BY JOHN ROWAN
WOW! I doubt that any of us who grew up on the
cutting edge of the Civil Rights movement believed we would
ever see a President-elect of African-American descent in
our lifetime. The fact that Sen. Barack Obama was victorious
over a genuine hero of the Vietnam War makes it a bit bittersweet
for many of us. We should take heart, however, about the
new generation of voters who have come together to make this
watershed event happen.
Many of us remember the euphoria generated in our
youth by the call to service by President Kennedy, only to
have it end with an assassin’s bullet and the
entry into the quagmire of the Vietnam War. I hope that President-elect
Obama’s call to service will have more success.
others will remark on the similarity between President-elect
Obama and President Kennedy, I want to focus more on President-elect
Obama’s need to imitate President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
There have been many comparisons to today’s economic
situation and the Great Depression. We must remember that
the latter ended only because of America’s entry into
World War II.
The reason the Depression didn’t recur
after the war was the G.I. Bill. This sweeping piece of social
legislation created the middle class that we so admire today.
It also created the suburbs, where most people live in the
United States. Remember that this legislation gave every
veteran the opportunity to get an education, buy a home,
and start a business without regard to race, religion, class,
or national origin.
This program showed that government operations could
be effective. Unfortunately, segregation in the military
and in society limited the ability of minorities to take
advantage of this opportunity. Furthermore, when the more-integrated
military of the Vietnam era came along, the G.I. Bill was
significantly watered down.
We will soon have a new G.I. Bill, which will
be more closely aligned with the original one. However, the
number of veterans who will be able to avail themselves of
this program is relatively small. Therefore, perhaps we need
a G.I. Bill of sorts attached to President-elect Obama’s
call for service, whether it is the Peace Corps, the Teacher
Corps, Americorps, or perhaps some veterans service program
I believe that those who put their lives on the line deserve
special treatment, I would not be averse to some new “American
Service” bill that would reward
young people who are willing to help others. We could increase
services to those who need them most, while providing opportunity
for advancement for those willing to serve.
The G.I. Bill
paid for itself many times over. The new G.I. Bill will do
the same, as would an “American Service” plan.
The key to these bills is that they require service before
getting assistance, rather than just being a handout.
us hope that this new administration leads us into a new
golden age similar to the post-World War II era.
Veterans Day will be over when you read this message. I am
sure that many of you went to Washington, D.C., to celebrate
the 15th anniversary of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
On page 30, you’ll find Mark Jury’s photographs
of the parade of colors that honored the women who served
during the Vietnam War.
MEDALS OF AMERICA
At the last Board meeting, we approved a new relationship
with Medals of America, a veteran-owned business. MOA will
take over our Veterans Collectibles operations. We look forward
to a long, successful partnership with them.
BEST WISHES FOR
On behalf of the Officers, Directors, and our families, I
want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous Christmas
or Chanukah. Our Muslim friends have already completed Ramadan,
while some other folks look forward to Kwanza. Whatever your
celebration, we wish everyone a healthy and happy holiday
season and a joyous New Year.