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Friday, November 11, 2005

the stock market

Should be closed today. It’s Veterans Day. In November of 1954.the Congress of the United States and then President Dwight Eisenhower passed legislation changing Armistice Day to veterans Day, day set aside to remember and recall the millions of American men and women who served in the armed forces of the United States of America. Banks are closed, schools are closed and in yet another example of the bond market being smarter than the stock market, the bond market is closed to honor the sacrifice of our veterans. The stock market however is open.

We close on new years day, to celebrate the flipping of a calendar page, nurse our hangovers and watch football. Is this flip of a page and college bowl game extravaganza more important or central to our way of life than the men who stood on the green at Concord and Lexington, filled musket barrel with trembling fingers as the crouched behind the barrier on bunker hill as the British came ever closer? Is the need to reflect on the passage of time and set resolutions we will break by weeks end more important then those who crossed the Delaware with Washington or those who survived the long endless winter of Valley Forge? I don’t think so but we re closed on new years day.

We are closed on Martin Luther Kings birthday. There is no denying the Rev. Kings important contributions to the civil rights movement in the United States. But is honoring his achievements and sacrifice more important than honoring those who charged the low stone wall at Fredericksburg and were cut down in row after bloody row? Is it more important to honor one man than the thousands who endured the hellish cross fire and tangled underbrush of the wilderness? More important the honoring those who out of ammunition wheeled downhill and charged to break up the confederate attempt to flank the union army at Gettysburg and turned the tide of the war? More important than the Irish Brigade perhaps, who endured Bloody lane at Antietnam, the wheat field at Gettysburg and charged into the murderous guns of Maryes Heights at Fredericksburg? Than the thousands who served the Union Army from first Bull Run to Appomattox? I don’t think so but we re closed on Rev Kings Birthday.

We re closed on Presidents day. There is no mistaking the contributions of the men who have led our great nation. But are they as individuals, more deserving of a holiday than the millions of men and women who they have ordered into battle in such strange places as Chapultepec and Bayamo? More important to honor the leaders who set safe in Washington while young men and women sailed to Cuba  the phillipines, china and Tripoli on their orders?I don’t think so but we re closed on Presidents day.

We re closed on good Friday, a religious holiday not celebrated by the entire populace of the United States. Is it more important to honor one faith when how many thousands of Jews,hindu, Buddhists, followers of the old native american gods, and yes even Muslims have gone to such places as Belleau Wood,the Argonne forest and Montfaucon? I don’t think so but we re closed on Good Friday.

Memorial Day we re closed.As we should be to honor those veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice and lay down their very lives in defense of their nation. But isn't it equally important to honor those who survived the agonizing defeat at pearl harbor, the blazing sea and sky battles of midway, climbed the beach barriers at Tarawa, slogged the valleys of the canal against a deeply entrenched and desperate foe, the marines who partook in the daring raid of the Makin Atoll, the sailors who survived and carry scars from Leyte gulf, the Philippines and the china sea. I think so but we re not closed on Veterans Day to honor the brave survivors who defended our nation.

Ditto on Independence Day. But is it more important to recall the reading of the document that gave birth to our nation in the sweltering July Heat of 1776 than to recognize all those who have kept her free since then? Is it more important to celebrate the start of the nation than those who stormed the beaches of Normandy under the guns of the Nazis, who marched up Sicily , or those who were massacred at Malemdy, or were encircled at Bastogne? It is important to honor the birth of our nation and the bravery and wisdom of our founding father but isn't it as important to recall those who fought to keep us a free nation in places such as Casablanca, Algiers and the Kassarine Pass? I think so but the market is open on Veterans Day.

We re closed on Labor Day to honor those who toil and use the skills and sweat to build the American Economy. But is that more important to honor their labor than those who have preserved their right to work by storming ashore at Inchon, who fought and captured Pyongyang, or endured the merciless cold and Chinese swarms at the Chosin reservoir, or those who endured the long icy retreat.I don’t think so but we re closed on labor day.

We re closed on Thanksgiving, and it is good for to pause and reflect all the good things we have because we live in a free democratic nation.I love thanksgiving. Mountains of food, oceans of wine, football, and no need to buy anyone a gift. It is one of my favorite holidays. But it it more important than honoring those who served that nation in such exotic places as Da Nang or Quang Ngai Province orKhe Sang? More important than remembering those who were sent out on patrol through the dense dank jungle knowing that ambush and sneak attack by a determined foe was likely before the daylight returned, or those who served at forward fire bases under constant attack and in permanent danger of being overrun by the VC or NVA? More important than recalling the bravery of the pilots who were shot down and spent years in hellish prison cells or even bamboo cages,suffering deprivation and even the cruelest forms of torture? I don’t think so but we re closed on thanksgiving.

We re closed on Christmas as well. We close to celebrate the birth of a god not every American believes in but I do recognize that the Judeo-Christian ethic runs deeply through the United Sates but is this day more important than those who have fought through the decades to preserve our religious freedom, both on our soil to repel the British and secure our freedom, to preserve the union in a nightmarish brother versus brother, the hideous Civil War, expanded the young nation across the great plains and into the west, protected us in two terrible foreign wars against dictators and fascists, who served where sent on two controversial campaigns against the specter of communism  or protected our allies and energy supplies in two gulf wars? Is Santa Claus more important than men like James Lackey, exhausted, dirty with mouth and ears full of sand driving his tank across the sands of Iraq  or the thousands there today in Fallujah and Iraq who leave the compound each day on patrol, putting on their armor and choking back mouth drying, bladder spasming  fear to face the terrorists in the streets of Baghdad. I don’t think so but we re closed on Christmas.

In our nations history, millions of men and women have entered out nations armed forces. They have many reasons to do so, some out of real patriotism, some because of lack of opportunity, and more than a few to escape jail time for some misdemeanor given the choice by small town judges across America. Some hope to do four years and move on, or accumulate enough for college and move on, some do the full 20-25 years and make the Military a life and a career.Some are sent to war,others serve in such exotic, interesting places as Fort Huachuca, Az, The DMZ in Korea,Yuma Arizona or perhaps fun filled White Sands new Mexico. They are young men and women who leave hearth and home for a wide variety of reason but for one unified purpose..To defend the United States of American and all of our rights and freedoms. We close the stock Exchange for political and religious reason and there is nothing wrong with that but is it more important than the young people staring across the fence at Guantanamo Bay, or those young men and women who give up ivy league educations and top flight careers to enter the brigade, the long grey line or another of our nations service Academies? Is it more important to honor these occasions than to honor those on the wind swept plains of Kansas guarding our prisons and enemies at fort Leavenworth? Are any of these more important than honoring our military, from the join chiefs of staff down to the newest recruit? I don’t think so but the stock market is open on Veterans Day.

All good posts must, of course always have stats and numbers. Can’t leave those out.

Civil War, Union Army 360,222 dead,275 174 wounded
WW One 58,480 dead, 189955 wounded
WW two 300,000 dead, 300,000 wounded
Korean Conflict 33686 dead 103284 wounded
Vietnam 58156 dead,303704 wounded 2338 MIA
First Gulf War 293 dead, 1000 wounded
Current conflict, 200 dead and counting
Number of us military Veterans 24.5 million
Current active duty US Military 1.5 million

But the stock market is open on Veterans Day.

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