Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Is Wrong With Us?

The glut of network news coverage came to it's crescendo yesterday as Michael Jackson's public memorial service was held before a live audience of 20,000 adoring fans in Los Angeles' Staples Center. Millions watched live all over America, and the world, as the departed star was glorified by one celebrity after another. Every news cast we have heard over the past week or so, has led off with the story of the King of Pop's passing.

During the same time period at least 20 American servicemen have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Young men. Cut down in their prime. Sacrificially serving their country. Dying on a foreign field, half a world away from their 20 devastated families.

Where is the news media?

Where are the platitude spouting celebrities?

Where are the adoring masses?

Where is the hero worship?

Was Michael Jackson a great entertainer? Certainly. We watched him grow from that cherubic little 10 year old, fronting the Jackson 5, to the megastar of the 80's. We also watched his grotesque transformation through numerous plastic surgeries, skin bleaching, curious marriages, strange behavior, Sgt. Pepper outfits, and child molestation accusations. The cause of his death at age 50, while still not announced, may well be connected to the plethora of powerful pharmaceuticals found in his home.

In life - and death, Michael Jackson was a tragic figure. In our culture of celebrity he had become a superstar. Therefore his death was newsworthy. But was it worthy of the obscene glorification he has received at the hands of the news media? Was it any more newsworthy than the heroic sacrifices made by the twenty service men who have perished since the time of MJ's death?

I think not.

What is wrong with us as a society when a man like Michael Jackson is nearly deified by the media coverage of his death, while the bodies of true American heroes quietly come home from God forsaken places in simple, flag draped coffins with no news coverage and no public outpouring of grief?

Michael Jackson seemed to live for self. These men lived for others.

He lived in opulent splendor. These men lived in tents and spartan barracks.

He dined sumptuously and drank "Jesus Juice" on his Neverland Ranch. They ate MRE's and drank bottled water in hostile climates.

MJ was serving himself. They were serving their country. They were in harm's way because they had answered the call of their nation. Whether or not you personally approve of the war going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, these men were there serving us. Fighting for freedom. Battling terrorism and trying to provide security for folks who may (or may not) appreciate their service.

Michael Jackson brought other people's children into his bed. These dead servicemen brought protection to the children of other cultures, while their own children were so very far away in their fatherless homes.

Michael Jackson moonwalked across gaudily lighted stages before thousands of adoring fans. These men walked miles of dusty roads in combat boots, watching for snipers, suicide bombers, and hidden IED's.

Michael Jackson's family stood in sunglasses in the spotlight of the Staples Center. The families of these dead heroes, stood by open graves in cemeteries all over the country, with no media coverage - no blubbering celebrities - no adoring fans. Only family, friends, and community support were there for these families.

What is wrong with this picture?
When will we ever learn who are the real heroes and role models?


Pam said...

Wonderfully stated. I pray daily that this nation will return to the Christian values that it was founded on. How shameful that we are focused on meaningless things rather than the security of our nation and the safety of its people. "Thank You" is not enough. We are forever indebted to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who give up so much to keep us safe and free. Their families are in my prayers. Those who have sacrificed their life deserve our eternal gratitude and should never be forgotten.

Amy said...

My brother is a Marine (not currently deployed), but will very likely being going back to the Middle East sometime soon. Thank you so much for your excellent article - it sums up the frustration my family has been feeling lately.

Darrell Clark said...

Amen and Amen!! Thank you for expressing in a wonderful way the frustration of so many of us who have been dealing with the constant banging of the "Michael Jackson Gavel" over the past week! I am tired of the "Idol Making" media and have quit watching many of the news shows because of it...Thanks again!

Sean (SSG - US Army) said...

First and foremost I want to thank the author of this post for his very kind words in regards to our servicemen and women and let you know how much it is appreciated.

This is NOT a rebuttal nor argument for the other side but just the opinion of one US Army Soldier. I grew listening to Michael Jackson and still do today. "Dirty Diana" is one of my favorite songs of all times and was on my playlist as I trained for my first marathon and always pumped me up. He was an AWESOME entertainer with undeniable and incredible talent. He also was a strange guy in his later years. I do not believe the allegations that were brought against him although we will never truly know.

I say that to say this; I enjoyed seeing all the coverage of MJ, i was stunned to hear of his death when I woke up here in Germany to get ready for our morning physical training. I watched the memorial and I shed tears for his children. It helps to take my mind off of my friends that are currently in Iraq and Afghanistan. It helps to give us something else to think about it. Even as I watched the memorial is was online chatting with a friend currently in Iraq and he was telling me the story of how he should have died on December 19th when an RPG hit his vehicle and killed the person next to him, which is where he was originally sitting before they left base.

As performers and "stars" they live a life in the spotlight and what other way for them to go out than in the spotlight?

As Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Sailors we live a life of humble service to our country, family, friends and the men and women that stand next to us in the fight. We don't do it for the parades, for the news coverage, for a awards and decorations. We do it because we care and we don't need to be put in a spotlight.

There are great men and women that serve our country and their our those amongst our ranks that make very poor decisions and break the law and much worse than what even MJ was accused of. It doesn't take away from what they have done for our country but it stains their soul. I still love all my brothers and sisters in service no matter what.

So let the Michael Jackson's and Farrah Fawcett's (spell check) of the world have the spotlight. We just need to know that our country is behind us 100% and will be there when we come home.

Thank you again for all your kind words, prayers and thoughts and God Bless us all.

C.J. Adkins said...

God bless you, Sean.
Thank you for your selfless service to our country.

connie locker said...

My husband is in the active duty army and he will have to leave me and my two boys soon, and i just want him to know that i am greatful for what him and the other soliders have done for the united states even though some dont care but i do thanks to are soliders for all you do and have done.