Few of us can relate and what we don’t realize is that they are right here among us!
I’m talking about families who carry a burden deep inside of lost loved ones and service members who have made a lot of sacrifices while a public is at peace. Like many of you, I’ve been distracted by the sputtering economy and living life or by the talking heads incessantly doling out two-bit analysis of the political environment.
Is it enough to just say thank you and welcome home to the vets?
You may not know, but Harley-Davidson has been on the front line – right next to the troops – from the factory workers in Milwaukee, who made specialized military bikes, to the soldiers who used them beginning in 1916 throughout WWII. From 2007-2009 H-D donated more than $1M to the Disabled American Veterans and Mobile Service Office program. Over the years, H-D has supported the Traveling Vietnam Wall, Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally, National Veterans Wheelchair Games and more.
Clearly H-D isn’t the only company supporting troops, and they all deserve a shout-out, but it’s disappointing to see a lack luster appreciation for veteran’s returning home at a national level. Oh sure, there are local gatherings and the occasional public display of gratitude. And the media will do the occasional story about the lines of people greeting the troops in some cities which is encouraging.
But, “Portlandia” is luke warm. It seems we’re too busy writing articles and creating media buzz about the new Oregon Ducks uniform or commenting about the Newberg company, Hydro Graphics, that painted the helmets for the Rose Bowl. Even as a football fan, there is some absurdity in all these Nike funded uniforms…
Is it me or does anyone else see a disconnect for veterans receiving a national welcome home fitting for the sacrifices they made for this country?
According to a CNN/ORC International poll released late last year, most Americans agreed with the decision to end the war in Iraq. Almost eight in ten said they support removal of combat troops from that country. However, half the nation believes the Iraq war had a negative effect on life here in the U.S. and seven out of 10 say the money spent on the war is one reason for the economic problems facing the country today. And although 96% are proud of U.S. troops who served in Iraq, just one in three consider the war a victory and more than half call it a stalemate
The fact is there are an estimated 2.6 million living veterans from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and 23 million total veterans dating back to World War II, according to the GAO. And the number of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan coming home who may need additional support grows daily. While we all can express our admiration for veterans, most of us do not fully understand the problems faced by service members or their families when they return.
As a start I propose the creation of a “Welcome Home Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Day.” A national day of recognition that the people of the U.S. could pay the respect due them. Until that day comes, I suggest taking time out from our busy lives to give thanks for the sacrifices of those service members who we don’t know. A small display of kindness and admiration can mean so much to those who expect so little.
I haven’t met my expectations lately in recognizing the sacrifices and wanted to change that today by simply saying… you are appreciated and WELCOME HOME!
Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael R. Holzwort. The photo is of Jesse Mead, son of U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Korey Mead during the 25th Infantry Division HQ redeployment ceremony at Wheeler Army Airfield in Wahiawa, HI on December 18, 2011. The 25th ID HQ was the last division HQ under U.S. forces to leave Iraq. Sunset photo courtesy (U.S. Army, Sgt. Ruth Pagan, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., PAO)