Friday, November 12, 2010

Cruise Ship "Disaster" and Veterans' Day Collide

Bear with me for this rant as I'm rather annoyed.

Today is Veterans' Day in America. Formerly known as Armistice Day, it is a day where we stop and remember those who have served and serve in our nation's military. To me, this is an important day and I think people should mark this day appropriately. Unlike Memorial or Labor Day, which more or less have become bookends to summer and excuses for barbecuing and beach going (nothing wrong with that) Veterans' Day marks the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, when the silence of peace rang like the voice of God as the killing of WWI ended. It should be marked as a blessed moment, a solemn moment, and one we should not forget.

A lot of people are bitchy and moany about Obama not being here in the USA to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, but he was in South Korea, and he made use of the time there to mark the memorial of those who died in the Korean (aka the Forgotten) War.

Good for him, I applaud him for that. I don't know very many American dignitaries who have ever been in or near Korea for Veterans' Day, so thumbs up to him for being there and making use of his time appropriately (I was far more offended by him not going to Memorial Day observances, but going to see Paul McCartney or the Jonas Brothers or something that day instead but, whatever. Over and done).

But my rant is not Obama-based. Not at all.

For people who were bitchy and moany about Obama's not being here but being overseas, I bet 90% of them paid more attention to the return of the ill fated Carnival cruise ship that was dead in the water for 3 days due to a fire on board that knocked out all electrical functions, including toilet flushing.

The fact that both Veterans' Day observances and the return of the ship to the harbor happened at the same time meant that the media had a "difficult" choice to make. What do you cover? Well, they covered Arlington National Cemetery in all its subdued solemnity, and before the bugle was down from the lips of the bugler, they cut straight over to San Diego to cover the triumphant rescue and return of the cruisers. Hallelujah! Amen!

I heard someone say this was very much like the rescue of the Chilean miners! These people suffered! Honeymoons were ruined! They had to eat ... SPAM that was airlifted to them from our military!

Oh dear GOD how did these people survive this DISASTER!

Shut. Up.

It was not a disaster. It was an inconvenience. Three days, not three months. A few days of SPAM, not months of a thimbleful of water and a moldy piece of bread.

A disaster is Katrina in New Orleans. The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald was a disaster. Haiti, and what is still going on in Haiti, a disaster. Indonesia, with floods AND volcanoes happening simultaneously, THAT is a disaster, my friends.

If you go through the photos that I linked to above in the news story, those people, after three days stranded close to death at sea, don't look like they've lived through a disaster. Waving a white shirt that says "Next stop the Daily Show" is not something that someone who suffered horribly would do. I'm sure their families were worried about them, but it was nothing in comparison to what goes on globally that is truly disastrous.

Want to know what is a disaster? How many homeless veterans there are in this country. It isn't that some lady couldn't flush her toilet and food spoiled and was smelly and someone couldn't take a shower or bath for three days.

For some woman to say "I never want to see SPAM and cold sandwiches again," while a Desert Storm veteran with PTSD living under a bridge somewhere a mile or two away from where she has finally been rescued bothers the hell out of me. Maybe he'd like a SPAM sandwich.

I'm sick of our media in this country, making giant stories of freaking out proportions about things that are just not that freakoutaboutable. We need to make better editorial decisions about what we cover and how hard we cover it and how we even CLASSIFY things (ie disaster vs. inconvenience). Our news has become nothing but a list of "First World Problems" and gun deaths.

Maybe you see it differently. Maybe you say "oh stop, those people had a really rough time." Their families were so worried about them and you would worry too if you couldn't talk to say Jessica or your sister and you didn't know what was going to happen.

And so I would say go tell that to the Hatians who still live under tarps who now have cholera and still don't have homes. Tell it to a Veteran who fought in WWII who spent months in a trench, lost friends in his unit, took bullets, chances and risks, and lived to tell.

Sure, I'd be worried but I would know in my heart of hearts it wouldn't be like they'd be resorting to cannibalism in three days or anything. No one was going to starve to death or die of dehydration. Everyone KNEW where they were and help was on the way.

Today, I took my son to our town Veterans' Day observance with our local VFW at the controls. The boys mostly just stand there, which is fine. We do this for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Our school district has a nice new marching band which is getting better and better by the performance. There were a lot of people in attendance. It was really nice to see.

I didn't have to watch Joe Biden or Obama do their things with wreaths. I got to watch a wonderfully old man who was half stooped over get ushered over to the display to hang a wreath for those who went before him. To me, that was far more meaningful and beautiful. I didn't need a Tomb of the Unknowns. I stood in front of a memorial to the knowns, with other men still walking who fought with them in different theatres across this world.

And, I'll end my rantings with a thanks to just about everyone on my friends list on Facebook. Not a single person I'm friends with mentioned this Cruise Ship Disaster. Almost every single one of them said something about what they thought about in regards to the Veterans of this nation. Do I have a great set of friends or what. They know what the priorities are. They get it.

All told, I'll sleep well tonight now that I've voided my rheum about this. And I'm sure all the Cruise Ship Survivors will too. I just hope that there is somewhere comfortable, dry and safe tonight for someone who really deserves and needs shelter.


  1. Well said, er, written!

  2. thank you sean.
    i just don't understand how our country has gotten to the point where inconveniences are tragedies. i hate to say it, but dude... maybe we need a massive nationwide tragedy again to get people to snap out of it?

  3. I so agree. I still contend that TV news outlets of all types are just so desperate to not be "out-scooped", that they will cover whatever sensationalist junk they think their competitors will cover, because if they don't, that = lost revenue. And some of the blame must be put on the cruisers themselves, who apparently just acted ridiculously. Like you said, this was an inconvenience. Maybe a big one. But eat the spam, deal with the heat, and shut up. They knew they'd be fine within a few days. And the ones who are saying, "I'LL NEVER TAKE A CRUISE AGAIN!" as if their lives were irreparably changed forever need to be quiet. [right now on SNL, they're doing a parody of this very thing!]

  4. zanti1:29 PM

    I enjoyed this rant! And I agree, the news outlets are (and have been for a long time) ridiculous in the way they try to create panics and sensationalize just about everything. And who cares about Obama not being in DC for Veterans Day? I so don't care about that sort of ceremonial stuff. I'd rather our elected officials spend their time trying to improved everyone's situation including those citizens that need the most help (homeless, etc).

  5. Rant away - and people wonder why I don't watch the news regularly. Sheesh! It's all hyperbole and the insatiable ratings hunt.