Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Day Late, but Worth It

Yesterday was Armed Forces Day, though you'd not have known it by reading most newspapers or news websites. My brother Adam did an excellent job of pointing the day out yesterday (he left out the time, while I was on active duty, I threw myself on two people having live sex-though come to think about it, that was a dream), but that was about all I saw which was okay since I didn't spend eight years in the Air Force for the thank yous, and neither has anyone else I've ever met who served.

Armed Forces Day, unlike almost any other national observance, is not a big sales day at The Mall. Cynic that I am, let me note it's everyone who's ever been in the US armed forces who makes going to the mall possible for all of us (paper or plastic). We have Veterans Day in November and in two weeks or so we'll observe Memorial Day (with lots of meat cooked over hot rocks and a five hundred mile left turn only oval road race), but Armed Forces Day is for anyone and everyone who ever wore the colors, past, present and (the way the world is going), also the future.

We have huge numbers of highly-trained and well-motivated young men and women (I'm 58, your perspective on age may vary; but if doesn't match mine, it's wrong) committed by my generation to a Global War on Terrorism whose successful outcome I would pray for, if I prayed, though I cannot tell you what such an outcome will look like (the Stars and Stripes flying over the restored sculptures in the Bamiyan Valley? A Mets game in Mecca?). The dangers in which we have placed our children, and, for some of us, our grandchildren, has been a guns and butter war where real men and women suffer real losses while the rest of us watch our Chia pets grow on the kitchen windowsill.

In Afghanistan, Iraq, Columbia and across the Persian Gulf and a half dozen other locations around the globe, those in uniform have lost their lives in defense of the notions upon which we have built a nation. And for every one who has died, close to a dozen have come home wounded either physically, psychologically or spiritually (or all of the above) and we haven't been as eager to bind up those wounds as we were when we sent those who sustained them into the fray. When we see a veteran missing a limb, we discreetly avert our eyes because saying 'thank you' or asking 'how can I help you' would be too embarrassing (for us, not the wounded warrior).

I know, that's what we have the Department of Veterans Affairs for, right? Just continue to compartmentalize the carnage and how we help the survivors-it'll help you sleep and that's what's really important these days, being comfortably numb. I didn't find this until yesterday, because it was posted pretty late in the day by young and talented people with full use of all their limbs who devoted all of last week to covering an event that never showed up on our home screens because the advertising demographics wouldn't have supported the broadcast.

I suspect all of the people who shot and edited this did so pretty much on their own time, because the ones I've met are quality people who do what needs to be done without needing to be told. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and that you'll remember the men and women you'll see in it, not just on Armed Forces Day or Veterans Day, but everyday. for all the days of their lives.
-bill kenny

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