Friday, September 12, 2008

I Come From A Family of Heroes

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.

Enjoy.

I Come From A Family of Heroes
Jen Gilligan Cole
Nashville, Tennessee

I 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. 

62 comments:

kinderny said...

I forwarded this to my Mom- she had called me to tell me that she kind of liked what McCain had to say because it appealed to her long held values.

Megan said...

Wow. What a beautiful article. It eloquently states how a feel about McCain, but I can't seem to ever find the words.

Thanks for sharing this!

Gretchen said...

Thanks for sharing.

That puts it much more eloquently than I ever could!

Fish said...

Sorry, but now I deleted your bookmark. Don't you know never to talk politics or religion? I am by no means a politico, but this type of stuff on an otherwise entertaining blog leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Best to you.

Sayre said...

That was an amazing letter. I may need to link back to that on my own blog. Thanks!

Jennifer said...

Your friend is quite the writer - and I agree with her completely. It amazes me how many of my military friends continue to believe that Republicans are better for the military (or the country for that matter).
I hope you don't get too many ugly comments. Thanks for having the courage to post this letter.

Amy said...

Obama has ... Ideas! WOW! So profound. Hey, I have ideas, too. I've been a community organizer (aka Girl Scout leader) for 4 years now. Do I get to be president? Oh, wait ... I'm not a good public speaker. Never mind.

This story is B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T. Everyone has the right to vote how they want. Just try not to look too stupid doing it.

McCain IS a war hero. That doesn't mean you have to agree with his Republican politics. But to minimize his sacrifice just because you disagree with him politically is PATHETIC. Stories like this don't make McCain any less of a hero, but they do make the writers less human. I come from a long line of hard-working farmers. Does that diminish McCain's and other POW's sacrifices? Give me a break.

This woman paints such a depressing picture of her life that really, I can't help but feel sorry for her for being so unhappy. I'm sure it's not her fault, though. It's Bush's, golldarnit!

Moi said...

An excellent piece of writing.

And to those who disagree, that is how this country was founded. Remember "I disgree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

Nowhere in there does it say I will call you pathetic. Ahem.

Natalie said...

I'm sure if this had been a story about why somebody won't support Obama, Fish and Amy would not be singing this tune. I often disagree with other bloggers, but I don't make a stink about it and I certainly don't insinuate that someone is stupid because of it.

Perhaps, if more people actually understood McCain's record as a politician instead of focusing on the war hero aspect of it, he wouldn't be doing as well as he is now. It drives me nuts that there are some people in this world that think making a statement like this is somehow minimizing his sacrifice. Those people have a much different idea of what a president should be than I do. Is it obvious that I completely agree with your friend's opinion?

Liberal Banana said...

Wow.

Fish: They say ignorance is bliss, so you must be pretty happy. Do you always just bury your head in the sand when people bring up divisive topics? There are a lot of different opinions in this world and you should learn to respectfully disagree with the ones that don't fall in line with your values. Perhaps you could take the time to state why you don't agree, and could enlighten us all as with another point of view? That's called "having a grown-up discussion".

Amy: I am pretty sure that the writer wasn't trying to make McCain's military story into anything less heroic than it is. He went through hell - yes - I can respect him for that and I think she does, too. But just because he was a prisoner of war doesn't mean he should be our president. If that were the case then there are a heck of a lot more guys that would be perfect for the job.

I think it was a well-written letter and I hope it does make McCain supporters stop and think about why they want to vote for him. Too many people vote based on how they perceive the candidates without doing the research to back it all up.

I hope that before you all cast your votes this November, you take the time to find out how each candidate has voted on the issues that were put before them in Congress. Because these guys (and gal) can make all the promises in the world...but it doesn't mean that they'll keep any of them. I want to vote for someone that keeps his word and doesn't fall prey to the special interests and lobbyists.

Kate said...

A though-provoking piece of writing. I think it is easy to get swept up in the heroism of McCain's POW story and forget that, as amazing as it is that he made that sacrifice for our country, it does not mean that we owe it to him somehow to award him the presidency. There are other things to consider.

