Happy Memorial Day!!
What does this mean? In the 1960's a World War II veteran and his family considered Memorial Day to be one of if not the most "sacred" of all the recognized holidays in the country. In 2015, a left wing extremist considers it to be a great day for a cook out and a day off from work. How did this country evolve to this diametrically opposite point of view in 55 years? More importantly, why?
Growing up in the 60's and 70's as I did, we were exposed in school to the history of war in a different way than today. World War II had only been over about 20 years the day I entered first grade. The Korean War in which my father served had been over 12 years and the Viet Nam war was just really cranking up, continuing through my sophomore year in high school. By the time I walked across the stage to receive my high school diploma, every presidential election since I had been born had war as an issue. Military service was a part of the individual history of almost every adult male person I knew growing up. It was honored and most of the boys I grew up with knew the ranks, insignias and functions of each of the four main branches of the military. When you saw the flag flying on Memorial Day you knew it was a time for family and friends to come together, honoring those family mambers that served and understanding it was for more than the hamburgers and home made ice cream.
Then Viet Nam happened. For those of you who want to politicize how it happened and who escalated it I shall leave that for another day. That war was very unpopular here in the States and not just with the younger generation. The problem is that the protesting younger population, whether consciously or not, took out their frustrations on the men and women of our armed forces who served out of a sense of duty and responsibility to go and fight where our "leaders" sent them. Returning veterans, many who were drafted into the military came back to a country that did not celebrate their sacrifice as they had witnessed as children from previous wars, but to scorn and ridicule as if they themselves had banded together, hopped on a ship or plane to go fight an "immoral" war. This "baby boomer" group who dressed in psychedelic, twirled on acid trips and coined phrases like "make love, not war" acted as if the soldiers themselves had caused this atrocity, jumping to a conclusion that had no evidence to support it. For this generation, Memorial Day seemed to mean nothing, nor did the sacrifice of their fellow citizens who fought valiantly as they were ordered to do by the very government "they" elected overwhelmingly in 1964.
Viet Nam was a different type of problem for returning vets as well. Many are still suffering the effects of chemicals such as "Agent Orange" with some of those effects not manifesting themselves until many years later. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is a term associated with this war as no other and the actions of war became much more scrutinized by the press during this time. Military supervision was taken to task and held accountable, sometimes in my opinion as fall guys for political leaders to address "public concerns". This is what our veterans from the Viet Nam war have been dealing with for almost 40 years; lack of support, lack of aid and a generation that refuses to try and understand.
Since Viet Nam we enjoyed many years of "war-less" activity, sans the occasional Grenada or military action. Several 12 year school cycles came and went with no war occurring during their primary educational years. The "liberation of Kuwait" interrupted that period of peace but was a supported action and ended quickly as our military leaders were given a clear objective and accomplished it. "9-11" united the country though some in the populace did not hear or did not want to hear that the battle against terrorism was not going to occur and end overnight. Agreements and disagreements among the citizens about our involvements in military actions currently are somewhat divided. Regardless of your views on war, it is incumbent on every citizen of the United States of America to support those who have dedicated their lives to defending our nation. Are we now so unaware of communism, socialism, monarchies and dictatorships that we no longer understand what the word freedom means and how it is accomplished?
So now it's 2015. Our Viet Nam vets are in their 60's and 70's and other than build a very nice wall in Washington, what have we done for them? The Veteran's Administration is in shambles and appears to NOT be a priority to the politicians in Washington to fix. Agent Orange and the like is still rearing it's ugly head attacking our vets in their latter years with no process in place to handle the devastating effects. Veterans who should have been collecting benefits that they fought for are having to jump through hoops of red tape with some dying needlessly before they can get help. Lip service from Washington is not support.
Just who is running Washington now? Google the name John Kerry from the 1960s; yep, our Secretary of State. Ever hear of "Hanoi Jane Fonda"; she has nothing on Mr. Kerry. These "war protesters" from the 1960s now inundate the US Congress as does the late 30, early 40 year old crowd that grew up not knowing war. Whether a Republican or Democrat, do you believe a crack pot like Harry Reid would have been elected to national office in the 1960's? Look up Barry Goldwater and see what scrutinization he went through in the presidential election of 1964; and he is certainly no Harry Reid. These politicians are still protesting war today but on a much more dangerous and sophisticated level; and they have no allegiance to our military men and women whatsoever. This is not a political party thing; it is a generational thing where extremist thinking has been prevalent for decades.
This is not meant to demean an entire generation as many if not most do not think or believe this way. However, it is intended to hopefully motivate the good citizens of that generation and every other to take back our way of life that is currently under attack by political forces bent on individual gain, not the good of the country. If the majority of United States citizens will stand up for what they believe not what some political party wants you to believe we can get this nation back on track.
Let's start by re-taking Memorial Day!