Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Why Do We Disrespect Those Who Have So Much Respect for Us

Our veterans respect and love us so much that they are willing to die for our right to disagree with them, even to protest them and all that they hold dear.

So why then, do we disrespect them in ever increasing numbers?

I just saw this article, about Director Arleen Ocasio of the Houston National Cemetery banning the use of the words "God" and "Jesus" during veteran funerals at the cemetery. Completely ignoring and disallowing the last wishes of not only the veterans, but of their families.

Then, I get an email about the near non-event that was the passing of "Shifty" this past January. You say you don't know Shifty? Well, if you have watched "Band of Heroes", you know Shifty. Following is the picture and email I received on this sad near-non-event. The question posed at the very end is, I think, a good one.

By Chuck Yeager [Major General, retired]

Shifty volunteered for the airborne in WWII and served with Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the 101st Airborne Infantry. If you've seen Band of Brothers on HBO or the History Channel, you know Shifty. His character appears in all 10 episodes, and Shifty himself is interviewed in several of them.

I met Shifty in the Philadelphia airport several years ago. I didn't know who he was at the time. I just saw an elderly gentleman having trouble reading his ticket. I offered to help, assured him that he was at the right gate, and noticed the "Screaming Eagle," the symbol of the 101st Airborne, on his hat.

Making conversation, I asked him if he'd been in the 101st Airborne or if his son was serving. He said quietly that he had been in the 101st. I thanked him for his service, then asked him when he served, and how many jumps he made.

Quietly and humbly he said, "Well, I guess I signed up in 1941 or so, and was in until sometime in 1945 ..." at which point my heart skipped.

At that point again, very humbly, he said "I made the 5 training jumps at Toccoa, and then jumped into Normandy . . . do you know where Normandy is?" At this point my heart stopped. I told him "Yes, I know exactly where Normandy is, and I know what D-Day was." At that point he said "I also made a second jump into Holland, into Arnhem."

I was standing with a genuine war hero ... and then I realized that it was June, just after the anniversary of D-Day.

I asked Shifty if he was on his way back from France, and he said "Yes... and it's real sad because these days so few of the guys are left, and those that are, lots of them can't make the trip." My heart was in my throat and I didn't know what to say.

I helped Shifty get onto the plane and then realized he was back in coach while I was in First Class. I sent the flight attendant back to get him and said that I wanted to switch seats. When Shifty came forward, I got up out of the seat and told him I wanted him to have it, that I'd take his in coach.

He said "No, son, you enjoy that seat. Just knowing that there are still some who remember what we did and who still care is enough to make an old man very happy." His eyes were filling up as he said it.

And mine are brimming up now as I write this.

Shifty died on Jan. l7 2011, after fighting cancer.
An incredible American Hero - May God rest his soul.
There was no parade.
No big event in Staples Center
No wall-to-wall, back-to-back, 24x7 news coverage.
No weeping fans on television.

And that's just not right!

Why do we allow the media to choose our "heroes" for us these days?


Middle Child said...

So true and so sad - thank you for this

Eternally Curious said...

MC: :)