Every home game during one of the breaks between innings, the Cubs and White Sox honor a member of the military and introduce him or her to the crowd. The fans in attendance stand in unison and virtually everyone applauds enthusiastically.
I hate to admit it, but this scene gets me angry every time.
Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, it’s not the tribute to the troops that bothers me. No, our soldiers deserve to be applauded and saluted and it’s great that both of Chicago’s major league baseball teams take time to do so.
What bothers me is that many of the people in the crowds believe standing and cheering is a sufficient tribute – and the end of their obligation to the troops. Those same people are unconcerned that many of the soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t getting the medical and psychological help they need.
In many respects, those people are phony patriots – like the hypocrites in Congress who are mad as hell about reports that soldiers have died awaiting care at V.A. hospitals but who failed to fund the V.A. at levels necessary to adequately care for all the soldiers in need.
My point is simple: Standing and cheering as a military member is introduced at a ballgame is great, but that’s not the best way to honor them.
If you have the means, donating to a worthy charity focused on struggling ex-soldiers would be a way to make a difference. But there are ways to help even if you can’t afford to make a monetary donation.
The easiest way is by using your voice and vote to make sure the government takes care of the troops. If it falls short, let’s hold the politicians responsible accountable. It may seem an overwhelming task, but if everyone standing and applauding at the ballparks joined forces, it won’t be.
Memorial Day, which is less than a week away, isn't a holiday intended to signal the unofficial start of summer. It's a holiday to remember the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. You can honor them by making sure the ones who make it back receive the care they need.
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The following video is of a salute to the troops at Yankee Stadium during the seventh-inning stretch:
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