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  • September 10th, 2020

WORD OF THE DAY

By Joel M. Vance

 

 

We all know the word. “Sacrifice.” It means it means different things to different folks. Thousands of years ago in what we like to call primitive cultures because they didn’t have cell phones and fast food grease pits, the word meant rounding up an available virgin, trotting her up a nearby mountain and performing elaborate rituals, involving blood, in homage to whatever God supposedly was operating the levers behind the curtain.

 

The practice faded over the centuries, possibly because of a dwindling supply of virgins, but the word remained. Biblically we remember Abraham being ordered by God to off his son Isaac to prove his loyalty to God. Even at the time, it sounded like overkill, especially to Isaac, but God reprieved the kid at the last moment, possibly chuckling “only kidding.”

 

Through those same eons since what would become man crawled out of the muck and started looking for the closest McDonald’s, humans have been involved in one form of sacrifice or another. Most of the time it doesn’t turn out well. Every war has demanded the equivalent of what God ordered Abraham to do— parents giving up their sons to the wrath of war or, in many cases, the sons giving themselves up to whatever God had in mind.

 

All of which is preamble to telling you what you already know. That we have a president, elected by less than a majority of the nation’s voters, to whom the word “sacrifice” means that those who elect, whether by choice or selection to offer their sons up to the grim lottery of conflict, are “losers” and “suckers”.

 

I’ve had three cousins who survived what the late Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, called “the fog of war.” One was a paratrooper who jumped behind German lines on D-Day in World War II, broke his back on landing, and had to endure the agony of his injury for several days until he was able to hook up with Allied troops and be evacuated for treatment.

 

Another was a Marine in the South Pacific who survived the hell of island battles in the Pacific, without being wounded in his physical self, but who suffered the mental agony of his experiences for the rest of his life. His brother chose also to join the Marines and fought in combat in the Korean War.

 

Only by the grace of circumstance and timing did I avoid the necessity of sacrifice in any of the wars beginning with the Second World War. I would not wish what happened to my cousins on anyone else, nor have I felt elated that it didn’t happen to me. I was lucky and can only be grateful that I didn’t have to make the choice of sacrifice myself, or have it made for me by the local draft board.

 

But never have I felt that my luck spared me from being either a loser or a sucker—only grateful and somewhat ashamed when Memorial day or Veterans Day or any other remembrance of those who served rolls around and reminds me that I have been merely lucky and that my cousins gained something as honorable men that I can never know.

 

Those cousins all three of whom have gone to whatever reward awaits fallen warriors, were in life, and are in memory, infinitely more valuable as human beings than Donald Trump ever has been at the best of his revolting life. That he would disparage those who sacrificed everything is so reprehensible that every voter, not just the ones who didn’t vote for him, but those who did should recoil in horror that we are being led, like lambs to the slaughter, by a sociopathic madman.

 

Among the many outrageous statements that Donald Trump has made, disparaging ethnic groups, women, and virtually every other entity in society that isn’t him, this has to be the most self-destructive. He’s gotten away with everything else, but if this doesn’t push him off the cliff, nothing will and we are all doomed.

 

When he insulted John McCain, saying that McCain was not a hero for having been captured by the North Vietnamese and imprisoned and tortured for several years, he got away with it. He didn’t like McCain, he said, because he got captured so therefore he could not be a hero and he, Donald Trump, didn’t like people who got captured. That caused a considerable ripple among his sycophants, but it didn’t last.

 

He insulted the family of a soldier killed in Iraq saying the Muslim gold star mother didn’t speak because her Muslim husband ruled the family and wouldn’t allow it. Even that didn’t sway the hatemongers among his brain-dead following because to them the woman was Muslim and therefore an enemy of Trump’s white redneck supporters.

 

It’s worth repeating the words that Khizr Kahn spoke at the 2016 Democratic national convention, igniting Trump’s volcanic anger at Khizr and his wife Ghazala,” have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing—and no one.” He offered to loan Trump a pocket copy of the Constitution which Khizr carried then (and carries now). “I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of the law.’”

 

Trump’s nonexistent and disgraceful disregard for actions to contain coronavirus has rocked the boat seriously for him because, after all, some of the nearly 200,000 dead Americans have been among his so-called base.

 

It’s inexplicable that the base continues to support him even as some of their ranks die of the disease that he totally has failed to combat. In their case the word “sacrifice” has no logical meaning. It defies logic that they believe in a fantasy “right” to  refuse to wear masks, stay at home instead of gathering in potentially infectious herds, or to do any of the preventive measures that other countries have successfully used to contain coronavirus. In the case of these self-righteous sheep, the word “sacrifice” is a self-destructive joke.

