The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cmdr. Gary L. Fry Calls Suffolk University Professor’s Remarks ‘Arrogant,’ ‘Ignorant’

Controversy indicative of Growing Disconnect Between Civilians and Veterans
Gary L. Fry
AMVETS National Commander
Dec. 15, 2011

A Suffolk University law professor resigned recently in response to a colleague making negative remarks about a university-wide push to put together care packages for troops stationed overseas.
Robert Roughsedge, an Army Reserve major currently serving in Afghanistan, told Fox News that fellow attorney and Suffolk University professor Michael Avery’s widely circulated e-mail saying it was “Shameful,” to solicit donations for troops overseas was “…like a 5 year old throwing a temper tantrum.” Avery also suggested that a large American flag displayed on University property was an unacceptable display of politically-motivated nationalism. The University defended Avery’s right to his opinion while also expressing support for American troops and the program to assemble care packages.

          Robert Roughsedge -- American Hero

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Michael Avery -- Out-of-touch academic

Michael Avery has enjoyed a great deal of opportunity and success throughout his life. The fact that he criticizes an effort to send soap and flashlights to men and women charged with protecting his way of life is as misplaced as it is ungrateful. It is both arrogant and ignorant to feel entitled to the gifts of democracy while condemning the military that guards that democracy. To target troops and not policy makers suggests that Avery doesn’t make the distinction, further illustrating the tiny scope of his worldview.  It’s clear after reading his comments that he believes the military to be an arcane, barbaric institution comprised of bloodthirsty criminals and rogues.
It would be tempting for one to dismiss this as the misguided tirade of one man, or perhaps one university, or even an entire elite, academic community. But the most disturbing aspect of Mr. Avery’s comments is that it depicts a widening chasm between the American veteran, and the American citizen. More detrimental than the occasional outspoken left-wing professor, are the masses of uninformed and uninterested citizens, accustomed to comfort and security. Their interests lie in the pursuit of entertainment, luxury and success, so notions of sacrifice or duty not only seem antiquated, but silly. Many high school students cannot point to Iraq or Afghanistan on a map. Many don’t even know we are at war. As women and men in uniform make life or death decisions, fight for each other, and change history, their civilian peers watch reality television and tweet.
It is within this climate of ignorance that even educated people like Mr. Avery stop differentiating between the civilians who set policies and the service members who enact them. It then becomes easier to dehumanize them. To say that it is “…not particularly rational in today’s world” to sympathize with troops in harms way, as Mr. Avery did, illustrates this disconnect.
A disconnected and unaware American public holds a quiet and shameful discomfort with its men and women who have served that won’t show up on any surveys or in political discourse. Where it is seen best is in soup kitchens and unemployment lines. Uncomfortable issues such as veteran joblessness, homelessness and suicide are pushed to the side and ignored at the expense of the bravest people this country produces.
Politicians engage in the worst of this hypocrisy when they claim to support the troops to court votes, and then fail to address these pressing issues once in office. Fewer and fewer politicians have ever served in uniform (some of them intentionally avoiding military service) further distancing them from veterans issues.
The one percent of American men and women shouldering 100 percent of the burden of the Global War on Terrorism largely do it for selfless reasons. Regardless of the campaign or the mission, these people sign up to protect civilians here at home. Respect and gratitude cost nothing, and are the least we can afford them. In a country where one is allowed to speak one’s mind freely in a public forum, a right the military helps protect, Mr. Avery can and should be allowed to say whatever he wants. But in this instance, Avery’s comments only serve to illustrate the distorted worldview of one pampered, coddled academic elitist with a perilously loose grip on reality -- a worldview that, tragically, is increasingly common in American society.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Commander Fry's Pearl HArbor Message

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This Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, AMVETS National Commander Gary Fry will observe the 70th anniversary of the "day that will live in infamy" in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The following are his remarks.
It is a privilege to be here today to honor the men and women who fought and gave their lives during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Forever entrenched in our minds as “a day that will live in infamy,” the United States was attacked, and the strength of our nation was tested seventy years ago today.

The sky over Oahu was clear and blue that Sunday morning and America awoke in peace. But at 7:55 a.m., this tranquil scene was shattered as Japanese aircraft bombarded the Naval outpost of a dormant Pacific Fleet. Targeting the battleships moored in Pearl Harbor, the enemy planes struck hard and fast. They bombed the Navy air bases at Ford Island and Kaneohe Bay, the Marine airfield at Ewa and the Army Air Corps fields at Bellows, Wheeler and Hickam.

