Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day Commemorations, Good and Bad

They picked up our garbage today as they normally do on Tuesdays. Last Tuesday they didn’t. It was Election Day. An homage to the right we enjoy in a democratic country to choose our leaders. 

But I am more than a little befuddled by the choice of our local government and union officials (I’m assuming the sanitation crew and the rest of the public works team are unionized) to consider November 11 as just another ordinary garbage collection day. The day we have designated to honor those who fought on our behalf to preserve the right to vote freely and live in freedom should not be a throwaway day. Veterans fought to preserve the rights of workers to unionize. How could any union, or for that matter non-union, worker not honor their sacrifice? 

Garbage collection is suspended 10 days of the year. Memorial Day, when we remember those who died in defense of our country, is one of them. So is Columbus Day. Given all we now know about the impact discovery of the New World by Europeans had on indigenous populations, perhaps we might want to rethink our commitment to the Great Admiral and instead rededicate our devotion to those who served and protected our freedom and way of life by giving Veterans Day its proper respect. 

Despite being of the optimal age for service during the Vietnam War, I am not a veteran. I earned a deferment for being underweight for my height (for details. Follow this link: http://nosocksneededanymore.blogspot.com/2009/11/veterans-day-salutes.html).

I thought I’d share with you a recent post on the jewishcurrents.org Web site about who served in the Vietnam War:

The first American casualty of the Vietnam War was killed during a training mission on October 21 in 1957. Of the 58,193 Americans in the military who died in that war, only 269 were Jewish. Jews were protesting instead of fighting: In 1964, they were twice as likely as Protestants and Catholics to favor a U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam; by 1970, when a majority of Protestants and Catholics still favored fighting or even escalating the war, half of American Jews favored an immediate pullout. A 1966-67 survey by the American Council of Education revealed that the best single predictor of anti-war campus protests was a high proportion of Jewish students.

Have you seen the new Air Force TV commercial? It’s a slap in the face of Barack Obama. The ad features inspirational quotes from four presidents: Reagan, Kennedy, Bush II and Clinton. Not a word from, or even an image of, Obama. Shameful! I’ll resist detailing why each of those presidents had tarnished times as commander-in-chief. Like it or not, Obama has been a wartime president. He should have been included in that ad. 

Speaking of shameful, what’s with all the recent Nazi memorabilia stories? In the last six weeks three tasteless Nazi-related stories surfaced:

First, a supplier to Sears and Amazon placed on their Web sites rings bearing the Nazi swastika. Though quickly removed, it was a stunning example of poor taste topped by the second example, that of a Swiss company that somehow felt it appropriate to put pictures of Hitler and Mussolini on packages of its coffee creamer. 

The third incident is more sinister. Unknown parties earlier this month stole a sign above the gate to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. The sign bore the infamous slogan, “Arbeit macht frei” (Work sets you free), that the Nazis placed in their forced labor and death camps. 

It’s a chilling reminder that reactionary forces are on the rise in Europe, again.

One year before the guns of the Great War went silent at 11 am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 my mother was born in Lodg, Poland. With two sisters (a third would be born in America) and a brother, she traveled to New York in 1921 with their mother to join their father who had emigrated earlier. She would be 97 if alive today.