May 28, 2007, - 11:50 am
It’s trite but true: Today is a day that’s much more than hot dogs and picnics. It’s far more important. It’s about remembering those who gave their lives (and limbs) so that we could be and remain–to this day–free. Freedom isn’t free. For or against the war? Either way, they gave their lives so that you could travel, gather, associate, and speak your mind.
They’re great Americans, like Michigan National Guardsman Sgt. Duane Dreasky (my posts about him here, here here, here, here, and here), who volunteered to go to Iraq, even though–after a year serving at Guantanamo Bay–he was assigned to stay here in comfort as a recruiter. He died, last year, after a valiant 8-month fight to survive wounds from a terrorist attack near Habbaniyah, Iraq. The heroic Dreasky suffered burns over 75% of his body, but still tried to salute President Bush when he visited his bedside.
Today, I think not just of those who gave their lives, but those who’ve returned home missing physical parts of themselves–the many amputees and other war-wounded, who were lucky enough to survive, but who also made a great sacrifice.
But many of us don’t think about the troops much. You might be on a plane, reading USA Today, and not know or appreciate that one of our first-class American Heroes is riding beneath you . . .
Meanwhile, our American institutions don’t think so highly of the contributions of our troops, those who gave their lives and those who continue to serve our country. With them, it’s not a matter of not knowing who is in the cargo hold of your plane awaiting burial. It’s more a matter of much more conscious, deliberate abhorrent behavior against our troops and our national security.
While U.S. Senators clamor to give illegal aliens in-state college tuition under the Dream Act (part of the immigration amnesty bill), my alma mater, The University of Michigan, refused to give in-state tuition to Michigan resident, Joshua Guedesse, because his father is active in the Coast Guard and was transferred. Although the school finally relented after a deluge of bad publicity in the form of a front-page Detroit Free Press story, the University of Michigan refuses to give in-state tuition to military kids who are Michigan residents.
It’s a policy that takes place all over America, except in a few states with “hardship” exemptions, like Ohio:
“This is a big issue, and it’s one of our goals. … Military spouses and dependents shouldn’t be disadvantaged because of their employment,” said Rene Campos, deputy director of government relations for military family matters at the Military Officers Association of America.
While some states — such as Ohio — have created exemptions for military families, Michigan is among those that hasn’t. Instead, there is a patchwork of policies that vary from campus to campus that can cost those [military] families thousands of dollars a year in added fees and tuition if parents move.
U-M does not consider the children of the hundreds of active-duty military members at the state’s dozens of installations to be Michigan residents. And that distinction largely shuts the door to them receiving the cheaper in-state tuition rates if their parents are transferred and have to move.
This must change. Military service shouldn’t be considered a “hardship,” nor should it be discriminated against. It is a highly noble, volunteer pursuit, often thankless. And it should be honored and appreciated.
And then, there are our own government agencies, like CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). While our soldiers give their lives fighting terrorists over there, officials of these agencies here don’t even give a damn. They gladly let terrorists in and keep them here.
First, there are CBP officials in Orlando. Six CBP inspectors there–charged with checking those entering the U.S. there in terms of their immigration status and adherence with customs laws–said that CBP honchos forced them to rush through passengers entering the country, without checking them, and then enter false information on their paperwork. Like I said, our soldiers are fighting terrorists over there–and dying–while our officials here are letting them in.
And then, there’s ICE and it’s chieftess, Julie L. Myers a/k/a “The ICE Princess”. A Syracuse University study reports that, in the last three years, ICE has charged only 12 people with terrorist offenses in Immigration Court (known as the Executive Office for Immigration Review). While ICE may have charged other terrorists with other, more easily proveable offenses in Immigration Court, 12 is a paltry sum. That means only 4 terrorists per year. That’s embarrassingly low. They’re fighting terrorists over there–and dying–and we refuse to deport them in any significant numbers.
In the media, my friend, Peter Collier, writes in an excellent must-read Wall Street Journal piece, about how the New York Times spent 32 front-page days screaming and whining about Abu Ghraib, but not a single front page and hardly a mention to our military heroes who gave their lives in battle. Ditto for the rest of the media:
Once we knew who and what to honor on Memorial Day: Those who had given all their tomorrows, as was said of the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, for our todays. But in a world saturated with selfhood, where every death is by definition a death in vain, the notion of sacrifice today provokes puzzlement more often than admiration. We support the troops, of course, but we also believe that war, being hell, can easily touch them with an evil no cause for engagement can wash away. And in any case we are more comfortable supporting them as victims than as warriors.
Former football star Pat Tillman and Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham were killed on the same day: April 22, 2004. But as details of his death fitfully emerged from Afghanistan, Tillman has become a metaphor for the current conflict — a victim of fratricide, disillusionment, coverup and possibly conspiracy. By comparison, Dunham, who saved several of his comrades in Iraq by falling on an insurgent’s grenade, is the unknown soldier. The New York Times, which featured Abu Ghraib on its front page for 32 consecutive days, put the story of Dunham’s Medal of Honor on the third page of section B.
Read his whole article, in which he details the bravery and courage of some of our Medal of Honor recipients.
But despite what American officials and institutions do at the top, the American people care about you, our soldiers, our fighting men and women. To all of our American soldiers, living and dead, we salute you, we pray for you, we appreciate you, and we thank you for fighting for our freedom and the continued existence of our beloved country. To those for whom Memorial Day is meant, thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be free. Rest in Peace.
Look up your relatives’/family’s military history (war records, draft cards, gravestone info) from 1607 through the end of the Vietnam War on Ancestry.com’s U.S. Military Collection, free until the anniversary of D-Day, June 6th. It’s very cool. I found a lot of my Schlussel relatives’ military info dating back to the 1800s, including Col. Albert H. Schlussel of the U.S. Air Force, who served in WWII and Korea and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. (FYI, the Ancestry.com Military Collection is not complete, as I noticed many members of my family who were drafted (or enlisted) and served are missing.
(Thanks to the MySpace page of USMC 03 Curt, from which I got some of the photos on this page and where you will find many more touching pics of our brave men and women.)
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