A Memorial Day Salute and Promise for the Future


Today is the day to pause and show our respect to those who, regardless of race, religion, gender, national origin or sexual orientation, served, fought and died to protect our country and all Americans, those living now or in the future from enemy harm. Those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country and its people deserve the highest honor possible, to be sure. And I believe those who have been maimed by war, physically or mentally, should be equally honored. One such victim I’m proud to have as friend and former high school classmate. His name is Jim Walktendonk, and he and family suffered greatly from the ill effects of U.S. war planes spraying what was called “agent orange” to defoliate the greenery the enemy hid in and expose them to U.S. fire power. Unfortunately, the chemicals in the agent orange also had adverse impact on our troops as well. I’ll let Jim Walktendonk tell the complete story.

One way we can give honor and respect to those who died to protect our freedom is by working, individually or in groups, to build a healthier and more peaceful world. Unfortunately, the world we share is not getting any any healthier nor any more peaceful, but just the opposite.

With a population of over 7 billion people we must find ways to live more peacefully with one another and be more protective of our finite earth. We elect our political leaders to keep us out of wars and our economy strong but they are seldom successful at doing either

We now face the biggest threat to humanity of all time in rapid global warming, due primarily to: our excessive fossil fuel burning in cars, homes, businesses and airplanes; in production of an excessive amount of consumer goods for many individuals and a dearth of such goods for others, and in shipment of those goods; in military exercises around the world; in the type of foods we eat and the methods of its production; in our use of water and by a myriad of other sources and by deforestation, especially in the tropical area of the world considered by many to be the lunges of the planet. Along with warming temperatures caused by a thickening greenhouse atmosphere around our planet comes more extreme weather, warming and rising seas, a changing climate and how that changes the supporting biodiversity. Although too difficult to separate out from other weather extreme events, global warming has now without a doubt become the greatest killer of American and other peoples ever, of the earth’s animal populations, and the number of deaths linked to it each year will likely grow significantly, without major and swift action taken by our governments, commerce and you and I.

Public officials, state and federal lawmakers, and many members of the media who continue to cite uncertainty and spurious research as reason not for people not to take serious action now to reduce all sources of greenhouse gas emission should be judged harshly; their actions (or inaction) are crimes against humanity of the highest order. The people we honor today would likely agree, wholeheartedly.

We do not need a war to rise to the occasion and join the fight against global warming. To do that, we must all hop on the peace train, put down our gun, and fight the fight of our life for the living planet, OUR EARTH.

About Mike Neuman

Environmentalist; Father; Senior Citizen; Husband, Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work Advocate; Animal/Children/People Lover (in general); Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin, Anti-long distance travel (via fossil fuel burning); Against militarism in any form; Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; for those in authority to listen attentively AND, as warranted, ACT AS NECESSARY AND IN A TIMELY MANNER TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE those concerns; Lover of music, especially live music, music by: David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Neil Young; John Prine; Steve Goodman; B.B. King; Eric Burton; Gracy Slick, Carol King;John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr; Bob Dylan; Lightfoot; Mark Knoffler; Richard Thompson; Elvis Presley; Tom Petty; Willie Nelson, Others too numerous to mention.

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