Tuesday, February 11, 2014

On rights, freedom and military heroes

[According to Snopes, the story told below is essentially true.  The email by which it is being disseminated in recent days was taken from a 2007 speech by Mike Huckabee at a conference of right-wing conservatives.  Some students who were present in the classroom back in 2005 state that there were not as many veterans as indicated in the story and they were not in uniform.  It seems the teacher has a mission to honor our veterans for their service, which is not an unworthy goal.  But...]

Here's the story sent to me by a friend.

It's about a high school teacher in Arkansas who, in 2005, with permission from the powers-that-be, removed all the desks from her classroom on the first day of school.  Her students were understandably confused and concerned and questioned the disappearance of their work sites.

The teacher explained they couldn't have their desks back until they could tell her how they "earned" the "right" to sit in them.  They responded with a number of possible answers, such as good grades, good behavior, etc., but the teacher rejected each and everyone.

Finally, as the day drew to a close, and when the last period kids had taken places on the floor, the teacher said she would tell them what they had done to earn the right to sit at a desk in her classroom.

She went to the door, opened it and 27 military vets, in uniform, walked in, each one carrying a desk.  These vets set down the desks, then went and stood against a wall.

The teacher told the students "You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks.  These heroes did it for you. ... They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so that you could have the freedom you have."

She went on to blather about their responsibilities to be "good citizens" and "good students" because these vets "paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education."

Well, not so.  Rather than be applauded the teacher should have been rapped on the knuckes and sent back to college to study American history and the Constitution!

First of all, let's dispense with all this hero nonsense.  For some time now, I've noticed that every one in a uniform is considered a "hero."  That is not true.  A hero is someone who goes out of his/her way at great risk to himself or herself to help others in need.  Enlisting in the military doth not a hero make.  Wearing a uniform is not the mark of a hero.

In fact, these days many of our military personnel are on the bottom of the goodness scale.  That's probably always been true, and we've heard of terrible atrocities committed by our troops during WWII; we know what happened at My Lai in Vietnam; and the horrible things our military (and the CIA) did to those confined to the Abu Gbraih prison in Iraq (sexual assault, sodomy, murder) are still fresh in our mind.

Other of our so-called heroes have been behaving despicably by attacking other so-called heroes within the military itself.  The Department of Defense reports that in 2013, there were 19,000 cases of sexual assault.  In 2014 sexual assault remains a huge problem and it seems the military establishment is having a difficult time stopping it.

The suicide rate among our military and our veterans is also a problem.  Some statistics report that 22 veterans take their lives every day.  This is very sad, but if nothing else, it indicates severe problems among our so-called "heroes."

To call everyone in uniform a hero diminishes those who have served and continue to serve heroically!

Secondly, the military does not provide for our freedoms.  Military service or military might or military action does not guarantee that high school kids can have a desk in a classroom or get an education.  Our misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have nothing to do with our freedoms.  In fact, because of the hornet's nest these military actions have created among the more radical groups in the Middle East, the U.S. is at a higher risk for terrorist attacks.

Neither Iraq nor Afghanistan represented or represent a threat to our freedoms.

World War II was the last time that we sent our military to war where freedom in any sense was involved.  Our military fought to defeat totalitarian dictators and states which had as their goal the conquest of our country which would have doubtless resulted in the loss of our freedoms.  That was not true in Korea, Grenada (the Gipper's little war), Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.

Our freedoms are given to us by the Constitution of the United States.  That is the foundation of our country, the bedrock upon which our freedoms rest.  So, unless there is a threat to undo our Constitution which might require a military response, these "heroes" carrying desks into the classroom had nothing to do with our freedom!

And this is where the teacher really goes off the rails.  The laws of our land and our states provide for a free public education through the 12th grade.  Nobody has to "earn" that; nobody can "earn" that.  It is a right given to every child and it is free.  Nobody has "paid the price" so that our children can get an education.

It's as much of a "right" as the right of free speech!

Perhaps the teacher's heart was in the right place.  But the road to hell is paved, I've heard, with good intentions.  As a veteran and as a retired teacher, I get tired of reading this kind of sentimental nonsense which indicates not just a lack of common sense, but a serious lack of learning.  It would be interesting to know what other misguided lessons she has imposed on her students.


William Kendall said...

Troubling, to say the least... though I can understand how someone like Huckabee would latch onto that kind of story.

Lowell said...

Thanks, William! Nice to hear from you!

Bob Poris said...

I enlisted in the Navy in 1944 during WW2 and became a disabled veteran in 1946. I registered with the VA the same day I was discharged from a Naval hospital. I have been an outpatient of the VA ever since. During the first few years my Va experiences in New York were wonderful and very helpful in many ways. I went to college during that time and reported to the VA for pain injections three mornings a week on my way to City College.

After marriage in 1951, we found an apartment in New Jersey that we could afford and I worked in New York City while commuting by bus. I continued visiting the VA in NY as it was convenient to my work and the doctors were very cooperative with my timing of appointments.

After a few months the VA notified me that I would have to use the Va facility in New Jersey as I had changed my residency. I tried to continue in the NY facility but was denied. I explained that I had no transportation from Northern NJ to Newark and could not afford to lose three days a week from work. My request was denied and my disability rating was reduced and I was on my own!

I continued to get my prescriptions but for all intents and purposes had little contact with any VA doctors. I eventually moved to Connecticut and then Ohio and then to Michigan and eventually Florida after I retired. I had a few contacts with the local VA in Michigan but did not follow up.

My wife's late husband was a 100% disabled VET, so she had a lot of knowledge about the VA and insisted that I renew my contacts and care. Since that time, I have had wonderful experiences with the various facilities in Florida.

Along the way, my disability was reinstated and I still use the VA along with Medicare. I am very pleased with both systems, although I use Medicare more than the Va for most of my health care, other than some specialties where the VA is superior for my personal needs.

Over all these years I have listened to the various politicians at all levels, express their praise and devotion to Veterans, especially around election time. I am convinced that many do not care enough to vote on Veteran’s issues that would be more helpful to their problems.

Certainly the issue of our co pay and costs for our prescriptions is a case in point. Wal-Mart, Costco and most drugstores are considerably cheaper due to a clause inserted into a bill several years ago that prohibited the Government from being allowed to bargain for better prices! No one has been able to repeal or revise that foolish and money wasting law! We pay more than double on many prescriptions due to that law. Our co-pay went from $2 to $7 and then to $8 and$9 during that period too. We also read of long delays in getting new veterans into the system of reviews of their disability claims. Congress has the power to correct these failures but have not revised systems or funded them adequately. This happened before Obama, so he is not responsible for the increases.

I wonder why the major Veteran Organizations have not been able to lobby effectively to review Veteran affairs and get changes made. Congress has few veterans so perhaps they have no personal contact with them unless seeking votes with rhetoric.

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