Monday, May 25, 2009

What to remember on Memorial Day

On this day, I would like to express gratitude for the hundreds of thousands of veterans - including my father, late grandfather and a number of uncles - who risked or gave their lives in defense of our country.

With that in mind, the Center for American Progress has compiled some data showing that we're really not doing all we can to honor our veterans and their service. Here's some of the more eye-opening stats:

– 338,000 or almost one in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are experiencing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, or major depression as of January 2009.

– Yet only 53 percent suffering from PTSD or major depression have seen a physician or mental health provider.

– 154,000 veterans were homeless on any given night in 2007, and 300,000 were homeless at some point during that year.

– One-third of homeless Americans are veterans, even though only one-tenth of all adults are veterans.

– Foreclosure rates in military towns were increasing at four times the national average in last year.

Of course, this is not going to get better anytime soon. But it's about time we start working harder to remedy the situation.

Also, I'm not sure that I agree with President Obama's decision to uphold tradition and honor Confederate soldiers. But ... sigh ... I understand. On the flip side, it was a great touch to send a wreath to a memorial honoring black soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Like a lot of people, I'll just have to remember that he's president of the U.S. and not president of Black America.

Post-script: Oliver Willis gets off the line of the day regarding the Confederate War memorial: "We should build a shopping mall there." Oliver FTW!


KST said...

Those stats are very disheartening.
My father and my uncles are Vietnam vets. The way that our soldiers are treated upon their return by our government is disgusting.

Mr. Willis certainly does make a nice point eh? I disagree a bit however...

I don't have a problem with our President honoring the Confederate soldiers. As you already know, the war wasn't only about the issue of slavery. I'm sure he's receiving a lot of flack from people, but it's important to actually study the Civil War before casting stones.

blackink said...

KST: Here's where we depart - see, I don't think the Confederate soldiers should be honored at all. Why? Because, essentially, they led a massive insurrection against the federal government. They committed treason. They were, in essence, criminals.

And though you - and many others - can argue that slavery wasn't the only issue the led to the Southern states to break off into the Confederacy, it was certainly high on the list of priorities. Even arguing that the South was fighting for states' rights is another way of saying the Confederacy wanted the right to enslave African slaves.

I just don't have much patience for arguments about honoring the Confederacy. I can understand why people might feel differently. But I can't help the way I feel. I can't support that - had the South prevailed in the War (an extremely unlikely possibility, of course) - who knows what the course of our country might have been?

Btw, check out Oliver's Web site: he's a little fascinated with Civil War history. He calls himself a buff. But I'll leave it up to others to decide.

KST said...

Blackink: I get that the underlying reasons for the Southern states seceding from the Union were about preserving the white supremacist institution of slavery. The North did not fight the civil war to end slavery – they wanted to bring the seceding states back to the Union. Lincoln had no intention of interfering with the right of the slave holding states to continue to do so. He is NOT the great white liberator that we are taught about in school. But, you already know this...

My point (which I did crap job of laying out) was that I don’t have a problem with the POTUS “honoring” the Confederate soldiers because it would have kicked up a political shitstorm if he had not.

Does it make it right? No, not at all. Sometimes I get frustrated with talking heads of the black community. It seems as if they are focused on nonsense rather than the very really pressing issues of TODAY. I'm happy those in the ivory tower saw fit to join together to send President Obama a, "Please don't do that" letter regarding this issue. Nice work. Now can we deal with the issues of violence, poverty, fatherless homes, poor educational systems, environmental racism and did I mention - the HIV epidemic burning through our community?!

I know – I won’t be getting the Field Negro of the Day award for this one…

I will check out the site you recommended. You know what’s fascinating reading: Articles on black confederate soldiers.

blackink said...

Hey, I know and acknowledge that about Lincoln and the Union. Did you ever see that PBS special about him back during February? I had a post to it at the time but I'm too lazy to hunt it down at the moment. Point being, I realize Lincoln was not the great liberator we all believed him to be in elementary school.

Anyway, I get your point about Obama not wanting to rock the boat, per se. Then again, that's one of his least admirable traits - he, too often, seems to prefer pragmatism over passion. Like, I get that it's politically expedient to honor the Confeds and follow tradition. But the right thing to do isn't always the easy thing, and rarely are they the same thing. (I'm particularly disappointed with his basically neutral pose on gay and lesbian marriage rights and DADT).

Obama is going to catch hell from the segment of the population rushing to honor Confederate soliders anyway. And anyone else passionate about the issue. It's not like he'd be losing a significant voting bloc by refusing to honor them. Where's the real risk?

Also, I don't have a problem with the "please don't do that" letter. I don't think coming together on that letter precludes them from tackling all the other issues that afflict people. I mean, I don't think you have to spend 100 percent of your effort trying to eradicate things like violence and poverty. What's more, those are issues that are problems for everyone on a certain level. They couldn't handle it themselves even if they wanted to.

Diversified interests are the spice of life, no?

KST said...

I missed the PBS special - I'll have to check that out. I have to agree with you about Obama's stance on gay marriage - it bugs the hell out of me!

I also agree that a lot of problems need to be handled in the home and at the local level. The issue that I have with black political pundits and influential black intellectuals is that some of the issues they holler about in the media are just asinine. Remember Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and the ethnic hurricane name nonsense? Really? WTF? Al Sharpton and - oh hell take your pick there.

We clown ourselves over nonsense, meanwhile our house is burning and no one gives a shit unless it will land them on a spot on tv debating Bill or Sean.