Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thoughts on Memorial Day

When I was a kid growing up in the 60s in a tiny town in the Midwest, Memorial Day (we called it Decoration Day then) was a very big deal. Schools were out, of course, and practically the whole town turned out for the parade and speeches in the city park, and the inevitable reading of “In Flanders Fields.” Stores were closed. It wasn’t a day for sales and sidewalk spectaculars. You couldn’t even buy a carton of milk. Nobody thought of it as a vacation day.

It was common to see tears on many cheeks. Several had lost husbands or brothers or cousins in World War II or Korea. Some of the older ones had experienced the losses of World War I. My mother had a difficult time: my oldest brother was in Viet Nam during one of those Decoration Days. My dad, a decorated World War II Marine veteran, had much to remember. He’d seen the horrors of battle up close and been fortunate enough to survive his injuries.

Today, fewer of us Americans are personally touched by war. At no time in our nation’s history has a smaller percentage of Americans lost their lives in armed conflict. I think that’s why many of us don’t give Memorial Day the attention it used to get. Please understand: I’m not implying that war and its results today are less tragic or horrific than they used to be. I’m merely making a statistical observation. Most of us don’t know anybody personally who has died in combat.

That was hardly the case in the beginning. When Decoration Day was first observed just a few years after the conclusion of the Civil War, nearly everybody had lost either a family member or a close friend in the war. In that four year war, 620,000 soldiers were killed, and in a nation of only 31.4 million people. Not wounded or made homeless. Killed. There was indeed much to memorialize, and much to heal.

The vast majority of us today don’t have the same kind of memories as did the families who experienced the Civil War, the World Wars, or even the Vietnam War. But that doesn’t mean we should forget about the needs of the people who serve our country now or who served in the past.

Perhaps we can observe Memorial Day somewhat differently today. I encourage you to check out two of the charitable organizations supported by TisBest Philanthropy. The Paralyzed Veterans of America ( provides Veterans suffering spinal cord injuries with advocacy, legal services, healthcare access and recreational activities. Soldiers’ Angels ( provides care packages, outreach and other comfort to active soldiers and military families. Perhaps we can remember and honor our nation’s fallen soldiers by helping today’ soldiers and veterans.

I trust that you’ll have a memorable weekend; and I hope you’ll take the time to reflect on the sacrifices made by so many in the service of this remarkable country.

Jon Siegel, Executive Director
TisBest Philanthropy


Anonymous said...

I challenge Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to spend the obscene reserves held by their 'Jolie-Pitt' Foundation on legitimate efficient 'humanitarian' work or turn the funds over to others who will. To date, they have taken in $22,000,000 on the sale of baby photos alone, another 6 or 7 figures from other sources, and spent or granted only a fraction of that on 'humanitarian' work or 'good will' of any kind. The rest so far, has been spent on PR campaigns, plane rides, and super-high end accomodations for Brad and Angie in exotic locations around the world. I challenge them to meet the criteria of a legitimate charity, operate with a reasonable overhead, open their books to prove it, and get their 'foundation' worthy of a decent rating by an independent watchdog like Otherwise, to stop selling baby photos for their own 'charity' and stop seeking publicity for donations made in their own name to their own foundation/travel/PR firm shortly before or after the premier of their latest film or DVD release. I challenge Brad Pitt to do the same with his 'Make it right' Foundation. Which to date, has not met the criteria of a legitimate charity or been given a decent rating by ANY independent charity watchdog. Otherwise, to stop competing with 'Habitat for Humanity' for PR, credit, and funding. Who by the way have been building homes for the less fortunate in every major city including New Orleans for decades. 'Habitat for Humanity' has been 'Top Rated' for years by and others. They operate with a low overhead, volunteer workforce, and donated materials. No similar effort can match their progress hour for hour or dollar for dollar. They don't even come close. Unlike 'Make it right', the homes built by 'Habitat' don't sit vacant. They don't exclude by cost, lower income families. They are allocated and built specifically for the less fortunate who take part in the building process and move in immediately upon completion. 'Habitat' works in every major city including New Orleans. It puts 'Make it right' to shame. In fact, hundreds of legitimate charities have been given good-excellent ratings by and other independent watchdog groups. By contrast, the vast, overwhelming majority of celebrity 'foundations' have been rated poorly, fair, or not rated at all. They are inefficient, corrupt, focus heavily on PR, and operate with shady, self-serving, misleading accounting practices. They usually don't even meet the criteria of a legitimate charity. Still, they have the nerve to self-audit, self-praise, mislead the donor/fan base, seek funding from a number of sources including ordinary people, compete with legitimate charities, and cash in on maximum PR for their inefficient 'humanitarian' efforts. Its not right.

Position said...


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Thank you

Eric Melin