Memorial Day and Veterans Day are celebrations of and thanks to our men and women in the military. They most certainly deserve our appreciation and our respect.
Why, then, are other occupations treated with such nastiness? Why the generalizations?
“Those lying politicians!” “Those damned doctors!” “Those grease-monkey mechanics?” “Those crooked lawyers!” are a few of the doozies I’ve heard just in the last week. Can you imagine making such sweeping statements about someone in the armed services? And yet there are, in ANY line of work, a few bad apples. For example Jeffrey McDonald, the Green Beret who so famously murdered his pregnant wife and two young daughters in 1970, or the huge problem of sexual assault in the military did not ignite a cry against all others who serve.
“Laying their lives on the line”; like Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy. And what about the lucky ones, whose would-be assassins had bad aim? Presidents Reagan, Ford, Truman, Jackson and both Presidents Roosevelt. What about Harvey Milk, a man who knowingly put his life on the line, and lost it, for the equal rights of others? Let’s remember those who were horribly wounded and left with permanent disability, like former Press Secretary James Brady or US House member Gabby Giffords. Every single one of them “those damned politicians”.
I wish we had a day that honored all professions. I suppose Labor Day is intended to do that, although it mostly marks the end of summer. I’d like to see a day that honors the hard working men who collect our trash every Friday morning, no matter the weather, dodging impatient motorists. Imagine life without them. I’d like to honor the doctors and nurses who worked so hard to pull my brother, father and husband back from the brink of death. I’d especially like to honor the ones who volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, who willingly go into danger zones to save the lives of others. I’d like to honor the furnace repairman who comes out in the middle of night in the dead of winter, the plumber who gives up his day off to fix a broken pipe, the farmer who grows the food I eat, the waitress whose feet are killing her at the end of her shift. I’d like to thank those damned engineers; “you know how they are”. They’re the ones who design just about everything we use in our daily lives. Thanks to the lawyer whose compassion and knowledge helped guide us after the death of our cousin. Above all, I’d like to thank those “Grease Monkeys”. I remember seeing the grease embedded in my father’s hands, inhaling the smell of it on his clothing when he came in after lying on his back on a cold concrete floor for 12 hours. I thank him when I help him up the steps or retrieve his cane for him. His mobility is severely limited from all of those years of hard manual labor. He wanted to retire at 80, but he only made it to 78.