I'm Proud to Be An American- and I know what that means

Having 2 grandfathers that served in World War II, I've studied it in depth. I'm determined to not let the history that my grandfathers contributed to be forgotten. I want to know where they served, what they did and how life was back then. Through my studies, one thing that has always intrigued me, is the rationing that took place during that time. In order to get out of debt and still have the necessary supplies for our soldiers, Americans were asked to participate in a rationing program. Everything from food to clothing to gas was rationed. Families sacrificed and adjusted to help others. They found new recipes and swapped cloth remnants. They pooled together their resources and worked together. There was a sense of community, patriotism and self-lessness. Although I am not wishing that we could start a rationing program, I envy the lessons that were learned throughout this period of time and I wish we could grasp even a portion of it today. These Americans, our parents and grandparents made this sacrifice with few complaints, because they knew the real sacrifices were made by the men fighting for their freedom.

Contrast that to today, when Things are the way of life. There is no sacrifice asked of us for war or otherwise, and usually none given by us unless forced upon us. Our brothers, sisters, parents, and children are fighting a war today, maybe a slightly different war- done with more technology and fewer casualties- but there is just as much sacrifice asked of the soldiers fighting for us now. How many letters have you written? How many care packages have you sent? How many soldiers have you thanked?

In a day when the war has become political (its about oil! No freedom! No oppression!) don't forget the days of 9/11. You know where you were. You know what you were doing. You remember the feelings you had that day. You would have done anything to prevent the anguish that was happening all around you. THAT is why these guys/gals are there, whether you agree with the politics or not.

I've heard it said lately that the biggest threat to America today is that we have not passed on what it means to be American to this generation. They take for granted the life that they live. They do not fully comprehend the price that others have paid for them. This Sunday will be the anniversary of our nation's freedom. Freedom that didn't come freely. So, as you are planning your fireworks show and your barbeque, make sure you take time to sit your children, your grandchildren or your neighbor kids down and tell them why those fireworks are going off. Why you have the day off of work. And why that is such a big deal. Make sure you take time to thank a soldier, from this war or one past. Because it wasn't politicians who liberated Auschwitz, it was our troops.

I am proud to be an American.

Whaddya think?


How Safe Are Your Kids?

I remember, while in high school hearing about the disappearance of Dail Dinwiddie. She was a 23 year old college student who disappeared one night in downtown Columbia, SC after getting separated from her friends at a bar. She was last seen walking home around 2 am. I remember the searches done on her behalf, seeing her parents pleading for anyone with any info to come forward, and seeing her face plastered on flyers, even where I lived an hour away. That was over 16 years ago and she has never been found. She just vanished, into thin air, without a trace.
Are you a little on edge now? If your 6 year old came up and asked if he could go outside and play alone, would you let him? We’ve all heard of Elizabeth Smart, Natalee Holloway, Destiny Norton, Lindsey Baum, Adam Walsh, Polly Klaas, and this week Kyron Horman disappeared from the school science fair.
You’ve seen the statistics, 85% to 90% of the US’s 876,213 missing person reports are children. That’s over 2000 A DAY. (yep- that’s 2000 kids yesterday, 2000 kids today and 2000 kids tomorrow). And that number is an increase by 500% from the number of reported missing in the 1980s. (OMGosh!!!) Now, I am NOT down playing the trauma suffered by the family of a truly missing person. My heart aches for the parents of Lindsey Baum and Kyron Horman and I pray, earnestly, for their safe return (and I pray just as earnestly that I will NEVER be in their shoes). But, what this statistic doesn’t tell you, is that the VAST MAJORITY of these children missing persons reports are family member abductions, runaways, thrown away kids (seriously- thay's what it said- shocking, I know)and miscommunications. Actually according to a study done by NISMART (the government agency who studies missing person reports) in 2002, around 85% of children missing person reports are family abductions, throw aways, runaways and miscommunications. That leaves about 80,000ish missing person reports a year that are kids who have really gone missing, been injured or are what you typically imagine when you hear the word “kidnap”. Upon further study, NISMART also determined that among the 80,000 missing kids, the number of stereotypical kidnappings was 115 (wow, did we really just go from 800,000 to 115? Ok- I’m feeling a little better.) Here’s some facts:
Of the 115 stereotypical kidnappings in the study
71% of those were taken from an outdoor area
16% the victim’s home or yard
7% a mall or store
49% were taken for sexual purposes
74% of them were girls

