J. D. Pendry
Where were you on 9-11-01 is question of the time. I was sitting in a cubicle at the Veterans Affairs Regional Office in Huntington, WV assisting a Vietnam veteran with his claim for disability compensation. He was already receiving some compensation for his wounds and injuries, but had a recent diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. He was actually reluctant to file a claim for it, but a VA counselor encouraged him to. In the middle of my interview with him, someone poked their head into the cubicle and told me that we were evacuating the building. That was when I learned of the hijacking incidents. I expect like most Americans, I became a little enraged. I kept the radio on during my 45 minute commute back home, and the more I listened the madder I became. When I arrived home, I immediately turned on the television. I then sent an e-mail to all of my friends in the DC Beltway area who had jobs that could have placed them in the Pentagon. I got a response from all but one. Another friend lost, a family torn apart and I was with the knowledge that I was helpless to do anything about it.
School started back here in Wild Wonderful. The leaves are changing early because of the dry summer we’ve had. The National Education Association (NEA) thinks it’s a good idea to teach our students about terrorism. Most agree with that. There was a little bit of outrage expressed by some of our teachers here following their review of some NEA prepared lessons. Lessons that teach that part of the cause of the 911 terrorism is America’s history of intolerance. Yep, that’s what they said – American intolerance… This from the folks, who won’t allow a prayer in school or at a school supported function, won’t allow the Ten Commandments posted on school property, want to remove “Under God” from the pledge of allegiance and say that a little bit of cheating by students is expected and therefore OK. I guess each will look for his definition for tolerance.
Our elected officials are returning to the Capitol following their summer breaks. The war on terrorism is only important to most of them now when they are able to spin it into an election year issue. Iraq is the big topic of debate. Those opposing the President want everyone to believe that, in true cowboy fashion, he’s only out to finish what daddy didn’t. No one wants a war, but those who know, realize that if the dictator in charge of Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, from chemical to nuclear, they are available to the people who would use them against us. I really like the opinions I’m hearing from the so called world community. The Saudis are refusing to support an attack and refuse to allow us to use their territory for bases. They also have not cut off Bin Laden’s money flow. It’s rumored that some of the richest Arabs are paying protection money. The European opinion is interesting also. I wonder if it would be a little different if hijacked airliners crashed into Frankfurt, London, Paris, or The Vatican?
I just watched the movie “We Were Soldiers”. It was the beginning of the last defining conflict of my time. It made me a little depressed actually – just as “Black Hawk Down” did. Lives lost because of inept politically driven decisions. Americans will never be able to make up for their treatment of Vietnam Veterans. There was no welcome home, unless you count hippie protestors at the airports. A sad chapter in American military history, made worse by an ungrateful public. Many of whom are running our country today. In “We Were Soldiers”, LTC Hal Moore promised his soldiers that he would leave no one behind. It was a promise he kept.
The third Friday in September is also the date we use to remember and recognize our soldiers yet unaccounted for from our nations past conflicts. The latest report I was able to find shows that 1905 Americans still are unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. I captured a little history of the flag from the POW/MIA web site that I thought I’d share.
In 1971, Mrs. Michael Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of Families, recognized the need for a symbol of our POW/MIAs. Prompted by an article in the Jacksonville, Florida Times-Union, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees, Vice President of Annin & Company which had made a banner for the newest member of the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China, as a part of their policy to provide flags to all United Nations members states. Mrs. Hoff found Mr. Rivkees very sympathetic to the POW/MIA issue, and he, along with Annin’s advertising agency, designed a flag to represent our missing men. Following League approval, the flags were manufactured for distribution.
If you’re interested, here is the link to the website where there’s much interesting and current information. http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/
September brings in a new season. Last year it brought changes to our country that will be with us awhile. Unfortunately, some of the patriotic furor (if you can call it that) has dwindled down to little ragged flags stuck to car antennae and some faded bumper stickers. The news media is running about looking for the war. For me personally, it’s the month I entered the Army, the last month I spent on the active roles and the month of my birth. So to me, personally, it’s marked beginnings and changes in my life.
I hope all of you enjoyed the day we set aside to honor working Americans – the people who built and maintain our country. They do that both in our nations blue-collar factories and in the uniformed services. While you’re doing that, take a moment to remember those we lost, in the first battle of the conflict that will come to define this time and remember those for whom we still light a candle.