Memorial Day Should be Outlawed

This is a repost from May 30, 2010:

Instead, Every Day the American public should express thanks to our veterans and soldiers.  If we were more caring and appreciative on a daily basis instead of squeezing our thanks in between a cold beer and a softball game, NASCAR race or Bolder Boulder on our day off, then perhaps veterans would be more honest with us about their experience and the stress they are dealing with each day.

Viet Nam Memorial WallWhat is it that is capturing their souls and leading our soldiers to commit suicide in record numbers? In the past five years the suicide rate among soldiers was the highest since 1980 when they were first recorded.

Military suicides make up 20% of all suicides in the US.  And for every death, five members of the armed forces tried to take their lives and were hospitalized instead.

The government is trying to stem this human exodus and is deploying mental health experts to work with the returning soldiers and their families.  In the beginning, when a soldier was deployed, he or she had the support of family back home. However, as the deployments were extended and increased, the support back home began to have their own mental health issues.

For the families left behind dealing with their own anxieties, running the household, making ends meet, parenting their children, holding down a job and fearing for the safety of their loved one, they may not have the strength to offer the support and hope to their spouse that they once had. They may be seeking mental health help for themselves, taking meds and antidepressants and trying to get support for their children.

In addition to being away from home, fighting a war that doesn’t end, with no actual date of return … these soldiers are learning about the stress they’ve put their family under. So to help out, they share less. They communicate less. They take the burden off the family back home as a way to protect them and hold it all inside.

And when they return home – they are wounded. Some are wounded on the outside, others on the inside and many suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder is commonly found in people who have lived through a traumatic event that caused them fear, stress and a sense of helplessness. They live in a cycle of despair. And for those who are killed in action? What sort of grief counseling is available? Their biggest fears have unfolded and besides their family circle, they are alone.

In Canada, according to my blogging friend Rebekah, there is a stretch of highway from Trenton, Ontario to Toronto, Ontario called the Highway of Heroes.

Highway of Heroes in Canada

This route is used to transport the bodies of soldiers and where citizens line the road to pay their last  respects. This Highway of Heroes is a public statement that shouts ” Thank You”  for all you’ve done.

It is a fitting tribute for the family and a good way for the community to join together to show support and appreciation.

I’d rather not have any more deployed soldiers, stressed out families, military suicides or war.  Until that changes, let’s find the support for these families and not leave them in pain.

Memorial Day Awakening

Memorial Day
Image by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

Growing up I remember sitting in front of the television, watching Fred Hilligues tell us about another offensive, another wave of soldiers who died in Viet Nam. In those days, we all watched the news. We all knew where our brothers and neighbors and cousins were deployed. We all prayed. We all believe in our government.

That gradually changed.

Our boys did not come home.

The government did not welcome them, receive them or recognize them.

We started counting the dead.

Parents stopped believing in their government and their children followed suit.

We stopped praying.

We understood the war was a political event and our dead were the price we paid.

Today, when a solider dies, they are called “Troops”. Six US troops died today. A troop is an elusive entity. In reality, six young men died today. The government had to find a way to make the public forget that the dead were our boys and girls.

Over 51,000 soldiers died in Viet Nam.
The causality count in Iraq since 2003 is more than 100,000.

I believe we must honor those who have died for our country AND I believe we must question why any more of our young are sent into battle.

Viet Nam Veterans Memorial–

Oprah …

Oprah Winfrey invites Ellen DeGeneres to share...
Image by stevegarfield via Flickr

I’d like to say that she was born with a golden spoon in her mouth and had advantages that I never had… however she came from a humble background with limited resources.  She created a place for herself and the world followed along.

If she promoted a book, an ice cream, a fitness routine, a diet regimen or anything that she loved – the  Oprah stamp of approval made the product fly off the shelf. If she was against something, the world knew about that as well.

Oprah talked to us about weight issues, drug addiction, pedophiles, child abuse, books, movies, food issues and so much more. She interviewed celebrities, created a book club, helped others get their own shows (Dr. Oz, Dr.Phil, Rachael Ray), she put people through college,  reminded us about the power of our thoughts, helped  students get an education and took us along for the ride.

And then there were some shows where it was Christmas in the audience and the viewers walked away with thousands of dollars’ worth of products.  How come I was never one of those attendees?

Each show gave us a kernel of wisdom.  Sometimes we were the student and eager to learn and listen. Other times we weren’t ready to hear the words and for many of the episodes, we were the teacher …having lived the lesson and nodding along as we listened to others share their tales.

