Throughout history every civilization owes its existence to its military. They exist because they are adequately protected against outside sources by the strength of their soldiers and strategy of their military leaders – field officers. The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians because they had no comparable military to defend themselves. King David was respected by all because of his military acumen. England built a massive empire because their military was superior to all other nations. A very strong military brings peace while a weak one will invite invasion and oppression. That’s the way of the world.
The United States is no exception. We were created through a successful war. We have sustained our liberty via going to war. We have expanded our nation from 13 states to 50 plus various territories all of which have come through war. Today, we are obviously the strongest nation in the world because of the efficiency of our military. I am proud of many things. Besides my immediate family, I am most proud of having served in the United States Army as a 1st Lieutenant. There is no distinction of a person more noteworthy than that of a veteran. Many have fallen in defense of our nation. When I visit my family’s cemetery plot in Louisiana I note that the most distinctive headstones are those of our veterans. In Indianapolis on my father-in-law’s plot, Kay and I proudly put on his headstone "Veteran of World War II – Tuskegee Airman". It stands out among the thousands of headstones in that cemetery.
The United States honors its military in an admirable way. We have Veteran’s Day each year and Memorial Day which honors those who fell in battle and is one of our biggest holidays. Our veterans are sacred. We have special mortgage financing for them. There is college funding for those who served honorably. There is adequate disability for those who were wounded or hurt during their service. Also, we have hospitals dedicated to those who have served during peace time or war. Once again, in America veterans are sacred.
Convinced of the above I am totally shocked and saddened by the low regard our current president, Barack Obama, has for our veterans. During this current government shut down he has made it clear. He has instructed his minions to put pain on Americans and point the finger at political foes. Silly guy, he doesn’t realize that the "buck" stops with him. He is the Commander- in-Chief and holds the highest authority in our great nation. He has ordered his minions to spare no pain with anyone. To our shock and dismay we now see him denying death benefits to the survivors of our fallen soldiers. Each soldier going into combat is given a life insurance policy of $100,000 (it was $15,000 when I served). Since October 1, 2013 every family whose military member has been killed in action has been denied that insurance payment. There are no military ceremonial funerals given and no funding for the widow/widower or nearest family member to come to meet the casket when it arrives back to America.
I have made it known to all that I don’t really like Barack Obama. However, he is our elected president and I will respect that position. As I was instructed in the Army, "Salute the uniform not the person". Never mind that he doesn’t go to church when the church is located across the street from his residence. I will not shout about the very low performance his administrations have done in procurement and business loans to Black entrepreneurs. Yes, he has laid off over 800,000 government employees over a matter of "principal" – they will get through that somehow. The whole world is changing its view of America from "strong but nice" to "strong but stupid". We will have another president in 2016 and, hopefully, we can recover from what has been lost.
But now, when you bring financial and emotional harm to the families of our fallen soldiers – I DRAW THE LINE! This is indeed disgraceful, anti-American and treasonous. Our House of Representatives should start considering Impeachment. That’s right, to offend those who serve and put their lives on the line to protect our land and way of life is a heinous act. He is doing it with a smile and that is evil by any other name. I cried when I heard the news. I have never been so hurt by an elected official in my lifetime. I haven’t been this depressed since the assassinations of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy. Who is this in our White House - a White House that no longer allows the public to tour through it? Mr. President don’t mess with our vets!
Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.