Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Sad Day In Phillie

Demeur just posted his Veteran's day post. I was going to not do the predictable today and write one myself, but well Demeur has a way of getting to me. His post was about the shoddy treatment our vets get and how we let them down all the time. Promises made turn empty when it comes time to put up or shut up. What follows is what started out as a comment -

There is nothing new about this sad treatment of American Veterans. It is not the result of one party doing nothing or the other one not carrying the load. Veterans have always been spoken of highly and that their service is appreciated. Yet from the beginning, these words became empty cups many vets wave in front of indifferent citizens as they pass by them on the street.

My saddest memory was in Philadelphia back in the 1990s. I was there for the InterBike show, a gathering of cycling industry people. I would take the time every day I was there to take a short ride around the city to see whatever there was to see. At one spot near a small park I stopped and sat on a bench. The sidewalk was filled with pedestrians busily moving from wherever they were to wherever they were going. Propped up against the foundation of a corroded bronze statue of some Revolutionary guy loud and proud on his horse, a black man with no legs sat on the sidewalk. He had no wheel chair that I could see. He did have a sign that told all who chose to read it, he was a Nam Vet and he needed our dimes, our nickels, our change. As I sat on my bench and looked him over, he pulled out his penis and urinated right there on the sidewalk. At that moment a lady in some kind of business suit the business ladies wear walked by and said, "That's disgusting, there are toilets over there." And she pointed somewhere off in the distance. The legless, homeless vet just stuck up his cup and said, "Fuck You Lady, spare some change?" She said something I could not hear and moved on.

I dropped a $20 bill in his cup. It was all I had on me. It didn't bring me any peace.

(390 / 9183)


The Blog Fodder said...

We have a lot of Afghan vets here doing the same. Begging to stay alive. Why do countries spend so much on hardware and nothing on the people who fought their wars?

susana said...

When I was in DC a couple of years ago, I was shocked by the long line of vets waiting outside the vet admin building. The irony broke my heart. Here in the city of great war memorials and hero statues also stood endless lines of destitute and needy veterans.

sunshine said...

Lucky for me (I think), I've never seen anything like that before.
How sad. :(


BBC said...
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Kulkuri said...

This is not a new problem, I imagine veterans since the beginning of this country have not gotten a fair shake from the government. It's a shame that it is still a problem. What really pisses me off is all the politicians that claim they love the military when what they mean is they love to throw money at defense contractors for new whiz-bang toys. Because it would be built in his state, Trent Lott pushed thru a new carrier that the Navy didn't want or need. What if all those millions or was it billions had gone to help the vets???? Or like after the Iraq war started, aWol was only going to give the officers a pay raise to keep the pilots from leaving the military and flying for the airlines. Eventually the pay raise was given to all, but aWol wasn't happy.

Randal Graves said...

There used to be a one-legged vet in a wheelchair here downtown, but I haven't seen him in awhile, so I assume he's shuffled off this mortal coil.

This nation doesn't honor veterans as much as it honors war. The veterans are merely backdrop, like the flags they stand in front of.