Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Back Pages: Memorial Day, 2012

My Back Pages: Memorial Day, 2012:    Once, they filled our world, these giants among men and women. They were our mothers, our fathers, our aunts, uncles, neighbors. They nev...

Memorial Day, 2012

   Once, they filled our world, these giants among men and women. They were our mothers, our fathers, our aunts, uncles, neighbors. They never claimed to be heroes. They never claimed to be anything more than what they believed that they were: Americans. We were raised so closely to them that we saw them with their everyday faults. Going to normal jobs, trying to make enough money to raise a houseful  of children. They were born either during, or directly after the ‘Great War: The War To End All Wars’. They toddled through the Roaring Twenties. They suffered through the  Great Depression. They watched the  war clouds gather over Europe and erupt into the horror of the European Theatre, and were surprised and shocked when America was so brutally attacked at Pearl Harbor. One thing that is crystal clear to me: The term "The Greatest Generation" is the only one that could be given those who lived and died in those years. They came through the Great Depression and made due with less than we can even imagine. They helped each other out, and when their freedom was threatened, they answered the call with unquestioning Patriotism. Somehow, after Pearl, they managed to get this country on a war footing and made the tools needed to fight back. They volunteered for the Armed Services without so much as a second thought.Those who fought in the war did so even though they knew there was a very good chance that they would die. I cannot begin to imagine what those brave souls were thinking in those last few minutes and seconds before hitting the beaches at Normandy, or the beaches on all of those islands in the Pacific. The beaches became killing fields, where many a brave soul died, giving their lives in the defense of freedom. Those who were deemed unfit to serve, nevertheless served on the homefront, working in the factories and on the docks to get the necessary munitions and supplies to the troops. They built over 2700 Liberty Ships in the four years of the war. They built tanks, jeeps, fighter aircraft, bombers, every kind of vehicle and aircraft that was needed to preserve our freedom and to help free Europe and the Pacific. They did it all, without complaint. After the war, led by a General Of The Army who hated war, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, they built the infrastructure that is now in such terrible shape. Highways, super-highways, tunnels, bridges, city streets. They did it all. They made America into an economic superpower by diligently working together towards that common goal. They created the best educational system in the world, Kindergarten through High School. They did it all. 
 On weekends,  the families gathered together for a meal, remembering how tough it was when food was scarce and all they had was each other. Those family gatherings that I remember seem so much more cheerful than the ones that I attend today. They were just happy to be alive. Every memorial day, they would go to the main streets of our country and watch the veterans of the great wars march by. 
 They are slowly fading into history now,  these brave men and women. They are all in their ‘80s and ‘90s; but their mark will be felt for generations yet to come. 
 This coming Monday, Memorial Day 2012, while you are enjoying your cookouts and family gatherings. While you are at the beach, or enjoying the opening of your local pool; just take a moment to reflect on those who have passed who gave us so much, and those few that still remain that now need our support and love. Remember all they did so that we may continue to live relatively free.  I give my undying gratitude to them all. Happy Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Back Pages: Mother's Day 2012

My Back Pages: Mother's Day 2012: If I close my eyes and listen carefully, I can still hear the echoes of their voices: our children, now grown for these many years that have...

Mother's Day 2012

If I close my eyes and listen carefully, I can still hear the echoes of their voices: our children, now grown for these many years that have expanded into decades. In there, in the middle of the chaotic laughter and arguing, I can hear my wife, Sheryl, trying to bring some kind of order to this madness. It was never easy for her.. she was trying to seamlessly blend two families that knew each other, but were not related by blood. What made it worse is that the other set of 'Parents' did everything that they could to make things as difficult as possible. We had two 8 year olds, a boy and a girl, and two 4 year olds, a girl and a boy. They had played together from when they were very little. Now, they were being forged into brothers and sisters. In the middle of this chaos was my 25 year old girlfriend, soon to be my wife. By shear force of her own personality, she managed to fashion us all into a semblance of a family. The kids were so well behaved when she took them shopping that people would comment on them. We married in 1979, and added a daughter in 1980. This completed our family and Sheryl continued to work to bring them together over the next 14 years and then some, after the older children had left the nest. Sheryl's work is still ongoing through 14 Grandchildren and and the occasional crisis that will pop up in any family. One thing is crystal clear: These now adult children are brothers and sisters as much as any blood siblings out there. That's the way they look at each other, and that is the way it will always be.
 Their toys have long been gone from these rooms. There are no more voices at our dinner table. No arguments over what to watch on tv. Just the deafening silence of a home that was full of life, and now has grown old with the owners. The  toys are gone... the years have slipped away, but I will always have these fond memories of our fresh faced children.
 And so, on this Mother's Day, 2012, I would like to salute Sheryl for managing to navigate all the pitfalls of blended families and to thank her for a job well done, with plenty of love to go around for all five children. Thank you, Sher. I love you, and I dedicate this day to you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Back Pages: My View

My Back Pages: My View: Well, here we are in the thick of another Presidential campaign, and the haters have been at it since the beginning of the last one. They ...

