Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

* Sad but have to weekly disclaimer: If you don’t like what I have to say, don’t read it. If you chose to and still don’t like what I have to say and want to respond, please be civil and appropriate.  I love feedback of all points of view.  🙂

Technology 2 Early?

Today I was browsing the net looking for what PD1 wants for her 3rd b-day on price comparing.  She actually wants the Fisher Price Wheelies Stand and Play Ramp with all the different cars to race her sister and her dad with.  I was a bit surprised since she is very much a girly girl, but hey, I LOVED Hot Wheels when I was little and had the garage that had the cool elevator and I think I turned out a fairly OK. 

While ‘googling’ (apparently, that is a new verb) this toy, I can across this toy, Fisher Price Laugh and Learn iCan Play case for an iPhone or iTouch so your little one can play with your iPhone or iTouch for the toddler and pre-school ages and  I was floored.  I have a group of friends that did get their two and half-year olds iTouches for Christmas, while I got PD1 a doll house and pretend kitchen toys.   That whole thing troubled me when I heard that and now I see that this is a growing trend!

I get that there is an obvious market for this, since it was named as a top toy to get at a Toy Fair in New York, but really parents!  Can’t we keep these kids, kids for a little bit longer?  Do we now not only have to see the 6-10 year old completely disengaged from his or her surroundings while playing on theirs DS or Gameboy, even at the Happiest Place on Earth or the local zoo, but now we have to watch the night of the living toddlers zombied out on their parents’ iPhones. 

I know that this is the sign of the times in the case of technology, but I think I was born in the wrong era.  I just joined the Smart Phone and Facebook party and I am not sure I like either that much.   The thought of being connected all the time to someone, something and somewhere is a bit overwhelming.  I am totally guilty of “unplugging” for days on end and if someone really wants to get a hold of me, they can ring me the good old fashion way.

I guess what bothers me about this new technology trend of getting them exposed early is all the arguments I hear that this builds good eye-hand coordination, helps with learning and developing fine motor skills and reading.   I don’t buy that a $250-$500 technolgy device that is designed for adult use is something that is for pre-schoolers to use for learning or entertainment.  I feel, in most cases, not all cases (I think some of my close buds feel as stongly about exposing them to current technology as I do about sheltering them), it is an item a parent can give to a kid to distract them so they can do what they want to do and somehow justify it to themselves that it is educational to make them feel better.  Once again dodging being a hands on parent.  

How about, unplug, disconnect and throw a ball, take a walk, enjoy the animals at the zoo, get out the paints, the tea party set, Play-Doh, Legos,  building blocks or even a cardboard box and decorate it like a car and play pretend?  Those are real things that teach all the above arguments and one other thing that I think is the most important of all that the iPhone can’t teach and that is, SOCIAL SKILLS.  

Before I get off my soap box I have one last thing to say, when the world  starts scratching their heads on why we can’t work, live and play well with each other and thumbs and index fingers have arthritis at the ripe old age of 30, don’t be surprised that I will tell you, “I told you so”.  Balance, moderation and restraint on growing up your kids too fast is what I feel is the key.

Read Full Post »

I  have fundamentals in education (play-based education/Montessori) that tend to somewhat line up with a whole other species of motherhood I can’t relate with – The Granola Mom. 

 I would say that I am a  practical and moderately conservative person in most areas; fiscally, morally, within my scope of  child rearing, and attire and home decor ( I tend to stay true to the classics and not be trendy).  I let my sense of humor and sarcasm take lead in most things and try not to be too ridgid.

I can find my same species of motherhood in this arena, but for some reason the only granola that I can stomach is the one I eat for breakfast.  I try to keep an open mind when I hear their philosophies and ideas (I have a few close friends that fall in this category), but with no avail, I just don’t get it.   This is the inspiration of Top Ten Tuesdays and is not meaning to bring offence to anyone. It is just my personal satire and opinion and if you don’t like what I am saying, then don’t read it.  🙂

10.  The Family Bed: So not my cup of tea.  I don’t mind the occasional snuggle time, but I like my peaceful sleep AND my adult extra curricular time without a foot in my back.

