Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Post Memorial Day Thoughts: War, A Necessary Violence?

Memorial Day is one of those holidays that so many forget why we even have it. They just know that they are getting a day off (for most, anyway). I'd be curious what kind of answers we'd hear from the public majority if asked "Why are the flags at half-mast today?" On the other extreme, I do think that there are a number of people that experience "Memorial Day" every day. My great-grandfather was one of them. I can't remember a time that would go by that he didn't speak on the days of war. So often I see veterans displaying their battalion on their ball caps and it's amazing the connection that happens when a fellow vet recognizes the name and strikes up a conversation. It's quite sobering actually because inevitably the conversation ends up reminiscing of the friends that died in war.

For me, Memorial Day doesn't have to occur just once during the year. It happens every time I visit the D-Day Memorial or Arlington National Cemetery (where one of my grandfathers is buried) and even now when I read the news of the war in Iraq. It happens when I see a man or woman in uniform. It's good to have a National Holiday that recognizes those that died for our country, a battalion, a team, or an individual. It seems that [we] live in such a mad-rush of life that we forget to remember. It’s important to slow down and remember.

I think that everyone should watch "Saving Private Ryan" to understand the complexities, trials, and hardships of war. If you are a native of Bedford, VA there’s a big chance that one of your relatives died on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944. One of the features about this movie is that it depicts the whole gamut of war - from those that experienced it at the sidelines to those that were in the trenches.

I had a friend say to me recently, "The military is about killing and making people willing and able to kill another person." However, it is also about protection. So I ask myself, "Is war a necessary violence?" If someone is willing to lay down their life so that I might live then how selfish am I to deride them for doing their job? Here's a thought to chew on...using the words fashioned by Forrest Gump, "War is as War does." War is only as good or bad as the people that organize it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

After the Dust Settles

So, by now everyone that watches or reads the news knows that Scott Garrett, Joan Foster and Bert Dodson were the chosen candidates to serve on the Lynchburg City council for the next 4 years. Given the nature of the questions asked at each forum, one thing became very clear – there needs to be more fiscal responsibility. With Dr. Garrett, perhaps he will invoke necessary change in how the current city council is handling its budget in terms of accountability and explanation. Dr. Garrett is an analytical mind and it is my hope that he will make full use of his abilities.

Certainly, there were some upsets from those that did not gain a seat in this election. After the dust settles, and the defeated return to their normal duties, it will be interesting to see if any of them stay involved and current in the council’s agenda and future plans. Many brought with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. Not necessarily political experience, but rather business, advocacy, community wide involvement, and a deep commitment and love for Lynchburg - all of which are valuable in decision-making and being part of city council.

There will be a Ward election in 2008. Mike Gillette (Ward I), Jeff Helgeson (Ward III), Joe Seiffert (Ward IV), and Ceasor Johnson (Ward II) will be up for re-election. Jeff Helgeson ran uncontested in 2004, so it will be interesting if any of the candidates from this past election that live in Ward III will challenge him for his seat. There’s no doubt that the Republican Party will endorse him as the (R) for the Ward election. So, whoever challenges him will need to be a (D) or an (I). Time will tell. He’s made a name for himself with the city residents, especially during the 2006 council election. This will undoubtedly serve to his advantage with the “conservatives” and republicans. I hope that James Coleman will continue his endeavor to be on council, and that when it’s time – he’ll take Ceasor Johnson’s seat. As for Joe Seiffert, perhaps he has his site set on “Mayor.” Some folks in the area say that his voting history has not been consistent to his philosophy or that he’s one of the “good ole boys.” Reading through his bio, he has definitely served his community in more ways than one. Mike Gillette has been a good choice for the council. I hope that he will run for re-election. Will Marie Martin challenge him for his seat?

As for the present time, it’s good to move on and look forward to the next big event – whatever that is in your life! For me, it’s sitting out on my deck, watching the moon light up the sky and waiting for the dust to settle.