By now, Veterans Day weekend has come and gone, and yet we still appreciate. This Veterans Day marked the 100th Anniversary of the American Legion. That’s 1919 you know. Likewise like many, there are Veterans that are or were not appreciated for their service being skipped over or whatever. Regardless of the dilemmas and the regardless of opinionated thoughts, Veterans you are still appreciated! So in the ongoing honor of this Veterans Day, here is a blog letter for you.

And if you are a Veteran that likes what I write here or the comments on the Stephen’s Spot on WordPress Facebook Page or the Stephen’s Spot Twitter Page, I thank you. It’s only the beginning. Again!

Dear Veterans (and Veteran families) of the United States of America:

It’s me Stephen, a son of a late Vietnam Veteran that served proudly.

Yes, this weekend was and is your weekend. I have 4 words to share for this holiday weekend of yours: Reclaim your Veterans Day! Christmas maybe coming real quick, and Thanksgiving is next to come, but still reclaim your time! I sampled again that from the infamous Congresswoman Maxine Waters who kept constantly saying, “reclaiming my time” over and over again. But seriously, Vets it’s your time again to reclaim the holiday that is meant for you. This is your time to take the heart of this occasion to summarize all of the war stories, the valor, the parades, service stories, lectures, and also experiences that many of you endured in uniform. Those of us that haven’t done the job, we go around that having the opinionated thought about wars and many others. Of course, we have that. But however, without the will of God and you guys, that would not be very possible. Many of you have your say of what you did and yes, your commentary is still and always valid.

But the game doesn’t stop there. Matter of fact, it goes on until the wheels fall off. Even it goes on every day at work, school, church, and leisure. Speaking of the challenges, last year it was an ongoing concern about our so-called president lagging behind when it becomes the statuses of our Veterans. And it’s related to the Department of the Veterans Affairs that many of them are not getting their VA cash due to the fact that it’s an IT issue. This year’s challenge is an everyday challenge in regards to your health, education, job search and most of all, the communities. Why do I say this? every week or month, I hear from Veterans all the time, especially African American Veterans that the issues of Jobs has been a concern. Matter of fact, it’s always been a concern either as a Veteran and as a non-veteran. Homelessness is also a concern, that no one wants to be homeless on any day. In Milwaukee today, there was an idea to build tiny homes that homeless vets can get into to get fed, clothed, and yes to get a new fresh start. The first time I’ve seen the Tiny Homes was in Racine County. But now I’m glad that the Homeless vets here the city can get that chance to reclaim their obligation to get back on their feet again to get going. Speaking of getting back on the feet again: I need to address a concern. Yes, this event is coming up in Milwaukee and it’s an annual tradition, the Milwaukee Veteran’s Day Parade is on November 16th, which is ahead of Thanksgiving and yet it’s in financial trouble. Yep another Milwaukee long traditional parade is in financial trouble due to lack of funding, and further more lack of interest. According to the Milwaukee Independent Website, this question popped up in a gasping thought:

What does it say about the patriotism of Milwaukee and Waukesha corporations, and the general public interest, to actually honor its hometown veterans and active duty members, when a foreign company has to fund our local Veteran’s Day Parade to keep a half century tradition alive?

Let me stop you right there: Heard of the company called “TransCanada?” This is the company that is out of CANADA that helped funded the Milwaukee Veterans Day Parade back in 2017, sometime after the Flag Protesting took place across the country. Way after Colin Kaepernick (who was born in Milwaukee) made his stance with the kneeling when the National Anthem was playing in the background. Note to those who may have forgotten, it was against police brutality. Not against the flag, the military, the veterans, or any thing other thing that utilizing the thought of expressing the ideal of patriotism. Also in the article: this was mentionted in regarding those complaining about high ticket prices, and expressing interests but didn’t show up:

That was the question Milwaukee Independent asked in late October of 2017, during the NFL flag kneeling controversy. It came from the observation that members of the local community were willing buy expensive tickets and travel far to attend an outdoor entertainment event, and in an incidental moment show the measure of their patriotism by standing for a song that barely lasted a minute. However, those same people failed to make any time for a free event in their hometown to actually honor American heroes by simply showing up to wave and smile.

Wait, so folks who had complained about expensive prices for a ticket per say and not showing up to a free event , kind of shows that there is cheapness in the observation. Does this remind you of something? Read this portion that supports the above statements:

Milwaukee Independent: What factors have you seen affect interest and attendance in Milwaukee’s Veterans Day Parade since you first started attending?

