Monday, May 28, 2007

10 In Memoriam

I'm doing my 10 things on Monday this week. Chili started the Memorial Day Weekend with some musings about Memorial Day, what we know about it and what we should be doing.

As an aside I think it's important to note that I'm on the fence about the Iraq withdrawal. I feel like in the capitalist world we live in we need to follow the "You Break It You Bought It" rule. On the other hand by staying there are we simply breaking it worse and worse and worse every day we stand there, and breaking ourselves in the process?

Anyway, that being said, I left a half assed comment on Chili's entry about what we might be able to do to support those who are fighting the fight even if we aren't fully supportive of it. I felt like I should do it whole assed. Hence this entry to bookend the Memorial Day Weekend.

1. Any Soldier is an organization I've donated to before. At least once I got a group of people at my office together to write letters and pitch in for donation items and we sent off a box of things for Any Female Soldier. Be sure that you read the web site carefully since there are a lot of restrictions about what can be sent. I learned in my most recent reading that clothing is almost completely banned because synthetic materials can melt if a soldier is hit and cause worse burns than they might get if they were simply hit with an incendiary device while wearing natural fibers. On the flip side you may be surprised to read all of the things that aren't supplied as part of the nature of outfitting a person for combat. Do you think that they all have kevlar, boots, and tampons? Think again.

2. The USO sends care packages over, along with sending comedians and musicians and other moral support. You can donate money and you can donate time to assemble packages. You may even be able to pass them out to soldiers before they're deployed, but I'm not sure about that last one.

3. A Million Thanks is the one with the commercial of that pretty blonde teenager who organized a letter drive. She's teamed up with car dealerships who are collecting the letters for her drive and then the organization vets the letters, packages them and sends them overseas. Again, be sure to read the web site, especially if you're not a gung ho supporter of the war, you don't want your letter to be rejected. Then look up the collection center nearest you and drop off your letters. I think this is a particularly nice one to do if you have kids or work with kids, or any group really, since you could all spend an hour or 2 writing some letters and then someone can drop them off at the collection site. Unexpected thing learned here was that you shouldn't use glitter when making cards.

4. Letter to Congress. For the war, against the war, ambivalent about the war, wherever you stand I have to think it's not a bad idea to keep in touch with your legislators. We elect them to carry out our desires on a global front and how can they do that if they don't know what we think? For the past few years I've been on the electronic petition and letter bandwagon and my legislators are very good about making sure that my positions are acknowledged. Doesn't mean they agree or are doing anything about it but I'm making my voice a little louder.

5. Go over there to help the people. Here's where you may think I'm crazy but if we're going to talk about all the things we can do then we need to really widen the net. There are a lot of people who have joined organizations or have even made their own organizations and have gone over to the Middle East to help rebuild, to show a different, non-military face to the world. I can't remember the name of the woman or the organization but maybe one of you will. She was a thin blond chick and she developed her own organization to help kids in Iraq. I believe she was the first civilian casualty. I wonder if someone has stepped up into her spot yet.

6. Technically this is under the umbrella of Any Soldier but I think it warrants separation. One of the things being requested are Beanie Babies. They even specify that you shouldn't buy new ones, you should dig the old ones out of the attic and send them over. Because they're soft they are easily packed for travel and the soldiers use them to play good will ambassador with the kids they meet. I like that they're trying. I have a little trouble with the utter disconnect of the perfect vehicle for this ambassadorship being something that we over here got into such a ridiculous tizzy about. All we need to do is send Cabbage Patch Kids and we'll have fully embarrassed ourselves. Still, it's a good thing to do.

7. Make a play/song/painting/sculpture/movie about it. I just watched Eve Ensler's movie version of The Vagina Monologues. I'd sketched out the 10 things for this post and then I turned Eve on (so to speak) and I got to the part about the Bosnian women from the rape camp. Yes, read it again. Rape. Camp. Like a concentration camp with sex games. She gives a statistic about how many women are raped in the US every day. It's enormous. It's petrifying. It's so wrong. And I bet percentage-wise it's much lower than the rapes happening in the Middle East. Eve interviewed people, she listened, she laughed, she compiled and she shared. We could all do that. We're sort of doing it here already. Do some more research, keep telling people things they might not know, or might have temporarily forgotten in the fog of horrifying things that are happening these days. This one isn't specific to the Middle East. Write about New Orleans (I followed up the V Monologues with a viewing of the Christmas/New Orleans episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). Make a movie about the Tsunami. Sculpt an earthquake. Write a short story about children in poverty. Produce a showing of the Vagina Monologues. Just do something.

8. March. I don't know what it's like where you are but here in the NYC there are marches all the time. A lot of them are spontaneous and have to do with reproductive rights as well as foreign policy. There are also marches in Washington that everyone can go to. Again it's a matter of taking a stand, in this case literally.

9. Visit a legislator. If a letter is good how much better would a visit be? You can start even with your city councilperson. Maybe they can give you some insight in what to do to be heard higher up in the bureacracy.

10. Volunteer at a VA hospital, homeless shelter, with the aforementioned organizations. It'd be good for any of us to get face to face with someone who has fought in the service of things we believe in, or that they believe in, or that we all take for granted. Hell, just go to your local nursing home and bring some flowers and have a chat with the people there. You never know what you'll learn and I've spent a decent chunk of time in nursing homes over the years so I feel I can say that almost without fail your visit will brighten someone's day.

Good luck out there. I was saddened to learn today that This Is Not Over has closed down. It closed down two months ago so it turns out I wasn't exactly using it to its fullest advantage but still I was jarred. It was staffed by a number of online writers for whom I have great admiration. Though their sign off says that the shut down does not mean that this is over I can't help feeling a little hopeless. So here's bonus:

11. If you've got some web knowledge and some political knowledge and some writing skills you could go over to TiNO and resurrect the site (with their permission of course) or build your own similar site to help us all do better as we try to become big enough to hold these enormous challenges in our world.


  1. Anonymous8:16 AM

    Yes. Just yes.

  2. Very inspirational Post.
    I think we all experience times right now when we feel the idiocy when we talk about the WAR effort.
    The VA... saw that on Gene Simmons Family Jewels and had been thinking about how I can get Noodle and I involved.

    Here are a few from my Hero:

    "The reward of suffering is experience. "
    - Harry S. Truman

    "When even one American - who has done nothing wrong - is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth - then all Americans are in peril. "
    - Harry S. Truman