Some of these comments are quite interesting!
fish -- really? 1 day of political posting, and you're out? I can understand if the whole nature of this blog changed, but c'mon, you can't indulge someone for a controversial post here and there?
amy -- wow! You sound quite angry, and I'm not sure why that post got you so worked up. I think you should re-read the original post, b/c I don't the author sounded depressed, and no one said you can't vote how you want. Also, I don't think the intent was to minimize McCain's sacrifice or heroism, in fact, the author went out of her way to recognize it.
And man, what a rough time to be a community organizer! I've never seen so much open mocking and minimizing of (usually thankless, lowly paid) work that most people generally consider to be a good thing as I have in recent weeks. Also, Obama isn't going straight from girl scout leader to president. Though his tenure may have been short, he did have a brief stop over in state legislature and U.S. Senate land - so, there is a little difference there...

Maryjo said...

I find it interesting that the people that disagree with you have to be so darn hateful about it. These people have been in control for 8 years, why are they the ones that are so filled with anger? I hope you don't let the bad comments upset you. It was a very well written piece and I commend you for posting it.

fairytalesandmargaritas said...

Wow, that gave me goosebumps. I will be sharing that with people I know, too.

Magpie said...

Happy that you posted this - it's very well said.

yodamom said...

Thanks for the great discussion on my letter that Oh the Joys was so kind to post. Debate and discussion about real issues are what have been missing from the national conversation about the dialogue. So this is great. I'll only make a couple of clarifications....
1. i love my family and am very happy
2. anyone who has ever one an election is a community organizer, even John McCain
3. I have deep respect for John McCain's war service; not his political service
4. Fish, his record on Agrigulture and Farm issues is pretty poor too--he hasn't been present to vote on a Farm Bill or subsidy since 1998
5. i change alot of poopy diapers too and hope this hasn't ruined the fun of this blog

Anonymous said...

This is the message that MUST get out there!....and when the is a personal connection then all the more.

Joie said...

I didn't mean for that to be anonymous. Thank you Oh The Joys for posting this. The POW story is compelling but not for the presidency and I wish Americans would focus more on the issues and less on the drama. In a nation obsessed with "reality" TV I guess it's no surprise.

Too bad for those who had to be nasty about this.

MamaCarter said...

I liked this, a lot. I linked to it from my blog. Thanks to you and your friend for putting into words the frustration of seeing a bonified war hero not live up to his (and our) expectations, and why it makes sense to take a chance on the "new" guy.

Jennifer said...

Thank you, so much, for posting this beautifully written letter.

Major Bedhead said...

Wow, that was amazing. If you don't mind, I'm going to link to it (probably from several places, including my blog - which Fish shouldn't stop by, since I've been rather political lately).

kittenpie said...

Wow. That was really powerful, and made me tear up a bit, even though I have issues with the military in general and am not even american. Strong stuff.

Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Great post. I forwarded it to my Hubby who is a die-hard Republican.
(And Ir'm so not.)

Mimi aka pz5wjj said...

She is a very good writer.

I don't agree with her, but she certainly has the right to her opinion. And yes, it is wonderful to live in a country where we can all voice our opinions, and agree to disagree and still get along.

However, she should check out this article about the banned book rumor. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/12/eveningnews/realitycheck/main4443841.shtml

Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

Amen. Beautifully said. I am forwarding this on as well.

motherbumper said...

An excellent piece and it's awesome that you are spreading this J - very eloquent and dignified in an arena that seems very mud-filled of late.

Bennie said...

An absolute brilliant piece of writing. Funny how Fish and Amy fit the Republican profile to a tee. Let's not look at the facts. Because McCain is a war hero that gives him the experience and qualifications to lead our country. For all those reasons listed in that op-ed McCain is NOT qualified to be POTUS. He and Palin are so out of touch with the real world it's just absolutely scary.

I'll be linking up with you, OTJ. Again thanks for the courage to post this.

daysgoby said...

