Shortchanging our Nation's Brave: Bush's empty handshake to veterans for
By Vincent L. Guarisco, June 1, 2004
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless,
whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or
the holy name of liberty or democracy? ~~ Mahatma Gandhi (1869 - 1948)
On Memorial Day, I flipped on the TV just in time to catch President George
Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield bellying up to the podium to
give their speeches at the beautiful and somber Arlington National Cemetery.
For the first time in my life, I watched a Memorial Day service with a
growing sense of anger -- even outrage.
I am outraged because those who fought so bravely and paid the ultimate
price of war deserve, as a minimum, a decent show of honor and respect --
from decent and honorable men. How could these two warmongers stand before
our revered dead and give them fleeting lip service while paying each other
simpering tributes for waging a bloody war based wholly on lies? Thanks to
Bush and Rumsfeld, more than 900 coalition troops -- 816 of them US citizens
-- have fallen into the Iraqi quagmire, and more are being destroyed every
"It's my honor to introduce one who has worked tirelessly and boldly to
defend our freedom and to keep the lamp of liberty burning brightly for us
and for the world," Rumsfeld crowed. "Thank you for your great leadership
as secretary of defense for our country," Bush countered lovingly.
Yet, two days before, Rumsfeld told West Point graduates that they ain't
seen nothing yet -- that the war on terror was just beginning. And, just
hours before heading to the Arlington Cemetery, Bush proudly announced he
was going to cut veteran's health care funding if he is reelected. It is
outrageous for these two to have been allowed to palm the microphone in the
presence of those we honor. Our nation was gravely dishonored by their
It is numbing to realize that in the entire history of this country we have
never borne witness to a more empirically reckless, deadly uncaring
administration so out of touch with its military and civilian needs. As
their lips moved with empty words and false promises, I could not help but
feel sorrow for those aging veterans who attended this monumental event
(perhaps their last) who so richly deserved an inspirational, impassioned,
philosophical tribute to forever engrave their honored sacrifice in the
pages of history. As I looked out across those neat rows of simple white
crosses, I was reminded of the words of Voltaire -- "To the living we owe
respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth."
Our heroes, both dead and alive, deserve more than Rumsfeld's trifling
introduction of Bush -- a rambling mish-mash of worthless rhetoric. They
deserve more than a commander-in-chief who is little more than a village
idiot swaggering up to arrogantly lecture them about courage, honor and
sacrifice! Empty words spoken without substance, uttered by a foolish
coward who never risked anything a single day in his entire pampered life.
Prop-time is now over and the piper is calling this war president, who is
too busy with far more important things than attending a single funeral of
those he pretends to mourn, back to the White House. There is much work to
be done. Veterans hospitals must be closed, health care for veterans must
be slashed, Section 8 housing funds must be denied which will drive many
veterans into the streets...It's back to the drawing board to make a future
D.C. monument necessary for Operation Enduring Freedom!
Remember this -- just like Pearl Harbor, this administration's heartless
cuts to veteran's health care and benefits will also live in infamy. If
George Bush is reelected in November, we will see budget bestiality at its
worst -- an act of sodomy inflicted on all veterans who served honorably --
unlike Bush, who got a cushy stateside National Guard position arranged by
Every day should be Memorial Day in rememberance of those who died so that
we can be free from tyrants like those currently in control of this great
nation. I choose to honor my veterans -- especially those like my father
who fought in World War II -- by drawing public attention to the many
injustices being committed against American men and women who serve in
uniform. Outlined below are just a few of the many issues that need to be
As unscrupulous as it may seem, in January 2004 the Bush administration and
Republican congress applied pressure on Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony
J. Principi to drastically cut the budget. He maliciously obliged by
"immediately cutting off their access to the VA health care system for
164,000 (or more) veterans expected to enroll in the VA system during the
current fiscal year. Those with annual incomes of $30,000 to $35,000 or
higher, are now considered "higher incomes," and will be categorically
denied access to benefits.
And, the White House recently announced plans to roll back modest increases
in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation
allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones,
while they "jack up the amount military retirees and some veterans pay for
As the war drum continues to beat in Iraq, the White House also continues to
give no-bid contracts to Vice President Cheney's former company Halliburton,
even as the company has been admonished for over-charging for meals,
charging for meals not served, and for feeding troops unsanitary food.
Adding insult to injury, Bush failed to provide soldiers with adequate body
armor and reinforced Humvees. Currently, the White House has not requested
funding to immediately plug serious funding gaps for armor, helmets and
other protective equipment needed by military commanders. And the
consequences have been severe: According to Newsweek, a new study
circulating in the Army says the lack of equipment may have contributed to
one out of every four American casualties in Iraq.
The White House also announced it was "formally opposing a proposal to give
National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon's health insurance
system" even though "a recent General Accounting Office report estimated
that one out of every five Guard members has no health insurance at all.
Last year, only a month before the president sent troops into combat in
Iraq, the White House proposed cutting $1.5 billion out of funding for
military housing. The proposed cut came even as top conservatives on the
House Armed Services Committee concluded that thousands of military families
were living "in decrepit and dilapidated military housing." In response,
progressive lawmakers offered an amendment to restore $1 billion in funding.
The amendment would be paid for by slightly reducing the new tax cuts the
president was proposing to give to the 200,000 Americans making more than $1
million. Instead of receiving a tax cut of $88,000, these millionaires would
receive a tax cut of $83,000. With White House backing, House conservatives
voted the legislation down.
Bush loves to spout the he receives special instructions from the Lord on
who to attack and wage war against. Perhaps Bush's ego will be satisfied
only when his self-serving war has produced more gold stars than those that
just sparkled in his eyes at Arlington National Cemetery. Maybe so, but God
Himself will have to build the next one for him; because after fighting
World War III, there will be no one left other then Him to do so.
On Election Day, remember who did all of these things...
Vincent L Guarisco is a freelance writer from Bullhead City, Arizona, a
contributing writer for many web sites, and a lifetime member of the
Alliance of Atomic Veterans. Reprint permission is given as long as article
content is not altered or changed and credit is given to the author. Replies
welcomed at: email@example.com
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