WASHINGTON, D.C.—With this weekend being the 10th anniversary of the attacks on this nation, I thought about telling my own story of the harrowing day that changed America, and certainly my own life. One of my dearest friends Barbara Olson died on the hijacked plane that left Dulles International Airport and struck the Pentagon during the early morning hours of September 11, 2001. I had taken that flight many times along with Barbara, who traveled here to L.A. many times, and she was flying that morning to appear on CNN’s “Larry King.” Also, I remember a dear friend in Manhattan, whose co-worker died from the Anthrax poisoning that someone mailed to the American Media headquarters in Florida, calling to tell me that the FBI may be in contact since he and I worked closely and were friends, and that everyone with connections to American Media employees would be spoken to. Luckily, his life and his family’s went back to normal, if you can ever live a normal life after witnessing such a horrific tragedy. So instead of talking about myself, I decided to talk about the troops, who are often forgotten in our political discussion; if you can call the vile vitriol a discussion.
American Flag Flown In Honor OF Tommy Garrett's Service To The Troops
Since that dark day on September in 2001, America’s bravest men and women, who volunteered to protect our country, went to war with the terrorists on their own soil. Many Americans still today disagree with the decision to go to war; and thankfully we live in a nation where anyone has the right to speak out against the war and anything else they feel fit to do. Since the 2008 Presidential Election, members of the Tea Party, who hate this President more than life itself, have used their right to free expression to the extreme. Their racist and vile picket signs are part of our freedom of speech and expression in America. Even the despicable behavior of that so-called Christian Church in the Midwest that pickets the funerals of fallen heroes is considered free speech in America. Our Supreme Court stated recently that their unkind, un-Christian and boorish behavior is still protected under our Constitution. That is what makes America what we are today. Even those we disagree with, we believe they have the right to express themselves.
However, what is very sad and still a problem today is the unemployment rate in America, especially for returning troops, who already have the stigma of being a soldier against them. Because we are an uninformed and basically uneducated nation that panders to stereotypes, and anyone who tries to dispel such myths (for example: Thomas Sowell’s attack on the African American community is fair and right, all Jewish Americans love of money, all of the Irish are alcoholics, all Italians are in the mafia, Germans all supported the Nazis and all Caucasians are bigots) are often accused of being politically correct. While the people who promote untruths are supported by their followers. And anyone who uses truth and facts, not myths and fears, are shunned, hated and ridiculed.
Now with an almost 10 percent unemployment rate, former soldiers find it harder to find employment, and no one in Washington seems ready or willing to do anything to change this. The Administration ties so many new regulations to corporations to pander to the political left in the nation that many companies are wary of hiring new workers, and the Republican-led Congress has one mission in mind, one their core right-leaning supporters have vowed from day one of President Obama’s election win; to derail any progress and make his presidency a failure so that they can make sure he’s a one-term president. Stupidly, they’d rather destroy the country rather than have him in office.
The people who are suffering are not the retired right-wing voters, who are just fighting to keep America mired in the past. Or the wealthy-class left-leaning voters, who care more about the environment than human beings and mankind itself. One points the finger at the other. Republicans scream, “They are a godless bunch, who hate America.” And Democrats decry, “They only care about the rich, and they are stupid.” I’ll let you decide who is right, who is wrong and which side you stand on the issues. However, I stand with our troops, not with any political party.
Though, we really need to stop the political bloodletting and remember our troops; both active and discharged soldiers should become our main focus. They are the people who are struggling through these tough economic times, who sacrificed their families, their homes and their lives to fight for our freedoms and to protect our nation, its people and our Constitution. Is getting your party in power or re-electing our president more important than the lives of our soldiers and their loved ones? I think not.
Please, no matter what side of the political aisle you are on, write to your congressman and your U.S. senators and demand that in the upcoming necessary budget cuts that benefits to our veterans, both active and inactive, remain in place and even increased. The current level of benefits are already not enough to really change these brave soldiers’ or their family’s lives. But they cannot become the casualty to political or economic issues anymore.
Please remember the troops today, and remember them every day. Volunteer, donate to the USO or just carry some school supplies to a family who has a loved one fighting overseas. You can make a difference. I frankly don’t care if you like me, agree with me or dislike me, because there are enough people who love me for who I am. Please, just remember to support our troops.
Photograph In Iraq Courtesy: Capt. Mike