Archive for May, 2015

214 “Memorial Day – 2015”

Monday, May 25th, 2015

By Hetty Gray

# 214

May 25, 2015

“Memorial Day – 2015”

No American holiday is more important and less featured in our schools than Memorial Day. Not only do young children lack an understanding of its importance, but they also are limited to agenda-driven history in their textbooks. Why publishers and editors seek to dismantle history is an anathema to me. What’s more, it is very dangerous.

History is the best teacher. Its events provide critical benchmarks; “red flags” if you will, to warn us of what might come if we make decisions that mirror those among similar circumstances.

If you do not believe me, take the time to find a current textbook and compare it to one published in the 1950s. My husband and I have done it, and the comparison is startling. The glaring lapses should upset anyone who values patriotism and the value of history to a solid education.

Patriotism is a value learned and nurtured early in life. Those members whose ages span their 80s and 90s taught citizenship for my generation. Moreover, they exemplified it. They lived it. Our schools were busy with Poppy Day when we made posters featuring soldiers and sailors. We were taught how important they were and we revered them from an early age.

Our songbooks were full of the service hymns. To this day, I can do a pretty good job with the lyrics of the songs of the Army, Air Force, and Navy. We marched and sang carrying American flags. When was the last time you saw children doing that?

Yet, I worry that ours may have been the last generation to really learn about the sacrifices of those who served or supported the military of the United States. Clearly each military man or woman earned our highest respect. Many witnessed close friends die under the worst circumstances possible, yet few freely discussed their experiences.

I think that may be because pain endured in battle imbeds so deeply in the psyche that those who suffer inner scars are most reluctant to speak about them — even with spouses or children. I know from speaking with World War II families that few of their men or women came home and talked about what happened during that conflict. There was an unspoken understanding that there were some things you just did not ask. Those who returned were happy to have survived and their families knew that.

Today, as many of us travel to military cemeteries, place flags on headstones in community cemeteries, or attend public gatherings to honor our servicemen and women, we will take a moment to reflect on true sacrifice.

The seminal question, however, is what can each of us do to teach our children the critical importance of our military? Clearly, not everyone is cut out to serve, but those who do share a bond far different from the one shared among friends and coworkers.

I make it a point to thank every person I see wearing a military cap denoting service. A chance encounter might be in a retail store, at a restaurant, or simply passing on the street, but it does spark a reaction. To a person, the gesture inspires a smile and that little glint in the eye that is unmistakable. Someone cares. Do you? Remember, were it not for them, none of us could live or worship freely. Think about it.

213 – “Listen…”

Sunday, May 17th, 2015

By Hetty Gray

# 213

May 17, 2015


It is highly unusual for me to write on a Sunday and I do apologize for a three-week lapse in columns. However, in the wake of recent events, even this news “junkie” finds her usual enthusiasm for headlines and major stories diminished to the point of near exhaustion. Like many of you, I fear the apparent collapse of foreign policy and recognize the looming terrorist threat for what it is but feel helpless to remedy the situation.

Years ago, when cellular phones were just beginning to take over as everyday items for us as Americans; a television ad ran touting the performance of one cellular provider over another. You probably remember it.

The ad featured a person holding a cell phone and constantly asking if the person on the other end could hear him. Jocular as it was, it merits examination as the bell weather for what we face now.

For as much as my generation has trusted in our government’s ability to protect us as a people, attitudes are changing in response to a growing sense of insecurity. Our enemies are, unquestionably, among us. Absent uniforms or other visible identification, they threaten invisibly. This, above all other considerations, distinguishes them from any other enemy we have faced in the past.

Oh, there were Germans who pretended to be Yanks dispersed among our troops in Europe during World War II; but even they were tripped up by our vernacular. Army issue uniforms did them no good. You see, with no exposure to American slang, the Nazi impostors fell victim to their training. Even good American accents could not disguise their lack of knowledge.

To a great degree, our leaders suffer from the same malady and we are at risk for their blatant ignorance of how serious a threat we really face. Every day, we awake to messages reminiscent of those espoused by Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich in the 1930s and 1940s. World domination was his dream then and it is the Muslim terrorists’ dream today.

Clearly, we should take the speeches of Tehran as truth, word for word. When Iran’s Supreme Leader asks for followers to launch worldwide jihad, perhaps he takes a page from the Madison Avenue playbook of the cellular provider.

After all, he is asking the same question. “Can you hear me now?” Can we? Think about it.

212 – “Staying Connected” April 16, 2015

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

By Hetty Gray

# 212

“Staying connected…”

April 16, 2015

The other evening I happened to overhear a young person (twenties perhaps…) discussing the upcoming presidential election process. The lack of knowledge not only shocked me, but it also frightened me.

I remember how excited I was to reach the age of twenty-one so that I could vote. Today, that age has dropped to eighteen — more in line with the age at which our young people can serve their country.

Civics was taught when I was in high school over fifty years ago, but the emphasis was on the process and the importance of being informed. None of our teachers expressed any particular opinion on party or candidate. Instead, they stressed the value of the vote and how important just one vote could be. That still holds true. For, in many cases, one vote per precinct can put a candidate over the top and insure victory.

Today, the information gained with one click outstrips the amount that it took students of my generation days of intense research in libraries and newspaper archives.

One would think that, with that depth of data at your fingertips, this generation would be the best informed of any time in our history. Well, while that sounds good, it does not hold true for the majority of those in their late teens and twenties. They are more interested in movies and music than politics. Currently, staying connected needs to be on a personal level.

To be fair, politics fails to exude the high interest of the entertainment world; but that does little to address the shortfall in information so endemic in interview after interview by “on the street” reporters. Do what you can to spread the word that a vote is the most precious privilege you have. Think about it.