I posted this as a journal. I thought I should post it here as well.
I was just watching the news, and I caught part of a report on Michael Jackson. As we all know, Jackson died the other day. He was an entertainer who performed for decades. He made millions, he spent millions, and he did a lot of things that make him a villain too many people. I understand that his death would affect a lot of people, and I respect those people who mourn his death, but that isn't the point of my rant.
Why is it that when ONE man dies, the whole of America loses their minds with grief? When a man dies whose only contribution to the country was to ENTERTAIN people; the American people find the need to flock to a memorial in Hollywood, and even Congress sees the need to hold a "moment of silence" for his passing? Am I missing something here? ONE man dies, and all of a sudden he's a freaking martyr because he entertained us for a few decades? What about all those SOLDIERS who have died to give us freedom? All those Soldiers who, knowing that they would be asked to fight in a war, still raised their hands and swore to defend the Constitution and the United States of America. Where is there moment of silence?
Where are the people flocking to their graves or memorials and mourning over them because they made the ultimate sacrifice? Why is it when a Soldier dies, there are more people saying "good riddance," and "thank God for IED's?" When did this country become so calloused to the sacrifice of GOOD MEN that they can arbitrarily blow off their deaths, and instead, throw themselves into mourning for a "Pop Icon?"
I think that if they are going to hold a moment of silence IN CONGRESS for Michael Jackson, they need to hold a moment of silence for every service member killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They need to PUBLICLY recognize every life that has been lost so that the American people can live their callous little lives in the luxury and freedom that WE, those that are living and those that have gone on, have provided for them. But, wait, that would take too much time, because there have been so many willing to make that sacrifice. After all, we will never make millions of dollars.
We will never star in movies, or write hit songs that the world will listen too. We only shed our blood, sweat and tears so that people can enjoy what they have.
Sorry if I have offended, but I needed to say it. Feel free to pass this along if you want.
Remember these five words the next time you think of someone who is serving in the military;
I really don't think anyone is calling MJ a martyr, mourning and martyrdom are far from the same thing. People are mourning Jackson not just because he entertained them, but because he was able to go past being a simple entertainer and made an emotional impact on millions of people. I owned Thriller when I was about 10 years old, I remember that it was the first album I ever bought with my own money. Haven't listened to it in over a decade or more, but that's a formative childhood memory. Can't say that I personally mourned his passing, but for a lot of people, his music did have a profound impact on their lives. This is not insignificant, so it is not unusual to see people getting emotional about his passing. Add to this the desire to be seen to be grieving in public when someone famous dies, and this event turns into a perfect storm of publicity and personal memories. Not saying that this is a good or a bad thing, just offering an explanation as to why this public phenomena occurs every time someone famous enough dies.
Now, as for the soldier end of things, and why Congress doesn't have a moment of silence for each fallen service member: My guess is that 5,044 moments of silence, adding up to a little over three and a half full days of solid silence (not accounting for time taken to give a brief bio of the fallen), would be a rather large disruption to the business of government, and would likely harm Congress' will to keep on a path of action that adds daily moments of silence to the business of government. People in power generally don't like to be reminded of the consequences of their actions, which could be another reason they don't follow your suggestion. Nobody likes having their noses rubbed in their mistakes, especially when the cost to others is so high.
Finally, there's a matter of human psychology. One person that everyone knows passing away will have a larger impact on society as a whole than the individual deaths of a large group of people that becomes pretty much faceless after several years of names you don't recognize keep piling up. The anonymity of strangers makes it harder for us to empathize with their families, we don't know them, so it's harder to grieve with them. Take that and multiply it by 5,044 fallen servicemen and women, and most people simply aren't equipped to deal with loss on that scope, it's a number we have a hard time grasping, and it involves people we simply do not know, so the personal impact of that much greater loss is much more difficult to experience in a meaningful way for the vast majority of people. It's not until someone close to you is lost that the scope of it comes home, and that's just not something most of us are close enough to.
That makes sense. Have you ever served in the Armed Forces or have any family members that have? I'm former Air National Guard. Whenever a solider is killed, its like losing a brother or a sister. The military is very tight knit. The guy I'm seeing is Army. If we all took some time out to remember the fallen it makes a difference. I remember them at night right before I go to sleep.
I have one friend currently serving, he's overseas right now, but no family currently serving. It's a little different up here, we still have few and infrequent enough casualties in Afghanistan that individual losses still make the news, especially for soldiers from our area or serving out of our local bases. Our last local casualty was front page news, with a full page biography inside, I remember where I was when I read the story, and how I experienced a personal sense of loss, even though I'd never met the fallen soldier. However, when faced with losses in the thousands, that emotional connection on such an immense scope is all but impossible, we're just not wired for it as rather limited social creatures.
