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Out Here

They sacrificed; we got a tax cut

As reporters, we never show feelings when we're on the job. We take in everything objectively.

Yeah, right.

The truth is, we're human. Yes, we try to remove our emotions as much as possible while on duty. But they are there.

Recently, I was assigned to cover Honor Flight , a program that takes World War II and other veterans to Washington to see war memorials.

I had to keep my emotions in check a couple of times. When the 90-some veterans arrived in Washington, more than a dozen volunteers were on hand to cheer them on, with World War II-era music blaring in the background.

Travelers, including a couple of college students, joined the greeting line. The veterans loved it. I held back tears. So did others, I'm sure.

When the veterans, including 46 from the Sauk Valley, returned to the Quad Cities airport late that night, hundreds applauded them, many holding signs. Bagpipe players performed.

Again, a very touching moment. 

It was a long day, from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Before I went, I asked fellow reporter Kiran Sood, who had gone on a 2010 Honor Flight, whether she snoozed at all. She said she did on the flight back. Then she said she was kidding. 

I saw what the joke was on the return flight. No one had a chance to rest. It was mail call. Organizers read letters written for veterans on Honor Flight. I looked around. Everyone was awake. 

I could say that I understand what the WWII generation went through. But I don't. Nor do most people.

It was the Greatest Generation for a reason. Just about everyone chipped in to the war effort. Millions of those who didn't fight worked in the States making munitions, airplanes and other war supplies. The government rationed food, clothing and gasoline. And Washington increased income tax rates. 

Compare that to Sept. 11. After the terrorist attacks, our leaders told us to go shop and take a tax cut. We gladly did. Sure, many of us hung U.S. flags from our car windows. But did we really sacrifice? Of course not. 

Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq involved only a small sliver of American society. At first, we watched the developments on TV, then gradually lost interest.

We could learn something from the World War II generation.

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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