9.  Positive Time Outs:  What is that?  A time out should be anything but positive.  Sit your butt down, think about how you just hit your sister over the head with a toy and be lucky that all you are getting is a time out!

8.  Never Say No to Your Child, Use Positive Reinforcements:  Really, that is going to set them up for success for adulthood? I have heard NO more times than I would like. “NO, you don’t make enough money to buy the car of your dreams”.  “No, you can’t drive above the speed limit, and here is your $150 ticket.”   “NO, you did not get the promotion.”  “NO, he does not want to date you anymore.”

 7.  Never Letting Your Kids Cry It Out/Self Sooth: I have a friend that has not slept in four-year because of this theory of creating abandonment issues if they let them cry it out.  I see how that is working out for the kids and her; she is a zombie and the kids have anxiety issues.  I have two kids that sleep through the night and can entertain themselves well.  Trust me, it is not that I am just “lucky”.  I had to pay the price of a few hard nights and days getting to that point.  NO ONE LIKES TO HEAR THEIR KIDS CRY, but it is my goal to prepare them to be independent and thriving adults and teaching them self soothing skills are the first steps.

6. Mobi Wraps or Slings for Carrying Your Infant: I could never use a Mobi wrap, even though I think they are really cool.  I know I would have dropped my kids on their heads multiple times.  Now, I do think when the kid is ready for High School it is time to get them out of the sling and buy them a car. Trust me, I have seen that.

5. Breastfeeding with No Discretion:  Just whipping it out in public regardless of the setting just because it is your God-given right to do so is disturbing to me.  I am a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding, but let us use a little discretion please! We are not at Marty Gras and you will not get any beads thrown your way for doing so.  Keep second base a novelty!

4. Planting Your Placenta Under A Tree:  Believe it or not I know three people who have done this.   I get the whole primitive idea of this, but the last I checked we have babies in the hospital, we have doctor’s for fertility issues and the idea of asking your doctor to place your placenta in a plastic bucket and then carrying it out of the hospital along with your new bundle of joy is beyond bazaar to me.   I have no idea what they did with my placentas and I would like to keep it that way.  It was bad enough to have the hubs try to photograph my uterus as the doctor was sewing it up.  There are just part of my insides that just needs to stay between it and the medical professionals.

3.  Nine Page Birth Plans:  This one kills me.  As you all know from my postings, The Start of Soapbox Sundays, you know where I stand on this.  I once heard a Labor and Delivery RN say,  “When someone comes in with a nine page birth plan, that usually means they will get a one-way ticket to the OR for an emergency C-section. That is just how the karma seems to work. It is child-birth,  not a trying to achieve a business plan!” 

2.  Breast feeding a Toddler:   I had a rule that when the kids got teeth  the bar was closed and then I pumped until they were close to 12 months old.  Watching  a mother lift up her shirt for a child that walked up to the ‘bar’ and asked for a drink is very disturbing to me.  I have made an observation that it seems more boys are breast-fed later than girls.   I remember when I was in the dating pool, there was a saying, “Chici Boy” which in Spanish essentially means, still on the boob.  Now I get where that saying originated.

1. Not Vaccinating Your Kids:  As we all know Dr. Wakefield manipulated data to prove his theory that certain vaccinations caused autism.  Believe it or not, even with that evidence coming out there are still many that will not vaccinate their kids and illnesses that were once eradicated are alive and well.  Here is the question I asked myself when making that decision to vaccinate before the findings of the information was considered a fraud.  Would I rather risk a chance of autism or a chance of death? To me the answer was quite obvious.

Read Full Post »

Please click twice on picture (image) to enlarge to view.

My dear blogging buddy, The Life of Jamie has recently formed a nationally recognized university called, The University of Grocery Cart Management.  I was asked to come on as one of the faculty members offering a course  Parking Lot Navigation ( GCM 204) mainly for my recent research finding on parking lot navigation etiquette.  While preparing for this class, I came across an immediate reason for a  prerequisite class to GMC 204.  This course will be offered immediately and is titled, Get Your Head Out of Your Gluteus Maximus and READ the Signs (GCM 204.a).

