Memorial Day, 2014

As the mounting scandal over the Veterans Administration’s mishandling and negligence of veteran patience grows, this Memorial Day found Obama flying secretly to Afghanistan to visit the soldiers and draw attention away from the VA.

 

The VA, like any other bureaucracy, is constructed to make transactions as difficult as possible for the patients.  My father fought the VA from the time he left the Army in 1947 until his dying day in 1977.  Thirty years of battling their bureaucracy over a non-combat injury.  He served in the Army for nine years during World War II. 

 

It took four to six years (depending on what country you were serving) to vanquish the Nazis.  The bureaucracy of the VA is still standing, still fortified with arcane rules and regulations meant to discourage payments.  Meanwhile, the bodies are starting to pile up under its fortified walls.

 

Thirty-seven years after his death, we still tend my father’s grave (or I should say, graves; the crooked cemetery buried him in one place and put his marker in another, then sold out to another cemetery management firm).  The section of the cemetery where he’s buried, along with my maternal grandparents, is a flat-marker cemetery.  In time, if you don’t take care of the site, the grass grows over the marker, making it easier for the management firm to mow the lawn.

 

The Veterans Administration, apparently, has become a flat-marker bureaucracy. Ignore the veterans long enough and they’ll die, and you could just mow right over them.

 

Many of the graves in this section of the cemetery have long since been overgrown with grass.  Each year, the nearby markers are less and less visible.  That is what the VA hopes will happen, particularly with the World War II generation; that one day, they’ll just disappear.  If neglecting them or denying them care will move the process along, so much the better.

 

The American public was on the verge of forgetting those who didn’t come home from the wars.  But then along came 9/11, and they woke up from their slumber.  The crowds were out in great numbers again for this year’s parades, as has been the case since 9/11.

 

My father obviously did not die in World War II (or I wouldn’t be writing this post this very minute).  He and all the other veterans would say that the real heroes were the ones who didn’t come home.

 

We also pay tribute to my grandfather, who was an instructor at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y.  He instructed the merchant seaman who helped deliver badly needed supplies to Great Britain, and then the war materials to mount the D-Day invasion and the push towards Berlin (a target which America foolishly veered from to appease Josef Stalin).

 

The merchant seaman of the day were badly maligned during the war.  They were accused of being “war profiteers,” profiting from the delivery of the supplies, while enlisted died on land, air, and sea.

 

But they led a dangerous life.  Over 500 ships were sunk in the North Atlantic during the war.  Thanks to the Geneva Convention, the ships had only minimal arms and nothing to protect them from Hitler’s wolf-packs.  A ship bearing iron ore would sink in about five minutes, with nearly all hands on board.  Only the seaman on deck stood any chance of escaping, and once in the water, were in danger of being machine-gunned by the submarine (which had no room for POWs).

 

If people think the merchant marines got off easy, well, that’s one awful way to have to make a living.

 

Friday is the actual Memorial Day (May 30th), giving you one more chance to honor our fallen properly.  No barbecues.  No pool parties.  No big sales.  No picnics.  Not even marching bands.

 

Just a silent remembrance of the sacrifice of the some who gave all.

 

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Published in: on May 28, 2014 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  

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