Friday, January 23, 2009

A Modest Proposal

***Author's Note: This is non-tri-related, but it is also non-political. So, whatever your politics, never fear. I encourage you to read all the way to the end, even if (like me) you did not give your vote to President Obama.***

"As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. * * * [A]t this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

* * *
"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world . . . ."

Recognize these words? High minded words, no doubt. And given that words are the tools I use daily for my job, I have a good deal of admiration for the craft in how they were put together, the structure, rhythm, and tone calculated to elicit some response in the hearer.

That appreciation, however, can lead me to be really cynical about rhetoric. If you are able to look behind the stagecraft, the "suspension of disbelief" required to enjoy the theater falls away. Sometimes all you can see -- all I can see -- is scenery--very cleverly designed and beautifully executed scenery, but paint and wood and lighting nonetheless.

And as high-minded as good words can be, words without concrete action are just that--really pretty scenery. But, I came across something the other day on NPR that could provide a very concrete way to put hands and feet and actions on the stage to make something real. I offer this modest proposal to you and encourage you to consider whether you might make it a part of your "responsibility" or sense of "duty."

We all know and have heard about the needs of injured veterans and the manner in which the Veterans Administration and military hospitals fall short of meeting those needs. Whatever our politics, we bemoan those shortcomings, and we all say we "support the troops." Again, nice words. Pretty scenery. What do we do?

NPR did a story concerning a website,, where veterans' requests for assistance are vetted and posted. You can go online, and instead of giving money to an organization that then decides how to spend it, you meet the real needs of a real person whom you select. Many of these needs are quite humble and easily met for those of us fortunate to have employment--replacing groceries when the refrigerator breaks, a new washing machine, a sofabed, a rent payment. Even if they required more money than you can individually sacrifice, one could easily combine with coworkers and periodically commit to meet the need of one person on the site. Think of it as "the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break."

Team Greyhound is making this our particular mission. At least once each quarter, we will go online as a family, and together we will pick one veteran in need. We will meet that need, and we will do so in honor of Lt. Manda Rogers, U.S.M. C., our closest acquaintance who receives our letters and care packages and who serves our nation in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Would you join us, however often and in whatever way you can? It's pretty easy. And it's real, both for you and for the veterans who have put themselves in harm's way for the country. Please, give it your honest consideration, and jump in with some of your friends if you feel called to respond.

"Let it be told to the future world...
that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...
that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

We now return you to our regularly scheduled triathlon blog.


Jumper 2.0 said...

Thanks for sharing that. Not only will I accept this proposal but I plan on sending the link to many friends and family!

Curly Su said...

awesome, I'm impressed...

AND (forgive me, I can't help it) - he's pretty damn effective, even if it is just words - any way that someone can get us off our butts to help other people is just fine by me.

My mom volunteered all of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - she's a good person, but I've never known her to do that before - our new president is amazing in being able to motivate people... which is probably your point... :)

Fe-lady said...

A ilfetime of service to others can truly be rewarding.
I guess I am glad people are finally listening....but why did it take so long for some?

I plan to do more with CAF, specifically Operation Rebound this year- getting injured vets into sports.

Love this cause too.

Nytro said...

great post. thanks for the heads up.

although i'm still shocked that you listen to NPR. SHOCKED, I SAY!

Calyx Meredith said...

Thank you. I missed that story on NPR and truly appreciate knowing about such a direct way to contribute to the larger picture.

Danielle in Iowa said...

Thanks for the link! Although I was sad to see there was no one in Iowa! I'm pretty sure it can't be because we don't have veterans with needs here!

TriBoomer a.k.a. Brian said...

I listen to NPR in the morning while preparing to go my office. Usually, I hear the news stories, mentally process them, file them, and move on to the next item on my task list. But, when the story of, the man who started the organization, and the soldier who's only request was a washing machine, I had to listen. It arrested me.

Count me in putting my contributions to the cause.

Stay tuned...

Coach Tammy said...

Great post! And I am equally shocked that you listen to NPR. I've tried, but they are just too sing-song in their news and transitions. Now, Air America... that's where it's at! Hard hitting Liberals.. Ya!

I'll check the link and see what I can do in Tejas... if I can spend student loan money on Ironman, I can certainly spend some on this.

Supalinds said...

Fantastic post. I'm there with you!