Read Full Post »

This is an inspired moment from a recent post from my blog buddy and dear friend The Idiot Speaketh’s, “Sarah Palin helps me yet again” .

Having a” relative” secure spot in the harem I dare go out in the ledge and say that since the Kate Gosselin and Sarah Palin TLC incident, I have a new-found respect for Palin!  She made that crazy and media obsessed, (even though she says she hates it) Kate Gosselin lay in the fetal position sucking her thumb in one of the most beautiful places in the world. 

I also watched her recent interview on FOX ( January 17, 2011).  Yes, I do cross over to the “dark side” and watch that network along with CNN  CYA (they will not use “targeted”, “cross hairs”, “sticking to your guns”, “point-blank” or any reference that could be construed as encouraging violent rhetoric.  Give me a friggin’ break!   I am a smart person who writes and that just insulted my intelligence and love for the use of metaphors.) I digress. . .

The next day after the interview I  heard all the media scuttlebutt on what she said.  I was really disappointed on how many of the sound bites taken were not at all what was really said or even within context.  I double checked that by replaying the interview and what was being reported. It actually disturbed me.   The bottom line is, she may play the victim well, but falsely reporting what someone says it what the media obviously does well on both sides. 

For example, last nights’ news cycle on FOX was stating that the Democratic side was calling the Republicans Nazi’s during the repeal debate of Health Care Reform on the House floor yesterday. I saw and heard what the gentleman said.  IT WAS A METAPHOR so he could make his point.  Was it a bad metaphor?  It sure was not one of the best ones I have heard, but there was passion behind it and passion can fuel bad judgement in choice of words.   I have fallen victim of that many times (I am the queen of open mouth insert foot).   There was NO need to run that and have a “taking head” commentator instruct the viewer on what was said between the lines.  All it caused was more hate mongering and getting off point to what matters.

What unnerves me is how all this false reporting and stirring the pot for a story just continues to egg on hate for someone who if they would just blow each other off and not comment they would shut up and actually work on getting this country back on its feet. 

To me this whole thing is just a big political game.  It is like both sides need each other.  The left needs characters like Palin for a good story to showcase how conservatives and Tea Party constituents are a threat and ignorant and the right needs the Palin character so she can say what they are all afraid to say;  total passive aggressive approaches and that boils my blood. 
The bottom line is, whether you like her or not she has balls.  Are they smart balls? Yes, I think she “dumbs”  down like the stupid blond in High School in math class so she gets the attention she wants.  The one thing I can give her credit is that she does stick to her guns (no pun intended) and you know where she stands regardless if you like the smell of what she is standing in.  You don’t see that often enough in politics and that is something that I can appreciate and it makes me angry that she was portrayed in saying things regardless if you like what she said or not in a very untruthful spin.  

Just to clear it up, I not a “I love Sarah Palin” fan, but there are things she says that I can understand where she is coming from and I find myself agreeing with.  There are also things she says that I feel she just crawled out from under a rock on.  However, it all comes back to the fact she was able to showcase Kate Gosselin’s amazing ability to birth a cow on national television (roughing it in the great outdoors is always a good way to bring out someone’s true character)!  This just proves my point that you can always find silver lining in anything, even when it comes to Sarah Palin.

Read Full Post »

I have  a good friend that has humanitarian as part of her DNA.  She is a child psychologist that focuses on PTSD in children and young adults.  She has led teams to Shir Lanka 6 weeks post the devastating tsunami and then did follow-up six months later.  She has traveled the world working with oppressed and traumatized people.  Recently she headed off to South East Asia to work with orphanages and safe havens for those that are fighting to stay off the radar of human trafficking and sold into sex and other forms of slavery.   This developed a passion that she is taking on and doing something about.

Currently she is trying to raise around 40k to build a safe haven for those that have their mark on them to be sold into the sex industry of South East Asia.  This is a place where these kids will live, grow up and be educated and protected from those, mostly family members, from being auctioned off for pennies on the dollar to be prostituted out at young as the age of five. 

