Monday, August 13, 2012

Field of Honor

I had the privilege, and I use that word quite literally, of attending the Field of Honor event at Miller Park on Saturday.  A record breaking crowd really...Guiness was on hand and confirmed that we set the world record for a feature length movie premier. The previous record was 27, 022 people.  Over 28,400 were in attendance on Saturday. That was just icing on the cake.

Friends, I'm not sure I have words to describe this event.  When I read about it or try to tell people about it, I can't help but get choked up.  MANY tears were shed.  We were there to see the world premier of the movie Honor Flight and more importantly, to honor our World War II veterans.  The movie is a documentary about how the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight came to be.  In this process, two WWII veterans became key players.  Their stories, along with a few others, are highlighted in this film.  And what stories they have to tell.

Every Day is a Bonus.  This phrase was coined by PFC Joe Demler a/k/a the Human Skeleton, pictured above, who was captured by enemy forces during the Battle of the Bulge.  I won't be so presumptuous as to tell his story, but suffice it to say that he was in attendance at Miller Park for the event to honor his service.  I thank you sir.

And then there was Harvey Kurz.  A loveable, prolific flirt who nonetheless is madly in love with his wife, this brave man fought at Iwo Jima.  And yet he does not think of himself as a hero.  In his words, the ones who didn't come back are heroes.  Word to Harvey - YOU are a hero.

There were several others profiled in the film.  You can't help but fall in love with these men.  In their eyes, their country called them up, they did their duty, and then returned home to resume their lives.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Their humility is astounding.  They really do NOT understand our gratitude for guaranteeing every one of, me, our parents, our children, our grandchildren, and on and on and on - the freedoms that we take for granted in this beautiful country.  It was their sacrifice that allowed us to live in freedom.  They truly are the greatest generation.

My friends - I've never experienced anything like the atmosphere that enveloped Miller Park on Saturday.  When the Color Guard came out, there were 28,000+ in the stadium and yet you could have heard a pin drop.  It was an atmosphere of complete and total awe and respect.

I suppose I could go on and on about the experience, but unless you were there, you really won't get it.  I just want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of those who made this event possible.  I urge all of you to see the move Honor Flight...not only will you not be disappointed, I dare say you won't be the same after.  I seriously doubt there was a dry eye in the stadium...before, during or after the movie.

And most of all, a heartfelt thank you to the WWII vets, and those who have served and continue to serve this great country.  There are no words to express my gratitude to you.  You are ALL heroes.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fast Food Farce

I didn’t think I was going to post on this issue, but I simply had to vent. I won’t be including links in this post because this is merely an opinion piece. This whole Chick-fil-A business has, in my opinion, gotten out of hand.

Racine has Southeastern Wisconsin’s only Chick-fil-A restaurant which is located in Regency Mall. I normally don’t patronize the establishment because 1) I don’t do malls, and 2) if I’m having fast food for lunch it usually involves a drive-thru. On August 1, however, I got my butt in gear and went to the mall to participate in the Chick-fil-A appreciation event. I stood in line for 45 minutes for a yummy chicken sandwich and waffle fries.

Now, many would have you believe that this was an anti-gay movement. Others would have you believe that it was a stand against same sex marriage. While that may be true for some, it had nothing whatsoever to do with why I and many of those I spoke to were there. For me, and for those around me, this was about supporting the First Amendment protection of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Sure there were some ignorant bigots amongst the hundreds and hundreds of people standing in line. Overall, it was a very friendly bunch of people who were supporting one man’s first amendment rights.

Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, said in an interview that he believes in the biblical definition of marriage. He most certainly has the right to believe what he wants, and to express those beliefs. If you don’t like it, don’t patronize the restaurants. Easy, right? Well, not so much. In a knee jerk reaction to Mr. Cathy expressing his views (which were well known for quite some time), politicians across the country decided to spout off and state that they would do what they could to (illegally) ban franchises from opening up in their city/district/ward.

Think about that friends. A person in authority deciding that because he/she doesn’t agree with someone else’s beliefs, they will “punish” the offender. That’s quite frightening and doesn’t sound like the United States of America I know and love. Not only that, these are privately owned franchises. Is it okay to make one individual suffer because of the words of another?

I understand that various LGBT groups are staging a “counter protest” today – they’re calling it a kiss-in. To those participating I say this…if it’s as peaceful and courteous as the appreciation day was, more power to you.