Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Iowa Front: Military & Veterans’ Weekly Roundup

Military Personnel and Veterans Stretched Thin by Empty GOP Rhetoric

There was a lot of noise and saber rattling in D.C. regarding our troops and veterans, but in the end, there was nothing to show for it – unless you want to count the resolution approved by the Senate denouncing for its General “Betray-Us” ad in the New York Times. Although Gen. David Petraeus’ dignity may have received a bump in support, those serving under his command weren’t so lucky.

The Republican senators, including Iowa’s Sen. Chuck Grassley, fell in line with the Defense Department and President Bush’s stay-the-course policies in Iraq by rejecting a bipartisan amendment that would let soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have at least the same time off at home as their latest deployment before they are redeployed. The amendment, sponsored by Sens. James Webb, D-Va., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., failed on a 56-44 vote because a 60-vote super-majority was needed for passage.

On the other side of the aisle, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa was disappointed in the outcome and said in a statement to the Iowa Independent: "This amendment would have provided support to our troops by ensuring they didn't suffer from lengthy deployments without proper dwell time, unless absolutely necessary for our national security. I find it absurd that anyone can stand up there and say they support our troops, but vote against these amendments. Our troops are at a breaking point -- we cannot continue on the path we are on." (Iowa Independent)

Speaking of breaking points, Sen. Tom Coburn’s, R-Okla., hold on the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention bill, which has blocked it from reaching the Senate floor, prompted the Iowa Democratic veterans to speak out against silence on the matter among the Republican leadership -- in particular, the GOP presidential candidates.

"We support the efforts of Joshua Omvig's parents, Ellen and Randy, who as they deal with the tragic loss of their son Joshua, press forward on this bill so that other American families do not endure a similar tragedy," said Bob Krause, chair of the Iowa Democratic Veterans’ Caucus. "To have a single senator hold up this critical bipartisan bill with no publicly expressed outrage from the Republican presidential candidates calls into question which party truly supports the troops and military families in America.”

“All of the leading Democratic Presidential candidates, as well as the Democratic leadership in the Senate and the House, are on board. Where is the Republican leadership?" asked Krause. "Their silence exposes their shallow support-the-troops rhetoric," Krause said. "Support the Troops' means a lot more than `Support the War.' "(Iowa Independent)

Ken Burns’ New Documentary Ignites World War II Revival

Filmmaker Ken Burns’ new 14-hour film, “The War,” which documents World War II, kicked off tonight on IPTV, but not without sparking some controversy. The controversy has nothing to do with the level of violence depicted in the film, but, rather, the four uses of profanity in the 14 hours of edited footage. Burns finds it odd that nobody has expressed concerns about the level of violence in the film. "Nobody has complained to him about the beheadings in 'The War' or the dead bodies stacked up like cordwood," Burns said in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Despite the controversy, Iowa Public Television (IPTV) has decided to air "The War" in its original format during the prime-time hours while airing the edited version during the daytime. "We felt like it was essential to telling the story," IPTV Communications Manager Jennifer Konfrst told the Iowa Independent Tuesday. "It's hard to talk about an episode that talks about FUBAR without using the language that the soldiers used. We don't find it to be gratuitous or inappropriate. It's used in context depicting first-hand accounts of people who were there." (Iowa Independent)

Meanwhile, the Des Moines Register had extensive coverage of WW II on all fronts in its Sunday edition.

“When War Marched into Iowa”: Mark Klein provides in-depth coverage of WW II’s impact on Iowans at home and abroad: “World War II cost at least 50 million lives. Some 290,000 Iowans served and 8,398 died.” Focusing on some small towns in Iowa, Klein looks at how these communities were directly and indirectly impacted by the events surrounding WW II. (Des Moines Register)

“U.S. might at Last Honor Meskwaki War Heroes”: Columnist John Carlson revisits a bill that died in Congress three years ago, which would honor members of the Meskwaki Indian tribe in Tama with Congressional Gold Medals. Twenty-seven members of the Meskwaki tribe enlisted in the Army together in January 1941, while eight of them eventually served on North African and European battlefields as "code talkers." Why the bill hasn’t yet passed is unclear, but it has received unanimous support from Iowa’s delegation.

"What these men did during World War II - the sacrifices they made, the risks they took - it is really remarkable," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa ."I think one of the most intriguing parts of their story is the irony of it all. In the years before the war, the Meskwaki and other tribes were under constant pressure to abandon their native languages and cultures, but it was those distinct languages that saved countless lives during the war. The fact that they have yet to be recognized by the federal government is shameful. They deserve much more than that." (Des Moines Register)

“From a Sentimental Journey, a Salute to Aging Veterans”: Columnist Carol Hunter recounts her personal connection to the surviving members of the 40th Bombardment Group in WW II. (Des Moines Register)

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