Unfortunately, it does not just stop in the remote parts of the world.  It is here in the US in a very serious way.  There is a big question of the millions of  illegals that are in the this nation, how many are here against their will with death threats to themselves and their families if they do not comply with those that they fell into the hand of for trafficking and slavery.  There have been several sting operations that have been successful in my county alone within “massage” parlors and drug houses that is clear evidence that this is happening here on our soil.  

It just does not stop there with the US and the world having some responsibility in this issue.  Companies that take their business overseas  or across the border for a higher profit are not holding up their end of the deal on ensuring a realistic work environment that ensures safety and humane working conditions. They are not holding up their end of the deal to ensure that children are not being born into indentured families and having to work in insane work environments as early as the age of five or seven years of age.  

Free 2 Work is an organization that is slowly setting up a resource for consumers to be able to make informed decisions on the products they are chosing to buy and be able to boycott the ones that are not holding up their end of the deal of ensuring safety and humane treatment of the people who make or are a part of the manufacturing of that product.  It is graded from A-F on the US standards of manufacturing.  Obviously we can’t hold other countries to our standards, we can’t even do that without killing the profits of a company (that why is we send a vast majority overseas or across the border to be manufactured).  However, this website seems to be realistic in the fact that an A to a C- rating are companies that we can still do business with.  Those lower than that, need to get their act together and stop looking away from crimes on humanity. 

They have developed an application for your smart phone where you can scan an item and get a rating, that can help with making informed choices and not being part of enabling companies being able to profit and get away with bad horrifing business practices. 

This is something we all should think about;  it is our fiduciary responsibility as consumers to think about it. If you knew for a fact that the shirt or sneakers you are wearing were made by a child that was 5 years old or anyone of any age for that matter,  working 16-18 hours a day, never seeing the light of day, beaten, on machinery that exposes to radiation and/or no safety guards in place where there are daily amputees and serious injuries would you really want to support a company’s profits and wear that? 

Learning about this has changed our household and how we look at products before we buy them.  I wanted to get a Leap Frog toy for my child, and I will not now that I know they have a D- rating.  I love Carter’s children’s clothing, especially their jammies, but they get an F because they will not respond or communicate their business practices (which means they don’t feel they have a responsibility to be transparent to the consumer providing them their profits).  

 Free 2 Work is a good starting point on trying to make a difference in how consumers of the world hold companies accountable to just being humane. 

 http://free2work.org/home

Read Full Post »

Lately I have heard that  this past Congress has spent more than the fist 100 Congresses combined. Considering this past Congress is the 111th that seemed like a fairytale, and it was hard to believe.   I went to research this and the only place I could find that fact was on conservative news presses, there was nothing coming up on mainstream media.  So I went to the treasury site and started breaking it down for myself.  They are right!  Why is that not being reported? 

Regardless of what your political views are we all agree that living within your means is an absolute.  When you think about putting the national debt (which is not just this and the former administration’s fault, this has been decades of doing) in perspective with an  average individual that is making 100k a year, that person’s credit card debt would be around a million dollars.  We would think that person was insane and understand that they would never get out from underneath that kind of debt nor would his kids, grandkids, and great-grandchildren. 

Obviously the politicians have a serious spending problem!  Everyone of us would questions the judgement if an individual behaved like this with their own life, why are we not doing the same with politicians that are in charge of spending the taxpayer’s money to make this country a great place? 

Regardless if we need healthcare reform, extensions on unemployment, bail outs of companies, the first thing that the politicians should ask is can we afford it and if we can’t and it is important to us, then what do we have to get rid of or cut down in order to make that happen?  I know that is how I have to live. 

When an average person hears that the national debt is around 14 trillion dollars, it is a number that is so hard to conceive, that we just blow it off.  But when you put that number into perspective to someone who deals in just thousands, not billions or trillions, it changes its shape to having a great deal of concern. 

Today Congress changed hands, and there was  a lot of grand standing and show-boating of reading the Constitution like it was the first day of grammar school.   Politicians as a whole are not trust worthy and they should have been reading the Constitution decades ago.  It is like someone with their New Year’s Resolution diet plan; we all know how those work out in the end.   Unfortunately, it looks like we need Congressional Spending Gastric Bypass,  not Constitutional Weight Watchers.  Counting points to cut spending is not going to cut it, we need an extreme and invasive spending cuts that may be hard to digest to get us on the right track. 

