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Raise Awareness To Honor Sacrifice

Raise Awareness To Honor Sacrifice

The following opinion was written by Wayne Lutz, founder of the Warriors’ Watch Riders.

The United States of America is at war.

That may be hard to believe. There are no shortages of metals or fuel, no rationing, no air raid sirens and blackout orders from civil protection agencies, no stocking of bomb shelters or hoarding of canned goods. The United States of America is at war and life goes on for most of us. But not all.

It’s a stunning fact that a mere one percent of the population is now doing the fighting for the other 99 percent of us. We are separated from the war by vast oceans and thousands of miles. We are insulated from the effects of war by our massive economy. It is something that we rarely think about.

That’s why I was disappointed when I read the article in this paper about the mural being painted (funded by a grant no less! I’d have done it for free!) under a bridge at a border between Cheltenham and Glenside.

I realize this is now moot, as not only has the decision been made about what to paint, but the painting is well under way. But I pass under that bridge at least twice every day, and I can’t help but feel these pangs of regret for a missed opportunity to raise awareness and to educate. (If there was any public input as to what to paint, I missed that announcement.)

You see, I speak to military families in the region every day. That’s the volunteer work I do. I know that in Glenside and Cheltenham there are many military families, most struggling financially, most worried sick for the welfare of their loved ones currently serving in harm’s way, unknown and unremarked by most of us.

Just a few weeks ago my group welcomed a Glenside resident home from a long tour in Afghanistan. Your paper published the account, May 10 – 16 issue.

Master Chief Steven Jancso, who has just achieved the highest enlisted rank that the Navy has, was brought home by “a parade of motorcycles, cars, and Abington Township Police,” (and a salute from the Weldon Fire Company as we passed) and welcomed into his neighborhood by “a host of neighbors, family and friends.” What was less known was that most of Jancso’s neighbors were unaware of his service and of the sacrifice his family (his wife and the two new twins who he’d barely known) had endured the past many months.

The Cheltenham Township Police have also, many times, assisted my group in the escort of returning Cheltenham heroes. The Abington and Cheltenham Police and firefighters, they “get it,” and my praise of their patriotism could not be greater.

If this mural had been done my way, it would recognize the sacrifice of Cheltenham and Glenside families through all wars in their histories. Perhaps a WWII vet reaching across the border and across the years to an Afghanistan vet. Maybe a representation of the service of Cheltenham and Glenside residents with portraits of some of our local heroes who have died. (I’d be happy to provide names and records, a little too long for this letter.)

Rather than a trite and meaningless intertwining of tree limbs in a mural that “celebrates the environment and spreads the message of ‘going green’ to the community,” whatever that means, how about one that raises awareness among the 99% of the stark realities of the service and sacrifice of the 1%. In this time of war, how about one that honors the true love of community that can only come from selfless dedication to a cause larger than one’s self. Perhaps in that way we could begin to educate our community members, especially our young, in the meaning and true importance of Patriotism.

It is only through the suffering and sacrifice of the one percent of our citizens that the other 99 percent of us have the freedom and leisure to celebrate things like “the environment” and “going green.” Why don’t we find a way to honor that sacrifice?

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