Why Memorial Day Still Matters

Every day we lose men and women from World War II, dying at the rate of over 1000 per day.  At one time, there were over 16 million World War II veterans among our families and friends.  Today, less than 2 million are still alive. They may have been our greatest generation, liberating a large part of the world from tyranny.

Now, why do I choose to talk about them on this Memorial Day Week?  I think it’s easy for us to forget the sacrifices they made to keep the world free. These people sacrificed their lives so we might have the freedom that we have today. It’s easy to see in on the History Channel and think that it has little to do with the world we live in today. For a generation of Americans that are connected to the world through social media, the sacrifice they made wasn’t a very big thing. Consider how long and how far these brave men and women travelled to keep our world free, taken away from their homes and families and the comfort of the familiar.  The ease of world travel today makes us unaware how much time people spent away from their families to build the foundation of world peace.

They set a benchmark for all generations to follow by developing a standard for serving causes higher than themselves and the willingness to die so others could be free.  Future generations of military would go through many battles in places around the world to insure the world remains free. They don’t do it for the money and it creates much stress on their families at home. The birthdays they miss, the wedding they won’t get to dance at all for a cause greater than their own. When I worked in hospice, I had a chance to talk with many veterans about their service to our country. I can’t remember one who was boastful or proud. They all share a common bond of a job well done, being part of a winning team, a person who, through their individual and collective acts, has shaped the world we live in.

Now why am I writing to you today?  We have many challenges in the world today and our leaders are faced with making decisions that will impact generations of people with their decisions. In all the talk about paying government employees’ bonuses and watching the government spend money like they had it, there has been talk about how we treat our veterans and their families.  So as we go into this critical election, we must not forget the men and women of our armed forces.  Having worked in Washington DC, I discovered how quickly patriotism is used as a weapon to dull a person’s positions on key issues. Many congressman and senators are quick to point out that they support our veterans with small pay and benefit increases.  While these same elected officials walk away with seven figure balence sheets for them and their families.  Some of them are partisan hacks that wouldn’t recognize the truth if it was delivered on a silver platter. They would just take the platter and throw away the message. It’s time to hold these people accountable for their actions.

How do you do this? My first suggestion during this critical election is to ask your representatives where they stand on caring for our veterans.  Don’t let them give you a canned response that of course they care for them while they continue to cut their benefits.  I’ll give you a test that a very wise man taught me as I prepared to go to work in Washington DC. He gave me a question to ask your representative or senator.  Here it is, “Tell me the last time you spent time at the bedside of a veteran? When was the last time you helped pass legislation that would make life better for either them or their families?” If they start to lecture you about all they do and how they support our armed forced and how, if elected, they will work to make the world a better place for vets look them straight in the eye to see if they have tears in their eyes as they share what they’ve learned and how they plan to fixit it. If they don’t have the tears, they won’t fix it. Hold them accountable and don’t fall for crocodile tears. It’s easy to act like you care when the press is asking, not so much when you go down to the VA Hospital or the local soup kitchen.  Let your representatives know what you expect from them.   Let’s help veterans with the things they need.

To all the veterans who read our blog, I would like to thank you for your service to our country and the global community. I know we can never repay you or your family for your service and sacrifice, but we can try. God bless you.

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