Today is Memorial, or Decoration Day, a day of pause begun decades ago for decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers.
The long weekend is now dominated by stores holding big sales, high school graduations, blockbuster movie openings, and the unofficial beginning of summer.
Today media outlets will provide us with beautiful photos of thousands of small flags doting the graves of the heroes buried in Arlington. The President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown and make some remarks. Local television will update viewers on local ceremonies at 6:00 and 11:00 tonight.
Before the day ends, our country will have 22 more veterans to mourn, soldiers whose lives where cut short due to their willingness to serve in our armed forces.
The United States spends billions on waging wars with no exit strategies. Our fighting forces are built on the backs of the poor, officers who tolerate sexual assault and intimidation, and military families who can’t afford to feed their children without food stamps.
Even worse, when our soldiers return, we fail to provide them with the services they need and deserve.
Our failure as a country is why 22 veterans will kill themselves before Memorial Day comes to an end. Twenty-two brave volunteers who came forward, and survived, will reach their breaking point today and succeed in ending their pain and agony. Twenty-two families, made up of parents, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, will begin preparations to bury their soldier.
Because there are war injuries we can’t see with our eyes, we fail to see them with our hearts.
Georgia’s Guns Everywhere law went into effect at 12:01 this morning. A few weeks ago I made some calls to businesses I frequent to find out if they would allow guns beginning today. A coffee shop I really like reacted like I was making a prank call. I doubled back today. They were honest and said they just didn’t know much about it, but would hustle now and get an answer back to me. They serve beer and wine, so they can’t stay on the fence on this one.
Alcohol and guns didn’t mix in Georgia, until now. Guns Everywhere means patrons at any establishment serving alcohol can bring a gun in, unless the business posts a sign telling patrons they can’t bring a gun in.
As of midnight last night, the Rosa M Tarbutton Memorial Library, a beautiful library in Washington County used by everyone in the community, will have to allow guns in the building. My county, like many others, can’t afford the additional security staff or detectors required to keep guns out of the building. All the county buildings in my community, with the exception of the courthouse, where they are adding additional staff for security, will have to allow citizens to bring guns inside.
The Georgia General Assembly and Governor Deal think we need more guns in public places but less funding for mental health services and public schools. Do legislators expect them to have a bake sale to cover their costs?
Being the President’s child in the White House can’t be easy. Now the NRA is dragging the Obama’s daughters into the politics of gun control by producing a web video criticizing the President as “elitist” because his daughters have security details at school.
Clearly the NRA is so desperate now that it resorted to using the President’s own children in its campaign to arm our society to the teeth with assault weapons and magazines.
The NRA is losing the grip it has had on Americans for too long. We don’t need assault rifles and we don’t need high-capacity ammo magazines. Finally citizens are saying it.
And we have to couple that with increasing the access to mental health services so that people who need care can get it before they reach a crisis. Our mental health care delivery system is not set up to help patients and families until they reach the breaking point.
Congress and state legislatures have the power to make it harder to get a gun. New York did it last night and Governor Andrew Cuomo said after signing the legislation, “We put rules in place that actually protect innocent people in society. That is what the State of New York is doing today. It says common sense can win and good people can win. And you can actually get government to work and get good things to happen. You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason and common sense.”
If Congress and state leaders won’t act, the President has Executive Authorities to make changes in gun ownership that Americans are calling for. He should use them.
Last night Lawrence O’Donnell reported on The Last Word that the NRA edited its video and took the Obama girls out of it during his broadcast. The NRA’s video begins at 2:00.
A Guilford friend, Bill Meikrantz, shared this thought yesterday while the “protect our rights to own more guns” chanting started and families began to mourn:
“What if, after a tragic shooting like the one in Aurora, we talked about mental health services rather than argued about gun control?”