When a Veteran leaves the 'job' and retires to another life, many are jealous, some are pleased, and others, who may have already retired, wonder if he knows what he is leaving behind, because we already know.
1. We know, for example, that after a lifetime of camaraderie that few experience, it will remain as a longing for those past times.
2. We know in the Military life there is a fellowship which lasts long after the uniforms are hung up in the back of the closet.
3. We know even if he throws them away, they will be on him with every step and breath that remains in his life. We also know how the very bearing of the man speaks of what he was and in his heart still is.
These are the burdens of the job. You will still look at people suspiciously, still see what others do not see or choose to ignore and always will look at the rest of the Military world with a respect for what they do; only grown in a lifetime of knowing. Never think for one moment you are escaping from that life. You are only escaping the 'job' and merely being allowed to leave 'active' duty. So what I wish for you is that whenever you ease into retirement, in your heart you never forget for one moment that you are still a member of the greatest fraternity the world has ever known.
NOW... CIVILIAN FRIENDS VS. VETERAN FRIENDS COMPARISONS!
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Get upset if you're too busy to talk to them for a week.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Are glad to see you after years, and will happily carry on the same conversation you were having the last time you met.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have never seen you cry.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Have cried with you.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Keep your stuff so long they forget it's yours.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Borrow your stuff for a few days then give it back.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Know a few things about you.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will kick the crowd's ass that left you behind.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Are for a while.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Are for life.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Have shared a few experiences.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Have shared a lifetime of experiences no civilian could ever dream of.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will take your drink away when they think you've had enough.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will look at you stumbling all over the place and say, 'You better drink the rest of that before you spill it!' then carry you home safely and put you to bed.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will talk crap to the person who talks crap about you.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will knock the hell out OF THEM... for using your name in vain.
CIVILIAN FRIENDS: Will ignore this.
VETERAN FRIENDS: Will forward this.
A veteran - whether active duty, retired, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The Government of the United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'
FOR THOSE OF YOU LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE ONE: From one Veteran to another, it's an honor to be in your company!
And finally, here are two great ways to give back to those who have given so much:
First, give to Project Valour-IT, helping wounded veterans with new computer technology.
Second, support Oregon War Veterans Association, supporting Oregon's troops with service and giving our troops a needed voice.
President visits wounded troops. Just not THE President. No word on that one.
Remember not long ago a post about the 25% unemployment rate for teens?
Hold on to your hats, people. It has more than doubled.
When the next election comes, you can bet that the youth movement won't give a crap about Iraq, Gitmo, race, or fancy speeches. Or Bush bashing. No, the next time around, the youth vote will be overwhelmingly in favor of the candidate who can articulate a sound fiscal policy that will promote job growth.
Not long ago, Governor Kulongoski ordered American flags on state property to half mast in honor of the late Senator Kennedy. OK. Prominent politician dies, offer up a gesture of honor at his passing. No big deal. Here is what the Governor had to say:
“Senator Ted Kennedy was one of our nation’s greatest and most honorable leaders, paving the way for equal rights, access to health care and bringing more opportunity to Americans of all walks of life,” said Governor Ted Kulongoski. “His passionate commitment to creating a safer and more just nation and world for all of us today and into the future will be missed but never forgotten. Senator Kennedy’s legacy will live on for generations and serves as a model for all of us in public and private service to emulate. In his own words ‘the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.’”
Sounds nice enough. You can think what you want about Ted's life and legacy - not the issue here today. But as tributes to passing Senators go, this is par for the course - especially that "never forgotten" business.
Never forgotten. Never forget. Now... where have I heard that before?
Oh yeah, that is most commonly used expression for this date in history, September 11. Never forget. I never will. Did Ted? Let's see what Ted has to say, today:
“It’s important to pause and reflect on the events that touched us all so deeply eight years ago,” Governor Ted Kulongoski said. “While another year has passed, we will always remember our fellow Americans who lost their lives in the tragic events that took place on that day.”
Wow. Far fewer words than he had to say about Ted Kennedy. On a far more serious topic. When I read this, I was saddened by how far we've fallen in just eight years. Let's deconstruct this brief statement, shall we?
It is important
Important. Like the children. Like eating your vegetables. You know, important. Are there no stronger words?
Don't stop. Just pause. You know, a minute or so. It shouldn't take any more of your time.
