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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 5/26/14

A Memorial Day Truth

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Graves with flags
Graves with flags
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by Walter Brasch

It's the third and final day of the Memorial Day weekend.

Millions of Americans are visiting friends and relatives, perhaps taking a three- or four-day mini-vacation. They may be at pool parties and grilling burgers, hotdogs, veggies, and whatever else appeals to them.

The nation's politicians are going to Memorial Day rallies. There will be speeches and music. American flags and bunting will drape the stages. The politicians will tell us about the "ultimate sacrifices" American servicemen and women made. They will tell us how wonderful America is, how we are the best country in the world, how we defend freedom and remember those who put their lives on the line to do so. The crowds, whether a few or thousands, will applaud vigorously.

Some will even say that the VA hospitals need a complete overhaul, that Gen. Eric Shinseki--who was wounded and earned three Bronze Stars for bravery, should be fired. These are some of the same politicians who had attacked Shinseki when he was Army chief of staff who warned that it would take hundreds of thousands of Americans, not thousands as the Bush-Cheney cabal had claimed, to successfully invade and control Iraq. For his military knowledge, he was forced into an early retirement. These are the politicians who are outraged that America is treating veterans poorly.

Here's what the politicians also won't say. They won't tell us that 41 Republican senators blocked legislation this past year to provide necessary funding for veterans health. They won't tell us that during the first years of the Iraq War, the quality of American-based hospitals had deteriorated to the point that it took a major newspaper series to expose what had happened and, finally, with politicians forced to look at despicable conditions, and shamed by their ignorance, there were some measures to improve the care for wounded soldiers after their lives were saved by courageous battlefield medics.

They won't tell us that members of Congress blocked significant increases in the foodstamp program or that governors and legislatures have not done what they should to care for the homeless. After all, the impoverished and homeless don't contribute to political campaigns. Of course, the politicians won't tell us that one-fourth of all adult homeless are veterans.

They won't tell us about veterans who came home from war, and then lost their jobs or homes during the Great Recession that followed the fraud and greed committed by the bankers and industrial giants who were able to become rich because government did little to protect the people.

With crocodile tears and shallow words, recorded by the news media, the politicians will tell us how much they mourn--but they won't tell us they are part of the problem, for proudly claiming they voted time after time to block necessary funding and for demanding government not intrude upon the free enterprise system.

The politicians will wave flags and say how much they believe in America and our veterans, and how much they mourn the loss of our soldiers. The crowds will enthusiastically agree--and then go to their barbeques and picnics.

No, they won't tell us that if we want to reduce these problem--DON'T THUMP YOUR CHESTS, UNFURL YOUR FEATHERS, AND SEND THE YOUTH TO WARS THAT SHOULD NEVER BE FOUGHT.

During the Vietnam War, John Prine recorded "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore." It was true then. It is still true. Please listen.

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Walter Brasch is an award-winning journalist and professor of journalism emeritus. His current books are Before the First Snow: Stories from the Revolution , America's Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government's Violation of (more...)

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