Beautifully and eloquesntly written.

Thanks, J, for posting this!

Corgimom/Tish said...

Thanks to Jen and to you for posting.

Vodka Mom said...

I am applauding you right now. Can you hear it?
It's the sound of applause...

Vodka Mom said...

Can I send you a bottle of vodka to dull the pain--you know, from some of the meanies......


sticks and stones and all

Omaha Mama said...

This put into words somethign I was feeling and couldn't articulate. It is honest and respectful. Thank you so much to your friend for writing it and thank you for posting it.

Little Monkies said...

Somebody should have told Fish that nobody tells OTJ not to do something. Oh no, honey. Good thing you deleted that bookmark because Ms. J is all about the freedom to post as she sees fit!

And Jenn, what a smartie. Being a hero is complicated, but I believe that anyone willing to stand up for unpopular ideas, work for community and live by core values to be a hero.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOX

Anonymous said...

I love your blog and read it every day, but I've been a lurker until now. I want to thank you for making this piece available and Jen Gilligan Cole for having the courage to write and submit it.

It's time for all of us to speak truth to power, as the saying goes, and Jen has done just that.

Jessie

Emily N said...

I can see why you usually stay away from politics, from some of the comments you got! Whatever, I'm glad you posted the letter anyway, she made important points. People bash Obama's "experience" but didn't Cheney and Rumsfeld supposedly have a lot of that? Obama has sound judgment and I think that carries us a lot farther. From my observation a lot of people are not as informed on the issues and the candidates' stands and history of accomplishment as they could be. I visit huffingtonpost.com at least once a day and feel that I'm better informed as a result.

The Super Bongo said...

hear! hear!

Shannon said...

Wow! That was fantastic! Way nicer than the stuff I posted on my blog, too (so nasty commenters, consider yourselves forewarned - you will not like my blog).

Fish said...

I was not rude, or insulting, but thank you to those who reponded to my post in that way. 'Liberal banana' - reread what you wrote to me, and try to reconcile 'respectfully disagreement' with calling me ignorant and immature.

I cannot stand those kinds of insinuations - he didn't vote for the Health care Reform bill, so he is against quality affordable healthcare. Perhaps he did not agree with the provisions, or the ways it was to be funded, etc. Someone isn't a hero because he voted against minimum wage increases? Really? Perhaps he feels, as many do, that increasing minimum wage actually results in more layoffs. Maybe he isn't actually against crime victims getting broader protection - perhaps he feels, as I do, that the victim of a 'hate' crime does not deserve special protection simply because of the intent of the offender. A crime is a crime, a victim a victim, regardless of race or creed.

I do not agree with the article because it makes so many assumptions, makes everything black and white without allowing for discrepancies. And BOTH sides do this, of course, which is why I hate to read this kind of political tripe where I have not expected to read it.

Of course you can write whatever you want on your blog, and I would never try to stop anyone, ANYONE, even a disgusting bigot or hatemonger - we all have that right.

But in reading someone's blog, you like the writing AND you come to like the person, and if that person were to post something that goes against your notion of who that person is (no matter how inevitably incorrect it is)...well, I choose to no longer read it.

TRS said...

It was a very interesting read... and I appreciate the facts presented.
Though she might want to go back and edit other 'facts' to reflect the truth.
Palin did not ban books. It was an inquiry that got blown out of proportion. The books she 'supposedly' banned were not even written or published while she was mayor.

Adding my opinion... I'm not too excited about Oprah's favored project. As soon as the man was elected to AN office - she was parading him around like the second coming of Christ.

You all go ahead and vote for Oprah's Little President. Lemmings.

Ree said...

Jen - thank you...you've written a beautiful, intelligent article that people need to read.

Thank you to your family as well, for being the heroes they are.

GoteeMan said...

Amazing, as always, which is why I gave you an award at...
goteeman.blogspot.com

I love your blog. really. I do...

J/

Random Thinker said...

Thanks for the courage shown by you and the blogger. These little acts of courage are the precursors to the larger change about to take place.

HW said...