Reflect? REFLECT? Reflection is what you do when you are thinking about YOURSELF. You see YOUR REFLECTION in the mirror. You don't REFLECT on something that happened to an entire nation.
on the events
Here is where the real problems begin. Events? EVENTS? Ted, my niece's dance recital was an "event." Why are you afraid to actually name the EVENT that took place on 9/11? It has a name. Do you know what to call it? You call it an UNPROVOKED TERRORIST ATTACK ON INNOCENT CIVILIANS, BY RADICAL ISLAMIC JIHADISTS, STARTING A NEW WAR AGAINST FREEDOM. Events? Calling the attacks "events" is like calling the Civil War a "prolonged disagreement." It's like calling the Black Death "cold and flu season." Why do some people find it so hard to say what actually happened? Why is it so hard for some to recognize and articulate what the "events" were?
that touched us all so deeply
Ted, do you write bodice-ripper romance novels under a pen name? TOUCHED US ALL SO DEEPLY? Teenagers in love share touching moments. Deep ones. I think I saw a special about this on Hallmark TV. However, what happened on 9/11 was no touching moment. It was GUT WRENCHING, SOUL SUCKING PAIN. IT WAS STABBING AMERICA IN THE EYE. "Touched," my ass.
we will always remember
OK, to be fair, not too bad here. But "we will never forget" has a ring to it that no other expression, no matter how similar in connotation, can denote.
our fellow Americans
Not to be too nit picky, but 329 non-Americans were murdered, too.
who lost their lives
This makes me wretch. It makes it sound like the victims were responsible, like they lost their car keys. I know that normally writers should avoid using passive voice, but this is one time where it works better: try writing WHO WERE MURDERED BY THE TERRORIST BASTARDS. Or, WHO WERE BURNED TO DEATH WHEN THE TERRORIST BASTARDS CRASHED PLANES INTO THEM. Or, WHO WERE KILLED RUNNING INTO BURNING BUILDINGS TRYING TO SAVE VICTIMS OF THE TERRORIST ATTACK. Tell your high school grammar teacher: not all passive voice should be avoided.
I already talked about "events." It still applies here. So... "tragic"? Ted, the word has lost meaning from overuse. People use "tragic" to describe health care, bank failures, athletes dying young from steroid use, the cancellation of their favorite TV show, and Heath Ledger. All of these things have nothing whatsoever in common with 9/11. 9/11 wasn't simply "tragic." It was LIFE ALTERING AT THE FUNDAMENTAL LEVEL. Many Americans have no other moment in their life history to compare. Let's try to come up with something just a little less trite than merely "tragic."
that took place
Yeah. That's what the "tragic events" did. They "took place." I guess it is easier to type than THAT KILLED 2,996 PEOPLE AND FOREVER ALTERED OUR WAY OF LIFE. They "took place." Like what "took place" at Pearl Harbor, I guess.
on that day
OK, this is the part that really set me off. This is the part that, when I read it, had my blood boiling and inspired me to blog about it. THAT DAY. The words remind me of Bill Clinton, talking about sex with "that woman." More to the point, do you get pissed off when people refer to you as "that woman" or "that guy" when they know your name perfectly well? It's like saying "look missy" or "listen here mister." Well... THAT DAY is 9/11. DON'T YOU EVER, EVER CALL IT "THAT DAY." Just who the HELL do you think you are referring to 9/11 as "THAT DAY"? Calling 9/11 "that day" in your 9/11 MESSAGE is about as tasteless as it would have been to begin your tribute to Senator Kennedy with "that guy."
So now, Governor Kulongoski, here is an idea. Next year, which will be your last in office, try making a statement with pictures instead of words. Here are some you can use:
It took me just a few minutes with Google image search to find these. There are many, many more. A picture is worth 1,000 words. You used only 45. Just one of these pictures carries far more meaning than all of the 45 words you chose - poorly - to try to convey the meaning of 9/11. I will never forget. But you sure did.
The son of one of my good friends was killed in Iraq yesterday. For information on how to help, please read this from Oregon War Veterans Association.
Not that there is ever such as thing as good timing for screwing up so badly...
Seriously, when you and your department are under a lot of scrutiny because you are publishing a pamphlet that might encourage veterans in bad shape to commit suicide, it is probably not a good time to accidentally and erroneously tell 1,200 of those veterans they have Lou Gehrig's disease. I can only imagine this mailer:
Dear veteran, we regret to inform you that you have an incurable disease and the rest of your life is going to really, really suck. Here, read this pamphlet...
Red Foreman has something to say about how y'all are doing business in Washington:
(Note: Dad e-mailed this to me and I told him I would post it for him - Resistance is futile!)
