Thursday, September 01, 2011

Branches, Trees, Roots

There is a lot of grumbling going on around Long Island as a small army of men and woman go about cleaning up the mess left by hurricane Irene. I was in the dark for three days and it was not a pleasant experience. I can only imagine how difficult it is for those with special needs. Even so I am always surprised by the response of the public to those who did not create this problem, are doing their best to correct it and yet suffer the wrath of those who think that berating these workers will somehow get their lights back on.

Maybe it's me but I can't help but wonder where this attitude has come from. Could it be the endless stream of whiners that flood the airwaves and fill the television screens these days? 

It was thirty years ago that Bruce Springsteen held a benefit show for the Vietnam Veterans. This was Springsteen's coming out party as a true social activist and, as a side note, certainly one of the top-ten shows of his career. If you have a chance to dig it up you'll find it well worth your time. A little known fact is that Springsteen single handedly saved the Vietnam Veterans Association, placing a call to them on the very day that they were going to close up shop due to financial problems and a lack of support. Springsteen opened the show with an exceptionally accurate view of the plight of the Vets and then introduced Robert Mueller, a Vietnam vet, who introduced the event and in a few minutes explained what everything was about in the most eloquent way. The two speeches are short, to the point and truly uplifting.

The band then kicks into John Fogerty's "Who'll Stop The Rain" and from the opening note you can hear that, to a man, the E-Streeters were well aware of the importance of that evening's performance.            

Remembering that night and the mood of the country at that time, Mueller recently said that among the many, many obstacles that the returning vets had to deal with was that they were associated with the war it self instead of soldiers who were just doing their job. The fact is that a great part of why even the most ardent anti-war activists can now separate the troops from the mission is due to the work by the Vietnam Veterans groups.

If you will; don't hate the players, hate the game.

Now it's 30 years down the road and a lot of men and women still have nowhere to run, nowhere to go. But thanks to an August night in 1981 many were able to find a light to lead them out of the darkness and it was Bruce Springsteen, the E-Street Band and rock and roll that led the way. Like I said, check out the show if you can. When rock and roll is delivering a message it can be powerful stuff indeed.

Some guy, who may very well traveled from out of town, who is cutting down branches today somewhere on Long Island is certainly different than a nineteen year old who was sent off to a foreign land to fight for his country, but they are both men with a job to do - and they both deserve your thanks and support.