Monday, May 28, 2012

Weeping

Rolling Thunder has cruised through the city since late last week.  I cheered them on and mentally thanked them for their resounding acknowledgement of the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform.

Moments ago, President Obama finished speaking at the Vietnam Memorial, aka, The Wall.  As I've never heard expressed so eloquently before, he spoke about all the things that should have been said and done when our troops came home from Southeast Asia.

This year is the 50th anniverary of the beginning of American military involvement in Vietnam.  It was stunning to realize that it's been that long.  For many of my generation, it seems like just yesterday our classmates and friends were learning they were being drafted to serve in a war that had not yet been declared.  Between 1962 and 1975, the pain of loss and agony over the missing was a daily burden broadcast on television.

Our returning Vietnam vets were treated like they shamed the country.  Many were ignored or -- worse -- castigated for participating, many of them not voluntarily.  Today the President aknowledged this fact and reminded everyone that we still owed them our gratitude and support for their efforts.

The tears started flowing at that point remembering friends whose lives were stolen from them before they had a chance to even live them.  So many good men and women gave their all for a cause that was lost almost before it started.  I don't think a single group has suffered more than our Vietnam Vets.  Physically, mentally and financially they have struggled against a tide of unprecedented negativity and neglect.

As the President revealed, it's been these guys who are working so hard to assure that vets coming after then will not suffer the same way they did.

I don't mean to ignore veterans of other wars.  Their sacrifices were equally heinous, but they were welcomed home and given advantages unavailable to Vietnam vets.  The Vietnam vets are MY vets and it moved me to hear them honored as they always should have been.

Following the President's speech, eight more names added to the wall were read out.  When a piper played "Amazing Grace" my tears flowed in earnest.  I totally lost it when a bugler soulfully played Taps.

Crying on Memorial Day is fitting and, I think, necessary.  Hating war won't make it go away, so shedding tears is a healthier way to relieve the sadness of loss.  I no longer visit The Wall because it is too painful.  It is a comfort to know that thousands visit it every week, assuring that my friends and all the others whose names are on the wall will never be forgotten.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Not a Sincere Bone in His Body

Once again Marion Barry has embarrassed D.C. with his careless, racist attitude.  While expressing apologies for recently insulting Korean Americans, he managed to do the same to just about every other immigrant group.

I used to be able to give him a little slack because I believe his brain is addled from (past?) drug use.  No more.  He has yet to give up his Black Panther/ black-supremist leanings which will keep him on the outside looking in.

The man isn't stupid.  Somehow, he maintains a loyal following of voters.  I fear that he and they all refuse to recognize that the world is moving on and that the 1960s are long over.

African-Americans have suffered horrifically and too many still do.  Nevertheless, many others do not consider themselves victims of racism and have overcome obstacles to earn both personal and financial success.

Sadly, people like Marion Barry play the victim card because it's an easy excuse for their own personal faults and failings.  He needs to move on.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another Slap in D.C.'s Face

Suburban Phoenix, Arizona is light years apart from the District of Columbia socially, economically, politically and just about any other “lly” way one can think of. Republican Trent Frank represents such an Arizona district in the U.S. House. Yesterday he also chaired a committee hearing on a very sensitive issue for District residents: funding abortions for low-income D.C. women.

A majority of District residents have voted in favor of using some of our tax dollars to help these women. Certain members of Congress are utterly and completely determined to prevent that from happening.

Ignoring legitimate local legislative decisions is onerous enough. To treat our one and only, duly-elected, NON-VOTING representative to Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton with the same contempt is inexcusable. She had a front row seat (where she belonged) for the hearing and was not even allowed to speak on this important issue, much less cast a committee vote on it.

More than half a million U.S. citizens who happen to live in Washington, D.C. have consistently been treated like chattel and poker chips by Congress. Speaker Boehner coerced the President into agreeing to eliminate D.C. funding for abortions in hopes that Congress would cede control of the District’s budget back to the District. In order for the city to control its own budget, we must impose a permanent ban on abortions for our residents, something we, the people, have voted down.  In other words, to hell with what the tax-payers want.