Dear President Obama and Members of Congress,
I am very concerned for the future of my country. I don't like much of what I see in the news about the goings-on in the Capitol. Each day, we are bombarded with stories about wasteful Congressional spending, pork-barrel projects that add to the wasteful spending, bailouts that only serve to prop up businesses that should have been allowed to reorganize or fail, and huge bonuses going to executives whose businesses would have failed had Congress not intervened. Some of those bonuses are being paid by bailout money supplied by the taxpayers.
I am particularly concerned about the current effort to "reform" health care in our country. I find it most alarming that so many politicians are telling us that "if we're happy with our current healthcare coverage, then we will be allowed to keep it." Those who are saying that are either lying to the American people or they are so naive that they shouldn't be in public office.
For this discussion, I will put the American people in one of three groups: (1) I and the majority of Americans are in the first group. We have healthcare insurance coverage that meets our needs and we want to keep what we have. (2) At the other extreme are the small percentage of Americans who, through no fault of their own, or through the circumstances of their lives, have no healthcare coverage other than that provided by Medicaid or the VA or other sources intended to help those with very low incomes. (3) In the middle of these two groups, there are many Americans who could afford healthcare coverage (as expensive as it might be), but who choose to spend their hard-earned dollars in other ways. I have no pity for those without healthcare coverage who would rather spend their money on big TV sets, cigarettes, illegal drugs, cell phone packages, new cars, and other luxury items that should take a back seat to proper healthcare coverage. Just the cost of a pack-a-day cigarette habit would be enough to purchase a basic healthcare policy for many people. I see no reason whatsoever for the taxpayers to pay for healthcare coverage for so many people just because those people refuse to see to their own medical insurance needs. I put these people in the same category as those who purchased houses they couldn't afford, but expected the government to bail them out when they couldn't pay their monthly mortgage costs.
I would understand and support a government effort to provide better healthcare options for the small percentage of Americans who are absolutely unable to afford it on their own. I would include in that category those Americans who have lost their jobs due to the current economic situation and, in turn, who lost their health insurance benefits. I would specifically not include in this category anyone who is living in our country illegally.
I do not support a complete revamping of our nation's healthcare system just because there are some who presently don't have proper healthcare coverage. Whatever action our Congress takes should be aimed at helping those who truly need help and leaving everyone else's healthcare coverage alone. Whatever solutions the Congress comes up with must be paid for now out of current revenues so that the costs are not passed down to future generations.
I do not favor any form of a "national health" plan. My family lived in England for several years, and we know first-hand what medical care was like for the English people. Their emergency room service for the injured and bleeding was first-rate. Those who weren't injured or bleeding waited for months or years for the routine medical service that we take for granted in this country. We know English people who were never allowed to have hip or knee replacement surgeries because they were old and it wouldn't have been cost-effective. We know people who had teeth removed rather than repaired because it was the less expensive option. It would be a huge mistake to follow the English down that path.
I am a retired Navy veteran. I devoted thirty years of active duty service to the Navy and my country. As a benefit of that military service, my family and I were promised a lifetime of free medical care. For several years after I retired from the Navy, we were shut out from military medical care despite the former promises of lifetime care. Our coverage by Tricare only covered a portion of our medical expenses. Not until the advent of Tricare for Life as a Medicare supplement did we begin receiving the promised free healthcare. Tricare for Life has been a blessing for the retired military. Now we are hearing rumors that our benefits under Tricare for Life are in jeopardy with talk of large deductibles and annual fees that would replace the current free medical coverage. I do hope that our Congressional leadership will continue to recognize the promises made to our military for lifetime free medical care to those who chose to make the military their careers.
There are probably several different ways in which the current cost of medical care in our country could be lowered. Reducing Medicare payments to medical providers is NOT a desirable way to lower costs. Reducing Medicare payment levels will only serve to limit the number of providers who are willing to accept Medicare payment. One way to lower medical costs would be to severely curtail frivolous medical law suits, including those brought by attorneys on contingency bases. Physician liability insurance rates as a defense against frivolous law suits are astronomically high and must be passed on to the patients. Another way to lower medical costs would be to crack down hard on those who abuse the system. We need more investigators looking into Medicare fraud. Medical providers with a record of submitting false claims should be fined and prohibited from practicing medicine in the future. Zero tolerance.
