More Jackson County Opinions...

JUNE 16, 2004


Column

By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
June 16, 2004

Willing to give up anything?
It is early Sunday morning, June 6. I am sitting on the deck, coffee cup in one hand, Sunday paper in the other.
So it is the 60th anniversary of D-Day. Has it really been 60 years since 150,000 American and foreign troops landed in Normandy? Was I just 20 years old? Unbelievable!
I continued to read Shelly Emling’s story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and came across this shocking sentence: “By the end of that day — June 6, 1944 — some 6,603 U.S. troops would be dead.”
And we worry that around 900 American servicemen and women have been killed since the war in Iraq began a little over a year ago. As well we should. One death, in any war anywhere in the world, diminishes all of humanity. But we do need to keep our wars in perspective.
President Bush and 16 other heads of state were on hand for the D-Day observance in Normandy. “These leaders are speaking emotionally about the sacrifices of that day to an audience that includes aging veterans of the battle,” wrote Ms. Emling.
(Sixteen million U.S. men and women were in uniform during World War II. They are dying at the rate of 1,056 a day. Only 4 million are still standing. How long will it be until the last one falls?)
One aging veteran who parachuted onto Normandy Beach 60 years ago and was on hand for the anniversary this year was Bob Davis. Mr. Davis, 83, said this could be the veterans’ “last hurrah.”
But the old soldier has a point to make before he fades away. “If there’s one thing I want folks to take away from this weekend, it’s that people made sacrifices back then that are unthinkable today. Nobody these days seems to know much about sacrifice, but it’s something that has to happen when your country is fighting for something.”
I didn’t know much about sacrifice in World War II until I got home and heard Mama and Daddy talk about how sugar and gasoline were rationed, how they saved bacon grease and empty toothpaste tubes, how they scoured the countryside for scrap metal, how every able bodied citizen gave blood on a regular basis, how they skimped on groceries to buy another war bond, how the women folks had to leave home for the munitions plant and shipyard. . . .
Is sacrifice missing from the present war? Weren’t we told in the beginning to go about our business and live our normal lives?
But for the men and women in the military, and the family members who worry about them night and day, where is the sacrifice? What have you sacrificed? Have you been asked to sacrifice anything? Me, neither.
Sacrifice — there are many definitions, but let’s keep it simple: “to give up something.”
There is one sacrifice that’s not quite that simple, or easy. Supreme sacrifice: “to give one’s life.”
Sitting on the deck, coffee cup empty, Sunday paper at my feet, my mind went back to May 31: Memorial Day, a legal holiday when we honor the men and women in our armed forces who made that supreme sacrifice. We observe it by sticking little American flags in the ground, decorating graves, placing flowers on monuments, and making speeches. I didn’t do any sticking, decorating, placing or speaking. Did you?
If we can believe the media, most Americans were running up and down the highways; flying all over the country; fishing, skiing and swimming in a lake somewhere; living it up at a theme park; barbecuing, picnicking, eating, drinking and getting fat at home; eating, drinking and getting fat at a baseball game; making a Memorial Day speech...
The war on terrorism continues apace.
Nothing’s rationed. We don’t need to save anything. We don’t need to give up anything. Run around. Fly high. Have fun. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow may be Code Orange and Attorney General John Ashcroft will ask us to be aware of our surroundings. Who has time for that foolishness?
Now it gets ridiculous. Or does it? I want you to join me in planning a D-Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Christmas, Easter, birthday, holiday, holy day, any day that includes a little sacrificing. What we give up we’ll give to the war effort or some other worthy cause, and then stand back and be amazed at the difference we are making.
First, don’t eat anything on this special day. Fast. If you don’t know about fasting, talk to a minister or look up “fast” in the dictionary.
Don’t go anywhere but to your job or your doctor, and don’t go to your doctor if you ain’t sick. Leave the car keys on the mantel.
Don’t buy anything today. Don’t buy anything tomorrow unless it was made in America. (There goes the giant box discount stores and here comes Mom and Pop. Hallelujah!)
Don’t bathe. We are in a severe drought. Is giving up just one bath too much to ask?
Don’t use any perfume, cologne or deodorant today. You ain’t smellin’ yet. Anyway, you smell better without that stuff than you do with it.
Don’t use any make-up. Look in the mirror and enjoy the way the Good Lord intended you to be. It’s hard to improve on that.
No television or radio today. Pick up one of the books that’s been lying around the house since Christmas.
Don’t even think about turning on the computer. Leave Cyberspace, get back down to earth, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
No air conditioning. Turn it off and get a feel for what our guys and gals are going through in Iraq.
If you are 18 to 24, out of high school but not in college, and don’t have a meaningful job, join the Marines. Leave your wheels, beer and girlfriends behind. Get in there with those poor inner city kids and rural farm boys and discover what a real man is like. (I doubt Junior will read this. He and his baby boomer parents aren’t communicating very well. Grandma, will you please give him the message? Thanks. And say hello to Grandpa.)
Quit running your mouth. Pray silently for our leaders and our troops; if you don’t pray, think hard.
If there’s any hate in you, give it up. Let the sunshine in. (Now that’ a sacrifice that gives back, big time!)
See what a difference we are making already? Why is it so tough for us to sacrifice — anything?
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