It is time to wake up America, this is our future and it is in some seriously scary hands on both sides.  We are the ones that can change this, not Congress or any politician in Washington DC.  We need to start holding these overpaid, out of touch, on their own health care plans, guaranteed retirements and the “unlimited credit card” funded by us, the world and our future generations accountable and really see what is happening on the Hill.

Read Full Post »

This is my first attempt at haiku!  I am starting a New Year’s Resolution of branching out in other forms of writing to challenge myself and was inspired by this one with the lady yelling at her mother on the phone while I was at the mall the other day.  Think this pretty much sums it up!

the holidays –

                           family time

                                         
                                                nails on chalkboard

Read Full Post »

When I was  about six or seven we lived in California.  My dad was gone a lot, doing who knows what , and I was left with my first step mother her daughter that was six years older than me and my youngest half-sister that was just a baby. 

 Let me back up a little.  What I mean by who know where my father was, meant really that.  He would just disappear for weeks, not leave much money, we had no transportation, but could walk to the store if we needed food, again that is if we had enough  money.  As mentioned before my father was a Vietnam Vet that was still trying to adjust back into reality and was not doing that well (he is doing amazing now and has turned out to be a good dad to his adult daughter and a wonderful grandfather.  I would never call him a great father, because he was not that when I needed him to be and he owns that.  He has a strength that I admire so much in him.  He made tons of mistakes and big ones, but he owns them all, turned his life around and polished up his heart of gold and made himself a success story – there are still issues and he does like to push buttons, but he conquered his personal Everest!).  

During this time, my step mother would make these dolls, I called them Pee- Pee Dolls, because that was exactly what they were.  They were made out of nylon stockings and fluffy felt.  They were little cave men and when you would lift up their beards, their pee-pee’s would pop up.  I was part of the assembly line on those projects and I think that is why I abstained from sex until well into my twenties, those things scared the death out of me. Anyway, we had three next door neighbors in their late twenties and early thirties that always  participated in flea markets selling their art and willow furniture they made.  They would take bags of this Pee -Pee Dolls and sell them for her.  With that money we would have money for our daily needs.

If things were a bit tight and there were no cave men to sell, these next door neighbors would bring us bags of groceries and check up on us a couple of times a week and do odds and ends around the house if needed or just be a companion for my step-mother to smoke weed with and socialize.  They were very wonderful men, beautiful men, the kind you could stare at all day and never get bored doing it; they each looked like a member of an 80’s hair band. They had great patience with us and even took interest in our pictures we drew, stories we waned to be read, you know kid stuff.

One day my step mother explained to me that our neighbors were gay.  I responded to her, “I know they are happy, they are the nicest people on the street, why wouldn’t they be”.  She laughed and left it at that.  She realized that child like perception was the best way to look at life. 

We moved away a little while later leaving my father there and lost touch. Over the years I always wondered what happened to them and wished I could have thanked them for their kindness.  My grandmother told me that they moved to Wisconsin and opened a restaurant (since she owned that house we lived in).   A year ago, I was having a conversation with my Aunt (not related to my father) and somehow this story came up.  When I said Wisconsin she asked if their names were Jim, David, and Jessi.  I was floored! How did she know them?  Apparently, the world is a small one and when it comes to antique dealers and ex husband’s ex wives.   Turns out my aunt’s ex-husband and father of her son married a woman who was friends with them and they were all antique dealers (they are now divorced).  They all moved to Wisconsin and they started a restaurant and antique shop.  Within twenty-four hours of that conversation, I had a phone number and was calling these three angels from my childhood.  I could finally thank them!

The phone call was a bit of a shock to them and it was a bit of a shock to hear Jessi passed away about ten years ago.  It was a great conversation and I could tell that they were genuinely happy  “gay”  to hear from me. I was able to thank them and they were able to hear good reports on how it all turned out.  I could tell they were proud and honored that I made an effort to contact them just to say thank you.  We never exchanged information, we just left the conversation the way it was and hung up.  I feel that for some reason both of us needed to have that happen, not sure why, but it did.  

