Category Archives: Veterans

To All Our Veterans – Thank You!

I had intended to write a much longer piece in honor of our Nation’s veterans.  Unfortunately, a person can get too busy with this or that and the day gets away from you before you know it.  So, I will simply say “thank you.”  Because of your service, I had the gift of a day spent in freedom today.  That gift is priceless.

Here are a few images I saw on the Internet today that caught my eye.

This last picture is from an excellent blog article you can link to here. If you have the time to take a look at the article, it is a wonderful and quite personal tribute to all veterans.

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What Is The True Meaning Of Memorial Day?

In the United States today, Memorial Day has become a day where we celebrate the start of summer with backyard barbecues and family picnics.  But what are the origins of Memorial Day?  How is it different from Veterans’ Day?

Unlike Veterans’ Day which is a day set aside to honor those men and women who serve our country, Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day,” a day instituted after the Civil War to honor veterans killed in service.  According to the website findingDulcinea, the first Decoration Day was held on May 5, 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War.  Maj. Gen. John A. Logan changed the date of the celebration to May 30. “It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country,” the Veterans Affairs Web site reports.

New York was the first state to officially recognize Decoration Day in .  Soon, other Union states followed, but the Confederate states did not immediately embrace the holiday, choosing instead to honor their fallen with a separate holiday.  Over time, however, all of the states began to hold some day of remembrance, and in 1882, Decoration Day became known as Memorial Day.  In 1971, Memorial Day was recognized as a federal holiday and became part of the 3-day weekend we all love so dearly.

Many activities to honor fallen veterans are associated with Memorial Day.  Cities throughout the U.S. organize parades to commemorate the day, and it is also traditional to fly the American flag at half-mast to honor those who have died.  Services are also traditionally held in Europe to commemorate those who fell in the Normandy Invasion as well as the many who died in the fields of Flanders, Belgium during the trench warfare of World War I.

So, while it may seem a bit off-topic to discuss Memorial Day in a blog about civil rights, the fact remains that the true meaning and origins of this important day are right on point.  Without the sacrifice of these brave men and women, neither you nor I would have the freedom to do the things we like to do in the United States – like, in my case, sit at my desk, secure in my home, and blog about civil rights.  That may sound a bit preachy, but it’s worth remembering.

If you are interested in this topic, I encourage you to check out findingDulcinea as well as theHistoryOf.net.  You can also find out more information about Memorial Day at the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

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House Vote Paves Way For Gays In The Military; Fight Isn’t Over Yet

On Friday, the House of Representatives passed a defense bill signaling the beginning of the end to the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy banning openly-gay personnel from serving in the military.

The defense bill passed by a vote of 229-186 vote, a smaller margin than is typical.  Many Republicans and a few Democrats voted against it solely because of its inclusion of the gays in the military provision.

House approval of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” repeal was a victory for President Obama, who has pledged to change the policy, and for gay-rights groups, which have made it their top priority this year. The bill would give the Pentagon the rest of the year to study the issue before the repeal would take effect.

The Senate is expected to take up the defense bill this summer. Supporters of an end to the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy are likely to need the votes of 60 of the 100 senators to prevent opponents from blocking it.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a chief backer of changing the law, said at a news conference Friday most senators support ending the gay ban.

“I believe a majority of the Senate, just like a majority of the country … favor changing this policy,” he said. “It is a discriminatory policy.”

By ending its ban on allowing openly-gay service members, the United States would actually be joining a long list of many of our allies that already allow such service.  I have placed a PDF of a study conducted by the University of Santa Barbara’s Palm Center for Sound Public Policy in the Box which shows the countries allowing openly-gay service members.  This list is current as of June 2009, and is entitled CountriesWithoutBan.

You can also read more about the house vote here.

Announcement – New Links Page For Veterans’ Resources

I am pleased to announce the creation of a new Links page devoted entirely to various resources for our Nation’s veterans.  Please take a moment to view the Links for Veterans page.  If you think a link should be added, let me know.

This Links for Veterans page was made possible by a concerned citizen who sent these links to me via email yesterday.  Thanks very much for all the hard work in compiling and organizing these links!  And, thank you to our Nation’s veterans!

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