This year, Veteran's Day comes with a more sobering reality for me for a variety of reasons. The stakes are higher. The reality of two wars and its impact on our soldiers, veterans, and their families is gripping. The weight of continued years of war on our nation isn't sustainable.
"Happy Veterans Day!" Sarah Palin wrote today. "God bless them all. May we never forget the sacrifices made to secure our liberty." Do we forget? The airwaves, Internet, and Twitter were alive with such words seemingly delivered by rote with waving flags in shiny perfect places to celebrate our men and women who have served and sacrificed for our country. At the same time, the deeper TRUTHS lurk in the shadows. We do FORGET or stay uninformed by choice ---and the TRUTH is haunting, disgraceful, discriminatory --- and I would wager unknown to most Americans. It's much easier to turn our heads or to count our ceremonial tributes on November 11 as enough.
The Shameful TRUTH
We don't need to look far see the shameful TRUTH about our veterans. Consider just this one example of how we honor them: The Veteran's Administration estimates that 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Only eight percent of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly one-fifth of the homeless population are veterans. About 1.5 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing.
History Repeating Itself? Click on photo above to see larger view.
This is not a new violation of our promises to honor our veterans. History repeats itself. In what seems a similar time, Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, once the most decorated solider in America, shares a story in the introduction to his now famous book, War is a Racket. Below the excerpt is a poignant VIDEO clip from 1932 that brings the story to life. Do you see any parallels with today?
How a Military Hero Blew the Whistle on Corporate Malfeasance
Excerpt from Introduction by Adam Parfrey, General Smedley's War is a Racket
"The U.S. government thanked the efforts of World War I soldiers with a "war bonus" of approximately $1,000 to be paid late as 1945. But as Great Depression and the Dust Bowl misery touched the continental states, unemployed veterans desired to have their bonus paid sooner. In May 1932 out-of-work vets arrived in Washington D. C. to impress their bonus pleas to Congress. A pro-bonus bill sponsored by Wright Patman [Congressman (D), Texas] was threatened veto by President Hoover and overturned House passage by a Republican Senate. As tens of thousands of Hooverville-occupying vets demonstrated their discontent in a "death march," Generals George Patton and Douglas MacArthur moved in on the veterans with a fresher contingent of the U.S. Army. Two died, including an infant, and hundreds of veterans were injured, in MacArthur's successful attempt to "gain control" of D. C.
The Bonus Marchers' primary upper ranked supporter? Smedley D. Butler, the Brigadier General who was twice awarded the Medal of Honor and one the so-called "Brevet medal," when the Medal of Honor was not given officers. Known for his fair play to soldier's regardless of rank, Butler's support of the "Bonus Marchers" helped boost the desperate foot-soldiers' movement..."
The video chronicles this account. It is somehow shocking to imagine this happened in America.
I highly recommend General Smedley's book. When I was growing up, somehow these stories were never told. He provides a view of many things about WAR, GREED, and profoundly CURRENT REALITIES. You won't be able to put it down. You won't forget it. He sets the stage in the first chapter this way:
"WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
This is far from a "happy" Veterans Day. For me, it seems like a day for prayer and appreciation to those who faithfully serve or have served; a day for recommitting ourselves to GET INVOLVED in the business of our country, so we don't contribute to repeating history and we rid country of its shameful TRUTHS.
While researching this article, I learned of a small group of citizens, GETTING INVOLVED. Visit the Obama's Achievement Center. It is described "A Crowd Sized Compilation" of achievements by the Obama administration, including a list of action-directed steps taken for our Military Veterans/Families. There is much more to do to make things right for our military and their families. However, it was uplifting to to discover this positive labor of love being done by nearly a 100 dedicated citizens, leading by example as they work to put the spotlight on significant achievements you may not yet know about.
Putting Our Differences to Work
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership and High Performance
** 2010 Axiom Business Book Award Winner **
Bronze for HR/Employee Training
ORDER a copy at AMAZON.COM