Those three men were my first introduction to the gay community and I was blessed to have them in my life.  With that experience, I could never hold prejudice or malic towards someone because of their sexual orientation.  What someone does in their bedroom is less concerning to me than what someone does out among society.  These young men were kind, caring, loving and thoughtful.  They showed compassion to a woman and three children, they were even kind to my father.  They understood that he was messed up from the war, and even though they did not like what he was doing, they were kind.   I cherish this piece of my history very much.  It was part of the molding process of understanding what being a kind and tolerant person is about.

Read Full Post »

Not my jeep, but looks exactly like it.

When I was in my mid- to- late twenties I was a Human Resources Manager and Payroll Manager for a large car dealership with several locations.  There were about 220 employees that ranged from sales, service techs,parts clerks, managers, office staff, etc.  We had a color of diversity in culture, personalities and management styles.  The one department I very much loved and appreciated was the Service and Parts Departments.  It was a man’s world and I tend to get along very well with men; I am not easily offended and I love practical jokes.  Every day I would check in with the various service departments and get my fix of off-color banter and practical jokes.  I was far from being a conventional Human Resource Manager, which I was told made me a good one (I think many in my field would debate that).

I had recently bought a brand new bright yellow Jeep Wrangler (that was the love of my life until I got pregnant and had to sell that for my beloved Volkswagen wagon – somewhere in Idaho that little yellow Jeep is playing in the snow.).  The first day I drove it to work a bunch of the service technicians and managers were standing in the service bay drinking coffee and one yelled out, “Did someone call a cab?”.  They did that everyday, thereafter, it never grew old to them.   As I was getting out of the car, one of the service managers starting giving me the business that I must have decided to change teams.  “Change teams?” , I asked.  He said,  “Yes, you decided to become a “lip stick” lesbian.” He continued with,  “Everyone knows that when an attractive single woman buys a Jeep that is their “coming  out” gift to themselves.”  I just rolled my eyes and laughed and finished his banter with famous Seinfeld line, “Not that there is anything wrong with that!.” 

A few days later I had happened to pull into the local health food store and a woman just pulled in right behind me and started up a very friendly conversation. Once inside she kept following me and talking and finally she blurted out that I was so beautiful and she just has to go out on a limb and see if I am seeing anyone.  Me, being naive, yet obviously knowing that she was on the opposite team the minute I met her, I thought she was asking because she had a brother or a male friend she wanted to set me up with.  I told her I was single and she said, “Great, would you like to go to dinner with me tomorrow,”  My head started spinning since I had never been picked up by a woman before. I turned a million shades red and fumbled all over myself trying to find the words to say,  “I am not gay,  but flattered by your invitation.”  The woman then proceeded to ask me if that was my Jeep I was driving.  I was a little confused what my Jeep had to do with this, but I told her it was.  She looked really confused and then rejected and quickly excused herself. 

The next day I went into work and told the two service managers about my adventure in the health food store and they were just rolling on the floor in tears holding their stomachs.  One of them said to me, “See, I told you, that Jeep is going to open doors to your rather boring dating life that you never knew existed.” 

Over the next two weeks I had four more similar experiences happen like at the health food store.  Every time I would go and tell the service managers about it and they would just be hysterical over it.  I was starting to think they were right.  Wow! I never knew the type of car you drove determined your sexual orientation.  It was a shame that I was not interested in women because my dating life would have been resurrected from the dead. 

A few days later I was leaving work early and it was the light of day.  I went to put a box of employee handbooks in the back of my Jeep and there I saw it; the answer of why all the advancements from the same-sex.  It was a thin rainbow bumper sticker that ran along the length of my bumper.  I never saw this before, I had not put anything in back of my jeep until that day, the way I parked at home never gave me the opportunity to see it and I never left work before sunset. 

The sticker looked very closely like this.

