Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Salute to Heroes

It was seven years ago today when tragedy struck America in the form of airplanes being flown into New York city and Washington, D.C.  On that day, the United States was under attack from an enemy few of us saw as much of a threat, but when the dust had settled we had losses of several thousand people.

While September 11 will live on as a day of tragedy, it was also a day of hope.  What was caused by the worst in people also brought out the best in them.  Many of those who lost their lives that day did so while helping others.  While there were many victims on that horrible day, there were also a great many heroes.

In the days and weeks following the incident, we stopped losing victims, but the heroes kept showing themselves.  Certainly running into a burning building to save others is heroic, but heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and show themselves in a great many ways.  Reaching out to those who lost loved ones is heroic.  Holding concerts to raise money for the survivors is heroic, and even making contributions to help out is heroic.

Our nation came together in a way few of us can recall seeing this country do, and the heroes rose to the surface.  Men, women and children across this land joined their fellow Americans to help out in any way they could, and their heroism should be remembered as well.

I would like to suggest that henceforth September 11 be known as National Heroes Day.  This day will commemorate those heroes of September 11, but also all American heroes, in every generation.  Heroes deserve to be honored, and we should set time aside to say thank you to those people who are heroes every day.

Heroes can be glorious, as the firefighter rushing out of a burning building holding a small child, but they can also be the school teacher who takes the time to work with a student and make the difference between that child going on to college, or dropping out of school.  The nurse at the hospital who takes the time to comfort the patient who is in pain and creating an unpleasant atmosphere for the other patients is a hero.  The local minister who comforts his parishioners when they lose a loved one is just as heroic.  Heroes are born out of love and compassion, and they are truly heroic when that love is expressed to someone they have never met.

There are heroes among us.  We should honor them, for in that honor, we encourage others to let the hero within shine forth.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Is Palin the Best Choice for Vice President?

According to Karl Rove, the person who runs for vice president of this country must not be a person whose only experience is as mayor of a small city and less than one term in office as a governor.  Oddly enough, he was not speaking about Sarah Palin.  He made these statements on "Face the Nation" on Sunday, August 10, 2008 while explaining why Tim Kaine (Governor of Virginia) would not be experienced enough to be the Vice President should Obama have selected him.

So, how does he explain John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin, who was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska before becoming governor of the state, without sounding like a hypocrite?

I think I just answered my own question.

Is Palin the best choice?  Look at her record.  She was mayor of a town of 5,000 that has now grown to nearly 10,000 people.  Growth is indicative of progress, and progress is good.  Right?  More people means more homes, more businesses, more jobs and a better economy.  

It also means fewer trees, an impact on the environment, loss of shelter for wildlife, more pollution and increased crime.  Growth doesn't always mean progress.

During her term as mayor, she approached a local librarian about the idea of banning certain books.  The story is murky, but what appears to be clear is that the librarian refused and was fired, but a backlash in the community forced Palin to re-hire the woman.  The librarian later resigned on her own, and moved out of the town.  While the story ended without the books being banned, isn't attempted censorship still a threat?  If not, does the term "Freedom of Speech" ring a bell?

Also as mayor, Palin issued an order that no one employed by the city was allowed to speak with the press without first clearing it with her.  This not only violates their rights to freedom of speech, but another founding tenet of our nation, the idea of freedom of the press.  Perhaps Palin didn't study history when she was growing up in the frontier.

She was also apparently a member of a group that supported the idea of succession of Alaska from the Union, so when she speaks about this great country, she's not being very sincere.

When Palin left the job of mayor, she left behind $20 million in long-term debt that the residents of the small city will be paying for many years.  How progressive is that?  In all fairness, they did get a nice ice rink, and since she proudly admits to being a "hockey mom" that must have been very important.  To her, at least.

As governor of Alaska she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but then she states that she's against Big Oil.  Those two positions don't work together, but I don't think she's figured that out yet.  Drilling will also jeopardize the wildlife in that area, but she's against polar bears being on the endangered species list, so that's not an issue.  For her.

Perhaps the most disturbing allegation against her is her abuse of power.  She is currently under investigation for firing Safety Director Walter Monegan after he refused to dismiss Trooper Mike Wooten.  Wooten is divorced from Palin's sister, Molly.  The results of the investigation are due by October 31, 2008.  For a candidate who is supposed to be a "maverick" and someone who will change Washington, she certainly sounds an awful lot like the guy who has the job right now.

Palin is anti-choice and anti-abortion.  She is a proponent of abstinence, yet her 17-year-old daughter is now pregnant.  This clearly demonstrates to me that a) abstinence does not work, and b) a woman who chooses to have a child needs to be a mother to that child.  Perhaps if Sarah had guided her child (meaning spent more time with her daughter and less time trying to fire her daughter's uncle), her daughter wouldn't be in this condition.

Palin also brags about her blessing from God in the form of a child with Down Syndrome, yet at five-months-old the child is left in the care of a nanny because once again, motherhood is secondary to a political career.  I'm not saying that a woman can't be both a mother and a politician.  Hillary Clinton has done both, and done both very well.  Hillary spent time with her daughter when the child needed her mother.  Sarah seems more driven with her own ambitions than with the needs of her children.  

Is that the sort of person we want as second in command of our country?