VETERANS: IF YOU READ THIS, PLEASE PASS IT ON. LET’S MAKE IT VIRAL, IN HONOR OF THE BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE. PLEASE HELP.
Richard is a vet. He served in Korean and saw front-line action — nasty stuff, actually, the kind of action that, when you try to talk about it, the words get caught in the throat on their way up from the heart and the mind just won’t let you go there again. I know. My dad fought in the thickest part of the Battle of the Bulge in January 1945. My brother Pete came back from Vietnam with nightmares.
You don’t serve on the front of combat and come back the same person. Richard told me about his earlt-1950s Asian experience once. Honoring his confidence, we shall keep the details to ourselves. We can say this much: Harrowing. Absolutely harrowing.
Richard made it back to the states in once piece, bodily, but his combat experience in that frozen battleground messed with his soul. He battled the post-war demons upon his return to a country that never understood what we were doing there. The Korean mission was ill defined, the obectives never clear, and the end game uncertain. In fact, in 2010, the Korean War is still going on, suspended in a perpetual truce between North and South that could erupt again. The war has never ended.
Today, Richard holds his own in gentrified Stockbridge, a resolute survivor, a man who has won the love and respect of a town in a location where he has a prime-time view of life as the la-de-dahs live it in the Cole-Hahn milieu that so much of South County has become for the neveau riche.
The Price is Wrong
Richard got to THE PLANET with something that hit him to the core. He told us of an unanticipated body blow that has upset this proud veteran more than he can say. When we met him, he reached into his wallet and pulled out a piece of folded newsprint. Richard slowly sunfloded the paper, as if he were reverse-engineering a paper sculpture. The unfloded paper showed an ad from the Berkshire Eagle, inviting people to place an Verterans’ Day ad honoring those who answered the call. Fine. All good, except for the price.
Ricahrd’s problem was with the $27.55 price tag for the ad.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, after I saw this,” Richard said from his perch inside his favorite coffee bar. “This is wrong. The Eagle should be running ads to honor our [veterans] for free, you know, as a public service. But to charge this much or anything. It’s terrible. I’m thinking about all the families who don’t have that kind of money for an ad. What do they do? What are they thinking? Who’s going to help them? They are left out. This is just a gimmick [by the Eagle] to make money off of us [vets]. I was going to write a letter to the editor about this, but they wouldn’t publish it.”
Fighting for The Little Guy
That’s why and upset and demoralized Richard came to THE PLANET. He came to us via an intermediary because he knows we will always take up a fight for the bedraggled Little Guy.
Richard saw things no one should ever see in that frozen hell that was Korea. He was up near the Chosin Reservior near the 38th parallel when a vast influx of North Korean and Chinese troops surrounded a large contingent of G.I.s. There was only one way out. It wasn’t pretty.
As for the Veterans’ Day ad promotion, THE PLANET, as all of you have, has seen these types of newspaper marketing ads for Valentine’s Day, Patriot’s Day, Secretary’s Day, Get a Hickey Day, and every other type of “day” where the marketing and ad department of the paper can score some quick dough. I can understand that, up to the point where guys like Richard draw the line over the tasteless Vetern’s Day promo.
This is Veterans’ Day. Has it become so trivial that we should look for ways to cash in on one of the most fervent and selfless actions a person can undertake? In this age of Twitter, where all is ephemeral, have we become so oblivious of what this enduring day means for the families and loved ones of those who have served, many of whom paying the ultimate price?
A Simple and Honorable solution for the Berkshire Eagle
The solution, of course, is for the Berkshire Eagle to buy a huge amount of community good will and offer small ads — free — to all veterans who want one. If the fear is that the onslaught would create a stampede, we say, fine. Everyone who gets a free ad will buy the paper. Media News Group will make money, and the big boys in Denver will be happy, since that is their prime directive.
We owe more than we can repay to guys like Richard and all veterans. To put a price of $27.55 for the privilege of honoring a sacred trust smacks of dishonor. THE PLANET holds little hope that his small editorial will sway the policies that are dictated from Denver, Colo., but we do hold hope that by bringing this issue to light, more than one veteran will know there is a place that takes up their cause and cares for them like a buddy in a foxhole. That place is this website.
We thank all who served and who now serve.