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Memorial Day Reflections

Everybody is expressing so much gratitude to the American military for their effort on behalf of the country. Considering all the support, or lack thereof, from the executive branch of the federal government, with all the swagger and bravado challenging insurgents to, “bring’em on”, and the insistence of secrecy and executive privilege to prevent the truth about the reasoning for such a commitment for war in Iraq and a similar push that seems to be forming for war in Iran, the insistence to keep our troops in a destabilizing role in the middle east, our troops have done a tremendous job.

Unfortunately, many people who work for many people in America have to work for people who don’t hold much of an opinion for the little people. The President may shed a tear or two when it is politically advantageous to make a public appearance for the sake of a favorable public opinion. But the man could not give a rat’s ass about the people who worked for him. We see the manifestations of how much he cares when stories appear about how disabled veterans are neglected and their claims of injury in the service of their country are denied for the sake of saving money. This is nothing more than a typical business practice in America. Cut losses. Cut people!

A lot of people made the choice to join the service fully aware of the possible commitments they were making. Join the military and you will go off to war. Join the National Guard and there is a good chance that you too will be called to go off to war. And since 9/11 everybody knows that odds are that you will get shipped to Iraq or to Afghanistan. More than four thousand of our troops have made the ultimate sacrifice for their chosen profession. Tens of thousands of others have come home with physical injuries. And countless others have come home with post traumatic stress disorder. Our troops have made the choice of a profession that demands so much sacrifice from so many of our troops with so little to gain. The troops deserve better from a government, from a President that demands so much. Troops deserve better. They have a tough job to do. A lot of people say we the people owe these troops.

I appreciate the service of the men and women in the military. The United States would not be the country it is now without a strong military presence. But I also appreciate the service of the men and women who work to pull oil out of the bottom of the sea and bring that precious fluid to the corner gas station despite the fact that the executives they work for will earns a nine figure annual income while the oil conglomerate itself will earn an eleven figure income. Sometimes there are accidents and the people will be injured or lose their life in the process of hunting oil. We owe these people a debt of gratitude for their service.

I appreciate the service of the people who work to put food in the grocery store. I just heard that some of the grapes I eat have to come from as far away as the southern tip of South America. Some other food staple was coming all the way from New Zealand. A variety of food staples that used to be grown over in the next county now have to come from continents on the bottom half of the world. My salmon usually comes from the pacific ocean and I try to stay away from the farm raised stuff. But my eggs are usually farm raised. Not to mention the people who transport the food, stock the food, and others who work the store where I buy my food. An entire army of people are working hard to put food on my table and I am grateful to each and every one of them.

I appreciate the people who work to put clothing in the store for me to buy. I appreciate the people who put the building supplies into the lumber store. I appreciate the people who put together my family’s Honda Accord and our Chrysler Town and Country. I appreciate the struggles of the people who keep the utilities on in my house, despite the fact that Ameren UE wanted to keep me from having service until I paid the previous tenet’s outstanding electric bill. I appreciate the workers at Maytag for my refrigerator and my oven. I appreciate the people at the hospital where my son was born. I appreciate a lot of people.

And I hope people appreciate the contribution I make to our culture. I hope people appreciate the credit card processing software for the fleet billing system I developed for one of the oil companies I worked for. I hope people appreciate the database synchronization system one of the communication companies I worked for had me develop in order to keep their various databases current with the same information. I hope the public appreciates the database application I developed to help a commodities trader that I worked with determine their profitability. Not many software developers lose their life in the line of work. But like a lot of people, we make the choice to go into a profession with its own ups and downs. At least a lot of people don’t have to worry that some guy over in India is trying to put them out of work with promises of doing a lot of things easier and cheaper.

My point is that despite all of our chosen professions we all have a job to do to keep things going. We all have to work together to keep our civilization smoothly running. To think one part of the social equation is more important than another is to overemphasize one part and to take another part for granted. We owe a lot to our veterans. That’s a given. But we owe a lot to people that we don’t normally recognize. And while it is true that being a doctor or a soldier or a police officer takes skill and training that not everybody may be apt to develop, it doesn’t mean that the garbage collector or the bus driver or the ditch digger is someone that we don’t have to acknowledge.

We all have a job to do. We all have to work together to do all the things necessary to make a civilization. No one owes me for the choices I made to do my part. I don’t think I should be made to feel like I owe somebody for the choices he or she made to do his or her part. We are all in this together. The more we start to appreciate or recognize one part more than another then we start giving status to some and leave others out and left to be taken for granted. And that and that is hardly a formula for a good union.

Monday, May 26, 2008 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts |

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