Friday, June 5, 2015

Land Of The Free

One of the big news items this week, perhaps the biggest news item this week, has been Caitlyn Jenner. The Vanity Fair cover shot pops up with every click. Check on the weather…there’s Caitlyn. How’s the market doing…there’s Caitlyn. Did Tiger break 80….there’s Caitlyn.

I guess it’s news worthy up to a point. I remember Bruce Jenner and his accomplishments as a gold medal winning Olympic decathlete. He was a “pretty man” and the women loved him. He tried his hand at acting and was really bad. But he had some success as a race car driver and a businessman. Eventually, Jenner’s celebrity star brightened even more as a member of the Kardashian circus. And now we have Caitlyn. As the saying goes, you just can’t make this stuff up.

Five years before Bruce/Caitlyn was born, thousands of young men (most of them younger than Bruce when he won the gold in 1976), hit the beaches of Normandy. A lot of them died. A lot of them were seriously wounded. All of them and their families and the world, were forever changed. My dad was there as a member of the 101st Airborne. They missed the beach party having dropped in behind the lines a few hours earlier. A lot of them died there, too.

If you talk to combat veterans, they will tell you that they fought to survive, fought for each other and fought to get back home. But, they also know that they fought for a reason, for a cause. WWII veterans will tell you that the cause was Freedom. I doubt that any of them could have imagined a world in the future so free that a male Olympic champion might opt to become a transgendered female cover girl. We can debate the morality of Jenner’s decision. But if the Nazis had won or if Islam ruled the world, Jenner would not have the freedom to choose other than to choose death. Our world may be going to “hell in a hand basket” but that just comes with the territory we call freedom.

In today’s political world, my dad would have been a libertarian. His philosophy was live and let live, but don’t step on my toes. He was the Clint Eastwood character in the movie, Grand Torino, wielding a shotgun and warning the punks to “Get off my lawn”. But he would have just looked at Caitlyn Jenner and muttered something like “to each his own” and “it’s a free country”. And, he would ask why we are more interested in Caitlyn Jenner this week than we are in remembering and honoring those brave young men who stepped up and did what they had to do back in 1944 on the 6th day of June.

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