Happy New Year thanks to the American soldier

January 1, 2014

The week between Christmas and the first day of the New Year is but a week of boredom for political junkies. Congress is scattered to among their district winds, the President is scheduled away from prying eyes, and the regular media anchors are all grabbing some down time while they can.

 While news from somewhere about something or other does find its way into the 24 hour news cycle, as far as the American political scene is concerned, the world stops spinning the last week in December. (One could argue that we’d ALL be better off if they just didn’t come back, but I digress.)

  The “news” of the day becomes a constant loop of the “best of this”, the “worst of that”, the born, the dead, the tragedies the joys, it is 51 weeks crammed into one and thrown around the channels to feed the 24 hours news beast.

 And of course we must have the year end polls sponsored by their news needing sponsors to tell us what anyone with more than half a brain already knows: American’s of every political stripe agree, 2013 pretty much sucked.

 And who can blame them? The unemployment number is down, but that’s only because the labor participation rate is at its lowest level in over three decades.

 In just five years of our 237 year existence we have stolen almost 7 trillion dollars from our children’s future to distribute entitlements and buy votes today.

More Americans have lost their lives in the desolation of Afghanistan during President Obama’s “ending” of that war than all of the Bush years combined.

 Gasoline is still above $3 bucks a gallon, the boxes on the grocery store shelves continue to shrink while the prices inch ever higher.

 Thanks to an EPA that prefers ideology over sound cost-benefit analysis electric rates are higher than ever. And the disruption and economic uncertainty brought to us by the Affordable Care Act is only beginning to wreak its havoc.

 But as depressing that news and as uncertain the future on this New Years Day of 2014 we’ve still got it good.

  There have been far, far worse New Year Days for those who came before us.

 Take January 1st, 1778 when a certain Virginian by the name of George Washington was settling in his fledgling Continental Army for a winter that would see the first “do nothing” Congress fail so miserably that nearly 2500 men would never live to fight the British. Taken down not by a red coat’s musket but a simple lack of food and clothing.

 On January 1st, 1944, in Bastogne, Belgium what was left of the 101st Airborne Division could only watch as one after another of their buddies succumbed to their wounds of battle and their own fight with the elements. In just the first two weeks of what is known as the Battle of the Bulge, the 101st alone would suffer over 2,000 casualties.

 7 years later, New Years Day, 1951 American troops faced a surge of 500,000 North Korean and Communist Chinese forces in the bitter cold of the Korean peninsula.

 So yes, 2013 may have been a crappy year, and yes, this New Years Day opens with much uncertainty, but when viewed through the lens of history I challenge anyone reading this to say they’ve got it worse than those who went before us.

 God Bless the men and women of the American armed forces past, present, and future who year after year make every New Year hear at home safe and free.

(Publisher’s Note:  A version of this column first appeared in the January 1st, 2014 print edition of the Joplin Globe.)

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