Saddened, Disappointed... And Really Angry!
In the last hour of this Veterans Day holiday I write with a heavy heart. Veterans Day is usually not a day of celebration for me, but rather one of somber contemplation about the sacrifice my friends and relatives made for our country. I'm usually more than a little melancholy on this holiday and spend a good part of this day contemplating my military service a half-century ago and the fine men I served with during the Vietnam Conflict. Many of my flight school classmates did tours in that country and more than a few didn't return, losing their lives in the steaming jungles and rice paddies of that country, leaving behind families and an unfulfilled future in the service of our country.
And, I usually contemplate my cousin, Gary, who migrated from his Ohio home while I was away in the Army to live with my parents and attend a junior college in California, to get a running start on his education. When I returned home he still had six months to go to finish his two years, so he kept my bedroom and I got the couch until I got a job that eventually took me to Orange County. When he returned home to Ohio he enrolled at Kent State University and was promptly drafted. Did you see the movie "Platoon"? Well, then you have an idea of how Gary's tour in Vietnam as a rifleman turned out. He basically lived the life depicted by Charlie Sheen in that movie. He made it home with three (3) Purple Hearts pinned to his uniform and with stories that would shake you to your core that he shared with very few.
I think of my uncles - two on my mother's side who served in the Army in World War II and my father's younger brother who served in the Navy.
I think of my friend, Joe Bell, who served as a pilot in the Navy during that war and of my friend, Sparks McClellan, who turns 94 later this month and also served as a Naval combat aviator, flying Hellcats off carriers in the Pacific. I think of my ex-boss, Dwain Lengel, who flew Corsairs in both World War II and Korea. These men were part of Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation" - those who saw their duty and did it, then returned home to help re-start our nation.
ANGRY AND DISAPPOINTED
But this year I end this day very angry. I'm angry with some of our elected leaders, who apparently have such a hard place in their hearts for organized labor - and such ignorant disregard for what military service means - that they officially ignored the county-wide celebration held at the Orange County Fair and Event Center today. Although this event was widely publicized and, from all reports - like Bradley Zint's coverage in the Daily Pilot HERE - was very well attended, the only reference to this day by any "official" city source was a nice, brief piece by Dane Bora on the Costa Mesa Minute Monday. And, the Costa Mesa Police Department, which has many men and women who serve in Reserve units, published a nice piece on its Facebook page which included a comment by Chief Rob Sharpnack. I've reproduced it below.
ANTI-LABOR BIAS AT PLAY
I'm angry that there was no official pronouncement by any of our elected leaders about this holiday. I suspect that was because they couldn't comment on it without observing the event across the street - the one sponsored by organized labor and veterans groups. So deep is their apparent hatred of labor groups that it has clouded their official judgment. Shame on them! Nor was there any official pronouncement by our City Chief Executive Officer, Tom Hatch, that I could find. He apparently has been muzzled by the council majority.
WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO OUR CITY?
What kind of a City have they turned Costa Mesa into, when the veterans of our area are ignored on this day? What kind of shallow, vindictive, mean-spirited men do we have leading this city that let their personal animus about organized labor prohibit them from acknowledging the men and women who proudly served our country in the military? I get it that none of the members of the City Council, men or women, have seen military service, but for this kind of shunning of veterans is unconscionable! It's my understanding that councilwomen Katrina Foley and Sandra Genis attended the event at the Fairgrounds - good for them! However, there were no sightings reported of Mayor Steve Mensinger, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer nor councilman Gary Monahan, who was probably busy yanking beer taps at his pub.
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY
And, the City of Costa Mesa missed a great recruitment opportunity, too! It's my understanding that other law enforcement agencies had booths at the Fairgrounds, ready to provide information to potential law enforcement officers.
ANGRY, SADDENED AND DISGUSTED
Tonight I am saddened and disgusted with the male members of our City Council. Those of us who served this country - who willingly put our futures on hold and our lives on the line - deserve better. This heartless disregard for our veterans will not be forgotten.