Mary Ann D’Acquisto: That is a very difficult question – we have always struggled with getting people to attend the event. We have tried to get the word out as best we could – press releases, posters, e-mail, Facebook, and such, but it was never enough. The first year we took over the event was 2001 and it was just post 9/11, so everyone was very patriotic and we had a huge crowd. In the 18 years since, we have seen less and less attend every year. I have heard many reasons from people for not attending, like ‘it is too cold, I take my kids to the Christmas parade instead, I don’t have any veterans in my family, I donate money to the veterans,’ and the list goes on. I don’t think people realize how much it means to many of our veterans to have a show of public support. When no one is on the street watching the parade it makes them feel as though they are forgotten.

Milwaukee Independent: Has the elderly condition of World War II veterans altered plans for the 2019 parade, and what will the new format look like?

Mary Ann D’Acquisto: Yes, 2019 is the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and many other major battles in WWII. Consequently the WWII veterans are our Special Guests of Honor for this year’s event. All veterans will be honored and participate, however the WWII vets are our featured guests. In the traditional parade format – veterans are outside for almost 4 hours and the last several years the weather has been less than favorable. That lead us to plan an event that was warmer and drier with more indoor time for our veterans.

The agenda for the day is as follows, this is open to the public: November 16 at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. 0900: Displays – military related groups and a special WWII display and performances by some of our favorite parade units. 1030 – Memorial Service. Veterans Day Parade will consist of an Honor Walk and Motorcade, it will not be the traditional 1.5 mile parade route. 1100 – Honor Walk to let our veterans know how much we appreciate them as they parade from the War Memorial over the Mason Street Bridge to Prospect Avenue. 1200 – Veterans Motorcade leaves the War Memorial to take our veterans to a reception at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. Motorcade Route – leaves Prospect and Mason and heads west down Wisconsin Avenue to 6th Street, south on 6th Street to Canal Street, west on Canal Street to Potawatomi.

The veterans will have their coffee and donuts indoors at the War Memorial and can watch the performances from inside the building. The reception and luncheon for veteran participating in the Honor Walk will be at Potawatomi this year, so that we can have a sit down lunch where there is more room. Also, everyone can watch a documentary we are putting together profiling some of our local WWII veterans.

Milwaukee Independent: For the veterans who participate in the parade each year, what do they enjoy most about the experience?

Mary Ann D’Acquisto: The general consensus is the camaraderie of everyone being together – whether at the breakfast, parade, or luncheon. I do know, however, it has been very disappointing for them to see less and less people coming to the parade to cheer them on.

Ok, let’s stop right there. What you just saw is a portion of the interview that the Milwaukee Independent did with organizer, Mary Ann D’Acquitsto who has held the event in the city for the last 18 years. The organization is overseen by the company called, “Honor Our Military, Inc”. Which has been the nucleus of keeping things in order in the traditional Veterans Day Parade. This parade, or celebration has been going on for nearly 56 years. Which is almost a long time of honoring veterans here in Milwaukee. No matter which war campaign or era. But now in the area, and after this news hitting the fan, guess what? This parade will be on the list like the City of Festivals Parade, Milwaukee Christmas Parade, and The Great Circus Parade all faded out because of lack of money. And to think about it, when the parades was making money in all, guess what? there were more folks in the Milwaukee Area! But overtime, many folks left Milwaukee. The businesses that used to be supporters of the parade, also left Milwaukee. But a few came back. As far as financial support, guess what again, that ties into the businesses. And many also don’t know how the parade process works in terms of money! You got to have sponsors, company backers, a route, the participants, permits, and etc. That’s what it takes. And sadly a lot of folks here in Milwaukee as sad as I hate to say: THEY DON’T KNOW MUCH! They don’t! Oh, when I was reading the comments about this story, specifically from one commenter on Facebook who is “still serving” puts the blame on Tom Barrett in regarding the Streetcar, the DNC Convention and many others that are deemed “liberal”. That’s kind of false. I think the writing was on the wall that had nothing to do with the streetcar nor the convention. Blame it on the lack of knowledge and financial backing that the city encountered in the last 18 years. Blame it on that! There is your reason! Or many might say, oh it’s because Milwaukee is “hyper-segregated”. The only parades left in Milwaukee are the Memorial Day Parade, Juneteenth Day Parade, the Milwaukee LGBT Parade, a Labor Day Parade, and that’s it. No other parades not on the radar. Many of you reading this might be shocked nor surprised. It’s the truth! Matter of fact, continue to read the story and see for yourself.

