I really enjoyed the ceremony. Everything was put on beautifully. I enjoyed the speakers, the movie and most importantly, all the veterans. They reminded me of my grandpa, and it was like he was there again. I cried, I smiled, and I was thankful for their service, protecting our freedoms and the country we love.
So, when Charlie Sykes, who, to his credit, helped raise a lot of money for the program, came up to speak, I didn't really think much of it. I clapped, out of respect and gratitude for his help. Mr. Sykes started his speech out by reading a letter that was very kind, and very thoughtful. I liked it, and when he explained that the person who wrote it wasn't able to attend the night's events, I thought it was because it was someone currently serving. Instead, it turned out it was written by Paul Ryan. Normally, this wouldn't have offended me, as he is a member of congress from our state. However, this was different. Mitt Romney had just announced Ryan as his VP nominee earlier that day, and Sykes thought this was an appropriate time to start his campaigning for him. He just couldn't wait.
Needless to say, I was offended and incredibly angry that Charlie Sykes decided that this was the time to campaign for his hero. Scott Walker also spoke at the opening event, and he didn't say anything political. He kept his words short and sweet. How come Sykes couldn't have done the same? Doesn't he have any respect for that fact that not everyone believes in his backwards conservative ideology? And what does Paul Ryan know (or care) about veteran's issues? He wants to take away Medicare, first of all. That effects all the veterans sitting in those seats! He's the guy whose budget plan would strip billions away from veteran's services. Housing, education, jobs, medical care and the VA - money gone. The poverty rate among our returning veterans, and especially veterans of the Vietnam War (you know, that war Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan's running mate, fought like hell to avoid serving in?) is incredibly high. You know how Republicans say that all those who use welfare are just lazy, disgusting people? Yeah, not even. It's a large percentage of veterans who utilize those services. VETERANS! Republicans use 'em for their wars, then dump 'em when they get home. Slapping a "I support the troops" bumper sticker on your SUV isn't enough. Support the funding of veterans programs and vote for politicians who will make sure they are taken care of when they come home.
I never once thought that this event was political. Our armed forces protect all of us, no matter who we are, what we believe, what our religion is or our sexual identities. They have done something the vast majority of us could never do - sign up to put ourselves into harms way. Their bravery is astounding and their perseverance is unmatchable. Write to your congressperson, your senators, your governors. Please let them know how important it is that veteran's services are fully funded both federally and statewide. They have never let us down. We can never let them down.