The attack was over in less than two hours, but the devastation was overwhelming. Twenty-one of more than ninety ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet were damaged or sunk. More than three hundred aircraft were hit or destroyed. But most overwhelming of all was the loss of more than 2,400 lives and the injuries inflicted on 1,200 others.
The sinking of the battleship USS Arizona remains the most recognized symbol of that tragic day. Today, more than 1,100 men are still entombed within her rusting hulk. As an organization born of World War II, AMVETS has made it a point to honor those heroic individuals for their sacrifice. Our efforts to raise the necessary funds to complete the USS Arizona memorial and, later, the wall bearing the names of those aboard who died, testifies to this ongoing commitment.

And while much of the world has yet to fully realize the peace and freedom for which these men gave their lives, we remain determined that they shall not have died in vain. The Japanese struck a savage and treacherous blow at our peace-loving nation on December 7, 1941. The attack triggered a global war of unprecedented proportions and forever changed the course of world history. Our enemies were unaware at the time that their attempts to weaken us brought them only short-term success. Responding to the attack, Americans joined together in an all-out effort to win the war, which we thankfully have not had to repeat since. It was this unbreakable unity, sacrifice, and national resolve that ultimately became our most effective weapons.
On that fateful Sunday afternoon, an editorial appeared on the front page of the Honolulu Star Extra, which foretold the role of our national unity. It stated, “In this crisis, every difference of race, creed and color will be submerged in the one desire and determination to play the part that Americans always play in crisis.”

Today not only marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but also an unhappy yet inevitable milestone for the veterans’ community. Today, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will observe this day in history for the final time as an official organization. Congressionally chartered in 1958 with more than 18,000 members, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association now numbers less than 3,000, and most members are in their 90’s. Because of dwindling numbers, the Association has announced it will be forced to forever close its doors at the end of the month. This serves to remind us all of the fleeting opportunity we have to, honor, celebrate, engage, and learn from this vanishing generation of heroes, our greatest generation. They are national treasures all, and we must make every effort to appreciate these heroes among us.
Finally, I ask you to keep our servicemen and women in your thoughts and prayers throughout this holiday season and beyond. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan coming to a close, it is our duty – not as AMVETS, veterans, or veterans’ advocates – but as Americans, to ensure we provide for the needs of our newest generation of returning war fighters. We must give them every opportunity to pursue their goals and dreams: to further their education, to find meaningful and lasting civilian employment, to receive the care and treatment they need for service-connected injuries and disabilities, and to provide for their own families once they return home. This is our charge, and we will not fail them.
With our nation and her allies challenged by those who wish to do us harm and threaten our very way of life, it is our responsibility to uphold the principles upon which America was founded. We can do our part by supporting those who are being called upon to defend these principles, carrying forth the legacy of heroism demonstrated at Pearl Harbor. As Americans, we are able to choose freedom because of the bravery of those who made the ultimate sacrifice on this day 70 years ago. We are proud to honor them. May we never forget their noble sacrifices for generations of Americans who followed. Thank you, and may God bless America.


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For more than 30 years, AMVETS has worked in partnership with the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge to deliver quality educational programs to youth and educators. These programs focus on adherence to our nation’s founding democratic principles, building a patriotic citizenry, and advancing active civic engagement.
As our military men and women stationed around the world continue to sacrifice for the protection of our democracy, our partnership with the Freedoms Foundation remains as important as ever.
A study conducted this year by the American Enterprise Institute found that our nation’s top educators ranked the importance of civics as highly as literacy and math. The civics education achievement gap was also discovered to be larger between advantaged and disadvantaged students than the achievement gap between these groups regarding reading and math.
This finding is a strong indicator that AMVETS is on the right track in supporting the civic education provided by the Freedoms Foundation. Thus, equally important is our support for the preservation and care of the wonderful Freedoms Foundation campus, which is visited annually by thousands of AMVETS members, students, educators, military leaders and civic leaders representing every state in the country.
Your contribution to the Commander's 2011-2012 Project will assist the maintenance and improvement of the dormitories, conference rooms, and common areas that are in constant use. Your support for these upgrades will also provide the opportunity to permanently recognize your AMVETS unit on the Freedoms Foundation Campus.
Represented below are the major needs and associated capital improvement
budget of $100,000:
$40,000 for central air conditioning for the Alexander Hamilton Student Dormitory;
$35,000 for central air conditioning for the General MacArthur Cafeteria and adult sleeping rooms located in the building;
$25,000 for refurbishment of the lobbies in the Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton Student Dormitories - both buildings are in need of new furniture, flooring, lighting and recreational equipment.
Donate today and plan to attend the 2012 AMVETS youth program in November, where the Freedoms Foundation will recognize donors to the Commander’s Project.
Beryl Love and the Freedoms Foundation staff are ready to assist Departments, Posts and individual donors who desire to participate in this fundraising mission. Together we can help the Freedoms Foundation accomplish its mission to educate and inspire our country’s future generations of civic leaders.
For more information, contact:
Beryl Love, AMVETS National Programs Director
Phone: (240) 832-7768

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