Now many might say after reading this, “Oh Milwaukee doesn’t care about it’s Veterans. They might support a Trolley or a DNC Convention, or that new Bucks Playhouse called the Fiserv Forum, but won’t lift a finger or pulling the level to acknowledge our Veterans that gave so much to service.” To quote Daniel Bryan: FICKLE! How many here in Milwaukee ACTUALLY acknowledges our Veterans in the City? Even if you do support the Streetcar, Lead Water Prevention talks, Jobs, Black Lives, Health Stats of the Flu, combating racism, Men’s Movember, or the DNC Convention? How many here in Milwaukee ACTUALLY has organizations or local churches that supports and appreciates the valor of Veterans annually? What about everyday? Do you realize that there is void in the city that African-American Veterans aren’t acknowledged enough like the white counterparts that served? Come on now! I know this is Veterans Day respecting the Vets in all, but this stuff is EVERYDAY when many are not organizing. My home church, just recently just celebrated it’s 14th Anniversary in Milwaukee in honoring veterans in the congregation and it’s a BLACK UNITED METHODIST CHURCH! IN MILWAUKEE! Somebody say AMEN! I’m just keeping it real! Veterans, I love y’all but I’m just saying!

Veterans: yes your day and weekend of appreciation will be concluded, but your ongoing ideas and services on this side, will still continue. Like last year, I hinted again that you need to connect with the younger veterans who are currently starting out and settling in after their service. Many of you probably have that idea in mind. Continue to do so! Direct some ideas for them to get started through programs like the American Legion, the VA or any other organization that attracts them to support and get involved.

And one more thing: Young Vets: I need to say this again, you need to respect the OG’s that came before you. It may not be pretty, but like I always suggest that it takes respect to get respect. They are the Military Elders and been in the game longer than you! I’m just saying. As always yes, the non-vets can hear and receive advice from you about your ideas to continue our cause as we move forward. No matter if it’s a job, community time in the church, health, wellness, counseling, or any other idea that is able to do, hey we would welcome and respect it. If I were running a company or a division in a company, yes I would hire veterans in a heartbeat. Why you ask? Since many of you been in places that many of us have seen on TV, why not you? Just asking. No need to go further!

And finally, I realized that the entire month of November is “National Military Veterans and Families Month”. Or National Veterans Month. And it should be. Matter of fact that should have been on Obama’s watch. I know, it was 45’s crazy thing. But however that’s not the case. What is the case that this gives us a chance to have more appreciations, admiration of valor, celebrations and more ways to do Outreach to all of you. Regardless of your service and past duties.

So……To all the Veterans that got the welcome treatment: Never Forget.

To all the Veterans that never got the welcome treatment but got it in small appreciative tokens of appreciations later on: Never Forget.

To all the Veterans who are homeless and still keeping hope alive for the better: Never Forget.

To all the Veterans that were forgotten or being left out: Never Forget.

To all the Veterans that were never acknowledged for their service of any kind, but got acknowledged later on: Never Forget.

To all the WWII Vets: Never Forget.

To all the Korean War Vets: Never Forget.

To the families of WWI: Never Forget.

To the Vietnam Veterans and families: Never Forget.

To the Veterans of Grenada, Beirut, & the Cold War, and Families: Never Forget.

To the Veterans of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm and Families: Never Forget.

And yes….to the upcoming Veterans and families of Current war on Terror/Iraqi Freedom/etc. – Never Forget!

Additionally: To all the Women Veterans that blazed new paths and set new tones: Never Forget.

To all the Male Veterans: even though you have long historical experiences in the war in uniform, still never forget!

To all of my African-American Veterans: Historically, African-Americans have been in every conflict of wars since the beginning. Even when fighting for the flag and the country that didn’t want them due to race. These are facts, not alternative opinions altered by anyone political. Even with all this: I say NEVER FORGET!

And to all those of other ethnic Veterans ranging from the Indigenous to the European and all: yes, you too should Never Forget!

Never forget your time, Veterans. You have earned the stripes and flowers. Reclaim your Veterans Day!

Thanks to you of all what you accomplished.

Sincerely,

Stephen

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