RANGER AGAINST WAR: Day Late and a Dollar Short <

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Day Late and a Dollar Short

 These celebrations are a fiesta of illusion.
As Spain’s conquistadors discovered,
and we too often forget, Florida is like Play-Doh.
Take the goo; mold it to your dream.
Then watch the dream ooze back into goo
--Ponce de Leon, Exposed

Leon County declared March 30 "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" two years ago, and this year the county offered a Saturday breakfast at our local Vietnam Veteran Memorial following a talk by former Prisoner of War Bruce Archer.

It was a nice effort, and all of the "Operation Thank You" staffing the event were as pleasant as can be. Panera provided the coffee and a local restaurant, the food. The veterans were allowed to approach the food in their own line, and the young people slinging hash sent up a loud cheer and applause.  All nice, a bit anti-climactic, and moving in a sad sort of way.

What was wrong with the event was twofold: the haphazard way in which it was publicized, and the lack of any program other than food and a speaker.

Ranger is active in the veteran community and yet had not heard of the event; Lisa saw a placard at the local library a few days beforehand.  Tallahassee has a Veterans Outpatient Clinic -- signs should have been present on-site, and in all service and fraternal publications.  Over 4,000 Vietnam-era Veterans live in the Leon County vicinity; less than 150 were present, and some of those were questionable.  

Also conspicuously absent was the presence of the Governor, a color guard, or any National Guard representation. The latter is an especially egregious oversight as Tallahassee has several National Guard units.

The body count provided by the city was probably inflated (taking a leaf from Mr. MacNamara's book.) Among the breakfast group were many homeless people claiming to be veterans, some of whose stories of time in service didn't quite mesh up.  Of course they had every right to attend, but just wearing a surplus fatigue item does not make one a veteran. 

In addition, the event organizers should have presented a compelling line-up of speakers, had they taken more than a cursory effort to organize the functional part of the event.  It is not that Capt. Archer's speech was not good, but rather that many viewpoints were not presented which might have engendered some dialog.  Instead, the bureaucrats arranged the perfect bureaucratic breakfast in which the participants could not wait to eat, and once done, were ready to quickly depart the AO.

When Ranger was in the Army, he often heard, "Eat yer shit and get" as he and his fellows were hurried along and denied the dignity of an tranquil meal.

This event felt a little like that.

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