The only offense I take to this whole thing is Bennie's comment about "fitting the Republican profile to a tee."
We are not all angry and eager to shut down the other side. I am a Republican who eagerly reads articles and listens to news stories regarding BOTH sides of the aisle, for their is no other way to truly make your decision. I watch all major cable news networks to be sure I'm getting a full view of the issues.

The generalizations are unnecessary and only serve to aggravate an already divisive time in our country.

The thing is, for each attack on one party, there is an equal and most likely justified attack on the other party.

That letter was very thought provoking and profound. As a Republican, I take no offense to it at all.

Liberal Banana-
It is being reported that Obama and Biden both voted AGAINST sending aid to Katrina victims - funds that would have been diverted from the bridge to nowhere that Palin did or did not want. Seems that bridge is blowing up in the faces of both parties. Have you seen any of those reports? I only ask because I really want to check it out, not to be mean-spirited.

texlahoma said...

McCain was a hero for being brave enough to join the military but that's about it. He had no choice about being a P.O.W.
I liked the article very much, maybe it will make some people think before they cast their vote. I'll be voting for Obama in November.

HW said...

McCain had no choice about being a POW but he certainly had a choice whether or not to be released early, when his captors learned of his father's rank. He refused to leave before others who had been there longer. He also had a choice about how to spend the rest his life after his relief.
This alone, I agree, does not make him worthy of becoming president, but to minimize it simply because he didn't choose it is not right either.

Jessica said...

Thank you for sharing this very well written post with all of your readers. I often wonder why people feel the need to attack others when their views differ. Being able to voice your opinion freely is one of the rights this country was founded on. Even if you do not agree with someone please respect their freedom of speech.

Stitchin' Bitches said...

Very well written and makes so many points that I have been trying to make myself with people who know I do not support McCain. Now I have some good "talking" points to bring up in defense of my stance. I live in a very conservative community and keeping having the war hero comment thrown at me. Yes McCain is a war hero, but his record is so pathetic when it comes to votes that count.

Thanks again...eloquently said. As to those who quit reading the blog because of this post, I'm sure you'll find other blogs that feed your paranoia about Obama. This is America...we are all entitled to our opinions

just bob said...

A truly magnificent post. I thank your entire family for all you have done and sacrificed for me and my family. It is no exaggeration to say that you do indeed come from a family of heroes.

Charlotte said...

BRAVO!

No, really. Someone had to say something like this, and you said it very, very well.

Found your blog through a link at the Hotfessional. Forwarding link to your post to the Santa Barbara Barack Obama supporters' list.

Also, please consider shortening this to a letter to the editor (200-250) and submitting it to newspapers in the swing states (Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Nevada ...), so your writing can make an even greater difference beyond the internet.

Karen said...

This is exactly how I feel about the candidates we have. Thanks for posting it.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Good points! The Republicans are expert at spin and at telling people what they want to hear, however; I bet they win.

Dingo said...

I think this is an excellent, well-written post about why you respect McCain's war service but disagree with his ability and his commitment to lead the American people.

Those who are disappointed by this post because you expected another mommyblog post remember, Mom's vote too. Their lives aren't just filled with poo, kindergarten, and how to get magic markers off the wall. Their lives are filled with worries about enough gas to get their kids to school, a "100 year war" that may someday call their children to serve, and the state of education. Mommy's have just as much right to voice their opinions on political issues as anyone else. To discontinue reading a wonderful blog (that apparently you liked up until now) is a reflection on you and not on Oh, The Joys. In fact, it's that type of mentality, the "la-la-la-la you are saying something I don't like so my fingers are stuck in my ears" that exemplifies the Republican party. To people like Fish and Amy, and yes, I am calling you out, you must have a very small circle of small minded friends and acquaintances if you cannot tolerate differing opinions and beliefs.

To those who stop reading because they think that this is a slam against McCain, re-read the post. She is respectful of the time he served in Vietnam as we all should be. However, to use his POW status as he an others have done to whitewash what he HAS NOT done for fellow veterans and for his constituents is foolish and dangerous. I think you should take a look at how veterans really feel about McCain. I also come from a long line of heroes. And I can tell you, that they too, would stand up and applaud this post.

