11-11-11

Like so many national holidays in America. Veterans Day has become just another day to sell more cars and appliances. This year the holiday got a little more attention because of its palindromic date, but most of us still went to work as US corporations have by and large made the determination that this holiday can be skipped. In its place we get the most American of all holidays, Black Friday off.

It’s not just about paying lip service to honoring our military veterans one day a year. This solemn day is a time to look inward. Are we as a nation keeping our end of the bargain with our servicemen and women? We aren’t. In the midst of two wars we learned of the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed not so long ago. Follow up care for PTSD is sorely lacking. The list goes on, and is in evidence every time we hear of another current or former serviceman or woman’s suicide.

A parade, a laying of a wreath, and hanging the flag by the front door are all nice gestures, but they are absolutely meaningless if we don’t back them up with appropriate action.

And while we consider how we honor our veterans, perhaps we should consider if what we are asking them to do is worthy of the sacrifices we ask. In my lifetime thousands have died taking some remote piece of turf in Vietnam. Was that really worth the price we asked them to pay? What about those who have been killed or injured in Iraq so long after we declared the mission accomplished?

We honor our veterans by giving them worthy missions that truly protect our nation, not some political agenda. We honor our veterans by taking care of them with dignity when they are injured in the line of duty. And we honor our veterans by taking care of those they left behind.

Don’t ever tell me I don’t support our troops because I don’t support your political agenda. I support our troops when I demand of our leaders only to put them in harm’s way when absolutely necessary.

Image originally uploaded to Flickr by Frank Capria as #20 in Random 365.

 

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