Village Vet and I went to the annual Bridgeport Public School luncheon in Bridgeport, Nebraska in honor of Veterans Day. Every year, they invite veterans and their families to attend. As always, the children and their teachers had worked hard to create a welcome and thank you to our veterans. Veterans from World War 2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan were in attendance, as well as active duty military and military reservists.
The program began with the high school band playing “A Nation Divided”. This seemed like a rather unusual piece for this event, but, it is indeed true. Our nation is becoming extremely polarized, followed by a choir singing “American Tears”.
The keynote speaker, a retired Navy officer, began his speech okay, with some light humor. I was rather apprehensive, as he gave the speech at a Memorial Day service, and quickly turned it into a talk about trans people in bathrooms. It went downhill quickly as he lied to the audience – 200-300 community members, veterans and their families as well as about 200 school children – about the violent protests that disrespect our flag and our veterans. He completely omitted that these protests are not violent, with the exception of the Nazi protest in Charlottesville and the sovereign citizens holding a Federal installation in Burns, OR. He deliberately lied to all present about their Constitutional Rights, including the First Amendment right to seek redress. He stated that no one has the right to be offended.This man was speaking in favor of totalitarian rule – a man, I may remind you, who took an oath to uphold the US Constitution. In a free society, as outlined by our Constitution, we do not have thought crime. Offense is a thought crime. This is well into totalitarian territory. He equated protests as sedition .At that point we got up and left in outrage. This was not an honor to our veterans. It’s a slap in the face to living World War 2 veterans, and disrespecting the graves of all, including some of my relatives who gave their lives support fascism. We fought the Cold War to keep us free from totalitarian thought crimes. The US fought Nazi Germany to keep us free from such totalitarian regimes as those who have thought crimes. They did not fight in that war to have US citizens, including retired military members, embrace thought crimes, and totalitarian fascism. One of my former in-laws did not spend his 26th birthday landing on the beach in Normandy, sustaining injuries, and receiving a Purple Heart as a result so the US could become fascist. Today, I’m quite glad that he is now deceased and could not hear a retired military officer supporting exactly those fascist policies he gave his health to protect. I would hate for him to think he gave it all in vain, as did my uncle who gave his life fighting fascists over 70 years ago.
When I was in high school, I was in a town with a large immigrant population from Europe, mostly the children of displaced persons who came to the US after World War 2. Many of my friends’ parents and grandparents had numbers tattooed on their forearms. They told their own stories of how they got in those concentration camps, and what happened. More than once, a parent or grandparent burst into tears relating their stories, in front of a girl they had just met. Yes, these were grown men and women crying in front of a teen girl. The stories were horrific. The same thing happened after I was an adult, when I went to the home of a coworker. This is the end result of where such fascism leads. I vowed back then that if I were ever in such a situation, I would not be quiet and allow it, because I was not part of the group of the day. Today, I have to put my money where my mouth is. Furthermore, if I did not, my relatives who fought in World War 2 would certainly come haunt me, as they are no longer peacefully resting, with their graves having been desecrated (changed from cruder term).