Okay, back to lurking. Thanks for writing this post.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

How convenient that she fails to mention any specific legislation that Obama voted on.

I appreciate her opinion and her desire to share it...but I do not agree with it...at all!

Jennifer said...

I haven't had the nerve to post anything about the elections. People have left nasty comments about my pregnancy, so I can only imagine what they'd have to say about my political views. But I admire your courage. I also agree that McCain's service is very honorable and time as a POW was a great sacrifice but that combined, they do not constitute The Most Important Qualification For The Office of President. I don't know that I would have taken it quite as far as your friend did although I might not with many (or any) of McCain's positions and I think it is extremely annoying the way he claims he's a maverick but has yet to clearly and truthfully explain how he achieved this title.
I do agree that a lot of people are ready to be moved by ideas. They're ready to be called to action, to make a change for the better, and it's interesting how many Republicans will assert the importance of "character" and "likeability" in a candidate while deriding someone for running on "ideas." Especially when the Democratic candidate's ideas are far more sophisticated and progressive than under-researched, empty slogans like "Drill, baby. Drill."

Aliki2006 said...

Thank you so much for posting this, J. I have been hungry to read other people's thoughts on this, hungry to have my own thoughts articulated better than I can myself.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! :) Thanks for writing it (to the author) and thanks for posting it (to the blogger).

Missives From Suburbia said...

Thank you for putting the focus on what it should be: issues.

There is no question that McCain and Obama both have compelling personal stories, as do Biden and Palin. But we aren't electing a person, we're electing an administration. One that will choose Supreme Court justics, one that will work with host of people from Congress right on down to -- yes, I'll say it -- community organizers to right this country. However you define "right this country" is a person choice. But it would be great to stop basing votes on personal stories and get to the issues. Which, honestly, is not something the Republicans seem to be doing very much of lately.

Bravo. I'm going to link to this, too.

Erin S said...

To Dingo, who seems to assume that people who believe differently than they do automatically have a "la-la-la-la you are saying something I don't like so my fingers are stuck in my ears" mentality:

I am a mother and a business owner, with a PhD in economics. I am registered as a Republican, but I choose who I will be voting for based on more than their political affiliations.

And I choose John McCain.

I don't do this because I don't know any better or because I have a small-minded group of friends. I don't do this because it's what I'm "supposed" to do.

I don't have my fingers stuck in my ears, which you say is the exemplification of my political party.

I am simply a mom with a vote. I vote based on my beliefs and my conscience. I am not a generalization.

I ask you to please respect that.



I

Anissa Mayhew said...

That was perfectly written, hard to argue against and based on the facts of McCain's voting performance. You chose a great one to get political on.

Dingo said...

@Erin:

You are right. You are not a generalization. It's certainly your right to vote for the candidate of your choice. I do respect that and I encourage you to vote your conscience. I did generalize about my misgivings about the demeanor of the Republican Party, but I did not mean to generalize about you. I had censorship issues in mind when I wrote about the Republican Party but, in any case, I did not mean for that generalization to reach you, and for that I apologize.

My comment was directed at those who would stop reading a blog they formerly enjoyed because it contains an article with which they disagree. I was particularly troubled by the chilling effect of using the comments not to challenge the substance of the post or to debate the issues, but rather to chastise the author for expressing her opinion. But you are correct: you are not a generalization and your political opinions don't mean that you are not thoughtful and personal.

I meant to call out Fish and Amy, but thank you for calling me out.

The Woman Formerly Known as Jenn said...

Damn. That is a stunning, heartfelt, and powerful statement. I wish every voter could read this or something like it prior to November.

Erin S said...

OK, now I want to hug Dingo and sing Kumbaya.

Damn Democrats. ;-)

Denguy said...

It's a shame that people from other countries can't vote for the US presidency--considering how horribly the outcome affects us all.