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A Baseball Game or a Military Parade?
Opening Day at Fenway Park
Yesterday was opening day at Fenway Park, where “my” team, the Boston Red Sox, began their 123rd season. I turned on the TV just as a humongous American flag fell across the Green Monster (the wall in left field). Standing before that wall were troops in camouflage uniforms saluting smartly as the National Anthem began. As that anthem reached its conclusion, four combat jets flew over as the crowd cheered.
And I thought to myself: When did opening day in baseball become an excuse for a military parade?
Not to be a killjoy, but I thought we were celebrating a new season of baseball. I can see an over-the-top celebration of all things military on July 4th, perhaps, but on March 30th?
Heaven knows the cost of all this military hoopla. The military doesn’t care, of course, since it has plenty of money to burn. Plus, it’s basically a huge recruitment commercial for a military that is under increasing strain to meet recruitment quotas, so it’s a win-win for the Pentagon.
As I’ve written before, we can’t seem to play ball anymore in America without the military involved in the game. But war is not a game, nor is military service.
Even as the Pentagon and the Red Sox team up to celebrate the military, giving viewers a warm patriotic fuzzy, veterans continue to suffer from the aftereffects of a generational war on terror, notes Andrea Mazzarino at TomDispatch.com. Many of these vets suffer from multiple traumas, yet as Mazzarino succinctly puts it: “America’s veterans need all the help they can get and, as yet, there’s no evidence it’s coming their way.”
As usual, the VA is underfunded even as weapons procurement is awash in funding. There are plenty of people in the VA who care, but they are swamped by the number of veterans in need of care. A good book on this is “Our Veterans: Winners, Losers, Friends, and Enemies on the New Terrain of Veterans Affairs,” by Suzanne Gordon, Steve Early, and Jasper Craven, published last year.
What we need in America are far fewer military celebrations and far more attention paid to the plight of our veterans. Meanwhile, let’s forgo the military trappings in our baseball parks and sports stadiums and let the players do what they do best: play ball.