I know these numbers are scary, but look at the reality. Your child is 20 times more likely to die in a car crash. Yet, childhood abductions continue to be one of our biggest fears as parents and it causes us to go to extreme measures and do crazy things. Why is this? Is it because all of the tragedies of the world are so vividly expressed in the media? You can’t check your email anymore without seeing the latest headlines. How fast did you find out about the balloon boy? Probably when it was still up in the air. The fact that you know who the Balloon Boy is, and the name most likely causes some kind of emotion; anger, disgust, etc) proves that the media has a major play in our psyche. Not bashing the media here, they serve a great purpose, but the real question here is, are our children really more at risk than we were as kids? I used to run all over my neighborhood as a child and return in time for dinner. Once I ran away. For hours. No one noticed. I came home when my snacks ran out and unpacked my backpack. Once I got lost *gasp* while I was all alone *gasp* and I asked the mailman to help me find my way home. (I know, kinda smart huh? I told him my address and I walked behind his truck while he showed me the way home). He didn’t kidnap me, rape me or lead me astray. Actually, we became friends. My parents never knew. That was back in the 80’s, when the stereotypical kidnapping rate hovered around 200 a year. Yep- you heard me, the rate of kidnappings has decreased by half in the last 20-30 years, yet we remain terrified. As a parent, are you more likely to let your kids walk home alone from the bus stop or sleepover at a school friend’s house? How well do you know Sally’s parents? Did you know that 3 MILLION children are molested each year? Maybe we are overly cautious about the wrong things...
How well do you know your neighbors, children’s teachers or soccer coaches. Maybe we should spend a little more time making sure our schools and little leagues have strict rules for job and volunteer applicants and less time worrying about our children playing in the backyard (because yes- the broken arm will heal, believe me, much easier than I imagine the molested child will recover). Maybe a better approach is to work on a sense of community. MEET your neighbors, volunteer at the school and get to KNOW their teachers. Build a community so that your village really can help raise your child. Then you will know Sally’s parents.
We’ve spent so much time keeping them safe that sometimes we fail to see what they are capable of, which leaves us with children who lack self confidence. A trait that CAN keep them safe. Our children CAN be responsible for getting their homework done, they CAN work a toaster/microwave/vacuum cleaner, the CAN make their own lunches and they CAN scramble eggs. We’ve (and I include myself here) been so afraid of our children getting hurt or kidnapped that we have failed to let them know of all the amazing things they are capable of. When your child was born, did you think of all the things that they could contribute to your family/society or did you think of all the things you could provide for them?
I hope this article doesn’t jinx me (thanks a lot Mr. Whaddya Shay- he said it might) and please don’t start doing stupid things, but maybe it’s time to re-evaluate what is really a danger in our kids lives and protect them against that. But, most of all, maybe we should just chill a little.

Whaddya think?

6/14 update:
I rarely have time to watch the Oprah show. I like her, but I usually have too many things to do. But, today, I turned it on as I paid the bills. In her show, Oprah interviewed four child molesters and talked to them about why they chose the kids they did and how they got away with it. I knew that 90% of kids who are molested are done so by someone they trust, but one thing I learned today, is that those kids don't tell because it feels good to them. That confuses them and makes them feel like they are to blame. The kids want it to stop, but then again, they don't. The child molesters know this and they use this in their devious tactics. So, don't freak out, but protect your kids. Be open about the subject. Teach them to not be a victim. Watch Oprah. See what you can learn.