Confession time: I am firmly on the fence about abortion. I do, however, believe that a woman has the right to make her own health decisions. I don’t wish to debate the sentient or non-sentient nature of a fetus. That and the debate about being compelled to raise a child with severe disabilities is none of my business. These must to be addressed by and lived with by the parent/s, not the public at large.

I’m grateful that I have never been faced with having to make such a monumental decision. I honestly cannot tell you how it might have come down. What I can tell you, is that certain members of Congress and their supporters need to get off their high horses and recognize the basic political and human rights that they are denying to a population they do not represent.

They also need to apologize to The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton for the disrespectful and undignified way she was treated yesterday and many more times that go unreported.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just what we don't need. . . .

. . . a reconstituted Three Stooges.

Yes, it would appear that someone thought it would be brilliant to bring back those three abusers. I know, guys get a big kick out of watching the Stooges beating up on each other, but the other, more enlightened half of the population can’t stand them.

Bullying is the basis of their comedy. I see nothing humorous in bullying. To make matters worse, Moe is unmercifully cruel to Curly who seems to be a bit lacking of intelligence and is rather childlike. Larry, on the other hand seems timid and completely overwhelmed by Moe, unable to fend-off his abuse. These traits often serve as excuses for bullies to do their worst. [if I’ve confused these guys, forgive me; I never spent more than a few minutes watching the original trio.]

Do we really need more lessons in violence? Aren’t some of the video games and movies enough to misguide our young into thinking that bashing, beating, shooting, knifing, bombing and mauling are the norm? Why, the evening news often provides enough gory detail about real events to make me cringe.

Equally troubling for me is that the Three Stooges don’t need sophisticated, cool weapons to inflict pain and suffering. Using only words, hands, heads and feet might make kids think that they, too, can overpower and intimidate their peers with ease.

Bullying is a national shame and crime. Too often it goes unreported because victims fear retaliation or have been convinced that snitching isn’t cool. Our kids need more examples of appropriate behavior, not how to hurt one another. I hope the Stooges bomb and never make it to DVD.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fighter Jets over Foggy Bottom, again

By the time we hear their great roaring, they're long gone.

Minutes ago what sounded like an entire squadron of military jets flew over us, rattling pictures and nerves alike.  We immediately went out on our balcony and encountered our wide-eyed neighbor on his.  He travels alot for work and, I guess has not been here during previous flyovers.

As we told him, most likely someone in a private plane mistakenly entered restricted airspace.  A wide swath of the skies miles and miles out from the District have been restricted since 9/11.

Commercial planes with transponders have no problems because they are automatically identifiable by air traffic control.  Every now and again, someone piloting a private plane slips into the controlled area and is pretty much instantly surrounded by scary, armed fighter jets which then escort the plane to the closest airport where the plane is inspected and the pilot questioned.

As unnerving as these powerful planes are, they are also reassuring as they protect Washington from another attact.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Go Caps!!

The red and blue splotch on the roof is an inflatable Caps player.
It's OK if your not a Washington Capitals fan, but for those of you who are, a pilgrimage to this holy site might be worth your while.

I captured this the moment the light from the Whitehurst onto Canal Road changed and some guy in a big ole SUV honked impatiently at me.  I wish I could have included "The Exorcist" stairs, but I was lucky to get this much.

Our hockey team is driving me to distraction.  Spouse gets so completely into their games that I could set his hair on fire and he wouldn't notice!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Teachable Moment

I'm not sure who took the above picture, but is struck me as a reminder of how blind persons are "mishandled".

I'm not talking politics here -- that situation is bad enough.  Rather, I'd like to suggest that if a sighted person wants to offer assistance to a blind person to first ask if help is wanted.  If it is not, back-off.  If assistance is accepted, offer an arm for the blind person to hold onto -- don't grab a hand or shoulder in an attempt to steer him.

Note to the wise:  blindness is a physical challenge that many handle with ease and grace.  Insisting on helping someone bruises their pride and may actually piss them off.