy recovery for those caught in the line of fire on that ball field in Alexandria, VA. I am glad that we have a National Press Corps that is freely allowed to report on these incidents. I do have a problem with their priorities when others of us are also in the line of fire, and actually losing their lives. The imbalance of forty-eight straight hours of News coverage on the Alexandria incident versus the short sound bites regarding our Military dead is an insult to anyone who has worn the Uniforms of our Nation’s Armed Forces. This should also be an insult to the entire civilian population of this Country. It saddens me greatly that this is not the fact.
I was glad to hear that Washington dignitaries went to the local hospitals to visit the wounded from Alexandria’s ball field, and that well wishes were pouring in from all over the Country. Each one greatly deserves our sympathy and well wishes; they are our Countrymen.
It may come as a surprise to some that our Men and Women in Uniform and in the Armed Services are our Countrymen and Countrywomen, too. When I heard on the “News” that the return of our three Soldiers from Afghanistan was a “very emotional event”, I assumed perhaps some high-ranking individuals from the Government and the Pentagon were in attendance to receive them. It turns out my assumption was very wrong. Unlike the visitations to the four wounded in Alexandria, there were no dignitaries at Dover Air Base to receive the caskets of our dead Soldiers. There were some family members and an Honor Guard Detail. There were no pictures; no videos. So, where did the Press come up with the conclusion that it was a “very emotional event”. Were they even there?
The same scenario is being played out concerning the naval accident off the coast of Japan. Now that the Destroyer is back in Port, seven Crew members have been declared dead as they were pulled from the wreckage. So far, the Press has given this their normal sound bite treatment. Are any Government dignitaries going to show up to receive their caskets back onto American soil? Will the Press be there for this “event”?
I will always give credit and praise where it’s due; especially to those we like to call “first responders”. I would like to call everyone’s attention, including my fellow Veterans, to the fact that our Military Men and Women are our ultimate “first responders. Without them, we have nothing!
The general public will look to see how Veterans treat each other to see how they should think of and treat Veterans. For most of the past fifty years, it hasn’t looked so good, and Veterans have been relegated to third class citizenry as a result. This has been so bad, in fact, that it has now rubbed off on the Federal Government who has also relegated Veterans to third class citizenry.
There is only one way to turn this around and get it headed in the right direction. If older, more experienced Veterans are willing to put in the effort, we can get the younger and future generations of Veterans back on track. It will involve tapping into our vast and varied skill sets and knowledge bases. It will involve coming out of our shells and becoming civically active. It will involve engaging elected officials - Federal, State, and Local. It will involve writing letters to elected officials and the Press. It will involve organizing Local, State, and National rallies and marches (for those who can). It will involve engaging social media on a one-agenda, Veterans issues only basis - no politics, no economics, no social issues, no name calling, etc. It will take bringing our voices to internet podcasts to promote Veteran issues. It will involve raising donations to fund Local, State, and National Veterans’ initiatives.
It will be our legacy if we do it.
I think we owe it to our Brothers and Sisters in Arms.