Current events are an essential tool for learning civics. So today we are going to stay on track with our objectives for a national service with three events of the last few days. The first event was President Obama’s speech to the Convention of the Disabled American Veterans. You can watch it on the White House website, or, you can read the major points at this Stars and Stripes article.
There is nothing objectionable in the President’s remarks. His Administration’s commitment to our soldier/veterans is demonstrably more deeply felt and resourced than that of Mr. W. Bush and Mr. Clinton. In structuring greater transition services for our veterans, his Administration approaches President Reagan’s vision and commitment, abandoned during the first Bush Administration. Nevertheless, the President’s approach amounts to little more than a hardy salute and severance for our veterans. As we have discussed, our military will be shrinking in favor of freeing the Defense budget for buying new hardware, meaning more young people will be entering a shrinking labor market to compete with departing soldiers and laid-off veterans; the long term costs of treating and sustaining our wounded veterans and their families remain unaddressed; and the military structure and the cause for which they had fought are now known by our veterans to be corrupt.
These are continuing psychological and emotional burdens that must be shouldered by our veterans throughout their lives. These are matters unaddressed by the President, as is the potential of our veterans to be valued as the precious national assets we identified last week:
More than any Americans,..(our veterans)… have the capacity to understand the futility of sectarian division, the mind of the young Muslim we have chosen to fight, the elements of true nation building at home and abroad, the uses and limits of lethal technologies, the disgrace of torture, and the value and honor of service.
Our second event provides an example of the value our soldier/veterans represent for our communities. Here a retired Army Colonel exposes the profound corruption of the Department of Homeland Security and its service to our Corporate Empire. Where could we possibly find a more knowledgeable and authoritative member of a community to analyze our domestic security needs than an experienced veteran like this man? They exist by the thousands across our country and want nothing more than an opportunity for continued honorable service.
Very often the authority and knowledge to challenge the Empire emerges from the interest and study of civic issues by members of your generation. The 14 year-old woman in our third event demonstrates how dramatically the mastery of civics empowers you to confront the Empire and its spokespersons, and address issues of importance for people across the globe. Miss Parent’s power can be your power. It existed for your great grand parents because of what was expected of them.