The minute I saw the sticker, I knew who the culprits were.  I peeled it off my bumper and headed into the service manager’s office. As I entered in the office with the sticker in hand they exploded into laughter and asked me what took me so long.  They told me that they put that on my Jeep the very frist week I bought it.   They said it was a riot to hear me come in and tell of my encounters and walk away so puzzled by how a car could be that impactful. Now it made sense why each woman looked utterly confused when I would tell them I was not gay.   Apparently, the whole service and part department were in on this joke and were highly amused.  I had to admit after all the practical jokes I was in on with other people, I had it coming to me and I too had a good laugh.  However, I did tell them to fasten their seatbelts, the karma from the lesbian community coming back to them was going to be really bad.

Read Full Post »

Today is Veteran’s Day and since I am a daughter of a Vietnam Vet, I sit and really think about this day and what we are truly observing.  I will never fully understand what the Veterans of this nation from any war has gone through and are currently going through, but I have a compassion and honor towards each and every one of them.  The below post is a piece of something I have been working on for over ten years.  It is the birth of a book. 

 I remember walking in the cold and rain past the Korean War Memorial and its frozen majestic metal soldiers.  The dogwoods were in bloom and blossoms were falling with the steady sprinkle of the rain.  I caught one in mid-air before it could reach its final resting place; it was delicate and perfect.  I placed it behind my ear under my hood and continued on my journey.  My purpose was to pay respects to a man who had fought for this country beside my father.
As I made my way up the sidewalk I saw a black structure ahead. It seemed to grow in size as I drew closer, and suddenly I was enveloped in an ocean of black stone walls with numberless engravings.  I was unprepared for this; I had heard that The Wall was big, but that was a gross understatement.  I had no idea where to start among the many flags, flowers, family pictures, unopened letters, and poems left at the base of The Wall.  Then I noticed a kiosk a few feet away where there were directories.  I flipped through one as if I were trying to look up the local pizza parlor.  Eventually, I found the name and location code.  I was on a mission, still very detached from what I was doing; it was exactly like solving a puzzle.
As I walked down the sloping sidewalk, the wall seemed to grow even larger and the engravings became recognizable as individual names.  My heart beat faster; I felt hot and sweaty beneath my raincoat and my throat tightened.  I was beginning to understand that this was not just one of the many tourist attractions of the Nation’s Capitol, but was instead a horrifying reminder amidst this beautiful setting of manicured dogwood parks, majestic granite, and immaculate walkways; a perfectly evanescent of Viet-Nam.

I could not grasp the sheer number of names on that Wall.  It seemed to go on forever, with each name representing a family, a wife, a lover, a friend, a son, an enemy never reconciled with… but most of all a life never truly lived unto its fullest.  How did this happen?  How did it get so far out of hand?  Those were the questions that ran through my mind as I finally found the name for which I was searching.   It was too high for me to reach; I found a step stool provided by the groundskeepers, pulled out a pencil and a scrap of paper and began taking an impression (never suspecting that when this mere scrap of paper, when presented to my father, would cause him to fall on his knees and weep as no one had ever seen before). 

 As I rubbed, I began thinking about his family and those who survived him.  How they must have felt so robbed and betrayed by death, the Government, and the senseless war he fought.  He was very young — in his prime — and it never should have happened.  It never should have happened to any of them.

I left the dogwood blossom that I had caught earlier on the ground just beneath his name, and an undeniable truth suddenly occurred to me: The Wall is not big enough… it is missing numberless names, and for countless reasons!  Most particularly, the names of the survivors with whom these men and women took their last breaths.  My father is one such survivor.  The guilt that he bears on that account is just another death sentence awaiting execution at any time.  He is only the least bit better off than those veterans who have lost their minds, their self-respect, and who sit outside the local grocery store hoping for a handout.  Likewise the veterans who didn’t make it even a decade past the war, whether death was by their own hand, or drugs, or alcohol, or violence.  And you must include the veterans who cannot cope without substance abuse or some toxic relationship to dull their pain.  Their widows, their ex-wives, their estranged family members, their forgotten high school classmates, their neglected children who forfeited childhood because their fathers lost all enthusiasm, compassion, understanding, and their once responsible outlook on life… they must be included in the list of casualties.

At that moment, standing in the rain and looking at my reflection in The Wall, the child of a Vietnam veteran, I knew that this Wall did not only memorialize the tragedies of those engraved upon it.  I realized that this Wall was only prologue to another war that will be fought for generations yet to come.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »