Last Saturday it was encouraging to see veterans of Carbon County come together for a special tribute to our troops and veterans during the "Show of Patriotism" rally in Palmerton. That event served as a kickoff to a number of Veterans Day activities, including today's program at the Josiah White Park in Jim Thorpe and the Carbon County Veterans Day Parade to be held Sunday afternoon in Lehighton.
Our oldest warriors - soldiers from the Greatest Generation of World War II - certainly deserve better than the treatment some received in Washington D.C. during the recent government shutdown. It was despicable to see barricades blocking access to their memorial. It was equally disgusting to learn that benefits were being withheld to grieving families who wanted to receive the remains of their loved ones returned to U.S. soil.
Thankfully, there are some patriotic Americans in the national spotlight who rise above the toxic politics of Washington. One is Gary Sinise, the award winning actor who nearly 20 years ago gave us that excellent performance as Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie "Forest Gump."
A dedicated veterans' rights activist and musician who raises funds and awareness through his Lt. Dan Band concerts and the Gary Sinise Foundation, he performs as many as 50 shows annually at military bases, charities and fundraisers. Sinise and his band support Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.
One of his concerts in Easton last year benefited Sgt. Adam Keys, who became a triple amputee from wounds suffered in Afghanistan. A friend of mine, Gary Robinson, was motivated to begin his own veterans foundation called The Patriot Soil Project, after meeting with Sinise during a concert in Tampa.
We're thankful to have patriotic citizens around us dedicated to serving our veterans. Here are the words of some prominent Americans from the past who made sure the sacrifices of veterans would not be forgotten:
• "The Nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten" - President Calvin Coolidge.
• "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace" - President George Washington.
•"Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don't have that problem" - President Ronald Reagan.
• "This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave - Elmer Davis, 20th century American journalist."
• "Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him" - Dwight D. Eisenhower.
• "In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot" - Mark Twain.
• "America's Veterans have served their country with the belief that democracy and freedom are ideals to be upheld around the world" - former Calif. Congressman John Doolittle.
• "America's veterans embody the ideals upon which America was founded more than 229 years ago" - Steve Buyer, former Ind. congressman.
• "We can't equate spending on veterans with spending on defense. Our strength is not just in the size of our defense budget, but in the size of our hearts, in the size of our gratitude for their sacrifice. And that's not just measured in words or gestures" - Jennifer Granholm, former Mich. governor.
By Jim Zbick