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Posted: 2/23/2001 1:54:40 PM EDT
This is something that is making its way around the military today.

9 February 2001

On 18 February 2001, while racing for fame and fortune, Dale Earnhardt died in the last lap of the Daytona 500.  It was surely a tragedy for his family, friends and fans.  He was 49 years old with grown children, one, which was in the race.  I am new to the NASCAR culture so much of what I know has come from the newspaper and TV.  He was a winner and earned everything he had. This included more than "$41 million in winnings and ten times that from endorsements and souvenir sales".  He had a beautiful home and a private jet.  He drove the most sophisticated cars allowed and every part was inspected and replaced as soon as there was any evidence of wear.  This is normally fully funded by the car and team sponsors.  Today, there is no TV station that does not constantly remind us of his tragic end and the radio already has a song of tribute to this winning driver.  Nothing should be taken away from this man, he was a professional and the best in his profession.  He was in a very dangerous business but the rewards were great.

Two weeks ago seven U.S. Army soldiers died in a training accident when two UH-60 Black hawk helicopters collided during night maneuvers in Hawaii. The soldiers were all in their twenties, pilots, crew chiefs and infantrymen.

Most of them lived in sub-standard housing.  If you add their actual duty hours (in the field, deployed) they probably earn something close to minimum wage.  The aircraft they were in were between 15 and 20 years old.  Many times parts were not available to keep them in good shape due to funding.  They were involved in the extremely dangerous business of flying in the Kuhuku mountains at night.  It only gets worse when the weather moves in as it did that night.  Most times no one is there with a yellow or red flag to slow things down when it gets critical.  Their children where mostly toddlers who will lose all memory of who "Daddy" was as they grow up.
They died training to defend our freedom.

I take nothing away from Dale Earnhardt but ask you to perform this simple test.  Ask any of your friends if they know who was the NASCAR driver killed on 18 February 2001.  Then ask them if they can name one of the seven soldiers who died in Hawaii two weeks ago.

18 February 2001, Dale Earnhardt died driving for fame and glory at the Daytona 500. The nation mourns.  Seven soldiers died training to protect our freedom.  No one can remember their names.

James V.  Torney
CW4, US Army, Retired

Link Posted: 2/24/2001 2:46:13 PM EDT
Unfortunately, the seven soldier's death has evoked far less sorrow.  I can relate to that, as I served during the late 60's to early 70's.  Not only did no one give a hoot, they actually hassled you if you were in uniform.  Our society is far more engrossed in non-heroes that they consider heroes, than the ones who actually safeguard their freedoms.
Link Posted: 2/24/2001 3:31:01 PM EDT
I agree.  God bless our soldiers, our veterans, and our statesmen.  I am not patting myself on the back, but when I meet for any reason someone who makes it clear they are a veteran or a soldier, I extend my thanks.  Fiercely protect America my friends, and know who the real heroes are.
Link Posted: 2/24/2001 3:53:27 PM EDT
My perspective:  Going to hell in a hand basket, been going that way for some time now.  Just look at the "just got robbed" thread.  A soldier's job is largely a thankless one, but there are a few of us who do appreciate what they do and what's been done. .02 from someone who's been and done.
Link Posted: 2/24/2001 4:23:28 PM EDT
This is nothing more then touchy feely out of context tear jurking bullshit! Earnhardt knew the risks, accepted them, and payed the price. Same deal with the UH-60 crew and pacs. The reason all these people are mourning Earnhardt is not out of any sincere sense of loss. It`s strictly a hurd response to validate themselves.
Link Posted: 2/24/2001 5:09:42 PM EDT
A soldier’s response:

I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.

If I am called to give my life in defense of this great nation, do not remember my name. I have freely accepted the risks of my service, and I seek neither glory nor recognition.

My service is not a responsibility, nor a right; it is a privilege. I am thankful for the privilege to ensure a free country for my children to live in.  I do not require, nor do I ask, for your recognition. I am simply trying to repay the debt of those who have gone before me.

If you must remember me, remember me on Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day and Veterans Day. Display the American Flag proudly, and say a prayer for those of us who have served and continue to serve.

Do not honor us by name. Honor us as the multitude who have suffered to ensure the freedom and prosperity of the great nation of The United States of America.

Do not compare me to Dale Earnhardt. Dale was a man who lived his life in search of glory, and he found it. Dale was a man who came from humble beginnings and achieved greatness in his endeavors. And in achieving greatness, he acquired the means and prosperity to help others, and to inspire others. He realized the American dream, and he never forgot those who were less fortunate than he. That is a hero.

I only wish that I could have lived as great a life as Dale Earnhardt. I mourn his passing, and I would not dare to say that my life was of greater value than his, simply because we chose different paths.

Link Posted: 2/24/2001 5:19:00 PM EDT
The soldiers were a thousand times over worth mention instead of Dale E.  -- for Christs sake he drove cars for a living -- soldiers  
protect our Country, so, you can sit around and read ten thousand lines of dribble on a guy who drove cars.

I'm not even comin' back on this one!
Link Posted: 2/24/2001 5:33:46 PM EDT
Soldiers do all the work, and become real heros, but the media coddles the actor who plays the hero, then the people believe the actor really is the hero, placing the soldiers, the real heros into obscurity!
Link Posted: 2/24/2001 6:44:17 PM EDT
It's always sad when someone dies. It's also inherently unfair that some people get alot more attention than others.  Frankly, I think the attention MOST public figures get is way more than they deserve, including the completely undeserved millions paid to athletes.  It's good to check who you admire, and perhaps re-adjust your priorities a little (or alot!).

I'm sure on that day there were thousand of other people, just average americans, who died under less dramatic circumstances.  How about them?
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