Friday, May 25, 2012

A Box of Dreams

The number of things I believe is often exceeded only by the list of things that piss me off.  High on that list is our nationwide obsession with turning every holiday into some kind of unforgettable consumer shopping experience while distorting its meaning (see earlier rants/posts about Christmas, Easter, and Father’s Day).  Another day to buy things we don’t need, don’t want, and can’t afford…….

It’s Memorial Day weekend.  For most of us that means sand, sun, surf, picnics, and nightmarish traffic on all roads leading to the beach, mountains, or resorts.  War movie marathons on cable TV.  The Top One Thousand Greatest Song lists on the radio.  Maybe a parade or two with high school bands and town officials marching down Main Street, then a little flag waving before piling into the four door big body and hitting the barbeque.  Between bites of hot dogs and hamburgers and smearing Coppertone on skin that hasn’t seen sun since September, you might read a story or two about the meaning behind Memorial Day.  Might even pause for a moment of reflection before popping the cap off another cold, frosty Bud before trying to figure out how to beat the traffic and get home earlier than everybody else.

But before you hit the Parkway, consider the costs of Bush/Cheney’s War of Adventure:
  • Over 4500 US military dead
  • Over 32,000 wounded in action
  • Nearly 1/3 of all troops returning from military service in Iraq or Afghanistan have experienced a traumatic brain injury, OR meet criteria for major depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Only half of those troops seek treatment.
  • Only half of that number receive care that is minimally adequate.
  • Every 80 minutes another US veteran kills himself.

Memorial Day is more than the start of summer (and if you’re Mitt Romney, more than the opportunity to put on those white pants he's so partial to at weekend photo ops).  It’s a day of remembrance for those who died in military service to our country.  It’s a day to remember that some times the injuries you can’t see are just as deadly as the ones inflicted on the battlefields.  A day to remember that the sacrifices and service of so many have given each of us the freedoms we enjoy today.

And it's a day to say "thanks," even though "thanks" isn't nearly enough.

And while you're at it, check out: Wounded Warrior Project and Restore Warriors.

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