Jackson County Opinion Index

Column

By: Oscar Weinmeister
The Commerce News
June 16, 2004

Hoping To Cash In On Progress
I read a Dave Barry column once where he complained about having to pretend to be enthusiastic and proud every time his youngest potty-trainee had a success in the vicinity of the bathroom.
I’m sorry, but our 3-year-old Jack has just stopped wearing Pull-ups, and every time I hear his footsteps approach our toilet, I hear the sound of money staying in my bank account. With another one still in diapers for the foreseeable future, I’m getting genuinely enthusiastic and proud six to eight times a day now.
On top of that, in a couple of months, our younger son Turner will be moving from formula to milk. Cha-ching!
What will I do with the money? Well, this potty training thing is a pretty recent development, and I hadn’t made any long-term plans for what we’d be doing with the diaper/formula cash, because we thought if we put too much pressure on Jack, he might just hold out wearing those things until he made it to middle school, where his peers would pretty much handle things.
We developed this theory that pressure and potty training success are inversely related to each other by observing his behavior after asking him 12 times a day, “Hey, Jack. Do you want to try to pee pee in the potty? Mommy and Daddy will have to start saving for your college soon. Spiderman pees in the potty.” Jack invariably answered no to this line of questioning, and he resorted to screaming and kicking any time we picked him up within sight of a toilet, saying, “I don’t wanna do it! Noooooooo!”
So, here we are with this leprechaun’s pot of gold, so to speak, and we haven’t any idea how to spend it. My mind gravitates to fishing, generally speaking, but for some reason, I don’t think even a few months worth of training pants would add up to the cost of a Carolina Skiff with a four stroke outboard. For that, I’m going to have to wait until Turner’s been off formula for a quarter or two.
My wife Amy talked a lot about getting a nice slip cover for our couch until very recently, and so I’ve got to think that her silence is only a signal that the idea has progressed into the planning phase. Perhaps, like me, as she has walked past the bathroom, she has caught the whiff of financial opportunity breezing through the tiny hallways of our house.
Then again, there really is the whole college fund challenge. In 15 or so years, when we naively anticipate that Jack will be ready, the average annual tuition will probably be in the six-figure range. Not many retirement plans are going to stand up and perform under that kind of pressure.
If we’re going to be responsible adults, we’ll need to put some money where it’ll be safe, but also where it’ll grow, so we can at least be reasonably assured that we won’t have to put the house up in the name of higher education. It’s too late to buy Coke or Wal-Mart stock. They’ve either had their heyday or they’re too expensive for what you get.
We need to find something that’s in growing demand, that’ll always be needed by at least a significant segment of the population, something that has an out-of-sight profit margin for the manufacturer, and something targeted towards the youth, since everyone seems to be taking longer and longer to grow up these days.
I have it! We’ll put all that leftover diaper money into buying diaper stocks!
Oscar Weinmeister is the assistant administrator of BJC Medical Center. He lives in Commerce.


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