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Friday, January 28, 2011
Lest We Forget The 1%
Yesterday I was watching Oprah,as usual. On this show was Tom Brokaw,Bob Woodward,and First Lady Michelle Obama. They were there to talk about veterans and military families.
Tom Brokaw had called Oprah to ask here when she was going to do a show about veterans, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and their families. She replied that she had just done a show about female veterans. He asked her if she personally knew anyone who was serving or who had served. She replied that she didn't.He responded that was because only 1% of folks here in the US serve in the military,so chances are,because she didn't know any veterans,she probably didn't think a lot about it.
She realized that he was right.It wasn't in her consciousness.This is true of many Americans. It's not that they don't support the troops, but,if you don't know someone who served,the war is far away. Since we don't see much of it on TV,it falls to back burner.
When Rick was wounded back in 2005,I told folks what happened. He was in an RPG attack.People would look at me blankly,and the first question they would ask is,"What's an RPG?"
I was shocked. Now,this was when things were bad in Iraq and it was all over the news. RPGs and IED's where common lingo,I thought. Yet people didn't know what RPG stood for. ( It stands for Rocket Propelled Grenade,by the way).
The first Oprah story was about a solider who,in 2005,was in Iraq and his vehicle hit an IED. He wound up blind,and had to learn how speak and walk again. Part of his skull had been removed. The second story was about a Mom who visits her son 3-4 times a year.She brings his favorite music,and reads to him.Her son is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was killed in Ramadi in January 2005,just a few months before Rick arrived .In 2005, Ramadi was the worst place on earth. Rick still cannot talk about everything he did and saw over there.
It is going on 6 years since Rick was wounded. However,sometimes I still have a big problem watching wounded veterans,especially ones with severe brain injuries or stories about those who gave their lives. I started crying during the first segment,and when the second segment came on,I cried even harder. Especially since this particular solider was killed in Ramadi.It's a mixture of feelings. First,you feel bad for the soldier and their family.Then you put yourself in their place.If one of the three RPG's had landed closer,or if Rick had run in the wrong direction,he could've been blinded,incapacitated,or worse. Then comes the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that your loved one only has the injury that he has. It can always be much worse.
I am grateful to First Lady Obama and Dr Jill Biden for working to help military families. It seems the less we hear about the wars,the less interested people are in it. Don't get me wrong,we have had lovely people come up to Rick,shake his hand,and thank him for his service. It makes us feel good.Actions,however,speak louder than words. If you don't know someone who is serving,there are many organizations that you can contact to see how you can help an active duty member or a disabled vet.I think the First Lady has some links on her website. Some groups I am aware of are the Veterans Administration,the Wounded Warriors Project,the American Legion,or the VFW.
We cannot forget our 1%.They are bearing the burden for the remaining 99% so we can live in freedom.Bless all those who have served.Without them,we wouldn't be who we are.