Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day

I am grateful to the people who volunteer for military service.  I am grateful to the people who volunteer to be away from their families for months at a time, who risk their lives and put their personal wants and needs aside in defense of the country.  They deserve our gratitude.  They deserve our gratitude free from politics, absent point-scoring.

So first: thank you to service members past, present and future.

I am a proud American. But I'm an adult American.  And as such I recognize that there's a sicknesses in our culture, which manifests itself in the way we privilege the trappings of gratitude over the hard work of real gratitude.  We celebrate letting service members board planes first and then turn our backs on homeless veterans.  We clap our hands across social media when someone picks up the check at Applebee's for a vet but pay no attention when a soldier does tour after tour after tour in Afghanistan. A slim, narrow minority bears the full, enormous burden for all our military adventures in the middle-east.  And we thank them by playing Lee Greenwood before the game.

Look, I think it's great to let military members board planes first.  I think picking up the check for a marine is really nice.  I can't stand that Lee Greenwood song, but I've heard from some real live veterans that they love it, so OK. I'm not arguing against any of that stuff.

But let's do some other stuff too.  And I mean as a nation, let's do more.  Can't we make sure the VA is staffed and funded?  Can't we make sure homeless vets have a place to get the mental health care they deserve?  Can't we make sure we're not sending 19 year olds off to die in the middle east because Dick Cheney and his cronies rattled their moneybags at Congress?

Because it doesn't matter that the soldier got to sit in first class on his flight to Tucson if it means that the rest of the time we treat his life like it matters so much less than the rest of ours.