With all the hoopla on the tube and in the papers about health care, I was more than a little interested in an email I received today regarding a facet of that subject we don't hear much about. As a retiree, I'm a member of the Air Force Association and got the email from AFA President Michael M. Dunn.
Dunn, a retired Air Force general, told of attending a Remembrance Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery dedicated to fallen military medical personnel in Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The medical community was there to honor those who gave their lives and the families they left behind.
The general said he was struck by three things at the ceremony. The first was the large number of losses from such a small segment of the military community, one that is normally protected under the Geneva Conventions. A total of 216 medical personnel have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another thing he found particularly interesting was the Surgeon General of the Navy's observation that Americans should take time to honor our physicians on National Doctors Day, March 30. Though observed by some since the 1930s, National Doctors Day did not get official recognition until 1990.
The other occurrence he took note of dealt with the singing of the National Anthem during the outdoor ceremony. "I, as a veteran," he wrote, "saluted the flag." Afterward, several people came up to him and asked if a hand salute was permissible rather than the customary hand over the heart.
He wrote: "I noted that in October 2008 the law changed - thanks in large part to Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma, with the support of AFA - to permit military not in uniform or veterans to salute the flag when it is raised and lowered and when the National Anthem is played. Read the VA press release here.
Injecting a little patriotism into the conversation isn't a bad idea at a time when so much negativity and division are floating about.