Its hard to know just what to say to our country’s veterans when we are in the midst of uncovering our neglect of their needs. As some have reported, its not new…even more shameful…but with this last revelation that some may even have died waiting for medical services perhaps we will finally put our house in order.
I grew up in a military family. My father was a career bomber pilot and flew 35 missions in the WWII Pacific theater with his wonderful crew of very very young men. (His WWII B-29 is in the header on this page. Mt. Fuji is in the background.)
My children will be at the 27th Rolling Thunder with their father –a combat helicopter pilot during the Vietnam war in the Army’s Americal Division. Rolling Thunder was established in 1987 to litigate for the continued search and rescue of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action. This is necessary because we just moved on after the end of that war, even shaming veterans by our silence and lack of praise for their service in a terrible, terrible war. Each year my children and their dad go, and each year they come back more inspired and closer than ever. See my daughter’s video journal of Rolling Thunder.
I believe that we are observing a new time during which our country is coming to face the full consequences of war on the best among us. The particular type of prolonged assignments, never knowing when it might be over, and observing your countrymen unaware of what you are experiencing on their behalf…must be enough to drive the strongest man or woman to despair. We Americans are losing our moral grip on important values and practices because we are distracted…distracted by money concerns, overwork, and entertainment.
On this memorial day, let’s renew our commitment to support peaceful solutions rather than armed conflict or drone warfare (a scourge on humanity) and to international actions as a global community when we do have to defend ourselves. Help any veteran whatever age they may be to know that their sacrifice was not in vain. Live up to it by voting and actively working to make this democratic nation more just and compassionate. It will only be as strong and as good as we are. But mostly, on this Memorial Day, take time to honor, thank, or help veterans in your family, neighborhood and communities. I am forever grateful for the men and women who have sacrificed so much of their own personal freedom and happiness to keep me safe.