Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Another Veteranís Day has come and gone. Across the nation there were parades, ceremonies and tributes paid to veterans of all wars. This is as it should be.
But there is another side of the Veteranís Day observance that is much less honorable. Each year, multitudes of businesses view the occasion as a handy way to sell more merchandise. Pray tell me, what does buying a new sofa, a six pack of beer or any other transaction have to do with honoring our veterans? How does buying something express our appreciation to those who have served in our Armed Services?
Like so many other holidays, this one, too, has become commercialized. It is just another excuse for moving more merchandise. They should be ashamed. It has also become just another day off for millions of Americans.
There are notable exceptions in the merchandising scheme. A few firms offered benefits to the folks who were actually being honored. Some firms gave a portion of their profits to veteran-related projects and a few actually offered discounts to veterans personally. Free or reduced-cost meals were available at a few restaurants and some other firms offered discounts to vets but most just wanted to improve their bottom line by taking advantage of the holiday.
It seems to me that the day should be honored solely by paying tribute to veterans and honoring the sacrifices of those who shed blood or lost their lives in defense of freedom for Americans and others around the world. We should reserve our tribute for those who came back alive as well as those who were subject to combat but never had to serve on the front lines.
I am a veteran who served in the US Army but although I was subject to being sent to a war zone, I never was. I was assigned to teaching trainees for positions of administrative duties in military units scattered around the world. I never left Fort Jackson. I donít claim the same position as those who fought, were wounded or died. I hold in highest regard those who are combat veterans.
Although I have always been eligible for G.I. Bill benefits offered during WW II and the Korean War, I have never taken advance of a single government benefit. My parents and I paid for all of my education. The part of my education that took place after my Army service might have been paid by the government but I paid every dime myself because I felt that the benefit would better serve those who were not in a position to do the same.
But this year I decided to partake of a Veteranís Day benefit offered by a grocery chain that actually offered something to vets. Food Lion grocery stores advertised that veterans would get a ten-percent discount on their entire grocery bill on Veterans Day.
My wife and I prepared a grocery list and I proudly flashed my Service ID to the checkout clerk and received my discount. The Veterans Day saving was only about eight dollars but, nevertheless, I appreciated the gesture. Thank you Food Lion.
Now I am well aware that there were other firms that offered something for veterans and I salute you but most firms just wanted to sell their merchandise under the banner of ďVeteranís Day Sale.Ē
What I really donít understand is why the US government canít offer the promised benefits to our wounded warriors who gave their all for the cause of freedom for us or someone else around the globe.
We read horror stories of veterans who have to endure a lot of government red tape and stand in a long line waiting for some bureaucrat in Washington to approve their treatment and/or other benefits. I contend that every one of these bureaucrats should be replaced with unemployed or under-employed veterans. Two problems would be immediately solved: More veterans would have a job and you can bet that they would see to it that other vets seeking benefits would be served immediately and not have to wait months, if not years, to get their due.
I donít understand either why volunteer groups have to get on television and beg for funds to take care of our wounded warriors and their families. The federal government appears to have enough money and concern to aid folks here and abroad who have never contributed one minute to our mutual defense but not enough to take proper care of our warriors.
The Wounded Warriors Project organization is a prime example of a private group that seeks funds to help veterans and their families that the US government seems to have abandoned. There are other worthy organizations assuming the same task. May God bless them.
In the meantime, thank you Food Lion for offering something tangible to this old undeserving veteran.
John Brock is a retired college professor and, newspaper editor/publisher, who lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached by mail at this newspaper, or by E-mail at email@example.com
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