This blog is usually just your run of the mill mommy blog with stories about The Mayor, The Rooster, butts, poo, and my own joys, grief and idiocy.
I am not usually political. (Unless it's about touching Al Sharpton with my boobs or something idiotic like this.)
But yesterday my friend Jen Cole sent me an op-ed piece that she submitted to her local paper in Nashville.
I asked her permission to share it here and she said yes.
I think it is an important perspective to consider.
I Come From A Family of HeroesJen Gilligan ColeNashville, TennesseeI come from a family of heroes. Both my grandfathers enlisted in the Civil Conservation Corps in the 1930’s and began building trails and bridges and roads as part of the New Deal. They then moved into the Army and Army AirCorps during World War II. One received a purple heart in North Africa fighting with Patton; the other stayed in Germany to help with reconstruction. My husband’s grandfather James Madison Lee died during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. His daughter was 6 months old and he never met her. My father enlisted at 18, served during Vietnam and retired from the USAF. Nearly every male member of my family since the 1940’s has enlisted and served active duty—from Army stints in Korea, to naval aircraft carriers in the Gulf. Our latest hero, Specialist Robert Cole (USMC) returned last week from his third tour in Iraq. He has missed the birth of both of his children. The women married to these men have endured the worst—from raising their children alone to constantly changing jobs with military moves to the tragedy of the DOD telegram that no one wants to receive. In my family, we know about heroism.My grandfathers, my father came home to turn their sacrifice into opportunity. They fought years in the service of our nation only to find themselves struggling for a leg up. They worked two and three jobs as house painter, a night watchman, simply trying to make ends meet. My father spent 21 years in active duty at the end leading 200 men and women; but he had to take on a second job as a juvenile detention center guard just so my brother and I could go to college. My dad is a hero and he joins millions of others who teach, walk a police beat, or drive a bus. He lives each day with a DNA-level belief that freedom means that work begets reward and that the lives of our children should be richer and more peaceful. That is what our family drawer of medals and purple hearts stands for.John McCain spent years in unimaginable pain and mental anguish in Vietnam. For that he has my respect. He returned to this country under a banner of praise, swearing to stand up for my dad, my grandfather. He has not. A compelling personal chapter doesn’t create a hero. Since 1999, John McCain has voted 3 times against the minimum wage, no to funding for children with disabilities in schools, no to funding for higher education loans, no to broader protection for victims of hate crimes. What’s worse—he was simply a no show vote (absent or unwilling to weigh in) on Equal Pay, Medicare Reform, the GI Extension bill, expansions on Child Health Insurance Program, and on Alternative Energy Incentives Bill (votesmart.org). This man hides behind his personal story of sacrifice but didn’t even show up to vote on accepting the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission or on renewing our ability to collect foreign intelligence or to reduce dependence on foreign oil by 2025. Yet he’s stood up for billionaire bankers in Savings & Loan bailouts, voted yes on no-bid contracts for Halliburton and yes to domestic surveillance on your telephone and my library card. He’s picked a running mate who has earned a claim to fame on a few high profile tussles, but who, for the most part has chosen to champion things like book censorship rather than health care and quality education for working families.It is time for the truth. Heroes go to work everyday to make a change, a difference for those who can’t. Heroes generate ideas and move people to move with them. You aren’t qualified to lead the free world if you don’t show up on issues that matter to everyday people. John McCain has spent 20 years systemically working against issues that matter to the Americans I know. He has driven a thousand holes in the American Dream my family has fought hard to preserve. Your record stands for itself. John McCain you don’t get to tell me or my family about sacrifice, freedom or struggle. Your word is your bond and your word is smoke and mirrors—a nice story spun to make half a life time of weak or non-existent choices look red, white and blue. It’s time to drop the story and get to work.Barack Obama might not have the years of service or the tragic war yarn, but I’m willing to give him a chance. Why? Because in the time that you’ve been a “maverick” more jobs have shipped overseas, college has become less affordable and I still make 78 cents to every dollar my husband does. Because I wake up each day wondering how I can send my child to kindergarten next year to a public school that worries more about worksheets and keeping guns out than it does inspiration and learning. I wonder how the continued cuts to VA benefits will affect my mom as she ages. I wonder how Mr. McCain plans to stand up to terrorists, dictators and oligarchs if he can’t even be bothered to show up and vote. Obama has ideas and what’s more he’s inspired legions of every day Americans to mobilize. I owe it to my grandfather, my husband’s grandfather to take a chance on ideas and possibility rather than broken promises. I’ll hedge my bet on the new chapter of heroism that Americans and Obama can write together. John McCain you can keep your war story, I have plenty of my own.