Saturday, August 4, 2012
Has Hollywood lost focus?
There was a time not so long ago, less than a century in fact, when Hollywood and all of the talent that arose from it knew the importance of supporting our troops. People like Bob Hope and Marilyn Monroe who were in high demand still made sure to take the time out of their busy schedules and entertain the troops. The USO was founded in 1941 as a way to provide morale to service members through entertainment. At the time and throughout the following years there were dozens upon dozens of entertainers who followed suit. If you research some old interviews with those entertainers you will hear one common thought amongst them all. They all truly believed in the importance of supporting our troops. They all truly understood the sacrifices being made by those serving. Well, it would seem times sure have changed.
Now, before I go on I think it's only fair to state that there are many performers who are still actively involved in the USO and all it stands for. To those, I offer my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for their selfless and generous offering of both time and compassion. However, Hollywood has taken a different turn in the past couple of decades. Some of that talent that receives millions of our dollars each year are instead using their spotlight for politics. For those of you who have been watching "Honor Them" for a while, you know I make it a habit to never discuss politics. My political beliefs are kept silent because (in my opinion) honoring "them" has nothing to do with politics. It comes from your heart. It is a sense of patriotism that runs deep and is fueled by the pride of being a part of one of the greatest nations in the world.
One of the most amazing and wonderful things about our country is our freedom of speech, our freedom to think our own way and form our own opinions. We are not under a ruthless dictator that some of the other countries we assist have suffered through. With that being said though, I can't help but wonder why politics have taken such a nasty turn. I know what you're all thinking, that there has been mudslinging and dirty play in politics for decades if not longer. I don't disagree with that, but when did Hollywood become the voice for politicians and their agendas? More so, when did those stars who received millions upon millions every year decide that they were the know all-end all to tell us and our military what is right and what is wrong?
Let's face it, the last several years have been quite tumultuous for our country. The political arena has changed greatly and with it more and more of our nation's "talent" have decided to use their spotlight to further political agenda while either bad mouthing our armed forces or completely ignoring them all together. It seems that every time I turn around I'm hearing about one of them disparaging our troops or veterans and I can't help but wonder why? Sure I understand that being an American means that they have the freedom to do and say as they please. What if we (as a country) allow that to go too far though? We will always (I pray) have our freedoms to do and say what we choose, but the second we start forgetting who is defending those rights we are losing sight of the bigger picture.
Our country was founded on some very strong beliefs. Beliefs that ran deeper than just the paper the words were penned to. One of the most integral parts of our freedoms is having a strong force to defend us. On September 11, 2001 we found out just how easily our country can be blindsided. Not everyone loves our country, we have enemies, enemies who wish to do us harm, enemies who take so many – too many – of our brave troops away. At the end of the day all of the money, material objects and luxuries will mean nothing if our country is left helpless. Our Armed Forces guard us every second of every day. Not a moment passes where they do not have our backs. They are on guard, always watching, always protecting, always defending. Without them, where would we truly be? I challenge those big Hollywood hitters who haven't stood behind our troops recently to make a few changes in their life and remember just who is guarding their 6.
With all that being said, I would like to share with you a story of someone who gave so much of herself and received little in return.
Some who knew her say that Martha Raye endured less comfort and more danger than any other Vietnam entertainer. The most unforgivable oversight of all was that none of her shows were taped. I was unaware of her credentials until someone sent me a very touching email. If you search more information on Martha, you will find many memoirs that tell of her selfless acts on behalf of our brave troops. In fact President Lyndon Johnson awarded her a green beret and the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Special Forces as a thank you for her extraordinary efforts. Martha was also a nurse and used the skills she had to tend to wounded during the Vietnam War. It is said that several times at the Army Field Hospital in Pleiku, she would cover a surgical shift, giving a nurse a well-deserved break.
Of note, Martha Ray is the only woman buried in the Special Forces cemetery at Ft. Bragg. Martha died on October 19, 1994, but as a civilian, as an American and as a woman I offer her my utmost gratitude and respect for all that she did for those in harm’s way.