It's Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
As I write this, I can hear, out my back window, the Harley-Davidsons of Rolling Thunder, motoring in cacophonous caravans east on I-66 (today, let's say Route 66) into Washington, D.C. It's an almost musical harbinger of summer.
But more to their purpose, the motorcycles of Rolling Thunder form a moving reminder of past and continuing wrongs:
To educate the public that many American prisoners of war were left behind after all previous wars and to help correct the past and to protect future veterans from being left behind should they become prisoners of war-missing in action.
Rolling Thunder is but one loud part of this three-day weekend —Memorial Day— which commemorates those U.S. military men and women who have died while defending our nation.
For one year, beginning last Memorial Day and ending today, the brewery I work for —Clipper City Brewing Company— has donated a portion of the sale of every six-pack and four-pack to the Veterans Maryland Health Care System.
A charity-supported adjunct to the Veterans Administration, the VA Maryland Health Care System —and others like it in other States— helps pay for ancillary programs not provided by the US government. Things such as child care while an injured veteran attends rehabilitation, or transportation to those services, or simple things like televisions and DVDs for wounded soldiers, and comfort, such as hospice.
The VA Maryland Health Care System offers many supplemental services and activities to veterans throughout Maryland thanks to generous contributions and donations from caring community members, veterans service organizations, and local businesses. We are grateful to be the recipient of monetary and in-kind donations and bequests from individuals throughout Maryland who are interested in supporting the needs of our hospitalized veterans.
The give-back program may have ceased at the brewery, but not with this employee. I continue, not because of personal rectitude, but because I think it the right thing to do. A close relative of one of my fellow employees lies terribly injured in a veterans hospital in North Carolina.
While I and many Americans enjoy this three-day weekend with our mall shopping, mini-vacations, and backyard barbecues (with, I hope, local beer), American troops are still ordered into the middle of a civil war in Iraq.
Support and honor them: they fight for us, despite the fecklessness of our leaders. Support and honor them: bring them home to safety. Support and honor them: give them the benefits that their sacrifice and courage deserve, which some in government wish to deny them.
[UPDATE 2008.05.26: Another reason to celebrate the day.]