There are a number of other issues of concern to me, but I'll save those for another day. Included in that list would be such topics as:
a. Transparency in government... or the lack thereof.
b. The ban on hiring lobbyists for government jobs... or, what the heck; who cares?
c. Why are we giving taxpayer money to Acorn?
d. Why are Senators and Representatives and other members of the government who cheat on their taxes not being held accountable? Mere censure by the Congress is not the sort of accountability I have in mind. Are these people not subject to the same laws as the common folk?
e. Why do we bail out the auto manufacturers and prop up the auto workers union, yet we turn a blind eye to our nation's airlines and their union employees, whose pay and benefits have tanked since 9/11? Have we forgotten that our U.S. airlines are a strategic resource needed in time of war to transport troops and materiel?
f. On a related note, why do we encourage foreign airlines to fly routes in the U.S. in direct competition with our own struggling airlines? Do we not recognize that our airlines cannot compete on an equal basis with foreign airlines that do not pay their workers' health insurance, retirement costs, or even a minimum wage by U.S. standards?
g. Are we really considering the purchase of Airbus aircraft to serve as our future Air Force refueling planes? Airbus is a government supported manufacturer whose support allows them to build a cheaper airplane. Why don't we support our own manufacturers before we support foreign manufacturers? Can we absolutely rely on foreign manufacturers to supply spare parts in a war they might not support politically?
h. Have we considered that taxing our utilities and manufacturers as punishment for their carbon emissions will not have any effect on world pollution? In fact, it will make world pollution worse. Jobs and work lost here will only be moved to countries that have no emission standards and have no interest in the ecology. In considering such legislation, we must take into account the number of jobs that will be lost to Americans.
i. Any further spending of stimulus money (or whatever we choose to call it) should be geared directly toward the creation of jobs that have been lost due to the economic downturn or jobs that can be created due to new technologies. For the benefit of our people, Congress needs to announce the number of jobs that will be created by each stimulus expenditure that they make. If expenditures will not create jobs, the expenditures should be cancelled. Arguments about the number of jobs saved by an expenditure have little merit and even less accountability.
Finally, I am concerned by an apparent growing detachment from the American people by their Senators and Representatives in Congress. Members of both houses of Congress seem to be acting for the benefit of their political parties or themselves rather than for the good and betterment of our country. How else can one explain the actions of Congress that fly in the face of public opinion as expressed in widely accepted opinion polls and in seemingly fruitless letters to our Congressional leaders? There exists today a feeling of helplessness by citizens whose fears and concerns for their country are ignored by their elected representatives. I believe I speak for many who are losing faith in the current conduct of government. I need only mention the names of Conyers, Dodd, Frank, Pelosi and Murtha to illustrate the elitist mentality of many members of Congress whose actions are self-serving and the antithesis of what our founding fathers had in mind.
Actual, non-photoshopped picture:
Because some folks from GM and some folks from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and some folks from Motortrend thought it would be cool.
Now, don't get me wrong. This IS COOL. And very MANLY. And, ordinarily, I would totally approve of a publicity stunt like this. Except we are in a budget crisis - and a multi-front war - so reckless spending of military dollars is probably not the smartest thing.
But I have to wonder: why did THIS stunt get approved (and funded) when other PR events for military flyers were nixed? OK, sure, you can say that one was nixed because it was too Christian. But that isn't the point I am making. My point is, why, when other military stunts are turned down, did this one get the green light? I have a theory:
The government now has a vested stake in GM. Forget "General" Motors. The company is now GOVERNMENT Motors. And this publicity stunt could help boost sales of a GM product. And now our military is being used as shills for Obama's new car company.
What's the problem? Well, when it comes to the Blue Angels, there is more at stake than money. Did you know that since the squadron was formed in 1949, there have been only 262 total pilots to serve in it? And did you know that, due to the extreme danger of the complex stunt flying, there have been 26 fatalities in the squadron?
That's a 10 percent mortality rate, for peaceful duty. You see, these guys (and gals!) have a damn tough job: demonstrate the finest flying in the world on a daily basis, for the sole purpose of demonstrating the skills and professionalism of U.S. Naval aviators. They are killing themselves to show the world how good we are.
Now, to me, that is pretty sacred. It ain't something to be abused to help a few sleazy car dealers draw in a few more folks from the testosterone crowd.
That said, from the text of the article, it does at least sound like the Blue Angels had a lot of fun doing it - and I admit, as a sports car junkie, I would have, too. Hell, I would have volunteered my services. So maybe there is nothing to make of this story, other than what is presented in the magazine: good people having a great time while making the most of two impressive pieces of transportation hardware. But I can't help feel this whole thing is tainted by the GM government bailout and the administration's bad track record so far with military aircraft.
You be the judge.