Thursday, November 12, 2009

New York City Veteran's Day perspective

New York City Veteran's Day perspective
By Carrie C.

I received several responses to my cynical posting yesterday about Veteran's Day hypocrites. You know, those who view the holiday as an opportunity to shop instead of taking some time to honor our veterans. My favorite response follows here and is from my friend Carrie C. Thank you Carrie for this.

Walter Haan,,

New York City Veterans Day perspective: (although I was disgusted to see Banana Republic decked out in its Christmas finery last night)

The NYC Veteran's Day Parade is staging and starting in Madison Park and all along 26th Street; so at 8am it was my coffee cart guy and a lot of cops! 8:30 the classic cars assembled, getting their final polishings on this crisp fall day, first day I could smell leaves in the air! By 9am the Harley's where rolling in, thundering so that our 7th floor skyscraper windows shook! By 9:30 the soldiers from the armory, one block away, started lining the streets and we, the Americans in the office, took off for downstairs to walk around the block and "get coffee."

We headed west on 26th past the gleaming cars and the huge Harley's, thanking our way through throngs of Veteran bikers, age range 40 - 80+, and assembling 1/69th Infantry (our neighbors on Lexington Avenue).

We walked through Madison Park, surrounded by marching bands of all branches and a huge number of ROTC and High School ROTC groups waiting to march. To avoid a line of Marines (in full dress blues) marching past and saluting the memorial statue on the west side of the park, we moved onto the grass to let them pass, only to find ourselves behind the stage on Broadway where the televised start of the parade speeches was under way.

An order was barked, words unclear but a drum roll started, fading out as the Star Spangled Banner started; in an eerie and awe inspiring moment the only sound we could hear, as we were surrounded, was a swoosh, if you will, of 1,000+ arms moving to salute formation. We were frozen momentarily, recovered and then put hands to heart as the entire park stood statue still; even the lone errant delivery guy sensed something was up and paused to look around before continuing on his way, albeit much more slowly.

The band leaders and company commanders began to organize their troops, groups to head out of the park to 5th Avenue. We decided to get out of their way (even in parade mode, being faced with 1,000+ soldiers is a bit, well gulp!) and returned to our office, with a last glimpse of the crowds of supporters, waving their flags and their "We love you!" banners. It was then I realized with pride why I love my city.

I planned to share a briefer encounter with you but I returned to your email and as I sat at my 7th floor desk, I was still able to hear the beating of the drums from 5th Avenue, not in my head but through the window! I felt it very necessary to let you know that while yes, today will be celebrated by a serious amount of hypocrites grabbing their discount junk off the shelves of Wal-Mart, in NYC we honor veterans today for the right reasons!

Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all who have served, their families and those who support them!

Thank you, Carrie.

Copyright 2009 by Walter Haan,,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Attention Veterans Day hypocrites: big sales today

By Walter Haan,,

Hey there, calling all Veterans Day hypocrites. Big sales today, many in honor of Veterans Day. Get out there and shop on the backs of veterans, those alive and dead, who gave you the opportunity to be callous and ignore them.

News flash: Kohls is starting its Christmas sales today on Veterans Day. Though the ads don't mention Veterans Day, the chain knows you're all hopped up to spend money today. So get out there and buy meaningless stuff. Speed past the local Veterans Cemetery to get there as fast as possible so you won't miss the big buys.

Or perhaps you'll be passing a VA Hospital or medical facility. I hope all those slow driving, elderly veterans don't get in your way as you speed off to Macy's or Wal-Mart. Ever visit a VA Hospital or medical facility? Stop in and see the veterans waiting to have blood drawn. Elderly men and women, some not dressed well, some not looking well, patiently and cheerfully waiting their turns. Staffs at VA medical facilities are professional, caring and kind to the veterans, among whom are suddenly appearing young people who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But you don't care about that. You care about a big sale on denims or blouses or sneakers which you call "cool boots."

You don't care about those who have served, just as long as it wasn't you or one of your family members. And that's why you won't support a draft in this country because, horror of all horrors, someone you care about might have to serve.

All day yesterday ABC Radio hyped that it was the 40th anniversary of the start of Sesame Street. This news was repeated all day, as if it was important in the scheme of things, like what happened last week at Fort Hood. Are you giving any thought to that while loading your basket in the toiletries aisle at CVS?

Happy Veterans Day all you hypocrites who at best give only lip service to veterans and their very real sacrifices. Copyright 2009 by Walter Haan,,