By: Jack Levine
Monday, May 28th is Memorial Day, our nation’s commemoration of the sacrifices made by those whose lives were on the line for the freedoms we hold sacred. Whether our veterans survived their military service, or were lost on the field of battle, our country owes each of them, and their families, a debt of gratitude. I am not a veteran.
In the summer of 1969, the year of the nation’s first draft lottery, my birthday, June 26th, was drawn as number 327. For those not aware of the significance of that, my birthday could have come up number One or number 365. I was fortunate to be so far down the list, and therefore assured by the luck if the draw to not be called up to serve in the Vietnam War.
One of my closest friends drew number six, another the low 20’s. Both were ineligible for student deferment and were drafted. One was sent to duty at a NATO base in Europe because he had strong language skills, the other was deployed to Vietnam where he was seriously wounded in 1970 and sent home. He never fully recovered from his neck, shoulder and arm wounds.
As we look at the history of wars proposed by presidents, declared or otherwise funded by Congress, and supported to varying degrees by our citizens, let’s remember that none of these conflicts were or, to this day, are immune from political and social controversy. But we should never confuse debate over military policy with the need to be respectful of those whose lives are at risk on the battlefield, in the air, or on the seas.
Our nation has been the cherished destination for great waves of immigrants, many from the world’s most frightening and repressive nations. My father and maternal grandparents were three of those immigrants, and perhaps your family has its story of freedom-seeking relatives.
Even for our African-American neighbors whose ancestors came shackled in the holds of slave ships, and Native-Americans whose ancestors were slaughtered, subjected to racist cruelties or herded into reservations, the children of today’s American families should enjoy the opportunity to be free from the threats of oppression and terror. That freedom was earned, bled for, and in so many cases, died for by our fighting forces.
Memorial Day presents an important chance to focus our thoughts and honor the military service of our parents and grandparents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins. Individuals who either volunteered or were drafted, wore the uniform of our armed forces, and gave all or a portion of their lives in service to our nation and its allies.
In respect of those who fought and are fighting today, and especially in memory of those we’ve lost, let’s not be passive about the importance of their sacrifice.
In their honor, let’s pledge to participate in the following advocacy activities:
- Register, vote, and urge others to do the same. Democracy demands dedication!
- Actively communicate with candidates and elected officials about issues affecting families, including military families. Remember, our elected officials work for us and elections are job interviews!
- Share your thoughts in the media by writing letters to the editor and sharing your expertise with editorial writers, columnists and reporters. Media is our most cost-effective megaphone.
- Motivate youth to exercise their voice in matters which affect them. Our next generation of advocates needs good role modeling.
- Confront those who think that complaining about problems is sufficient. Whining is not as productive as winning!
- Compliment community leadership and promote active involvement by friends, colleagues and neighbors as volunteers, whom I call “time philanthropists.”
- Support causes which focus on advocating positive change. Spectatorism doesn’t produce progress. Your gifts of time and financial support are vital for positive outcomes.
Please exercise your rights and take your responsibilities seriously as we move forward in our advocacy partnership.
This link offers information about Memorial Day http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day
I appreciate your dedication to being a voice for yourself and others who need you….As is written in the Talmud….. If not you, who?
Jack Levine, Founder 4Generations Institute
P.O. Box 1227 Tallahassee, FL 32302The Advocate’s Credo:
Thou art my child, my parent, and my elder,
I love thee best,
But could not love thee half as much,
Loved I not all the rest.