I mean, my own family group numbers well over 100 in just cousins and their kids, and I have a hard time just keeping in touch with t small number of them in my age group, spread all over the country. How are we as individuals going to be able to grasp and sufficiently process the emotional impact of losing a group over 50 times that large without even that distant familial connection? I'd be saddened if I heard that one of my distant cousins passed away, but I doubt I'd feel it as a crushing emotional blow like their closer relatives would. It's one of those things where technology has run ahead of human psychological progress, we're able to hear about great tragedies happening on the other side of the world as they're happening, but not in a way that brings the story into a personal context for us on a par with the people directly involved.
As a side note to the person who -1 Lamed my post, grow a pair and discuss why you disagree or don't bother. You're taking a rather cowardly way of expressing your dissent, which I find both hard to respect and unfortunately ironic in a thread talking about the personal impact of brave men and women sacrificing themselves on our behalf.
I didn't give you the -1 lame, I gave you a +1 Ditto. My cousin and I are both on what is called I.R.R. (individual ready reserve). Which means we can still be called up to duty (She's Naval reserve and I'm Air National Guard). Here in the states, when you tell people you've served they thank you. I work in a hotel and some of my regular guests never realized I served till Memorial Day when I mentioned it. I can't describe what kind of feeling it is when someone just says Thank you for serving. I've lost 7 friends over in Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm scared that I will get called up, but I also understand that I must go and do my job. Some of my friends and I have talked about this whole situation over in Iraq and Afghanistan and we all came up with the same conclusion, this is our generation's Vietnam. Look at the age of the soldiers fighting over there....late teens to early to mid-20's, same as in Vietnam. Only difference is that there is no draft. One of my best friends, who I consider to be like an older brother to me, has been to Afghanistan twice and Iraq once and he told me that it is quite different then what is shown. My second cousin was in Iraq for a year (he's an high level officer and almost 60 years old), and he showed us pictures that would honestly give you nightmares. He showed us a convoy before it went over an IED and after it went over an IED. I started crying....thinking did I know any of them.
I didn't figure you'd negged me, that's why I made a separate comment. People rarely neg mod then give a polite response, I've found.
Generally, there are nothing but positive feelings associated with soldiers up here too. For my own experience, when I was working at the bar and if I knew someone coming in was in the Forces, it was no cover and no line for them, every time. When we hosted Remembrance Day events, there were a whole lot of free drinks served every time, just as a matter of course. I don't know if you have the same thing down there, but up here, we give veterans special license plates for their cars; there aren't special parking spots set aside (though there may be insurance discounts, I don't know), but you will see people drive differently around those vehicles, more respectful to that car as well as others. When I was working in a garage, I'd sneak special deals to vets when they came in, hidden discounts, free add-ons, that sort of thing.
Not that those are huge things, they're minuscule set aside what those people do for us, but it's something. Set in contrast with the way soldiers have been welcomed back in previous wars, it falls somewhere between ticker tape parade and public protest, but I think a little closer to the good side than the bad. Going back to your initial post, railing that people don't do enough to honour returning troops, or those who don't return, could be a full-time job if someone wanted to make one of it. Honestly, what could society really do to fully pay back what's been done for them by the people serving in the armed forces? When you take a step back and look at the scope of things, all the bonus drinks, veterans' plates and special deals in the world don't really make much more of a dent in the debt owed than a simple "thank you" when you meet someone who's served.
From my point of view, having Congress or Parliament observe a moment of silence (though I could be wrong, Canada's Parliament may still lower the flag to half-mast and observe a moment, I forget) shouldn't really make a difference to us as individuals. This is one of those things where what our representatives do in chambers matters a whole lot less than what we do individually, and our own personal attitudes and observances. Personally, I'm kind of OK with leaving that sort of thing out of the hands of people who showboat and use nobility and sacrifice to their own political ends for a living. Just seems like a better way to go about it, in the bigger picture point of view.
Oh yea here the vets and the ones that didn't go over to war are treated very well. Here if you have recieved a purple heart (one of the US military's highest honors) you can get a special plate or if you are a disabled vet you get a special plate. Where I live and where I grew up there is a huge military presence. The big holidays here in the states that recognize veterans are Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Veteran's Day. I try to help out the veterans where I can at my job (I work for a hotel). Here they lower the flags at half mast whenever a soldier is killed. Normally it is the soldier's homestate that does it. Even now at ballgames or any sporting event there are moments of silence for the troops and when the moment is over. The stadiums just rock because of the cheering of the troops. Its a great feeling that when the national anthem is played, I get goosebumpy and I think wow I have made a difference. If you ever get a chance to serve in the Canadian military, I would say go for it. Its a life changing experience.
In another thread I was researching a post about the effectiveness or likelihood of corruption in faith based vs. secular charity organizations. I took a random sampling of a search I did and took the bottom 10 organizations. I was appalled to see that 7 of the 10 listed were veteran charities. That coupled with the sad stories I've heard about the treatment offered at many of our VA hospitals is sickening.