|Photograph from Jack Rahilly|
I kind of knew what would happen. When I posted a picture of my husband and a group of other soldiers from Vietnam in 1970, along with the assurance that they were neither losers nor suckers, I knew there would be a firestorm. And there was. Along with remarks about how young those guys were, there were a multitude of comments concerning the President and how many of us feel about him, and another plethora of observations from people who support him. Many of the comments had nothing to do with the subject at hand, which was a public figure's disrespect for veterans.
They served, some voluntarily and some not, and many are still serving. They have kept us safe for 244 years or so. They serve to protect not only us but our rights, to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." They "bear true faith and allegiance to the same."
I don't like that it created such an issue, even though I did it purposefully. Possibly because my politics are unpopular where we live, I don't like to post contentious things. I get my feelings hurt when people say mean things. I get furious when they say things that aren't true. I get defensive...oh, all the time.
But I remember George Wagner. It was the first year of North Miami's schools being consolidated and some of us rode a couple of buses for a long time to get to school. It was a disgruntling time. So the administration made a rule that kids on buses were not allowed to go together and buy their drivers Christmas gifts. The other part of the rule was that the drivers couldn't give the kids treats on the last day of school before Christmas break.
George was one of the best drivers and the best guys ever. So we pitched in our quarters and bought him a present. He told us we shouldn't have done that. And then, one-by-one, as we got off the bus at our houses, he handed us the treats he wasn't supposed to have given us.
Joe Wildermuth, who'd broken his back and didn't get around too well at the time, backed the students when they staged a sit-in at school. I don't remember whether we won or lost the cause we were sitting in for, but I remember Joe standing at the podium in the gym. He had our backs.
Years ago, some books got banned from our school library. My son told me about it, I wrote a column about it, and things got a little uglier than they might have if I hadn't done that. The kids and I lost the battle and the Stephen King book got banished.
I've lost a lot of battles in my lifetime, probably more than I've won. I am a coward of the bravest kind in that I never cop to being anything but a coward. One of my brothers said once that while he would never be a fighter, he certainly could run. That would be me, too, except that I'm really slow, so I don't run, either.
What that means is that sometimes I have to stand up. I learned it from the Constitution our military swears to uphold, and from George Wagner and Joe Wildermuth. Even from the school board that banned a Stephen King book because a parent didn't want her son reading it.
I will not make a habit of writing political columns. Not because I don't feel things strongly, but because I like writing about fun things and because I think people's beliefs should be their own and respected as such. But there are times, as I said, when I have to stand up.
This was one of those. Thank you to all veterans who have served, to the ones who didn't come home and the ones who did. Especially to the ones like my husband mentioned today--the ones who made it home but not really, because they were never the same again. Thank you to the ones who are serving now and will be there in the future when we need them. Thank you for standing up. So that the rest of us can.
Have a good week. Stay safe. Be nice to somebody. Buy a veteran a cup of coffee.