Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our Failures to Our Bravest...

I was at the intersection of Northtown & Old Canton a few hours ago, and as I cursed at the all-too-familiar ill-timed traffic light holding me hostage, I noticed a seemingly dazed and unshaven Veteran stumble across the street. So struck was I by his shuffling from Regions' drive thru, I nearly let him be hit by an oncoming car unaware of his presence. I bolted out of my seat & motioned for the merging Acura to slow, possibly saving the man's life. The driver seemed as moved by the man's appearance, and saddened (not angered or annoyed), as the man trudged on past, emblazoned USMC tattoed arm now shakily holding a cigarette at its' end.

I'm far from traditional political "polar" values, but I am a staunch supporter of our Veterans' well-being. The death of the disabled gentleman downtown and the contamination of dozens of patients at the Miami VA Hospital earlier this month puzzles and disarms me. I'm even remembering '07 & '08's Veterans' Rights marches during the previous administration: how in the world do we have hundreds of billions of dollars in military spending but unequal resources for the people it's spent on..? That's not looking far enough down the road, if at all. One of the reasons I voted for Obama was his take on our veterans' well-being, a sound stance echoed in his appointment of veteran Erik Shinseki to be his Secretary of Veterans' Affairs. Not to poke fun, but McCain is a Former USAF POW who *still* can't raise his arms high.

Things like this make me a socialist at heart: equal health care for all citizens is underscored for our military veterans, and I feel the same way for our police. Those who serve and protect the Populace under the will and control of government with nothing less than their Lives at the helm, must receive the same holistic care and well-being once they have served their duty. I'm talking about a Marine friend of mine being jerked around for getting antibiotics; another friend suffering from pneumonia and gambling with Mono because her Base's hospital is not covering her treatment, so she has to pay initial treatment in a public ER out of pocket. How can we do this to our population that we ask so much and so dearly of...?

We've failed our Bravest. We've gone deaf-mute to those who have answered Calls of Duty. We erect red-tape for those who DREW the Front Lines, then bravely tread across them. We proudly "support our troops" on bumper stickers, but can't seem to give a dime to the gentleman at the corner wearing well-worn BDU's.

We can't Fail them anymore.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone

Today's Athletes, and why we All Fall Down. (reprinted from my Facebook page 9/18/09)

Just got finished with a late Suhr (Ramadan Mubarak, everybody!) but I found myself thinking about the same thing I was thinking on when I went to sleep: the Liddell/Evans fight. I went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Ridgeland at the invitation of my guy Scott, just to get out of the house for awhile. The place is packed, and amidst all of the turmoil of the Gators/'Canes game, came the shouts for quality bouts and cheers for the UFC matches going on. As the Miami/Florida game began to look more like a rout than a game, more and more of the pixelated monitors began obediently displaying the familiar blood/sweat/tears Octagon in all of its Hi-Def glory.

After a decent pantheon of mediocre bouts, we finally amp up for the Main Event, Liddell vs. Evans. The complimentary and traditional glove-touch aside, I watched very little action animate before my eyes in the first round. As I texted the play-by-play with my future brother in law, I watched Liddell, whom I was pushing for, start to build that terrifying momentum any Follower of his knows so well, and grinned as he kept that right arm cocked, ready to let the hammer drop at a moment's notice and valet a few hooks upside Evans' head.

Now I'm a fan of athleticism, no matter the sport, no matter the gender; i appreciate a good performance. And although i was rooting for Chuck, I was disappointed with Evans' performance: he found himself backed into the fence a couple of times, there were straight, elongated and miscalculated throws made by Liddell he should've capitalized on, just for points' sake, but he didn't. And as that bell rung, I found myself intrigued by Evans, and as the next round started I knew that if his stamina was waning, dude was gonna be in a world of hurt by the next bell. More aggressively the fighters engaged each other, and about 1:15 in, the Iceman cameth with a right jab.

And that was when the taut rubberband known as Rashad Evans, released.

Evans walked into the jab, taking the damage to his torso, effectively stopping the blow, and countered with a right-cross-made-haymaker with a buttload of forward momentum, snapping Liddell's jaw in the opposite direction. Chuck fell like a House of Drinking Straws. When Evans released, Kelly and I both screamed. Loudly. Because we knew what was about to happen before the blow landed. Evans even immediately followed with a left cross that missed, ONLY because Liddell was already falling, just in case his gambit didn't finish the job.

At that point, the entire evening-long raucous emanating from the establishment of Buffalo Wild Wings of Ridgeland, MS vanished. You would think that it was the 1960's, and that Joe Louis had just defeated Jack Dempsey on the eve the Voting Rights Act was signed or something. I didn't hear a SINGLE sound of praise or amazement or shout or anything anywhere outside of our isthmus of melanin for what seemed to be the longest four seconds ever timed, as Liddell lay intoxicated from the anesthetic in Rashad's right hand.

AND DON'T LET NOBODY TELL YOU IT WAS A LUCKY PUNCH. Because that's what I thought at first, until I noticed the replay where Evans is clearly looking at Liddell, clearly stunts the growth of Chuck's right hand and clearly follows with that Left Hand in case his Right didn't seal the deal. I think the speed of his release, coupled with the velocity, momentum and trajectory of the punch made that equation happen. A little slower/faster, a little less powerful, a bit off target and Chuck would've released a left hook, and cocked that dangerous Right Glove back again. But it didn't go down that way, and I think Chuck screamed inside the same way we did as he realized what was about to happen.

I'm dismayed though, at how quiet the place got, how long the faces of the formerly excited Gators fans were, even the bartenders moved a little slower in collecting/distributing everyone's payments. It was a combination of a Matrix-like slowdown moment and the Visa CheckCard commercials when someone tries to pay with cash.

But when prejudice strikes, I guess we all fall down.