I just watched the much over-hyped, nay BIZARRELY OVER-HYPED arrival of Danny Gokey at the Fox6 studios in Milwaukee. I was so taken by it that I got up and got myself a cup of coffee and checked my e-mail. I am sure that Mr. Gokey is a nice young man. To be sure he is a good singer. But then, to me, anyone is a good singer if they aren't off-key. He is a Christian and the worship leader at Faith Builders International in Milwaukee. Wonderful! But then, there are a lot of good singers in church. Most of them have their head on straight and realize that they are singing for the Lord and not for man.
But two weeks ago I was at Mitchell Field for a far more impressive homecoming, one that the local media totally ignored: The arrival home of 100 elderly World War II vets who, thanks to Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, had spent the day in Washington DC visiting the World War II memorial, Arlington, and the Iwo Jima Memorial. About 1000 of us, mostly family members, cheered on these vets as they walked (but mostly were wheeled) up the concourse.
One of them was my dad.
I saw proud former Marines, Army, Navy, and Coast Guard vets attempt to keep true to the code of their generation and look stalwart and not cry. Notice that I said "attempt" as most failed. I saw people, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, cheer these old men for bravery and dedication that occurred well before these kids were born. None of these old men had made their name via a contrived competition on a TV show. None of the folks cheering these old men can ever comprehend the degree of selfless bravery that it required for these men to do what they did. None of the crowd would be able to really put themselves in the shoes of these guys and comprehend the storming of the beaches at Normandy, or fighting a battle while freezing to death at Bastogne, or, as in the case of my dad, facing sudden death from a submarine attack while sailing in the frigid seas around Alaska on a cheaply built Coast Guard patrol frigate. The cheering crowd was not hyped-up by cheerleaders and TV producers.
Indeed, there was no media there at all. None from the print or TV industry. And that is a real shame. Not one brief video clip. Not a single picture in the next day's paper. Fox6 morning person Nicole Koglin was not there screeching with ecstasy about the veterans. Mark Concannon of Fox6 was not there gushing like an oil well about how marvelous everything is. Did state or local government even recognize this homecoming? No. Perhaps if Danny Gokey had said something about it they would have.
Am I bitter? I shouldn't be, but I am. I shouldn't be because Fox6 is only doing what most media these days does and that is hype pre-staged events that are spoon-fed to them by network publicists. The true heroes come home with dignity, unencumbered by the manufactured flash and glitz that we have come to expect. We now have huge community events, staged by event managers and show biz producers, for people who have done little more than excel at a sport or in the entertainment industry. Media personalities gush all over these contrived "stars" while the true heroes quietly sit back, in dignity and honor, and wonder at the stupidity of it all.