But, thanks to our politicians, it will take on all the trappings of another Memorial Day.
Every November 11th our politicians fall victim to unkept-promises amnesia, dutifully ignore the needs of living veterans and head to the cemeteries.
Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day which commemorated the end of World War I on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918.
Now, Veterans Day is a sad, repetitive testament to self-serving politics that has little to do with living veterans.
Once again this year, the president will travel to Arlington National Cemetery to give his Veterans Day address. Other politicians will make similar journeys and give similar speeches all over the country.
Veterans Day should be a time to pay tribute to and say thank you to our living veterans. Then why are cemeteries, full of dead veterans, the venue of choice for our politicians on Veterans Day? Dead veterans are the perfect audience.
Dead veterans dont complain about a two-year wait for surgery at their Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. Dead veterans dont need medication to help control the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms that send them screaming into the night. Dead veterans dont ask why Congress wont pass legislation authorizing full and mandatory funding for VA healthcare.
In his 2001 Veterans Day Proclamation, President George W. Bush, speaking briefly of living veterans said, more than a million and a half have been wounded. Some sustained serious injuries in combat and now live with disabilities We can never adequately repay them. But we can honor and respect them for their service.
President Bush must be reminded that we honor and respect dead veterans. Living veterans need much more. But more wasnt mentioned in his proclamation and more wasnt offered. Most discouraging for the 24.5 million veterans living today is that more is not being provided as promised time and again.
Honor and respect wont get a needed appointment at a VA hospital. Honor and respect wont pay for life-saving medication. Honor and respect does not heal broken bodies and broken minds.
However, honor and respect will get a veteran a flag and a cheap headstone when they die. And maybe, just maybe, a real live bugler to play Taps instead of a recorded version played on a government-issue boom-box.
I have this optimistic streak that lets me believe that one Veterans Day theyll get it right. Well stop hearing the same speeches and the same meaningless promises.
In my perfect world, politicians would spend Veterans Day at a VA hospital speaking with and listening to living veterans instead of addressing headstones. VA healthcare would be fully-funded and no veteran would be denied necessary medical treatment. Our troops in the field would not have to worry about what kind of VA awaits them when they come home.
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