My View

Well, here we are in the thick of another Presidential campaign, and the haters have been at it since the beginning of the last one. They don't seem to want to stick to any legitimate issues; they would rather throw whatever nasty, despicable lie they can find out there to see what they can get others to believe. "He wasn't born here!" (A lie!) He's not a Christian (A lie and, even if he wasn't, so what?) He hates America... what? Do you even hear yourselves, or don't you care about how ignorant you sound? I don't care if you don't like the man's politics or not, but throwing hateful and ignorant statements out there just makes you look bad. If you don't like where he stands on the political spectrum, fine. Go after him on the issues, if you even can, at this point. I didn't hear this kind of crap when President Bush was spending us into debt. Or when Cheney said that he didn't give a damn about what the American people wanted. That's a quote, folks, from someone who was voted into office. I have to watch people like his ignorant daughter and former ambassador Bolton twisting the truth to suit their agenda. Whether they like it or not, Obama is the Commander In Chief. He gave the final order to go in and get Bin Laden. If the mission had failed, it would have been on his head, so it stands to reason that, since it was a rousing success, he gets the credit for ordering the boots on the ground that got him. Did the Navy Seals do the actual job? Without question, they are the true heros of the day but,  without the order of the Commander In Chief, the mission does not come off. Are we clear on this now? You have a problem with him 'Politicizing' this mission? Too bad.... that dog slipped off of it's leash years ago, long before there was even a 'War On Terror'.  If you need more recent, think of 'Mission Accomplished' and landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier in a S3 Viking 1 Aircraft. Now, I will not put President Bush down for doing that... at the time, he thought that hostilities had ceased and that the American People needed a moment that would stand out in their minds. It was a mistake to think so, but it was not something that he did to be vindictive. He did it because he thought it was needed. Period. What I wil say is that every aspect of every war in my long memory has been politicized, so to see these people wrap themselves in the American Flag and scream that what the President has done is wrong, is ridiculous. It's only wrong, because he is not of their party.
 Let's put all of this nonsense aside and get down to real issues with some real proposed solutions that we can live with. The austere changes that the extreme right has called for will only increase the misery of those who are already suffering. How about some incentives that will bring jobs back to the US from overseas, where they were sent during the free trade sell outs in the '90s? How about some kind of sanction put on companies who put their 'Headquarters' in one room in places where they are not taxed, when the real HQ is right here in the US? 
 Healthcare? Why is the far right so against healthcare that's affordable for the working class and the poor? You have given motivation for highly profitable companies like Verizon and AT&T to cut medical benefits that were hard won over the years, claiming that they can't be competitive because they cost too much. Meanwhile, they continue to rake in record profits. Why is the extreme right so against having them offer healthcare as a condition of doing business? If you can think of a better healthcare plan, then please do, instead of crying about the other party's plan. 
 We need real solutions to the real world issues that plague this country and, in fact, the world. I've seen a lot of finger pointing, and name calling. A lot of 'This man is out of touch'. A lot of "I'll create jobs", but not a lot of how. It sounds a lot like Nixon's 'Secret Plan' to end the Vietnam war back in '68. He had no plan. Neither do any of these candidates have a plan to stimulate the economy. 
  Now, to the call for the killing of Claire McCaskill by the radical tea party activist, Scott Boston. I saw this last night and I was dumbfounded! How can anyone in American politics blithely call for the killing of a sitting Senator.... or anyone, for that matter? Is there no decency left in this America that I grew up in and love? Are there no laws against this? I know there is if you make a statement like that against the president, but shouldn't the laws also apply for anyone. This sickens me. It takes the politics of hate too far. What bothers me even more is that not one Tea Party member, or any conservative stood up and condemned this man for what he said. As a matter of fact, when I wrote a comment under the article about how I felt about this, I received a comment back stating that I should note that it stated it was one activist, not a group of activists. Does this really matter? It only takes one crazy person with a gun to take down a citizen or a leader of the free world. Don't make excuses, join me in condemning any statements like this from the left or right. If we can't agree on anything else, we should be able to agree on this. Come on, America, Wake Up, before someone else gets killed in the name of ideology.