Robert Hitt Neill Column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

God bless America this Fourth of July

I just had a call from a friend who served in Vietnam, who is trying help me get signed up for Veteran’s Benefits.  Although I also served in combat all those years ago, I never tried to sign up with the VA when I got back home, simply because during those years most of us returning vets wanted to stay just as far away from the government as we could.

Remember, we were the generation who not only lost our war, but got spit on when we came back home wearing our uniforms.  Seriously, the military authorities actually discouraged us from wearing our uniforms in public places, especially big city airports, more especially on the west coast. That’s west coast of the United States of America, folks. During the late sixties and early seventies.

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However, we read stories on the Internet daily about the honor and respect with which the general population is treating our armed forces today in America. God bless you, even if you are against the current war, you can be sympathetic to the families who have loved ones going into harm’s way, or who have lost loved ones, or who have had loved ones badly injured.  And most people seem to respond with care and concern for our men and women who have answered their call to duty in the Middle East and other trouble spots during the past two decades.

As a combat veteran (even if the VA isn’t accepting any more veterans for benefits at present) I’m thankful for that attitude nationally. If you know someone who has a serviceman or servicewoman pulling watches while we celebrate the Fofa July this week, take the time to drop them a line or make a call to say thanks and see if they need anything you can provide besides a caring word.

Americans have usually responded over the years to the needs of others, even if those needs involved fighting and dying for people in foreign lands. But we’re not talking about just military folks; we here in Mississippi have seen how folks in the U.S.A. have responded to our needs from Hurricane Katrina less than two years ago.

I just heard from a pastor on the Gulf Coast who says he still is booked up through this fall with teams coming from as far away as Oregon and Minnesota to continue rebuilding churches and homes which were destroyed in the hurricane.  God Bless America!

While we here in the Delta had significant damage from Katrina (and Rita) 250 miles from the Coast, we cannot help but remember how people from all over America reacted to help us during the Great Ice Storm of 1994, which up until Hurricane Katrina had been the most devastating blow to the Magnolia State, even including Hurricane Camille, I understand. We had power and phone and tree-cutting services from almost every other state here in the Delta, and some stayed for nearly two months, until our power grids were rebuilt. God Bless America!

We will never forget the “9/11” events, when terrorists flew jetliners into buildings in New York City and Washington DC, and a field in Pennsylvania, killing more Americans than the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor, I understand.

Our oldest daughter worked in NYC then, maybe 20 blocks from the Twin Towers, and our son-in-law was somewhere in the air flying passenger jets that day.  Christie couldn’t get to a working phone until nearly noon to call and say she was okay, and John was mid-afternoon getting word to us where he was.

We all saw how Americans reacted then, and still tear up when we recall that National Feeling.  Well, I say God Bless America for people who have that type Feeling!

Aw, we have problems in this country, we all know that. There seem to be complete idiots running our great country sometimes, like when you actually read some of the provisions in this Immigration Bill that Congress is (seriously!) debating these days.  Of course, you have to remember that We, The People, elected these folks, so I reckon we’re to blame, right? It’s the way that this nation is set up by the same folks who gave us this Fofa July: God Bless America!