After hearing the disturbing news from Spokane of WWII Vet Delbert Belton (Shorty), being beaten to death by two cowardly young men, ( I will not use the two murderers’ names in my column because they deserve no such honor) it got me thinking of the lack of respect we give our veterans, or should I say heros.
I personally have had both my grandfathers in the service and four uncles. My wife had one grandfather, two uncles and currently has a cousin serving overseas. I have numerous friends that have served or still serve in all branches, and our son is now looking into serving.
Heros. All of them. Jerry Beierman comes to mind. Why, you ask? Because recently someone has been disgracing his home. Poisoning his garden. I can not imagine the audacity that someone must have. To go to this house, with patriotic flags and banners honoring veterans, and disgrace not only Jerry but those veterans represented on his fence. Not only that, do you know that most of the vegetables that are grown in his dirt go to homes that need them? Jerry is a hero; he will never admit that to anyone, but he is. Just like every other man and woman who swore in to protect this country, putting on a uniform that almost guarantees that you will be a target in one way or another. For my freedom and yours.
To top it all off, the Veterans Hospitals seem to be all screwed up, too. I have heard lots and lots of horror stories about sub par service. Long, long waiting periods. Also, most veterans must travel a long way to receive this poor service. This is not how we should treat our heros. A recent survey in USA Today claims that 68 percent of the homeless in California, Seattle and New York are veterans. This again is no way to treat our heros.
Our local school district does an outstanding job of honoring the men and women of the armed forces during Veterans Day. Our local volunteers also do one of the most beautiful tributes you will see in the nation when they hold the Isle of Flags dedication and memorial. We also as a community seem to honor these heros every year at Colorama as we watch the parade go down the road. But I don’t think we do enough.
Every day we take for granted what these heros have done and are doing for us and for others. We have the right to vote, we have the right to go to school, we have the right to chase our dreams, we have the right to complain, we have freedom of religion, freedom of press, and, yes, even the freedom to write this column.
Blood, sweat and tears were left on battle fields and in ocean waters and even on our home soil so we can be free to do just about anything we want too. And yes, part of that freedom gives two monsters the freedom to walk up to a hero sitting in his car and beat him to death. Did they know who he was? Does it matter?
Shorty was a hero for our country. Just like Jerry is, and Grandpa Utz and Grandpa Nessly were. Just like the thousands around the world are. Heros. So what can we do better? First off give them your gratitude and respect. Thank them every chance you get. Support them in every endeavor. And respect the freedom you have been given. Thank you to all vets.