Remembering with Pride and Prejudiced
Remember the names, Lexington, Bunker Hill, New Orleans, Veracruz, Gettysburg. We must remember all those who gave the last full measure of devotion. Remember all those who went into battle whole and came out bearing the disabling wounds of valor. Remember the awards earned on the battle field in the face of great odds after being disabled by the rage of the enemies of freedom.
Remember Little Bighorn, San Juan Hill, Manila Bay, Belleau Wood, Flanders. Remember all those who stood up for the rest of us yet to be born into the privilege of freedom. Read the histories and remember the millions who came home disabled by war, but with pride in what they had done for freedoms cause.
We must never forget the debt we can never repay to the makers and defenders of our life liberty and pursuit of happiness. This land of the free has proven itself truly the home of the brave. How many citations express, “having been wounded several times and against all odds the officer held off the charge of the enemy saving his platoon.” Time and time again with disabling wounds American courage has come through despite disability.
Remember Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, Corregidor, Midway, Anzio, Normandy. From the time of the three-cornered hat to the modern advanced combat helmet it is the bravery and determination of the minds and hearts that wore them that has kept freedom’s flame alive around the world. Many have faced untold terrors in battle both physically and mentally disabling, only to come through to ultimate victory.
Remember the Pusan perimeter, Pork Chop Hill, the Tonkin Gulf, Tet offensive, Saigon. When there is disaster, terrorism, or the spread of oppression in the world it is America that has stood up and our bravest that have held the moral high ground. Have we been wrong? Yes, but never has it been the fault of those who carry the flag.
Remember the earth quakes, floods, disease, famine and other natural disasters that have been alleviated by the dedication of Americans serving the red, white and blue. When wrong they stand up even when our political leadership can often not find it in themselves to do the same.
Remember the USS Maine, USS Arizona, USS Pueblo, USS Thresher, USS Stark, USS Cole. Remember all our brave ships and those who sail them into harm’s way. Remember the countless sailors who have gone down to the sea in ships to defend freedom only to find themselves on that eternal patrol. Remember those who have returned with hooks for hands and wood for legs, with patches over one eye as lasting memorials to their bravery.
Remember the B-17 flying fortress, P-51 Mustang B-52 Stratofortress, F-104 Starfighter, F-14 Tomcat, B-2 Spirit, F-117 Nighthawk, and the thousands who flew them into history. Remember the endless mission’s day after day. Remember those who returned and those who did not. Remember all that risked and sacrificed life and limb in the sky for us.
Remember the M4 Sherman, M48 Patton, M1A Abrams, tanks and all those who crew them. Those whose personal Steele is tougher than their tanks. Remember the weapons of war that are nothing without the patriots that take them into battle. Remember Rosy the riveter and all those who work to put the tools of victory in the right hands at the right time. Remember all those who serve in and out of uniform to defend freedom.
Remember Granada, the first Gulf war, The embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Remember September 11, 2001. Remember the first responders who gave all to save lives. The spirit of our great nation was tested, and we responded like only a free people can. Remember the best and bravest who stepped up and have served their country in this time of continuing war on terrorism.
Remember Afghanistan, Iraq and the countless battles with no name between Lexington and Afghanistan where Americans stood their ground against all odds. Remember the millions who have paid for our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Remember the families who have served by enduring the death and disability of their loved ones.
As we remember the past we must also look forward to safeguarding the freedom of future generations of Americans. Throughout our history great feats of valor have been accomplished after heroes were disabled by wounds on the battlefield. Today the military is changing and becoming more technology driven. Are there not places for people with disabilities able to serve their nation in jobs because of that technology? We are patriots like everyone else.
The bravest among us who have proven that disabilities earned on the battlefield are not impediments to their ability to fight and complete their mission, have also proven that people with disabilities can and should serve in uniform where appropriate. The Pentagon itself has begone to recognize this by keeping several troops in uniform after being disabled while serving. The technology of today and tomorrow provides many opportunities for people with various disabilities to serve in various roles.
Many young people with disabilities are just as smart, motivated and patriotic as their none disabled counterparts. They are not seeking wheelchair accessible fighter planes, tanks or submarines. They are seeking to fill roles that make sense. Many of today’s technology driven jobs are necessarily sedentary and could be filled by people with many different types of disabilities.
As we pay tribute to those who have stood up for us in the past and do still today, perhaps it is time to look forward to those who can be just as much a part of our nation’s defense despite their wheelchair, blindness, deafness, or other disability. There are some who will say the military is not a place for social movements or that such a thing will disrupt the unit and be counter to good order and discipline. The same things were said about women and African-Americans. Guess what, the unit changed and adapted. In this case it will again. God bless all those who serve and their families. We remember with pride and hope that the prejudiced of the past will not prevent people with disabilities from serving their country in the future.
Douglas George Towne
Chair/Chief Executive Officer – Access Ready Inc.