Monday, May 26, 2008

The Empty Seat At The BBQ

Hot dogs and chicken wings. Pork ribs, shish kabobs, burgers and roasted corn. The endless array of delectable dishes whipped up today by Americans grateful to have an extra day off of work, will be cooked over the traditional coals of many a backyard or public park BBQ pit.

Oh, the joy in the eyes of the children as they scamper about underfoot, spilled soda pop running down laughing chins. Grandma and Grandpa doting on the little ones, and the aunts and the uncles helping to set the places at the big wooden picnic table. Older brother helping out with the cooking, as men tend to think they are better at outdoor cooking for some odd reason, when they would never dream of setting foot in the kitchen inside.

Beer flows freely, possibly a baseball game on the television, or a game of cards with some background music thumping. Food becomes ready, and all gather to the table, but yet, there seems something amiss. There's one empty place at this family's gathering, and someone must awkwardly tell the children why a place has been set for someone not there.

Yes, the children must be told of a loved one who gave up his or her life in defense of their country, or of one still alive but in a far away land. Told in such a way as to not cause tears, the bravery stressed, the sacrifices made in order for Americans to have an extra day off every year. The empty seat at the BBQ the family's way of remembering the fallen, or those still in harm's way.

Further out from the gathering, with millions of families committed to the same ritual, we listen to the President speak at Arlington National Cemetery. The words that come forth ring hollow as he says ""It is a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom that the number of headstones in a place like this grows with every Memorial Day." Words meant to console while he forces more and more of our youth back into the fray for the third, fourth, or even fifth time. The photo op over, he goes back to his own family BBQ at the People's House on Pennsylvania Avenue, justifying to an angry nation the denial of educational benefits for our troops, our warriors, our loved ones.

Ever quick to demand more and more money for the bottomless pit of the quagmires he started, this so called 'leader' consistently balks at any help for those at home. It doesn't help any corporate bottom line to fund GI Bills you see, so his remembrances on Memorial Day are as phony and as false as were his two stolen 'elections.' Many of the empty seats at today's BBQ's are the end product of this false president's follies, and history will condemn him for creating a new generation of fallen heroes. Ones who answered the call thinking us all to be in danger, but coming to realize that the liars in charge had money in mind when it came to the use of military force.

Today is a day of sadness, not a cause for celebration. A day of reflection and pondering, and if the alcohol dulls the reality of our war dead, then put the bottle down, and say a prayer instead. A prayer that all of the wars in the history of our country, fought on foreign shores or even here in our own bloody civil war, had a purpose other than the rise of tyranny in our nation, of small minded would be dictators who send others to fight when they themselves only know how to shoot their friends in the face. Remember those still alive, veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, World War Two, and beyond.

For Memorial Day is also a time to thank those still among us, whose shattered lives will never be the same. The broken and missing limbs, the brains damaged, and souls destroyed. They served with honor, and deserve nothing less than the full support of every person in this land. Because despite what the thief in chief has to say, there is no expense too great for us to bear to see that those who come back from a war zone, any war zone, or even those who just stand guard at the walls have the tools such as educational training and medical aid, to try to salvage and improve on their lives, and possibly be able to provide for themselves and their loved ones.

Take your hats off. Kneel and pray. Put down that shish kabob for a moment of silence to all of America's heroes, the greatest warriors the world has ever known, and ask that this be the last time we must send our young off to fight. That the world come to a realization that we are warring over what amounts to nothing, and that those empty seats at all of those BBQ's comes at too great a cost, with too many a mother shedding too many a tear. And then tell our politicians that we do not request that they take care of our veterans in the manner that they deserve. Tell them we are no longer willing to sit by and wring our hands, wishing there was something we could do. Tell them this is a demand that will be remembered and remembered well come election day, and that those who voted against helping our veterans or those who couldn't be bothered to show up to vote, had better start looking for other employment come November.

Make today a true Memorial Day. Reflect. Pray. Then make the decision that tomorrow, you'll take action to do what you can for the veterans in our midst, be it a donation to a veteran's organization, or a letter to your local, state, and federal politicians demanding change. They went and served for us, now we must in turn do what we can for them, and try our best to ensure there will be no more empty seats at next year's BBQ's.

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