So, this iconic woman is stepping down from this role and entering a new world at her Oprah Winfrey Network. She is ready to move on.

And she hands over the blank canvas to us. To me. With all the paint, glue, paper, rocks, sticks and tools I need to create anything I want…

Thanks Oprah, you rock!

Mesa Verde Awaits You

Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park, Colo...
Image via Wikipedia

Another place to visit in Colorado is Mesa Verde National Park. This area was designated a national park in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt as a way to preserve the works of man. The ‘works of man ‘ at this park have been discovered, uncovered and protected since then.

Mesa Verde has cliff dwellings that were once home to over 24 Indian tribes and finally abandoned in the 1200’s. When you walk around this sacred park, it’s easy to conger up how it may have looked so long ago.

The park protects over 4000 archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings.  The red cliffs, mesa top pueblos, farming terraces, towers and reservoirs are reminders of a progressive and powerful lifestyle.

You can take tours to see some of the dwellings and hear more about the lives these Native American Indians lived and why they eventually left.

Mesa Verde History

The Ultimate Road Trip

Uncompahgre Gorge and Mount Abrams between Sil...
Uncompahgre Mountains via Wikipedia

The San Juan Skyway is called the ‘road to the sky’ and offers stunning views of the San Juan Mountains in all their glory.

The mountain range is home to many 14,000 ft. high mountain peaks, small towns, Indian pueblo ruins and hot springs.

To really see the sights, you must plan to spend 2-3 days along the way. Then you can relax, view the gorgeous surroundings and appreciate nature’s beauty.

Then you can send me that thank you postcard! Oh baby, you’re gonna love it!

National Forest: Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests, San Juan National Forest
Length: 233.0 mi / 375.0 km
Time to Allow: Five hours to drive or 1-2 days to experience the byway

Must Take This Tour

Recycling: Just Do It

Trash can and recycle bin.
Image via Wikipedia

In my neighborhood, our garbage removal service charges us extra if we want to use a recycle container. We can take our recycle items to our nearest town (about 10 miles away) or we can just toss plastic and newspaper in with the trash.

Here’s a great chance for our community to educate us on the benefits of recycling.
In the U.S.A., over 2.5 million plastic bottles are tossed each hour! Think about it – soda, milk, water and juice bottles along with plastic grocery bags, shopping bags and all that nasty packaging that surrounds most of the products we purchase.

All plastic can be recycled yet a mere fraction actually is.

Why not? Because when there is an additional cost tacked on to my trash bill, it’s easier to just  put the plastic and newspapers in the trash.

It takes me a few weeks to fill up my recycle bin and then to haul it into town – but I do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Now, if my trash service felt that way and educated us on why we should recycle and made it possible – imagine the impact it would make. One plastic bottle at a time … Imagine!

Aggressive Geese: Keep Walking

As you enter the Harmony Library in Fort Collins, you’re greeted with this sign.

Aggressive Geese: Keep Walking
Aggressive geese warning sign

The geese have a fenced off area that helps to separate us from them. But for those unaware –  these are not friendly geese and will bite you if you dare to approach them.

They’ll go away soon and the sign will come down (or will fall down!) and the path will be a mindless walkway once again.

It’s a common sign that’s been posted for the past few years … one that you don’t even notice any longer.
Aggressive Geese Warning sign
Funny how we can stop noticing something that is right in our face!

A Fresh Look

Irrigation ditch in Colorado

The next time you take a walk, bring a camera along and take photos as if you’re seeing it all for the first time. Get down on your knees and look up.  Look at the clouds, cars, traffic, cows, landscaping and houses.

Get a close up of everyday items… Fence posts, mailboxes, street signs and other everyday sights.

Click and share them.

I’m waiting …

wet morning

Stuck like glue

There was a time when I was stuck like glue to my family, our events, to any and every crisis, to our religion and dramas.

By leaving the place of birth and making Colorado home (over 35 years), the place I think of as home has disappeared. Gone are the grandparents, parents and siblings. Some died and some moved away. Gone is the home where you could always find a place to sleep, food to eat and usually a cigarette burning.

One pole on a dirt road in Mead ColoradoNow, to visit the folks means a trip to the cemetery and an afternoon of weeding and planting new flowers.

When I return to the old haunting grounds, it’s usually a feeling of wanting to return home, to Colorado that sits with me.

The wide open spaces, blue skies, sunshine, mountain views and peaceful feelings remind me that I am home.

Now, I’m stuck like glue to Colorado.