I don’t have patriotic schwag or swagger.
I don’t put a flag out on Memorial Day or Labor Day or July 4th for that matter. I don’t own any clothes emblazoned with the American flag, and I’ve never chanted “U S A ! U S A!”
So, why on earth am I doing Pushups For Charity in 7 days, a fundraiser for the most patriotic of patriotic causes – wounded military service people?!
I’ve performed the national anthem (without forgetting the words, thank you very much) at dozens of events and been a featured soloist at patriotic themed concerts, and gotten caught up in the emotion of the moment. I’ve traveled to other countries and wanted to kiss the American soil upon my return home.
I love my country in my own quiet, non-demonstrative way, and I want to give back to the men and women who serve it.
What I Push For
1. The Men at the East Orange VA Hospital
I’ve told the story before about my college experience with wounded vets. During my junior year of college, one of my clinical assignments for my Music Therapy degree was at a VA hospital in East Orange NJ. The manner and degree to which these men had been forgotten was heartbreaking. They had served their country and been given the promise of a better life. Instead, they came home broke down, tore up and disrespected. To make matters worse they struggled with PTSD, mental illness, drug addiction, homelessness, joblessness, poverty and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. It just wasn’t right and it left a huge impression on me.
I Push for those men and for all the men and women whom I’ve met since who’ve served our country and come home to the same lack of opportunity and the same sense of hopelessness. As a college junior I couldn’t do much, but I can do my small part now with Pushups For Charity.
2. The former “Knuckleheads”
We all know stories of former bad boys and bad girls who got turned around in the military. The military is often the last chance for them. After years of getting in trouble, getting kicked out of schools, maybe a few run-ins with the law, they’re shipped off to boot camp. That’s where the “miracles” happen. They become a part of something bigger than themselves. They follow through with something for the first time in their lives. They learn responsibility, honor, citizenship. They become contributing members of society. The military can be their gateway to college, gainful employment and a life that holds much more promise than the one they were previously leading.
I Push for these men and women and for the organizations that provide those opportunities once they finish their service. I Push so that they will have the opportunities and hope that the guys at the VA never had.
This is the hardest one for me to write about because it seems so trite and hokey and I pride myself on being hip and cynical.
Hokey or not, our military service members do fight to protect our freedom. Freedom that were fought for by “soldier” abolitionists, “soldier” suffragettes, “soldiers” of the workers’ movement and “soldier” civil rights leaders. Freedom that means I can vote, live in the neighborhood of my choosing, own and run my own business where and how I want. Freedom that ensures that in spite of being a double minority, no one can legally rape, kill or take from me because it is their “right” as a member of the majority.
I Push for all the at home soldiers and the soldiers/military service people on the front lines at home and abroad.
I Push to give back.
I Push to say thank you.
I Push because I can.
What do you Push for?
Pushups For Charity Wynnewood, May 19th. www.CrowdRise.com/PerformanceFitness.