 

Instead, Trump is attempting to force through a largely untested vaccine against coronavirus before the election and simultaneously supporting the idea of letting the virus run unchecked in hopes that “herd immunity” will, in time, result in the virus burning out.

 

A few days ago I lost a long time hunting partner. When he was young, he dropped out of college to join the military, knowing that he almost certainly would be sent to Vietnam. He was deployed there, as a medic (he once sewed up a gash on my bird dog, as expertly as any veterinarian). He hadn’t needed to risk his life in a combat zone, but he chose to suspend his education for what he perceived as a greater good.

 

Later, after his discharge, he returned to college, earned a law degree, and spent the next several decades as a highly respected lawyer and became an exceptionally gifted outdoor writer with three fine books published. In every facet of his life, he put the lie to Trump’s description of “losers” and “suckers”.

 

Two of the groomsmen in Marty’s and my 1956 wedding a year later would be commissioned as Marine second lieutenants. Vietnam was just beginning to gain momentum (and casualty totals). Both knew that they likely would be sent into the heart of the gathering Viet Nam storm. Neither majored in military, but they put their futures on hold.  Sacrifice is the applicable word.

 

Both were wounded in combat. One, a helicopter pilot, was shot down and nearly died. The other, a foot soldier, chose to stay in the Marines as a career choice and retired decades later as a bird colonel bearing the scars of combat.  No reasonable human being would describe either as a “loser” or a “sucker”. Only one despicable exception I can think of would be so callous, so soul empty, so devoid of understanding or empathy as to use those terms to describe my friends. As the old saying goes you get three guesses as to who that individual is and the first two don’t count.

 

The last time the United States had a united populace forced to confront the concept of “sacrifice” was in World War II when everybody to some degree or another gave up something for the common good. “Sacrifice” even extended down to us grade school kids. We couldn’t volunteer with our cousins to go into combat, but we gave up what had been common food fare, suddenly rationed so the troops in the field could eat. Everyone made do with what they had when the war began—automobiles, the tires they rolled on, and many other items that people had taken for granted for decades. Kids saved rubber bands and rolled aluminum gum wrappers into metallic balls which could be used somehow in the war effort.  Kids donated millions of Buddy L and other cherished toys to scrap metal drives (which makes the toys today highly sought after collectibles because of their scarcity).

 

My wife’s folks had a lovely decorative wrought iron fence at their house and they donated it to a scrap metal drive. Certainly not a major sacrifice but everybody did something similar.

 

Trump’s latest outburst of unhinged fantasy is to accuse the military of starting wars so that the companies who make armament can profit.  “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me. The soldiers are. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

 

Trump says the soldiers are in love with him but chances are that a good many of the soldiers wearing stars on their shoulders are not quite as enamored. In a rage he once called them “dopes and sissies.” Apparently he judges all generals by Beetle Bailey’s General Halftrack (he should cherish Mort Walker’s cartoon general whose favorite pastime is escaping the office to play golf).

 

Trump continued, “But we’re getting out of the endless wars, you know how we’re doing. We’ve defeated 100 per cent of the ISIS caliphate. When I came in it was a mess, it was all over.  A year later I said, ‘Where is it?’ ‘It’s all gone, sir, because of you, it’s all gone’.”  This is the raving of a megalomaniac madman.  Anyone who doesn’t recognize it for what it is—dangerous nonsense—is as self delusional as Trump.

 

This week we found what Trump’s sacrifice is—the truth. In a new book, famous Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward quotes a recording he made during an interview with Trump. Trump confesses that he was well aware of the severity of coronavirus at the same time he was assuring the American public that the virus was no big deal and would go away.  The result of this sacrifice of truth to political gain, rampant vanity, or a simple inability to tell the truth, means that 200,000 Americans who might have lived if he had told the truth and combated coronavirus at its beginning is the price the country has paid for his bungling.

 

A cartoon currently is caroming around the Internet, depicting the ghost of Richard Nixon hovering over the little figure of a robe clad Trump, saying, “you know about Watergate and yet you let Bob Woodward record you, you effing moron!”

 

We are less than two months from election day, November 3, and this momentous event is approaching like a runaway train. More and more it appears that a mail in vote will decide who wins—Trump for what would be a catastrophic four more years, or Joe Biden who offers the promise of a return to sanity. Trump is doing his utmost to cripple the mail in vote, so it is vital to vote early.

 

The time to vote is now. Request your ballot for absentee voting now and return the ballot as soon as possible. I’ve already been waiting more than a week to get my absentee ballot and it’s only a 15 mile trip from the election office. The Postal Service is being systematically crippled so it can’t function as an absentee ballot delivery facility. In order to be counted do it now. Don’t wait! And be sure it is notarized if that is necessary and mail it back by early October. Theoretically you can mail it two weeks before the election to be sure that it is delivered by election day, but don’t count on that.

 

 

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